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View Diary: May 30th: Tradition and Commemoration (13 comments)

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  •  "It strikes me as being rather Southern centric" (3+ / 0-)

    I haven't read Foote. But the whole notion of Southern centric is interesting to me.

    There is this whole slavery problem. As with those hating on Obama, waving a Confederate flag can be a cover for racist impulses. I don't see much of this in my aunt's club (even though some of these women have racism in them). It's more of a romantic impulse, a pride in their ancestors and yearning for nobler times  - which always lived more in the imagination than on cotton plantations.

    Mark Twain blamed the Civil War on Sir Walter Scott. That swooning fairy-tale idealization of heritage and gentility lived in the South's self-image before the Civil War, and it lives there now.

    To a degree, it's not just Stonewall Jackson: the South is nuts. The Red State, Real America is nuts. But we won't get very far by labeling it as such. The driving force here is not intellectual, it has a different grasp on reality, based in romantic notions and tribalism.

    I wish there were a way to channel that tribalism towards the future, to the more inclusive tribe that the USA will have to become to negotiate the 21st century.

    To bring it back to your comment, the Red States have no interest in balance, so it's up to us to find a way to look at things from both sides, and envision some larger whole, which can accommodate both the romantic impulses of patriotism and the real situation we're living in.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Thu May 30, 2013 at 11:23:44 AM PDT

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    •  Shelby Foote is a Southerner (3+ / 0-)

      I decided to try his book after re-watching the Ken Burns multi-part PBS series on the Civil War as my 2011 preparation for the Sesquicentennial. Foote was quite moving as a commentator, and as a Southerner and a novelist, he tends to look at the war differently than trained, and Northern born and bred, historians.

      That said, I'm afraid I'm Northern born and bred, and a trained historian, and I agree with you that it wasn't just Stonewall Jackson who was nuts. When I studied the period in grad school I reached the conclusion that if a social group can be said to have become insane, vast swathes of the South became crazier and crazier as the 19th century went on, until they were quite disconnected from reality as most people know it. They thought the solution to their problem was secession, and that that was a realistic option and would work. The least nuts knew they would need outside help to pull it off, but still failed to appreciate that such help would NOT be forthcoming, because of slavery. The level of denial was amazing. They didn't even want to call their personal slaves, slaves. Instead they called them servants. They weren't fooling anyone but themselves. And yes, I think many of the descendants of the secessionists are nuts in the same ways, and that Mark Twain may well have had an excellent point!

      If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

      by pimutant on Thu May 30, 2013 at 12:29:45 PM PDT

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      •  How do we talk with people allergic to reality? (1+ / 0-)
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        pimutant

        Is there some way to split the nuttiness in two, so that we can keep the passion and commitment - but allow it to grow towards wiser, kinder goals, by throwing out all the lies and hate connected with it?

        All you're saying makes sense. The novelist approach is a useful way in to these questions, I think: until you can care about all the characters, and burrow into their skins, the answers you devise will be too cerebral to contain the whole complex humanity of all that's at stake.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Thu May 30, 2013 at 02:54:51 PM PDT

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        •  Interesting points! (1+ / 0-)
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          Brecht

          I'm afraid I tend to get angry and start muttering about damn traitors, which is no more helpful than the old mutterings from the other side of damn Yankees. We do indeed need to find a common ground and talk to each other, but with the horrible propaganda machine of Fox rumbling constantly in their mental background I'm not sure how successful we'll be.

          If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

          by pimutant on Thu May 30, 2013 at 05:27:03 PM PDT

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          •  I hear you. Fox & Rush are evil, and have made USA (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pimutant

            more ignorant, and full of hate and confusion.

            I particularly dislike seeing what Fox has done to my aunt's 80 year old friends, who now cower under their beds in fear of the future.

            And we're infected too. We started talking about your elegiac diary - but this pent-up frustration gets everywhere, and tints the whole world red.

            You have a pleasant evening, pimutant.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Thu May 30, 2013 at 05:37:03 PM PDT

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