Friday, March 23, 2007

Comment on "If You Want To Know Why We Keep Fighting Wars, Look No Further Than The South"

From: Sherwood Ross
Sent: Thu 3/22/2007 10:38 PM
Subject: Comments from Sherwood on your essay: PS. Think you might expand it into a magazine article for The Atlantic or Harper's.

When the Solid South was ruled by Dixiecrats, Senators like Richard Russell of Georgia rose to hold unprecedented power on Congressional military affairs committees. They erected every sort of military installation and defense plant they could to invigorate the South's depressed economy. That economy was hurting, of course, because the majority whites refused to allow Negroes to be educated and hold decent jobs, thus depressing purchasing power and slowing commerce for all citizens, black and white. It was also depressed because northern businesses didn't want to invest in an area rife with racial tension. The military bases fueled the superpatriotism of the region, and made area residents dependent upon them for economic sustenance. While the Blue States, such as California and Massachusetts, acquired a reputation for their heavy concentration of universities and colleges, the Southern States became notorious for military-industrial activity. Southern States lag in most every yardstick of education, such as teacher pay. Boston is an anti-war city in good measure because of its concentration of universities. You can't allege that about Jackson, Miss., or Birmingham, Ala. What the South needs is an infusion of educational smarts that will dilute its mindless superpatriotism. That's a long-term "solution," if solution it be, but belligerent societies change slowly unless punished terribly in a war of their own making, as Japan and Germany were punished during WWII. Those two nations, literally, were transformed overnight. For all its professed Christianity, the South today still has not adopted the philosophy of the Sermon on The Mount in its world outlook. It is insufficient, though, to condemn southerners out of hand, as there are millions of them who oppose the Iraq War and would prefer to see their tax dollars spent to benefit their communities, just as there were millions of white Southerners during the era of segregation who opposed the practice. The unfinished task that Reconstruction did not complete is to enlighten those Southerners derisively regarded as "rednecks" and "woolheads" and "poor white trash" who lack the education to see through the actions of a government that lies to them and whose economic opportunities are so scant as to make them grateful for the opportunity to work in the nuclear bomb plants of Texas and the naval shipyards of Mississippi. Just as millions of Southerners have come to see the wisdom of providing equal opportunities for African-Americans, I believe Southerners who unthinkingly walk the road to war can be turned in the direction of peace.

Sherwood Ross
Miami, Florida

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