Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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

From: rayilynlee
Sent: Sat 3/24/2007 2:31 PM
Subject: What I don't like about The South

Dean Velvel:

I was impressed by your article in Op-Ed about the influence of the South in pursuing wars. Even as a high school history teacher It had never really occurred to me before, but I think you have a valid point.

I have relatives in Missouri (where I was born, but grew up in California) who are bible-thumping war-mongers. Although I was born a Republican, I became a Democrat in 2000 at age 64 when Bush was elected. I protest the war as a Grandmother for Peace every other week on my wheelchair (I have Parkinson's disease), but my southern kin are still supporting this dangerous fool.

And to think I thought it was superior education and intelligence (MA in History - UCLA) that made me finally see the light, not geography!!

Rayilyn Brown
Surprise AZ (a really Red state, but changing)

From: Gary
Sent: Thu 3/22/2007 4:05 PM
Subject: Re: If You Want To Know Why We Keep Fighting Wars, Look No Further Than The S...

With all due respect, Dean Velvel, I think we have to look no further than the influence on foreign policy of the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

The attached Op-Ed, written by my wife, Myriam Miedzian, and I, makes the case.

Feel free to send it around if you think your readers might be interested in it.

Gary Ferdman

From: Anonymous
Sent: Thu 3/22/2007 4:35 PM
Subject: Re: If You Want To Know Why We Keep Fighting Wars, Look No Further Thank The South

Very interesting thoughts. I have often thought that if given the opportunity, the South would return to pre-1960. I look at what their values are and conclude that they are still as conservative and backward as they always were. Johnson said when he signed the Civil Rights bill that he knew the South would never vote Democratic again. It hasn't. It seems to say that they still have no regard for Civil rights.

From: Tom Voelker
Sent: Thu 3/22/2007 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: If You Want To Know Why We Keep Fighting Wars, Look No Further Than The South

Velvel, I am a white southerner. Living in New Jersey.

I'm a piss-poor southerner, whose great-grand-something or other uncle died at Shiloh. Yes, he did, and I do know that for a fact.

I grew up in New Orleans. In Gentilly. You can't picture it.

(Life is very peaceful in Gentilly.--Walker Percy, right but wrong as in so many ways)

Early on, growing up with a woman who loved me in spite of myself. The laundry waved like love in the breeze. The mockingbirds soothed us, Beulah and me, black and white. There you go.

When I was 12 in that peaceful place, a neighbor boy was murdered. His name was Rhett, of all things. Murdered for being an asshole, which he was.

A killing we could all accept.

What can I say to your charge of contempt?

I remember my mother pulling me away from a water fountain labeled "Colored".

I remember a gas station that had three bathrooms: Men, Women and Colored.

I remember bars and restaurants with windows for Coloreds to walk up and pay their money and get their po-boys and go away.

I remember Nigger Heaven, the upper balconies of movie houses.

I remember the backs of the buses, and I remember when blacks started moving the For Colored Patrons Only signs up to the front seats. We whites would bunch in front of those signs, leaving one or two blacks sprawled across most of the bus. It was funny, even then.

All that. And not so long ago, as I remember.

It never made sense to me.

I remember Kennedy talking straight to us southerners about what was right and what was wrong, as no president has since. At that moment, when I was 15 or so, I knew the south was all wrong. I've never seen it without its ugly stinking boils since.

(I also remember my home room teacher telling us, on the first day of school after Kennedy was killed, that it was all Bobby's fault for stirring up the Coloreds.)

When I was in the Air Force, in say 1967, the first time I left the south, guys from Kansas and Chicago and such like places would say, " You southerners, you know how to deal with your niggers." They thought they were safe in revealing themselves. I thought of the lynchings and murders and knew what they meant.

Back in Louisiana, as recently as 1997, you only had to say the word to set the bastards raving.

None of which addresses your point.

Yes, we southerners love war. I've known few, black or white, who didn't. We want to kill and even to be killed. The romance of Robert E. Lee, after all, stands against that of Stonewall Jackson. Martyrs, all, we see ourselves. At least in myth.

When I was 34, I visited an inn. In Connecticut. In the library, there was a portrait of the madman Sherman, with a caption. It went on about how Sherman and his little band of heroes all outnumbered valiantly fought their way through ugly hostile Georgia. Not the history I thought I knew. But then, I never knew.

As long as there's a south, there will be war. We can't get over it. Maybe that's why I'm in Bayonne (hardly a peaceful place).

From: Anonymous
Sent: Thu 3/22/2007 5:23 PM
Subject: Re: If You Want To Know Why We Keep Fighting Wars, Look No Further Than The South

Just as soon you didn't print this one because I only have casual observation to go by but part of the problem in the South could be the women. I saw a hot babe on TV that said "this is NASCAR country, we race cars and fight wars, and if you don't like it then you ain't American." I've seen upper class women behind the security of privacy fences get into knock down drag out hair pulling fist fights and damn near drown each other in the pool before the guys would stop laughing long enough to pull them out and save them from each other. I've been in a restaurant and had my date (a very attractive woman) throw over the entire table and all it's freshly laid plates of food when some woman she hated walked in the door. Since I was raised to be a "gentleman" I walked over to the owner and pulled out my wallet and said, "how much do you need to clean up this mess and not call the cops?" I went home alone.
Alone in the South.

From: Charles/Claudine Grady
Sent: Tue 3/27/2007 6:55 PM
Subject: The Militant South

Dear Prof. Velvel: I enjoyed reading your column about The South in the recent Harvard Sq. Commentary. I think you are correct in your belief that the region is inordinately conservative and war-loving. (My own grandfather, I must confess, was a private soldier from rural Virginia in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.)
A fine study of this phenomenon is by the historian John Hope Franklin, with whom I studied years ago at the University of Chicago. His book, "The Militant South," (Beacon Press) traces this southern mind-set to the cavalier tradition of Virginia and the other southern states. The planters cultivated a self-image of a gentleman-aristocracy, and their ideals trickled down to small landowners and backwoods farmers. The Code Duello was an important ingredient in the mix, with an emphasis on personal honor. The tradition of the duel persisted in the South long after it died out elsewhere. Franklin also points to a sentimentality and a romanticism enshrined in such fictions as the Walter Scott novels, with an exaggerated regard for "chivalry" and the exercise of the "manly arts"---riding, shooting, hunting, gambling, racing.
The U.S. as a whole, I believe, is addicted to the Greek "agon," in which we mystically relate to a struggle between good and evil in sports, politics, drama, popular literature, and so on. We are not a Christian nation at all; we are a Manichaean one. Someone recently described George Bush as "a Manichaean schizophrenic. ---Charles Grady (A retired Unitarian Universalist minister.)

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