Gina Williams, a native Texan writing at the always-captivating Like the Dew website, details common misconceptions some Northerners have about people from the South.
These include that we’re all racist, uneducated hicks with lazy Southern drawls who always vote Republican. (What about us also being NASCAR-loving, moonshine-swilling, ATV-driving, snake-handling Creationists? That’s some of the best stuff about living in the South, after all.)
Williams does a good job debunking these myths, including providing a USA Today map of the 2004 presidential election which showed interestingly that plenty of Southern counties voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican George Bush, while there were several Northern states with a majority of counties favoring Bush over Kerry.
Better yet is Williams’ assessment of the simplistic portrayal of Southern cultural and social norms:
- Surprise, we’re not all bigots, she writes:
The history books we grew up studying in school failed in one big respect: The American Civil War was not simply over the preservation of slavery; it was a war over states’ rights and excessive taxation. The simple fact is that, at the time, there was controversy on just how much involvement the federal government should have in state governments (sound familiar to current times?); the federal government’s involvement with the anti-slavery movement set many Southern states off because they felt that state governments, through citizen voting, should determine laws on such things. And with increasing pressure by Northern states in the late 1850s to increase taxes to benefit their industries, Southerners became upset. Before and after those taxes were implemented with Abraham Lincoln’s entry into office, Southern states began seceding.
Yow! Williams is right on the money here, but I wouldn’t dare trying pursuing this argument with anyone but my closest friends, whether they’re from the North or the South. Public school education dropped the ball on complex issues like the War Between the States a long, long time ago and I’m not stupid enough to try to pick it up.
The South is anything but the Wild West, according to Williams:
I’m from the South and I have never in my life even held shotgun, nor do I plan to after seeing the outcome of one of Dick Cheney’s hunting excursions. Those that do have shotguns are not jumping out of their front door and threatening trespassers every chance they get either. Shotguns are used by hunters, and not just in the South. People certainly hunt down here, but some Northern states actually have state-wide holidays specifically so that people can go hunting.
Some argue that the increased percentage of Southerners who own guns keeps violent crime rates lower than up North, as potential perpetrators often think twice before breaking and entering.
- Not only can we read and write, says Williams, some of us even make it past sixth grade:
Hello? Just like in every other state, our children are required to go to school. And, have you ever heard of the University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, Tulane University, Duke University, or the College of William & Mary? And those are only naming a few of the universities in the South known for their selective and highly regarded education programs.
The difference between a Tulane, William & Mary or Virginia grad is that you don’t get the elitist, the world-should-prostrate-itself-before-me mentality one often sees from products of Ivy League schools.
Unfortunately, trying to dissuade most Northerners of their long-held misguided views on the South is a losing proposition.
But what do you expect from a bunch of loud, rude, leftist busy-bodies who speak with an abhorrent nasal twang and lock their car doors when they see a possum crossing the road?
See, we can play the game, too. The thing is, we know it’s a game. That’s because we recognize the difference between stereotypes and reality.