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I’m not, but “they” are

February 22, 2022

About thirty-three miles from where I’ve lived since 1996 is the town of Windsor, Virginia where major media has covered the pepper spraying of a driver of a new SUV. Though a temporary license was pasted in the rear window, a police officer stopped the vehicle and abused the driver, a black Lieutenant in the U.S. Military wearing Army fatigues.

That combined with the conviction of three white Georgia men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery will confirm the view of most foreigners and residents of California, Oregon, Washington State and the northern suburbs of Washington, DC, that America is “racist.”

The murder of Mr. Arbery is one of a piece with an event in Graham, North Carolina where African-American demonstrators were tear-gassed. Graham is 186 miles southwest of Windsor, and 50 miles east of Winston-Salem in North Carolina where tobacco (Camel cigarettes), textiles and university education (Wake Forest) dominated.

I had to look up that information because I am a Yankee and am appalled by a lingering disposition to honor “the South” in a savage civil war that killed 600,000 combatants.

Among some folk in Windsor, Graham, and other small towns in the American South, a love for the era of the Confederacy transcends the struggle to interpret life lived in the South by some of America’s most brilliant writers. Through them, Southern literature was redemptive.

I must assume that residents of Windsor and Graham are not readers of Faulkner nor the Fugitive Agrarians.

I lived in Dallas, Texas, for three years from 1969-1972, where the traditions of the South and its distinctive literature were honored at the University of Dallas.

My colleagues and friends, especially, Melvin E. Bradford, was a “Wallace Democrat,” and Tom Landess supported my work by publishing my history of political theory. My university colleagues in the Literature Department were heirs to the works of William Faulkner, Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter, and Robert Penn Warren.

That is “the South” that has risen and lives in the minds of Southerners even today.

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