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PoP's Southern American: What does it mean to be Southern,

1/26/2013

What does it mean to be Southern,

or to believe in the importance of preserving Southern heritage? It means more than merely protecting symbols, although this is of course important. It also means protecting a set of moral convictions or basic, fundamental values that are under assault today. These include the fundamental goodness of family, understood as one man married to one woman, with their children. The children are to learn early in life the importance of obedience to their parents—something no longer to be found in the today’s American cultural mainstream. They are to learn to respect the experience of their elders.

Another basic value frequently expressed among pro-South types is that of limited government, where the limiting element is a written Constitution. What is meant by this should be fairly obvious, but again, Constitutionally limited government is almost a foreign concept today. First, Second and Fourth Amendment rights have been under attack for years, and sometimes the attacks are not even reported in the mainstream media. Moreover, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are all but forgotten. Our federal government was originally created by the States—as an outcome of the First Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Its nature and structure were set out by the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution is not a perfect document, and Constitutionalism not a perfect political philosophy. It does not protect itself; it depends on a morally upright and vigilant citizenry. Right from the beginning,critics of the Constitution, the so-called Antifederalists, held that it contained too many loopholes which those who wanted powerful central government would sooner or later squirm through. The core of so-called Antifederalism (which actually had better claim to the term federalism) was Virginia, a proud Southern State and home to Thomas Jefferson, who would become the leader of those opposed to Alexander Hamilton’s original efforts to build a bigger central government.

Religion is another core element of Southern heritage: strong belief in and love for God. Again, it is popular in a lot of circles today to question whether God even exists. It is easy to respond that many of our worst problems, particularly in the schools, seem to have begun when God was gradually removed from them. Coincidence? Some will point out that conjunction of two events does not equal causality, and it is true enough that there were problems in public schools before prayer was taken out of them. Problems are probably endemic to public schools because government-run education was a bad idea to begin with. But clearly the problems in government schools are today worse, beginning with the absence of discipline.

Within the Southern Heritage movement, God is the foundation of truth and morality, and as such, belongs not just in the schools but in one’s daily living. Accepting that we all answer to a Being not just larger than ourselves but larger than all of physical reality is humbling, and inspires a sense of obedience to that which transcends the contingencies of history and fashion. Accepting that we are all the creations of such a Being inspires, furthermore, a sense of dignity, and of respect for human life.

No heritage is perfect; all have their dark sides. One thing Southern heritage is not about is hatred. The South being one of the few remaining regions where one can find a large number of people committed to them. The issue is not race but freedom—and opposition to the avalanche of centralization and political correctness that are threats to all people everywhere, not just Southerners.

Eileen Parker Zoellner
Tennessee Confederate Flagger

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