Why Anti-Southerners Won’t Listen

Those who believe The South was filled with whip-wielding slave-masters have no interest in reading that which shows them to be wrong. Let me quickly point out that, by the same token, I would not really be interested in reading a series of articles trying to show what a great man Lincoln was (I was already forced to read that sort of thing when I went through the public school system). I am more convinced than ever that, for the most part, people are not going to change their views on North-South issues. I don’t say this to throw rocks at the anti-South people either – we Southerners do the same thing.

I believe that we greatly oversimplify what went on during the war and the years leading up to it for a very good reason – fully understanding all the factors involved is simply beyond human comprehension. There is so much involved that there is just no way that we can fully understand it, so we read and learn through the prism of our own background and experience. Those who consider themselves historians and academics do exactly the same thing, only they pretend to be so intellectually superior that they really do understand it all.

Those who see The South as the evil villain that was vanquished by the great and noble union forces can come up with plenty of evidence to support their belief – and can do so with a pretty fair degree of honesty. Those of us who take the opposite view – that The South was right and represented all that is good and noble – can do exactly the same thing with the same degree of honesty. There are ample facts and anecdotes to support either position. What does not exist is the human capacity to look at the entire situation, digest it all, and come to a full understanding that can be communicated to others. We simply can’t do it, and only the most arrogant of self-proclaimed academics would claim otherwise.

Paradoxically, that is why there can be no middle ground on this. We can read about the exact same period of history and come away with facts that support one side or the other. It ultimately comes down to our core beliefs and experiences. We Southerners have a very strong connection with the land – a sense of place that is largely missing in Northern culture. We generally have stronger family ties and those family ties extend back to those who fought for their country – the Confederate States of America. Southerners are generally more socially conservative than those in the North, and that causes us to see the struggle of the Confederate States as one of withdrawing from a tyrannical government that had drifted far from the America of 1776. The Northern view, with its social liberalism, sees the government as the enforcer of their social ideals rather than letting individuals and social structures sort it out.

So, what does this mean to those of us who take the Southern view? It means that we need to just get used to the idea that, no matter how many facts we know and present, those who take the Northern view are not going to be convinced – just as they aren’t going to convince us. We are both operating from facts – there are just so many facts covering so many different things that there is no clear-cut “Side A = good guys and Side B = bad guys.” If it was that clear-cut, then there is a good chance that the War for Southern Independence never would have happened.

Does this mean that we should simply end our efforts at educating people about that period of history and the role that our Southern ancestors had in it? No. There are new generations, both Northern and Southern, who have not yet been thoroughly indoctrinated in political correctness. We must continue to make a strong effort to present the Southern view of history. Give them the freedom to make up their own minds by having both views of history to select from. Remember – history is complex; both sides have facts to back up their position. The Northern side has the advantage of the full power of the government and the public schools to present their side as the only side.

We should also get used to the idea that the Southern view does not fit into the modern political mold and we will continue to be modern-day pariahs.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
This entry was posted in Culture and Heritage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Why Anti-Southerners Won’t Listen

  1. Stephanie says:

    How very true – sad but true. When I was in 7th grade and studying The War Between the States, my history teacher had the class divide into sides — the north and the South — and try to convince the other side of their differences/beliefs. It was very interesting to hear the arguments each side presented and just being in the 7th grade! AND, what was interesting, is that the students on the Southern side (and this was in Ohio) did not mention slavery when trying to convince the North of why they wanted to secede — it was all about the north trying to change the Southern way of life.

  2. Charlie D says:

    So if you are saying that the North is right from their side and the South is right from their side–then political correctness is just another valid viewpoint from a long list of different views. These viewpoints are only determined where one lives? That seems far-fetched and it also seems you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. There is so much academic scholarship on Lincoln’s racist views –you just need to look.

  3. No, that is not what I am saying at all – not even close. Both sides can quote specific facts – one incident or quote or document – that backs up their position. That fact can be completely factually correct, but that does not mean much when taken in full context.

    Northerners comfort themselves by looking only at a very narrow picture of a vast array of social, economic, political, geographical, and historical issues, and justify their beliefs based on those narrow facts – not truth.

    “Fact” is not the same thing as “truth”. Truth is made up of facts – not the other way around. Truth is the full array facts taken in context.

    Trust me, I am well aware of Lincoln’s views.

  4. cl says:

    Truth has nothing to do with Fact. I am sorry. I hate to burst that myth, but it doesn’t. We want it to. We expect it to. We defend our Truth as if it is Fact, but that is just us defending something. Unfortunately I have come to understand that Trust is nothing more than an opinion that gets enough votes to make it so. The Opinion-Truth train has very little to do with Fact. All Truth requires is an opinion, mass of people agreeing to it and time. That’s it.

    The fact is that all of what you said is indeed a fair statement, but in the end, their side is wrong because liberty justifies secession. End of story. I don’t care what Truth you think you have or Facts that you think you have…you still don’t have a right to come to my house and tell me how to live. That’s that. Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter that physical slavery is an evil institution. It doesn’t matter that the Constitution makes no mention of it nor that the 10th Amendment leaves all things not covered by the Constitution to the States. Those Facts are all irrelevant. What matters is that in the end, no piece of paper or army can make it right that one collective forces their ideas on their neighbor.

    The irony of course is that the North enslaved the South to end slavery. Now…that is a Truth.

  5. Charlie D says:

    Oh ok, I see your argument now!!! When we have all these historical documents showing southern states mentioning slavery over and over again for their leaving the Union and Confederates of every social class including President and Vice President declaring slavery the cornerstone of their cause—you have to muddle the distinction of fact and truth! So when facts are not on your side-no problem-just say they don’t matter. When your confederate cause is mingled in racism; no problem-just point out the other sides racism. What a joke!

  6. Charlie D – how kind of you to illustrate my point so well. You simply pick and choose which facts to use, leaving any hint of historical context completely out of the discussion. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Why Anti-Southerners Won’t Listen.

  7. R. E. P. says:

    Very good point, Mr. McGehee…

    In logic, an argument can be valid and not true or factual. Even if part of it is factual, it still is not necessarily true. An invalid argument’s components can also be factual and true, yet the argument not valid. Both types of arguments are made from both sides of the North-South debate.

  8. Charlie D says:

    You sir are a Coward!

  9. I went ahead and approved “Charlie D”‘s comment, which was aimed at me (not any other comments). What he is referring to is the fact that he sent two comments that I did not approve. He is trying to make the point that one can hate the Confederacy and the South’s attempt to secede and form a separate nation, while still supporting The South. The second comment that I didn’t approve was merely criticizing me for not publishing his previous one.

    For those who have a hard time understanding this sort of thing, let me point out that this is not a “public forum” – it is my own private blog. I spend my own money to maintain it, and I spend my own time to write posts. It is not a forum for others to promote their opposing views. If you want to do so, you are free to purchase web space and create and promote your own blog (contact me and I’ll be glad to let you know the setup that I use so you have a good place to start).

    It is my objective to promote my own views here. This is a very partisan place on the web – I make no pretense about being an unbiased open forum. There is no shortage of sites where our Southern (and Confederate) heritage is routinely bashed. In addition to promoting the code of the Southern gentleman (the primary purpose), this blog is an attempt to provide a counter-balance to those sites.

    To be called a coward for not providing someone a free platform to oppose what I have worked and paid for is quite foreign to the way I was brought up. It is like having a guest come into your home, insult you and your family, and then get upset when he is asked to leave. That is how children act, not adults.

    So, to sum it up – this blog is a reflection of what I, Stephen Clay McGehee, stand for and promote. I have, and will continue to, approve comments that disagree and provide reasoned discussion regarding what is posted here. What I will not approve are comments that are basically nothing more than attempts to poison what this blog is all about.

  10. Sam Starrett says:

    Dear Mr. McGehee,

    Don’t let the South-bashers get you down. You are, from all I’ve seen, a much better man than they, and indeed, as your patient tone and continual sufferance of all manner of fools shows, a better man than I. Why, you haven’t even raised your metaphorical voice the entire time I’ve been reading this blog. I probably would have, if I were in your position. Keep up the good work.

    Samuel C. Starrett
    The Rambling Royalist

  11. Thank you, Mr. Starrett – it’s always a pleasure hearing from you, as it is reading your blog.

    I have received several other comments from this same person. They were neither posted nor replied to. Sadly, they just served to confirm my impression of him. It also serves to confirm my belief that merely living in The South does not make one a Southerner. It is a state of mind – a conscious decision to be aligned with the Southern mindset; to firmly stand on the Southern side of a cultural divide.

    That is why all comments are subject to approval here. While allowing that sort of thing certainly increases traffic, it is not the sort of atmosphere that I want the Confederate Colonel blog to have.

  12. R A Settle says:

    I just ran across this site and find the content interesting. I am an unapologetic southerner and not as generous toward the northern arguments as you appear to be. If the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land as it claims, it is the standard that we must use for comparison. The Constitution recognizes slavery in at least 3 places and, in the absence of an amendment abolishing slavery, the actions of northern abolitionists was unconstitutional. Personal Liberty Laws passed in northern jurisdictions forbidding the return of runaway slaves were in direct violation of the Constitution. The tariff laws put 87% of the burden of the 1860 federal budget on the southern states. They were unconstitutional because the Constitution requires “all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution created a separation of powers between the national and state governments. The national government was not given power over secession so secession can only be among those unenumerated powers reserved to the states and the people. Any attempt to prevent secession of a state was unconstitutional. Treason is defined in the Constitution as, “levying war against them (the states), or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort”. This is precisely what Lincoln did when he waged a war against the southern states. I could provide more examples but this should be sufficient to illustrate the illegal actions of northern interests in provoking the War for Southern Independence.

    I submit that when compared with the supreme law of the land, the US Constitution, there is no question the North was wrong and the South was right. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  13. Mr. Settle,

    Thank you for stopping by and replying to this post. I’m afraid that you may be misreading something here if you came away with the idea that I am in the lest bit sympathetic with the arguments of the North. Since you are the second person to do so (the other being “Charlie D.”, I have to assume that the fault is mine and that I did not do a very good job of writing this post. For that I apologize.

    The point I was trying to make is that it is rather pointless to try to carry on a logical debate with those who believe that The North was right and The South was wrong/evil/wicked/etc. I hope that you will take a few moments to read it over again and let me know where I need to improve next time so that I can do a better job of getting my point across.

    Again, thank you for your reply.

  14. R A Settle says:

    I appreciate you comment and I picked out one comment in particular that may illustrate our difference. “We are both operating from facts – there are just so many facts covering so many different things that there is no clear-cut “Side A = good guys and Side B = bad guys.” In debating a Yankee college professor I used a statement coined by Will Rogers – he may know a lot but a lot of what he knows is not right. As I attempted to do in my brief comment, I believe we can use the Constitution and other documents to conclusively prove most northern “facts” wrong and the southern states were entirely within their rights legally to seek independence. One more example. When Lincoln gave his reasons for opposing secession he referred to “perpetual union” in the Articles of Confederation and some universal or natural law. He couldn’t justify his opposition based on our supreme law, the US Constitution, so he had to resort to other sources that were superceded by the Constitution or not recognized under our legitimate law. Hence, his opposition was unconstitutional.

    I enjoy your writing and can’t disagree with anything I have read. Our difference is probably that I am not quite as reconstructed as you are. I enjoy nothing better than taking real facts and the record to destroy Yankee “facts”.

  15. Ingrid E says:


    Let’s agree to disagree on some points. But I will add “different” nuance to the discussion.

    Let’s agree that since slavery (and post Reconstruction black enfranchisement) was used by the North to break the South, it logically follows that slave labor wasn’t a minor matter; in an agriculturally based society such labor, and supporting rules both written or unspoken, were vital. And while most Southerners did not own slaves because they weren’t large scale plantations/ farms, the poor, working and middle class Southerners still had a vested interest in that same society.

    From my southern family (eg. North and South Carolina, Virginia), we just lost the last generation who could tell us about their parents’ (my great grandparents) experience during Reconstruction and after in the South. Many stories were sad or unconscionable, others were inspiring. Our women’s honor not recognized but unable to defend it, being cheated out of wages for honest work…conversely, our family eventually owning farmland in South Carolina and the White man who sold it to my Great Grandfather fairly.

    As a Black American with Southern ties, it’s a love-love-hate relationship. But I do believe the story deserves to be told more accurately on both sides. Northerners won’t admit that they were rude, criminally insensitive to our sensibilities, manners and ways, eg. Dishonoring southern women, stealing, ill-mannered and ungracious to the defeated. Not to mention the North, even today won’t admit that representative government means if we feel that government no longer works for our interest, we have a right and duty as Americans to change it. That’s a part of why we chose secession and war. Southerners should admit that slavery was completely bound with the states rights issue as the labor was essential. Also, many Southerners felt Blacks betrayed them for the North’s promise of freedom (which would come at the expense of the South); this notion still colors relations today and was exacerabated by forced integration. It’s a tad hypocritical because what thinking people do not want their freedom and humanity recognized? A good part of “southern ways” was socially negoitating these relations as a result of political and social changes implemented by the winning side.

    When Southern pride, freedom and rights are discussed, do remember that much of this discussion had direct consequences, good and bad for people like my family as well.

  16. Very well written, ma’am. Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion. Your point about “while most Southerners did not own slaves because they weren’t large scale plantations/ farms, the poor, working and middle class Southerners still had a vested interest in that same society” is especially important since it is one that is often missed by both sides of the discussion. Another point for all of us to keep in mind is that (as you closed your comments with), actions have consequences, and that almost always includes unintended consequences.

    Again, thank you for stopping by and enriching the discussion.

Comments are closed.