If one is to judge by literary production, Dixie is still very much alive and kicking. Just within recent weeks four important new books have been published in celebration and defense of our homeland.
Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy (Shotwell Publishing: 377 pp., paperback and Kindle). In 1866, the year after the War for Southern Independence, General Robert E. Lee reflected on the results of the war. Responding to a British historian, he wrote that he feared that the U.S. would now follow the path of all consolidated governments---it would become “aggressive abroad and despotic at home.” “Unfortunately, for the people of the South and the world,” write the authors in this latest book, “General Lee’s prediction has become our reality.” The Kennedy brothers, famous for The South Was Right! and other classic works, have added a new dimension to the Southern story. They expose in historical depth the greed, violence, and pseudo-morality of U.S. imperialism, a Yankee-generated thing. The South was its first victim but it is now grown to a global danger. They alert us to the folly and fallacy of Southerners who believe they are part of (and thus support) the Yankee Empire, when we are and always have been its victims. This work, a unique view of American history, is not only for Southerners but for every American and European who is uncomfortable with today’s U.S. global empire---a sad condition for the federal union that our forefathers bequeathed us. Yankee Empire joins the Kennedy work earlier this year, Punished With Poverty, as a strong presentation of Southern history as it should be told. With that history, we can see clearly the justice of Southerners being conscious of our identity as a separate people.
The CSA Trilogy, by Howard Ray White. (Paperback and Kindle.) Its subtitle describes this extraordinary work: “An Alternate History/Historical Novel about Our Vast and Beautiful Confederate States of America: A Happy Story in Three Parts of What Might Have Been, 1861—2011.” What would the world look like today if our forefathers had won their gallant battle for independence? Howard White, author of the massive and highly original War Between the States history Bloodstains, imagines it for us. The world would be one of confederate self-government, flourishing free enterprise, and genuine and healthy “diversity,” without the ravages of Yankee empire. There is nothing else quite like this amazing and inspiring work. It is a treasure for all who cherish the good things about Dixie.
Snowflake Buddies ABC: Leftism for Kids by Lewis Liberman (Shotwell Publishing, paperback and Kindle.) A full-colour, creatively illustrated, memorably rhyming alphabet primer for children (and everyone else also.) From “Antifa Al,” to “Lester the Lincoln Lover,” and beyond, all the current leftist types and their strange and usually malevolent or stupid behavior are portrayed. There is a lot more in the way of bonus material. Why hasn’t somebody thought of this before?
The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage by Boyd D. Cathey. (Scuppernong Press, hardback.) History is not a science, it is a story. A story has to be somebody’s story, the remembered past. Otherwise it is just abstract speculation, useless and potentially destructive. We Southerners are blessed to have a rich story that is still powerful among us and also far beyond our borders. That history is envied and hated by postmodern Americans who have no story of their own and work to destroy the memory of ours. Defending our story is not backward and provincial but is a part of the defense of civilisation as we have known it. Seldom has this defense been made by writers as eloquent and as vastly and broadly knowledgeable in history and theology as Dr. Boyd Cathey. The collected essays are learned but also have a down-home touch which never loses sight of the South as a living and valuable thing.
I am 77 and I recently started to remember things that used to be commonplace but that my children and grandchildren have never seen:
Snuff sticks and spittoons
Mule wagons in town
Greasy hair tonic for men and boys on Sundays.
When soft drinks came only in real glass bottles and you had to reach down in delightfully cold water to get one
Cotton fields everywhere and up to the edge of the road. Cotton presses in every town of any size that was on the railroad.
When newspapers were independent local voices
Real Southern orators with white coats and hats
When I saw my first foreign car (a Volkswagen)
When I had my first pizza (I was 18)
When the county courthouse was free to everyone and not a government fortress
When rolled down white socks were fashionable for girls
When college girls had to sign out and in
When college students lived without cars, apartments, and electronics.
Bib overalls worn by working men and boys, and in summer without shirts
Going barefoot most of the time in the summer
Tin roofs (delightfully restful in the rain)
Most roads were dirt except main ones.
Boys played with BB guns and lighter fluid
Boys spent all day unsupervised in the woods with rifles
Boys played sports, mowed lawns, and rode bicycles without helmets (and often without shoes)
When gas was 35 cents a gallon and no woman would be seen near a gas pump.
Everybody who lived in the country had multiple dogs that mainly slept under the house.
There was no television, no computers and only party-line telephones with the speaker you had to stand up to.
Nobody you knew had ever sent or received a long-distance call. Too expensive. We had “air mail” for important communications.
Nobody you knew had ever ridden on an airplane, unless in the military.
When a cup of coffee was a nickel or dime depending on how upscale you wanted to go.
When the weekly wash had to be “put through the ringer” and hung outdoors to dry.
Trolley cars powered by overhead wires.
Door deliveries by the milkman, the ice man (for non-electric ice boxes), the coal truck, and the telegraph boy.
Grammaw making biscuits every day from scratch.
Wagons taking cured tobacco to the auction house.
When hot dogs were 10 cents and milkshakes a quarter, along with 10 cent comic books. So, including bus fare you could have a great day downtown Saturday for one 50 cent piece and a nickel. Sometimes Grampa gave you an extra dime for another comic book, saving you from the tough decision between “Smilin’ Jack” and “Terry and the Pirates.” (Nobody, white or black) ever imagined a child alone downtown would be harmed.)
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews