A Short Primer On The South
An Introduction to the South for the Media and Politicians
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
With eyes of the world focused on South Carolina this last week before the primary election on Saturday, January 21st, we felt now would be a good time to offer some insight into the people of my home state and the “Southern People” as a whole.
Every four years, I offer my little primer as an introduction and a navigation aid to those who suddenly find themselves about to be immersed in southern culture for the first time.
If you are representing the mainstream media, and this is your first visit to my country, prepare for a culture shock.
The southern people are distinctively different from the folks “up north.” The South was settled primarily by Scott-Irish with a smattering of Germans in the Mid-Atlantic area, as well as French Huguenots, and some Spanish along our coast. Our heritage IS very different.
You don’t hear it spoken of much anymore, but there still exists a “Code of the South.” No, it is NOT a myth.
You can sum it up in one word. “HONOR”. We cherish honor above everything else. Without honor, all that remains has no value.
Southerners believe each man and woman has a duty, a responsibility, to seek nobility in life and in purpose. No matter his, or her, station in life, or the social strata he, or she, was born into. There is nobility in fighting the good fight, on your job, on the field of battle, at anything you turn your hand to do.
Southerners believe we were, indeed, created in the image of God. We have a duty to uphold that image as best we can. It is a continuous battle against the trials of life, but to shirk one’s duty, in this respect, is unforgivable. It is dishonorable.
We are a culture apart. We like it that way. We have no intention of changing. To do so would be to dishonor all those who have gone before us as well as their creation of this sanctified, set apart, land. “The South” is to Southerners what the Holy Land is to the Jewish people.
Never question the honor of a Southerner. It is considered a challenge and your challenge WILL be answered.
A Southerner will go to the wall to defend honor. No matter the size of the opponent, no matter the place, or the time. Honor will be defended.
There is an inviolate line, which must never be crossed. Where does that line lie? Everywhere. For instance, you do not disparage our women. That is at the top of the list of inviolate things. Others include: our homes, our friends, our religion, our military abilities, and you surely do not speak disparagingly about our ancestors. To violate any of these will bring the wrath of the South down on your head in an instant.
You may have noticed Southerners do not back down. We refuse to accept defeat.
We are accused, often, of still fighting the War Between the States. That is true. We consider this era of forced quietude only half time between us and the North. We have never laid the war down. To quit, to surrender, is not acceptable in our code of honor. So, we fight on. Understand… we will win. It may take another hundred, or even two hundred, years, but we will prevail. We never forget, and we never quit.
It has been said that Southerners are America’s true “Warrior Class.” Consider the great warriors of America. For the most part, they were/are Southerners.
War comes naturally to Southerners. The Scot-Irish-German blood flowing in our veins and the Southern Code of Chivalry we learn from birth creates the most fearsome warrior on the face of the earth.
The true Southerner is a gentleman, or lady, always. Well, right up ‘til he takes your head off. He will knock you down then offer his hand to lift you back to your feet. If you make the same mistake again, you will find yourself in need of that helping hand to get you off your backside … again.
Southerners are deeply religious people. We unashamedly believe in God. We believe the Bible is His Holy Word. At the same time we know one cannot be perfect, but we believe every Southerner is born into this world with the obligation to strive for perfection. Anything less is totally unacceptable. It has been said this is the Southern interpretation of the European “Noblise Oblige.” Southerners know in the depths of their being they have an obligation to strive for nobility.
The Southern society is not a classless society. We acknowledge our society has an upper, middle, and a lower class. But we believe the obligation to nobility crosses those boundaries and emboldens even the least of us to carry the honor of his name, and his family’s heritage, without stain. Anything less is unacceptable.
Yes, you WILL see the Confederate Battle Flag snapping in the pine-scented southern breeze. Get used to it. It is flown in honor of our heritage – and—as a warning that the people of The South will not suffer tyranny from ANY quarter.
There exists a divide between the Northern People and the Southern People in this nation. The divide is vast and unnavigable. We are two different peoples held together by law. The bayonet enforced the bondage of the Southern peoples. We have not forgotten. Nor will we. We know these bonds are only temporary. We work tirelessly for the day we will once again be ruled only by God and voice of the Southern people.
Tis honor, above all else. It is our code. It is written on our hearts.
So -- I hope this little primer on “The South” is helpful to you media types and political apparatchiks. Remember, always: You are visitors in our home and we expect you respect our hospitality and generosity and do not besmirch what you most certainly do not understand.
And finally, if we like you, you will be sent on your way with the now world-famous: “Y’all come back – ya hear?”
J. D. Longstreet