Being Southern

The Old Country Store in Lorman

The Old Country Store in Lorman

On US 61 about halfway between Vicksburg and Natchez sits a sagging shack under a rusting tin roof. As you speed by on your way to someplace important you might wonder why dozens of cars are awkwardly crammed into the packed dirt around it. There’s no sign visible from the highway. No explanation of what this place is or why anyone would want to be there.

The Old Country Store in Lorman, Mississippi offers a potent introduction to the Southern way of life. The past, present, and even the future of the South are tucked into the unpretentious corners of this little institution. Simultaneously fulfilling and defying the stereotypes of what it means to be Southern, this unassuming little restaurant delivers a tantalizing peek at a hopeful new Southern identity struggling to be born.

Behind that uninviting exterior hides the best food you may ever experience. No effort is lost on pretense. As a structure, The Old Country Store is exactly what its name describes. Remnants of the building’s earlier mercantile life still linger on shelves that were never cleared out. An untouched, abandoned past surrounds the diners who scarcely notice. The building serves little purpose other than to hold a roof over the owner, Arthur Davis, while he and his colleagues work. My four year-old gleefully caught a lizard in the men’s room.

Arthur Davis labors away through a particularly uncomfortable moment for Southerners. We are watching the Confederate battle flag lose its last minimal claim to legitimacy and seeing Southern religious values displaced from their dominant cultural and political place. Yet, neither of these is the core of our discomfort. Central to the crisis of Southern identity in our time, white, black, or other, is the death of denial, that blanket of mysticism and myth that generations of my ancestors used to cushion themselves from the realities around them.

Southerners are justified in their aversion to self-awareness. Our celebration of the stubborn, insular simplicity of places like the Country Store has meaningful roots in our history. As capitalism opens the South to a wider world a degree of self-examination is inevitable. Arthur Davis’ simple, but amazing work demonstrates the power of Southern culture and identity and how it may endure.

Davis is black, a recent transplant to Mississippi drawn there by opportunity. He is performing work once done by slaves and later by nominally free, violently oppressed black subjects. Where previous generations had their art and labor appropriated, he now owns his own business earning a living from an art form with roots in Africa, honed and perfected under subjugation. His art and the profits it produce belong to him. That little shack by the side of Mississippi’s Blues Highway sits squarely in our past while pointing to a hopeful future. With eyes wide open, freed from the burdens of denial, the South may yet rise again, as much an economic and political force as it always been a cultural powerhouse.

I

Ours is a history punctuated with nightmares. The soaring promise of the American Revolution hovers like a distant mirage, ever present yet offering no relief. People lived here, black and white, cheek by jowl, long before air conditioning in a place where a walk in the night air feels like bathing in stew. There was nowhere to hide, no private space of any consequence or security. In small communities entwined in knots, real privacy could only be found inside your own skull. Nothing was more prized than the sovereignty of the individual and nothing was more persistently elusive.

Friendliness there seems almost compulsive, emerging from a frustrated desire to achieve some real peace amid the relentless, simmering tension of oppression. That tenuous peace could be and regularly was interrupted by horror.

At any moment, an ill-tempered or drunken outburst by a white man or an open expression of futile resistance from a black man could cascade into sickening violence that most everyone felt powerless to suppress. Living under that pressure created an aversion to candor, a willingness to compromise justice for calm, and an almost manic attachment to outward expressions of emotional warmth that still defines us now.

Amid these forces emerged a culture of awesome beauty, a social force so powerful it has come to define almost everything we think of as “American.” Blocked for so long from access to the commercial and industrial engines of capitalism, the South reveled in music, food, art, literature, sex, religion and sports. Almost every emotionally compelling and enduring expression of popular art in American life has its roots in the South.

Music we consider emblematic of places like Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland were born in the Delta. The South gave our food its spice, our movies their sass, our literature its humor and its darkness. Twain, Faulkner and Ann Rice rendered Southern culture into American legend. That heritage is as powerful and vital as ever.

At a time when Americans across much of the country must watch a TV show to learn how to cook the simplest items, most Southerners, male or female, can still prepare an individually tailored dish as complex as gumbo. Most Southern families produce someone who sings or plays an instrument, perhaps not to mastery, but enough to entertain a party. Art is so innately bred as to go unrecognized as a concept separate from life itself.

Southern players dominate nearly every major American sport. In food, music, literature or any other expression, Southern art revels in a lusty embrace of flavor. If Southern religion seems obsessed with sexuality, we come by it naturally. Our evangelical or “charismatic” religion is just as soaked in the pleasures of the flesh as the rest of the culture.

A mainline Protestant religious service in the North possesses a soothing order, contained and quieted by ancient liturgy. Such domesticated religious expression was always difficult to sustain in the South and rarely took root. Even if all other distractions could be suppressed, and vain efforts were made to suppress them, any calmly-ordered worship would be hopelessly disrupted by the sensual aromas wafting from the kitchen as the church ladies prepared their after-service “dinner on the grounds.”

For every well-ordered Southern congregation there were ten more that surrendered to the wider culture. Services were defined by the quality of their music and even their dancing. In less domesticated areas congregations indulged in faith healing, speaking in tongues and other tribal expressions of supernatural enthusiasm. As it has done in other artistic genres; Southern religion has gradually swallowed the rest of American spirituality. As the civilized West enters the post-Christian era, a rollicking, passionate, sensual Southern religion, separated from our pagan heritage by a tissue-thin theological veneer, is about all that remains of Christianity.

II

Radio and recorded music exploded as popular entertainment in the period after World War II. A unique niche developed around “race records,” recordings by black entertainers. Despite their growing popularity, major outlets would not sell or play them, limiting the earning potential of writers and performers.

A producer at Sun Records in Memphis made a name for himself by reproducing black hits with white artists. He got his big break when a handsome young white singer named Elvis Presley recorded “That’s Alright Mama.” The song had originally been written and recorded by Arthur Crudup, a black blues musician from the Mississippi Delta.

Crudup continued to work as a field laborer and bootlegger and died in poverty. Mr. Presley, on the other hand…well, you may have heard of him. Crudup’s story is one among millions. Life under the oppressive conditions of the South fostered a rolling pattern of theft, theft of labor, of art, and ideas.

From Al Jolson to Elvis to Paula Deen, the cultural expressions that have moved Americans most have usually emerged from the South. And in so doing, they have born with them the burden of appropriation. This is the richest vein in America’s cultural mountain and its wealth has been consistently extorted from those who actually produced it. That systematic theft is an inherent trait of Southern culture and its removal is critical to a more hopeful future.

Even among the black community which suffered most deeply from cultural theft, there is a strange pride in the larceny of outsiders. After all, no one bothers to steal music or food or poetry from New England. Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones never bothered to rip off of Minnesota’s music culture. When U2 wanted to capture the soul of American music they didn’t go to Los Angeles. They went to Memphis.

As the South slowly sheds the burdens of violence and oppression that defined it, something beautiful and truly unique is emerging. Houston’s ramshackle glory offers a picture of a revitalized America, disorderly, vital, exciting, rich and almost insanely free. Stirrings of new life, freedom and wealth in Nashville and Atlanta and Charlotte are promising, but they are only a shadow of the possibility ahead of us. To seize that promise we must grapple with something troubling that still lurks beneath the muddy water.

In the shadows, there is a Gothic darkness to much of Southern art. Faulkner defined it in his novels, but that edge is inescapable in our music, religion, even our politics. It is inseparable from our history, carrying the weight of a political and economic structure built on violence.

Peace in Southern life, such as could be found, was secured through denial of the horrors that haunted our margins. Southerners developed a resistance to honest assessment as thick as the summer air. A culture steeped in denial and built on oppression lay chronically vulnerable to fraud. From the borrowed dignity of “gentlemen” whose fortunes were planted and harvested by sharecroppers, to the mystical finesse of faith healers in the camp meetings, right down to the unpaid vigilante thugs who took upon themselves to make sure no one stepped out of line, Southern culture evolved into a great circular grift. Insularity and distrust formed a hedge against theft. Smiles were free and ample, but trust was hard-won. A potent cocktail of denial and fraud bred spasms of public paranoia that still ripple through the culture and warp Southern politics. Denial bred darkness, and trouble lurked in that darkness.

Facing the great grift, our white ancestors accepted a corrupt deal that allowed them to be exploited just a little bit less than those we chose to define as “black.” Any prosperity, any security was bought at the crossroads at midnight in a deal cloaked in darkness and protected by lies. Hiding from the past to protect those lies is a Southern cultural obsession.

III

More than any other element of our culture that bargain, and the determination to conceal it, continues to define us. We can reject that deal. Perhaps the most counter-cultural, liberating act we can take in our time is to acknowledge that our fates are inextricably tied, black and white together. Our potential will be stunted until both sides openly grasp it. This may be the most distressing and crucial truth for all of our communities – to acknowledge that black and white neighbors are, to a degree systematically repressed and denied by our forebears, our extended family.

As they have done with our food, our music, and the rest of our culture, black Southerners are offering yet another contribution to our heritage – an opening toward honesty. If we can find the courage to resist our innate, inherited resistance to candor, we can begin to own everything we deserve. Some are reluctant to take ownership of that “box of chocolates.” They would preferring to keep the past quietly concealed rather than open it up and discover what we all deserve.

This Southern culture, one of America’s greatest gems, can be truly ours with all that goes with it if we recognize our kinship and confront our history with open eyes. We can be the first generation of Southerners, liberated from white and black, from fear and violence; the first generation of Southerners to truly breathe free. This is no mirage. That legacy is waiting for us. It is ours for the taking.

Recognizing our shared roots in a uniquely American nightmare is an act of supreme rebellion, a liberating political and artistic expression. With Grandpa’s flag and cape no longer hidden or denied, for the first time we can all own our culture for ourselves. We have a chance to discover that definitions of “black” and “white” were lies. That race was a tool that oppressed us all, that made it possible for a few to steal what we created. Though powerful, such recognition is not as simple as it sounds.

Honesty offers powerful benefits, but it will come at a steep cost. It will kill our cherished delusions. It means never again seeing Gone with the Wind in the quite the same romantic light. For many of us who benefited from oppression, it will cost us a measure of our pride. Being Southern means being an heir to a stolen legacy, the great wheel of grift. It is cultural wealth coupled with a frightening burden. Watching that flag relegated to its true place in history means watching the myth of white supremacy laid bare, revealed as a lie. For some that may be too much truth.

IV

Being Southern means living with a rich and painful legacy. Despite that legacy, we are the bearers of America’s greatest expressions of vitality and life and hope. We produced Elvis Presley and Rosa Parks in the same era. Our epic and still incomplete struggle to plant freedom in this hot, damp soil defines much of the best and worst of what it means to be an American. Without us America might be as gray and predictable as Canada. Without us, America would be boring.

We cannot claim that wealth and all that it means without bearing its troubling weight. Southern culture is a rich stew defined by its bitterest herbs. Leaving behind the security of inherited fear to embrace an identity beyond black or white is an opportunity toward which few dared aspire. That dream now looms as a genuine possibility. Like the coded messages that guided escaped slaves north, there are clues in our culture that could lead us to a better place.

Without trying, Arthur Davis may have built a model for us in his Country Store, a guide to freedom written in the walls and the smells and the flavors. All over the country you can find post-ironic renditions of Southern cooking complete with faux-shabby décor. Highly talented chefs with years of intensive training work to recreate dishes our grandmothers produced by rote. There’s always something missing in their often respectful and even adoring mimicry.

In an interview, Mr. Davis once said this about his food, “My chicken is truth. You become successful by truth.” He does not see himself as an artist or a cultural icon. He makes a living preparing chicken in a manner he learned from his mother and grandmother. Unpretentious. Unconsidered. Unintentional. Without irony or sleight of hand. You become successful by truth. Simple, disruptive, counter-cultural advice.

This can be the generation to “Come and Go to that Land.” It can be done. Building a New South that preserves the best of our heritage starts and ends with truth; simple, elusive and often terrifying. The banners, the flags, the songs, the heroes both legitimate and pretended, they must find the place that they authentically deserve in a full story of our heritage, white and black and beyond. We have an opening to build something beautiful and unprecedented if we are bold enough to honestly embrace our history. All of it.

 

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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95 comments on “Being Southern
  1. flypusher says:

    Here is an excellent essay. There is your obvious racism, of the kind that scumbag Roof displayed. But the much more subtle, unthinking kind may be even more dangerous:

    http://www.alternet.org/casual-idiotic-racism-modern-american-conservatism

    This question has been posed by me, by Mr. Wise, and by others on this forum and many other forums, and I triple dog dare the likes of Franklin Graham and Louis Gohmert and all people of like mind to honesty answer the question:

    Why is SSM the tipping point that triggers Divine wrath and retribution, rather than slavery or genocide?

  2. flypusher says:

    Protip to all Presidential candidates: Although social media is a powerful, useful tool, and it looks like a great means of connecting with potential voters, the live Twitter feed really is not a good idea.
    Trust me on this:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/did-jesus-ride-dinosaurs-bobby-jindals-twitter-qa-hilariously-backfires/

    That’s some grade-A trolling there!

    • 1mime says:

      BAD IDEA, Bobby! Here are my two favs:

      “How many Robertsons will serve in your WH cabinet and will you start pardoning ducks instead of turkeys at Thanksgiving time?”

      “If you’re going to spend 5 days a week in Iowa can we put the gov mansion on AirBnB & make up some of the deficit you’ve created?”

    • Anse says:

      The lack of awareness is really stunning. Not just the ignorance about Twitter, but about his own level of popularity. This is what happens when you exist entirely in your own bubble.

  3. vikinghou says:

    A close friend of mine sent me this link. It hits home.

    http://www.organicstudentministry.com/?p=62195

    • flypusher says:

      Good story and that principal needs to be cloned. The phrase “teachable moment” may get overused, but that was a prime example. He kept at least one kid from getting permanently dragged into the gutter that is racism. I’d wager that he saved plenty more than one.

      And of course the “it was about tariffs, not slavery” forces of ignorance represent in the comments section.

    • 1mime says:

      Wonderful story, Viking. Thanks for sharing it – I will as well.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Awesome. It reminds me of many things from my youth in a lilly-white Chicago suburb, about 25 miles from where Chris lives today. My post below notwithstanding, change is not always a bad thing.

    • johngalt says:

      Excellent piece. Thanks for posting, Viking.

  4. A well-painted picture, but one I lack the cultural and familial background to identify with. However, I could paint a corresponding picture of the desert southwest. The southwestern regional culture is now nearly extinct, and was certainly always more ephemeral than the deep South depicted by Chris. (Not for lack of vibrancy, mind you, but simply due to sparse population.) The Arizona of my youth was long ago thoroughly californicated; drive through downtown Tempe today and you might think you were in Irvine.

    It’s also interesting to note that both Chris’ and my (and probably everybody else’s who posts here) political biases probably stem at least in part from our respective regional cultural heritages. I find it difficult to understand in Chris what appears to me to be a somewhat inchoate political self loathing and guilt that no doubt stems from the all too real southern political heritage of Jim Crow and segregation. Many of you have expressed a similar difficulty understanding my general disdain for all things to do with the federal government, perhaps not realizing the impact that the somewhat troubled history of relationships between the western states and the federal government has on people who grew up in that environment.

    The decline of America’s regional cultures and the rise of what I’ll call “franchise America” is to me a sad thing; it makes America a culturally poorer place. TGI Friday’s from sea to shining sea is nothing to write home about. The “locavore” fad is in part a cultural backlash to the relentless corporate cultural homogenization of America, but it’s important to realize it’s a cultural response born of the ubiquitous franchise culture itself. We realize we’ve lost something, but you really can’t go home again. (Although Chris would no doubt point out that some things are good to lose!)

    When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, a special treat was dinner at Bill Johnson’s Big Apple restaurant, where we’d order green chile stew that would peel paint (Hatch green chiles from those days would give ghost peppers a run for the money), and then cool down with peach pie a la mode:

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/restaurants/only-remaining-location-of-bill-johnsons-big-apple-to-close-and-become-a-parking-lot-6546767

    http://www.pppatio.com/ – now a microbrewery; “memorabilia” to be auctioned off.

    http://www.sedonahikingtrails.com/ – No camping or campfires, and hiking by *permit only*! Gaaah! (Some of us old-timers occasionally fail to comply. After all, we don’t hear so good, move kinda slow, and have trouble with fine print. Strap a bivy sack to the bottom of the day pack, toss in a candle lantern, a block of cheese, a bar of chocolate, and a wineskin. The silver skein of the Milky Way splayed across the high desert sky on a moonless night atop Bear Mountain is worth a little recidivism.)

    They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

    • 1mime says:

      Ya know, Tracy, I think people can grow beyond their regional cultural heritages. Whether it’s the deep South of my personal experience or the “wild west” of yours, as society changes and as our individual worlds expand, so can our world views. Thus, just because I am a native south Louisianian, doesn’t mean I am either a Cajun or a racist, nor does your birth in Arizona mean you are a cowboy or a Mexican hater (although you do have this shtick for guns (-: ). Point is, in both our cases, through birth, education, experience and opportunity, our values and views have evolved, transcending the immediate culture in which we were raised while always being informed by our heritage.

      There is a great film entitled: “What You Are Is Where You Were When”. It is instructive about how we become the people we are and how that impacts relationships. As we continue to grow and respond to different cultural experiences, our beliefs can change. This is a good thing but if the people around us aren’t growing or are growing in a different direction, conflict can occur. Surely it is better to expand one’s world view than it is to resist the changes happening around us.

      I think we all have a Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in our past that we remember with fondness and regret for its passing. Such is life.

    • vikinghou says:

      I think this is a worldwide phenomenon. Twenty years ago I lived and worked for four years in a medium size city near Lyon. I lived in an apartment in the center of town right next to a tram stop. Within minutes (or even steps) I could go to a grocery store, get my hair cut, get fresh bread, do banking, go to several fine restaurants, have a drink at several cafes, etc. Everyone knew each other and there was a sense of community. I was the crazy American.

      Recently I went back there for a visit and was astounded at how things had changed around my former abode. The small cafes are just about gone, replaced by Starbucks and the like. People have cocktails at home. There are McDonalds (and its French equivalent Quick – yuk) everywhere. My small green grocer and bakery are gone, replaced by a big supermarket. Most of the restaurants have begun serving fast food which people take out and even eat while walking down the street. Now that’s something you would never have seen in France 20 years ago! I wasn’t there long enough to assess whether people in my former neighborhood were still as close knit.

      I’ve seen the same thing in the UK. The corner pub is almost extinct.

      This is an aspect of American culture that we shouldn’t have exported.

      • objv says:

        Tracy, you make a good point. I, too, lack the “guilt that no doubt stems from the all too real southern political heritage of Jim Crow and segregation.” All the cultural self-loathing and guilt I feel originates with my German heritage – particularly WWII. When the horrors of Nazi Germany are taken into account, I am less inclined to judge southern people when the atrocities committed by German people are even more repugnant.

        Tracy, I envy you! It’s going to take more than ” a candle lantern, a block of cheese, a bar of chocolate, and a wineskin'” to get us off on our camping trip. My daughter and I plan on spending the day preparing for survival in the wilderness. Tents, sleeping bags, a large cooler full of food, water, dog stuff, a portable stove, dishware, cookware, backpacks, lanterns, fishing equipment, clothes for every conceivable climate condition, a Yeti solar powered generator for charging electronics, and of course, my “luggable loo.”

        We plan on spending our time hiking Lizard Head Pass and other trails, and my daughter will try fishing along the Dolores river. Maybe, we’ll see fireworks in Rico or Telluride on the 4th.

      • 1mime says:

        Modern camping has gone the way of Viking’s corner bistro…..Everything one needs to making camping “almost” as comfortable as home. There is the benefit of being in nature, though, that will always be special.

      • LOL, objv. Sounds like you are bringing civilization with you! I hope you have a great time.

        I sort of got into the minimalist backpacking thing before I knew it was hip. There’s really only one thing you need to know about desert backpacking – water weighs 8 lb.s/gallon. Once you’ve come to terms with that, you figure out PDQ what you can do without. 🙂

      • objv says:

        Mime, I’ll try to remember that as I use my Luggable Loo at night – hoping not to tip the darn thing over. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Or, miss (-:

        Have fun, OB

      • objv says:

        Tracy, you might be interested in this.

        http://www.campoutcolorado.com/lizard-head-pass-wilderness-camping-review/

        My husband, daughter and I are planning to walk the trail but will be camping at Cayton Campground. Two of our group want to fish and the other couples have RVs they have to park.

        Wise words about bringing water and ditching most of the rest. I have the unfortunate habit of bringing my Nikon 7000 with a heavy telephoto lens hiking. At around 11,000 feet elevation, I’ll probably regret it.

  5. fiftyohm says:

    I hesitate, with good reason I think, to comment on what may be a tangent to this beautifully written piece. But it’s really not a tangent.

    Mr. Davis’ achievement here is culturally significant; that much should be obvious, though I doubt it was that that motivated him. Let’s take a look into the future to glimpse how such enterprises may fair in the brave new world envisioned by many:

    Davis in, of course paying his employees at least $15.00 per hour. As a result of Chris’ post here and the attendant boost in popularity of the establishment, the dishwasher often works more than 40 hours in a week, and he makes $27.50. Mr. Davis no longer buys his general supplies from that “extractive” vendor called Walmart or Sam’s as they have fallen out of favor, so he pays about twice the price from the local grocery in town. Alerted to serious health concerns by the blog post, recently empowered agents of the public welfare have converged on the place only to find numerous health violations, including for god’s sake, lizards in the bathroom! Substantial fines are levied, and the building inspectors are called in. That rusty metal roof has to go.

    All of this has cost a pile of money, but loans were made available from a new government program. The building has been completely renovated, and scrubbed top to bottom. The parking lot has been paved with handicapped parking and expensive wheelchair ramps. Of course, all of this has to paid for somehow, so the menu prices have increased substantially. This has posed no problem other than the fact that the locals can no longer afford to eat there. But their patronage has not really been missed as the place is now a ‘must-see’ destination for northern tourists from Chicago and Detroit, looking for the true feel for the “Old South” in a spanking new building with spotless restrooms.

    • rightonrush says:

      “Mr. Davis’ achievement here is culturally significant; that much should be obvious, though I doubt it was that that motivated him. Let’s take a look into the future to glimpse how such enterprises may fair in the brave new world envisioned by many:”

      I saw the future and it had a big sign that said “Cracker Barrel”.

    • johngalt says:

      Let me offer an alternative to this dystopia: Davis pays his employees $15/hour, higher than other local establishments. Thanks to this, he has his choice of the hardest working and most talented employees who are, in turn, loyal to him. Their productivity and reduced turnover are a real money-saver. In fact, Antonio Jones started as a dishwasher and worked hard and watched his fellow employees. A couple of years into his tenure there, a line cook calls in sick and, with no ready replacement, Antonio steps up and says, “I can do that,” and he can. A couple of years later and Antonio is the pastry chef, baking the pies and cookies and cobblers that he learned from his grandma. A restauranteur, hearing the great things to be had in little Lorman is blown away by Antonio’s blackberry-rhubarb pie and, soon enough, has staked him to his own place down the road.

      Meantime, Davis’s business has gotten big enough that he’s ordering his paper and durable goods from a restaurant supply house rather than paying Walmart to be a middleman. He’s helped farmers in the area set up a co-op from which he buys almost all his fresh foods, which are a hell of a lot better than Walmart’s fare and the money goes back into the pockets of his neighbors. A state inspector is blown away by Davis’ fried chicken and instead of writing citations, suggests a fairly cheap way to build a ramp and make a bathroom ADA-compliant, which allows Antonio’s still kicking but wheelchair-bound grandmother to enjoy a night of old-fashioned cooking (that she didn’t have to cook herself).

      A heck of a lot of restaurants now focusing on “locavore” food – which is food critic speak for good food sourced locally – fall closer to this model. Hugo Ortega in Houston started as a dishwasher at Backstreet Cafe and now owns three restaurants, which seem to have a pretty loyal clientele and employee base.

      • flypusher says:

        “A heck of a lot of restaurants now focusing on “locavore” food – which is food critic speak for good food sourced locally – fall closer to this model. Hugo Ortega in Houston started as a dishwasher at Backstreet Cafe and now owns three restaurants, which seem to have a pretty loyal clientele and employee base.”

        I’ve dined on some of Monica’s Pope’s creations, both at Tafia, and it’s current incarnation, The Sparrow Cook Shop. She follows that same model. Yummy, yummy!!

      • Crogged says:

        And with the lizards in the bathroom he could advertise as another old time Southern tradition, the Snake Farm, with the road signs starting in Florida and Texas. “Only 50 miles away!”

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yes. Hugo Ortega and Monica Pope are fantastic examples of the “Old South”. There are literally thousands of such people scattered below the Mason-Dixon Line, carrying on the culinary and cultural traditions of the rural south. And of course,Ortega still caters to the demographic of his origins; his restaurants filled with dining dishwashers.

        For chrissake, if the message that Davis’ type of business will crumble, indeed become impossible for practical purposes, crushed beneath the weight of this imposed beige uniformity, and justified by do-gooder utopians with wonderful intentions, but completely uninterested in what it leaves in its wake, and the price we’ll all pay in the loss of real, and not some sanitized version of diversity, I can add no more here.

      • johngalt says:

        Given the diversity of dining available today that was not around even 10 years ago, I guess I do not accept that “beige uniformity” is inevitable. Drive around and see the bizarre panoply of food trucks in most major cities and the reality is 180° opposite.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Ah! Food trucks! A topic near and dear to my heart, and a phenomenon nearly destroyed in its infancy by stupid regulation. A great example.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Yes Mabel, clutch those pearls tightly as we slide down this slippery slope. Many regulations are stupid, poorly executed, and/or politically motivated, but I doubt minimum wage and overtime will lead to our downfall.

        I’m not sure our benevolent corporate overlords exactly will be our salvation any more so than you trust do-gooder utopians to be the answer.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Right, HT. Davis is a stunning example of our ‘corporate overlords’. A comment spot-on to the gist of the discussion.

      • objv says:

        I say the lizard in the bathroom is of a rare and endangered species. All the corrective, EPA mandated renovation to the building must cease immediately. Until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can be called in to do a study, the business MUST be closed.

        Sorry, Lifer, you will have to pay a hefty fine due to the fact your son traumatized the rare and endangered lizard. 😦

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        50…I get to slide down a slippery slope if you get to.

        I doubt Mr. David is as gung-ho to do away with minimum wage and overtime rules as are Mr. McDonalds, Mr. Safeway, Mr. Apple, and Mr. Frito Lay.

        Aside from supremely asinine implementation of some ADA issues (generally with cities and counties rather than private companies), the average cost of a reasonable accommodation for a disabled person has been less than $500.

        We’ve had about 25 years of the ADA, and despite the hue and cry heard in 1989 and 1990, the ADA has not managed to bring the US economy to its knees. It has not even been a blip on the radar screen for most companies while providing access to employment for millions qualified disabled people.

        I’m all for cleaning up stupid, out-of-date, and unnecessary regulations, but I don’t think minimum wage, overtime, and the ADA are those things.

    • Crogged says:

      Or Monsanto sues all the local farmers out of business when a new bio- engineered ‘gas less’ pinto bean happens to spread across the state because the corporate farm paid less than 15 bucks an hour to its security employees.

    • 1mime says:

      Ok, I’ll bite, Fifty. “Mr. Davis’ achievement here is culturally significant; that much should be obvious, though I doubt it was that that motivated him.”

      Am I correct in understanding from your extrapolation that you expect Mr. Davis will embrace the popularity of his restaurant and all the attendant capitalism that flows from his successful venture? And, if he does, would that make him “less” honest or admirable in his achievement given his racial heritage?

      I’m really not getting what you think it was that motivated him. What I am getting is that somehow you think he might be using his Black roots as part of his “shtick”. Will you elaborate?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Mime – For every Aurthur Davis, (or Hugo Ortega), there are a thousand who don’t experience the fantastic success suggested in this tale. They go under, and will do so in ever increasing numbers, in a climate of unfettered regulation. And in that process, we will lose an element essential to our collective culture. That’s what I was talking about. Thanks for asking!

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty, I know you are a “foodie” so you can appreciate both the incredible interest and challenges of the food industry. I concur with JG that failure is less about regulations than it is about a myriad of other factors. My husband’s heritage is Italian and there are many restaurateurs in the extended family mix – past and present. It is a tough business – terrible hours, waitstaff issues, fickle patrons, supercilious food critics, food supply challenges, etc. I can share this real story as told to us by the owner/chef of a very fine French restaurant. He related: “I can prepare an exquisite seven-course meal and six courses are perfect and one is a shade off, and all some people will remember, is the course that wasn’t perfect.” Such is the life of a chef! I doubt Mr. Davis misses on his fried chicken, but I’ll bet it’s happened sometime during his career.

        I do hope you and Mrs. Ohm viewed “The Hundred Foot Journey”. Absolutely a marvelous movie about the love of fine food, its challenges and the many personalities involved. Helen Mirren is her usual great self but I have to say was subtley upstaged the great Indian actor, Om Puri.

        Lifer, sorry – your post was so incredible and I apologize for being off topic.

      • fiftyohm says:

        RoR’s Cracker Barrel comment was great, BTW.

      • johngalt says:

        Is turnover in the restaurant business higher today than it used to be? If so, only because a lot more restaurants are opening. Sometimes people blame regulations when they simply weren’t able to compete with the guy down the street.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG – I have no evidence, nor reason to believe that restaurant failures are on the increase. And, of course people will blame anything for their own failures – especially in a business as fantastically complex as a restaurant. My post was simply cautionary regarding our current social trajectory, and what that *could* mean.

    • LOL. Although a bit harsh. Mr. Davis no doubt tired of the regulatory burden and sold the location to Cracker Barrel, leaving all of that nonsense to the corporate types.

    • goplifer says:

      Ok, that’s cute. but let’s follow that scenario out for real. If Mississippi were ever so prosperous and well-governed to support serious wages and credible regulation, institutions like The Old Country Store would disappear quickly. That’s not to say that Arthur Davis wouldn’t still be in business making chicken, but the restaurant would not look like it does today. In other words, the place I revere in this piece would be gone.

      And I would complain, just like I complained when Blanco’s and the Post Oak Ranch closed in Houston, but the outcome would still be better for everyone.

      Davis would probably end up making a hell of a lot more money. And he’d need to in order to pay taxes and wages for his business. And maybe he could find a way, as many great cooks do, to preserve what makes his art special while running a serious business.

      Everybody in the circle would be earning more money. And it would be up to Davis how closely he held to the truth in his chicken, but his employees would get paid.

      I don’t have a problem with that. I’d miss the Old Country Store and I’d complain because that’s the kind of snooty urban food snob I am. But I wouldn’t try to keep it from happening, because I’m not quite that awful.

  6. flypusher says:

    Just heard this on the radio:

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/06/30/bryan-stevenson-racial-tensions

    We really could learn something from the Germans here. They own up to the sins of their past.

    I really do like the notion of rebuilding the Underground Railroad, so that people could travel it and learn. I would so get in line and pay up for a ticket.

    • Doug says:

      You do realize that the Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad, right? Would you really buy a ticket to walk 20 miles and sleep in a barn?

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, I didn’t realize you were a student of the Underground Railroad experience! Anyone who has studied this incredible, dangerous experience can attest to how significant it was in the lives of slaves – “free” or otherwise, fleeing southern oppression. I am glad you know about it and assume you appreciate how difficult the journey was. Those who participated – abolitionists and slaves – risked everything to escape from very bad situations. Many left everything behind – family, belongings, travelling with only the clothes on their backs and constantly in fear of being discovered and returned. Their courage and that of those who helped them at great personal risk, is well documented in history, a very bad time to be Black in the South.

      • flypusher says:

        “You do realize that the Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad, right? ”

        I’m going to ask you nicely one last time to refrain from so grossly insulting my intelligence. Some of us actually take the time to read some history.

        “Would you really buy a ticket to walk 20 miles and sleep in a barn?”

        That and more, although I’m also expecting a knowledgable guide with good story telling skills. Even then it would be a watered down experience, as there would not be the authentic fear of being caught.

      • johngalt says:

        If people really walk 1,000 miles through the hills from Georgia to Maine, sleeping in musty shelters to say they had walked the Appalachian trail, there would be some who would walk parts of the underground railroad.

      • flypusher says:

        Some even go all the way to other continents to say that they “hiked the Appalachian Trail”.

      • Doug says:

        Sorry, fly. I thought maybe you were being literal when you said “rebuild the railroad”. With all your crazy ideas about the world heating up I have no idea how how intelligent you are. 😉

        Yes, I imagine there are some people who would spend a month or two walking all night and spending the day in a barn or under the floor of a church. A better historical perspective might be obtained if your ticket bought you only the right to pick cotton twelve hours a day and you had to make your own way out.

    • way2gosassy says:

      Fly, There are still sections of the underground railroad still in existence in a small town called Alton, Ill. and some of the small farming communities off the River Road. Hidden rooms, attaching tunnels and some ruins of cabins are still there and I believe that they may actually still have a guided tour.

      http://www.visitalton.com/events/detail/111/underground-railroad-shuttle-tours/1504

      http://www.visitalton.com/articles/detail/26/path-to-freedom%3A-underground-railroad-tours

  7. rightonrush says:

    Yee-Haw, the “good old boys” are gonna rally round the flag and burn a few crosses.

    “The Ku Klux Klan has been approved to hold a protest rally at the Statehouse next month against removing the Confederate battle flag, with the group calling accused mass murderer Dylann Roof a “young warrior.”

    The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan applied for the permit last week to hold a rally for 100 to 200 people on July 18 on the north side of the Statehouse.

    That’s where the Confederate battle flag presently flies.”

    http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150629/PC16/150629298/kkk-to-rally-for-confederate-flag-july-18-at-statehouse

    • flypusher says:

      The local police can look on the bright side; that’ll be some overtime pay.

      ‘He was heading in the right direction; wrong target,” Jones said. “He should have actually aimed at the African-American gang-bangers, the ones who are selling the drugs to white youth, the ones who are robbing and raping every chance they get.” ‘

      I absolutely do not approve of selling illegal drugs to minors, or robbery, or rape. But none of those are capital offenses, and even if they were, it’s the job of the legal system to convict the guilty and mete out punishment. Not some ignorant loser like Roof.

      • rightonrush says:

        Notice how they blame blacks for the problems of their druggie white chill’in. They use blacks as scapegoats like the Nazi used the Jews.

  8. objv says:

    Lifer, lots to think about here. Good post. My only complaint is that all your recent blog output is seriously interfering with finding time to read your book. 🙂

  9. stephen says:

    I really appreciate this essay and your ideas Lifer. They have made me realize much about the culture I am from. My dad’s people have deep roots in the south . Mom’s were westerners. It seems to me that the old south was a type of Feudalism. There are a great many so called elites that want to return to that . That is not going to work in the modern world . Our trade which we all depend on is global and we have serious problems only large multinational governments can handle like global climate change. Feudalism is not capable of dealing with issues like this. And people and their cultures are moving around and mixing it up on a global scale. People all want the same , freedom to develop to their full potential and a measure of economic security, safety and respect. Southern culture is going to have to deal with many other new people and their culture as they move into communities across the south. I can see it happening in my own home town of Orlando, Florida. A lot of the old cultural baggage is dropping off. And the new comers are here so they can work, create businesses and have a measure of financial and political freedom. They are intermarrying the old Southern and Yankee stock changing family culture. Being mixed racially they do not understand the white black divide in our country. Most of these people have just as terrifying past as we Southerners did. They do not want that in their new home. They are going to bend the politics of the south and the country as a whole as they start to exercise their political clout. These immigrants do not want to supplant white dominance but instead want to be part of an inclusive system. Like all of our previous immigrants they will improve our country and enrich it. Cultures are living and evolve over time. Ours is evolving and a lot of problems will in the next generation get solved.

  10. Crogged says:

    Dudes and Dudettes-we all could use some Walker Percy.

    “What needs to be discharged is the intolerable tenderness of the past, the past gone and grieved over and never made sense of. Music ransoms us from the past, declares an amnesty, brackets and sets aside the old puzzles. Sing a new song. Start a new life, get a girl, look into her shadowy eyes, smile.”

    And

    “I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That’s despair?”

  11. flypusher says:

    Scroll through for a nice little tribute to Doug Marlette, who did such a fine job of poking some affectionate fun at the South, with some classic cartoons. Kudzu was one of my favorite comic strips, second only to Calvin and Hobbes.

    Maurice and the blues police still cracks me up.

  12. Bobo Amerigo says:

    A fine essay, Chris.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re bold enough to face the truth. I don’t think there’s a mechanism that can force introspection.

    Some American will do anything — including burning black churches — rather than attempt to acquire honesty.

    The civil rights movement had a big impact on my young life even though in my white Ohio farm town I experienced it primarily through the newspapers.

    Confederate flags and the people who wear them or fly them or put them on their trucks frighten me.

    In the same way that naming a street in a black Houston neighborhood for a Confederate solder, raising that flag over government buildings expresses a mean bitterness that is the opposite of looking inward for truth.

    • flypusher says:

      “Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re bold enough to face the truth. I don’t think there’s a mechanism that can force introspection.”

      Maybe not. We just may be playing with it right now. The Internet moves faster than television ever could. We also just may have had our catalyst in that hate crime that happened in Charleston. I’m not old enough to have witnessed the Civil Rights movement, but from reading history, I recall that many of the milestones of progress were preceded by horrible incidents that got through White America’s cocoon of complacency. Bloody Sunday. The Birmingham Church bombing. It takes a lot of denial to hide from horrors like that. I think we are at a nexus point here; do White people open their eyes and think beyond their own experiences, or do they face up to the fact that you just can’t declare that racism is over, the playing is now level and all is good. The people who want to take the 2nd option shouldn’t be let off the hook. You want to declare that flag is really about “heritage”? Can you accurately recite its history?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I read this yesterday.

        http://www.vox.com/2015/6/29/8847385/what-i-learned-from-leading-tours-about-slavery-at-a-plantation

        It doesn’t say much good about our educational system. Based on this account, many Americans don’t know a lot about our history of slavery because it is not taught.

        A few years ago, I emailed the now-history teacher at my old high school, asking if he could identify the U.S. history text used when I was in high school.

        I wanted to know why I came away with the impression that yes, slavery was bad, but also a tad bucolic. I didn’t understand why the slaves didn’t just leave. I had no idea how cruel and total was their oppression because it was never mentioned in history class.

        I hope you’re right. I hope we are ready to confront reality.

      • flypusher says:

        I was going to repost that in this thread, so thanks. Probably the author couldn’t know, but it would be interesting to know where the askers of the most egregious questions came from. The “Did the slaves appreciate the care their mistress gave them?” question absolutely floored me. There were also some people grousing about why “12 Years a Slave” got so many Oscars. The ignorance feeds the denial. That’s why I’m in favor of what Ta-Nehisi Coates was really advocating with his reparations article. We need to do what South Africa did- have an open hearing about exactly what happened during slavery in this country. We can’t have the victims and their oppressors testify in person any more, but we could have scholars present their research, and descendants tell their family stories. And if anyone wants to make the case that slavery wasn’t all that bad, they can try to make that case too. But they had best be ready to be cross-examined.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, we’ll see. When you see Texas leadership arrogantly dismissing Supreme Court law, it’s obvious that the fight is not over.

        Not much attention has been paid to the TX affirmative action case SCOTUS has agreed to take after remanding it back to lower courts years ago. There is a real bitterness at work among the Supremes and one hopes that major issues won’t fall prey to petty personal opinions, but, given the vitriol in the dissents to several recent opinions, I am not hopeful for a fair deliberation. Payback time? It’s going to be dicey getting the votes either way as Justice Kagan has recused herself (she worked on the case in earlier years).

        Given the court’s ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act, one has to wonder if Affirmative Action is the next to go. I’d be curious as to the group’s opinions on this subject. Is it still needed? Should there be changes in how it is applied? Is it still necessary? What changes would it’s overturn effectively mean to our society and our institutions and the court of law?

        Weigh in if you’re interested.

        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/huge-upcoming-supreme-court-case-201404602.html

      • flypusher says:

      • flypusher says:

        “Given the court’s ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act, one has to wonder if Affirmative Action is the next to go. I’d be curious as to the group’s opinions on this subject. Is it still needed? Should there be changes in how it is applied?”

        Quite of few of us would like to see a revamped affirmative action based on socioeconomics, rather than race.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, Fly. Let’s explore the socio-economic angle as an alternative/extension/modification of affirmative action. The Black community fears removal of affirmative action. Given past and current prejudices, I understand why. The question is, is there a way to move forward that protects minority rights without abandoning responsibility to those who continue to experience discrimination?

        Women understand this better than men. Blacks and Hispanics grapple with this still. Gays surely understand it. Given that the supreme court of the land apparently is no less political than those serving in Congress, how can fairness to all races, genders and ethnicity be protected while moving our social and cultural institutions and practices into the modern age?

      • 1mime says:

        I guess Tracy can feel vindicated by his statement that churches need to arm themselves. How very, very sad that our Black churches continue to be attacked and burned, and our Black clergy threatened and attacked. That these houses of worship have had to turn to armed security in the sanctuary may sound smart to gun proponents, but to me it demonstrates an incredible social loss. Yeah, Tracy, lives will be saved as a result of guns inside churches, but what does this say about America?

        http://news.yahoo.com/u-churches-guns-answer-prayer-054509154.html

  13. johngalt says:

    Wow. That is quite a bit of writing. The theme of tragedy runs through it, and through the history of the South. One does not sing the blues without good source material. Gumbo is a wonder made of flour, oil, cheap veggies and bottom-feeders. Religious services are more animated, because they needed to distract worshippers from the gripping poverty and inequality that awaited them outside the church doors.

    This pain is nowhere near over. We have not clasped hands in unity – we don’t even live in the same neighborhoods (go here and zoom in on Houston, or Nashville or Atlanta, or Charlotte: http://demographics.coopercenter.org/DotMap/index.html). Southerners may be great at sports, but they are not particularly good at science. Of the dozen-plus faculty in my research-intensive academic department in Houston, I am the only one raised in the South. This is not at all uncommon. The largest companies headquartered in the South are in extractive industries, sort of like in the third world. An exception is Walmart, which extracts dollars from the poorest amongst us. None of them are what we would pin the future economy on.

    Honestly, I think the best chance of change in the South is that there aren’t all that many “real” southerners and they are constantly being diluted by people moving in. Despite the problems, there are jobs here and with lots of cheap land, the cost of living compares very favorably to the Northeast and West, allowing middle class families to live more comfortable lives than they would on Long Island or the East Bay. There remains a very long way to go.

    • vikinghou says:

      “Of the dozen-plus faculty in my research-intensive academic department in Houston, I am the only one raised in the South.”

      In my experience you’re lucky to have Americans at all. Working in a major oil company R&D center before my retirement, I was involved with recruiting. Americans with PhDs in science and engineering are becoming rare. I still consult for my previous employer and, when I walk down the halls and read the name plates on the office doors it’s like the United Nations, with a heavy emphasis on Chinese, Russian and Indian.

      • flypusher says:

        In my previous job, our lab was a 50-50 split between Americans and non-Americans. Our international members hailed from Belgium, Switzerland, Taiwan, China, and Mexico.

        Needless to say we had some truly awesome lab potluck parties!!! And when the whole Department threw one…..

  14. Creigh says:

    Lorman, MS is just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, which I highly recommend for a road trip.

  15. Craftsman CT says:

    This is one fantastic essay. I now live in Connecticut, but lived in the south for 25 years, from age 32 to 57 (Fort Worth, New Orleans, Auburn, AL, and Orlando). I miss and don’t miss aspects of southern living, but I don’t regret for a minute the experience. You captured it well!

  16. Anse says:

    One of the best quotes about the South was from Flannery O’Connor: “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God.”

  17. 1mime says:

    Lifer, I have shared this wonderful story with family and friends. It is so special. When I told my husband about it, he said he knew about Lorman – that the greyhound bus used to stop there when he rode it from Natchez to Jackson where he visited an orthodontist as a young boy, some 70 years ago. He vividly recalled this little place on the side of the road. I am going to have him read your story because I know he will appreciate it. It’s one of your very best, Chris. It is worthy of the finest contemporary print media. I hope it’s picked up as the story as you told it, needs to be told.

    Thank you for an incredibly accurate and beautiful tribute to the old south and your gentle challenge for its re-birth.

    (Have you considered adding “print” feature on your blog page? It prints in faint sepia tones which, of course, is unreadable.)

  18. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Nice writing Chris, and a hopeful message.

    As bloggers and commenters across the internet weigh in on the confederate flag and all that it means, someone noted that when folks discuss the confederate flag as a symbol of “Southern culture” or celebrating “Southern history”, those folks are specifically referring to White culture and White history, ignoring the presence and feelings of Black folks and how they might feel about the confederate flag representing their history or culture.

    At this point, if you are flying a Confederate flag, with all the baggage and meaning it carries, you simply are being a dick. You aren’t celebrating anything other than the fact that the country gives you the freedom to be a dick.

    • Doug says:

      There are many people in the South who just don’t give a rat’s ass what you think of them. And they refuse to let others define what the flag means to them. Mainly that’s what they’re celebrating when they fly it. If, in your opinion, that makes them dicks, they really don’t care. Just sayin’…

      • Anse says:

        I think we’re all quite aware that Confederate apologists don’t care what we think of them. (I’m a Texan, for what it’s worth.) I think it’s also accurate to say that they revel somewhat in the provocation they can inspire by waving that flag. Defiance is a part of the symbolism; the controversy adds to it. Southerners don’t care, which also why they embrace this warped history or “heritage” that downplays the ugly bits and pretends they’re irrelevant. It’s just like you said; they don’t care, they don’t care, they don’t care. Don’t care about being wrong, don’t care about being offensive…they just don’t care.

      • flypusher says:

        The question is, is what the flag means to them based in reality or fantasy?? You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. When deciding what get displayed on the public square, facts should overrule fantasy. On your own property, take your pick.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Doug, I don’t disagree with you in the least. These folks do not care and if they had a rat’s ass, they would not give it to anyone.

        They do not care about what the flag means, they do not care about what it represents, and they do not care how other people view it…all of those things (and a dozen more things) make them dicks.

        We are in complete agreement here.

    • objv says:

      Oh good grief, Homer. Were the people who voted to fly the flag on government property all d’cks? You’d have to include the Rev. Clementa Pinckney who voted for the bill.

      http://allenbwest.com/2015/06/whoa-this-is-how-the-slain-pastor-felt-about-the-confederate-flag/

      Was Rev. Pinckney a d’ick or was he a tolerant person who didn’t see the Confederate flag as a threat?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…I’m not even going to touch the fact that you read Allen West’s website.

        I’m also going to assume you don’t know the context of that vote rather than attempting to cherry pick aspects of a politician’s vote to support your own position (which seems to be supporting the flying of the confederate flag).

        The resolution Pinckney voted for was a compromise solution: to allow the Confederate flag to be moved from the dome of the State House to a flagpole on the south side of the Confederate Soldier Monument, thus still leaving it on the grounds of the Capitol Complex. They did not have the votes to get rid of the flag completely, and this was at least an attempt to get it off the capital dome and over to the Confederate Memorial so folks who love the Confederacy could still get all happy to see it.

        Aside from all that, I’m pretty sure my posting was specific about “if you are flying the confederate flag”, not “if you voted for a compromise solution as the best method for getting a symbol of racism removed from the dome of the state capital building”, but hey, maybe I’m being too picky.

      • johngalt says:

        I’m with Homer. Pinckney voted for the least bad practically achievable option. It got the flag off the capitol dome and relocated to someplace slightly less prominent. Voting against the compromise ran the risk of it failing and the flag remaining up top.

      • flypusher says:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/take-down-the-confederate-flag-now/396290/#disqus_thread

        “Moral cowardice requires choice and action. It demands that its adherents repeatedly look away, that they favor the fanciful over the plain, myth over history, the dream over the real. Here is another choice.

        Take down the flag. Take it down now.

        Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.”

      • objv says:

        Homer, Rev. Pinckney could have abstained from voting. He could have insisted he could not vote for a measure to have the Confederate flag flown anywhere on public property. Instead, he did what a wise and tolerant person would do. He kept the peace and compromised.

        When you insist that everyone who flies the Confederate flag is a dick, you paint with a wide brush. I’m sure that there are some people who don’t see the flag as an indication of southern heritage and not slavery. Perhaps you are right in that the majority now do.

        Why can’t we all be a little more like Rev. Pinckney? His legacy is one of tolerance.

      • flypusher says:

        ” I’m sure that there are some people who don’t see the flag as an indication of southern heritage and not slavery. ”

        The problem is that so much of that “heritage” is a fairy tale manufactured by people wearing enormous blinders via a cherry picking of history that removes all the stuff that makes them uncomfortable. To put that in a public space is to give official endorsement to it.

        The compromise Sen. Pinckney made then is not appropriate now. If he had survived that attack, do you suppose that he just might have considered it time to rethink that deal?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wait, we are supposed to tolerate racists who want to fly the Confederate Flag on state capitol buildings? No thank you.

        There is an odd coincidence about all these Confederate flags popping up on state buildings. The Civil War ended and no one seemed to trot out these flags except for memorial ceremonies and funerals of Confederate soldiers.

        The flags started popping up on state buildings in the 1950s and 1960s. Hmmm…what other things happened at the time?

        I guess it is certainly possible that the good folks in the south just all of the sudden wanted to “celebrate their heritage” at about the same time we had Brown vs. Board of Education, Rosa Parks, and the Civil Rights Movement.

        Alternatively…well, I think we know that story, even as Chris points out above, we are not honest enough to admit it.

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, I have spent the last hour searching the SC Legislative archives and the only reference I find to H5028 is for a bill on Medicaid. The link you provided asserts that the confederate flag placement on state grounds was a compromise. ???

        I can not find ONE record of an amendment stating this, however, as we all know, frequently attachments/amendments are added that would not pass as stand-alone legislation. If attached to an important bill such as Medicaid authorization, as an example, the greater good/more significant legislation would pose a challenge to a vote that also approved placing the confederate flag on state grounds…or not. Given Reverend Pinckney’s constituency and personal commitment to people who are served frequently by Medicaid, this could be the reason he supported the flag compromise. Please document this link’s premise.

        I would like to ask you to find the specific amendment as my intensive efforts to do so have been unsuccessful. I find it reprehensible that anyone would use something like this to make any statement about Reverend Pinckney’s actions in this matter. I have placed a call to the SC Senate staffing headquarters and spoken to someone there who is going to try to help me find a legislative history for this act that purportedly occurred in the year 2000, but they are very busy and I am uncertain I will hear back. I will report same if I get information.

        Your efforts are welcomed to confirm and validate just how this legislation developed. I am sure you will want the truth of the matter, just as I do. As we both know, links can be very incomplete and misleading. I hope this is not the case here. This is a “big deal” to me as the man is not cold in his grave and his life is already being used to reinforce support for a symbol that holds so much pain for members of the Black Community. I’m certain you care about that.

        Unfortunately, Reverend Pinckney is no longer able to answer this question himself.

      • objv says:

        Homer, it is also an odd coincidence that “Bill Clinton signed a bill affirming that one of those blue stars [in the Arkansas flag] is there in honor of the Confederate States of America’ when he was governor. I assume that you will mete out your outrage on him and his lovely first lady. Signing the bill was definitely a racist, hate filled act. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/bill-clinton-arkansas-confederate_n_7638542.html

        Do I support the flag? No. Would I ever fly the flag? No. Do I think that the flag should fly on government property. No.

        My point contention is that not everyone who flies the Confederate flag is a d!ick. Think of poor, Aunt Mable (clutching her pearls) and watering the petunias on her great-grandfather’s grave.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I did one search and found the part of the bill in question. You won’t like the fact that I found it on Breitbart, but here you go:

        http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/24/slain-charleston-pastor-voted-for-
        compromise-to-move-confederate-flag/

        The article also mentioned that the NAACP opposed compromising.

        Fly and mime, we don’t know what would be going through Rev. Pinckney’s mind now. He would have ample reason to hate the Confederate flag. Still, he was a man who was kind enough to accept a weirdly acting, young, white man into his Bible study group. The family members of those killed forgave the murderer. They demonstrated true greatness and tolerance.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct that I am neither a fan of Breitbart or Allen West, but the explanation offered in the Breitbart link did clarify what happened. The link you originally provided, H5028 linked incorrectly to a Medicare bill. That led to a real dead end in trying to research the vote. I will note that this vote happened in Sen. Pinckney’s first year in the SC Senate, and does seem to be consistent with his life’s example of forgiveness and tolerance. How utterly tragic that such a man was gunned down by such a sniveling punk kid. I’m sure the parents of the children at Sandy Hook felt the same way as did all who loved JFK and MLK and so many others who were felled by hateful people.

        Ob, you really need to spend less time reading West and Breitbart so you can finish Lifer’s book (-: It’s Waaay better!

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj….you are not going to find a lot of love from me regarding Clinton and race. Our “first black president” was busy gutting some key aspects of social services and presiding over a lot of three-strikes-and-you-are-out that disproportionately affected low level Black criminals. So I’m not at all shocked that Clinton named a damn blue star in the state flag to commemorate racists who liked to own black people as property. Clinton (and his lovely first lady) are no where near above using of race and racists to further their political ambitions (and this likely was even more true 30 years ago as governor of Arkansas).

        You are spending at least some energy today trying to find a reason to support flying the Confederate Flag. If that energy is just because you are spoiling for an argument, then sure, we’ll entertain that.

        With that said (and you know this but seem to have a bad habit of leaving context out of your comments), the bill Clinton signed also included provisions of the specific size and colors for the flag, a state song, and any number of arcane things that no one cared about 30 years ago.

        I guess, in your world, acknowledging a star on a state flag is akin to flying the actual confederate flag, but it certainly seems like you are bending and stretching to make an argument that only racists and dicks (two groups that overlap considerably) would enjoy.

        If Aunt Mabel is flying the confederate flag on the way to plant petunias on her great grandfather’s grave in 2015, Aunt Mabel is a dick, a racist, or a race baitor (and probably all three).

        But hey, I’m in a charitable mood, so I’ll retract my broad brush and exclude anyone over the age of 90 who have not watched TV in the last 30 years. So, maybe Aunt Mabel isn’t a dick, but I’d probably bet money that she is.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Yep.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        OV, I presume you didn’t read Chris’ post in its entirety. CLEARLY, you (intentionally or otherwise) missed this:

        “If we can find the courage to resist our innate, inherited resistance to candor, we can begin to own everything we deserve.”

        And thanks to you OV, we STILL can’t have good things.

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