Progressives’ hatred for the American South

Progressives hate the South. They angrily denounce the historically conservative nature of Southerners and persist in tying Southern culture only to slavery. “The slavery-saddled South…brutally productive slave economy…Deep South…a vast slave-labor camp.”

One recent commentator shows bitter resentment that “the antebellum South has retained its status as a world apart from the rest of America.” Inadvertently, he suggests that the South doesn’t need to rise again; it was never beaten down. Evidence of that appears in a long, rambling rant by Harold Meyerson, Editor-at-large of a leftist magazine The American Prospect ( and columnist for the Washington Post. (Link below)

Mr. Meyerson begins his “How the American South Drives the Low-Wage Economy” with these and other vindictives. He is livid about “the resilience of the Southern order and the similarities between the Old South and the New….” Of course, some Southern historians would argue that the “New” South has been corrupted by 150 years of assaults on its culture and economy.  But many do believe that enough remains to be able to identify the sector as unique in America.

Meyerson directs his fury to the trend for auto and aerospace manufacturers locating “low-wage assembly plants in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi.” It’s not fair.  As these plants have moved to Southern States, “factory workers’ wages have gone south as well.”

The columnist extends his wrath to Southern and Northern “elites,” writing that “the South today shares more features with its antebellum ancestor than it has for a long time. Now as then, white Southern elites and their powerful allies among non-Southern business interests seek to expand to the rest of the nation the South’s subjugation of workers and its suppression of the voting rights of those who might oppose their policies.” Meyerson convinces himself that Southerners conspire with others to undo social “progress” in other sectors of America.

Meyerson can’t let go of that conspiracy theory. “In fact, now more than then,” he writes, “the South’s efforts to spread its values across America are advancing, as Northern Republicans adopt their Southern counterparts’ antipathy to unions and support for voter suppression, and as workers’ earnings in the North fall toward Southern levels. And, now as then, a sectional backlash against Southern norms has emerged that, when combined with the Southern surge, is again creating two nations within one.”

And on he goes at length linking some Northern States’ conservative accomplishments with “historically white Southern values.” (“Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin have joined the South in enacting ‘right to work laws’ intended to reduce union membership.”)

Sprinkled around in the text Meyerson offers some gems of historical truths unknown to most Americans other than Southern scholars and historians, but he pegs everything to slavery.

For example, “The ties between Northern bankers and Southern slavers were so strong that as the South seceded in 1860 and 1861, New York Mayor Fernando Wood urged his city—then as now the center of American finance—to secede as well.”

Meyerson did not, however, note that it was some of the same New York bankers that provided funding for Lincoln’s War against the Southern States. He does note that the Northern States criminalized “assistance to escaped slaves.” And, the (slave-free) British “bankers were major investors in the slave economy.” He notes also that they extended credit, provided arms and constructed warships for the Confederacy. Apparently, the Southern States had considerable national and international support for their “brutally productive slave-economy.”

Of course, none of this justifies slavery, but it shows that worldwide at that time it was not as much an issue as was trade and business competition; thus, the major reason for Southern States’ secession. Then, the Southern economy was stronger than that in Northern States. Most Americans at that time opposed Lincoln’s war. Frenzied, violent abolitionists and Northern businessmen helped push Lincoln and his Republican Party to invade the South, setting off “the terrible swift sword” of massive, unnecessary, death and destruction.

To the end Meyerson continues his conspiracy: “…the federal government in recent decades has done little to obstruct the nationalization of the white South’s racist and anti-worker norms.” He writes that although some States and cities have enacted minimum-wage increases, paid sick-leave, and legislation “making it easier to vote,” they are “too few to offset the malign influence of the South on broader wage trends.”

Meyerson concludes that despite Barack Obama “hoping to bridge the divisions between blue states and red…fundamental divisions that turned one nation into two in 1861 loom larger today than they have in a very long time.”

Yes, thanks to the relentless progressive assaults on American values, I believe, these once united States have been hopelessly divided since 1861. The South may be the last chance we have for some conservative cultural and economic sanity to return in America, and to finally reject the irrational hatred and destructive policies perpetuated by progressives.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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