Will the South Survive?
 
From: bernhard1848@att.net
 
The desperate and all-consuming rush for money today has Southern States outbidding each other for how many tax dollars can be given away to big business or Hollywood, calling this “economic incentives” and claiming that somehow it is the duty and obligation of government to create employment for all.  The de-Southernized South has become the land of “you guys,” fast food and mega-store chains, “lunch” instead of dinner, and what those who refuse to assimilate call “que” – formerly known as Southern pork barbeque.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
"Documenting Cape Fear People, Places and History"
www.cfhi.net 
 
Will the South Survive?
 
“The Tullahoma local newspaper reported that the town was trying to pass liquor-by-the-drink laws to woo “up-scale” restaurants to locate themselves at the interstate interchanges. Such new South boosterism has made heavy inroads into local culture.
 
New South boosterism began in the nineteenth century with Henry Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. Boosters and their legislation promised that all the South needed was to give up everything that makes us the South and become just like the North, and we would all be happy and wealthy (nobody mentions boring).
 
A Chamber of Commerce might conclude that we need to entice more national chains to establish prosperity, but chains and industry move elsewhere, leaving behind unemployment, a victim mentality, and no lasting prosperity.  I call this kind of approach, “homo economicus” anthropology.  It reduces everything – and every man – to a question of money.
 
One hundred and twenty years later, the promised still haven’t been fulfilled. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or puke, but I am pretty sure that passing liquor-by-the-drink laws will not bring economic nirvana to Tullahoma.  When you make a bargain to sell your soul, first make sure that the devil can pay.
 
Will boosterism finally gobble up the South? On the surface, the homogenization of culture that comes with the local economy relying on big business and chain stores means we are steadily being de-Southernized.  The whole effect is to homogenize and standardize the landscape.  That seems to be proceeding fast, while the people themselves seem unchanged.  What’s happening to the roots of Southern culture is anybody’s guess.  On the outside the country here is peaceful, pleasant, friendly, independent and helpful, but at the same time there’s that welfare mentality, some very fat people, and loads of government economic intervention.
 
The courthouses at the heart of each county tell this story of the South eloquently. Giles County 1910 courthouse retains the integrity of the South’s past. In Lawrenceburg sits a hideous 1960s “Modern” courthouse.  In Waynesboro looms a 1970s tenement-style concrete slab.  In Winchester squats a blocky 1936 “American fascist” look that would gladden the heart of any fascist or Soviet architect.  Gone are the stately courthouses, the statues of soldiers holding muskets and facing north, symbols of the community’s continuity and long life, and with them fast disappears our local history.
 
Nevertheless, many of these counties have attracted back-to-the-land, simple-life people, and their roots are permanent so they will recreate permanent prosperity. The land is rich, the people true, the leadership clueless. I could move elsewhere, but Tennessee is my home.  Our family could do a lot worse than finding itself at home here.
 
Perhaps the fate of the Magic Road says it all. The State is turning Highway Sixty-four into a four-lane, bypassing exquisite little villages like McBurg and big towns alike.  I know it’s faster, but God help me, I do love the old road better.”
 
(At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Vol. 1, Franklin Sanders, Four Rivers, Inc. pp. 37-39)  This fine book of Southern culture can be ordered from www.dogwoodmudhole.com.