Speak Now Against the Day: The Southernization of the United States
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph.
The United States is becoming like the South rather than the South being transformed into a non-racist area. This transformation is being large ignored by American sociologists, and, worse, is being justified in the name of multicultural separatism. By the time American sociologists and other intellectuals wake up to this process of southernization, it will probably be too late for them to change it and they will have to accept it as a reality. Indeed, once fully established, the few American intellectuals who protest against the new southernized America will be largely ignored and punished into quietness.
The Second Civil War and the Second Reconstruction
There are two great periods of substantial change in American civil rights history, the first American civil war, 1861-1865, and the second civil war, 1954-1966, under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. Following the attempts by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson to abolish the apartheid system in the South, a period of reconstruction began in which, like the first Reconstruction, the white middle class reasserted its political and social power vis-à-vis black and poor Americans. This occurred not only in the South, but in the rest of the nation as well.
Like the failure of the first Reconstruction, the second Reconstruction led to a resurgence of white dominance in the political arena that took back many of the gains in the area of civil rights. Conservative attitudes once again dominated and racism came to the fore. Something new arose in American politics -- not just political retrenchment, but longing to go back to the past. The conservatives firmly reestablished control with the election of former Governor of California Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. With this election, the conservative backlash turned into a major assault on not only civil rights, but on the welfare state itself. Reaganism went beyond backlash to a restoration of some of the inequalities that the nation had eliminated in earlier increases in equality. Indeed, one could say that the United States to some extent has retreated to the Age of the Robber Barons under the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush (see Barlett and Steele, 1992). The backlash went so far as to constitute a counter cycle, one that increased rather than decreased inequality. While legal apartheid had been largely abolished, discrimination has become so widespread and sociological racist theories so popular that blacks have been even more heavily segregated in the centers of the nation's cities.
The Recovery of Dixie
In 1971 two sociologists with an interest in the American South published an article on the region's transformation since the 1930s and what they called its "national incorporation." Citing the South's industrialization, occupation redistribution, income, and education, they depicted a region that was rapidly abandoning its "geographic, mental, and social" isolation and being fully integrated into the larger American system. . . . In the process the contrasts and disparities between North and South receded, although differences remained along with recurrent sectional conflicts and rivalries. (McKinney and Bourque 1971, cited in Grantham 1994:259)
In a 1974 book entitled The Americanization of Dixie: The Southernization of America, the writer John Egerton examined the homogenizing processes that were steadily eroding the distinctiveness of the South and making North and South increasingly alike. "The South is no longer simply a colony of the nation, an inferior region, a stepchild; it is now rushing to rejoin the Union, and in the process it is becoming indistinguishable from the North and East and West. The Union is meeting the South at the front door with overtures of welcome." (Egerton 1974:xix cited in Grantham 1994:278)
But what has been more ignored is that the entire United States is becoming like the South. The South has become so integrated into racist-capitalist America that it is leading the way in many areas. Atlanta, Georgia has become a major media center with innovations such as the twenty-four hour news service and now has become a mecca for many black Americans returning to the South.
The Demographic Trends
Blacks have been moving out of the South for a long time now. The great migration up to Harlem occurred in the 1920s. And after the Second World War many blacks experienced a massive migration to the north. The end result is that whereas at one time the vast majority of the American blacks were concentrated in the South, they are now spread throughout the country and concentrated in the center cities of most of the major cities of the United States. This change has been a major cause of the increasingly Southern-like behavior of all Americans.
The South is in the vanguard of the racist counter movement, but it is being assisted by California. California is in the vanguard because it is rapidly becoming a society of numerically equal groups of color, brown, yellow, black and white. This scares a lot of whites and they have been actively fighting so-called multiculturalism. And many of the minorities are actually helping in this endeavor. In fact, California is currently being used as a scare tactic to frighten white America. Our most populous state is now seen as a scary example of what can happen if we continue to follow liberal policies on immigration and multi-culturalism. And this has increased the degree of conservatism in the entire United States.
The actual trends are toward more segregation at the same time the intellectual and civil rights leaders are calling America a multicultural society. Talk about wishful thinking.
The South is becoming more and more integrated into the national economy. It is really doing well, economically, with Atlanta now one of the most influential cities in the nation. In fact, the South has done so well that many blacks are returning to the South. Newsweek (July 14, 1997:36-38) carried an article about the fact that many blacks are returning to the South. Some 369,000 blacks moved back to the South between 1990 and 1995. At this rate a net tide of 2.7 million -- more than half of the great post-1940 migration -- will have headed South between 1975 and 2010. And why not, since no matter where you go in the United States ,race relations are pretty much the same: bad. Of course, the major reason they are returning is the availability of jobs in the growing South.
The old South was surely characterized by great economic inequality. The United States is turning into the old South economically, in the sense that income inequality has been rapidly growing (see Philips).
There has been a growth in KKK-like right wing organizations throughout the United States. The Michigan Militia has especially gained notice, and Michigan is certainly about as north as one can get in the United States. Accompanying this has been a surge in the growth of hate speech.
In voting behavior, whites are becoming unified in their rejection of those who support affirmative action and other remedial actions. The new "red-necks" are the white blue collar workers, whether they are found in the South or the North. They share many similar ideas and behaviors. White males are becoming a large Republican block and the white females will increasingly follow as racial tensions rise in the nation. This trend is certainly more pronounced in the South, but the South is the leader here rather than being a retrogressive lager in terms of national trends.
The South has reasserted its political power after the long delay caused by its switch of political allegiance from the Democratic to the Republican party. The speaker of the House is now Newt Gingrich from Georgia, and the speaker of the Senate is Trent Lott from Mississippi. Men such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, old Southern racists, now have leading positions in the committee structure of the nation's congress.
The Republican party captured the congress in the 1994 elections. It could have been worse, but the Democrats were saved in the 1996 elections by the Republican victories in the 1994 off-year elections. Following the 1994 elections, the Republicans dominated both House and Senate. Their overwhelming victory, however, led them to think that they had a mandate to become even more conservative. This proved their undoing for it is one thing to threaten to take away the benefits of the poor, and quite another to threaten to take away welfare state benefits designated for the white and black middle class. The hubris of the Republicans, and the new speaker of the House allowed them to portray themselves in a mean-spirited fashion that led the white middle class to perceive them as a threat. And as a result, Clinton won reelection. Although the Republicans failed to win control over both the executive and legislative branches at the same time, the conservatives won a great victory with the Democratic approval of the new welfare reforms. When neither the Republican or the Democratic parties will touch the label of "liberal," one has to recognize just how southernized the United States has become.
No Institutions of Change
The major institutions of the South reinforced segregation. This was true of both white and blacks with their separate, but parallel, institutions of segregation. The major institutions of the United States are now similarly conservative. The school system justifies segregation with its talk of multicultural separatism. The mass media similarly performs the same function. All this is sanctioned by the so-called intellectuals, both black and white. Indeed, with their talk of separatism through multiculturalism, they justify the rise of conservatism and racism in the United States.
Disappearance of the Historical South Means no Future Major Change Agency in the United States
Historically, the United States was able to make progress in race relations by using the power of the federal government to intervene in the South to change that region, and while doing so, to change the rules for the better for the entire society. The federal government intervened in the slavery issue during the first civil war and in the South's apartheid system during the second civil war. But the southernization of the entire United States, and the accompanying disappearance of the southern region, means there is no further internal engine to overcome racism. When we are all southerners, who or what will change the American system?
One has to look at the behavior of Americans and not what they say to appreciate fully just how much they have all become southernized. The traditional South always covered up its racism with wonderful sounding phrases, many of which could have come directly from any politician's fourth of July speech.
The new understanding of racism is that it is definitely not the primary result of prejudice. Racism stems from a system of racist capitalism in which race is used as a key variable to maintain the capitalist system. Prejudice is only one of the methods used to keep this racist capitalist system in continuance. But most liberals are still having troubles recognizing this. Racist institutions come first, then are accompanied by appropriate racist behaviors. Accompanying these primary forces are the appropriate racist values and attitudes. All this is covered up with high-sounding, but basically racist, intellectual ideas.
We are starting to see behavior patterns similar to those traditionally associated with the South in the entire nation. Incidents of police brutality are now quite common in all the areas where there is a large concentration of minorities, especially blacks. There is the growth of all-white juries unwilling to convict brutal police officers of unnecessary use of force as a result of the increasing racially segregated neighborhoods in the United States.
There has been a growth in the number of violent incidents when blacks have traveled into white neighborhoods and been chased, brutalized, and even murdered. When blacks try to protest these incidents, whites in the offending neighborhoods harass the marching protesters.
In all regions of the United States there is a great deal of similar types
of discrimination that limit minorities in their freedom of choice in areas
such as housing, schools and jobs. This is not simply a southern phenomenon,
but rather one that is nationwide.
The United States has always been puritanical. The young people seemed to be moving away from puritanism during the 1960s and early 1970s, but now the puritanical values have taken on new life in the talk of family values. The United States is returning to puritanical values, values which the South always deeply embodied and cherished. But now all the United States is seeing the virtue of puritanical values.
Yes, there has been a trend where the South's attitudes have become more like that of the United States as a whole. One does not hear as often in the South the biological racism that was once so popular. And the South's leaders try to be politically correct to a considerable extent. But, more importantly, the rest of the nation's attitudes have been moving more toward that of the South. Biological racism has largely been replaced by a new sociological racism. And this is something all the regions are moving toward.
In the field of race relations a new ideology of race slowly developed. Conservatives used code words such as "forced bussing" and "quotas" to appeal to those opposed to the liberal agenda. Patrick Moynihan advised President Nixon to begin a period of "benign neglect" in the area of civil rights. The new conservatism stressed that there is plenty of equality of opportunity in the nation, but that minorities fail to take advantage of this. Social scientists, such as Edward Banfield (1970) and Charles Murray (1984), even began to declare that now that racial barriers had been destroyed, any further failure to make progress had to be ascribed to the minorities themselves. Conservatives adopted a new form of racial ideology, sociological racism. The new conservatism became so strong that most liberal commentators found themselves pushed off television and radio and replaced by conservative spokespersons.
All the regions of the nation are moving toward a belief in sociological racism. There are still regional differences in attitudes, but these are lessening. And when the entire nation is sociologically racist, why emphasize the small differences between regions and the overwhelming importance of the triumph of sociological racism nationwide? According to sociological racism, racism is more structural than attitudinal. In other words, because of past and present racism, blacks are badly off, so badly off that whites do not want to be around them. This is seen as a rational response, one that is not prejudicial in origin. So prejudice becomes rational in response to the existing racist structures. Since the racist structure is not likely to change any time soon, the sociological racists argue that racism will continue certainly long into the foreseeable future.
The South was always characterized by the lack of an honest debate about racism (see Egerton). There was virtually no debate in the South, except within a racist context. This can also now be said of the United States as a whole. Similarly, there is lack of a national debate, except within a racist context. The debate occurs among conservatives, old liberals, and new multicultural liberals, but it is a debate largely within a racist context. And none of the liberals have the slightest idea of how to get the nation out of its current descent into more racism. President Clinton is to the right of the old liberals, never mind the new multicultural liberals. The national debate occurs without a real left, just as it did in the old South.
Dissent was treated as treason in the South. Today, it is treated as politically incorrect and therefore racist. Different excuses, same results. All real debate will cease, if it has not already.
Sociologists censor manuscripts dissenting from the new period of segregation. They claim they are doing so to defend the new liberalism of multiculturalism, but they are actually acting like the old liberals of the South under segregation. They are not dissenting from segregation, but actually insuring that it goes unchallenged. They are actually the new Southern liberals, which makes them ineffectual pseudo-liberals.
Multiculturalism as the New Separate But Equal Segregation
Today multiculturalism is a very popular philosophy and approach to race and ethnic relations. It is not, however, a liberal idea, but rather a conservative one. It actually sanctions racial separatism. Indeed, the reason why multiculturalism has become so popular is because it does solve the day to day problems of dealing with hostile interrelationships between the various racial and ethnic groups in America. Keeping different groups separate does lessen problems for teachers and others.
Indeed, multiculturalism has co-existed with the rise of new forms of segregation within Southern schools. For instance, in Mississippi the news programs have reported that there are dual black and white power systems in the schools, one for the whites with a white principal, and one for the blacks with a black principal. The segregation is near complete with even the yearbook being filled with separatist categories such as white best looking male and female and black best looking male and female. In Georgia many school districts have employed a different kind of segregation through so-called academic tracking. White students are placed in the higher tracks even when testwise they do not merit it, while blacks with better test scores, with a few exceptions, are placed in the lower tracks. All the while, the multicultural talks proceeds, partially covering the ugly reality of new structures of segregation.
The biggest proof that the United States is becoming like the South is that a huge part of the entire intellectual community has signed on to a new system of segregation, known euphemistically as the multicultural society. Not only have they completely been enticed by this form of segregation, but defend it with righteous indignation against all assaults. And like the old South, we will soon be allowed almost no deviance from the intellectual totalitarianism of the multicultural New Left segregationists. Already the vast majority of American intellectuals, black and white, have cow-towed to this new orthodoxy and seem to have not a clue that multicultural separatism is not a lasting, or even decent, solution.
Multiculturalism has its greatest acceptance in the area of education. But in fact, this is more curricula reform than social reform. In fact, it is not a social movement. It is a policy approach to get the minorities a larger share of governmental resources. It is not a movement to change America. Of course, liberals justify their actions by saying that men can change through education, but this is sheer self-serving clap-trap. The equal in the plural but equal system is on the verge of being canceled in the United States. Many of the individual states in America are not waiting for federal action but are ridding themselves of the affirmative action programs built up so painstakingly by the liberals over the decades. President Clinton sounded the death knell for any true equality between the multi-cultural groups when he signed the welfare reform bill. This marked a significant change in American politics, as the government has now chose not to assure a safety net under those who are the most unfortunate in American society.
Today we find ourselves in a period of increasing segregation that we can term the era of multi-cultural or plural but equal segregation. Our new Booker T. Washington's are the top multiculturalists, such as Jesse Jackson. And judging from American history following the first Civil War this period of separate but equal segregation will last quite some time. The conservatives are going to tear the heart out of the so-called multicultural society and its programs, but probably keep the shell of multicultural pretense. They will of course continue to criticize multiculturalism, but will be happy to co-exist with a moderated multiculturalism as long as its actual results sanction racial/ethnic separatism. This will suit the South for multiculturalism will keep the civil rights community quiet all the while things get progressively worse for American minorities.
The Results of Multi-culturalism: Intellectual and Policy Civil War between Left and Right Lead the Nation to Semi-Anarchy
What is really happening in America is a type of civil war between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives dominate the nation's non-intellectual institutions, but liberals are powerful enough in the more intellectual institutions to be able to have enough power to sabotage the goals of the conservatives. The result is that none of the nations' institutions run well. Many of them are paralyzed as a result of the conflicting and incompatible goals and means of the warring conservative and liberal factions. For instance, multiculturalism has not been able to take over the nation's schools in behavioral terms, and yet the liberals have so interfered with the schools to oppose conservative policies that about the only thing that reigns in the nation's average schools is a considerable degree of chaos.
The efforts of the liberals against the conservatives and the conservatives response has led to near anarchy in the United States. The liberals have so over-used the courts to challenge institutional authorities that the authorities are scared of being in authority. The end result is that inmates are more in charge of the asylum than the staff. But with the inmates in charge, overall, there is less justice for everyone, including the inmates.
The conservatives have responded to liberal policies by leading a tax revolt that has limited any real changes for minorities. As a result, all our institutions have been weakened financially. Indeed, American government has been so weakened by both sides that it is virtually inept at performing a competent governing role.
Proof of the Failure of Multiculturalism: The O.J. Trial
Most of the discussions of the O.J. trial are completely short-sighted. It is probably the trial of the century because all the major power groups in the society lined up on different sides to fight it out to see who's version of reality would prevail. It reminds me of the Dreyfus case in France where all the different groups in the society took sides. It revealed all the lines of division and contention in the society.
With the O.J. trial, whites saw how bitter, and indeed, hateful, blacks were towards whites -- bitter and hateful enough to allow a murderer to go free. This black attitude is a long way from the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The O.J. trial was multiculturalism gone crazy -- pushed to its logical extreme. The trial makes one wonder if there ever can be justice again in matters involving black and white interaction. If whites are going to let off influential whites who harm blacks and the blacks are going to let off influential blacks who harm whites, then we have reached a real impasse. A lot more racially-motivated murderers and other offenders will be roaming America's streets.
Before anything can be done about the trend toward the southernization of the United States, American intellectuals, black and white, will have to wake up to their own racism. As of yet, the intellectuals have only worked actively to suppress attempts to point out existing racist attitudes among the intellectuals themselves. With American intellectuals working for separatism and segregation, at the present there is not much hope for challenging the eventual triumph of Dixie.
Banfield, Edward. 1970 The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis. Boston: Little, Brown.
Barlett, Donald L. and James B. Steele. 1992 America: What Went Wrong? Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews and McMeel.
Egerton, John. 1974 The Americanization
of Dixie: The Southernization of America.
1994 Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Grantham, Dewey W. 1994 The South in Modern America: A Region at Odds. New York: Harper Collins.
McKinney, John C. And Linda Brookover Bourque. 1971 "The changing South: National incorporation of a region." American Sociological Review 36(June):399-
Murray, Charles A. 1984 Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980. New York: Basic Books. 1988 In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Phillips, Kevin. 1969 The Emerging Republican Majority. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House. 1990 The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath. New York: Random House.
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