California, once the American Mecca of milk and honey, has fallen on hard times. Though its degradation and decline are largely self-inflicted, California’s condition is nonetheless an American tragedy and a dire portent for the rest of us.
The state is fast becoming a colony and milk cow for Mexico, with a few enclaves occupied by Asians the way the British used to dominate Hong Kong and Singapore. Public spending and debt have reached catastrophic levels unmanageable by a society of self-centered individuals and interest groups. Gang warfare dominates the urban jungle. The state doubtless leads the Union in foreigners, perverts, dopesters, and aborted children. Hollywood, once a source of pleasant diversions, now pollutes not only the U.S. but the entire world with pornography, nihilistic violence, and, what is worse, bad taste. The Terminator and various other flakes have been elected governor. Productive citizens are fleeing east and north by the thousands. If illegal aliens are not counted California is losing population for the first time in a century and a half of American settlement.
However, not to worry. The California legislature has voted unanimously (ONE dissenting vote) to ban the Confederate flag! They have taken a stand on the major issue of the age, valiantly attacking a looming threat to human progress. (Though apparently the Hammer & Sickle, the Swastika, and Che Guevara and Black Power fists are still welcome).
We Southerners are blessedly free of the characteristic American passion for minding other people’s business. I usually don’t care what California is up to, although, of course, the evil of its massive power in Congress and presidential elections threatens me and everything I hold dear. And its fountain of moral and cultural depravity seems inescapable.
The Powers That Be in the lost commonwealth on the Pacific assure us that banning the Confederate flag is not an attack on free speech, which, of course, is a blatant lie. How could such a ban not be? Are the Sons of Confederate Veterans, of which there a number of chapters in California, not to meet, not to take part in patriotic parades and public service projects? Are country music bands not to exhibit their affection for their lost homeland? Are little boys at play not to be allowed to wear gray hats and display the symbol of valour?
California’s act is not a proof of its righteous power or its moral caliber. It is a sign of hateful impotence. Such a sign has appeared many times in American history. The South is the permanent Internal Other.Whenever things go bad, when a certain type of American feels an uneasy sense that he is losing status, then it is time to focus hate on the South, which is predefined as the fount of all evil in an otherwise pure and shining America. Of course, our legislators know nothing of the South and know and care nothing about history. What they are really doing is seceding from the American past, from everything that the United States has been, and affirming an imaginary glorious future.
Now if they would just secede from the Union. They are big and self-righteous enough to be their own country and they would sure be doing the rest of us a big favour.
Clyde N. Wilson is the Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and a Contributing Editor to Chronicles. Dr. Wilson is best known as the editor of the 28-volume documentary edition of The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the author or editor of a dozen other books—including Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew and Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture—and has published over 700 articles, essays, and reviews. He is also the co-owner of Shotwell Publishing.