Monday, April 2, 2012

The Civil War: It's Over

As I was driving along in Concord the other day, I noticed a sign on the back window of the car in front of me. The sign read “Yankees Suck.” My first thought was, “So you really don’t like the NY Yankees, but “suck”? No one could realistically describe them that way. Then I thought, “Ahh, no, the driver isn‘t talking about the NY Yankee baseball team. She’s talking about me.”  Ah, yeah, one more southern slash attack on us “damned Yankees.” 

And then I thought back to that letter to the Editor in the Charlotte Observer a while back, where the writer expressed concern about the “transplants” to this area and their negative effect on the water supply—yet another “damned Yankee” expression.
Since I am pretty clearly a “Yankee” I surely must count myself among the horde of “transplants.” I am from . . . hmmm. Well, I come from Brooklyn, and from Los Angeles, and from San Francisco, and from New Delhi, India, and from Boston, and from Washington, DC. So I guess I am sort of a career expatriate. I figure though, that the only difference between me and the local “indigenous” population of North Carolina—you know, the true “Southerner”-- is when I “transplanted” myself from somewhere else to here. The “local” population, after all, came originally from the same places my grandparents originated. My grandparents emigrated from Scotland, where many North Carolinians originated. They came here, as many others, relatively poor, uneducated, and looking for a new life. The main difference is that they stopped in Brooklyn, rather than migrating down the Appalachian chain to settle in North Carolina.   
The current local residents come from diverse backgrounds. Some come from people who were
rich, or lucky, buying or stealing land from the true indigenous population—the Native Americans. Some were unlucky, arriving here in chains from far away places. 
I have always believed that one of the great strengths of the American people is our migratory habits. We are a people on the move. That’s how we settled the country. This migratory habit caused great cultural integration in our people everywhere, making for a better population that derived strength from the cultural mix. Dwight Eisenhower, when he was president, encouraged this migratory pattern by authorizing the great Interstate Highway system that allowed people to travel all over the country on good roads. 
Now, through all of our various moves, until now, we never encountered walls of resistance, or local people signaling “Yankee Go Home.” Even when we traveled to live for a time in India, we were considered honored guests and treated well. Since coming to live in North Carolina, we instead see letters in the paper about transplants despoiling the land.
While talking recently with the dad of a young boy who had just finished playing basketball with my grandson, I mentioned the warmth here and the snow up in New England. He remarked, “well don’t tell THEM what we have here. We don’t want any more of THEM coming down here.” The fact that I was one of THEM apparently didn’t enter his brain before he uttered those words to me. I see the Confederate flags on cars and flying over houses. I wonder about the message. I think those flags and the messages are borne out of the continued presence in this area of The CIVIL WAR. 
So, I have come up with a great idea for a new article, maybe in the newspaper, or perhaps even a series of articles. It would have to have a catchy title. Perhaps something like: 
The Civil War is Over: No Really, it’s Over.
Look it up in Wikipedia. Or Google it. 
So, the article would be all about how the War is really finished, and how now would be a good time to get on with our collective lives. And how this would be an even nicer place to live if we didn’t keep reverting to tribalism.  So that’s about it. A new article. Think about it. Couldn’t hurt.
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