Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Few Thoughts from a Good Old Southern Boy

by Dee Newman

I’m a good old southern boy – born and bred in the mountains of east Tennessee. Though I have traveled extensively all over the world, I have lived most of my life here – in the buckle of the Bible-belt.

My relatives (on both sides of my family) were born and bred in the South (Georgia and Alabama) as well. Some of them became enlighten human beings. Others, remained ignorant fundamentalists.

In 1948 after President Truman ordered an end to discrimination in the military and the Democratic National Convention adopted a civil rights plank proposed by Hubert Humphrey and supported by Northern liberals many southern Democrats walked out of the convention and formed the States' Rights Democratic Party, nominating Strom Thurmond as their presidential candidate.

Humphrey’s amendment to the Democratic platform to strengthen the civil rights language simply read:
We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right to full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment; (3) the right to security of person; (4) and the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation.
On election day, Thurmond and his vice-presidential running mate, Fielding Wright (Gov. of Mississippi), carried the previously solid Democratic states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Though the Dixiecrats, as they were known, did not succeed in defeating President Truman, their effort did begin the weakening of the Democratic Party’s complete control of southern politics.

However, it was not until President Johnson’s passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the Democrats irrevocably lost the ‘Solid South’ to an increasingly socially conservative Republican Party.

A number of my relatives and childhood friends (then and now) fervently believe in the old Dixiecrats’ platform that supported ‘states rights’ (the unchecked power of ‘Jim Crow’ over the lawful authority of the Federal Constitution), which stated in part:
We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
Some of them (then and now) are evangelical Southern Baptists – self-righteous hypocrites, religiously espousing one thing and doing the opposite. In their ignorance they believe the Bible condemns all of us as dirty, rotten, hell-deserving sinners. And that, only through accepting Christ as our savior will we ever see the ‘Promised Land’.

They have a propensity for quoting scripture, most frequently from the Old Testament and rarely from the words of the Nazarene.

The most recent of their Biblical citation has come not only from select pulpits, but via email and bumper stickers. Psalm 109:8 is being increasingly promoted by these professed Christians as the “Imprecatory Prayer” for President Obama. It ‘lovingly’ reads – “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership” and “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”

Perhaps, they should consider the words of their so-called savior who said in Matthew 7:12 – 23:
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets . . . the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it . . . the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it . . . Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits . . .  Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven . . . On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”

1 comment:

mythopolis said...

I enjoyed reading this piece of personal history. The family and the family trees of people are all such unique pairings begetting unique pairings in their offspring, and so on. It gets complicated fast. My dad rose out of a fundamentalist protestant rural world, my mother, an urban Irish Catholic. I remember that being a lot to absorb as I was growing up.