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REBUTTAL: Or Can Southern Studies Escape the Prison House of the Confederacy? When I first discovered the “Southern Partisan” in the early 90s, what interested me was not just their opinions, but who these people were. They weren’t some marginal individuals on the fringe of society, but persons in the mainstream of society, in fact often persons with prominent positions in society. They were professors, columnists for newspapers, authors, and in one case a member of congress. Also, they could attract nationally prominent persons to interview with or contribute to the publication. They were also able writers and could profess their opinions with skill. They avoided belligerent expressions of racism. If they had been like the Ku Klux Klan or other such organizations I could hardly have been bothered to further inquire, but this was a type of racism I was unfamiliar with. What I also began to learn in the 90s was that though people professed to be anti-racist, their anti-racism largely consistent of having antipathy against racists who lacked middle class decorum and were belligerent and direct and crude in their expression of racism. The racist was the “other” who was not like themselves. Michael Billig in his landmark book, “Banal Nationalism” discusses the fact that the discussion of nationalism usually resolves around extremists to the exclusion of seeing the banal nationalism in everyday life. Billig contrasts the focus of the usual analyst of nationalism to the analyst of banal nationalism as follows: "The analyst of banal nationalism does not have the theoretical luxury of exposing the nationalism of others. The analyst cannot place exotic nationalists under the microscope as specimens, in order to stain the tissues of repressed sexuality, or turn the magnifying lens on to the unreasonable stereotypes, which ooze from the mouth of the specimen. In presenting the psychology of a Le Pen or Zhirinovsky, ‘we’ might experience a shiver of fear as ‘we’ contemplate ‘them’, the nationalists, with their violent emotions and ‘their’ crude stereotyping of the Other. And ‘we’ will recognize ‘ourselves’ among the objects of this stereotyping. Alongside the ‘foreigners’ and the ‘racial inferiors’, there ‘we” will be – the ‘liberal degenerates’, with ‘our’ international broadmindedness. ‘We’ will be reassured to have confirmed ‘ourselves’ as the Other of ‘our’ Other. By extending the concept of nationalism, the analyst is not safely removed from the scope of investigation. We might imagine that we possess a cosmopolitan broadness of spirit. But, if nationalism is a wider ideology, whose familiar commonplaces catch us unawares, then this is too reassuring. We will not remain unaffected. If the thesis is correct, then nationalism has seeped into the corners of our consciousness; it is present in the very words which we might try to use for analysis. It is naïve to think that a text of exposure can escape from the times and place of its formulation. It can attempt, instead, to do something more modest: it can draw attention to the powers of an ideology which is so familiar that it hardly seems noticeable." [Billig, Michael, “Banal Nationalism,” from the Introduction, page 12, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, 1995] I also realized that racists were quite aware of this also, and would fly under the radar by avoiding resembling the stereotypes of racists. When I exposed the connections of Trent Lott to the Council of Conservative Citizens, www.cofcc.org, Stanley Crouch of the “New York Daily News” explained: “Somewhere in the material of the of the Council of Conservative Citizens the statement is made that one should be a nazi – but never use the word. That seems to be the approach the council is taking now that more and more light is being cast on its white supremacist doctrine, its vision of Negroes as “monkeys,” its belief there was no such thing as the holocaust. … What appears before us now is clear: Neo-Confederates with a disguised racial policy have risen to the top of the GOP. But this rise is something that has to remain under wraps, because in the era of Michael Jordan, one cannot just come out and be hardcore racist. That would be impolitic. … The racist of old would come right out and call an insulting name at those who raised his paranoia. But these guys are cagier. Or more cowardly. …. There is a very sophisticated kind of bigot among us who doesn’t want to be stopped along the way by his opinions. This one wants power. He is far more dangerous.” If the racist is a member of some social group that is that is not marginal, but is instead someone who is someone who might be in some venue where that a person might run into them, and if the racist has the good sense to avoid making statements about his view in those venues, there is a real reluctance to recognize him or her for whom they really are. People claim to be anti-racist, but when the racist is a member of their club, or in their department, or perhaps on the same committee of which they are a member, they then talk about their friendship with the person. They mention that the person has never said anything bad to them. They talk about lovely conversations they had with them. They can be very accommodating. They don’t like Ed Sebesta talking about them. We like to think racists are persons very much unlike ourselves and are uncomfortable when they seem like ourselves and are in our venue and confronting them would make our lives uncomfortable. We think that racists would be thoroughly unpleasant people to be around. However, neo-Confederates are often quite literate, educated, and very able to express themselves. Many have a good sense of humor. However, I don’t think there is any psychological principle that a sense of humor would preclude being racist or good manners or intellectual ability excludes racism. I discuss this in my article on banal white nationalism at www.templeofdemocracy.com/breaking.htm. In the field of cultural geography there is the study of nationalism. It is a new ideology that holds the world’s population and geography is naturally divisible into discrete nations each with a discrete territory and boundaries and that in a “true” nation, everyone has an overarching commonality to each other. It is an ideology so triumphant that we have trouble thinking outside its concepts. In the pre-modern world, the idea of a nation would have been seen as a sort of an odd metaphysical speculation. Nationalism consists of constructing the idea of a nationality. That there is no coherent definition of what a nationality is a common place of nationalism studies in cultural geography. A nationality exists if you convince people that a nationality exists. To construct a nationality you have literature, folkways, patterns of speech, invent traditions, structure an annual calendar with observances, publish maps. What better way to have a person adopt a southern identity than to eat it, to have a literal communion with Southerness, by eating a food that is Southern and not Southeastern or Southwestern or Mid-Atlantic or Appalachian or Gulf Coast. In a nationalist effort even barbecue can become an instrument of nationalism. Nguyen Ba Chung in his essay in the “Boston Review” titled “Imagining the Nation” explains how poetry sustained the idea of Vietnam as a nation. [February/March 1996 Vol. 21 No. 1, http://bostonreview.net/BR21.1/chung.html] If you wish to assert a nation exists, you could do no better than to write a national literature. In fact, you probably would not be able to do anything at all without having a national literature. Grievance is also a necessary element of an effort to a proposed new nation. You have to convince people that they are of a nationality and that they can’t realize national aspirations within the existing state. Self-determination of nations through states is also something that is universally believed in. Once you create in people’s minds that they are the members of a nationality and that they are wronged, you have practically created your nation, the raising of military forces, the political process, the armed struggle, is practically an afterthought. East Timor, about half a tiny island, a scrap of land establishes its independence against the efforts of the Indonesian military, because they think they are a nation and declare so in 1975. Nation states which fail to establish or maintain a national identity disintegrate like the Federal Republic of Central America or the Soviet Union. When I was working on the manuscript for “Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction,” we thought to have a short section with a bibliography of leading neo-Confederates. This was a great exercise for me to do. What struck me, and which I should have noticed before, was how many English professors were involved in the “Southern Partisan” on the masthead and as contributors, more than any other academic discipline. Of course, one of the primary tasks of a nationalist movement is to create a national identity, and the first and primary method to do it is to create a literature, so English professors are the obvious group to run the “Southern Partisan.” The “Southern Partisan” extensively covered Southern literature. In the beginning when reading the “Southern Partisan” I didn’t understand the importance, but now, understanding cultural geography, I get it. Reed states his idea that the South is a nation in his chapter, “For Dixieland: The Sectionalism of I’ll Take My Stand,” in the book “A Band of Prophets: The Vanderbilt Agrarians After Fifty Years,” Louisiana State University, 1982. In this chapter he discusses and conceptualizes the Southern Agrarians as a nationalist movement and draws parallels with other nationalist groups, actually comparing the Agrarians to Kenyatta, Ataturk, Ho Chi Min and Gandhi. At the end of the chapter, Reed quotes George Orwell in regards to the indestructibility of nations, and England, and closes his chapter with “… and to close his essay with the hope that what Orwell said of England may be so for the South.” [Reed, Shelton, “For Dixieland: The Sectionalism of I’ll Take My Stand,” in “A Band of Prophets: The Vanderbilt Agrarians After Fifty Years,” Editors, William C. Havard & Walter Sullivan, Louisiana University Press, 1982. References to Gandhi and others on page 52, closing quote page 64.] John Shelton Reed wrote for the “Southern Partisan” under both his name and a pseudonym J. R. Vanover starting with the very first issue and stopping in 1986. He helped launch it in 1979 and on the Spring/Summer 1981 issue he is listed on the masthead as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. He only wrote two articles under his own name in 1981 and 1982, but wrote many articles as J.R. Vanover up until 1986. He is dropped from the masthead by 1983. In the “Southern Partisan” Vol. 2 No. 1 Fall 1981 and Vol. 2 No. 2 Spring 1982, Reed, as J.R. Vanover writes two articles “Why No Southern Nationalism?” and “Why No Southern Nationalism? Part II” respectively. In the first article Reed mentions Quebecois, Welsh, and Scottish nationalism and wonders why not in the south. He proposes inhibiting factors such as that the idea of southern nationalism is and has been identified with racism. Also, that the United States is a very successful nation to participate in. Reed identifies racism as the politics of Tillman, Vardaman and Blease and those like them. He concludes his essay as follows: “So, why no Southern nationalism? Not because the U.S. is exempt from the forces that produce such movements elsewhere, but because of several unique inhibiting factors. If my analysis is correct, the state may now be set for really hard-core sectional politics, for the first time in over a century, because each of these factors is now waning. (Remember: You read it here first.) In my next column I will go into my reasons for thinking so. In the next issue, as the table of contents explains, “J.R. Vanover continues to make the case for Southern Nationalism.” Reed explains: “Moreover, if what I take to be the accidental link between Southern sectionalism and white supremacy is severed, the South can begin to profit from the reservoir of action which exists among black Southerners.” And: “Am I serious? Well, not always. To tell the truth, I don’t know that a full-blown Southern nationalism would appeal to me. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see it emerge, and I for one would find an American politics where the proper balance between federal power and decentralization was subject to debate preferable to one where an arrogant central government recognizes no limits on its authority.” And: “We hear a lot these days – especially from “new-bread” Southern politicians – about what the South has to offer the nation. To hell with that. Let the others look out for themselves. In this column, I intend to explore what the South has to offer southerners. In the Vol. 6 No. 1 Winter 1986 issue of “Southern Partisan” under the pseudonym J.R. Vanover was published an article titled, “S.O.S.: Stamp Out Southeastern,” and is in response to an article in the Charlotte Observer by Lew Powell on the use of Southeastern in an article, “Yankees Finally Wiping Out the South.” [Powell, Lew, “Yankees Finally Wiping Out South,” page 1E, “The Charlotte Observer,” Sunday, November, 10, 1985. From an email of the article from Lew Powell to Ed Sebesta, 12/27/04. ] In this article Reed expresses his concern that the term “southeastern” is a threat to the existence of the South. "If the growing use of the word “Southeastern” reflected only a belated recognition by Cis-Mississippians that they are not the only Southerners, it would be a healthy development. As I said, we ought to recognize the South’s diversity, and we ought to cherish it: after all we tried to set up a confederacy, not a union. But I am afraid that, increasingly, Southeast is not being used to designate a part of the South, the eastern counterpart of the Southwest. Rather it refers to a major region of the United States – a counterpart to, say, the Northeast. There is a disturbing tendency in these parts to say and to write and even, God help us, to think Southeastern, where formerly we would have said and written and thought Southern." Later in the article he states: "Creeping Southeasternization simply ignores the cultural and historical aspects of the South. It ignores the things that make eastern and western Southerner’s feel more at home in each other’s states than in Michigan, New York, or California." Reed sees the Southeast as a region, but within a “South,” and fears it becoming a region within America. Southeastern threatens a key southern nationalist assertion that there is some over arching commonality of its members versus others. The Southwest which Reed fears maybe lost he writes: "Consequently, the Southwest has long had a sense of its distinctiveness within the South, so much so that the South risks losing the Trans-Mississippi in this century, just as it did at Vicksburg. A few years ago, my close friend John Shelton Reed reported sadly (in his book One South) that far-western Southerners seldom use the word “Southern” in the names of their business enterprises. They are more likely to use “Western,” and far more likely to use “Southwestern.” As for “Dixie” – forget it: that word now has no more currency in the far-western South than it does in Iowa." This article makes it clear that Reed sees regionalism as a threat to southern nationalism. His south is not a region but a nation and if there is to be regionalism, it will be a regionalism within the south as a nation, and not within the United States as a nation. Quite rightly did William Lamar Cawthorn in the 3rd quarter 1997 issue of “Southern Partisan” in an article titled, “The South as an Independent Nation,” claim Reed as one of the two founders of the modern southern nationalist movement. The name “Southern Cultures” raises some issues. If there are multiple cultures then why are they organized under the concept of being “southern”? Why aren’t they just some cultures in the Sunbelt? Or why aren’t they just cultures existing in the southern portion of the United States? What is the commonality of Arkansas and Florida and Texas and Virginia? For a region, the “south” is very very big. Why all these cultures put in one journal? Does the journal title make any more sense than having a journal of “Northern Cultures”? That is to publish a “northern” journal where New England and the Midwest and Montana to the West Coast is supposed to have some over arching commonality other than being regions of the United States? Of course there is no “North,” it is just a concept of a hostile other in the “South.” Alternatively, why should there not be multiple journals for each of these cultures, a Gulf Coast journal, a South Atlantic Journal, a Southeastern Cultures, an Appalachia Cultures. The concept that there is an overarching commonality is a nationalist concept and in the case of the title “Southern Cultures” it is a nationalistic concept. The question that southern studies needs to ask itself is where does regionalism end and nationalism begin? Cultural geographers tell me regionalism is bogus. I don’t know on that question. It is a project that awaits my study when I get other projects done. John Shelton Reed declared the south to be a nation, so I know where he stands. Where does the field of southern studies stand? Where does southern studies end and Southern nationalism begin? Has anyone in the field of southern studies even read Billig’s book “Banal Nationalism”? If they have, can they tell me? Can southern studies engage the topic of neo-Confederacy? Will Charles Reagan Wilson’s new Encyclopedia of the South even mention it? Will any encyclopedia of the south ever mention neo-Confederacy? The discovery and writing on neo-Confederacy, except for an article by Diane Roberts in “Southern Exposure” has been entirely outside of southern studies and led by someone outside of academia and mostly published outside the United States or in very Anglo, Anglo-American journals. A field of southern studies that doesn’t engage these questions isn’t a field to be trusted not to be entangled with nationalistic academics. Why should anyone trust such a field? Perhaps if the field of southern studies engages these questions then it won’t be left to me to engage them on my own. I am also interested in how neo-Confederate ideas get mainstreamed into society. The “Southern Partisan” would mention that their contributor or someone on their masthead was an editor, professor, author, columnist, or something, so I thought that these persons probably advance their agenda in other venues. I started researching the backgrounds of the persons in “Southern Partisan” and they were in positions to disseminate their ideas to the mainstream. In the mainstream they could discretely disseminate their ideas, but in “Southern Partisan,” a then a magazine unknown to the public could be openly their other self. I own a complete set of the publication “Southern Cultures” and have been a subscriber for some time. After subscribing I purchased all the back issues. I started to subscribe since an important figure in the “Southern Partisan,” a founder of the southern national movement was one of the two editors. I thought it was interesting that a leader in the neo-Confederate movement, Reed, was also the respected dean of southern studies and the editor of one of the leading journals of southern studies, “Southern Cultures.” I wondered how neo-Confederacy would manifest itself in “Southern Cultures.” My very first academic paper was based on an article in “Southern Cultures” which was pushing the Confederate Celtic identity theories of the neo-Confederate movement but not mentioning the neo-Confederacy in it. So I owe the start of my academic career, what it is, to “Southern Cultures.” You can read the article here: http://www.templeofdemocracy.com/ScottishAffairs.htm. Finding neo-Confederacy getting a free pass in one article in “Southern Culture” I have been curious where else in “Southern Cultures” it is getting by. I can’t say that every article in “Southern Cultures” is neo-Confederate nor can I say that there is a neo-Confederate article in every issue. However, I am not equipped to necessarily to perceive it in all situations. I picked up the Confederate Celtic theme because I was reading a lot of the material in neo-Confederate publications. I could hardly miss it. I do find that in “Southern Cultures” there are interesting articles such as a recent article about young women canning tomatoes which was fascinating. But I also know that issues are not always opening or directly contested. A direction can be established in a periodical by omissions, shadings of issues, the use of pastels rather than black and white, the emphasis on some topics and the omission of others. Issues can be cast inside frameworks giving them different meanings. I also own all of John Shelton Reed’s books, or at least most of them. I haven’t done much with them than browse through them. I find Reed’s writings in “Southern Partisan” and “Chronicles” more of interest since it an audience that into which what he says is not likely to, nor has, spilled into other venues. I have read all of Reed’s articles in “Chronicles” and all his articles in “Southern Partisan” both under his own name and pseudonym and have indexed them. It also intrigues me how neo-Confederates navigate their two venues. For example Thomas E. Woods, though he was a major writer for “Southern Partisan” doesn’t mention any of his neo-Confederate writing in his official web page. Compare his web site http://www.tomwoods.com with my web page http://www.templeofdemocracy.com/ThomasEWoods.htm. Reed wrote for “Chronicles” from about the time Thomas Fleming took it over in 1985 to about 1995, when “Chronicles” magazine chose to identify itself with the League of the South and would proclaim all its editors were members of the League of the South. In the Oct. 1985 issue of Chronicles he is listed as a contributing editor. In the March 1989 issue he is listed as a corresponding editor. Even though his last article, is in the August 1995 issue, he is listed on the masthead as corresponding editor until the January 1998. Before discussing “Southern Cultures” posing him as a Confederate monument I think it is instructive to review some of these articles, to get an idea who is being monumentalized by “Southern Cultures.” I will just include some brief samples. There is an article in which he trashes “Southern Exposure” and his follow-up apology. In the Jan. 1990 issue of “Chronicles” Reed in an article about southern magazines on page 48 writes: "For something entirely different check out “Southern Exposure,” the organ of somber band of aging New Leftists at Durham’s Institute for Southern Studies, an organization spun off some years back by the pinko Institute for Policy Studies." Then in the April 1990 issue on page 42 Reed has a short note: "By the way, I apologize for calling the staff of “Southern Exposure” a somber band of aging New Leftists. I am reliably informed that the magazine is now staffed by a somber band of juvenile New Leftists." Reed had a general hostility towards gays in his Chronicles articles. An example is an article [Nov. 1988, page 47-48] about Reed’s visit to Marin, Berkeley and San Francisco in the 1980s. Reed’s writing on San Francisco focuses on homosexuality and his reaction to a large out gay community. He didn’t like it. Reed comments: “It’s possible, of course, for an innocent to visit San Francisco without particularly noticing any of this.” He then points out that his daughter didn’t pick up on what Reed saw as rampant homosexuality, but Reed then expresses his puzzlement with his friends: “The strange thing is that my San Francisco friends don’t seem to notice either. It’s not so much that they’re tolerant as that they’ve become desensitized; they seem just to tune out the ubiquitous evidence of the homosexual presence. I really don’t want to gross readers out here: let’s just say that the kind of thing that gives sodomy a bad name is hard to avoid.” In regards to AIDS Reed writes referring to gays: "But they also have in common its consequences, so something else they share, now, is the shadow of death from AIDS. The AIDS crisis, which remains largely theoretical around here, was very much in the news out yonder. Obituaries presented a steady drumbeat of young lives cut short: the wages of sin, to be sure, but a dirty trick on those who believed the promise of sexual “freedom.” The condom ads on city buses may help to promote “safe sex” – although of course the only really safe sex is with a faithful partner, and they say a good man is hard to find. In any case, for many, it’s too late." John Shelton Reed then discusses his tolerant attitudes for local variation, gays etc. but after expressing his fear about “Californianisms do seem to be contagious” concludes his article with the following suggestion. “Reservations haven’t worked well for Indians, but some such settlement may be the best of bad choices we’ve got in this troublesome case.” Reed reviews “The Camp of the Saints” in the July 1994 issue of “Chronicles” page 49-50. John Shelton Reed states that Raspail’s novel is “offensive to received collegiate opinion,” the adjective generating a sense that educated elites may find this offensive, suggesting others would not, though Reed could argue that a literal reading of his comment evidences his distaste for The Camp of the Saints. There is Reed’s defense of Bob Jones University in the May 1986 issue of “Chronicles,” page 50-51, Reed writes: “Bob Jones University. Isn’t that the segregationist place down in South Carolina someplace? “Well, yes and no; or rather, no and yes. BJU is in Greenville, South Carolina. And it did lose its tax exemption not long ago because its administration – which means the Reverend Dr. Bob Jones Jr., son of the founder – forbids interracial dating on what it/he believes to be biblical grounds. But if Bob Jones is racist, in the strict sense of that much-misused word, it is hardly segregationist: it has a number of black students, and yellow ones and probably red ones, too. In an odd way, Bob Jones is a very cosmopolitan place.” The rest of the article portrays the university being a wonderful place and concludes, “I don’t think they have the answer. But they’re not the problem.” One wonders what would Reed’s definition of substantial racism be and when would racism be a problem in his judgment. The Confederacy comes up in his “Chronicles” articles also, but this rebuttal is getting too long as it is. I will write on John Shelton Reed and Martin Luther King in January after I am able to get to some of my records. I have read years of John Shelton Reed articles, articles written in a jokey tone, but with a bitter aftertaste. I would like to see all his articles in “Southern Partisan” and “Chronicles” published in a book. I think also what a person writes for a more restricted audience is more revealing that what is said to the general public. I think it would illuminate his public work. I am not going to go through it all here. However, even if John Shelton Reed just wrote articles about barbecue for both magazines, he lent the prestige of his name as a leader in the field of Southern studies to these two publications giving them credibility. The Spring 2001 issue of “Southern Cultures” was dedicated to praising Reed. The lead item was a cartoon where a statue of John Shelton Reed is shown on a pedestal with his name and the initials C.S.A. The statue holds an oversize pen as tall as he is. By his feet is a stack of books, purportedly his, and a typewriter. A character looking at the statue says, “At least that’s one Confederate monument they can’t tear down.” At the bottom of the page the reader is told that the cartoon is a “humorous dig at Reed.” Humorous or not, knowing Reed’s writing in “Southern Partisan” and “Chronicles” I can’t imagine any more to the point or accurate portrayal of him in a cartoon. It captures the point that he was a neo-Confederate nationalist who weapons of choice were the pen and the typewriter. Is the Confederacy funny? Also, if the cartoon is claimed to be humorous, then can something be stated, but also claimed to be unsaid? I have read the articles about the Confederacy and historical memory in the “south” in “Southern Cultures” and seen their murky meanderings and elisions of the issue of neo-Confederacy since the Spring 2001 issue. I won’t go into them here except to say “Southern Cultures” fails to engage the issues. However, now the field of southern studies has started to build historical narratives of the civil rights movement. That “Southern Cultures,” a publication which embraced Reed, is doing so I find a frightening prospect. I fear that as the Lost Cause narrative undermined the history of the Civil War, that the history of the Modern Civil Rights Era could be undermined. I certainly have the right to warn others to keep their eyes open. Ed Sebesta