The Friends of California Libre...

04 October 2001

The South Shall Rise Again

Greetings, friends,
I can't stop watching all these exciting documentaries. Tonight all the product was strictly domestic, and some of you shared the fun: first that chiller about the recent history of Afghanistan, the Frontline about Ronnie Reagan's war against Lebanon, and then a real rib-tickler for me, a documentary about the protests in South Carolina against the Confederate battle flag. The Afghanis undoubtedly possess the one characteristic that really ranks a culture, and that's good hospitality. Even in the middle of a war, they showed the righteous American photographer an open hand, and in return he showed the Taliban at their worst, so hopefully we'll get the lesson (twelve years too late) of what we've abandoned these people to. That Iran gives weapons to the opposition of the Taliban (like more weapons were necessary) just as they previously armed the Hezbollah when American battleships were shelling a residential neighborhood of Beirut, a point not made by either documentary might be that they have a better idea than us of what the hell is really going on. The Arabs see a confused ideology at work, selling weapons to both sides, propping up an empire that makes no sense, but they miss the broader point. Neither documentary made a statement as to how much money the arms contractors made, but growing up in Los Angeles next to Lockheed, I got some idea. TV dinners and a new pick-up in the driveway, yessir, moving out to Palmdale and buying a new house, making cruise missiles but never wondering how the toys actually get played out. Well, that's the goddamn American Way, ain't it? There's the real slap in the face, the terrorists can't even afford our own high-tech weapons, so they steal commercial jets (remember 1983?) and write a lesson that would take the Unibomber 600 pages. Just to emphasize the point, then I laughed through the Struggle of the Concerned Conservative Coalition (the "CCC", sound familiar?) embarrassing the South once again by proclaiming, sweat popping out on their Julep porch-sits, "People respect us because we respect the past." My favorite was some state senator in Charleston, sitting on his boat dock on Sullivan's Island, the Stars & Bars aflutter over the Cooper River, saying with a smile, "Why, I do believe that the Southern race is the finest example of Homo Sapiens on God's Earth." Jesus, is the guy actually converting to heathen EVOLUTIONISM? There's one for Darwin to ponder, after they pull that white hood over his head, of course. As one rather droll novelist put it (urban Charleston accent, not "Swamp Fox"), "That's an old fight, and we lost. That flag is for losers." True enough, there's a tiny battle flag painted on a shed at the cemetery in Texas where my grgrgreat-grandfather Reverend Thomas Jefferson Darby is buried (20th Texas Infantry), but none for his father-in-law James Womble (30th Texas Cavalry) who disappeared in Oklahoma, or my grgreat-grandfather James Champion (Alabama Volunteers) who died with two of his brothers at Vicksburg. That's a loss, and that flag led them to it, and the poverty afterwards drove my family to Arizona, then to California. It was pretty stunning to see the League of the South proclaim a new Confederacy in Columbia; the Stars & Bars didn't fly so high in Charleston, but then again, the Rice Kings always disdain the stupid ideas of the Up-Country. Like the Camden belle said to me, "Why, the Up-Country's lovely, but the people are so ill-mannered." Reminds me also of what some Anglican missionary said about the Up-Country just before the Revolution, "ignorant, mean, worthless, beggarly Irish Presbyterians, the scum of the earth, and refuse of mankind." Yeah, and if you read the history of the Revolution, it was those scum, my people, who whipped the British at the Cowpens and brought the war to a conclusion at Yorktown. Forget Yankees, that's how the South does their own people. Oh, but I'm sorry, good thing my Grandma's dead, I'll find some adorable Southern belle and smear grits & gravy over her injured pride. How 'bout y'all, Miss Amy? Okay, enough of the South Shall Rise Again screed,

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