Oh, I’m a good old rebel,
Now that’s just what I am,
And for this yankee nation,
I do not give a damn.
I’m glad I fought agin ‘er
I only wish we won.
I ain’t asked any pardon for anything I’ve done.

I hates the yankee nation and everything they do.
I hates the declaration of independence, too.
I hates the glorious union, just dripping with our blood.
I hates the striped banner, and fit it all I could

I road with Robert E. Lee,
For three years, thereabout.
Got wounded in four places,
And I starved at point lookout.
I caught the rheumatism
Campin’ in the snow.
But I killed a chance of Yankees
And I’d like to kill some more.

3 hundred thousand Yankees
Is stiff in southern dust.
We got 3 hundred thousand
Before they conquered us
They died of Southern Fever
And southern steel and shot
I wish there were 3 million
Instead of what we got.
I can’t pick up my musket
And fight ‘um down no more
But I ain’t gonna love ‘um
Now that is certain sure
And I don’t want no pardon
For what I was and am
I won’t be reconstructed
And I do not give a damn

Oh, I’m a good old rebel,
Now that’s just what I am,
And for this yankee nation,
I do not give a damn.
I’m glad I fought agin ‘er,
I only wish we won.
I ain’t asked any pardon for anything I’ve done.

As many times as I’ve heard/read those lyrics, I still get a chill when I consider the tremendous bitterness that went into their composition.

Did the Confederacy that this “Good Ole Rebel” fought for gradually fade away and disappear between 1865 and the end of the 19th century? Or has the South risen again? Are we living in an era of nascent  Neo-Confederacy? Are Southern cultural values finding their way into the national psyche?

The first question might be: what are Southern Cultural values?

A number of studies would include the following traits:

A high value placed upon personal honor and a willingness to use violence to defend it.

Religious conservatism.

Strictly defined hierarchy in family life, with males in the dominant or leadership position, and women and children subservient.

Distrust of formal governmental institutions and law enforcement.

High value placed on gun ownership and the ability to use weapons.

High value placed on property ownership and respect for the rights of property owners.

Mistrust of “outsiders” and hostility toward racial, ethnic, religious and cultural groups considered “inferior.”

Are we experiencing the 21st century “Southernization” of American culture? If the Republican Party has its way, the answer would be “yes.”

Matthew Iglesias, after noting how many Southern whites believe that Barack Obama was not born in this country (a considerably higher percentage than white in other regions) comments:

“I think Republicans have basically given up on the battle of trying to win more Hispanics over to their side. Which leaves them with the medium-term objective of trying to get non-southern whites to act more like southern whites.”

When we take a look at the characteristics of Southern culture noted above, how many of them sound familiar compared  to the Tea Party “values” of 2010?

Do people like Joe Wilson, who felt safe in shouting “You lie!” to an African-American president, or Joe Barton, who abjectly apologized to the CEO of BP for the “shakedown” he had allegedly “suffered” at the hands of Barack Obama — both from Southern states — represent the attitude of Southern states toward our current government?

A Louisiana State University study on the roots of Southern violence makes a connection between religion and violence in the South:

“The religious beliefs of the Scots-Irish immigrants also played a role in theirhigh rates of violence. They were the predecessors of the fundamentalist Christians of today, they were considered the first radicals in America (Webb 2005) Some
research suggests the favorable attitudes toward violence may have its historical
and contemporary roots in the fundamentalist, Protestant religious culture of the
South. It has been argued this religious world view lends support to the
legitimization of both formal violence, e.g., capital punishment, and informal justice
done by the hands of the populace due to low levels of formal social control agencies
that, though perhaps illegal, has, or at least had historically, a source of
legitimization in the religious culture (Borg 1977; Ellison , Burr, and McCall 2003;
Ellison and Sherkat 1993).”

The Republican Party, the religious right and the Tea Party, whether they overtly claim it or not, are increasingly finding their base in the South and their roots in Southern culture. And they’re in an evangelical mood these days.

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I have to say, and I mean no disrespect, but, as a Southerner, I’m a bit offended by some of the assumptions and tones of reply and in the article itself.

Is there a problem with attitudes in the South? Most definitely, and I’m glad people have taken the time to note that these selfsame attitudes are prevalent in other NORTHERN parts of the United States. I can tell you, that whilst some of this might have been “exported” from the South, northwards and westwards, some of it has always been there.

I’m not talking about the race riots that erupted at the time of Civil Rights’ struggles in both South Boston and Detroit. There was a racist dynamic running through the North in the run up to the Civil War, especially amongst the recently-arrived Irish and German immigrant population. They were cheap labour for Northern industry and manufacturers; the escaped or freed slave was cheaper labour.

It’s also important to point out that, in many ways, the South has progressed politically a bit further than the North in recent years. Three of the last four Democratic Presidents have not only been from the South, but from the DEEP South – Arkansas, Georgia and Texas – and it took a Southern President (LBJ) to effect Civil Rights legislation. My state, Virginia, had elected the first African American governor before David Paterson ever entered politics and before Derval Patrick was even out of college. The Majority Whip in the House of Representatives is an African American from South Carolina. If Kendrick Meek scores a victory in the Florida Senatorial race, he’ll represent a Southern state on Capitol Hill. And Florida, Virginia and North Carolina all went heavily for a black man in the Presidential election.

I think if you’re going to look at any propensity toward propagation of the Second Amendment and so-called Southern cultural values, you’d do just as well to remember “American exceptionalism”, a phrase coined by a Frenchman, in the early half of the 19th Century, just after the passage of universal (white male) suffrage, and remarked upon after a lengthy visit, which encompassed mainly the developing Northern states.


That said, in the end, more blacks have died by lynching on southern soil than in any other area of the country. And does not the KKK find it’s American roots in the south as well? The south has taken the lead from the beginning in it’s acts of cruelty and slaughter of black people and though I appreciate your need to defend it, the south will never outlive it’s atrocious history. It’s not to say that areas in the north aren’t culpable. As white racist citizens of the south migrate to other areas of the country, they bring their belief systems with them.


I think those presidents are not indicative as a whole of the South progressing further, but merely of electoral strengths in getting the Southern vote. My grandma, a Savannian-in-Exile to the end, loved Jimmy Carter, but still wouldn’t eat food prepared by a “colored.”

Of course the South is not a monolith. There’s significant areas in the famously liberal PNW (minus North Utah; Idaho) that are downright creepy and unsettling, others, which are merely solidly conservative. Similarly, the South has its liberal areas – and the curiously post-Civil Rights Democrat-dominated Arkansas and West Virginia.

But, on the whole, though the South has a rich varied history, and shining luminaries in politics, literature and music – any honest Southerner will attest to an admixture of pride and shame – or if not personal or needlessly inherited shame, at least a keen awareness of the South’s shortcomings.

And, of course, Hibernophobia was rampant and attitudes about slavery more about northern whites wanting that land and jobs in the new territories than slavery – and certainly not racism – itself (though Abolitionism should not be downplayed, either). Nor are Northerners like Custer, or the conflict the Scots-Irish had all along the Appalachians from south to north, with the pesky indigenous population to the west (though some served in time as intermediaries and translators).

Still, the South has its own special legacy. From South Carolina onwards, which was never much too obliged with the federal government from the Union of the States, and in John Wilkes Booth’s cry of the Virginia motto, reverberates in the talk of “tyranny” of past Democratic presidents, and especially this one. Or the Texan legacy… (had the Confederacy survived, it was only a matter of time before that state declared independence IMHO).

While the Klan was prevalent in some Northern states – the South has its own undeniable history of institutionalized racism, that cannot be compared to ‘No Irish Need Apply.”


The subject of age and the confederate attitude slowly dying out in the younger generations. I brought up that my experiences had shown that education is not a priority in many families.
Now how can the attitude of “The South Will Rise Again” be changed when we have the Texas Board of Education and their school books?
Some one brought this subject a while ago, well it is still alive and well with its “Confederate Glorification”




This from a monument in the (main) Confederate part of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. (I’m still meaning to get my pictures up sometime.)

Yeah guys, it was “fate” that did you in… 🙄

I want to get to that Webb book sometime. It’s a subject very interesting to me (or in me). I heard him talking about it on C-Span back then. Look at the South, look at New Hampshire, look at Bakersfield California, etc.

Scots-Irish, Scottish.

During the Revolutionary War, the Highland Regiments had received several awards of valour in their Southern campaign. It is said the Chieftains would not allow any to accept among some regiments, as they were won fighting kith and kin (ironic since they never thought much of raiding the neighboring clan’s cattle in the past). Indeed a Hessian officer remarked, “call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion.”

Yet live there still who can remember well,
How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew,
Both field and forest, dingle, cliff; and dell,
And solitary heath, the signal knew;
And fast the faithful clan around him drew.
What time the warning note was keenly wound,
What time aloft their kindred banner flew,
While clamorous war-pipes yelled the gathering sound,
And while the Fiery Cross glanced like a meteor, round.

– Sir Walter Scott, “The Lady of the Lake”

One only need to look through that poem and reverse the “indignant spirit of the North” with South. And replace the Sassenach with the Yankee. Furthermore, the Scots-Irish have an extra hostility to being jerked around by the government as transplants.

Now, haven’t things changed since then? Of course. It’s always been interesting to me how culture is transmitted though. And questions of mine are if the saltire on the Battle Flag was really accidental, or if the Rebel Yell really was the sluagh-ghairm – or if all this is just romantic fancy gone amok. There might be some kernels of truth to these, but I definitely know there’s been more than a fair share of the latter.

I would say this though. Scottish mottoes:

Nemo me impune lacessit (No one attacks me with impunity)
Wha daur meddle wi’ me? (Scots rendering of Latin)

…Don’t Tread on Me (though I realize this slogan’s origin has its own history, it fits the pattern quite nicely, no?).

Now, the whole racism and stuff, that’s a different topic of its own. I merely wished to segue on the ethos here. It’s a toxic brew. This legitimate distrust of government (the English), transposed upon a new situation, and interwoven with new traditions (the Second American Revolution and a’ that).

Can I just add though, that in those days the Klan got its name from Greek (look at Southern city names, there was a real penchant for Classical history), read poetry like Scott, and took pride in their ‘aristocratic’ (this, I believe, comes from the English colonial heritage of the South) sensibilities?

They may have been racists or slaveholders (though most, especially the poor Scots-Irish, weren’t), but at least the South appreciated education, class and hospitality and their leaders weren’t all dumb-as-rocks.

This New South is an inbred descendant of Dixie, IMHO.

And can someone once and for all explain proud Southerners flying the Confederate Naval Jack (the only actual use of the flag many of them seem to think was the Confederate flag) and the Star Spangled Banner together? All the while claiming they’re the “real” Americans?



This was really starting to bug me in Virginia. It’s like, we still hold this grudge, but when we fear them Libs, we wrap ourselves in the Yankee Aggresor’s flag.

I appreciated Hollywood Cemetery if for anything, its consistency in this regard. At least there was no Union flag near Jefferson Davis’ grave. That would’ve driven me up the wall.

By the way, is that picture up top Colonel Angus?



Your synopsis has chilled me to the bone.

Spot on and terrifying Kes. Excellent analogy.


A great article, Kesmarn, and what a chilling song! I think you are right about the higher tolerance for violence that is considered justified in traditional Southern culture. I remember walking up toward a home in south Columbus, with a high percentage of Appalachian heritage people, on a canvassing project I was working on in college. I was shocked to see a sign, with an illustration of a gun that said, “I value my property more than your life”. I had never even considered such a thing, and here this person was proudly displaying it, feeling as if there was nothing to justify. Needless to say, I skipped THAT house!
I also think about a song, a great one, that every band that plays country music knows how to play, “Rocky Top”, that contains the lyrics:

Once two strangers climbed old Rocky Top
Looking for a moonshine still
Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top
Bet they never will.

This attitude, so sure of itself, so unapologetic, so having NOTHING to do with the teachings of the man they all claim to worship, and believe they will present themselves before in the afterlife, can be easily manipulated by demagogues. Very uncomfortable thought, that.

Blues Tiger
Blues Tiger


Pepe Lepew

Don’t forget northern Idaho.


Ah yes, northern Idaho. The birthplace of Sister Sarah of the Frozen North. They just looooooooove to hate there.


Too bad, Coeur d’Alene and the Bitterroots are beautiful, but yeah, besides the natural beauty, it can get spooky if ya wander off too far. Sometimes, that’s not even necessary.

Blues Tiger
Blues Tiger


Pepe Lepew

Oh, yeah, Redding area can be pretty spooky. I have family that lives around there.


Try Yreka.


I agree BT that threre are elements of this both North and South, East and West. Having lived in each quadrant, it just seems more prevalent/common in the south to me.


I never heard or read this poem/song. And I guess since I grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in Vermont for over 15 years I couldn’t be considered a “good ol’ southern boy.” But now I live in Arizona. One of the whacko states that wants to secede and build a wall not just between Arizona and Mexico, but between all the other states that border Arizona. So am I a good ol’ southwestern boy now?

Could I add to the list of southern values a misplaced idea of the concept of “personal responsibility.” We all have to take responsibility for our actions no matter what the outcome. But the idea prevalent now about personal responsibility is that if you lose your livelihood through no fault of your own, well, that’s just too bad.

If y’all sufferin’ then suck it up. We don’t need no gubment relief. We’re self reliant folk. That gubment relief is for those blacks and liberals.


Fantastic article Kes and your proposition is brilliant! As I went through it, so many pieces fell right into place.

It doesn’t seem to be a complex or even premeditated campaign. The motivations would seem to be as you describe, the demographics and sensibilities of a majority of the nation are (slowly!) continuing to evolve away from the narrow-minded and ignorant traditions of far too many southern people (mostly older now) and their reaction is to cling to them more fiercely.

They see nothing wrong with treasonous talk about our government or president, they’re fine with blatant racism (that self-described redneck State Sen. Knotts in SC who called Obama and Nikki Haley “ragheads” not only didn’t apologize, he prided himself on his racism and being a “redneck”).

This is all that this older southern generations knows (some of the younger generations too but not so much).

They can’t embrace the 21st century where racism, hatred of gays, chauvinism, oppression, extremism in religion and provincialism is being overrun in the South.

Their negative traditions (the South has many wonderful traditions and people for that matter, too), represented by their reverence of the Confederate flag, have been squeezed into a tighter and tighter corner in a more enlightened and tolerant nation.

For those in the older Southern generation, who have had racial/sexual/provincial superiority as one of the basic pillars in their lives, in some cases, the only thing that gives undereducated and underachieving people a sense of self-worth, the only option is to become more vehement about the traits that are under attack…they can’t evolve at their age (and they probably don’t believe in evolution anyway).

So, the net result of a continuing assault on the nation’s sensibilities by these increasingly desperate people who see their delusion of superiority slipping farther away (“We want our country back!”), can have a net result of such mindsets pressing deeply into the mainstream (thanks to the MSM’s BS about always presenting two sides to EVERY issue as if there always are legit alternatives to every concept, “Here with us now and opposing the view that children are born and not hatched is South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts.”)

Can or will the public adopt such sensibilities now that the MSM and these haters are more in the mainstream of political discourse? I don’t think so.

It is hard to adopt positions you recognize as ignorant. Even though a majority of Americans apparently support, the AZ bill, they simultaneously oppose many of the hateful and racist principles connected with it (IMO, most people aren’t fully informed on how oppressive it is, they just want something that’s illegal to be stopped).

Sorry to say that especially in periods when Democrats and especially non-southerners are in positions of power, this will likely go on and could result in more unfortunate events.

These folks are like dinosaurs caught in tar pits, going down slowly, thrashing and roaring harder and harder as they sink. The thing is, eventually, the progression of civilization, like the tar, will pull them completely down and they will become the fossils they deserve to be.


AdLib, two two things I need to discuss, I can’t really disagree because I haven’t lived in the south for years.
One is the age factor. Many of the southern people of my age got very few things out of the 60s/70s. Sex, Drugs, and rock and roll (mostly southern rock and the newer country). I watched them raise their children in the same ways as their parents and grandparents, “The correct, southern ways”. Which brings me to “Yeah, but the younger ones are getting a better education.” Not necessarily so, many southern states and people don’t have a large appreciation for education. I knew parents that were overjoyed their child got a GED.I also knew citrus workers that read philosophy.

Like you said, there are many good people and many good qualities in the south, but as a whole I’m not sure how quickly attitudes will change.

What I would like is for a someone in the south to chime in on this discussion.


I have been thinking of the tea party and the republican party as the growing ‘minority’!
They just keep digging the hole bigger and bigger.
Oh and kes,
I love the pic
It is so big that it’s off my computer screen!
Those curtains look pretty good on my windows. 😉


Hey, where did my new curtains go?

Pepe Lepew

I’ve always suspected, not being an expert in the South and having never lived there, that the root of the situation in the South really began in 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. That was definitely the catalyst for the Republicans taking over the South. It was all about race and disenchanted Dixiecrats forgetting their hatred of Lincoln and abandoning the party of their parents and grandparents.
Nixon exploited the hate toward minorities in 1968 with his “Southern Strategy.” Then swooped in the Evangelicals, welcomed with very open and very cynical arms by Reagan, who exploited their fears and paranoia over gays, drugs, abortion … women actually thinking for themselves …. etc.
What I find so ironic is that the South is generally the poorest part of the country and the Republican party has shown for 30-plus years it simply doesn’t give a damn about the poor with its tax cuts for the wealthy and catering to the needs of corporations. I cannot get over the phenomenon of people voting against their interests time and again — all because they’re freaked out over the idea of gays getting married.


K’es, where are those lyrics from? In the 70s I moved down to Central Florida(not to be confused with the coasts) and b became close to a “southern family. I cannot disagree with many of the observations you cite. Many in different degrees but they were there. There seemed to an always present prejudice,dislike to anything different. From cooking to the way people look ,speak act.
The stories I could tell…..


Considering that most human evolution is social in nature, passed down from generation to generation via social memes. I can see how the rage over loosing the war is just as strong today as it was when the South was beaten.

I’ve always suspected there would be an uprising eventually. Doesn’t mean it has to be a violent one. The Tea Party is a good example of Southern solidarity.


Your pic IS just a tad big. 😉


Which pic is that? 😉