I appreciate the respectful tone of this essay, but … I guess I am bemused by the widespread feeling that the American South needs to be explained. (And is susceptible to explanation.) The view seems to be that people born elsewhere — Iowa, in Jeff Taylor’s case — constitute a norm from which the South is in various ways, some good and some bad, a deviation. Taylor is a native midwesterner who lived in the South for three years and is now explaining it; I am a native Alabaman who lived in northern Illinois for twenty-nine years, but it would never occur to me to write an essay explaining the Midwest.
The Southern Courier was published weekly from 1965 to 1968.
Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible, in its action — such was the South at its best. And such at its best it remains today, despite the great falling away in some of its virtues. Violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and too narrow concept of social responsibility, attachment to fictions and false values, above all too great attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice in the name of those values, sentimentality and a lack of realism — these have been its characteristic vices in the past. And, despite changes for the better, they remain its characteristic vices today.
— W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (1941)