Heading North, For Good

June 23, 2009

In the ten-plus months that I’ve lived in South Carolina, I’ve blogged quiet a bit about my frustrations with the region. With my moving to New York in a week, the place where I hope to really establish myself for the foreseeable future, I can put this period of my life behind me for good. I don’t want to repeat comments that I made in previous blogs about the particulars of why the South hasn’t worked out for me, but, for cathartic reasons, I wanted to make just one more post, to be clear about why things went so wrong in this part of the country for Megan and myself. I used to think that stereotypes about the South were just that: stereotypes, with no real validity to them. But all the worst things that I’ve heard about people down here have turned out to be true, to one extent or another. It’s not every single person living here, but it is the majority. Electoral results, as in which states went for Obama and which ones didn’t, should have given me an indication of what people down here are like, what they believe, and what is important to them. I’ll run through the list, in brief; people down here are pro-war, pro-gun, pro-life, pro-religion, discriminatory against homosexuals and Jews, and unfailingly, consistently, stubbornly racist. Everything that I hate, and the direct opposite of all of my viewpoints. The husband of one of Megan’s coworkers (a man that I had a problem with in the past), said that he was afraid of going North, even for a visit. When asked why, he said it was because the people up there would “know he was country.” I guess that’s one way of putting it. But they wouldn’t have known it by his Southern accent. They would have identified him more easily by the fact that he’d probably be down on a subway platform swinging a Confederate flag over his head and ranting about darkies. People down here are stuck two hundred years in the past. And as long as they keep instilling the same values in their children, the cycle will continue, the stereotypes will keep perpetuating themselves, and the atmosphere of casual intolerance and hate will flourish and thrive.

What’s been so amazing to me, though, isn’t even how these people are, but rather, how proud they seem to be of themselves for it. It’s akin, to me, of how an anti-evolutionist will blindly believe in creationism, without any real proof other than the Bible and their preachers telling them so. Empirical evidence of things isn’t a deterrent to these people. They believe their ways are just and true, and it doesn’t matter what anyone does or says, their minds will never be changed. It’s disappointing, to meet these people in the flesh, decked out in their Nascar gear, necks burned by the sun, weighed down by cellulite, self righteous, arrogant, stubborn. They are as God made them, and they’ll stay that way till they die, when, as their bumper stickers tell us, we can finally pry their guns from their cold, dead hands. But since nothing I could ever say will change the attitude of an entire region, there isn’t anything I can do but leave, and I will do so, gladly. I will never look back. It’s been like living in a museum of what our country was like before the only sane people decided to make the changes that common sense and logic dictated had to be made. Obama spoke in his presidential run about a country divided against itself, about a kind of European-American body of people living here (the left-wingers), tolerant, liberal, who were constantly at odds against a much more fanatic (right wing) faction, who embody the qualities previously mentioned and who have confined themselves to certain areas of the country where they can live amongst the like-minded. Well, I know where those areas of the county are now, and you’ll never see me coming back. If all of these people want to secede from the Union, let them, and good riddance, I say. They’re a blot on the face of an otherwise advancing society, spurred on by their standard bearers, Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, and Sean Hannity.

I’m not saying people up North are perfect, and I’m not saying that everyone in New York is going to be of like mind with myself. There are going to be those that hold with the Southern ideology. But part of the reason that I like New York so much and want to move back there is because there are so many different kinds of people with so many different viewpoints, all living together, all squeezed into the same space. Living there, you are subjected to other ways of life and other ways of being, because they’re all around you, and they’re inescapable. You’ll hear two dozen different languages being spoken sometimes, in the same subway car. That’s what I want. The whole world, and all of its myriad different citizenry, crammed in together, learning from and about each other, whether we want to or not. I, personally, want to. It’s why I’m moving. And all those for whom being in the company of those different from them is the ultimate nightmare, something to be feared above all else, I’m leaving them behind, for good. There might be some who live in the South, in Alabama, in Mississippi, in Georgia or the Carolinas, who feel that I’m being unfair. They are the exceptions to the rule, though, because most of the people I’m talking about can barely read, so I’m not likely to offend many of them with this article, and if they feel that strongly about it, they can feel free to make a comment, as this is an open forum…or come see me in New York if they want to debate the matter in person. You can’t say that I’m just making up these summations about the region and its people, though, because I’ve lived here, and I’ve seen them, in the flesh. I’ve spoken to them. I’ve walked amongst them. My experience now has been firsthand, and I always, always, call them like I see them.

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