Monday, August 02, 2004

Why?

Why is a question I don't like to ask, but I have to here. Why is that we seem to be drawing our so-called morality from the part of the country that historically may be considered to have the worst record of it? I'm talking about the southeast states where even after slavery, there were huge acts that we consider immoral today and where some of the rhetoric of today (think Trent Lott) may indicate there's not much difference in basic attitude. But the Baptist and other fundamentalist morality that seems to have a grip on much of the country today (by the polls of those supporting George W. Bush) has its roots in the Southern Baptists and other evangelicals who make up so much of southern mythology. I base my question on the bush polls because it seems to me they indicate the force behind his campaigns. And maybe that's my own naivete. I just can't believe the man comes across to anyone who is not looking to him religiously as anything but a phony.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jill said...

hey chuck,
just wanted to say thanks for reading my blog and leaving comments! i'll definitely be reading yours from now on, too.

7:40 AM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

Chuck if you're going to start dealing with slavery, please remember that it was the profiteering Yankee trade merchants who brought them over in ships designed to haul such cargos as bananas and sweet potatoes. Thousands died en route and were unceremoniously pitched over the side.

They brought them over because there was a demand for them, both in the North and in the South;the market at
work. Because the South was largely agrarian, planters were much more dependent on cheap labor but they labored in the Northern fields as well.

It was a lot harder financially for Southern planters to go along with the hypocritical "conversion" of the people who started the whole mess in the first place.

Just don't get too sanctimonious about the subject as regards the role of the South in slavery, OK?

3:57 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Yeah, Bedrock, but if you look at Lanier, Faulkner and other southern writers, they sure do look at the moral terpitude of their fellow.

6:46 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I understand what you're saying, but you get into sticky territory when you cast blanket aspersions over entire regions. I'm from Texas and have a lot of family in the Southeast, which isn't why I defend the region; in fact, I often have to stop myself from making crass generalizations.
Every region has its own share of moral culpability, but there's a reason the deep south is also called the "Bible belt." The south is home to many fundamentalist Christians, disproportionately so. The morality tangle you reference, I believe, comes down to how this population is increasingly alienated from meaningful participation in contemporary society.
Consider: If the neoconservative fundamentalists vest all authority in the voice of tradition, compared with "liberals," who vest authority in human reasoning, then the chasm between our respective understandings of the world is widening exponentially.
We march onward, accepting or rejecting new reasoning as it becomes available, while they are entrenched in a world view they can only defend as "moral." Liberals often are not particulary inclined to assign a moral value to their world view. But I would argue that it's about time we did, or at least we could find parts of our world view where we are still willing to acknowledge our deeply moral selves.
Disparaging the morality of entire populations who value tradition over reason probably doesn't help us to affirm our own morality, though. Unless, of course, you are arguing the morality of a specific position, event, or policy.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

David, you said what I wanted to say, only much better. But I disagree with you on morality. I think that the true liberal is as deeply concerned with morality as the far right and as the dispossessed of the southeast. I admit to being unjustifiably bigoted in my statement, but I was trying to say that we seem to be accepting a rigid, unthinking morality dependent upon outside sources for its basis. We know, by looking at the current prisons that seem to be filled with people who are there because fixed sentence rules make it so, that there is a reason that those type of rules don't work (although they may have helped settle the west because many a person left home because of them.

As far as the liberal is concerned, I agree with you that a liberal is more concerned with the individual than with the rules of a giver. That, to me, is true morality. The punishment should fit the crime. Why are Irish catholics, Norwegians (according to a friend) and Jews some of the most deeply guilty people in the world? Why do women seem to have the sort of guilt that drives them into deep depressions? I would suggest it's because they have been driven from childhood by a set of impossible rules that will toss the baby out with the bathwater if the water is too dirty. True morality can exist only if one lives with the relationship immorality has with other people. A hundred speeding cars could slam through a stop sign on a deserted country road but the 101st kills a motorcyclist. (The numbers are figments to illustrate.) The person who obeys that stop sign only because he might get caught and sent to prison (hell) is not as moral as the one who realizes that failing to stop could cause him to overlook a potential hazard and kill someone, in my opinion. To him the law is unimportant because he doesn't need it. He knows his safety and the safety of others depends on his actions.

6:57 PM  

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