Saturday, March 21, 2009

Southern Destruction

(This editorial was published in the Fall of 2006; now that it is 2009 and we are "celebrating" the Lincoln bicentennial (and the full recovery of the Gulf Coast has still eluded us), it continues to ring true)

Having a reunion in New Orleans was an opportunity to take in with one's own eyes the sights of the Big Easy, post Katrina. Thanks to friends in the Louisiana division, I received a personal tour of devastated sites most tourists miss; downtown hospitals that probably won't ever operate again, St. Bernard Parish, well-to-do areas around Tulane and Loyola, and of course the infamous upper and lower 9th Ward. In some areas the destruction and desolation will obviously not recover easily or soon, if ever. Other areas appear to be coming back, though it is clear that this is a city with only about half its residents and tourists.

Massive destruction is nothing new to the South, of course. Terrible as Katrina, Rita, Andrew, Camille, et al are, none played havoc like the War.

At least half-a-million Southern soldiers dead, wounded or missing, unknown thousands of civilians killed, hundreds of thousands homeless, an economy ruined, a nation occupied and prostrate. Katrina was terrible, but she can't compare to Abraham. The difference, though, is that hurricanes are an act of God. The storm of war was a choice made by Mr. Lincoln. Political solutions were available, but war was the preferred path.

So, now we have a very strong central government that was not contemplated by the framers of our constitution, but rather created by the northern sword. Surely this strong government could fix the aftermath of Katrina, right? Not a chance. The billions funneled into the Gulf by the federal government have made but little difference in lasting restoration. By most objective measures - and most definitely by the attitude of the natives in New Orleans - the federal government has been a failure at restoration, even to the point of being more hindrance than help at times.

New Orleans will recover, though; after all, it's the South. We've recovered from Sherman, Burbridge and reconstruction - there's still enough of that Southern strength left for the Gulf to recover from Katrina and Rita. It will take a long time, however, and as we become more accustomed to dependency on the government and less on our own resourcefulness, it becomes a question, though, how much of the independent Southern spirit remains.

Beyond the terrible loss of life, homes and economy that nature has wrought, however, the South is suffering another devastating loss from which we may not recover. We are losing our identity, our culture, our heritage, our sense of self. We've survived the destruction of war and “reconstruction” and recovered, we've survived the destruction of nature and will recover. Can we survive the destruction of political correctness? Of that I'm not as certain.

Don Shelton

1 comment:

The Gray Ghost said...

If you depend on the Government you will be disappointed.

The Republic was lost in April 1865