Am I Entitled? Why, Yes, I Am!

I’ve been reading what people have said elsewhere lately about who’s entitled to celebrate southern heritage and Confederate heritage.  Apparently one need not have had Confederate ancestors (military or civilian), and when it comes to southern heritage one need not have lived in the South very much and perhaps not at all.

This set me to thinking.  I lived in the South(east) for ten years … four years in Virginia, three years in Tennessee, and three years in South Carolina.  Moreover, I’ve lived in Arizona for nearly twenty-two years, and, as we all know, the Confederacy claimed Arizona for its own, although it was never able to control parts of it for very long.  That means I’ve lived in areas claimed by the Confederacy for thirty-two years, far longer than my initial residency in New York.  Moreover, I’m married to a direct descendant of Confederate military personnel, and our daughter Olivia can claim Confederate ancestry.  Hey, if some people can claim a connection to Confederate heritage by biological chance, then it seems to me that one has a stronger claim to Confederate heritage if one married into it with eyes wide open.  Moreover, my great-grandfather lived in Florida after the end of Reconstruction, and attended military school there (that’s right, part of my family actually lived in the South for some time in the nineteenth century, and not as Reconstruction carpetbaggers).

And, as someone who claims to be a strong advocate of Confederate heritage has said, “To say Southerners with no Confederate ancestors cannot claim and celebrate their Confederate heritage is like saying immigrants to the US with no colonial/revolution era ancestors cannot claim and celebrate their American heritage.”  I’d say the same goes for southern heritage.  And this fellow agrees:  “I’ve always thought the Southerness you are referring to as more a matter of mind and heart more than physical location or descendancy.”  Let’s take these good folks at their word.

In short, given my life experience, I’m as entitled as anyone else to have a right to define, commemorate, and celebrate southern heritage, including Confederate heritage.  After all, there are no gatekeepers.  Nor does recognizing that I have the right (as defined by others) to indulge myself as a southerner in any way lead me to refute my American heritage or my New York roots (after all, I grew up on the South Shore of Long Island, right?).

And so there we have it.  After all, no one’s authorized to say who’s in and who’s out.

Now, I’m sure this announcement will come as a shock to some people, especially those folks who think I hate southern heritage and evilize white southerners.  That’s their problem.  I count a good number of white southerners among my friends and in-laws.  Many of my students from Wofford are good southerners, and they stay in touch.   Sure, there are some folks who I could care less about who boast about being southerners, but I don’t care about some folks who boast about being northerners (especially a few select Red Sox/Patriots fans).   I tend to judge people by who they are, not where they come from.  So I expect a few people to squeal like pigs.  Let ’em.  I like BBQ.  I like it pulled.

So, now that I’ve been made aware that I’m allowed to embrace the southerner in me, I’ll do some serious pondering on what the South (and the Confederacy) mean to me.  Y’all are welcome to tag along on my journey.

12 thoughts on “Am I Entitled? Why, Yes, I Am!

  1. Jefferson Moon April 7, 2012 / 5:13 am

    Hear Hear.The SCV and the L.O.S.ers and all their imps can not be allowed to speak for ALL of us of Southern heritage.

  2. Patrick Young April 7, 2012 / 6:48 am

    As a Long Island Northerner, from Westbury, I’ve always had my doubts about the loyalties of those of you south of the Hempstead Turnpike Line.

    • Brooks D. Simpson April 7, 2012 / 12:04 pm

      Well, we did move to Cold Spring Harbor when I was 15 … and my parents are North Shore natives (Manhasset and Great Neck). And, of course, I switched allegiances from the Broadway Blueshirts to the Islanders in the early 1970s. It’s all so confusing. 🙂

      • Pat Young April 7, 2012 / 5:58 pm

        Sounds like you got galvanized. I, on the other hand, have never ventured south of Nassau Coliseum. I understand there is an ocean somewhere down there, but I’ve frankly never seen it.

  3. John Foskett April 7, 2012 / 8:06 am

    Well, you’re both stuck with Garth Snow and Rick DiPietro. Brothers in Misery.

    • Brooks D. Simpson April 7, 2012 / 12:05 pm

      So true. But at least we have John Tavares and Matt Moulson.

      • John Foskett April 7, 2012 / 12:28 pm

        I would, of course, gladly welcome either one. Or Ryan Strome, for good measure. It’s the blueline and in the crease where i think you guys are still going to have some free Aprils/Mays on yiour hands. Just get rid of that alternate uniform…..

  4. James F. Epperson April 7, 2012 / 3:35 pm

    Well, I am a Yankee based on residence (Ann Arbor), education (U-Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon) and partial heritage (Mom’s grandfather was in an Illinois regiment). But I was raised in western Kentucky, worked 20 years at Southern universities, and my fathers grandfather served in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry. So I am also entitled.

  5. Charles Lovejoy April 8, 2012 / 8:27 am

    Interesting you bring up your great-grandfather’s residency in Florida, One of my great ,great-grandfather’s settled in Marianna Florida in the 1830’s. Florida’s history and Florida’s history of short line railroads is something I have developed an interest in over the past few years . A funny point about heritage, my 24 year old son Carlo and I were talking about his heritage the other day and WWII, He had one grandfather that fought for the US in the Army Air Corps, and the other fought in the Italian Army.

  6. Charles Lovejoy April 9, 2012 / 8:34 am

    More I think about it, if you go back 5 generations and you have 32 direct ancestors, Go back 10 generations and you have 1024. That’s a lot of heritage to deal with 🙂

  7. Buck Buchanan April 9, 2012 / 11:05 am

    As for my heritage at the time of the ACW, my family was hanging out in Nova Scotia and PEI waiting for the Americans to sort things out. No direct claim to anyone in my family living in the US prior to 1908. On my wife’s side they go all the way back to mid 17th Century Massachussets and Connecticut.

    However I have lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line since age 11 (okay 11-17 was DC and 17 – 21 was in Morgantown, WV). But other than 3 years in Germany I have lived in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia since 1981.

    All of that said I do not consider myself a Southerner. In Savannah Gerogia I met and married a girl who was from 19 miles away from where I was born in South Boston. I am intensely loyal to those Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots Brooks like to denigrate…as is my 18 year old son who was born in the Old Dominion but is an even bigger fan than I am.

    Like most on this board I can appreciate Southern Heritage and recognize it goes back a lot farther than 12 April 1861.

    But as for those who conflate Southern Heritage with Confederate Heritage I can only shake my head at their lack of understanding of their own history.

    PS: I prefer BBQ ribs….and I smoke some damn good ones!

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