When my wife’s brother, Steve, decided to pursue his Master’s and Ph.D. in history, he said he thought that he would focus on the South and the "Civil War." Being a Southerner Steve felt he could bring a unique perspective to this part of American history. Steve, like myself, joined the Air Force after college to fly. Steve quickly decided this was not what he wanted to do and left the Air Force to continue his education, while I stayed for several years before deciding to move on to other endeavors. An interest in flying for the Air Force was not all we shared. We both played sports and were very competitive, both of us tended to be rather conservative in our social and political views, and we both had incredibly rotten luck with women until we met our wives. After we both got married, changes started taking place. In getting my Master’s in Human Resources, I became more conservative, while Steve become more liberal as he advanced through the ranks of "degreedom" and started looking at a career as a college professor.
Today Steve is a professor at a small community college in Missouri and is a typical liberal academic ivory tower type. How did this happen? Several factors come into play. The biggest influences on his life for the last eight years has been his wife and mother-in-law. His in-law’s were transplanted Yankees (read liberals) that moved to Texas and took up teaching at a college in the Texas University system. His wife, as could be expected, is rather liberal in her views. Steve’s father-in-law died shortly before Steve married, but Steve’s mother-in-law has been a valued source of support and advice in his pursuit of an academic career. Also Steve has had several mentors at the universities (Southern universities to boot!) he has received his advanced degrees from. These mentors have been liberal Yankees who have come down South for the weather, and to "enlighten us ignorant po’ Southern folk."
In my humble opinion, these so called mentors have poisoned my brother-in-law’s mind against his own people and his own history. They have done the typical move of belittling Steve’s homeland and his ancestors. So to fit in with the academia and to deflect the assaults on his heritage, Steve has turned his back on his home and his people. Steve now walks and talks like a typical northeast liberal, he thinks most people are too dumb to make competent decisions on issues of government (read unable to govern themselves), or even every day events. Steve and his fellow ivory tower inhabitants, however, are in full command of any and all knowledge required for any occasion. If you happen to disagree with them, you are automatically discredited as being uneducated, ignorant, and a closed minded bigot (now who does this description really fit?). Steve no longer bills himself as a Southerner willing to give a unique view of Southern history. Steve has had a change of heart and has become a part of the academic establishment, the liberal elite. While both of us have gotten our degrees at Southern universities, our choices in who we allowed to influence us has taken us down totally different paths. Steve is marching lock step with Yankees and I am making a stand for Dixie.
This is not a matter of who is right, well...yes it is. I am, I just happen to be in the position of being on the outside of academia. Specifically, the liberal academia that has moved South to indoctrinate our kids to the Yankee way of thinking. This is really a matter of making choices. For me it is no choice at all, I will stick with honor and respect for who I am and what my family is. I will defend my history and my ancestors. Steve’s change of heart has had the effect of changing my own heart. I will no longer pine for what was and what might have been, I will work for what will be. As Southerners we must not let others make us feel ashamed of who we are. We should understand where Yankees are coming from and take their assaults on us for what they are: a defense mechanism to protect their guilty consciences.
December 27, 1998