I joke on Heimbach about being a Yankee and he always corrects me by noting that he’s from a region on the upper crust of old Dixie. Nevertheless, his region was culturally dominated by what Colin Woodard calls the “Midlanders” and Heimbach himself is of Midlander ethnicity (Germanic descent). It’s no wonder he has typically Midlander political and religious views.
I’ve been wrestling with that since he published his article “The Confederate Flag is Racist: Get Over It.” I’ve been asking myself if certain political ideals go into shaping a people’s identity. Surely that can’t be true, can it? That would mean there is a propositional aspect to identity, and that goes against what we’ve all been saying for years now. As if a black guy can simply become “white” by declaring he has certain political ideals. Absurd!
But at the same time, there does seem to be a correlation between ethnic group identity and political ideals. Even religious ideals. So, I’ll set aside the deep sociological questions about identity-formation for now and simply suggest that to be Southern, among many other things, means one has a set of typical religious / political views, expressed differently by different Southerners, certainly, but similar at the roots.
…and Heimbach does not share those views. To be fair, neither do most southerners these days. But then again, most southerners educated enough to ask such questions, don’t want to be southern anyway. I would venture to say that all southerners who are educated enough to ask such questions, and who love the South, would share some form of traditionally southern political views. Just look at Abbeville or ISI, or the neo-agrarians. They’re all in a “Southern” political tradition, even if, in my humble opinion, they’ve forsaken the heart of it. They’re still in the spectrum.
But Heimbach, in his article on the Confederate Flag, presents a typical anti-Southern view of the South. One common among Yankees, Midlanders, and left-wing revisionists in general: a bunch of evil “elitist” capitalist plantation owners, exploited poor, put-upon negros, for the sake of greed and gain, thus devastating both the blacks and the poor working class whites in the south.
Contrast this with Abbeville’s Dr. Clyde Wilson:
“Nor was the Old South the backward, poverty-stricken, oligarchical society of hostile polemics, in which not only the slaves but the mass of whites were beyond the pale of civilization. To the contrary, Southern society was dynamic and prosperous. Its agriculture, on both slave plantation and yeoman farm, was more productive and efficient than the Northern. Far from stagnating, the Southern economy expanded at a rate in the late antebellum period that has few equals in history.”
He goes on to say:
Southern per capita income was equal to Northern, just as evenly distributed among whites, and higher than that of most of Europe in even recent times. ~ Defending Dixie pg. 172
Wilson talks about the philosophy of historiography and the proper use of cliometric data in historical interpretation, noting that the majority of modern scholarship about the South is rife with bias (as we’d all expect). Blacks never had it so good in all their history, and poor whites found themselves, nevertheless, part of a noble Christian civilization. Not that it matters particularly, but “wealth” was more evenly distributed in the Old South than it is in some modern European nations. Why Heimbach believes the government school version of Dixie is beyond me, unless, again, it has something to do with his typically Midlander group identity.
It might be something more sinister? I’ve heard tale of revolutionaries who care more for their political ideals than they do for the people they’re ostensibly speaking out for. How many of “the people” were the French Revolutionaries prepared to slaughter in defense of “the people”? Heimbach’s commentary on the South is a Socialist’s commentary. Does he care more for the political ideology of Socialism than he does for the people of the South? Would he rather hold to socialism at the expense of the South? Or will he see the South in the best possible light, even at the expense of socialism?
I know Heimbach and I’m sure if the question were put to him like this he’d easily make the right choice. But this is a subtle and difficult question all modern leaders have to struggle with. And Heimbach is a leader. According to the latest media, he’s the next David Duke. He’s the Little Furhur!
He’ll have to answer it for himself.