The booming South

According to the Washington Times, the South is still ‘booming’ economically, and continues to be a magnet for non-Southrons wanting to find a more congenial home.

The popular wisdom has it that most of the newcomers to the South are ‘conservative’ and looking for a new home with lower taxes, pleasanter weather, and ‘smaller government.’ This may be true in many cases, or even most cases. But is a continuing wave of migration good for the South, or more specifically for the people of the South, that is, the ‘heritage Southrons’ if I may use that term?

And before I go further, I don’t write from any malice towards people from the North. My mother was from the North, and I’m no stranger to that culture.

Large-scale migration of people from outside the South began in earnest in the 1970s. When I search on this subject, the vast majority of hits I get are strictly about black migration back to the South in the 20th century. However the influx of Whites from outside the South seemed most visible in the 1970s and later, and with the ‘tech’ industry (Dell, et al) later. I don’t know that the migration ever really slowed down; the presence of Northerners (including many from Western States) is very evident.

Certainly there are ‘conservatives’ migrating there, or at least conservatives in the broadest sense — but no matter how conservative their politics may be they do change the culture of the South, and have changed it.

To be fair, some of the changes were the result of the omnipresent and intrusive ‘mass media’, with the requisite load of propaganda. The media also exerted a big effect on local ways of speaking — the Southron accent has all but vanished amongst most of the younger generations (Gen X on downward). This I find sad.

When I studied linguistics in college there was a lot of discussion of how language, that is, the language we use, affects our thought processes.
I am no professional linguist, but I’m very familiar with the differences between the Southron dialect, as it existed for centuries, and the sort of mainstream American English accents, as modeled in the media. There used to be considerable differences between traditional Southron dialect speakers and Northern American English speakers, though those differences are quickly being erased, with a consequent loss of a great deal of color and nuance in the English language.

There are of course pockets of people here and there in the South who retain much of their dialect and vocabulary, but they are becoming harder to find. The Southron accent has long been an object of ridicule from non-Southrons, with a prevailing attitude that the accent and dialect sound ‘backward’ or ignorant. That attitude has been very harmful and may explain the wish of some Southern-born people to lose or at least downplay their ‘drawl.’

Language is not the only thing that has been changed by the ongoing influx of people from outside the South; the culture of the South was always very Christian by comparison with the rest of the country. Of course the Bible Belt for a long time included parts of the Midwest and the Western, more rural areas, but the South held out the longest as far as their Christian culture was concerned. Now, though, with the great falling-away in most of the Western world, the influence of Christianity is waning in the South, and the presence of so many non-churched people from outside plays a part.

My state, Texas, is these days often erroneously lumped with ‘the Southwest’, though it used to be considered a Southern state — by virtue of its having been settled mostly by Southrons, as well as because of its solid ‘Bible belt’ status, and very importantly, as being part of the Confederacy. Texas has much more in common with the South than with the ‘Southwest’, that is, New Mexico, Arizona, California, et al.

Texas is obviously on the verge of changing to a far less conservative and traditional place than it used to be. I find this tragic, because it need not have happened, yet the change may be irrevocable, just as the changes to our country as a whole may never be reversed.

And yet — those who look only at economics and see ‘booming’ states in the South don’t ever look at the far more important ramifications of this willy-nilly, top-down imposed change: the loss of the culture, of the heritage, and above all, a change in the very people of the South. People, as I’ve said ever since I started blogging, are not interchangeable. The people make the place. The place, once populated by different people — no matter how ‘conservative’ or Republican they are, will never be the same. And a population of people with vastly different languages, religions, and cultures will eradicate the places we once knew and loved, and will make a mockery of the sacrifices of our forefathers. But this is of no moment to the decision makers, who make these decisions over our heads in our ”democracy” demockracy.

But then we’re not supposed to notice, much less question or mention these things. In parts of Europe it’s criminal to criticize such changes, or even to mention them. And how much longer will we be permitted the luxury to speak or write about it?