|I don't care what they do to the Georgia state flag. They can put a big
peach on the thing as far as I'm concerned. They can put Deion Sanders's
smiling face on it.
And let it be known that the opponents of the flag,
with its reminiscence of the Confederate banner, will bring down that flag.
One way or the other, color it red, white, blue and gone. It's
politically incorrect and all the things that are deemed such have no future
in this country.
We elected Hillary Rodham Clinton and the ban on the gays in the military
will be lifted. It's a done deal. Like it or not, the Georgia state flag has
no chance either.
The issue on my mind is white Southerners like myself.
They don't like us. They don't trust us. They want to tell us why we're
wrong. They want to tell us how we should change.
They is practically every s.o.b. who isn't one of us.
I read a piece on the op-ed page of the Constitution written by somebody
who in the jargon of my past "ain't from around here."
He wrote white Southerners are always looking back and that we should
look forward. He said that about me.
I'm looking back? I live in one of the most progressive cities in the
world. We built a subway to make Yankees feel at home. And I live in a
region the rest of the country can't wait to move to.
A friend, also a native Southerner, who shares my anger about the
constant belittling of our kind and our place in this world, put it this
way: "Nobody is going into an Atlanta bar tonight celebrating because
they've just been transferred to New Jersey."
I was having lunch at an Atlanta golf club recently. I was talking with
A man sitting at another table heard me speaking and asked, "Where are
you all from?" He was mocking me. He was mocking my Southern accent. He was
sitting in Atlanta, Ga., and was making fun of the way I speak.
He was from Toledo. He had been transferred to Atlanta. If I hadn't have
been 46 years old, skinny and a basic coward with a bad heart, I'd have
punched him. I did, however, give him a severe verbal dressing down.
I was in my doctor's office in Atlanta. One of the women who works there,
a transplanted Northerner, asked how I pronounced the world "siren."
I said I pronounced it "si-reen." I was half kidding, but that is the way
I heard the word pronounced when I was a child.
The woman laughed and said, "You Southerners really crack me up. You have
a language all your own."
Yeah we do. If you don't like it, go back home and stick your head in a
They want to tell us how to speak, how to live, what to eat, what to
think and they also want to tell us how they used to do it back in Buffalo.
Buffalo? What was the score? A hundred and ten to Zip.
The man writing on the op-ed page was writing about that bumper sticker
that shows the old Confederate soldier and he's saying, "FERGIT HELL!" I
don't go around sulking about the fact the South lost the Civil War. But I
am aware that once upon a long time ago, a group of Americans saw fit to
rebel against what they thought was an overbearing federal government. There
is no record anywhere that indicates anybody in my family living in 1861
owned slaves. As a matter of fact, I come from a long line of sharecroppers,
horse thieves and used car dealers. But a few of them fought anyway -- not
to keep their slaves, because they didn't have any. I guess they simply
thought it was the right thing to do at the time.
Whatever the reason, there was a citizenry that once saw fit to fight and
die and I come from all that, and I look at those people as brave and
gallant, and a frightful force until their hearts and their lands were burnt
I will never turn my back on that heritage.
But know this: I'm a white man and I'm a Southerner. And I'm sick of
being told what is wrong with me from outside critics, and I'm tired of
being stereotyped as a refugee from "God's Little Acre."
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, and I'll probably
have to say it a thousand times again.
Delta may be hurting financially, but it's still ready to take you back
to Toledo when you are ready to go.
Published Feb. 5, 1993