Americans have probably wearied of things Southern, andnwho can blame them? The Carter-inspired wave of Southernnchic did little to enhance the South’s reputation. The boorishnessnof Ham and Billy, the chicanery of Bert, the cloyingncuteness of Jody, the oratorical ineptitude of Jimmy and thentight-lipped rigidity of Rosalyn exemplified all the worstnfeatures of the South and none of the best. The Georgiancrowd inflicted more damage upon the South than did fournyears of Yankee atrocities in the War Between the States.nSelf-respecting Southerners took to disguising themselvesnwhen they ventured north of the Mason-Dixon line; theyndropped their “you-alls,” hid their Roy Acuff records andnsadly ordered Scotch whiskey instead of bourbon. Those werendifficult years, and when the Carterites retreated back tonAtlanta many Southerners joined their fellow Americans inna great sigh of relief.n1. Lt will take years for the Carter debacle—and the imagenof Southerners it projected—to fade from memory. But thensooner the better, for the South offers the republic a sourcendf optimism at a time when many Americans have taken tonsounding like Old Testament prophets foretelling the doomnof ancient Israel. Proof of the South’s vitality confronts onenon every hand: the region’s economy booms, race relationsncontinue to improve and the cultural scene—H. L. Mencken’sn”Sahara of the Bozarts”—flourishes.nA recently published volume of essays entitled Why thenSouth Will Survive highlights the spirit of optimism thatnprevails below the Potomac. Throughout the 20th centurynsome of the South’s most talented thinkers have wasted theirnenergies in bemoaning the looming demise of their region asna distinctive entity. Surely the South would be destroyednby the rootlessness, commercialization and standardizationnof an urban, industrial America. The fifteen contributorsnto Why the South Will Survive forego the lugubrious pleasuresnof playing Cassandra; they have come to celebrate thenSouth, not to sing its threnody. The South not only survives,nit thrives.nAmericans from regions beyond the South may be inclinednto dismiss this volume as nothing more than another exercisenin Yankee-baiting and grits-and-gravy chauvinism. Littlenof this exists in this book, however, for these men proclaimntheir Southernness without rejecting their Americanness.nThe fifteen essayists possess a spirit akin to that of thenVirginians of the Revolutionary era who grounded theirnlove of America in their devotion to their state. ThomasnJefferson and James Madison saw no conflict between theirnloyalty to Virginia and their eagerness to serve the newnnation.nOne of the great tragedies of Southern history arose fromnthe force of events in the young republic that produced suchna conflict. By 1860 the sons and grandsons of the SouthernnChronicles of Cttlturen•THE SOUTHERN ETHOS AND THE REST OF US«nC 0 M !V1 i: . TnnnFounders had to choose between two loyalties, and when theynchose the South, all America suffered. In the secession movenment of 1860-1861 Southerners imposed upon themselvesnan alienation and isolation from the rest of the country thatnwould take a century to overcome. They turned in upon themselves,nrejecting their Northern brothers, men guilty in theneyes of the South of promoting manufacturing at the expensenof agriculture, of violating the letter and spirit of the Constitutionnand of encouraging abolitionist fanatics to spewntheir foul venom upon a decent and God-fearing folk. Defeat,ndevastation and the suffering visited upon the South bynvindictive radical Republicans deepened the region’s alienation.nSoutherners re-entered the Union after the war, butnthey clung to the memory of the Lost Cause; “Forget, hell!”nbecame the motto of many a defeated Confederate soldiernand his heirs. Southerners had become Americans again, butnthe legacy of defeat, along with economic backwardness andnthe decision to control blacks through de jure segregation,nmade them a people apart.nBefore this situation would get better it got worse: thencivil-rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s drove whitenSoutherners further from the mainstream by making themnthe scapegoats for the entire nation’s failure to permit blacksnto share the full blessings of citizenship. As the nightly newsnbrought Bull Connor’s dogs, fire hoses and club-wieldingnpolicemen to television screens across the country, self-satisfiednsuburbanites sat in their lily-white bastions in Boston,nPhiladelphia, Cleveland and Los Angeles and clucked right-n