Tar and Feathering the Southrnby Michael HillrnDemonization as a political and social stratagem knows norntemporal or geographical bounds; it is a ploy as old as civilizationrnitself. The objective of the game is to dehumanize anrnopponent (an individual or a group) in order to gain public supportrnfor his marginalization or destruction. Modern Americarnabounds with examples of the demonization process, most ofrnthem perpetuated by the left (which includes Trotskyite neoconservatives)rnagainst the traditional, populist right. The OklahomarnCity bombing, black church burnings, and the AtlantarnOlympics pipe-bombing have all been used by the governmentrnand its lapdog media to portray anyone to the right of the Dole-rnKemp ticket as a clear and present danger to the public weal.rnBut the boogeyman singled out to receive the lion’s share of thernliberal/neoconservative opprobrium is the battleflag-wavingrnSouthern “cracker” or “redneck,” who is uniformly presentedrnby the media, the academy, and popular culture as Old Scratchrnincarnate.rnThough Southerners of both high and low estate contributedrnmightily to the founding and advancement of the AmericanrnRepublic, they have been subjected to a long-running processrnof demonization that has turned them into national whippingrnboys in the latter half of the 20th century. The demonizationrnof the South did not begin, as some may think, with the civilrnrights movement of the 1950’s and 196()’s, though it did takernon a particularly hostile tone during those decades. Rather, therncampaign to portray the South as the sole blot on an otherwisernpure and shining “City on a Hill” began in earnest in the 1830’srnwith the rise of the Yankee reformist impulse (i.e., Abolitionist,rnwomen’s rights, temperance, antitobacco, and other like-mindedrnmovements) and fears that the so-called “Slave Power” ofrnSouthern aristocrats threatened American democracy. Thernthree decades from the publication of William Lloyd Garri-rnMichael Hill is a historian and president of the SouthernrnLeague.rnson’s Liberator in 1831 to the outbreak of The War for SouthernrnIndependence in 1861 witnessed a virulent crusade to vilifyrnnot only the South’s culture and institutions but Southernersrnthemselves.rnTo understand why the Yankee thought it necessary and profitablernto demonize the South, we must trace briefly the dichotomyrnbetween a rapidly changing antebellum North and arnstable, conservative South. Southern men of affairs, especiallyrnSouth Carolina’s John C. Calhoun, rightly understood thatrnunchecked consolidation and the campaign against slaverywouldrnresult in either the destruction of the South or in the dissolutionrnof the Union. The gathering forces against which thernSouth had to contend were indeed foreboding. The sweep ofrn”f>rogress” was already gripping the North (especially NewrnEngland), urging it toward finance and industrial capitalismrnand the exploitation of “free” labor. William H. Sewardrnwarned the South that unless it voluntarily discarded its oldrnways—particularly an outmoded adherence to states’ rights andrnthe “peculiar institution”—it would later yield them amidst arnsea of blood. Such threats to the well-being of their regionrncaused thoughtful Southern leaders to consider what sort ofrnchecks might be imposed against an increasingly hostile North.rnBut progressive Northern leaders were in no mood to bernchecked by a numerical minority in the slaveholding South.rnUndermining the Southern way of life would be the first step inrnthe triumph of the Yankee worldview, and to accomplish thisrnthe South had to be demonized in the eyes of a majority ofrnNortherners before the radicals could hope for its actual physicalrndestruction.rnRevolutionary change in the North’s economic and politicalrnsystems had been accompanied by European-style reformrnmovements of every stripe. Indeed, New England and parts ofrnthe Midwest now produced a breed of perpetual reformers inrnwhom emotion trumped common sense and hard experience.rnE’entually, all the reformist strands were woven together intorn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn