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Where did Southern hospitality go?

Around the table

POSTED: August 7, 2013 10:20 a.m.
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Fried chicken is an icon of Southern cooking and of the region's vanishing identity.

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A “Sound off” caller recently challenged me to address the decline of Southern hospitality. Challenge accepted.
Southern hospitality is declining. It’s gone the way of other things no longer common, including sense, courtesy and decency. Seldom do you hear “sir” or “ma’am,” “thank you” or “you’re welcome.”
Children used to say “please” and “may I?” They were told to mind their manners. Southern gentlemen stood when a lady entered the room or held the door for her, and they were careful with their language around ladies.
Many women today don’t appreciate chivalry, and they use language that could make a sailor blush.
I don’t think our kids have been infected by the influence of Northerners who wised up and moved to God’s country. The influence that’s hurt our children and culture most has been in our living rooms since the late 1940s — our televisions.
As a boy, I could see the whole country was being reprogrammed to reflect the language and culture of New York, California and the Midwest.
A simple thing like dinner versus supper proves my point. Where do you suppose Southern kids learned that? Not the Bible, which, as I’ve said before, never mentions The Last Dinner. The incredible lack of biblical knowledge reveals a loosening of the Bible Belt, and the Bible is the source of Southern hospitality.
Even “The Andy Griffin Show” capitalized on the idiosyncrasies of Southern life, like our friendliness and hospitable treatment of strangers or giving thanks before every meal.
Aunt Bee’s Sunday dinners were amusing to Northeastern, Midwestern and “Left Coast” viewers, but not nearly as entertaining as our Southern drawl. Southerners were delineated as poor, uneducated “rednecks” and poor, uneducated black folks, who needed Yankee guidance to make it in the New World Order.
Hollywood still uses every opportunity to ridicule our grits and greens, and they love to exaggerate our uses for bacon grease almost as much as they exaggerate racial tension in the South. Racism is everywhere, though.
Until those casting stones admit they’re just as guilty of racism, there’ll always be racial tension. Parents, preachers and teachers of all races have to stop excusing it.
They might start by turning off the TV, unplugging the computer, stomping on some smartphones and re-reading the Bible.
The New South was the buzzword of the 1970s, but it wasn’t Southern; it was based on revised history that ignored historic facts.
According to the book “Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists” by Walter Kennedy and Al Benson, as well as other sources, fewer than 15 percent of Southerners supported the abomination called slavery, while an equal percentage of wealthy Northern merchants and bankers supported slavery in the South because economics — not politics or conscience — closed the doors of that institution in the North by the late 1850s.
The un-Civil War was never about slavery, which 85 percent of Southerners opposed!
Southerners were fighting against a rising, all-powerful central government because they knew such a government one day could rob all Americans of the unalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and annotated in the Bill of Rights. History books, Hollywood and, yes, even the news media don’t want you to know this.
They also don’t want you to know that families were closer before television, computers, et al. Parents had more time to pass on their religious beliefs, moral values, patriotism and love for Southern outdoors, cooking and mannerisms.
When I return from a road trip, I know I’m almost home when I see Spanish moss hanging in the oak trees along I-95 South. I know I’m home when I gaze on a buffet that includes Southern fried chicken and Southern country veggies. When the waitress brings my sweet tea, I always say, “thank you, ma’am.” My parents wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I may represent the last generation of real Southerners — again, not the racist stereotypes created by Hollywood. When I go, I’ll try to go out quietly and politely without a rebel yell. Maybe it’s because I know where I’m going, but also because I know where I’m from.

 

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