By Rebecca Bridges Watts

In modern Southern id Rebecca Bridges Watts explores the consequences of 4 public controversies approximately Southern identity--debates in regards to the accomplice flag in South Carolina, the gender integration of the Virginia army Institute, the show of public artwork in Richmond, and Trent Lott's arguable reviews relating to Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential bid. whereas such debates may possibly function facts of the South's "battle over the past," they could then again be obvious as harbingers of a altering South. those controversies spotlight the variety of voices within the dialog of what it ability to be a Southerner. The individuals in those conflicts may perhaps disagree approximately what Southern identification will be, yet all of them agree that such discussions are a vital a part of being Southern. fresh debates as to where of outdated South symbols and associations within the South of the hot millennium are proof of a altering order. yet a altering South is not any much less exact. If Southerners can locate team spirit and area of expertise of their identity, they might also be in a position to function a version for the more and more divided usa. The very debates portrayed within the mass media as facts of an "Unfinished Civil warfare" can in its place be interpreted as evidence that the South has stepped forward and is having a typical discussion as to what its varied contributors wish it to be.

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Extra resources for Contemporary Southern Identity: Community through Controversy

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In a January 17, 1996, press release, she stated, “We are here in support of the notion that citizen-soldiers come with and without penises. ” In the spirit of Carlyle, Johnson believed that beneath the gendered clothing of our culture, those of different classes—in this case, men and women— will be revealed as being the same, all specimens of the “naked universal man” (though Johnson likely would substitute person or being for man). ” In this, Johnson made the lowest common denominator of VMI’s single-sex policy the factor of sexual anatomy rather than any other, more complex reasons VMI used to explain its own policies.

Even the assumption that women would interfere with the bonding process turned out to be somewhat exaggerated. A cadet, it seems, is a cadet. “They’re our brother rats,” says [Derek] Bogdon. . ”30 Such positive accounts validated earlier contentions by women’s advocates such as Karen Johnson, who recounted her own experiences in the military as well as the experiences of women who served in Operation Desert Storm as part of an argument that women were indeed capable of carrying out the physical rituals requisite to initiation into VMI’s system of social mystery.

One was a battle for states’ rights— in particular, their right to determine for themselves the legality of slaveholding, which entailed giving one race of people the power to buy and sell another. The other was a battle for a state’s right to determine what kind of education it should offer its citizens—in particular, whether it was legal to give just one of the sexes access to social power and privilege through a publicly funded singlesex education. While VMI’s Civil War exploits are central to its identity as a school rooted deeply in Southern tradition, there is more to VMI’s Southern identity than the enduring legend of the New Market cadets and the enduring legacy of the gentlemen who have gone before.

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