"Nearly 50 years ago, in The Burden of Southern History
, the historian C. Vann Woodward argued that the South was profoundly different from the rest of America because it was the only part of the country that had lost a war: 'Southern history, unlike American... includes not only an overwhelming military defeat but long decades of defeat in the provinces of economic, social and political life.' Woodward believed that this heritage led Southerners to be more obsessed with the past than other Americans were - at its worst, in popular works like Gone With the Wind
, there was a gagging nostalgia for a courtly antebellum South that never really existed.
"During the past 50 years, the rest of the country has caught up to the South in the nostalgia department. We lost a war in Vietnam; Iraq hasn't gone so well either. And there are two other developments that have cut into the sense of American perfection. The middle class has begun to lose altitude - there isn't the certainty anymore that our children will live better than we do. More important, the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial. There are lifestyle choices that were nearly unimaginable in 1960 - the widespread use of the birth control pill, the legalization of abortion, the feminist and gay-rights revolutions, the breakdown of the two-parent family. With the advent of television, these changes became inescapable. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns. The political impact was a conservative reaction of enormous vehemence."
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