Sunday, February 19, 2012

Without the South, we'd have a better country -- but the music and novels would suck

Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen offers some alternative thoughts about Abe Lincoln’s legacy during this President's Day weekend:
While Abraham Lincoln certainly had some admirable traits, recall that his main goal was to hold the Union together. Now, ponder what a fine country we'd have if Lincoln had just let the South go in peace. 
Without the South, we'd probably enjoy decent passenger rail service, improved public education and single-payer health insurance. Our federal taxes would be lower, as many of the old Confederate states enjoy substantial subsidies. Mississippi, for instance, collects $2.02 from the federal government for every dollar it pays in federal taxes. It's $1.78 for Louisiana, $1.65 for Alabama and $1.51 for Virginia. 
Granted, American popular music would be worse than dreadful without Southern contributions.
Not to mention American fiction writing without Southern writers. Instead of U.S. writers from the South, the following would be notable writers from the C.S.A.: William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, Harry Crews, Rita Dove, Zora Neale Hurston, Peter Taylor, Barry Hannah, Pat Conroy, Rosemary Daniell, Lewis Nordan, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Kaye Gibbons, Yusef Komunyakaa, Natasha Tretheway, Barbara Kingsolver, and so on. 

Thing is, they might not have become the writers we know without the angst that comes with being defeated rebels. And there are some African-American writers on this list who might not have had the freedom to write in an agrarian slave-based country.   

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