I have decided to phase in an occasional book review on my blog. Today I am going to begin with The South Was Right!, by proud Southern brothers James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy. My copy of their work is a hardcover, 431 page, September 2008 14th printing, of the 1994 second edition published by Pelican.
As an admirer of America’s Founding Fathers, resident of rural southern Indiana, aspiring homesteader, and descendant of agrarians (some of them Southerners), I have long been draw toward the South –and what might be termed Southern agrarianism. Some of my mother’s family lived in the antebellum South.
Also, I remember visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park several times as a child and teenager. When I turned 12 in 1995, my parents and I visited the Gettysburg battlefield and Washington, D.C. That summer I walked around the battlefield –and through the White House- wearing a rawhide gray Confederate cap. We never went to New England, a beach or a big city for a vacation.
I greatly respect the Virginians among the Founding fathers, and those of the C.S.A such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
I hold that the Southern states had a legal right to secede from the Union and form the C.S.A. when they felt their rights and economy were being exploited, that they were unjustly invaded by the U.S. Army, and that the Reconstruction period was a brutal and dark time in American history.
Now that this has been established, let me tell why this book was disappointing –despite the accuracy of its title. First I will mention the good points of the book, and then describe why I was not thrilled with the book.
The Kennedy brothers open their book with a preface that desire to restore the U.S. Constitutional republic- and if that fails to reestablish the Confederate States! This is repeated in the final chapter. The Kennedy brothers make it clear that they are Southern Nationalists –with a capital “S” and “N”. They openly consider the South to be their nation.
They demonstrate that slavery was practiced throughout the American states, not just in the South. True. They show that some masters treated their slaves kindly, and that this relationship lasted after the negroes were freed. They also point out that there were free blacks in the South. Most modern day Americans do not understand this.
They make the case that any people, including the people of the South, have a moral right to be free from oppression. I agree, whether we are speaking of the 13 Colonies, the C.S.A., or occupied Germany after 1945.
They also point out cultural differences between the North and the South. This could be summed up as the relaxed, individualistic, primarily Celtic, county government centered, agrarian Southern culture versus the urban, industrialized, town government centered, wealth obsessed, Anglo ruled culture of the New England states. One quote concerning this from page 21 is:
“Their contempt for materialism was a natural part of the cultural heritage of the Celtic people from which the majority of them sprang. This contempt for wealth was a major factor in the true assessment of Southern society, a factor that the Yankee mind refused to understand…”
The Kennedy brothers also complain about the cultural genocide of the South, something that I certainly would sympathize with them on. From those who write public school textbooks to the book publishing houses in NYC to the media –there is an anti-South bias and inclination to unjustly depict Southerners as uneducated, culturally backward, tobacco chewing hillbillies saving up their moonshine profits in order to buy a new Klan robe.
The Kennedy brothers included several appendixes/addendums, which I enjoyed as much as their writings. I especially enjoyed the Addendum II, which was Jefferson Davis’ principled and eloquent, farewell address to the U.S. Senate as he resigned when his state seceded. It is a piece of oratory that can stand with that of the Founders in the 1770s; it is that good.
I also found Addendum X, a brief piece by Forrest McDonald on the fraudulent “ratification” of the 14th Amendment, quite worth reading. Law passed under duress is not law. Citizenship to all born on our territory was never really law!
The Kennedy brothers sometimes seem to think that the words “liberal” and “Yankee” are basically interchangeable. They seem to view unconstitutional and tyrannical modern day acts of the American national government as a liberal attack on the conservative South by Yankees –and not an attack by the Feds on all true Americans in all states. This seemed strange to me.
The Kennedy brothers still wish to work within the corrupt political system. If that fails, they wish to peacefully reestablish the Confederate States of America. Considering how peaceful secession turned out when tried in 1861, I am unsure if they really believe that it work in 21st century –especially when they believe that their people have been mistreated and basically occupied by the enemy for a century and a half.
In the last chapter, “Summary and Call to Action”, they talk about preserving history, displaying the Confederate battle flag, and political activism. They also make it clear that: “The last thing we need is for Skin-Heads and neo-Nazis to be seen as the ones who are represented by our nation’s flags”. I assume they may be referring to the various Confederate flags as “our nations’s flags”, not the American and Confederate flags.
The fatal flaw which ruined this book for me was the one absolutely illogical theme that ran throughout it: insurmountable cultural conflict between Celts and Anglos but not between whites, blacks, and Mexicans in the South.
The Kennedy brothers hold that the English speaking (primarily Anglo-Saxon and German Northerners) and the (primarily Celtic) English speaking Southerners could not get along because of cultural differences. But, they go to lengths to show that whites, free blacks, black slaves, a half breed Indian Confederate soldier from Oklahoma named McCool, Hispanic/ethnic Mexican soldiers from Santos Benavides Texas Cavalry, and a Jewess named Rosanne Osterman who allegedly nursed wounded confederate soldiers all got along just fine as one big happy multiethnic Southern family. Please.
If Western European racial brothers speaking the same language and unified under the Common Law legal tradition –the Anglos and Celts in America- cannot get along, how can EXTREMELY dissimilar racial and cultural people get along? This reminds me of the Bible passage about the beam and the mote. This fundamental illogic ruined he book for me.
This book might be a good introduction to the righteousness of the Southern cause against the Union invaders to those who are unfamiliar with this piece of history. But the book was greatly flawed by its simultaneous anti-Anglo and pro-multiculturalism theory.
Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.