Chris Graham: Heritage

I’m a Southerner. I have an accent. Hell, I work for a rasslin’ company. No question I’m Southern. Got two cousins named Junior, an uncle named Boogie, et cetera.

Here’s where I go controversial being a Southerner – that crap about the Civil War being about states’ rights is, well, yeah, crap.

It doesn’t take more than a minute or two using a Socratic method line of questioning to see how.

So what states’ rights were they fighting over? I think I have a hostile witness here. Just answer.

It’s OK for us to admit that it was about slavery, y’all. Most of us – the vast majority of us – didn’t own slaves, but our economy was dependent upon them.

And yes, I get it, being from a family that was anything but antebellum aristocrats. Our kinfolk weren’t fighting to protect the right of the gentry to own slaves. Doesn’t mean that just because the rich folks hoodwinked us into thinking the war was about Yankee aggression that it was actually so.

Why I bring this up: A Zogby poll released this week has most of us agreeing that we’re still divided over issues dating back to the Civil War, most notably what the cause of said war was, states’ rights or slavery.

Why? And why do 40 percent of us, according to Zogby, think of the Confederate Flag as a symbol of Southern heritage? The history of the South dates back four centuries. The Civil War was four years. We’re still fighting it 150 years later, sure, but what are we fighting over, exactly?

For the longest time, the fight was over the legality and morality of the system of virtual slavery in Jim Crow that marked life in the South following Reconstruction. One immoral system down, then another, and now we’re just grasping at straws.

I say we’re grasping at straws because, think about it, we’ve won the cultural war. Fried chicken, country music, NASCAR, SEC football, ACC basketball, the utter failure of hockey to make a dent in the national imagination, the ever-dwindling number of people who wear black socks with sandals in the summer. Plenty of what’s good about life in the South is also what’s good about life in America anymore.

We don’t need to keep pretending like we’re mortally wounded every time a damn Yankee tells us how great life is back in New York or Boston. If it was so great, we can say back, then why did you move down here?

You can have your Confederate Flag and your states’ rights. My Southern heritage is best marked by an evening on the front porch with a tall glass of lemonade listening to the birds sing and remembering how when I was a kid my granny would tell me which bird it was singing and which flowers and trees over yonder it liked to sing from.

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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

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