To travel from the Pacific Northwest all the way to College Station, Texas, without experiencing more of the Lone Star State was not an option.
So, after driving from Austin eastward to College Station (where I was hosted by two exceptional, young, Southern gentlemen), I headed southwest to San Antonio. There I lingered long enough to conclude:
The Republic of Texas is a civilization apart.
Ordinary Texans – from my brief travels – tend to be sunny, kind and warmhearted. Not once did I encounter rude on my Texas junket.
On the Pacific Coast, however, kindness and congeniality don’t come naturally. State-of-Washington statists are generally aloof, opprobrious, insular. And, frankly, dour.
Southern historian Dr. Clyde N. Wilson tells of receiving “a package containing a chamber pot labeled ‘Robert E. Lee’s Soup Tureen.'”
It came from … Portland, Maine.
Unkind cuts are an everyday occurrence around here, where the busybody mentality prevails.
Stand still long enough, and they’ll tell you how to live. They’ll even give chase to deliver that “corrective” sermon. A helmeted cyclist once chased me down along a suburban running trail.
My sin? I had fed the poor juncos in the dead of winter. (Still do. Bite me, you bully.)
Having caught up with me, SS Cyclist got on his soapbox and in my face about my unforgivable rule-bending. Wasn’t I familiar with the laws governing his pristine environmental utopia?
Didn’t I know that only the fittest deserved to survive? That’s the natural world, according to these ruthless, radical progressive puritans.
Yes, mea culpa for having an exceedingly soft spot for God’s plucky little creatures.
When a Washington statist gets wind of your core beliefs – why, even if your use of the English language irks His Highness – he will take it upon himself to fix your “flaws,” try to make you over in his sorry image.
For the distinct cluster of characteristics just described, Dr. Wilson aforementioned uses the term Yankee.
The professor, whose métier is American intellectual history, was described by Eugene Genovese as “an exemplary historian who displays formidable talent.” Another stellar scholar, Thomas Landess, lauded Wilson as “a mind as precise and expansive as an encyclopedia.”
Duly, Dr. Wilson makes the following abundantly clear: By “Yankee,” he does not mean “everybody from north of the Potomac and Ohio.”
“The firemen who died in the World Trade Center on September 11 were Americans. The politicians and TV personalities who stood around telling us what we are to think about it are Yankees.”
“Yankee” as a designation belongs to “a peculiar ethnic group descended from New Englanders, who can be easily recognized by their arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, lack of congeniality, and a penchant for ordering other people around.”
“A perversity of character,” said Thomas Jefferson succinctly of the Yankee character.
Indeed, “Puritans long ago abandoned anything that might be good about their religion but have never given up the notion that they are the chosen saints whose mission is to make America, and the world, into the perfection of their own image.”
The cover of Wilson’s “The Yankee Problem: An American Dilemma” is bedecked with the quintessential Yankee mugs of Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and John Brown, each a murderer in his or her own right. The one butchered with his bare hands. The other two killed by proxy.
The contemporary face of the fanaticism alluded to here is pundit Richard Painter, who is the spitting image of Brown. A Republican until Trump, Painter is now a member of the anti-Trump high-command at MSNBC.
In zealotry, Painter could pass for the terrifying Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens.
A broader truth hit me in the solar plexus during the sojourn from the American Deep North to The South. On hand to better contextualize it is my friend Clyde Wilson:
Texas is still a Red State, despite a large number of minorities. That is because Texas, as you observed, Ilana, has a real culture. That means that there is a reality there that minorities can identify with and assimilate to. Unlike, say, Chicago or New Jersey or L.A., where they simply become aggrieved ‘victims,’ clamoring for special benefits, that being the only culture present.
The peculiar character of the Yankee was observed by Tocqueville in the 19th century and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th. The first great American novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, wrote a whole series of books about the New England Yankees who spread into and destroyed the unique culture of his home country of Upstate New York.
Plenty of Northerners, like Gov. Horatio Seymour of New York and Gov. Joel Parker of New Jersey, blamed the War between the States on New Englanders, and not the South, which simply wanted to be let alone.
One cannot really grasp American history unless you understand how Yankees have dominated and distorted it since the late 18th century.