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Southerners remember their history, good and bad

As a Southerner, I feel that far too often the South is portrayed in the media as racist and backward. Nick Christie's column raised old feelings of confusion and frustration in me. His argument, if one could call it that, was a rather pitiful attempt to demonstrate generalities of the whole South, today, from specific and particular instances in the past. Christie wrote, "In the South, embarrassing truths are smoothed over." It's simply not true. Christie is a liar.

In my home state, we don't gloss over the ugly parts of history, we embrace them and learn from them. We remember when General Ulysses S. Grant took Vicksburg and how our soldiers were forced to eat rats. We remember reconstruction and carpetbaggers and we certainly recall when William T. Sherman destroyed our croplands and our way of life. We remember these atrocities.

And we remember Jim Crow and the end of segregation. And at the University of Mississippi, we respectfully remember when 40 years ago we welcomed our first African-American student, James Meredith, into the student body. Just this week, Meredith came back to Ole Miss, just as he does every year, to celebrate that anniversary.

I am not proud of all the things that have happened here. However, my fellow Mississippians and I are trying to learn from our past and become a better people, without leaving behind the good things in our culture, like the hospitality and honor that you so tritely cast aside.

If there is no atonement for the South for its iniquities, then what of these Untied States, and the murders and tortures it has committed? Is our nation beyond forgiveness?

The South is not perfect. It is flawed and it has its problems and its historical and moral dilemmas, but so does America as a whole and so does every other nation in the world. And I'm sure, Christie, that you could reflect on your own life and recall events of which you are not especially proud, as could we all.

If you don't like it here, Christie, get out.

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