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By David D. Brown SDana Douglas, and David England / January 31, 2001



Making room for 'Southern pride'

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Thanks for your Jan. 26 article "Southern pride rising ... rankling." A Southerner myself, I felt you captured something most media outlets have missed: the genuine sense of frustration many of us feel - not ignited by racism or hatred, but rather a fear that Southern identity is under assault and may well be irretrievably lost.

I hate that my hometown of Atlanta has become so sterilized over the years as to resemble nothing more than a Cincinnati of the South. I regret that others with a skin color the same as mine have used the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of hatred. But for better or worse, I feel a genuine attachment to those things that I have grown up with.

I grew up with the post-1956 Georgia flag, and it hurts to see it go. I love that emblem because it means home - not hate - to me.

I am grateful your article did not rely on the usual "he said, she said" approach to reporting a controversial subject.

On the other hand, I was a bit concerned about your apparently unquestioning use of Mark Potok's (Southern Poverty Law Center) assessment of the dangerous intellectual capital being brought to bear on the side of Southern heritage. Mr. Potok takes unwarranted and offensive rhetorical liberties by equating the fight for Southern heritage with neo-Nazism.

As a lawyer who supports 10th Amendment principles and many of the constitutional values for which the South fought, I take issue with the assertion that intellectuals who espouse such beliefs are "politically dangerous." We are no more "politically dangerous" than our intellectual opponents: We just disagree. Thank you for what I think was one of the most fair-minded and thoughtful articles on this matter I've yet read.

David D. Brown S anta Monica, Calif.

Your Jan 26. article "Southern pride rising ... rankling" raises important questions.

Over the past two decades, America has been reeducated to value diversity. Yet the article speaks of Southern "partisanship" and warns of "ominous motives."

Is everyone's diversity OK except for that of white Southerners, who are mainly Christians? Can Southerners join together as kindred spirits without being labeled partisans?

Others have done it. In the 1960s a new holiday was invented, Kwanzaa, where African-Americans display their pride. In the Southwest and many major cities, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a festive time in which they show their pride. Massachusetts citizens honor Patriot's Day, which in effect celebrates rebels killing British soldiers sent to impose the will of a strong central government - that is, the crown in London.

Isn't it hypocritical to view one kind of lawful diversity as OK, but be intolerant or suspicious of another kind of lawful diversity?

Dana Douglas Chattanooga, Tenn.

Keeping students out of debt

Regarding your Jan. 29 article "Colleges confront on-campus creditors":

As a financial planner, the most tragic case I've come across was a 23-year-old woman who had run up $23,000 in credit-card debt, most of which was to pay for courses.

She was postponing marriage, afraid to tell her proudly debt-free fiance she was in such an embarrassing predicament even though it was, for her, necessary for graduation.

If universities are serious about helping their students, many could begin by looking at the practices in their bursar's offices.

David England Brookline, Mass.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society