As a Progressive from Texas, Let Me Explain Why the South Never Seems to Change

texas-equalityRecently there’s been an intense debate over racism and why so many in the South still cling to relics of the Confederacy, symbols of a time in our nation’s history that are best forgotten. While many have touched on some rather poignant facts as to why this is (racism being the main culprit), it’s really not as simple as that.


As many might know, I’ve lived in Texas my entire life. Clearly I am not the stereotypical Southerner most people envision, but being a progressive growing up and living in a very red state (as millions of other progressives/liberals do as well) has given me a unique perspective on conservatives that I’m not sure anyone who’s never lived in some of these places would be able to fully understand.

Take for instance the debate over the Confederate flag and the Confederacy in general. While there’s still a good chunk of people in the South (as well as places outside of the South) who support both based mostly on racism, there are quite a lot of people down here who really view the flag as nothing more than a symbol of regional, Southern pride. Much in the same way many people from Texas take great pride in our state flag. For many the Confederate flag isn’t a symbol of racism, just “pride” in their Southern roots.

Now, the problem with that is that a lot of this “Southern pride” traces back 150 years to the Civil War and slavery. But these facts have been distorted, altered or conflated in such a way that many of these people simply refuse to believe that.

It all comes down to “how they were raised.” In the South, how you were raised is a huge deal. It’s important in other parts of the country as well, but down here it’s every bit as important to many of these people as the Bible and their religion. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to convince conservatives to change their minds on much of anything. If they were raised to believe something, even in the face of overwhelming facts proving what they’ve been taught to believe is wrong, they’ll still often cling to whatever they were told growing up.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being proud of where you’re from or your “roots,” but I think it’s important to make sure what we believe is based on facts and reality, not myths and legends.

When conservatives talk about “traditional American values,” what they really mean is “how I was raised.”

It’s why the values of conservatives evolve and progress so slowly. Sure, many of us make fun of the South for being poor, uneducated and racist – and there are plenty of Southerners who are all three – but it has gotten better than it was 50+ years ago. It’s just that here in the South, progress moves at a snail’s pace compared to the rest of the country. It’s why conservative values aren’t a whole lot different than they were 150 years ago.


Even if you remove the racial aspects of the Confederacy, the people who supported it:

  • Had a strong distrust for the federal government.
  • Believed guns were meant to overthrow the government.
  • Actually started a rebellion against the government because they felt it had “overreached.”
  • Used states’ rights to try to find legal justification for their unconstitutional beliefs.
  • Were super religious and often used the Bible to justify their willful ignorance.

It’s practically the same rhetoric conservatives use today. The reason why is because these “values” have been passed along from one generation to the next, becoming part of the sacred “how I was raised” mantra. To say ethnocentrism in the South is a huge problem would be a gross understatement; the values held by many are quite literally from decades ago.

One of the reasons why it’s insulting to many Southerners to brand the Confederacy and the Confederate flags as symbols of hate, racism and slavery is because by doing so, they take it as if you’re personally insulting their ancestors. In their minds, their ancestors fought against big government and for states’ rights – not slavery. After all, most Southerners didn’t own slaves. That’s how they “justify” their support for the Confederacy. But it’s like Jon Stewart said, that’s like saying your family joined up with the Nazis because they opposed smoking (the Nazis were anti-smoking), while ignoring what the Nazis were really fighting for.

And it’s especially difficult when many of these same anti-government, pro-gun, hyper-religious elements are still foundations of conservatism. In a lot of their minds, the Confederacy represents those values – not racism. I’m not denying that there are still a lot of people who look highly upon the Confederacy because of the racist elements linked to it (there are), but when you have generations of people all telling their children stories of how their kin fought “heroically” for “their rights” under this flag, getting the actual truth to matter about what they were fighting for becomes that much more difficult.

It’s why for so long I’ve viewed conservatism as a cult more than an ideology. In a lot of ways they literally believe what they want to believe and ignore what they don’t. If you tell them most African-Americans – and the country for that matter – view the Confederacy as “racist” and the Confederate flag a symbol of that racism, you’re likely to get back a response that goes something like, “Well, that’s not what it symbolizes to me.” As if their personal opinion on the matter based on “how they were raised” has the power to change the reality of what something does or doesn’t represent.

To insult those beliefs only causes them to dig in even deeper. Not to mention, stubbornness in the South is rampant. When you mix stubbornness with a general lack of knowledge about actual facts, that’s a potent combination.

It’s why no matter how many facts or stats you show to Republicans proving that tax cuts don’t create jobs; gay marriage won’t have any negative impact on society; access to contraceptives and proper sex education in school help lower abortion rates; raising the minimum wage will help our economy; greed that’s been supported by GOP economic policies is what’s killing the middle class; more guns don’t make us any safer; or why Fox News isn’t “Fair and Balanced”.. they’ll never listen.

Because the root and source for all of those beliefs come from – say it with me – how they were raised. 



Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Michael David Barber Moghul

    So, people in the South are really just stupid. If one doesn’t learn from facts rather than clinging to beliefs that are outmoded or just plain wrong, one is a dumbass.

    • samsengsingh

      ok progressive assholes….low IQ RETARDS

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Says the guy that can`t string a coherent sentence together.

      • moon

        Says the ignorant fool hitting people up for spelling, point blank don’t like southern history take your sorry ass some where else out of the south, that goes for Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and so forth! Get the hell out

      • noah vail

        who put you in charge of all the south? southern history? you’ve got to be shitting me…the rest of the country has been carrying your sorry asses since you lost the civil war…more welfare in the south, poorest health., least educated, laziest white folks in the country…do you realize that if all the black people left the south the rest wouldnt know what to do with themselves…who would they hate? who would do the actual work? where would jesus be? (he wasn’t white you know)

      • moon

        Hate to tell you noah but even you Yankees are in poverty, and better yet the economy in both south and north are nowhere near back to what it was you say northerners been carrying our assess for so long your a damn fool its the industrial era thanks to the mid 90’s over sea trading act it mainly gone and ever since the economy has been on a slight decline till 2009 so your old senile butt can keep your opinions and your yankee ass up north

      • rushthis

        You don’t know this, and won’t believe it, but more welfare flows to Southern States….but the way you were raised won’t allow you to believe that.

      • moon

        Yeah i wouldn’t doubt it seeing how i pay taxes out the ass and see people who are applying for food stamps and other gov. Assitance is driving around with way nicer rides than I, complain when the payments on their goverment housing goes up from $200 to $450 after the houses get completely remodeled and houses not apartments or some two bedroom house either and yet still driving around with new nice rides, while i bust my ass paying taxes, paying mortgage, no government Assitance here I earned what i got!! So when you tell me about wellfare and why america is in such debt than come where i am and I’ll give ya a tour around to show you where all the debt is assisting

      • rushthis

        No, YOU don’t like the way AMERICA works, GTFO.

      • moon

        Yeah ever heard of racial baiting maybe you should open your eyes a bit more cause americana is going in the shit hole and its cause pro quo (america) is sensitive to minor crap so I’d suggest you GTFO your self and wake up to seeing the bigger picture!

  • michele1240

    these are the descendants of terrorist, treasonous, Aristocracy lovers. They did not want to fight the English for independence and only joined the fight when the British messed with their bottom line. They believed then, as they do now, that they are somehow entitled and that any means for their advancement is fine regardless of the damage done to others. This attitude was the heart and soul of the south in the 18th century and its the attitude and heart and soul of the south in the 21st century.

  • Garibaldi

    Okay, that’s how they were raised. And Progressives can be smug assholes. But racism is racism and willful ignorance is—well, you get my point.

  • moon

    Coming from people who seriously NEED TO READ YOUR HISTORY BEFORE SPITTING VULGAR CRAP ABOUT IT, also say what you will but the real idiots are those standing beside N.A.A.C.P talking about real racisim last i checked theirs not a month dedicated to any whites or native Americans at all and anyone has more than a right to scream about their civil rights is the Native Americans, BLACK LIVES MATTER, wow what about all lives, Way to go people just keep buying into the propaganda your being fed, after being bashed enough for being a white person you might wake up and realize reality of what’s actually being done!

    • Camden Langford

      I’m sorry that talking about the disparities of race makes you uncomfortable.

      • moon

        Doesn’t make me uncomfortable but ignorant pricks such as your self thinks you know about racisim and if that flag so racist better take a look at the American flag!

      • moon

        It’s people like you who blame a flag instead of laying the blame where it belongs,your from Texas and more into this than not more than a month or so a black guy shot and killed people in TEXAS and then claim his pledge to I.S.I.S lasted a split second on media but some hateful child kills innocent people in a church worship, it last for weeks going from him being a racist which he also carried a embroidered emblem of the white supremacy british cult from south Africa , though morans like your self is blaming a battle flag which is mainly flown for fallen soldiers that fought and died in the civil war but that not like taking a flag from a soldier of today so people show no respect to it only blame it for the nut jobs doing what they have done, LIKE I SAID ONCE BEFORE REREAD YOUR HISTORY BEFORE CRITICIZING OTHERS ABOUT RACIAL CRAP

      • Odd Jørgensen

        You need to sue the school district, they failed you horribly. Maybe you could take some classes online? Getting an education is never too late.

      • moon

        No odd your mother knocked more sense into you cause its obvious everyone is such dumb ass morans who defy a FLAG, not like the whole state house isn’t still dirty hell tim Scott made all of south Carolina seem ignorant by how he represented us with his form of talk and damn willing to bank if the money is right they would change the story of taking it down lmao IDIOTS ALL OF YOU

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Would you like some dressing on that word salad?
        Did you take some online classes by Palin in creative writing or something?

      • moon

        No its called a cellphone and shows how immature you are to try and go after my spelling ha ha ha ha, this is funny i laugh at childish idiots such as you, oh wait thats the g.o.p and ignorant people posing to take the flag down lmao

      • Odd Jørgensen

        A cellphone shows how immature I am? Now you are just rambling.

      • moon

        What like you rambling on about spelling… shut the hell up and go on if you spent worried more about the actual important things that matter like the economy and poverty of today we all might actually make a true difference in life, though you and others are bitching about a flag or someones spelling! Thats why the u.s. is screwed like it is today

      • Odd Jørgensen

        //shut the hell up and go on if you spent worried more about the actual important things that matter //
        You see, it is not the spelling that is your problem, it is how you just throw words together, and expect people to understand what you mean. “If you spent worried more” I mean, seriously?

      • moon

        Wow this must have went from the topic to bashing me for my grammar or proper spelling, damn I didn’t know we was going back to middle school…….lmao

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Congratulations, you did it again.

      • moon

        Congratulations to you to showing just what i ment on how your playing childish games with criticized b.s. in my post rflmao, that cute would you like a cookie covered with some glazed icing

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Is it chocolate chip?

      • moon

        Oh yeah with frosted white glaze all over it

      • moon

        That would be racist though ha ha ha ha!

      • Hooper

        For fuck sake, take a god damned English class. You word salad makes my brain hurt.

      • noah vail

        it’s like i said earlier, the absolute worst educated people in the country…how can they have pride in being so ignorant? they are, if nothing else, an embarresment to the real America

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Love your name, but I guess it will do me no good.

      • Dennis

        You’re in no position to cite anyone for lack of education, noah. You’re incapable of writing a correct and complete sentence.

      • noah vail

        that in no way changes the level of (willful) ignorance exhibited by you and your ilk…look to content, not punctuation or spelling, this does require real thinking and and not just following fux news ideology

      • Jim Valley

        Good Lord, what ignorance. I guess this is what the article is about.

      • Chris19741949

        morans? Really? You make an excellent apologist for the south and the civil war the south started.

      • moon

        No Lincoln started the war and maybe if you look a little deeper into history of the civil war you’d know the south truely didn’t start the war Lincoln did and why….well google the true history of how it really began, but doubt you’ll use your time reading it!

      • samsengsingh

        Liptard commie talking

    • noah vail

      and what, i might ask, would that be? sounds to me like you’re running scared

      • moon

        Noah your ignorant old prick that American flag was flying long before the civil war and hold more racisim than the confederate flag and jesus wasn’t black, hell better yet you kniw hebrew scripture if so please please just try to say different cause that’s the closes anyone going to come to knowing, such a fool trying to mox racism with belief of religion, you can tell your a yankee may want to go back since you have that type of mind set

      • noah vail

        huh? is sarah palin doing your writing now…you sir are sorely in need of an education…perhaps you can learn how the english language works…until such time please refrain from showing your lack of knowledge and making your mother look bad for not making you go to school

      • moon

        Looks though as is you need to look back in history because slavery happened way way before the civil war and you don’t truely know the color of jesus your talking crap out the side of your neck and lets not start with the mother jokes lmao

      • noah vail

        “slavery happened way way before the civil war”…no shit sherlock…the anti slavery movement that began in england (they ended it around 1820 or thereabouts) came to America and was very active in freeing slaves up to and during the civil war…if slavery hadn’t happened way before then we wouldn’t have needed a war , would we? i reiterate you are sorely in need of an education

      • moon

        Noah it wasn’t JUST ABOUT THE SLAVERY go finish arguing with that rock or brick wall cause your pointing out one thing, one track mind shit is exactly what your spewing out your mouth

      • noah vail

        congratulations sir, you have now raised “dipshit” to an art form

      • moon

        Noah you are the dipshit and only place the north is carrying the south to is hell from the looks of it, take your sorry ass on else where, better yet give the nurse back her phone and keep you and your bullshit in that nursing home old fool

      • noah vail

        ah, rancor…the last refuge of the willfully ignorant…to bad you mother didn’t love you enough to teach you to respect your elders or to give you an education

      • moon

        Okay old timer now move on with your rants and raves!

      • Chris19741949

        Very boring, moon. Your ranting and name-calling simply make everyone else want to stuff a sock in your mouth.

      • moon

        Ha ha ha couldn’t care less if those who wish to blab about proper punctuation and how i should word my sentences can kiss my butt and it’s america dude i can express my self however I feel freely to do so those who bash me for expressing my opions is like thoughs who try to silence those who support the flag and are stereo typed as (racist)…..it’s hate those who doesn’t follow the majority and to bash someone over spelling well just shows me, people have to find something to criticize me about, still find it even more hilarious as while this is such happening the 10 commandments been removed from Arkansa because of a satanic cults rights and etc. Who else feels entitled to their rights lol, hell lets pass it to let the illegals become u.s. citizens while we are at it!!! 🙂

      • moon

        Respect is earned these days, you have to give it to recieve it and as far as education if left up to people with your mind setting most of actual history would be wiped out period!!

      • Hooper

        Please read the Texas Declaration of Secession and an English book too.

      • moon

        Hooper maybe you should knock the dust off your old history books and reread them your self instead of looking at google or Wikipedia, cause anyone can recite that however they want to since technology has came along ways in the last decade, see the difference between NOW and THEN is nobody owns slaves today as they did then and even, that flag is flown for the fallen, those who fly it as something else are the ignorant ones, speaking of slavery sense everyone soo deeply embedded with this slavery crap why don’t you look into the irish slavery??? You’d see that irish slaves lives was less of value to the slave masters than an african slaves life was but guess you only considered that black slaves os what matters and guess what also irish americans fought in the civil war as well so guess what….. since I have mostly irish does that entitle me to something greater too, doubt it but like i said maybe you should knock off the dust from your history books!!! ALL LIVES MATTER, NOT JUST BLACK LIVES!!! We all are kicking around on this ball of dirt and we all only live one life, unless your religion tells you that your brought back to this life at some point and time!

      • moon

        By the way, Noah….. the civil war didn’t just start for slavery reasons, that was coming to an end of its era anyhow, so you can say i am in need of an education and i say your in need of taking a deeper look into why the war began instead of hurrling insults of ignorance!

      • Jim Valley

        This is gibberish, is it not?

    • Brian Frang

      I have read my history, bub. More importantly, I’ve read the Documents of Secession from all 11 of the Confederate states, and do you know what? They *all* said that they were seceding over slavery. Every single one. Maybe *you* need to read *your* history, asshole.

      • moon

        Hahahaha the succession wasn’t revolving around slavery completely (bub) let’s talk about taxations and capitolism… that’s how I know you’re shooting smoke n mirrors asshole! S.c. held free blacks before the civil war idiot, who the hell you think came up the the cotton gin wasn’t a white man, hell at least 10% of the plantations in S.C. were owned by free african slaves…. that just goes to show how much a bullshiter and a dumb ass you really are

      • moon

        Or did you read the complete history of the civil war, not knowing true facts…. free african slaves owned african slaves BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR! Rejects like you are like ass knats flying around any shit you can find. Seeing how my fourth great grandfather was a lieutenant in the civil war, that war was in fact NOT BASED PURELY ON SLAVERY, just rejects like you’re self continue on with their bullshit propaganda….and if your sooooo ass hurt over the slavery of blacks why not look up Aribic Muslims, because their slave trade with Africa over exceeded far after slavab abolished here in the United states… you must be a liberal dipshit!

  • Trisha

    Well looks to me like there aint nothing but a bunch of judgemental/hypocritical small minded people on this post. Half of yall done missed the point of it by a damn mile with all this you spelt this wrong, worded that wrong bs. Anyone with a little common sense would realize that just because the confederate flag was around while slavery was, doesnt mean EVERYONE views it like that. Your just picking one tiny detail out of the whole meaning behind it. Not only did white men fight under that flag, black men did as well and there are MANY southern supporters of the flag from the African American race. The point people are trying to make is the confederate flag they are trying to remove is on a Monument for those Fallen soldiers. They could care less if yall dont support it/like it, because that flag will still fly all over the place. Its there in Honor of ALL those who fought in the civil war!!! Now if you would kindly take your heads out of your asses and show some respect it would be appreciated.

    • Hooper

      Many African Americans supported the south? Can you please site your source. I have no respect for treason.

      • moon

        How about try the former leader of N.A.A.C.P of North Carolina which lead a rally to keep the flag flying or a u.s.c colledge student who spoke on CNN of why he flys his confederate flag in his dorm room window, better yet look up In the defense of the Confederate flag pt.1 by David Carrol on Youtube, David Carrol is a black man even wearing a confederate flag t-shirt so theres just a few Black Supporter of what you wish to call TREASON FLAG , RFLMAO TOO FUNNY TO HEAR OR SEE IGNORANCE LIKE I’VE BEEN SEEING, no matter how many times someone tells it wether it is black person or white person, people like you wish to elude your self with such ignorance and continue to detest this no matter if people put it dead in your damn face!

  • Jim Valley

    OK, now I understand them a little better, thanks. I still can’t stand them.

    • moon

      Him do you live in any southern strates?

      • Jim Valley

        I’m sorry, can you translate that into English please?

      • Joe Downey

        I lived in Collin County Texas for five years. Most stuck up People in the WORLD. Living in the PAST. Here are the first Three questions you are asked when you meet a Texan Whats is your Name? Where Do you Live? What Church you go to? The third Question is none of their Business. Yeah they are PROUD of Slavery Jim Crow and the Killing of the Only Catholic President

      • moon

        I live in s.c. and was born and raised here and the dispute has become drawn out if the flag is what it takes to make people believe that this will be the first step in moving forward than take it down, but at the end of the won’t truely change a thing…what drives me crazy about this whole thing is people trying to stereo type others who choose to support the confederate flag, even boycotting it so people can’t put the flags over the soldiers graves, take the flag down fine do so but don’t call me a racist because my belief of the flag isn’t what everyone else wants to believe it is to them, to silence those who stand up for their respect and support to that flag is no different then trying to silence those trying speak of racist acts. To me for someone to call me a racist for my support to that flag, has to come from another sense of hate and racisim! I get along with most anyone, and very social person i care nothing of color of skin it all has to do with the person! You can be posing a saint and still be a sinner if you get what i am saying

    • moon

      Then don’t live in the south since you referred to US southerners as THEM that you can’t stand!!

  • Ken Taylor

    So? If you can’t engage with “The South” on an intellectual or moral level, what are we supposed to do? It is not just their cultish behavior that worries me, it is their insistence on cultish actions!! They are burning churches, killing people and in general trying to impose their “truth” on the rest of us. And, they are morally and historically out of touch — no, they are just as wrong today as they were 150, nay over 200 years ago when we adopted the 3/5 rule.

    • moon

      Yeah your right we was wrong we should have let Abraham Lincoln do his emancipation to the african slaves then they would be back in africa to this day, we was such fools to go to war with the north! Then that would surely hurt your feelings cause you wouldn’t have no man dingo today aww so sad!

  • moon

    Damn….I almost forgotten about all the spell check trolls on this page..lmao!!!

  • Doc N’ Carol BikerGypsy

    So then your theory doesn’t apply to Liberals, i.e. raised to believe in entitlements they didn’t earn? Raised to believe that personal freedom is selfish? Raised to believe that any generational burden of guilt continues infinitum? Raised to believe in that which offends should be completely erased from our history, much like the Taliban destruction of temples and statues?

    I’m a conservative raised in N.Y. and Ohio, by southern born parents. And personally, noone in my family has ever fit the mold you’ve cast on conservatives. There’s nothing absolutely perfect about our government (any government). History shows that from feudalism to socialism to capitalism there has always been a caste system that sustains the dogma behind it all. I’ve got news for you; there is NO Utopia in humanity’s future despite what the left would have us to believe. But there is utilitarianism; consequences of global action.

    We give and feed the poor worldwide and ease our personal conscious but the antithesis of that creates a global consequence, “life boat ethics” in which one more swimmer in the boat will cause it to capsize and the others will drown as well. So what’s the global answer then? There is none but the progressive environment would have carry the burden of guilt.

    I don’t care if one is gay. I don’t care if a person carries a weapon. I don’t care what church you go to or whether or not you believe in God. What I care about is the freedom to believe and to exist in a manner of my choosing. A product of the 60’s I’m ashamed of what has grown out of that generation; left-wing haters and proponents of violence when they don’t get their way.

    • Yeahright

      Listen to you………you are aware that the highest number of welfare recipients in this country are white republicans right? That argument gone. You will care about people carrying guns when one close to you is shot and as far as the life boat theory…….republicans are the ones that believe everything is a zero sum game. The reason we still believe in generational guilt is because the south has never accepted any responsibility for the civil war. They still today pretend it was over some righteous cause. Then spent the next hundred years defending segregation. But your biggest error is to say that nobody in your family fits the mold he described…….” conservative raised in N.Y. and Ohio, by southern born parents” it must have been the way you were raised.

      • Laurie Lonnevik

        Well put

    • JPBauer

      Who are these “Liberals” of whom you speak? The ones who believe in equality for all? The ones who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? The ones who write and pass Equal Protection laws because it’s necessary to provide for the promises of the above listed documents? You say “Liberal” likes it’s a swear word. What I hear from “Conservatives” is, “I got mine. Screw you!” As others have said, this is not a zero-sum game. It is true when the 1%ers take it all. though.

  • lulucaliente

    The myth of “Regional Pride” is just another form of white privilege. You are entitled to rewrite history so that you come out looking literally “lily white”. Hundreds of thousands of people died so that whites could maintain the myth that blacks weren’t humans. So that whites could kill blacks without impunity, sell them like cattle, and own them like property. If you take “pride” in that you’ve been brainwashed.