Progressive Colonialism, Southern Discomfort

I’m so sorry. Really, just very sorry. Here entitled Yankees like the NYT’s Ginia Bellafante thought the American South existed to give Millennial Brooklynites a place to reproduce Park Slope, but more affordably, and now we’ve gone and ruined it for them with our deplorable social and religious views. Bellafante writes about how pro-life legislators are screwing things up for these expats:

“The New South’’ was a term conceived in the aftermath of the Civil War to suggest a set of aspirations of some southern elites who hoped to rebuild a backward and devastated place into a world better aligned with Northern urban values.

Over the many decades, it has acquired various layers of nuance, but today it tends to call to mind a string of cities from Charlotte, N.C., to Austin, Tex., that have essentially been Brooklynized by way of a progressive social culture and a tweaked fidelity to some of the South’s more marketable traditions.

More:

How will these new abortion laws affect the redistribution of talent to places whose economies prosper from that talent? Under the current conditions, I wondered if women like Tess and her friends, many of whom moved from New York or Los Angeles, would have chosen to relocate to the Deep South. I asked some of them, and they told me that they were not sure.

One, Allison Gourlay, arrived in New Orleans a few years ago from a studio in Greenwich Village she could barely afford. At first she had a hard time finding work and questioned her decision.

“I was talking to a friend one day when I wasn’t sure and she said, ‘Stay, this place is about to blow up. It’s on the cusp of something big, can’t you feel it?’ This is cheesy, but I got goose bumps. New Orleans is really a place to establish work-life balance but I’m getting ready to start a family and it scares me,” she said.

“When you meet all these young people moving here who are so passionate and intelligent and changing the rules and making the city what it is, it is so inspiring. But it really worries me that it could no longer be that place.”

She’s getting ready to start a family, but the possibility that the Louisiana legislature might make it harder for her to exterminate her unborn child makes her think about abandoning the city where things are otherwise pretty great for her?

Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it.

How many stories do you see in the New York Times about the city and state’s extremely progressive social laws, and how it stands to hurt the city economically and culturally? Are there migrants — from the American South, or from more socially conservative overseas cultures — who are unsettled by the recent pro-abortion fanaticism of the New York legislature? Kathleen Parker comments:

The question of craziness, meanwhile, depends upon one’s definition of crazy. Is Alabama crazier than New York, where some protections for babies “born” alive during an abortion were recently eliminated, making it easier to end their life if desired by the abortion-seeker?

We know how much economically significant talent is driven away from NYC because of the cost of living — that’s one of the foundations of Bellafante’s piece. Well, how much economically meaningful talent is driven away from NYC (or declines to relocate there) because the city can impose ruinous fines on employers who refuse to use whatever pronoun an worker wants? Are there young newcomers to NYC who want to start families, but who are now thinking that it might not be a good idea to settle down in a city whose public school system appears to be run by flat-out racists who despise whites, in ways that are approved by progressives?

I concede that it’s interesting to talk to progressive Northerners who moved South, thinking that the Grand March of Progress would inevitably make the benighted (but cheap) metropolises of Dixie into non-deplorable locales — but who are learning that they, in fact, live in the South.

What chaps my butt about the piece is the assumption by the author (and those she writes about) that the South ought to assimilate to the dominant progressive culture. The message of this piece is, If you Christianist troglodytes don’t let us progressives have our abortions, we’re not going to move there and contribute to your economies. 

I have an idea! All y’all could pack up your progressive colonialism ethic and go the hell back home.

I have friends who are pro-choice Southern liberals. I believe they’re wrong about that, but this is their home, and I’ve got no problem with them speaking their minds, and advocating for the kinds of laws they would like to see. But you’d better believe I have a big problem with these people who come down to take what’s good out of the South, but the moment Southerners — who are in general more socially conservative — express through their democratically elected legislators opinions that run counter to the sensibilities of Williamsburg, these people are thinking of leaving? Go. Just, go. The South has been very nice to you, but it doesn’t need to be lectured on how if it knows what’s good for it, it will kill its unborn children like the enlightened of the Empire State.

I’ll never read it in the NYT, but I’d be curious to know if any of you readers left a progressive city or state to move to the South (or at least the Midwest) for cultural reasons — specifically, to seek a more socially conservative milieu in which to raise your kids.

 

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Author: Rod Dreher


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