Monday, July 1, 2013

The Cesspool of Sin in the Great Blue Hills of God

"Asheville is a cesspool of sin," said a state senator, much to the residents' delight, if judging from the bumper-stickers and t-shirts sold by the town's hippies. The Great Blue Hills of God is what the Cherokee call the surrounding area, and if the Scotch-Irish Americans who later populated those hills believe in anything, it is in God.

We spent a few days in the hills before descending into the cesspool. We came for the the Shindig on the Green, a Scotch-Irish American affair if there ever was one, but were able to see parts of the city beforehand in the hours we had to kill. I rather like hippies, but it can't be denied that they are as much a homogenizing force as the fast-food dispensaries we were able to avoid on the 469 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway. A block of Asheville, North Carolina, is pretty much indistinguishable from one in Ithaca, New York.

Later, at thje Shindig on the Green, I found that it is not the hippie but the Scotch-Irish American who offers true resistance, just like the Cherokee before him, and it's the same cultural resistance that fueled his resistance during the War of Northern Aggression. That said, at least the hippies are trying, although failing miserably, to create something authentic and real. Some of them even showed up at the Shindig on the Green, and were welcomed of course, just as my Korean wife was welcomed by the local granny sitting next to us.

It was the yuppies whom I could not stand; the transplants in the local boutiquey shop we stumbled upon or at the visitors' center, who tried to steer us away from the Shindig on the Green ("too hot, too crowded, too dirty") towards the Biltmore Estate and its wine-tasting and whatnot. They were clearly embarrassed by the thriving he Scotch-Irish American culture that surrounded them. These yuppies are the true cesspool denizens.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

uh, not to quibble, but you do realize that the western part of North Carolina was Unionist and that the Scots-Irish there were all Lincoln men, right?

The Scots-Irish of the Southern highlands generally tended to be Unionists. West Virginia, western N. Carolina, upper Alabama -- all Unionist strongholds. The Union troops that liberated eastern N. Carolina were for the most part from western N. Carolina, and served in organized units within the Union Army.

Richard M. Weaver, buried in Weaverville within sight of his family's home, was a major Lincoln defender -- defended Lincoln not only as a statesman, but as a conservative politician who understood the South better than the Southerners did.

Glad you enjoyed your trip. I love N. Carolina. If I couldn't live in the Pacific Northwest, that's where I would want to relocate.

July 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

May well be, but I would not have said so at the Vance Birthplace and that Civil War Fashion Show I wrote about, with bumper-stickers reading "Dixie: Still One Nation Under God" and licence plates reading "C.S.A." and guys talking about the "War of Northern Aggression."

July 3, 2013 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Wurmbrand said...

Little boys in pants and little girls in skirts. Better enjoy the sight while it's still suffered to be legal.

July 3, 2013 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Alas, Wurmbrand, you are right.

You are not, by change, an old Lutheran friend of mine are you? Your choice of books seems to suggest that you might be.

Catholic though I may now be, I was happy to see so many Lutheran churches on my recent trips to Dixie.

July 3, 2013 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Lots of Germans settled in the South, so the Lutheran churches aren't surprising. The Germans in Dixie tended to be against slavery and pro-Union (one of the sub-plots of the movie Ride With the Devil deals with this).

That some of the Scots-Irish have embraced the sad neo-Confederate mythos of the anti-Civil Rights Movement is a sad example of some members of a proud and noble people forgetting their own past. The Scots-Irish were instrumental to Union success in the South and were critical to the effort to keep the country united. They were a free people who understood the value of freedom for all men, as well as understanding the viciousness of the Slave Power as it worked to exploit not only African-Americans but the yeoman farmers, among whom the Scots-Irish were disproportionately represented.

Also, the Actual Irish in the South tended to support the Rebellion, and the Scots-Irish tended to place themselves on the opposite side of the actual Irish.

July 4, 2013 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Thanks, Mark, ofr the insightful commentary, as always.

I grew up Lutheran in the North, and always felt like I didn't belong, since everyone else was Irish, Polish, or Italian Catholic, even if my ancestors predated theirs. Weird. That;s why I as so happy to see the Lutheran presence, Gettysburg down. My own ancestors were in Maryland since at least the 1780s.

Glad to hear that the actual Irish, Catholics, were on the right side of the conflict, supporting the South. Slavery was wrong, but that was not what it was about.

July 4, 2013 at 1:23 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Well, if you look at all the issues behind the Civil War, all of them track back to slavery in the end. If one reads Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' Cornerstone Speech (setting out the formal basis for the Confederate government), he is very clear that the Confederate effort rested on the twin pillars of white supremacy and slavery.

July 6, 2013 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Wow, your tribe here goes back to the 18th century! Most of my ancestors were part of the Great Immigration of the late-19th century. My dad's people came down from Canada (his mother was of English stock, his dad was of French Canadian stock), while my mom's people came from Germany and Norway mostly. One part of my mom's family was of English stock and is believed to go back to the colonial period, but that's just one ancestrial line out of many for me!

July 6, 2013 at 1:15 AM  

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