A LOYAL SOUTHERN MISFIT | 1998-09-12
Probably only us Southerners and Southern sympathizers can appreciate the incident I am about to relate. It was 1982, and I was sitting on Capitol Hill in Washington talking to someone at my publisher's office on Manhattan Island. The New Right Papers had just been published, and I had more plans for promoting it.
The New Yorker said unto me words I never expected to hear spoken to a boy from Pontiac, South Carolina straight from the Big Apple,
"Bob, you shouldn't be so PUSHY!"
I started laughing uncontrollably, and the guy at the publisher's asked me what I was suddenly laughing at. I said, "It would take YEARS for me to explain!"
I have always been a fanatically loyal Southerner, but I have always been a serious pusher in the midst of a region noted for its passivity. This is illustrated by the fact that, when I went uptown from Pontiac to Columbia High School in 1955, my best friend at Columbia High was one Lake Erie High, Junior.
There were about a thousand students at Columbia High, and Lake and I never had a single class in common. But Lake was another fanatically loyal Southerner who never, before or since, has been noted for his passivity.
In 1971, when I got back from Rhodesia, I was at a loss as to what to do next. There was no market for the particular talents I had developed there. So I took some courses in premedicine at East Carolina University. The only student I became friends with there was Raymond Moody, who later became a psychiatrist and began the near-death experiences craze with his book Life After Life.
I remember being at Ray's house, with his wife and my new wife there, looking at the first water bed I ever saw, while Ray talked about his own out-of-body experiences.
Raymond Moody is a North Carolinian, but he is a pusher and promoter like Lake and me. His image is that of a passive North Carolina boy with a very calm, Southern "accent"(Southerners don't have accents). But he didn't take the country by storm with his theories by being passive.
It tells you something that I have never been hired by another Southerner. I had several jobs in Washington, staying in each for several years. The only Southerner I ever had EVEN AS A RECOMMENDATION, out of dozens of people I used for recommendations through the years, was Floyd Spence.
The poor man had no choice, since I had driven him all over the state in his 1962 campaign and a large part of my family were his constituents.
The only Southerner who ever interviewed me for a job was Jesse Helms. But here again, the real story is different. His Administrative Assistant - the head of his office directly under Helms - brought me to him, and this AA was from Michigan.
From Michigan, but with excellent Copperhead instincts. He had a 1785 map of Virginia on his wall which showed his part of Michigan inside Virginia. He said that made him a Southerner.
I guess I was in DC for the same reason I was in Rhodesia. I'm the kind of Southerner other loyal Southerners are glad to have on their side - at a distance. Tom Fleming said of me in a speech that Americans could either be reasonable and settle for Southerners like him or choose to fight it out and "deal with Whitaker".
Let me tell you, when you get old and tired, you really LOVE it when somebody says something that makes you sound that macho!
Maybe I ought to get back in touch with Ray. At my age, life is becoming one long near-death experience.
My problem is, what do I do when we achieve independence? Do I live at the northern border of the Confederacy and commute, or will one of you folks in the government find me a nice job at a very, very distant Confederate embassy?