“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
― George R.R. Martin
Southern man is born with a heritage, but everywhere fears his true identity. One Southerner thinks he can free himself from his past, but is more a slave to it than the one who embraces it. Many Americans find much of who they are in the college they attended and their beloved institution’s sports teams, this is especially true in South. Ole Miss, it’s students, and its alumni are a particularly interesting example of this. It’s unique history as a flashpoint for cultural conflict in the twentieth century and its present state in the twenty-first, make for an interesting insight into the current psyche of middle and upper class Southerners. We all long for a home, a place where we can go to be with people like ourselves and share in a common experience, a common culture, and common traditions. Our traditions, whatever they may be, are special because they are ours and no one else’s, because they are unique. We’re looking for an identity that will bind us to a people with which we can find friendship, community, and instant appreciation. This is an essential part of being human and the harmony we find in this context is a source from which we derive happiness. Having a team appeals to our tribal nature; victory, loss and the emotions they entail are experienced together and strengthen the connections we have with one another. When our culture and traditions are eroded this sense of togetherness is undermined. The modern Southerner puts more emphasis on the teams themselves and becomes more dependent on victory itself in order to have a positive identity and a sense of value. This further undermines the culture necessary for the tribe’s continued existence. SEC schools place far too much importance on having a winning team and not enough on cultivating their own tribal society. The main impediment to fostering this society is that we fear our identity; we’ve accepted defeat and assumed guilt for who we are. We’ve bought into the enemies’ narrative. This must change.
To understand Ole Miss you must understand its history and the town where it is situated, Oxford, MS. From the outset, its founders intended it to be the home of the state’s first university. That’s the reason they named it Oxford, after Oxford, England. The area in which this town resides was inhabited by the Chickasaw until the Chickasaw Indian Cession in 1836, which resulted in the removal of most of the Indians from North Mississippi. After this, settlers from Southern coastal states like Virginia and the Carolinas began to make their home in what would become the city of Oxford. The town is in the county of Lafayette, which was named after the French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette who famously fought in the American Revolution. In 1848 the Mississippi Legislature voted to have Oxford become the home of Mississippi’s first university, the University of Mississippi was born. When Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861 nearly the entire student body joined the 11th Mississippi regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia. They were company A, also known as the University Grays. Only four students showed up for classes in the Fall of 1861 and they had to close the university temporarily. The Grays were immortalized at Gettysburg when the company was cut down during Picket’s Charge, ultimately sustaining one-hundred percent casualties (including wounded) during the war. The fearless Grays made the furthest encroachment into Union territory during the charge, some even went so far as to penetrate the Union fortification wall. One man returned to the University of Mississippi to address the student body.
The popular nick name for the school “Ole Miss” comes from the name of the school yearbook that was published for the first time in 1896. In 1936 The MISSISSIPIAN held a contest to determine a new name for the Ole Miss athletic squad. The former name “The Mississippi Flood,” was found to be unsatisfactory. They selected a final few out of two-hundred entries to be voted on. The vote was cast overwhelmingly in favor of the name “Ole Miss Rebel,” but some of the other final entries were the “Stonewalls,” “Confederates,” and the “Raiders.” A year later “Colonel Rebel” was selected as the school mascot. “Colonel Rebel” first appeared on the cover of the 1937 yearbook, but it is uncertain who designed the character. In 1940 students began selecting from among the student body one to bear the title “Colonel Rebel,” which was meant to confer the highest honor among male students on campus. The honorable title was previously known as “The King of Mardi Gras.” The female equivalent for “Colonel Rebel” was called “Miss Ole Miss” and had been given out for around a decade.
Ole Miss was a flash point during the Civil Rights era, a final stronghold where Southerners took a defiant stand against their own dissolution. In 1961 James Meredith, a Black man, under the guidance of Medgar Evers twice applied to the all-White university and was rejected. With the backing of the NAACP Meredith filed a suit against the university in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi claiming that he had been rejected due to his race. The case went through several hearings until the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in Meredith’s favor. The state of Mississippi appealed to the Supreme Court, who also ruled in favor of Meredith. Governor Ross Barnett and the Mississippi Legislature did what they could to resist the integration of Ole Miss. State law inevitably gave way to federal law, which has the advantage of being backed by the U.S Military. Ross Barnett was said to be in civil contempt for enforcing two state court decrees barring Meredith’s registration. He was subject to arrest and a fine of $10,000 if he did not comply with federal law by October 2, 1962. Under pressure, Barnett had a series of phone conversations with President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and agreed to allow Meredith to enroll in the university. They also discussed how the transition might be brought about with minimal injury and loss of life. Kennedy ordered 500 U.S. Marshalls to accompany Meredith to his arrival and registration. Students and other Whites opposed to integration gathered together to resist federal intrusion into their school. The Mississippi National Guard and federal troops were ordered to suppress this on-campus resistance. In the ensuing clashes two men were shot and killed. The next day after troops took control Meredith became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. In the early 1970s three Black athletes were the first to play collegiate sports at Ole Miss. Among them was Ben Williams who had a successful career at Ole Miss and went on to play in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. Gradually Black athletes became ubiquitous on the basketball-court as well as the gridiron.
In spite of the will of both students and alumni, symbols that stand as relics of Ole Miss past have been phased out in recent decades. The most significant of these are the use of the Confederate battle flag, Ole Miss’s formerly mentioned mascot, Colonel Reb, and playing Dixie during games. The Confederate flag, a symbol of the South’s history and people, was beloved by a school that was once proud of its heritage and traditions. In the 90s, though, the flag became increasingly portrayed as a “racist” symbol and the university was put in an inconvenient position. The athletic director at the time, Pete Boone, is quoted saying, “We’re tired of the attention, the negative publicity that we’re getting. I mean, we’ve got a great university here, a great academic program, and we’re being held back from a national perspective because of this Confederate flag.” Then Ole Miss Football coach Tommy Tuberville, tellingly, warned fans that they would lose Black recruits because of the flag. In October of 1997 chancellor Robert Khayat ordered a ban on all sticks at athletic events. This was merely an underhanded way of banning the hand held flags that fans used to iconically wave during games. Things certainly didn’t end there; it wasn’t too long afterward that the mascot came under fire. Its decriers claimed that Colonel Reb was a stereotypical caricature of an old-time plantation owner and racially insensitive. The student government held a vote on the issue and of the 1,687 votes cast 94% voted in favor of keeping Colonel Reb. Despite this, Colonel Reb was decommissioned in 2003. There were attempts to bring him back, but ultimately, he was replaced by a Black Bear mascot in 2010. In 2015, the university removed from campus the official flag of the State of Mississippi because the battle flag is depicted in the upper right corner. This is truly a stunning reversal of the proud defiant attitude that held sway half a century before.
The Confederate flag and songs like Dixie are ethnic symbols for White Southerners and while their removal might seem a non-issue to some, this effectively means ceding the moral high ground to our enemies. The consequence of this is the spiritual destruction of our people. Extinction is the eventual fate of any guilt-ridden race. There is a scene from Braveheart that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. In the middle of the night a young William Wallace and his uncle walk up to a dozen or so Scotsmen paying respect to Wallace’s recently buried father. One of the Scots is holding a bagpipe and playing Scotland The Brave, young Wallace turns to his uncle and says, “What are they doing?” and his uncle responds, “Saying goodbye in their own way, playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.” Longshanks knew that to break the Scottish people and subject them to his will he would have to outlaw the symbols and music of the Scottish race. Political correctness effectively accomplishes the same thing by depriving Whites of their own ethnic symbols and identity. The Scots’ spirit was not broken because in their heart of hearts they held on to their identity. We must do the same. It seems that Southerners have all but given up the fight, however, the flame is not yet entirely quenched and it can still be revived. Many working class Southerners still proudly cling to their heritage, instead of snubbing our nose at them, perhaps we should take note. You may fear offending a Black friend or a Black Mississippian who shares the campus. This is an understandable concern and for Whites this is a common moral impediment. But the question is, where will we draw the line and at what cost are we giving away ground? You may have noticed that Blacks have a strong sense of identity and peoplehood, you might be surprised to find how they respond to your embrace and defense of your own identity. Maybe you’ll find they come to respect you, and from that you can build relations with Blacks on a much more truthful and stable foundation.
There will always be ethnic tension and conflict between different groups, especially two as obviously different as Blacks and Whites. There was, without doubt, wisdom in the system of segregation that was dismantled half a century ago. It wasn’t without fault, no system is, but our ancestors are nobler and wiser than our credit affords them. Race and identity are a fundamental part of human nature and are therefore fundamentally important in terms of politics. The word nation itself derives from the Latin natio, from this we also derive our word natal. This implies that a nation is something racial rather than a mere tract of land or some motley assemblage of humanity. Whatever the future holds we cannot give up on our identity. When two cultural groups are forced together one must take the subordinate role to the other. In the past Blacks were physically subordinate to Whites and now Whites are spiritually and culturally subordinated to Blacks, spiritually, by our admission of eternal guilt and culturally, by the spreading of Black music, dance, and courtship practices among Whites. Black dress, speech and behavioral patters are also adopted widely among White youth. Black standards of conduct are the rule of the day on the gridiron and Black athletes are elevated and given heroic reverence that should be reserved for true heroes like Jackson and Lee. Cultural exchange goes both ways, for sure, but the elevated and refined must always give way to what is common and base. Our culture and identity are being eradicated at the altar of “tolerance.”
So, what we Southerners must do is redirect our tribal energy away from our sports teams and focus it on our people. We need to revive the tribe, if you will. Our SEC schools are for better or worse centers of Southern cultural life and identity. We need to get in touch with our roots and then grow upward and outward from there. Our identity exists on three levels, local, ethnic, and racial. Local consists primarily in regional history and traditions. Our ethnicity is Southern and can be expressed through flags, songs, food, dialect, dance, as well as various other traditions. Racial is deepest because it is ancient and unchangeable, our racial identity is European, specifically Northern European. This is carried in our genes and is outwardly expressed by the White phenotype we share with other Europeans the world over, whether diaspora or mainland. As far as our pre-colonial roots, Southerners primarily hail from the British Isles but also to lesser extent France, Germany, etc. The Celt is strong among Southerners, many of us are of Scots-Irish decent. I suggest we make use of Celtic festivals, parties, and parades to express this aspect of our identity. Ole Miss should bring back, Colonel Reb, The Rebel Flag, and Dixie. All SEC schools should pay respect to the Confederate dead and hold public memorials and events in their honor. We need special departments that offer resources for us to learn about history as well as special classes aimed at enhancing White ethnic identity and consciousness. Blacks already have many classes and programs that do the same for them. A couple of years ago, some brave young men attempted to start a White student union at Townsend University; efforts like these should be supported and encouraged among our universities. Furthermore, Christianity is an inescapable part of what it means to be Southern and I would also argue, of what it means to be European. Christian holidays and the cultural forms that come with them should, without question, have full expression on campus. You may object with, “this is a public campus and we must not let any ethnic or religious group have dominance.” This is our country, these are our institutions, end of story. If we don’t assert our identity, then someone else will in our place.
Fraternity and Sorority culture has its roots in the South and perhaps reaches its pinnacle at Ole Miss, where 42% of students participate in Greek life. These institutions are among the only private organizations in the country that are not completely integrated. These remain as havens for Whites to be among their own and express themselves as such. I can personally attest; Southern fraternities are refuges against political correctness and exist as a “safe space” for young White men. These institutions have done much to serve the preservation of our people and our way of life, but they are certainly not above critique. Sadly, sororities and fraternities have degenerated along with the rest of the society. Instead of promoting brotherhood, virtue, and Southern aristocratic sensibility, fraternities have become dens of drug use, sex, and drunkenness. Furthermore, these institutions try to select for strong, attractive, and wealthier individuals, which is fine, but little value is put on intelligence, moral character and social virtue. Social stratification is part of Southern culture and in many respects, is a unique strength. Ideally though, we would have a culture that grants social status according to merit, while at the same time maintaining a sense of oneness across all rungs of society. Contrast Southern stratification with the cohesiveness of Germans and Scandinavians, who are very egalitarian in their mindset. You will rarely meet two Germans that try to size each up in terms of class, instead, they immediately communicate on an equal footing. We want to maintain the strength and preservation power of having a hierarchical society, without sacrificing a sense of people-hood. To feel at home on campus, we need to feel equal to everyone in some sense, not necessarily in every sense. That common denominator needs to be that we are all Southerners, whether working, middle, or upper class. You don’t have to allow just anyone in your sorority or fraternity, you shouldn’t, but by simply having a kind and friendly disposition to everyone you meet, regardless of class or social circle, it will go a long way toward promoting a sense of togetherness and belonging.
As far as football, Ole Miss will likely never have the winning team that it hopes for year after year. Mississippi has three major public universities and a limited population from which it can draw. It simply will never be able to recruit on the same level with consistently successful programs like Alabama or LSU’s. Instead of trying to beat them at their own game, why not play a different game altogether? Rediscover and embrace the traditions that make Ole Miss unique, then augment and amplify them. Sure, you may lose a few recruits here and there, but you will regain an identity, others will envy that. Focus on building a team that celebrates sportsmanship, human excellence and high moral character. The purpose of organized sports isn’t to entertain and enthrall the masses with “shear athletic dominance,” but to provide a context in which souls can strive toward greatness. If you build teams with this view in mind they will more than pay for themselves by edifying all who participate. In ancient Greece, it was recognized that an education consists in the fine tuning of the mind as well as the body. It is for this reason we have high-school and collegiate sports in the first place. Ivy-league schools place far less importance on having a winning football team because they realize its proper function in the academic context. Could you imagine Yale or Harvard pouring resources into having a successful team in the way that SEC schools do? It’s absurd to think of, why should we be any different? There is nothing inherently wrong with winning, indeed it’s good to win, just not at the cost of our collective character and identity.
If Ole Miss were to try to reassert its identity in earnest, I realize all sorts of funding would be cut and that there would be a de facto war declared against them. We’ve already fought this battle twice before, during the Civil War at Gettysburg and later through the Civil Rights Movement. What we have on our hands is a larger cultural war that extends not just across our nation, but across the globe and backward through time. Change is not going to come from the administration, it will come from the students, by petitioning, organizing, attempting to form clubs, events and organizations. Ultimately, what is needed is change at the populist level, that is in the hearts and minds of our people. Once this inner revolution takes place the institutions will quickly adapt to the new normal. We can’t win with the rest of the world against us, we’ve tried before and failed, but luckily, we Southerners aren’t in this alone. Signs portend that there may soon be a global resurgence in White identity. Trump has already done much in the way of dethroning political correctness and the rise of the Alt Right points to, what could potentially be, major cultural upheaval throughout the United States and Western World. We’ve held out this long, let’s not give up, let’s not miss out. Let’s join the rest of our European brethren around the globe in this collective struggle. Let’s reclaim our identity and in the end, we will finally receive our vindication.