Karen L. Cox is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and the author of “Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture.”
IT’S tough being a Southern liberal. In the postelection analysis of the past two weeks, pundits have made hay of the fact that while Barack Obama won the election, Mitt Romney won the Confederacy. Or as Jon Stewart put it, “most of the Confederacy.”
After Mr. Romney carried the lion’s share of the region’s electoral votes, people were quick to pounce. One person on Twitter wrote, “I always knew the Zombie Apocalypse would start in the Southern States.” On Facebook, in a widely shared image comparing the 2012 electoral map with the map of former slave states, the individual who posted it wrote, “Sometimes change is really hard, especially when people don’t want to change.”
That we are still using the term “Confederacy” to describe the South and pointing to slave maps says a lot about how hard it is for the region to move beyond its historical reputation, however richly deserved, for one that reflects more current realities....