Monday, January 15, 2007

Natchez Values

I received an email after I posted the article about the history of the Bluffs by Stanley Nelson. I thought it was interesting, so I am sharing it with you - with permission from the author who wishes to remain anonymous.

When you look at the history of Natchez, you see that these patterns go all the way back to the birth of the city. Everything was basically laid out for us. When I say us, I mean the elite that ran the city then and continue to run it now. We never needed to develop an ethic based on industry and thrift. There was always an easy way. We extracted everything we could from the soil until it was gone. We extracted everything we could from the black man until he was freed, then recommenced the process for another 100 years until he was freed a second time. We extracted most of the timber. Then just when things looked really bad, we found oil and extracted that. When that ran out we looked around again for the next thing that would save us, even courting the film people, who would make romantic fantasies of “our way of life”. But then, Deus Ex Machina! Up the river came the gambling boats with the promise of easy pickings once again, and off we went. Big time extraction of money itself this time—and from those who had the least of it.

What I'm saying is I think there is in Natchez a culture much more akin to that of Latin America (after all the Spaniards and the French were the first of the colonists), than to the US. Values like hard work, education, openness to change, debate in open town meetings, even democracy--- the TRUE American values-- never got a foothold here. And we're seeing it today. An attitude of "I get mine; you get yours". Everything done by cabal, behind closed doors, for the benefit of the insiders. No vision, no commonweal, no investment in public facilities, except when necessary to serve certain private interests. For god's sake, we can't even commit the money to maintain the trees in our parks.

I've always found that people who inherit money have a very different attitude than people who make money; for the former, there is no more after that so they hoard and fear the future. For the latter, there is always more to come so they can be generous and welcome the future. For a city that lives in its past and relies only on what was handed down to it, it is the same: a mentality that there is only one pie, and you have to get your piece of it before your neighbor gets it. Particularly if he is of the opposite race. How sad.


Anonymous said...

Ewww, I had no idea things were THAT bad.
But then I had to look up "commonweal" so you can see how ignorant I am.

gritsisit said...

Indicting, but sadly true. This is why we need newcomers in Natchez. A new breed of pioneers!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, we're in the grip of old bluebloods like: West, Mathis, Bauer, Middleton, Gray, Pollard, Massey, West ...etal

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot some blue bloods
...Brown, Brown

Anonymous said...

In addition to "commonweal", you'd better look up the definition "blue blood"!

Anonymous said...

Casey, Just when I've given up all hope you go and find an intellectual in Natchez!

The only imposed-upon group that was left out were the gays--one group willing to sink huge sums into our local money-pits; and largely without thanks (blue-hairs seemingly want to take all the credit).

Being self-made (i.e. disowned for being gay by my blueblood landgrant slave-cum-oil owning family)this article rang especially true.

To this I will add that after eons of the women in my family succuming to "Southern Princess Syndrome" I am the only family member left with money. It seems in that way too some Old-South families resemble our Mayor and Alderpersons.

And for the record Butch is self-declared "Natchez Aristocracy."

Anonymous said...

Re: definition of blue blood - have you NO sense of humor(?)

Anonymous said...

re: blue blood - missed the sarcasm. Now I get it. Sorry.

Yes, the Mayor and the aldermen are truly on a war path of revenge to destroy what they perceive to be the "upper classes."

They don't seem to get that we are all in this together.

The only thing to do is get organized for 2008. Talk to your neighbors and find a decent candidate from your ward to replace the bozo who currently represents you.

We must do more than just complain to this blog.


Anonymous said...

Thankfully the oil and timber have NOT been depleted in this area. Those businesses are thriving.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading a book about the violence and corruption in Latin America. The author attempts to answer why Latin Americans tolerate graft, corruption and death squads. I've not finished the book but at some point in my reading something made me think of Natchez and it's history of graft and political corruption. In Latin America, as it is here "It's the way it's always been and there's nothing you can do about it". I've been told that business owners in this community are reluctant to take a stand against anything poltically tinged, regardless of impending harm to the populace, the economy. Apparently there is a price to be paid for speaking out...much like it is in Latin America...only the consequence there is a death squad at your door rather than ostracism, sugar in your gas tank, slashed tires. It's fairly common knowledge that one of the "policial machines" works its magic during an election year by finding someone who is willing to succumb to the will of the political bosses and then is put into office with purchased votes. Inquiry, close scrutiny, challenging illegalities, and community support can clean up this town.