Have you ever felt exhilarated and discouraged at the same time? Put a name to that emotion and that’s how I’m feeling in the aftermath of the 2012 American Renaissance conference. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews so far (see here and here) and that’s part of the reason I feel a little discouraged.
If Jared Taylor’s organization represents a movement (and I think I’m being kind in granting that it does) then it’s not a movement that is interested in the sensibilities of a Christian Southerner like myself. On the other hand, getting the chance to flex my intellectual muscles among like-minded folk was thrilling. The company of compatriots was a refreshing end to the long night of isolation. To say out loud the things I’ve only been able to write (or type) was well worth the drive to Nashville.
My journey through Nashville warrants a brief mention. I arrived early and decided to explore. I wanted to see the famous Vanderbilt University — the institution that birthed the Twelve Southerners who penned that famous book of essays, “I’ll Take My Stand” and helped spark a Southern renaissance. Vanderbilt has a beautiful campus, (some of her female students match the blooming dogwoods in appeal, though, as you’re soon to learn, have nothing of the dogwood’s glamor).
I wandered around the campus and talked to some of the students. I wanted to see if any of them were going to be the next John Crowe Ransom or Stark Young. I struck up a conversation with a young lady ( a few years younger than myself) who, after learning about the Twelve Southerners and having gained some small insight about their thinking, assured me that nothing of that sort was taught at Vanderbilt and that she was appalled that I was so stuck in “another century” that I’d dare bring up such a politically incorrect subject. She, erm, “politely” declined my invitation to have lunch.
And so it went (though not as dramatic) with other students.
In memory of the Twelve, I wanted to leave tire-tracks across the well-manicured campus — something in the shape of a Confederate Flag, maybe — but thought better of it. Instead, I hung my head and whistled Dixie all the way back to my car, in long, mournful notes. Later that evening, I raised a glass (or twelve) to my literary heroes.
But then, there was the conference.
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