That sonic sugary goodness comes not only from what the rousing rendition of Tiger Rag is -- the quintessence of unique college football tradition – but also from what the song is not – namely, the horrid screech of Dixie or any other melody associated with the Confederate States of America.
It is simply mind-boggling that in this millennium any American entity, especially an institution of so-called higher learning, would embarrass itself by celebrating -- even reveling in -- the darkest, most evil chapter in this great country's history. It hasn't been that long that most of these schools finally relented to the decency of including the real National Anthem in their pre-game festivities.
Though some vestiges of the Old South survive at LSU, like the purple-and-gold version of the Stars and Bars, somewhere along the way the Ole War Skule unshackled its football pageantry from this curious and macabre preoccupation other southern universities, particularly those in the Southeastern Conference, have with romanticizing the institution of slavery.
Quite frankly, I couldn't be happier my alma mater left that behind.
I've attended football games at other SEC campuses, and I can't help but laugh when their bands strike up Dixie or incorporate its notes into their fight songs. It's sadly amazing how the barefoot good ol' boys sitting in the stands with their puffed-up chests just don't seem to comprehend the embarrassment of what that music represents.
Since I'm not black, I often wonder how the white athletes at those schools must feel listening to Dixie while they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their black teammates and friends. I wonder if the white players feel even a splinter of shame at Ole Miss when Rebel fans wave their cute, little rebel flag sticks, yelling, "Go, Rebels!" Knowing that friendship, especially the kind borne of athletic competition, is immune to color, I'm sure they do.
Yes, some of my ancestors probably did own slaves. And they most certainly did fight for the Confederacy. In fact, the Cajun Tigers, as they were known, were often so viscously drunk, they fought with everybody -- including their fellow confederate soldiers and even among themselves.
Even though legend has it that LSU's mascot was inspired in part by those Tigers, it's not something I'm really proud of. And I definitely don't need to be reminded of that ancestral scourge during the joyous festivities that surround something as sacred as college football.
I'm thankful for LSU and for other southern schools that had the courage to move past the Civil War.
By now, I can hear the Great Chorus of Rednecks rising up from the Pearl River clear to the Atlantic for a lecture on tradition and heritage, and the Confederate soldiers who gave their lives. Big deal. I invite the Chorus to sit down and put a cork in it.
When rednecks and Civil War apologists use words like "heritage" to describe their sugarcoated delusions of the antebellum South, it's usually nothing more than thinly veiled code for racism.
One could argue that part of Germany's heritage includes genocide. But you don't see sports fans in that country swaying in unison before the big game, singing fondly of the Holocaust.
Similarly, there was nothing romantic about the oppressive, plutocratic antebellum South, where the institution of slavery poisoned every aspect of culture. I fail to see how anyone can look upon human bondage as charming.
No, I don't wish I was in the land of cotton. I'm happy right here in the 21st century.
Dixie is dead, and the world is a better place for it.
The Last Word Hurts…
There were several interesting, shall we say, comments on the TigerRag.com message boards regarding my last offering on Jefferson Pilot's inferior broadcasts of SEC football, as well as the plague of mid-day kickoffs at Tiger Stadium.
Perhaps the most interesting post came from some person who attempted to associate the veracity of my statements with the girth of my behind. Despite the amusing spirit of that particular outburst, I might offer readers of this gentleman's ilk a bit of advice.
I have no problem with those who disagree with me. In fact, I look forward to criticism of my columns. But if you're going to respond, especially to take issue with me, it helps to write with cogent thought and lucid, intelligible language.
The fact is JP broadcasts are not good. The company makes a lot of money off the league, and it's obviously not reinvesting the profits.
And here's a hint: It doesn't help when we resign ourselves to being thankful for the mere fact that LSU is on TV. I'd like to think we have better standards than that.
Chet Rollis is a Baton Rouge writer vigorously in search of a DVD copy of "Buns of Steel."
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