OPINION: Ole Miss faithful keep South rising – musically

Being a Mississippi State grad I always get amused whenever someone starts tinkering with the so-called “traditions” here on the Ole Miss campus. It’s almost a microcosm of the contentious health care reform debate. Everyone seems scared to death of change while still acknowledging that a problem does exist.
Of course, I’m referring to the recent “recommendation” by the Ole Miss Associated Student Body that maybe, instead of chanting “the South will rise again” to the last few bars of “From Dixie With Love,” students and alumni should instead shout, “to hell with LSU.”
OK, so Rome wasn’t built in a day but I think most of us would agree it’s a small step in the right direction.
Instead of suggesting we secede and reinstate the plantation/slave society of old, we’re simply suggesting that God condemn the school’s No. 1 football rivals to eternal damnation. It’s not like the ASB is suggesting we replace “the South will rise again” with “y’all have a nice day now.”
Of course, the students and alumni here responded to the ASB’s recommendation in true Ole Miss fashion – by ignoring it altogether and continuing to shout “the South will rise again.” It’s tradition, is the argument I keep hearing. Funny, in some cultures it was also a tradition to have a human sacrifice before going into battle. Luckily that tradition never caught on before Ole Miss football games.
The debate heated up this past weekend when the school’s band didn’t play the last five bars of the song. That didn’t stop the crowd, however, which launched into “the South will rise again” acappella. This week, the new chancellor here at Ole Miss admitted he asked the band to drop the last line of the song citing complaints from alumni and guests of the university.
Now we don’t have these kinds of “traditions” at Mississippi State. At the end of “Who Let The Dogs Out” we don’t shout something like, “let’s go have a lynchin’.” We just ring our cow bells and belch, which is perfectly offensive to everybody and not just minorities and Yankees.
So why not change Ole Miss’ “the South will rise again” to something everybody should find offensive like, “we’re No. 7,321 in academics” or “the party never ends?”
Or even something, gasp, educational like, “two plus two makes four” or “we admit we lost the war.”
Or put it to good use as a public service announcement like, “last one close the door.”
Or as a rallying cry for the football team, like, “Archie, please have one more.”
It’s silly, really, to be having these arguments in 2009 but people are slow to accept change either in their health care or in their school traditions. And, here in the South, we have our own definition of slow.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

Marty Russell

Click video to hear audio