But even by the standards of the English-speaking world, the U.S. appears as an extreme outlier, in areas ranging from religiosity to violence to anti-government attitudes. As we learned after the slaughter last month in Charleston, S.C., some deluded Southerners still pine for secession from the Union. Yet no doubt there are also more than a few liberal Northerners who would be happy to see them go.
Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand—more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy. And it would not be as centralized as France or as social democratic as Sweden.
As a fifth-generation Texan, and a descendant of Southerners back to the 1600s, I don’t want to encourage lurid stereotypes of a monolithic South. The states of the former Confederacy include ethnic minorities like Louisiana Cajuns and Texas Germans, along with African Americans. And the dominant conservatives in the South have always been challenged from within the ranks of the white community by populists, liberals and radicals.
But the South really is different from the rest of the country. Here are some examples of how the South skews American statistics.