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As you might have heard, the South has been much on the mind of City Paper staffers this week. Accordingly, I’ve decided to learn about all things Southern. For my source text, I’m using the copy of the new edition of Gone With the Wind that just arrived in my office. (I took a peek at some pages toward the back for a hint of life in the South. “If you intend to play nursemaid, you might try coming home at nights and sober too, for a change,” says the Scarlett character to the Rhett character. Southerners are complicated!)

I’ve also checked in with the new issue of one of my favorite magazines, Intelligence Report, an excellent journal published by the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. The magazine covers white-power groups, anti-immigration initiatives, and other manifestations of institutionalized racism. It’s always compelling reading, and among the features in the Summer 2007 issue is a Q&A with American University professor Robert A. Pastor, who’s been accused of leading a secret plot to merge the United States, Mexico, and Canada into an ungodly super-union. That’s made him the enemy of Lou Dobbs and at least one person who dubbed him a “globalization pimp.”

As Intelligence Report sees it, Pastor has simply performed research that’s been integrated into the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a bureaucrat-heavy effort to work on trade and terrorism issues. And since the leading organization arguing that Pastor’s efforts will destroy civilization as we know it is the John Birch Society, it’s hard to disagree. I haven’t studied the matter closely—heck, I’ve barely gotten to the front door of Tara—but Pastor successfully writes off the conspiracy mongering as so much nativist bunk. And in the Q&A he reveals a dry sense of humor in the process. “There has always been xenophobia in America,” he says. “A fear of the world, a fear of American engagements in the world, a desire to isolate the United States as a way to protect America’s precious bodily fluids.”