Friday, May 14, 2010
Trailer Trash Barbie. Doesn't that about sum it up?
BIG HAT TIP TO HOTAIR. The things that make me maddest are stupid people who think they're smart and the contempt of inferiors for their betters. I've never lived in the south, but I've been to school with more southerners than most of the south's critics have ever met. Here's what I've learned. Despite Manhattan solipsism and California self-actualization, southerners are more complicated than Americans from other regions. If the major U.S. power centers are analogous to seat of the empire England, dominated by London snobs and intellectuals, the south is our variation on Ireland, but even more complex. (Yet I know one Irish lass who looks down her nose at all things southern. What she's been taught by life in the northeast.)
Let me offer a few specifics. We keep hearing that America hadn't been attacked on its own soil since the war of 1812 (unless you count the "colony" of Hawaii). Not true. The south experienced a devastating invasion and occupation which, whether you regard it as deserved or not, imbued them with an inherited regional and family memory of the horrors of war no Massachusetts preppie congressman can ever appreciate. Invaded, destroyed, subjugated, impoverished. So who's naive about the need for national defense? Whose views are "ignorant" on guns and border security and the sense of Christianity as equal parts forgiveness and crusade?
We romanticize the Irish experience of oppression (and IRA terrorism) because it produced poets, playwrights, novelists, and other colorful characters who were simultaneously good and bad, lyrical and violent, inspired and low, and brave and drunk. The south has all of that and more. I've never met a southerner who wasn't part racist and part guilty liberal. Day to day, in-your-face race relations have been a far more intimate part of their personal experience than it's likely ever to be for suburban liberals in the rest of the country. The truth no one wants to consider is that southerners just might be the grownups on this question. They stare at their own biases in the mirror every day, and they have to deal with them in ways that go beyond the merely symbolic and superficial. Blacks and whites in the south have an exceptionally intricate love-hate relationship with each other, with more honesty about it than I've ever seen in supposedly more enlightened environs. Where do most successful black politicians come from? Check it out, haters. Compared to other regions, a pluraility of them come from the south. Is there a southern version of the IRA? No. The Ku Klux Klan exists today primarily as a fantasy of the northern media, and its high-water mark was never in the south but in Indiana.
That's why I was delighted to see a professed liberal of foreign extraction write this, which had to be published in the U.K. rather than the American MSM. I'm reproducing all of it because I suspect she'd rather have the message get out than argue about fair use. The author's name is Seema Jilani.
Deep prejudice about the deep south
I'm tired of elitist US liberals who ridicule southerners and
then profess their love for Nina Simone and crawfish etouffee
I am tired of apologising. I apologised for being Muslim, post-9/11 and more recently for my Pakistani origins. Now, I apologise for being a southerner too. When an environmental catastrophe erupted in my backyard, I looked to the media to tell our stories and instead, found quotes from experts ruminating on energy policy. Where are the restaurant owners in the French Quarter who still haven't caught their breath after Katrina swallowed their lives? What about the fishermen? While recently rubbing elbows with fellow liberals from the east and west coasts, I felt that their disdain for the lives of the south was palpable. This led to my quest: to understand why mouths drip with condescension for the south, and particularly its people.
Is it Dubya? Born in Connecticut, he was a member of Yale's elite Skull & Bones Society. Ah, Sarah Palin? Born in Idaho, raised in Alaska. They claim Texas is imploding with rightwing conservatives: Texas has had 48 governors; six were Republicans. The former Texas governor Ann Richards once delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic convention, where she famously said: "He [Bush] was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
It must be southern racism then. During my medical school interview, I was asked if I would wear a burqa and told I belonged in hell. This humiliation occurred in Chicago, not the deep south. During my Manhattan interview, I was unwelcome because I had done medical work in Gaza. Bigotry traverses the Mason-Dixon line, you see.
Perhaps then this loathing stems from our monochromatic populace, lacking diversity. Except that as a physician in Houston, home to the largest medical centre in the world, I have treated patients from Somalia, Ecuador and Egypt, among others. Our Vietnamese population blesses us with phenomenal pho and necessitates a translator 24 hours a day. Of the 82 majority-black counties in the US, all but one are in the south.
What about our so-called lack of political relevance? Did I mention that every major Texas city has a higher uninsured rate than the national rate? One in four Texans lack health insurance. In 2004, 20% of Texas children were uninsured, compared to 11% nationally. The Pew Hispanic Centre estimates that Texas alone holds 14% of all undocumented immigrants. Of the 40 babies I delivered in medical school, five mothers spoke English. Proponent of immigration reform? It starts at our borders. Want universal healthcare? We are the uninsured capital of the country.
This scorn must be because we don't contribute to the country's greater good then. But 35% of active-duty military come from the south. Of the US troop casualties in Afghanistan, 47% were from the south, and from Iraq, 38%.
Oddly, the same people who disparage us also have love affairs with our culture. They ridicule us and then profess their love for Nina Simone, Austin, Johnny Cash or Louisiana's crawfish etouffee dish when it's trendy. This brings me to my favourite specimens: cocktail party progressives. You know the type – can't converse without referencing the New Yorker. Pretentious, self-congratulatory liberals who applaud their own humanity while mocking the south. Curiously, they feign knowledge of Hank Williams when fashionable, but their intellectual elitism forgets that Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were southern geniuses.
I adore our southern nights and the taste of authenticity in Willie Nelson's voice and Muddy Waters' blues. I love that we celebrate colossally in New Orleans: Jazz Fest, Crawfish Fest, Mardi Gras, even Jazz Funerals. I was touched when kind neighbours baked us casseroles and stood by us as we endured post-9/11 racism. I am proud that Houstonians opened their homes to 250,000 New Orleans evacuees. That's genuine southern hospitality. Southerners are not the ignorant, inbreeding, toothless rifle-owning trailer trash that my progressive colleagues paint them as. They are vibrant, passionate Americans with resolve. They have survived and flourished through the civil rights movement, disastrous hurricanes and oil spills, Enron and Halliburton scandals, the Fort Hood tragedy and their loved ones coming home in body bags.
They have epic stories. It's time our media act as their vessels.
I'm going to follow this with four more links I think are relevant. The first is to a jocular press conference President Obama held shortly after his inauguration:
Interview of the President by Regional Reporters, 3/11/09
Question regarding the geographic diversity of Obama's appointees:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to ask you about your Cabinet and your senior staff. By my count, you have about seven folks from the Midwest, six from the West, a crowd from the Northeast, and with maybe the exception of your able-bodied press secretary --
THE PRESIDENT: Gibbs?
Q Mr. Gibbs.
THE PRESIDENT: He's the only Southerner?
Q I think so.
THE PRESIDENT: You guys are feeling neglected?
Q Yes. (Laughter.) So I'm wondering why is that and what you don't like about the South?
THE PRESIDENT: I love the South. (Laughter.)...
Obama's Cabinet includes appointees from the West (DHS's Janet Napolitano, Labor's Hilda Solis, Energy's Steven Chu, Commerce nominee Gary Locke), the Midwest (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius, USDA's Tom Vilsack and DOT's Ray LaHood ), the Northeast (EPA's Lisa P. Jackson, HUD's Shaun Donovan) and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who could conceivably claim every region except the West.
The second is to an Instapunk post that didn't highlight the south because Obama's area of ignorance isn't just the south but most of the continental United States. If you read it, you'll see why "(Laughter)" is an MSM disgrace.
The third has to do with invisible unintended consequences. From today's NRO Corner blog:
Holder Profiles Arizona [Andy McCarthy]
Isn't that really what the Attorney General is doing?
He hasn't read the Arizona immigration law, even though reading the law is the basic duty of any lawyer (let alone the U.S. Attorney General) who is called on to assess a legal situation.
Thus, he hasn't got reasonable suspicion that Arizonans are violating the Constitution, even though reasonable suspicion is the basic investigative standard we expect law-enforcement to satisfy before officials harass Americans with stepped up scrutiny.
And we know he has a bias because he told us, unabashedly, that he thinks Americans are "cowards" on matters of race.
Think about it this way: If a police officer, without taking elementary investigative steps to inform himself about the facts of a situation, and thus without reasonable suspicion, simply assumed a person must be guilty of wrongdoing based on the police officer's avowed prejudice, what would Eric Holder call it?
The fourth is for all of you who are sure you know what you know about The South and are somehow prepared to condemn Obama and Holder for their bias without acknowledging your own. It's from a Wiki post on Southern Culture. I'm only giving you a few paragraphs to mull. You can dig deeper, far deeper than Wiki does, on your own.
Mark Twain had extensive knowledge of the Mississippi River and the South, and included in his works the injustice of slavery and the culture of Protestant public morality.
Perhaps the most famous southern writer is William Faulkner, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Faulkner brought new techniques such as stream of consciousness and complex techniques to American writings (such as in his novel As I Lay Dying).
Other well-known Southern writers include Pat Conroy, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, William Styron, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, James Dickey, Willie Morris, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Walker Percy, Barry Hannah, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Cormac McCarthy, John Grisham, James Agee, Hunter S. Thompson, Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Harry Crews.
Possibly the most famous southern novel of the 20th century is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, published in 1937. Another famous southern novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, won the Pulitzer Prize after it was published in 1960.
The musical heritage of the South was developed by both whites and blacks, both influencing each other directly and indirectly.
The South's musical history actually starts before the Civil War, with the songs of the African slaves and the traditional folk music brought from Great Britain and Ireland. Blues was developed in the rural South by African Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, gospel music, spirituals, country music, rhythm and blues, soul music, funk, rock and roll, beach music, bluegrass, jazz (including ragtime, popularized by Southerner Scott Joplin), zydeco, and Appalachian folk music were either born in the South or developed in the region.
In general, country music is based on the folk music of white Southerners, and blues and rhythm and blues is based on African American southern forms. However, whites and blacks alike have contributed to each of these genres, and there is a considerable overlap between the traditional music of blacks and whites in the South, particularly in gospel music forms. A stylish variant of country music (predominantly produced in Nashville) has been a consistent, widespread fixture of American pop since the 1950s, while insurgent forms (i.e. bluegrass) have traditionally appealed to more discerning sub-cultural and rural audiences. Blues dominated the African American music charts from the advent of modern recording until the mid-1950s, when it was supplanted by the less guttural and forlorn sounds of rock and R&B. Nevertheless, unadulterated blues (along with early rock and roll) is still the subject of reverential adoration throughout much of Europe and cult popularity in isolated pockets of the United States.
Zydeco, Cajun and swamp pop, despite having never enjoyed greater regional or mainstream popularity, still thrive throughout French Louisiana and its peripheries, such as Southeastern Texas. These unique Louisianan styles of folk music are celebrated as part of the traditional heritage of the people of Louisiana. Conversely, bluegrass music has acquired a sophisticated cachet and distinct identity from mainstream country music through the fusion recordings of artists like Bela Fleck, David Grisman, and the New Grass Revival; traditional bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music experienced a strong resurgence after the release of 2001's O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Rock n' roll largely began in the South in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Early rock n' roll musicians from the South include Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, James Brown, Otis Redding, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, among many others. Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, while generally regarded as "country" singers, also had a significant role in the development of rock music. In the 1960s, Stax Records emerged as a leading competitor of Motown Records, laying the groundwork for later stylistic innovations in the process.
The South has continued to produce rock music in later decades. In the 1970s, a wave of Southern rock and blues rock groups, led by The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and 38 Special, became popular. Macon, Georgia-based Capricorn Records helped to spearhead the Southern rock movement, and was the original home to many of the genre's most famous groups. At the other end of the spectrum, along with the aforementioned Brown and Stax, New Orleans' Allen Toussaint and The Meters helped to define the funk subgenre of rhythm and blues in the 1970s.
Many who got their start in the regional show business in the South eventually banked on mainstream national and international success as well: Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton are two such examples of artists that have transcended genres.
Many of the roots of alternative rock are often considered to come from the South as well, with bands such as R.E.M., Pylon and The B-52's forever associated with the musically fertile college town of Athens, Georgia. Cities such as Austin, Knoxville, Chapel Hill, Nashville and Atlanta also have thriving indie rock and live music scenes. Austin is home to the long-running South by Southwest music and arts festival, while several influential independent music labels (Sugar Hill, Merge, Yep Rock and the now-defunct Mammoth Records) were founded in the Chapel Hill area. Several influential death metal bands have recorded albums at Morrisound Recording in Temple Terrace, Florida and the studio is considered an important touchstone in the genre's development.Ya know, politics tries to make life simpler than it is. They're bad, we're good. We know what laws to make.
The ultimate distillation of the conservative position is that no one knows what laws to make about the essential human things because law does not necessarily bring about good. That's why we want fewer laws, fewer opportunities to punish people we don't understand for views and behaviors and places the so-called smart people just don't like.