30 October 2012

Republican America

Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station reports from the Florida panhandle.  To anyone who's been to the same area or other similar parts of the country, or lives there, I'm genuinely curious -- is it really this bad?


Anonymous Bacopa said...

I don't get into rural America much except to take 290 from Houston to Austin. I don't get out and interact with the locals much, but it doesn't seem that bad. Most of the small towns are full of hobby farms and alleged "ranches" owned by rich folks from Houston, so not really the true rural experience.

I have heard some of this kind of talk in small towns on the Trinity side of Galveston bay, and I suspect that if I went up US59 into Deep East Texas it would be almost exactly like this article.

30 October, 2012 07:01  
Blogger Ahab said...

I've spent a lot of time in rural western Pennsylvania, and it resembles (somewhat) his description of the rural Florida panhandle. The rural areas I've visited are much cleaner and friendlier than what he saw, but some commonalities exist: ignorance, insularity, fundamentalism, and deep-seated contempt and paranoia over Obama, gays, Muslims, and liberals. And yes, Fox News is a favorite news source.

Sadly, THIS is what we're up against if we're going to struggle for any progress in this country, and not just in the political realm. Ignorance and fear are stubborn stonewalls.

30 October, 2012 09:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks for the input.

Bacopa: I've been to Texas and I have the impression that it's a lot more advanced than the deep South. But I've been told that the eastern fringe of Texas is really like, or even part of, the deep South, so I guess that jibes with what you say.

Ahab: I once read an interesting description of Pennsylvania: "It's got Philadelphia at one end and Pittsburgh at the other, and a whole lot of Alabama in between." In the long run I suppose the ongoing urbanization trend will help -- once people move to cities, they're exposed a more variegated range of people, cultural concepts, and news sources. The part of the population that remains rural will shrink as a percentage of the total population.

30 October, 2012 17:56  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Thanks for pointing to a really good read, Infidel.

I've been in places like the one Wright describes a number of times, in another Deep South state. I've met characters like the ones he describes. In sensory memory I can feel the moist heat, smell the somewhat fetid air and hear the slight creak of weathered floorboards under foot.

Although those experiences were during the height of the 1960's civil rights struggles, overt political talk was an exception, not the rule, at least with a yankee stranger (who was not an "agitator") present. I credit Limbaugh, Fox, Glenn Beck, et al, for the change in the years since.

Paranoia there was, though. In an election year, broadcast media blared constantly how Boyd "Sonny" MacBrewster (or some such), if you will elect him to the state senate, will fight the federal gummint to his dying breath before he'll let outside meddlers change Our Southern Way of Life!"

"Our Southern Way of Life" was code for segregation and all that went with it, including the God-given right to use the N-word about, or when the situation warranted doing so, to or at, those of African American heritage. The basis for all the hated interference from outside was attributed at various times to communist subversion, the meddlesome do-gooder attitude of ignorant northerners, and the grand-slam underlying reason blacks supposedly wanted their rights: intermarriage.

In a way I realized the people expressing those racist notions came by them honestly. They're passed on in the home during early childhood and strengthened in the neighborhood, school and everywhere else. In another way, I found those near universally held beliefs and people's unquestioning acceptance of them scary. Because if they would believe all that unfair nonsense, they had to be capable of believing the kinds of things Germans accepted about Jews during the Nazi scourge.

On another level, I realized that some rally mediocre, perverse and even dim-witted public servants could get themselves elected by punching all the right buttons about protecting their "Southern Way of Life." I did not foresee then the extent to which that would be true after the South went Republican.

31 October, 2012 00:25  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

"I've been told that the eastern fringe of Texas is really like, or even part of, the deep South, so I guess that jibes with what you say."

You can learn about that, about the history, politics, culture, economy and a whole lot more in an excellent book by Michael Lind, "Made In Texas: George W. Bush And The Southern Takeover Of American Politics." Much more than just being about Bush, it's about Texas, the South and fundamental differences in perceptions and philosophy about society, government, democracy and politics in that region vs. much of the rest of America. It's an excellent read.

31 October, 2012 01:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SWA: I increasingly think the government failed to finish the job after the Civil War. There should have been something like the "de-Nazification" we carried out in Germany after World War II. As it is, in a lot of the rural South we seem to have a kind of internal Third World.

Stonekettle Station is always engagingly written. It's one of the blogs I read regularly.

Thanks for the Lind recommendation.

31 October, 2012 02:53  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Infidel, I can't imagine that any de-Nazification-type program would've begun to work in the American south. Hitler's "thousand-year Reich" was kaput in just 14 years. Most of two generations of young German men had perished or were Soviet captives at war's end. De-Nazification got a boost from the ever-present threat of Soviet aggression and from the utter ruination of a previously well-developed and prosperous country. It also benefited from lessons learned the hard way — twice — about the futility of wars of conquest.

White southerners at the Civil War's end believed they were victims of a "war of northern aggression" waged against them for mostly economic reasons, but also because of a practice that long predated the United States and, at that, a practice accepted and allowed for in the Constitution. Their Southern way of life was then about a century and a half old, and thus thoroughly ingrained.

Under the circumstances, I think convincing the Irish to become teetotalers would've been easier.

31 October, 2012 22:06  
Blogger mendip said...

A wonderful article - reminds me very much of life and attitudes in rural Virginny!

02 November, 2012 15:08  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SWA: An intractable problem, and obviously not one with a simple answer.

Mendip: I should have known RoVa would fit the description!

03 November, 2012 05:30  

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