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Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:27 AM

Let's not pretend that condescension is unique to the North


AlterNet / By Chuck Thompson

Why Do So Many Southerners Think They're the Only Real Americans?
Let's not pretend that condescension is unique to the North.

August 27, 2012 |


Editor's note: Portions of this article are reproduced or adapted from Better Off Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.


For large chunks of the last two years I traveled through Dixie doing research for a book called Better Off Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession (published this month by Simon & Schuster).

Wherever I went in the South I was called a socialist.

I was branded anti-American.

For supporting the administration of a sitting U.S. president, I was told that I was in league with the Muslim vanguard of a secret plot to destroy the United States.

Although otherwise respectable reviewers, bloggers and emailers have accused me of seeking out only the opinions of slack-jawed hayfoots slurping moonshine from ceramic jugs during my travels, the truth is that in the South this sort of ugly invective is mainstream orthodoxy. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/books/why-do-so-many-southerners-think-theyre-only-real-americans



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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:36 AM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:47 AM

2. Do tell. The author researched the south for two years and found,,,,, "reactionary slander".

This book does not sound very sympathetic toward the south. But from the article, it does sound like he made an attempt to see the issues from various perspectives. It sounds like he really wanted to give decent moral southerners the benefit of the doubt - and the south let him down.


Why Do So Many Southerners Think They're the Only Real Americans?

If it did nothing else, my time in the South did teach me to empathize with Southerners of all political persuasions who are sick and tired of having the honor of their region traduced by moralizing Northern jackasses such as myself (however impressively informed and well-intentioned we might be). For enduring the constant shaming and petty ridicule of the North, Southerners deserve some sort of national medal.

...

One South Carolinian's review of my book referred to my visit to the KKK-themed Redneck Shop in Laurens, South Carolina, as evidence that I was merely "seeking out feeble-minded Klansmen" and that I went to the South "to see the ridiculous and dreadful things (I) knew would be there."

One wonders why this Southerner—and others who beat the same drum of outrage—are not instead asking, "Why is a KKK Grand Dragon able to operate a long-running business selling Klan robes, booklets outlining Klan rituals and related disease across from the courthouse in a town square in 2012?"

...

However good and polite they may be, what the majority of Southerners are, and have always been, is willing to allow the most angry and "patriotic" firebrands among them to remain in control of their society's most powerful and influential positions, be they in the realms of politics, business, education, religion or media.


Interesting read. And I have to say that I am a little disappointed as well. But the author sheds some light on the boiling cauldron of "reactionary slander" that is the southern US.

What do southern DU'ers think of Chuck Thompson's article/book? For the record - I have not read the book.

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Response to geckosfeet (Reply #2)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 09:47 PM

13. Group dynamics.

"Me good. My group good. Others bad."

Northerners look down at Southerners, esp. any who dare to not condemn their ancestors.

Southerners look down at Northern carpet-bagger oppressors from hell.

Urbanites look down at rustic bumpkins. And their iPhones.

Countryfolk look down at city slickers.

Red staters who are "red" look down at blue staters who are blue. And there are intermittent (although usually marginal) calls for blue-state secession to so that the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal mouth-breathers don't contaminate those (D) who respect human dignity and would never engage in name calling.

Haven't read this book. Probably won't. I run into the condescension fairly often by people who are looking to be offended. (And that's the problem--people looking for a slight. You usually find what you're looking for ... even if it's not there.)

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:47 AM

3. k and r

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:48 AM

4. The same idiots are plentiful in Wisconsin.

Check out where Michele Bachmann is from if you think this problem is confined to the south.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #4)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 12:51 PM

8. The author does not say that the problem is confined to the South...

...or that the North is problem free. He says: "Until the good and rational and reasonable among them stop being so thin-skinned, and start seeing that a helluva lot of us above the Mason Dixon Line are just as American and just as right as they’ll ever be, the hateful denial that anything is wrong with a region where citizens and civic leaders alike feel justified in forcing their own proudly uninformed anger on the rest of us will persist."

Bold mine. He's saying that the North and South are equal in having problems. But the South insists on seeing itself as "the South" not the "southern part of the U.S." Meaning that it circles the wagons every time it is criticized from without--sees any such criticism as from the "North" rather than a member of the U.S. criticizing something that is wrong in the U.S. Segregation, for example, ought to be criticized by anyone in the U.S. don't you agree? Yet it was taken as Northern criticism against the South, not U.S. criticism of the U.S.--this not only meant that it could be dismissed by the South, but that those in the South who would criticize it as wrong felt constrained not to. To do so would be "unpatriotic" (against the South).

So if you don't say bad things about your own "country" (it's unpatriotic) and you dismiss anyone outside your own who points out the bad things, how are things ever going to change?

The author's argument is that the way the South views itself--as the U.S. with the North not being part of it--allows those in charge to maintain a bad status quo, as no criticism is allowed within, and all from without is dismissed. Thus, problems of the South have become and will stayed entrenched until the South sees it and the North as the U.S.--and thus any criticism of a Southern politician, or a policy in a Southern State, no matter where it comes from, becomes a criticism from someone in the U.S. about something in the U.S.--not some outsider disrespecting your culture.

A Northerner saying that the North makes better barbecue than the South is cultural disrespect; a Northerner saying that segregation in a southern state is wrong, isn't. That's a U.S. citizen who doesn't like what's being done to other U.S. citizens. Yes?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:49 AM

5. I read this book a few weeks ago.

It's a great read. And I thought IN was bad.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 12:16 PM

6. Great article! This condescension is exactly the tactic the repubs have latched onto

and why they carry the South. imho

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Response to snappyturtle (Reply #6)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 09:49 PM

14. You haven't been paying attention.

The political rhetoric in the US is truly abysmal.

Only those engaging in it for pay probably are self-aware enough to know what they're doing.

And yes, that was as damning an insult as I'm likely to muster this weekend. (Or possibly any weekend. It's a doozy.)

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Response to Igel (Reply #14)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 10:52 PM

15. Haven't been paying attention??? Please expand your omniscient attitude. nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 12:42 PM

7. It seems at times like little has changed since the civil war nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 01:11 PM

10. The Confederates were convinced that they were the true heirs of the Founding Fathers

In their view, the Union had strayed far from the founding principles, and the Confederacy was an attempt to return to them.

So the attitudes he describes have deep roots.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 01:28 PM

11. That attitude seems common to rural people too

They sneer at cities and even suburbs. From people I know I've often heard them complain about how much better NY state or Illinois would be if it weren't for NYC and Chicago respectively. Too many foreigners and "you know who" types in the populated areas for their tastes. It's everything they can do not to dislike someone because their last name ends with an "a", or "i" or "o". The comments get especially pointed when their tongues get loose from alcohol.

They want "their" country back alright..........

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 09:07 PM

12. This entire post is pretty condescending...

towards the South.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 11:19 PM

16. Oh man, is it Fuck The South time again already? (n/t)

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Response to klook (Reply #16)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 12:03 AM

17. Yep.

This is always my favorite time of year.....

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