Tuesday, April 14, 2009


From the Daily Kos:

Poll: Americans love France, San Francisco, Europe, and NYC

All of them feature the same dynamic as San Francisco -- Republicans have solidly favorable ratings (as do every other demographic tested), but head down South, and it's a whole different world, dramatically out of step with the rest of America.

What's this mean? It means that all that France and Europe demonizing, and all that talk of "San Francisco liberals" and "San Francisco values", and all that New York bashing (like Rush leaving Manhattan), plays to a very small core of people, and specifically to the conservative's Southern base.

This is clear evidence that the GOP has become a rump regional party. Because everyone else in America is just scratching their head at all that hatred directed at these places.

Click here for the rest.

A couple of weeks ago I was checking out a bar here in Metairie. It was really late on a Wednesday night, so there were less than ten people or so there, a small enough crowd for me to take a bar stool and eavesdrop on the conversation: one guy, about my age, dressed in business attire, was going on loudly about how President Obama and the liberals are fucking up the country. He was a bit drunk, so his ranting didn't make much sense. Actually, the drunkenness may not have had anything to do with it; he wasn't terribly articulate, but his rhetoric, if you want to call it that, wasn't much different from what I hear the morons on FOX belching every night. Anyway, the point is that I hear this kind of shit all over the place out here.

The country, after enduring disastrous Republican rule from 1994 through 2008, may have now lurched back toward the center, but not the South. Down here, below the Mason-Dixon, people, white people that is, are pissed. And I just don't get it. I mean, President Obama isn't a Republican, but he's definitely got some conservative tendencies. He's really not too far, ideologically speaking, from President Clinton, who ruled the nation more conservatively than President Nixon, a conservative Republican. Really, in many ways, and in spite of the their recent electoral losses, conservatives have won a great deal over the last thirty years: they've pulled public discourse and the overall sense of American ideology well to the right of where we were back in the 70s. Obama, a center-right Democrat for all intents and purposes, is understood by many Americans to be "liberal." TV guys like Glen Beck and Sean Hannity, both far-right extremists, are seen as being simply "conservative."

The Conservative Movement has altered our political landscape as drastically as 60s radicalism did. So why the fuck are Southern white people so enraged?

Increasingly, since moving into the deep South, I'm coming to think that this all has something to do with slavery and its lasting cultural dynamic, which exists to this very day. That is, Southern culture, the sense of Southern identity as being distinct from the rest of the United States, was born as a reaction to Abolitionism in the North during the nineteenth century. So from the get-go, Southern culture was brimming with a sense of persecution by outsiders; likewise, Southern culture historically fears non-white insiders, specifically African-Americans, and with good reason given white oppression of them. And the traditional way of dealing with such persecution and fear here in the South is violence. Not discussion. Not negotiation. Violence. Fear spawned violence. Really, when you get right down to it, Southern pride, Southern heritage, whatever you want to call it, is far less about grandma and fried chicken than it is about sheer paranoia, enemies everywhere ready to rape your daughters and force you to listen to hip-hop.

I've really got to think this through some more, do some reading and research, but I think I'm coming to the conclusion that the Civil War never ended. It simply went political. And that means we've got a much bigger problem in these United States than I have ever imagined.