Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Still Bigotry

The New York Times ran a very interesting story today about civility - or manners - being decidedly on the decline in the South - you know, that last bastion of hospitality. The article was insightful, but not half as insightful as some of the comments.

From Jim in New York City (including his punctuation):-

they should worry more about the incredbile racism prevalent just below their well mannered surface.

From Cathy in Maine:-

I'm rather certain Southern manners never existed. There's nothing more rude than enslaving people or lynching them. Southern whites may have worn white gloves, but too often at the end of the day those gloves were red with blood.

From John Ehrenberg in New York City:-

Let's get one thing straight about the South: it's the most violent, racist, gun-loving, right-wing, capital-punishing part of the country. It's been that way for a long time, and it's not likely to change any time soon. This fairy tale about Southern gentility and good manners is just that.

From Sumner (there's a name) in New York City (again):-

That 'Southern Civility' was a always myth and only was extended to those of a like color. No matter how it's spun now we all don't that miss the Southern way of life that is 'Gone with the Wind'.. and good riddance.

From Geoff in Kettering, Ohio;-

Manners are, in the end, little more than the expression of privilege and power. Since Southerners have lost most of theirs, it's no surprise that their veneer of civility has thinned.

And from the Left Coast of Claremont, California, here's Juan Matute:-

As a resident of a suburban small town just south of Atlanta for 24 years, I got to know something about the place. There are occasional, but infrequent, instances and pockets of modern progressive life. However, there is a constant effort to remain locked in the ways of the past. These ways will change as the generations move on, but I am firmly convinced of the South's character that preserves the motto that Ignorance and Intolerance is an enduring Tradition. I now live back in the area of the country where I grew up, and where I feel very comfortable.

And here's one from Ian in Bozeman, Montana:-

Yes that last bastion of civility, also famous for the likes of George Wallace and the assassination of Martin Luther King, proving that they are no more civil than the rest of us and that the golden rule only applies to people in your own ethnic group.

Bronxville, New York (He only calls himself "R" - for "racist?"):-

Lord knows politeness just takes the edge right off of being executed or dragged behind a pickup.

From a "Know Nothing" (really, seriously) in Alaska:-

"Bastion of civility"....are you serious???? The land of of Jim Crow Laws and what came before! Reminds me of my parents praising Mussolini and his government in the 30's for having the trains run on time. And then we had a war there in which my father died.

Trains on time...civility.....both nonsense and you ought to know better than insult a substantial segement of our population still living.

Do you see a kind of pattern here? Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck ... I'll let some other commenters respond:-

From nictsiz, a transplanted Virginian (of course) in New Jersey:-

I grew up in a small town in Virginia where good manners and common courtesy were expected of everyone. While I can respect arguments that discrimination was an objective of codes of civility, I have a great deal of trouble understanding how having respect for other people is somehow a bad thing. Children saying "sir" and "ma'am" is demeaning? Since when is having respect for one's elders - of any race, creed or culture, mind you - demeaning to children? Since when is expecting a gentleman to offer his seat to a lady - again, of any race, creed or culture - an act of discrimination? To me, the decline in basic civility and respectful discourse is emblematic of everything that brings our country down a level. Respect, courtesy, and kindness to everyone in equal measure.

From sumdood in Knoxville, Tennessee (although the boldface is mine, all mine):-

Being originally from the Midwest I was used to the brief, often gruff encounters I would receive at stores. I lived in the inner city for a while and as a white person was occasionally treated rudely and disrespectfully by my black neighbors.

I have now lived in the South for 20 years and appreciate the better manners here. Perhaps the phony gallantry has gone by the wayside, but i now live in a 40% minority neighborhood and everyone is far more polite and genuinely friendly than any neighborhood i have lived in.

Experiences in stores and on the street are generally more pleasant.
When I visit Atlanta, a black majority city, I am impressed by how civil people of different races are to each other.

Most of these posts are by New Yorkers who prefer their stereotypes to reality, many of them have never been to the new South.

And now the worm is turning ...

From Gotham Gator in New York City:-

I can think of few things as condescending and ridiculous as this article. One can be courteous, polite, and generous and deferential to others without it being an underhanded tool to enhance racial or sexual inequality. The former are unquestionably good qualities that uplift and enhance everyday life. People in New York should give them a try.

And, while northerners are quick to criticize (appropriately) the racism engaged in by some southerners, these same people will then turn around and apply to the south the worst type of derogatory stereotyping and do so without the slightest hint of irony.

And the best for last, from Arkie Expat in Beantown, itself:-

Yeah, because we all know that all Southerners are racist, gun-toting, creationism-believing, Republican-voting idiots. How could they possibly be polite, and even mean it?

Since moving to Boston from Arkansas in 1983, I've witnessed a breathtaking level of socially sanctioned prejudice against Southern people. Self-proclaimed enlightened people will hold forth about "those Southerners" with remarkable irony. Many of them are posting here in this forum.

For a variety of reasons historical and cultural, the South has a lot of catching up to do. That doesn't make it okay perpetrate bigotry against people like me, my relatives, my oldest friends, and other people who don't fit your favorite Southern stereotype.

Actually, if you wanna rail against that sort of person, pay a visit to your local Dunkin Donuts and have a field day. A plane ticket South isn't even necessary.

Because Yankees can be bigots too, and in the worst way.

Y'all g'on home now, y'hear?

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