Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Bigots Don't Know They Are Bigots, Southern Liberals Bite Back with Teeth

The Civil War ended in 1865. The South lost. Believe me, I have got over it, and so have most people I know in the region. My family fought for both sides, but then, my family has been fighting each other since they day they actually recognised they were kin, so when they split up along with the Union and Confederates for four years, it was just an extension of a family quarrel. Afterwards, they just made up and started fighting again.

You'll find, most big families are like that.

I know for some the Civil War isn't over and never will be. I also know that it's not just people in the South who think that.

I've seen too many remarks from people who, in another time and place, I'd call Yankees make remarks and assumptions about Southerners and the South that are not only borderline bigoted, they've crossed the Rubicon of bigotry in style. But, you know, they're not bigots. They're not small-minded. They're not prejudiced ... because they come from areas in the United States which have become bywords for "cosmopolitan."

Yet it suits them to still view the South, and Southerners, as uneducated, ignorant, toothless, inbred racists. It suits them to view the South as Deliveranceland. Ne'mind that the likes of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson not only came from the South, not only came from the Deep South, they came from three of what these enlightened Northern souls would reckon to be the poorest, most ignorant states in the region ... I mean, Georgia's bad enough, but Arkansas and Texas! They also forget that the man who won the popular vote in 2000 was a real man of the South, and the victor in that sham was what we Southerners would call a "Carpetbagger."

What's brought this particular rant of mine to the fore is an article posted on Addicting Info's website, entitled "Bill Maher Exposes the Real Southern Conservatives. They Would Rather Die Hungry." You can read this article here; then you can tell me who the real bigots are and if they're all concentrated in the South. Then you can tell me who would rather deal in stereotypes over reality.

Anyway, the centrepiece of the article is Alexandra Pelosi's "interview" with Southerners, whom she alleged were the first people she encountered, hot off the plane from ueber-sophisticate New York City. I don't know what airport she used in Mississippi, but it looks as though she took a detour en route to her hotel by way of the backroads and WalMart. Meh ... maybe she got lost.

Remember this?

What's more infuriating about this video is that it was countered the following week with another video, taken just across the street from her apartment building in New York City, with another sort of stereotype - the black, unemployed male who would rather live off food stamps than work. You can view that video and Pelosi's interview with Maher here.

Suffice it to say, that both videos are insulting and humiliating in that they feed into the prejudices of various demographics. The big difference in the two is that the first one, of the Southerners, which was shown on Bill Maher's show the previous week, garnered bellywhoops of laughter from the limousine liberal Left Coast audience (forgive my overt "regionalism, but this does make me angry) whilst the second video, shown the following week, was met by indignant silence. Not just indignant, but uncomfortable.

The most infuriating part of both interviews comes in a comment Pelosi makes to Bill Maher, that she could have gone into towns in Mississippi and interviewed educated Southerners, as well as she could have found many educated and employed African Americans to interview in New York City, but, she said, they'd only have employed spin and talking points.

I'm sorry? Spin and talking points were the entire ethos of both these videos she made. Her mother should feel ashamed. Well, as we say in the South, the girl ain't her mamma.

Of course, Bill Maher was quick to post the Southern video on his Facebook page. He didn't post the second video. And it's interesting to read the comments made by his various disciples fans. I've included some, along with some remarks by people who are Southerners responding, just so you can read them and judge yourself, who exactly, is the bigot here; because, from where I'm sitting, a lot of these Yankee-folk sound curiously like the people they're criticizing. And just as narrow-minded.

Here goes:-

From one John Benedict Alcantara:-

The southerners are a bunch of dicks. Call 'em whatever the fuck we want, but they have been predictable since the start of white supremacy and Nazism. They should be cease to exist.

How about this one from Donald Ellickson:-

Go ahead and rise again "southerners", us Yankee's will leave no stone un-turned with extreme prejudice to get'er done!Lazy no good for nuthin welfare bum's

Someone called Chris Frye:-

these well spoken people right along with this quote: it's this guy in GA (state rep Terry England compares women to farm animals), polls in Alabama & Mississippi where most republicans think Obama is Muslim (like it matters), vaginal scoping in VA, Texas in general, that makes me 2nd guess Abe Lincoln's passion for keeping the union together.

Greg Thomas actually uses the D-word:-

Just scary. Is it strange that when I hear those interviewees talk, I automatically hear the banjo music from Deliverance?

And Danny Dietz for the ultimate in Northern moral superiority and condescension:-

We don't hate you, we don't dislike you, we pity people in the South that think like the people in that video.

Brent Cammack who "knows" a few things:-

I've lived in "the south" for thirty years. There's way, way too much of what was portrayed in that video. "We're not all like that!" and "There's people like that everywhere!" ain't gonna cut it. There's nowhere near as much of this going on in any other part of the U.S.

(I wonder if anyohe ever explained to Brent what a "damned Yankee" is. He actually fits the bill, but see how easy it is to dismiss anyone offering proof of anything different from his - and others' - convenient, stereotypical view of the South and Southerners?_

From Jan Simone:

It's like some people are possessed or something. Some people just stop thinking and let their hatred call all the shots for them.

From Christopher Jonathan a "proud" and open-minded New Yorker:-

I've been expressing my utter disgust and feelings of contempt for ignorant southern racist/homophobic hicks since I was 8 yrs old.Those "people" are not gonna change and they never will.There are small pockets of intelligence in probably every southern state (I'll even give Mississippi the benefit of the doubt there....NOT!).I live in the NYC/NJ metro area and will not deny that there are people just as batshit here as there are in the south,however,I'm still proud to be a native New Yorker from the lower east side of Manhattan.I grew up in an "elitist" high rise co-op with my parents (dad is now a retired police officer after 23 yrs with the NYPD) and sister.So I guess that makes me a "pompous elitist" according to these uneducated right wing racist,homophobic pigs.Fuck the south!

Deborah Johnson:-

.I do wish the South WOULD secede!!

From Dan Ader, whose having lived "a few years" in Atlanta, makes him an expert on the South and all things Southern:-

I'm just an old farm boy from Wisconsin, but I lived a few years in Atlanta and can tell you, you don't need to travel more than a few miles beyond the 285 loop before you run into this population of southern white folks: poor and proud, and too stubborn to see past their own prejudice and find their own self interest. It's an intractable vein of Southern pride, that doggedly believes the South shall rise again and all you damn Yankees can go to hell, especially that Obama. (It's not just that he's black, but he's a learned scholar and university professor, now President of USA, an indignity to terrible for them to endure "an uppity negro in the White House." Surely the end-times are upon us!) The hate is there, just beneath that thin veneer of Southern gentility, seething just a few degrees shy of a boiling rage.

OK, now let some real Southerners respond on the same page. (I might add, that all of these responses were meticulously ignored, by those who "know better.")

From Teri Greene from Alabama:-

Please do know that not all southerners think this way. I don't and I have lived here all my life and my family has been here forever

Here's Nicholas Anderson, hitting a nerve:-

Just because of one video the rest of you are ready to buy into stereotypes and has out the hateful rhetoric like ALL Southerners are idiots and ALL Southerners are racist homophobes, etc. But this couldn't be further from the truth!!!! You can go anywhere in the country and dig up a backwards- thinking ass hole who'll espouse this kind of unfounded hate but that doesn't mean the entire region subscribes to that ideology. When you sit there and judge Southerners without knowing the full picture you are becoming the bigots you so lustfully and hastily seek to condemn.

Amen, Nicholas ... my point entirely. Pot, meet Kettle, and so forth - not that "his betters" would notice.

From Claudia Jones Waggoner, telling it like it is and not mincing words:-

I'm a Southerner who is sick and tired of seeing the South vilified. If you are not Southern and have not visited here, you have the wrong impression about us. Call us all uneducated hicks, make fun of us. But remember that while you are doing that you are practicing a form of racism called regionalism. Is what you say and think about us any different than those that hate minorities? No it isn't. Yes, people like that on the video exist in the South. They exist in the North, Mid-west and West as well. Believe it or not, there are a lot of educated people here as well as people with teeth. Quit South bashing. You sound like the bigot in the video that doesn't like blacks.

Take that ball and hurl it back. Make them own their prejudice.

Julie House really gets it. (See, we're not all stupid):-

This pisses me off, because 1. Pelosi did not "just get off the plane" and start interviewing people. I've been all over the south and you have to look pretty hard for the neighborhoods with the houses covered in Confederate flags. They aren't the first thing you see when you leave the airport. And 2. she chose to ONLY go into poor areas of the south, reinforcing our stereotype of dumb asses without any teeth or any sense. She could go into any run-down area of any state and find the exact same ignorance. As a southerner, I am ashamed, not of my region, but of the narrow focus of this "documentary". Pelosi needs to balance this piece by going to New Jersey and finding poor ignorant trashy people and interviewing them, too.

Several other commenters actually offered proof of people living like that in various Northern areas of the country. Rural places don't only exist in the South, and ignorance isn't limited to that region - just look at Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh and Michelle Bachmann. But I would imagine a lot of those people who took the moral high ground are either unaware of people like that (and of the people exposed in the subsequent video) or studiously choose to ignore their existence.

Either way, it's always more comfortable to live with our prejudices, as long as they fit our moral perception of reality, than to confront them and seek more open-minded tolerance.

To me, the people who responded with hatred and ignorant condemnation as narrow-minded and vicious as the people picked "at random" by Alexandra Pelosi, don't deserve to call themselves Liberals or Progressives, and that includes Bill Maher, who regularly promotes the "inbred shitkicker from Deliveranceland" image of the South weekly on his show.

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