Read Redneck Nation Online

Authors: Michael Graham

Redneck Nation (6 page)

BOOK: Redneck Nation
2.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

n the South, white people hate black people and black people hate white people. In New York, it’s the other way around.

• In the South, race is the single most important public issue in people’s daily lives. In New York, ethnicity is the single
most important issue. Which means, in South Carolina, people can hate each other on sight, but in New York, they have to wait
until they’ve been properly introduced and know each other’s last names.

• In New York, my support of the Second Amendment and opposition to legalized abortion made me a right-wing zealot. Down South,
my support of free speech and opposition to the death penalty make me a commie.

• Southerners understand that the War Between the States was caused by many factors and that slavery was one of the complex
issues that must be looked at in the political, economic, and social contexts of the time, which means it is difficult, if
not impossible, to say what one
issue caused the war. In New York, nobody cares who started the damn war. We won. You lost. Get over it.

• In New York, the fact that I used to go hunting—with an actual
—made me a Neanderthal. In the South, the fact that I stopped makes me a homosexual.

• In New York, I was expected to be impressed by the local Italian cuisine, which was often one fistful of garlic away from
Chef Boyardee. If I didn’t say that a mediocre meal of shells and sauce was
molto bene
at least five times, my hosts were insulted.

• In South Carolina, people aren’t expecting you to be impressed by the food, they just expect you to eat it. If I said, “Man,
this is great,” more than once over a plate of to-die-for chicken and mouthwatering homemade dumplings, my host would assume
I was there to sell something.

• In New York, the assumption was that, in any conversation not involving frog gigging, any Southerner was the dumbest person
at the table. If I was sitting in the backseat looking at a map and telling a New Yorker which Manhattan street to turn on,
he would ignore me, take the wrong turn, then scream profanity at me because I got him lost.

• In the South, the assumption is that, in any conversation, we Southerners are the dumbest people at the table. That’s why
we don’t want to hear how you do it up North. Thanks for the help, but we’d rather screw it up ourselves.

• New Yorkers pretend they’ve read books they haven’t. Southerners deny reading the ones they have.

• Down South, it’s impossible for a person to be too quiet. In New York, it’s impossible to be too loud.

• In the South, you’re a racist if you send your kids to an all-white private school instead of the integrated public one.
In New York, you’re a racist if you support vouchers, which would allow black kids to attend the same all-white private schools
your kids do.

• In southern restaurants, there is no such thing as “too much.” The same is true in New York, except it applies to the price.

• Southerners consider Woody Allen a sick, perverted weirdo who makes movies for New York Jews. In New York, nobody ever calls
Woody a Jew, but they don’t call him a pervert, either.

• Down South, a great Saturday means you never had to go inside. In New York, it means you never had to go out.

• In the South, locals tend to resent people they meet who are smarter than they are. In New York, locals never meet anybody
who is.

• In New York, the Yankees can win back-to-back World Series, and the fans say, “Yeah, but whaddaya bums gonna do
year?” In South Carolina, the local college team can lose twenty-one straight games, and the fans say, “Yeah, but remember
back in ’89 when they almost had a shot at the national title?”

• In the South, it’s okay for a kid to handle a gun, but giving him a condom might inspire inappropriate behavior. In New
York, condoms are in middle-school vending machines, but dodgeball is banned from playgrounds for inspiring inappropriate

• In the South, a woman who stays home with her children while her husband works is called a hero. In New
York, a woman who stays home to raise children is called a nanny.

• In New York, the most commonly heard phrases at showings of foreign films are “He’s no Fellini” and “It breathes with ironic
pathos.” Down South, the most commonly heard phrases are “Subtitles? What’s that?” and “Baby, you ever bring me to another
one a these readin’ pictures, I’m gonna whup you.”

Rednecks and White Whine

The Southerner who is chiefly heard from is apparently all toes; one cannot have commerce with him without stepping on them.
Thus he protests hysterically every time northern opinion is intruded into his consideration of his problems, and northern
opinion, so often called to book, now prudently keeps out. The result is that the Southerner struggles alone, and that he
goes steadily from bad to worse

—H.L. Mencken

eet Fudgie, a symbol of our new All-Redneck Nation.

Fudgie, a fifty-two-year-old retired baker, is from Ohio, not down South. He’s a proud member of the Independent Bikers’ Association,
Cincinnati chapter. That’s “biker” as in Harley, not Schwinn; cycling is an archetypically northern activity. In the South,
real men don’t ride anything that can’t be floored, gunned, or whipped—which may explain the condition of our women.

So how did Fudgie—a.k.a. Carl Campbell—come to represent the newly southern America? It’s not because he
rides a Harley, an honorable avocation on either side of the Mason-Dixon line. And it’s not because he weighs more than three
hundred pounds, though we Southerners do like a man with a figure. No, Fudgie and his biker buddies became true soldiers of
the Confederacy when they bravely rode their hogs into the nearest courtroom and burst into tears.

The motorcycled members of Ohio’s citizenry have officially claimed victim status. They are beset by antibiker discrimination,
they claim. Restaurants shun them, bars ban them, and pedestrians fear them. And, the bikers say, it’s starting to hurt their

According to the
New York Times
, Ohio’s motorcycle enthusiasts feel that their rights as citizens have been trampled upon. So these delicate flowers, still
stinging from being made unwelcome by the maître d’ at the Four Seasons, asked State Representative Sylvester Patton of Youngstown
to sponsor a bill levying a five-hundred-dollar civil fine against any business found guilty of discriminating against people
“because they operate motorcycles or wear clothing that displays the name of a motorcycle-related organization or group.”

The same cycle riders who oppose Big Brother’s efforts to force them to wear helmets want that same government to force restaurants
and hotels not to notice when they wear those helmets into the building.

How big a problem could this alleged antibiker discrimination be? It’s hard to imagine the shop owner or tavern keeper willing
to walk up to a three-hundred-pound leather-clad biker with “Born to Violate the Laws of Nature” tattooed across his biceps
and say, “We don’t serve your kind around here.” It’s even harder to imagine
Fudgie as a victim of, well, just about anything, except maybe a massive coronary.

At the risk of offending Fudgie’s delicate sensibilities, might I point out that one way to prevent business owners from treating
you like a thug is to stop dressing like one? If a guy walks into a restaurant wearing a pillowcase with eyeholes and carrying
a rope with a slipknot, he really shouldn’t complain if some folks don’t want to sit in his section.

There’s also the wimp factor. When did bikers become babies? I expect tough guys on Harleys to display a quiet stoicism, not
to go running to the state legislature crying, “A big bully just made fun of my nose ring!”

But that’s precisely what bikers have done. They have staked their claim on the American gold mine of victim-hood. And in
a nation mesmerized by the gratifying self-righteousness and soothing powerlessness that come with victimhood, the exemplar
of this whiny, complaining, easily insulted, put-upon, sore-toed groaner is the southern white male.

Before there was the NAACP or GLAAD or NAAFA (the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance), there were
rednecks. As Mencken noted, they are a notoriously thin-skinned bunch.

Southern white males have a long tradition of kvetching Confederate-style. The first Europeans reached Charleston, South Carolina,
in 1670 and promptly began whining that Plymouth Rock was getting all the attention. Southerners proceeded to pout their way
through the entire Revolutionary War. The South was a hotbed of Toryism, the locals constantly attempting to make deals with
the British and blaming the entire mess on the Yankees in Massachusetts.

After holding the Constitution hostage over the issue of
slavery in the 1780s, Southerners spent the next 170 years complaining about being picked on over the issue. Listening to
slave owners and their political allies of the day, you’d think
were the victims of the slave economy: “Slaves are expensive, they eat so much, they keep trying to run away (those ungrateful
bastards), and the only reason we have them is that Northerners force us to keep selling cotton for huge profits. It’s all
their fault.”

So the South started a war and then complained because the Yankees fought back. They established Jim Crow segregation, then
whined when blacks rose up to protest it. They created a two-tiered education system designed to lower education standards
for working-class citizens, then complained of anti-Southern bigotry whenever someone noted the South had the dumbest population
in America.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Americans largely rejected this idiocy and sided with the real victims of southern racism.
The rest of the country understood that white Southerners
put-upon and out of sorts, but Northerners rejected these feelings as delusional. Americans of the 1950s and ’60s, watching
the prejudice and violence of the southern establishment, saw for themselves who the victims were and who they weren’t. And
America told the ever-whiny rednecks to stuff a sock in it.

In fact, I would argue that at a fundamental level, the Civil Rights Movement was a wholesale rejection of victim status as
a good in itself. Young black southern men who sat down at lunch counters knowing they would soon be locked up and beaten
down weren’t whiny crybabies. They took their lumps and came back the next day. And this they did to generate anger, not pity.

Dr. King and his allies who marched toward the barking
dogs and water cannons weren’t worried about hurt feelings. They had concussions and contusions on their minds, but they kept
marching. They weren’t claiming victimhood, they were accepting consequences.

I can’t see the people who suffered and fought back against Jim Crow as victims. To call them so would be, in my opinion,
an insult. “Victim” implies helplessness, neediness, an inability to defend oneself. Black Southerners who challenged segregation
were nothing of the sort. I would no more call Martin Luther King a victim than I would call Mother Teresa a pauper. It’s
demeaning and misses the point.

That’s the impression the Civil Rights Movement left upon me. But something happened between Selma, Alabama, and the creation
of the white man’s Southern Anti-Defamation League today. Forty years after the Civil Rights Movement, being a victim isn’t
an insult, it’s an honor. From the incompetent mom-’n’-pop shopkeeper on the corner (a “victim” of corporate interests like
Wal-Mart) to the idiot spokespeople for various special-interest groups (even fat people have the aforementioned NAAFA, a
lobbying organization opposed, one assumes, to gravity) to entire nationalities (the Serbs and Palestinians come to mind),
everybody wants to be a victim—southern-style.


America is now a nation where nothing is ever one’s own fault. And, my northern brethren, you learned it from us. When the
NAACP was boycotting South Carolina for flying the Confederate flag on the capitol dome, I used to
mock my fellow South Carolinians for claiming they were “victims” of an unfair boycott. “C’mon, gang!” I told them. “For nearly
a hundred years, that flag has flown over Klan rallies and civil rights counterdemonstrations. What’s the NAACP supposed to
do? Add it to their letterhead? It is our statehouse over which that flag flies, and it is our elected legislature that keeps
it there against all reason and good counsel. Of course, we citizens are going to suffer. We’re supposed to!”

Listening to thick-necked white guys whine about the “bullying tactics” of the NAACP was an absolute laugh. As young men,
many of these same flag supporters overturned school buses, blocked restaurant doors, and shouted “nigger” as the freedom
marchers passed. Today, these same men, older but no wiser, wish us to believe that they are now the victims of a black power

So like I said, I used to make fun of these simpering Southerners constantly. Then, dear Yankee, I met you.

I met the aforementioned National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, a group so painfully fat-headed it has
to be headquartered in California. NAAFA’s position is that fat people should not be victimized by their excessive mass or
high-calorie lifestyle. No, the rest of us should suffer for their obesity instead.

I must confess that I find it difficult to take the full-figured flaks at NAAFA seriously. The first time I heard the name
of the organization, I thought it was some sort of agricultural advocacy group, like the Dairy Board or Beef Council. You
know, with catchy slogans like “Fat: It Keeps a Body Warm!” or “The
Other White Meat (or meat-like substance).”

According to NAAFA, fat folks are the victims of biology,
genealogy, gastroenterology, and, for all I know, archaeology and Scientology, too. People are fat because they are oppressed
by the evil diet industry, the evil pharmaceutical interests, and the What Are We Going to Do with All These Lime-Green Stretch
Pants? cabal.

BOOK: Redneck Nation
2.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd
Friends Like Us by Siân O'Gorman
Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer
Persian Girls: A Memoir by Nahid Rachlin
The Reckoning by Thomas, Dan
Hello God by Moya Simons
His Unexpected Bride by Jo Ann Ferguson
Deathwing by Neil & Pringle Jones