Friday, March 13, 2009


Is the word 'redneck,' and its use, racist?

In response to the post about the Redneck Bank, Feodor wrote:

"Race-based marketing from a myopic hinterland where Palin gets 100% support."

And he wrote:

"Who can justify marketing such well-intentioned financial institutions as Sambo Savings & Loan, Coolie Credit Union, Redneck Bank? And how does one do so?"

Then I wrote:

"Until day before yesterday, I never, ever, heard anything about 'redneck' being racist. Not ever. My mind boggles."

So, since I wear the label myself with a little admittedly perverse pride, I want to know:

Is the word "redneck," and it's use, racist? How? Why? Etc.


It's more classist in origin and race based than racist.

This is, I think, what your are ultimately defending, ER: a socio-cultural class experience of those who were looked down upon by the wealthy, the urban, the East Coast hordes... until FDR made them the center of the nation's attention and the base of an economic engine that became a world superpower.

Redneck, hayseed, once "happy times" came to the tenant farmers' children, they could take on those elitist disparagement and join with the wealthy, the urban, the East Coast elite and say, "well, maybe my parents were poor, maybe I was born in poverty, maybe I'm still struggling compared to some... but, thank God, he didn't make me a nigger."

"Cracker" would be far more damaging if whites made only 15% of the country and were the servants to the economy rather than the masters thereof.

It's difficult to construct racist epithets toward the majority and power holding group.

If I had thought longer about more appropriate counter examples, it would have been "Niggas Savings and Loan" [with an unnecessarily implied "Only"] and "Hom'es Credit Union" [with an unnecessarily implied "Only"].

I don't think adult African Americans or the adults in the Hispanic community would stand such stupidity.

Now, what does that say about Redneck Bank?
Pejorative? Sure. Racist? Absolute nonsense. It's nothing more than a stereotype of a certain kind of person. Historically it applied to Scots-Irish frontier settlers, but we use it to describe poor and unrefined people, usually agrarian.
Classist? Ab-so-lute-ly.

Race-based. If so, I think it's incidental.

BTW, Feodor, have you read Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks & White Liberals"? I don't know about his final conclusions, but the steps he takes to get to them make some sense, especially the commonalities he points out between rural white culture back in the day and some urban black culture today.

It goes way beyond white peeps calling fried chicken, ribs, greens, cornbread and sweet potato pie "good country cookin'" and black peeps calling it "soul food."
Then in the seventies, someones (liberal grandchildren of tenant farmers? Urban, liberal East and West coast elites?) started calling the parents and grandparents opposed to civil rights, Rednecks. Rednecks are racist.

Now, in our increasingly, but far from, post-racial society (and as I said on the other post), the problem is that white folks have not developed a language, or symbols, of racial pride that do not have contained within a racist birth or motivation or otherwise attached baggage. Who is the white protestant American middle class as a class without subconscious comparison to blacks? "My parents may have been poor/I may be poor but at least I'm not black."

We have not put in that kind of work and are anxious about doing so.
Ah. Is 'redneck' a racial epithet' is a different question than "is the word 'redneck' and its use racist"?

It'a racial epithet to those who use it that way. But I use it to describe myself, partly tongue in cheek, and it's out of a kind of pride, not self-loathing, and so is not racist in that sense.

I keep thinking thing is the rap-nigga comparison, but I don't know enough about how that ussage came about or what it means to those who use it to talk about it intelligently. But is it a similar kind of usage?

Gotta get ready for work. Dang these Internets ..
You've put a finger on part of what my wife and I have in common: our fathers spoke the same language, right down to the intended malapropisms. My white father grew up in a town of a few hundred in north Texas where boys played offense and defense in football because there just weren't enough. My black father-in-law grew up in Philadelphia, the son of migration North Carolinians, played basketball forty hours a week on every court in the city, joined the military as a way out and got to see the world, pursue education and lifted his daughters into ivy league educations and professional success.

They both joked about edgumacation, ate black eyed peas and cornbread, knew how to use an outhouse in the dark... and felt a life-long and deep sense of regret over a dream to be much better educated themselves.

But my father-in-law will always be internally scarred by white America. Deeply, deeply scarred in ways his daughters know and respect but know they don't fully understand. He was primally disturbed and worried when he knew his daughter and I were dating. They had a long initial phone conversation were long, buried memories came out along with a primal white-hate. That he quickly moved on, however, is testament to how far he himself had come, along with his country. It was as if he resurrected his past for a moment to give voice to the demons, and then they were gone.

My father, a redneck teenaged switchman far out on the tracks of a distant way station from civilization, harbored a life-long dislike and suspicion of black community, black life, black myth, but not so much (between 8 and 5, Monday through Friday) the black men he worked with. In other words, there were no experiences for his prejudice. And he never, ever finally rid himself of his hate. Not, at least, that was ever displayed before he died when I was in college.

Thomas Sowell, who thinks black eyed peas can keep the country unified in commonality, is a conservative, epicurean empiricist, philosophically speaking. In other words, words I've heard mentioned, as a black man he's an Uncle Tom.

For him the black experience is American History.

For my family, if you want to see it, ER, you can see the black experience in Jesse Jackson's anguished tears on election night.
Re, "harbored a life-long dislike and suspicion of black community, black life, black myth, but not so much (between 8 and 5, Monday through Friday) the black men he worked with."

Dude, that is almost every non-overtly racially progressive white person I have ever personally known. Describes myself before I, enamored of Southern history and smitten by regional pride, more or less seriously, but briefly, considered the thinking of the early-1980s Klan (David Duke-era), and concluded almost immediately that whatever else the Burning Cross was, it was not the Cross of Christ.

Also, you know, me being in Head Start -- the first summer it was offered, before it was even a yearlong thing -- did more for me than about anything in early childhood. Little color-blind white kids, black kids, Cherokee and Choctaw kids.
When people refer to backwards, ignorant, crude white people who harbor and express racist sentiments, they often call these folks "rednecks." Hell, I've done it, but I have also called myself a redneck. Yet I recognize the forces of white privilege, I know that I likely benefited from white privilege, and I do my best every day to keep my heart and mind free from racist thought. Yeah, there's a disconnect there with the term "redneck."

It's kind of like "Okie." Here on the east coast, I might very well be offended if someone called me an "Okie." I might assume they were using it as a loaded term, implying that I am uneducated, racist, and simple-minded. Back home, if someone called me an "Okie," it is more like they are recognizing me as one of my group - and theirs.

It's exclusive language. That's the similarity between "redneck" and "nigger." When applied to a person by someone outside of one's group, it can be pejorative and inflammatory language. When coming from one in one's own group, it can reveal some kind of commonality. A shibboleth of sorts.

Rednecks and Okies, as a group, have a bond formed by a common history of hardship. But not to the degree of the common history of hardship of black Americans. Being a redneck could draw ridicule, but being black could (and still can) get you killed. The degree of hardship is where the terms part ways.

"Nigger" can never be construed as not racist. I've heard black Americans argue that they have taken ownership of the term and removed some of its sting. That may well be, but it's origins are rooted in hate and terror.

The term "redneck" has a far more innocuous origin. So while it may be used to name a group whose members may harbor racist thought, I have a hard time calling the term itself racist.

Feodor is right about the balance of power also affecting how damaging labels are. No matter what term a white, non-Jewish person might be called, there's always available a more derogatory term describing a perceived lower class of people.
Right. That's the reason that as the generations pass, and the racial balance and diffusion demographics change, we change as a nation.

Change happens as time marches on.

But that is not a moral category of change, merely actuarial.

One bizarre piece of evidence that whites have an impossibly hard time speaking with racial pride devoid of our original sin is how, a decade ago, we started hearing white teenagers in Connecticut malls call each other, "whigger."

Pretty pathetic creativity.
Sorry, my "Right" is a response to ER -- before LeeLee's post, which has many pertinent points.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The f------ word police strike again.
Sure did! I'm an editor. That's precisely what I do: I police words.

Anonymous, consider yourself ticketed, and your "ucking" confiscated.

I'm letting you off for not displaying a tag. Get one. A blog handle, I mean, and use it.
While I find it hard to even find a way to care about this, I would say that it seems to me that there's an element of reclaiming the word "redneck" going on here, much as we queers have reclaimed the word queer.

I wouldn't really feel comfortable calling someone else a redneck, but I couldn't care less if someone calls themselves a redneck.
Alan, probably. But I never knew the word "redneck" had a seriously negative connotation until, like, now. Seriously negative, I said. I think if an angry black peep called me a redneck -- or even a cracker -- to my face, if I wadn't already tangling with 'em I might actually laugh and say, "Yep."
But if some rich, white uppity son-of-bitch -- Yankee or not -- called me a redneck, he might get a can of Asswhup(tm) opened right up on me.

Yeah, this is more class than race, as far as I'm concerned.
You know, I do remember the first time I encountered anything like an insult with these kinds of labels.

New girl at school. Fourth grade. Maybe fifth. Moved to my little town from Muskogge, I think. Thought herself a sophisticate, in other words. She rode the same schoolbus as I did.

On the way home one day, she was sitting behind me and I said something to her, and she just gave me a mean-bitch kind of look and called me a "goat roper."

I'd never heard it before. being literal minded, I remember thinking, "Well, we've got cattle, not goats." I knew she meant it to be mean, but really didn't know why.

"What?" I said.

"It's those boots, and those jeans and that shirt."


"It mostly that shirt, and those snaps."

Plaid shirt, with those rhinestone-type snaps. Jeans. Jeans. I don't know what that was all about. And black cowboy boots.

It's not like I was the only kid wearin' clothes like that. But it made me a "goat roper."

And at the moment, that girl mighta placed a small chip on my shoulder that remains, in some ways, to this day.

Strike: "he might get a can of Asswhup(tm) opened right up on me."

Insert: "he might get a can of Asswhup(tm) opened right up on him."
Lord, we FFA kids said "goat roper," too. It usually wasn't meant to be nice.
The reason a "Redneck Bank" offends, even while seeming to innocently target "just plain folks" in Southwest Oklahoma or wherever whites are found burning the pear:

from the Huffington Post:

"The NAACP is accusing Wells Fargo and HSBC of forcing blacks into subprime mortgages while whites with identical qualifications got lower rates.

Class-action lawsuits were to be filed against the banks Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, Austin Tighe, co-lead counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told The Associated Press.

Black homebuyers have been 3 1/2 times more likely to receive a subprime loan than white borrowers, and six times more likely to get a subprime rate when refinancing, Tighe said. Blacks still were disproportionately steered into subprime loans when their credit scores, income and down payment were equal to those of white homebuyers, he said."

The article goes on.

Redneck bankers know what they are doing, just as well as the NY Post cartoonist.

"That gorilla is not meant to be Obama! Only those who see racism everywhere could think that."

"'Redneck' isn't racist. We're just having a little fun with our customer base."

Check that... "Our *preferred* customer base."


We need DrLBJ to check in.

I'm sure he's got something to say to add.
I see it more as making fun, or making light, of those, like myself, who might consider themselves redneck, while riding the broad pop-cultural phenomenon that Foxworthy almost single-handedly started -- for one overarching reason: good old green money. Nobody has fun with a customer base for the fun of it.

I think it's a heck of a jump from systematic redlining to anecdotal reckneckery -- an Evel Knievel-at-Snake-River-Canyon jump, actually.

Unless you think Foxworthy, Engvalls, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy are all racist by definition ... and Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, and every other Southern-Western-rural-rustic caricature is racist.
FFA kids calling people goat roper? Pot and kettle? :-)
So you're okay with "Kill a Cop Bookstore" in Compton, then?

Or can only white comedians lend their material to a business enterprise?

I think the subconscious motivations are pretty questionable and not as innocent as its face. And ignorance, I suppose, can be thrown in.
Mostly just pot. Not so much kettle. :)
And I'm not saying that the Bank of the Wichitas (an appropriation of an oppressed group that didn't profit from the name change) is engaging in racist banking practices.

I'm saying that appearances should matter in business, and the Redneck Bank online marketing strategy is race based whether consciously intentional or not.

And I find that hard to believe, though possible.

That's not Obama, it's just a gorilla.

uhm. Shame.
Feodeo, make the connection, please. I'm missing it.

And, I still don't see how a bank naming its online banking division Redneck Bank is offensive to anyone other than touchy white peeps. I might be shocked, and mystified, but I don't think I'd be offended by a bank in Harlem, or wherever, calling itself Sambo's Savings.

... hmmm. Unless, you're saying that the use of "redneck" as an epithet trumps all other uses of it in pop culture. In which case, I just disagree.

Incidental "race-based" is one thing. Intentional racism is another. Ignorance of a widely held perception is yet another.

And yet another is disbelief of an alleged widely held perception. I'm saying that "redneck," while it can be a racial epithet, or a hurtful stereotype, is overarchingly benign.
When I first visited my first wife's hometown of Augusta, Kansas (we had met and married in Ct.; she didn't much like going back to Kansas as she had very horrible experiences there), her father and two brothers met us at the airport in Wichita and took us to lunch in August at a... dinner, cafe?

It was a long, narrow room with tables back to the L shaped counter behind which a butcher was hacking up a torso of beef. The specials of the day were glistening in steel vats behind glass. Meat and fat of various sorts with macaroni diversifying one vat, a few beans another. I took the chopped beef sandwich. We sat against the long wall which was lined with fifteen framed posters of the last fifteen years of Miss Universe pageant contestants all in bikinis. Above that was one shelf, wall-long, maybe nine, ten feet high stacked with dozens of truckers caps. Above the next table, on the shelf, was a cap that read, "To All Virgins, Thanks for Nothing."

We ate, they mumbled and we started to get to know each other.

As we made way to leave and pay at the register right at the front door, the lady hoped with bright energy that we had a good meal and would have a good day. Right behind her, on the wall, was a calendar with one cardboard picture above the twelve rip away paper months. This was now July. Halfway through the year.

The painted picture, only half of its life lived and half to go, was of a young girl, eight, nine, ten maybe, pausing just a moment from deliciously eating a section of watermelon in order to smile so inordinately widely at the viewer. She had twisted little knots of hair all over her head. Tattered cut-off overalls, one strap falling of a shoulder.


Those lunch spot owners did their banking somewhere.

I think they would think Redneck internet banking was funny, too.

Next door was the Hollywood tanning salon in which the town's best churched ladies spent a lot of money to look more brown.
The adults in Harlem would never let a business set up shop naming itself that way. Nor would the rest of the city.

Too much dignity.
I have no dog in this particular fight. I understand ER's point completely, and thought the website, etc., was kind of funny and innocuous. I also see Feodor's point, up to a point. I agree with ER there is far more class bias involved here than anything racial, and certainly not racially insensitive, let alone racist.

Yet, as the discussion has progressed, I must admit a bit of an odd feeling, especially as it pertains to Feodor's anecdote concerning the diner.

In any event, overall I think both have made good points, but I think ER's points - about it being far more a class issue than a race issue as well as a certain pride in heritage without any concomitant negative stereotyping of others - makes as much sense as Feodor's insistence that there is much weight of history here to be considered, even if a term is used in half fun and full earnest.

In other words, a wonderful demonstration of Lincoln's dictum that two men may hold opposite views on something and both may still be right (now that a kind of pomo pragmatism I can get behind).
On the dignity in and of Harlem.

Absolutely. I agree.

Dignity is not something very often associated with the current concept of "redneck," defined, perhaps largely redefined, by Foxworthy as "a glorious lack of sophistication."

On overt racists also thinking "Redneck Bank" funny: Well, yeah. But holy s--t. Racists drive pickup trucks, wear gimme caps and listen to country music. So what? Should I sell my truck, quit wearing caps and change my radio station? No.
BTW, I loved the video you put up about Ron White months ago and went looking for more of him on YouTube.

Love him in particular.

But comedy has that role to play, to both deeply criticize culture and honor the necessity of cultural life. Seinfeld was a reincarnation of a golden age of Jewish comedy and urban ennui, greed, etc.

Like him, Foxworthy et al have gone on to make their millions.

I'm not saying New York is ruled by a godly Prince (Luther). You don't think I would agree if you suggested that the M&A departments of Wall Street are a big factor in the hardscrabble life of Southwest Oklahoma?. You don't think I would agree that the NYPD, fetishized as heros, have ethics problems much less occasional murder/beat down problems?

Two Ecuadorians, just off the plane or the wheel well or out of the hatch, were walking in Brooklyn two miles from me late one night. They were holding hands as Latin men from the hinterlands will do and one was beaten to death by two African American men who were yelling anti-gay slurs at them.

Yankee fans ought to be talking about giving back three of their last four World Series rings because of probable rampant steroid abuse, but they wont.

Failure is the biggest sin in this town, bigger really than getting caught.

New York is the capital of greed, of ethical apathy, and the appetites of capitalism.

And black nihilism started here decades ago.

But, regarding that, I hear so many voices in the black community calling for a turnaround in community values -- and I'm not talking about Bill Cosby who uses too big and awkward a stick -- but all kinds of community leaders arguing against the notion of too many that sounding smart is sounding white. That's why Obama is such a huge victory in black neighborhoods.

They can point to him as aspirational inspiration instead of Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, etc.

But, you know, I don't hear the same in south Philly or Perth Amboy. South Philly has enclaves of Italian Americans and Irish Americans. The ethic is go get a high school degree, college if you really have to, but come back to live, return to the community. This is home. "Out there" is turning too mulanzan every day.

I'm afraid that the audience that loves Foxworthy et al are fortifying themselves to stay ignorant. To bless it, as long as it isn't too hateful. To know God is good and Jesus loves them as they are. To be proud of America when the elitists are tearing it down -- even though they will never face terrorist threats. What terrorist wants to go to Whitesburg, KY, or Wichita Falls, Tx?

Let's laugh at Redneck Banking. To expect more of ourselves is to forget our raisin'. To blaspheme against this mid-sized hole we accept in the scheme of things. After all, the coasts call the shots, lawyers in their tassled loafers. Fifteen minutes of fame is all we need. The dream of American Idol, to laugh at the Housewives of Atlanta, but look how she does her hair, ain't it pretty? Even that little black girl. She sure does have a big house, how'd that black girl get that house?

[By living the same cheap dream, and marrying a football player who made good. Against big odds.]
Praecipitatum verius quam editum.
Re, "I'm afraid that the audience that loves Foxworthy et al are fortifying themselves to stay ignorant."

Some. Maybe many. Hell, maybe most. I don't know.

I like to think I speak for the objectively self-aware cohort. :-)

And, of course: when something is thrown together, not edited, the thrower always reserves the right to revise and extend his remarks.
Right, I don't mean the whole audience.

And I'm not worried about you. You're already tainted with way too much education. This blog is an offense against the institutional foundations of my childhood -- church, state (as it's become), and heterosexuality.

But I think of a man in Alabama, couldn't make it into the marines. Couldn't pass day one of the state police training camp.

Redneck from deep in redneck junctions.

He didn't take his guns and blow away his family, friends, and strangers because he was a redneck, because he had redneck values.

He did it because he (and the family and community who couldn't tell he'd been cooking toward crazy for at least a year or two) had nothing else to be and nothing else to value.

He was a nigger redneck, knew he was a nigger redneck. Knew the world (as much of it as he could conceive) thought of him as a nigger redneck and gave him only nigger redneck things to do.

And so he became a redneck Bigger Thomas.

Leave it to the comedians who delegitimize the haughty pride and leave only the humility of clay feet.

To utilize it in official ways to mock the practice of official functions is to delegitimize appropriate structures of a civil society and adds to the breakdown of dignity.

Are the communities of our hinterlands so bereft that relieving humor can't be found anywhere else? Is there no greater outlet for creativity?

It raises questions about how and when we feed our human nature during these recent decades of technological, privatized, alienated drift.
Good points, well said, Feodor.

That Alabaman was desperate in a way I don't think I've ever been, in a kind of place I have a soft spot in my heart for, but I haven't lived in since I was a young'un.
I think your use of the Alabama shooting is a bit off-base. While it has been difficult to find additional information - all those "on-going investigation" things, you know - this report from ABC News indicates that officials from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation do not believe the killing spree had anything to do with depression over work issues. From the linked article:
Though law enforcement officials had characterized the list as a possible key to what set the man off, they said most of McLendon's victims were members of his family and no one on the list was among the dead.

"He cleaned his family out," Coffee County coroner Robert Preachers said. "We don't know what triggered it."

If you Google the incident, most of the headlines make pretty clear there is no information on either the source or the trigger for this incident. Was it a combination of mental illness and acute socio-economic anxiety that led to this murderous rampage? Perhaps, although the ABC story linked above indicates that Michael McLendon was doing well at the sausage factory where he worked, was even described as a "team leader", and then, abruptly, quit last week. Furthermore, the main, specific, targets, were his family - his mother and grandmother - with other deaths being quite random as he simply pointed and pulled the trigger.

I write all this because it is important not to jump the gun on this case, and make of it more than it is. Is it the case that a young man, a young white man, in a part of the country with deep roots in race-hatred, through a combination of mental illness and other factors felt himself to be of no worth, a "nigger redneck" as you called him? Perhaps.

Or perhaps not.

How do you explain, then, the shooting rampage at a school in Germany the same day that left 15 dead? Columbine redivivus? Remember that Newt Gingrich insisted the Columbine massacre was a direct result of liberal education policy. To turn around and, without any evidence at all, say that Michael McLendon killed 10 people and then himself because he thought of himself a redneck is a gross mischaracterization even of the available facts. His victims, and even he, needs to be honored by the truth, not reduced to an example others highlight to prove some point.
Ya know, that assumption might be a case of guilt by geographical association. I get it all the time, some variation of "Okie!"

Re, "Gingrich insisted the Columbine massacre was a direct result of liberal education..."

I heard today that Glenn Beck said the same thing about the Alabama shooting. Not liberal education, but just "liberals."
What Fool, Redneck or otherwise, would really do business with a bank with that name. I want my money taken care of by somebody who knows what they are doing.

This bank looks more like the remnant die hard kamikaze conservatives that would rather take America down in flames rather let the Liberals and Blacks succeed.

As such it is racist, not because it says "Redneck", but like the term "Nigger Lover" it is a message by a white about a white which is a double negative racist slur. It is saying if you are a Redneck (not a liberal, black, or educated) you can trust us cause we aren't liberal, black, or educated. So it becomes a white to white racist identity term. In addition it to being a class statement.

As I said though what fool would put their money there? Well, about 20% of the white population perhaps. But how do we know that some con-artist isn't using hate to steal the money of the haters.

As has been said above. A word is only negative if the speaker and/or the hearer perceives it as such.

Homoousious and Homoiousious were antithetical curses and slurs between Christians in the fifth century. Hundreds of thousands (maybe more) of people died because the "Homoousious Christians" hated the "Homoiousious Christians" and vice versa to the point of killing each other. What's in a word? What ever we fill it with.

Now damn you to hell you Homoousious guys you!
A pertinent point, drlobojo. The source of the phrase, "It doesn't make an iota of difference".
"... Michael McLendon was doing well at the sausage factory where he worked, was even described as a 'team leader.'"

Yeah. That ought to make anybody in their right mind happy.

Bigger Thomas had a great job, too, for his place and time and race. Driving around the rich white family, the daughter and boyfriend making nice, chummy overtures. He ends up accidentally (sort of) killing the daughter.

Speaking of family, Bigger raped and killed his girlfriend and threw her down a chute.

Bigger, to Max his lawyer, begins to think out loud for the first time about the pieces that were not available to him as thought before and begins to talk about identity being destiny. He was made a nigger by the world, he says, and had no better option than to fulfill the world's expectations. His poverty choked the breadth of his future horizon down to an alleyway. Franz Fanon says that, " "In the end, Bigger Thomas acts. To put an end to his tension, he acts, he responds to the world's anticipation." (Black Skin White Masks)

But, then, since we are not interpreting the communal experience of Alabama via this one white boy, we will have to throw away Wright, Fanon, and thousands of volumes of novels and sociological analysis regarding the hood, the barrio, Chinatown, the dust bowl.

Or is it that white craziness comes clean, individuated? Non-communal? Non-cultured?

There is no racial implication in white behavior. The white individual is endowed with individuality by...

Again, I am not saying "redneck" is a pathological term, necessarily, much less a precise term at all, as we all have been saying. ER is not a red redneck, he just plays one on his blog.

But what I am hunting at this juncture is a way in which it may be used, in one sense only but vaguely multivalent in that sense, as a euphemistic sociological nickname for certain geographic regions of poverty, isolation, and lack of access. There may be, generally speaking, consequences for education level, psychological development, and, therefore, complexity of moral reasoning for the population living and getting by in these regions.

Ask Dr ER about the correlate between demographic poverty and mental illness. Ask Dr ER about the correlate between demographic poverty and untreated mental illness.

Other regions have other nicknames. On Long Island in the early nineties, commentators were wondering what was seriously wrong in the water. Mid-Island was experiencing a rash of secret sex dungeons in cellars, train shootings, and Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher. An island of 7 million people cut off from the US but for one bridge to New England and one bridge to the rest of the nation.

It was a puzzle.

Upon further thought, some possibilities arose. Among them, many Longuylanders were a half generation removed from being pushed out of the outer neighborhoods of Brooklyn (Canarsie, Flatbush, Marine Park, Midwood, Dyker Heights, etc) by immigrant West Indians and Asians. While housing was a boom, the sociopolitical institutions were based on smaller sized communities and had not yet ramped up to population growth. The schools were old school. The politics old school. Jews and Blacks in Queens and Brooklyn cut them off from the city.

Stagnation. A kind of resource poverty.

GKS asks about Tim Kretschmer. I'm afraid I don't know German suburbia that well. And I am not saying that every, or even most, shootings have an economic/cultural determinant.

[But Mr. Ketschmer's father was a gun club member and had a number of guns in the house locked up -- except for the pistol that was used to kill 16. In 2002, Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, was a licensed member of a gun club and killed 12 in Erfurt, Germany. Whereupon Germany raised the age of licensure from 18 to 21.]

But some thinking has been done for a long time about cultural isolation and resource poverty.

Does redneck, real redneck regions where legislators expunge prayers, rage against science, dismiss ecological dangers, arise sui generis? And does it not have an effect through time on the psychological and intellectual, therefore moral, development of the young?

Let's ask DrLBJ about geographic determinism.

But let's not ask Dr LBJ about late antiquity. He's read someone/s who is too much a knowing or unknowing disciple of Gibbon, that brilliant, church-hating father of modern classical history.
With all due respect to you Feodor, you completely missed my point. I am not suggesting there were not socio-racial-economic factors in Michael McLendon's rampage. The simple reality is - no one knows why he snapped and started killing people. No. One. Knows.

To speculate beyond the merest surmises - mental illness - seems to me to do no justice at all to the necessity for real understanding. Using literature as a tool for understanding reality is certainly necessary, yet speculation without facts is meaningless.

One witness to the tragic events in southeastern Alabama said that McLendon took his reasons to the grave with him, and in all likelihood that will remain the case. Since he targeted his family first, and the rest of the deaths (save his own) were quite random, the lists of names of people found at his home is of little help at all in unraveling the puzzle. At least the Alabama Bureau of Investigation has ruled it out.

My point is simple, really. Was Michael McLendon a "redneck"? I really don't know. Did he consider himself beat down by life, society? No one knows, although quitting a job he was both good at, and at a place of employment where he was respected, is certainly an indication of some kind of depression . . . perhaps. Again, we don't know.

To simply draw all sorts of conclusions concerning the role of race, class, even the current economic situation makes no sense absent any information. There are enough cases of real racially and socio-economically motivated violence, with all sorts of evidence (the pair of white supremacists who were targeting Obama this summer seems a nice place to start, even though prosecutors in Colorado seem unwilling to consider race as a motivating factor in their plans).

This case - the Alabama shooting - is not a type, an example of all sorts of racial or socio-economic trends from which we can draw conclusions. It is an event, a unique situation, bloodied by the bodies strewn across southern Alabama. Should evidence be found that race, economic hardship, or marginalized social status - compounded by some kind of acute mental breakdown - played a role in this event, I will without a doubt listen to all sorts of ways this event fits in to larger issues and trends.

Right now, though, there are no facts, no reasons, just a whole lot of dead bodies, some chosen and some not. The victims, and even McLendon himself, deserve more than to be relegated to points in a larger argument about race, class, and America.
“The victims, and even McLendon himself, deserve more than to be relegated to points in a larger argument about race, class, and America.”

Sure, I’ll wait for you while you do whatever you seem to be able to do to honor their memory (you going to the funeral?) and put your trust in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to give us a thoroughly reasoned critical analysis of the factors that contributed to Mr. McLendon’s snapped brain while the community sat on the porch unaware. (Oddly, you do an about face and infer distrust in Colorado prosecutors).

I know you are right. Coming, as we do, from those same porches we see in the video interviews. The same porches some in our family sit on each night in the northern tier of PA or Texas.

I’ll wait for a few days since you have some catching up to do. I’ll even start you off with some helpful reminders, beginning with the Brooklyn murder I mentioned earlier, so you can spend some hours in prayer.

- Brooklyn beating and killing of Ecuadorian, Jose Sucuzhanay for hugging his brother on a cold night as they left a church party – allegedly killed by Keith Phoenix and Hakim Scott
- 27 Chicago teens shot and killed in the last year including: Arthur Tyler (16), Kiyanna Salter (17), Sameere Conn (13), Brian Murdock (15), Julian King (7), Johnny Edwards (12), Raheem "Chiko" Washington (15), Johnel Ford (17), Kendrick and Carnell Pitts (17 and 18), Franco Avila (17)
- Five Philadelphia Police Officers killed in the last ten months: John Pawlowski, Timothy Simpson, Patrick McDonald, Isabel Nazario, and Stephen Liczinski.
- Double homicide in Weleetka Oklahoma of Taylor Paschal-Placker (13) and Skyla Whitaker (11).
- Timothy John Murphy, Oklahoma City – allegedly killed by Clifford Howell, Christopher Tillack and Darren Hipp

Where do we stop?
Re, "As such it is racist, not because it says "Redneck", but like the term "Nigger Lover" it is a message by a white about a white ..."

Now wait a cotton-picking* minute.

DrLoboJo, by that definition, the name of this blog is racist. But it's not. So I don't follow you.

(The word verification is chawingl.) Hoot.
We stop making sweeping judgments about events absent facts.

Do I do an about-face? Only if one considers, again, the facts of the matters in question. In the case of the Alabama murders, we have an on-going investigation with very little factual information to its credit (at least none I have been able to find in on-line press accounts). In the other, the Colorado prosecutors are ignoring a wealth of easily-available material that could persuade anyone with a brain larger than a walnut that the two jokers were more than meth-heads bent on making their mark, but racists intent on killing as many people of color as possible, ending with then-candidate Obama. They choose to ignore it, even though it's there.

As for what I will be doing about this situation? I will certainly be in prayer for the victims' families and the communities effected by the carnage. As a member of a connectional church, money I give on Sunday will go to do all sorts of things to help those so effected. I will also wait before passing any sorts of judgment upon Michael McLendon, his possible motives, or even his place in the community, beyond the testimony already available - he was a nice, quiet young man (aren't they always?).

One of the examples you give - two Salvadoran men murdered in an apparent hate crime by some African-American men. Again, the facts of the case are well known, what motivated the men to act as they did and so forth. One can make all sorts of larger points - about the work needed to raise awareness of homo-hatred among African-Americans; the "divide and conquer" approach among disenfranchised groups by those who hold power, who are the only ones who gain from perpetuating hatred and fear between blacks and gays (and, in this case, adding in the cultural ignorance as to why two young men who are not gay might be holding hands in public) - precisely because all sorts of facts are available.

In the McLendon case, once again, there are none. Just a whole lot of dead, for reasons the shooter has not seen fit to divulge posthumously.

Do you see the difference?

I used the term in a newspaper colukn once and my editor, a Kansas City guy, came close to accusing me of using racist language. Well, no. As DrLoboJo can personally attest, white people picked cotton, too. It's a Souher reference, but not a racist reference.
Are you race based, ER? How could you be otherwise?

Should a bank be so? If a bank cannot stand out in the sun and get it's neck burnt from working, then it must be the customers of the bank. Whites only.

Now if I took DrLBJs example as the title of my blog, it would be correct in rather brutishly gross attempt at subversive humor.

But your Redneck gets a pass.

Because it is self-referent alone. It is self-play and, not unimportantly, mitigated conditionally by adding the unexpected adjective, Erudite.

The other example would be a self-referent by objectifying the other. The Bank does this latter implicitly.
Ecuadorian, Mr. Facts, and the other brother was not killed.

But I'll wait.

Uno. You went from assuming that the Alabaman was a redneck because of the environs from which he sprang to a list of different murders in different places, and you lost me.

Two-o. As host, and, as such, moderator, I want to point out that this ...

"I’ll wait for a few days since you have some catching up to do. ... so you can spend some hours in prayer."

... is where you go off track, which means you start wasting steam for what you are trying to get across.

There's no reason for it. It's not just a matter of you not adorning your words with faux Southern chivalry and careful use of language to avoid offense (arguably, in the day, a way of sidestepping violence) -- it's just rude.

This has been a good, solid discussion so far -- which surprises me, since it's an explosive topic -- and I'd like to keep it that way.
Feodor: Thanks for helping me see the difference.

I guess I'm a former, or ex-redneck, truth be told. Which is sort of what "erudite redneck" suggests.

The context of our conversation is redneck, not Mr. McLendon. I'm extrapolating, sure. That would be how a conversation goes regarding an abstract notion.


If GKS wants to take a solidly sceptic position regarding abstract conversations, he can bow out.


When will we know that there are no longer any facts to come out? If we wait only for some, how do we adjudicate what comprises the some? Surely we will can know much more about Mr. McLendon in a year than we will in a month. Do we wait? Who give the OK?


Google Mr. McLendon. How many hits?
Google the five Philadelphia officers. How many hits?

Now Google Raheem "Chiko" Washington.

Facts in the media are those that get attention.


GKS gets us off track from a generalized abstract discussion by asking the impossible, and the contradictory.

So I made plain the inferences of his request to stop a larger conversation while the hearses roll by in Alabama.

Hearses are rolling all over this land every minute of the day.

Why, for us here, is Mr. McLendon, his family, and the others to get this meaningless kind of respect?
If a blog is not the place for intellectual discussion, ER, how less is it a place for real, actual respect for the individuals presented in news videos or listed in printed obituaries?

It's a red herring with maudlin motivations.
I ask the impossible and contradictory? It was you who raised the McLendon case as an example of a redneck run off the rails of life, without any facts to back up that insistence. All I asked was wait until we find out more.

That's all.

As to the Ecuadoran error, mea culpa. Not a huge mistake, though, so get over it.

On the issue of reneckery, or lack thereof, it seems to me that, to repeat what I said above, both ER and Feodor make important points, even if they may seem to be contradictory.

Finally, it seems the facts of the matter in re Mr. McLendon's murder spree were laid out by the ABI on Thursday night (it helped to go to the website of an Alabama television station . . .). It seems there was a confession of depression, specifically regarding his getting booted out of the Marines (for lying) and failing to become a state police officer. It also seems his family was targeted because of a dispute over the ownership of a family Bible.

I guess I'll wait for any further comments on this specific situation in light of these facts. And, I happen to think there is some pertinence - although in a more roundabout way (guilt by geographic association being part of it).
I have no maudlin motivations in this case. I only have the motivation of waiting until we find out all the available facts - or at least accessible facts - before we start to generalize because of a specific event.

I fail to see why that is difficult to either understand or do.
Re, "If a blog is not the place for intellectual discussion ..."

Huh? Cuss and discuss all you like! Attack opinions and ideas all you like! Parry! Thrust! Trip even.

It's the snidery that causes great discussions to derail into what usually is the bread-and-butter of Them Other Blogs.

It's like when I was a bouncer. We didn't wait until fights started to break 'em up. If voices turned louder than the regular din, or angry all of a sudden, we'd go right up to the table, or the parties, to see if they were fixin' to bust out into a brawl. To nip it. That's all I'm trying to do here, sort of.
Thank god for the Alabama Bureau of Investigations because I can't count any higher in Spanish and spell it correctly.

My faith in the ABI is restored. I would have thought they'd find Michael Moore's Sicko sent the the boy over the side. My dialectical expectation is left in tatters.

As for the tragedy, it was part of a night's conversation on Thursday (?) along with the Illinois shooting last Sunday and Germany. No answers.

And I concede to GKS's intuition that my reference to McLendon was not going to get us very far down the road. It was more impressionistic use than anything.

But the issue of facts from news and online minute of silence don't make sense to me.

How often have I heard about the thousands of hours given to Natalee Holloway (and white Alabaman seniors who "traditionally" party for Spring Break in Aruban bars thinking they are being exotic) or every white girl abducted in Florida...

and the roaring vacuum of time for the hundreds of black or brown or asian girls missing.

So what do we have?

ER is not really a redneck. I wear boots in NY which means I'm a Texan in my symbology but I'm not a cowboy.

Mr McLendon may or may not really be a redneck who's left a ripped and confused heart of a community behind. And mental illness makes use of hurt and anger and deprivation.

A Redneck eBank that is implicitly --whether conscious or not -- marketing itself as race based.

And a redneck New York Texan who overthinks too loudly?
Re, "And a redneck New York Texan who overthinks too loudly?"

My brother and my friend.

(!! The word verification is "stable," cowboy.)
"If a blog is not the place for intellectual discussion..."

If this discussion is any indication .... it is not.

D*ck waving? Yes. Intellectual discussion? Not a chance.
This is now the second time Alan has mentioned this. Is he beginning to stereotype himself?

He seems to have an allergy to intellectual discussion anyway.
yeah, it's classist at first.. but following our past 8 years of division and political wankery (technical term), redneck gets lumped into the KKK, Religious Right, and many other not so nice things in my suburban liberal circles.

funny thing is, i grew up Redneck. S.E. Ohio, appalachia represent! what?! what?!
I'll be danged. Cuz!

(Feodor and I are kinner that he wants to admit, I'll bet.) :-)
When you get fed up with me, you keep reminding me that blogs are limited in ability to carry discourse.

But look, without a handshake or even a glance, we have become as kith as two Irishmen meeting regularly in a bar for six months, with even fights to deepen our past.

Perhaps we represent for each other a different, alternately rich road among that certain number possible at our similarly cultured birth.

And, in Christ, particularly as you and I in the flesh now understand the message of the Christ... we are most certainly kin.
Sure enough.
"He seems to have an allergy to intellectual discussion anyway."

Nah, I just find pontification masquerading as "intellectual" tiresome. I'll be happy to have an intellectual conversation, when one presents itself.

Though it may be news to some, about a zillion banks in this country just bilked millions of people out of close to a zillion dollars.

And you're worried about the name of one bank? LOL. Wow.

Either this bank is just as crooked as the rest of the banks in this country, which means that the name really should be the least of anyone's concerns, or, it's one of the few honest financial institutions in the country, in which case its name is hardly a problem, given the current economic crisis.

Straining at gnats isn't what I call "intellectual."

Is "dilettantism" a word? I'm not enough of an "intellectual" to know. ;) Now I know that ER likes to poke people with sticks, and I find it as amusing as anyone, but I don't mistake that for "intellectual" discussion. ;)
Alan calls all us of pontificating dilettantes. Can't deny that. ER often says this is the limit of blog posting.

But Alan then, jeopardizing his right to opinion, puts himself in the place of the judge of what is intellectual.

All while his blog covers Battleship Gallactica (?) and what he had for breakfast.

Any wonder his appearances are mere sarcastic and passive titillations? The quality matches the grasp.

The bitching matches the ability.

Feodor criticizes my critique by critiquing my blog, which apparently, one isn't supposed to do.

Gotta love the contradiction.

I was simply pointing out that these so-called intellectual discussions often seem to miss the forest for the trees.

BTW, I wasn't calling everyone commenting here dilettantes. Just you, Feodor. I know that, given the voluminous nature of your comments, you probably have difficulty keeping track of what you write, but I was responding directly to one of your comments about "intellectual dialogue."

Yes, yes, I'm too stoopid to understand your cleverness. LOL. Your brain is just too hoog! ;)

Like I said, d*ck waving. Thanks for proving me right.
BTW, I know it's probably below you, but since I argue that blogs aren't really capable of sustaining intellectual discussion, it isn't clear to me why you'd be surprised that I don't attempt to do so on my own blog.

Try to keep up, kitten. ;)
"The bitching matches the ability."

LOL. Well then I must be bloody brilliant!
Alan, not being able to find his reading glasses, doesn't see I accept his criticism of our discussion but point out his move from criticism to self-coronation.

His interest in fashion wear distracts him.

He claims to believe that this thread has nothing to offer. And yet here he is.

Again and again and again. Reading... but saying nothing a nine year can't say.

I agreed to dilettantism. I also confess to knowing that it is indeed a word.

Can he confess that keeping up with him is really just sitting down and wishing the ice cream truck would come down our street?
F:"But let's not ask Dr LBJ about late antiquity. He's read someone/s who is too much a knowing or unknowing disciple of Gibbon, that brilliant, church-hating father of modern classical history."

Not really, most of that knowledge came out of studying Alexandria and it's influence over time. But I do confess I don't have much love for the Church, or the church, or anything like it.
Yes that iota of difference caused a lot of problems did it not?
LOL. Kitty's got claws.

Well, if you're not interested in an intellectual discussion and/or honest disagreement about the importance of your issues vs. the importance of real issues that affect real people, then I guess I can understand why you so rapidly descend to bitchy insults when someone offers a critique.

I guess that's what qualifies as "intellectual." Sure, perhaps I'm using my own definition of what I consider "intellectual", but I'm pretty sure that your bitchy insults don't count. Alas, it seems you're unable to model "intellectual" behavior instead of recycled Golden Girl quotes.

One honest critique and you immediately descend to the level you keep saying I'm at.

So what does that make you, kiddo? ;)
Alan, nothing you say is honest because nothing you say is ever positively put from your own opinion.

You hide. You show nothing, risk nothing

Unless, of course, the post is about cats. Then you're johnny on the spot.

For whatever that's worth.

Your pet, GKS, on the other hand, finds this thread so engrossing that he's posted a truncated note on it at his own blog.

You two are peas in a latent pod.
LOL. This is becoming white noise. Or, like the sound of plugs sparking, or whatever it is in an AM car radio. Lordy me.
I want to hear more about Alexandria, Athanasius, and violence ensuing from DrLBJ.

At least that would shut Alan up.
But I guess that would be triangulation.

And that word probably shuts Alan up, too.

We could talk about Belgian waffles or the novel, Twilight. Then he could join in.
That would be the emoticon, or "smiley," if you will, for "rolling my eyes."



(Just learned it.)
Looks like Magilla.
Sorry, I forgot the rules of the game: Don't dare disagree with Feodor, or he goes nuclear. LOL

8-| indeed.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan, like I said, your habit is not to disagree. You never provide enough of yourself that could amount to disagreement.

You stick your tongue out as you ride by and then keep peddling.

Would that you would participate.
Yup, I did. I made my point. Sorry you missed it.

(Sticking out tongue.)


(Rolling eyes and sticking out tongue.)

Lord Shrewsbury, Magdalen College, Oxford, with a feather in his fez, smoking a pipe, bored and waiting for the bourgeoisie to get on with it.
F: "I want to hear more about Alexandria, Athanasius, and violence ensuing from DrLBJ."

Naw, you don't. That would mean we would have to start digging into and disecting those two homo-i-o-christian concepts down to their origins in Ayran vs. Egyptian death/resurection and/or physical god concepts and that is far too esoteric for this place and I have only the interested amature's knowledge of the connections anyway.

The Arian vs. Orthodox military battles are a matter of history however (Gibbon's or otherwise).
So is the Methodist vs. Islamofascist war, but religion is not really what its about, is it?
Re, "Lord Shrewsbury, Magdalen College, Oxford, with a feather in his fez, smoking a pipe, bored and waiting for the bourgeoisie to get on with it."

LOL -- cool.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?