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The South
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Kevin Drum links to a Democratic strategist who makes a profound point - one the Democrats really need to take to heart...
SouthNow: What’s the prescription for Democrats?

Mudcat: There’s only one precription and that’s tolerance. I’m a white, southern male who hunts. I’m a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has two black members, by the way. I don’t know how many northern Democrats who have tolerance for my kind.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, we don’t say the wrong side won the [Civil] War. Everybody knows slavery was wrong. We say give us our culture.
Before I give the strategist a "huzzah!", let me point out what he's not saying. He's not making the argument that Digby rebuts...



Contra Digby, nobody is arguing that the Left doesn't tolerate "people from the South". Obviously, Clinton and Carter would put the lie to that notion. The problem is much deeper - the problem is one of respect.

It is not, as Digby claims, that Southerners expect everybody else to be like them. They don't. In fact, much of the South takes great joy in pointing out the differences, even amongst themselves. Examples:



I digress, but the point is that there is a great deal of regional pride in the South - both general and specific. And after decades of being portrayed in the media, literature and broad culture as backward, sub-literate, yokels, there's also a great deal of distrust directed at those (perceived as) dismissive of Southern culture.

That doesn't mean Southerners will only vote for NASCAR-lovin', beer-drinking, Hee-Haw-lovin', cowboy-boot wearin', truck-drivin', deer-huntin' Fundamentalist Christian hillbillies. But it does mean they won't vote for people whose view of the Southern voter is limited to patronizing stereotypes like that.

Some Southerners like NASCAR, beer, hunting, etc. Similarly, some Northerners drink latte's, eat Sushi, drive Volvos, read the NYTimes, and enjoy Hollywood movies. But when you reduce such incidents of culture down to, oh let's just say..."latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show"....

...well, the subjects of such abuse tend to get a bit defensive.

Southern voters don't require Southerners. But they do tend to vote against candidates -- and Parties -- whose views of the South amount to the patronizing reductionism of "race, guns, God and gays".

Case in Point: During the campaign season, Howard Dean said "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks", which was followed by a week of genuflecting to the appropriate Scolds for mentioning the Confederate flag. Which was then followed by another week of debate over whether Democrats should even speak to Confederate flag owners. After awhile it was pretty well decided that the Confederate Flag wasn't really all that different from a KKK decal, and the whole thing was forgotten.

Except, of course, by voters in the South.

You see, while [Confederate flag = racism] is common knowledge among many Democrats and non-Southerners, it comes as a surprise to many Southerners, who grew up around the flag, and yet somehow missed out on the whole "it means you hate black people" angle.

I'm one of those people. I grew up in Georgia, where the Confederate Flag adorned trucks, bumpers, shirts, and--yes, on rare occassions--even flagpoles. In the South, it's simply a regional symbol. Owning a Confederate flag in the South is no more intrinsically racist than following a sports team -- the Washington Redskins -- whose name has racial connotations. And yet, Democrats manage to do that without ritualistic self-flagellation.

And don't even get me started on how patronizing the whole "Jesusland" thing that Democrats have been waving is.

Until Democrats learn to deal with Southerners with esteem, as opposed to curiousity -- until Democrats learn to address Southerners as equals, and not as curious artifacts of a distant culture -- the Democratic Party is just going to have to accept that Southerners don't respect them any more than they respect Southerners.
 
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Good post John. Your point about the Confederate flag is very much my experience. I was born outside of Boston and moved to the moutains of North Carolina as a kid. One of the first things I did was go out and get a ’Rebel’ flag. I kept that flag on my wall as my way of saying ’I gave up my Yankee roots’. Later in life I moved back up north and kept the flag on my wall. And everyone thought I was a racist pig. They never asked or found out that I have friends of all colors and creeds in NC. It got so bad I finally took the flag down. Somewhere in storage it still sits. But no one up north ever really got the point I was trying to make. I was proud of (most of) the culture of the south. "Slow down. Be polite. Relax. Enjoy college football. Drink sweet tea. Say ’sir’ and ’maam’"

I live in Atlanta now. Not quite the south I grew up in, but a good place to raise a family. And still very much misunderstood by my friends and family up north. The Democrats have their work cut out -
 
Written By: Chaz Nugent
URL: http://
When the South stops contributing to the stereotype, Northerners will quit buying into it.

Case in point: The recent vote in Alabama to remove segregationist language from the state constitution. The measure to remove the language went down to defeat. In the aftermath, there were many lame attempts to justify the defeat of the measure. But none passed the laugh test. Most were premised on the notion that the voters did not understand the implications of the measure. (Talk about patronizing.)

This wasn’t about the Confederate flag, or the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, or honoring Civil War generals. It was not an issue about Souuthern culture. It was flagrantly racist language in a document that is the law of Alabama - nothing more, nothing less. And yet, a majority of the voters decided that it was better to leave it in than throw it out.

Jon says:
And after decades of being portrayed in the media, literature and broad culture as backward, sub-literate, yokels, there’s also a great deal of distrust directed at those (perceived as) dismissive of Southern culture.
This is exactly what I’m talking about. No one in the media potrayed Alabama as backwards. It was the voters who did that. Southerners should stop blaming the media for how others view them. They have no one to blame but themselves.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
When the South stops contributing to the stereotype, Northerners will quit buying into it.
When liberals stop contributing to the Democratic stereotype, the Southerners will stop buying into it.
Case in point: The recent vote in Alabama to remove segregationist language from the state constitution. [...] t was flagrantly racist language in a document that is the law of Alabama - nothing more, nothing less. And yet, a majority of the voters decided that it was better to leave it in than throw it out.
And do you know why so many people voted that way? Whatever you think of the merits of that reason, there was a reason for such a vote that didn’t rests on racism. But I very seriously doubt that you are even aware that there is another side. Because, you know, it’s just those racist rednecks and their stereotyping behaviour.

If you’re interested, I’ll tell you why. I suspect that--despite your ignorance--you’re already convinced that it’s racism.
No one in the media potrayed Alabama as backwards.
You’re kidding? Are you seriously suggesting that Alabama -- and the South, in general -- is not consistently portrayed as backward, undeducated, etc? Movies still haven’t managed to get beyond the "aw shucks, gomer" southern accent, and that’s just the tip of the very deep iceberg.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Leave it to mkultra to prove the point of the post! He conveniently ignores the major reasons for Alabama’s no vote and naturally assumes it was due to racism. Opponents (mkultra’s racists) supported changing the state constitution by removing the part about separate schools for "white and colored children," BUT they didn’t want the additional change mandating a right to an education and the inevitable tax increases it would require. Were Alabama voters being racist or were they worried about a poorly worded amendment that would increase governmental involvment and taxation? We know what race baiters like mkultra think.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
The purported reason was that they thought their taxes would be raised. But there simply was no rational basis for believing that. None. Zip. Nada.

And like I said, you really have to believe that the voters of Alabama were stupid if you contend that they thought a yes vote would raise their taxes.

From Business Alabama:
Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who noted it was unusual for him and the GOP governor to be on the same side, questioned why opposition did not surface until just before the amendment went to the voters. Why, Sanders asked, if tax concerns were the overriding issue, did the amendment pass the state House on a 91-0 vote and by a 29-0 vote in the Senate? And why, Sanders also asked, did opponents remain silent for the 17 months from the Legislature’s approval and the amendment landing on the 2004 general election ballot? Sanders suggested opponents used the tax issue as a straw man to sidestep the race aspect. “Race is still a powerful factor in our society,” the black senator wrote for the AEA’s Alabama School Journal, “but it is not respectable to openly oppose a constitutional amendment on the basis of race.”
If the tax argument had ANY legs, don’t you think the Republicans in the House and Senate would have voted against it? But not ONE did. Not one. It was a BS argument.

Try again.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
MK you need to keep up:
The state Senate is ready for another statewide referendum on whether to remove segregation-era language from Alabama’s constitution, but this time it would include a new provision designed to guard against tax increases.

The Senate voted 32-0 Tuesday for a proposed constitutional amendment that was very similar to Amendment Two, which Alabama voters narrowly rejected in the general election Nov. 2.

Amendment Two would have removed outdated language from Alabama’s constitution that called for segregated schools and poll taxes. It also would have removed language — put in the state constitution in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1954 school desegregation ruling — that said there is no constitutional right to an education at public expense in Alabama.

Critics of Amendment Two, including former Chief Justice Roy Moore, said the last part of the amendment could open the door to the courts ordering new spending for public schools and could lead to higher taxes. Their side won by 1,846 votes out of 1.3 million cast on Amendment Two.

The new version approved by the Senate says, "Nothing in this amendment, or in the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, shall be interpreted by any judicial authority to require an increase in taxation."

Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, voted for the new version, along with most Republicans in the Senate, because he said the new language guards against court-ordered taxation.

"That clears up the concern we had," he said
.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
As has been pointed out, there was reason to believe that such a poorly worded bill would open Alabama up to legal problems they did not wish to have. And since the racist wording in the Constitution was null and void -- utterly inoperative and incapable of affecting the state -- its removal in that way presented more problems than it solved. At least, that’s the way they saw it.

But you are willing to jump past that and assign motivations of racism. And if that doesn’t, as JWG noted, demonstrate the point of this post, I’m not sure what would. You’re like a case-study in ironic self-unawareness.

Here I am, giving you books, and you just chew on the covers. And you guys wonder why Democrats have trouble in the South.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No one in the media potrayed Alabama as backwards.
Take a look at how newspapers covered the Alabama vote. Their headlines portray Alabama as clinging to segregation (even though their schools are legally integrated), and they all mention George Wallace in the beginning paragraph. Hmmm, what would ever give me the impression that Alabama is no different now than 40 years ago? Oh, maybe the opposition’s arguments buried deep within the articles.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
If the tax argument had ANY legs, don’t you think the Republicans in the House and Senate would have voted against it? But not ONE did. Not one. It was a BS argument.
The Patriot Act of 2001 passed the senate 98-1. So does mkultra think there are no arguments to be made against it? Perhaps it would be better to use a different criteria to judge the merits of an argument.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Good point, JWG. The fact is that like most legislation that passes any legislature anywhere, most read a summary (rarely do they read the bill) and vote according to how the summary of the bill is worded.

It wasn’t until well into the campaign season that someone raised the question of what the amendment actually portended. While it was true that it might not have been interpreted in the way those opposed characterized it, the possibility did indeed exist it could be interpreted that way. In tax shy Alabama, that was enough to send it to defeat.

The new bill, which I highlighted above, closes that possibility forever. That’s how this stuff is supposed to work, for heaven sake, but in the case of many in the north and MK in particular, they take an example of how the system worked well and answered the citizen’s concerns and characterize it as some sort of nonsensical racist overreaction by a bunch of snaggle tooth, rebel flag waving, shoeless rednecks as a vote to keep the black man down ... making Jon’s point better than he could.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Atlanta and Charlotte are merely within the South, and not necessarily a part of it.

So Southerners, can I continue to make fun of Atlanta? Because I can’t stand Braves fans :)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
If a black man and leader from Alabama (Hank Sanders) says that race is still a powerful force in his society, I’m going to listen to him. If you don’t think he is qualified to speak on the subject, I would love to hear your reasons why. I can’t wait for the answers.

I’m not from the South. The complaint is that Northerners don’t listen. I am listening. I hear a black elected official say that race is still a powerful force in his society. So why shouldn’t I believe him?

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Hey hey hey! I’m Southern, damn ya’ll and I’m from the suburbs of Atlanta. Marietta and Lawrenceville, to be specific.

I’m not ashamed of my heritage, but I did work hard to lose my accent because of the stereotypes of southerners as hicks. However, you slip a few sweet teas in my and put me in the same room with my mama and you’ll hear my accent pour out like runny grits.

And mk must love me. Southern, Proud, and not really white!
I hear a black elected official say that race is still a powerful force in his society. So why shouldn’t I believe him?
Wow. One person is all it takes to convince you of something? You’re dumber than you appear. OJ’s defence said his race was why they were prosecuting him. I take it you believed that too!
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
If a black man and leader from Alabama (Hank Sanders) says that race is still a powerful force in his society, I’m going to listen to him. If you don’t think he is qualified to speak on the subject, I would love to hear your reasons why. I can’t wait for the answers.

"The bible said it, I believe it and that settles it".

Cool, MK ... you’re a secular bible thumper.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
...Lawrenceville, to be specific.

Small world ... lived there for 20 years. Live in Dacula now.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Actually I like the "Jesusland" appellation. Then again, I maintain a house in one of the hearts of Jesusland - Lynchburg, VA, lived for a few years in the other heart of Jesusland - Nashville, and was raised by Southern Baptist deacons...

But then again, I recognize that not every one in the South has my background and might not like being lumped into my crowd...
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://www.polyscifi.blogspot.com
Frankly, I would argue two things: 1) that racism still exists, and people are aware of that....and 2) that race is still a powerful force, because it motivates people in political ways. Case in point: Jesss Jackson and Al Sharpton, who use the race card as a political wedge.

In the South, there’s a great deal of "us against them" that is absolutely created by black leaders. (or, in the case of David Duke, white leaders) It’s one of the more disgusting aspects of politics, in my opinion. Here’s an example:

I live in the Richmond area now, and we had a long battle over whether the city should have a popularly elected Mayor, or one appointed by the City Council. The population of the city was *very* in favor of direct elections - to the order of something like 2/3rds. Ad yet, it was held up for years. It was held up because the city councilmembers from the predominantly black areas absolutely *refused* to consider a popular election for the mayor unless there were restrictions - no mayor could be elected without carrying at least one black district, regardless of the vote total.

Eventually, a referendum was forced and the city was able to vote. And they voted -- black and white voters -- in overwhelming numbers for Doug Wilder....who is black. The second place candidate was Rudy McCollum...who is black. In a city that is only 30% black, two black men were 1 and 2 in the Mayoral voting -- and third place was insignificant -- yet there’s still a seige mentality that "the whites will take us over". That is, I think, largely a function of the demagoguery from the leaders on the city council, and not the result of overt racism.

Or another: In Chesterfield county--where I live--the school superintendent decided that, after missing a lot of days due to weather, the students were just going to have to forgo some holidays. He rescinded the MLK day holiday. The black community went nuts, calling it racism. That lasted a day or so, until it was pointed out that the school superintendent is black.

The point is that "race" is a problem...but it’s also a "go to" power play, and many leaders know all too well how to use it.

The larger point is that a guy saying "race is an issue" does not constitute "backward, truck-drivin’, KKK-lovin’ rednecks", which is the default position of the Democratic Party, when Southern issues come up. (see: confederate flag debate)
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s southerners who refuse to vote for anyone who comes from anywhere else.

Except those two California boys, Nixon and Reagan.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
George H. W. Bush was more closely associated with the Northeast than Texas (yes, I know he was a congressman from Texas, but he was the quintessential Northeast Republican).
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://www.polyscifi.blogspot.com
Nah, they don’t take shots at the south in those mean old northern papers, do they? From the Pittsburg Tribune Review:
"The Heart of Dixie" has no love for sex toys.

Alabama had outlawed the sale of what some call "marital aids." The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to review the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Williams v. Alabama that upholds the 1998 ban.

Sell "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs" and risk a $10,000 fine and a year in jail. A Southern jail.

But selling sexual devices "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose" is permissible.

That is part of the overall ("overalls?") Alabama law.
Wow that’s funny. I laughed till I puked.

Interestingly I didn’t even have to look hard for more. Right in the good old letter’s to the editor, I found the latest edition of "Stereotypes R Us":
Southern fried Rice?

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

In Tom Purcell’s column "President Hillary, first lady Bill" (Feb. 27), Mr. Purcell states he prefers Condi Rice as our first woman president.

As a liberal Democrat, I would suggest going one step further. How about a presidential race between Rice and Mrs. Clinton?

It would be interesting to see if a black could capture the bigoted Southern vote that is such a large part of Bush’s base. This would be a great opportunity to see how loyal the red states are to the Republican Party.

Thomas Spallone
Jeannette
Ain’t that cute.

Keep it up Dems.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Ha! this is so funny. I’m from the south, and just got back from Chicago. In the three days I was there, I had a clerk tell me " nigger" jokes once he heard my southern accent, had my girlfriends family calling me a nigger lover because I supported her daughters refusal to have an abortion because the father is black, and a plummer who was having a cup of coffee after helping us out and out of the blue said that the best part of his job is he can pick and choose where he works so he doesn’t have to work with blacks. But us southerners are the racist. Yea right! There is racism in the south though, it resides in the black wing of the democratic party, the occassional idiot and our older parents.
 
Written By: Wilky
URL: http://
I seem to recall that the last several national leaders of the KKK have been from the North. Specifically, from New England, iirc?
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
As an Alabama voter who reluctantly voted against Amendment Two, I have to say that MKultra’s rather shallow analysis of the situation is all too common. I have seen it cited numerous times in blog comments to demonstrate how racist and bigoted Alabama is, always based on a ridiculous assertion like "...there were many lame attempts to justify the defeat of the measure. But none passed the laugh test."

Actually, very few serious Alabama political commentators believe that anything but the tax implications of Amendment Two was the reason that it went down in defeat. And, being on location here in the state and knowing many, many other people who also reluctantly voted against it for this very reason, I’d have to say those commentators are spot-on.

Why were Alabamians so sensitive to the tax issues? Are we totally irrational? Perhaps this explains it better than I can:
In 1991 Judge Reese (D-Montgomery), in a lawsuit known as "Equity Funding", took over substantial portions of Alabama’s education system . . . even to the point of micromanaging toilet paper quantities and the like (Source: 127 page 2002 Supreme Court Decision that dismissed the Equity Funding suit). In the early 1990s, Judge Reese declared Alabama’s education system unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to address the issue (via whatever measures were necessary: tax increases, revenue shifts, etc.). Amongst other things, the legislature adopted "Equity Funding" measures that took school tax monies from some districts and gave them to other districts.

In 2001, and in furtherance of "equity funding" objectives, then Asst. Alabama Superintendent Joe Morton devised a plan for an additional $1.4 billion in education system expenditures. Further, in 2001-2002, Governor Siegleman ordered proration. The Equity Funding plaintiffs objected to K-12 proration and obtained an order that placed the entire proration burden on non-K-12 education (i.e. – magnifying the proration impact on higher education).

In response to the above activities, the Alabama Supreme Court intervened in 2002. The Supreme Court dismissed the Equity Funding lawsuit. While there were multiple opinions written by various justices (including a dissent that supported Judge Reese), two opinions ordering dismissal of the Equity Funding litigation specifically quoted and relied on the language Amendment 2 seeks to delete.


Sorry for the long quote, but I think it explains exactly why Alabamians were so sensitive to this issue: We had nearly been burned on this before and most saw Amendment Two as a backdoor attempt by certain Dems to accomplish what they could not accomplish through honest means.

 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
So because Howard Dean was perceived as lacking respect for the South, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry were all rejected by Southern voters. OK.
 
Written By: John Dillinger
URL: http://
The Dean incident was an example, John. It was illustrative of a larger disconnect. Do try to keep up.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Just found your very interesting blog, and comments etc. Haven’t had time to read all, so apologies if my point is not germaine.
However, I have found my Southern family members (my roots are Alabama), friends and acquaitances stereotype non-Southerners in the same disrespectful and unfair way that they are constantly complaining the rest of the country does to them.

That’s the thing I notice that is not mentioned here or anywhere else that "Southerners" complain about disrespect towards them-they sure as hell disrespect a lot of the rest of the country, especially those who don’t have the much vaunted southern style "traditional values".

Lord help you if you tell practically any Southerner that you are from NYC or San Francisco....the gay-lovin’, pointy-headed intellectual comments start coming with frustrating predictability.

That said, all the Southerners I encounter are to a large part, very friendly and decent face to face.....
Hope to read more of your interesting site asap.
 
Written By: Commander McJeff
URL: http://
McJeff ... no question, no argument.

But the premise here was that the Dems were somehow going to win back the South and the argument is that it won’t happen unless the predominantly NE Dem leadership drops the stereotypical northern view of the South and begins to treat the region and its people with some respect.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
And like I said, you really have to believe that the voters of Alabama were stupid if you contend that they thought a yes vote would raise their taxes.

Well, they’re southern, right?
 
Written By: jpe
URL: http://lespritdescalier.blogspot.com
So because Howard Dean was perceived as lacking respect for the South, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry were all rejected by Southern voters. OK.

That seems to be the gist of it, and, frankly, it’s not very plausible on its own terms. Hence Digby’s positing of an alternate motive that better captures the facts.
 
Written By: jpe
URL: http://lespritdescalier.blogspot.com
Well, they’re southern, right?

I love it when someone beams in and proves the point of a post.

Thanks.

That seems to be the gist of it, and, frankly, it’s not very plausible on its own terms. Hence Digby’s positing of an alternate motive that better captures the facts.

Which, of course, explains Nixon and Reagan, doesn’t it?

Do you think, prehaps, that maybe it has to do with, oh I don’t know, liberal ideology vs. conservative ideology?

Just a guess.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Brilliant. Since one example cannot explain preceding events, it must be that Southerners are just insecure rubes. And you guys continue to wonder why the South has relatively little respect for the Democratic Part.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Nixon and Reagan were Republicans, as is Bush Sr. Ever since Civil Rights, when faced with a choice between a Republican and a non-Southern Dem, the south has gone in large part for the Republican, no matter how incompetent and/or corrupt. If Howard Dean is "just one example," I am sure you can come up with plenty of others stretching back the last half century.
 
Written By: John Dillinger
URL: http://
Nixon and Reagan were Republicans, as is Bush Sr. Ever since Civil Rights, when faced with a choice between a Republican and a non-Southern Dem, the south has gone in large part for the Republican, no matter how incompetent and/or corrupt.

Incompetence and corruption are not the issue (and are usually in the eye of the beholder’s ideological view) but ideology is. That was the point, John ... they’ve opted for the Republicans because the south is a CONSERVATIVE area and always has been.

Why do you think they used to describe representatives from the south, when it was a Democrat stronghold as "conservative Democrats"? If democrats from the south are largely ideologically conservative, then it stands to reason a region with a conservative history might opt for a southern conservative democrat, but not a northern liberal democrat, huh?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The Howard Dean story was one example, one manifestation, of the Democrats failure to understand and/or respect the Southern culture. Over the decades, among other things, it has manifested itself in their approach to guns. In the South, guns are de rigueur. Something you bring your child up to know about. The Democrats, over the years, have vilified guns, the NRA, etc.

Understand, I don’t just mean "Democrats disagree". That’s an entirely different thing. It’s not disagreement on the margins...it’s the perception that Democrats disrespect the POV and/or fundamentally oppose it. The idea that you can’t merely oppose, for example, abortion on moral grounds....that you are either "pro-choice" or "anti-freedom". When choices are posed in such polarized language -- when opposing views are portrayed in the language of "Evil"...it’s hard to get people to meet you halfway.

Many Southerners view the Democratic Party as Then Enemy precisely because the Democratic Party paints some of their values as intractably unacceptable.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
So basically you are saying that southerners vote ideology unless there is a southern candidate running for President on the Democratic ticket, but those outside the south have swung back and forth regardless of idealogy and geography of the candidate. On behalf of Digby, I thank you for butressing his points.
 
Written By: John Dillinger
URL: http://
So basically you are saying that southerners vote ideology unless there is a southern candidate running for President on the Democratic ticket, but those outside the south have swung back and forth regardless of idealogy and geography of the candidate. On behalf of Digby, I thank you for butressing his points.

John ... is english a second language?

I said they tend to vote conservative regardless of where the candidate is from.

That can be a conservative democrat (Clinton, Carter) or a conservative republican (Nixon, Reagan). The fact that most conservative democrats come from the south is not the fault of the south, its a fact of political life. Run a democrat conservative from the north and they have a shot in the south.

Its that simple.

Got it now?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Neither Clinton nor Carter were conservative as the 3 Republicans they defeated. Stop chasing your tail on this one.
 
Written By: John Dillinger
URL: http://
Hell, I’m not even going into the ideology issue. I’m just pointing out that, so long as Democrats are so transparently dismissive of, and stereotypical about, the South, the South with pay back disrespect with disrespect.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Quit whining, John ... and face the fact that you and Digby are wrong about this.

Carter and Clinton both governed much more conservatively than liberal democrats, and it was their records as Governors which got them initially elected with the south’s support. Both went to a more liberal governance when in office and both lost the support of the south when they did so ... and that’s the point, isn’t it?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
And other than Dean, you can come up with no examples of transparent dismissiveness and being "stereotypical about the South," whatever in God’s name that is. Digby was right. "And the winner for the 50th consecutive year for best portrayal of a victim is the Southern white male"
 
Written By: John Dillinger
URL: http://
And other than Dean, you can come up with no examples of transparent dismissiveness ...

LOL!

Still can’t quite wrap your mind around Jon’s point, can you John?

Amazing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
It’s not a problem of respect. The media is much more guilty of exhibiting a lack of respect for southerners than Democratic candidates. Any perceived lack of respect is more likely a product of the media or the opposition. Even so no matter how much ’respect’ any Democrat pays to southern voters they’re going to vote for candidates based on issues and ideology first and foremost.

Both parties have various issues southerners in general are likely to support or not support. Not only does the Republican ideology match southern values better overall, the Republicans have been much better at emphasizing the issues southerner’s agree with and deemphasizing the ones southerner’s disagree with than the Democrats.

For Democrats to win in the south they need to either change their ideology or find the ’killer’ issue(s) which southerners will vote on despite a better overall compatibility with Republicans. Regional Democrats seem to be able to do this with some success, national Democrats apparently cannot.

Carter beat Ford but lost to Reagan who was much more conservative than the both of them. You can’t view the south using a purely liberal-conservative lens. It’s a combination of issues, each carrying its own level of significance at the time.
 
Written By: jwmullis
URL: http://
And other than Dean, you can come up with no examples of transparent dismissiveness
Actually, I just cited the polarizing language in the abortion and guns debates - an issue which is certainly not unique to the South, but which has a greater impact there. As far as the dismissiveness, check the examples we’ve discussed about the Alabama amendment. Or the Confederate flag issue in South Carolina and Georgia. That would be a start.

I don’t intend to get into a contest wherein I have to keep naming "one more example", though. You don’t think the Democrats are dismissive and disrespectful of Southerners? Very well. I’d argue that some of the dissent in this thread is evidence to the contrary.

I’d also argue that the "White Male Southerners are just insecure" is precisely the sort of arrogant, ridiculous attitude that typifies the Democratic response to which I refer - and from which Southerners recoil. So, let’s let that be your example. Beyond all the others that I named and you missed.

At any rate, the post stands. No skin off my neck if the Democrats want to continue treating the South like the retarded national step-child. They’ll be paid back at the polls for that kind of attitude. But I don’t intend to write books for you guys, just so you can chew on the covers. You can disagree, but "that’s not enough examples!" is not an argument to which I feel compelled to keep responding.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s not a problem of respect. The media is much more guilty of exhibiting a lack of respect for southerners than Democratic candidates. Any perceived lack of respect is more likely a product of the media or the opposition. Even so no matter how much ’respect’ any Democrat pays to southern voters they’re going to vote for candidates based on issues and ideology first and foremost.

Yes. Precisely. History tells us that’s is the way it works.

Not that displaying respect can’t help in the long run, but as long as the Democrat candidate is perceived as being liberal and the south remains essentially conservative, they’re not going to vote for him or her.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"nobody is arguing that the Left doesn’t tolerate "people from the South"."

Nobody? It sorta seems like the point of the provided quote:

"There’s only one precription and that’s tolerance. I’m a white, southern male who hunts. I’m a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has two black members, by the way. I don’t know how many northern Democrats who have tolerance for my kind."

Although, this probably comes down to a technicality.
 
Written By: Losing Faith
URL: http://
"My kind" encapsulates more than just regional origin. The Left -- not all of it, but enough of it -- stereotypes the South in ways perceived by Southerners (correctly, in my opinion) as disrespectful and arrogant.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I am from Mobile, AL. I voted against the amendment to remove the racist language from the constitution. The bill was supposed to remove the language only and NOT effect any existing laws. (Keep in mind our state legislature is controlled by Democrats and we have a bumbling Republican gov.) Wording was added to the admendment to remove additional constitutional language about education not being a right.
This clause was recently used to dismiss a court case brought by some poor counties with the intention of getting "equity" funding. Basically, if the lawsuit passed, the "rich" counties would have to send money to poorer counties. I believe there have been some successful attempts at court ordered tax increases in other states recently, so this is a REAL threat.
Our governor (and paper quoted among others) tried to assure us that there were additional language in the constitution prohibiting court ordered tax increases. As this governor has already tried to have a massive tax increase (which failed), we do not believe a word he says concerning taxation.

If the admendment gets reinserted into the next vote, I will gladly support removing the racist language from the constitution (assuming there are no more surprises in the amendment).
 
Written By: Ken from Mobile
URL: http://
I’m all for retaining southern heritage, but I seriously doubt most of the good ’ol boys with the confederate flag on their pick’em up truck are into Civil War reenactments and such. Nor do I think it is a cut and dried symbol of racism. To me it means rugged individuality, Lynard Skynard and The Dukes of Hazard.

In any case, happy Texas Independence Day, y’all.
 
Written By: John Gillnitz
URL: http://www.fractalcrayons.com/USCityZen
One of the only things the North and South seem to share is mutual disrespect. To a degree, it’s the nature of regional rivalry. I live in Manhattan, and most people outside NYC would be surprised at the mutual disdain felt between the Upper East and Upper West sides.

But politically speaking, the North-South animosity is really pretty lopsided when a presidential candidate the President of the United States can get away with denigrating a northern state (MA) in a nationally televised debate.

As to the specific issues discussed previously in this thread:

Regardless of the text of the defeated Amendment, I have to wonder why it’s taken so long to remove the racist language from the AL Constitution.

Whatever else it represents for many Southern people, the Confederate flag is ALSO a symbol of an illegal, immoral rebellion against the greatest nation on the planet. Furthermore, to the black community, it’s a symbol of exclusion, hatred, and slavery. If you can’t understand why we find it objectionable, you aren’t really looking past your own pride.

I happen to love a lot about Southern culture, the food, the music, the literature, and the amiability and candor of the people I’ve known there. But there’s a difficult, dark side of Southern history that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge. Northern history has its own demons, but they’re not a matter for celebration and exultation. We don’t burn the Salem witches in effigy or re-enact the draft riots.
 
Written By: pickabone
URL: http://
Regardless of the text of the defeated Amendment, I have to wonder why it’s taken so long to remove the racist language from the AL Constitution.
There are a couple reasons: 1) it’s inoperative. Like the laws you always hear about that, for instance, prohibit men having longs mustaches in church, or some such nonsense....it’s just an anachronism, that is no longer a legal issue. And 2) Alabama’s Constitution is *huge*.
Whatever else it represents for many Southern people, the Confederate flag is ALSO a symbol of an illegal, immoral rebellion against the greatest nation on the planet. Furthermore, to the black community, it’s a symbol of exclusion, hatred, and slavery. If you can’t understand why we find it objectionable, you aren’t really looking past your own pride.
Fundamentally, the confederate flag is just a piece of cloth, colored in a specific pattern. It only has symbolism inasfar as an individual assigns such symbolism to it. My point is that the symbolism assigned to it by a great many people is 180 degrees opposite that assigned by most Southerners. It’s like going to India, and getting upset at Hindu architecture that incorporates the Swastika. Certainly, for many people, the Swastika symbolizes the holocaust. That’s not the fault of the Hindus, though, and it certainly has nothing to do with their use of the swastika. It’s a symbol unique to them, and they’re under no obligation to foreswear it, simply because Europeans fouled it.

That being said, I do understand how people could regard the CF suspiciously.
But there’s a difficult, dark side of Southern history that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge.
I’m sure there are some people, somewhere, who refuse to acknowledge the dark parts of Southern history. But that’s just not the dominant reality in the South.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Did I just read that the Swastika in Indian art is to the Third Reich as the Confederate battle flag is to the Confederacy?

I really, really don’t buy it. I sort of get the ‘cultural heritage’ argument for flying the flag, but that comparison is just ridiculous.
 
Written By: jwmullis
URL: http://
No, you didn’t. You read that symbols means different things to different people, and it’s incorrect to assume that your interpretation is universal.

If it makes you feel better, I can restate the "Washington Redskins" analogy.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/Default.aspx?tabid=38
One of the only things the North and South seem to share is mutual disrespect. To a degree, it’s the nature of regional rivalry. I live in Manhattan, and most people outside NYC would be surprised at the mutual disdain felt between the Upper East and Upper West sides.

But politically speaking, the North-South animosity is really pretty lopsided when a presidential candidate the President of the United States can get away with denigrating a northern state (MA) in a nationally televised debate.

As to the specific issues discussed previously in this thread:

Regardless of the text of the defeated Amendment, I have to wonder why it’s taken so long to remove the racist language from the AL Constitution.

Whatever else it represents for many Southern people, the Confederate flag is ALSO a symbol of an illegal, immoral rebellion against the greatest nation on the planet. Furthermore, to the black community, it’s a symbol of exclusion, hatred, and slavery. If you can’t understand why we find it objectionable, you aren’t really looking past your own pride.

I happen to love a lot about Southern culture, the food, the music, the literature, and the amiability and candor of the people I’ve known there. But there’s a difficult, dark side of Southern history that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge. Northern history has its own demons, but they’re not a matter for celebration and exultation. We don’t burn the Salem witches in effigy or re-enact the draft riots.
 
Written By: pickabone
URL: http://
Sorry for the re-post above.

Jon,

As for the AL constitution being "huge" and the racist language being "inoperative," I certainly understand the difficulty and the lack of statutory urgency. But think of the good-will it could create between the black and white communities. And think about being on the other end of that: sure your own state constitution says horrible things about you, but it doesn’t really MEAN what it says.

I don’t buy your argument that the CF is "just a piece of cloth, colored in a specific pattern" to which some people assign certain meaning. By that argument, may I assume that you reject flag-burning prohibitions? The meanings of symbols are neither arbitrary nor accidental.

As to the swastika, it’s certainly a shame that the Nazi’s co-opted a sacred Hindu symbol, but they did, and no amount of argument will erase its association with the Holocaust. Asking Jews to ignore this association is absurd. Asking Hindus to remove the image from existing structures is unfeasible. Asking Hindus to understand that the proliferation of swastika imagery will remind Jews of the Holocaust is perfectly reasonable. How Hindus deal with this is not a trivial concern.

Imagine if Israel and India formed one nation. Would the swastika be a symbol of national unity, or would it cause division? Now imagine if the Holocaust had been perpetrated by India. Would you not then consider use of the swastika as an overt act of hostility? That is the proper parallel to the flying of the Confederate flag over Southern statehouses.
 
Written By: pickabone
URL: http://
I don’t buy your argument that the CF is "just a piece of cloth, colored in a specific pattern" to which some people assign certain meaning. By that argument, may I assume that you reject flag-burning prohibitions?
You would assume correctly.

I understand the connection you draw between the swastika and the CF, and there’s certainly validity in discussing the social effects of the choices made by people who use those symbols. But I think you’re missing the point I’m making...that, by automatically assuming that the [CF=racism] symbolism, the Democratic Party is imposing its assumptions on many in the South, who--by dint of distance from events--share no such symbolism. In fact, it simply doesn’t enter the radar of many Southerners.

And while there’s a great deal of room for civil discussion about the proper place for the CF, it doesn’t seem that the Democratic Party is engaging in civil discourse. They’re marched straight into India, and told the Hindu’s that racism is the only possible explanation for their symbol. It’s not hard to understand why the Hindus Southerners’ response is not "let’s talk about it", but "go to hell". Condemnation is often met with condemnation.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Thanks for the Swastika clarification, but I still disagree with you to a certain extent although I do agree technically that the confederate flag (as with any symbol) only represents the meaning assigned to it by the viewer.

Either the vast majority of confederate flag proponents like their opponents associate it as a symbol of the confederacy and the civil war (which it is) or the proponents do not associate it with the confederacy and the civil war.

In the case of the former the difference, in my opinion, is not what the flag itself symbolizes, but how these individuals view the confederacy. Whether it is viewed as a noble quest aimed at protecting regional traditional values and the right to self rule against an unprovoked northern aggressor or as a foiled attempt to protect the institution of slavery. If this is the case the argument is not over whether the flag symbolizes but over various rational for the civil war. This particular argument is still played out to some degree in the south.

The later case is quite more problematic for it’s really quite naïve to expect people who associate the confederate flag with the confederacy to separate the two in their mind. After all the confederate flag was created as a symbol for the confederacy and confederate troops fought under it during the civil war. It’d be kind of like a German claiming he flies the Swastika not because he believes in Nazism or Arian supremacy but because he views it as a symbol of national German unity. He may be genuine, but you would think he could come up with a more benign symbol for such expression. No matter how he feels about such a symbol – his displaying it shows an extreme callousness towards those who are offended by the image.
 
Written By: jwmullis
URL: http://
When you say, "it simply doesn’t enter the radar of many Southerners," it reminds me of what I said, "But there’s a difficult, dark side of Southern history that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge." Except that I should probably replace "refuse to acknowledge" with "fail to acknowledge." I find it difficult to imagine the celebration of the Confederate Flag without recognizing that it represented the Confederacy, a nation that existed by consequence of secession and only for the duration of the Civil War. In other words, how can someone dissociate the Confederacy from the Civil War? That’s not a rhetorical question. Sure, the Confederacy may represent much in addition to rebellion and the protection of slavery. But given the gravity of those two features, I find it difficult to see how they cannot but overwhelm any redeeming or mitigating concerns.

Which brings me to another point, this one about the roots of the mutual alienation between the North and South. Regardless of the historical roots, how does the South expect the North to react to the assertion of a separate national identity?

When you say, "[they’ve] marched straight into India, and told the Hindu’s that racism is the only possible explanation for their symbol," you ignore the fact that the source of Democratic protest is native to the South. There are still Democrats in the South, and they haven’t had to "march into" anywhere. They’re already home, and they’ve enlisted the support of their national party to address a grievance they have with local authorities. Besides, we are one nation, are we not? Does a New Yorker really have no standing to protest injustice in South Carolina?

We agree that there is "certainly validity in discussing the social effects of the choices made by people who use those symbols." But by continuing the parallel with the swastika as displayed by Hindus (as opposed to Germans), you are unfairly neutralizing the possibility that there may be at least the suspicion of hostile intent in the act of flying the CF.

And let’s be clear about the perspective. Those who protest the CF do so not because the feel offended, but because they feel threatened.

 
Written By: pickabone
URL: http://
I don’t mean to pile on here, especially since all this is all somewhat tangential to the original post anyway. But I forgot to address this in the previous post.

You do have an excellent point about the Washington Redskins – imagine the outcry if a professional sports team wanted to name themselves the ’Negros’. There’s definitely the aspect of a double standard if not downright hypocrisy.

Still, the Washington Redskins are a privately owned sports team. Individuals can choose to patronize their business or not. It’s simply not the same thing as flying the confederate flag over a state capital.
 
Written By: jwmullis
URL: http://
Pickabone, part of this disrespect cycle has to do with the fact that the south is not near as racist as the north believes, though it was at one time. As my first post described, last weekend up north is not unusual. Every time I go up north I encounter more racism in the 3 or 4 days I’m there then I do in a year in the south. Maybe they hear my accent and play to the way they think I think, I don’t know, but I don’t like it.

And most people, not all, who display the rebel flag are the young ones who are in their rebellion stage anyway.
 
Written By: Wilky
URL: http://
Pickabone, part of this disrespect cycle has to do with the fact that the south is not near as racist as the north believes, though it was at one time. As my first post described, last weekend up north is not unusual. Every time I go up north I encounter more racism in the 3 or 4 days I’m there then I do in a year in the south. Maybe they hear my accent and play to the way they think I think, I don’t know, but I don’t like it.

And most people, not all, who display the rebel flag are the young ones who are in their rebellion stage anyway.
 
Written By: Wilky
URL: http://
You might be right about your accent and the assumptions certain ignorant people make when they hear it. I grew up in Chicago and now live in NYC, and haven’t had the experience you describe.

As for the "young ones" in their "rebellion stage," I find it difficult to imagine such a group would have sufficient political support to succeed in flying the rebel flag over the SC statehouse.

I think a lot of people on both sides confuse racism on a personal level with racism on an institutional level. In the North, we certainly have a problem with the former, but the South seems to have a bigger problem, historically, with the latter. And the latter is more accessible and appropriate to the purview of politicians. That said, I think it’s a mistake for Northerners to assume that institutional racism proves racism on a personal level, and so I agree in that sense with your statement that "the south is not near as racist as the north believes."
 
Written By: pickabone
URL: http://

 I happen to be the writer of the editorial "Southern Fried Rice". You may view my opinion as bigoted however is it not the truth? Do you honestly believe a black female candidate would ever win a southern state? I am curious about your predictions. Which southern state(s) would carry such a candidate. Are you suggesting that most southerners are color blind? I maintain that a white liberal atheist would take the south over any black. We will never know because the Republican Party would never allow it to happen.

   

 
Written By: Tom spallone
URL: http://www.qando.net
You’re leaving that wide open?   Well, inter alia, Cynthia McKinney won.  That doesn’t speak well of the South, though.  She’s hardly a model one wants to uphold.

I live in Richmond, where the city Council is largely black, and a black man won the mayoral race overwhelmingly.   The second place finisher was also black.  

I think a large part of the problem in the South is that politics is very racialized.  Black candidates tend to segregate themselves among the black community, and present themselves as black candidates.   That is, I think, very unfortunate, and it lends to the perception that black candidates are advocates for a group, rather than candidates for public office.   That’s my impression.   There are, however, instances (as in Richmond, recently) where that does not happen—where a candidate runs a broad campaign.   They often do well.   
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
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