The condemnation of their home state / region is not directed at them nor meant to insult them or anyone who has risen above the ignorance and backwardness that The South has come to exemplify, endorse and propagate. That said....
I’ve pussy footed around it in a number of my blog rants and in my books, but I’m putting it out on the table openly, plainly and unabashedly: I despise The South. There, I said it. [Pause, wait for audience to finish gasping in horror]
The fact is that I’ve pretty much always harbored a dislike for The South, or at least for as long as I could read or interpret TV news broadcasts. Racism; anti-Semitism; anti-homosexual activism; a general lack of respect for advanced education; the highest rates of all the social ills known to our nation; a peculiar penchant for executions; a glorification of violence; a distinct taste for re-writing history; and the breeding ground for the most Religiously afflicted people in the nation, if not the entire civilized world... all of it festers and thrives among the twelve to sixteen states (depending on whose counting) known as The South.
My opinion of The South was not a sudden revelation. It was formed over the years starting in childhood when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Then Mark Twain. Then
“Inherit the Wind.”
It began to solidify when I saw the “Whites Only” seating, restaurant and rest room designations when I traveled with a tour group in my early teens. Then watching the epithet spewing/ spittle lathered grimacing faces of enraged Southern whites on TV news broadcasts during integration of Southern schools in the 60’s. Then there were the lynchings, shooting and night time terror perpetrated on the civil rights workers, the Freedom Riders. My experiences with red neck drill instructors in Fort Jackson and Fort Polk during my army service didn’t improve my perception, and the assassination of MLK pretty much slammed the door on any respect or empathy for Southern anything. I even harbor an intense disgust for Kentucky Fried Chicken that foul grease congealed crap that passes for fowl.
In this month’s issue of Church & State, the magazine published by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, 75%+ of the domestic stories are related to battles against Southern states’ religious intrusions into government, schools, and our lives. Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware top the list... multiple times. This is the norm.
The birthplace of the KKK and other uniquely Southern hate groups; the cry of “the South will rise again” and associated reverence for a defunct flag/symbol which glorifies a culture that embraced slavery and fought our history’s most horrific war to retain it; the reticence of state and local governments to abide by the Constitution and decision of the Supreme Court vis-à-vis separating government and religion; the rejection of reason and reality by an overwhelming majority of the citizenry who prefer to embrace the religious delusion heaped on them by backwards preachers and preachers of questionable sanity and even more dubious ethics i.e. the Falwells, Robertsons, Swaggerts, Bakkers, Grahams, John Benefiel (look him up- it’ll creep you out); the stomping grounds of a populace with a greater knowledge of their local high school football players’ stats than who the secretary of state is, or the name of a single supreme court justice, or what the Establishment Clause of the 1st amendment means. All of this is just the icing on the cake of utter contempt I hold for “Dixie.”
Some will protest and say:
“But Hump, this is stereotyping. Certainly you realize these things aren’t confined to The South. Just look at Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, or the Fundamentalist Mormons of Utah and the South West. Craziness, bigotry and blatant stupidity can be found everywhere.” and they’d be right. But stereotypes very often have a basis in reality, and the reality I point to is undeniable. And while racism, homophobia, Christian fundamentalist idiocy, right wing violence endorsing wackiness, gross stupidity, et al, can be and is found everywhere in the US, the highest concentration, the epicenter, the Mecca, the hub, the core, the focal point resides in the region south of the Mason Dixon Line.
Proof? I’ve often sited the Pew Survey on Religiosity from 2008, as well as the statistics available by state on unemployment rates, poverty, infant mortality, education levels, illiteracy, violent crime rates, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and even estimated aggregate IQ. Invariably, The South rates highest among the negative attributes, and lowest among the positive ones. Not surprisingly, the degree of their societal ills is largely in direct correlation to their respective levels of religiosity. It confirms everything I perceived to be true anecdotally.
- Want to see Xtian Snake Handlers, or the largest number of faith healers? Go South young man.
- Wonder which region represents 30% of the nation’s states but has more than half of the creationist museums and theme parks in the nation; and which state gave a $46 million tax break to the builders of a religious theme park?
- Curious as to which region of the nation most often starts their legislative sessions with specifically Christian oriented prayers invoking Jesus’ name?
- Wonder which states' governors have appealed to their constituents to pray for rain or for economic recovery in the past six months?
- Wonder what region can claim nine of the top ten execution states?
- Wonder in which state an incoming governor during his inauguration said that unless his constituents were Christians they were not his brothers or sisters?
- Curious as to what state claims the only sitting governor who actually participated in an exorcism of his fiancée?
Wonder no more. The South gets all the credit.
I am convinced that if The South left the Union and joined Mexico, the aggregate IQ of the remaining United States would increase by 20 points, and the average IQ of Mexico would drop similarly. This presupposes that the Southern freethinker minority immigrates north.
There are fine and intelligent people who reside in The South. My Southern readers and Facebook friends are proof of that. I think of them as islands of intelligence and reason in a raging sea of ignorant delusional dullards.
Of course, The South isn’t all bad. On the positive side there is the heat, drought, and gawd awful humidity; the long neck beer swilling-giant belt buckle wearing-Confederate flag adorned pickup truck driving red necks; the profusion of Waffle Houses; George Bush Jr. and Senior; and that kid who dangles his feet off the bridge while playing the banjo in “Deliverance.”
Yes, much like snowballs in Hell, even The South has its redeeming qualities.