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03/31/2004

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BadTux

Alabama just passed a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.

Somehow I don't think they're going Democratic anytime soon.

As for the poor white folks in the South going along with the poor black folks: Geddoutahere! We're only a generation removed from "nigger-knocking", after all. (If you have to ask, you don't need to know). The elite has used divide-and-conquer tactics for decades in the South to pit those two groups against each other. If blacks want it, the white trash are sure it's evil. And vice versa.

And note that racism is not dead in the South. It was only a few years ago that I attended a family reunion and encountered one of my relatives, who was about 25 years old at the time (with two children, ages 3 and 5), who complained that the trailer park that she lived in was full of niggers (her word, not mine) and who asked me if the troubled kids I taught in a special class for disturbed children were niggers (I stared stonily at her, and replied "They're children." And kept staring until she blinked and looked away. And said not a word more to her the entire rest of the time I was there). This is in Louisiana, BTW. Hardly the most repressive of the states of the Old South, and one that for the most part went through desegregation without the violence that hit Arkansas and Mississippi. Although it took its toll on Gov. Earl Long, who got committed to the state loony bin by the state Legislature for having the insane notion that blacks deserved voting rights. If this is how things are in Louisiana, how can we expect Alabama to be any better?!

Ricky

The difference is that, in the South, every attempt at moving forward has been met with a backlash, often violent.

Yeah, those riots over school busing were pretty bad. No, wait, that was in Boston.
Well, those race riots over verdicts.....no, wait, that's in Los Angeles.
But the police racism....no, that's NYC and Cincinnati and LA.

Interesting.......the riots & racial disharmony seems to happen a lot in BLUE states. Yeah, but those racist Republicans are at fault because they don't vote for the Democrats (and, they actually don't want tax hikes!).

And you guys wonder why you hardly ever win elections any more?

SqueakyRat

Yes, Ricky, the LA riots were an attempt to keep society from enjoying the open vista of progress manifested in the Rodney King verdict . . . .

Ricky

Yeah, it had nothing to do with the crappy race relations in such a safe blue state, did it?

I guess you told me.

Tony Plutonium

Excellent analysis (and I know I'm probably commenting after the thread is pretty much dead)- but one of the factors that seems to be missed is the influx of white-collar workers from IBM and other MNCs that began to be relo-ed in large numbers in the 70's from Poughkeepsie and Kingston to Charlotte, Huntsville, Atlanta and the like. While the elected officials in state and national offices in the South still appear to be primarily Southern-born, their elections are certainly boosted by large numbers of non-natives that didn't grow up thinking "Republican" was a dirty word. In large part they seem less motivated by the social/moral debates than the VERY simple equation that they've been sold that Republicans = less tax. One does have to wonder how the current administration resonates with them - I suspect there's more weakness in the Bush position in the South than one might think.

Mushinronsha

This is an excellent analysis of the political situation in the South. I grew up in the South during the 40s and 50s and understand well the points Mark Schmitt made.

Even though I grew up on the "white" side of the "white-black" divide in the South, there was always something very oppressive to me about Southern culture. But I'll save that story for another time.

I'd like to comment briefly, however, on your point about the White South holding the balance of political power in this country for so long. That was, in my opinion, done out of desperation to somehow remain relevant in the nation's affairs.

I'm sure the White South knew, at some level, that it was wielding influence in the governance of the country out of proportion to its actual strengths. That said, however, I think the White South always felt deep down that the rest of the country was sympathetic to its political, cultural and religious bearings.

The perserverance of the White South has indeed paid off now in that they now hold the political power. But they also perceive that the rest of the country is also in step with them culturally and politically. To them, the rest of the country has become "confederatized;" so they have now arrived at the place they have always felt destiny reserved for them. But things often are not as they appear to be.

As Mark has pointed out, the White South has probably overplayed its hand. The coalition that gives the Republicans their current grip on political power cannot last. When that grip is released, the White South will lose its political power and it will probably not be able to regain the political balance of power it formerly had. There is a huge risk that the White South may become isolated and irrelevant in ways it wasn't before. It will then understand the rest of the country did not really share their cultural and religious roots.

If this turns out to be the case, then the White South deserves its fate because it had an opportunity to remake itself in the 60s, 70s and 80s but could not do so. It fell victim to its greatest strength and its greatest vulnerability - its sense of continuity from generation to generation. It simply cannot break from the past as easily as other Americans can. This is why the White South is as conservative as it is. That is why it always will be.

Mushinronsha

I read in the earlier comments about how the South has changed because one can now buy coffee at Starbucks and the NYTimes delivered. Those are just surface changes - the substance of the White South (that is an appropriate description BTW) hasn't changed. I can say this as someone who grew up in the Deep South and journeys back there every couple of years or so. It's easy for me to see that the "White-Black Divide" is as strong today as it was when I grew up there. As I said in my earlier comment, there is a continuity from generation to generation that strongly resists cultural change.

Hasn't the South changed in some ways? Yes, it is materially better off than it was when I lived there but the core values of the White South are unchanged. Sure, it now has McDonalds, Starbucks and the Internet, which makes it appear much like the rest of the nation, and it was forced to make some societal changes (integration of public schools) but the substance hasn't changed. You can certainly find individuals who don't fit the stereotype of the "White Southerner" but those are exceptions to the rule (the White South has always tolerated an eccentric fool or two because they don't threaten the status quo).

The thing that really struck me about the White South while growing up in its culture was how it exulted in its intellectual incuriosity. It didn't care how the rest of the country (or the world) saw things. It was convinced of its own cultural superiority and wanted only for the rest of the country (and the world) to leave it alone. I hope that some antropologist somewhere has researched the reasons for a large section of our nation developing such a bizarre self-identity. The subject is certainly a rich field for study. In any case, I don't think the White South has changed in this regard.

Steve

I would love to see the White South become marginalized. I think, and this may be along the lines of Judis and Texeira, that eventually (but how long?) demographics may marginalize it.
1. Look at the number of Hispanics moving into the South. True, Hispanic voting rates are generally low, but that's where the Dems need a strong get out the vote drive. In more urbanized non-Florida Deep South, i.e, Georgia and North Carolina, this could make a major difference. If not now, soon -- but soon enough?

Mr.Murder

The White SOuth was already a non-item. Then along came DIE-bold... and gerrymanders every 2 years...

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I've managed to save up roughly $41347 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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