Sunday, April 30, 2006


Promised Observation from my Trip Down South: Maybe not as Bobo-esque as Promised

... but still generalizing based on a very limitted experience:

it seems to me that the South has become quite integrated in a way you don't see so much even up North. True, in the Soul Food place where I had dinner on my way down here, I was the only white person and in the BBQ place where I stopped for lunch (both places had very yummy food), there was a disturbing confederate theme and absense of people of color, but in general things seem, at least on the surface, pretty integrated. You even see a number of what seem to be interracial couples: it's amazing how what was punishable not too many years ago is now accepted. I wonder if it will be the same with gay marriage in the next generation?

Still, I cannot help but wonder whether racism has really gone away here or whether it is just sublimated. Instead of hating African-Americans, do red-state conservatives sincerely not hate them but instead hate "those urban welfare cheats" and have a clear image in their mind of who "those people" are? Like many things about the modern conservative movement, this mindset was presented in the character of Archie Bunker (a New Yorker, remember) who was admittedly bigoted but who could honestly say "some of my best friends are Jews/Blacks/etc." The question I have is why the punditocracy feels we Dems. need to get the Archie Bunker vote (and the related "Reagan Democrat" vote back) to succeed electorally: is this the mentality to which we Dems. really want to appeal?

Another thought about the South: to the extent that the workhorse of Southern Novelists, the Southern eccentric really exists, this may be evidence not of a society tolerant of non-conformity but, as per Lind's observations on Texas in particular and the South in general, of a society that stresses conformity. Someone who would be considered just a standard deviation away from the norm and accepted as such in the North may be accepted in the South, but only so long as he has the label of "eccentric" if not the more clinical and extreme label of "mentally imbalanced, poor thing".

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