Thursday, September 09, 2004


A friend of mine mentioned to me that thrice in my young blog I’ve maligned “rednecks” or people who live in trailers or “godforsaken” places such as Florida. Really, I don’t have anything against Floridians. Well, not much anyway. But I can’t abide a redneck.

What exactly, you might ask, is a redneck? Having grown up in the very buckle of the Bible Belt, most folks would feel I’m qualified to comment, for many people associate rednecks with the American South. I can tell you, though, that there are rednecks all over the face of the Earth. Redneckery knows no geography, no class or race. It is perhaps one of the most equal opportunity of existential conditions. It’s also a mistake to assume all rednecks live in the “country.” There are probably more rednecks per square kilometer in Long Island than anyplace else in the contiguous United States.

The defining characteristic of a redneck is not a lack of urbanity or education; it’s not a dearth of sophistication or an inability with social niceties. There are probably just as many middle class and wealthy rednecks as there are poor ones. The defining characteristic of a redneck is a deeply ingrained distrust of and - given the opportunity – active persecution of people or ideas outside of their own group. That’s right: the reason I hate rednecks is their exclusivity.

I know it must be difficult to reconcile the Wal-Mart herd mentality of the average redneck with the concept of exclusivity, but think about it for a minute. Why do rednecks bask in their willful ignorance of, well most anything, but in particular world affairs? Because the rest of the world is not of their local tribe of rednecks; the rest of the world is excluded from their little circle of reality. If it don’t affect Texas, who gives a flying cow patty? When people or ideas from outside the tribe threaten them with, say, racial integration or sushi, they react instinctively to exclude the Different Thing. Extraordinary school board meetings are called to order, covered dish suppers organized, and if you get them really riled up, they might even grant you the rare sighting of an actual book burning.

They are humanity’s white blood cells. And in this sense they are profoundly conservative. They exist to preserve things just they way they are.

The problem arises, just as it does in all autoimmune disorders, when these self appointed guardians break free of their local sphere of influence and begin to eat the body of humanity itself. Mostly their “simple” values are both beneficial and straightforward. The good people of the land and all that. However, taken to extremes (for reference, see the United States of America’s Republican Party), these genuinely conservative values become radicalized, destroying innovation, eliminating tolerance and generally bringing progress to a stop.

So really, while most people think rednecks are merely displaying their inherent bad taste by embracing the lowest common denominators in clothing, food or elected officials, they are actually broadcasting to other rednecks their affiliation with the same or perhaps an aligned tribe. You’d be surprised how much a NJ redneck has in common with a SC redneck. Modern America has developed a kind of Panredneckism, if you will. And now what was once just an annoyance or perhaps cause for a giggle is a daily challenge for folks who value progress. Or Ethiopian cuisine.

But we can take some small solace in knowing that God has tried to balance things out. No, I don’t mean the counter-weight offered in the newfound popularity of all things homosexual. I mean direct Acts o’ God. Verily, doth He send His Tornados and Hurricanes unto them; and the trailer park is an abomination in His eyes.


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