Thursday, May 15. 2008
Jonathan Tilove: Obama's Is an Appalachia Problem, Not a Whites Problem. Actually, Tilove blames/credits it to the Scots-Irish, whom James Webb lionized in his pre-Senate book, Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. But as a person who puts more stock in history and culture than genes, I'd say Appalachia's isolated economy and culture -- which significantly in America includes long isolation from black people -- have more to do with it. The bottom line is that it was Clinton, rather than Obama, who captured the Lynndie [Abu Ghraib] England vote. Big fucking deal.
West Virginia was part of the pre-Civil War anti-slavery south. I remember long ago reading about a prominent southern anti-slavery polemicist, Hinton Helper, whose critique of slavery was fundamentally racist: the institution of slavery brought black people to America, so opposing slavery was a way to attack black people. Counting Helper as an abolitionist is a lot like taking Charles Lindbergh as a WWII pacifist. Appalachia isn't as principled as Helper, and as such it isn't as racist -- although they didn't give Sen. Robert Byrd any sweat back when he was in the KKK.
Didn't expect to make a post today. I'm in a motel in Terre Haute, IN, but they have wireless internet and my new Dell Inpsiron laptop with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed picked up their network painlessly. First time I ever had a computer working on wireless, so I'm thrilled. But don't have time to natter on -- was thinking about my possibly Scots-Irish paternal descent (which we never discussed, and certainly didn't bestow me or my father with any fighting genes) and my Ozark (virtual Appalachia) maternal descent. Maybe later. As it happens, I'm driving to the Arkansas Ozarks today. Gotta get going.