This isn’t just about one Irishman’s off-the-cuff remarks. Having lived where I did for 23 years, having constantly traveled to and maintained friends with people from all over the country as a result of college debate, and living where I do now, I’m at the intersection of a lot of different communities. I’ve always thought that it’s ironic that the most overwhelmingly emphasized trait in the urban population’s insulting caricature of rural or Southern America is bigotry.** This was the case with Murtha too; the redneck comment was an attempt at clarifying an earlier one suggesting that the area was a bit racist…
I’m as guilty of essentializing, deriding, and mocking Real America as anyone. It’s a shame, too, that I contribute, however minimally, to this culture war phenomenon*** because I’m from a small town, and they really do grow good people – whatever that means.**** Too often, here in Oakland, I respond to the scowl that crosses so many faces when I tell them I’m from Oklahoma by saying something approximating “yeah, you probably don’t have any reason to go there.” That sentiment – a combination of 1 part my own lingering and inevitable resentment towards the place that I spent my (by definition strange and alienating) young life and 2 parts wanting to be agreeable to West Coast elitists — is unfair to hundreds of my best and most beloved friends, several of my personal heroes, and, a “small town value” of which I am also perhaps too often dismissive, my incredibly supportive family, all of whom I love dearly and miss much out here in the big city.
Now that a GOP faction is attacking Sarah Palin overtly-covertly using precisely this discourse, I thought I would re-blog this.