Monday, October 26, 2009

Redneck 101



I’ve just finished the most extraordinary book. It’s one of those things that it’s best just to say it because you can’t prepare people for it or build up to it.

Deer Hunting with Jesus

There’s a subtitle to it too. I’m not sure it does it justice but it’s Dispatches From America’s Class War. It is written by fellow redneck, Joe Bageant. In the South, Joe is what is known as a character. The South is so psychologically twisted that it has a habit of producing some very interesting characters.

The unique gift Joe possesses is his ability to explain rednecks. I’m sure many of my readers have noticed my love/hate relationship with the South and my fellow rednecks. I can’t explain it. Joe Bageant can. It’s that simple. Joe Bageant can make sense of it all.

”The lives and cultures of these, the hardest-working people, are not just stunted by the smallness of the society into which they were born. They are purposefully held in bondage by the local network of moneyed families, bankers, developers, lawyers, and businesspeople in whose interests it is to have a cheap, unquestioning and compliant labor force paying high rent and big medical bills. They invest in developing such a labor force by not investing (how’s that for making money out of thin air!) in the education and quality of life for anyone but their own. Places such as Winchester are, as they say, “investment paradise.” That means low taxes, few or no local regulations, no unions and a chamber of commerce tricked out like a gaggle of hookers, welcoming the new, nonunion, air-poisoning factory. “

Have you ever driven through a town in the South with a paper mill ? Stop and ask one of the locals what that God-awful smell is and they’ll just look at you funny and say, “What smell ? All I smell is money.” There you go.

Getting back to Joe Bageant -- that’s mighty fancy talk for a redneck. But make no mistake, Joe is a redneck.

”Frankly, the closer I get to sixty-five, the more attractive it looks to me -- not that my wife, the lawn and garden queen, will ever go for it. But to me a trailer within walking distance of a nice creek or the ocean, with no lawn to mow and a good nearby beer joint where the geezers fart and lie up a storm...I could handle that. These are the kinds of reasons many working whites who can get a traditional home financed still choose a trailer.“

And that is how this book goes. You get whipsawed between stunning social insights and the basest emotions in us all. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll learn something. Don’t let my inability to describe a book about a subject that baffles me put you off. This is a book you need to read. I will have to kick somebody off the book “carousel” (on the bottom left margin) to make room for Deer Hunting with Jesus. This book is more useful than all the others. You may not care about Islam, Global Warming or Power. But everybody has to deal with rednecks. We’re everywhere.

Don Brown
October 26, 2009

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