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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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96 Responses

  1. The Todd
    The Todd February 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm |

    I’m speechless. I need to leave Texas right now.

  2. Jen R
    Jen R February 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm |

    (for what, exactly, is unclear)

    Being a black Democrat?

  3. Henry
    Henry February 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm |

    Considering the sampling has double the number of southerners as any other group (and four times the number of the northeast), none of these numbers are particularly surprising. You’ve most likely got a fairly large concentration of evangelicals in the survey.

  4. liz
    liz February 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm |

    So… women are allowed to work outside the home, just as long as they don’t work as a teacher in a public school.

  5. Jen R
    Jen R February 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    Henry: but does that sampling accurately reflect the makeup of the Republican Party? I wouldn’t be surprised. Especially these days, when many who formerly self ID’ed as Republicans have fled.

  6. Michelle
    Michelle February 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm |

    @Henry: The bias for southerners fits with the relative proportion of Republicans in each region. If this were a survey of the general population which separated results by political party I’d want to see even distribution. (Or rather, distribution in line with population ratios.)

    That the Republican Party contains a high proportion of evangelicals is neither surprising nor an excuse.

  7. melancholia
    melancholia February 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    Disturbing ….particularly the stuff about gays being allowed to teach (wtf) and Obama being born outside the US. Sadly I don’t think there’s a magical realm on planet earth where you can escape human ignorance, racism, or some sort of irrational hatred for a group, whether it’s gays, minorities, liberals, etc.

    The stuff about unionism didn’t bother me that much…that’s more of a straight-line party issue rather than some fundametnal human right. Plenty of smart people think unions are only really good for union members and don’t increase the overall welfare of workers.

    As to the Republican party…it’s become a joke. I have several friends at work who are from outside the USA and they lament the lack of real choices in American politics…Republicans have totally alienated a huge potential voting bloc of young, educated, working professionals who are turned off by the anti-intellectualism and christian-right bullshit, but who might be responsive to a small-government, low tax platform.

  8. Niall
    Niall February 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm |

    In better news, 42% of Republicans think that sex ed should be taught in schools.

    I’m not sure if I’d consider that good news. Of those 42%, I wonder what percentage of them are in favour of real, comprehensive sex ed that actually works, as opposed to the “abstinence-only” variety. Not very many would be my guess.

  9. Ens
    Ens February 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm |

    “So… women are allowed to work outside the home, just as long as they don’t work as a teacher in a public school.”

    I think “gay men and women” meant “gay men and gay women” and not “gay men and women whether or not they are gay”.

    It would surprise me greatly if there were a bias against women working at a public school in even that crowd. I think there’s a stereotype that that’s “women’s work”, especially with younger students.

  10. The Naked Redhead
    The Naked Redhead February 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    Wait, is this a new list, or simply the order of discussion at my family Christmas gathering…

    I think more education is HUGE in these situations. Many of the people who believe that the birth control pill is the abortion pill are getting bad, bad “science” on the matter (believe me, I even know one Christian DOCTOR who would not prescribe BC to her patients because there’s some very, very miniscule chance that if a lady gets knocked up and is on BC, a newly fertilized egg–LIFE!!–can be flushed out in the urine stream–ABORTION!!–which never, EVER happens naturally anyway, EVER). Ridiculous.

  11. liz
    liz February 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm |

    Good point, Ens, that makes way more sense – not that there’s any actual “sense” in these statistics. I automatically assume they hate anything women do.

  12. octogalore
    octogalore February 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm |

    “I suspect it’s not all that representative, but maybe that’s because I live in New York and most of the Republicans I meet here are just not this totally ridiculous.”

    You think?

    To be rigorous — which doesn’t appear to be the intent of Kos’ poll; instead, the goal appears to be to cook stats to make the opposition look wacky and sell his book — one would need to poll Democrats as well on various issues, including those above, and compare. There are fringe elements in all parties.

  13. Nicholas
    Nicholas February 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm |

    Please don’t leave, please get better at messaging.

  14. catfood
    catfood February 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm |

    I have the same uneasiness as Jill about the poll. I mean really? One third favoring secession? Even taking the sampling into consideration, that’s amazingly high.

  15. Michael Hall
    Michael Hall February 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    I love how everyone is so quick to rip on Southerners for wanting to leave the Union, when it is currently Vermont that is fielding nine secession candidates and it is Vermont where the notion is most popular today. Maybe Vermoneters are upset because Obama is Black, as well?

  16. kos
    kos February 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    Jill, the methodology is solid. We had non-partisan independent pollster Research 2000 (which also polls for dozens of newspapers and other media outlets) ask 2,000 self-identified Republicans these questions. The margin of error is a tiny 2%.

    And as the crosstabs of the poll show, New England Republicans are far outnumbered (and out-crazied) by their Southern counterparts.

  17. Julie
    Julie February 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm |

    I don’t know- I live in NY (Central NY, not the city) and I know several people who hold many of the beliefs above, with the exception of impeaching Obama. I don’t think I know anyone who thinks he should be impeached. My dad, for example, seriously believes that “death panels” are coming and apparently in my lifetime they will be forcing women to abort fetuses with disabilities. He believes gay people shouldn’t be allowed near children and is appalled that my family doctor is a lesbian, so he certainly doesn’t support gay marriage or civil rights. He refers to plan b as “murdering a child”. My mother is not much better… she refers to Palin as “naive” and thinks she would have been better than Obama, refers to civil unions as “the same basic thing as marriage”, both of which she thinks gay people should not be allowed to have, and believes Obama is a socialist. Which is better than my father, who thinks he is a communist. My mom is more liberal about birth control than my dad, she thinks it’s fine and he doesn’t, though he doesn’t think it should be illegal. They both believe that “men should be the head of household”. My mom is more liberal than the majority of her friends, scarily enough. My cousin recently posted on facebook how disgusted she was by the efforts to help Haiti rebuild. Most of my male cousins are disgustingly, unapologetically misogynist, and tell horrible sexist jokes in front of female relatives. While hitting a pinata my daughter was told that she had quite a swing “for a girl”. I have another cousin who gave birth to a child she actively doesn’t want and allows her mother to raise because “abortion is murder”. I could go on and on, but I honestly don’t think that this is too far off. I am surrounded by these attitudes almost every single day.

  18. amandaw
    amandaw February 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm |

    I think a lot of political-minded folk don’t realize that the majority of people in this country aren’t as involved in mainstream politics — they get secondhand information, and they fit it into a framework that has less to do with a coherent, consistent policy view than we like to imagine — it’s more a point of cultural connection. (I think it is as much for everyone actually. We are less rational than we tell ourselves, and more susceptible to convenient reactionism, convincingly rationalized after the fact, than we tell ourselves.)

    So most of the people responding to questions of impeachment aren’t thinking as far as the actual governmental procedure of impeachment. They’re only thinking as far as “He don’t deserve to be there, he should be thrown out.” People who favor secession may truly, genuinely want to secede, or may just say so as a flip of the finger to the liberal culture they hate — not thinking seriously about secession itself, but just expressing bitterness.

    I don’t think this is unique to conservatives, to lower-class folks, to evangelicals. I think we all do this, to varying extents, and manifesting in different ways depending on which political framework we’re more sympathetic to.

    P.S. Using the term “illegal immigrants” unquestioningly still makes me cringe. Here’s a quick article from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on the topic.

    P.P.S. It’s apparently a good thing for people to believe that women “should” work outside the home? Think that might be a little bit problematic on several different levels? (Certainly women CAN work outside the home. But “should” creates a completely different set of pressures and expectations…)

  19. Bloix
    Bloix February 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm |

    “I have no idea what the methodology of this survey was, or how accurate it might be.”

    The poll was conducted by Research 2000, a reputable polling organization. In the 2008 election, Nate Silver at 538 found that they had “an above-average track record.” The methodology was sound: they made randomized phone calls to numbers in the US, distributed accurately across area codes and exchanges, and if the phone was answered they asked the person answering if he or she was a Republican and of voting age. If the answer was no, the interview was terminated. If yes, they went through the questions.

    And if you live in New York, the Republicans you meet are absolutely nothing, I mean nothing, like the Republicans in places where Republicans are in the majority. Try visiting Oklahoma sometime.

  20. preying mantis
    preying mantis February 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm |

    “To be rigorous — which doesn’t appear to be the intent of Kos’ poll; instead, the goal appears to be to cook stats to make the opposition look wacky and sell his book — one would need to poll Democrats as well on various issues, including those above, and compare. There are fringe elements in all parties.”

    The thing is that I doubt we’re addressing what the respondents actually believe–we’re addressing what the respondents are claiming to believe because that’s part of the tribal identity. They’re giving the “right answer” as dictated by their political and social affiliation to the questions being asked.

  21. Grey Duck
    Grey Duck February 2, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    As long as we’re looking at bizarre American conceptions of race, what American Airlines guru decided this was a good idea?

    Black Atlas – for the African American tourist

  22. Athenia
    Athenia February 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm |

    The nightly news says 70% of americans believe Palin isn’t qualified.

  23. Aydan
    Aydan February 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm |

    I have the same uneasiness as Jill about the poll. I mean really? One third favoring secession? Even taking the sampling into consideration, that’s amazingly high.
    It may be a little high, but the number doesn’t surprise me that much. I’m from a southern state, and many of my family members and friends are Republicans: this is in line with things I’ve heard when I’m home. There are other items that surprise (both pleasantly and unpleasantly) me about these results, and I’m not saying I believe these are overall accurate, but the 1/3 figure is, unfortunately, not unrealistic.

  24. Ben
    Ben February 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    I am surprised that only 55% of self-identified Republicans think Sarah Palin is more qualified than Barack Obama. Thinking that Republicans are more qualified than Democrats is the sine qua non of being a Republican. Vice versa for self-identified Democrats.

  25. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig February 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm |

    Ugh, more proof that the Civil War wasn’t worth winning. We could free the slaves, but we couldn’t beat the Stupid. Yes, yes, I know there are smart southerners, but let’s not pretend they are in the majority, okay? And I know stupid people are everywhere,
    they just seem to be more vocal and have more influence in the South.
    Maybe I should just head to Europe. It’d be a change of pace to live in a country where stupidity isn’t encouraged.

  26. a lawyer
    a lawyer February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm |

    As a rule of thumb, I treat all statistics generated by partisan organizations as highly suspect. It’s easy to use reputable methodology to generate crazy numbers through tricks like appropriate question wording. A polling firm doing its own polling is also quite different from a polling firm being hired to produce statistics by a third party. Profitability is all about giving the customer what they want.

    I give Kos Media statistics showing that Republicans are crazy as much credence as I would give National Review statistics showing Democrats are crazy.

  27. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith February 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm |

    Michael Hall:

    “I love how everyone is so quick to rip on Southerners for wanting to leave the Union, when it is currently Vermont that is fielding nine secession candidates and it is Vermont where the notion is most popular today. Maybe Vermoneters are upset because Obama is Black, as well?”

    Except the Vermont secession movement is the exact opposite of that and based on entirely different philosophies. Nice try though.

  28. MikeF
    MikeF February 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    Research 2000 does have a very good reputation as far as I can tell. Still, this raised a red flag for me:

    QUESTION: Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?
    YES NO NOT SURE
    All 26 55 19

    Isn’t that a very different result from other polling on the issue? Self-described conservatives and Republicans were favoring a repeal of DADT by a healthy margin in 2009, if memory serves, and the long-term trend was steadily upwards. This seems to signal a pretty huge reversal in opinion, which I think is rare on social issues.

  29. brooke
    brooke February 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm |

    i love the way all the polling firms say “yeah, we polled 2,000 people and got a representative sample of the entire population.” according to wikipedia and other sources (usa today is one) there were 55 million registered republicans in 2004. i saw other numbers from questionable sources saying that there were 47 million in the last election.. using the lower number that would mean that they sampled .004% of registered republicans. that’s not a lot.. and using random sampling it’s still likely that the sample was skewed. plus there are issues that have to do with – a) only talking to folks with landlines b) are folks who are less intense about their politics less willing to talk about how they feel with a pollster? and there are all sorts of other issues. the best poll is election day. then we’ll have a much higher sample and be able to get a much better feel about how republicans are feeling about issues.

  30. preying mantis
    preying mantis February 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm |

    “Self-described conservatives and Republicans were favoring a repeal of DADT by a healthy margin in 2009, if memory serves,”

    I don’t think memory is serving that well in this case. Repealing DADT wasn’t quite the third rail it had been, but it was still frowned upon in that sector.

  31. A Guy In Denver
    A Guy In Denver February 3, 2010 at 12:20 am |

    That’s a pretty good sample size, actually, Brooke. The full story of why is too complicated for a blog comment but in brief you can tell how adequate a sample size is by the size of the reported maximum error. 2% in this case, which is pretty tight (political preference polls tend to go around 3-4%). (And that 2% means that if you ran this poll again 100 times, picking a random 2000 people each time, then in about 95 of those 100 trials, you would get numbers within 2 points of the numbers you got this time.)

    Like Jill, I am somewhat surprised by the outcome but unless there is something misleading in the methology (if the question is “you believe in keeping gays out of the military like all decent Americans, right?”, that’s a problem) it looks solid.

  32. catfood
    catfood February 3, 2010 at 1:02 am |

    I think there could be some bias in the way the voters were screened. If you call someone and ask if they’re a Republican of voting age, and they’re not a fairly conservative Republican, they’re fairly likely to blow you off by saying no, and their views aren’t considered.

    If instead you call and ask whether they identify as R, D, I, or Other, you might not have any particular subgroup getting under-represented. Even if you don’t bother tabulating the non-R responses.

    I don’t know though.

  33. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom February 3, 2010 at 7:12 am |

    Should be 53% think Palin is more qualified than Obama. Not that 53% is less scary than 55%, of course.

  34. melancholia
    melancholia February 3, 2010 at 7:59 am |

    Politicalguineapig:

    Are you saying you think one group of Americans (Southerners) is genetically dumber than another group? That’s pretty vile and not any better than racist people who say the same thing about minorities.

    Idiotic elitism like that is probably what causes the bitterness among certain Americans amandaw was referring to.

  35. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith February 3, 2010 at 8:09 am |

    Melancholia:

    Read what politicalguineapig actually wrote. Nothing at all was said about genetically dumber. You inferred that out of thin air. The full of what was written, by stating the belief that Europe doesn’t “encourage” stupidity, implies that politicalguineapig’s belief is that culturally, the South does encourage stupidity.

  36. melancholia
    melancholia February 3, 2010 at 9:54 am |

    P.T. Smith:

    That’s one way to interpret it, but “Yes, yes, I know there are smart southerners, but let’s not pretend they are in the majority, okay?” sounds like he’s saying they are innately inferior.

  37. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith February 3, 2010 at 10:02 am |

    Melancholia:

    But that’s not what politicalguineapig posted. That is one line, removed from the rest of the post. It ignores “stupid people are everywhere,” and the “they seem to have more influence in the south.”

    So the whole statement reads that culturally, stupidity in the south is encouraged more than in other places, and that tied into that, stupid people have more influence, which would in-turn encourage more stupidity.

    The statement, as a whole, says nothing about innately inferior, or anything close to genetics.

    You can argue against what was actually written, but argue against what was actually written, not against an altered version of it.

  38. ipens
    ipens February 3, 2010 at 11:18 am |

    To P. T.:

    Either way, you’re alienating allies. “More proof that the Civil War wasn’t worth winning?” Really? Straight up hating on an entire region of the country, and all of the variability within it, just adds to the defensiveness of people living there who are perhaps otherwise in line with your views.

  39. melancholia
    melancholia February 3, 2010 at 11:29 am |

    P.T.:

    the context of the rest of the statement doesn’t change the interpretion that line I quoted. The caveat that there are “stupid people everywhere” is totally consistent with reading the prior sentence as saying “southerners are dumber on average.”

    I read the comment as making the dual points that 1) southerners are innately stupid and 2) the culture there encourages stupidity and dumb people as a result rise to the top.

    By saying “We could free the slaves, but we couldn’t beat the Stupid. Yes, yes, I know there are smart southerners, but let’s not pretend they are in the majority, okay?” she’s clearly implying that most southerns are dumb as opposed to smart. “Smart” when applied to people usually refers to an innate trait – something you’re born with – and is distinct from “stupidity” (i.e. something indicative of lack of intelligence) or “ignorance.” If she had said most southerners are “ignorant,” that would be another matter.

    It’s a stretch, in my mind, to interpret the statement as “most southerners adhere to a stupid political ideology.” She was attacking southerners themselves, not just their ideology.

  40. a lawyer
    a lawyer February 3, 2010 at 11:31 am |

    brooke—paradoxically, the relevant mathematical theorems show that what is important is the absolute number of people polled rather than the fraction of the total population polled. A sample of 2,000 is quite adequate.

    Of course you are right about the various systematic biases introduced by factors like who is willing to talk to the pollster. Reputable polling firms will try to minimize those errors, but there is no way to eliminate them.

  41. Red Stapler
    Red Stapler February 3, 2010 at 11:45 am |

    And is flushing a tampon destroying evidence?

    No, but it could destroy weaker plumbing systems.

    I’m sorry, this post made me so angry, I had to hide under the comforting blanket of humor.

  42. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig February 3, 2010 at 11:47 am |

    Melancholia: I did not say anything about genetics.
    The South, culturally, hardly values education at all. Missisippi consistently spends the least on its public schools and most of the other Southern states spend as little as they can on their education system. Or they muck it up with creationism or other dubious theories. In education, as in everything else, you get what you pay for.
    Ipens: There are some good Southerners out there, but I wish the region, as a whole, would grow up. However, given the influence of fundamentalists, the constant underfunding of education and the refusal to own their past, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. And, what’s worse, these adolescents insist on messing things up for the rest of us. (See: George W. Bush, Sally Kerns, Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott. I know Thurmond’s dead, but there were a lot of people who agreed with him who are still living.)

  43. Bloix
    Bloix February 3, 2010 at 11:53 am |

    A poll taken in April 2009 found that 18% of all Texans – not just Republicans – wanted to secede and 7% weren’t sure. So a finding that a third of all southern Republicans want to secede isn’t so out of line with prior results.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_state_surveys/texas/in_texas_31_say_state_has_right_to_secede_from_u_s_but_75_opt_to_stay

    On the “southerners are stupid” debate, stupidity is the wrong way to look at it. There are competing ways that people form beliefs about the world, and the rational application of logic to facts is only one of them. Others include religious faith, loyalty to family and community, tradition – all sorts of stuff. Many southerners belong to a religious tradition that is actively hostile to rationality when it conflicts with religious faith. (This is why all the anti-choice Supreme Court justices are Catholic, not fundamentalist – it’s really difficult to find a fundamentalist with a commitment to the kind of rational analysis that’s required in law, but Catholics just love that sort of stuff.)

    So southerners aren’t any stupider than the rest of us. They – many of them, anyway – just don’t accept the kind of argument that the rest of find to be convincing.

  44. MikeF
    MikeF February 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |

    “I don’t think memory is serving that well in this case. Repealing DADT wasn’t quite the third rail it had been, but it was still frowned upon in that sector.”

    Did a little googling, and I think the poll I was remembering was Gallup in June 2009*: “conservatives” and “Republicans” were each at 58% favoring “allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military”. In 2004 they were at 46% and 52%, respectively. A drop down to 26% seems suspect, but maybe there really has been a scarily large shift in opinion.

    *http://www.gallup.com/poll/120764/conservatives-shift-favor-openly-gay-service-members.aspx

  45. syndella
    syndella February 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm |

    This southern-bashing shit is *exactly* why liberals get derided as elitist.

  46. groggette
    groggette February 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm |

    Politicalguineapig,
    The US wouldn’t have a space program if it didn’t have the south. Yep we’re just a bunch of stupid yokels down here.

    cosign with everything melancholia’s said.

  47. cacophonies
    cacophonies February 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |

    7. A third of Southern Republicans would like their state to secede from the Union.

    I’m in favor of this. So long as we can make sure that all of politicalguineapigs’s “smart Southerners” have an easy way to migrate to the snobby, elitist, educated North if they so desire.

    I feel the same way about my aunt who wrote on my Facebook wall (!) that if I “HATE this country so much,” I should go live somewhere else and see just how lucky I was living here in the US. Ok, you wanna pay for moving expenses to Europe? I’ll gladly get out of your hair and leave you here to scream about how great all the troops are just because they’re troops and for no other reason than the fact that they’re troops, and use church as your excuse for being willfully, enthusiastically ignorant.

  48. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery February 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm |

    The South, culturally, hardly values education at all. Missisippi consistently spends the least on its public schools and most of the other Southern states spend as little as they can on their education system.

    I’d love to hear how you support this assertion. Mississippi does indeed get outspent in education dollars, but it’s because the state is very, very poor. If you sort the states by how much they spend on education per $1,000 of personal income, Mississippi ranks 16th, according to the most recent report from census.gov (report I’m citing is here, on page 12). Of the 5 states that spend the least per $1,000 of personal income, two are Southern states — Florida (which is only dubiously part of the South, except for the panhandle) and Tennessee. The state that spends the most per $1,000 of revenue produced Sarah Palin. Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia are all in the top 15.

    I’m sure you won’t take any offense at this, because you clearly think it’s OK, but you’re kind of bigoted against Southerners. But as long as you own your hate.

  49. timberwraith
    timberwraith February 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm |

    No, it doesn’t make me want to leave the US. However, it does make me wish that a good portion of the Republicans taking that survey would leave the US.

  50. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith February 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm |

    ipens:

    I mostly agree. I wasn’t siding with politicalguineapig, I was wanting the discussion to make sense in that people were actually responding to what was said instead of a butched version.

    melancholia:
    the context of the rest of the statement doesn’t change the interpretion that line I quoted. The caveat that there are “stupid people everywhere” is totally consistent with reading the prior sentence as saying “southerners are dumber on average.”

    That first half is silly, and you know it. Context is everything. I say you know this, because the rest of your comment makes sense. The rest of your comment is a response to what was said in the first place. I’d disagree with you on some of what you say, but that wasn’t my point. Your argument is much more clear now that it’s not muddled by responding dimissively to something politcalguineapig never said.

    grogrette:

    “The US wouldn’t have a space program if it didn’t have the south. Yep we’re just a bunch of stupid yokels down here.”

    By what logic? Because it’s mostly based down there? Because Dwight was from Texas? We also wouldn’t have a space program if it weren’t for Communism? We wouldn’t have been on the moon if it weren’t for Massachusetts?

    That whole thing is meaningless.

    Tom Foolery:

    Yep. That’s the type of argument I can get behind. Idiotically, it’s something I haven’t considered enough whenever it crosses my mind how little Mississippi spends on education.

  51. kissmymango
    kissmymango February 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm |

    “The US wouldn’t have a space program if it didn’t have the south. Yep we’re just a bunch of stupid yokels down here.”

    BWAHAAHAHAAA!! oh sure, because EVERY scientist who works there is from the south, amirite? LOL. Knee-slapping, sides-aching!

  52. cacophonies
    cacophonies February 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm |

    TomFoolery, I don’t think anyone was arguing that individuals, or families, spend little on education, but that state funding for public education is very low on the majority of Southern states’ list of priorities. It wouldn’t be very nice to call out poor families for not spending money on education, as some simply can’t afford it. Mine certainly can’t, which is why I am attending a community college at night, part-time, and not paying anything out of pocket right now, as I have financial aid and Stafford loans taking care of 100% of it.

  53. CanadaGoose
    CanadaGoose February 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm |

    Fortunately, I already moved (2004) and am now a Canadian citizen (2009).
    I won’t be going back to the US. Canada isn’t perfect but it’s lovely when compared to the highly homophobic and religion-ridden US.

    PS: I am 67 years old, married and straight. I’m supposed to be in some ignorant demographic but don’t believe every stereotype.

  54. groggette
    groggette February 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm |

    Is that what I said? No. I was referring to geographic location, not the people. Regardless, NASA and it’s contractors is staffed significantly with people who received their educations at southern universities. Many of which happen to be top universities in the country.
    Location wise, where in the northern states could we have suitable launch sites? I’m not talking about mission control, that being in Houston was purely a political move. But there are legitimate reasons why the only places considered for launch and landing (of crewed vehicles) are in the south and west.

    But then what do I know, I’m just another dumb southerner.

  55. groggette
    groggette February 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm |

    And you know what, yeah it probably was a stupid thing to bring up, but I’m sick and fucking tired of people trying to pat me on the head as a concesion while saying all those other southerners are stupid, amiright?

    You people are totally right, the south has absolutely nothing of value and the people who (willingly or not) live here should totally be shat all over to make other people feel better.

  56. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery February 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    Almost forgot:

    The South, culturally, hardly values education at all. Missisippi consistently

    Anyone else find this sadly ironic?

  57. K.A.
    K.A. February 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm |

    Reason 35,215 I want to leave the U.S.: 90% of well-informed, liberal feminists think Obama just loves women! And I mean, like, he loves women way, way more than Sarah Palin!

    Pro-woman all the way!

    What a hero!

  58. roses
    roses February 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm |

    Some of these comments? Are the reason Southerners vote Republican. Because people like Bush and Palin can say: “Those North-eastern Liberal Democrats are elitists who think you’re a bunch of stupid hicks.” And nobody wants to vote for someone who thinks they’re a stupid hick. And it works because it’s a little bit true. Not all Northeasterners, or liberals, or Democrats think that way, but some do, and feel no shame about stating it in the comments section of a public blog where anyone can read it.

  59. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig February 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm |

    K.A.: What in the world are you on about? Sarah Palin likes women less than Obama does. Palin’s public existence is a slap in the face of women everywhere. She’s pro-forced birth, she’s willing to hang around people who believe in witchcraft, and she’s proud to be ignorant.
    Obama made a number of blunders this year, but I’m hopeful that he’ll decide that compromise is futile. And unlike Mrs. Palin, he actually gives a rat’s hiney about women.

    Grogette and TF: I’ll concede that the South is worthwhile as a region when they stop electing people like Lott, Bauer (LT Gov of South Carolina) and Bush. Palin almost won because of the South, by the way.

  60. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery February 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm |

    Grogette and TF: I’ll concede that the South is worthwhile as a region when they stop electing people like Lott, Bauer (LT Gov of South Carolina) and Bush. Palin almost won because of the South, by the way.

    So I assume you’re abandoning the education thing? I just think it’d be swell if you said “I’m sorry Tom, I was pulling things out of my ass and didn’t think anyone would spend 10 minutes on Google checking up on me.”

  61. syndella
    syndella February 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm |

    Yeah, that fancy Yankee education sure did him well, didn’t it Tom Foolery.

  62. groggette
    groggette February 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm |

    Palin was running against Obama? News to me.

  63. Shoshie
    Shoshie February 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm |

    Ugh, the anti-South sentiment here is freaking annoying, and if I lived any further north, I’d be in Canada. When I lived in Boston, I was appalled at how many people people assumed that I would just laugh along when they disparaged that “worthless bit in between the coasts.” GRAR.

    And, yes, this is why liberals get stereotyped as elitist. Please stop. You’re not funny, and you’re certainly not being progressive. I understand your frustration, I really do, because I feel it as well. But the South-bashing is not helpful.

  64. Shoshie
    Shoshie February 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm |

    Ugh, the anti-South sentiment here is freaking annoying, and if I lived any further north, I’d be in Canada. When I lived in Boston, I was appalled at how many people people assumed that I would just laugh along when they disparaged that “worthless bit in between the coasts.” GRAR.

    And, yes, this is why liberals get stereotyped as elitist. Please stop. You’re not funny, and you’re certainly not being progressive. I understand your frustration, I really do, because I feel it as well. But the South-bashing is not helpful.

  65. amandaw
    amandaw February 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm |

    Arguments consisting solely of “You made a spelling error!” are about as advanced and intelligent as a kindergarten show-and-tell. And, needless to say, don’t really prove whatever point you were arguing in the first place (unless that point is, “Only people who have impeccable grammar skills, spell every word perfectly, and never slip up or make a mistake are allowed to participate in public discourse. Everyone else is automatically rendered incredible by their lack of perfection”).

  66. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith February 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm |

    amandaw:

    Tom’s made more legitimate points than just pointing out a spelling error. As it’s own post it looks petty, but with the other two it’s more of a tossed off aside.

    And I can’t believe I’m the one saying this, since I generally love off-topic discussions, but instead of discussing whether or not Southerners are dumber on average or not, and arguing over how that belief is being put forth, why not talk about why the beliefs in the poll above exist. Because even if you do believe Southerners are overall dumb, that isn’t enough to lead to these numbers and these beliefs. There is much, much more going on.

  67. Sailorman
    Sailorman February 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm |

    Why do they exist? now THAT’s an interesting question:

    1. 39% think Obama should be impeached (for what, exactly, is unclear).

    That’s a generalized “we don’t like the administration” thing.

    2. Only 42% believe Obama was born in the United States. 36% believe he was not born in the U.S., and 22 percent are unsure.

    That’s good spin by the birthers, lots of idiocy by the media, a good dash of “aren’t his ancestors from out of the US?” and probably more than a bit of thinking that the US ends at California.

    3. 63% believe Obama is a Socialist. 22% are unsure.

    To a Republican, a socialist is anyone more than one step above you on the political scale. like most people (Dems included) few of them can probably define “socialism” correctly.

    4. About a quarter believe that Obama wants the terrorists to win. 33% are unsure of whether or not he wants a terrorist victory.

    Not so strange. Plenty of people thought that the Republicans would have happily had a small terrorist attack on the US if it would have won them the election. People certainly start (and end, and manage) wars and conflicts to get political advantage, and have done so for millennia. Why should Obama be different?

    5. 55% believe that Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Barack Obama. 33% are unsure. Only 14% believe that Palin is not more qualified than Obama. The survey did not ask participants if they understand the definition of “qualified.”

    Wow, with snark like that, who the fuck needs data?

    Some of what the President does is based on education. Much of what the President does is based on morals and choices which don’t have an objective answer. “Qualifications” in this context are pretty relative.

    I think Palin was poorly qualified to be President, but I’m not so snobby as to think that someone can’t disagree with me.

    6. 2/3rds of Republicans either believe that Obama is a racist who hates white people, or aren’t sure if Obama is a racist who hates white people.

    The racism part is simple: most people in general, and most people in the South, use the “old” definition of “conclusions based on race.” They don’t use the more modern/academic definition requiring power and privilege, under which, as some put it, blacks can’t generally be racist. (though an interesting question is whether that would matter for Obama anyway, he being pretty much the most powerful man in the country.)

    As for the “hates” or “might hate” white people… Well, which is it? He has certainly had some fairly serious relationships with people (church, etc.) who don’t seem especially pro-white (for good reason, mind you.) And frankly, if you asked me whether Obama hates ___ people (black or white) I’d be more likely to say “I don’t know” than “no;” how am I supposed to know anyway?

    7. A third of Southern Republicans would like their state to secede from the Union. Which, hey, is better than conservative Southerners 150 years ago, so here’s to progress.

    You think that’s because they’re racist conservative idiots, or because they believe the federal government isn’t living up to its role in the Republic?

    intelligent people can disagree about that last part.

    8. Only 7 percent of Republicans believe that Congress should make it easier for for workers to form or join labor unions. Nearly 70% do not believe that Congress should make it easier.

    Pretty self explanatory.

    9. If illegal immigrants agreed to pay a fine and learn English, 25% of Republicans think it would be ok to let them stay in the United States.

    Is this supposed to be good (hey, they’d let them in!) or bad (wanting a fine)…?

    I’m actually surprised the number is so high.

    10. More than half of Republicans do not believe that openly gay men and women should be allowed to serve in the military.

    SO not surprised about that.

    11. Only 7 percent of Republicans believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Only 11 percent believe that same-sex couples should receive state or federal benefits — belying the idea that this is just about the “institution of marriage.”

    Not surprised about that either.

    12. Shockingly, even to me, only 8 percent of Republicans believe that gay men and women should be allowed to teach in public schools. 19% are not sure; 73% believe that gay men and women should not be allowed to teach.

    Phrasing, is my guess. They think they’ll “teach gayness.” Or for that matter, “teach gay values.” Whatever taht means to them.

    That’s not TOO surprising. A lot of educational programs have taken on the mantle of social change, choosing to add it in to the “education” part. If (1) you think it’s OK to dislike gays; (2) you think that the school may teach your kids something that disagrees with you, and (3) you think that teachers who “are teh gay” may somehow teach it even more, then you don’t want gay teachers.

    Unsurprising, if you think about it from the perspective of someone who is anti-gay.

    More cynically, i’d note that we might ALL feel differently about the school teaching morals, if we disagreed with what they were teaching.

    13. In better news, 42% of Republicans think that sex ed should be taught in schools.

    14. In less-good news, apparently most Republicans didn’t get decent sex ed, because 34% of them think the birth control pill is abortion, and 18% of them aren’t sure.

    Did you poll people who were in school AND were getting sex ed when the pill was widely available?

    And also: the distinction between implantation and not is pretty advanced for much of the public. How many Dems do you think would be able to describe how the pill works?

    15. Apparently science is also lacking, because a large majority — 77% — of Republicans believe that public school students should be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world.

    Yikes.

    16. Back to good news: Feminism has infected even Republicans! 76% of them believe that marriage is an equal partnership between men and women, and 86% of them believe that a woman should work outside the home.

    Good news.

  68. catfood
    catfood February 3, 2010 at 8:44 pm |

    @Bloix #45:

    There are competing ways that people form beliefs about the world, and the rational application of logic to facts is only one of them…. Many southerners belong to a religious tradition that is actively hostile to rationality when it conflicts with religious faith…. They – many of them, anyway – just don’t accept the kind of argument that the rest of find to be convincing.

    And that’s stupid. Seriously.

    If you’re willing to start a war over “loyalty” or “tradition” or whatever in spite of the fact that it will kill hundreds of thousands of people and accomplish no legitimate policy objectives, that’s stupid.

    If religion and “tradition” compel you to teach made-up creationist nonsense that isn’t even supported by theologians, that’s stupid.

    Making public policy is supposed to be about “rational application of logic to facts,” along with admittedly a bit of interest-group accommodation in the name of cohesion.

  69. a lawyer
    a lawyer February 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    When people start claiming that the South isn’t “worthwhile as a region” because they vote the wrong way it’s hard to see anything other than anti-Southern bigotry. I don’t think you can say the American South isn’t “worthwhile as a region” without saying individual Southerners aren’t worthwhile as people–Politicalguineapig sure isn’t saying there’s something wrong with the soil. And the idea that people become somehow not worthwhile as people because they vote the wrong way is just appalling. Imagine someone saying Gaza isn’t worthwhile as a region because they voted for Hamas.

    I also think it’s rather non-coincidental that the South is the poorest, blackest region in the U.S.

  70. Andrea
    Andrea February 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm |

    Yea, I’m not really down with the turn this post has taken. Why are we focusing on hating the South when we can just hate Republicans? It seems much more relevant, and, well, fun. We’re wasting a great ranting opportunity, here.

    Regardless of the numbers and how they may or may not be skewed, what I find amazing is how fucking backward those opinions are, and yet it surprises no one that a sizable segment of Republicans hold them.

  71. cacophonies
    cacophonies February 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm |

    Some of these comments? Are the reason Southerners vote Republican. Because people like Bush and Palin can say: “Those North-eastern Liberal Democrats are elitists who think you’re a bunch of stupid hicks.” And nobody wants to vote for someone who thinks they’re a stupid hick.

    Why would someone vote a certain way just to apparently piss off an entire region? That’s not being politically informed, and that’s not acting intelligently, and that’s not thinking critically. That’s literally a stupid thing to do, and if you’re right about the fact that that’s actually a reason why people in the South vote Republican, then it’s deliberate, which makes it 100% worse. I can’t possibly believe that an entire region of a country votes one way simply because they feel that this other entity of people in a different region think they’re dumb, and it hurts their feelings.

    And to all the people getting all up in arms about people hating on the South, would you all be saying the same thing when people talk about “white people” or “teh menz”? Because I’m pretty sure that identifying that one particular entity can have problematic aspects because of the way that they behave, vote, treat people, etc., is not a problem, but rather an identification of a problematic issue. How many times is everyone sick of people saying, “Not all white people are like that! I think YOU’RE all just being racist toward white people!” or “I’ve never raped or oppressed anyone! Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean I fit into this “man” group!

    Take this line from the Check My What? blog:

    With rare exception, non-privileged individuals do not hate privileged individuals, but we do hate how many privileged individuals act!

    Replaced “privileged” with “southern,” and it makes perfect sense. I’m not sure the South is exactly oppressing the North, but I think the analogy still works fine.

  72. syndella
    syndella February 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm |

    Guess this isn’t a “safe space” for Southerners.

  73. Henry
    Henry February 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm |

    “Why are we focusing on hating the South when we can just hate Republicans? It seems much more relevant, and, well, fun. We’re wasting a great ranting opportunity, here.”

    Awesome.

  74. Randall
    Randall February 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm |

    63% of statistics are made up with absolutely no factual information to back them up.

  75. Lisa
    Lisa February 3, 2010 at 11:12 pm |

    I think this is a really useful poll. But in the interest of fairness, I would really like to see a poll created for democrats that included hot-button republican issues. Yes, I think there’s a difference in the rhetoric between the two parties. But my point is what someone else said earlier– that the vast majority of Americans are not as politically aware as those reading this blog. Plenty of democrats also hold beliefs and assumptions that are incorrect or highly biased. Not trying to hate, just curious to see how the two polls would compare.

  76. MsFeasance
    MsFeasance February 4, 2010 at 8:34 am |

    I have a question about the survey: how were the questions phrased? Because a question asking: “Do you believe your state should secede?” with a yes-no answer is much more likely to get a Yes because it’s suggestive of an answer, rather than a multi-answer question phrased something like, “How do you view your state with regards to the federal government?” where “secession” is one of many options alongside options such as “The federal government should take a greater role,” and “the federal government should take a lesser role.”

  77. Lauren
    Lauren February 4, 2010 at 9:18 am | *

    Sorry, Jill, one more comment:

    You know that the North picks on the South, right? Michigan makes fun of Indiana, Indiana makes fun of Kentucky, Kentucky makes fun of Tennessee, and Tennessee makes fun of Alabama. The U.S. looks down on Mexico, the Northern Hemisphere looks down on the Southern Hemisphere. The closer you get to the equator, internationally, the more concentrated are the people of color, the poverty, and the stark differences between rich and poor. Anyone who’s been harping on Southern ignorance needs to take this into consideration, along with the cultural value that says people who think and talk differently than you do are inherently stupid and not worthwhile. Unthinking, reactionary people exist everywhere, dare I say on the internet as well? Feminists on this blog wishing to express exasperation with the results of this survey, please do so, but do so without shitting on your neighbors worldwide.

    Love,
    A feminist situated squarely in flyover country who is tired of having the Midwest and South vilified as everything that is wrong with this country, and who is fighting for universal human rights and benefits without the cushy cover of a meatworld liberal community.

  78. cacophonies
    cacophonies February 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    It’s true, everyone makes fun of the South. I’m in Minnesota. We make fun of Iowa all the time… although that’s eased up in progressive circles around here now that gay marriage is legal. I’m still impressed! Anyway, Lauren really has a point about the global South in relation to the global North.

    And Lisa- I totally agree. I’d love to see a similar survey/poll taken by self-identified Democrats.

  79. Jacob
    Jacob February 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    Amid all the arguing about geography, it’s worth noting that the secession question was the only one in the poll that had any significant increase among Southern respondents (and even then, not that much). For all the other questions, there was very little variance through the crosstabs – i.e., no matter what the respondents’ age, race, gender, or geographical location, they were pretty much in lockstep with with other Republicans to the degree the results indicate. The one question of methodology that could cause the most variance, though, is the reliance on landlines, as someone else noted. For whatever reason (see 538 for more detailed analysis of the issue), landline-exclusive voters trend more to the right.

  80. Annoyed
    Annoyed February 4, 2010 at 6:11 pm |

    Why would you republish these figures with a disclaimer “I have no idea what the methodology of this survey was, or how accurate it might be.” If you’re not sure, then don’t publish it. You look stupid. Just bc you later magically determine that the methodology is “solid” doesn’t add to your credibility. You are a troll. Feel free to look that up if you’re not sure of the definition.

  81. GDP
    GDP February 5, 2010 at 11:18 am |

    You do likely need “to get out more”, as you suggested. In the midwest, where I currently live, many majority citizens think as the survey reflects, particularly those who are not college-educated. In the western states (not California), most people watch FOX news, because they get satellite TV, or basic cable, which is the least expensive. Satellite and basic cable does not offer MSNBC, always offers FOX, and may offer CNN. When there was a changeover from air to cable-only, it became worse. Newspapers have disappeared. FOX TV news is on constantly in public venues. There is a vast country beyond.

  82. goldnsilver
    goldnsilver February 6, 2010 at 12:42 am |

    Feministe fans, come to Australia, we’ll have you! You get medicare as well!

  83. MotherB
    MotherB February 6, 2010 at 9:53 am |

    Given that it was done by the Daily Kos, the results are not surprising.

  84. Xavier
    Xavier February 6, 2010 at 9:55 am |

    Lauren—Right on, Sister!!!

  85. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 February 6, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Even if these figures were created using data that was compiled “correctly,” I think it would still reveal that Americans, by and large, are too conservative.

    They couldn’t even get gay marriage legalized in California. I mean, what’s the prob?

  86. thetroubleis
    thetroubleis February 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    @goldnsilver, if I wasn’t disabled I might consider it, but I’m not allowed to do so.

  87. Miss Incognegro
    Miss Incognegro February 7, 2010 at 10:02 am |

    As Chris Rock said in a past comedy monologue, “I think I’ll ride this thing out”. Honestly, I don’t think I’d want to be Black anywhere else but the United States, albeit all of its imperfections.

  88. Republican
    Republican February 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    How many normal people (a set which includes some Republicans) would sit through the whole survey after the second or third insane conspiracy question? Takes a special kind of nutcase to stay on the phone when he has every reason to assume the poll is just a prelude for begging by Alex Jones or Pat Robertson.

  89. silencewillnotprotectyou
    silencewillnotprotectyou February 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm |

    first, i would like to say that i am totally sick of all the crazy Obama conspiracy stuff. people thinking he wasn’t born here, people who think he’s a coke addict, etc, etc. i’ve heard some crazy stuff. i am not an obama supporter (i’m a third part supporter) but i think stuff like that is just stupid.

    next, i would like to say that not all evangelicals are crazy, hard-line, ignorant republicans. there are actually strong movements of evangelicals that are pro-environment, anti-torture, anti-death penalty and working hard to remedy the world of issues like human trafficking and overwhelming poverty. i am an evangelical and was raised in a church that’s about as conservative as it gets and though i no longer belong to this denomination (for both theological and political reasons) i can say, as conservative as my upbringing was, i was never told that the birth control pill is abortion and i have never known a woman or a family that is anti-contraceptive. (btw-i was also raised in the south) i could be wrong about this (i don’t know the stats of the people being surveyed) but i would attribute the confusion concerning birth control more to the fact that maybe they surveyed more men? old men? the only people that i have ever known of that are anti-contraceptive are (some) Catholics, Mormons and a small movement known as “quiver full” (that’s what the Duggars are). granted, there are a lot of issues with evangelicals. i will not deny this. however, don’t assume that because someone is ignorant concerning reproductive issues that they “must be a southern evangelical cus Lord knows they’re all dumb.”

  90. southern students for choice-athens
    southern students for choice-athens February 8, 2010 at 4:10 am |

    South-bashing? One could make just as much of an argument to bash regions like the Midwest, the mountain West, the Appalachian and Allegheney mountains, and most of the “rust belt” at least once the rust began to settle after NAFTA and globalization sent many of their manufacturing jobs overseas a generation or more ago. Most parts of those regions aren’t “Southern” but similar attitudes would probably emerge from similar studies was done there.

    The South — and every one of those other regions which are arguably politically less liberal – has made more history over the years in producing activists and movements which have not only changed history in the USA but all over the world than economically better-off states and regions, like college towns (which exist due to the subsidy of tax dollars, parents, and foundation grants) and coastal regions around the country which do tend to be more “liberal” in at least an abstract sense. The civil rights movement and the labor movement are the two best known examples of “progress” that the South and those other regions produced, but also the environmental movements of the 70s and early 90s wouldn’t have made as much progress without support from people living those regions either, and much of popular culture depends on artistic and musical innovations which came from these regions.

    For more examples of the good that is being done by progressives in particular in the South, check out work from the Institute for Southern Studies, publishers of Southern Exposure, and their blog, in particular their take on this:

    http://www.southernstudies.org/2010/02/analysis-southerners-drive-far-right-of-republican-party.html

    Here’s what Chris Kromm, director/publisher of Southern Exposure (and blogger) said:

    The poll doesn’t reflect a general shift to the right in the South. But it does show the growing hold of a certain form of far-right politics in Southern Republican circles, and a high level of receptivity among Republican Southerners to some of the conservative movement’s most extreme views.

    In other words, the problem is not about the South so much as it’s about “some of the conservative movement’s most extreme views” and (possibly a lesser part of the problem) the prevelance and receptivity to those views among Republican Southerners.

    The biggest problem with this survey isn’t so much it’s focus on “Southern” Republicans, it’s that it seems to have been done only on Republicans, with one of it’s apparent goals to portray the GOP if not all Republicans as right-wing extremists. Check out this article from Markos Moulitsas in Op-Ed news, and a quote that seems to be made in that context:

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-2010-Comprehensive-Dai-by-Markos-kos-Mouli-100202-447.html

    Ultimately, these results explain why it is impossible for elected Republicans to work with Democrats to improve our country. Their base are conspiracy mongers who don’t believe Obama was born in the United States, that he is the second coming of Lenin, and that he is racist against white people. They already want to impeach him despite the glaringly obvious lack of high crimes or misdemeanors. If any Republican strays and decides to do the right thing and try to work in a bipartisan fashion, they suffer primaries and attacks. Even the Maine twins have quit cooperating out of fear of their homegrown teabaggers.

    Given what their base demands, and this poll illustrates them perfectly, it’s no wonder the GOP is the party of no.

    It’s not clear if there was any sampling in work leading up to this study or similar studies of Southern Democrats, but some conservative or right-wing shifts are pretty obvious in Democrats as well as Republicans both “down here” as well as elsewhere in the country. Partisan politics is part of the solution, but it can also be part of the problem. Let’s hope that future studies like these study the attitudes of Democrats as well as Republicans, because most of the movements that progressives like to take credit for began and ended as essentially nonpartisan ones, with Democrats as well as Republicans (and sometimes other parties as well) cooperating to improve the lives of people in regions like the South and elsewhere.

  91. Kristin
    Kristin February 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm |

    Just signing on to everything Lauren and southernstudentsforchoice-athens said.

    For the record, though? I hate this Southern-bashing. I grew up in the South, but I’ve lived in various places in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coast. I’ve also lived in Canada.

    Most horrifically racist place I’ve lived in so far? Central Pennsylvania, just down the road from the national headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. There, white folks think they’re “color blind,” and speak of racism as something that is only a “Southern problem.” Meanwhile, hate crimes and threats against PoC are common. I taught college students there, and several of my PoC students and acquaintances told me that they feared retribution should Obama win–and that they wouldn’t come out of their homes in the event that he won the presidential election.

    I’ll also count central PA as the one place where I’ve ever been afraid for my life as a queer person–and closeted because of it. LGBT student groups were getting death threats in the town where I lived.

    Sound like 1950’s Alabama? Because it pretty much should. The difference between places like central PA and the Southern states is that a Civil Rights Movement took place in the South. Also, the South is highly multicultural–and far more integrated than some parts of the Middle Atlantic and Northeast.

    In Canada (Montreal, no less), people had a tendency to tell me race jokes or spout white supremacist ideology when they learned that I was from the South. I really did not appreciate the assumption that I was on board with any of that. I also saw a lot more swastikas graffiti-ed all over the place than I’ve ever seen…anywhere else. And I thought the nice multicultural society to the North might be a bit more problematic when it comes to racism and bigotry than most would like to admit.

    It isn’t that we in the South don’t value education–it’s that our states are *really poor.* I would never have been able to go to a good college if my state didn’t value education. It did–and does–and so I had the opportunity to graduate from one of the nation’s top public schools (UNC) at a very low cost. There are problems within our public school systems, but they are not nearly as simplistic as the suggestion that we just don’t “value education.”

    The thing is… I’ve never meant a single Southerner who wasn’t also self-deprecating about the region. We *know* there are problems with racism. We *know* that there’s a lot of inequality. Whatever one may think of navigating the differences between Southern racism and Northern racism, Southerners are not in denial about racism. They can have conversations about it. No matter their political persuasion, they’ll tend to agree that the notion of a “color blind America” is ludicrous. Southern racism is always going to be a problem, but I’m not sure it’s so much more insidious than Northern denial and deflection. We live in a racist country, and our bigotry is nowhere contained in one region.

  92. Midwestern Transplant
    Midwestern Transplant February 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |

    As someone who moved from the Midwest to Texas…the characterization of the South as brimming with racist, sexist, homophobic, conservative crazies is right on the mark. I thought I lived in a conservative place before, but the rustic traditionalism of the Midwestern middle class did not prepare me for the ideological convictions of Southern conservativism. I was not equipped for the reality that the youth here were just as bad as their parents, that the city-dwellers were just as bad as their rural counterparts, that everyone was in the closet (and for good reason – coming out probably would alienate about half of my Southern friends and result in substantial social ostratization), that even the ethnic minorities clung to mainstream Southern politics as a way of distinguishing themselves from the “bad” people usually assumed to be prevalent among their own race. If you’ve never lived anywhere else, maybe you just don’t understand how big and powerful the crazy is in your (our) state.

    Second, you are not your region. If people are talking about fucked up cultural standards in the South, and you live in the South but don’t buy the stereotypes, these comments are not criticizing YOU personally. They are criticizing a cultural system which perpetuates conservative ideology. If you’re a smart, anti-oppression activist in the South, I’m baffled as to why you identify more with the Southerners being critiqued than with the liberal objections to the hateful culture you’ve likely experienced first-hand.

    Finally, Southern pride reeks of white pride (confederate flags are only the most obvious example of an icon that exemplifies both mentalities – my experience has been that people who take pride in the South are either ignorant of its historical injustices or don’t care about them). Okay, so you can be proud of the South without being a racist – but really, how often do you see that? Mostly among liberals who want to still be accepted as part of the mainstream, has been my experience. Excluding that specific social location, I find most Southern pride to be at least coupled with white pride, which is pretty much synonymous with racism. This mindset is pretty clearly contextualized by the Southern (or at least Texan) obsession with immigrants speaking English, with the frequent use of stupid stereotypes (all Black people look the same, all gay people are child-molesters, etc), and the general preference of most people for ideology over intellectualism.

    Obviously we all know that there are smart people and people who are committed to social justice in the South. However, to pretend that a gross brand of hatred is not successfully packaged with conservative politics, or to deny that this virulent political platform holds substantial sway in the South, is to bury your head in the sand.

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