Racists give rednecks a bad name. I don’t want to be one. A racist, that is. I used to want to be a redneck. Now I’m not so sure. For a while, being one was in style, i.e. Gretchen Wilson’s song, “Redneck Woman,” television shows like, “My Name is Earl,” the success of “Get R Done” and all its branded merchandise, and musical groups like, “The Trailer Choir” who make it look like there’s nothing better than playing fiddles and washboards and perhaps, pork rind eatin’, on the porch of a dilapidated but nonetheless charming doublewide. There are even books about redneck cooking called things like, “Mama’s Sunday Fixin’s” and “Recipes from the South Guaranteed to Blow Your Veins Out.” I thought, hey, I want to be a redneck! This redneck thing sounds like fun! I bought camouflage sweatpants, a T-shirt that says, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” and learned how to grow sweet potatoes, drive the tractor and get another month out of my rubber boots by lining them with plastic Wal-Mart bags when they spring a leak.
Then this presidential election happened and I learned, due to all the rabid rednecks in my circle who practically rip my head off whenever I try to get a word in edgewise about Obama, that I might want to think twice. Do I really want to associate myself with folks who don’t care that McCain and Palin are liars?—in fact, who won’t even read the facts by neutral parties (like independent groups such as the Tax Policy Center that concluded four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposal), as long as Palin has her lipstick on and her gun in her hand? (Overhead at the livestock market, two guys gushing, one in bib overalls, the other chewing a corn cob pipe, no shit, “She’s a member of the NRA,” and “Palin’s hot!”) Are they for real?
Hotness aside. Even political party affiliation aside. Why in the world would somebody vote for these two? It doesn’t make any sense. Can people be this dumb to make the same mistake for the third time? One’s a war mongering old man with a chip on his shoulder and a bad temper who keeps pointing to his record, a record of voting with the Bush administration ninety percent of the time. He’s the reason the country is in the mess it’s in! The other, who is against sex education, abortion rights even if a girl has been raped by her father, believes the birth control pill is abortion, believes God wants the war in Iraq, believes Jews and gays can be converted but doesn’t believe in evolution, stem cell research or the existence of global warming, tried to ban books, took a citizen’s land by eminent domain, is under investigation for firing her public safety director because he wouldn’t fire a state trooper who had a messy divorce from her sister, has in fact hired lobbyists and got more money per person from the federal government for pork projects than any other state in the union, and whose husband was, until the year Palin decided to run for office, pretty convenient, a member of the Secessionist party (Alaska wanted to break away from America. Ha! And they have the nerve to accuse Obama of not being patriotic because he didn’t wear a pin?) Oh shoot! As she herself might giggle. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that I think she’s a bad joke at best and dangerous at worst.
So why would anyone with half a brain vote for these two? Admittedly, religious fanatics who want to force their beliefs on everyone else are one of the reasons. They see Palin as their ticket to boss everyone around. What’s the difference between a religious freak like Palin who believes she’s on a mission from God and the Islamic extremists who blew up the twin towers because they believed they were also on a mission from God? Nothing. There is no difference. They both think they’re right and would go to war for it. A radical is a radical. But these are not their only supporters.
This is what my friend said, who is an animal activist and who runs a Yahoo group for horse rescues, when I e-mailed her some information about Palin killing animals. You know, the part about how she runs down wolves from a helicopter until they are too tired to run anymore and then she shoots them. About how she also offers $150 for anyone who brings her the foreleg of a wolf. The reason for this is so that the numbers of the wolves’ prey increase so there are more polar bears and moose or whatever it is they kill out there, for the hunters to get. Don’t need any competition from the newly off-the-endangered-list wolves. Sounds like cheating to me. Or at the least, taking unfair advantage due to having the power. Kind of like firing people because they don’t read the same kind of books you do or they used to be married to your sister and you’re mayor or governor—and you can.
At any rate, it’s cruel and I thought my friend was going to jump all over it, being the animal lover she claims to be. Instead, she e-mailed back, “Yeah, but the only alternative is a black man who hates America.”
Holy cow. I guess racism hasn’t gone the way of cheap gas after all.
That same week, my husband mentioned to one of the guys who hunt on the land next door that he’s going to vote for Obama and the reasons why. The guy said, “Yeah, I know, I know,” nodding. “But I don’t know if I can vote for a coon.” Whoa! What is this, 1960?!
Then my daughter came home from school and reported that a little girl in her school, 12-years-old, has a picture of Obama on her pink cell phone morphing into a monkey. And the children’s principal is a black woman! A lovely lady. What are these kids’ parents teaching them? I had to tell my daughter, who is innocent of this kind of hatred, exactly what it meant. It made me sad to have to tell her such things. Especially since the hatred is coming from the people around us, what appear to be God-loving, wholesome farm families who don’t think twice about bringing you some soup or a cake if you’re down in the dumps or helping you out if your tractor’s broke or your horses are loose. They’re nice people. It’s contradictory.
Listen. I admit I have some racist tendencies. I’ve been fighting being a racist my whole life. I grew up in Jersey City in the sixties with a father I affectionately describe as an Archie Bunker type. The riots were going on and we kids were warned not to walk down certain streets or you’d “get jumped by the coloreds.” But this is 2008. I’ve gotten educated. I’ve been ashamed because it’s not right. I’m fighting any leftover ignorant thinking I have left. It’s still there. I know. Like how I still bite my nails when I’m under stress and not paying attention. Or a cancer that’s deep inside that nobody knows about. But I’m fighting it. And I won’t follow any crowd that’s an advocate of it. Even if I want to be a redneck so bad that I’ll put plastic Wal-Mart bags inside my boots.
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