Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Line-by-Line rant

So I just got this email forward from my mother, bless her. I wish I could get her to see it upside down. *sigh*

We have enjoyed the redneck jokes for years. It's time to take a
reflective look at the core beliefs of a culture that values home,
family, country and God. If I had to stand before a dozen terrorists who
threaten my life, I'd choose a half dozen or so rednecks to back me up.
Tire irons, squirrel guns and guts -- that's what rednecks are made of.
I hope I am one of those. If you feel the same, pass this on to your
redneck friends. Ya'll know who ya' are...

errr...yes. Well. Actually, the likelihood of finding oneself alone, facing a dozen or so terrorists is pretty damn slender-to-non-existent. So what on earth is the percentage in creating this artificial make-believe scenario? And why, when one does so, does it start to resemble a post-modernistic and surreal version of West Side Story?

Pardon me while I burst into song:

"When you're [American],
You're a [redneck] all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day...

When you're [American],
If the spit hits the fan,
You got brothers around,
You're a family man!..."
You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by
the phrase, "One nation, under God."

Actually, I'm a flaming, over-educated, far-left liberal. The phrase still doesn't offend me in the slightest. However, I also support anyone's right not to believe or say it.

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the
Commandments posted in public places.

See above.

You might be a redneck if: You still say "Christmas" instead of "Winter
Festival."

WTF is that about? Everyone but god-fearing conservatives hates Christmas?

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

Good manners are now exclusively the territory of rednecks? Oh dear. Or is it that everyone but "rednecks"--which is code here, and doesn't really mean redneck in the original sense of the term, at all--is unChristian, antagonistic, and rude about it.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart
when they play the National Anthem.

Again, see above. Add unpatriotic to the litany of imagined offenses.

You might be a redneck if: You treat Viet Nam vets with great respect,
and always have.

Unless that vet is John Kerry, of course. Then all bets are off, right?

Again, see above. WTF is really going on with this? I treat other human beings with great respect, unless and until they demonstrate themselves to be other than respectable.

If fact, Vietnam has been recently resurrected as a mirror for Iraq, and rather than attacking the issue of Iraq directly, I think this is a nasty straw-man argument.

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag.

Because everyone else is out there setting fire to flags willy-nilly, of course. Also, love-of-country is now exclusively the territory of rednecks, NASCAR fans, and straight white conservatives.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't
afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

Actually, again, I'm a flaming, far-left liberal. See above answers. I can provide a bunch of links to similarly-unafraid people's sites, if necessary.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and expect your kids
to do the same.

See the Vietnam-Vet answer. This is just "family-values" crap, in thin disguise.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.

Generosity and open-handedness are also now the exclusive province of the same group of people who support crap like the Minutemen?

If you got this email from me, it is because I believe that you, like
me, have just enough Red Neck in you to have the same beliefs as those
talked about in this email.

God Bless the USA!

And god bless this whole besieged and torn world, and all the humans trapped here.

Okay. I'm only bothering to respond to this because I'm terribly disturbed at the subtext--which is more of the tired old "either you're with us, or you're unAmerican and oughta just emigrate while we'll still let you go."

It's flat out scary and dangerous to imply that anyone willing to challenge the government and its actions has questionable values. It's not even particularly hidden, here. While there's nothing particularly new or revolutionary about the anti-intellectualism and perverse pride in toeing the "American" line in terms of both thought and behavior, I think it is becoming more prevalent.

That fucking terrifies me.

Even scarier is the idea that someone is sitting around churning out this propaganda. This is slick, subtle, and effective. This is emphatically not something Joe Schmoe's sister whacked out, in between loads of laundry and picking up the kids from soccer.

Who the hell is footing the bill?

20 comments:

Kira said...

Hasn't burning the flag always been an acceptable way to destroy it, which you are required to do once its serviceable years are past?

Someone ought to remind the God-fearing Christian redneck who wrote this that the founding fathers were mainly Deists, and see what he/she has to say about Christmas and God Bless America then.

In my experience, real rednecks do not extoll any of these virtues. No matter, though, they wouldn't get it anyway.

And just for the record, I vote Libretarian--everyone else scares me.

Mac said...

As to burning the flag as an acceptable means of disposal, I think you're right. I don't actually own a flag.

I suspect what I'm disturbed by is the continued wedge-driving between people who really have more in common than not--and I think it's quite dangerous to equate questioning authority with anti-Americanism.

Kira said...

Questioning authority is the American spirit, is it not?

Maybe I got confused along the way.

Jill said...

On the subject of flags, you know what drives me nuts? What the heck are you supposed to do with the little flags in July 4th or Labor Day or Memorial Day cupcakes, since you're not supposed to deface them? Or flowers - sheesh - my hubby brought home flowers for July 4th and there was a flag in the batch. The flowers died, but hey - not that flag.

(No, I do not have the flags anymore and I'm not saying where they went.)

Dawno said...

ooh I get to post after the comment spam. At least it isn't pornographic.

Anyway, I have my filters set to send all "FW:" emails straight to trash. It might seem to be a harsh thing to do to Mom's emails...

I don't think I ever considered that there might be a member of the RNC PR committee sitting around thinking these things up and finding someone "innocuous" to start the ball rolling. *sigh* I _do_ live in Fluffy Bunny World some times.

I'm with Kira and then some -- all of 'em scare me.

rgolb said...

I totally agree.

The article is irrational and simplistic. It blames everything the author fears on a "straw man" as Jerry Falwell does to Gays, Feminists, and whomever else he disagrees with.

Unfortunately, ignorant people (who are in the majority) buy it. And also unfortunately, persons like yourself who see through this are a small minority.

Mac said...

Heh--deleting said comment spam, even as we speak.

rgolb, welcome.

I think the thing about these email forwards that oog me out is that this one, in particular, is couched in terms to make it deliberately innocuous, while it gets sent from computer to computer.

"Redneck" in this context, really is code-speak for something else. But our familiarity with the redneck jokes means we're supposed to just glance through without really reading for subtext.

Additionally, the original writer's choice to repeat the "you might be a redneck:" opening on every line--rather than using an easier and less labor-intensive ...if you blah, blah, blah seems designed to lend itself to cut-n-paste.

Also, if there are statements you disagree with, that don't resonate with you for whatever reason--then the text starts fresh on the next line with a statement that hopefully will.

Kira said...

Dawno, don't feel bad. I get them from my Grandmother and they hit the trash running :)

The more I read Mac's original post, the more I agree with her. Notice how carefully it hits each previous point home with the next?

Mac said...

Kira, yeah--exactly.

The thing tips a close-reader off as to what it's really about, in the introduction. First we get the "core values" stuff, but then the whammy:
" If I had to stand before a dozen terrorists who
threaten my life, I'd choose a half dozen or so rednecks to back me up."

This piece of crap is really about America's so-called War on Terrorism. The subtext is that if you aren't in lockstep with the current administration's pretext for that war, then
A. you aren't god fearing
B. you lack patriotism
C. you're a spineless coward
D. you hate Christmas, too

Kira said...

What I want to know is this: When did it becomes so easy to separate us from them?

And when did we become them?

Mac said...

Kira, I think you're dead-on about that. I also think both sides are guilty of it.

Deep down, I suspect most of us value the same sorts of things. We express those desires in different language, from different frames of reference--but we have much more in common with one another, than not.

Don't we?

Jill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kira said...

I think we do have more in common as a whole, Mac. It's just that we've forgotten how to look.

Or maybe our world has become so small we've lost the desire to look. A new house was just built next door to us, and I can't wait to put up a fence.

I'm just as guilty of it as anyone else.

DD said...

This is twice now you have made me read the subtext of things. I am not sure that you are entirely right though. Jeff Foxworthy has made the term 'redneck' not such a bad thing to be. His definition was something like, ' a certain naivety and unpretentiousness.' If that is the definition, it is a good thing.

But, consider yourself lucky, my mom sends me religious stories. I think she wants to reconvert me.

Mac said...

You're absolutely right, DD--but that's part of why I think this is so subversive.

If it was just an affirmation of how cool it is to be a down-to-earth and unpretentious soul, that would be all well and good.

It's the attempt to connect the Jeff Foxworthy redefinition to a further clarification: "all right-thinking people believe..." that I object to.

Then there's the last little push to connect love of country, family, and common sense to the current policies in Iraq, and the war on terror.

There's a logical flaw built into that connection--and it pisses me off. And I've always considered myself something of a redneck girl, in a lot of ways. :)

Mac said...

PS.--Reading subtext is good. I think it's often far more revealing than text itself. Just don't forget to wear your tinfoil beanie while you do it.

So what was the other thing?

Anonymous said...

The one 'you might be a redneck if...' saying that I've always found particularly true is: 'You might be a redneck if your family tree only has one branch.'

If you're looking for subtext you might amend it to say, 'You might be a redneck if your family bush only has one stump, yet many leaves.'

Pete said...

> You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the
> phrase, "One nation, under God."

You might be a liberal if: You respect Americans of all cultures.

> You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the 10
> Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a liberal if: You believe passionately in your own faith,
but would never dream of pushing it on someone else.

> You might be a redneck if: You still say "Christmas" instead of "Winter
> Festival."

You might be a liberal if: You know that it doesn't matter what you
call it, it's about love, family and giving.

> You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a liberal if: You bow your head when a Christian prays,
you turn to face Mecca when a Muslim prays, and you respect people who
don't want to pray at all.

> You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart
> when they play the National Anthem.

You might be a liberal if: You have such a strong sense of pride in
your country that you don't get upset if people don't do things your
way.

> You might be a redneck if: You treat Viet Nam vets with great respect, and
> always have.

You might be a liberal if: You are proud of the men and women who
fought for America, and allow yourself to question whether they needed
to die.

> You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag.

You might be a liberal if: You believe the part in the Bible about
idol worship, and understand that the flag is just a symbol.

> You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't afraid
> to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a liberal if: You have enough humility to listen to other
people's opinions and aren't afraid when they're different from yours.

> You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and expect your
> kids to do the same.

You might be a liberal if: You respect people of all ages and expect
your kids to do the same.

> You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.

You might be a liberal if: You actually have given money to a friend
in the last week.

Pete.

Mac said...

That's fucking brilliant, Pete! Perfect!

Mac said...

Oh my GOD I had no idea this post looked like THAT when I changed the template a little bit ago...

Ow.