Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CULTURE S'MORES. Let's personalize this a little, shall we? Megan McArdle:
Let's be honest, coastal folks: when you meet someone with a thick southern accent who likes NASCAR and attends a bible church, do you think, "hey, maybe this is a cool person"? And when you encounter someone who went to Eastern Iowa State, do you accord them the same respect you give your friends from Williams? It's okay--there's no one here but us chickens. You don't.
Brushing aside this taunt from a child of privilege, let me first give a little personal background: my family never had any money. My father died when I was two. My mother lived on government subsidies, as were available before people like McArdle took such things away, and whatever extra income she could get from factory and restaurant jobs. I had the good fortune to receive scholarships -- again, in an era before McArdles slapped them out of the common people's hands -- that, along with my own labors and my mother's, put me through college.

Not everyone who works at a desk started that way. As a young adult I worked as a busboy, a waiter, a factory hand, and a messenger dispatcher. I'm not talking about a season after college -- I mean for years. I got my first writing job more than a decade after I graduated. Not everyone gets fast-tracked out of college to the Atlantic.

Throughout my adult life I've consorted with day laborers, tool and die workers, welfare cases, bums, junkies, musicians, cooks, crooks, and schnooks. And some of them -- mark it well, extra dry skim McArdle -- have been Sons of the South. I don't think this makes me special, and it certainly doesn't make me special among people who vote Democratic. Though McArdle may not have noticed it, the coastal as well as the middle states are full of people who work like dogs to maintain a decent life, and many have noticed -- despite the political sideshows and their occasional attendance upon popular sporting events -- that the order McArdle and her allies support has made things worse for them. As a Gator out of Indiana once told me, the Democrats at least will give you a little bigger piece of the pie. They may not be up on the high-level internet chatter, but they know what's what. And if I agree with them, I ain't pandering. I'm telling it like we all know it is.

To put it in terms that maybe one of her artistic friends might be able to explain to her, let me quote Clifford Odets: You call me a Red and I'll break your goddamn neck.

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