My novella Aztec Midnight is now available on Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. Ordering information and an excerpt can be found at The Novel Fox. I’ve added a page to my writing blog here.
Please spread the word to everyone you know! Aztec Midnight deals with the themes of uncontrolled immigration, Mexican drug cartels, and the still-vital necessity of being a man in an information age. The hero, by the way, is a proud Texan who’s inspired by his Confederate ancestor. And it’s just in time for Christmas! I hope you enjoy it.
My conversation with Thaddeus below made me think of this old Etherzone column of mine from 2006. This one’s for you Thaddeus:
There is something very satisfying about enthusiastically embracing the epithets that are hurled at me by my enemies…err…critics. Apparently, I am not alone in this. Retired Senator Jesse Helms once earned the knick-name “Senator No” because of his tendency to vote against legislation. As a result he began to proudly wear on the Senate floor a button created by his opponents with that moniker, and the name was quickly adopted by his supporters as well.
Well I intend to carry on in that grand tradition. When my detractors call me a “bible-thumping fundamentalist” I reply, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace, but I am trying hard to live up to that description.” When they say I want to “dismantle the entire federal government” I object, “No, not the whole thing. I want to retain the border patrol.” When they say I am a “reactionary” I plead, “Please don’t leave out ‘knee-jerk.’” And when they claim I’m “living in the past” and “want to roll back the clock,” I suggest, “1776 might be a good place to stop.”
But there is one epithet that until now I have only been able to embrace half-heartily at best. My tendency to grouse about Lincoln and his invasion as well as my Georgia raisin’ and fondness for fishing, pickup-trucks, country music and professional rasslin’ have often earned me the label of “redneck.” This is usually in jest, but it is sometimes, especially in a political context, a definite term of derision.
Some Southerners have embraced the term. Gretchen Wilson’s hit “Redneck Girl” is a prime example. On a more scholarly note, Dr. Clyde Wilson uses it fondly in his essay “The Rednecks Did It.”* (If you have time to read all the replies, there is a lengthy and enlightening discussion on the mixed meanings of “redneck,” and the concerns I have about whole-heartedly adopting the term.) In brief, the problem I have with the word “redneck” is that it seems to have at least two meanings. It more benignly implies rural, usually Southern but not exclusively, unsophisticated, favoring “mass” culture to “high” culture, and working class among other things. This is generally the way Jeff Foxworthy uses the term, for example, or the way Charlie Daniels uses it in his song “What This World Needs is a Few More Rednecks.” (“What most folks call a Redneck ain’t nothing but a working man, who makes a living by the sweat of his brow and the calluses on his hand.”) I have no objection to this aspect of the term.
However, it also less benignly connotes excessive alcohol use, chewing, dipping, and smoking, Hell-raising, underemployment, and various other social pathologies. Here we have dueling Southern stereotypes. On the one hand we are all supposed to be a bunch of Bible-Belt fundamentalist, and on the other we are all hard-drinking, tobacco spitting, degenerates. Of course, both elements exist as they do in any society. I will admit, for example, that there are a few pious Yankees among all the apostates, but all Southerners can not fit both stereotypes. Of course logic never stops the Yankee in his attempts to demonize Southerners. And for the oh-so-modern Yankee, the two indictments are equally negative. By their reckoning it is just as bad to be a true believer as it is a semi-literate, hard living, alcoholic.
As I stated above, I am just a sinner saved by grace, so I find the Bible-Belt stereotype worth embracing and nurturing. One of the most noble aspects of the South is that is has retained its religious orthodoxy to a much greater degree than the North, despite all the insults of modernity. But as someone who was raised in one of those Southern church-going households, I’m not sure I want a label that implies excessive drinking and partying. Unfortunately, I believe some who have embraced the “redneck” label are glorying in the more unsavory aspects as well. The above mentioned Gretchen Wilson’s follow-up hit “All Jacked Up” is a perfect example.
So with that disclaimer and some trepidation, I can now say that I have found a variation of the term that I can embrace. I have at last found my true niche. I am a “white-collar redneck.”
First, a little personal background. Since I am a physician I can no longer credibly claim working class status, although I proudly claim working class roots. I am well educated and reasonably professionally successful. As a result, I often find that people will make certain assumptions about my tastes, preferences, beliefs, etc. It is often assumed that my success has caused me to reject the more stereotypically “redneck” aspects of my Georgia roots for more “appropriate” pursuits and interests. It really throws them off when they discover my interest in professional rasslin.’ An interest that has waned significantly since Yankee Vince big-footed the smaller regional promotions and replaced them with his irreverent soft-porn, but that is an essay for another day. It is fun to watch their jaws drop when I defend the Confederate flag, contend that contrary to Yankee received wisdom the South is not the sole repository of racial strife, or tell them that I belong to the Gun Owners of America because the NRA is too wishy-washy. On hearing these revelations, I am often told that, “Gasp. You sound like a redneck.” As I said, sometimes this is said in jest, but other times it is definitely not used flatteringly.
But if Charlie Daniels is correct with his “sweat of the brow” and callused hands references, can I truly be a “redneck?” My wife frequently suggests that I am actually a “wanna-be redneck.” (The nerve of her!) She even suggests that my desire to buy a four wheel drive pick-up with at least a six inch lift and the work boots, flannel shirts, and jean jackets that I frequently wear are an effort to “overcompensate” for my professional and scholastic success. (Again, what nerve!) She says I am too bookish and strait-laced to be a “real redneck” and that my more “redneck” pretensions amount to wishful thinking at best or posing at worst. She has even compared my antics to super diva J. Lo’s laughable protest in song that she is still “Jenny from the block.” (As you can tell, my wife speaks her mind.)
Just recently someone described me as an enigma. But thankfully, I need be an enigma no longer. A few days ago I Googled some term and one of the articles that returned in the search was “Beware of the White-Collar Redneck”* (WCR) by Rabbi Marc Howard Wilson. Intrigued, I explored further. According to Rabbi Wilson’s liberal mind this was definitely a term of derision. Note that we must “beware” of the WCR as if he is some sort of guard dog seeking to maul us. But, happily for me, the WCR is not defined by his excessive indulgences but by his failure to uncritically accept all the Rabbi’s liberal assumptions. I will deal with his article specifically in a future essay, but as for not uncritically accepting all his liberal assumptions, I readily plead, “Guilty as charged.” For now, I would just like Rabbi Wilson to know how thankful I am that he has finally identified my true niche. Now when my wife pokes fun, I can tell her that I am in fact a redneck, a white-collar redneck, that is. It sure beats being an enigma.
*There are supposed to be a couple of links in the original, but for some reason they are not intact.
This UVA rape/Jackie story just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Haven Monahan, a name that apparently no one in the United States actually has, is the name Jackie gave to her imaginary suitor that she was using to reverse catfish “Randall” (actually Ryan) and make him jealous. This story could not be worse for the PC left. But now that it has been essentially conceded that the whole UVA rape thing didn’t happen, the press has grown conspicuously silent on reporting the details.
We have to make #IBelieveInHavenMonahan trend.
Here is what I don’t get. Jackie is obviously pretty smart. They don’t let dummies in UVA, and it is reasonable to infer from what we know that she was accepted to Brown (unless that was a lie). But she must also at the same time be a complete blithering idiot to think it would be a good idea to send a text to her would be beau from the guy who allegedly lured her into a room to be gang raped. How could his reaction be anything other than “Ummm… aren’t you the guy who RAPED MY FRIEND!!!” Bizarre does not begin to describe this. My hunch is that these two friends were on to her pretty quickly, but are not saying so outright because she is still their friend. At this point both of them would also have to be blithering idiots not to have figured out what happened. Their equivocations strike me as people who just don’t want to come out and state the obvious.
When the Lord of the Rings movies charmed moviegoers and critics alike, the SPLC fired back with a hostile Pacific News Service review that slammed the movie for its celebration of all things European: “Almost all of the heroes of the series are manly men who are whiter than white” and “exude a heavenly aura of all that is Eurocentric and good. Who but these courageous Anglo-Saxon souls can save Middle Earth from the dark and evil forces of the world?”
Well, we can’t have movies extolling manliness, now can we? And any work of art that portrays defenders of traditional European culture as anything but evil MUST be shunned.
But now here’s the Guardian exposing the underlying fault of Tolkien’s works — it’s not just the fact that no actors of color were cast in the movies based on his best-selling novels; the real problem with Tolkien is his enduring ideal of what constitutes “the good”:
Tolkien’s myths are profoundly conservative. Both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings turn on the “return of the king” to his rightful throne. In both cases this “victory” means the reassertion of a feudal social structure which had been disrupted by “evil”. Both books are one-sided recollections made the Baggins family, members of the landed gentry, in the Red Book of Westmarch – an unreliable historical source if ever there was one. A balanced telling might well have shown Smaug to be much more of a reforming force in the valley of Dale….
We’re left to take on trust from Gandalf, a manipulative spin doctor, and the Elves, immortal elitists who kill humans and hobbits for even entering their territory, when they say that the maker of the one ring is evil. Isn’t it more likely that the orcs, who live in dire poverty, actually support Sauron because he represents the liberal forces of science and industrialisation, in the face of a brutally oppressive conservative social order?
Perfect. The Elves in The Lord of the Rings are “elitist,” Sauron is a reactionary’s lampoon of enlightenment, and Sauron’s hellish mills represent Marxist “liberal forces of science and industrialisation.” Of course.
These people aren’t just attacking a fantasy classic. They seek to destroy the Western civilization that classic celebrates. Tolkien’s aim in writing The Lord of the Rings, besides giving us a rip-roaring and inspirational story, was to create a new heroic mythology for Europeans.
And our enemies know that.