Southern Man 

Others have stricter requirements. Gov. Mike Huckabee, for instance, thinks that Southern bona fides are established by professing an affection for NASCAR and hunting. Last week, at a "Sportsmen for Bush" event, Huckabee said that Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards doesn't "understand the South" because he said in an interview that he did not care for farming, hunting, or NASCAR. Remember, Edwards was raised by blue-collar parents in a small North Carolina mill town. He went to public schools and was the first in his family to attend college. After receiving his law degree, Edwards remained in North Carolina until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998. And for the record, here is an excerpt from the interview Huckabee ostensibly quoted: Q. Would you call yourself a NASCAR fan? A. I would call myself somebody who's interested in NASCAR, yeah. Q. You don't follow the weekly races? A. No, but I don't follow anything except politicking. Q. Do you hunt? A. I used to hunt a lot. Haven't hunted in years. It looks like Edwards is guilty only of being too honest. He could have said that he keeps up with NASCAR in spite of the rigorous demands of a senator's life. He could have taken the occasional trip to the duck blind, decked out in camouflage, for a photo that would be useful in campaign literature. But then again, why would a native-born, lifelong North Carolinian think he would ever have to prove that he is a real Southerner? Which brings us back to the question about what it means to be Southern. It used to be easy to use blanket terms to describe the region: rural, agricultural, low-tech, uneducated. Now things are changing. In a recent New Republic article, John B. Judis writes, "In states like North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia, college-educated white professionals and low-wage Latino service workers flocked into metropolitan areas like Virginia's northern suburbs, Florida's Orange County, and North Carolina's Research Triangle, where the primary products are services and ideas rather than industrial goods. These fast-growing, post-industrial metropolitan areas . . . have nourished a cosmopolitan, secular culture and socially liberal, fiscally moderate politics." Judis also might have mentioned Austin, Atlanta, Nashville, and some other Southern cities experiencing the same phenomenon. Not to mention what is happening here in Arkansas. The influx of "college-educated white professionals and low-wage Latino service workers" might sound familiar to residents of Northwest Arkansas, where Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods have a global outlook and reach; and Central Arkansas, where Alltel, Acxiom, and Stephens, Inc. anchor a growing high-tech sector. This is the new South, and Huckabee probably already knows that. After all, he has been leading the charge to consolidate public schools in rural areas, which has not exactly made him the darling of the NASCAR set. As the rural schools consolidate and the economy continues to change, more Southerners will continue to move to cities and suburban bedroom communities. Certain cultural touchstones will remain intact, and we'll continue to display our Southern pride by hunting, fishing, and watching NASCAR. But we'll do it on the weekends, in between business trips, soccer games and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. With this in mind, John Edwards is perfectly Southern. And our slimmed-down, salad-eating, school-consolidating governor is, too.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Warwick Sabin

  • Trickle-up theory

    Through thick and thin, there has always been one group of dedicated Americans whose support for President George W. Bush has been unwavering: The wealthy.
    • Mar 8, 2007
  • Time to go

    Tough questions face us in Iraq and it's time to confront them directly.
    • Mar 1, 2007
  • Plugged in

    One reason why the South remained solidly Democratic during the mid-20th century was the enduring gratitude to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought electricity to the poor, rural parts of the region. According to one historical account, “Althou
    • Feb 22, 2007
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trumped in Arkansas

    • What a funny article, I hope sarcasm was your intent! First, since this was written…

    • on October 23, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation