Defining the South | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Defining the South

Posted By on Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 6:50 AM

Here's a good bit of political call/response. The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins took umbrage at Sen. George Voinovich's statement that the problem with the Republican Party is too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns. (And he could have added a lengthy list of other Southern neanderthals.)

Let's set aside the fact that Oklahoma's panhandle is closer to Santa Fe than the South and dwell on what Voinovich meant: The GOP is overpopulated by unrepresentative white fire-breathers isolated from the rest of America. When Voinovich refers to "southerners" with such Gone With the Windiness, he conjures images of backward, angry rednecks who scream at black schoolchildren, drive pickup trucks emblazoned with Confederate flags and believe the Civil War was about declaring independence from northern aggressors. These stereotypes all mislead in the same way: They define a unified, homogenous South, with virtually no trace of diversity or dissent.

Jenkins then recites a litany of facts intended to show that the South is a more diverse and enlightened place than Voinovich suggests. Why, Arkies fought against secession!

To me, the exceptions only prove the general and historic rule of political domination by the likes of Faubses, Barnetts, Wallaces, Vitters, Shelbys, etc.  And a populace that, on the whole, reflects its traditional inclinations, as reflected by the GOP's successful adoption in the South of strategies that had once been those of ruling Democrats. Which was Voinovich's point, I think.

The GOP could use more Rockefellers, fewer DeMints.

Readers are pitching in on the debate with gusto. Check it out.


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