Monday, May 26, 2008

Appalachia's Problem 

Old woods and deep.  At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned and these were like them.  [Ballard] passed a windfelled tulip poplar on the moutainside that held aloft in the grip of its roots two stones the size of fieldwagons, great tablets on which was writ only a tale of vanished seas with ancient shells in cameo and fishes etched in lime.  Ballard among gothic treeboles, almost jaunty in the outsized clothing he wore, fording drifts of kneedeep snow, going along the south face of a limestone bluff beneath which birds scratching in the bare earth paused to watch.

They sent niggers.  That's who I sold to.  Sold to em three times.  One of em set right there in that chair and drunk a pint.  Drunk it and got up and walked out and got in the car.  I don't see how he done it.  He might of drove for all I know.  They caught everybody.  Got old lady Bright up in Cocke County even and she's been sellin whiskey non stop since fore I was born.  
Ballard leaned and spat into a can sitting in the floor.  Well, fuck it, he said.
I sure would of never thought about them sendin niggers, said Kirby.

--Cormac McCarthy, Child of God

It's interesting, isn't it, that "Appalacia" has a "problem" with Obama.  I think this is a compelling and puzzling phenomenon that deserves substantial analysis and exploration; I look forward to teams of sociologists and anthropologists helping us, via the news media, come to a fuller and richer understanding of this "problem" in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Except, of course, that there is no problem, and there is no mystery.  

Appalachians, because they're white and poor--and because of a specific history, in which economic exploiters have created the worst kinds of racial antagonism (e.g., bringing in African Americans as scabs during mining strikes)--because of this, they're not going to fucking vote for a black president.

Say what you will about Appalachians.  There was a terrific diary on DailyKos a few weeks ago that shed a lot of light on these strange, pale creatures, and made an excellent argument that they deserve our respect, solidarity and help, not our condescension and disdain and ridicule.

I get my Appalacian info from the novelist Cormac McCarthy (just like I get my Mississippi info from Faulkner: among the various members of the Compson family and their "staff," the Bundrens, the Snopes et al, I know just about everybody I need to know).  So I know that Appalacians are an isolated, proud, decent, cunning, strong, stubborn people--they're up against some unforgiving geography, creepy neighbors, a postindustrial culture that could give a shit and a economic system that only sees these folks insofar as it can fuck them/suck their lifeblood.

I also know that some of them have a penchant for incest and, at times, necrophelia.  Can it be denied?  No.  I mean, what are you gonna do?


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