North Carolina’s True Colors

Every now and then, I meet someone from North Carolina or one of the other Southern states who is sheepish or contrite about their state’s reputation.  They seem to go out of their way to change the perception that folks from other parts of the country have about them.

Their countenance is akin to the embarrassed or apologetic attitude that many Americans displayed when traveling abroad during the Bush presidency. “We’re not all like that,” people would feel obligated to say when presenting an American passport.

Tonight’s resounding passage of the anti-gay Amendment 1 to North Carolina’s state constitution (with a 20% margin) is just another example of those things that reasonable people end up apologizing for.

I try to have empathy for those well-meaning folks in those places that perhaps aren’t collectively so well-meaning. But it’s difficult for the rest of us to comprehend when we witness things like:

  • “Religious” leaders who advocate violence against a child if the child is perceived to be gay or lesbian
  • Videos of a redneck shooting at his neighbor’s Amendment 1 lawn sign
  • Continued defense of Confederacy, along with unapologetic display of the Confederate flag

And now:

  • Enthusiastic passage of a constitutional amendment not only to ensure that an already exclusionary law can’t be rescinded but also to take away more rights previously provided to some of its citizens

The bottom line is that if people in the South don’t want to be stereotyped as peckerwoods, hillbillies, hicks, or rednecks, they have to stop acting like peckerwoods, hillbillies, hicks, and rednecks.

The good people of the South need to marginalize the folks who believe and behave like this.  Places like North Carolina can’t be changed by outsiders.  They can only be changed from within.  Only by the well-meaning people in these places speaking up, taking action, and educating their fellow citizens can the narrow-minded legacy of the Jesse Helms era be erased.  And until critical mass is achieved, the rest of the nation (and the world) is going to continue thinking of those places where you live as being backwards.  Because, by the standards of the rest of the world, they are.

Countdown to Excrement

It’s only 5 days until America’s first illegitimate president gets inaugurated. It’s hard to believe it could actually come to this. I’m looking forward to the results of the joint effort of the New York Times and the Miami Herald in recounting the votes to see who was truly rightfully elected.

Of course, here’s what we can expect the right wing to say, if it turns out that Gore would have prevailed had the true vote count gone forward: “We have an electoral process and we followed it. A president is elected by that process, not by the New York Times.” Never mind that the process was subverted at every step of the way by an entrenched Republican machine in Florida, including the complete participation of the seemingly-inflappable Katherine Harris and the President-Select’s own brother. What makes it more heinous is that they’re completely unapologetic about it; they didn’t even make a passing attempt to avoid the appearance of evil. And most of America seems to be willing to go along with it. What’s wrong with this picture?

And while we’re on the subject of the inauguration, what’s the deal with Ricky Martin performing? As I see it, there are two possible scenarios. The first scenario is that he supports Bush and all that he stands for and is going ahead with his performance as an endorsement of that. The second scenario is that he is apathetic and apolitical and doesn’t have any convictions and therefore he doesn’t see anything wrong with performing.

(On some level, however, I am secretly looking forward to watching those Republicans try to groove to Ricky’s music. Are you old enough to recall Lee Atwater and Dubya’s father “gettin’ down” at daddy’s inauguration? I wish I had it on video. I’d keep it in my poison control kit for those times when first aid measures call for inducing vomiting.)

One last question about Laura Bush. Does She-Bang?