The F*** You Factor

Everybody’s talking about why Obama can’t win Appalachia and the reasons seem to range from David Oatney’s elitist diatribe against elitism (I think, though I could be wrong, with his use of “effete” and while at the same time bragging about his own family, that he’s not opposed to elitism, he just doesn’t like the soft, almost-“faggy” kind) in which he claims that Obama can’t win in Appalachia because his supporters are pompous jerks who think they’re better than the “regular folks” from Appalachia.

Of course, this makes no sense because if there’s one group that everybody makes fun of with impunity and who almost everybody else thinks is a bunch of inbred idiots running around raping tourists and marrying their cousins all while listening to the dulcet strains of NASCAR, it’s folks from Appalachia.  If Appalachians want to decline to vote for people who look down their noses at them, they are left with only voting for old school country musicians and I don’t recall Ralph Stanley running for President this year, though the libertarians keep switching candidates so I just could have missed it.

Then Josh Marshall chimes in with his theory that the folks in Appalachia just don’t like black people because they are violent, self-reliant ignoramuses who see black folks as a symbol of the inegalitarian stratified slave-holding coastal monied South they could not be a part of.

This also makes little sense for a lot of reasons but the main one is that THERE ARE AND HAVE BEEN BLACK PEOPLE LIVING IN APPALACHIA.  Where do you think the “tri” in tri-racial isolates comes from?  White, indigenous, and Martian?

Now, I’m not any smarter than David Oatney or Josh Marshall so I’m probably not going to come up with any better reason why Appalachians aren’t voting for Obama than they are, but this being the internet and me being me, I’m going to give it a try.

I think that Appalachians aren’t voting for Obama because fuck him.


I’m sure for some folks it’s because he’s black.  And for some folks because he’s a secret Muslim.  And for some folks because he’s got book-learning.  Whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  Just fuck him.

But mainly, it’s because of the audacity of hope, I think.

When you are a group of people who has repeatedly been kicked in the teeth every time you turned your face to the sun to enjoy just a sliver of beauty, when you have given generations of your family to work under mountains struggling to carve coal out of rocks to set aside a little for your family to do a little better only to have the coal companies up and leave town, when you bring industry to your community only to find them poisoning your water and putting their slushy garbage in ponds above your schools, when your kids are disproportionately the ones who fight and die in wars, when the only thing the people around you want to do is escape, either through fleeing to the cities or through drinking or drugs, when any fool with a Bible can call himself pastor and encourage you to pick up snakes and drink poison, what’s hope?

It’s got to seem like so much bullshit.

So, fuck him.

I think what Oatney won’t admit (but is hinting at) and what Marshall can’t understand is that asking people to have hope when there is so little reason for it is, yes, inspiring to some, but to others?

To others it sounds like just another in a long line of sweet talking folks making a lot of promises that, if you dare to put your faith in them, will bite you in the ass as hard as it can.

I mean, come on.  We all know these folks aren’t so much for Clinton as they are against Obama, because we know they don’t normally like Clinton.  She’s still the same old castrating she-devil feminist bitch who can’t keep her man at home they’ve always hated and I just can’t believe they’ve suddenly discovered that she’s just a person and not the symbol of all that’s wrong with America that she used to be.

I think it’s just that what she represents is, to the folks in Appalachia, much less potentially painful for them than Obama, and so fuck him, they’re throwing their lot in with her.

18 thoughts on “The F*** You Factor


    How many of those negroes have Harvard educations and have run for president? I agree with you on the “f you” part, B., but as a black man who’s operated in a working-class white man’s world for most of my adult life, it isn’t possible for me to downplay the importance of the racist elephant in the room.

    I understand that many Republican voters wouldn’t vote for any Democrat. Hell, even I probably wouldn’t vote for most Democrats, effete coastal snob that I am. But what we are seeing now with some white working-class Democrats’ rejection of Obama*– and what we are going to see explode in November– is more of the same old dynamic that’s done a magnificent job of maintaining class structure since the U.S. was just a little ol’ British colony. There are just some white people who will always line up to fuck themselves** if it means they keep getting to say “fuck you” to a nigger (especially an ‘uppity’ one).

    *keeping in mind, of course, that this whole dynamic is playing out through a corporate media filter. Who knows? The number of people who reject Obama because of the color of his skin might be no greater than the number of those who are being interviewed and saying so. So it could just be a coincidence that they’ve suddenly found someone who they can hate more than they hate Hillary Clinton.

    **I’m guessing no one has the audacity to suggest that almost eight years of complete Republican dominance of the federal government has been good for working white people.

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  3. I don’t know why people in West Virginia vote the way they do. I don’t know whether they are voting for one choice or against another. I don’t think anyone has done any polling that really gets at that answers to that set of questions.

    But I have to ask, why all the hate for marrying one’s cousins? My mother’s family did that about as far back as we can trace them, and we mostly turned out pretty well.

  4. I bet Bridgett can tell us! Shoot, I think Bridgett can tell us how far back the parts of my family that helped settle Indiana married their cousins. It seems like a good way to keep property in the family.

  5. I don’t think living on Lake Michigan qualifies you to be coastal.

    While I agree there may be some who are racist, I think far more of them don’t like Obama because he is so different than them. Certainly part of that is being black, but he also just comes from a completely different world. People fear what they don’t know.

  6. CS, I’m not saying that racism isn’t a large part of what’s going on. But it’s just not true that all of Appalachia is racist. Clannish? Yes. Distrustful of outsiders? Yes.

    But these are the same folks who brought us the Highlander Folk School and Asheville and the MIHOW program. There’s a deep and long strain of obstinate do-gooders in that area.

    So, I just don’t see how racism can be the only explanation.

    I could be wrong, though. I’m not sitting where you’re sitting.


    If we are talking about West Virginia, we are talking about a whoppin’ 3% of the population. Even if they have some black genes in there, it doesn’t preclude them from being racist.

    Now, I don’t think all of them are racist (though a quarter of Hillary’s voters pretty much admitted to it), but when 7% of the voters come out to vote for John Edwards, who dropped out months ago, it kinda makes me wonder if their reasoning had to do with him not being black or female.

  8. I live in a rural area, 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. Yet, there is a noticeable lack of internet use here. I’d imagine it is way more pronounced in most of West Virginia. Also, we keep looking at this through the prism of being at least somewhat informed. What I mean is that people who are active on the internet, or are news junkies will likely have their opinions shaped by the various talking heads. Hard working, God-fearing, gun-toting West Virginians do not have time for nuance. They work, they worship, they shuttle kids to various activities. They catch snippets of the news, know that Clinton has won the majority of recent Primaries, and probably not much beyond that.

    They want to vote Democratic this time, and, of the two candidates offered, they prefer Clinton. The reasons do not matter. There are more racists in California than there are in West Virginia.

    I’m actually quite encouraged by the results. Turn-out Turn Out Turn Out. The Dems have won three, count em three special elections in areas they were not supposed to win. You can’t tell me that a significant portion of Clinton voters will stay home in the Fall or vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee.

    Read the Conservative blogs. They are desperate. Gone is the hubris and virtual strutting that accompanied their bullshit for the last 8 years. They got McCain, and they can barely hide their complete disappointment…so they cling to the wispiest of straw men, and do their best to paint Democrats as “out of touch.” They have gone to that particular well much too often…

  9. As a matter of fact, I do know something about the history of cousin marriage and why people outside of the coastal south give it the stinkeye.

    Marital strategies diverged nearly from the moment of settlement in British North America, thanks to New England’s robust population growth and the coastal Chesapeake and Carolinas relatively slow growth. A young man in Massachusetts or a girl in Philadelphia could choose from a lot of different people – maybe they’d be attracted to an extended family member, but more often than not, they’d be steered toward someone outside their immediate circle of relations. (Calvinist thinkers wrote extensively about marriage in a “prohibited degree” – mainly basing their ideas on Leviticus 18, though adding in others –and the laws in these areas reflect that. Anyone who was Catholic was not supposed to marry closer than first cousins once removed.) These new exogamous (marrying out of family) alliances, according to historians of the family, gave families in the Mid-Atlantic and New England broader economic networks and tended to spread wealth around, in keeping with other egalitarian wealth-distribution/inheritance practices.

    The Euro-Americans we’d now call “southerners” had fewer marital choices if they wanted to partner with other Euro-Americans. They were also much less devout in the 17th century…few churches, not a lot of interest in the Word according to either the Church of England or Calvin. With much greater wealth disparity to begin with, if elites wanted to marry someone of a similar class background, the choice was further constrained. In wealthy families, it greatly simplified property transmission (particularly of slaves) if one married a cousin. Endogamous (marrying in the family) alliances solidified wealth and social leadership through a dense network of consanguinous marriage. Poor folk married other poor folk and (not surprisingly) were less likely to pair up with their cousins, but there was no social stigma when they did. The southern version of the Great Awakening spoke a language of loving your brothers and sisters and didn’t alter these pre-existing cultural practices much.

    There are a lot of reasons that Americans hate on cousin marriage. In the revolutionary period and throughout the 19th century, it was associated with the practices of European monarchy, of “less civilized peoples” (Africans, indigenous peoples, anyone who organized themselves politically into clans). Northerners have been bashing southerners for marrying their cousins since before the Civil War and it really became shorthand for “defeated clannish mountain weirdo” during Reconstruction. If you fancied yourself a man of science in the mid-19th century, most of the early heredity studies obsessed about the inbred idiot and Spencerianism (cultural Darwinism) attributed poverty, ignorance, and social backwardness to genetic impoverishment. (Nothing structural here. No need to resort to Marx. Move along.) In the early 20th century, eugenicists described cousin marriage as a national threat….it goes on and on, but that’s a descriptor that always is carrying water for a set of unarticulated negative cultural ideas.

    In this instance – it allows West Virginians to be racialized while being overwhelmingly white, it’s a way of blaming them for their own poverty and lack of opportunities, it’s a way to say “but this is an isolated instance…the rest of the country doesn’t have this backwoods problem, which West Virginians (the insular, the strange, the simple) brought on themselves.” Meanwhile, West Virginians are enlisting in record numbers to go off and die for a country that wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire…because that’s the economic opportunity they’ve got.

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  11. What, a dislike for snotty, condescending Chicago lawyers isn’t enough? Skin color bedammed,he’d be just as loathsome with blonde hair and blue eyes, if not more so.

    I’m sick and tired to candiadtes (and Presidents) who “know what’s best for us,” no matter the basis they claim. Jesus, Rand, Rosseau or Eugene V. Debs, it’s a huge country and they don’t know, they can’t know. Run the Federal government quietly an’ stay outta the way, pleeeeze.

  12. After 8 years of near retarded spoiled rich frat boy, the thought of a snotty, condescending Chicago lawyer makes me do a little happy dance.

  13. Forgive me, B., for not being clear. I am aware that racism may not be the only factor in some West Virginians’ desire to not vote for Obama. Furthermore, fear and loathing of negroes ain’t unique to Appalachia. I suppose I was shoehorning that larger point into the specific issue you were addressing. My bad.

    Sean, I think you raise a valuable point as well:

    when 7% of the voters come out to vote for John Edwards, who dropped out months ago, it kinda makes me wonder if their reasoning had to do with him not being black or female.

    We all know there are people who will never vote for a negro or a woman, no matter what. There are hundreds of such people who I call colleagues. Still, maybe some of that 7% you cite, Sean, could have voted for Edwards as a protest; maybe they share my incredible distaste for the two available candidates, and that distaste has nothing to do with gender or skin color. I know I didn’t vote for either of them in the primary*.

    In fact, if either Democrat took a strong, unequivocal stand (including in their choices of campaign advisers) for the bread-and-butter issues facing all working people, then I bet they’d even be able to grab a good chunk of those who wouldn’t otherwise vote for a negro or a woman. But wouldn’t expect that from either corporate-vetted and approved Democratic candidate.

    *I voted for Cynthia McKinney, who is both black and a woman, and that demographic thumbnail has nothing to do with my admiration for her.

  14. Run the Federal government quietly an’ stay outta the way, pleeeeze.

    Hmmm… stay out of whose way? If a group of militants is planning a spectacular attack on a major U.S. city, do you want the Federal government to stay quiet and out of the way? If so, vote Republican; they’ve proven they can do that.

    If a major U.S. port city is in the path of a potentially devastating hurricane, would you like the federal gov’t to stay quiet and out of the way? Republican– check.

    How about if a major corporation– say, an energy company or a bank– is making a habit of carrying on malfeasance that is going to send destructive ripples throughout the national economy? If you want quiet and outta the way– you know what to do.

    I’m sorry, Roberta, is that what you meant by quiet and out of the way? Because if you were referring to something else, like the federal government staying out of your lady bits, your bedroom, and your private conversations and correspondences, then maybe you don’t want to vote Republican.

  15. I forgot to say earlier, but thanks to Bridgett for that explanation. I always find the derision of cousin marriage odd, since in my family it was associated with pretension: no one but these few families are good enough for these few families. But what you say about it makes sense.

  16. Reminds me of the redneck who left his wife on their wedding night.
    When he returned home alone, he told his family:

    “I found out she was a virgin.”

    “If she ain’t good enough fer her family, she ain’t good enough fer ours.”

    I got a million of em!

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