June 10th, 2006


Parochialism: a rant

[93, all!

Crossposted from a friend's thread because I went on waaaaay too long so, well, here it is. Hope you enjoy.

93 93/93 -- AJ]

What may confuse some Yankees is the sullen and defensive tone of the [Advice for Non-Southerners] piece you posted. After all (they may reason), if they posted Advice For Southerners that began "Hey, Goober, when you visit a place where people don't eat with their toes and bang their sisters..." -- well, then they really would expect to get their asses kicked [a constant theme of the piece in question]; and since they're unaware of holding any prejudice towards southerners, jeez, what's with the hostility?

What they're missing is the lifelong subdermal itch (or worse) of having people you otherwise respect assume you're at least slightly retarded, simply because of the way you speak (not to mention little leftovers from the War Between the States, persistent stuff like "Fortunately We, America, beat You, Those Other Folks..."). Such prejudice is not, alas, helped by a Yankee willingness to admit his first impressions were wrong: "Wow! You're really smart!" is not necessarily a compliment when right under it is hidden the subtext, "which totally amazes me considering you sound like an utter dumbass with all that magnolia dripping off your lips, honeychile."


Hulk sorry. Hulk start over.

The problem here -- on all sides, including (IMO) in the post in question -- is PAROCHIALISM: the notion, found among all peoples of all nations everywhere on the planet, that One's Own Folks are fundamentally different from Those Folks Over There. Cultures differ, to be sure: down to the level of region, or even neighborhood. But people do not differ markedly, it is THEIR SOCIAL CODES which differ. I mean "codes" in a sense very like "codes and ciphers," or maybe better still the set of Magick Words that gets you into a Properly Tyled Lodge: the basic attitudes that make you One Of Us, and not One Of Them.

Thank God Almighty and Human Evolution, such codes are finally breaking down, worldwide -- most especially thanks to the internet. In fact, I suspect developments like Patrick Henry College (a sort of Jesuit-style institution for homeschooled evangelical Christians) will unintentionally add to this change (as the Society of Jesus itself did): once you start doing "opposition research" into others' points of view, sometimes you get less blinkered. Time will tell.

Anyway, speaking as, deep breath, (1) a descendant of rich, effete, Eurocentric high society bluebloods (2) from Kansas City, Missouri (!), who was himself (3) born in Hollywood, California, and has lived in Los Angeles most of his life, but also (4) spent several crucial childhood years in Missouri and Kansas, including (5) a stay in the Missouri Ozarks -- and believe me, the regional tension between cityfied Missourians and Don't-Call-Them-Fuckin-Hillbillies can be every bit as rough as any other parochialism (but I became a really excellent fisherman and a fair to middlin shot, that summer, with both gun and bow -- so there, honky!)...wellsir, I am here to tell you that I think everyone on earth should have to live for a time among people from several radically different cultures over the course of her or his life, because, goddamnit, IT MAKES YOU LESS STUPID TO SEE HOW OTHER PEOPLE THINK.

Again, such parochialism is found among ALL human communities -- most especially those considered opinion-makers. The New York Times is, unbeknownst to its devotees, a notoriously poor newspaper (as it has to be, to do its opinion-setting job), and at notoriously MOR Harvard (as it also has to be, since it's training the future ruling class), a paper-thin lightweight like Alan Derschowitz is unaccountably considered an intellectual. Go figure!

Hulk almost done. Little more.

Parochialism is found all over the world (all over Asia, in particular, and within subcommunities of tiny Japan -- let alone between Japan and Everyone Else On Earth, including Japanese living abroad!); it is endemic among east coast (U.S.) liberals, who, for example, constantly refer to western states as having "no weather" because the weather they do have is sooooo different from the way it is in their own little tiny familiar bailiwick. Small-mindedly regional, much? You bet!

But (final screed) I am a great believer that there is a world nation happening, of people who believe in freedom, and affection, and smarts; the sort of thing that makes me have infinitely more in common with, say, Ron "Tater Salad" White (let alone St. Bill Hicks) than, say, Gov. Arnold Fartzenknocker, even though the latter assbite lives down the street from me. See?

So, yeah. Well understood why you posted this (though, n.b., I get the sneaking suspicion that it was written in large measure for that "Clinton-Gore-Edwards" passage, with "Duke" thrown in as camouflage: its object being to suggest that True Southerners would never vote for the sorts of candidates that most terrify the GOP, since they could, you know, WIN NATIONAL U.S. ELECTIONS and stuff). But know that plenty of non-assbites exist who don't dream for an instant that smarts are the personal province of any region, or class, or race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or age, or religion, or political party or philosophy, or...well, or anything, other than the accidents of birth, and old-fashioned ballbreaking hard work.

Amen! Hallelujah! 'Nuff said!

XXOO -- AJ :*
(who has screwed off for another night writing this and it's ALL your fault) (yeah right)