Thursday, July 19, 2007

Black and White and Redneck All Over

In Black Rednecks and White Liberals, sociologist Thomas Sowell suggests that the black pathology we see lionized by inner city thugs today is really just a kind of "black redneck" culture adopted from white rednecks in the South.

Sowell has a point. Both cultures embrace easy violence, routine inebriation, monthly government checks, and children born out of wedlock. Both cultures embrace prison tattoos and celebrate machismo posturing. Both cultures have a long love affair with fast vehicles, easy credit and gambling.

Is it really such a shock, then, that a southern black redneck by the name of Michael Vick was caught with a dog fighting arena and a kennel-full of scarred Pit Bulls behind his house in Virginia?

Let's be clear what Vick was doing: He was raising dogs to fight each other to the death for entertainment purposes, and he had been doing it for at least 6 years as part of his "Bad Newz Kennels." The "winning" dog was lucky to survive his wounds, while the loser, if not killed outright in the fight, was shot, hung, or electrocuted.

Sure Vick is a professional football player with a lot of money. So what? And yes, he's black. Big deal.

You see the germane issue here is not Vick's job, or his money, or his skin color. The real deal here is that Michael Vick is a criminal redneck.

Just to clarify: just because you are poor does not make you a redneck. Just because you are rural or Southern does not make you a redneck. There are good people, black and white, who do not have a lot of money or a lot of education and who happen to live in the South and buy their towels (and their deer-hunting ammunition) at WalMart.

Most of these people marry their children's mother, do not routinely get drunk, pay their bills, work hard at their jobs, and go to church. Call these folks "redneck," and you may be picking up your teeth.

A redneck is someone who confuses bad choices for culture. But don't take my word for it. Listen to any of the rappers who feel they have to routinely give a shout-out to their fellow "Niggaz," while singing about drinking their "40s" and shooting their "trey-eights," and cruising for their "hoes."

Better yet listen to country music star Gretchen Wilson celebrate "Redneck Women," whom she defines as those who would "rather drink beer all night, in a tavern or in a honky tonk, or on a 4 wheel drive tailgate."

And if you have a problem with her lifestyle of public drunkeness, she sings, "I don't give a rip, I'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip, cause I'm a redneck woman."

Is it an accident that there's a Pit Bull in that big picture on her web site? I don't think so.

Great. These folks are glamorizing the folks who keep showing up drunk and shirtless on "COPS." Bad boys, bad boys, who you gonna call when they come for you?"

Now rednecks may come in any skin color, but in America they tend to come from one region and that region is the one in which I live: the South. When rednecks are found anywhere else in America, it is generally due to the southern diaspora to the West, Midwest and North which occurred after the Civil War, and then again after Korea.

Scratch the paint on the trailer trash living in the oil and gas-rigging towns of Wyoming, or the drive-by shooters speeding through Compton, and you'll find a Southerner -- perhaps one or two generations removed, but a Southerner just the same. It is not an accident that Michael Vick is from Virginia.

What is amazing to me is that there are those who think Michael Vick should be defended.

Why? Why would we want to defend this kind of pathology? Because he's black? Please! You know what we do to white people who are engaged in dog fighting operations (and there are plenty of them)? Why should Michael Vick get different?

No civilized person needs to be told that dog fighting is wrong, and no sensible person defends it. Anyone who claims this is a "southern cultural tradition" should be reminded that southern cultural traditions also include rape, slavery and cross burning. Let it go. Let us strive to be better than rednecks. That's good advice regardless of your skin color.

As to the notion that Michael Vick is being "persecuted" because he is famous, I have to say I am much amused. After watching John DeLorean and O.J. Simpson go free, I am not too worried about a multi-millionaire in this country getting too harsh a sentence.

As for persecution, what an odd word to use for someone who has been involved in killing dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of innocent dogs. Were the dogs being persecuted when they were chained out, beaten and electrocuted? Any sympathy for them?

Nor am I worried about too harsh a sentence for Mr. Vick. My bet is that he will get the same sentence former Green Bay Packers football player LeShon Johnson got for the same offense: a five-year deferred sentence. That was it. The dogs, of course, are almost always killed.

Still want to talk about persecution?

Finally, a word about fame. It is not a one-way street. If you are a junky for celebrity, then make sure you do only praise-worthy things that the world can celebrate. If you do stupid, criminal, or crazy things, you will find that these will show up on on ESPN and Entertainment Tonight just as fast as the good. Ask Brittney Spears and Courtney Love. Or better yet, ask Michael Vick. Bad Newz indeed!



Anonymous said...

An excellent position on the subject, IMO. Anyone who tries to defend Vick and link dog fighting with hunting is playing directly into the hands of the ARs, not only supplying them with ammunition but loading the gun for them.

Additionally, Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors and columnists. His "Cultures" trilogy should be required reading for anyone expressing an opinion of the virtues of "multiculturalism" as defined today.


the wily marmot said...

Here is Steve Sailer's take on Sowell's thesis.

clandauer said...

I love Thomas Sowell. He is a brilliant and lucid writer (a trait he shares with Patrick) and I find his perspective refreshing.

I'd often glance up at Hoover Tower on my way to class, and when I wasn't laughing at its ungainly resemblance to the male member, I'd wonder what Mr. Sowell was writing at that moment.

I agree with your write up, PB, and I find the rush to defend the sports icon disgusting. Some of the players on my very own Broncos were the first to spin this as a "cultural practice" ... one stop short of a religious practice, as if labeling something as "culture" or "religion" makes everything acceptable and untouchable.

History, culture, and religion are the three go-to excuses for unthinking behavior: We do it this way because we've always done it this way; my people do this; god told me to do it.

Luckily most of the unthinking traditions we inherit are tested by time and are beneficial, (we do it this way because it works) but I do agree that certain traditions need to be dropped post haste.

It's interesting how our choice of dogs and what we do with them have joined the ranks of our choice in cars and what bumper stickers we glue to the back of them as an outward symbol of our personal culture.

clandauer said...

Thanks for that link TWM, Sailer had some interesting information linked in his piece, and I have to say that it's the first time I've read about the family structure in S.S.Africa that wasn't a rosy-eyed feel good piece about oral histories.

But Sailer seems to defeat his own emphasis on the lingering African culture influence when he notes at the end, "The black illegitimacy rate shot upward from 22 percent in the mid-Sixties to 70 percent by the early Nineties."

That's the 1960s to the 1990s, no? It might be more convincing if it was referring to the 1860s to the 1890s.

I find it a hard stretch that African family culture (especially the elements Sailer pointed out that lead to illegitimacy) survived the slave trade, the plantations, and the dispersive forces that go with being property instead of self governing independent family units, and then the aftermath of emancipation... to arrive at 22% illegitimacy in the 1960s... only to exert its influence THEN and cause the explosion to 70%.

The point of considering the effects of culture when superimposing a foreign welfare policy is a good one, but I just don't buy that said culture was so heavily influenced by "the old country."

In effect, Steve Sailer's piece says that the "matrilocal" S.S.A families were caused by the farming practices in Africa. But that influence would have had to survive hundreds of years of plantation farming practices that would dismantle any sort of cultural form-following-function effect that Sailer describes, and then survive a century of freedom before being so expressed.

We all steal cultural tidbits from our surroundings, and the early adopters often site the death of the cool and the hip as the moment when a cultural totem jumps the gap to the main stream (think middle class white chicks using the word "bling" for their tiffany bracelets). I'd tend to think that there was more concentrated interaction between rednecks and newly emancipated blacks than there would be interaction with the dilute memory of a time and a continent far far away.

I think it's safe to assume that when you have a huge effect happen over a few decades, look for a cause that happened in a close proximity to the action.

The only people I think have a really solid link to their ancestry hundreds of years ago typically have names like Windsor.

the wily marmot said...

Some of the players on my very own Broncos were the first to spin this as a "cultural practice...

Shows how cultural relativism and the gestalt of multiculturalism has even filtered its way down to NFL players.

PJB, on some of the sports blogs Vick defenders are equating hunting with dog fighting, I'd like to know your take on this as an experienced and ethical hunter.

PBurns said...

A few random points:

1. Hunting and dog fighting have nothing in common. Zero, nada, zilch, empty set. While I suppose Julia Child and Jeffrey Dahmer might be able to discuss recipes (“So, how long do you marinate the heads of your victims, Jeff?”) the dog fighter has nothing to teach the hunter, and the hunter shares nothing in common with the dog fighter. There is so little in common here, that there is no intersection at all.

2. The link to Steve Sailer’s article in the comments above, takes you to the web site of VDARE. I have known of VDARE since the moment it was created, as I used to sit on another organization’s board of directors with one of its founders. That said, I have always rejected both the name of the site and its premise. For the record, VDARE stands for Virginia Dare, who was the first white child born in America. The fact that this is considered a big deal by the site’s creators tells you quite a lot. I personally could not give a rat’s patootie what race any one is. While I have some concerns about culture, culture is quite different from race. In fact, this is exactly the point made by Thomas Sowell, and also the message in my post about Michael Vick and the culture of dog fighting.

3. Steve Sailer is a good writer, but he is not well informed about the demographic history of the South. Virginia, my home state and Michael Vick’s, was where slavery in America started (Jamestown), and where it ended (the Appomattox Courthouse). It is not an accident that the Capitol of the Confederacy was Richmond, Virginia, or that so many Civil War battles were fought up and down the Shenandoah Valley, or that the South’s greatest general, Robert E. Lee, called Virginia home. Why was Virginia so wrapped up in the Civil War if it was not a plantation state? Simple: From the mid-1700s and into the middle part of the 1800s, Virginia and North Carolina were breeder states -- human incubators where slaves were bred and shipped south. Slave breeding was an economic engine in this region. The people escorting slaves south from the breeder states were hard-drinking, ham-fisted, thick-tongued descendents of the Scott-Irish settlers of North Carolina and Virginia. Many of these Scott-Irish descendents stayed in the South and took jobs in the middle management of the plantations. The notion that all of the white folks in the Deep South were cultured, patrician Colonel Sanders look-a-likes who drank mint juleps after dinner is patent nonsense. You do not run a slave empire in a white suit; you run it with a boot and a whip. And have no illusion: those boots and whips were often in the hands of very hard rough-and ready men of Scott-Irish descent (or French in Louisiana) who would knock you to the ground and turn a dog loose on you as soon as look at you in the eye. Today the descendents of those people fill the stands of pro-wrestling and NASCAR events. Some are racists; most are not. We have evolved; Darwin was not all wrong.

4. All attempts to link the cultural values of today’s black Americans to Africa are comical and telegraph both a lack of understanding of the slave experience, and an ignorance of the complexity that is Africa. For starters, the slaves that came to America were completely illiterate, and thanks to white oppression their progeny remained so for generations. Add to this the fact that these slaves did not come from one tribe but from hundreds of tribes, and that they did not speak one language, but many dozens of languages, and that they did not have one culture but dozens of cultures. The slaves did not preserve their recipes, their clothes, their language, their religions, their oral histories, or their names. Ripped from their own villages in Africa, they came to this country in chains and their children were subsequently ripped from their mothers and fathers to be sold South into slavery. Nothing else of Africa was preserved, but we are supposed to believe that some amorphous, universal, all-purpose set of “African cultural values” did? Ha! In truth, this kind of nonsense is an overlay that is sought out by some because it is a more comforting explanation than the simple truth, which is that black Americans (good, bad or indifferent) are a by-product of America (good, bad, or indifferent). Sowell’s point is that the only folks most southern black Americans had for a model other than themselves were the thick-tongued, hard-drinking, often-violent, gambling rednecks of the rural south. Where there were better models (as in the North) better results were achieved. Tell the truth: Is it really such a cosmic leap to see a little Floyd Boudreaux in Michael Vick?

Who is Floyd Boudreaux? Ah – I will let those interested in that question do a little Google research on their own and report out. I came in talking about dogs; let me leave doing that too.


clandauer said...

1. Good call P, in the era of PC BS and universal (let alone moral) relativity where everything has to be a continuum and every statement and fact must be so qualified as to be meaningless, you're right on to draw a clear line in the sand and say that the intersection of fighting and hunting is the null set. The two in no way overlap.

I don't do either. No fighting at all, and I'd hardly call shooting squirrels with an air rifle serious and artful hunting. But despite that, it's a rare quality to find someone who will call a spade a spade and even then not check their cliche use against the PC police for any possible and banal misconstrual of their language or the thought behind them as potentially offensive to the professionally offended.

When you indulge relativism you invite such comparisons, so bravo for being crystal clear.

2. It never hurts to repeat ideas that have yet to catch on, such as the distinction between race and culture, especially when the reality and/or perception of the two significantly overlap for certain populations. That's what's so refreshing about Sowell and others who when faced with seeming correlations don't simply repeat the mantra that "correlation doesn't imply causation" but actually put forth theories of what IS the cause.

That's where you and Sailer part ways, I find your explanations of causation convincing, not so much the few I've read of his.

3. I'm tickled that we came to the same conclusion about the implausibility of Sailer's cultural inheritance theory and basically by the same logic. There's plenty of revisionist history and bogus cultural inheritance perpetrated by notable figures in the black community, and the proper response is not to create more revisionist history and bogus cultural inheritance theories if you're a proud member of the white community (or any community).

I can understand the desire to respond to elements such as Ebonics and Kwanzaa with equally preposterous cultural reimaginings, but understanding and condoning and repeating and supporting are all very different things. To fight fire with fire sounds good, but water and sand are much more effective.

4. "the slaves that came to America were completely illiterate, and thanks to white oppression their progeny remained so for generations" ... how fitting with your circular argument regarding Virginia (and Sowell's argument regarding Western civilization using but also precipitating the end of Slavery) that you can continue the story and say that thanks to a different element of "white" society and the culture of education, generations of slave progeny now enjoy rights and privileges that are notably elusory in Mother Africa.

But we've gotten away from dogs again.

5. Regarding PC stupidity and loonies on the left, I did enjoy a good laugh at the following article on DailyKos which looks at the Dog Fighting / Mike Vick story and finds the TRUE evil behind it.... Nike shoes!

The comments are hilarious as well. For a bunch of neo-socialists, they seem to forget that corporations are simply groups of people and that their venom is undoubtedly being spewed on a corporate created laptop over a corporate created fiber optic line going through corporate created routers while they bask in the health created by corporate funded medications, etc. etc. etc.

You know, they're so busy pulling the typical slactivistic tactic of bemoaning the magnitude and degree of an action instead of appreciating that the direction taken is the right one (they want Nike to denounce Vick instead of just cutting his line of shoes as they have done) that they fail to appreciate corporate America and specifically Nike for what good they have done if we were only looking.

Specifically, one of the commentors posted a link that the author was ignorant of, specifically how Nike not only had Vick as a celebrity front (big deal), but they've actually used dog fighting imagery in past advertising (not as easy to claim ignorance on that!).

They incorrectly conclude that Nike is evil and appreciably contributed to the dog fight phenomena by glamorizing the behavior. They should instead appreciate that the profit incentive has the amazing ability to get things done decades before academia gets around to asking for money to study issues. Advertisers have a keen interest in tracking fads and trends and one might learn from their research (which has to be done much faster than a sociologist historian) by looking at what kind of ads they produce. The existence of a pit bull and a rotty getting frisky in an older ad doesn't signal Nike's desire to promote the practice but their observation that dogfighting is a popular and growing element in a market they are trying to seduce.

It takes a zit popping event like the Vick event to get the news media to pay attention to the issue and then suddenly we all hear that this is not a new fad but has been going on for years, it's just now getting the attention it deserves.

Well, Nike's ad guys could have told you that years ago when they made their ad.

It only makes sense that people who have their fingers on the pulse constantly will be better informed about the status, trends, and history than the people who only pay attention when an event happens or who analyze data years later.

If you want to know what the next big trend is, look at what the early adopters are doing... what new domain names are being snapped up with fervor... what is getting buzz with the elites... and how is corporate America trying to fill the new demands?

Again, by the time that middle class suburbanites are snapping up Staffordshire Terriers faster than they learned the Macarena or replaced the batteries in their singing big mouth bass, you're way beyond nipping the problem in the bud before it gets too big. It's as ignorant as thinking that alcoholism wasn't a problem until Betty Ford.

To the above DailyKos blogger, the dog issue is just a token to be played in a game that isn't about the dogs but about her own petty politics. Just like the dogs in dog fighting (or in dog showing for that matter) are incidental to the activity, they are simply a proxy for human concerns.

PBurns said...

Excllent point about how so many debates are really about scoring points for one side or another and the core issues are actually incidental to that, and often left to rot. Sad, but true

I note this morning that it looks like Virginia is going to file charges on Vick for killing dogs and fighting dogs on his property. If so, that's bad new for Mr. Vick, as few folks do well when the Feds and the State triangulate their shots, and it suggests a local crime can be proven.


the wily marmot said...

Re Vdare: As Brimelow once said when queried about the name of the site, Virginia Dare was the first English child born in what in North America, not the first white child. The first white child (as he said) was an unknown Norse. I realize that answer might seem a little disingenuous to some. I might add that since ST Augustine was founded in (from memory-I didn't google it)1585 there were probably some little Spaniards born in in Florida before Virginia Dare was born.

Vdare has a wide variety of writers on the site: from old-fashioned FDR Dems like Joe Guzzardi to a neocon like Michelle Malkin to the fiercely anti-war paleocon Paul Craig Roberts. Some of the regular writers are Hispanic and a gringo (Alan Wall)who is married to a Mexican and has lived in Mexico for many years.

The article I linked to makes you wonder if Sailer is determined not to be accepted in polite company.

P.S. When I was doing a little web research on dog fighting I found a Floyd Boudreaux tribute video on YouTube-probably still there.

Matt said...

Good, fearless post. The only disagreement I have is your characterization of "redneck," a term I have always embraced as describing someone who works hard outside in the sun. But I see your points and appreciate you addressing these topics.

PBurns said...


YES "English" is being used here as code for white. After all, it is Virginia Dare's whiteness that makes her special. She represents young female virginal whiteness wiped off of the face of the earth by nameless faceless hordes of nonwhite heathens.

That is the Virginia Dare story.

Never mind that the heathens were the native people of this hemisphere.

The take away message in the Virginia Dare story is that whiteness is always in a precarious position – the core message of the KKK.

To folks like Peter Brimelow, Virginia Dare is a big damn deal because she was white, not because she was English.

Put let's take Brimelow's proposition on face value, that Virginia Dare's being English was important. Why was it important? It’s not like Virginia Dare wrote anything, built anything or even had any children. Her only import in this world is as a race icon.

And let us not bang the gong too loudly for England, eh? Go through the ethnic background of most Americans, and you do not find English, but German, Irish, Russian, Italian, Scot, African, Spanish, Chinese, Norwegian, French, Swedish, and almost everything in between. Today less than 20 percent of the American population has any British ancestor at all.

Burns is an Irish or Scot name, Bodio an Italian or Swiss name, Mullenix a French Cajun name. We eat Jewish bagels and German frankfurters, but we do not drink English tea. We do not order out for British food, we order out for Chinese or Italian or Mexican. There are not too many Anglicans in this country.

We speak English, of course, but that’s true of Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leon as well. Are the folks at VDARE for admitting more African immigrants to the U.S.? Nope. Never mind that African immigrants to the U.S. have the highest levels of educational attainment of any immigrant group.

For some folks, race trumps everything else.

That is the very definition of racism.

And realize I do not toss around words like “racism” lightly. Long before Peter Brimelow was even interested in the issue, I was being quoted in books on immigration policy as a restrictionist by other restrictionists such as Richard Lamm. Most immigration restrictionists are not racists. But some are. And Peter Brimelow is firmly in that group.

You want to know a good name for an immigration reform web site? Big Foot. Big Foot was the Sioux Indian chief murdered by the 7th Calvary – the one Johnny Cash made a song about, and Dee Brown wrote a book about.

Funny enough, Big Foot is not Peter Brimelow’s icon, even though Sioux Chief Ben American Horse once wryly observed that “Indians had bad immigration laws.”

But of course racists have never wanted to talk about Indian massacres by white people, have they? They want to talk about virginal white girls like Virginia Dare being raped and killed by nameless, faceless nonwhite heathen hordes. Such tales have been a staple in the South for generations, but pardon me if I let that toxic cup pass me by this time around, eh?

And, while the folks at VDARE are always going to be happy to quote a smart black man like Thomas Sowell when he talks about the negative aspects of low-rent African American culture (“See? See? He says there’s a problem there too!”), they will studiously ignore what Thomas Sowell has to say about the Irish, and they will affirmatively oppose any notion that the legacy of Scott-Irish immigration might be pit dogs fought in the ghetto -- never mind how those dogs first came to these shores.

And yes, we Burns may be implicated in such matters a little bit. Look up the name Christopher “Kit” Burns and see what you find. Kit Burns was many things, but a black man he was not.

P. Burns

the wily marmot said...

Today the descendents of those people fill the stands of pro-wrestling and NASCAR events. Some are racists; most are not. We have evolved; Darwin was not all wrong.

You have to wonder how much in change in attitude is simply accomodation to the realities of power. We've come a long way since the days when crypto-Commie FDR ddin't seem to care a fig about Southern segregation and wouldn't even speak out in favor of an anti-lynching bill introduced in Congress. Today a presumed white racist faces social ostracism nad possible loss of employment. I don't think members of NOI or MEChA face the same potential problems.

Then there are "hate crimes". I can't imagine Brimelow getting into a scuffle in a bar or on the street with a black or Mexican, but it could happen to a working class white. A few punches thrown could conceivably cause the white five or more years in prison if has a history of Mark Furhman-like statements or the wrong tattos on his body or the wrong literature in his home. Presumably the hard drive on his computer could also be seized and examined.

Lucky for me I can view all this dispassionately: for more than four years I've been no further north than Guatemala.

P.S. Here is the Floyd tribute video.

Anonymous said...

For a pretty good litany on the term redneck, see