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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Soft Bigotry of Northern Elitism

The following article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on Thursday, October 26, 2006.

Stylin' in RoVa
By Jerry Fuhrman

Tell me if you've heard this one before: Why wasn't Jesus Christ born in southern Virginia? Because they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin. Haven't heard that one? How about this: Where was the toothbrush invented? Southwest Virginia. If it had been invented in Northern Virginia it would have been called a teethbrush.

Had enough? Find this mildly offensive? Resent the subtle bigotry and air of condescension? It kinda makes you want to write a letter to the editor of The Roanoke Times and give him the what-for, doesn't it? Who does that hypocritically pious holier-than-thou columnist think he is? What, he thinks he writes for the Style section of The Washington Post?

Let me digress for just a moment. It's fair to assume that very few of you reading this (residing in Southwest Virginia and therefore being members of America's great unwashed and ill-educated) know that The Washington Post has a Style section. Look into it and you'd find that the paper actually has a whole staff of people who produce the aforementioned.

On any given day, you'll find articles in Style devoted to sightings of trend-setting Democratic politicians like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, to the powerful and hip turning out at a Washington area society gala, to who's dating who and who's marrying who (or is it whom?) and who's dumping who and who was rumored to having been seen with whom, about haiku and jujitsu and kudzu and whether you too should parlez vous. You can read all about risotto, arugula and adobo and whether piquante is trendier than caliente. And don't get them started on the subject of merlot.

The Washington Post dedicates a whole section to such stuff.

Well, on Wednesday a week ago the staff got together and decided to devote a piece to southern Virginia. Actually it painted with a broad brush; it was about all of Virginia outside of hip and happenin' Northern Virginia, or NoVa as they seem to prefer to think of themselves. But the target was unmistakable. It was us. RoVa. The Rest of Virginia.

It wasn't what you might think the Style section of The Washington Post would be focused on, though. It wasn't about Southern cuisine or about the lifestyles of the area's rich and politically powerful. It had nothing to do with music or about our rich cultural heritage or about the historical significance of this proud region. It wasn't even one of those tiresome columns devoted to our majestic mountaintops with flower-festooned trails meandering through a veritable Garden of Eden.

No, the Style section staff of The Washington Post decided, for its own reasons, to belittle us. To poke fun at who we are, or, worse, at who they think we are. We were the butt of crude and unflattering jokes. I guess they were intended to be jokes. You decide. From "NoVa and RoVa: Welcome To A State of Disagreement":

• In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.

• In NoVa, a "fur piece" is something a woman wears on a special occasion. In RoVa, a "fur piece" is a unit of distance.

• In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.

And my personal favorite:

• In RoVa, they like freshly killed venison. In NoVa, they like Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Tennyson? Ain't that that feller what cooks up the white lightnin' over in Stinkin' Crick? Or was he that snot-nosed pit crew chief for Dale Jarrett? I can't recollect but no, we don't be knowin' no Tennyson down these ways, dadgummit.

I know. About now you're asking yourself: What on Earth does this have to do with style? Well, some things never change. A hundred years ago minstrels would paint their faces black, dress up in antebellum garb and sing "Mammy" to amuse the cultured classes, in hopes of getting six bits thrown at them for the evening meal. This is no different. The Stylists at The Post just did the dressing and singing for us. You might think of it as "Hee Haw" redux.

In response, I relay this quote, from Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "No man ever got very high by pulling other people down."

Getting Right With The 'Experts'

Let me be the first. Global warming:
Major Winter Storm Moves Through Chicago & Midwest

(State College, PA) - A powerful storm system that slammed the Plains States on Thursday moved into the upper Midwest overnight. This morning, the monster storm is causing major travel problems in Chicago and the surrounding area. Ahead of the system, unseasonably warm air will fuel the development of potentially damaging thunderstorms. (link)
I figured out how this works. Rain? Global warming. Snow? Global warming. Sunshine? Global warming. Moonshine? Global ...

As Only Tyrrell Can Put It

At the risk of beating this to death, I just couldn't pass this up. I enjoy wonderful words well-written:
The Gentleman From Virginia
By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. , The American Spectator

When Ronald Reagan's former secretary of the navy, James Webb, eked out victory against the Republican Senator George Allen in Virginia, what did the Democrats gain? In [James] Webb they gained yet another very unpleasant person as a conspicuous member of the party hierarchy. He will not be easily obscured. Webb now takes his place with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dr. Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jean-Francois Kerry, and so many other Democratic notables as a rebarbative blowhard with whom you would not want to share a gondola. Nor would a civilized American want to have any of these churlish cads to dinner or even as neighbors down the block. Just the other day one of Senator Clinton's neighbors turned up with a gunshot wound. I would not be surprised if it were self-inflicted.

I have said it before and I shall be saying it again, often politics is not a rational act. Increasingly, especially in the Democratic Party, it encourages behavior that is abnormal: politicians windsurfing to assure their constituencies that they are just like them or ranting to show how genuinely human they are. These pols play on the fantasies of mildly delusional voters. In the case of the unpleasant Webb, the delusions are a bit over the top. It makes me wonder why his stay at the Department of the Navy was so brief. Did the Reaganites shove him out? (link)
Playing "on the fantasies of mildly delusional voters." It's all starting to become clear ...

Another Voice

On James Webb, the champion of those who think a threat of slugging the president of the United States is somehow "a breath of fresh air":

Proud to Be a Boor
By James Bowman, The American Spectator

As both our esteemed editor, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., and George Will have pointed out, it didn't take long for Senator-elect Jim Webb, representing the courtly Southern gentlemen of Virginia, to demonstrate that he himself is no gentleman. At a White House reception he publicly snubbed his host, President Bush, and took the occasion of the President's polite inquiry after his son, a Marine serving in Iraq, as an invitation to air his political differences with him. "Boor" (Mr. Will's word) and "cad" (Mr. Tyrrell's) do not seem terms too strong to describe such deplorable behavior, though some people might have pointed out that it could hardly be counted a surprise in a man who makes such a public fuss about his record of military service and uses it to belittle and intimidate others -- a man who, moreover, is apparently unashamed of having achieved his present eminence by turning his coat and betraying so many of his former friends and colleagues in the Republican party. (link)

None of this should be surprising to any of you who were paying attention during the recent election campaign. Of course, most of you were fixated on more important matters like the length of Harris Miller's (Webb's Democratic primary opponent) nose and obscure North African nomadic Arab racial slurs. And cowboy hats. Fishing license citations.

You've proven once again that none of you (at least those of you who got caught up in this foolishness) deserves to be allowed to vote in this our democratic republic.

More Tobacco Idiocy

Someday cultural anthropologists will study the mindset of our ruling classes that allowed for such horseshit as the following to make it into a newspaper of some considerable reputation:
Puffing on Polonium
By Robert N. Proctor, writing in the New York Times

When the former K.G.B. agent Alexander V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210 last week, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. (link)
Fact: Trace amounts of polonium in the bloodstream will kill a person.

Fact: As of 2004, 44.5 million Americans (not counting the billion or so across the planet who do the same) smoke cigarettes.

Fact: Not one autopsy has ever been performed on a human being and found him or her to have died of smoking-related polonium poisoning. ZERO.

But this goofball got his delirium into the New York Times.

For the love of God.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Where do they send (highly paid) college professors when they lose their minds completely?
Scientist Says Concrete Was Used in Pyramids
By John Noble Wilford, The New York Times

In new research on the Great Pyramids of Giza, a scientist says he has found more to their construction than cut natural limestone. Some original parts of the massive structures appear to be made of concrete blocks.

Reporting the results of his study, Michel W. Barsoum, a professor of materials engineering at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, concluded that the use of limestone concrete could explain in part how ... (
One more of the pressing questions of our time answered.

The Earth Trembled

We have a declared candidate for president - 2008. Tom somebody ...

'We Were Just Kidding'

What was the number-one topic upon which the Democrats ran and subsequently won control of Congress just weeks ago? Right. Getting out of Iraq. Well, that, like every other platform these snakes espoused oh so recently, is now out the window:
The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody’s Leaving Right Now
By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

Washington, Nov. 30 — In the cacophony of competing plans about how to deal with Iraq, one reality now appears clear: despite the Democrats’ victory this month in an election viewed as a referendum on the war, the idea of a rapid American troop withdrawal is fast receding as a viable option.

In statements on Thursday, Democrats from former President Bill Clinton to Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seemed to agree that hard timelines could invite trouble. (link)
So the official position of the Democratic Party as it relates to the Iraq war is rapidly (and mysteriously) evolving from "Get our troops out" to "Stay the course."

You gotta love these guys ... the ones you wanted ... the ones you're going to have to live with.

Webb's Warped Worldview

I made mention of George Will's article yesterday about our senator-elect turning out to be a monumental churl. A wonderful piece. Beyond that, there was a second topic that Will addressed that deserves mention as well; one that I wrote about in the Roanoke Times on the same day (that puts me in stellar company I think) - Class Warfare. From Will's "Already Too Busy For Civility":

In his novels and his political commentary, Webb has been a writer of genuine distinction, using language with care and precision. But just days after winning an election, he was turning out slapdash prose that would be rejected by a reasonably demanding high school teacher.

Never mind Webb's careless and absurd assertion that the nation's incessantly discussed wealth gap is "the least debated" issue in American politics.

And never mind the cavalier historical judgments -- although is he sure that America is less egalitarian today than it was, say, 50 years ago, when only about 7 percent of American adults had college degrees? (Twenty-eight percent do today.) Or 80 years ago, when more than 80 percent of American adults did not have high school diplomas (85 percent have them today), and only about 46 percent owned their own homes, compared with 69 percent today?

But notice, in the second sentence of Webb's column, the word "infinitely." Earth to Webb: Words have meanings that not even senators can alter. And he has been elected to be a senator, not Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass." ("When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.") America's national economic statistics are excellent; Webb could actually tell us how much richer the "top tier" has become, relative to other cohorts, over a particular span. But that would require him to actually say whom he is talking about, and that takes time and effort, and senators -- Webb is a natural -- often are too busy for accuracy.

Based on Webb's behavior before being sworn in, one shudders to think what he will be like after that. He already has become what Washington did not need another of, a subtraction from the city's civility and clear speaking.

I couldn't have said it better myself.