This morning we here at HS received an e-mail from a friend of ours, Mr. Rodger Cunningham. The byline was, “I swear this woman is serious. . . .” I clicked on the link and found this article on the site of The Huffington Post, and I have rarely been more insulted than when I read this article, and not just for
Smiley’s article reviewed a work entitled Albion’s Seed which attempted to elucidate the contributions, good and bad, of four of the original immigrant movements to the future
Actually, let me quote Ms. Smiley. Because I can’t insult my own people well enough to get across her point. Ahem.
. . . the Borders/Appalachian culture of hot-blooded and violent populism that is xenophobic, religiously aggressive, fundamentalist, and sectarian, that is supicious (sic) of learning, antagonistic towards "elites", and antipathetic to women's autonomy. It defines itself by masculinity and arms-bearing, is belligerent by nature and quick to take offense. Its natural (and historic) enemy is the outgrowth of Quaker culture, liberalism.
The one part she did get right is that we, famously, are antagonistic towards elites – we are obsessed with, and this is insane, “individual freedom!” (please, insert scary ghost noise here)
Ms. Smiley goes on to point out how Appalachians were natural allies of the “Cavaliers” and that Appalachian culture is one far more obsessed with avenging affronts to culture, rather than dealing with issues according to conscience through rational action or conversation. She also points out that Gore was saved from his Appalachian-ness by being
Let me read you Ms. Smiley’s next to last paragraph before I conclude:
I do think that the rise of culture #4 puts our democracy in danger, simply because it is an uncompromising culture that has been reluctant to assimilate itself into the larger society for a thousand years, both in
I can barely respond. Apparently the Cavalier culture has, by this point in the article, become completely immersed in the Appalachian culture (specifically, I refer here to the “social hierarchy” element), and the fact that Appalachians are (apparently) all fundamentalist Christians and violent monstrosities necessitates an internal crusade, the kind of wonderful social engineering that upperclass English (of centuries ago, not today - I'll not make the mistake of confusing the 17th and 18th centuries with the 21st) practiced against the Scots – you know, when they drove my ancestors off their farms and tried to destroy their traditions by suppressing their religion, their right to bear arms (oh, crazy me – I’m living up to Ms. Smiley’s stereotypes – I guess the Scots were horrible folk), and, heck, even they way they dressed. Gee – sounds great.
I want to respond to the historical inaccuracies of Ms. Smiley. I beg your indulgence.
Second, Appalachia, like the other frontier regions of the
By the way, I use feminist theory constantly in my research, and am married to a woman who kept her maiden name – a woman who was raised in the hills of western
Third, Ms. Smiley asserts that
Oh, and by the way, any amateur historian can tell you that
Fifth, it should be said that Puritanical, fundamentalist religion is not a creation of
As to why the cultural descendants of Appalachia fled the
Earlier I referred to Ms. Smiley’s romanticism. This is the pervading theme of her diatribe. Appalachia, and Appalachia’s culture, is her real-life Heart of Darkness or Dracula’s Transylvania, while wealthy, Democratic-party dominated America is her Victorian London – proper and modern and forward-thinking.
I could go on, bring up points like our role in the American Civil Rights Movement, the role of the Scotsmen in the Enlightenment, or even the simple truth of the fact that Appalachians are a minority in every state we’re found in, except
Apologies for the rant.