Goatherds with Guns: The Anti's New Line

Goatherds with Guns: The Anti's New Line

image001The 2014 election was a disaster for the Democratic Party and its PR agency, the establishment media. An explanation had to be found, and it appears to have been. The whole problem with America, it appears, is people, and especially men, from the South.

This theme was expounded even before the election by Colin Woodard, author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. He explained in a 2013 piece in the Tufts University alumni magazine that the USA is made up of multiple regional cultures that have widely divergent attitudes toward issues like gun ownership and the death penalty.

Those who live in the regions he dubs Yankeedom, New Netherland and the Left Coast, he writes, are inclined towards the European model of governance, with a strong state predominating over individual rights, with the required exceptions of pot and sodomy. In contrast, the nations he calls Deep South, Greater Appalachia and Tidewater are characterized by a violent honor culture that prizes individual autonomy, deterrence of crime rather than a therapeutic approach, and limited government.

So where does that honor culture originate? The Scots-Irish:

"These immigrants, who populated what I call Greater Appalachia, came from "an economy based on herding," which, as anthropologists have shown, predisposes people to belligerent stances because the animals on which their wealth depends are so vulnerable to theft. Drawing on the work of the historian David Hackett Fisher, Nisbett maintained that "southern" violence stems partly from a "culture-of-honor tradition," in which males are raised to create reputations for ferocity — as a deterrent to rustling — rather than relying on official legal intervention."

You just know who Woodard is rooting for here, of course:

"The code of Yankeedom could not have been more different. Its founders promoted self-doubt and self-restraint, and their Unitarian and Congregational spiritual descendants believed vengeance would not receive the approval of an all-knowing God. This nation was the center of the nineteenth-century death penalty reform movement, which began eliminating capital punishment for burglary, robbery, sodomy, and other nonlethal crimes."

So the important division in American society, then, is between the pistol-packin', NASCAR-watchin', Lynyrd Skynyrd listenin', cousin-datin', hang 'em-high progeny of a ragged, stinking lot of borderland goat herders and the self-restrained, introspective descendants of an altogether better class of people who had the taste and good sense to settle in, say, Connecticut.

This is no more than a thin academic veneer over the thinking that gave us the "Beverly Hillbillies" or "Smokey and the Bandit." Read it and you can hear the banjo from "Deliverance" in the background. People in the North are just better, nicer people, after all, and just too refined to be interested in guns.

In my experience, and it is quite a long experience, the hardest-nosed gun rights advocates you will meet are the ones from Connecticut or Massachusetts or New York. They're the ones who have seen that British or Canadian-style democracy and gun policy up close.

Contrary to the prevailing academic wisdom, they're often Italians or Jews, and they're just as firm on the Second Amendment as any Georgia cracker. Their existence, I guess, is just unknown or doesn't fit the paradigm.

Michael Lind, an apostate Texan, took it even further in a Politico Magazine feature:

"The United States would be much less exceptional in general, and in particular more like other English-speaking democracies such as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were it not for the effects on U.S. politics and culture of the American South.

I don't mean this in a good way. A lot of the traits that make the United States exceptional these days are undesirable, like higher violence and less social mobility. Many of these differences can be attributed largely to the South."

So there you have it. The only thing stopping us from being another Canada is those unreconstructed Confederates and their guns.

This line of argument is odious on several levels. First, the slander of an entire region of people as the inbred spawn of barbarian sheepherders would never be tolerated if applied to another ethnic group. If you were to suggest that the wave of illegal aliens climbing the fences of Texas and washing ashore at Miami were conditioned by Aztec rituals and the Spanish Inquisition to have quick recourse to the switchblade, you'd be frog-marched out of any faculty lounge in the land.

Second, and we've had 50 years to get used to this, is the notion that there's no need to analyze pro-gun arguments intellectually. If your opponent is no more than a shaved and showered update of some savage who rallied to the pipes and cut throats with a dirk, why even pretend he has anything cogent to say or that his opinions are anything other than the dark, primitive prejudices of his flea-bitten forebears?

Last, and most sinister, is the scapegoating of an identifiable group of people. Usually, it's the Jews, but there have been plenty of other examples. The Huguenots under Louis XIV, say, or Greeks and Armenians in Turkey. When you select a group and say "they're the ones holding us back," you're setting in motion the sort of thinking that leads to Rwanda or Yugoslavia.

The funny part, of course, is that they are scapegoating people they describe as the heavily armed, violent descendants of border wild men who probably took liberties with sheep. Is that really smart? You never know, after all, just what people like that might do.

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