Comedians make jokes about Red Necks. Black comedians make jokes about Black people and White comedians do so very carefully. As ethnic groups integrate into the broader society, jokes about them Italians, Greeks, Norwegians are acceptable and even jokes about Poles are tolerated, but Hispanics and Blacks and Native Americans and Jews are off-limits. Part of the humor is recognizing a cultural type. The Jewish mother, the Italian gangster, the Norwegian bachelor farmer are sketched for us and their traits are used as foils for the joke nice Italian gangsters who kill only people who need to be killed, no random violence.
Delimiting clusters of traits is referred to nowadays as profiling. Today I did some profiling as I was driving. I was listening to a country/western station and the male singer was singing about doing what pleased his girl. What pleased her, according to him, was “throwing gravel peeling out of the parking lot” or something like that, and “pushing 90”. Does that fit the stereotype? Yes, think Dukes of Hazard (they’re back in commercials now, a bit long in the tooth), but it fits the stereotype of any teenager. But just then I found myself in a construction zone with reduced speed behind a pick-up truck with a slogan painted on the back window about a “rifle solution”. Rifle solution? What’s the problem? I think it advertised a gun store at least I hope so. But then the car in front of him doing the speed limit turned off and he roared through the construction site belching black exhaust only to turn off a few blocks down. What was that about?
Is there a connection between country/western music and childish behavior, girls who like immature guys and guys who like girls who like immature guys? Recall the comedian’s line about going to the county fair and seeing the love of his life leaning against the corral, a corn dog in one hand and a Budweiser in the other. Stereotyping? Profiling? Do all gun nuts flout the law as they sell us weapons to defend law and order? Am I profiling if I expect to see the General Lee at a country/western show peel out of the parking lot throwing gravel?
Please let me know. Just don’t shoot me.
Sept. 18, 2019 That was pre-Trump. This is post-Trump. Just to be sure I had not written on The Dukes of Hazard Presidency, I searched Dukes on my site here and found the above post of March of 2015. And here we have the Dukes of Hazard Presidency (so I’ll have to retitle this, maybe Dukes Redux).
Trump is not a Duke. His followers imagine themselves to be Dukes, running the sheriff ragged, putting his squad car into a ditch, peeling out laughing with their short shorts blondie floozy girlfriend in the seat next to them, yelling “yahoo” out the window, and making sure you see their Confederate flag. This pretty much summarizes the presidency of Donald Trump: destroy everything, including the law, norms, alliances, trade, whatever he lays his hand to.
But why do these Trumpsters so hate everyone and everything that they embrace the politics of destruction. They are the true anarchists. That is why The Bulwark is home to conservatives who despise Trump and no doubt his supporters. They understand nothing. But still, why do they hate so much? You see it at their rallies; witnesses describe the hate which persists inside but evaporates into good ol’ boys and good ol’ girls outside the arena as they offer help, guidance, food and drink, and friendliness to the very journalists they were threatening and abusing inside. WTF?
They are striking back at a world they do not understand and that appears to threaten what they call their way of life. The Dukes were hillbilly good ol’ boys, like the mountain folk who sit on a stool all day by their whiskey still with a rifle over their lap waiting for that dang revenooer to show up. They cling, as Obama said, to their guns and their bibles as a bulwark against the threats they perceive, embodied both in economic reality (RIB, reality is a bitch) and cultural submersion. Seeing a synagogue or mosque go up in town or a Black guy take over the local tv channel news anchor spot may not enrage them but it makes them squirm a bit. Add in taco stands on every corner (remember that idiot?) and suddenly they have an answer to the unemployment and shuttered stores in their town: it’s THEM! (remember that movie?). And along comes Trump, echoing the emotion and bluster of the television preachers they listen to and you’ve got a convoy, right to the Oval Office. Shit!
We can’t change these people’s orientation to values and may not even want to, but we have to, as George Lakoff advises, get inside their frames and work them, appeal to their values of patriotism and fierce independence, family and faith, etc. Work with them. Learn how to yell Yahoo!