FROM THE DUST JACKET:
In a world fairly suffocating with sensitivity toward ethnic stereotyping, there remains one glaring exception-the rural redneck, who continues to be portrayed as either a clownish subhuman or a horrifying villain. Despite all you might hear about bigotry in America, the country's most openly maligned social group isn't blacks or Jews or Hispanics, it's the cultural clan variously referred to as rednecks, hillbillies, white trash, crackers, and trailer-dwellers (provided they're white). This book boldly poses the question which America seems afraid to ask itself: Is it possible for someone to be culturally sensitive while making fun of trailer trash?
There's no denying that popular depictions of rednecks have usually come from those who are hostile to rednecks. Mainstream representations of redneck culture, therefore, reflect the anxieties and guilt pangs of those who place importance on not viewing themselves as rednecks. People who scream about cultural tolerance sometimes find it hard to tolerate white trash. Those who make a public display of their opposition to all forms of ethnic supremacy don't hesitate to mention how superior they feel to hillbillies. Cultures often define themselves by targeting a scapegoat, and the rural hillbilly plays this role for an increasingly urbanized, monetized, and internationalized American society. The impoverished, toothless, illiterate, inbred country redneck serves all the psychological functions of a cultural "nigger" in the minds of self-styled urban sophisticates.
The Redneck Manifesto searches for reasons behind the seeming paradox that those who wail most loudly about "hate speech" are frequently the same people who consistently spout hateful generalities about white rural America. It examines this odd cultural loophole which permits relatively affluent white people to openly disparage poorer white people. It savagely describes white American liberalism as a tragically misguided folk religion based on wishful thinking and practical hypocrisy. It pulls no punches against white liberal do-gooders who show open empathy for oppressed groups ten thousand miles away while despising trailer-dwellers only ten miles across town. It targets the people who seethe with hatred toward "trailer trash" but would be horrified at similar sentiments directed at "ghetto scum." It takes aim at the urban supremacists, the Northern chauvinists, and the coastal imperialists. It isn't kind to moral crusaders who shout about stamping out bigotry yet aren't even dimly aware of their own deep-rooted class prejudices.
America's dirty little secret is classism rather than racism. While pouncing incessantly on racial themes, most major media are silent about America's widening class rifts, a problem which negatively affects more people of all colors than does racism. In a nation obsessed with race, this book switches the focus firmly back toward class. It concludes that anti-redneck stereotyping results from the age-old cultural split between white collar and blue collar, urban and rural, North and South, boss and employee, even lord and serf. It argues that such differences are in many ways more far-reaching than the divide between black and white. It warns that America will never learn the true meaning of tolerance until it learns to embrace the redneck.
Until this book, no one has so fully explained why white trash exists in America. Tracing the unique historical Diaspora of America's white poor, The Redneck Manifesto provides evidence that mass forceful deportations of white slaves and convict laborers from the British Isles formed the bulk of America's white underclass. It provides examples of American media depictions of poor whites back to the early 1700s, including the origins of such terms as "redneck," "white trash," "cracker," and "hillbilly." It examines how the modern press handles the word "redneck" compared to the word "nigger." It probes the hidden cultural meanings behind jokes about inbreeding and bestiality. It gets its hands dirty with blue-collar frustration, recreational desperation, and religious salvation. It discusses the value of Elvis, Bigfoot, and space aliens as objects of spiritual veneration. It offers solid logical defenses of tax protest, gun ownership, and anti-government "hate speech." And it lists surprising reasons for why rednecks and blacks have more in common with each other than either group does with white liberals.
With an unmatched ability for rubbing salt in cultural wounds, Jim Goad presents a thoroughly reasoned, darkly funny, and rampagingly angry defense of America's most maligned social group. His own socioeconomic background leads him to prefer crackers over slackers, hillbillies over hipsters, and white trash over white cash. He's certain that the trailer park holds more honest people than the House of Representatives, and he knows from personal experience that truck drivers are more trustworthy than lawyers. He deftly dismantles most popular American notions about race and culture and takes a sledgehammer to our delicate glass-blown popular conceptions of government, religion, media, and history.
This book is irreverent only because reverence is part of the problem, angry only because sweetness wouldn't get the job done. It clearly articulates something which is so obvious, almost everyone has missed it. What once seemed reactionary will appear revolutionary. The book is destined to be praised, reviled, cited, denounced, loved, and hated-often by the same reader.
There are no other books like this. It's doubtful that America could handle it. It's the sort of book which comes along once in a lifetime, which will be too often for some people. It's a book you'll never forget, even if you want to. It comes out of left field and ends up on the fringes of the far-right horizon. It's a rude awakening for a spazzed-out nation. A fire under the ass of a culturally confused country. A literary laxative for a constipated public. It's destined to prick the conscience of a nation which enjoys feeling guilty, but which doesn't like to do anything about it. You'll laugh, and then you'll hate yourself for laughing. Your mind will be pried open, but it'll only hurt for awhile.