The Geography Of Tolerance

The Geography Of Tolerance

How universal tolerance gave birth to regional prejudice.
Greg Jones
By

The road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions.

And it’s not the only one. Our path to total, unqualified acceptance of alternative lifestyles is likewise littered with some well-meaning stones. Be it gender, race, religion, marriage, you name it—we are now under strict orders to “live and let live.” Want to suddenly switch genders without all that messy surgery? Feel free. Or how about just change your race, because why not?

Biology and common sense aside, these are the new rules and anyone that dares question them risks the mockery of the new scarlet letter: B for bigot.

But in our quest for universal acceptance, we may have unwittingly created a monster. Amid all of the rainbows and butterflies a new form of geographically based intolerance is emerging, one that can only be explained as a natural byproduct of the current equality movement. I call it “regionalism,” but it’s little more than good, old-fashioned elitist hatred.

Tolerance Has Borders, and it Stops at the Mason-Dixon Line

In the aftermath of the South Carolina shooting and the media circus surrounding the Confederate flag, a clear bias has emerged against an entire region of the country. But it is a bias rooted in the larger American culture war (conveniently illustrated by the electoral map), and it has hit a fever pitch.

The past few weeks have seen countless news sites bombarded with a particularly ugly term generally reserved for those resigned to the gallows: ‘traitor.’

The past few weeks have seen Facebook, Twitter, and the comments sections of countless news sites bombarded with a particularly ugly term generally reserved for those resigned to the gallows: “traitor.” Its repetition and casual usage reveal a somewhat hidden, yet surprisingly popular attitude towards Southerners, a shared sentiment of which I was previously unaware.

Granted, social media and comment forums are one thing. Mainstream, supposedly responsible media are quite another.

Enter CNN. The cable news institution’s website recently echoed the attitudes of millions of tolerant Americans with an editorial declaring, in no uncertain terms, that the “Confederate flag was the flag of traitors.”

Hear that Skynyrd fans? Fly that flag from your pickup and you are the equivalent of Benedict Arnold. The author, Dean Obeidallah, goes on to cite the following evidence:

“They issued their own currency, elected their own president and Congress . . .”

A scathing charge no doubt, only dampened by the glaring historical fact that America’s Founding Fathers did the very same thing. Ah, tolerance. Apparently it has a timeframe as well.

I know, I know. Cable news is not exactly the epicenter of rational thought. But this deep hatred seems to have likewise woven its way through even the most sober outlets.

In an unparalleled example of elitist bigotry featured on Politico and titled “How the South Skews America,” author Michael Lind longingly opines:

“Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand—more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy.”

Translation: If it weren’t for those darned Southern kids, we would’ve gotten away with it. We could have been the socialist utopia the Founding Fathers never dreamed of. We could have been the Europe they fled, one with many qualities but also many faults: massive debts, rampant racism, a fractured identity and military. You know, the one devastated by Russia!

But he’s not done yet. Ever the gentleman, Lind likes to kick them while they’re down, and his regionalism seemingly knows no bounds:

“The American South, with the lowest rates of intergenerational social mobility in the U.S., clearly skews the national statistics, creating an embarrassing and depressing version of American exceptionalism.”

Second translation: If it weren’t for these stupid rednecks, we would all make six figures. After all, they take more than they receive. Lazy bums.

In his defense, Lind is only repeating the long-popular leftist talking point that the Southern states take more federal money than they contribute. Why does this sound familiar? Ah, it’s simply the regional equivalent of the stereotype that conservatives hate people on welfare because they receive more than they pay in. Pot, meet kettle. Unfairly portrayed region with its own culture, meet horrible elitist man in a bubble.

Hypocrisy So Perfect, it Should be in a Museum

And then there are the facts. The South is rapidly expanding economically while the economies Lind longs for are plagued by horrendous financial difficulties. The cities that have practiced his politics—Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, etc.—are all in the process of navigating increasingly dire straits.

The tragic events in South Carolina have provided a pretext for many in the media to lay bare their true, regionalist sentiments.

Lind’s philosophy seems to be that we can all be miserable together, so long as the South isn’t invited. Who needs those racists? Those troglodytes? Those blasphemous free-thinkers?

Not Vox, where Matthew Yglesias boldly proclaims “Beyond the Confederate flag, racist traitors are far too celebrated in the United States,” singling out Southern slave owners while omitting those of the Union to make his point. And certainly not The Huffington Post, where John E. Price informs me “Yes, You’re a Racist — And a Traitor,” before excoriating a house flying a—you guessed it!—flag that he hates.

While the tragic events in South Carolina have done far more harm than they ever could good, at least it’s provided a pretext for many in the media to lay bare their true, regionalist sentiments. But now, I suppose they must ask themselves how this current wave of regionalism is any different than racism? Or sexism? Or whatever other –ism currently trending?

Those questions should be extremely difficult to confront, for there’s nothing easy about looking in the mirror only to realize you have become what you once despised.

The South is, and will likely always be, its own animal. Southerners like to drive trucks that guzzle gas, drink cheap and unpretentious beer, eat deliciously unhealthy food, praise Jesus, and—gasp!—vote Republican.

And in this new era of global tolerance, such things cannot be tolerated.

Greg Jones is a conservative blogger and writer. Aside from The Federalist, his work has appeared at TheWeek.com, Reason.com, and in The Daily Caller, among others.
Photo by John Ramspott

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