Monday, December 13, 2010

Crackin' on Crackers

It would appear that my earlier use of the term "cracker 'Democrats'" in a story link on facebook featuring the new Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacy Abrams has ruffled a few feathers.  I have always understood the word "cracker" to be uneducated, poor white trash.  It has never been synomyous with "rural" as I've known plenty of crackers who live in a city.  Being uneducated poor white trash doesn't have a geographical limitation to me.  It's more about your attitude toward life. 

Anyway, my comment was meant to relay that if any more ignorant white elected Democrats (trash in my book) wanted to leave a party led by a smart, capable, African American woman like Stacy Abrams, they should just go now.  Somehow, that's been translated by some to say, "F*ck you, rural Democrats!  We don't want your kind no how."  Which is certainly not true, and anyone who either knows me or has worked with me on political stuff over the years would know.  There is a no more beseiged individual right now in the political landscape than a rural, white Democrat, especially if that Democrat is male.

With the collapse of Democrats in Georgia, I do wonder if we can get the rural areas back again under the Democratic banner.  Since the Republicans have pretty much successfully characterized us all as only made up of "cityfolk, liberal whites, homos, and colored people", I don't have a lot of hope that despite having their economic best interest at heart, that we'll get them back.  The Pennsylvania and Virginia examples could be telling.  Statewide elections in PA are won by taking the cities by large margins, and winning the suburbs.  Rural PA is as red as blood, but Democrats can win the state with an urban/suburban coalition.  That's how Obama won Virginia in 2008.  And in Georgia, the key to the surburbs is women.  I really think that rural GA has simply stopped listening to us for the most part.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep talking to them, but acting like rebuilding the old urban/rural coalition for Democrats is realitistic is a sure way to keep on losing for decades to come.

Our party switchers have all been rural Democrats, plus the Representative from ATHENS.  A lot of these guys looked many of us in the face before the election, denouncing the very IDEA that they'd ever be anything but Democrats.  That was, until Roy Barnes got beat, Democrats lost EVERY statewide office we held, and the national GOP gained 60+ seats in the US House.  November 2 was a VERY bad night in Georgia, no two ways about it.   And some of the switchers have specifically said that the Democratic party is too urban, too gay, too black, and too liberal for them now.  What I suspect is tha they pooping their pants imagining what kind of districts will be drawn for them if they DON'T flip to the GOP.

So yes, as I watched Democratic Leader Stacy Abrams discuss the party switchers over the last month or so, my thought was, "How could ANYONE not be proud to be part of a group led by such an intelligent, well spoken woman?"  I do know that some folks are upset that the rural boys aren't in charge anymore,  and there are some folks who still wear the Democratic label who nonetheless think that an intelligent, capable, African American woman who takes on the mantle of leadership is somehow the very definition of "uppity".  That's definitely not the democratic party they knew, and they aren't really comfortable being a minority in their own caucus.

On the emotional level, I get why they would want to leave.  I remember when I first went to Africa, and I'd be the only white guy that I'd see for days at a time.  It was jarring, but the confidence I had instilled in me from being a white guy in America allowed me to quickly get over it.  I realized it didn't have anything to do with me, and I could just carry on.  The Democrats who have bolted could have carried on to, knowing they'd be the first to be screwed in redistricting.  But carrying on would have required a moral fiber and strength of character that none of the bolters possessed.  To me, that makes them trash, and since they happened to all be white (at least the bolters in the legislature), white trash.  And I wonder how much having a black female leader from Atlanta played in their thought process.

So I commented that any crackers pretending to be Democrats who still wished to leave should just go.  That was NOT a general invitation for all white rural Democrats to leave.  The fact that I personally know Democrats from every state in the South, many of them in quite rural areas, not to mention states like Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Utah makes me very proud of my party.  We do have lots to offer for the thinking person.  We don't have an interest in taking away anyone's guns, even if I do think there is an argument to be made that urban gun control is a very different beast than rural gun control.   I worry about the economic decay in our rural areas, the inequity of school funding, and a host of other issues that make a real difference in rural American life.  It grieves me that so many just look at me as someone who wants to take away their freedom, confiscate their guns, force them to either have or watch gay sex, and God only knows what else!  I sure as hell don't want to lose the people we have left in rural areas!

After I was informed by a friend that unnamed people were angry that I'd called all white rural Democrats "crackers" (I did not...they read that into 'cracker', not me), I decided to look up the formal definition of the noun "cracker".

In the Urban Dictionary, there were three definitions:
  1. Originally the white slave driver because he would "crack" the whip, hence the noun cracker.
  2. Noun. Slang word used to refer to those of European ancestry. The word is thought to have either derived from the sound of a whip being cracked by slave owners, or because crackers are generally white in color.
  3. opposite of "N-word", an insult to whites... except white people aren't dumb enough to walk around calling each other that word because it's intended to be demeaning.
Then I went to, where I found the following:
  1. a thin, crisp biscuit. 
  2. a firecracker. 
  3. Also called cracker bonbon. a small paper roll used as a party favor, that usually contains candy, trinkets, etc., and that pops when pulled sharply at one or both ends. 
  4. ( initial capital letter ) Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive . a native or inhabitant of Georgia (used as a nickname). 
  5. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive . a poor white person living in some rural parts of the southeastern U.S. 
  6. a tuft or knot of cotton, horsehair, hemp, etc., at the tip of a whip's lash; cracker; popper. 
  7. braggart; boaster. 
  8. a person or thing that cracks. 
  9. a chemical reactor used for cracking. Compare catalytic cracking, fractionator.
  10. a break without complete separation of parts; fissure. 
  11. a slight opening, as between boards in a floor or wall, or between a door and its doorpost. 
  12. a sudden, sharp noise, as of something breaking. 
  13. the snap of or as of a whip. 
  14. a resounding blow: He received a terrific crack on the head when the branch fell. 
  15. Informal . a witty or cutting remark; wisecrack. 
  16. a break or change in the flow or tone of the voice. 
  17. Informal . opportunity; chance; try: Give him first crack at the new job. 
  18. a flaw or defect. 
  19. Also called rock. Slang . pellet-size pieces of highly purified cocaine, prepared with other ingredients for smoking, and known to be especially potent and addicting. 
  20. Masonry . check1 ( def. 41 )
  21. a mental defect or deficiency. 
  22. a shot, as with a rifle: At the first crack, the deer fell. 
  23. a moment; instant: He was on his feet again in a crack. 
  24. Slang . a burglary, esp. an instance of housebreaking. 
  25. Chiefly British . a person or thing that excels in some respect. 
  26. Slang: Vulgar . the vulva. 
  27. Chiefly Scot. conversation; chat. 
  28. British Dialect . boasting; braggadocio. 
  29. Archaic . a burglar.
So it appears that I was correct in thinking of a cracker as an ignorant (#21 white person. Being a southerner by birth, I did not associate it just with the South.  Ignorant is ignorant, regardless of where it is found.  And white trash can live in a holler or in a run-down urban tenement.  Now before others think I'm calling names to people who might live in a holler or a run-down urban tenement, the key for me in someone being white trash, or a cracker, is ignorance. Willful ignorance that is not open to even hearing a different way of thinking.  

Take home point: I was not calling all white rural Democrats crackers, nor was I wishing they'd leave the party.  The ignorant, self-centered crackers who have bolted to the GOP in recent weeks were my target.  I value, and desperately hope to keep what rural white Democrats we have left.  I apologize for any impression I gave to the contrary regarding my rural brothers and sisters.

That said, the folks who thought it was necessary to go to people around me to express your displeasure, you are cowards.  Anyone who's seen my wall on Facebook can see that I'm not opposed to people calling me out or arguing with me out in the open.  The passive aggressive folks who like to whisper to everyone EXCEPT the person they are upset with, who also hint that perhaps a formal complaint should be filed -- well, you are the poster child for why the Young Democrats of America has been forced to rebuild from the ground up.  I respect people a lot more who are willing to say to ME, "What the HELL, man?" whenever I've said or done something to offend.  That's when we can talk it out and sort everything out.  But I know for some folks, creating behind-the-scenes drama is like breathing.