It’s Not All Rooted in Slavery Black Rednecks and White Liberals Pt. 4 By Amanda S. Green


It’s Not All Rooted in Slavery

Black Rednecks and White Liberals Pt. 4

By Amanda S. Green

Thomas Sowell has never been one to mince words. Nor has he shied away from hard topics or hot button issues. That is very apparent in his essay, “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.” This essay, the foundation document in the book, Black Rednecks & White Liberals: Hope, Mercy, Justice and Autonomy in the American Health Care System, doesn’t disappoint.

Sowell points out that “redneck culture” has historically been a less achieving culture. It doesn’t matter if the person is white or black. However, that culture has impacted a much higher proportion of blacks than whites. Why? Because “only about one-third of all whites lived in the antebellum South, while nine-tenths of all blacks did.” (BRAWL, p. 33) That origination in the antebellum South is, according to Sowell, key.

There are caveats to this, however, and Sowell is quick to point them out. “Contemporary black ghetto culture in the United States is not, however, a simple linear extrapolation from the culture of Southern whites.” (BRAWL, p. 33)

  • Most black Americans are no longer part of the ghetto culture.
  • Aside from influences peculiar to the circumstances of blacks, profound changes in the larger American society around them have also had an influence, both positive and negative.

Even so, the culture has continued and, in some instances, thrived. Why? That’s the question we all need to ask. The answer isn’t one many in our country will admit, much less accept.

The burgeoning of the American welfare state in the second half of the twentieth century and the declining effectiveness of the American criminal justice system at the same time allowed borrowed and counterproductive cultural traits to continue and flourish among those blacks who had not yet moved beyond that culture, thereby prolonging the life of a chaotic, counterproductive, dangerous, and self-destructive subculture in many urban ghettos. (BRAWL, pp 33-34)


There’s so much truth in that one short paragraph. Truth that applies not only to the “black rednecks” but to whites as well. The welfare system might be based in good intentions, but you know the old adage. The path to Hell is paved with good intentions. The system should not be such that it carries through generations of a family. It should be there to help those who need it but not in such a way they have no impetus to get off the system

Some years ago, Michigan (if I remember correctly) had a system in place where a person could only receive state welfare benefits for two years. There were exceptions, of course, for those who were medically unable to work. But the able-bodied had a time limit. However, the state also tried to help get them off the dole. There were programs in place to help them find a job. There were training programs available and, again if I am remembering correctly, child care provisions.

So what happened? The answer is very simple. The white liberals. They felt the requirements of the program were too onerous. What if someone couldn’t finish the programs and find a job by the end of two years? It was cruel and evil to just cut them off. The program died an ignominious death and, well, we know what sort of situation Michigan is in now.

Then we have the justice system. Part of me wants to laugh hysterically and another part, the part that still holds some belief in that system weeps. Why? Because the system is broken. There are few who have paid any attention to it over the years who can deny it. Our prisons are overcrowded. Laws, especially sentencing laws, are outmoded and both too random and too rigid at the same time. (I know, that doesn’t make sense. Except it does. Mandatory sentencing guidelines are too rigid because they don’t allow the judge and/or jury to take into account all the factors that should be considered in rendering sentencing after a guilty verdict. They are also too random because someone convicted of a lower felony theft charge or drug charge can wind up serving more time than someone convicted of murder. It makes no sense.)

As Sowell points out, crime and violence are part of the redneck culture that have been artificially prolonged. “Prior to the 1960s, while black males had a higher murder rate than other males, their murder rate was also declining more sharply than the general murder rate. Subsequently, the general murder rate in the United States and the murder rate for black males both reversed and began rising sharply—that of black males more sharply than others. (BRAWL, p. 34) This has nothing to do with the need for more gun control, despite what the anti-2nd Amendment advocates will say. It has everything to do with a change in attitude and, as Sowell says, with the intellectuals of the time.

“Nowhere was the effect of the white liberalism of the 1960s on the social evolution of black culture more devastating than in the disintegration of the black family.” (BRAWL, p 34) To support this position, Sowell notes the 20% decline in the number of black women between the ages of 15 – 44 who were married and living with their husbands (down to 31% in 1980). By 1994, 56% of black women in this age bracket had never been married and only 25% were married and living with their husbands. An even more telling number, according to Sowell, is that 22% of black children were born to unmarried women in 1960 while, by 1994, 70% were.

White liberals, instead of comparing what has happened to the black family since the liberal welfare state policies of the 1960s were put into practice, compare black families to white families and conclude that the higher rates of broken homes and unwed motherhood among blacks are due to “a legacy of slavery.” But why the large-scale disintegration of the black family should have begun a hundred years after slavery is left unexplained. Whatever the situation of the black family relative to the white family, in the past or the present, it is clear that broken homes were far more common among blacks at the end of the twentieth century than they were in the middle of that century or at the beginning of that century—even though blacks at the beginning of the twentieth century were just one generation out of slavery. (BRAWL, pp 34-35)

This problem with white liberal thinking is not one that is going away. In fact, we see it every day. It is much easier to blame the sins of the past for today’s problems than to look in the mirror and admit they might be part of the problem. So, instead of overhauling the welfare system, instead of working to rebuild the family unit, they concentrate on removing Civil War statues that honor Confederate “heroes”. They willingly spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars – or more – to remove those statues or rename buildings and parks and streets because they don’t want to remember a part of history that stands for something they don’t agree with. (For the record, slavery is abhorrent but not every person who supported the CSA was evil or doesn’t deserve to be remembered for other contributions they made to history.)

Don’t get Sowell wrong. He is quick to point out that not all blacks come from this redneck culture of the South. Teachers and missionaries from New England went into the South and brought a new culture to some of those living there. According to E. Franklin Frazier, a noted black scholar, “ ‘The missionaries from New England who founded the first schools for Negroes in the South left the imprint of their Puritan background upon Negro education.’ In addition to strict morality, these missionaries ‘taught the Yankee virtues of industry and thrift.’ ” (BRAWL, pg 36) This was a deliberate effort on the part of the missionaries to supplant the culture of the South these young blacks had been brought up in. To help with this, they created enclaves in the South where they moved the young blacks to help reinforce their teachings.

In short, however divergent the different schools of thought were on educational philosophy, as between the Hampton-Tuskegee approach and the approach of the founders of other institutions for blacks, they were agreed that what was most needed for the advancement of blacks in the post-bellum South was the replacement of the culture prevailing around them and among them by a new imported culture. However, the greatest obstacle to creating this new culture was the existing black redneck culture. (BRAWL, pg 37)

Why is it the problem of culture was recognized more than a century ago and yet, today, is almost completely ignored? As Sowell states, “Today, the culture that is celebrated in much of the media and in the schools is not the culture that succeeded, but the culture that has failed—the black redneck culture.” (BRAWL, pg 40)

Again, why? And what do we need to do to overcome this tendency?

Those questions are at the very core of what Sowell writes about.

One of my favorite Sun Tzu quotes goes something like this, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

This is something white liberals have excelled at. We, as conservatives and libertarians, need to remember the quote and figure out why liberals have worked so hard to perpetuate the welfare state. We need to figure out why – and how best to combat it – those who have become perpetual beneficiaries have accepted their role as what so many view as “second-class citizens”. Most of all, we need to figure out how to help them rise out of that system and become less a part of the “redneck culture” and more a part of an overall successful culture, a culture of achievement and responsibility to themselves, their families and society as a whole.

[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to  send the woman a drink–  And her Amazon author page is here –  Also, she has a new book: Light Magic, under her Ellie Ferguson pen name. SAH]


106 thoughts on “It’s Not All Rooted in Slavery Black Rednecks and White Liberals Pt. 4 By Amanda S. Green

  1. As Sowell as elsewhere noted, Liberals do need their mascots, and will engage in Munchhausen’s By Proxy to maintain their supply.

    1. I think that some recognition of this “mascot” status is at the heart of efforts to categorize people as “allies”. You can be an “ally”… you’re not in charge and really don’t even get to have an opinion.

      Which is something that makes me nuts because it’s the opposite of working together as equals toward a goal. It’s like women getting to be the “lady’s auxiliary” to some male group. Right? It’s just so cringe worthy.

      But there is such a tendency toward group-politics and group-activism devolving into “white liberals” and their client groups, that a person can really see where the demand to step down comes from.

      Certainly the attitude of “feminists” toward “those women who need to be saved by me” is flagrantly paternalistic (har har har) and condescending. And if you object, well, it’s not *you* that needs the extra help for your weak mind and delicate feelings, it’s “those women over there.”

  2. Welfare is an insidious thing if approached improperly. In a short span of months I will finally be off the beast and can’t wait to bid that system farewell. I have in my years seen many people that have been on it for various reasons and mostly because it’s “free money”. As to the culture and the statists, they see it as giving themselves more power. The more the people are dependent on the state the better off they (the people in power) are. The whole outcome is not to make the lives of people better but themselves.
    The talk of the welfare state and redneck culture in the ghettos is definitely intertwined. Seeing it in small towns and big cities is rather stark. Honour cultures are big in those environments and people tend to fly off the handle if you put down their version of honour.
    As to why this is happening? Those that control the past control the future. All the advances in the past were “liberal” or Republican advances and successes. Now? Slowly being erased like Confederate war (or other past leaders) statues.

    1. They like to claim that after the Civil Rights Act, Dems and Republicans, somehow swapped parties. Change the facts, change the past, play it up only if it suits.

      1. Yeah, I have heard that line of malarkey. No matter how you try and parse it, nothing makes sense. Of course there is that one college plaque that calls Abraham Lincoln a Democrat. *head desk*

      2. While it is true that some of the elected Democrats of the time (e.g. Strom Thurmond) did eventually switch parties to the Republican Party, the vast majority more continued in office for years, even decades, until they died (e.g. Robert Byrd), chose to retire (e.g. John C. Stennis), or were primaried, often after a redistricting.

        1. The confusion here lies in the false assumption that Conservative Southern Democrats left their party after it no longer offered racial discrimination to join a GOP that did discriminate. The truth is that, absent racial discrimination, the Democrat Party offered its conservative Southern members nothing but scorn and abuse while the GOP promised to reflect all of their values — love of God, Country and Family — except the one about race, where the GOP resolutely maintained that it is the content of a person’s character, not the melanin content of his skin, that most mattered.

          That is a primary reason the Democrats hate, Hate, HATE Republicans: showing them up for the racists they are.

          1. Mr Thurmond repudiated his past behavior. Mr Byrd never did.

            Speaks volumes how the Donks revile the former and revere the latter.

            1. Byrd was the last person to use the “N” word on the floor of a session, and never get a bit of flack. iirc it was less than a year before he died

      3. On many issues It seems (but it may be an illusion) Republicans and Democrats seem to have switched sides. But on civil rights, they’ve both been remarkably consistent since their founding. The Republican Party is has been the party of individual rights and sets forth policies that judge people as individuals. The Democrat Party is and has been the party of group rights, and sets and promotes policies to favor or disfavor one group or another, regardless of individual qualifications or accomplishment. The Democrats have simply switched which groups they favor and disfavor. And are currently infighting as to which group will have the most power within the party. Especially in California.

        If groups have rights, individuals don’t. Our Constitution grants rights to individuals.

        1. If groups have rights, individuals don’t. Our Constitution grants recognizes rights to individuals.

          1. Yep. Another thing I point out to people. Including Scouts when I do the Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge. Slipped out. Good catch and correction.

        2. Dems are the same as always, they just changed how they say it because it keeps them looking relevant.
          First it was “Blacks are inferior and deserve to be slaves” then “Blacks are inferior and deserve to be segregated” to “Blacks are inferior and unless we mandate people hire them, they will never get a job”(in far prettier words than that, but that was what they mean) to “Blacks are inferior and we need to lower standards for them” to variations on those insults, all while stirring up the people in hopes of a race riot or a class riot, sure that it would lead to more power for them.
          If blacks went back to voting primarily Republican I’m sure they’d make a full circle to calling for slavery, and already are bringing back segregation by fooling the blacks (and certain other brown tinted folk) it is an empowerment.

          1. On Air Force One, President Johnson was discussing his proposed civil rights bill with two governors. Explaining why it was so important to him, MacMillan remembers that LBJ said it was simple: “I’ll have them n*gg*rs voting Democratic for two hundred years.”

            — Ronald Kessler, _THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL_

            1. This is why I’ve long suspected LBJ wasn’t going all out to help when Eisenhower was pushing for what became the Civil Rights Act of 1957. There were compromises that had to be made to get some of the Southern Democrat senators to support it, but it also seemed to me that LBJ was far more willing to compromise than was really required. And Ike couldn’t afford to spend too much of his own political capital on it when it was also needed for the Cold War.

        3. Our Constitution grants rights to individuals.

          No. No. NO!

          Rights are not “granted”; rights are inherent to persons. What the Constitution does, most clearly in the Bill of Rights, is to limit the power of the government to infringe on the inherent rights of individuals. The Founders were careful to be very, very clear on that point.

      4. They like to claim that after the Civil Rights Act, Dems and Republicans, somehow swapped parties.

        The primary change of the “Solid South” to an area that was competitive for both parties in Presidential elections was the election of Eisenhower in 1952. From 1940 to 1948, the vote of the Republican Presidential candidate increased from 19 to 27% in the 11 states that once comprised the Confederacy. (Wikepedia, presidential elections). In 1952, Eisenhower got 48% of the Southern vote, and won 4 states. The Myth of the Racist Republicans givesa good summary. The Republicans made inroads in border states, in the suburban better-educated and more prosperous vote, and among migrants from the North to the South.

        Eisenhower got a higher proportion of the Southern vote in 1956 than Goldwater did in 1964. I can’t locate the tables right now, but I found a very good correlation of increased Republican vote in the South in Presidential elections was South per capita income as a percent of national per capita income.

        1. I found out that for the 1952 Presidential vote in the South, there was a correlation of 0.65 between per capita state income as a percent of national per capita income and percent vote for Eisenhower. Doing a simple averaging by state, which is admittedly more quick and dirty than it is accurate, from 1932 to 1952, per capita income in the South as a percent of national per capita income increased from 51% to 71%.

  3. Black Redneck culture and White Liberalism are a binary cultural nerve gas, each exacerbating the worst effects of the other to produce a toxin more destructive than the sum f its parts.

    White Liberalism acts to erase natural barriers to the propagation of Redneck culture, enabling the toxic behaviour just as Redneck culture provides justification for Progressive” that weaken the over-culture’s resistance to Redneck culture. It’s a vicious cycle, fostering the worst traits of each component.

    1. And it’s not just Black Redneck culture, either–though of course the white libs focus almost entirely on it. But growing up in Oklahoma, I saw more than plenty of the white rednecks–aka ‘trailer trash’–who were caught up in that same toxic culture. Heck, a not-insignificant portion of my own family has either been stuck in that culture, or went running back to it as soon as they could manage it.

      It seems to me that our current version of ‘welfare’ seeks more to enslave anyone on it than to ‘give them a hand up.’ 😦

      1. Hunter Thompson showed that in 1965 when he published “Hell’s Angels”. As he put it, even the black and Mexican biker gangs adopted the same “white trash” mannerisms.

  4. First, I’m amused by the fact that Amanda keeps choosing books with appropriate acronyms. First TSAR and now BRAWL? We’re going to have to work hard to give her one that will top those for her next assignment.

    Second, I’m reminded of Mark Steyn’s review of the Puff Daddy version of “A Raisin in the Sun.” He was pointing out that it had somewhat the opposite issue of the usual weird Shakespeare production: you set “Much Ado About Nothing” in the Prohibition Era or “Macbeth” in a West African village, and it works because the underlying motivations are understandable. In the case of this production, though, the sets were all similar, but the motivations were completely alien. The play is about how family and religion can both support and stifle a black man, something that those 70% of children born without fathers really can’t relate to at all. It wasn’t slavery that caused that change.

    1. Assignment? That sounds too much like public school homework. I thought Amanda was providing value for coinage for kitty treats.

  5. Most liberals will be aghast if you suggest there are any cultural differences between black and white, except when they are drafting legislation.

    1. Most liberals will be aghast if you suggest there are any cultural differences between black and white, except when they are drafting legislation discussing “intersectionality” or “privilege”.
      Minor fix (because they don’t need no stinking legislation in order to exert power, as long as they have the bureaucracy, the courts, and the mob).

        1. I can be, if you take a small enough sample size, and put enough restrictions on it to resemble a Medicare Core Measure Indicator. Mostly it’s a many to many relationship, but often has a majority of the population in one of those culture boxes.

        2. The ability to believe, at the exact same moment, that race = culture and that saying aloud that race=disfunctional culture is racist, is something that makes me stand in awe of some activists. Because I wonder how long until their brains break, or if that point has already been passed.

          1. I look at some of the stuff going on and it just breaks my heart because you can just see how bad it will all get, sooner or later. But people will talk about throwing off white patriarchal structures and somehow being free, but they’re not *white* or *patriarchal*, they’re “agricultural” or “industrial” or “post-industrial” (whatever the term for that actually is). So in South Africa now they’re going to throw off the “white” farming paradigm and return to… well it’s not “African” because it doesn’t matter what continent that you’re on or what race you are when you’re herding cattle and goats and migrating with the seasons… but it’s not going to work for growing wheat.

            People actually do point to hunter-gatherers as a great example of socialism… and nomads with their herds are also probably a bit socialist as an ideal… and one after another we see someone given power in a country try to put *socialism* as some sort of “brown” way of living imposed on farming or industry and sure as rain (or drought) everyone starts starving.

            1. Actually, most nomadic cultures are very touchy about personal possessions and livestock ownership. The only shared resources are things like fire and water, and there are usually stern rules about their use.

              1. It’s more the ownership of land and staying in the one spot and having confidence that your ownership will be respected.

                It’s interesting that one of the really important developments related to Egyptian culture was surveying so that everyone could get their farmland back after the Nile flooded each year and wiped out all the markers.

    2. But will be happy to point our the cultural differences when you engage in cultural appropriation.

    3. No. Mostpolitically active Liberals will pretend to be aghast. They actually believe that only their own (Philistine) culture is any good, amd so differences beween one Peasant culture and another do not matter.

      1. And then wonder why peasants slaughter each other over how they write the same language (as someone opined during the 4th Balkan War [1989-94 edition]).

  6. The burgeoning of the American welfare state
    Well, naturally, since a welfare state reduces the “get by” requirement to essentially zero, a “do enough to get by” culture becomes even more enervated.

    I have said for some time that the ability to vote should be restricted for those who receive funds from the gov’t (not for goods or services rendered, or through benefits of a pre-paid program*). You cannot vote after the first 3 months of receiving assistance (at the level at which you receive the assistance), for the same period as you are on the assistance. (That should not penalize someone who goes on momentarily, and should keep certain political parties from hopping people off the rolls to vote, then right back on, since they have to wait 3 months to vote.)
    And, yes, there is also the requirement to look for work. (WA had a somewhat robust requirement for unemployment, and I had to check in regularly and occasionally provide some proof.)

    (* Pre-paid being key. If your company pays into an unemployment insurance program, you receiving unemployment when you’re laid off shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re receiving money that is from a program directly funded with present year revenues, it should be an issue.)

    As to sentencing, I’m more of a fan of rigid sentencing guidelines, if it means getting rid of “victim statements” and “woe is me” testimony. I don’t think how badly (except in terms of actual damages) a victim feels about the crime should enter into the idea of justice. Nor do I think the criminal’s “situation” should be a factor. Therapeutic justice is a sham and a travesty.

    Only critique I might have on this post is you give numbers (pretty positive you’re giving quotes from the essay) that compare 1960s to 1990s, but then quote Sowell making a statement referencing the beginning of the century. Are there numbers from then within Sowell’s essay? Because those would be *very* useful, especially when looking at trends (abrupt shifts after 1960, for example).

    1. and thus you suddenly take the right to vote away from hundred of thousands of disabled vets. thanks.

      1. I think the “those who receive funds from the gov’t (not for goods or services rendered …)” clause covers disabled vets, who have unquestionably rendered services to the government. It should also cover former government employees on pensions and/or disability.

        It might want a clause disqualifying those convicted of defrauding government or of abuse of authority while in government employ. That should cover folk from police officer Mohamed Noor up to Andrew McCabe.

        1. When you start down the dark path of “who shall we deny rights for cause” you will find yourself marching in step with the most demonic of your declared opponents.

          You -really- need to ask yourself why your foe would join you in that endeavor, and gleefully aid your efforts.

  7. That’s always been one of those questions to which I fear there may be no viable practical answer: How do you make a safety net strong enough to catch someone falling, but weak enough that it won’t allow someone to just lie down there?

    1. Humiliation works. Go back to issuing Food Stamps, instead of putting taxpayer dollars into an EBT card. At Government offices, Payers go to the head of the line…Deadweights to the back.

      1. Does it? Humiliation only works, in my observation, when the target cares enough about the judgement of the humiliators to feel shamed by it. And the genius of the race-hustlers is to cast such welfare not as charity for one’s insufficiency but as restitution for one’s suffering; nobody is ever humiliated when they get what they think they have a right to.

        It also has a tendency to backfire if it is too broadly, carelessly or forcefully applied; in my observation one of the fastest ways to turn someone from an embarrassed but grateful receiver of charity into an entitled and defiant exploiter of it is to give them the impression they’ve been condemned to a permanent moral debt out of all proportion to their perceived financial debt.

        And I confess to a basic wariness of the tactic anyway: bullying someone for their own good doesn’t feel much more moral than any other kind of bullying, and more dangerous for having that justification.

        1. Try what john Ringo used in _The Last Centurian_. Food that’s minimal in flavor but keeps you alive and healthy, housing that is absolutely bare-bones without any luxuries, and government generally making it clear that there are far better options if you are willing to do a lick of work.

          1. Minimal taste? The Kula bars were -actively- and -intentionally awful. They were bad enough to make starvation a possible alternative.

            He is right. “Bland” won’t do it. “Tasteless” won’t do it. Folks will just add ketchup or whatever is scroungeable.

            “This crap Honks Bobo and Tabasco doesn’t help” is probably the threshold required to discourage “lifestyle mooching”. (Humans, in general, being hard-wired for sloth and guttony)

      2. Forget food stamps. Government issue cheese, peanut butter, jelly, and bread. Basics to keep people from starving. If they need a place to live, barracks for single people, one large room with cots for each person for families. Complete with bed checks and clean up requirements. If you’re out at 0300 you best be at your night watchman job.

      3. Never happen. Same reason tracking got taken out of schools. Certain demographic truths regarding percentage of total population vs percentage of undesirable activity will become painfully obvious.

    2. Let it be private charity, and they can handle it however they like. Let a thousand experiments bloom.

      1. Ding! Ding! Ding!

        Private charity used to be the rule, and moochers were shown the door.

        But moochers vote, and poly-ticks need a host….

  8. Nomenclatura always do well in socialist countries, upper middle classes get to extract much wealth for themselves while everyone else lives life of misery. Upper middle class pretend to be worried about black people in America, here in Canada it is natives, and use the misfortune of others to enrich themselves. It is deeply cynical but enough bien-pensants profit from it that system will just roll on because right people are getting rich, even tho most have no marketable skills.

    My leader, PM Trudeau, promised the world to natives in last election and he has done sweet fa for them once he got into power but he still struts around like peacock showing his native inspired tattoo to show he means well.

      1. Yes, I think Canada’s only right wing media org started the Zoolander thing. We call Trudeau ‘little potato’ in our house due to that what Chinese called him when he visited their country because it sounds similar phonetically.

      2. “Shiny Pony” is, I understand, a fairly common name for Mr. Trudeau among Canadian conservative blogs. I don’t use it myself because I believe in respecting the office, but I confess with some shame to enjoying it.

    1. It’s a nice little scam. Promise the world, then blame those nasty people from the other party for holding back the promised golden age. Hint that if given unlimited power without all those nasty racist opposition parties and pesky laws, one could really make some changes.

      1. All you need to do to get the Golden Age you’ve been promised is to get your representative to vote for this simple, innocent, little enabling act.

  9. > why … unmarried mothers

    Because if they can tick the “single mother” box, there’s a whole array of public services that open up besides plain old Welfare. Expanded healthcare and food supplements, cash grants, more favorable housing, even free transportation or childcare in some circumstances. I’ve met a couple of women who supported themselves that way.

    Mr. Sowell is a very sharp man, but I get the impression his knowledge of the welfare class is more theoretical than practical.

    1. Your “why … unmarried mothers” reference seems unrelated to anything Sowell says. Had you read Sowell’s biography (or even a summary thereof) you would know his acquaintance with the “underclass” is up close and personal.

      As an economist he assuredly recognizes that when you subsidize a behaviour, such as single motherhood, you get more of it. That is a major portio of his critique against the way White Liberals treat redneck mothers.

  10. Growing up in rural and white bread suburb Minnesota, I’d met and interacted with some black folk. Indeed, after Dad remarried a lady with two adopted black boys I had ’em as step-brothers. Still, I’d never dealt with N-words ’til I attended Basic Training for my Uncle. Odd thing – most of those N-words were white.

    1. … most of those N-words were white.

      That’s what Senator Byrd said, and caught unholy heck over.

    2. A friend of mine from the wrong side of the trailer parks in GA observed “You don’t have to be poor to be white trash, and you sure don’t have to be black to be a n*%%er.” She was neither rich nor Caucasian.

      1. I have a neighbor, who used to quote the mother of one of his black friends: “There is black, and there is white — and then there is just trash.”

      2. You don’t have to be poor to be white trash …

        You’ve either got or you haven’t got class.

        1. And, just because it was on the sidebar, one number likely to get cut from future broadcasts of that film:

          Admittedly, I don’t know how you get expanded magazines on revolvers.

          1. I’ve heard of 12-cylinder revolvers in .22, and 8-cylinder .357s, but that still doesn’t add up to the gunplay in the clip, even using two ‘gats’. Ain’t Hollyweird wunnerful?

            1. C’mon. He’s shooting up a bar while doing a song and dance routine. Reality went skipping out the door the moment the Director said “Roll ’em”.

              It’s like asking for reality in a Western; it’s a violation of the genera. Now, one can demand that they adhere closer to the Kabuki Theatre set-piece. That’s fair. One should not, for example, remake HIGH NOON with the townsfolk displaying some guts and shooting the outlaws to doll rags (as happened at least once). It violates the FORM.

              Insisting on realistic gunfire in this routine would be a hell of a lot more jarring than the ever-full pistols.

          2. Before the boating accident, I had a 7 shot revolver in .357, and I’ve seen an 8 shot in .22.

        2. You have or you haven’t got style – ‘course your style may not be in synch with current fashion. If you can pull off your style adequately, ‘F’ fashion. Fashion changes; style is eternal.

  11. It would be fun to have a discussion/debate between Sowell and James Webb, whose book “Born Fighting” sees a lot more of value in the ‘redneck’ culture than Sowell sees in it.

    1. There is a difference between rednecks and white trash. I believe Mr. Sowell is using the former to describe the latter.

      1. The R-word aside, both Sowell and Webb are discussing Scotch-Irish culture, including such things are willingness to fight when insulted. Not seeing a lot positive that Sowell has to say about it, in either its white or black incarnations, whereas Webb’s book (which I’ve not yet finished) sees a lot more positive.

        It seems likely that a society needs a certain leavening of ‘honor culture’ to survive

        1. Willingness to fight when insulted may not be a bad thing, as long as it’s paired with a fairly high and consistent bar about what constitutes an “insult” and an extremely rigorous sense of, and adherence to, a commonly accepted scheme of proportional response. Decking a man for calling your girlfriend a slag is one thing; pulling out a gun and shooting a man simply for smiling at your girlfriend is quite another — especially if it’s followed by a beating for your girlfriend because you suspect she enjoyed that smile.

          In practice, I have to admit I’m more skeptical than not of being able to recreate such a culture today, simply because the public faith that would allow us to agree on what constitutes a proportional response has been tragically tarnished.

          1. Good points. Jonathan Haidt summarized a paper (by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning) which argues that, prior to the 18th and 19th century, most Western societies were cultures of honor, in which people were expected to avenge insults on their own–and would lose social respect and position should they fail to do so. The West then transitioned to cultures of dignity, in which “people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transitions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.” The spirit of this type of culture could be summarized by the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

            Campbell and Manning assert that this *culture of dignity* is now giving way to a new *culture of victimhood* in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But the difference, Haidt explains is this:

            “But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.”

            I discussed this further here:


            1. A slap in the face used to be appropriate behavior for a woman inappropriately approached in public. Now it’s assault.

              Sometimes a little physical action gets the point across very quickly and succinctly. Where’s the balance is always the question. It’s swung way too far in one direction. The automatic throwing BOTH kids out of school for fighting is bad policy.

            2. My Scots-Irish hackles rise up at that sort of thing. Appealing to authority for redress works IF you have favor with authority. If not, you’re hosed.

              My natural instinct is the counsel Andrew Jackson’s mother gave him. “Never sue for libel, slander, or assault. Always settle those cases yourself.” I force myself to temper this…but it is much against my nature.

              1. “Appealing to authority for redress works IF you have favor with authority. If not, you’re hosed.”

                Yeah, but the problem is that appealing to one’s own fists only works if you’ve got enough size, strength and training to make a decent go of it against whoever’s insulted you; and if you don’t, you’re hosed even worse, because an individual’s physical limits are a lot more static than the collective limits of the organized group.

                Much as I’ve always appreciated Conan’s observation that men are more polite when they have reason to fear their skulls getting split, it’s a maxim that’s a great deal more appealing in practice to those who tend to be the splitters rather than the splittees.

                1. if you’ve got enough size, strength and training to make a decent go of it against whoever’s insulted you

                  Nod and even if you gather a bunch of your friends to help you out, the person who insulted you may have more friends/allies than you.

                  Then when it comes to avenging actual harm done to you and yours, there is the problem of “is the person you suspect the actual guilty one”.

                  We always hear about the police/state getting the wrong person, but the problem can be greater when it comes to “private justice”.

                  1. “Then when it comes to avenging actual harm done to you and yours, there is the problem of “is the person you suspect the actual guilty one”.”

                    THAT is the kicker. It’s also the reason why I think our criteria for capital punishment in this country needs a complete overhaul. Way too many cases of people wrongfully convicted, and executed.

                    (1) Only for specific crimes of violence: Murder, rape, kidnapping, crippling-maiming. Although I admit to having a preference to applying that to grand theft, and mis-use of government power also.
                    (2) Catch them in the act of the crime. None of this circumstantial evidence, or it was the other guy garbage. Misidentification even by good eyewitnesses is too frequent.
                    (3) No acceptable justification for the crime. Killing someone in self-defense is acceptable; not killing them but crippling and maiming them in the process of self-defense is fine but sloppy. Don’t think you can rape or kidnap someone as self defense, and I’ve never read a story, SF/F or otherwise that demonstrated such a condition. The absolute closest I can remember was something by MZB where a prisoner mentally hiding in a dog after his human body is killed, transfers his mind to the unborn offspring of his captor.
                    (4) The convict is not realistically rehabilitatable. i.e. You can’t be 99.99% sure they’ll never repeat the crime after therapy, treatment, reprogramming, whatever.
                    (5) The convict is too dangerous to risk ever having them escape or be released accidentally or otherwise.

                    I don’t want to give into revenge, that’s the wrong motivation and leads to its own sickness. I do however, agree with extermination of dangerous pests: plague carrying rats and fleas, rabid animals of any kind, diseases and their carriers. And yes, I would have rounded up all the HIV positives when the disease was first identified, and quarantined them in controlled access sanitariums.

                    1. We are just in a national asylum now. Got psychopaths shooting up schools? Take all the tools away and let them continue to go thru life. Offended? Send the entire apparatus of the state to crush the evil offender.

                    2. > Don’t think you can rape or kidnap someone as self defense, and I’ve never read a story, SF/F or otherwise that demonstrated such a condition.

                      Andrew Shellshear & David Morgan-Mar are currently working on Eavesdropper, which could maybe count as kidnapping-as-self-defense. But IMO the surface story (where the kidnapping is) is pretty depressing – the logic puzzles hidden in the artwork (spoiler forum thread) are more interesting. And I like their other projects (Irregular Webcomic, Darths & Droids, etc.) much better (less depressing), but not relevant to kidnapping-as-self-defense.

            3. The point f the victim culture is that it authorizes The Powers That Be to “take steps” to redress the wrongs, usually my imposing punitive restraints upon innocent third parties.

              Not that the victims of TPTB believe there are any innocent third parties.

            4. It’s probably worth pointing out that the Code Duello required that the seconds try to reach a peaceful settlement. It didn’t always work out that way, but the intent was that a duel was a last resort for the most serious personal offenses. The Code of Honor was not meant to be a toy.

            5. An interesting case-in-point of a certain kind of honor culture in 1850s America….Dan Sickles, a Congressman (later to be a Civil War *Union* general) discovered that his wife Teresa was having an affair with Philip Barton Key (son of Francis Scott Key) He shot Key….not a duel, just shot him….was charged with murder, but was released based on a plea of temporary insanity. Most of the public apparently applauded his action in killing Key.

              Then, Sickles did something viewed as very surprising: he took Teresa back. Unlike the killing, this was regarded as an unforgivable disgrace to him.


              1. “Sickles’ behavior was no better than his wife’s; throughout his life he carried on affairs with many women. But this was accepted behavior for a man in the mid-nineteenth century. Because of the double standard of that era, Sickles’ affairs made no difference to much of the public.”

                Both of them were pretty ‘disgraceful’. But at least she didn’t run around poisoning her husband’s adultress lovers.

      2. I’ve always said that there’s a difference between rednecks and hicks. Rednecks have always (in my view) people that work hard and play harder.
        Folks that enjoy the outdoors, tend toward adrenaline junkies and like having a good time, but not at the expense of family, friends and employment. The harder they work, the harder they play. It’s usually (but again, not always) a mental release from the stress and mindset of their work. They’re usually (but not always) from a rural environment, everywhere, not just the South.

        Hicks on the other hand are synonymous to trash. People that Mr. Sowell is talking about. The same people that folks here have been calling by various names.

        1. Point. A redneck’s neck is red because he’s been spending his time out in the sun. Working.

          1. Although I have never thought of “hicks” as you do. In my experience, “hick” has always been used as a quasi synonym for “redneck.” That is, as a city-slicker insult directed at someone who isn’t a city slicker. We’re all ignorant boobs, y’see. The only difference is, a hick doesn’t *have* to work outdoors. A Hooterville storekeeper is just as inferior as the redneck he sells chewing tobacco to…

  12. I appreciate your posting on this book, as it served as an impetus to finally take it off my bookshelf and READ it.

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