Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tennesseans Prefer The Lies

A CNN story about residents of Polk County, TN shows a small but vocal group of seemingly intelligent folks who prefer fictions about Sen. Obama over facts. Dan Lehr writes about the story and the willful refutation of what's accurate for his blog for WTVC- TV. Others on the internet (here and here for example) have been on this report too and Tennessee comes off quite badly, all in all.

CNN reporter Gary Tuchman noted it was the mayor of the town which captured their attention:

"
We called business leaders. We called mayors. And this particular town, Copperhill, has a very gregarious mayor who said he would be happy to go on camera.

And he guaranteed, everyone in town will want to talk to you.

And, indeed, they did. So, that’s why we went to Copperhill. But we could go to all 50 states and do the exact same story, Wolf.

Recently I was talking with a long-time friend, a very smart, thoughtful fellow who likewise spouted a stream of meaningless hooey about Obama he'd read and heard which have been talking points for the Tennessee Republican Party for months now. It was sad to hear him say these things, and worse, to realize he is far more ready to believe them. After a long talk, I hit a sizable obstacle in his logic which no amount of talking could alter, it seems - his unspoken fear of a non-white person being President of the U.S.

That's what it really is - a deep-rooted fear of another race. Period.

As for the folks in Copperhill and Ducktown - they are folks who a willing to commit to something no matter what the consequences. For decades, the operations of copper mines in the basin were conducted at a very high cost: for fuel, they "cut down every tree and burned it", and the resulting sulphuric acid by-product of the mining returned as rain which left a dead landscape where nothing could grow in the ground for a 50-mile radius. (See more on this from a children's history of Tennessee. If memory serves, at one time the bright orange scar in the Ducktown Basin was once visible from space. I understand they have been aggressively trying to replant trees and clean up the water since the early 1990s.)

Some folks seem to be willing to dig in their heels hold fast to an idea, no matter how destructive.

Image of Ducktown Basin circa 1912

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great points about Copperhill and the fact that they poisoned their own county just a generation ago in the name of big business. But I guess that is why McCain appeals to them. I'm sure they'd let Exxon drill for oil there.

I live two counties away and this story really bothered me, so I wrote to CNN about it. I pointed out that when Tuchman says they could only find one person to go on the record that Obama is a Christian, that's because everyone knew CNN was coming and anyone "different" stayed at home and kept their mouth shut for fear that the farmers would be taking names. I noticed that this story was supposed to be about religion, but there wasn't a single pastor from a single church, black or white, sitting around with the good old boys. The saddest line, and the key to it all, was when a guy said that the name "Barack Obama doesn't sound Anglo-Saxon to me." Hmmmmm, lets think about that. I grew up in Tennessee myself. Anglo-Saxon is not a religion, unless you are in the Klan. Southern Baptists have been sending missionaries out from Tennessee for 100 years - remember the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering? Remember Bibles for the USSR? But this guy suddenly thinks you have to have a Scotch-Irish name to be a Christian?

What this means is that their fears are not about religion at all, but about race. Obama is not white, so he's not a Christian, end of story. These guys are living in some sort of weird isolated time warp of nonsense. Have they never seen a black church? Have they never heard of "Reverend" Martin Luther King. His name was "Martin Luther" after the founder of Protestantism. A good reporter might have pointed that out to this yokel.

I'm usually very proud to be from Tennessee, but this made me cringe. These guys were from the far right extreme of Tennessee, even by red(neck) state standards. I invited CNN to visit the streets of Chattanooga because they will totally different answers. Even most small towns in Tennessee are more racially diverse than all of Polk County, and much less philosophically scary.

J. K., Ooltewah, TN