In response to my post of two days ago about the Leftist use of the term "Redneck" I got a lot of email. Below is one I particularly liked:
"Thank you so much for your post about rednecks, and the "compassionate" left's contempt for them. It's not often that we country folk hear nice things about ourselves. Having grown up in a one-horse town as a poor minister's daughter, I've seen every aspect of "trailer trash" life. Rednecks certainly do have their problems in terms of money, but I've never met a liberal who would give you the shirt right off his back--and I've never met a redneck who wouldn't. What the left doesn't understand, it mocks. The left is comprised mainly of people who've never wanted for anything, so when they look at the poor but proud, they wonder what the heck it is that they're so proud of. What they're proud of, in a nutshell, is something liberals can never have or understand--compassion for each other. Thanks for stickin' up for the little guy."
A couple of readers have mentioned to me that many of the people described as "Rednecks" don't reject the label but instead apply it rather gleefully to themselves -- just as many blacks refer to one another as "niggers". In both cases however, the term is derogatory when used by outsiders. And someone who is really enjoying derogatory labels just sent me a Christmas greeting "from deep in the "red" heart of the "Great Satan"! That did give me a laugh. It rather reminds me of the phrase "reptiles of the Press". Somebody, somewhere once used that expression in an attempt to pour scorn on journalists but journalists now (at least in Australia and Britain) routinely use that expression to refer to themselves (as in "fellow reptiles" etc) -- obviously seeing the expression as great fun. And similarly there is now a lot of Redneck comedy etc. I have been trying for years to find out who coined the term "reptiles of the Press" but nobody seems to know, so if any of my readers can tell me, I would be much obliged.
Interestingly, two of the people who emailed me have the same surname as mine, which figures, as "Ray" is an old Celtic name found throughout the British Isles in various spellings and "rednecks" and "crackers" do seems to be mainly of Celtic (Scotch-Irish) origin. Here is part of one of the emails concerned:
"As you say, cracker and redneck just mean that you're a working-class white person in the south. We do have a sense of humor about ourselves, but OTOH we're the last group left that you can openly mock and criticize in the crudest of terms. The good news is, however, that Redneck Culture -- NASCAR, bluegrass and country music, pro wresting, Jeff Foxworthy and the like, are huge. We're taking over, no matter what they say about us"
The term "Redneck" seems to have had usages in Britain long before it was used in America and I am always amused by the fact that, among Afrikaners, the term "Rooineck" (meaning "redneck") refers to the English! And (for good reasons in their case) the Afrikaners don't mean it kindly, either. Given my fair skin, I guess I too would be a redneck if I spent much time in the sun.