Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Who Are Rednecks?

Rednecks are progeny of the mighty Scots-Irish Presbyterians who pioneered the southern Appalachians and the American West. Few of today's Rednecks understand the true meaning and heritage of the word. This term originated with Lowland Scottish Presbyterians who would wear red scarves or stiff red collars around their necks, demonstrating that they were Covenanters, members of the National Covenant, which was the Scottish Presbyterian Church. They had literally signed their oaths with their own blood at Greyfriar's Kirkyard in 1638. For the wearing of their distinctive insignia, they received the pejorative appellation, Rednecks. For their refusal to accept the Church of England, which they described as "Popery without the Pope," these Scots were persecuted by the British. They fled first to Ulster, Ireland, then to America, where they became the Scots-Irish ethnic group. The word Redneck in early America referred to a descendant of those Scottish Protestants or, more generally, a southern Scots-Irish American. At the time of the American Civil War, the Yankees began referring to all white Southerners as Rednecks. Ironically, the nickname Yankee comes from the Dutch language and is based upon a word implying greed.

Many Americans attempt to slander not only this ethnic group, but the entire white South by using the appellation "Redneck." They are more to be pitied than confronted, and besides the term "Redneck" should be a badge of honor amongst true "Rednecks." It is a benediction from Heaven to be descended from people who were brave rebels and fighters against injustice; who were fearless in settling where others dared not - the Southern Highlands. They were staunch, freedom loving Presbyterians, who were opposed to slavery. Their ties of kinship were as tight as the clans of Scotland. They were extremely independent, industrious and at times, a bit boisterous. It is true they were known to be boastful and seemed to feel that naught but the trees were higher than themselves. They could certainly provoke disorder and loud talk when they disagreed with a thing, part of the reason they had been called “Crackers” in Ireland. They were "Rednecks", and we are too. And, by the way, y'all, we can take it!



"Films that show poor whites as violent people who attack wealthy citified whites allow the rich to justify their treatment of 'white trash' by portraying the poor whites as racist, criminal and uneducated. This allows other typically marginalized groups to join upper class whites against the "white trash." This justifies upper class stereotyping of poor whites and serves to aid in relieving upper class white guilt over treatment of 'others' in the past. The hatred and condescension of the poor seems to be the last available method of prejudice in our society. Just as Americans have made an effort to educate, understand and alter the treatment of marginalized groups and alternate cultures within our society, we have held on to poor whites as a group to demean." ~~Angel Price of Virginia University

"Rednecks ... legacy is stained because he became the dominant culture in the South, whose economic system was based on slavery. No matter that the English aristocrats of Tidewater were slavery's originators and principal beneficiaries or that the typical Scots-Irish yeoman had no slaves." ~~James Webb, Parade Magazine, 3 October 2004

"the 'redneck' stereotype is especially fitting because it fills all the scapegoat requirements: biological differences --inbred, less intelligent, unattractive; geographic and regional differences --trailer parks, rural south, hillbilly; economic differences -- poor, sick, lazy, dirty; cultural differences-- fundamentalist, superstitious, loud, kin networks; and moral differences-- trashy, racist, violent." ~~Jim Goad, Redneck Manifesto

"Born Fighting is a bombshell – or else the most brilliant battle flare ever launched by a book. James Webb reveals the all-but-invisible ethnic group that has created the core beliefs of democracy American style: our rights come from God not the Government; all of us are born equal and ‘born aristocrats’ don’t exist; and tread on either of those two truths, and we’ll fight you down to the last unbroken hyoid bone. The Scots-Irish (for such is their name) have fought all our wars for us, including Vietnam. James Webb was there, and he can count. He has written not only an engrossing story but also an important work of sociological history in the tradition of the great James Graham Leyburn.” ~~TOM WOLFE
What You Need to Know About the Scots-Irish by James Webb.
Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

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