Still Think The North Won The Civil War? These 12 Maps Will Prove You Wrong (The Southernization of America Part 2 of 3)
The Southernization Of America In 12 Maps.
Make no mistake: As Alternet‘s Michael Lind explains, when right-wingers fight federal programs in the name of “freedom,” they mean “freedom” for their elites to screw people and destroy our shared resources, not actual “freedom.” Face it, the U.S. government’s programs and regulations throw a wrench into the South’s vile “economic development” model by giving workers more power and protection…Or at least by making them a little less desperate.
Well-paid people who can rely on savings — and a decent safety net when the savings run out — don’t have to put up with abuse and poverty wages from their employers. Which is why the Southernization of America demands that we keep people of all colors poor and powerless. In Lind’s words:
The traditional Southern regional economic strategy, then, depends on the control by Southern employers of a huge pool of low-wage workers with little or no bargaining power in their dealings with their local bosses or the foreign (that is, extra-Southern) investors and corporations who are invited in to exploit their labor.
The high level of skills and visibility of our first African-American slaves were ideal for exploitation by the Old South. And of course, the Southernization of America relies on our nation’s deep-seated racism to help achieve its goals. But when push comes to shove, the elites don’t really care that much about the color of their slaves’ skin.
Map # 1. Red And Blue States In The 2012 Election.
The map above shows the spreading Southernization of America in terms of which states voted for Barack Obama (in blue) and which states voted for Mitt Romney (in red). The numbers reflect the number of electoral college votes per state, with the more highly-populated states tending to vote Democratic.
In the mid-20th century, we had the best of everything and the most broadly-shared wealth of any society ever known to humankind. After the Great Depression, the Democrats enacted a series of programs in the 1930’s–1960’s that lifted millions out of abject poverty and into the middle class. Although some were dragged into the 20th century kicking and screaming, the much-loved President Dwight Eisenhower and many other Republicans also supported these prgrams.
Then, the civil rights movement came along, and many resented being forced to share their new-found prosperity with blacks, Native Americans and other folks of color. Plus, our women were getting uppity and those damn hippies were out of control.
In the late 1960’s, the Southernization of America began in earnest, as the Republican Party figured out that many of us would rather sink back into the rampant poverty our great grandparents–and their parents–suffered and fought to end, than pay even a nickel in taxes that might help those people. GOP leaders then mapped out a “Southern Strategy” that targeted the white “Moral Majority” and played to their racism and fear of a swiftly-changing world.
The above map shows how Southern “values” have radiated out from the Old South into the Northern, Western and even some Northeastern states. As Lind remarks, the staunch conservatives of the South may now vote Republican instead of Democratic, but they’re still up to their same old tricks.
Now that they dominate the Republican party, Southern conservatives are using it to carry out the same strategies that they promoted during the generations when they controlled the Democratic Party, from the days of Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren to the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, the oligarchs of the American South have sought to defend the Southern system, what used to be known as the Southern Way of Life.
Map #2. Percent Of Adults Who’ve Attained At Least A High School Education.
This map shows the percent of adults who’ve graduated from high school, with the lighter-colored areas representing populations with fewer high school graduates. Southern states generally spend less on their public education systems and do less to alleviate childhood poverty, which correlates with poor student outcomes.
But thanks to the Southernization of America, budget cuts and rampant income inequality over the past four decades, the decline in high school graduation rates have begun to radiate outwards from the Old Confederacy. This may have a lot to do with the fact that in 2013, children living in poverty became the majority of students in the South’s and in the West’s public schools for the first time since before the Great Society programs of the 1960s.
While many Southerners lament the sorry state of their public schools, less educated folks doomed to low-wage jobs suits the Powers that Be just fine.
MAP #3. U.S. POVERTY RATES BY STATE.
As Mark Gongioff observed in the Huffington Post last summer, “the South is essentially a solid, grim block of poverty.”
North Carolina and a handful of other Southern U.S. states saw the biggest increases in the number of people living in what are known as “poverty areas” between 2000 and 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report.
The Southernization of America has also resulted in swiftly increasing levels of poverty in other states as well, especially in the Midwest and Western states. As explained in the American Prospect, pressures created by cheap labor from abroad and the low wages and lack of workers’ rights in the South have dragged all of our wages down. Even as more and more factories open up in the South, workers’ inflation-adjusted pay keeps falling.
One reason wages continued to fall throughout the Deep South, despite the influx of jobs, is the region’s distinctive absence of legislation and institutions that protect workers’ interests.
As outsourcing to places like China and India grows less cost-effective, due to demands for higher pay and tougher environmental and safety regulations, the much-missed manufacturing jobs are coming back. Unfortunately, they no longer pay well because the U.S. is swiftly becoming the new Third World.
Map #4. Evangelical Christians (And Latter Day Saints) Who Say They Go To Church “Often.”
Religion has played a critical role in the Southernization of America. Part of why Americans cheerfully put up with economic and social injustices that people in other so-called “advanced” nations would never stand for is due to racism and our toxic legacy of slavery. Being forced to live in poverty by your own leaders is a much easier pill to swallow when you’re provided with others you can look down on. But for those of us who aren’t racist — or at least try not to be — our dour Calvinist/Protestant heritage takes over.
If you’re poor, it’s your own damned fault because you make bad choices and don’t work hard enough. And since our brutal legacy of racism and slavery ensures that blacks and other people of color are more likely to be poor, well…That’s just because they make bad choices and don’t work hard enough, right?
The churchgoers creating that huge dark patch in the West, say… right around Utah … are comprised more of Mormons (Church of Latter Day Saints) than Evangelical Christians (note: the previous wording made it sound like all people from in and around Utah are Mormons, which, of course, is not true). Otherwise, that deep purple radiating from the Bible Belt of the Old South represents Evangelical Protestants, most of whom attend churches that are either affiliated with or influenced by the Southern Baptist Convention. While they’ve taken taken measures to atone for their racist past in recent years, the SBC originally split off from the Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery back in 1845.
Religion can make poverty and injustice easier to bear, and that’s hugely helpful when it comes to the Southernization of America.
The Southern strain of “Christianity” also demands obedience, conformity, intolerance, the subjugation of women, and an often terrifying strain of white purity culture. While countless movements for civil rights and social justice have come out of Christian churches, the SBC has historically served as a counterweight: If people are victims of poverty, racism or injustice, that’s all part of God’s plan, and governments are not supposed to interfere. Religious leaders preach the peace and loving kindness of Jesus, but embody the wrathful, abusive and warlike Old Testament patriarch who smotes nations, turns women into weeping pillars of salt, inflicts the supposed Curse of Ham, and cruelly demands a child sacrifice, only to capriciously change His mind at the last minute.
As evangelical ministers migrate to the Northern and Western states and plant new churches, their new, born-again converts are groomed to become more accepting of the cruel injustices wrought by their corporate masters. And once you get people to believe they’re worthless just because they’ve got strikes against them, or that they’re God’s chosen just because they happen to be more fortunate, it’s easy to get them to believe all kinds of other nonsense, such as: Climate change isn’t caused by fossil fuels, gay people are evil, people of color are impure, women are incompetent and sinful, humans and dinosaurs lived side-by-side just 5,000 years ago, and abstinence-only “sex education” actually works.
5. Rates Of Gun Deaths By State.
In few realms is the Southernization of America more apparent than when it comes to gun violence.
Guess what? If you live in the South, you’re not only more likely to not graduate high school, live in poverty, and give birth while still only a teenager, you’re also more likely to die from a gun-related injury. Whether you get shot by a white terrorist, a madman, or your own toddler, we have more gun deaths here in the U.S. than in any other industrialized nation. And within the U.S., the gun death rates in the South and the West are even higher. But every time we call for tougher gun safety laws in the wake of yet another massacre, tragic accidental shooting, or tragic on-purpose shooting, the NRA’s pro-gun crowd swoops in and starts howling about how our scary Kenyan Muslim President Ba-lack Obama’s coming to take our guns.
But plenty of liberals and folks from the North also love their guns. Most of us aren’t “anti-gun” at all. We just want the kind of common-sense laws and regulations for owning and operating guns that we require for owning and operating other deadly machines: Namely our cars, SUVs, motorcycles and trucks. Also gun safety and gun culture don’t need to be at odds: People in the nation of Switzerland have long managed to enjoy a strong, safe and positive gun culture.
So what’s all the fuss about the Second Amendment and the “right to bear arms” all about anyway? Once again, it all boils down to the Southernization of America. Award-winning author and left-leaning talk show radio host Thom Hartmann did a little sleuthing and discovered that — surprise! — all that gun-loving blather goes back to slavery. Why? Because the Southern plantation owners needed their white neighbors’ help with putting down slave rebellions.
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.
And although U.S. gun owners come in all colors and political leanings, the link between white gun culture and racism persists to this very day. A 2013 paper published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) found that underlying racism among white gun owners — coupled with the Southernization of America has had a damaging effect on our nation’s gun policies.
Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites. The findings help explain US whites’ paradoxical attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control. Such attitudes may adversely influence US gun control policy debates and decisions.
White gun culture, open carry “activists,” White terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Stand-Your-Ground vigilantes like George Zimmerman, and our nation’s brutal militarized police forces all combine to create a climate of terror designed to keep communities of color down. But these forces are always perfectly happy to turn on white people too, if they dare to challenge the natural order of things or — even worse — work side-by-side with blacks to fight injustice as they did during the Selma marches and during the 1877 St. Louis General Strike. Nor do these bullies always insist on actually using their guns: Beating, choking and lynching will do in a pinch.
The saddest thing for many gun enthusiasts is how the National Rifle Association (NRA) got co-opted into the Southernization of America. The NRA was founded by two Civil War Veterans from the Union side to encourage good marksmanship (they’d noticed their fellow Yanks were terrible shots compared with their Southern former opponents). The NRA has a long history of supporting civil rights and gun control. In fact, they even helped write gun laws for the feds until the 1980s. Alas, those days are gone.