Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
The Red and the Blue
The Washington Post is obsessed with the whole red-state-blue-state 'phenomenon' (1). But to tell the truth, the whole thing's gotten rather old, especiallly considering that the red state/blue state divided is merely an accounting of class-based taste differences.

And I can hear you now. "What? Class-based? Are you trying to become some type of Marxist here?" Um, no. I'm not talking just about economic class--I'm talking about social class, which is based not only on economic capital but on cultural capital as well. See, the twentieth-century sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (whose Distinction I read for Soc class) believed that most, if not all, expressions of taste were based upon social class--you asserted the tastes you had been brought up in to some extent, and you recognize "good taste" as being upper-class. Even my choice in the title of this blog post is a function of social class--I have the "cultural capital" to both recognize the red-state/blue-state cliché and to know of Stendhal's novel The Red and the Black.

Anyways. There's a Fisking to be done--and in this fisking, I will demonstrate how the news media's perception of "red-statism" is based entirely on class-based taste snobbery.

"For a Conservative, Life is Sweet in Sugar Land, Texas"

This is the home of Britton Stein, who describes George W. Bush as "a man, a man's man, a manly man," and Al Gore as "a ranting and raving little whiny baby."

Forty-nine years old, Stein is a husband, a father, a landscaper and a Republican. He lives in a house that has six guns in the closets and 21 crosses in the main hallway.

Check out the Red State excess! The crassness!

His wife cuts his hair with electric clippers.

Nor does the Red Stater have any idea of what a good haircut is!

His three daughters aren't embarrassed when he kisses them on their cheeks. He loves his family, hamburgers and his dog.

Doesn't everybody?

He believes in God, prays daily and goes to church weekly.

So does a friend of mine in the (San Francisco) Green Party, come to think of it.

He has a jumbo smoker in his back yard and a 40-foot tree he has climbed to hang Christmas lights. He has a pickup truck that he has filled with water for the Fourth of July parade, driving splashing kids around a community where Boy Scouts plant American flags in the yards.

You know, I haven't had any good barbeque in awhile. And that tree sounds pretty cool.

His truck is a Chevy. His beer is Bud Light. His savior is Jesus Christ. His neighbors include Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority leader, who says of Sugar Land, "I think it is America."

The preceeding four sentences are designed to convince the reader of Stein's lack of sophistication concerning automobiles, beers, messanic figures, and congresspersons. Later in the article we'll learn that Stein is Catholic, which surprised me, because my people don't usually talk about being "saved" the way the Southern Baptists do. I'm guessing that the writer put that bit in just to hammer the Christian thing home.

The fisking will continue shortly--after I finish my history paper.

(1) Did anyone else think "one-state-two-state" in response?

Comments: Post a Comment