The Redneck Manifesto: (America’s Scapegoats: How We Got That Way And Why We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore)
The alternative-country movement, it’s safe to say, is largely music by and for white people. Suppose for a second that we stop trying to figure out what to call it, and distract ourselves by seeking to understand the social conditions near the close of the century that have given rise to this burgeoning group of artists. Why are so many young, predominantly white musicians starting bands that so pointedly embrace the rural, working-class motifs of country music? With a mission so politically loaded, we might as well look to our music for insight, since more formal examinations — like the President’s hilarious race initiative — don’t seem to be giving up many answers.
While it has absolutely nothing to do with music, Jim Goad’s Redneck Manifesto is a thought-provoking place to start. Its thesis holds that the redneck, trailer trash, cracker, and hillbilly are members of the only socio-ethnic group who may openly be maligned without fear of reprisal, and suggests that until the unwashed masses of this country accept that our social divisions are not about race but about class and money, it’s just as pointless and misguided to call the author a redneck as it is for him to call someone a nigger.
Although if you wanted to call Goad a redneck, you could probably get away with it, as his credentials are impeccable: “My mother was urban Philly garbage, my father was rural Vermont scum. Together they fled to a concrete dogpatch five miles outside of the city of brotherly love to live the half-baked consumerist dreams of post-WWII suburban trash. I am the direct product of cross-pollinated, miscegenated trash.”
He is also, along with his wife Debbie, editor and publisher of the notorious ‘zine Answer Me, in which Goad probed topics such as mass murder and rape with such coldly precise curiosity it is disturbing to be so compelled by his writing.
This is most certainly not a book for those prudish about matters of political correctness. When this angry white man speaks, he does so harshly, and in an unassailably annotated and meticulously thought out manner, particularly in his “History Of The White American Underclass”. Plenty of controversial ideas are offered up, particularly in chapters such as “Several Compelling Arguments For The Enslavement Of All White Liberals” and “What’s So Bad About Hatemongers, Gun Nuts, And Paranoid Tax-Resisting Extremists?” But for anyone who’s ever felt bad, even for a millisecond, about liking Lynyrd Skynyrd, this book is an absolute must.