Neo-Redneckery: the Regression of the Right

By Matthew Hogan matthewhnj@aol.com

It has always existed on the Anerican Right but it has ebbed and flowed. The events of September 11, 2001 have almost certainly augmented it, however. It is not a good thing. But as I canít find a phrase for it, Iíll invent it.

Letís call it Rednecking the Right, or better still Neo-Redneckery. That is the aligning of the American Right with regressive outlooks that are more "redneck" than conservative (or "classical liberal,"), more Tory than Whig, and more often Luddite than Tory. I regret that in this preliminary essay I am only broadly and rather tentatively exploring the concept without naming names for the most part.

In making this critical analysis, I must note that I am a libertarian of probably centrist orientation, and canít really lay claim to being on the Right, at least fully. Still I feel honestly more comfortable on the Right. I like flag-waving patriotism, have respect for much cultural and religious tradition including many "family values", and I love free enterprise with a near-erotic passion.

Additionally, I prefer Republicans to Democrats by a mile. I am deeply uncomfortable with abortion, and do not oppose capital punishment as unjust. I like being around people among whom it is cool to say "the government shouldnít be doing this". with impunity. Barry Goldwater is probably my favorite 20th Century American politician. I think the Second Amendment is about as important as the First. And I hate Communism only a little less than Nazism.

Back to neo-redneckery. What I mean by it is basically the assumption, typically reinforced by broad-based ignorance, that America is meant to be consciously and by political will a white Christian country, indeed those characteristics are believed to be at the root of its distinctiveness and superiority. In the past, this tribalist ideal has found its way explicitly into restrictive immigration policies, slavery/segregation laws, warfare with Indians and others, and public religious sentiment ranging from the Battle Hymn of the Republic to official state churches in the early days of Republic. But currently such an explicit conception is rarely expressed so openly except by David Duke.

Still neo-redneckery manages to appear in a new form, sometimes softened to a slightly more inclusive "Judeo-Christianity," but most typically as the still growing Cult of "the West". The unstated assumption, not always even consciously accepted by its proponents but nevertheless prevalent between the lines, is that the maintenance or adoption of the very real beneficent values most perfectly realized in "the West" and the USA itself -- liberal democracy, technological development, rule of law, individual rights -- require some kind of rootedness in Christianity (or "Judeo-Christianity") and/or the genetics of white (particularly northern) Europeans.

Pat Buchananís new book "The Death of the West" appears to be the latest effort of this school of thought. One finds similar sentiments in columnists like Paul Craig Roberts, and the Washington Times generally. The Washington Times is a refreshing relief on many issues from the Washington Postís establishment left-liberalism, but its recent wartime anti-Muslim material, for example, reads like an only slightly altered version of the anti-Semitic material of the Nazi Julius Streicher.

Neo-Redneckery is a concept we need to explore more and I hope to do so here at some point. It is eroding the ethics of the American Right, feeding the knee-jerked foolishness of the American Left, and is often just plain stupid and ignorant. As well as downright dangerous in wartime. The parties responsible for the resurgence of it require further exploration, though sad to say it appears the entertaining and often on-the-mark Rush Limbaugh is not far from the center of it, and that the "neo-cons," many of whom should know better, indulge it.

More to come soon, folks, and with greater clarity, I hope.