Monica Roberts

City Dwellers And People Of Color Are 'Pro-America' Too

Filed By Monica Roberts | October 20, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: best of America, election 2008, GOP, McCain/Palin, people of color, pro-American, Sarah Palin

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. caribou-barbie.jpgWe believe, we believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, pro-America areas of this great nation.

This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans: those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform, those who are protecting the virtues of freedom."

-- Sarah Palin in remarks to a Greensboro, NC Republican fundraiser, October 16, 2008

The more I hear Sarah Louise Heath Palin flap her gums, the more I loathe her intellectually vacuous Dubya in drag behind. And like Sen Biden, I'm tired.

I'm sick and tired of being told by white Republicans that because I was born and raised on the south side of Houston, because I'm intelligent, vote Democratic, enthusiastically support public schools, support real science, believe that civil rights should be expanded and provided to all GLBT people, think the wall of separation between church and state is a good idea, and oppose the misguidedly wrongheaded and selfish GOP 'soak the poor' economic policies that I'm 'unpatriotic and un-American.'

Frack you and every beer-swilling illiterate racist and latte-drinking Republican operative who defines being an American and patriotism that way.

We African-Americans love this country so much we've fought in every war since its inception to defend it despite the bulk of us not acquiring our own freedom until 1865. Even with that, we still had to fight 'pro-American' peeps another 100 plus years tooth and nail just to have our humanity and civil rights recognized.

63 chuch bombed.jpgWe had to battle 'small-town' Americans whose values told them it was okay to hang people who shared my ethnic heritage from trees, twist Biblical scripture to justify those regressive attitudes, and use violence against anyone who dared to protest that injustice.

The bottom line is that dissent is patriotic. I want my country to be better than when I found it for the next generation. That used to be a guiding bipartisan political principle that has gone by the wayside thanks to GOP conservatives and their sellouts pimping racial hatred for their own personal and political gain.

November 4 can't get here fast enough for me so that we can bury the 'Southern Strategy' once and for all and begin to repair the damage done to our country.

(Crossposted at TransGriot.)


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Come on, AirMonica. You seem to be holding back. Why don't you really tell us how you feel?

(Damn good article.)

This has been one of my pet peeves for a long time. Usually people single out New York, Washington, and Hollywood as not being the "real America". This "small town" business is just the latest iteration.

The crassest examples of this in popular culture are the Pace piquante sauce commercials that talk about their competitors making their product in NY, and conclude with, "New York City?! Get a rope!!" After 9/11, I wondered what would happen to those commercials when everyone who had been saying things like that were suddenly talking about 'everyone is from NY'. A short time thereafter, those commercials were changed. And they remained changed for a number of years. But they came back.

There always seems to be an underlying message, "that's where the gays are". Jeanne Kirkpatrick famously coined the term "SF liberals" in 1984, the year the Democratic National Convention was held in SF. You could practically hear the dripping contempt. The term all but became a euphemism for "gay".

The irony is that most of the people in Washington and Hollywood who are emblematic of being "anti-Americans" aren't *actually from* those places. The people in the US government come from all of the places that we do because they represent *us*.

Same with Hollywood. Very few stars grew up there. So this idea that they're from this "un-American" place is absurd. Martin Sheen is from Ohio. Jennifer Garner is from West Virginia.

Having said that, being from NYC, as I am, doesn't make you any more of less American or patriotic than any other American, regardless of geography or demographics.

And let's not forget *former* Sen. George Allen's greeting to "macacaca": "Welcome to America, and the **real** Virginia". It's all part and parcel of the same thinking. Northern Va. isn't the "real" Va., and Va. *really* isn't in the south. Give me a break.

Casting city-dwellers as less than fully American is pretty hateful. And while examples of this kind of divisiveness abound, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...

The crassest examples of this in popular culture are the Pace piquante sauce commercials that talk about their competitors making their product in NY, and conclude with, "New York City?! Get a rope!!" After 9/11, I wondered what would happen to those commercials when everyone who had been saying things like that were suddenly talking about 'everyone is from NY'. A short time thereafter, those commercials were changed. And they remained changed for a number of years. But they came back.

Authenticity is part and parcel of Pace's product message. The picante sauce they sell is pretty much a creature of the desert southwest. Picante bottled in New York City is about as authentic as a Brooklyn Pizza baked in Abilene.

The tension between town and farm is as old as the republic. It is that tension the Pace ads are playing on. By the way, Pace is a brand of the Campbell Soup Company of Camden New Jersey. All the way from New York City, its city folks laughing at themselves.

As you point out, Pace isn't really manufactured in the southwest, and I don't think anyone really thought that it was. So it's especially bogus to single out NY as the enemy.

There are a hundred ways to compare and contrast your product from your competitors without invoking lynching. Besides, there are many places outside of the southwest that would be just as alien as authentic producers of (mass produced, commercially bottled) picante sauce other than NY. So why pick there? Because it also brings other associations to mind.

All kinds of the "other". The shorthand is pinko, commie, fags. Sometimes you hear terms like "eastern intellectuals" - read: Jews, or the "media elite" - read: rich Jews. NY is known as one of the most racially diverse and multicultural environments, and I bet you can find good picante sauce there, if that actually matters. It's still the only place I've found Cuban Chinese restaurants.

Invoking lynching? That's a little wide of the mark. The rope was for the (white) cook who thought salsa from New York was a suitable sub for "real" salsa. Anyway, those ads date back to the 80's. The ads updated and reissued a few years ago feature humor about horses with car alarms.

The latest round of Pace ads contain long and dreamily hazy shots of pepper and tomato fields and voice-overs with heavy Texas drawls. "Pace. Made Right Since 1947"

Why target New York? New York is the archetype of urban life in America. Think city, think New York. Why else would Seinfeld be a New Yorker. Would "Friends" make sense anywhere but New York? Bette Midler's "Big Business" (1988) pokes fun at city and country via New York.

As I noted before, there are plenty of real examples of regional divisiveness. This is just a bottle of hot sauce. With arguments like this it is no wonder half the country finds it hard to take liberals seriously.

We have to challenge hate and divisiveness. We have to do it boldly and resolutely. But, we need to pick battles that people actually care about.

By the way, even though Pace is owned by Campbell's Soup Company, its ingredients are sourced in the southwest and Mexico; and its products are prepared and bottled in Paris, Texas.


"Invoking lynching? That's a little wide of the mark."

What do you think the rope was for? Macrame?

"The rope was for the (white) cook who thought salsa from New York was a suitable sub for "real" salsa."

Oh well, then;, it's *perfectly* reasonable. BTW, white people can and have been lynched, too.

"Anyway, those ads date back to the 80's."

I don't think that's correct. I remember having that in mind at the time of the 9/11 attacks. I don't think I would have been concerned with ads from more than a decade before.

"The ads updated and reissued a few years ago feature humor about horses with car alarms."

There've been a whole series of these ads, but the punchline is always the same. NY is to be reviled.

"Why target New York? New York is the archetype of urban life in America. Think city, think New York."

So you think the issue is that it's the southwest versus a city? That doesn't make sense. The authenticity that they're trying to invoke is based on the region, not the population density.

"Why else would Seinfeld be a New Yorker."

I have no idea what this has to do with. But Seinfeld took place in NY because Seinfeld is actually a New Yorker, and it was a biographical series about his life.

"With arguments like this it is no wonder half the country finds it hard to take liberals seriously."

I didn't realize that objecting to stigmatizing a group of people based on geography was a liberal issue.

"By the way, even though Pace is owned by Campbell's Soup Company, its ingredients are sourced in the southwest and Mexico; and its products are prepared and bottled in Paris, Texas."

I don't really care where it's made. It's not germain to my complaint. You're the one who brought up the Campbell Soup connection. But it's alittle sad that you went to the trouble of researching that just to get the last word in a blog discussion.

crescentdave crescentdave | October 20, 2008 10:36 PM

Thank you for your thoughts and feelings, your passion and your rage. It's empowering for all of us who were taught to be "understanding," "patient," and "tolerant" towards those who view us with fear and hatred and seek to do us harm, all in the name of god and family and country.

This is great. I'm glad people are finally standing up and calling out this BS. In case anyone has any doubts about what types of places Palin is visiting and calling "the real America," there's an analysis on 538 breaking out the racial composition of the places Palin has visited compared to those places Obama has visited. Sneak preview of the results: the places Palin has visited are far whiter than the country as a whole.

Aside from the racial aspects (the meme that somehow the only real Americans are white), the anti-urbanism of McCain/Palin's rhetoric is pretty disgusting. Density in cities is the only thing that can and does preserve open space for farming, recreation, or just plain preservation, plus it's far more efficient in terms of fossil fuels. If everyone lived in the Republican's idea of "real America" (a detached single-family home out of any sight-line from any other home), there wouldn't be much land left for anything except housing. And the rhetorical focus on small towns has real policy effects, as a good current Gotham Gazette article points out. McCain totally ignores urban areas, while Obama has a section on his website devoted to urban issues (and has said he sees strong urban areas as vital to strong regions), he rarely mentions those issues to general audiences.

I've heard that same crap said that Austin, Dallas San Antonio and Houston aren't 'the real Texas'.

I told that idiot to look at a Texas map if he was capable of reading it.

Now see here, those of us in small towns are the salt of the earth..........unless we are different.

I live in a town so small it's not a town but a hamlet. When can I expect a visit from McCain asking the opinions of Cathryn the Pagan?

Cathryn, I don't think John McCain considers New York to be part of the US.

Cathryn, I don't think John McCain considers New York to be part of the US.

The McPalin team doesn't consider anyone who resides in a large city, isn't a card carrying member of the NRA or is devoid of European ancestry as an American.

I saw part of the interview McCain/Palin did with Brian Williams, and McCain specifically names NYC and DC as objects for scorn. He didn't dance around it, and named them straight out.