Thursday, February 5, 2015

You've Just Been Carpetbagged

I've been referred to, both personally and generally, as a "carpetbagger." For those unfamiliar with the term, it originated during the Reconstruction Era when Northern entrepreneurs (among other brands of psychopath) moved to the South to exploit the instability and uncertainty that followed the Civil War.

Today, it typically refers to a politician who represents people from a district or region he or she has very little connection with. It also, apparently, can refer to any "yankee" (Northerner) who moves South and has an idea.

"Hey, um, I think maybe we should have a special provision for licensed-"

"CARPETBAGGER! You're not from here! You've only lived here for the better part of a decade. How DARE you attempt to improve the place you now live! You must only be doing this for some kind of selfish gain. Me? I'm not being selfish at all."

"Oh yeah? Well you wouldn't know good pizza if it gave your face an orgasm. And learn how to use your fucking turn signal."

So the exchange is not normally that intense, but it would certainly be more fun if it were. Let's call the modern, probably very colloquial usage of the term "carpetbagger" what it is - xenophobic. It's the same misplaced frustration with immigration anywhere else. "How dare you come here and try and make your life and everyone else's better?"

Someone asked me why dumb people are stereotyped as having Southern accents. It's a good question. It seems unfair. My answer was "Alabama and Mississippi." If they're not currently sitting at 49th and 50th place with regards to educational rankings, they're very near it. You can usually find these states at the bottom of other very important rankings. It's not to say that they're awful places (I've never been, so I can't judge), and it's also not insinuating that people from these places can't possibly be intelligent or creative. But is it any surprise that these voices are the first ones we think of when we're mocking the undereducated? I don't think it's a very good argument on my part, but I was pretty drunk.

More likely, however, is that a Southern accent is the easiest for the rest of us to mimic. We spent eight years together as a nation mocking our Cowboy-wannabe president, George W. Bush. If (god forbid) Sarah Palin's political career moves beyond that of attention-seeking twat, YOU BETCHA we'll start collectively making fun of another accent.

Or not, because that one is just insufferable sometimes.

At least the lilt is purrrrdy.


  1. Is there a logical fallacy involving the phrase, "That's how we do things here"? Appeal to tradition?

    I can't help thinking of the one (original) Cosmos episode where Sagan talks about Abdera, and how open minded the people were, and how you were mocked if you hailed from there, simply because you were exposed to new and "weird" ideas on a regular basis. I'm not sure what the modern-day Abdera is, but I would like to go there some time.

    1. I think it might be Portland, Oregon. :D