Monday, August 3, 2009

Southern Men Driving the Birther Movement

On Friday night I joked with DCJonesy and J.N. that my usual yelling of "SEGREGATION!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!" any time "Sweet Home Alabama" is played doesn't seem to be catching on as a trend.

And while you can't paint whole regions of the country with a broad brush, stuff like this is simply not acceptable:

Dave Weigel asked some further questions to the pollster, and there seems to be a few problems with Southern Men (actually just white southern men, to be more specific than Neil was in song):
So what proportion of Southern whites doubt that Obama is an American citizen? While Ali did not release the racial breakdowns for the the South, and cautioned that the margin of error in the smaller sample of 720 people would be larger than the national margin of error (2 percent), the proportion of white Southern voters with doubts about their president’s citizenship may be higher than 70 percent. More than 30 percent of the people polled in the South were non-white, and very few of them told pollsters that they had questions about Obama’s citizenship. In order for white voters to drive the South’s “don’t know” number to 30 percent and it’s “born outside the United States” number to 23 percent, as many as three-quarters of Southern whites told pollsters that they didn’t know where Obama was born.

One thing to keep in mind, if only a quarter or a fifth of white Southerners believe Obama was born in the United States, that’s more than voted for him last year in some states. Obama won 14 percent of the white vote in Louisiana, 14 percent in Mississippi, and 10 percent in Alabama.

Those numbers are simply terrifying. Although the birthers can be seen as nuts by any rational observer, it's pretty staggering when you realize that they make up a sizable chunk of the modern day Republican party.


  1. to me if i believe that a man can be eaten by a whale and live, or that another man could fit 2 of every animal on earth inside one boat, or that 2 human beings could spawn the entire human race, suddenly disbelief in Obama's citizenship seems fairly possible.

  2. The song isn't pro-segregation at all:

    In 1975, Van Zant said: "The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn't notice the words 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor." "The line 'We all did what we could do' is sort of ambiguous," Kooper notes "'We tried to get Wallace out of there' is how I always thought of it." Journalist Al Swenson argues that the song is more complex than it is sometimes given credit for, suggesting that it only looks like an endorsement of Wallace. "Wallace and I have very little in common," Van Zant himself said, "I don't like what he says about colored people."
    The final line of the song indicates that despite its pro-Southern theme it is firmly against racial discrimination: "Montgomery's got the answer." This is a reference to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which led to a Supreme Court decision declaring Alabama's racial segregation laws for buses unconstitutional.
    In 1976, Van Zant and the band supported Jimmy Carter for his presidential candidacy, including fundraising and an appearance at the Gator Bowl benefit concert.

  3. @anon: Crazy stuff, I had no idea. This is also pretty cool, (also from their wikipedia):

    "Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote their song "Sweet Home Alabama" in response to "Southern Man" and "Alabama" from Neil's 1972 album Harvest. Young has said that he is a fan of both "Sweet Home Alabama" and Ronnie Van Zant, the lead vocalist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. "They play like they mean it," Young said in 1976. "I'm proud to have my name in a song like theirs."[1] Young has also been known to play "Sweet Home Alabama" in concert occasionally. To demonstrate this camaraderie, Van Zant frequently wore a Neil Young Tonight's the Night T-shirt while performing "Sweet Home Alabama."[2] Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot can often be seen reciprocating by wearing a Jack Daniels-styled Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt (including at the Live Rust concert).

    Lynyrd Skynyrd tried to arrange to have Neil Young come on stage during a performance of "Sweet Home Alabama," where he would have sung "a Southern man don't need me around anyhow," but the performers were never able to arrange this performance due to conflicting touring schedules."