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Diplomacy:

From a Newsweek column by Michael Hirsh:

[A] substantial portion of the new nation [the South and much of the West and Southern Midwest] developed, over many generations, a rather savage, unsophisticated set of mores. Traditionally, it has been balanced by a more diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility from the Northeast and upper Midwest. But that latter sensibility has been losing ground in population numbers--and cultural weight. The coarsened sensibility that this now-dominant Southernism and frontierism has brought to our national dialogue is unmistakable.

So here's my question: It sounds like the author is trying to align himself with the "diplomatic" "Yankee sensibility," and against the "savage, unsophisticated set of mores" of various other states. But is that a "diplomatic" approach or a "coarse[]" one? The answer seems rather unmistakable to me.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Michael Hirsh's Assertions:
  2. Diplomacy:
dearieme:
Does his bitterness explain why he clings to this rather unsophisticated picture of so many of his fellowcountrymen?
4.27.2008 5:57pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
What you hear are the defiant throes of an East Coast Liberal who is not yet aware that he is stunned by the knowledge that no one outside his shrinking intellectual circle gives a hoot what his opinion is.

sho' 'nuf, Hoss.
4.27.2008 6:10pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
to the question: "coarse", in light of not having "arrogant" as a choice.
4.27.2008 6:21pm
Joey22 (mail):
Is anyone going to respond to his claim on the merits?
4.27.2008 6:26pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I live in NJ and just spent a week in SC.

I found the denizens to be much friendlier there. I sat by the sidewalk for 1/2 hour waiting for a ride and everyone who passed greeted me. That doesn't happen im NJ.

Just anecdotal but...
4.27.2008 6:28pm
PC:
Born and raised midwesterner that has lived on both coasts (also in the southwest). Throughout the south, midwest, and west coast, disdain is hidden by politeness. On the east coast people tend to be very upfront about their opinions. ymmv,etc.
4.27.2008 6:29pm
Paul B:
Judging from Mr. Hirsh's surname, I'm guessing that instead of being part of the WASP aristocracy that dominated our politics, business, and culture for most of this country's history, that he is instead the descendant of one of those pushy late 19th/early 20th century immigrant groups that brought their own "savage, unsophisticated set of mores" to our society.

Before anyone wants to take this kind of article seriously, a casual read of American history shows that those who see themselves losing power to newer "less deserving" groups have talked like this since the beginning of America.
4.27.2008 6:32pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
From my experience, people -- especially motorists and service workers -- are infinitely more polite in (for example) Charlotte than Boston. I would have to give the diplomatic edge to the Southerners and the savageness edge to the Yankees.
4.27.2008 6:37pm
Mark H.:

I sat by the sidewalk for 1/2 hour waiting for a ride and everyone who passed greeted me. That doesn't happen im NJ.



Well Duncan, I'm in Jersey and rather than just pass you by like everyone did in SC, I'd stop and offer you a lift. :-)

That said, Mr. Hirsh does sound a bit bitter that the majority of the country doesn't fit his preferred ethos.
4.27.2008 6:42pm
fullerene:

From my experience, people -- especially motorists and service workers -- are infinitely more polite in (for example) Charlotte than Boston.


And if there is one place that typifies a southern city it would definitely be Charlotte.
4.27.2008 6:51pm
PC:
I would have to give the diplomatic edge to the Southerners and the savageness edge to the Yankees.


In public conversations, I'd agree with you. People from the south and midwest are much more polite in public interactions. Get the same polite folks in a private conversation and things are a lot different.

Generally, I think people in the northeast "wear their heart on their sleeve" while non-northeasterners prefer to mask their opinions with "manners."
4.27.2008 6:54pm
Smokey:
Is anyone going to respond to his claim on the merits
What "merits?" I know when I'm being spoon fed propaganda. Examples from this ridiculous lib polemic, presented as 'news and analysis':
This thought, which has been recurring to me regularly over the years as I've watched the Southernization of our national politics at the hands of the GOP and its evangelical base...
And...
Bush is a Jacksonian pod person.
And...
We routinely demonize organizations like the United Nations that we desperately need...
No wonder Newsweak is losing circulation. You can't alienate over half of your readership and then expect your circulation numbers to rise.

This scribbler obviously isn't rooting for Hillary, so he makes pathetic apologies for the uniformly odious friends of the chameleon Barry Hussein Mohammed Obama bin Laden.

For pompously assuming that we're too back-country to recognize his attempt to force feed his personal politics on everyone, I fart in Hirsch and Newsweak's general direction.

/ rant
4.27.2008 6:59pm
MarkField (mail):
Leaving aside the exact issue raised by the author, there are certain things we can generalize about historically. Speaking generally, the South has had a much higher level of personal violence and education was much less widely available (even to whites). Travelers in the 18th and 19th C also noted the much lower standards of public roads and accomodations in the South; travel times reflected this.

I hardly think anyone would deny that frontier areas tend to rely more on self-help and less on law enforcement; that they tend to be under-developed; and that education is less available.

Whether these historical characteristics have lingering effects today seems to me a separate question entirely.
4.27.2008 7:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
No one who has driven in Boston should have any illusions about who has the "savage" mores. Drivers will cut you off for the sport of it. Cars will ignore yield signs and turn from a side street into the approaching main thoroughfare traffic. Once while on foot, a car narrowly missed me in a hotel parking garage. He spend up the ramp right through the stop sign nearly hitting me as I jumped clear. For manners and just general civilized behavior I'll take the south over the north any day. And not that phony south called "Northern Virginia." I lived there a year and found out that NOVA really stands for "Not Virginia."
4.27.2008 7:04pm
BT:
Smokey is apparently appropriately named.
4.27.2008 7:04pm
Ben P (mail):

Is anyone going to respond to his claim on the merits?


That first requires figuring out exactly what his claim is, he uses a lot of terminology that may or may not be accurate to describe "southern culture" and the current political situation.

But one one level he does have a point. "Sensibilities" that have long had their roots in the South and West are much more prominent on the National Scene than they were previously.

To believe that George W. Bush the presidential candidate didn't run his campaign with a message that might well be described as "frontier" or "Southern" is being blind.

Bush might well have gone to Andover, Yale and Harvard, but he was pretty damn successful at framing John Kerry as an "East Coast Elite Liberal" with all of the negative connotations that go along with that.

Similarly, Bush was very successful at framing the debate in simple terms like "good and evil" and "right and wrong" that resonate with that same group of people.


It may not be accurate to describe this "voice" if you will as "southern western" sensibilities, but you can't deny that it shares more similarities with a person that tends to live in that area of the country rather than someone who lives in, New York, for example.
4.27.2008 7:05pm
Ben P (mail):
to add,

But on the other hand to classify these Southern Sensibilities as "savage" or uncultured, is more or less just Cultural arrogance.
4.27.2008 7:08pm
Ben P (mail):
At the risk of possibly triple posting.


Still, something deep and basic has changed in our country. After watching the recent, excellent (despite some historical inaccuracies) series "John Adams" on HBO, I dipped back into the Adams-Jefferson letters. Two things occurred to me: one, party politics was just as vicious back then, in its earliest days, as it is today. Nothing new there. What does seem foreign to us today is the dedication to free thought and, even more, free moral choice that so dominated the correspondence between those two great minds. When Jefferson, in his letter of May 5, 1817, condemned the "den of the priesthood" and "protestant popedom" represented by Massachusetts' state-supported church, he was speaking for both of them--the North and South poles of the revolution. Yet John McCain, even with the GOP nomination in hand, would never dare repeat his brave but politically foolhardy condemnation of the religious right in 2000 as "agents of intolerance." Why? Because we have become an intolerant nation, and that's what gets you elected.


Jefferson clearly spoke out against the "religious right" of his day (if you can even describe it as such, but the author does) but it's that same religious right that contained the Genisis of the Abolition movement that Jefferson was equally against.

There may be some truth in saying that Bush's political style is "Jacksonian" but attempting to make any sort of modern political point by saying so is silly because the Eras just do not compare well.
4.27.2008 7:12pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Paul B wrote:

Before anyone wants to take this kind of article seriously, a casual read of American history shows that those who see themselves losing power to newer "less deserving" groups have talked like this since the beginning of America.

What he said.
4.27.2008 7:16pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Paul B wrote:

Before anyone wants to take this kind of article seriously, a casual read of American history shows that those who see themselves losing power to newer "less deserving" groups have talked like this since the beginning of America.

What he said.
4.27.2008 7:16pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Double posted by accident...not for emphasis.
4.27.2008 7:22pm
ichthyophagous (mail):
Let me try to summarize the historical roots of what has recently been said here. (It seems awfully easy to be a MSM writer these days. All you need is a generalization and a couple of books to support it.) Hirsh is just giving us an updated version of the barbarian-America litany common to so many European literati who visited America in the 19th century. (Dickens or Mrs Trollope for example.) But the fact is that the barbarity of America is an intrinsic part of her character and, you must concede, her grandeur. This is just what attracts so many immigrants. Land of the almighty dollar? They like it just fine. If you look at a map of current US economic growth by state, it's plain that the high growth is mostly in the South and West, and most of the low growth is in the Northeast. As for the barbarity — you find plenty of it in Walt Whitman.
4.27.2008 7:24pm
Hoosier:
So he's talking about the coarse and savage people of Lake Woebegone?

I thought that we Midwesterners had a reputation for being overly "nice." And who is more "diplomatic" than Dick Lugar?

On the other hand, I've been to Newark. I couldn't feel the love, to be quite honest.

Nonsense.
4.27.2008 7:25pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
While the word choices may be unfortunate, there clearly are regional differences in culture around the United States. Some have been pointed out above (e.g., public politeness v. public candor) but I also think Hirsh might be onto another legitimate difference. Perhaps it could be termed the difference between a "barn-raising" culture more endemic to the Northeast/Midwest, and a "claim-staking" mentality more common in the West, etc., but pick whatever words you like: there's clearly been a difference in the historical development of communities throughout the United States, and it makes sense for those historical developments to be reflected in their respective modern cultures.

FWIW, I do acknowledge my bias: I much prefer the open backyards I grew up with in New Jersey (with few property-line delineating fences, so kids/postmen/garbage men could easily pass from one to another) to the fenced-in yards so common to California housing developments, but the point still stands: there really is a difference, and there's surely consequences to it. The question is then what to do about these cultural divisions, but the answer probably isn't to ignore it.
4.27.2008 7:30pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Imagine, though, the New Jerusalem the Refined will build, once they're free of the moribund weight of America's crude center. They can call it... Golgafrincham.
4.27.2008 7:33pm
Gringo (mail):
As the offspring of a North-South marriage, and as someone who has split his life in approximately equal parts between North and South, I have some comments on the article, with regards to race and to foreign policy.

One hundred and forty-five years later, the South--or what has become the South-Southwest--has won another kind of Civil War. It has transformed the sensibility of the country.

In terms of race, which was historically the biggest difference between North and South, the North has won. At least the enlightened, tolerant part of the North has won. In 1958, 94% of white Americans disapproved of marriages between blacks and whites, which also indicates that such opinions were not at all restricted to the segregationist South. By 2007, that percentage had gone down to 19% of white Americans. Bull Connor lost, and he's dead.

The foreign policy that Bush espouses can find support in some of Kennedy's speeches. Fifty years ago, Northern liberals were in favor of a vigorous foreign policy, and did not apologize to tyrants. There is a reason for the existence of the phrase "Jackson Democrats," a phrase which does not refer to Andrew of Tennessee, but to Henry of Washington state.
Take the issue of Assad and Syria. The Assad clan has long been a thorn in the side of US foreign policy, in addition to treating its own people brutally (Hama..). I doubt that fifty years ago liberal politicians from the North would make a pilgrimage to Damascus to pay homage to a terror-master tyrant such as Assad, to share their disagreement with Assad over US foreign policy, hoping that the US would be more accommodating to the likes of Assad, in contrast with JF Kerry, Pelosi, and Dodd ( and David Duke).

With regard to foreign policy, it is not that the South has won, but rather that the Northern liberals have changed over the last 50 years. JF Kennedy and Henry Jackson could not be elected today as Democrats.
4.27.2008 7:56pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"By 2007, that percentage had gone down to 19% of white Americans."

Don't take that survey too seriously as it might more reflect a change in what people are willing to admit to pollsters than a change in their actual attitudes. The actual rate of interracial marriage is a much better indicator. Look at what people do, not what they say about some sensitive topics.
4.27.2008 8:09pm
Cecilius:
These types of rants remind of NASCAR. Almost every weekend, 150,000 Southerners pack themselves into a giant stadium, drink beer for 3 or 4 days straight and watch cars spin around a track for hours. Yet it's still a great family atmosphere that's very welcoming for children, old folks, etc.

In late 2006, there was a public hearing on whether to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. Despite the fact that nobody was drunk, the gathering only drew about 1,000 people and all those in attendance were New Yorkers, punches were thrown and the whole affair was shut down by the cops. Damn diplomatic, communitarian Yankees just can't behave themselves in public.
4.27.2008 9:01pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
In Seinfield the Soup Nazi was an entirely believable New York City character.

The tradition of southern hospitality is so fundamental that southerners coined a word, "y'all," so we could quickly invite groups of people to participate in it. The north has no such term.
4.27.2008 9:19pm
PC:
Damn diplomatic, communitarian Yankees just can't behave themselves in public.


Staten Island != New Yorker.
4.27.2008 9:31pm
Gringo (mail):
Zarkov stated:
Don't take that survey too seriously as it might more reflect a change in what people are willing to admit to pollsters than a change in their actual attitudes. The actual rate of interracial marriage is a much better indicator.

The Newsweek article claimed that Southern attitudes had taken over the country. The point I was making is that the Southern Jim Crow laws and attitudes of 50 years ago did not take over the country. On the contrary, the Southern Jim Crow laws and attitudes of 50 years ago have retreated on all fronts. This is a battle that thankfully, the white South lost. No, we have not arrived at the New Jerusalem. I was not trying to claim we had. I was simply making the point that as regards race, Northern attitudes have prevailed over those of the South of 50 years ago.BTW, the increase in interracial marriage in the last 40 years has paralleled the change in attitudes towards interracial marriage. As old Case said, you can look it up.
4.27.2008 9:37pm
Hoosier:
The tradition of southern hospitality is so fundamental that southerners coined a word, "y'all," so we could quickly invite groups of people to participate in it. The north has no such term.

"you'se guys"
4.27.2008 9:42pm
bbeeman (mail):
<blockquote>

FWIW, I do acknowledge my bias: I much prefer the open backyards I grew up with in New Jersey (with few property-line delineating fences, so kids/postmen/garbage men could easily pass from one to another) to the fenced-in yards so common to California housing developments,<blockquote>



But this, at least, is less a function of culture than of FHA and local housing regulations that stem from FHA requirements. In my part of California (Northern Sierra Foothills) fences are strongly discouraged except as needed to control stock.

I've lived over a number of parts of the country from northeast, DC, midwest, and now west, and find the folks here more approachable and helpful than in the others.
4.27.2008 9:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Gringo:

I agree in general with your point. I am simply skeptical of a change as large as 94% to 19% is accurate. Having designed surveys I'm sensitive to this kind of thing. According to the Newsweek article the number of white/black interracial marriages went up 300% from 1970. Of course that's a count not an incidence. The US population went from 200 million to 300 million since 1970 so the population increase alone will drive up the number. It's also very easy to get a change from a small base. I expect that the behavior will turn out to be sigmoidal like most other increases.

Measurement error is often neglected in surveys and I've done some research in this area myself. I posed and answered the question of how much you have to bump up the sample size to maintain the desired margin of sampling error for a specified measurement error . Answer: linearly with the error rate until you reach a threshold, and then the survey error "blows up," as you might expect.
4.27.2008 9:59pm
Cornellian (mail):
What "merits?" I know when I'm being spoon fed propaganda.
. . .
This scribbler obviously isn't rooting for Hillary, so he makes pathetic apologies for the uniformly odious friends of the chameleon Barry Hussein Mohammed Obama bin Laden.


I think you've pretty much forfeited the right to complain about "propaganda" with that comment.
4.27.2008 10:04pm
Cornellian (mail):
Don't take that survey too seriously as it might more reflect a change in what people are willing to admit to pollsters than a change in their actual attitudes. The actual rate of interracial marriage is a much better indicator.

Going from openly professing a belief to being unwilling to admit to it is a change in attitude. I suspect the opposition to interracial marriage is higher than 19%, much higher in the South, and probably varies quite a lot depending on what one means by "interracial marriage." Opposition is probably a lot lower for a white man / asian woman situation than a black man / white woman situation. Still, if most of those who find such unions offensive, contrary to God's will etc., are too embarrassed or too wary to admit that view to a pollster, that's progress of a sort.
4.27.2008 10:08pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Throughout the south, midwest, and west coast, disdain is hidden by politeness.

If it's hidden, how do you know it's there? And if your answer is that you see the disdain after they've come to know you ... how do you know it isn't just you they dislike?

This is reminiscent of te conspiracy theorists who cite as proof of their theories the fact that the conspiracy is so powerful, so all-encompassing ... that they have eliminated all of the evidence!
4.27.2008 10:18pm
Anonymouseducator:
The unfriendliness of New Yorkers is greatly exaggerated.
4.27.2008 10:38pm
elim:
mask things with manners-isn't that the whole point of society. did Hirsch spend any time in areas other than NY in his life, other than layovers? in time of national peril, will we be fielding battalions of upper West siders or southerners and midwesterners?
4.27.2008 10:39pm
zippypinhead:
For manners and just general civilized behavior I'll take the south over the north any day. And not that phony south called "Northern Virginia." I lived there a year and found out that NOVA really stands for "Not Virginia."
An interesting, but unintentional, thought -- much of NoVA could be uprooted wholesale and moved to the Philadelphia suburbs, and culturally quite possibly nobody would notice. For that matter, some of the Philadelphia suburbs could be transplanted to Atlanta, and nobody would notice. And don't get me started on Florida, which seems more Yankee-fied (at least during Snowbird Season) than many parts of New England.

Incidentally, saw a really good NASCAR race a while ago at Pocono raceway. Youz guyz (or y'unz if you're from Western Pennsylvania) oughta check it out.

One might ask whether the article's premises that southern mores have won isn't a bit too coarse -- perhaps the point is that there has been sufficient cultural blending that in much of the country (outside the gravitational pull of that cesspool otherwise known as NYC perhaps), you can't really distinguish among regional cultures nearly as well as in previous generations. Maybe Hirsh is just ticked off that his vision of the nirvana otherwise known as economic and political domination by the Northeastern Ivy League Establishment is slowly slipping into the dustbin of history. But then again, even in the Northeast, 90% of the population of previous generations were too busy working and living their lives to buy into that stratified cultural vision even back in the day...
4.27.2008 11:11pm
therut:
I'd like to spit some beechnut in that dudes eye. I just got back from a very small town in Missouri doing what ignorant Southern gals do. Hunt turkey,fish and drink some beers. I was fishing on a bank of a creek on the highway and everyone who passed on the road waved. One guy whistled but being Southern that was not offensive. Some one like Maureen Dowed(sp) of the esteemed NYT would write a whole enlightened male bashing article if a man whistled at her. Just a difference of opinion.
4.27.2008 11:16pm
Hoosier:
Maureen Dowed(sp)

It's "Dowdy." I mean, at least in the example you propose.
4.27.2008 11:48pm
AndrewK (mail):
The only reason to idealize the Northern Midwesterner as opposed to any other Midwesterner is (1) a dearth of Catholicism, and (2) a propensity to vote Democratic. This piece seems more an attempt to castigate a certain political set on strictly partisan grounds.
4.28.2008 12:10am
Tony Tutins (mail):
The only reason to idealize the Northern Midwesterner as opposed to any other Midwesterner is (1) a dearth of Catholicism,

No. Unless "upper Midwesterner" means radically different things to everyone, you are more apt to find a statue of the BVM in front of a farm house north of I-80 than south of I-80.
4.28.2008 12:32am
kdonovan:
Hirsh's terminology comes from Walter Russell Mead's book Special Providence which lays out 4 competing traditions in American foreign policy. What's so jarring is that Hirsh's view is so mean spirited while Mead's original work presented a sympathetic portrayal of each, noting each tradition's strengths and weaknesses as well as how they interacted with each other.
Kevin
4.28.2008 1:41am
Gringo (mail):
Anonymouseducator:
The unfriendliness of New Yorkers is greatly exaggerated.
Agreed. But they ARE in a hurry. When I was first learning to navigate NYC and its subways, any time I was milling around in the subway platforms as if I weren't sure where to go, a New Yorker would approach me and ask if I needed directions. Every time. When you consider that New Yorkers are usually in a hurry, it is even more impressive that they would take the time to go out of their way to offer help to a stranger to their town.
I found the New Yorkers in my college dorm to be lively, interesting people. Loved to schmooze and debate, as I did.

A. Zarkov
Gringo:
I agree in general with your point. I am simply skeptical of a change as large as 94% to 19% is accurate.

Certainly not all would give the pollster an honest answer. Agreed there. However, the real change IS large. Consider the change in George Wallace. It is also over a half century. The point about such numbers is that they indicate trends, if not necessarily the precise starting and ending points. There are jokes comparing different degrees of numerical accuracy for various professions that illustrate the point.
4.28.2008 1:50am
Harry Eagar (mail):
David Hackett Fischer wrote 'Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America," which purported to trace different regional behaviors (from naming children to murder) back to the U.K.

As a Southerner, I completely agreed with him that Southerners are quick to anger and quick to let anger turn into violence. Fischer attributed that to the Border ruffians of the Scotch-Irish-English badlands.

That's as good an explanation as any, though how it transmuted into the South's blacks -- who are indistinguishable from whites in this respect -- is not so clear.

Times change. Hardly anybody carries a razor in his boot these days.
4.28.2008 2:07am
Hoosier:
Tony—Are from Chicagoland? I've never heard anyone elsewhere divide the Midwest into 'South/North of 80'.
4.28.2008 3:26am
Kirk:
zippypinhead, who was it who said, "Pennsylvania consists of Philadelphia at one, Pittsburgh at the other, and Alabama in the middle"? :-)
4.28.2008 3:59am
Ragnell (mail):

"Maybe Hirsh is just ticked off that his vision of the nirvana otherwise known as economic and political domination by the Northeastern Ivy League Establishment is slowly slipping into the dustbin of history."


I've heard this northern emotional adjustment referred to as the post-Civil War conquest-era syndrome. In other words, shock-waves ensued when the South finally recovered from its decades-long slump resulting from losing a war, a military invasion and occupation. Please note that pointing out the resulting degree of disruption is not a defense of slavery or the plantation system, but rather recognition of the roots of southern poverty for decades.

Regardless, of the benefits of ending a corrupt labor system, the northern states raked in financial benefits and certainly gained economic domination. Some of their gains imitate the pattern of any typical conqueror. In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, northerners purchased valuable southern and south eastern resources at fire sale prices, and yet still kept their residences in the north. This situation meant that the taxes and profits from coal mines, horse farms, lumber production and natural gas often went out-of-state for decades. Southern states, like India were convenient for providing their raw materials for northern factories and then as markets to purchase northern products. I don't need to remind anyone here how the tax and revenue cycle would impact schools and cultural opportunities.

Of course, these conditions restricted development in industry, education and cultural opportunities. These regions lacked the financial reserves to kick start their economies. One might hope that northerners such as Mr. Hirsh would have the common sense to understand that this earlier poverty cycle was not due to the culture's intrinsic "coarseness" or the "savage" nature of southern people, but rather to the burdens of history limiting opportunities for southern youth. Instead He espoused a twisted version of White Man's Burden. Hirsh argues that the northern grownups were once able to take the childlike southern savages by the hand, and lead them into the light of civilization. Please Mr. Kipling, focus on your own background; Chicago may be burning again.

I suspect if Mr. Hirsh viewed a similar situation on a different continent; he would demonstrate a new found sympathy and advocacy for their struggles. Correct me if I've misunderstood, but I don't believe that northern states attempted to help rebuild the southern states during the late 19th or even the early 20th century. In fact, some of its cultural leaders appear to have enjoyed picking over the bones for depressing scenes featured in their literary and film projects. They gawked at southern culture as though they were visiting exotic animals in a zoo. What was hinted but remained unsaid was the belief that the South deserved to be punished for decades after the war.

There is a reason Mr.Hirsh adores lording it over another American region, and beats his breast at the prospect of losing his Sahib status. His tone is an ancient one; found in the contemptuous accents of conquerors.

Well sir, you've lost your colony.
4.28.2008 6:16am
Ragnell (mail):

Take up Yankee Man's Burden
-----Rudyard Hirsh
4.28.2008 6:39am
zippypinhead:
Two words on the superior societal mores of the Northeast: Kitty Genovese.

My criminal law professor (a native New Yorker) was somewhat infamous for an experiment he pulled on a class a few years before my time. Tiring of all the self-righteous Midwesterners infesting his 1L crim law classes who said the citizens' nonresponse to Kitty Genovese's screams for help could never happen outside the Northeast Corridor, he decided to see how his class would do at responding to an emergency. Enlisting the aid of an NYC-native student, one day he turned up his already-high Socratic rant quotient. On cue, the actor/student slowly slumped over and slid to the floor, where he played "dead." None of the law students surrounding him, while looking rather perplexed, dared interrupt the professor's high-decibel raving, instead choosing to let the student lie there motionless. Eventually the professor called a halt to the experiment, intending to use it as a demonstrative example of normal "I don't want to get involved" bystander tendencies even outside the Northeast Corridor. Unfortunately, things backfired a wee bit -- the student sitting next to the actor got so much grief from other students for acting like a heartless New Yorker that he soon dropped out of law school. Another student sitting behind the actor, however, was able to deflect criticism directed his way by pointing out that since others were closer, they had a higher duty to respond than he did. Legend has it he's now a partner in a major New York law firm. Go figure...
4.28.2008 9:13am
A.C.:
Most of the people in the northeast aren't Yankees in the sense of the original British Protestants who settled the area. What their culture might have been like, I have no idea. I grew up in New England and met maybe two of 'em in the whole time.

Most of the people I knew were descendants of recent immigrants from the less fashionable parts of Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Caucasus. The rest were more recent immigrants from Cuba (post-Castro) and Asia (to work in high tech), plus a smattering of people from other parts of the US who came for school and stayed.

The culture had some tight groups within it, but it was not noticeably communitarian as you crossed group lines. I also found it to be rather violent -- just not lethally violent for the most part. It was a place to get beat up a lot, but not shot. (Okay, one guy got shot, but he was extreme in a lot of other ways too.)

Of course, the area has become much, much richer in the past three decades. Nobody who grew up there can afford to live there now, unless they inherited the family house or the proceeds from selling it. So I would imagine the population has become a lot more homogeneous and therefore more docile. Not sure what good that does to the overwhelming majority of people who can't afford to live there, but it must be nice for all the people who paid ridiculous amounts for houses that barely qualified as lower middle class back in the day.
4.28.2008 10:02am
Hoosier:
AC--Very good point. Boston has not been the sole cultural property of Cabots and Lodges for quite some time.

Illustrative Quiz: Boston-proper gave a plurality of its votes in the 1968 presidential election to WHICH cadidate?
4.28.2008 12:51pm
A.C.:
Hoosier -- If ever. There's always a class thing as well as a regional thing.

Sometimes I think the upper middle class in the east pretends that the eastern working and lower middle classes don't exist, or else that they are just part of "the poor" and waiting for salvation. Likewise, they carry on as if there were no upper middle class professionals in the heartland or the deep south. It's all very silly.

You can make up a stereotype and attribute it to a region, but that doesn't make it so.

As an aside, does anyone remember the Massachusetts Miracle (not to be confused with the Miracle on Ice) that brought the state back from the economic brink? A lot of the "high tech" stuff that went into that was actually defense contracting. I enjoy the irony.
4.28.2008 1:18pm
Hoosier:
A.C.--Well, you're right. There's a reason the Massacre, the Tea Party, Concord Bridge, etc., occurred in and around Boston, and not, say, Charleston.

And that reason has nothing to do with Northeasterners having been refined men in powdered wigs who spoke Latin and learned to dance backwards at an early age.
4.28.2008 2:38pm