Recently, a poster at a message board I frequent commenting on Ohio wrote:
“Seriously why are people so proud to live in Ohio. The only other armpit people are so happy to be in is South Carolina, and I don’t get that one either. I mean really, really?”
Besides coming off as rather dickish – (and I officially decree the whole “really? really?” thing dead now that Saturday Night Live has stomped it into the ground) – his comment left me wondering exactly what perfect, utopian state of the union he lives in. Honestly though, I have to admit, he sort of has a point. Particularly politically speaking, South Carolina is surely becoming (or maybe has been all along) a national embarrassment.
But is that all there really is to an entire state? It’s politics?
Yesterday, in the early morning – just after 7AM – I peeked out the bedroom window as I was waiting for the computer to come up and I took this quick footage in the backyard:
I’ve lived in several states in my life including Connecticut, New York, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, and even Hawaii as a child. Each of them have their pluses and minuses – but between you and I, (shhh), I like South Carolina quite a bit for more than a few reasons – the free roaming deer being just one of them.
And yes, believe it or not, even politically, sometimes South Carolina gets things right. In the 90’s, due to tax incentives and the South’s historical resistance to unions, South Carolina got BMW to open an auto plant in Spartanburg, and even Honda is mulling an ATV plant in the state. Boeing will be opening a plant in North Charleston, which need I mention is a beautiful place and hardly the cesspool the above-quoted message board regular probably assumes it to be.
The Boeing plant itself has created quite a bit of consternation among Seattle locals, Boeing’s hometown, many of whom’s jobs will now be performed by South Carolinians. Instead of looking at what their own state could have done differently to convince Boeing to build in its own backyard, union organizers and the local media have launched a full-on editorial assault on South Carolina based mainly upon stereotypes:
Because that’s really what its going to be like at the new Boeing plant. Do you really want to fly on a plane built by white trash? That’s not just satire but real reality portrayed in these cartoons, you know. The name of Seattle’s local paper is “The Intelligencer” – dare you doubt the opinion of such a paper? And, mind you, Boeing will not just be hiring redneck, white trash, these hicks will be – gasp – non-union! R-yed-necks a-taken ovuh!
On another tangent, I wonder if Boeing had chosen to move their plant to a predominantly black area, like say Atlanta, if the editorial cartoonists and union heads and other local media types would have relied on stereotypes of the local population to bolster their case that the new employees would have been too stupid to do their jobs. Although I’m sure Washingtonians consider themselves to be a much more enlightened people than South Carolinians, one wonders exactly what sort of ideas they have about black people since blacks make up only 8.4% of the Seattle population, while they make up 29% of South Carolina’s population. So much for tolerance. I suppose we can count on a larger proportion of Boeing’s Charleston employees being black, so I’m guessing the cartoonists will have to practice drawing the “nappy hair” to make sure they get it down as good as they have the overalls down in these cartoons lampooning South Carolina’s white population. (No really, we do all wear over-alls ALL the time…shhh, that’s a secret too.)
Although the racial angle may seem untoward on my part and in reality I doubt that Seattleans are any more or less racist than any other population, it is handy to illustrate the point that these editorial cartoons and stereotypes are actually a plea for Boeing to base its multi-billion dollar – Yes, that is Billion – decisions on stereotypes and caricatures that in many other cases wouldn’t even receive newspaper ink because of their sheer ridiculousness, not to mention their offensiveness.
It’s sour grapes and I will even concede that the editorial tantrums in Seattle are completely understandable in a Dr. Phil kind of way, but the sad fact is that the petulance completely ignores the facts, not just about exactly who South Carolinian’s are, but what kind of workers they are – they seem to have worked out great for BMW.
The petulance also ignores the fact that the decision is made, the plant is moving to South Carolina and there’s nothing to be done about it but go back and get a cup of Starbucks and do some Cobain-esque soul-searching to see what Seattle and Washington state did wrong – because obviously whatever South Carolina did, it was the right.
In the meantime, keep up the stereotypes, keep up the armpit metaphors – and to our dear South Carolina politicians, please do keep up the sex scandals whether they be in Argentina or with prostitutes in cemeteries with dildos.
I often joke with Mrs. Smirk that the reason our politicians are so embarrassing on a consistently grandios scale – often at a national level to boot – is all part of larger South Carolina conspiracy to keep newcomers out by portraying the state as unattractively as possible, thus keeping the cool things that South Carolina offers – whether that be playful deer, or awesome jobs with Boeing and BMW – all to ourselves. This, from a carpetbagger…
For further info I recommend this NPR report here (Can you believe it, the rubes in South Carolina actually have NPR!)