Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 5, 2009

Overeducated Redneck

by Chris Byrne

One of the things that has always amazed (and amused, and irritated) me, is the willingness of those on the left to dismiss me, and those of my political bent, as racists, hicks, ignorant, rednecks (as if those things were synonymous) etc…

Any time I’ve written about the evils of collectivism, how firearms are as important to freedom as speech, how political correctness is as damaging to freedom as any other form of censorship, how liberal and leftists ideas just don’t work (no matter how well intentioned they are), how islamofascism… or any other kind of fascism for that matter… are anathema to liberty and the well being of a people… Like clockwork there they are calling me an ignorant, racist, redneck (and it’s always those three together for some reason).

Well first thing, I’m generally certain that I’m considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that’s another post entirely); but that doesn’t address the point I want to make here.

To these people, redneck is an insult. So is “cowboy” for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or “country”.

This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them.

Well… to me, call me a redneck, and that’s a compliment. They didn’t intend it that way, but it is.

To their conception, all intelligent, educated, perceptive people must surely agree with them; and anyone who doesn’t follow their false faith of transnational progressivism must therefore be either stupid, evil, or ignorant (or some combination of the three); i.e. a “Redneck” as they see it.

This is especially amusing to me, as given my minarchist libertarian views, some on the far right would consider me just as evil for not following THEIR faith of coerced morality through the force of government.

Of course on its face calling me a redneck would seem ridiculous. By the leftists own expectations, I should be “one of them”.

I was born and raised in and around Boston Massachusetts (with a side trip into Northern New Hampshire. I live in Arizona now, by choice and circumstance). I lived there until I was 16; attending a public school in theory, but most of my education was from a special “gifted” students program called “ACE”, which stood for Accelerated Cognitive Education.

In the ACE program, I started taking 8th grade level classes in 3rd grade, with private tutors and at local private schools. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had completed most of the first two years worth of general education college courses at local colleges.

I graduated high school at 16; and from there I went on to two degrees at a small private engineering college.

My family are typical Boston Irish. A mix of blue collar, government employees, teachers, cops, firemen, tradesmen, and of course politicians. Most of them are either union democrats, or straight liberals (though surprisingly the politicians in the family were mostly Republicans).

So, as I said, by all their expectations, I should be one of them (and the fact that I’m not seems to drive some of them to even greater lengths of apoplectic rage).

The difference is all in the decisions I made for myself.

I decided to leave home at 16, because my home environment was bad; but I did it going to college. I made something of myself, though I hasten to say a college education is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to do so. My younger brother, in the same environment and with similar native intelligence, decided to suck off the government teat, and became a small time drug dealer.

I decided to join the Air Force; which has changed me more than any other experience in my life but fatherhood. I credit my grandfather, the Air Force, and my kids, for making me who I am.

I decided to travel around the world, and expand my horizons along with my knowledge. I’ve had the great good fortune to visit all 50 American states, and 40 someodd countries (I say someodd, because some of them aren’t countries anymore, and some are two or more countries now).

I decided to take the opportunities that came my way, and when they weren’t coming, to make them; taking risks, sometimes failing, sometimes getting ahead, but always learning.

I decided to learn every damn thing I could to get by, and get ahead. I learned computers, AND carpentry; mechanical engineering, AND auto mechanics.

I decided to take responsibility for myself, and to do for myself and my family, in every way that I could.

And guess what?

Those decisions have made me into a redneck, and I’m proud of it.

You know what being a redneck means to me?

It means being independent.

It means knowing how to fix things when they break.

It means not being helpless outside the modern urban island.

It means knowing the difference between right and wrong; and knowing how to apply my best judgment.

It means knowing that there are things more important than my own comfort and my own skin; and that those things are worth fighting, and dying for.

I’ve chosen to surround myself with others like me; and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of us out there.

We’re black, white, asian, hispanic; Bostonian, New Yorker, Texan, Alabaman, even Californian. We’re college educated, and self educated. We’re rural and urban. It’s never really been about where you’re from, or who you were born to; it’s always been about the decisions you make.

The decision to reject the collective, for the individual. The decision to be in charge of your own life. The decision to live the way you believe is right.

So hell yeah, I’m a redneck, and proud of it.

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  • http://libertymaven.com/ Marc Gallagher

    Great article Chris… As much as I hate to admit it when the “redneck” name gets thrown around at people like you (and me) it really annoys me…. BUT it really reveals more about the attacker than the target of the attack.

    -Marc

  • http://qwertyaltofuori.blogspot.com Red

    …Neck!

  • Shannon Tipton

    LOL – finally someone has published what most of us already knew. Redneck is a label to be proud of. It denotes strong work ethic, a deep love of God and country. It is the desire to help a friend (and sometimes strangers) in need, the ability to go without all the technocrap of this day and age and survive or even thrive on what God gave us if we have to. Yes many of us can hold our own in a boardroom and an elite classroom, but Redneck was never about IQ. It’s about values and the strength and will to endure.

    When lefties throw it out as an insult they are picturing jobless, alcoholic, unwashed, belly scratchin’ dregs of society who live off welfare and other government programs. Those aren’t Rednecks, those are the product of too many years of big government teaching people they don’t have to take care of themselves. I wonder whose idea that was???

    Proud Redneck wife and mother

  • southernjames

    “When lefties throw it out as an insult they are picturing jobless, alcoholic, unwashed, belly scratchin’ dregs of society who live off welfare and other government programs.”

    Shannon – I disagree; at least, that has not been my experience. My experience has been closer to what Chris describes – that when lefties throw out the insult “redneck” the image does NOT have to be of an, e.g., unwashed, alcoholic or jobless person at all.

    My impression and experience that the term “Redneck” as used by Liberals can be so broad and inclusive that it can encompass virtually any rural/small town White Man, residing in the South, Midwest, Texas or Northwest (flyover country) who does not share their progressive and enlightened views on topics such as abortion on demand, gun confiscation, public displays of Christianity, preferential hiring programs for minorities, gay marriage as a civil right, full naturalization for “undocumented citizens” national defense or lack of need for same, school choice, taxation of “the rich” etc., etc.

    A socially conservative white man, (an apparently some libertarians too) is not only a racist, ignorant, homophobic, theocratic christianist, warmongering, stupid, bigot (by definition – it is simply a fact and there is no debate on this)….if he ALSO has a “country” accent of some kind (it doesn’t have to be “Southern;” see, e.g., Sarah Palin), and lives outside a big city, and only has a high school degree (or say, only a journalism degree from Idaho), he can also, in addition be considered a “Redneck.”

    When Obama was caught on tape speaking of “bitter” white people “clinging to their guns and religion,” he and everyone in the room with him were most probably thinking of the word “Redneck” in their minds.

  • uhm

    Libertarians should have not gotten in bed with the Conservatives at the time of the New Deal.

  • VRB

    southernjames,
    No! We were thinking,Crackers.

  • Akston

    I had crackers in bed with a conservative once. It was a new deal for me at the time, but I had a hell of a time. I would certainly never have thrown her out.

    Some bedfellows may be strange, but strange is often interesting.

    I too am a redneck. On alternate Saturdays. During the remainder of the time I’m a sybarite, an engineer, a comic, a part-time politician, a philosopher, a researcher, a geek, a socialite, a sesquipedalian, and a heretic.

    I imagine that many of the insufferable critics of libertarian views are also these things, and more. I find it a constant challenge to remember that those with whom I disagree are seldom the moronic, evil-spirited louts I imagine them to be in the heat of a disagreement. Mind you, some are. But assuming they all are kinda pushes me into being more like them.

    Vanishingly few people are fully defined by some group they’re in.

  • James Anderson Merritt

    “even Californian…”

    Say what?

    I think you’ll find that people who were raised in California have a lot more common sense than the liberal transplants who came here to chase their fantasies and impose their socialistic visions on the rest of the State.

    It really bothers me that the external perception of my State is defined largely by the millions of out-of-state immigrants who simply outnumber those of us who were born and raised here. A lot of the good sense you attribute to “rednecks” is present in great amounts in the hearts and minds of “native” Californians, so don’t be so surprised to find kindred souls in the Bear Republic.

    There is a lot of controversy these days, about Latin American immigrants overwhelming the State. Frankly, I fear the socialist immigrants from New York and New Jersey a lot more than the hardworking, family-oriented immigrants from Mexico.

    That’s one Californian’s opinion.

  • HW

    My neck is shining a little redder after reading this. Bravo! Most of your critics could never earn the amount of red on the neck as you have, as they probably have too much “green behind the ears” to allow their necks to turn red.

  • http://www.enlightenedredneck.com Danny Glover

    You’re not an overeducated redneck; you’re an enlightened redneck like me: http://www.enlightenedredneck.com/. Welcome to the movement! Rednecks rule: http://www.enlightenedredneck.com/2008/12/15/rednecks-rule/.

  • uhm

    Akston, Which conservatives will it be in the bed: a female version of John McCain or Ron Paul? There are things about both that would make a Libertarian throw them out of the bed after screwing them. Afterwords the Libertarian will take long showers to get the smell and sweat off. They will say poor things about the conservative girl as they try to get into the good graces of their more progressive friends. This is fact.

  • southernjames

    VRB – No no! You’ve got the lingo all wrong! Let’s keep the labels and stereotypes straight here.

    See, evil rednecks can be Northerners. Or Northwesterners. Or Upper Midwest, etc. Like those bitter Jesus loving gun clingers Obama was referring to….were from Pennsylvania. Stupid rednecks – sure. But not Crackers.

    Crackers are a much more geographically elite and exclusive group of stupid conservative white men.

    You have to be all of what I described above regarding what a redneck is – AND you also need to be flying a Confederate Flag, if you want to also be an official “Cracker.” It’s right there in the Official Rules and Regulations for stupid convervative White Men.

    Beer drinking and gun ownership are required for both groups. But I believe being a die hard NASCAR fan is a prerequisite for being considered an official Cracker, but is merely optional to achieve official Redneck status. Subtle differences. Very nuanced. :)

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    The rednecks I know (grew up in Texas, have lived in New Mexico, Virginia, Alabama, and Kansas) run about the same fraction of decent folk and assholes as the coastal liberals types I know (went to school at one of the big public universities they have in California).

    ::shrugs::

    The only significant differences between the shitheads in the two groups are choice of shoes and choice of prejudices.

    ‘Course, if I had to pick one group or the other, I’d probably settle with the rednecks and cook my own quiche and unmasculine European coffees.

  • Akston

    Uhm, If I found myself in bed with a woman who exemplified the qualities that Senator McCain does, there might be problems. She’d have a terrible temper. She might tell me she loved me, but she’d work against me in many cases. She might be friendlier with my enemies than she is with me. She’d spend lots of my money even though she says she’s from a frugal group. She’d get me into fights in bars. And if we ever thought about getting married, I’d be afraid she’d “cross the aisle to work with a good friend.”

    If I found myself in bed with a woman who exemplified the qualities that Representative Paul does, the only downside I could see would be an unhealthy interest in more excitement. She’d be as constant as the day is long. Most folks would ignore her or laugh at her. She’d usually be right. She would have no interest in controlling me.

    I think I prefer libertarian women. They tend to be more self-contained, intelligent, educated, and occasionally hedonistic. They’re responsible for their own emotions, likes, and dislikes. They respect mine. They understand boundaries. We end up connected because we value each other, not because we neeeeeed each other. Life is better with women like that.

    But since tomorrow is my Redneck Saturday, I think I’ll just hoist a cold one with whoever joins me on the porch. Might clean my gun.

  • JFP

    No doubt about it, our colleges and universities need a Department of Redneck Studies. And in line with leftist thinking on these matters, the courses can only be taught by rednecks.

    And every liberal would need to take at least one Redneck Studies course to graduate.

  • RCS

    A “Red” neck historically refers to someone who could also have been called “Blue Collar”. Since those are the people who’s physical labor and honest sincerity has made this country so successful it is indeed a compliment to be called such. It is only due to the hilarious descriptions of “rednecks” by Jeff Foxworthy that the elitists have come up with the idea that calling someone a redneck is a put-down, which incidentally actually shows how defective their sense of humor is.

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