Recently I viewed a program on PBS concerning a historical event that I had not previously been aware of. It concerned something known as “The Redneck War” or “The Battle of Blair Mountain.” For five days in late August and early September of 1921, an army of between 10,000 and 15,000 union coal miners who sought to unionize the coal miners in remote, southwest West Virginia did battle against an army of police and strikebreakers who were well armed--including machine guns and bombs dropped from aircraft and backed by mine owners. This took place in Logan County, West Virginia. They were finally beaten back, unfortunately. The miners, in order to tell who was union from the mine-owners army wore red bandana’s (or other red cloth) around their necks. The press deemed them “Rednecks” because of their neckwear. This provided an alternative to the old meaning of the term “redneck,” which generally refers to outdoor-working, reactionary, bigoted, loutish white men—generally from the south. These mine workers were probably closer, politically, to today’s progressives. To learn more about this event look up “The Battle of Blair Mountain” in Wickipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blair_Mountain , “The Redneck War” in Bits of News at: http://www.bitsofnews.com/content/view/6074/ and/or do a Google search on these topics.
Many of rank and file right wing tend to see today’s progressives as soft, intellectual elitists. This is a problem for a good number of the republicans, even if they aren’t slways in agreement with the party line, because their self identity and ego depends on them seeing themselves as tough, macho, ordinary, Joe-Six-Pack kind of guys (and gals) and they don’t want to be identified with what they picture as soft, effete, frivolous elitists. I believe they lack a model with which to identify. G. W. Bush (or maybe it was Carl Rove… ) understood this very well and that Connecticut preppy set out to and did remake himself with the image of a “Texan.” I believe it is time that those of us in the progressive left who either work in or are oriented to the outdoors or other related pursuits claimed the title of “Redneck.” “Redneck Progressives” perhaps? Wear red neckwear to show ones leanings, perhaps? The Republican machine has been very adept at appropriating the succesfull methodology of the Left. It’s time we took back some of the fire and gave those who cling to the right largely because of their self image a model with which they can comfortably identify.