The Pequod Review:
The Redneck Manifesto is not a book for everyone. It is offensive, reactionary and sometimes racist. I am still amazed that Simon & Schuster published it. Nonetheless it is a valuable read, as Jim Goad illustrates the aggrieved white working class mindset more clearly and persuasively (and *urgently*) than any of the sober Hillbilly Elegy-type books that have appeared in recent years. It is a political manifesto in the best sense of the term.
Here is an example of Goad’s polemical style:
The working class doesn’t write a lot of history books. The working class doesn’t produce many movies or radio shows. The working class doesn’t tend to hire media consultants or theatrical agents. The working class has played an itty-bitty role in fashioning its popular image.
That’s because the working class was too busy working.
The working class has plenty of reasons to be angry. Unfortunately, only the working class realizes it.
Riddle me this, Candy Pants – what portion of lowbrow white rage has NOTHING to do with n-word hatred and instead bubbles up from the accumulated traumas of being a historically shit-upon laboring class? Is it thinkable that these so-called Angry White Males may be more furious with their white bosses than with their black coworkers? What degree of their white-knuckled hatred might conceivably arise from generations of being annihilated on the front lines of war, shot down by company police, and chewed up like sausage by industrial accidents? Might redneck hostility be explicable not through bigotry, but from hundreds of years of sinking slowly into a demoralizing turd-heap of debt, overwork, and broken promises? . . .
While today’s young’uns are bound to know a lot about racism, they probably couldn’t tell you a thing about American labor history. And it’s too bad, because they’re being fattened for slaughter just like their ancestors were. Ever notice that the white working class really isn’t much of a cinematic theme anymore? It’s all race, no class. You’ll see plenty of To Kill a Mockingbirds, but fewer and fewer On the Waterfronts. We continue to flog ourselves over cowboys and Injuns, but we feel no guilt over what railroad companies did to rail workers. A second won’t pass when someone doesn’t reloop film reels of white cops clubbing black guys, but you’ll never see footage of Pinkerton guards machine-gunning coal miners.