South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts of “raghead” fame has declared himself a proud “redneck” and called his Republican colleagues “hypocrites” for not admitting they wouldn’t be pushing for him to resign if he had called only President Barack Obama “raghead.”  “They make much worse racial and religious statements in private company, some that would even make me or you blush,” Knotts said in a speech from the well of the Senate.

The Lexington County Republican Party voted last week to censure Knotts and asked for his resignation after Knotts referred to both President Obama and State Rep. Nikki Haley, a Republican candidate for governor also from Lexington, as ragheads in a Podcast interview.  Haley is Indian-American.

Giving some perspective to consider, Knotts told his fellow senators, “If all of us rednecks leave the Republican Party, the party is going to have one hell of a void.”

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley’s opponent in next Tuesday’s runoff, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, made some odd assertions of his own.  According to the Augusta Chronicle, Barrett told an Aiken, South Carolina audience, “I voted against the stimulus package. She (Haley) voted for it not once but twice.”  This is odd because, unlike Barrett, Haley is not a member of Congress and therefore couldn’t have voted on the stimulus package at all.  Barrett also has drawn criticism for claims that he is retired from the Army, generally considered having served 20 years of military service.  According to Barrett’s own bio, he resigned his captain’s commission after four years in the Army to run the family furniture business, reports The Garnet Spy website.

Maintaining his vigilance on political sex, Will Folks at FITSnews.com reports that “the two surviving Republican candidates for Lt. Governor – Florence County Councilman Ken Ard and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor – are both being hit [by] extramarital affair allegations as they enter the final week of their respective campaigns.”

Folks, who claims he had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Haley, also is circulating speculation that Haley could become Sarah Palin’s running mate in a 2012 presidential bid.

On the Democratic side of South Carolina’s very bizarre primary season, State Rep. Ken Kennedy, a Williamsburg Democrat, has called on state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler to resign over her handling of the U.S. Senate race in which political unknown Alvin Greene won the June 8 Democratic primary.  Kennedy said he has known Greene and his family for years and that they don’t deserve the harsh media attention they’re getting.  “They are a good, middle-class black family,” Kennedy told The State.

¡Ay, caramba! Tim James, who made English-only driver’s license tests a cornerstone of his campaign, was gaining nada in a recount of the vote that put him in third place and out of the Republican run-off.   In fact, the son of former governor Fob James, was losing ground in some counties in the recount, expected to be completed Friday.  In Shelby, St. Clair, Madison and Cal­houn counties, James, who fell just 167 votes short of making the run-off, lost 17 votes.  In Madison County, James picked up 14 votes in the recount, which he funded with $200,000 of his own money, but the second-place finisher Robert Bentley also picked up 14 votes.  In Baldwin County, the recount found a total of 84 additional votes, with Bent­ley picking up 22 of them and James 13.

Not in Kansas anymore? Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino reports that Republican Wink Hartman, the front-runner for an open congressional seat in south-central Kansas who opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, is getting a tax break  by claiming that the waterfront Florida home he and his wife own in Highland Beach is their primary residence. Cerabino writes that Hartman has a valid Florida driver license, is still listed as a Florida voter, and has a Florida polo league named after him.  Cerabino suggests Hartman “use the tornado defense.”

Ranger, Granger, whatever: At the swearing-in ceremony for newly elected U.S. Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press, fellow Georgia U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston told the audience, “Tom comes from Granger, Georgia. You may not know Granger, Georgia., population 91. But it’s a little bit down the road from Redbud, Georgia, which isn’t incorporated, and not too far from Fairmount, Georgia. The three of them collectively are near nothing at all.”  Graves is from Ranger, Georgia.  Kingston later apologized “to the good folks of Ranger.”

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.

16 Comments
  1. Mandy Richburg Rivers

    I live smack-dab in the middle of Jake Knotts’ world here in Lexington, SC. I’ve lived in the area my entire life and this picture he’s painted of his racist, redneck, bigoted colleagues is likely very accurate. Gather a whites-only crowd around here and it’s just a matter of time before you hear the “n” word and racist jokes dropped into conversation without a speck of hesitation. The ignorance and intolerance disgusts me.

    I adore the South. I adore South Carolina. This is where I from; where my people are from. I cherish the coast and the mountains and the fact that I can arrive at either within two hours of my home. I owe so much of who I am to my rural, Southern roots and the way I was raised. I still say ma’am and sir to everyone – even the kid bagging my groceries. I know the difference between a muscadine, a scuppernong and a bullis. I bait my own hook and can clean a mess of bream. But what I can’t do is understand how a whole demographic can be so ignorant and hateful.

    My husband and I take very deliberate steps to ensure our children are given a foundation that arms them with open minds, loving hearts and arms that embrace individuality and differences. We don’t use color as a descriptive word for people – ever. When my 3-yr old asked me why his friend has two mommies instead of a mommy and a daddy I answered him honestly and openly.

    I’d like to know what happened to the gentile Southern culture. The hospitable, neighborly South where meaningful, mannerly dialogs could occur rather than the hateful, slanderous shouting matches I observe now. Lindsey Graham said something really simple the other day about Washington politics (and his SC constituent’s dislike of his reaching across the aisle) that I really liked. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it’s like playing ball – if I get pissed off and take the ball home then no one plays – or as is in his case, nothing gets done. He, by the way, has been crucified in SC for even sitting down to discuss things with the democrats.

    I can only hope that there are more parents out there that are arming their children the same way I’m trying with mine; that we might offer a future generation that will be more enlightened, tolerant and productive. I doubt I’ve live long enough to see it, though.

    1. Exclusive behavior isn’t about the excluded group; it’s about forging cohesion in the exclusive group by forcing the membership to make a choice and demonstrate their solidarity. Most often it is a matter of family or clan values. The members of a younger generation are forced to pledge their allegiance to the patriarchy or risk being cast out. Since the choice usually has to be made after a person reaches the age of reason, it’s likely to be psychologically painful and, because the familial interests are too sensitive to challenge, it’s not unusual for the resulting sense of resentment to be directed at those who are shut out.
      Imagine a youngster thinking about his previously unexamined friendship for another along the lines of “it’s your fault we can’t be friends because your skin is the wrong color.” For him the transfer of responsibility serves as a salve; for the excluded, it’s adding insult to injury. And neither has an inkling that the patriarchal lust for power is to blame.
      As part of a power play, any superficial and easily identifiable characteristic will serve for purposes of exclusion and segregation. Gender is an equally favored one but, because most males are presumably well-disposed towards females, the systematic exclusion of the latter from male associations isn’t as easily recognized. We keep looking for reasonable explanations for why women earn lower wages and hit glass ceilings and still have to choose between poverty and subordination.
      I think if we recognize exclusivity as a tool of the patriarchy, then its widespread prevalence become easier to explain. One can even suggest that the heterosexual males’ antagonism towards gays grows out of their challenge to the patriarchic regime. Males who don’t derive their power from their potential for paternity call into question the validity of the patriarch’s claim.

  2. Alex Kearns

    It’s all an eye-opener for this Canadian girl. I’d always thought that (other than few notable issues) the Canadian and American cultures were fundamentally the same. How wrong I was! From racism (either overt of subterranean) to political, economic, social and environmental issues, the differences are glaring. Yesterday someone said to me “You sure picked a bad time to become an American.” (This is not the first time that I’ve heard that in the past four years). Did I – or is it simply a matter of the past catching up to the present and that which was ignored before (gluttonous energy consumption, mindless spending, social intolerance etc.) is now rising to the surface?

  3. Do any of you ever have conversations (privately) with friends who say things that get under your skin? I do all the time and so do all my friends. We let it go. There’s such a thing as expressing yourself, and the last time I checked we can say and write what we want pretty much. It’s vogue now to act holier than thou and cast aspersion on folks who don’t walk the PC side of the street. I bet some of you say things you would not want repeated here. It so happens I know Jake Knotts and he’s a nice fellow, far nicer than you could ever imagine. Does he posture? Sure. Do other politicians? All the time. But Jake is not who you are led to believe. If I told you he stands up for folks who are bullied and shoved out of their rights by the government not only would you not believe me , you would not want to believe me. I like writing for the Dew, but too many of you are way too unrealistic and also, you might want to spend a little time working on your writing. Trust me on that. This place is biased and a bully pit for those of you who think you’ve found a forum. Well you have not. I suspect you think TV ads portraying white guys breaking in houses is totally the way it is. The reality is we dare not show an ADT or whatever security ad portraying a black breaking and entering because that is racist, but a white guy who looks like a college student is fair game. Give me a damn break. Where is reality these day? We live in a fairy tale world now but you won’t see me contributing it.

    1. Mandy Richburg Rivers

      I don’t say, do or write anything privately that I wouldn’t on a soap box on Main Street at high noon. I don’t much care if Jakie is likable, he is a racist. I do not think it’s unrealistic to expect more from our elected officials. And – I’ll tri too work on my righting skilz, for u.

    2. Billy Howard

      If likethedew slants a bit to the left, so be it. The editorial content is controlled by the people who participate and while your voice is welcome anytime you want to counter balance a writer’s point of view, having a place in the south for that point of view is important.
      Radio, TV, newspapers and the internet are tilted to the right and the left has few options to put out their message, whether it be for social justice or environmental policy. For every New York Times story there are thousands of other newspapers in markets across the nation that pander to the commercial and conservative interests that support their bottom line and don’t get me started on right wing radio.
      The south has had a right leaning voting record for decades and the voices of anyone who disagrees with the policies reflected by that imbalance need and should have, for a vibrant democracy, an outlet to express their perspectives.
      So, keep writing Tom, I’ve enjoyed your contributions, and keep writing Mandy and Ron, you are providing a needed voice in the south.

      1. Mandy Richburg Rivers

        You are so right, Billy. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to discover The Dew. How refreshing it was to find a place to voice my (usually) liberal thoughts and opinions without the hate-filled backlash we find from our own families, coworkers, friends and neighbors here in the conservative South. I have felt so alone in my beliefs for so long here on this red island. It’s been exhilarating to find like-minded Southerners who, for the most part, can converse respectfully about our values, beliefs and current events.

  4. Mandy I wasn’t aiming this at you. Just in general for whoever might read and post here because there is a lot of finger pointing going on these days, and frankly it is way out of balance on the Dew. I actually had talked to Jake just two hours before posting this and I can tell you that he is generally sorry for his remarks. We all do stuff like that, but we’re not visible enough that anyone cares. We all do it. I am not particularly pleased that our president talked about kicking someone’s “ass.” How presidential is that? Should we call for him to step down too or label him as vulgar?

  5. @ Mandy
    “I’d like to know what happened to the gentile Southern culture. The hospitable, neighborly South where meaningful, mannerly dialogs could occur . . . .”
    I grew up in the South and am a student of Southern history, and quite frankly, I don’t think that “moonlight and magnolias” world ever existed, at least not in “meaningful, mannerly dialogs” during the the past two hundred years. From the Grimke sisters to W. T. Cash, the “closed society” that James (Jim) Silver wrote about has been a more or less constant feature of the South. In fact, the South is far more “open” today to “meaningful dialogs” than any time in the past.

    @Alex
    “I’d always thought that (other than few notable issues) the Canadian and American cultures were fundamentally the same.”
    I learned a very long time ago that, if one wants to know the differences between Canada and the US, just tell a Canadian that there aren’t any! I suppose the reverse may also hold true. :-)

    Racism has always been an aspect of Canadian culture too: racism towards Métis, the Inuit, and, of course, Canadian Francophones (hence Pierre Vallières’ 1968 book “White Niggers of America” ). While it has been more than twenty years ago that I lived in the Maritimes (NS and NB), I was surpised to hear the “n” word (referring to blacks) and “Paki” (referring to both Indians and Pakistanis) used far more often than I ever expected.

    @Tom
    You can imagine how horrified liberals would be if someone referred to “Democratic nigger ghetto trash,” but yet I have liberal friends that love to tell questionable “redneck” (or “hillbilly”) jokes and wouldn’t hesitate to refer to “Republican redneck trailer park trash.” From friends on the right I hear either racist or at least in poor taste jokes about Obama and from the left I hear, what should I say, ethnicist (?), or at least in poor taste jokes about Sarah Palin. Both sides appear to be clueless as to why such actions are denigrating, bigoted, and in poor taste.

  6. A perspective often lost when it comes to the racism debate is that racism can likewise be defined as tribalism. People–be they black, white, yellow, brown–form families first, then clans, then tribes. Provided they maintain adequate defenses, they form what we call a nation-state. Europe is nothing more than a patchwork of where Celts, Franks, Angles, Jutes, Magyars, etc all ended up after migrating long ways across the plains of Asia. Should you travel to Africa or the Middle East, tribes still abound in great abundance (we’re fighting one–the Pashto–in the mtns of Afghanistan as we speak. For some reason.).

    A part of American history that few want to acknowledge in all its difficulties is that we’ve always been a very tribal nation. Look at our indigenous tribes. Then came Anglo-Saxon Protestants, then various Catholics, then Jews and finally the great plethora of the 20th century as the Feds opened the gates. Never, in all my reading of history, have I seen a period of racial/tribal harmony in the United States. It is only quite recently that people have begun talking of some post-racial society. Claptrap, in my opinion. We take great pride in declaring our hyphens (african-american, irish-, etc). Rather than continue to insist on ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ and other meaningless while well-intentioned abstractions, why not admit whites tend to stick with whites, blacks tend to stick with blacks, and indigenous tend to stick with indigenous. And, yes, there will be conflict between the groups. Witness the fighting tribes of Europe for the past century.

    Anyway. This is in no way an endorsement of white supremacy. If what we have is supremacy, God help us when we reach mediocrity.

  7. Mandy Richburg Rivers

    ERE – “Meaningful, mannerly dialogs” might have been a stretch – I’ll give you that one. But I’m not romanticising either. Once upon a time exibiting good manners and the ability to participate in a civil, well thought out conversation was more important that delivering the best one-liner or news network personality regurgitation. I remember many a night spent listening to my dad and uncles discuss politics and current events (one was a yellow dog democrat, one a bible-toting conservative, one a vet conspiracy theorist and one somewhere in between) like gentlemen. I learned a lot listening to their varied perspectives and I like to think they might have too.

    JCC – Loving all that comes with your own sense of clan can be done without the intollerance of others.

  8. We are actually talking out in the open and being honest. How refreshing. Perceiving that other people are different is ingrained in all races—always has been and probably always will be despite society’s best efforts and laws. Why we try to idealize ads to combat that perception is a doomed effort. Of course, it is, I believe, a mandated fair trade practice that requires mixed races in ads in the first place, no matter how ridiculous and unrealistic they seem at times. But to my first point up the thread, there walk among us all people who are aware of and in fact willing to discuss in private the fact that we are different in many ways. Now and then when some who should know better drop their guard and indulge in “colorful” language others are all to willing to “out” them to make political hay. Many times I’ve been referred to as a Georgia cracker by my South Carolina friends over a few beers. I laugh it off, after all I can always point I’m a Georgia Bulldog and that quietens the Gamecock and Clemson tribes.

    1. What’s the point of all these clans or tribes? Is is to enhance the well-being of the members or to provide some “leader” with an enhanced sense of self-importance?
      Biologically speaking, there are no races in the human species. All those sub-groupings are artificial distinctions that matter not a fig to the newborn. The distinctions have to be carefully taught, mostly to keep basically gregarious individuals close to home where the parental investment can be exploited.
      That said, it seems fair to suggest that, if speciation is wanted, every person is, in fact, a unique specimen, whose like has never and will never be seen again. So, in a sense, every time a human dies, a species goes extinct. Why people don’t appreciate being unique is a puzzlement.

  9. Jim Fitzgerald

    I think most troublesome is the intensity of the disagreements as well as the righteousness that seems to enfold the arguments – casting them as non-debatable. That is the path that separates the Sunni and Shiites, ethnic groups, etc., and leads to civil war. Whereas we have always had disagreements – sometimes severe as with the civil war – for the most part, as Mandy pointed out, we have been able to tolerate other points of view. I think we more readily accepted the idea that a successful society requires a give and take but somehow the word compromise has become confused with betrayal of party ideas. Aristotle and his Golden Mean has always struck me as the principle that has the potential to blend society’s differences and propel us forward.

  10. Mark Johnson

    Way back in 1984 I was involved in my last statewide campaign. Bob Bell, republican State Senator from DeKalb County, was running against Joe Frank Harris of Cartersville for Governor. The issues, like always, were a bunch of sound bites. Joe Frank and Bob traveled the state, ran TV spots, debated, raised money and argued about issues. Bob was the second Republican I worked for. I did it because Paul Coverdell asked me to. I didn’t particularly agree with either one of these guys, but that didn’t matter. What DID matter, and what was so different about that campaign from the ones we see today is that both Bob Bell and Joe Frank Harris were decent people. They were public servants. They were, if not exactly buddies, good friends. They respected each other. Sure, it got heated, but there was no name calling, or senseless posturing or appeals to base instincts. No, it wasn’t pristine.. We fought hard. Joe Frank won, which was no surprise. But there was no HATE, no NAME CALLING, no PERSONAL SLURS. Political campaigns today are embarassing. This isn’t democracy in action; it’s improvisational theatre.

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