Southern Politics

Hunting Illegals by AirThere is more than a simple public relations lesson to be learned about the risk of thinking out loud in the recent experience of Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck.  During a March 14th meeting of the State House Appropriations Committee on a proposal to deal with the problem of feral pigs by shooting them from helicopters, the 11th District Republican suggested that, “if shooting these immigrating hogs works maybe we have a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem.”  Conservative lawmakers would be wise to express their murderous impulses away from microphones.  Aerial summary execution of the undocumented as a state immigration policy is shocking enough, but what Peck later said in response to criticism was even more chilling. “I was just speaking as a southeast Kansas person,” he said.

That explanation raises some important questions.  Could Peck be correct about the denizens of southeast Kansas?  Are they so inhuman so as to confuse the moral standing of destructive alien wildlife with human beings who seek work but lack appropriate legal documents?  That they should be so very different from the good people of adjacent regions like central Kansas or southwest Missouri is surprising, but the rest of America deserves to know whether or not it has a geographic hot spot of dangerous psychopathy on its hands.  If he is correct, then we are indeed fortunate that no major interstate highway runs though southeast Kansas, but that is no guarantee that presumably savage southeast Kansans will not seek victims outside their normal range.  Roadblocks would not be sufficient.  Possibly some sort of fencing might be necessary to contain the monstrous threat.

If Peck is incorrect about the people of southeast Kansas—and let us pray that is true—we are confronted with a rather different but equally disturbing parochialism problem.  For years now Republican politicians have been campaigning for public office by presenting themselves as champions of the values systems of various states and regions of states.  Consider that current U.S. Representatives Robert Aderholt and Alan Nunnelee say that they defend, respectively “Alabama values” and “Mississippi values.”  Consider that in their respective 2004 election campaigns, former U.S. Representative Zach Wamp evoked “east Tennessee values” and current Georgia State Senator Barry Loudermilk evoked “north Georgia values.”  This presents us with an obvious question.  Just what are the differences between the cultures of Alabama and Mississippi?  Between the cultures of east Tennessee and north Georgia?

Tribal markers can be subtle in the extreme, as any cultural anthropologist will tell you.   One possibility is that the differences that are assumed to exist between “X state values” and ‘Y state values” involve nothing more than local variations in the intensity of idolatrous fetus and gun worship, anti-Hispanic xenophobia, homosexual panic, and hatred of the national government.

Another possibility is that references to parochial value systems are nothing more than rhetorical devices for psychologically transforming insecurities and resentments into something that sounds more positive.  Crass bigotry becomes local pride.  Yet another possibility is that they are attempts to reduce to focus from the national to the local as a way to escape accountability.  Republican politicians bear much of the responsibility for our national problems.  Claiming to defend parochial values from the rest of America evades discussion of how conservative decisions reduced America to its present lamentable circumstances.

So what are the lessons for aspiring conservative politicians to be learned from all this?  First, proposing state immigration policies that include any element of DEATH FROM THE SKIES should probably be avoided.  Second, and more important, claiming parochial value systems as a defense against criticism of profoundly evil ideas only works when the evil doesn’t stick to your constituents and neighbors.

John Hickman

John Hickman

John Hickman is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where he teaches courses on war crimes, comparative politics, and research methods. He holds both a PH.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis. Hickman is the author of the 2013 Florida University Press book Selling Guantanamo.

  1. For some reason, Conservatives really hate to be talked about, even though they spend almost all their time talking about someone else. Perhaps it’s because they don’t recognize themselves.
    Anyway, Peck speaking as a “southern Kansan person” suggests that doing evil in someone else’s name makes it OK. That would explain how come our human rights are being sacrificed in the name of an insecure nation. Why the “greatest nation on earth” is so insecure that it requires a constant stream of sacrifice is still a puzzlement.
    This comment is not meant as a quibble. Your perspective on tribalism is much appreciated.

  2. Progressive “heroes” include bloodthirsty murderers like Che Guevara or Mao, who took all the productive citizens out into the woods and shot them in head. Progressives are quick to “pull the trigger” on conservative politicians’ rhetoric but completely ignore the FOB’s (friends of Barack) like Bill Ayers among their own ranks. People like Ayers are progressive patriots. Riot-inciting buffoons like Al Sharpton find themselves in the pantheon of progressive mainstream political leadership in spite of their horrific acts. Notably, leaders like Sharpton have accomplished nothing for the groups they set out to benefit. Instead, Sharpton lines his pockets and trades on his buffoonery in the mainstream leftist media who treat him like Gandhi. As for racism, what about the KKK Grand Dragon elected Democrat Senate Majority Leader in the 1980s? Seemingly no acknowledgement of Senator and Klansman Robert Byrd’s ascendance to national Democrat leadership during his 50+ years in Congress that came to an end last year when he died in office. Why is this?

    Let us take the case in Wisconsin, where the, err, peaceful “community organizers” are threatening Republican politicians with their lives and local citizens with their livelihoods. Police and other unions demand that private citizens publicly side with them “or else.” *

    Progressives bad ideas speak for themselves. There’s no reason to agitate against the progressive movement based on its long history of violence, incitement of violence and terrorizing citizens. Though obviously the movement is reprehensible. Instead, those who oppose the obvious lies of progressivism can make simple appeals to common sense: that people should be secure in their personal property, beliefs, religion, etc., and are responsible for the bills they incur. That opportunity and prosperity grow from cooperation and mutual benefit. And that guaranties of free healthcare, green jobs, pollutant- and risk-free fuels and central government solutions are anathema to the desires of free people.

    This is not to excuse any politician who does not choose her words carefully on any side of the isle. But the purpose of this essay is not to rebuke an individual. It is yet another smear to paint all conservatives as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., etc. Just more of the same lies and smears that truly sustain progressivism.


  3. Billy Howard

    Reactionaries, such as yourself, always try to lump the entire liberal establishment into the fringe politics at the far left. To insinuate that Che and Mao are “progressive heroes” is about as honest as claiming that Republicans worship Joseph McCarthy or buy as whole cloth the demonstrably false rantings of Rush, Glen, Ann and their ilk. Both sides have people who would push their agenda from the margins and you are in that camp. You believe in a black and white world and that stringency that does not allow for gray areas and compromise is doomed. Your rhetoric is just that, sound and fury, and we know what that signifies.

  4. Oh my Gawd. I KNEW Midwesterners aren’t right! (just kidding Dr. Hickman). But it is sad that such idiocy – expected maybe from an uneducated 13 or 14 year old – is uttered in civil society. I’d like to ask the congressman exactly what he did to earn the right to be born in Kansas. Maybe if he was unfortunate enough to be born in Northern Mexico, the situation may be much different.

    Ya know, you once said that a hallmark of being liberal/progressive was accepting change; I’d like to add empathy for those people who aren’t like us.

    Does excessive inbreeding in these states produce a new species? Maybe so; maybe that’s why they can’t have sympathy for different human beings.

  5. @Brenden:

    Oh come on. Do conservatives claim Thomas Malthus or Adolf Hitler (I hope you know that fascism was the right wing alternative to socialism…?) or the asswipes at Westboro Baptist or any of those? No one is fair and balanced, we are all biased. So quit playing the “bias” card unless you are gonna call a spade a spade.

    For instance, conservative media was all over Obama for teleprompt use; when Sarah Palin very unprofessionally used her hand as a note source, they defended her. The acts were principally, metaphysically if you will/can comprehend, the same. Besides, not that long ago presidents (Teddy R comes to mind) read dozens of pages. It wasn’t that big of an issue except it was the other team’s guy.

    And show me where Republicans bashed Bush for his spending? Look, I am all for balanced budget but what nimrod CUTS TAXES AND INCREASES SPENDING??? That’s the most idiotic formula for fiscal management anyone could conceive of.

    You do that in your personal life. Double or triple your expenditures, and reduce your work hours by 1/2.

  6. John Hickman

    Will, surely you know that you can a Free Lunch only at the Republican Cafe?

    1. I’m for free lunches wherever I find them. But, I also dislike labels (perhaps because I’m a chameleon). Though I prefer to think that by avoiding labels I can find the most truth. My liberal friends call me too Christian and my conservative friends call me Marxist. No joke.

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