March 22, 2014

You can't eat a bible

Or... what religious fervor, hatred and bigotry won't buy you.

Gallup is out with its annual State of the States survey. The results are as stark as they are unsurprising. Southern states with the highest percentage of self-identifying Christians and political "conservatives" are those experiencing the most backwards of conditions.

"... For the sixth consecutive year, Mississippians were the most likely in the U.S. to report struggling to afford food. In 2013, 25.1% report there was at least one time in the last 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed. Residents in West Virginia, Louisiana, and Alabama were also among the most likely to struggle to afford food. Residents of Alaska, New Hampshire, and Minnesota were among the least likely to have this problem..."

There are many factors accounting for these data, but when the same statistics repeat year after year, seemingly getting worse instead of improving, one must seek explanations.

"...As a nation, Americans were slightly more likely to struggle to afford food in 2013 compared with prior years. In 2013, 18.9% struggled to afford food nationally, compared with 18.2% in 2012 and 17.8% in 2008..."

So why are southern states, particularly Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana persistently on the dirty end of the poverty stick? Why is it that we find such inability in the Southern states (especially Mississippi... six years in a row), to feed themselves?

Is it just coincidental that in the states where the Klan was born... states that flew the banner of the yellow dog until that traitor LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 (about the same time that Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats bailed and went Republican)... the same states that saw the 19th century birth of the bible-toting KKK and fostered its resurgence in 1948... the home of Jim Crow segregation... that these are the states suffering the greatest poverty and worst social conditions? Is it just coincidental that modern, Tea Party Republicans spout the same anger and hatred as the "under the hood" Democrats of pre-1964?

Is it just possible that states today still harboring that same religious bigotry that was so prominent in the 19th century continue to spend far too much time shoving bibles down throats than caring for their fellow man? Does it really matter that today they call themselves "conservative" Republican when a century ago they were Democrat?

Not really. The Andrew Jackson Democrats had a long run of it. A run that ended in the late 60s, first with George Wallace on the local stage and then with Nixon's Southern Strategy gaining national spotlight. It matters not that a new Republican Party was born, rising from the ashes of Jim Crow. The hatred remained and now we have the same children of the south being fed the same racial, religious and political lies and growing up to become the same type of hateful politician. Nothing has changed except the label.

Hate by any other name is still evil. Religious dogmatists and the politics of division, particularly in the southern states, have proved successful baffling the great unwashed and getting bigots elected, but when it comes to actually governing it looks like more than a bible is needed. Greasy palmed politicians have been an utter failure educating the children and fostering an environment where citizens can find work so that they can do something as simple as to put food on the table.

Children are not born with bible in hand, and they don't come with built in hatred of the type that has crippled the region for almost 200 years. The reality is dramatically in your face, but the people continue to vote against their own best interest. The old south, with its inability to shed bible-thumping bigotry, has doomed generations of children to lives of poverty. Isn't it about time we got over it and try to progress as a nation?

UPDATE: Timing is everything. About the same time this blog was posting., a story about KKK Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona was published in the HuffPo, in which Ancona is quoted as saying, “...We don’t hate people because of their race, I mean, we’re a Christian organization...”

So there you have it.