Vanishing

The changing South and a requiem for amphibians, this week in Table Talk.


Salon Staff
April 28, 2006 2:30PM (UTC)

Social Issues

The North/South Divide

Vera Charles - 07:26 am Pacific Time - Apr 21, 2006 - #11 of 413

I was born in Birmingham, AL, went to college in Austin, worked in NYC for a year, went to grad school in Nashville and have lived just outside Houston for three years now, just for background's sake.

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My parents and their parents are left-wing voters outspoken about civil rights; sure, I've met a lot of hardcore religious fanatics with unpleasant ideas, but you know what kinds of people tend to be like that? Poor people. You want to meet some provincial, religious, bigoted people? Hang out with recent Mexican immigrants or inner-city African Americans. If that sentence gave you pause, but you don't have a problem generalizing about the personal care habits or moral qualities of "people who live in red states," you might want to ask yourself why. Here's the truth, as I see it: most people who have nothing, who have never been educated or lived outside of one small area, do not trust people who are not like them, regardless of the color of their skin. The difference is that upper middle class white liberals are racist enough to feel disappointed in white people who have those limitations. In the north, you can call your circle of friends "diverse" if your roommate at Wesleyan was from Bangladesh and your neighbors in Park Slope have biracial kids, and you can be delighted with yourself that you like people of all colors as long as they share all of your beliefs.

The South is messy and it's very sad. My people come from a region where selling boiled peanuts by the side of the road is a cottage industry, and there's a DIY taxidermy shop down the street from where I live and work. It's also honest, unpretentious, friendly, and kind. Because it's so cheap to live down here, for the most part, we can't filter out the riffraff -- sorry about that. Because we can't, this is one of the most Democratic places I've ever been. I guess if Houston's not big enough for you, only two places in the country ever will be, so I can't help you there, but we have a good housing market, a minority white population, newspapers in at least three languages, and a standing opera company. Want a ringside seat on the immigration debate? Want a house in a good school district for $150,000? Want to see what a 30-30-30-10 racial demographic feels like?

That's right, you're not from Texas. But Texas wants you anyway.

White House

Let's Talk Turkey About the Environment

pt bridgeport - 05:49 pm Pacific Time - Apr 26, 2006 - #1364 of 1370

It's frogs. They're little, they're ugly (actually the species that are disappearing are jewel-like and fabulously colored, but I'm talking about general public reaction), they're slimy, they aren't cute, and they don't even cuddle their own babies.

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Next thing, you'll be telling us to care about snail darters and wasps and wild plants whose flowers aren't big and showy.

The number of extinct amphibians is going to be dwarfed by the number of extinct fish and invertebrates in the Caribbean, now that the coral is doomed. That made page four in my newspaper.

But hey, fish and mussels aren't cuddly either. So who cares?


Salon Staff

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