CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Jerome Dobson is president of the American Geographical Society, and he writes in the Athens Messenger that rural whites from the hill country are the "most scorned minority in America." He says it is long past time to eliminate the public's general acceptance of ethnic epithets like redneck and hillbilly. And he's rightfully white hot at Dick Cheney for the dud over incest. To Dobson, it's wrong for society to single out the rural whites of Appalachia as fair game for hateful slurs:
"Which minority fares worst? In this supposedly enlightened age, there is one that still can be routinely portrayed on TV as dim-witted and cruel...slandered with the foulest of stereotypes...called by ethnic epithets...reviled by people who do not regard themselves as prejudiced and who are not regarded by others as being prejudiced...one that is clearly disadvantaged but receives no minority benefits and protections...one exempt somehow from America's passion for diversity.The answer, of course, is rural people (hicks, bumpkins, yokels) and among them Southern whites (rednecks, bubbas, crackers, white trash) and among them Appalachian whites (hillbillies). It's somehow OK in polite conversation to call them derogatory names, characterize them as ignorant no matter how much schooling they've had, slander them with stereotypes, and make fun of their food and speech.What is the most vile stereotype leveled at any minority in America? Surely nothing matches incest. Yet Appalachian people are routinely accused of incest, and there is no social rebuke for those who demonize them so."
In Ohio, 28 counties are considered Appalachia, and they are home to about 1.46 million citizens. Gov. Ted Strickland is from Scioto County in the Appalachian region, and he holds a Ph.D from the University of Kentucky. [Note: Within the past few days, I have received e-mails from progressive bloggers in Ohio who have discussed writing within the next few days in a language that is being characterized as "redneck." I was offended when I read of their intentions. It was as if they would use "pidgin'," to write in Asian or Native American. Or Ebonics for African American. The insensitivity was gross. And the blindness was astounding.]