Friday, December 11, 2015

American Arrogance - Part II



dmoelling landed immediately on the Monopoly square adjoining mine in discussing how the American regions relate to each other, noting that New England/northeast doesn’t hesitate to tell Texas that it is doing things all wrong.  I had not wanted to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by announcing my own suspicion, but I had immediately thought of New York telling Texas what to do, unrequested.  Pretty similar.  This covers what Texas should do about public transportation, how they should run their schools, how they should talk, dress, eat, vote.  It’s the strongest cultural line of giving advice unasked-for in the country, the distillation of what happens everywhere.

Texas says that it’s great, but they mostly say that to each other, which is parallel to America bragging on itself.  That torques everyone else off, so the other states go looking for ways to tell Texas what to do. New York/New England, on the other hand, pretty much tries to tell everyone else how they should act. Most regions do this, but we are more intense about it.  That’s the stereotype, anyway, and I think there is some reason for it. That would make Northeast America a lot like Northwest Europe.
 
California also tells everyone else what to do.  They do some of this via the entertainment biz, but they do seem to have some of that attitude in their character in all interactions. New England settled the top of the country, and this is nowhere more pronounced than in the Pacific Northwest.  Ecotopia also tells everyone else what to do, but nowhere near as intensely or obviously.  (Maybe just as smugly.)

Looking back at Europe there is a nuance I didn't quite describe in Part I: Scandinavians and NW Europeans dislike individual bragging and wouldn't quite say out loud that they are Best Nation, they do very much take collective credit for having figured out just about anything you name - how to handle the Russians, how to do healthcare, how an economy should be run, what the relations between men and women should be.  They humblebrag very well.

I hadn't thought I was going here when I set out, but we seem to have come around to some very usual stereotypes.  The regions line up pretty closely with political persuasions.  Conservatives tell each other that they are great, which irritates liberals who are then very quick to point out that "they" (Americans/Western Civ/Texans/Christians) aren't, really.  Liberals tell others what to do, unasked. which torques off conservatives, who would never go into your house and do that.

And it's the defensive/offensive pattern between them again, liberals on offense, conservatives on defense. I certainly notice this in my FB feed and my own FB behavior.  Liberals on offense tend to be general, even when they are being vicious. They complain about gun owners, or Republicans, or whatever, then seem shocked and offended when they get called on it. Yet at one level, I get that. They have themselves convinced that if you aren't being mentioned by name you have no right to be offended.  If the shoe fits and all that. But when I am calling someone out for a bigoted remark, that's personal, that's individual, there's nowhere to hide. It is an escalation of a sort.

18 comments:

Texan99 said...

As a Texas, I suppose I'm pretty free about telling people in other states what to do, but mostly when they admit to being unhappy with the results they're getting by doing things their way. The response I most often get is, "Why would anyone want to live there? The government doesn't do x, y, or z for you." So it's best if they don't come here, and it's understandable they're not interested in my recommendations.

bs king said...

Wait, so where does Massachusetts bashing fit in all this?

Sam L. said...

New York, as exemplified by the NYT, is known for telling everybody else what they are doing wrong and how they should do everything. (We then think they are idiots, full of sound and fury--we are acquainted with The Bard--signifying the nothing in their heads.)
D.C., exemplified by WaPo...same same.
NE and PNW, well, the leftist areas just KNOW what should be done, and those in the rural areas are just S.O.L. "Smug" just begins to describe them.

"They complain about gun owners, or Republicans, or whatever, then seem shocked and offended when they get called on it. Yet at one level, I get that. They have themselves convinced that if you aren't being mentioned by name you have no right to be offended. If the shoe fits and all that." They are claiming "plausible deniability" for themselves; they won't allow it for everyone else.

dmoelling said...

I work in lots of locales (48 states so far and lots of international locations) usually in smaller towns or outside of metro areas. One thing I do is to see if I can find out what it would be like to live in the area. So what is the real estate like, what do people do for fun, what are the local customs etc. Talking with my clients and others it always helps find good restaurants but also helps lower barriers. As a technical consultant, I often have to pass "the consultant is an a**hole test", and this helps jump that hurdle rapidly.

In Mississipi I found lots of the locals rode horses and would arrange big barbecues and rides on the weekend, in Abu Dhabi offshore fishing was a thing (until the Iranians started kidnapping fisherman as spies!). West Texas has a lot of small ranches, but surprisingly large number of bass fishermen in the big man made lakes. Oklahoma has more storm chasers that you could imagine. Local cultural events are also more varied than you might think.

Unfortunately this makes me have a short fuse with some of my Connecticut neighbors proclaiming about the shortcomings of everywhere else!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Sounds like you need to organise this into a guest post.

Earl Wajenberg said...

"Conservatives tell each other that they are great, which irritates liberals who are then very quick to point out that "they" (Americans/Western Civ/Texans/Christians) aren't, really. Liberals tell others what to do, unasked. which torques off conservatives, who would never go into your house and do that."

This accords with what I have come to believe are the characteristic delusions of the two political poles: Conservatives believe that virtue is rewarded. Liberals believe that people can be educated into being good.

Jonathan Smith said...

I spent the first half of my life in the northeast, and have lived in Texas now for nearly thirty years. As a young man I had a strong regional bias, thinking that civilization ended at the Potomac, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. I knew people who seriously believed that the Wild West began at the Hudson, and a very scary place called the Deep South lay just beyond Fairfax County, Virginia. (I find it interesting that there is no exact northern equivalent to the Deep South.)

Today, my friends in the northeast and California are very free with their opinions about Texas, which they have never visited and know only through the media. For them, Texas is a combination of the Wild West and the Deep South, and it has the added demerit of being unashamed of this. Texas obviously fills some psychological need in the liberal mind.

Texans may joke about California or "Yankeeland," but I have never once heard a Texan fulminate against they way they do things out (or up) there. It's their state, and how they run it is their business. As Texan 99 writes above, when someone from California or Yankeeland laments some problem in their state, such as high unemployment or housing costs, a Texan might point out the Texan solution to those problems, but the general attitude is that other peoples tax rates and regulatory burdens are really no concern of his.

I'm not a Texas super-patriot, but I find the ethos of minding one's own business very attractive.

RichardJohnson said...

bs king
Wait, so where does Massachusetts bashing fit in all this?

Massachusetts bashing is a phenomena which increases with familiarity with Massachusetts. While I now live in Texas, I am a NE native with relatives who have lived in Massachusetts, so I have some degree of familiarity with the state. Red Line, Green Line- yeah, I know that stuff. Celtics, Sox and Pats fan, even after having left NE decades before? Yes indeed.


Am I a Mass-basher? Well at times, yes. It started early when I noticed at age 9 that Massachusetts was a lot more crowded than where I lived. "There's a mass of people in Mass," I decided. [But one could merely call that an objective observation.] Experiences which have increased my tendencies to Mass-bash have nearly all been encounters with strangers, not with Mass people I know. [Old timey, isn't it, to use Mass instead of MA?]


The public manner of some people in the Boston area often leaves something to be desired. While I have spent enough time in Manhattan to have tourists ask me directions, I have had no experiences in NYC which would cause me to say that about NYC- and NYC has the reputation of being Rude City.

I have never run across anyone in TX who bashes Massachusetts, with the exception of one Texan who lived in Framingham as a middle schooler when his father got transferred. He made friends with one of his classmates, who happened to be black. One of his classmates told him, "I'm going to tell your parents you are hanging out with a black guy." Finding out your kid was hanging out with a black would really upset a racist Texan, doncha' know? "Go right ahead and tell my parents," came the rejoinder.


The arrogant, ignorant liberal spiel of many people in Massachusetts doesn't strike me as something coming from Massachusetts, but as something coming from liberals. After all, I hear much the same in Texas.

One final observation on Massachusetts bashing. I have a rather low opinion of the Kennedy family, in spite of having had a JFK campaign poster on my bedroom door for much of my childhood. A childhood friend worked for the Kennedy family one summer in Hyannisport. He told me a number of stories which backed up his conclusion: while the Kennedys present themselves as rich people who are concerned with the poor, the Kennedys are simply rich people.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The rude people in Mass are as likely to be conservative as liberal, I think. All states are purple. It's just that a critical mass of being an insufferable moraliser to the rest of the country makes you think that the person who is annoying you must be an example of the stereotype. Not necessarily so. Given the voting patterns of employed white married males over 30, for example, it is likely that Patriots home games are far more deeply Republican than the state in general.

NH does a lot of Massachusetts-bashing, but it has always struck me as rather retaliatory. The Boston newspapers have long regarded us as rubes and ignorant. Not so much now that the Golden Triangle is filled with people who have moved up from Mass.

RichardJohnson said...

AVI
The rude people in Mass are as likely to be conservative as liberal, I think.

Perhaps, but the rude incidents were inside Route 128, where the politics strongly tends towards liberal. In any event, I don't label the incidents with politics, but with a region. The incidents were where a total stranger went out of his way to interact with me and be rude to me- it wasn't like someone being rude in the process of doing their job, such as a rude waitress or a rude cop. Which made it even more annoying.

I do label rudeness with politics in Texas, as I have heard lib/prog acquaintances use the term "Teabagger" more than enough.

As I previously stated, while Massachusetts may act as an insufferable moralizer to other parts of the country such as Texas, Texas has enough wannabe insufferable lib/prog moralizers of its own. As a result, I tend to ignore Massachusetts moralizers. Texas lib/prog moralizers are more than enough for me to deal with. Consider Wendy Davis, the unsuccessful Democrat candidate for Governor in 2014. Wendy was something else. Coincidentally, Wendy Davis is from West Warwick RI, which is next door to where my cousins used to live in East Greenwich.

Wendy Davis reminds me of one insufferable Massachusetts moralizer name of Elizabeth Warren, who is an Okie by birth. Which is another reason why I don't tend to label one state for insufferable moralizing. [It does seem that a rather large proportion of insufferable lib/prog moralizers are women. Perhaps they are the 21st Century version of Church Ladies.]

I have a sister-in-law, a Mass native, who is an insufferable yellow dog Democrat. But as she is an insufferable person regardless of politics, her politics is a wash for me. While her parents and siblings may have similar politics, they are much more personable, and they don't go out of their way to talk politics, unlike my sister-in-law.

My sister and her husband, after decades in Massachusetts, have retired and left the state. Their being Republicans meant that I didn't view the state as monochrome politically.

The Boston newspapers have long regarded us as rubes and ignorant.
Come now, AVI. No one ever said "Cow Hampshire." :)
But you don't need to travel to Massachusetts for that. I attended a regional high school in NE. The town I lived in was more rural and less educated than the town that hosted the regional high school. Students from the host town referred to students from my town as dumb farmers. My grandfather, growing up in the Midwest on a farm 8 miles from town, got similar taunts when he attended the high school in town. My grandmother told me the taunts stopped when he was voted captain of the football team.

Because I was the product of a North South marriage, was quite aware of regional differences before I started first grade, and have split my time between both regions, I tend to view matters not so much as conflict between regions or states, as conflicts within regions or states.

bs king said...

Richard Johnson - I think you hit on an interesting point with the comment about the Kennedy's. There are quite a few states that are really just shorthand for certain politicians from those states. I don't remember hearing cracks about "Chicago politics" as frequently before Obama took office for example, and my Texan friends at college always said things got worse for them when Bush was elected. Rick Perry took quite a few swipes at Mass during his campaign, but he was running against Romney. Jabs at California seem pretty consistent from the right, but they do seem to be facing quite a bit of trouble there.

bs king said...

As for the Mass-bashing, I think retaliation is a matter of perspective. I get pretty surprised how vicious people I know are about Mass to my face. It's one of the few things I've had to actually have the "please stop you're actually kind of offending me" discussions with people over. My husband's first introduction to the church I grew up in was actually a random parishioner (who I didn't know) asking us how we could live in such a "godless hellhole".

I'm mostly touchy about it because of the road rage issues I've had directed at me. Despite having learned to drive in NH, I was never subjected to the level of frightening behavior from NH drivers until I got MA plates. I've been flipped off, screamed at, honked at, tailgated and followed....things that never happen to me in MA or when I drive a car with NH plates. Family members who have driven my car have experienced similar things. Obviously I don't know the political orientation of those doing those things, but it's a disconcerting level of bias. It may still be payback from that Barnacle op-ed from the 90s, but overall it's kind of soured me on the humor of Mass-bashing.

Texan99 said...

How odd. I can't think of the last time I heard anyone in Texas pay any attention to Massachusetts. I'd say the free-floating venom about the Northern blue-state model more often crystallizes around New York as a symbol. Massachusetts is pretty far off our radar. My husband and I sometimes notice a Massachusetts vibe when watching "This Old House" episodes, where it's equal parts "look at all the cool old houses" and "I wonder how they can stand having such intrusive town councils"--those two phenomena, of course, not being coincidentally united. I sometimes have to make an effort to recall that Massachusetts is the home of Boston and therefore Harvard.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

For me, "Chicago politics" long predates Obama and hearkens back to Mayor Daley - the first Mayor Daley, that is, not his son. Similarly, all the dead people voting in Cook County. I remember saying "Hope and Change...Chicago Politics...how likely is that" during Obama's first campaign. In my generation that was very meaningful and I'm surprised it's dropped out. More than any other city's politics it was a symbol for corruption.

I also think Saul Alinsky, but more distantly.

RichardJohnson said...

bs king
I don't remember hearing cracks about "Chicago politics" as frequently before Obama took office for example.
I inherited an attitude of sorts about "Chicago politics" from my Downstate Illinois grandfather, who complained more than once to me that the state highway near the family farm had been built in the '20s with not an improvement to it in over 40 years. A road built for 1920 era cars was rather narrow for cars built 4 decades later- "wide track Pontiac" ring a bell? Tax money got funneled to Chicago, not to downstate.

As a politics hound from 5th grade on, I have long been aware that JFK had won Illinois "with a little help from his friends," to quote Mayor Daley the First. Which meant that when I initially heard about Obama on the national scene, I associated him with what I had known for decades about "Chicago politics." As a result, when Tony Rezko's prison term hit the national news scene and the Trib had a story about how Obama got all opponents off the ballot in his initial run for the Demo nomination for the State Leg, I was not surprised at all.

I get pretty surprised how vicious people I know are about Mass to my face.
That's pretty bad- much worse than I had experienced with louts in the Boston area.
But that also confirms what I wrote: "Massachusetts bashing is a phenomena which increases with familiarity with Massachusetts."

RichardJohnson said...

Speaking of reasons to say nasty things about Massachusetts, consider the recent news from Cambridge, where my sister lived for a decade: Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council Censures Breitbart News.

In November 16, Breitbart Contributors Ilya Feoktistov and Sam Westrop released a devastating exposé on recently re-elected Cambridge City Council Member Nadeem Mazen, who also proudly serves on the board of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization linked to Hamas and financed in part by Saudis.....
Their fact-based piece, which cited twenty-nine sources, provoked an apparent panic within the Cambridge City Council. Last Monday, it unanimously passed an official resolution censuring Breitbart News Network, for its supposed “history of outrageous and sensationalized journalism designed for shock value but which has no proven basis in truth whatsoever.”


Fortunately for her mental health, my sister got out of Cambridge in time.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You will notice that Cambridge is more intensely Democrat even by Massachusetts standards. http://massnumbers.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-democratic-or-republic-is-my-town.html

As with the country as a whole, the cities are blue, the rural areas red, the various suburbs mixed. Dover is old money, Amherst is the central focus of several very liberal colleges, Sharon is Jewish, etc.

RichardJohnson said...

As with the country as a whole, the cities are blue, the rural areas red, the various suburbs mixed.

The rural MA hometown of my yellow dog Democrat sister-in-law tends to go Republican, though not overwhelmingly. Cambridge is a university town, so no big surprise it goes Demo. It is no accident that Amherst and Cambridge are #2 and #3 in the state for Democrat dominance.

Here is another reason for Mass-bashing, courtesy of Instapundit.
IT’S CALLED RE-EDUCATION, COMRADE: Judge’s Order That Pastor Undergo Islam Education Unconstitutional. The pastor in question is from Nigeria. The notion that her hostility to Islam stems from ignorance is itself cultural ignorance of the first order. If anyone here needs an education in these things it’s Somerville District Court Judge Paul M. Yee Jr., who’s clearly in over his head. Yee could use some remedial First Amendment education, too.

My two recent postings on reasons for Mass-Bashing illustrate a fundamental difference between TX and MA. Both TX and MA have their contingent of progressives/leftists- I hesitate to use the word "liberal," as this is a word that has changed its meaning through the decades.

In MA, the progressives/leftists have successfully completed a march through many of the governmental institutions, to complement their march through the university institutions. The recent articles on the Somerville judge and the Cambridge City Council illustrate this.In TX, their march through the government institutions has been markedly less successful. While Houston just voted in a Democrat Mayor to replace the outgoing lesbisn Democrat Mayor, it also defeated by a strong 60/40 margin a proposed regulation on transgender restrooms. Because there are markedly fewer progressives/leftists in TX, they have not been as successful as in MA.

This also illustrates one reason why my political allegiance gradually changed from "red" to "blue." [Ironic that the progressive/leftist side of the aisle got labeled as 'red."] While both sides have crazies, the crazies on the progressive side are 1)markedly crazier and 2)markedly more insistent in imposing their views on other people and on society as a whole. While church ladies may knock on my door, they essentially leave me alone, as they politely go away when I inform them I am not interested. Progressives are much less likely to leave you alone. They continually have a new regulation, a new law which will in their judgment advance us towards the bright shining future, and which will further regulate the hoi polloi.