Furiouser Than Thou

burned church

St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, La., was destroyed in a fire. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times.

Margaret Renkl writes from Tennessee. Her anguish over what she calls the racist and misogynistic travesty that is endemic and persisting in southern society is palpable in the column cited here.

Renkl cites recent instances of atrocities committed by southern citizens and legislatures, but also defends her culture from the uninformed abuse that can lash back unfairly from “outsiders.” Unsurprisingly, her example comes from Twitter bilge:

“It’s really easy to #BoycottAlabama because who the [expletive] would ever want to go to that redneck [expletive] on purpose?”

And she usefully cites numerous instances of noble, constructive initiatives that bloom throughout the region. Her balancing is clear-sighted and eloquent:

It’s not that I don’t understand the anger [of non-southerners]. The fury of a blue-state outsider can’t possibly touch the fury of someone like me — someone who lives in one of these states, someone who is actually subject to these dangerous laws.

Renkl’s emphasis on “touch” connotes extremity of feeling. I share it. I receive daily at least one bulletin concerning reactionary measures enacted by state government that are cynically corrosive to the general good and profoundly regressive.

It’s saddening that one must ponder one’s own fury in relation to that of outsiders… or be furious at all. I struggle to believe with Ms. Renkl “that what you see coming out of statehouses and frat houses down here isn’t… the only true South.”

(Margaret Renkl, “Shame and Salvation in the American South,” NYTimes, 5-20-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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