Friday, June 13, 2008

Deer Hunting with Jesus

What am I reading now that I've finished Acts of Faith? Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. I'm about one-third of the way through the book.

At least a year before Senator Obama made his remark about bitter Americans who cling to guns and God, Bageant observed the same thing, and he writes about it sympathetically and persuasively here.

If you're a Starbuck's latte-swilling, bleeding-heart liberal who is mystified that the working class in this country continues to vote against their own self-interest, why they kept Bush in office for four more years of shredding the Constitution, sending more people to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, destroying the "middle class" in this formerly strong nation … then read this book.

Here are a couple of snippets from the reviews on the Amazon page:

Bageant mixes a reporter's keen analysis, a storyteller's color, and a native son's love of his roots in this absorbing dissection of America's working poor. Returning to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, after 30 years of life among the elite journalistic class, Bageant sought to answer the question of why the working poor vote for Republicans in apparent opposition to their own interests. On a broader level, he examines issues of economic class distinctions as he drills below the middle-class claims of his hometown. The reality is that two of five residents do not have high-school diplomas and virtually everyone over 50 has serious health problems in a town—and nation—with poor and failing schools and health systems. Still clinging to illusions of personal responsibility and the vain hope of someday achieving wealth, Winchester's residents fall deeper into debt, farther behind in ambitions beyond working in the local factory—if they're lucky—and, along with their children, subject to the de facto draft of economic conscription. Through the lives of his friends and family, Bageant explores the importance of hunting, religion, and redneck pride in what he describes as the "American hologram." A wise, tender, and acerbic look at life among America's working poor. [From ALA's Booklist]
This fine book sheds a devastating light on Bush & Co.'s notorious 'base,' i.e. America's white working class, whose members have been ravaged by the very party that purports to take their side. Meanwhile, the left has largely turned them out, or even laughed at their predicament. Of their degraded state—and, therefore, ours—Joe Bageant writes like an avenging angel. [From Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Election Reform]
It's not only biting in its insights, but sometimes funny as all get-out. I'll confess to wicked laughter when I read "the Republicans are the party of the dumb and [the] callous rich" (pg. 27) and "Sometimes I think the GOP emits a special pheromone that attracts fools and money" (pg. 28).

But be forewarned. His biting comments aren't all directed at Bush, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, and the "Christian right." He has plenty of anger for the liberal elitists who look down on those who have bad teeth, who never read books, and who love their guns and their NASCAR races. He talks quite directly and critically about our failure to engage the working class in this country.
Go to your local independent bookstore and buy this book.

I'd love to hear from any of you who have read it.


Blogger Ann said...

Have you ever played the simulation game - Star Power? It is an eye opener that reveals why we cling to the myth of "making it" even in the face of contrary evidence.

6/13/2008 10:37 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

You may then want to check out Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America."

6/14/2008 1:28 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Ann, I'm just not smart enough to play those games. Heck! I haven't even figured out whether and how to add applications to my Facebook page. I am woefully stupid about this technology.

Malcolm, I will take your recommendation.


6/14/2008 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was well worth reading. The author says things that I would worry about believing if they came from outsiders.


6/16/2008 8:38 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yeah, I know, Nancy. He does shake up our gravity, doesn't he?

6/16/2008 9:59 PM  

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