Friday, January 02, 2009

Being told what to believe is as old south as grits

I have already asserted that Nashville's English Only referendum is a test of wild-eyed post-presidential-election claims that there is a new south rising that defies the conventional ideas of old south as sheltered pro-Republican backwater. Likewise, Tennessee's response to the TVA ash sludge spill may shed light on whether it exhibits a political atmosphere more like that of a decrepit gulag and less like the dynamic hothouse that some who focus on Virginia, North Carolina, or Texas would suggest.

Things do not look hopeful so far. While TVA downplayed the spill and told neighbors to boil their water, Tennessee's elected officials mostly stayed silent and clear the week following in spite of the obvious hardship on both the plant's neighbors and the environment. Tennessee's U.S. Senators didn't bother to rise above mum until their offices were forced to by inquiring media. Phil Bredesen was practically an afterthought, excusing his absence as the desire not to be a hindrance, and then rubber stamping TVA emergency response (which some Swan Pond residents reported as lacking).

And then there is today's paternalistic attitude of Roane County EMA and Homeland Security Director, William H. Rose, Jr., who encouraged Tennesseans to trust their big government brother without questioning or listening to any outside watchdogs (emphasis added by Christian Grantham):
People want to know "are you making sure everybody is doing what they are supposed to over there?" And I tell them, I say, "I don't have to make sure." I say, "They're doing it on their own. OK?" And there's a lot of special interest groups that are out there that want to put out a lot of misinformation, and what people need to understand is that the state of Tennessee is here to help Roane County manage the technical aspects of this and they are doing a fantastic job. And what they put out is the right thing as well as the EPA, and that we're all working together to speak in one voice.

So, that is a resounding question from the people in the county is "all this information that's been put out I don't know what to believe." Well, I'm telling you what to believe. You believe what these people down here are telling you to believe because I'm seeing the data just like everybody else is. I don't understand it all, but they explain it to me, and I got faith in these people down here and what they do.
If this part of the new south, it is just like the old south, where people in power tell everybody else what to believe and put their faith in. That would indicate that big brother, deep red Tennessee is in no danger of drifting progressive any time soon. Perhaps it is still just as backwater as ever, even with a Democratic Governor.

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