That’s the point of view of this film clip the documentarian Alexandra Pelosi put together for Bill Maher’s show:
I got this via Andrew Sullivan, who defends it as representative of attitudes in Mississippi. Count me as someone who agrees the Sullivan reader who complained that this is as representative of the South as somebody finding the most deranged and flamboyant gutter-dwellers in San Francisco are of gay America. I want to point out, though, a comment one of these supposedly backwards rednecks makes in this clip:
“We would rather go broke and die hungry than to give up our moral beliefs. … I’m gonna stand up for what I believe in even if I go broke doing it.”
Isn’t that a noble sentiment? The idea that you would rather suffer materially to stand up for what you believe is right? Why is that evidence of backwardness? I think it’s heroic, actually. Now, depending on what this guy believes in, it may also be tragic. That is, if the beliefs for which he is willing to suffer are immoral. But if you ask me, this Mississippian who stands ready to endure privation for the sake of principle has more integrity than those who would mock him. If these very same words came out of the mouth of, say, a Mississippi reception hall owner who was prepared to lose business because of a principled decision to allow a gay wedding events at his place, Andrew, Alexandra Pelosi, and Bill Maher would call him an American hero.
UPDATE: Ask yourself how you would feel if Alexandra Pelosi traveled through Mississippi collecting filmed anecdotes of black hicks saying silly or repulsive things, and then HBO broadcast it for the sake of ridiculing their backwardness. How would we regard that? Poor white people, especially poor country white people, are the only people our overclass think it’s okay to make fun of.