I have come to believe over the last several years that regionalism (defined here as discrimination based on one’s regional origin and/or background) may be the most acceptable form of bigotry in America. At its core is the same superficial and self-exalted bigotry as is at the core of racism, but it’s more PC, in fact it’s sometimes celebrated. You can hear it in the remarks of college students from New York that go to school in Arkansas and can’t adapt to the cultural nuances, or in political pundits’ remarks on Iowans in the lead-up to the caucus, or in the use of the term “d— Yankee” by a Texan at a cafe, or in the condescensions of Hollywood’s elite. Politically, it’s why Northern candidates have to pick Southern or Mid-Western running mates (and vice versa).  Folks there’s no way to defend it. It’s regional bigotry. And never does it alarm me more than when I hear it from the mouths of those who profess to be Christian. May God have mercy on our souls that we’ve yet to grasp the rich depth of Galatians 3:28.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

If Paul were writing to us today, he might have said, “There is neither Northerner nor Southerner, Californian nor Mid-Westerner, American nor Mexican, white nor black, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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5 Responses to Regionalism

  1. Bill says:

    Are we to stop making comments on the ascendency of Texas barbecue? Can I no longer appreciate Southern Fried chicken? Yankee Pot Roast? Midwest hospitality? Is it reprehensible that I can’t quickly think of positive attributes for Californians, or Northwesterners? Is it a negatgive that you note that are cultural nuances in Arkansas?
    I think not. I think there are cultural differences across America, just as there are across the world. I don’t think Paul meant that Jew, Greek, Slave, Free, male, or female were all identical. Noting that husbands and wives are different, or even joking about those differences doesn’t make us bigots.

    That said, I also disagree that regionalism is the same as bigotry. {As an aside Mirriam-Webster disagrees with your definition of regionalism also.} Should Texans not be proud of their heritage? Is it wrong for people to be proud of where they came from?

    I think that a bigot will find an outlet for his/her bigotry regardless of the specific subject. And I agree that bigotry is wrong.

  2. James says:

    Well, you’re a bright guy, so you know that I wasn’t talking about using geographic/cultural adjectives like Yankee pot roast. As to the BBQ, I also think we can see the difference between good natured ribbing over silly things like how you burn your meat and true bigotry.

    As to the definition…did I say “defined by a dictionary” or “defined here as?” I did that for a reason.

    And, I didn’t say Paul said the following were identical, I wasn’t arguing for uniformity (quite the opposite). I’m saying that Paul was saying we are all valued by God as having intrinsic worth irrespective of our nationality, gender, or socio-economic status.

    And yes, if you discriminate, or look down upon a person for where they come from, that’s the very essence of bigotry. It’s not a matter of appreciating where you come from, or relishing in your regional heritage, not at all. It’s a matter of treating people from other parts of the country/world as if they are worth less or worthless because they don’t speak, act, sound, or think as you do. Again, this is the very essence of bigotry.

    (And I meant to include in the post but forgot, this is not based on any particular recent experience, lest anyone be thinking of things you said in my presence. It’s just something that crosses my plate from time to time, and I thought I’d address it here. The most recent was actually a comment someone made about why they’ll never vote for anyone from a Southeastern state.)

  3. Jason says:

    Good post James… I got it… (Bill – Dude, I hope you’re kidding…)

    I fight against this everyday. I’m from Oklahoma, but have lived in California for longer than I’ve lived anywhere (over 12 years.) When I talk to people in the south now and I hear a heavy southern drawl and bad grammar (e.g.: he done it that way, she gone to the store…) I have to fight that internal part of me that looks down on them or thinks less of them. It is the human nature fighting what I want to be in Christ. A Christ-like spirit would listen and see that person as someone made in God’s image and as a result has great value in the creator’s eyes.

    Now Democrats… Is it ok to be biased against them? (Just Kidding)

    love you..


  4. James says:

    Jason, good to hear from you, brother. I know Bill was at least giving me a good ribbing on one thing: BBQ. He’s had to suffer my lecture on how chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers are not, NOT BBQ. I have to be careful not to be religiously offended by such things.

    Of course, I do show a bit of grace in the BBQ arena. While I was raised under the doctrine and dogma that BBQ can never be anything but beef (and we raised grass-fed Black Angus before they were cool), I give the good people of the Carolinas a free pass, so long as they pass the pulled pork and some sauce. That’s some good eatin’.

  5. Bill says:

    Some of my comment was tongue in cheek.

    I guess I would have been happier if a non-standard definition of regionalism hadn’t been used. I may not be as bright as you suggest. I would have been happy with a diatribe against bigotry, or discrimination based upon regional culture and/or location. Maybe I should also avoid hyperbole?

    On to important issues, food. I have heard that Memphis dry rub barbecue is something to behold. I haven’t found a good excuse to visit there so that Ican sample some. I am open to suggestions for a good excuse!

    p.s. I can always be sure that whenever something addressed to me starts with a compliment…………….. 🙂

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