James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, March 17, 2006

Anti-Southern Bigotry and Inbreeding

Last night on George Noory a man from the Boston area called in with a message to Southerners. He's a Buchananite, and said he's constantly sticking up for Southerners whenever they're spoken of in contempt - which in his region is a lot. Either he was semi-coherent, or I was semi-asleep, but the message I got from him was that Southerners should a)back a real conservative for a change instead of frauds, and b)tell their young adults to sit this war out, i.e., don't have them join the military. And the lesson I gleaned from the military bit was a)Southerners sign up disproportionately, b) this war/these wars against Iraq and Iran are terrible mistakes, and c) a substantial number of fellow Americans don't appreciate the sacrifice of Southerners for "freedom" or the "flag" or whatever. And they disdain the culture and values that encourage such sacrifice.

The general sense I got from the caller is he viewed Southerners as a noble and valiant people who have picked the wrong leader in George W. Bush. That Bush is not their friend, or anybody's friend. Most leaders in the Southern Movement have figured that out, but not so the Southern people as a whole. Not that they're to be disproportionately blamed for this; a lot of non-Southern states went for Bush in both elections.

The most striking point, however, is the contempt the caller reported for Southerners and Southern culture. He was almost telling Southerners, "don't sacrifice your lives to protect us, because most northerners will hate you anyway."

While I'm not a Buchananite, I'm thankful I heard this caller. He's essentially correct.

And that reminds me of another thing. I've been a lifelong "northerner," always residing north of I-80 (and I think, although I'm not sure, that I-70 is the border). I've spent very little time down South, and have met very few genuine Southerners in person. Me sticking up for Southerners is like the typical limousine liberal sticking up for blacks they've never seen.

That said, there's one misconception I had, about everyone from West Virginians to Alabamans. One of the constant jokes about Southerners is the inbreeding, which creates dumb-asses. I always assumed that the incident of cousin-marriage was greatly exagerrated. I may have erred in that, but only because I erred in what people mean by cousin.

"Cousin" to me means my first cousin - the children of my parent's siblings, so when I heard of Southerners engaging in cousin marriage, I thought of first cousins marrying. I was very impressionable, having heard the definition of "cousin" beginning at the age of four, and always thinking that that when anyone said "cousin" they really and only meant "first cousin." I learned what "cousin once-removed" was, and what "second cousin" meant. I know several cousins and "cousins once-removed" quite well and love them very much, and there are plenty of others I don't know quite as well. I haven't knowingly seen a second cousin in twenty years, and have never knowingly met a third cousin. I must have hundreds if not thousands of them. The chances of me meeting, falling in love with, and marrying one of them (especially if they are once, twice, or three times removed) by accident is improbable, but not impossible. Would our offspring be genetic freaks? Highly unlikely.

In a post last week, Steve Sailer told us the truth about Southern cousin marriage. They were largely more ancestrally remote marriages than between first cousins, and even when it involved more distantly related cousins, that was mainly due to the constraints of transportion in remote areas. And innovations such as the automobile pretty much put a stop to it - people had the mobility to find unrelated mates.

The latest Sailer post gets right to the heart: race is a geneological question. It's a question of inbreeding. Quoting Alex Shoumatoff:
"If we could only get into God's memory, we would find that eighty per cent of the world's marriages have been with at least second cousins," the British social theorist Robin Fox told me recently.

So Southerners in the USA continued this when they claimed hard-to-get-to homesteads. Big deal. As I said, I could marry a second cousin at the drop of the hat, because, not knowing who she was, I wouldn't know that it's like, totally gross.

And this makes me wonder, how many other northerners assume that when people say "cousin marriage" they mean "first cousin marriage?" I confess I thought that that was more prevalent in the South than it really was.

I think it all depends on what we mean by the words we say. If I knew that most cousin marriages in the South were between second or third cousins, or cousins many times removed, I would have thought, "what's the big deal? That's normal." But because I thought "cousin marriage" meant "first cousin marriage" I was inclined to think, "Eeewwwww! Yuck!"

I wonder how many other northerners have, like me, thought the same thing, that cousin marriage meant first cousin marriage? And so misjudged its frequency in the South?

I have no idea. But if much of anti-Southern bigotry has to do with the presumption that generations of inbreeding has produced a white race of idiots, we should re-examine that prejudice closely. In almost all cases, the same charges anti-Southern bigots throw at Southerners can be thrown right back at the accusers - that they have an ancestral history with a lot of cousins marrying.

In other words, Southerners are normal human beings. Deal with it.


  1. Charges of incest come with the territory when you are rural. Newfoundlanders get this treatment, as well as Southerners. It's not true, but that is not the point.

    We Southerners are, on average, less well educated and less sophisticated than our counterparts in other regions, and this is mainly the legacy of relative poverty. We have a martial streak in our "culture" that facilitates military service. Also, we don't have as many other options in the job market, so military service is often a good start and a chance for more schooling. We are raised with a more backward, fundamentalist strain of Christianity and are easily misled. Our stupidity is is culturally determined, not a consequence of inbreeding.

  2. You are mistaken. In the 1930s the federal government had to act because of the serious inbreeding In the South. It was so bad that congress held hearings to discuss the health implications to the nation since so many southerners were moving to northern states. I live in the south. Many people here are very intelligent but a majority of white people in the south are dimwits .sorry but that is the truth