Gullible Minds… Hillbilly Elegy

We have to accept that on the dark shadows of our society are people who are prone to violence, racism, and intolerance

Jeh Johnson


I don’t know why I was so surprised by his words when Jeh Johnson said them in Fareed Zakara’s show recently. He was so calm and matter-of-factual about it. I guess I am still in shell shock over all the constant lies of so many when Trump was in charge. It is refreshing to be able to actually think some politicians speak truthfully. Of course, his words have been true for our country’s entire existence. There has always been these types of people in our dark shadows, but they came out in groves when that incompetent narcissist was in office.

I will never stop trying to figure out those that populate the dark shadows. Why haven’t we figured out a way to convince them that they do more damage to themselves with their ignorant behavior than they could possibly do to those who they disparage? Is their hatred a part of nature or nurture? Were they born that way or was it ingrained in them at an early age? That dilemma is certainly a “chicken/egg” type thing, isn’t it? Of course, like most other things it is likely a little of both.

I believe that there are some people who are just intrinsically evil in nature, and for some it is likely some defect in DNA . But I think the majority of this type of behavior is learned. It is passed on from one generation to another. We know that a good part of this type behavior comes from economically depressed areas like the Appalachia, the Deep South, or other similar communities where low education is the norm. Where myths and wrong-headed traditions prevail over common sense.

Now I’m not saying that everyone who comes from these type of environments live in the dark shadows. Many escape that world such as J.D. Vance who wrote Hillbilly Elegy. Here are some of the memorable reviews of that book from Amazon:

”[A] compassionate, discerning sociological analysis…Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans. Imagine that.” (Jennifer Senior, New York Times)

”[Hillbilly Elegy] is a beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America….[Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it’s so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it…a riveting book.” (Wall Street Journal)

”[Vance’s] description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.” (David Brooks, New York Times)

”[Hillbilly Elegy] couldn t have been better timed…a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations…an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans.” (National Review)

”[A]n American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class, but also its strengths. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read… [T]he most important book of 2016. You cannot understand what’s happening now without first reading J.D. Vance.” (Rod Dreher,The American Conservative)

”The troubles of the working poor are well known to policymakers, but Vance offers an insider’s view of the problem.” (Christianity Today)

”What explains the appeal of Donald Trump? Many pundits have tried to answer this question and fallen short. But J.D. Vance nails it…stunning…intimate…” (Globe and Mail (Toronto))

Editorial Reviews of the book Hillbilly Elegy on Amazon.

I am currently in the middle of this book and I will admit that for me, it is a hard read. I feel so much empathy for the folks covered. It is not their fault that they are as they are. But, the question remains, how can we help these people learn that their actions are not how they have to be.

I think a big part of this is to somehow get more knowledge into their hands so that they can discover for themselves how to go beyond where they are toward a much more fruitful and satisfying life. There simply is no silver bullet for this widespread cultural phenomenon that is not confined to Appalachia alone.

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