Why Red-Staters Freak Us Out
So we're watching episode 9 of Da Ali G. Show, and his Borat character (the Khazakstan TV reporter) is going around Nashville, ostensibly learning how to become a country-western singer. After getting expert song-writing tips from country-music great Porter Waggoner, he heads off to a local bar to perform his original tune -- A foot-stomping, rip-roaring exhortation to "Throw the Jew down the well/So we can set my country free./First you must grab him by his horns/Then we'll have a big part-y."
People in the bar are clapping and stomping and singing along. One or two are looking at each other, like, "is he for real?" Most are going right along with it.
You could argue that Americans, of whatever regional stripe, are just too polite to embarass a guy in the middle of his musical performance by going all confrontational on him. But given the apparent willingness of the audience to not just listen, but energetically join in, you have to wonder. Is unreconstructed anti-Semitism part and parcel of being a Red-Stater? Is that depth of profoundly scary bigotry part of what Bush taps into?
The segment was meant to be funny, and it was. But we could not stop thinking about it for a very long time.