I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Ed Shultz on this blog, and some of you aren’t going to completely understand today’s offering, but here it goes:
Last night Shultz said something about the birther issue that may strike some folks as odd:
The President of the United States has had to put up with this honky-tonk conversation in the media for too long.
What a brilliant description of the goings-on regarding, among other things, the racist-infected doubts about President Obama’s birthplace, his college experiences, and essentially his love for his country.
“Honky-tonk” can be defined simply as, “a cheap, noisy bar or dance hall,” but in my (considerable) experience, there is a certain ethos that prevails in the kinds of bars I have known as honky-tonks. In terms of the politics of the patrons, they were, and remain, very conservative institutions.
Let me put it this way: Honky-tonks aren’t the kind of places in which one would expect to find Barack Hussein Obama bellied-up to the bar.
While part of the etymology of the term honky-tonk is a little cloudy—”tonk” may refer to the brand name, Ernest A. Tonk, on the upright piano used in the old Tin Pan Alley bars—here is how Wikipedia describes the “honky” portion of the term:
The term honky was, as a term for whites, derived from bohunk and hunky. In the early 1900s, these were derogatory terms for Bohemian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants. According to Robert Hendrickson, author of the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, black workers in Chicago meatpacking plants picked up the term from white workers and began applying it indiscriminately to all whites. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy wrote of “Negroes and hunkies” in his autobiography.
Wikipedia further notes that, “honky tonk eventually became associated mainly with lower-class bars catering to men.” The piano was replaced, for the honky-tonks I frequented, by a juke box, a juke box mostly loaded with country music.
And the politics was, well, you can imagine. Mostly uninformed, bigoted noise, spouted by people who don’t know what they don’t know, many of them I could politely call reactionaries, but because I’m still aggressively saddened about the events yesterday, I will call them classic rednecks.
Okay, so you get what Ed Schultz was trying to say. Which led me to thinking about Donald Trump, who I have called an Ugly American. I think a better description of him would be a Manhattan redneck.
Yes, a redneck from Manhattan. They exist. And Donald Trump is their hero. In fact, he’s a hero of rednecks everywhere.
I like this definition of the term redneck from the Urban Dictionary:
A glorious absence of sophistication (Part time or full time)
For the record, Donald Trump is “full-time.”
In his press conference yesterday, Donald Trump said,
I am so proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish.
It’s as if Trump was in a honky-tonk in 1964 Meridian, Mississippi, bragging to his buddies, “I showed that uppity negro. That’ll teach him to wink at a white woman.“
And there on the bar stool next to Trump was his honky-tonk angel, Sarah Palin, egging him on:
Media, admit it, Trump forced the issue.
Which reminds me of an old Conway Twitty honky-tonk song, sort of Donald Trump’s plea to the world:
So tell me if you think it’s over,
And I’ll leave it up to you how it ends.
‘Cause if you don’t want the love I can give you,
Well, there’s a honky-tonk angel who’ll take me back in.
Makes me want to pop the top on another can.