Stranger Danger, or, We Don’t Cotton to Your Kind ‘Round Here, or, Your Boots Crimp my Style. The Great Divide

Urbanites often have a stilted view of rural people. We are often seen as ignorant, crude slobs. It is assumed we are inbred, that we live in teepees, shacks, or trailer parks. Derision is heaped on us without remorse. Our beliefs are scorned. If we are poor it is our fault. We are the zombie apocalypse. We are to blame for Trump.

The original Civil War was North vs South. If there is one now, it will most likely be urban vs rural. I know the beginning of the post makes it sound as though I am for the rural side, hook, line, and sinker. I will admit, that is where my sympathies lie. But I fear both sides have been betrayed by the Duopoly, and are being pitted against each other to serve the interests of people no more humane than Simon Legree.

First I will do a quick sketch of the North vs South conflict, and then I will discuss the Urban vs Rural conflict.

Let’s dive in.`

Us country folks see city slickers as cold, selfish, calculating, and clever when it comes to cheating everyone around them. I took this image from a TikTok that I highly recommend. It is a spoof of the Hallmark Christmas movies. The fiancé is usually a ditz who is unworthy of the woman. To quote the SNL spoof, “It’s either ME, or Christmas!” And the woman tells the man she loves “He works too much, so its ok if I cheat on him.”

North and South

These are the sources I will quote from to discuss Civil War polarity. gives a detailed outlining of several factors that contributed to tearing the nation apart. You can read it, but the main factors that separated North and South were the South’s reliance on cotton to support the economy, the North’s reliance on manufacturing and industrialization, the profound proliferation of affordable local newspapers, the proliferation of roads, canals, and railways, the second spiritual awakening, the slave rebellions of Nat Turner and John Brown, the Southern experiment with Federal nullification, the rise of the Abolitionist movement, and the “Manifest Destiny” of Westward expansion, All of these factors, ironically, even the ones that were meant to unite us, helped to tear us apart.

One cause of the Civil War was the extremely violent cane beating of Senator Charles Sumner, who was an abolitionist from Massachusetts. After giving a speech against slavery Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina, walked up to Sumner and savagely beat him with a walking cane right in the Senate Chambers. The North was enraged, while the South praised Brooks for giving the damned Yankee what for.

In we are told the sad story of what happened when a college instructor spoke his mind about slavery.

“The Benjamin Hedrick ordeal began with a series of editorials published in North Carolina’s popular and highly conservative Democratic newspaper, the North Carolina Standard. William Woods Holden, one of North Carolina’s leading pro-slavery…citizens, served as the Standard’s editor. These editorials had been published in response to news that spread throughout the University of North Carolina, where Hedrick, a chemistry professor, voiced his support for the Republican Party candidate, John C. Fremont. Although the Standard’s commentaries never specifically mention Benjamin Hedrick’s name their content was undeniably directed at him. 

“The first, titled “Fremont in the South,” questioned whether any true North Carolinian could support John C. Fremont the Republican candidate for President. The author of the article asserted that the election of Fremont would inevitably lead to the separation of Northern and Southern states. The author concludes with a threat to all black Republicans residing in the state, especially directed at any such supporters instructing the state’s young men. These men either needed to “be silenced or leave. The expression of black Republican opinions in our midst, is incompatible with our honor and safety as people.”

Have any of you heard someone say “You can’t be Christian and Democrat”? Have any of you said, “Why are those people spreading their ideology at school”? I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone suggest that a political opponent should “just be silenced.” Certainly, our social media never do this.

The worst part is Clarice…you can never get over the silence of the birds…

Professor Hendrick responded with letters that were published in the paper, defending his position with statements from Southern Founding Fathers, and reasoned logic. “Hedrick continued to defend his position against the expansion of slavery by stating that North Carolina already had too much land and not enough labor to maintain that land. Sending North Carolina slaves to the territories through the domestic slave trade would hurt the state economically. Drawing from a childhood experience in Davidson County, North Carolina, Hedrick recalled watching slaves being transported to the Deep South, sometimes as many as two thousand a day. On this memory Hedrick commented, “Now, the loss of these two thousands did the State a greater injury than could the shipping off of a million dollars. I think I may ask any sensible man how are we to grow rich and prosper, while “driving out” a million dollars a day.” Hedrick concludes his defense by reiterating that he was born in the “good old North State” which he cherishes and loves and will continue to “advance her interests.” He returns to his association with the founding fathers by concluding, “but holding to as I do the doctrines once advocated by Washington and Jefferson, I think I should be met by argument and not denunciation.”

Readers were unmoved by his application of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Rather than convincing his fellow Southerners of the merit of his opinions, his just and reasonable arguments were met with the most threatening invective.

I was taught in school that the fourth “r” in education used to be rhetoric. Professor Hedrick learned a lesson your Tired Blogger learned over thirty years ago in order for people to be reasoned with, they have to be reasonable. There is no reasoning with an alcoholic about his next drink. There is no reasoning with a politician lusting for power. And there is no reasoning with a society that has been whipped up to a panicked frenzy that you are going to bring the wrath of God on all of us.

The article goes on to relate how his life was threatened, he was hung and burned in effigy nearly every night by students on the campus, and he was told to resign or be dismissed. He wrote to the governor asking for protection, but the governor did not deign to respond. “A little over one week after sending his letter to Governor Bragg, Hedrick was dismissed from UNC. In a letter to President Swain, Manly wrote, “as to Hedrick he is beheaded.” (Item #260) On October 28 in his final letter to Charles Manly, Hedrick dramatically concluded, “I thank you again for your kindness. You helped cut off my head but I know you made the blow fall as lightly as you could.” (Item #262) 

“Benjamin Hedrick’s ordeal in North Carolina was far from over. Through articles published throughout North Carolina’s newspapers, word of Hedrick’s political affiliations and dismissal from UNC spread. Following mob action and threats to tar and feather the former professor at an education conference in Salisbury, North Carolina, the professor was forced to flee the state. He would only return to his home state a handful of times before his death in 1886.”

The South, at least, had entrenched itself so deeply that anybody sharing a dissenting opinion was a threat and had to be silenced. Does any of this sound familiar?

Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs was challenged by a reporter on Bloomberg for saying it was possible the US blew up the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea. The Reporter asked what evidence Sachs had of a US action. Sachs responded with three compelling pieces of evidence, and was abruptly taken off the air. Story and image are from talks about the years leading up to the Civil War.

“In the South, Lincoln’s election was taken as the signal for secession, and on December 20 South Carolina became the first state to withdraw from the Union. Promptly the other states of the lower South followed. Feeble efforts on the part of Buchanan’s administration to check secession failed, and one by one most of the federal forts in the Southern states were taken over by secessionists. Meanwhile, strenuous efforts in Washington to work out another compromise failed.”

“Neither extreme Southerners, now intent upon secession nor Republicans, intent upon reaping the rewards of their hard-won election victory, was really interested in compromise. On February 4, 1861—a month before Lincoln could be inaugurated in Washington—six Southern states (South CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaFloridaMississippi, and Louisiana) sent representatives to Montgomery, Alabama, to set up a new independent government. Delegates from Texas soon joined them. With Jefferson Davis of Mississippi at its head, the Confederate States of America came into being, set up its own bureaus and offices, issued its own money, raised its own taxes, and flew its own flag. Not until May 1861, after hostilities had broken out and Virginia had seceded, did the new government transfer its capital to Richmond.

“Faced with a fait accompli, Lincoln when inaugurated was prepared to conciliate the South in every way but one: he would not recognize that the Union could be divided. The test of his determination came early in his administration, when he learned that the Federal troops under Maj. Robert Anderson in Fort Sumter, South Carolina—then one of the few military installations in the South still in Federal hands—had to be promptly supplied or withdrawn. After agonized consultation with his cabinet, Lincoln determined that supplies must be sent even if doing so provoked the Confederates into firing the first shot. On April 12, 1861, just before Federal supply ships could reach the beleaguered Anderson, Confederate guns in Charleston opened fire upon Fort Sumter, and the war began.”

Rural VS Urban: The Possible Dynamic of the Next Civil War

When I was young, health care was not great. There was one hospital for the whole of Alfalfa County. I see here Covid-19 took its toll not just on people, but on the survival of hospitals as well.

NPR paints a frightening picture of what could happen if we allow the divide to tear us apart. “

“We already are seeing ‘border war’ with individual states passing major legislation that differs considerably from that in other places,” says Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, and William Gale, a Brookings senior fellow in economic studies, who have written a pair of articles on the fraying of the American social and political fabric.

“They note that conflicts between entire states are not the only way civil war may emerge in our time, or even the most likely. When and if the issue turns to violent confrontations between local citizens and federal officers, or between contentious groups of citizens, the clash might well take place far closer to home. As West and Gale write:

Today’s toxic atmosphere makes it difficult to negotiate on important issues, which makes people angry with the federal government and has helped create a winner-take-all approach to politics. When the stakes are so high, people are willing to consider extraordinary means to achieve their objectives.

The article shares how the biggest demographic divide between Trump and Biden supporters was urban vs rural. “You can measure some of this geographic/demographic division in the 2020 election results. Trump won in 2,588 counties covering most of the national landscape, as Republican candidates usually do. (This is why we are accustomed to Election Night maps that are strikingly red even as the popular vote is close or leans Democratic.)

“Biden, in stark contrast, carried only 551 counties, less than a quarter as many as Trump. But the counties Biden carried had a total population of nearly 198 million, while Trump’s altogether had just 130.3 million. That is a difference of nearly 68 million people. Put another way, Biden won the counties that are home to 60% of the total U.S. population.

“It is hard to believe when staring at a map on which Biden’s counties are scattered blue dots on a sea of red. But those blue dots are where most of the country lives. When you look at the top ten states by metro percentage of the total state population, Biden won all ten.”
The Independent is scathing in condemnation of the rural denizens (that keep us fed…just…ya know…putting that out there).

“Rural America is ready to lock and load. Urban America is cowering in a lockdown.

“A heavily armed group of Rural citizens stormed Michigan‘s State Capitol on Thursday, powerful assault rifles at the ready. But this Second Civil War won’t be a shooting war, likely to the chagrin of some on the far right — and, let’s be honest, the not-so-far right.

“Rather, this war will be — no, already is being — waged with microscopic Covid-19 cells as Republican-leaning Rural America throws open its businesses, schools and sporting venues, ensuring they keep the deadly virus in circulation — at the expense of more densely populated Democratic-leaning Urban areas.”

Lithograph from 1875. The farmer was getting pinched even back then. We placated the farmers with free land stolen from the Indians, and then all the many wars kept the farms healthy till the early eighties, when financial decisions in Washington DC started cutting down the small farmers.

“The battlelines have been drawn. Rural America — always aggrieved — is armed and ready to end its perpetual boredom, AR-15s around their shoulders and “Make America Great Again” t-shirts on their backs. Urban America — always smug — has designer masks to create Instagram selfies and meaty scientific studies to keep it occupied.”

The article ends with this paragraph.

“That means the Urban side of the war will continue to see higher death tolls. Trump let us know early on he viewed this as a “war” and was focused on the body count. This Second Civil War is in its early battles. Advantage: Rural America.”

Ah, Mr. Crusoe…how tempted I am to give up the struggle, run away to an island, and live the few remaining days of my life alone with nature, praying to God to forgive me for the wicked sin of existing.

Let’s take a look at a more pro-rural view. points out four ways in which the rural folks are more like the urban folks than we are often told.

“As we demonstrate here and expand upon in a new research series, dividing our nation into such a binary has immediate, lived consequences for people living in all corners of America. The binary-based narrative is not only inaccurate, but has potential to inflict real harm in four distinct ways. First, it prioritizes the political concerns of an imagined, white rural monolith and erases the needs of rural people of color during a pandemic which is disproportionately devastating rural Black, Latino or Hispanic, and Native American communities. Second, it furthers misconceptions about rural economies which devalue the role of rural places in American (and urban) prosperity. Third, it propagates a myth of place-based poverty that erases people living in a range of high-poverty geographies, justifying oversimplified antipoverty policies. And finally, the binary-based narrative obscures effective policy and practice solutions for rural economic development that embrace the interdependence of rural and urban economic futures.”

There is a rich, proud heritage of rural blacks in Oklahoma. Strong, proud, self reliant. This is NOT Deliverance country. Some of the kindest folks you’ll ever see live in or around these small towns. So New England, don’t tell me I don’t know about Black Pride. I am proud to say I see it every day.

The article supports each point: “At the human level, the portrayal of rural America as a white monolith erases the 21% of rural residents who are people of color, and who are critical to the economic future of rural and small towns and to the health of the nation overall. This comes at a time of unprecedented crisis in which Black, Latino or Hispanic, and Native American rural communities are disproportionately devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and require coordinated fiscal relief to survive. As we demonstrate throughout our research, if the nation wants to focus on the plight of rural America, it should strive to advance health, opportunity, and equity for communities that COVID-19’s rural surge has impacted—not cater to the resentment of an imagined white rural monolith.”

I’ve lived through a half century watching people break their backs, their hearts, and sometimes their minds to feed the world. All too often, the thanks small farmers get is bankruptcy, scorn, and if they are unfortunate to survive long enough, to die unmourned, not on the land of their fathers and grandfathers and great grand fathers, but in a cold city hospital bed.

“Persistent poverty is pervasive. According to the Department of Agriculture’s definition, rural counties account for 84% of places struggling with persistent poverty. However, if we classify places with persistent poverty using census tract data, most of them are in metro areas (Figure 1). How we measure persistent poverty matters for how we understand whose problem this is. At the county level, 30 states have at least one place facing persistent poverty. But at the census tract level, persistent poverty touches every state and Washington, D.C.

“This isn’t just a methodological discussion—it’s political. We need to understand where persistent poverty is located in order to create political accountability and customize solutions for alleviating it. The “two Americas” are not urban and rural—they are neighborhoods and communities in every region that are separated by a host of other place-level challenges that shape opportunity.”

“There is no wrong, there is no right…just data to be manipulated.”

Yes, the country has guns. Yes, the farmer knows his land like the back of his creased, overworked hands. But he is outnumbered. He has little influence over the culture. Many of them have lost all hope. Their sons and daughters often have to go to the cities to find any kind of living. I honestly doubt we will have a Civil War. I think it would have happened by now. I don’t believe the people of this land have the spirit to rebel. We have been dumbed down with a corrupt education machine controlled by a two party system that needs people just barely smart enough to vote, maintain a bare subsistence job, and go home to an angry wife who has been told for the last seventy years that the man of the house is her enemy.

If it does go down, I think it will either come because we finally backed Putin into an atomic war and our structure collapses. Then I envision hordes of city folks descending on the rural people to steal the food, and it will just depend on who is strongest and smartest who survives and builds the next civilization. Or it will come by the fall of the power grid. But the result will be the same.

A dark age where only the fit survive. The crumble and fall of all the rights we claim are innate right. And God help us, I don’t think in this reality there is any Shangri-La where the knowledge, dignity, and beauty of this last age will be preserved.

I ask God if I will have the strength to endure the trial. I receive two answers. One answer is more troubles that are either strengthening me to deal with the dark age to come, or will weaken me enough that I may not live to see the dark day.

The other answer is Silence.



  1. Xman says:

    FANTASTIC! One of your best pieces yet! But be careful: you’re bordering on real Opinion Piece Journalism here! And if the *KC Star* or *Tulsa World* snatches you up…. Well, then I’ll have to go back to reading reprints of Dave Barry articles or something.

    Seriously, that ending .

    Plus, you nailed it again (the oligarchs want us commoners to scrabble over bread the crumbs) :
    “… But I fear both sides have been betrayed by the Duopoly, and are being pitted against each other to serve the interests of people no more humane than Simon Legree…”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Curtiswselby says:

      I’m so glad you like it! I wondered if my ending was to bleak, but then I was like…naaahhhh, I’m not writing for the Tulsa World. Who knows, maybe a few dozen people will turn prepper from reading my shtuff.


  2. Matthew Miller says:

    “Urbanites often have a stilted view of rural people. We are often seen as ignorant, crude slobs. It is assumed we are inbred, that we live in teepees, shacks, or trailer parks. Derision is heaped on us without remorse. Our beliefs are scorned. If we are poor it is our fault. We are the zombie apocalypse. We are to blame for Trump.”

    “Us country folks see city slickers as cold, selfish, calculating, and clever when it comes to cheating everyone around them. I took this image from a TikTok that I highly recommend. It is a spoof of the Hallmark Christmas movies. The fiancé is usually a ditz who is unworthy of the woman. To quote the SNL spoof, “It’s either ME, or Christmas!” And the woman tells the man she loves “He works too much, so its ok if I cheat on him.”

    Well marketed division, sown by our oligarch masters.

    Should they be too successful they may live to regret it. “Eat the rich” is all too often on the lips of revolutionaries…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Curtiswselby says:

      I like Hannibal Lector’s idea of “Eat the rude.” But yeah, I’m still a capitalist, but when if the shiite hits the fan the rich will get no sympathy from me


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