“Joe Bageant is the Sartre of Appalachia. His white-hot bourbon-fuelled prose shreds through the lies of our times like a weed-whacker in overdrive. Deer Hunting with Jesus is a deliciously vicious and wickedly funny chronicle of a thinking man’s life in God’s own backwoods.” â€”Jeffrey St. Clair
I picked up a copy of Joe Bageant’s book, Deer Hunting With Jesus, in the Atlanta airport recently. The author attempts to explain how the middle class vanished from American life by looking closely at residents of Winchester, Virginia–his home town.
In the chapter titled, “American Serfs,” Bageant argues that our public education system is a shambles for a reason.
Conservative leaders understand quite well that education has a liberating effect on a society. Presently they are devising methods to smuggle resources to those American madrassas, the Christian fundamentalist schools, a sure way to make the masses even more stupid if there ever was one.
Is it any wonder that Gallup Polls tells us that 48 percent of Americans believe that God spit on his beefy paws and made the universe in seven days? Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution. It is no accident that number corresponds roughly to the percentage of Americans with college degrees.
As you can see from the passage above, Bageant isn’t pulling punches. Nor does he have reason to. Once upon a time in this country, we believed anyone could reach for the stars. Maybe it didn’t work out for all, but it worked for many. Today, the deck seems brutally stacked against those without financial resources. This didn’t just happen, and it’s not a conspiracy.
Class is now the ultimate bifurcating factor in America. Obama is proof of that. That he’s black seems to hardly matter. That he’s Ivy League-educated is what people either reject or embrace.
p.s. See this great illustration inspired by the book on Flickr.