I love my readers. They get it. Writes Mr. K, a longtime reader and a lawyer, about the column, “On The Backs Of Poor Whites? How J.D. Vance Elites Become Elites“:
Thank God. You are the FIRST person I have seen with the courage to call J.D. Vance out for what I also saw when reading his book years ago: His unbelievable willingness to throw anyone, including his family, etc., under the bus also to serve his, ultimately by definition, desire for self-promotion.
And in general, I have NEVER gotten what people saw in that book that elevated it so high. [Indeed. He’s nothing great.] As you kind of say, he found a niche in demand, I guess, that also was not too particular about the quality of what it would celebrate.
As for conservative TV hosts who’ve dubbed J.D. Vance “one of the smartest people around.” That’s hilarious. This says all you need to know about conservatism’s intelligentsia.
James Burnham, Hans Hoppe, Samuel Huntington (A Democrat, actually) of the brilliant, unequaled Clash of Civilizations fame, and Samuel Johnson, Russell Kirk, Clyde Wilson, von Mises, Rothbard, Chris Matthew Sciabarra (what a writer he is!): They all live happily on the shelves of my library, pictured above. It would be sacrilegious—and an affront—to place Vance in their literary vicinity. Stupid, too.
…Vance is a sellout. Not that they were asked for their take, but the archetypical folks depicted in Hillbilly Elegy contend, justifiably, that “Vance [is] not an authentic hillbilly or an example of the working class.”
Cassie Chambers Armstrong’s Aunt Ruth, for example.
Aunt Ruth didn’t think much of Vance’s endeavor. Her niece is an Appalachian and author of a redeeming tale, Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains.
“Hillbilly Elegy’s portrayal of Appalachia,” explains Chambers, “is designed to elevate Vance above the community from which he came … it seeks to tell his story in a way that aligns with a simplistic rags-to-riches narrative. Think critically about how that narrative influences the way we are taught to think about poverty, progress, and identity.” …
UPDATE (4/25): Jeff Deist: “Agreed. For a more thoughtful defense of Appalachia and poor whites this is a great read– by former US Senator Jim Webb.”
Agreed. For a more thoughtful defense of Appalachia and poor whites this is a great read– by former US Senator Jim Webb.https://t.co/Xrcu4BHFmn
— Jeff Deist (@jeffdeist) April 25, 2021