What Has Smiley Brought Forth?

Scholar of Appalachian culture Rodger Cunningham (author of Apples on the Flood: Minority Discourse and Appalachia), forwarded to me a link to a post on the blog “Hillbilly Savants,” another response to Jane Smiley’s diatribe against Appalachian culture—this one by Eric Drummond Smith. Seeing it makes me hope that Smiley has inadvertently done a favor to those of us of what she calls “borderer” culture.

A number of people—with me a Johnny-come-lately—are writing in defense of Appalachian culture, and more vigorously, thanks to Smiley. Rodger Cunningham himself has a new article appearing in the Spring 2007 issue of Appalachian Heritage as well as on the ePluribus Media Journal. And a Kentucky lawyer named Larry Webster has come up with a name, “Mountain Hater,” that he applies directly to those who endorse mountaintop removal for coal mining but that can be extended to Smiley and those like her.

As a short defense of “borderer” culture, I would like to provide this exhibit:

Of the few groups still involved in substantial relief work on the Gulf coast, many are Christian volunteer groups from just the culture Smiley seems to detest. Here’s a blog about work being done by a group of Baptists from North Carolina. The story is not complete, for the group was hit by a virus that put several in the hospital just days after this entry. But these people are doing what many others of us, including the “Quaker” culture Smiley lauds, merely talk about.

There are many like them.

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