Bigoted Vox Writer Smears the South

June 24th, 2015 5:22 PM

Vox's David Roberts, who describes himself at his "drvox" Twitter page as a "Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee," clearly does not have a lot of love for his region of origin.

Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of Dylann Roof's racially motivated massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, Roberts tweeted his belief that "The American South has always been the most barbaric, backward region in any developed democracy." He then asked, "Can we admit that now?" No we can't, David, and we won't.

Roberts is apparently ignorant of or indifferent to the remarkable shows of unityhealing and forgiveness which have taken place in Charleston.


If it's the former, Roberts is admitting to being woefully uninformed. Even a New York Times reporter, as Family Research Council's Tony Perkins noted in an email last night, commented, upon seeing the victims' families publicly forgiving Roof and imploring him to get right with God, that "It was as if the Bible study had never ended." The story appeared on the Old Gray Lady's front page on Saturday. The New York Times is available in print every day at the myriad Starbucks locations in Seattle, where the company is headquartered.

If Roberts knows all of this and is indifferent to these remarkable displays of humanity and compassion (or perhaps even quietly mocking them), shame on him. Sadly, a review of his two months and 28 entries of work at Vox would indicate that we can't rule out this possibility. This is a guy who revels in generalizations, not only in the appalling tweet above but also in calling rich people "jerks" — as a class.

As to other apsects of his specific contentions, "most barbaric" and "most backward," it doesn't take much to make large portions of the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world, look as bad or worse.

Murder is certainly a most barbaric crime, but only New Orleans, which is second, appears in the list of U.S. cities with the highest murder rates in 2012. After Adam Lanza, another apparently drug-impaired assassin, killed 28 people in the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, nobody was out there commmenting on how barbaric the Northeast is. It wouldn't have been appropriate, but Baltimore, Newark, and Philadelphia were all in the 2012 top ten. Looking at entire regions, the South's overall 2013 murder rate of 5.3 per 100,000 in 2013 was not appreciably higher than the overall national rate of 4.5, and declined by about 25 percent between 2007 and 2013. Roberts apparently hasn't been paying much attention.

Only Memphis (fourth) and Atlanta (eighth) were in the top 10 for violent crime. One or both of those cities is probably a notch lower, because for some reason Chicago's overall violent crime stats didn't appear on the list I consulted.

The "barbaric" and "backward" arguments intersect on the topic of abortion. Which region of the country is leading the way in trying to eliminate this barbarity? It's not the Pacific Northwest, David, where your southern neighbor has also been busy trying to make itself the nation's assisted-suicide capital.

As to the economic aspect of "backward," Roberts, like so many who live in in the Northeast and liberal areas in the West, seems oblivious to how the South, which for decades endured higher unemployment than the rest of the nation, has gained parity. The South's unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in May, below the 5.8 percent seen in both the Northeast and the West, and slightly below May's national rate of 5.5 percent.

The "than any developed democracy" element of Roberts' comparison is really an uninformed, gratuitous insult unworthy of analysis. One responding tweeter summed up the matter nicely: "I just can't get past the fact your handle is Dr Vox. Didn't know you could get a PhD in failure."

The fact that a person making the reflexively bigoted statements Roberts has can obtain a perch at Vox makes a mockery of the web site's claim that it "treats serious topics seriously."

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