Redneck Blues: Debut Column by Faddy McMough

On Dec. 1, 2007, the Texas Civil Rights Review received an email from “Faddy McMough” that smelled a lot like talent, so the editor invited a submission. Now it’s our pleasure to debut his writings, as follows. And if you’re wondering what all this has to do with civil rights in Texas, well, read on. C. Wright Mills was a Texas Aggie, wasn’t he? Yessir, began his higher education in the hallways of the Corps of Cadets (whoop!)–gm

Redneck Blues … a White man’s soliloquy

By Faddy McMough

First off all y’all gotta know that I have got absolutely clear and unambiguous claim to bein’ a redneck. My daddy’s folks was yella-dog democrats from eastern Oklahoma … that parcel of red dirt made famous by ‘I’m an Okie from Muskogee.’ They turned theyselves inta Reagan Republicans because they was tared of bein’ the shock troops of empire … only they didn’t know it. My momma’s folks were much the same … borderer Scots and some German ancestors.

Grampa walked across the Canada-US border (illegal as hell) and run Gramma to earth in Galesburg, IL. They moved down the AT & SF rail line to southeastern Colorado where my grandfather boxed on the weekends in Trinidad to make some extra money by betting he could whup anybody. He died of cancer a week before my momma graduated from High School. My grandmother was bitter because by the time he died they were so poor they didn’t have a pot to piss in. She ended up taking in boarders to make ends meet and damned near didn’t.

My son suggested I start writing essays about the things that matter to me. I suppose it was pretty good advice. He understands anger because he got involved in drugs as a teenager and that is one of the best ways for our society to have a clear shot at screwing with your mind. Oh yeah I was complicit in the destruction of that young man’s life because, well, because I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t. And that is just one more damned example of how thinking you are doing right somehow always gets twisted around on itself.

When I was the same age as my son was when he went off the deep end of drugs, my drug of choice was jesus. I went hell for leather for ole Chuy in the same way all of my Presbyterian forebears had done. I came by it honestly enough as the son of a Presbyterian mother, and a wannabe father with Methodist roots who thought being a Mason was just about as close to heaven as he was going to get. I attended a catholic school because the nuns were educated and the elementary teachers in our shit for brains little burg most often just had parts of an eighth grade education. I had a whole room full of born again, rapture bound fundamentalist aunts to call family … though as I look back on it most of my Uncles pretty much just stayed away from such carryings on.

In a moment of jesus-driven patriotism I enlisted … and that was where things began to change. At first I was so gung-ho I was sure I could single-handedly defeat all of America’s enemies and in the process do gawd’s will. But as time went on I discovered that the realities of war were something I had little taste for … especially when I was assigned to a unit that spent its time cleaning up the leavings of the glories of warfare … shoving unnamed Vietnamese dead into mass graves … slogging through fields full of American soldiers cooked by napalm and stuffing what was left into body bags … hoping like hell that the Vietnamese hadn’t gotten there first to booby trap the whole shittaree in hopes of blowing some more good ole American boys straight to white man hell.

And then a John Kerry-like 90 day wonder, fresh from an ROTC program came along and in his glory-dazed enthusiasm ordered me to take point down a trail we knew had been booby-trapped because at the other end was a rice paddy chock full of dead Americans. I told him where he and his orders could go with explicit instructions on how to get there. He pulled out his revolver and thinking he’d scare me into compliance took a shot at the ground between my legs. The bullet did hit the dirt but only after it went through my leg. I crumpled and a fellow from Georgia USA snapped and put the lieutenant out of his misery with a well placed M1 slug between the eyes.

None of us would ‘fess up as to who did the deed. Because there was no question I had refused to follow orders I got a court martial and a dishonorable discharge. To this day I believe that unit solidarity trumped finking on my buddy, and that what we did was right. The buddy from Georgia got home and was cussed magnificently for his un-American behavior … so he committed suicide rather than live with trying to explain that in war it isn’t the soldiers on the other side that are the enemy but rather your own officers and the politicians that make wars happen. Most of the rest of the unit became your classic vets from Vietnam … warriors still at war in their heads … not so much with the Vietnamese but with what they had done in the name of an America that betrayed them in a war for empire … a war for corporate profits … a totally illegal and unnecessary war.

Once I was released with my dishonorable discharge I got a job working as a laborer on a bridge crew and scrambled together enough money to go to college. I was jaded, and f—ed in the head, but I still believed in the American Dream. College, at a piss-poor excuse for a cow college in a dissolute town near the confluence of Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, was a god send.

I took every damned history and political science course I could … and then I took an introduction to Sociology and was required to read C. Wright Mills Power Elite. Damned if the lights didn’t start to glimmer. I was still working construction in the summers and wallowing in all sorts of classes during the academic year … and I was having vicious flashbacks that would destroy a marriage and make me into a single parent. So I expanded my repertoire of classes with some anthropology and sociology and a dabble or two into psychology. And gradually I began to understand something that other rednecks are beginning to think about … we are the shock troops of empire … a venal and corrupt empire that deserves nothing better than total and complete collapse.

But it hasn’t collapsed yet … and I am not sure I will live to see the day … but I can hope.

When it does, it ain’t going to be pretty. It is going to cause a shattering of the United States into a passel of smaller states in much the same way that Iraq is fracturing and for many of the same reasons including the machinations of the corporate elites as they further dissolve the bonds that have held us together in their maximalizing of their own wealth and the minimalizing of the rights of the average Joe and Josie. And Joe, with Josie right along side, will rebel as well and hopefully create new nation states that are based on some semblance of equality even if that means they don’t have a pot to piss in … but they may be free from the ravages of the corporations and the oligarchs who run their lives now. Of course that means that Joe and Josie and all of the other Joes and Josie’s will have to wake up and be prepared to go through a Thermidor that will make the French antecedent seem like a cake walk.

But I have faith in both Joe and Josie … as borderers with a long tradition of kicking over the traces … they can do it. Meanwhile Jose and his Josie will probably end up with an Aztlan or a New New Mexico to call their own … and Tom and Tomasina will have a black state of their own … and each will war amongst themselves for all of the reasons neighbors have always fought … but I hope that when the residual oligarchs who look down on them try to pull their usual shit the whole passel will gang up on them and kick the living begeezers out of them: just like the Vietnamese did and the Iraqi
s a
re.

Now ain’t that a dream to dream?

And it all comes from treating an idealistic kid as cannon fodder …

Think about it. Scary shit? Well, we reap what we sow, eventually.

Fredegar N. MacMough (his friends call him Faddy) is a pseudonym for a redneck living in New Mexico … in one of those down at the heel oil towns where the only hope is in the fall when we put our kids up to distract us from the grinding daily shit of our lives by watching them play football. Where the town spends most of its time either talking about this season or in hibernation waiting for next fall … and some still talk about when they played football. Pity the poor chump who only sires daughters … there is no glory in that.

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