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Pillbilly Eulogy:
Kevin D. Williamson’s Big White Ghetto

1,421 words

Kevin D. Williamson
Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the “Real America”
Washington, DC: Regnery, 2020

Kevin D. Williamson is a guy who tries to look tough but in reality seems to be quite soft and fat.

I first became aware of his existence around 2016, when he verbally shat upon the economically displaced poor whites who supported Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign. Shamelessly doing the bidding of his fart-sniffing masters at National Review, Williamson attacked poor rural whites with the sort of genocidal venom normally reserved for the likes of Tim Wise:

[N]obody did this to them. They failed themselves. . . . The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. . . . The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.

As far as I can tell, Kevin D. Williamson’s “main products” are excess body fat and half-cocked screeds about why poor rural whites deserve to die. Perhaps it never occurred to him that our Brave New Global Economy could function quite well without either of Kevin’s “main products” and that people such as him are next up on the economic chopping block.

Many of you may recall that National Review fired John Derbyshire for daring to suggest that on average, blacks aren’t exactly MENSA material. But they reward writers who dismiss large swaths of rural white America as “Stone Cold Stupid.” In this regard, they are indistinguishable from the establishment Left that they claim to be fighting. 

Despite the title, only a handful of Big White Ghetto’s 22 essays — all of them warmed-over pieces from the sclerotic National Review — deal with rural-white dysfunction. There are chapters about the oil industry, fracking, a Vegas porn convention, black ghettos in Chicago and Philly, the ever-expanding nationwide gambling industry, Bernie Bros, and Antifa nutjobs in Portland­ — and it’s never explained what any of this has to do with dumb, rage-filled whites in America’s hinterlands. It’s almost as if Williamson’s handlers wanted an excuse to kick out the hillbillies’ last remaining tooth, so they cobbled together some unrelated essays and gave it a provocative title hoping that no one would notice that at least three-quarters of the book has nothing to do with it.

He’s hardly fifty words into this book before he commits a major factual fuckup: He refers to eastern Kentucky as “the last redoubt of the Scots-Irish working class that picked up where African slave labor left off.”

The part he leaves out — whether through ignorance or malice — is the fact that those Scots-Irish hillbillies wound up in places such as eastern Kentucky because they were originally white slaves who’d been banished from the plantation economy after slaveowners realized it was more profitable to import African slaves, as well as easier to identify them should they attempt to make a break from the plantation.

To his credit, he notes that the violent crime rate in Owsley County, Kentucky — one of the poorest places in America — is lower than the national average, a fact that undermines the Leftist narrative that poverty is the main cause of violent crime. But since capitalism is as sacred to the National Review as the Holocaust, he flat-out denies that massive structural changes in the economy, engineered and implemented by global elites, are responsible to any degree for the plight of America’s pilled-out crackers who were too fucking dumb to pull up roots and move where the new jobs are.

You can buy Jim Goad’s The Redneck Manifesto here.

In this regard, Big White Ghetto is indistinguishable from J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly ElegyBut whereas Vance seemed wistfully embarrassed of the hills and hollers where he was raised and appeared content to merely abandon his roots, one gets the sense that Williamson isn’t above masturbating to footage of rural whites overdosing on opiates.

As much as I strain to refrain from diagnosing other writers’ motivations, the most telling passages in the book for me are the handful of paragraphs where Williamson reveals he grew up in Lubbock, Texas. He was orphaned by his biological mother, a “girl in her early teens” whom he never met, only to be adopted by a woman who discarded husbands as if they were used tampons, one of whom was an alcoholic who physically abused Little Kevin.

And exactly like J.D. Vance, Williamson claims to be baffled as to why all these low-rent “pillbillies” don’t simply pull themselves up by the bootstraps and escape poverty just like he did.

I suspect the reason has something to do with the fact that there aren’t tens of millions of writing gigs available at National Review. That, and the fact that both their boots and their bootstraps are now being manufactured overseas.

Big Fat Kev doesn’t miss a chance to defame Donald Trump and his supporters:

The white underclass may suffer from “acting white,” but what poor people in general suffer from is acting poor — repeating the mistakes and habits that have left them (or their parents and grandparents, in many cases) in poverty or near-poverty to begin with. . . . When they were asked, they chose Donald Trump by a very large margin, but then the poor make poor choices all the time — that’s part of why they’re poor.

He acknowledges that “there are external forces, economic and otherwise” to explain why the life expectancy for white males is declining, but he spares us any elaboration regarding what those “external forces” might be. He is careful to distinguish the white “working class” — who love Jesus, love to work, don’t use profanity, and say “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am” — from the white “underclass,” which is stuffed to its pink gills with fuckups and addicts and wiggers and, I’m presuming, the sort of stepfathers that Williamson claimed kicked him in the head when he was six.

He tut-tuts any mention of “globalists” or “elites” or even automation in explaining why there is a massive burgeoning class of apparently hopeless whites. For Williamson, even to suggest to members of this vanishing breed that their plight is in any way related to decisions made by the global managerial class is a comforting lie akin to hooking them on smack:

Feeding such people the lie that their problems are mainly external in origin — that they are the victims of scheming elites, immigrants, black welfare malingerers, superabundantly fecund Mexicans, capitalism with Chinese characteristics, Walmart, Wall Street, their neighbors — is the political equivalent of selling them heroin.

Viewed from another angle, it appears to be Williamson whose task is to comfort and psychologically shield the elite forces who’ve sold out their disadvantaged kinsmen in the name of endless profit and “racial tolerance” (i.e., cheap nonwhite labor) from any nagging guilt complexes related to the demonstrable fact that they are at least partially responsible for the emergence of a White Third World in rural America.

The last chapter, “Sinners in the Hands of an Indifferent God,” is for some reason tacked onto to this rambling mess of non-related essays in what appears to be an attempt to prove that Kevin D. Williamson can be every bit as inscrutably pretentious as a community college student taking a Creative Writing 101 class:

But there is work to be done, and champagne to be had (in moderation — we resolve to amend our ways), and even though everybody — everybody — knows that everybody — everybody — at every — every — New Year’s Eve party is only pretending to enjoy himself, we observe the proper offices and come together in our little pools of light in the brumal darkness.

What the FUCK are you talking about, peckerwood?

One can only hope that National Review will one day outsource Kevin D. Williamson’s job to some Pajeet in Bombay who truly understands the “real America” far better than some racial turncoat who is lasciviously eager to squat down and defecate on his roots in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. 

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  1. Shane
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Dear Jim,
    Longtime reader of the site from one of the wetter vassal states of the evil empire. Thanks for the essay, I openly laughed like the kid we all felt a bit sorry for in school upon reading the line masturbating to Whites overdosing on opiates. Although the mental image will haunt me thoroughly for the rest of my life. On an unrelated topic I’d love to see you fight the fucker but we can’t have everything. Keep up the good work

  2. Stronza
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Brumal? BRUMAL? O my aching sides! It isn’t even in Merriam-Webster thesaurus. But Kevvy somehow found it.

    I feel such peace in the presence of my betters, I really do.

    • 3g4me
      Posted January 28, 2021 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Now you made me go look up the damned thing. Yes, there is an entry for ‘brumal” in my father’s used 1940 something “American College Dictionary.” I’d be there with bells on if I could watch Jim beat the crap out of Kevin.

  3. Kris
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Kosher Kon-servative Kevin Williamson, worthless traitor, through and through.

  4. Troy Skaggs
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    After reading any review of the likes of J.D. Vance or Kevin Williamson, “working class” darlings of the mainstream publishing industry and their confident inner image of hard earned self made chops, I can only suggest reading, re-reading (whatever it takes) anything by the likes of the author of this piece: The Redneck Manifesto, Shit Magnet (my favorite line: “You fucking faggot cowards.”) and fictional short stories and novels by Donald Ray Pollock: Knockemstiff or Ron Rash: Burning Bright. All three of these guys have bigger hearts and smaller savings accounts than Vance, Williamson or my personal object of disgust, Corey “The Buttercream Dream” Forrester, the hipster incarnation of Larry The Cable Guy.

  5. Alexandra O.
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die”.

    And, gee, wouldn’t that likewise apply then to a great percentage of the entire Third World population, which is such a perennial drag on this planet?

    And, by the way, those so-called ‘poor rural Whites’ were right-on in voting for Trump, and I can tell you, ‘little elite-wannabe me’ is a good many dollars richer now than I was when I voted for Trump in 2016. Anyone who knows the stock market and broad economy can see this rise in overall prosperity nationwide. Only the carefully-planned attack of the virus from China slowed our current economy somewhat, and Biden, et al., are now poised to push it over the cliff completely, while shouting, “It’s all Trump’s fault” on the way down.

  6. SPQR70AD
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Goad is a great writer got his head screwed on right. I am not 100% positive but I think he said he was a liberal when young

    • Dr. Krieger
      Posted January 28, 2021 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      He admits that when he was a Whigger in his younger days. He used to interview rappers. KRS-One was the only one to ever show up on time, or he at least apologized for being late, one or the other.

    • Cody Studer
      Posted January 30, 2021 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Most people are liberal (to some degree) when they’re young.

      • Cornhole1969
        Posted February 4, 2021 at 7:07 am | Permalink

        I’m totally liberal and still occasionally read his stuff just bc he’s a great writer and funny as shit at times.

  7. Autobot
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    My favorite line was “there aren’t enough jobs at national review for all 30 million of them…”. Lol! It takes the true talent to live in the trenches like you guys do. I wonder if the national review set realizes that, or do they believe the myth of some self satisfied personal achievement? I’d bet the latter.

  8. B. Smith
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you sir for so eloquently expressing the raw hate I feel for this traitor!

    Someone said he’d like to see you fight this POS, well get in line behind me…

    I’m an older guy myself, but I’ll take a piece of him for the honor of my po-white-folk ancestors and relatives he insults so freely.

  9. Captain John Charity Spring MA
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Williamson doesn’t age well in the post Covid19 Hellscape. There’s at least an outside possibility that the Billionaire class and their lackeys don’t have our best interests at heart. There’s a chance the Chinese let this virus out to fuck up whitey. There’s a chance borders or the lack of them brought us an avoidable plague. There’s a chance worthless Ethnic minorities are a drag.

  10. Dr. Krieger
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Jim Goad can wield a vitriolic pen like a virtuoso. He sure had an easy target here. Williamson deserves scorn, derision and a good old fashioned Curse.

  11. Mike Ricci
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Williamson probably has a lot of self-loathing that he pours onto Whites he thinks are like the lowlifes he grew up around. Maybe that’s why he eats so much.

    Most Trump voters don’t have it that bad. The kind of “left behind” Whites he mocks don’t even vote.

  12. Reality Check
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I skipped over all the excerpts from the fat cowardly blob. It’s just the same old regurgitated vomit..

    Fact is, lower class whites are still high class compared to their counterparts in the non-white world. See any shit-skin ghetto anywhere on Earth for proof.

    The problem with the Caucasian race is fat blobs like this self-hating waste of oxygen, whom this article is about..

  13. fenterlairck
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for another review of a work I’ll never read.
    As a college grad, vet, writer, amateur musician, it’s a bit trying to be labeled as a moron for having voted for Trump.
    I think the attack on poor whites is very ingrained, and probably one big trasher was Hunter S. Thompson, whom everyone considers a brilliant writer. He once offered some kind of spin that the poor whites derived from the refuse of England that were of no use and dumped in America, and naturally migrated to the South, where they became this sub-species to lord it over the slaves. Thompson was very open in showing the poor whites were a useless breed. He used Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side to quote this subspecies.
    Thompson was kind of from their world, but he strikes me as a sellout who know how to please his masters. He had kind of an identification with rebellious groups, such as his book on Hell’s Angels, but Thompson was willing to join the anti-Nixon/anti-white middle class screeds in the 60’s with full glee.
    I admit enjoying his writing when I was younger, but it wears thin now. He even did an Antifa during the 1972 Republican convention, infiltrating some Young republicans, screaming in a demo they had, and at one demo by Vietnam vets, longed for the police to attack them so there would be an international ‘confrontation, and so destroy Nixon.
    He is still adored by liberals; I think he is their Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris, doing all these journalistic badass things they would love to do, imagining they, like him, sass people, get doped up, tote guns, and intimidate rednecks… when they get tired of wanting to be noble likeGregory Peck. I think most of Thompson’s writing is bullshit. Note how Doonesbury has Raoul Duke…the libs just can’t give him up.
    I noted in later years, his columns sounded and read like gibberish, but by the 80’s, he had served his purpose.

    Has anyone seen the movie The Hunt? It was touted as an anti-Trump movie, showing the upper class hunting ‘deplorables’, but it is rather good and tight action movie with a lot of satire, but is correct in showing a wish fulfillment of the upper, semi-literary class in wanting to wipe out the working class…sort of a reversal in The Time Machine, where the Eloi hunt Morlocks, but here, one Morlock gets the better of them.
    One good thing Trump did was he brought out the visceral hatred people like Williamson and his bosses have for us. when things are out in the open, it will easier to educate people.

    • Georgia
      Posted January 28, 2021 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Thompson’s first wife was a journalist/writer — she proofed etc. all his stuff — after he beat her enough and she left his work was never as good — barely readable/gibberish in large part. He was a total cocaine addict it seems until his last day when he got high and blew his brains out thinking he would be reincarnated…bad call.

    • Randy
      Posted January 29, 2021 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      At the end of the day 81 gave Thompson a good beat down.

    • Captain John Charity Spring MA
      Posted January 29, 2021 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      The left will forget that Trump is not formally in charge since Covid19 hit and that he was barely in charge when he was formally the executive.

      They are currently barrelling over a waterfall.

  14. margot metroland
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    So glad you reviewed this, Jim. A slightly different take from my stately, measured analysis a day or two ago. But you homed in on the similar points, and the fundamental problems with Williamson. It’s noteworthy that he doesn’t go slumming around in Chadds Ford or Rowayton or Hillsborough; no, he circles around people he can feel superior to.

  15. Deodato
    Posted January 28, 2021 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Now let’s imagine the same publisher releasing a book with the following title:

    “Big Black Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of ‘Urban America’ “

  16. Posted January 29, 2021 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Jim Goad,for having our back.
    You could’ve sold out long ago + made a lot of $$$ with your talent.
    Instead,you have taken the long hard road of defying & exposing the
    anti-European communist world order.
    God bless,my European White Brother.

  17. J
    Posted January 30, 2021 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  18. Posted January 31, 2021 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Will Williamson write with such hate about poor rural BLACKS or Detroit? do they deserve to die? I bet Williamson doesnt know how to code. White deplorables that fought WW I,II DEFATED Hitler, Japan, and communism…that are paying and dying in Irak…that voted for Obama…twice

  19. Dan
    Posted January 31, 2021 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Ignatius J. Reilly in person.

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