Jim Goad’s The Redneck Manifesto is a groundbreaking, irreverent polemic against the stigmatization of the white working class in American culture. It was published by Simon and Schuster in 1997. In pugnacious and often hilarious prose, Goad shreds the racial and political taboos of the era and slaughtered many a sacred cow. The Redneck Manifesto brought a critical eye to then-radical terms like “white supremacy,” racial justice, and “anti-fascism” which had yet to reach widespread exposure outside of Left-wing universities, but would terrorize the American political landscape in subsequent decades.
As a journalist with bylines at Right-wing outlets and an activist who held the permit for a government-sabotaged pro-white rally called Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia, I have a unique perspective. At that event, journalists and urban elites recoiled in revulsion at the sight of rough, working-class men, many of them Southern, waving Confederate battle flags and standing up for their regional ethnic heritage. Didn’t they know that they weren’t allowed to feel pride but only shame in who they are? How many of the protesters at my event were slandered as rednecks, hillbillies, white trash, and so on by the wealthiest, most powerful segments of society — those who ironically decry things like racial intolerance and classism?
Jim comes at these issues of our time from a distinct vantage point all his own — not really in the dissident Right movement, but clearly informed by it. Despite being something of an equal-opportunity offender, he is a fount of invaluable insights for tough-minded readers.
What follows are abridged, paraphrased highlights from our recent conversation. Watch the embedded video for the unexpurgated version.
Jason Kessler: Jim, welcome to the program and thank you for spending time with us today talking about your career, and specifically your seminal work The Redneck Manifesto.
One of the things that really impressed me about the book was how well-researched it is. There are a lot of truly esoteric historical facts that blew my mind. For example, the high volume of white immigrants who came to the United States in bondage as indentured servants, or how a form of black supremacy took hold in the Reconstruction-era South after the Civil War.
Did you have most of your historical knowledge in place before writing the book, or did these things all come up during your research?
Jim Goad: No, these were things that I just picked up. I worked at the Los Angeles Reader, which was one of these free weeklies that are absolutely indistinguishable from one another . . . I noticed that these white liberals had what Charles Dickens called “telescopic philanthropy.” They would cry tears over the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, but if a group of crackers somewhere out in Riverside, California happened to live over a toxic waste dump and all got cancer, they thought this was the funniest thing.
JK: Can you describe your research process when writing the book?
JG: I’ll exhaust every outlet until I can’t even think of anything else to look for . . . I had AOL, mostly ordering mail-order books from militia groups, anti-tax groups, and minutemen . . . I counted 127 different sources.
JK: I’ll just cite a few examples of historical facts that blew my mind as someone who was raised predominantly on the anti-white historical narratives of the public school system.
There were plantation songs like “I’d Rather be a Nigger than a Poor White Man” about how much harder the masters worked whites than blacks, because ironically the whites were rented, while the blacks were owned. So the white indentured servants were worked to death at an astronomical rate.
On page 217, you point out that Lincoln only proposed freeing slaves a couple years into the Civil War as an opportunistic military strategy. Correct?
JG: There’s a letter he wrote to Horace Greeley in around 1863, and it said almost word for word: “My paramount mission is to save the Union. If I could save the Union without freeing a single slave, I would do it.” In the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1850s, he said, “Negro equality? Fudge! How long will knaves and fools accept this?” He said that naturally there are hierarchies, and that whites should inhabit the superior position.
JK: On page 221, you describe a Reconstruction-era South where Republicans used blacks as terrorist shock troops against the white population. The book also describes how disenfranchising Confederate veterans led to most elected offices being controlled by blacks.
JG: Just black Republicans the whole way, because you had rebels who were disenfranchised. And you had some of these abolitionists who were just nuts. I think it was Thaddeus Stevens who said, “I want to drown every rebel man, woman, and child south of the Mason-Dixon Line like pigs in the Sea of Galilee.” They were homicidal towards Southern whites. And the black legislatures of Reconstruction enacted laws where if blacks were passing you on the street, you had to get out of the way or tip your hat.
JK: You’ve had a very different career path than most people who cover white identity issues by virtue of your mainstream success in the 1990s. You had a mainstream publisher, hung out with Phil Anselmo of the metal band Pantera, opened for Hank Williams III, appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and so on before things got really bad with political correctness and woke culture. Have you found yourself ghettoized since that time, or have you been able to maintain some of your mainstream connections?
JG: No, hardly at all. And I’m anathema to a lot in these dissident circles, too, because I don’t toe the party line on a lot of this shit like a lot of these zombies do. The thing that motivates me is the truth. And maybe that is just pure autism. No, there were white slaves. I would rather lose my entire career and stand up for the truth. After a while you realize there aren’t a lot of perks to being the way I am, but it’s kind of the way I’m wired, and that’s not going to change.
JK: Was your version of white politics at the time of writing The Redneck Manifesto initially influenced by the White Nationalist discourse of the day, or were you just verbalizing thoughts in your own head?
JG: You know, Southern nationalists . . . one of the sources for the redneck book was The South Was Right. I pimp his name every time I can: Michael A. Hoffman II. He lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and he was a pioneering writer about white slavery, about Judaism, about Masonic conspiracy attempts. The alternative literature back then was less racial and much more anti-government, more militia, more about libertarian freedom . . . anti-debt.
JK: One of the central theses of your book that I think is often underappreciated in white identity discourse is the extent to which the principal antagonist of the white working class is wealthy whites. White trash versus white cash, as you put it, where wealthy liberal whites place all of their guilt and accusations of white supremacy on rednecks and the lower classes. I agree that this is a major, underappreciated issue. These days a lot of critics will argue that those wealthy whites you describe are Jews. How do you feel about that?
JG: I think it’s inarguable, but that wasn’t the focus of my book at the time.
JK: Have any of your other views changed since writing this book?
JG: The only thing in my ideology that’s changed since that time was that I thought racial divisions were artificially constructed, and that if everybody realized that we’d been duped, we’d all get along. I think that’s naive. I think racial divisions are natural. People are tribal naturally. The elites still exploit this, but I don’t think it happens in a vacuum. If there was nothing to exploit, no instincts to manipulate, they wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s really the only difference over the last 30 years.
JK: Much of the book focuses on media depictions of poor whites. Stereotypes of hillbillies, rednecks, and white trash are depicted as the last forms of racial animosity allowed in an American culture that has long since discarded the mammies, injuns, and other non-white racial stereotypes.
I wonder if you saw some of that racism and classism in the cultural depictions of the protesters at the Charlottesville protest. Bill Maher, for instance, called it a “rainbow coalition of white trash.”
— Real Time with Bill Maher (@RealTimers) August 12, 2017
JG: The thing that I’ve noticed that’s changed since I wrote the book is that the defamation of whites has gone worldwide now. There’s just nothing that’s good about being white. They used to focus on poor whites, and especially Southern whites. And once they got their toe-hold in, now it’s just whiteness — and you know, I did a book 20 years later, Whiteness: The Original Sin . . .
What blew my mind is that half of the attendees who were there to unite the Right flipped and said, “No, it’s the wignats’ problem. They’re the ones who screwed this up.” That to me was totally cowardly, snitch behavior, and they were saving their own asses. And that’s from a felon’s viewpoint. That’s exactly what was going on, and they’re all a bunch of bitches, and I’ll say it to anyone’s face.
JK: In The Redneck Manifesto, you use the writing guidelines of the time, which call for lower-casing black and white. Recent changes to style guides, including the Associated Press’, call for black to be capitalized but white to be lowercased. So every race is capitalized except whites. Do you have an opinion on that?
JG: Whenever I quote someone in my articles, I will always put (sic) next to a capitalized instance of black. I will reproduce it the way they did, but I will mark it as a mistake.
JK: Before we wrap up, I wanted to get in a plug for the new hardcover edition of the infamous four-issue zine Answer Me!, which is now presented in full color for the first time ever. I have a copy, and it is a truly stunning collector’s item. I would describe Answer Me! as an homage to Americana, by way of shock art and trash culture. The more lurid the better: neo-Nazis, rockers, rappers, serial killers, masturbation, and rape.
Much of your work is associated with the art of Nick Bougas, who does what I would call brilliant satires of different ethnic groups. The partnership reminds me of other writers who chose to be associated with a particular visual style, like Hunter Thompson’s partnership with Ralph Steadman. How did you first start working with Bougas?
JG: Nick is a prince of a man. For the second issue of Answer Me!, I interviewed Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan, and I ask, “How do we get pictures of you for this article?” He said, “Nick Bougas in Burbank, California.” So I called Nick and he said, “Come on over.” I lived in Hollywood. I went over the hills and spent about three hours that first night at his house, and I remember coming home to Debbie and saying, “I just met the coolest guy in the world.”
He’s multi-talented. He’s a brilliant writer, too. I can’t draw a stick figure, but people who look at his work say that it’s incredibly detailed. He’s incredibly skilled.
JK: Jim, thank you so much for your time.
Jason Kessler (e-mail him) is a journalist and civil rights activist with bylines at VDARE, Daily Caller, and GotNews, as well as his own site, JasonKessler.us. Follow him on Telegram, Gab, and Twitter, and subscribe to his news and opinion show Happenings on Odysee and Rumble.
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