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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader

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Edited By William M. Reynolds

Critical Studies of Southern Place: A Reader critically investigates and informs the construction of Southernness, Southern identity, and the South past and present. It promotes and expands the notion of a Southern epistemology. Authors from across the South write about such diverse topics as Southern working-class culture; LGBT issues in the South; Southern music; Southern reality television; race and ethnicity in the South; religion in the South; sports in the South; and Southernness. How do these multiple interpretations of popular culture within critical conceptualizations of place enhance our understandings of education? Critical Studies of Southern Place investigates the connections between the critical examination of place-specific culture and its multiple connections with education and pedagogy. This important book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of place. Readers will be able to center the importance of place in their own scholarship and cultural work as well as be able to think deeply about how Southern place affects us all.
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Chapter Five: Drowning Democracy: The Media, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Hurricane Katrina

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FIVE

Drowning Democracy

The Media, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Hurricane Katrina1

HENRY A. GIROUX

Introduction

From the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement to the war in Vietnam, images of human suffering and violence provided the grounds for a charged political indignation and collective sense of moral outrage inflamed by the horrors of poverty, militarism, war, and racism—eventually mobilizing widespread opposition to these antidemocratic forces. Of course, the seeds of a vast conservative counter-revolution were already well underway as images of a previous era—“whites only” signs, segregated schools, segregated housing, and nonviolent resistance to these from African Americans—gave way to a troubling iconography of cities aflame, mass rioting, and armed black youths who came to embody the very precepts of lawlessness, disorder, and criminality. Building on the reactionary rhetoric of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, bringing with him a trickle-down theory that would transform corporate America and a corresponding visual economy. The twin images of the young black male “gangsta” and his counterpart, the “welfare queen,” became the primary vehicles for selling the American public on the need to dismantle the welfare state, ushering in an era of unprecedented deregulation, downsizing, privatization, and regressive taxation. The propaganda campaign was so successful that George H. W. Bush could launch his 1988 presidential bid with the image of Willie Horton, an African American man convicted of rape and granted early...

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