The Thistle And The Brier Podcast: Episode 1

Sounds interesting.

I’m tuning in for the first time. If you live in Appalachia, you might want to subscribe to these guys:

Update: A few thoughts on The Briar and The Thistle podcast:

1.) First, the Appalachian Mountains got their name from the Apalachee Indians of the Florida Panhandle who told the Spanish in 1528 that gold could be found in the distant mountains to the north.

2.) Second, Appalachia is identified with the Scots-Irish in popular culture, but the settlement of Appalachia was more complex. From what I understand, a third of the founding stock was Scots-Irish, another third was German or Swiss and another third was English from the coastal colonies.

3.) Third, Scots-Irish isn’t synonymous with Appalachia. South Carolina is more Scots-Irish than Kentucky or Tennessee. The Scots-Irish came down the Great Valley and spread out from there to settle all over the Southern backcountry. The Piedmont was heavily settled by the Scots-Irish. Mississippi was settled by the Scots-Irish via the Natchez Trace and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The Tennessee Valley in North Alabama, Northern Louisiana, Arkansas and much of Texas was settled by the Scots-Irish. Tennessee and Kentucky as a whole were settled by the Scots-Irish.

4.) Fourth, the Southern cultures mixed and blended in the backcountry. Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun were Scots-Irish. They were also planters.

5.) Fifth, Appalachia had slavery and its elite was generally pro-slavery, or so I have read. It had a tourism industry that attracted planters who went there for the spas and to escape malaria and yellow fever. The Deep South and Appalachian elite intermarried.

6.) Sixth, Appalachian identity was a postwar phenomenon. The mountaineer became an object of interest and study by the Local Color School of writers after the war.

7.) Seventh, geography more than anything else is responsible for creating an enduring Appalachian culture. The Scots-Irish live all over Tennessee and Kentucky. They live in the Piedmont on the eastern side of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the rugged terrain which created the perception of a division. Needless to say, the mountains created transportation barriers which led to economic underdevelopment.

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  1. At 4:16 …

    “By and large, it’s not the fuckin’ Yankee that made fun of my accent my whole life and called me an idiot, it’s the fuckin’ flatlander. … [A lot of people in Appalachia] might see the occasional Yankee, or interact with the Yankee who knows to keep his damn mouth shut, ’cause he’ll get his ass kicked if he makes fun of me; but it’s the flatlander, who considers himself brother, that go at us the hardest ….”

    Notice the barbarian mentality, the inability even to imagine respect for one different from oneself. Because this speaker is himself incapable of respecting those different from himself, he can’t imagine that anyone else is capable of it. If a Yankee, a visitor from white civilization, doesn’t mock his regional ways, well, then, this speaker concludes, that’s simply because the Yankee fears “getting his ass kicked.” It couldn’t be because the Yankee is civilized, if a barbarian is even capable of using that adjective without irony or disdain.

    Naturally, the speaker’s experience with non-Appalachian Southerners—those whom, with barely-concealed contempt, he calls “flatlanders”—has been unpleasant, because they, too, being barbarians, can not sympathize with him any better than they can sympathize with “Yankees,” “Northerners,” “urbanites,” or whatever other term they similarly employ to disparage those different from themselves.

    • Well—my assessment confirmed, in detail. Having moved on in the podcast, I’ve reached 23:30, where the same speaker, upon coming to a point at which he must refer to the civilized, voices the quotation marks of irony:

      “In the Old World, later generations of immigrants have been civilized by the damn Anglo—right? Our people weren’t. Our people made it here first, before that; and those are the people that settled Appalachia, who hadn’t had the quote-unquote civilizing effect of the Anglo.”

      There’s even a little chuckle there, when he says “civilizing.”

      He adds, in a mock-cultured voice: “They hadn’t been ‘cultured’ yet there,” though I can’t make out the high-falutin’ term of address with which he concludes that choice bit of japery.

      • I see. In your view, which form of genocide should the Jews and persons like yourself unleash on Appalachia? Should the women be put to death immediately, or kept alive for awhile to be used by blacks? Should the soil be salted over? And after you get done there, which is the next group of whites, in your estimation, that needs destroyed and made extinct?

  2. Someone claimed that many of backwoods people are Forest Finns. From the New Sweden colony. That could account for the alcohol and guns.

  3. “…Appalachian Mountains got their name from the Apalachee Indians of the Florida Panhandle…”

    Talk about synchronicity. I’m reading “Hernando De Soto, A Savage Quest
    in the Americas” right now and just finished reading about the
    Appalachian. I’m at the point in the book where they just left them and are in Georgia

    The Spanish explorers were some evil bastards.

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