Newsweek: Keystone Politics: Murtha Backpedals from “Really Redneck” Comments

Newsweek: Keystone Politics

Murtha Backpedals from “Really Redneck” Comments

When John P. Murtha, a Democratic silverback from a nearby stretch of Appalachia, called western Pennsylvania a “racist area,” everybody seemed outraged, but no one was surprised. The truth or falsity of his remark factored into almost no one’s assessment —there was just horror that somebody said it at all. Trying to mend fences, Murtha later told a TV station that the area is vastly better than in years past. A scant five or 10 years ago, he said, it was “really redneck.” 

As the howls of outrage bounced off the hillsides, my mind turned back to the last day of November 1976, when I sat with some colleagues at the Old Keg bar on Main Street in Portage, Pa., in Cambria County. Then and now, it was the heart of the 12th Congressional District—the one Murtha had represented for nearly three years. Another 31 lay ahead of him and, behind him, an ageless history of race, immigration, ethnic identity, and class that had framed the place.

One Response

  1. “The truth or falsity of the remark”…. so in other words, taking a whole class of people and saying that they’re small minded bigoted weaselfolk is okay, as long as those people are perceived as being white bible readers.

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