greybeta: (Arkansas Razorbacks)
[Author’s note: This post is in thanks to [ profile] das_hydra, who has made me two excellent icons.]

What can I tell you about Arkansas? Well, when someone mentions “Arkansas”, the first thing they’ll most likely think of is William Jefferson Clinton. Indeed, Bill Clinton (and Hilary) have done many things for my home state. What most people don’t know is that Bill Clinton was actually defeated after one term as governor for a variety of reasons. My parents always tell me that one of the reasons is that Hilary refused to take his name (she was known as Hilary Rodham back then). Hey now, we’re in the South here and our women are submissive to their husbands (and yet few people quote the second part of that Bible verse, that husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies). She changed her name and they came back strong the next time, and the rest is history.

Arkansas is in the bottom five states in terms of education and salaries. On the other hand, we have a low cost of living and you can buy a spacious house at a great price. Arkansans are constantly the butt of jokes, that they’re hillbillies who don’t wear shoes or marry our cousins. Okay, so in certain parts of Arkansas that happens but that’s beside the point. We also contain the remnants of the KKK, as in we have people who will still dress up in the white garb you might see in D W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. You’ll see people hanging Confederate flags and singing Dixie. If you travel in the river delta part of the state you’ll definitely get to hear an ubiquitous Southern drawl from all the citizens.

We have no professional sports teams, so people follow the one big college team, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Since we’re in the South, the head football coach (that’s American football for my European readers) of the Razorbacks is more recognizable than the governor and may arguably be the most powerful person in the state (he’s the highest paid state employee, at least). Entire talk radio shows dissect every decision the coach makes, from spring football practice to disciplining players to the minutiae of boneheaded game decisions (even in victory the coach makes dumb moves). Basketball and baseball are fairly popular here as well.

Thanks to an abundance of natural resources, Arkansas is nicknamed “The Natural State”. We’re supposedly the state that could be self-sufficient. We have the only public diamond mine in the United States (which is why there is a diamond in our state flag). We have twenty five stars because we were the twenty fifth state to join the Union. We sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War, though no major battles were fought here. Our state capital is in Little Rock, so named by some French explorer.

The state legislature is heavily Democratic, reflecting the fact that the majority of Arkansas is farmland. Governor Huckabee became governor because we elect our lieutenant governors separately, and the guy before him fell in a major scandal (many conspiracy theorists claim that this guy fell on his sword for the Clintons). The current governor, Mike Beebe, was previously Attorney General and while popular, had no chance of making this state purple for Obama. Our Senators, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor are considered to among the most moderate Democrats. Mark has his Senate job for life thanks to his dad, David Pryor, who was a governor as well as a U.S. Senator.

Of the four congressional districts, Northwest Arkansas is the bastion of Republican conservatism. Oh hey, look, Wal-Mart and Tyson foods is headquartered here. Ah, yes, Wal-Mart or Wally’s World originated from the town of Bentonville. I live in a border town called Fort Smith, right next to Oklahoma. We’re famous for Hanging Judge Parker, who kept law and order by publically hanging criminals (and as our National Historic Site will remind you, it was considered a family event complete with picnics).

My parents like to joke that there’s a church on every street corner here. Well, it’s not quite true but church is part of the cultural fabric (ironically, though, we have one of the highest teenage prenancy rates in the nation). In my town, which is especially conservative, people protested the opening of a Hooters franchise on pure principle. It took several years to get a state lottery on the ballot (but when it did it passed). Strip clubs and other similar entertainment venues are shackled by all sorts of zoning laws. We don’t sell liquor on Sundays. Things close at 9pm weekdays and at 6pm on Sundays.

As you might imagine, it can get rather boring here. Then again, it’s nice and quiet. Plus, there’s the whole Southern hospitality thing. Oh yes, you must have some biscuits and gravy or grits or fried okra if you come by here. We also refer to all carbonated drinks as “cokes” even if it’s not Coca-Cola (it ain’t soda and it ain’t pop either).

On a personal note, my town actually has quite a few Asians because nearby Fort Chaffee is one of the major entry checkpoints for immigrants and refugees. Overall, I think it’s a great place to raise kids. And hey, I didn’t turn out too badly having lived here all of my life!

Are there any other Arkansas related questions you’d like answered?

July 2009

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