Dear Rachel Maddow:
I love you, I really do. I have been watching your show for years. But last night you crossed a line. That so many other people cross that line all the time with impunity is no excuse.
In your segment about the alt-right (a.k.a. re-branded White Supremacists) you spoke about Donald Trump giving a speech in Jackson, Mississippi, and the confused reaction of the crowd when Nigel Farage spoke. You insinuated that Mississippians were ignorant, and worse, stupid.
I can’t speak for Mississippians as a whole, or those who support Donald Trump, but Mississippians — even white Mississippians — are no more stupid or ignorant than the populace of any other state taken as whole. I know: I have very conservative relatives in Mississippi and they may be many things, but stupid is not one of them. Like everyone else, they read papers and look at the Internet and generally know what’s going on. And, having spent time in the state, as far as I can tell, most other people keep up, even if the interpretation they put on events is far different than that I do.
No, the confusion no doubt arose from the sight of a British politician stumping for an American candidate. No matter what you think of Brexit, unless you are really concerned about completely stopping non-white immigration to the US, Nigel Farage has absolutely nothing to do this election. Even Charlie Pierce, one of my very favorite political writers ever, wrote about how little sense it made. (Best line: “[It’s] hard to see what he brings to the table in the American South, which tried its own Brexit once. It did not go well.”)
Trump could have held that rally at almost anywhere in the country and had a similar confused reaction. Because even if you know what Brexit is, unless you really followed it closely, you might well not be familiar with Farage and his party UKIP. I am a pretty up-to-date person, and I had to Google “Nigel Brexit” to read about him. The appearance of this British politician would have seemed really strange. And I live in California.
I know that you can talk to conservatives respectfully, even if you disagree with them. You have had Rick Santorum on your show. Two nights ago you had Kelly Ann Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager on your show. You had a lengthy and polite conversation for most of your show. She even said she encouraged The Donald to appear.
All I ask is that you extend that same courtesy to people who live in Deep Red states in the South. Making fun of Mississippians and Alabamians (and to a lesser degree South Carolinians) is still fair game in this country, and all it does is create resentment and division. There are a lot of problems there, to be true, but given that Mississippi has the country’s best vaccination laws, while California has outbreaks of measles because a contingent of “we know better than doctors” science-rejecting parents won’t vaccinate their kids, and Alabama has a better school system than Oregon, the rest of the country maybe should not be quite so high and mighty.
I have spent years trying to convince my family that no, liberals are not snotty elitists who treat them with disdain. That liberals don’t really think they are stupid and not worth listening to. In one ten minute segment, you just confirmed all of their theories. They probably weren’t watching (no, they don’t watch Fox news exclusively, they simply don’t watch much cable news to begin with), but if they were you would have undone a lot of hard work on my part.
So, please, just stop with the mockery. It does real harm.
A devoted fan.