Editor’s Note: Click here for past installments of the series.
Are Nascar drivers (and fans) stupid? Certainly not, but South Park’s Eric Cartman swallows the stereotype hook, line and sinker. In order to fulfill his dream of becoming a race car driver, Cartman decides he has to become “poor and stupid.” By giving his money to Butters (the show’s most impressionable character) and drinking copious amounts of Vagisil, Cartman becomes broke and dumb enough for professional racing.
However, Cartman’s ignorance comes through with flying colors. It’s clear that Nascar drivers and fans are not stupid and Cartman’s charade is based off of an incorrect stereotype. During a press conference, we hear other drivers talking intelligently about the upcoming race while Cartman butts in (with a horrible southern accent) and says the dumbest things he can think of. Shortly thereafter, he puts out a podcast talking about how “friggin gay” President Obama is.
While playing on such stereotypes is humorous, it ultimately shows us how actually believing them is truly stupid. Dishonest assumptions like this are made all of the time about conservatives for many reasons, culminating in the Gold Standard “stupid, racist, conservative Christian.”
The “stupid Nascar fan” is an extension of the view that everyone with a southern accent is dumb. We can see the same assumption the Left makes about Sarah Palin based on the way she speaks. One thing that ties all of these stereotypes together for the Left is the brain-dead assertion that these people and groups are also religious fanatics, which is what really makes them intolerant, racist, and of course idiots by default.
In my experience growing up, I only had to deal with one extreme or the other. It was either Godly zealots or anti-Christian pessimists (usually in the form of a union-bred teacher). My family was not very religious, so it was up to me to find my own ground. Without seeing many moderate Christians, it was difficult for me to assume they exist. As an agnostic, I began to develop a level of contempt for the religious Right, though it did not hinder my belief in conservatism.
Even though I grew up in an area dominated by the far Right, there were none of these “hate mongering religious fanatics” the Left often rails about. However, my disagreement with my spiritual friends over abortion and gay rights often made me wonder if these social church-going Right-wingers really were terribly out of touch.
As my understanding of Left and Right grew, it became clearer that one side was obviously worse than the other. While dealing with one leftist professor after another in my first years as an undergraduate, it became clear to me that the progressive’s own faith was far worse than that of any social, spiritual conservative.