J. D. Vance and Misbegotten Memoirs

In the USA, having a publicly accepted and respected “self identity” is a privilege often enjoyed only by those people with access to the levers of power.

Property.  Money.  Education.  Social connections.  Weapons.  The right skin colour.

A man called J. D. Vance (his own name the product of a selected identity) wrote a book eight years ago at the ripe old age of 32 called Hillbilly Elegy, in which he purported to explain the source of many Appalachian social problems.  A successful venture capitalist, he offered his advice for “bootstrap” solutions to these problems.

J. D. Vance goes big on “poor white people”, because that is how he chooses to perceive his so-called “hillbilly” identity.

In his book, he speaks of his “Scots-Irish” roots and “Scots-Irish” cultural traditions, and the trans-generational effect he believes the culture of these people had on the creation of an Appalachian or Hillbilly “mentality”.

“The Scots-Irish are born fighters, blah blah, blah…”

“The Scots-Irish don’t like Big Government, blah, blah, blah…”

His book received endless blurbs and praise from the urban “intelligentsia” press, eager to find an easily digestible answer or simple reason for rural Appalachian poverty and voting habits.

For “voting habits”, read “Republican or Trump voters”.

Four years after publication, director Ron Howard is made a mess of a film based on this carefully curated memoir.  For “carefully curated”, feel free to insert the words “bullshit”, or “ideologically driven”.

Mr. Vance is wrong, utterly wrong, about the historical causes of Appalachian poverty.

Even more than this, Mr. Vance misrepresents his own cultural roots, whether by design or ignorance. His roots are to be found far more among the mixed-ethnic communities of Ohio, including those known as “Carmel Indians”.

Part of the reason groups like the “Carmel Indians” even exist is due to the activities of slaveholders like Vance’s direct 5th great-grandfather Roswell Boarman, a slaveholder with the not-uncommon situation of having “free people of color” living under his roof.

Much of the transgenerational poverty of Appalachian people stems not from something innate to their culture and genes, but from the fact that many families started off as a mixed-ethnic underclass in the not-so-distant past, partaking of all the disadvantages which that entailed.

Note that Vance uses his mother’s maiden name; and while some Appalachian Vances can trace their roots directly to Ulster, our friend J.D. is not one of them.  His mother’s Vance line fades into the undocumented mists of early 1700s Buncombe County, NC and Russell County, Virginia, where an ancestor was hanged for the murder of Lewis Horton, a son-in-law.

It is hard to know whether these people were Vances, German Wentzes, or indeed Scottish “Vauses” due to a colonial era transcription error.

It is in fact quite possible that they were of non-European background altogether, and simply borrowed surnames from “white” settlers. They might well have been African, Shawnee, anything.

What IS certain (barring out-of-wedlock shenanigans) is that J.D. Vance is descended from Boarmans, Crafts, Knopps, Edlins, Hornbacks, Salyers, Taulbees, Hensleys, Rudds, Blantons, Hounshells, Howards, Hammonds, Bollings, Lovelys, Workmans, and others.  He is profoundly mixed-ethnic, and of predominantly German stock (including “Black Dutch”), with some English, Dutch, Melungeon, and probably African-American ancestry.

He’s about as “Scots-Irish” as an enchilada.

The ultimate foundational myth of Appalachia revolves around a predominantly “Scots-Irish” identity.

An identity designed to meet all of the right criteria.  Non-British, Protestant, rebellious, and “white”.

A fake identity, if you will.

This is the US senator falling-in behind the fake reality being propagated by his master this election year.

A man on record as saying he would support the suspension of The Constitution.

A man fake in every way, ready to bring some very real stuff to a screen near you.

#jdvance #fake #scotsirish

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