A conservative asks: When did 'white trash' become the new normal?

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Has America become hopelessly tacky thanks to reality TV, celebrity gossip, baby daddies, tattoos and trailer parks? Someone has at last sounded a tasteful alarm about a trend that has permeated just about everything, including politics.

“When Did White Trash Become the New Normal?” asks a new book by Charlotte Hays, director of cultural programs for the conservative Independent Women’s Forum and a political commentator for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, among other news organizations.

The genre is evolving from the days of, say, a rusted out Ford Fairlane on the front lawn. “Old white trash” meant having a shotgun wedding, Ms. Hays says. “New white trash” means wearing a designer bridal gown that doesn’t hide the baby bump. She is methodical in her book - from Regnery Publishing, incidentally -examining white trash cuisine, raucous manners and other indicators that the nation is in some sort of inelegant decline.

Ms. Hays points out that Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour.” Centuries later, it was reality TV tot Honey Boo Boo who declared, “I wish I had an extra finger. Then I could grab more cheese balls.”

So it’s long live the cheese balls, and that’s all she wrote? Is the author concerned for America?

“I am very worried but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Ms. Hays tells the Watercooler.

“At the end of the book I quote something I heard all my life. It was from my grandfather’s beloved schoolmaster, who said, ‘You can’t all be scholars but you can all be gentlemen.’ The only way we will slay the beast of White Trash as normal is to recover the sense that character, including manners - being a lady or gentleman - is just as important as anything we can achieve. And here’s the really good news. That’s something anybody can do.”

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