This is what happened when a historian with a rural background wrote favorably about gun control in the Washington PostHistorians in the News
tags: antisemitism, Appalachia, Nathan Wuertenberg
“Don’t be such a cuck, Nathan. You’re from West Virginia for God’s sake.”
“You’re not a hick. You’re a poseur in a skin masque.”
“Your parents were just civil rights activists that moved to the country after they ruined the tri-state area.”
—sampling of comments I received on Twitter after publicly supporting gun control
I grew up in Appalachia. I support gun control. Evidently the people above consider that a contradiction of sorts. I don’t. But, then again, the Appalachia I know and love has always been more concerned with family than firearms.
A few weeks ago I wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post’s “Made by History” series about gun violence and white supremacy. I expected some backlash, and I got it. Most of it was run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism, things I’ve heard since childhood. Back then, it was my Jewish, “not-from-around-here” father running for school board that brought the global Zionist conspiracy rushing to the forefront of my friends’ and neighbors’ minds. Last month, it was me trying to take away everyone’s guns.
For me at least, being called a “kike” enough times means that it has a bit less of an impact than its authors probably intend. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feel great at the time, but eventually it just fades into a fog of similarly unpleasant memories that mean nothing for my day-to-day life. It might have something to do with the fact that I wasn’t raised in the faith. I’m just someone with a few opinions and “-berg” at the end of my name. I may be a target of anti-Semitism, but I’m not part of the community, so it doesn’t hit as close to home.
Maybe that’s why the few comments that mentioned where I was from ended up being the ones that have stuck with me. With the exception of two years at the beginning of my doctoral program, I’ve spent my entire life in rural areas, the bulk of it in Appalachian Pennsylvania. When people ask me where my home town was, I have to tell them that there was no town and that the county I grew up in had fewer people in it than there are students at my current university.
When I lived in the city, my body felt like it was vibrating at the wrong frequency. In West Virginia, where I live now, I feel like I’m home again. But, according to my many new and angry fans online, I’m not really from the country unless I own a gun, am conservative, and am most definitely not Jewish. ...
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