New Book Divides U.S. into 11 "Nations," But South Florida Doesn't Belong to Any of Them
A new book divides the U.S. into eleven separate "nations," each with its own distinct culture and attitude toward violence. But bizarrely, South Florida doesn't belong to any of them.
It gets worse. SoFla is the only part of the country left out of author Colin Woodard's eleven nations. In fact, he includes large swaths of Mexico and Canada but we are still peninsula non grata. Instead, he just calls us "part of the Spanish Caribbean."
Woodard's book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, has the noble goal of explaining the true differences between cultures within the U.S. to better explain why they often clash, occasionally in violence.
He calls much of New England "Yankeedom," for instance:
Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public's shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.
The "Deep South," by contrast, which encompasses the top half of Florida, is described as "meant as a West Indies-style slave society," Woodard writes. "This nation offered a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was the privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many. Its caste systems smashed by outside intervention, it continues to fight against expanded federal powers, taxes on capital and the wealthy, and environmental, labor, and consumer regulations."
But his decision to leave off South Florida is baffling, particularly because he specifically mentions the killing of Trayvon Martin as an example of conflicting views on violence in action.
So are we a nationless nodule on the corpus americanus?
The answer is the same in any language: mierda; bullshit.
South Florida may be stocked full of recent arrivals from the so-called "Spanish Caribbean," and yes, Miami is called the "capital of Latin America," but that doesn't mean SoFla shouldn't be considered part of the United States.
Whether they are Cuban, Venezuelan, Colombian, or Haitian, many of the people who immigrate to South Florida do so because of strong beliefs about the rule of law, freedom of speech, the size of government, gun control, and violence. In other words, exactly the type of hot button issues that Woodard is ultimately trying to explain.
Woodard leaving South Florida off his map -- full disclosure, we haven't had a chance to read his whole book -- seems like an oversight.
So here's our own suggested entry, which we're calling Swamplandia in honor of local writer Karen Russell:
Founded by a teetotalling widow and a monopolist oil baron, Swamplandia has long been a menagerie of delusional dreamers, Ponzi schemers, and rakish ruffians reinventing themselves in a tropical climate. It prizes cash, money, dinero, moolah, balling hard, Maybachs, strippers, champagne, cocaine, surgically sculpted T&A, and -- above all -- American football. Since 1980, it has been more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, but if you need to ask why pues vete pa la pinga con ese pendejo Fidel. We clash with pretty much every other region, which all see us as superficial outsiders. But, like, whatever. Swamplandia may be the newest of American nations, yet we're American all the same.
What would you call the "nation" of South Florida? And how would you define it? Let us know in the comments section below.
And piss off Yankeedom.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.