Damn Yankees Think They Know Everything, Don't They?

Tony Abdo aabdo at SPAMwebtv.net
Tue Mar 13 19:51:17 MST 2001

The thing that is beyond wierd here, is that I have to pass some kind of
'Southerness test' to talk about an area that is where I am from, and
where I grew up in , and where my family was from.

My natural father lives in Wichita Falls.      My mother's family were
people that moved West from Georgia.     They were devout Southern
Baptists, and I spent many a Sunday in church with them, and also went
to Vacation Bible School in East Texas as a kid.

My stepfather grew up in Greenville with his Lebanese immigrant family.
So even these roots are about as Southern as you can get.     One of my
half brothers has never left the Dallas area.       Half Lebanese that
he is, he is about as Southern as you can get.

I grew up in a rural suburb of Dallas, was born at Baylor University,
and cheered for the Southern Methodist University teams when I was a
kid.      What is more, I have lived in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas,
Austin, Tyler, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Odessa, El Paso, San Antonio,
Brownsville, McAllen, Nashville, and Laredo during various times of my
life.     All due to the fact that I do a lot of contract work.     I
have spent some time in Georgia and Florida also.

Maybe I should use my mother's maiden name...Richie... so as not to
confuse the poor marxists that inhabit this list.     But that's what I
get, for my radical comments that the Left has to do more than just
pretend that a huge part of the country doesn't exist.

I never advocated a Dixiecrat version of Southern history.    When I say
that the Left is clueless in the South, I am not even talking about
being clueless with the White community.      The Left is just basically
clueless in the South with everybody... Period.

Let's take the city of Memphis for example.    It's the largest city in
Tennessee, and has a huge Black population with a history of Civil
Rights struggle.      Effort to organize Labor or presence of Left
groups there?      No.    Nothing, really.

I could go from Norfolk, Birmingham, New Orleans, Jacksonville, San
Antonio, and so on, and so on.     The Left.... Presente?  No.

The argument can be made that the Left is absent from all over the US.
And there is validity to this line of reasoning.      Still, my point
is, that when a predominantly Northern leadership thinks about
organizing, they don't think Oklahoma City, they think Toledo instead.
They don't think Memphis, they think Rochester.     And I could go on
with examples of this type.

James Cannon had this sort of complaint in regards to Kansas City vs.
New York.      It's not like I have come up with some sort of complaint
subversive of US Marxist orthodoxy.

What seems to draw the ire, is that I mentioned that the South had a
long history (80+ yrs.) of being treated as a defeated enemy.     From
there, it was just too easy for some, to go flying off to saying that I
was pro Southern racist.     The same leap of logic would be to declare
anyone that said that Germany was treated like a defeated nation post
World War One, as being an advocate of Nazi racial theories.     Pretty
silly stuff.

I brought up the movie 'Norma Ray' earlier, because it is illustrative
of Northern attitudes towards Southern organizing.     The hero is an
outside travelling organizer (Northener) who 'awakens' Norma Ray from a
deep, deep sleep (but without a kiss!).

This was the attitude in the SWP back when Lou and I were coming in and
out of Houston.     And it still was the attitude last summer, when I
worked briefly as an outside organizer for the SEIU in a campaign in
Nashville.     In fact, the Southern regional organizer for the SEIU, is
an ex SWP member from the North.

But these implants don't work very well.     Because the control is
carefully guarded out of region.     The directive is a national
directive, not a local initiative.    And us locals know who's pulling
the strings.     Especially the purse strings.

That's the big problem in organizing the South, whether it be the unions
or radical groups.      All these organizations are rooted outside of
the region, and have their national headquarters there.    Recruits from
within the region (Black, White, Brown, or Green) are seen as outsiders,
even while inside their own neighborhoods.

In Houston in the SWP, us Texans and Southerners were the minority even
in a branch located in our vicinity.    As a Texan who left for Phili, I
was treated as a total oddity there.     And this was a sentiment shared
by other Texan/ Oklahomans  in the SWP.     Foreigners in our own land,
Martians  while up North on the East Coast stretch of cities.

Lou, come on down to Waco.     I'll fix us a Falafel or Baba Ganuj when
you arrive.     But it'll have to be on a flour tortilla, and not Pita.
The Pita outside of Houston is just too stale and nasty.     I call this
cuisine... Tex-Mex Mediterranean, or Gulf Coast Falafel.     Buen

But this problem of how to organize areas like Texas and Florida is a
very serious question that is posed to the Left in the years ahead.
Not to mention Oklahoma.

 If nothing is done, then the Right is just being given a huge free base
to build up it's strength at will.     The US Left has to become a
national Left, and not just one based in an isolated and shrinking area
or two.

<Actually, the thing that strikes me as being beyond weird about all
this is that Abdo is very likely Lebanese. Lebanese and Jews were the
essential outsiders in southern society, bringing skills as merchants
into a frontier area. For that matter, I was born in Kansas City where
my grandfather ran a shoe repair shop in a largely Mexican-American
neighborhood. My mother spoke Spanish and Yiddish before she learned

The Houston Chronicle, September 13, 2000, Wednesday 2 STAR EDITION
Son follows family restaurant tradition

It took Eli Droubi 21 years to realize that he had baking in his blood.
After working at Droubi's, the family-owned Middle Eastern chain of
restaurants in Houston, then taking a hiatus in college, Eli has decided
to return to the restaurant business.

The restaurant trade has been passed from his Lebanese grandfather, to
Eli's father Anthony and uncle Abdo, to the junior Droubi, who is now a
manager of eatZi's Market & Bakery, 1702 Post Oak Blvd.

"The yeast is in the blood," said Droubi.
Droubi said that as a child, he did not want to work on weekends in the
family business.

While other kids were playing sports, young Eli would be sweeping or
mopping floors, making bread and busing tables.
"My dad would wake me up at 6 a.m. in the morning when I was 12
years-old. My dad is waking me up and pouring cold water on my back to
make bread when I'd rather go out and ride a bike," he said.
Upon graduating from high school, he attended the University of Texas,
Austin as a pre-med major.

However he become disinterested in medical school and returned to the
restaurant business.
"Everybody's got to eat," Droubi said.

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