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The Hillbilly Defense: Culturally Mediating U.S. Terror at Home and Abroad

Carol Mason
NWSA Journal
Vol. 17, No. 3, States of Insecurity and the Gendered Politics of Fear (Autumn, 2005), pp. 39-63
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4317157
Page Count: 25
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The Hillbilly Defense: Culturally Mediating U.S. Terror at Home and Abroad
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Abstract

The dichotomous images of Jessica Lynch, a West Virginia soldier who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in 2003, and Lynndie England, another West Virginia soldier whose picture became synonymous with prison abuse in Iraq in 2004, have necessitated a feminist contribution to the theorizing of the hillbilly as a cultural icon. This article examines historical, political, and literary contexts for diverting attention to the hillbilly as a defense against criticism of America as an uncivilized nation, connecting the narratives of Lynch and England with accounts of Eric Rudolph, a supposed mountaineer survivalist who in 2005 was convicted of bombing abortion clinics, a lesbian bar, and an Olympic celebration. In each case, the hillbilly-that liminal, primitive white icon of ambivalence about modernity's "progress" and its American discontents-is deployed culturally to mediate American military extremism, religious retribution, and terror.

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