FACING SOUTH A Progressive Report

October 13, 2006 – Issue #127

Facing South is a news and trends report published by the Institute for Southern Studies and Southern Exposure magazine. Please email us or go here to be removed from the list. For more information or to join, visit us here.

INSTITUTE INDEX – The South at War

NEW INSTITUTE POLL – The South and Iraq

SPECIAL COVERAGE – Working in the South

FIELDWORK – In-depth Gulf reports still available

NEW INSTITUTE POLL – The South and Iraq

South strongly turning against Iraq war

National Institute survey finds Southern attitudes towards Iraq marked by “sadness,” reluctance to endure future war costs

DURHAM, N.C. – Despite strong early support for the Iraq war in the South, the region’s opposition to the war now matches national levels –- and by some measures frustration is higher in the South than elsewhere in the country.

Those are the findings of a new public opinion poll run by the Institute for Southern Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University.

The national survey, which included a larger poll or “over-sample” in 13 Southern states, offers one of the first in-depth looks at Southern attitudes towards the Iraq war since the Bush Administration pressed for military action four years ago.

The survey reveals that Southerners, after showing disproportionate support for the war early on, now doubt U.S. policy in Iraq just as strongly as people in other regions of the country, and in some cases more so. Among the findings:

*** 57% of Southerners believe the U.S. “should have stayed out of Iraq,” compared to 44% who think the U.S. “did the right thing” by taking military action. Nationally, 58% of the public believes the U.S. should have stayed out and 43% now agree with military action.

*** Southerners are skeptical about the goals of the Iraq mission. 29% of Southerners agree with the Bush Administration’s position that “Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism,” compared to 25% nationally. But 30% in Southern states –- the same as the national average –- believe the main reason the U.S. is in Iraq is “to ensure access to oil.”

*** By at least one measure, Southerners are more frustrated with the war than their counterparts in other regions. Asked if they were “proud” or “sad” about Iraq, a surprising 62% of respondents in the South said they were “very sad” about the course of the war, compared to only 56% in other regions of the country. Only 10% of those surveyed in the South say they are “somewhat proud” or “very proud” of the Iraq mission –- slightly less than those polled in other states.

*** 30% of those polled in Southern states say the U.S. should “withdraw completely” from Iraq. Those in non-Southern states were less likely to call for a total withdrawal of U.S. troops (26%), but more likely to think U.S. troop levels should be decreased “some” or “a lot” — 34% in non-Southern states, compared to 26% in the South. Put together, 56% of Southerners and 59% in other regions support a decrease or withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The results signal a shift in Southern attitudes towards Iraq. As recently as July 2005, a Pew Center poll found 53% of Southerners believed using military force against Iraq was “the right decision,” the highest level of support in the country. Most polls since 2002 have shown support for the Iraq w
ar in Southern states rating higher than,
or even with, national attitudes.

“The depth and strength of anti-war sentiment in the South is eye-opening, given the region’s high level of military pride and early embrace of U.S. policy in Iraq,” says Chris Kromm, director of the non-partisan Institute based in Durham, N.C. “The current Washington leadership has counted on Southern states as a bastion of support on Iraq, but clearly that support is deteriorating.”

For more findings from the Institute poll, visit here.

SPECIAL COVERAGE – Working in the South



Crippling injuries have skyrocketed in recent months at a North Carolina plant of giant Smithfield Foods. Workers are wondering, where are regulators?

By Sandy Smith-Nonini
and Sarah Weaver
Facing South
October 13, 2006

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Like anyone who’s worked at a job for 10 years, Quincey Harvey had some stories to tell. But Mr. Harvey worked at the Smithfield Packing Plant in North Carolina, so his stories were more gruesome than most.

There was the time he accidentally stuck a knife through his hand – but had to wait 45 minutes and take a urine test before plant personnel took him to a hospital. Another day, while he was changing clothes, a block of 14 lockers that were not secured fell and pinned him, injuring his legs. The company said the incident would not be considered work-related.

Finally, after six years of cutting whole hog carcasses down the middle with a 100-pound “split saw,” Harvey developed a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, which required surgery. Again, company officials told him that the injury wasn’t job-related. He was fired after 13 weeks on medical leave.

Mr. Harvey joined nine other current and former Smithfield workers at a press conference and “speak out” in early September to tell their story about life inside the company’s massive plant in Tarheel, N.C.

The stories are eye-opening, and beg the question — where are the government regulators tasked with protecting workers on the job?

To read the rest of this report, visit here.

FIELDWORK – In-depth Gulf reports still available

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy of “One Year after Katrina,” the Institute’s in-depth investigation into the state of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, copies are still available.

The 96-page report, featuring over 250 statistics and 50 status reports, in-depth investigations, and community profiles, is a great resource for educators, activists, policy-makers, and others interested in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina. The report covers a wide range of issues including education, demographics, economy, the environment, hurricane readiness, human rights, and seven other key areas.

To receive your copy today, make a secure order online , or contact Elena Everett at elena@southernstudies.org or (919) 419-8311 x25. Don’t forget to ask about bulk discounts for your conference, community group or classroom!

INSTITUTE INDEX – The South at War

Percent of Southerners who believe the U.S. “should have stayed out of Iraq”: 57

Percent of Southerners who are “very or somewhat proud” of the Iraq mission: 10

Percent who are “very sad” about it: 62

Percent who say they are “very sad” about it in other regions of the country: 56

When asked why the U.S. is in Iraq, percent of Southerners who say “because Iraq is the central front in the war against terrorism”: 29

Percent who say “because we are promoting Democracy in Iraq and the Middle East”: 20

Percent who say “because we want to ensure access to oil”: 30

When asked what would be an “acceptable number of U.S. military deaths” to achieve the mission in Iraq, percent of Southerners who said “zero”: 63

Percent who said “zero” when asked how much additional money should be spent on the Iraq mission: 50

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