Meet Politico's 'Crackers': FL Panhandle Home to Many Military Bases

Politico’s Jonathan Martin didn’t only malign residents of Florida’s Panhandle on MSNBC when he invoked the phrase “Cracker Counties” to refer to the region, he went on to equate the region with all of the Deep South, also mentioning Georgia and Alabama by name. We can also assume it would cover many of the military men and women residing in Florida’s Panhandle.

Jonathan Martin, right

Politico’s Jonathan Martin isn’t a big fan of everyday people, especially those who don’t vote for Obama. If you want to understand who this man really is, you need only click here. To protect then-candidate Barack Obama and get the heat off of him after making his infamous and revealing “spread the wealth” comment, Martin needed to change the narrative quick, so he investigated and published dirt on a PRIVATE CITIZEN. What followed was a narrative-changing (to benefit Obama) MSM attack against a guy who was minding his own business when Obama approached him.

“Cracker” has a long pejorative history, much of it linked to slavery, as in he who “cracks” the whip, while other uses of the word always refer to the more lowly born.

Frederick Law Olmsted, a prominent landscape architect from Connecticut, visited the South as a journalist in the 1850s and wrote that “some crackers owned a good many Negroes, and were by no means so poor as their appearance indicated.”

Martin may just as well have slandered the people of the region by referring to them as “White Trash.” That is, in effect, how the word can be interpreted today. One can only imagine the outrage had a less than liberal outlet and journalist maligned an entire race or class, as Martin did. There’s also this from a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth.

“I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode.”

Major military bases in the region include the Pensacola Naval Air Station, Eglin Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. Pensacola is the home to U.S Naval aviation, extremely sophisticated, training pilots from all over the world. Perhaps getting in a dig at the military was sort of a bonus for Martin and MSNBC.

In fact, along with being known for its beaches and resorts, in some ways, the Panhandle represents the heart of the American middle class, working men and women involved in manufacturing, farming, milling, and other blue collar industries.

Historically, the economy of the Panhandle depended mainly on farming, forestry and lumbering, paper mills, import/export shipping at Pensacola and to a lesser extent at Panama City, shipbuilding, and commercial fishing. After World War II, the economy was boosted by the numerous military bases established in the region, as well as the growth of tourism and the hospitality industry. Major employers in the second half of the twentieth century included Monsanto and Westinghouse plants at Pensacola, the St. Joe Paper Company in Port St. Joe, and Gulf Power, a major electric utility company.

While true that some Panhandle residents may affectionately refer to themselves as “Florida Crackers,” as with many pejoratives of this type, they are general relegated for use to within the group, unless one’s goal is to malign. Check out any contemporary American rapper to confirm that. As I doubt Martin thinks of himself as much of a “cracker,” it’s safe to assume his intent was far from affectionate.


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