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Huckabee Serves Up 'God, Guns' And A Dose Of Controversy

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was a Republican presidential hopeful in the 2008 election. He writes that he wants his book <em>God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy </em>to introduce Americans to life in "flyover country."
Justin Sullivan
AFP/Getty Images
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was a Republican presidential hopeful in the 2008 election. He writes that he wants his book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy to introduce Americans to life in "flyover country."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is currently considering jumping into the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But if you're looking for a clear sign of his intentions, you won't find it in his new book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.

The book is less a policy blueprint than Huckabee's diagnosis of the cultural divide in America. Huckabee contrasts the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. (what Huckabee calls "Bubble-ville") with much of the rest of the country, and, in particular, rural America (what he calls "Bubba-ville"). The latter, Huckabee writes, is where you can find the land of "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy" of the title.

Huckabee prefers "Bubba-ville," and writes that he feels "out of place in Washington, D.C." But, with a big wink toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Huckabee writes of Washington, "There's only one address in that city that I'd want to relocate to. ☺"

(And, to be clear, the smiley face is in the text.)

While promoting the book, Huckabee has kicked up controversy — particularly for his comments about singer Beyoncé Knowles and her husband, Jay-Z. In a chapter called "The Culture of Crude," Huckabee writes disapprovingly of the pair's provocative performance at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

"Does it occur to [Jay-Z] that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?" Huckabee writes.

The remark has been criticized for, among other things, suggesting that Beyoncé's career is controlled by her husband. In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, Huckabee defends the passage in question, and expands on his depiction of a "cultural disconnect" in America, which, he says, can be even more polarizing than the divide between Democrats and Republicans.

Interview Highlights

On America's cultural divides

In the three bubbles of influence — New York, Washington and Hollywood — most of the cultural template of America is established, whether it's in fashion or finance or politics or government or music, entertainment, television, movies. A lot of people who live in the "flyover" land will sometimes say, "My gosh, that's very different than the general prevailing attitude of the land of God, guns, grits and gravy."

So this book tries to explain, here's who we are. It says to the people out there in flyover country, you're not alone. There are a lot of you. And you may not think there are a lot of you, because everything you see on TV and in the movies is more connected to the bubbles.

On the divide over gun ownership

Even my own Fox News staff that I would work with every week — good people. Many of the people on my show staff, anyway, were conservative, but many of them were not. But if the issue of guns came up, it was almost universal ... "You really own a firearm? Why?"

Most of them had never owned a gun, never picked up one, never shot one, had no idea what they would ever do if they did have one. And that's just very different from the way I grew up, where I had a first BB gun at age 5, and a pellet gun at age 7, and a .22 rifle at age 9. But I grew up also never imagining that I would point it at someone and murder anybody over it.

On the controversy over his comments on Beyoncé

I never thought that that particular reference was going to create any controversy. And I do believe that a lot of people were reacting not to what I said in its full context — they were reacting to what the headlines said that were the reports on it and the blogs on it, which have been numerous to say the least. ...

It's not a value judgment that one [culture] is right, the other is wrong. But what is completely, maybe, normal and not the least bit distressing to people in the cultural bubbles of New York, D.C., and Hollywood. And I'm not just talking about language — but what's normal in Washington, for example, and the way government works is appalling to those of us who live out here and have to pay for this nonsense.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff