Southerners and the Gentry Class don’t get along well, since one of the key aspects of Gentry Class membership is looking down on Americans from Flyover Country in general, and the South in particular (especially if you come from the South yourself!).
Yeah, that's not really the guts of the essay, Putz. For instance:
I don’t doubt that white Southerners are prejudiced against Obama. Some are prejudiced against him because he’s black; a few older folks have told me they are. But most, I suspect, may be prejudiced for other reasons. Conservative white Southerners might have been okay with a black president if his name were Colin Powell.
White Southerners have something in common besides a heritage of racial presumptions—besides the fact that we were unwilling, 47 years ago, to sit in the same movie theater as anyone who looked like Barack Obama. White Southerners resist most sorts of change, racial and not. It may be hard to remember that Southerners were once very slow to accept other Northern imports like football and automobiles.
Obama isn’t just the first black president. He’s different in lots of other ways, whether they seem overtly relevant to his job performance or not. He’s the first president in U.S. history with an obviously non-European name. He’s the first son of an immigrant to be elected president since 1832; Andrew Jackson was the last one. He’s the only president in U.S. history with a parent who didn’t settle in America. He’s the first president in U.S. history whose grandparents belonged to a non-Christian faith. He’s the first president in U.S. history who wasn’t born in the continental United States, those represented in the 48 stars on flags during World War II. Thousands of white Southerners are old enough to remember when Hawaii wasn’t even a state. Maybe we’re still getting used to the idea.
I'm gonna go out in a limb and say this is not what Putz wants his readers to take away from Neeley's essay.