No one is sure of the origin of the term "redneck," but the most likely scenario is that it came as a denigratory reference used by the English for the Scottish Highlander rebels of the late Medieval and early modern periods. They had no uniforms but wore red scarves around their necks as a badge by which to identify one another on the battlefield. They were rough, tough Highlanders, and so rednecks were, in the eyes of the ruling class in England, barbarians worthy only of belittlement.
Many of those Scotsman were exiled to the American South. That occurred in several waves of deportation during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The word came with them and was adopted by the Anglophilic coastal plain planters and townsmen who were already there. The Scottish were pushed westward to the unsettled areas, and so the term came to mean someone from the outer reaches of the country, a frontiersman, a rustic, someone definitely not an urban sophisticate. No powdered wigs, no polished canes, no silver teapots, no voyages to London, no glittering garden parties.
Still today the word "redneck" is rarely, and almost never appropriately, applied to persons of property and social status in the cities. It remains a dismissive derogatory, one of the last in American English not ruled out by political correctness. The reason for that, of course, is that the cultural elitists who make those rulings are themselves the effete urbanites and academics who use the word as one of belittlement for people unlike themselves. Doing so helps bolster their pretensions to superiority, and so they need to keep some of those terms.
From the standpoints of its origin and of American history, the redneck represents the underdog, marginalized and disenfranchised, rebellious and countercultural, irrepressibly defiant and independent. Many have tried to stamp him out in their misguided attempt to remake society in their own inflated image. None has succeeded. He is the living soul of America, of what makes us ourselves rather than a poor imitation of European decadence. We should celebrate the redneck, not blithely accept the negative connotations of the term associated with obnoxious elitists from the English upper class twits of the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century upper class twits in Washington, New York and Hollywood.