Coastal Elites vs Flyover Country, Part 305 (except uh, some of us are both…? nvm…)
Rant time! 8-) Shield your eyes.
So this kinda makes me mad, and I’ll tell ya why.
Because look. First of all, for those just tuning in, the only part of my family background that isn’t white working-class (or poorer) is Cherokee working-class (or poorer). (And in Texas I’m not even sure there’s all THAT much daylight between the two, functionally. I only mention it for the sake of fairness: I experience white privilege out the wazoo because I’m so damn pale I fluoresce, but I can’t lay claim to a purely white working-class family background/culture. :-) )
So know that when I speak of the white working class, I speak largely if not exclusively of my own. I’m the first in my branch of the family to go to college. My parents came up from literal starvation poverty and broke their backs heaving us kids into the middle class. I’ve tried to reward their effort with showing myself worthy of it, and willing to use the advantages given to me to better myself and help the world however I could.
First of all, I’m kind of mad that that apparently makes me a fucking “elite.” But whatever. Certainly an education is a great privilege, and will be until it is genuinely universally accessible. Certainly I believe that it is wrong to condemn people for not knowing what they don’t know.
And I have offended people to the point of not speaking to me anymore by my INSISTENCE that saying things like “trailer trash” or “white trash” or “hick” or even “redneck” (unless you are a redneck doing the reclaiming thing :-) ) is no more okay than any other slur. That class-based slurs are as bad as any other kind. And that if you come at me with “oh, I only mean the hateful ignorant ones when I throw that word around,” I’m going to treat you the same way I treat people who want to explain all about how “only SOME blacks are n — s.” No, sorry, no. Those arguments don’t play with me. Human beings are not trash. Period. PERIOD.
But on the other hand, I would say that there’s a reverse condescension in pieces like this that’s just as big a problem. White working-class people are intelligent, responsible adults who can and should be held responsible for what they do. To pretend otherwise is insulting.
Secondly — I’m tired of this flavor of finger-wagging. Look, I’ll absolutely agree that we have a suffering white working class that desperately needs social aid, but you are asking people to sympathize with people who just voted a fascist to power. That’s a bit much. (Especially when you consider that white middle and upper-middle class folks also went Trump to an embarrassing degree. What’s THEIR excuse?) That’s really a bit much, especially considering what fascists tend to do once in power and who tends to suffer the most as a result.
You’re basically asking people to sympathize with the Germans who voted Hitler, and to not criticize them too stringently. I’m sorry, but that’s an inappropriate request. Asking for self-education and studying other perspectives to understand the problem? Sure. That’s a different matter. Asking people to realize that Trump voters are fellow human beings, and that fellow human beings are capable of doing awful things, that all of us have these poison seeds in our souls, and that we need to face that squarely if we want to change it? That’s not just appropriate but urgent. That is a clarion call.
But to expect progressives and liberals to mute their criticism of the people who — FOR WHATEVER REASON — just doomed our nation to a dark age of indeterminate duration? (And this is my third point.) Is unrealistic, unhelpful, a bit pretentious, and frankly, kinda privileged in itself. There are so many people who will be busy enough just surviving this, just dealing with the rising tide of hate and cruel austerity — and you want them to also save some spoons for feeling sorry for Trump voters and protest voters? For feeling sorry for, at least in some cases, the same people who’ll be oppressing them? You want people to refrain from mentioning that certain groups of people just fucked things over for possibly the whole PLANET?
Yeah, good luck with that.
(To be fair, the author does start off reaffirming what should be obvious — that “white male” is also an “identity” so BS about “we need to get past identity politics” immediately followed by “…by tending to blue-collar white men’s needs” is prima facie absurd. But then everything after that kind of undercuts that opening statement, so.)
And lastly — I could just vomit when I hear this stuff about “well, the Democrats/liberals/etc need to get back to economic policies to help the working poor.”
Goatfucker, where you been the last eight years? If that’s what you wanted, if that’s what all the “good guys” want, then why did the Dems have to spend year after year trying to pass exactly those things and getting blocked by the ‘Pubs? Where were y’all? I know where SOME of y’all were. You were keeping your dainty truegressive hands clean of dirty, dirty politics so you could sit back and complain about those do-nothing Democrats…all the time you could have been helping those Dems to do the things. (Boilerplate disclaimer: if you were off the couch, this doesn’t apply to you. I’m talking to the backseat drivers, of whom there are way too many.)
Seriously, fuck y’all. I mean I shouldn’t be surprised you’re still carping, it’s what you do best, but if you’d been in the trenches on this you would have some teeny tiny awareness of the very good reasons not enough socioeconomically positive legislation has passed, and you wouldn’t write any criticisms that didn’t CONTAIN that acknowledgment. Because you’d know those obstacles not only still remain, THEY’RE BIGGER THAN EVER.