Monday, March 19, 2012
03.19.12 at 1:14 am
Salient (38.), I’ll be rude and say this reads like an exercise in essentializing to me.
Neither rude nor incorrect. You might say it’s counter-essentializing, in the direction opposite to the essentializing that Thomas Frank does.
The biggest of the problems with what I’m saying (and there are several) is that I’m whitewashing the fact that ‘white male bigot’ and ‘American lefty social-democrat’ are categories that overlapped extensively and gradually decoupled over time and then got blown in different directions during and immediately after WWII. There are still a number of white male bigot American lefty social-democrat folks, but they’re a relatively small and completely unorganized and somewhat marginalized subgroup of lefty folks at this point, composed of folks who are generally speaking quite chronically self-unaware of their own racist or misogynist streaks, and testy about getting called on ‘em.
Salient seems pretty upset in 38. I take he or she is channeling conservative Republicans.
I do write in a style that sometimes sounds much more upset than I actually am (something I’ve been working on correcting for years, with only slow and partial progress) but the second sentence is probably accurate, I am channeling the white male bigot, just in a kind of indirect way.
I guess academics are liberal elites in the US. But, here in Ghana we are unionized so we are definitely working class.
In America, being ‘working class’ has nothing to do with being working class, and everything to do with being a prig. Yarrow’s got a perfect example of someone who is literally working class, but not ‘working class’ in the evocative sense the phrase is used by, say, David Brooks.
I suspect I’ve missed a good many subtleties in the rest of your comment, which would render this reply to the above sentence nugatory.
In what follows I try to use brackets to be clearer about the subtleties, but I’m struggling to express them successfully, so it might take me a couple tries…
But just to be literal-minded about it: by “liberal elites,” Republican propagandists mean
…wellll, let me pause there, the whole thing we’re arguing about (or at least the whole thing I’m on about) is whether this is something deviously implanted in the white male bigot’s mind by crafty Republican propagandists, or whether this is something in the white male bigot’s mind that is explicitly acknowledged and catered to by modern-day Republican operatives who want to undo the damage [to white male bigot security and comfort and supremacy] that liberal elites inflicted [by pursuing the establishment of civil rights].
In other words, we’re disagreeing about who is leading whom. Did the Republican operatives mislead the white male bigot, or did the Republican operatives read the white male bigot mindset and decide to represent it accurately? You would say the former, I would say the latter—and yes, this definitely includes the vast majority of the Republican businessman’s platform both in letter and in spirit (but I feel a need to try to be clear about my basic perspective before getting into that, so I don’t say much about the details of that).
The pre-1950s are the archetypal time that [white male bigot] Americans wish to revert to because at that time [white male] Americans got all the advantages of a fully functioning welfare state [read: the GI bill, the GI bill, the (white) Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, and the GI bill] but didn’t yet have to contend with any of the destruction that liberal elites [e.g. civil rights activists] inflicted on [white male bigot] America in the decades that followed [by extending the goodies of the welfare state to persons who were not white male veterans; seriously, the heyday of the white male bigot began in 1944 and ended less than a decade later with Brown v. Board of Education].
By this definition, you are an un-American liberal elitist. I am an un-American liberal elitist.
(nodding) … are you trying to suggest we’re not? I’d take that as an insult.
But we are not responsible for all the ills—both real and fancied—that afflict Kansas and the rest of the Republican base.
…but we are. If it wasn’t for us [so to speak], they’d be able to contentedly enjoy the spoils of the GI Bill welfare state, without any trace of concern that colored persons or WMB-unapproved women would be eligible to compete for them. What ills are you talking about? There’s only one ill, and it’s the provision of opportunity to people who shouldn’t get a share of the opportunity [because they are not white men].
[Given that in these comments I’m conceding the language to the white male bigot crowd without conceding the correctness of their perspective,] I am personally quite proud to be an un-American liberal elitist [which means ‘supporter of undermining white male bigot supremacy’], I am pleased to be in some way partially responsible for at least some of the ills affecting [white male bigots in] Kansas [such as the unprecedented destructive horror of women having more extensive control over their own reproductive, marital, and economic fates], and I’m thoroughly relieved that liberal elites destroyed this country [for white male bigots] as far as they were able. I see the work of destroying [white male bigot dominance in] America [by extending civil rights, security, privacy, and liberty, to persons who are not white male bigots] as an important and explicit goal of my political self.(Brackets throughout are a kludge, and probably are so obviously redundant as to be painful to wade through, but I wasn’t sure what else to try. I tried to go back and put scare quotes in to emphasize this, but I ended up with nearly every word in everything I’ve typed scare-quoted, making it illegible. Which brackets probably also did. This stuff is hard…)