Tag: WWC

Your Barrio Isn’t Worth Saving

Let’s say that you live in, once lived in, or otherwise have a fondness for a traditional Latino neighborhood in your city.

No doubt, you are aware that gentrification is a powerful force that is either the worst cataclysm in the history of urbanization, or a mighty godsend that will rescue every blighted neighborhood on the planet. Opinions vary.

But let’s sidestep that very real issue for now and address something we can all agree on: Many Hispanic neighborhoods have economic problems that need to be tackled, and improving the quality of life in Latino areas should be a top priority.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not going to happen. Because your neighborhood, your barrio, is not going to improve.

You see, we have only so many resources — and more importantly, only so much empathy — in this country. And currently, both are being used up in the effort to rescue small-town America and the white working class.

Now, you might ask, “Hey, isn’t the white working class synonymous with ‘Trump voter’? And isn’t there lots of proof that many of them are racists who have sold out our country because of their fear, hatred, and ignorance?”

Ha, no. I have it on good authority (i.e., the mainstream media) that the WWC are actually the salt of the earth, and they have been cruelly left behind by economic elites, and they have suffered greatly due to myriad other injustices that curiously never get mentioned whenever we talk about ethnic minorities (but that’s a mere coincidence).

In essence, we have unlimited sympathy for poor whites, and vast reservoirs of excuses for why they are free of responsibility for their problems and/or questionable decisions. For those Latinos who live in struggling urban neighborhoods, however, the message is clear: This is all your fault, so quit your whining.

For example, that opioid epidemic devastating rural America? It’s a full-blown crisis. But drug problems in the inner city? Just the moral failures of black and brown people.

Aren’t you glad that I cleared that up?

Oh sure, you might point out that based upon every statistical fact, lower-class white people actually have many advantages over Hispanics, and in some cases even over those Latinos who don’t live in poverty.

It doesn’t matter, because the image of the proud but destitute coal miner — the embodiment of the white working class — is stronger than any silly little facts or figures you could throw around.

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You Made Me Do This

Recently, I badmouthed those liberal celebrities who blame themselves for the rise of Donald Trump. Of course, our titans of the entertainment industry have bigger problems to face, like opening the correct envelope, so I’ll leave them alone.

Instead, I’m going to focus on progressives in general — be they famous, infamous or completely unknown — by pointing out a disturbing trend that has emerged since November. This is the tendency of leftists to absolve conservatives of all responsibility for Trump’s election. Even weirder, my fellow progressives are saying it is our entire fault that America has a cackling xenophobe in the White House.

Indeed, many good leftists are bowing their heads and admitting that it is the most malignant of monsters — political correctness — that explains, “more than anything, how the left created Trump.”

Progressives are shouting that the left abandoned the white working class, and that liberal elitism pushed rural voters away, and that liberals became bullies and gave conservatives no choice (no choice at all!) but to embrace Trump.

All this strikes some other liberals as whiny and self-indulgent. But I disagree.

I believe that it is the political equivalent of spousal abuse.

 

It’s clear that some liberals have been punched, degraded, and insulted by conservatives for so long that many progressives now accept the horrible image that right-wingers have created for them.

Just like in cases of spousal abuse, liberals are justifying the repulsive behavior of many conservatives, releasing them from blame, admitting the ill treatment is deserved, and then lining up for more.

Let me be clear. I am not making light of the issue of domestic violence. Some of my friends and family have suffered through this agony, so I don’t employ this metaphor lightly.

But it is eerie how so many progressives, no matter how much they are slurred and ridiculed, turn around and say that we had Trump coming, just be virtue of being liberal.

Remember, right-wingers never blamed themselves for Obama. Hell, they shrieked that liberals were idiots who had destroyed America by voting for a Kenyan socialist who was going to take away all their guns. Obama’s election only increased conservatives’ disdain for progressives, and it lead to zero self-loathing or reflection on the part of conservatives.

So why are liberals prone to accepting blame for the actions of conservatives, even clamoring for it at times?

Well, there are many reasons for this.

First, liberals tend to be nicey-nicey and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings (that conservative chestnut has a grain of truth to it). And in this case, progressives don’t want to get all mean and point out that many Trump supporters are straight-up misogynists and racists.

So progressives imply that Trump supporters are merely misunderstood, and that if we just charm red-state America enough, these people will forget all about their hatred of gay marriage and fear of Latinos.

It’s just that easy. Yup.

Of course, we would have to ignore statistics like this one: “A whopping 39 percent of Trump voters believe that women who get abortions should face legal punishment, an opinion that is otherwise so unpopular that even the anti-choice movement disavows it.”

But of course, they can’t be criticized for that loathsome viewpoint. It’s all the liberals’ fault.

Far too many leftists are saying we must reach out and plead with Trump supporters, who in turn don’t have to change at all. It is the progressives who must alter their worldview. This is despite the fact that Trump lost the popular vote (overwhelmingly) and has one of the worst approval ratings for a president this early in his administration. No, let us — the progressives — drop all our principles and try to understand the fury of a small group of conservatives, even as they deride us as dim-witted, latte-sipping wimps.

This brings up another point, which is that liberals are insulted routinely, and yet, we have not used this as a pathetic excuse to “blow up the system” or whatever euphemism the right wing is using to endanger democracy.

“But wait,” the bruised and battered liberal says. “We made them hate us, because Hollywood skewers them mercilessly in popular culture.”

Hey, here’s an interesting statistic for you. Latinos are the most underrepresented group in popular culture, and when we are shown, it is usually in stereotypical or highly negative ways.

No, the white working class has no idea what it’s like to be mocked.

But let’s accept the argument that the entertainment industry — and by bizarre extension, all of liberal culture — has been vicious to conservatives. Well, liberals don’t say, “suck it up, snowflake,” because that would be, you know, not nice.

Instead, the self-loathing liberal says that this is perfectly reasonable grounds for embracing demagoguery.

Think about that.

We’re basically saying it’s ok to get annoyed that, for example, many black people prefer the term “African American.” And not just peeved, as when one rolls his eyes, dismisses something as silly, and then goes about his business.

No, we agree that the logical reaction is to fly into an eye-popping rage and vote for a narcissistic nutjob. How in the world does A follow B? Why is becoming furious at the idea of women getting equal pay somehow acceptable, and even more so, a solid rationale for voting for an unqualified man-child who is cozy with dictators?

But progressives ignore these reddest of red flags, and they simply say, “Hey, right-wingers, we apologize for asking you not to slur Asians and refrain from throwing shit at mosques. We don’t know what we were thinking.”

Again, this is the political equivalent of saying, “I’m sorry I made you so angry that you punched me in the face. I’ll go get your beer now.”

As a final example of this twisted tendency, look at how many liberals are falling over themselves to proclaim Trump “presidential” now that he has successfully delivered one insult-free, semi-coherent speech. This most meager of accomplishments has convinced many progressives that Trump is a changed man, and will do the right thing, and will be the president for all of us.

And he bought me flowers and didn’t hit me on my birthday and he’s a changed man it’s different now don’t you see he really loves me and it will be better now and…

And…

And…

 

 


Sympathy, Part Two

Picking up where I left off, in last week’s post I asked the following: Why should we feel sorry for the white working class?

Yes, that’s harsh, but we’re talking about a demographic that prides itself on straight talk and not being politically correct and so on and so on.

Of course, claims about being non-PC usually mean, “We like to talk shit about minorities, who better not say a damn thing back, and watch your mouth when you’re addressing white Christian America.”

In any case, the WWC, by almost any measure, is not doing particularly well.

sisyphus-image-01c

 

However, to be brutally honest about it, these people are white — still the majority in this country — and as such they enjoy the benefits of white privilege. They have more economic clout, more societal influence, and more cultural power (obvious in that we are constantly talking about how they feel and think and live).

At the very least, one cannot argue with the inherent contradiction that their anti-immigrant stance has created. Namely, the white working class prides itself on its deep roots in American society. They have been here for generations, with great-great-grandparents who came from the good countries (i.e., Europe). The WWC is not fresh off the boat.

OK, but here’s my question to them: With such an overpowering head start, why are you struggling so much? You’ve had generations to build up wealth and establish your families. Why are you still slaving away in coal mines? Isn’t that what your ancestors in Great Britain were trying to escape?

Taking this point further, how can a group of swarthy outsiders who don’t even speak English — and are supposedly lazy and stupid — be so thoroughly kicking your ass? What are you doing wrong?

“But they’re stealing our jobs!” the white working class screams.

First, this is not true, as many studies have shown. Second, even if it were true, perhaps the WWC should be annoyed at the corporations that are kicking them to the curb in favor of immigrants (and yes, voting Republican will surely show corporate America a thing or two). And third, if you’ll permit me to use a conservative talking point, that’s just an excuse.

You see, whenever someone tries to explain the cycle of poverty that engulfs many African American or Latino communities, a huge right-wing chorus rises up to dismiss the hard data and sociological theories and economic realities that show why poor communities stay impoverished.

Instead, we hear that all those blacks and Hispanics just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop whining.

I never — and I mean, never — hear this argument applied to the poor regions of Appalachia. Not once have I heard a politician tell laid-off blue-collar workers in white towns that they need to take responsibility for their decisions and stop blaming others.

Actually, I’ve heard the opposite, which is that the WWC should blame immigrants and nobody else.

In addition to this illogical, hypocritical, misplaced blame, there is often a powerful sense of entitlement — supposedly anathema to conservatives — that pervades the white working class. For example, there are members of the WWC who are “sick of hearing in job interviews” that certain positions require Spanish.

Now, as I’ve written before, learning Spanish is not some magical skill beyond the reach of mere mortals. My own fluency is marginal at best, but I can tell you it’s not difficult to learn the basics and, with some effort, become proficient.

But hostility toward a bilingual world is a chief way in which the WWC tries to flex its entitlement. After all, if a job calls for being an expert in Microsoft Word, or knowing how to fix a carburetor, or identifying the cortex after opening up the skull, or knowing whether to snip the blue wire or the red wire, we don’t stomp our feet and say, “But I speak English, and that should be good enough!”

No, we accept that those are the requirements for the position, and the skill sets of the past may no longer apply.

America, as we all know, is evolving rapidly. And the stubborn refusal to acknowledge this — the overt battling to prevent this evolution — is one reason the WWC is in such a messed-up situation.

So again I ask, why are we bending over backward to spare the feelings of poor white people?

Well, an immediate answer is this: Because we should. They are human beings and deserve the support of their nation and their countrymen.

And despite my harsh words in some of this article, I do feel sorry for the white working class (I’m just a bleeding heart that way).

They have indeed been screwed over by politicians, corporations, and a rigged societal structure. And I don’t believe it’s as easy as pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. All that is true.

I’m just asking why our cultural sympathies are so easily tapped into when it comes to the WWC. Why do we feel for a white person mired in the economic misery of dying small town, but we mock blacks and Latinos who struggle in inner cities?

More important, what can we do to lift people of all backgrounds out of poverty, without making them go all Hunger Games on each other?

Well, I know that telling the WWC that they are right to feel rage at immigrants, and are correct to get pissed at a changing world, are not productive ideas.

So now that we’ve embraced the exact wrong thing to do, can we somehow adjust and do things the right way — for all our sakes?


Sympathy, Part One

One of the most riveting stories I’ve read this year is the Washington Post article about Melanie Austin. She’s the Trump supporter who has, shall we say, some rather colorful views of the world.

OK, the woman is fucking nuts.

Austin believes that President Obama is a Muslim who is secretly gay, and “that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them.” Also, Austin thinks that Hillary Clinton is a founder of Isis, and “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered in a White House plot involving a prostitute and a pillow.”

By the way, Austin is on anti-anxiety medication and was once “involuntarily hospitalized for several weeks” because of a psychotic breakdown.

Now, there are legitimate questions over whether the Washington Post story is morally repugnant. After all, one could argue that the reporter took advantage of a mentally ill person who had no idea how she would be portrayed.

And there is also the valid point that the article paints all Trump supporters as deranged and pathetic, and therefore constitutes a form of libelous yellow journalism.

Those are intriguing arguments, but what I find more interesting is the default mechanism for how Austin and other members of the white working class (WWC) are presented in the media.

She is, for the most part, portrayed as a victim. Even liberals have rushed to push aside her reprehensible, bigoted, and insane statements, in favor of asking, “What did Melanie Austin do to warrant this type of treatment by a national newspaper?” After all, she is a “woman who has suffered so much in her life.”

This is part of larger trend. As a member of the white working class, Austin has the cultural advantage of instilling sympathy for her plight. Other poor people — such as African Americans and Latinos — are more likely to provoke contempt, or even outright hostility and blame for somehow causing the degradation of the WWC and, by extension, America itself.

We see this in the descriptions of the white working class, a subset of Americans that have struggled for generations.

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Most media accounts are careful to avoid stating that poor white people have failed to keep up with a changing world. Rather, these individuals have cruelly been left behind (note the passive voice).

They are not angry and rage-filled. Rather, they are shell-shocked and forced to endure “the collapse of a whole way of life.”

They are not embracing Trump for his xenophobic bile. Rather, they just feel “isolated and disillusioned,” and have made an honest mistake in following him.

The point is clear. The WWC may be supporting the vilest presidential candidate in U.S. history, and they often spew horrific statements and even engage in overt violence. But deep down, they are salt-of-the-earth types who just got a bad deal. Have a little compassion for them.

Why is this? Well, for starters, members of the mainstream media can simply relate better to white people — even poor ones far removed from their elite journalistic circles. In fact, some journalists come from such a background, while reporters who hail from, say, Compton or East LA are fairly rare.

But it’s also because our default setting for empathy and compassion still centers on white people. They remain our cultural mainstays, and the central figures in our stories and the stand-ins for our national moods. To date, the white experience has been synonymous with the American experience.

However, we are living in a new era, and as such, a natural question arises when we think about the WWC who are supporting Trump.

And that question is an offensive one, but here it is: Why should we feel sorry for them?

I will address that question in my next post.


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