Like my dick, the gulf is wide but not seen by many (Note: This is a long post covering a variety of connected topics; bring a snack)
Every election year and often during any sports season the same tired tropes get regurgitated by the same tired turds. People on opposite sides stand in a line like a Revolutionary war battle field and hurl insults that make no difference in the world and actually damage nobody except for the most sensitive of souls — I would not recommend battle for the sensitive types because people considering you an enemy are going to do whatever it takes to defeat you. Sending you home crying is a defeat in the world of internet arguments. Hurting you is the goal of the troll, or the uncouth idealogical opponent.
I’ve talked ad nauseum about the refrain of fearful/hateful — this is the most ready used weapon in poor discussions, from simple-minded, lilly-livered idiots. The Common loon loves to accuse a person of being afraid of what they oppose (homophobia, transphobia, anything with “phobia” attached), or hateful of it (racist, sexist, and so on). This mental defect — fear or hate — is seen as a disqualification. That’s a failure for one reason: because a person is afraid or hateful doesn’t stop them from voting. If anything, they are more likely to vote based on these emotions.
Another common refrain is that a person is some sort of poor stereotype and this is not a song sung only by one side of the aisle: the neocon will lambast the “welfare queen”, and as National Review has shown, the horrid blue-collar worker. The liberal will talk of white trash, rednecks, and hicks. Whatever hated quality the snot is discussing will become embodied by these people, but not just the ones that are actually abusing the system (real welfare fraud exists; people will defraud anything given sufficient motivation and opportunity), or the ones actually racist (only a fool would suggest nobody is racist). The problem is in the extrapolation.
Thought experiment: Put ten people in a room. Mixed race across social stature: three rich people dressed clearly as rich people, one black, white, and with clear Mexican ancestry, three dirt poor people of the same three races, and then four lower-middle class blue collar workers: two whites, one black, and another person of clear Mexican descent. Make them all heterosexual, “cis” men to remove any sort of biased regarding gender relations and sexual orientation. Give them access to three tables with ten seats each, and a buffet of varied food on one end of the room.
I’d put even money that the poor seven and rich three would end up at different tables before the three racial groups self-segregated. If you triple the size of the group and room to thirty people and nine tables I’d still wager that the classes would group together before the races. Perhaps, depending on how strong the racial identity of each class, you’d then see the classes disperse by race. I’d also put more money on the blue-collar, lower middle class men sticking together overall than either of end of the economic spectrum — both the rich and the poor would almost surely split by race well before the middle did.
Now keep the same middle and upper class group and replace the poor with poor, but also criminal, of the same racial makeup: trailer park, ghetto, and barrio gang member types. Perhaps even pick three of each that also happen to be racists.
Suddenly the rich and the middle class are all sitting together on the opposite side of the room and eying the three groups of lunatics opposite them warily. They may even break for the exit.
See, there’s a difference between poor people and trashy people. The class portion of this is irrelevant — at any class, swap a set of people with criminals within that class and the overall population will find them repugnant. You could swap the word “criminal” with “loser” and it has the same impact. There are a great deal of people that have risen to some level of success (or swindled greater potential for success) that are also, well, undesirable. Race and class have little to do with it.
For an example that is somewhat anecdotal. A couple I’m aware of, one manages a successful chain store and the other does… some other job. Middle class, family, kids, white — trash, too. A pair of drunken louses (not alcoholics; addiction is a mental disorder, this is a decision), one with multiple DUIs. I don’t like to see them and avoid contact; at first they glom on to folks, friendly and whatever, but then…
It is simple to wave at a large group, ‘all of these people are bad.’ The poor are often the most maligned, and the middle has become a target of it as late — especially the white middle. How dare they not want to fall off into the abyss. Also, do not lose sight of the difference between trashy and criminal — the latter clearly breaks laws, while the former may not. Kanye West and his wife may or may not be criminals, but a reasonable person would assume they’re trashy (and their wealth won’t change this). If they weren’t famous he would be yelling at invisible aliens on a street corner and she’d be pregnant by ten guys working a register at a Dollar Store somewhere, scheming to land herself a “real man” and sabotaging other women in her age and work groups.
Instead, she’s sabotaging a whole lot more young idiots that listen to her.
The great problem is that on the one hand we’ve sought to eliminate shaming people. Accusing someone of shaming behavior as become a weapon — “slut shaming”, “fat shaming”, etc. But on the other hand people still really like to shame others — “people who support X are Y and should be ashamed”, or Kerry talking about how other countries are judging us based on the election this year. The wankers that be want to use shame when it fits them, and shame it when it does not. Further, they don’t want to differentiate between the truly trashy people and those simple of a different opinion or class than themselves.
Of course, most of this shaming — from shame shaming on down to the fearful/hateful mess — is coming from the rapidly less powerful, soon to be unemployed media types. The gates have been torn down and these snotty elites don’t have the same sway they once did. The rapid implosion of the “conservative” media over Donald Trump is probably the best thing to happen to those that identify as conservative since Reagan. Most people can’t even define what conservative or progressive are, just that they choose one side or another and they ascribe a great deal of good to their side and evil to the other. That’s neither positive nor useful in a real policy debate, and these media loons making money off the continued strife are in a panic over the possibility that the sheep they so carefully tend might actually be yet unidentified pack animals, not herd animals.
The reason Trump (who has recently exhibited poor choices in my opinion) is such an awful idea for National Review and others is that his appeal isn’t something they can claim for themselves. The power he has can’t transfer to them: they have too much invested in the opposite sort of appeal. The “conservative” side has for too long held the wool over the eyes of the people, and now all hell is breaking loose.
So the easy stereotypes come back. Racist, sexist. Hillbillies, rednecks, white trash — oh my. Ignoring that most everyone in the country can actually tell the difference between a person outside of the elite and the gutter trash that we’re compared to. Here’s a hint: it isn’t that we’re racist, it’s that after being called that every two to four years over the last eighteen or so years, we don’t care anymore.
An example of why: Paula Dean said something racist some thirty years ago and lost an empire, despite apologizing. The stink of the accusation sticks through any bath other than becoming what the elites want: she couldn’t apologize enough because she didn’t serve the purpose of those making the accusations. But by scaring people into a nice queue of useful idiots she served a purpose. When there is no statute of limitations, anyone who may have said anything racist just accepts this will be thrown at their feet regardless of the truth.
Another example. I can’t recall who, but a politician said something he did not realize was racist many years ago. It was like “Macaca” or some other gibberish, not intended as an insult but rather he was addressing a friend or other idiot. Somehow that became racist even though he didn’t mean it to be. Or the world “niggardly” which has roots far beyond the racist term you thought of there. Or the term “black hole.” When racism is ill-defined and anyone (literally) could have said something racist, suddenly everyone realizes the insult can be applied to them. There are two reactions:
“I don’t care, that’s just a card played by losers that can’t win a discussion otherwise.”
“I must do everything in my power to prove how good I am!”
The latter makes for a dangerous person, and often those people turn out to be worse than anyone actually accused of the particular thought crime in question.
All the other thought crimes follow a similar pattern: sexism, *phobia, whatever you can come up with. Slut-shaming, fat-shaming. When everything is an insult or an aggression, when everything can disqualify a person — suddenly nobody cares. When people are told that we can either force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide birth control to their employees or they’re engaging in a war on women, then you’ve lost anyone that looks at the accusation critically.
The generalizations are dying. But in a person’s day to day life they are still able to ascertain if a person is trash or not. Remember, trash has nothing to do with how you were born, but everything to do with choices you make — being born poor and never rising above that isn’t trashy. Most people have limited class mobility despite the promise of the American Dream. It isn’t about where you start, it isn’t even about where you go or end up — but how you behave yourself. There’s no shame in making decisions others agree with but there’s a lot of shame in being a useless person.
But that’s just me shaming people who are net-drains on the rest of us in every arena.
If you know the difference between poor people and trashy people, you’ll love The Boots Are Red, because Ron Cavanaugh has to sort one from the other to solve the case!