–Via Robert M. Shelby, 3-15-11. [1868 txt wds]
This tough, truthful rant was forwarded to me by my old college room-mate, retired Professor W. M. Denevan, former Chairman of the Geography Department, U. of Wisconsin at Madison and student of the great Karl Sauer, now living north of Gualala, CA. It was forwarded through several persons to him from the WordPress blog of one Al Stefanelli who quotes it from a forum post by “yeahiknow5”, changed only by paragraph formatting. I edit it lightly, gentling coarseness and trimming prolixity. –RMS
You should read “What’s the Matter with Kansas” & “Deer Hunting With Jesus.” Both are great takes on a working class, anti-intellectual, redneck culture that has been convinced to consistently vote against its own best interests. [Take] my own father, who has been the victim of layoffs from corporate merger after merger, who’s had his retirement freaked, who’s lost money on wall street – he’s done everything he was ‘supposed’ to do. He joined the military, went to college, had two kids, bought the house, invested, saved his money, worked his fricking ‘A’ off all his life. He still has squat to show for it. Now… well into his 60s he feels the wrath of age discrimination, his skills outdated. His pay and benefits today (for the last ten years) are lower than they’ve been in the last thirty years. Living the American life he finds his health failing as he’s a lifetime smoker with a growing waistline.
He’s the prototypical uncultured, red-blooded American male. He slathers his steak in ketchup, votes conservative down the line, and wants the good old days before the women, blacks and fags took over. He’s a flag waver, supports his troops, and fends for himself. He’s always bitching about how much money corporations have to spend [due to] regulation and about how the upper class need a tax cut. Nothing in the world makes him angrier than “socialism” and the so-called welfare state. Working people getting needed services bothers him tremendously because a few extreme … examples get painted as degenerate leeches by [such as] AM Radio and Fox News. Then he’ll turn right around to support corporate subsidy for just about anything from corn to oil – because it “stimulates jobs” and it “trickles down.” He refuses to recognize that we as a nation spend more money at the beckoning of corporate America than we even begin to … spend on our own citizenry through what he claims is “welfare” or infrastructure. He’s a working class guy who’s been [robbed] by the system all his life. He still puts his suit on with a kind of sad pride, every day, goes to work downtown at a phone-monkey job. Nowdays, he’s doing a job anybody could do but likes to pretend all his education and experience have gotten him somewhere. He’s as deluded about what America’s exceptional way of life has brought him personally as he is deluded about what the world is like at large. So he denies global warming, blames the unions, blames teachers and government workers, blames regulation, the EPA, the FDA and those struggling to make it in this world, blames the blacks, blames the immigrants, blames everyone and anyone but those at the top.
He’d rather blame fellow working people trying to grab a piece of the pie, rather than blame the crooks who deprive us all. Because somehow -– be it by gender identity, racial identity, national identity, he thinks his class, his type belongs at the top. He’s the top dog! But he’s not. He’s a [nothing], I’m a [nothing], muslims are [nothings] and mexicans are [nothings], teachers and steel workers, and farmers too. To people like the Koch Brothers, we’re all [nothings] and my dad can’t see that. This is an us vs them game and people like my father are freaking deluded as to what side they’re on or can be on some day. Deep down inside, he admires those at the top – he wants to be them even though he knows he’ll never be one of them. He likes to pretend. He goes to his Applebee’s, Red Lobster or Outback and bitches about all the blacks there. I think this is important to note – it’s indicative of his whole perspective. He is the same CLASS of people as these folks, he’s spending roughly the same amount on dinner as them, but thinks things are going to hell because they are there. He doesn’t get that HE IS THEM. He’s the same fricking class, in the same leaking boat. He’s got relatively the same education level, roughly the same pay, living roughly the same way of life. But he’s been convinced to fight, to hate, to dislike his own class of people and to admire and defend the class that basically owns and controls his life and all our lives. He has been perfectly trained to rail against the ‘other’.
Against feminists, environmentalists, labor movements, racial minorities, immigrants, public sector workers, union members. These people aren’t HIS brothers and sisters – they are his enemy. He’s so busy hating “otherness” that he doesn’t realize he is them – and we’re all getting sacked by the same small group of people at the top. This is the same thing as him blaming unions and the welfare state. He has been indoctrinated through the years to fight amongst, to disagree with, to blame, even to hate people in the same boat with him. Not only kiss the hands of, but actively defend and fight on behalf of those who would take everything away from him, his wife and family if they could make a buck on it – because he believes in an American dream, a way of life that simply doesn’t exist. He talks of freedom for those who have all the capital, but he doesn’t worry about his own freedom or about freedom for his neighbors. All he sees is, those liberals who take away rich people’s money are the same people telling him where he can and cannot smoke and that he should put his seatbelt on –- so liberals must “hate freedom!” Those damned, reading elitist liberal communists! He has been [brainwashed], as have many Americans –- to hate their own and defend the masters. To squabble over petty … differences rather than unite on common interests to fight for proper pay, benefits, rights as consumers and workers, and for clean environment.
This is what happens when you have a class of people who were never taught to think for themselves, who act like reading is for fags, who are more willing to listen to hot heads like Beck and Limbaugh than to read any kind of political theorists, scientists, or economists. This is what happens when you close your mind. You become one who’s always looking for that “other” to hate and blame for your problems rather than to look at yourself or open your eyes to the bigger picture. People like my dad are willing to accept AM radio, Fox News talk shows, even forwarded chain-emails as official sources, then [personally] ignore any material the talking heads on these shows didn’t point him to. Why?Because you can’t trust anyone but them! The ability to think critically, to verify, discern the credibility of sources, to do [actual] research yourself, is completely lost on these folks. That’s what these tricky Tea Party and GOP talking heads hope for. They hope to god that the lies they spew get echoed in the public sphere so often that it becomes reality. That people are too dumb or too lazy to verify what they spout. This makes it so that people who are trying to get real work done have to waste time correcting lies and disinformation just to get the slightest bit of public support to make progress anywhere. People don’t grasp how dangerous our situation is. Right now the economy is, and has been in the toilet. People are scared. People have lost their jobs. They’re angry. They mobilized into this [fake-]populist “tea party”, thinking it’s a real grassroots organization. They dismiss the fact that it’s led by billionaires and corporate media. These angry masses will eat up any scapegoat the “leaders” feed them.
We’ve seen this in history before. I’m not trying to evoke Godwins Law … but I see correlations between the right-wing’s “disenfranchised populist” uprising here in America and what people experienced in Wiemar Germany. There were a lot of angry people, scared about loss of jobs in a terrible economy. Those angry, uneducated people were looking for someone to blame. They didn’t care if they sided with a political party that would be responsible for screwing them over and destroying democracy, not to mention the massive harm they would do to other groups. No, all that mattered was, they found leaders who pretended to have answers. People like quick, simple answers, fixes, certainty and shared anger.
That’s what the Nazi Party gave them. That’s what the Tea Party/Fox News/AM Radio and parts of the GOP are giving this right wing uprising too. Anything intellectual is ignored or met with disinformation and a superior air of anti-intellectualism. Everywhere I go: home to my parents, at work in the break room, flip on the TV, browse the internet –- I see the same message: “My opinion is better than your facts”. This approach is rooted deeply in ignorant anger most of the time. When the populace stops listening to those with brains and ignores factual information, opting for opinion-shouters, we’ve got problems. The Tea Party would be an extremely powerful force if they had a politician that was worthwhile. Every time they find someone charismatic, [he or she proves to be an idiot or a crook.] If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest the US is in trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, justified anger and absence of coherent response from liberals.
What can people think if someone says ‘I’ve got an answer, we have an enemy’? There, it was the Jews. Here, it’s the illegal immigrants from Mexico, the Muslims, teachers, unions, Planned Parenthood, NPR, blacks (toss in atheists, homosexuals and liberals, too). We will be told that WASPy private sector males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves [and national honor] instead of fixing problems that affect the [whole] working class. The nation will be convinced to support legislation that further protects and consolidates power for the corporate elite. All those privacy rights, the voice we have in our government, due process, checks and balances that protect us all? Those things just get in the way of security and stability. The right-wing that supports these parties and leaders will get hurt too, more subtly. They’ll vote away their rights, too stupid to realize they did it to themselves.