We may not have much respect for Trumplandia’s faith-based lies but we have our own cultural delusions that are no more evolved. Two years spent with the Occupy movement in New York made it clear that my team is no less prone to faith-based utopian social equations and reflexive bigotry when the stress kicks in.
I’ve lived my whole life on the East Coast – mostly New York City and ten years in Boston. I heard every kind of music on earth growing up just by noodling with the radio dial. Over 800 languages are spoken in my home town. There’s food from every culture. I see Muslims and Hasidic Jews on the same side of the same street every day. What’s feels alien to so many non-cosmopolitan Americans is a daily normality to us coastal urbanites. That’s why we tend to be liberal – the unfamiliar is unthreatening. That doesn’t make us a more evolved species. Despite the myth of free choice in all things, we’re captives of our environment and the culture it brews.
Since the moment of the final 2016 election tally I’ve been finding myself not just intellectually but now viscerally aware that I’m very relieved to be a white guy. And a moment later a very stressed New York City white guy. What might a nutcase like Giuliani will do as Attorney General; a 6-3 right wing majority on the Court; a dismaantled EPA; women’s health issues; LGBTQ rights.
I worry for that white blue collar community and the next minute I’m furious with them. For decades they bought into an ideology that only benefits corporations and billionaires. They’re against every government attempt to help them: minimum wage, regulations to insure safe workplaces; affordable health care; unions. They don’t grasp the obvious even though it’s right there in that foreclosure sign on the lawn: it’s no coincidence that wages have stagnated right alongside the dismantling of the labor movement and regulation on banks and business at the hands of politicians these jerks vote in year after year. They deserve their despair. Their willful ignorance has screwed up their lives and now they gladly spread the misery around.
Fox News deserves much of the credit. Here’s the flagship of a global media conglomerate that’s convinced its viewers that it’s is not part of the mainstream media that stokes conflict for profit. With the help of Frank Luntz they framed their issues in ways that that stir primal emotions like a drug. Legislation of consequence goes unexamined while presented as low grade entertainment. It was an exquisite surrealist moment to see Luntz on 60 Minutes bemoaning the current fact-free political diet that now determines the future of the nation. Fox News, where he’s a resident Orwellian fact hacker, has made a fortune paving the highway to Trumplandia and Luntz poured much of the concrete.
But my team also set up the current crisis. For decades the Left, in every form of media, portrayed citizens in the South – and, by extension, the Midwest – as dumb hillbillies and racists. We turned the lack of decent education and access to information in many areas into an ugly cartoon. Robert Altman, one of my favorite film directors, disgusted me by portraying country music as out-of-tune aural junk food. In reality, the musical virtuosity and depth of social observation in the lyrics of most country music is way beyond most American pop music genres. Every time Bill Maher mentions a Red State dweller or deity believer he frames the person in an ugly stereotype. Every mention of Chris Christie includes a dig at his obesity as though the hour couldn’t be filled with a stream of documented evidence of the menace he truly is. And yes, Maher has the skill set to generate laughs without belittling people who already belittle themselves about their weight.
How could there not be wide spread resentment over condescending coastal hiptitude and Noted Authorities with their incomprehensible jargon imposing cosmopolitan norms on those who have no context for it
Our biggest gift to them was political correctness, treating immature expression by people in their late teens in an alien social environment as a sort of crime. Most people we’d call bigots, like some in my own family, were programmed for bigotry all through childhood in homogenous social structures where they might never get pushback from someone they trust when that bigotry is voice or acted out. That feedback is the thing that lights up self-reflection. In New York we take that process for granted as a normal part of growing up.
On college campuses where Lefty fundamentalism has geezerized the intellectual growth process, PC just shuts these kids up and shuts them out. Biases that would fade with some friendly pushback get doubled down on with perverse pride. As revenge.
Why would Trump supporters not love a racist reality TV star who delivers policy speeches like a standup comic or a TV wrestler? A guy who makes defying political correctness a form of celebration. Besides giving true racists an incentive to spit and punch a non-white face, I bet there are Trump supporters shouting racist junk who aren’t really racists at all but are desperate for something that feels like acceptance and pride.
To think that any one of us is not prone to needy assholery in exchange for some love and applause is to be no less delusional than Trumpers. Both sides can go to hell.
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, November 11, 2016
© Polar Levine 2016 content should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior permission