HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » JHan » Journal
Page: 1

JHan

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Member since: Sun Sep 11, 2016, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 10,173

About Me

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.

Journal Archives

surprising insight given the source: "The White Minstrel Show"

from The National Review of all places ...

by KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON ( who, for all his other flaws, managed to write an insightful opEd critiquing conservatism)

My disagreements with him are where he dismisses external factors which worsen outcomes and falls back to the trope of "Pulling yourself up by own bootstraps" etc. Other than that, he is spot on in his dissection of anti-elitist populism.

White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect.

Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse."


*snip*

The populist Right’s abandonment of principle has been accompanied by a repudiation of good taste, achievement, education, refinement, and manners — all of which are abominated as signs of effete “elitism.” During the Clinton years, Virtue Inc. was the top-performing share in the Republican political stock exchange. Fortunes were made, books were sold by the ton, and homilies were delivered. The same people today are celebrating Donald Trump — not in spite of his being a dishonest, crude serial adulterer but because of it. His dishonesty, the quondam cardinals of Virtue Inc. assure us, is simply the mark of a savvy businessman, his vulgarity the badge of his genuineness and lack of “political correctness,” and his pitiless abuse of his several wives and children the mark of a genuine “alpha male.”

No less a virtue entrepreneur than Bill Bennett dismissed those who pointed out Trump’s endless lies and habitual betrayals as suffering from “moral superiority,” from people on “high horses,” and said that Trump simply is “a guy who says some things awkwardly, indecorously, infelicitously.” Thus did the author of The Book of Virtues embrace the author of “Grab ’Em By the P***y.”

We need a Moynihan Report for conservative broadcasters. The problem, in Bennett’s telling (and that of many other conservatives), isn’t that Trump is a morally defective reprobate but that he is aesthetically displeasing to overly refined “elitists.” That is a pretty common line of argument — and an intellectual cop-out — but set that aside for the moment. Let’s pretend that Bennett et al. are correct and this is simply a matter of manners. Are we now to celebrate vulgarity as a virtue? Are we to embrace crassness? Are we supposed to pretend that a casino-cum-strip-joint is a civilizational contribution up there with Notre-Dame, that the Trump Taj Mahal trumps the Taj Mahal? Are we supposed to snigger at people who ask that question? Are we supposed to abandon our traditional defense of standards to mimic Trump’s bucket-of-KFC-and-gold-plated-toilet routine? "


*snip*

"What the Trump-style would-be tribunes of the plebs most have in common with self-appointed progressive advocates for the poor is ignorance of the actual subject matter. It weren’t the scheming Chinaman what stole ol’ Bubba’s job down Bovina, ’cause ol’ Bubba didn’t really have him a job to steal. And it isn’t capitalism that made rural Appalachia or small-town Texas what it is. Well-heeled children of privilege such as Elizabeth Bruenig condescend to speak on behalf of people and communities about whom they know practically nothing — people who have not, let’s remember, asked the well-scrubbed sons and daughters of the ruling class to speak on their behalf. When they were asked, they chose Donald Trump by a very large margin, but then the poor make poor choices all the time — that’s part of why they’re poor. The Left is convinced of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? thesis, that the poor and struggling in the conservative and rural parts of the country are just too besotted with Jesus talk and homosexual panic to understand what actually is at stake, and who therefore — the famous phrase — “vote against their own economic interests.” Progressives preach about — and to — people with whom they have no real connection, and do so in ways that would embarrass them to death if it were a racial line rather than a class line they were crossing in such a state of pristine ignorance. They are the mirror image of white conservatives who wonder why poor black people in the Bronx can’t just “act white” and get with the program. If I might be permitted to address the would-be benefactors of the white underclass from the southerly side of the class line: Ain’t nobody asked you to speak for us."
Go to Page: 1