Thursday, February 23, 2012

racial profiling

I try not to do it but sometimes it's just how the mind works.

I try to see everyone as an individual.  I try to listen to what they say and not instinctively judge them by their appearance.

But when I see four rich middle-aged or elderly white men in suits sitting on a stage in Arizona with the T.V. cameras pointing at them, well...

Something kicks in.  I guess it's a prejudice.  I'll cop to that.  What the hell, might as well be honest here.

I feel like I know these guys.  I feel like I've heard them talking all my life, sometimes in public when they were trying to sell a crowd something and sometimes in private, when they thought it was just me and them and they could relax a bit and talk straight.

The thing about rich, middle-aged American white guys (and here comes the absolute, unvarnished prejudice) is that they will argue night and day for the unquestioned virtue of self-sufficiency while  refusing to acknowledge their own outrageous privilege.  It's like they don't even recognize the advantages they were born into; it's like listening to lottery winners preach the gospel of thrift.

You can take any issue and see this play out.

Last night the subject lurched, for  a moment, to education.  All four of these prosperous, well-fed gentlemen nodded along with the plan of getting the federal government out of the business of educating our children, even moving the goal posts to the argument that states shouldn't be in the business either,  we should leave it to local communities.


Take my hometown of St. Louis, MO and apply this grand idea to the real world.  The "local communities" of Clayton and Ladue would probably do fine.  Clayton, MO ranks regularly on the list of highest per capita income of towns in America.  It's a nice place to live.  So the Clayton kids will have nice, warm, clean classrooms and up-to-date textbooks.

Now go into the city.  Go to the North Side of St. Louis.  That's where most of the darker denizens of Mound City live their lives.  You may be only a couple of miles from Clayton, but its a very different world.  If you leave education to the "local community" there, those kids are sitting in broken-down desks in a community center built in 1965 and the roof is caving in.

But our Great White Hopes will smirk and sneer and insinuate that the reason those kids find themselves in such a dire situation is that their parents are lazy or ignorant or worse, criminal for the most part, right?

Take immigration.  Every one of the Boys wants to personally build a fence tomorrow and wall those Mexicans out, like you'd keep deer out of your garden so they don't eat your beautiful flowers.  Leaving aside the objective fact that a fence, no matter how tall, will not secure a border (Hadrian's wall, anyone?) let's look at what not one of them will say:

Illegal immigration drops by 85% tomorrow if you can't get a job up here.  And if the employers were fined, say, ten thousand dollars for every illegal immigrant they hired and if that fine were actually enforced, there wouldn't be jobs for illegal immigrants.

Now, what does this reticence have to do with their ethnicity and personal background?  The employers I'm referencing up above are also rich, middle-aged white men.

And it's bad form to fuck with a brother's sweet deal.  It's just not done.

Take tax policy, take what little, laughable jobs programs these privileged, pandering plutocrats offer, throw a dart at whatever part of the platform you want and you'll see the same pattern.

I try to come to everyone clean and open.  I really do.

But I'm just going to say it.

You just can't trust those people.

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