The Elephant in the Room, Continued…

Posted: November 22, 2011 in "Those People", History, Humans, Rants

First off, I survived my 40th birthday insanity and came out the other side with only a few bruises and minor flesh wounds…and a hangover.  It was one heck of a time and a whole lotta fun, and well, I looked upon it and found it good, except the hangover.  Those are never good.  But celebration time is now over and once again, I shall now press my crooked nose to the grindstone and make good on my promise to say shit some people are thinking and don’t wanna say and others sure as shit don’t wanna hear….so let’s get back to that elephant, I reckon its about time…

I’ve discussed the Elephant in the Room before, overview and prologue style.  But hey, I like to dig, I’m a digger.  I gnaw on things, digest, consider, and dig some more.  And as I have been doing that, mentally feasting and such, I reckon it is now time; time to do the unthinkable, something real unpopular, but something that needs doing.  It’s a double fuck for certain, but I’m gonna do it anyway.  It’s time for not only a history lesson, but some defense of white folk…especially and including…white dudes.

Oh shit, now I’ve gone and done it, yeah?   Oh well, what else is new?

Now, I have talked before about how there is still one group of people it is socially acceptable to make fun of, a group that is mocked and belittled in a way that well, if one were to mock or belittle other groups of people in such a fashion it would kill their careers and they’d be persona non-gratis pretty much anywhere for a long time.  I mean, if Gene Weingarten had said something similar about Hispanic, black, Chinese, Iranian or any other sort of folk…what do you honestly think the reaction would be?  If he’d made it a “humorous jibe” about someone defending their opium den and Cantonese fried cat or low riders and burritos or crack house and chicken or gold coins and matzoh balls or any other countless insulting cultural stereotypes…do you think he’d still be a popular unsanctioned writer and humorist for the Washington Post?  Really?  Seriously? For some reason I suspect otherwise.  I really do.  Folk who have done such have paid for the crime, because its not okay to do that…unless you do it to certain kinds of white folk…and Weingarten proves just how okay it is.  Which burns my biscuits, actually.  Why, you might ask?  Well…

Let’s talk some history first, shall we?  I am a fan after all.  History can be very informative, interesting, scary, and well, it is the story of humans.  However, it is the story of humans as written by the winners and in truth, for the most part…rich white dudes.   Not all white dudes…rich white dudes.  And being mad at rich white dudes?  I’m okay with that.  They have- historically and all- proven themselves to be greedy douchebags who will use, abuse, and sell out folk- of all races, colors, and genders- if it will earn ’em a buck.   This has been historically proven even!  And while rich white dudes do have a tendancy to try to control and regulate everything, from cash flow to the info that makes it down to us plebians, they don’t always succeed.  So yeah, lets get on with that, shall we?

As everyone here knows I should hope, the US engaged in slavery.  We all know that.  We also know that colonists did absolutely horrible things to the Native Americans/First People of North America; everything from land theft to mass murder.   But, as I sit here, in history mode and all, I want y’all to consider your own roots.  Are ya Irish?  Or Scottish? Or English? Or German?  Or Slavic of any sort?  Then chances are, when your people arrived here on a boat, if they did so before oh, 1865 or so, chances are they did not necessarily do so by choice.  They were probably coerced to come here, or did so as indentured servants, or to work other (rich, white) peoples land, or fight in wars, or as convicts (oddly enough, England sent convicts here prior to the Revolutionary War, then they turned to Australia) or in countless other ways that hardly count as bold and noble endeavors.   Much like a great many of the non-white folk who got screwed by rich white folk, tons of white folk were also screwed: lied to, abducted, abused, tortured, killed, owned, and otherwise fucked over…and they may very well be your ancestors.  If you read up on the ships who brought non-rich white folk over here, or the lives they lived, or how they were treated, worked, abused and screwed, you might see some similarities- many, many, many similarities- to how the non-white folk were treated.  Terminology was sometimes different, sometimes the same…but to me, an Irish indentured servant shipped over to the new world by Cromwell who ended up being sold and worked to death in a field is really not so different from anyone else who ended up in a similar situation.

Fascinated by this notion,  I myself did some digging into my own family tree, and while my direct people only got here recently- pre WWII/post WWII and all- I did find some interesting shit…it seems a whole bunch of my dad’s side of the family (the Russian side) were hung for stealing horses, and those who weren’t were tossed outta Russia…they eventually made it to America…where a bunch of ’em were hung in Colorado/ Wyoming/ Utah…for stealing horses (apparently my people had a one track minds and never learned nothing at the end of a rope!).  Many of my Mom’s side of the family left economic destitution in North England and ended up in Louisiana and Georgia… during the Civil War.  They did not travel for free.  I found all this very interesting, and wondered just how many other white folk like me…well, how did their families get here?  Surely they were not all rich land owners, blue-bloods, people who owned other people…and sure enough, I bet you a pair of snake skin boots that a great many of us?  Well, your ancestors or family relations made it here to the New World just like some of my people did; as convicts or labor or kicked out of their own countries- kidnapped or lied to or led on- bought, sold, owned, worked hard and treated poorly.   And you know what?  None of us got acres or mules either.  In fact?  Those folk sorta got fucked.  After all, rich folk have been fucking not rich folk- of all colors- since feudal times…and they still are.

History lesson done.  But History lesson in mind…how the hell is it okay to think that every white person in the US is the same, starting from the same place, and with all the same privileges?  Even the white dudes?   For years now, rich white dudes have been running the show and shitting on everyone.  Poor white dudes- like poor folk of other colors and genders-they’ve been taking it up the ass, no kiss, no lube, no reach around, for eons.  Just like everyone else.  They don’t start wars, they just fight in them.  They don’t own factories, they work in them.  They don’t drive BMW’s, they repair them.  They work in coal mines and on oil rigs and in processing plants- doing often dangerous jobs for often decreasing wages and being thankful that they work at all- just like everyone else.  They worry about their futures and families, just like everyone else.  And even those who bought into the White Collar American dream?  The tech guys and business guys and such?  They are finding their jobs outsourced and their positions downsized and their hours increasing while their paychecks grow smaller- just like everyone else.  Why?  Because if history teaches one anything, its that money is and has always been the bottom line, profit is king, people are cogs, and those few with the power and the money will do anything and everything to keep it, screw everyone; regardless of color, race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual preference or any other difference.  Other people, even poor white dudes, are nothing more to them than a bottom line of productivity.  That has not changed.  From the feudal holds of Europe to the plantations of the South to the Factories of the North to the Railroads of the West to the Mines of…well, any goddamn mine, from West Virginia to Colorado…men, women, children worked and died and made very little headway in doing so, but they did make a very select few rich…and it did not matter if they were white, black, yellow or brown, Chinese, Irish, Former Slaves or Free Men.  Profit is color blind.  And it still is.  To this day.

Yet, that truth, that very real and historical fact, does not change the fact that not rich white folk, including and maybe even especially the dudes, get to eat shit and take blame for rich white folk even though they got screwed too, and are still being screwed too.  They get blamed for shit they never did, accused of holding attitudes and power they do not have- and likely never had or will ever have- they because they are white, and some of ’em are male, get to take all the hate and blame for shit they not only had no hand in, but were victims of too…and they don’t even have the modern politically correct mode of thinking that makes racism or sexism or religious intolerance against other folk unsavory and seriously life impacting on their side at all.  It’s STILL okay and funny to make fun of “those people”, the men and the women.  Why?  Cause well, “those people” are white…and all white people are the same, and started off with all the good shit, and historically have always had the good shit, and all that other crap too, right?

Say it to me with a straight face, I dare you.  Especially to my face.  Tell me how the majority of white people are Rockefeller’s or Vanderbilt’s.  Tell me how the majority, historically and culturally, have really always had it so good and had a head start over everyone else in life…especially the dudes.  Tell me we all look alike and are just the same.  Tell me it’s okay to trash those people because they are trash and are just lazy and failed to excel because they started off so ahead in life just because they are…white.  Tell me that, and I’ll call ya a liar.

Clue here, nobody, regardless of color or gender or any other thing, has an easy time pullin’ themselves up by their bootstraps if they have no boots, and rich white dudes have done a good job of keeping boots off a whole lotta feet- because passing out boots to everyone, even other white folk, would not be profitable!

But who want to talk about class and how its not okay to make fun of white people who aren’t rich and aren’t the people who fucked everyone (and are still fucking everyone) over and how  we got no reason to be angry or feel slighted?  After all, it ain’t popular…

Elephants in the room never are…

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Comments
    • Ren says:

      Nodding at much of what she says there, actually…as many of the “not having to worry about” things are ones I am familiar with.

  1. And basically my boil it down is this-

    You’re handed a bag of shit for being poor. You’re handed a bag of shit for being of color. You’re handed yet another bag of shit for being female. So it’s unsurprising that the world doesn’t stop to discuss people with only 1 bag of shit.

    Which is what classism all by itself is. 1 bag of shit. Couple it with racism/sexism and no, it’s not the same exact thing.

    • Ren says:

      indeed, many folk have more bags of shit than others, but the idea its okay to demonize folk for not having enough shit, even when they do have some shit, as if they have none? Annoys me.

    • This, exactly. Most people are carrying at least one bag of shit.

      Unfortunately, most people seem to think their own bag/s of shit stink worse than those others are forced to carry.

      • The person up to his neck in shit doesn’t tend to feel sympathy for the person only up to the knees.

        • Ren says:

          and that’s the problem. folk getting angry at/insulting/fearing The Wrong People. Taking it out on The Wrong People. Knees or neck, they are still in it and snapping at each other rather than those who keep them there- instead of getting over neck vs knees and saying “this ain’t right”.

        • True, true, but people tend to not even notice others’ bags, so they’ll insist “you’re only up to the knees” when it ain’t so. See the disastrous comment thread to kittiekattie’s post where people try to claim class privilege is as simple as putting a suit on. lolwtf no.

        • dead_vladimir says:

          the thing is , how do you know they are only up in it to their knees? I don’t think its so simple as to say because person X is of class I they automatically have it worse than person Y of class II ……YMMV is a very true statement and that I think is a problem with trying to solve things on a class of person basis. Probably the best solution is to address things on an economic scale- for example in the US -we could no longer use aid/ action based on race, but instead on socio-economic background, and still be helping a large percentage of the same groups with that criteria as those groups tend to possesses a disproportionate percentage of the lower economic statuses but it be more; to put it bluntly, fair and i suspect it would work out being more effective and more popular as it would be truly blind and working to an objective standard that could be measured;

          • Pretty simple really, if you look at the ladder of hierarchy in this country.You look at class, race, gender, sexuality…basically everything in a persons reality. For each not a part of the dominant group (which in the US and Canada is white christian well off male as they hold the vast majority of social, economic and wealth based power) you add a bag of shit.

            And though it isn’t ever easy, one can change classes. No one can change race.

            • dead_vladimir says:

              true but no one made you your race, that’s not something anyone can control; and I wont argue race has some real effects in society (but i think it is getting to be less than it was); but at what point has society made i up to a member of a minority for being a minority? Also a lot of that comes on the back of people who as ren points out may not be responsible for any disadvantages you have felt, White Anglo Saxon Protestant males may be the power bloc in the US, but do all white males get treated equally? Do all of them add to racial discrimination, of course not-so isn;t it discrimination to punish a whole class based on their racial breakdown then? Or to say to someone sure you are poor but snce you aren’t the right class you don’t get as much help ?
              it just seems to me if we focus on economic equality, we still help the disadvantaged groups but we truly do it in a post racial way. Plus it’s a level of difference we can objectively measure and objectively achieve. I can never make up for hundreds of years of lets say slavery, and to be fair, my first ancestors (who are non wasp) got off the boat to be conscripted to fight for the Union, but most weren’t even here until the early 20th century are we actually responsible?
              we’ve only had one black president in the US, we’ve also only had one Irish catholic one, and he’s the one who got shot; or people downplay the immigrant experience for slavic and mediterranean whites-often persecuted, crime allowed to grow rampant in their communites, often found guilty of being a guinea or etc .

              I actually believe at least in the US it’s the political parties who are actively engaged in fanning the flames of racial stress, as it allows for the manipulations of people into easy voting blocs, on both sides. Also it allows for easy facts, for example when Bill Maher claims african americans who commit crimes on whites get a worse sentence on average than white on black crime ( i think his stat was 16 times more likely) but neglects to point out that black on white crime is greater than white on black crime by a factor of nearly 50 to 1 -or the assumption that only white on black crime is racially motivated.

              Race is the great divider in america, and groups do experience real discrimination, but no one living can make up for the crimes of dead people (nor should they have to, else we will be going back to neolithic times and beyond to the first time a homo hablis slighted another), and while we owe it to everyone to try to educate out hatred and bigotry, and to make sure no group uses the power of the system to oppress others, we need to be honest about it as well. Institutional racism is what we need to attack, and to make sure everyone regardless of back ground has the same opportunities and services. But no one can make someone not black or not native american or not white, and no one can stop all the assholes on one side or the other.

              • It’s got nothing to do with being responsible for actions in the past, and everything to do with the acknowledgement that you (even though you didn’t enslave anyone) have benefited and are benefiting from that system that was built on slavery and genocide. And that this system is still in place. Institutional racism doesn’t simply exist with no support. Individual racism supports it.

                I have a really hard time getting other POC as well to do this. But the Indigenous peoples of this country are dying on reservations (and lets call them what they are- concentration camps) while people of all other races (white, black, latino, asian etc) are reaping the benefits (even though those benefits may not be as bountiful)and using the resources of this country. Be that welfare, medical care, food, housing (even slums and ghettos are sitting on hunting grounds that kept poeple alive) national parks etc.

                You can’t ever make up for that. Some things are so evil you simply can’t ever make up for it. But you can admit it. You can be aware of it. You can respect it and not caveat it to death with ” but I didn’t kill any Indians”. And the only thing (that I can see) that will change it is starting over. Create a new system that doesn’t exclude people or try to fit them in later. Because the one we have now, that we’ve had for hundreds of years does nothing but kill us, you and everyone else who can’t afford to buy government protection.

          • Ren says:

            But being THAT blind would be so…not fair! Snerk.

            • Being my race affects me on a daily basis. Pretending it doesn’t serves no one but the person pretending.

              • Ren says:

                Being a woman and various other things affects me on a daily basis…you too I reckon. And yeah, we gotta deal with it EVERY day. And yeah, there IS a right to anger there…I’d just like to see the anger focused in the right direction…

              • dead_vladimir says:

                Of course it effects you on a daily basis but there is no way systematically to adjust for that without creating a new privelged class -after all what makes any group inherently more deserving of any beneficial treatment than another? Nothing, and long term resolving one injustice with another is not a recipe for success. Arguably there are systematic checks in place we need to smash which are aimed at keeping certain groups perpetually disadvantaged, but in the end the only fair method for every group is economic justice. If we say 90% of a group is below the poverty line and that group needs special help it is an injsutice no matter how well meaning our intentions because we are telling some people below the poverty lien they don’t deserve help- now on the other hand if we help everyone below the poverty line we help that 90% plus everyone else, and we do it in an impartial manner. What I think we have to watch against is creating such a system and then still having it denied to certain disadvantaged groups based on racism or sexuality or belief or gender etc. The standard should be neutral; then it will also be easier to catch out when it is being applied with bias.

                • Ren says:

                  Oh, I actually agree with you on this one, Vlad. Economics should be color and gender blind and help should be given based on THAT need- and not race or gender.

                  But I sure as hell get why Pheeno and others are pissed off. As I have said elsewhere, I just wish that anger was directed at those who most deserve it.

                  • I can only speak for myself, but the anger I have at other people isn’t for causing the problem, it’s for ignoring it until it finally affects them. When you’re whole town is on fucking fire, you don’t wait til the flames are at your doorstep to get off your ass and grab a bucket of water.

  2. I also like how she *does* discuss classism in regards to being poor no matter one’s race/sex.

    This country likes to think classism doesn’t exist. Which is ridiculous. People like to think we all start off on the same road, on the same starting line. That way they can blame everything on the driver and ignore the bad road, the detours and the starting line 50 miles back.

    It’s an easy cop out to pretend you’re just a better driver, I suppose. Then again, I pretty much believe most people are astoundingly stupid and full of shit.

  3. It doesn’t fit the great American Dream narrative. Though I will say most sites I visit do discuss intersectionality and classism is included.

    • Ren says:

      me too, sometimes, rarely, and only in certain aspects. maybe I should read more sites, but so many of em make me wanna pick up a gun.

  4. http://justjoep.blogspot.com/2011/07/concise-history-of-usa-race-relations.html

    This to me sums up why many people with their own bags of shit don’t focus on class issues of white people. That’s their reality, it makes up their experiences and they’re not interested in being stuck in the shit any longer. Trust is a luxury they can’t, quite frankly, afford.

    • Ren says:

      Fair enough. But that being the case, why should any of us white folk with our own bags of shit, as it were, who were also stepped on and used, as it were, give a flying fuck through a donut hole about ANYONE other than ourselves either, or trust ANYONE other than ourselves, either…

      Maybe we shouldn’t…after all, while so many other people with bags of shit get at least some consideration, we get….none.

      Maybe fuck everyone BUT my own should be my new motto too???

  5. Take NDN issues for example. We’re at the very bottom of the “get around to it list”. We helped women get the vote. That in turn helped Black people get the vote. We didn’t even get granted citizenship until 80 years after *that*. So hearing “well maybe fuck everyone but my own” is not new. After all, we’ve been hearing it for 500 years. So hearing it after saying “we’re not waiting on you any more, we’re actually going to act as if we are just as important” isn’t shocking, or edgy. It’s expected. It’s the reaction we’ve always gotten. And we’ve learned the hard way that if we don’t focus on our issues, not a damn other person on the planet will. So what’s with begruding us for a reality we had nothing to do with? We don’t have the resources to spare as the vast majority are living in 3rd world poverty. There’s not much consideration there. Hell, we’ve been fighting a pipeline that’s going right through our land and over our water supplies for a couple of years now. Doesn’t make the news. But OWS? Everywhere. Must be nice to just now notice shit’s fucked up.

    I hate to put it so bluntly, but frankly if you and everyone else all took the “fuck everyone but my own” stance we wouldn’t even notice the difference. Honestly, we though y’all already had.

  6. Oh and I don’t, personally, advocate the ” no one else but my own” philosophy, but I don’t have a problem with someone who, historically, has had no agency putting themselves first for once either.

    It boils down to what can you spare. If you’re neck deep in shit, I don’t expect you to hold your breath while you help me out first. It’s survival.But once you’re past the “about to fucking die” stage, giving a hand to those neck deep in shit only adds to your numbers. It’s win win.

    • Ren says:

      Own it, read it, love it, and thought after finishing it “Is this dude my long lost twin?”

      Spooky, really, but yeah. He sounds like me but a dude in so many ways.

  7. A serious discussion on class and classism from a right-winger? This is the sort of reason I read this blog!

    Yes, it seems the crucial political point is “where do we focus our anger?” White working class men and black working class women (and everyone else) are all getting screwed…who’s doing the screwing? Once people agree on that they’ve got a base to start working together.

    (Having said that, people with MORE than one bag of shit need to be constantly heard to make sure the people with only one bag don’t get a head start on them because they’re carrying less shit)

    This post reminds me of this one you did back in May: https://theger.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/no-really-youre-not-that-awesome/

    The underlying theme is the same – solidarity against the main enemy being broken down by incorrect behaviour.

    • Ren says:

      Heh, to be fair, I am not an uber right winger….I’ma libertarian who leans right on some things, and left on others 🙂 Damn those libertarians!!!

      For instance- I seriously do not care who adult people decided to have sex with…gay marriage, okay, sure, go for it! Weed? Legalize it already- the war on drugs is stupidity…but try and take my guns? We got a problem 🙂

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