Monday, September 26, 2005

My Racist Republican Tribe

Most recent comment: ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz, how about more posts on politics?

Give the people what they want, that’s my motto. Lucky for you, while on the brink of taking another nasty shot of Chartreuse this Sunday, I spied the Washington Post Op/Ed page and substituted reading that for more benign forms of self-abuse. Fortunately for me one Jennifer Moses, formerly of McLean VA, has spent the last ten years studying the strange ways of the white middle classes in Baton Rouge, LA.

…polls show that the president’s approval ratings are down nationally. But here in Baton Rouge, where the rubber, as it were, meets the road, the president still seems to enjoy an almost indestructible popularity.

You know you are in trouble when she says “as it were.” She interrupts a cliché, something that might come out of the mouth of high school football coach (but not an “author”), to let everyone know that she is aware she is breaking the rules for educated people, but so deep is she in the strange middle class ways of white Baton Rougers that she cannot help herself from using one of their quaint little sayings.

Given that Baton Rogue has now swollen to twice its pre-storm size, traffic is a nightmare, schools are on double shifts, helicopters swarm in the skies and the shelters continue to house thousands, the undimmed support for the president is downright astonishing.

What is downright astonishing is the utter stupidity of these sentences, and that they were published in the Washington Post (well, maybe that’s not so astonishing). Now, it can be argued that the federal response was less than great to Katrina (though I have argued that it was the least of the mistakes made, and the Governor was clearly not interested in relinquishing any control), but even aside from those arguments, to my knowledge no one has blamed Bush for the hurricane’s path. Given that NO is beneath sea level, it seems that there was no way anyone could stay on there, and they had to go somewhere. Baton Rouge is the place where probably the greatest percentage of NO residents enjoy ties of family and friends. My bet is that the average Baton Rouger feels less put out about the whole situation that the NO migrants, and are for the most party happy to abide their friends and neighbors, with the obvious exception of one bitchy author from McLean, VA.

But it’s a tale of two cities: In the shelters and in North Baton Rouge, where row upon row of dilapidated shotgun shacks have long been home to the city’s black community, mention of the president inspires little more than quiet disgust. But on the other side of town, in the prosperous white neighborhoods where solid brick houses sit well back on lush lawns, the president’s reputation remains largely intact.

For an author having come from McLean VA, where the average home, if sold today, would allow the seller to buy 4 or 5 solid brick houses on lush Baton Rouge lawns, to point out the income inequality in Baton Rouge is rather funny. The average WaPo reader, moreover, probably cut a $30,000 check in the last week to send their kid to private kindergarten so that, at all costs, her child would not be exposed to the great economic diversity of Washington D.C., but no doubt is sitting down this Sunday morning to this article, sipping on her Starbuck’s latte, commending herself on her compassionate leftwing politics in between occasionally cursing her illegal domestic labor for missing a few spots while cleaning. That too is a tale of two cities - and both of them voted overwhelmingly for Kerry.

And presumably the people who have long lived in dilapidated shotgun shacks are only now expressing quiet disgust with the president, whereas during the Clinton years those shotgun shacks were Martha Stewart-worthy homes. So spare me the “rich” Baton Rougers remaining oblivious to the plight of the poor in their midst, and using this as a background to explain their loyalty to the president.

The question is: Why now?

See, her ten years of careful research are finally paying off, because now, as the brave northern educated anthropologist, she has infiltrated the Baton Rouge middle class the way that Jane Foss joined the colony of apes, and now she returns from the wild to educate us on their strange ways.

Why, after five years of extraordinary ineptitude, culminating in the shameful spectacle of Americans dying from lack of emergency resources, does Bush continue to inspire any loyalty at all, let alone the loyalty of what strikes me as a large swath of the population that , more than any other place, has absorbed Katrina’s secondary shockwave.

Ughh! She is already dismissing one possible explanation – that the people who support the president do not reflexively regard his tenure as extraordinarily inept. And of course she presents no argument in favor of that pronouncement, but just marches ahead as if that cannot possibly be an explanation. Surely everyone can see it, right? Even these dim-witted Southerners. And here we go again claiming that because a hurricane has lead to intolerable traffic for some bitch from Virginia, everyone in town should hate the president. So, Occam’s Razor – the idea that the simplest explanation is the best – is dismissed out of hand, and now we get to hear the real reasons some Baton Rougers support the president.

And the answer isn’t that folks in Baton Rouge are a bunch of racist ignoramuses.

What? You cannot be serious? Your WaPo reader just spit out his mouthful of hot latte all over the Mexican poolboy! Do you have any data to dismiss that as the best explanation of their support for the president? You’re taking a real chance here, making your readers re-think their hole stance on Republicans. And why, pray tell, would a racist ignoramus be hell-bent on supporting this president? Again, no explanation needed – everyone knows he hates black people, right, except for a few token Secretaries of State.

Rather, it lies in cultural and social identification, overlaid with a patina of Christianity and fueled by raw, largely social, fear. In short, even before the hurricane rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, the feeling in white, middle class Baton Rogue was already one of displacement.

Raw! Social! Fear! Her ten years of infiltrating the white middle class have finally paid off! They are displaced! By Raw! Social! Fear! My guess is that, given the pretentions of this article, her approach to conversing with her subjects has often led to her being ignored, verbally insulted, or dismissed out of hand. Rather than correctly interpreting the behavior of her subjects as evidence that she is a bitch, she chalks up their strange reactions to Raw! Social! Fear! Bravo. Very novel.

She then goes on to describe two of her neighbors, both Bush supporters who know Bush “may not be a genius but” he can “at least talk the talk, drawing a clear line between right and wrong”, which comes as a comfort to them because as they look at the “intransigent underclass,” “our sleazy, sex-driven popular culture, as well as the explosion of poverty-related societal ills,” they don’t know where they belong anymore, or “which tribe” they might claim membership in.” I guess since they are not racist ignoramuses, they are contemplating joining up with an Indian tribe, preferably one boasting great casino ownership rights.

Later we get this throw-away: “Because if under George W. Bush the Republican Party has become heartless, the Democratic Party has become spineless.”

If only the Republican party would become heartless!

“Of course, not all of the support for Bush in Baton Rouge comes from as benign a position as that of my neighbors – we have plenty of plain old-fashioned greed here, as well as the usual assortment of racism, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, homophobia and religious self-righteousness, which the Bush team has played so brilliantly.”

Whew. Why didn’t you say so in the first place. When I spit hot coffee on the poolboy the smell from his burning flesh was really quite disturbing – I had to dismiss him for the day, and now there are leaves floating in my pool. But it is good to know that there are only two Republicans loyal to the president who are sympathetic characters due to their Raw! Social! Fear!, and that the rest are racist, xenophobic, anti-intellectual, homophobic, and religiously self-righteous, and I can continue to regard myself as altogether morally superior to them. If there is one thing I cannot stand – it is self-righteousness! And let’s hope the President stops playing to these people so brilliantly – the drive to amnesty illegal aliens from Mexico, wars to provide oppressed Moslems a better life, high place minority cabinet members – it is a regular racist, xenophobic, religiously self-righteous dream come true. Now if only he would hire intellectuals, like Jennifer Moses!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the ape lady was Jane Goodall.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Yeah, you're right, but I thought there was 2 ape ladies - one was Goodall for sure, and I thought there was another one with the last name Foss. Maybe I'm wrong.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two ape ladies named Jane? Plus the Tarzan lady also named Jane? Way too many Jane monkey chicks here...

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane Fossi was the other ape lady

8:09 PM  

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