Kali Holloway has an excellent article up at Raw Story: Stop asking me to empathize with the white working class. Here’s just a bit of it:
[…] Trump stoked racial hatred, but he didn’t invent it, so stop acting like he did because it makes you feel good. The irony of this whole thing is that Trump knew better than a lot of “good” white folks—even recognized as well as folks of color did—how much white power and supremacy means to white people. From day one, he bet that it would be enough to get him elected. He ran a brilliant campaign, in a country where a brilliant campaign can almost solely consist of telling white people they might not be on top forever. He called it. Credit where it’s due.
The only surprise to come out of this election is how many, and how quickly, white people want us to empathize with the people who voted against our humanity, our right to exist in this place. Even before the election, the Washington Post actually had the audacity to berate us for not crying for the white working class. In the days since Trump won, the number of articles urging everybody to be cool to Trump’s America, to understand what they are facing, to hear their grievances, has added insult to injury. Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying Trump “tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.” I read it at least three times and couldn’t find the words “white supremacy” anywhere in it.
Please miss me with all this nonsense. I’m not even going to get into how this is based on an easily refutable economic lie, especially since others have already spent precious time they’ll never get back breaking this down. But even if it was true—and I am well aware of what’s plaguing the white working class, from substance abuse to suicide to a loss of manufacturing jobs—I refuse to take part in the endless privileging of white pain above all others. (Martin Gilens, who has studied this stuff going way back, notes that when the media face of poverty is white, this country suddenly gets a lot more compassionate.) Latinos and African Americans remain worse off than the white working class—which is still the “largest demographic bloc in the workforce”—by pretty much every measurable outcome, from home ownership to life expectancy. Where are these appeals for us when we protest or riot against the systemic inequality we live with? Where are all the calls to recognize and understand our anger?
For hundreds of years, white people have controlled everything in this country: the executive office, Congress, the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system, Wall Street, the lending institutions, the history textbook industry, the false narrative that America cares about liberty and justice for all. But I need to understand white feelings of marginalization because a black man was in the White House for eight years? Because political correctness—a general plea for white people not to be as awful as they have been in the past— asked that white people put more effort into being decent than they felt up to? Because white folks didn’t like that feeling when politicians aren’t singularly focused on the hard times and struggles of their communities? Audre Lorde said (I wonder if that woman ever got sick of being right), “oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.” For a people who have shamed black folks for supposedly always wanting a hand out, for being a problem of the entitlement state, I have never seen people who so firmly believe they are owed something.
Let me pass along some advice black folks have been given for a long time: stop being so angry and seeing yourself as a victim, and try pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. That’s really all I have for you right now, this re-gifting of wisdom. […]
I’ll stand with Ms. Holloway here, and I stand by Iris, too. Over at Death to Squirrels, I said that my days of empathizing with cons of any stripe are over, and they are. White people have gone full court whiny now, wanting everyone to pat them on the head and say, yes, yes, you have it so bad, darling. No. Even liberal white people are getting in on the Whine Wagon. “But you have to be nice to them! They’re just misunderstood!” My response to that? The fuck I do, and the fuck they are.
Before I go on, the standard disclaimer: no, all white people aren’t awful. No, all white people aren’t unrepentant bigots. No, all white people are not willfully ignorant assholes. Yes, lots of white people get it.
This nonsense of “you must have empathy for them, you must!” needs to stop, right now. The people who voted Trump into the position of president-elect did so for specific reasons, but the primary one is exactly what Ms. Holloway said: power. White people are all about power, and they love their privilege. Of course they listened to a fucking gold-plated idiot who told them their power as Mighty Whitey was slipping. They’ve already felt that, and yep, they’ve been very upset about it, and grabbed onto Trump with a death grip in order to get firmly ensconced on top of the people pile once more. I have no idea why white liberals have latched onto the tone argument; Trumpoids have no interest in anyone being nice and understanding, they want obeisance and submission. They want to be what they always have been in this country – lords of the manor. They want to be able to spit, sneer, and be in a position of authoritative judgment of all others. White cons have no use whatsoever for white liberals, either, so that makes the tone argument even more inexplicable.
I’ll be 59 in a matter of days. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Tumultuous times, rife with change, change for the better. There was such hope in the ’70s, people had such faith in the future. This is not what we were dreaming about. The 80s saw the serious rise of conservatism once again, especially Christian conservatism. I’ve been around for the whole thing, and decade by decade, cons have gotten worse, more extreme, more hateful, more spiteful, more poisonous. It’s not a surprise the white wall of conservative xianity took their one chance to power, nor is it surprising that white supremacists have wrapped themselves around Trump like a cloak. All that, I understand. I don’t like it at all, but I understand it.
What I don’t understand is this hand-wringing call for sympathy, tea and cookies. No. No, no, no. When have Christian Cons every had empathy for anyone except themselves? When have white supremacists ever had empathy for anyone except themselves? Christian Cons and white supremacists are evil people, perfectly willing commit themselves to evil to gain their goals. We’re dealing with one of those acts of evil right now. They did the proverbial deal with the devil in order to get closer to all the things they want, and what they want, more than anything, is to stomp people into submission, one way or another. They want to stomp all those feminist sluts into the ground, removing any sort of bodily autonomy, unless it happens to be their bodily autonomy on the line, natch. “No More Uppity” might as well be their battle cry, along with the requisite god, guns, and bible business.
I haven’t recovered quite yet, but to anyone who thinks that “you gotta be nice to them” is some sort of strategy or argument, I have one response: Fuck No.
Kali Holloway’s full article is here, highly recommended. Also recommended: https://twitter.com/drskyskull/status/796916965956874241