In the initial stages of the primary, we heard a lot about blacks versus women. This simpleton's analysis withered away when the media realized that the Democratic Party contains other groups too, like Hispanics and young people and seniors. So, in the media's unceasing desire to live in black and white, to create Apollonian-Dionysian dichotomies, to cut America up like the baby before King Solomon, a new Manichean understanding has now arisen: the people that vote for Obama and something called "the working class."
The former, well, that's pretty straight-forward: these are the Democrats, Independents, and cross-over Republicans who choose Obama in the primaries.
It is the second group, "the working class," that is of interest to me. It seems that in the United States, being working class is code for being ignorant.
Anytime the media wants to cast aspersions upon Obama, to diminish his chances to be elected, to give voice to smears against him, to suggest that he is a Muslim, or a black-nationalist, or a socialist, or a Eunuch, or some Chameleonesque mixture of all of those things, suddenly these concerns are put in the mouth of "the working class."
Take only the most recent example of this at the New York Daily News. According to the paper, the "ugly truth" as to why Hillary won't quit is because she has the difficult job of giving voice to the racists and the ignorant that slither around among "the working class." This tripe is not just limited to newspapers, though. When ABC was lambasted for conducting one of the worst debates in the history of American politics, its simple response was that those vacuous questions were the questions the "average" (read: working class) Americans wanted to hear. Yes, average people are vacuous and stupid, so we, being populist, must pander to them, in essence.
This group, the working class, according to the media, is white, rural, crass, uncouth, impressed by theatrics such as downing whiskey, or preferring coffee to OJ, cares about flag-pins, and judges the merits of its presidential candidates by their bowling scores, their attire, and metaphysical things such as "elitism."
I find this entire narrative particularly insulting because I am a low income Muslim. I am not rich. My parents aren't rich. Hell, my grandparents are low income, not in the US, but in the third world. All of my life, I have grown up hearing that all the evil Muslims, the ones that commit acts of terrorism, are poor, have poor parents, and have even poorer grandparents. For a majority of my life, the media and the pundits have sold me the story that of all the Muslims that go fanatical, I am among the most likely to end up going in that direction because of my background. Yet I hardly became a loon; neither did my brother; nor do hundreds of millions of poor Muslim kids all across the world. The reason that this smear against the Muslim working class exists, though, is because it is easy, and because people have been conditioned to turn "the workers" into the worst representation of them-selves.
Same thing today, in the US. Having grown up and gone to school with good, working class Americans in the South and Northwest and Philly -- many of whom are not white -- its pretty easy to see that bullshit sits just as badly with working class people as it does with Ivy leaguers. Yet, the media doesn't see it that way. It only sees an Enlightened America (read: wealthy) that knows why they are voting and for whom, and it sees Working Class America (read: poor) who are duped and idiotic. For whatever reason, the Versailles version of America has been given to Obama and Crappy America to Hillary.
Of course, Hillary is part of the problem, because she embraces this dichotomy and tries to use it to her advantage (taking photo-ops of herself doing shots in a bar, dissing economists, and so forth all while she withholds disclosing her 100 million dollar piggy bank). In her increasing desperation to remain in a race that she lost when it became apparent she didn't have a strategy beyond Super Tuesday I, she has fed the media this narrative. It has gotten so bad that Bill had the audacity to make the following remarks in Indiana:
"The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it's by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules."
This is the typical stereotype that media and politicians peddle to the actual working class. Living in an Ivory Tower world, such people are somehow convinced that the average man is more affected by show-offs, than discrimination or lack of work. In fact, when one of the candidates stops and recognizes how dependent the current American system has made working class people on their jobs - to the extent that work is connected to dignity - he is the one that is smeared.
Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to an America where not only is being working class a code word for being the lowliest kind of human, but if you resist this smear, then you are an elitist.
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