Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I don't particularly identify as a white man. I'm just a regular guy.

This, of course, is privilege. That I feel normal, and the world mostly treats me that way? A privilege, denied to a lot of us -- the bigger "us," the population of all people, let's clarify, because I'm going to embrace my inner white guy in a bit, and use "us" to describe you and me, buddy.

Because the fact is, I am white and male. Didn't ask for it, but not embarrassed by it. It's luck of the draw, and I got lucky.

The people most insistent about me identifying about a white man? Are other white men, and intersectionalists who (being human themselves, and fallible) damn well want me in the slot that they think will, in the long run, do *them* the most amount of good. It's "white men ├╝ber alles" from the right, and "white men up against the wall" from the left -- though, again, a relatively small percentage of the left; most of the left is decent, and of those who aren't, most of those are sane enough to know that there's no scenario, today, where this society is getting rid of white men.

"...in the long run, do *them* the most amount of good."

Self-dealing is built into us -- again, the broader "us." Humans. We want to get our share. This is *healthy* -- this is why capitalism has worked, when run well; it harnesses that desire to provide for ourselves and our posterity and makes something useful of it.

And it used to work for us, white guy us, when the workforce was mostly white guys. You look at the best time to be a worker in this country? It was the post WWII era, when the country was 90% white. White men had no problem with the idea that the government existed to help them out -- social security, medicare, GI bill, strong unions, on and on. If you were a white guy, the government was there for you.

But that's just the cost the oligarchs paid to win WWII. Once the Axis oligarchs had been defeated, they turned their attentions to the next target -- workers. White workers. Us, boys.

And they hammered on that fault line. They couldn't sell making white people harm themselves: white men are tribal and like all tribal people, a little stupid outside their tribe. "We won't hurt you: we'll hurt those *other* people." And for two generations, going on three, this poison has infiltrated white men. "Make things worse, and we'll be the last ones standing."

We won't be, of course. White working class people are dying younger. We're the only ones. It's literally just us, *around the world.* Everyone else is living longer. The poison they sold us, which we greedily gulped down, is killing us. The oligarchs never *cared* about black people, beyond the standard racism wired up in them; black people (and Hispanics, and Asians) were just the wedge issue they used to take what our parents and grandparents had from us. And they sold it to us, to our very worst selves, the parts of us that couldn't wake up long enough to notice that they were damn well boiling the frog -- and we were the frog, not those "others."

Bernie Sanders had a chance to be a truly transformational figure. He certainly knows he's white; Bernie supporters keep coming at me with "old Jewish man," he's a *minority,* when I observe that he's an old white man: Bernie knows he is and, inconveniently for you Berners, keeps opening his mouth on the subject: "I come from the white working class," he's said more than once.

And in the crash and bern of Bernieism, the only thing that really saddens me is that Bernie had a unique chance to go right at the heart of this, to say, in effect:

"Yes. We're privileged, by being white. We're privileged, by being men. And we're *dying* for it. That privilege is worth twenty cents on the dollar, but the fight to hold onto it has cost us fifty cents on every dollar. This is why the generations before us did *so much better* ... they were willing to let minorities get better as long as it meant they were getting better themselves. They may not have liked it -- you're not more tribal than they are, though you are more scared -- but for a brief time things were getting better so fast that they could live with it.

"What needs to happen now is that we need to accurately identify what's wrong with us. We need a policy that addresses *everyone's* issues -- yours too. Get you back to the time when you had sane health care, and safe jobs, and weren't living hand to mouth and fearing eviction over a missed paycheck. We can get you back to that time -- but only if we *also* lift everyone else up with us. It can't just be for us; that's just the same fight we've been *losing* for two generations. We have to fix sexual harassment for women, and violence against LGBTQ people, and the brutality of law enforcement and the justice system against black people, and the literal kidnapping and running of child concentration camps for brown skinned children. That's the tradeoff: you want to be safe again? So do they. And we can get there together."

Bernie's never going to give this speech. It's a shame, too. Instead he virtue signals, "I marched with MLK," and talks about "identity politics," as if white guy -- even old Jewish white guy -- wasn't itself an identity.

I used to write things like this and finish with, "We'll work our way through this." But I don't know that we will, any more. The concentration camps are up and running *now,* and we are running out of time.

2 comments:

Joseph Wheeler said...

Most of the people that should hear and understand this either will not hear or will have dogma closed ears/brain.

Joseph Wheeler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.