Key passages from Barbara Ehrenreich’s 12.1 Nation piece about the declining quality of life among rural white working-class guys, who are feeling fucked and diminished from all sides and are therefore clinging to guns as they slide more and more downhill as they die at a higher rate than in decades past…hence Donald Trump:
Excerpt #1: “In relation to people of color, whites have long had the advantage of higher earnings, better access to health care, safer neighborhoods, and of course freedom from the daily insults and harms inflicted on the darker-skinned. There has also been a major racial gap in longevity — 5.3 years between white and black men and 3.8 years between white and black women — though, hardly noticed, it has been narrowing for the last two decades. Only whites, however, are now dying off in unexpectedly large numbers in middle age, their excess deaths accounted for by suicide, alcoholism, and drug (usually opiate) addiction.”
Excerpt #2: “When the federal government finally weighed in on the side of desegregation, working-class whites were left to defend their own diminishing privilege by moving rightward toward the likes of Alabama Governor (and later presidential candidate) George Wallace and his many white pseudo-populist successors down to Donald Trump.”
Excerpt #3: “At the same time, the day-to-day task of upholding white power devolved from the federal government to the state and then local level, specifically to local police forces, which, as we know, have taken [white power] up with such enthusiasm as to become both a national and international scandal. The Guardian, for instance, now keeps a running tally of the number of Americans (mostly black) killed by cops (as of this moment, 1,209 for 2015), while black protest, in the form of the Black Lives Matter movement and a wave of on-campus demonstrations, has largely recaptured the moral high ground formerly occupied by the civil rights movement.”
Excerpt #4: “If the stock image of the early twentieth century ‘Negro’ was the minstrel, the role of rural simpleton in popular culture has been taken over in this century by the characters in Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. At least in the entertainment world, working-class whites are now regularly portrayed as moronic, while blacks are often hyper-articulate, street-smart, and sometimes as wealthy as Kanye West. It’s not easy to maintain the usual sense of white superiority when parts of the media are squeezing laughs from the contrast between savvy blacks and rural white bumpkins, as in the Tina Fey comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. White, presumably upper-middle class people generally conceive of these characters and plot lines, which, to a child of white working-class parents like myself, sting with condescension.”
Wells to Ehrenreich: “Working-class whites are now regularly portrayed as moronic” because, uhm, they live up to that epithet for the most part? Dumb-assed rural whites — racist, religious, under-educated, overweight, alcoholic or medicated, mostly Republican-voting — are the single most backward, progress-blocking element in the culture today. Dumbass whites are responsible for the Tea Party and the intransigent loony right in the House of Representatives. Shorter life spans, more suicide, higher levels of alcoholism and drug addiction? No skin off my West Hollywood ass. Fuck these guys.