Friday, March 10, 2017

Same song, seventy-third verse.....

City mouse v. country mouse:

"To rural Americans, sometimes it seems our taxes mostly go to making city residents live better. We recognize that the truth is more complex, particularly when it comes to social programs, but it’s the perception that matters — certainly to the way most people vote." 

I mean:  seriously.  This dichotomy is practically as old as the country itself.  Certainly as old as the 19th century, when cities as we know them today began to arise and differentiate themselves, and the differentiation came to America.  Poe caught it.  His story about "The Man of the Crowd" was about the more frightening aspects of the new American experience of "big cities" (tiny by our modern standards, but big by 19th century American standards).  Poe didn't invent horror out of whole cloth, and he didn't deal exclusively in Gothic tropes (many of which he invented, but that's by the bye).

I grew up on '30's and '40's cartoons about the city mouse v. the country mouse.  Sherwood Anderson and Edgar Lee Masters made their fame on the distinction between urban and rural, and then John Updike did it all again.  We've always wobbled back and forth between cities as Sodom and Gomorrah and cities as bastions of progress and civilization, while the rural areas were the heartland of gentlemen farmers and noble yeoman, or backwaters of inbred hicks represented by the Snopes family (we so easily overlook Faulkner's affection for and honesty about the Snopes.  I mean, they're hicks, right?).

So here we are again.  Except now "it's the perception that matters."  As if something else mattered once upon a time.

The arguments of the Rude Pundit and Southern Beale may be emotionally satisfying, but that's about all they are.  If I need to listen to "blue-collar America" (i.e., white people without college degrees), it's only because I also need to listen to black America and brown America and Asian America, and Native America (hello!), and so on.  But honestly:  "We don't get our news from conspiracy theorists and liars," when the "we" is the "American left"?  Glenn Greenwald, according to comments at Salon anyway, does a fire sale business trading in the idea of the "deep state" that is going to make us all Republicans one day.  Oddly enough, a "deep state" indistinguishable from the one the Trump White House believes in.  So which group is it again who doesn't get their "news from conspiracy theorists and liars"?

Maybe we need to reset this conversation by starting without all the finger-pointing.  I mean, I agree, why doesn't the media think the problem is that we should explain liberalism to them, the Trump voters?  But if we're gonna start here:

 Ultimately, though, it won't matter. Because despite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant. 

We'll never get started at all.


  1. I think the biggest problem with "liberalism" is that it has became too much about standing up for rich people in the media and the entertainment industry to make money from smut and trash without censorship, upper-middle-class welfare, etc. instead of what it was supposed to be about. I think the role that alleged liberals and lefties in permitting the media to lie on behalf of rich people and to deceive voters is both the root cause of our problems but also the real, basic value of pseudo-liberalism. But you've read my endless variations on that point.

    For some reason this reminds me of the research I'm doing for a post, it took me to this interview with Neal Gabler by Bill Moyer about the destructive influence of pop culture on our politics

    but, in finding it, it also led me to a piece about Neal Gabler whining about his self-made financial woes and the many other such articles about rich people who can't exercise enough discipline to keep out of trouble.

    Needless to say, for all of the insights of some such media scribblers, I don't have much faith in them finding a way out of our woes. And the ones who bloggle and commentate about it online are probably less likely to. Perhaps including me, though I get the feeling that I know some actual poor people who might be convinced that we're not all dismissive snobs who really want to look down on them.

    The Rude Pundit's act wore out with me on that point.

  2. I've always consider the Rude Pundit's shtick to not be as clever or insightful as it is taken to be.

    Rudeness is never to be confused with insight.