Albeit with a language warning, I recommend a recent David Wong essay in Cracked (via Instapundit). Wong — formerly of red-county rural Illinois — sets out to explain to his fellow liberal urbanites why people outside of cities are willing to throw Donald Trump like a brick through their mansion window. Conservatives will find most of his points familiar, but the intriguing twist comes with Wong’s paragraph assuring his fellow urban progressives that he still holds all the correct views:
Don’t message me saying all those things I listed are wrong. I know they’re wrong. Or rather, I think they’re wrong, because I now live in a blue county and work for a blue industry. I know the Good Old Days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, I know that entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck. I know that those “traditional families” involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. I know gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.
I know the changes were for the best.
What’s astonishing, here, is how blithely Wong slides right past a point made obvious by the rest of his long essay: The changes that he and his blue-county-blue-industry friends believe “were for the best” have done little more than change the cultural scapegoat.
- He knows the Good New Days of the present are built on transfer of wealth: “The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities.” That imbalance isn’t only a matter of evolving industries (How could it be with the advancement of IT and the ability to do much work from anywhere?); it’s a direct consequence of the methods by which urban progressives in government have chosen to address (or take advantage of) economic downturns for the benefit of their own areas.
- He knows “entire categories of humanity” are now experiencing the progressives’ new secular religion “as a boot on their neck”: “And if you dare complain, some liberal elite will pull out their iPad and type up a rant about your racist white privilege.”
- He knows that the destruction of “traditional families,” and the communal attitude of which they were a part, are trapping millions of men, women, and children in bad situations: “The foundation upon which America was undeniably built — family, faith, and hard work — had been deemed unfashionable and small-minded.”
- He knows his formerly fellow rural whites live in fear and that suicide rates are sky high in the country (that is, euthanasia is a “back-room affair”).
Wong is remarkably candid about his feeling that he’d probably “know” the changes weren’t for the best if he didn’t live in the city, now, and work in a liberal industry. And yet, he still claims that his adopted worldview is simply correct. That makes him wrong twice over: Truth and reality are not tribal affairs that should change depending on what’s in the interests of your social circle, and the urban progressive worldview is less true than the rural conservative one.
The old order that he now claims to despise gave people a chance — an organizational and moral structure that would help them rise and to deal with adversity. Consider his attempt to describe the racism that he once didn’t see as such (emphasis in original):
But what I can say, from personal experience, is that the racism of my youth was always one step removed. I never saw a family member, friend, or classmate be mean to the actual black people we had in town. We worked with them, played video games with them, waved to them when they passed. What I did hear was several million comments about how if you ever ventured into the city, winding up in the “wrong neighborhood” meant you’d get dragged from your car, raped, and burned alive. Looking back, I think the idea was that the local minorities were fine … as long as they acted exactly like us.
That’s probably an unfair summary. It wasn’t that the local minorities had to act “exactly like” them in order to be “fine.” They could have behaved better. What Wong means is that the minorities who weren’t considered “fine” were the gangster types in the city, and he now slips to an old progressive blind spot of equating that bias against dysfunctional behavior with racism.
Just before he writes the paragraph assuring his readers that he doesn’t believe all that red-state stuff he’s describing — that he’s acting only as an anthropologist — he explains that ruralites think “those snooty elites up in their ivory tower laughed as they kicked away [the culture’s] foundation, and then wrote 10,000-word thinkpieces blaming the builders for the ensuing collapse.” Insisting that it is racism to uphold foundational values even for minorities is one major way the snobs produced chips with their kicks.
In other words, the modern know-betters have done worse than simply flip the scapegoating. They’re destroying a perspective that can give everybody a chance to advance. Sure, the urban racists’ approach differs by the color of the peasants’ skin, with scorn for white country folk and patronization of black ghetto dwellers, but either way, the key to being “fine,” to being permitted in their company to partake of the stolen recovery, is to believe exactly like them.