Taking no prisoners in a Wal-Mart Christmas

Once upon a time, a long time ago, according to Marie Cocco (I certainly don’t remember this):

Well, we were a country in which, if you were working class, you were not feeling betrayed and you didn’t necessarily feel inferior to, say, the people who sold stock on Wall Street. They could only sell stock if you made a product that backed up that stock. This was nothing like those deals in which nobody can tell what’s exchanged except paper and false promises.

Your employer recognized your skills and experience with a healthy, middle-class paycheck. You knew your family’s health was protected by good insurance, that your spouse could rely on a decent pension after you were gone and that your children might win a company scholarship to attend college—or get a job at the plant, an option in which there was no shame.

Of course not everyone had this utopian experience. Women and people of color had a different experience entirely. But at least most of them lived to tell the story.

Now, of course, we live in a world where employers have been devaluing human beings for thirty or more years, ever since the Democratic faction sold out the unions and tried to regain the Southern vote by competing with the Republican faction by equating liberalism with communism and moving as far to the right as fast as they could. The consequences of this are manifest today now that credit is no longer available and people can only spend money they actually have in Christmas shopping.

Pity the poor schmuck who got in their way as Long Island Wal-Mart shoppers broke down the doors to take advantage of a one morning sale. He was trampled to death. Police say they’re examining surveillance videos to try to determined who all stampeded over him “but identifying individual shoppers in Friday’s video may prove difficult.”

Of course the victim doesn’t matter much in this grand scheme of devalued humanity. It is bad enough he was working at Wal-Mart, but he was a “seasonal employee,” low even on that food chain. And with a name like Jdimytai Damour, I’m guessing he wasn’t white and that he might not have been born in the United States. “Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.”

An incident like this shows we have internalized our dehumanization. This man’s life wasn’t important. Neither were the lives of those who tried to help him. All that mattered were “advertised sales like a Polaroid 42-inch LCD HDTV for $598 and a DVD of ‘Rush Hour 2’ for $2.”

If we were concerned with humanity, we wouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart, let alone trample a man to death for a television. We would worry about Chinese workers in their sweatshops, working long hours for abysmal wages. We would worry about the Wal-Mart workers in this country, who even with their jobs still must go to the county for general assistance because their wages and health insurance benefits are inexcusably inadequate.

But we don’t care. Damour was just another schmuck like the rest of us, living unworthwhile lives, and for whom death is a relief.

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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