Making enemies of the white working class

As I reflect further on Tuesday’s election result, in which Donald Trump has won the electoral college resoundingly, I am remembering a particular Facebook conversation in its wake. A white woman (in Utah, of all places) expressed bewilderment at the rise of hatred. I responded by posting a link to Michael Lerner’s excellent article on the damage neoliberal policies have wrought, especially to the working class, and how the working class needed to be included in social justice movements (this summary does not do anything like justice to his essay).[1] Another of her friends, a Black woman, responded to the effect that she was sick of hearing about poor whites.

As I woke up this morning, I remembered being told to sit down and shut up by social justice warriors who did not want to hear from me because I am white and male. I understand this is now known as “staying in your lane.” It isn’t about what I have to say—nobody objected to that. It was that a white male was saying it.[2]

But now, all over my Facebook feed, I see gays, women, people of color, and transsexuals deploring the “rise of hatred.” As the results came in Tuesday night, German Lopez at Vox published an article noting that “the diverse coalition that supported her [Hillary Clinton] is horrified” and reproducing a Twitter post suggesting that members of such groups are “completely terrified right now.”[3]

I don’t dismiss their fear. As Lopez notes,

You don’t have to stretch your imagination to understand why people are so scared. Trump ran a clearly racist campaign, calling for a ban on an entire religious group and proposing a wall to keep Mexican immigrants — whom Trump called “rapists” — out. Trump faced several sexual assault allegations throughout the campaign, and he repeatedly insulted women. He has promised to overturn nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in schools. And he supports stop and frisk — an aggressive policing strategy that was deemed unconstitutional in New York City because it was used to target minority Americans.[4]

Meanwhile, a bunch of white males are publishing articles on progressive news sites or posting on Facebook, sometimes amplifying,[5] but otherwise saying pretty much what I wrote late Tuesday night, that white males are already in despair, in significant part due to the Clintons’ economic policies.[6]

But the wailing on my Facebook feed continues. It is apparent that folks aren’t listening.

So I have a proposal. Since you all hate white males so much, why don’t you just start the round-ups? Put us in concentration camps and let us starve. Better yet, make us dig trenches, then have us kneel over them while you machine gun us down. We’re dying anyway[7] and that doesn’t make any difference to you.

I wanted to be on your side. I really did. But you told me to “stay in my lane.” It’s pretty clear now what you mean by that.

  1. [1]Michael Lerner, “Psychopathology in the 2016 Election,” Tikkun, November 3, 2016, http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/psychopathology-in-the-2016-election-3
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Squatting on the University of Missouri quad,” Not Housebroken, November 11, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=8296
  3. [3]German Lopez, “The diverse coalition that backed Clinton knows it isn’t looking good — and they’re scared,” Vox, November 9, 2016, http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13572128/clinton-trump-scared-2016-election
  4. [4]German Lopez, “The diverse coalition that backed Clinton knows it isn’t looking good — and they’re scared,” Vox, November 9, 2016, http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13572128/clinton-trump-scared-2016-election
  5. [5]Juan Cole, “Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism Is Killing Them (Literally),” Truthdig, November 9, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_white_working_class_rebelled_neoliberalism_is_killing_20161109; David Dayen, “The ‘Deplorables Got the Last Laugh,” New Republic, November 9, 2016, https://newrepublic.com/article/138615/deplorables-got-last-laugh; Thomas Frank, “Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there,” Guardian, November 9, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/donald-trump-white-house-hillary-clinton-liberals; Kevin Gosztola, “The Hubris of Democratic Elites, Clinton Campaign Gave Us President Trump,” Common Dreams, November 9, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/11/09/hubris-democratic-elites-clinton-campaign-gave-us-president-trump; Brad Reed, “Michael Moore’s tough words for liberals: ‘You weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans,’” Raw Story, November 9, 2016, http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/michael-moores-tough-words-for-liberals-you-werent-paying-attention-to-your-fellow-americans/; Bernie Sanders, “Sanders Statement on Trump,” November 9, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/11/09/sanders-statement-trump; Robert Scheer, “Revenge of the ‘Deplorables,’” Truthdig, November 9, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/revenge_of_the_deplorables_20161109
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Why Donald Trump won,” Not Housebroken, November 9, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9093
  7. [7]Juan Cole, “Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism Is Killing Them (Literally),” Truthdig, November 9, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_white_working_class_rebelled_neoliberalism_is_killing_20161109

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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