Some days the universe points you in the right direction. Someone will say, or write something and you know just how to respond. That was the case today when Laura Ingraham and Representative Mo Brooks handed the Twitterverse a gift in perpetuating the idea that there is somehow a war on white people. Everyone grabbed that ball and ran with it, myself included. It is all well and good to mock the powerful when they say foolish and inflammatory things. It is another to kick the powerless.
Do not mistake me, this is not a call to take it easy on the people who really believe some of the silly things posted on Twitter today. Anyone seriously asking why there is no White History Month deserves at least a little derision, and probably more than a little. No, what bothers me is the mockery of the unsophisticated, the poor, those “dumb” people who vote against their economic interest regularly. What bothers me are allusions to trailer parks, tractor pulls, meth, and mullets. It is so easy to poke fun at their Budweiser and love of redneck culture, their habits that are bad for them, the dangers of which are well documented. We do this, though, while out of the other side of our faces we correctly point out the bad habits of poor, black people are the only release they get in a grossly unfair world, or that their bad diets are often the only ones they can afford.
Truth be told, and I am sure there will be cis-het, white liberals who will whine about this, but I am more willing to cut some slack to PoC or queer folk who do this. So many poor conservatives react only to readily to the dog whistle of bigotry their political leaders and pundits blow on for them. I get why it is easy to get frustrated and angry with them. Hell, when they start in with their thinly veiled, and sometimes not veiled at all, hate, you have every right, a responsibility, to call them out for it. More than a few taking shots at these folks though come from a position of economic privilege.
I have written at length how too many cis-het, white liberals are too readily dismissive of their white, straight, cis or male privilege. Problematic statements are made and suddenly, these same people who purport to champion our causes accuse us of being too touchy. Well, obviously it is necessary to point out how these same “allies” dump all over the poor they claim to fight for.
These poor conservatives, while frustrating, are our brothers and sisters in the struggle for a just world. They just cannot see it. Their ignorance, their fear, and their bigotry have been carefully cultivated. Which is not to say you do not call them out for it, but you can do it by leaving a door open to join us and that is not accomplished by belittling them for traits that have nothing to do with those things. Mocking them for trailer parks, fishing, or whatever marks you as the elitist prick the propaganda-mongers at Fox news paint you to be.
So to recap: making fun of the powerful when they say stupid stuff is cool. Making fun of the poor for their lack of sophistication, not so much. I thought the point of calling ourselves liberals, leftists, progressives or whatever label we think we fit under was we want the world to be a kinder place. How is kicking someone while they are already down kinder? We can do better, and we must if we are going to build bridges to all the oppressed people so we can all finally stand together and make the world everyone deserves.