jd_vance   7

JD Vance, When It Comes to Baskets, We’re All Deplorable - The New York Times
There’s no reason to limit basket-worthiness to those with explicit prejudices. For decades, scholars have studied the ways in which implicit biases affect how we perceive other people in this multiethnic society of ours. The data consistently shows that about 90 percent of us possess some implicit prejudices — and, unsurprisingly, people typically favor their own group. Layer on top of that the many people unwilling to speak about their prejudices with a pollster, and a picture emerges of a nation where a significant majority of the country harbors some type of bias.

There are many ways to confront the people of that nation in all its complexity. We can ignore that these biases exist, and pretend that our uniquely diverse society need never address the difficult questions posed by that diversity. This is the path chosen by far too many of my fellow conservatives.

We can deem a significant chunk of our populace unrepentant bigots, which appears to be the strategy of Mrs. Clinton and much of the left.

Or we can recognize that most of us fall into another basket altogether: One where prejudice — even implicit — coexists with incredible compassion and decency. In that basket is the black preacher who may view homosexuality as a little icky even as he lovingly ministers to struggling gay members of his church. The adoptive parent of a child born in Asia, who pours her heart and soul into her child’s well-being even as she tells a pollster that she doesn’t much care about America’s experience with Japanese internment. And in that basket is a white grandmother who speaks ill of black people even as she gives her beloved African-American grandson the emotional support and love that enable him to become the president of all Americans.

We can and should recognize the bad in that basket even as we celebrate the good. We must have the courage to confront dreadful views even in the people we love the most. But that’s difficult to do when we cast large segments of our fellow citizens into a basket to be condemned and disparaged, judging them even as we ignore that many of their deplorable traits exist in us, too.
jd_vance  race  bias 
september 2016 by stoweboyd
The Lives of Poor White People - The New Yorker
It’s through these back doors of memory and family history that “Hillbilly Elegy” arrives at its broadest subject: our hopelessly politicized approach to thinking about poverty. At least since the Moynihan Report, in 1965, Americans have tended to answer the question “Why are people poor?” by choosing one of two responses: they can either point to economic forces (globalization, immigration) or blame cultural factors (decaying families, lack of “grit”). These seem like two social-science theories about poverty—two hypotheses, which might be tested empirically—but, in practice, they are more like political fairy tales. As Kelefa Sanneh wrote earlier this year, the choice between these two explanations has long been racialized. Working-class whites are said to be poor because of outsourcing; inner-city blacks are imagined to be holding themselves back with hip-hop. The implicit theory is that culture comes from within, and so can be controlled by individuals and communities, whereas economic structures exert pressures from without, and so are beyond the control of those they affect.

This theory is useful to politicians, because political ideologies function by identifying some people as powerless and others as powerful. The truth, though, is that the “culture vs. economics” dyad is largely a fantasy. We are neither prisoners of our economic circumstances nor lords of our cultures, able to reshape them at will. It would be more accurate to say that cultural and economic forces act, with entwined and equal power, on and through all of us—and that we all have an ability, limited but real, to harness or resist them. When we pursue education, we improve ourselves both “economically” and “culturally” (and in other ways); conversely, there’s nothing distinctly and intrinsically “economic” or “cultural” about the problems that afflict poor communities, such as widespread drug addiction or divorce. (If you lose your job, get divorced, and become an addict, is your addiction “economic” or “cultural” in nature?) When we debate whether such problems have a fundamentally “economic” or “cultural” cause, we aren’t saying anything meaningful about the problems. We’re just arguing—incoherently—about whether or not people who suffer from them deserve to be blamed for them. (We know, meanwhile, that the solutions—many, partial, and overlapping—aren’t going to be exclusively “economic” or “cultural” in nature, either.)

It’s odd, when you think about it, that a question a son might ask about his mother—“Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?”—is at the center of our collective political life. And yet, as American inequality has grown, that question has come to be increasingly important. When Rod Dreher asked Vance to explain the appeal of Trump to poor whites, Vance cited the fact that Trump “criticizes the factories shipping jobs overseas” while energetically defending white, working-class culture against “the condescenders” who hold it in contempt. Another way of putting this is that, for the past eight years, the mere existence of Barack Obama—a thriving African-American family man and a successful product of the urban meritocracy—has implied that the problems of poor white Americans are “cultural”; Trump has shifted their afflictions into the “economic” column. For his supporters, that is enough.
hillbilly_elegy  jd_vance  hillbillies  appalachia  white_identity_politics  populism  trump 
september 2016 by stoweboyd

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