The Construct of the White Working-Class Zombies

Roundup
tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016, Obama, Trump



Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com. © 2016 Tribune Media Services, Inc.​​

One of the strangest transformations in the era of Obama has been the overt and often gratuitous stereotyping of so-called white people — most often the white working classes who have become constructed into veritable unthinking and unrecognizable zombies. For progressives especially these were not the sympathetic old foundation of the Democratic party, who were once romanticized as the “people” pitted against the industrialists and the bluestockings, but rather have become monstrous caricatures of all sorts of incorrect race/class/and gender behavior and speech. 

Stranger still, this disparagement was concurrent to the release of a variety of recent studies that have shown that the white working class has been “losing ground” in far more dramatic terms than have other ethnic groups, especially in key areas such as health and life expectancy. Such news might once have earned liberal sympathies rather than derision. Odder still, the so-called one percenters — that includes high percentages of whites, who have benefited from globalization and changes in the U.S. economy — are often precisely those who damn the less fortunate for supposedly enjoying racially based privileges that are largely confined to themselves.

Obama himself had long ago made popular the idea that there are not individual white people, good and bad, lazy and industrious, but more generally a collective Borg of racist and culpable “white people.” Or, as he characterized his own “effective” tricks over clueless whites in his admittedly fictional memoir Dreams from My Father, “it was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: [White] People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.” 

The president himself repeatedly amplified this emphasis on clueless retrograde whites during his two presidential campaigns, which in toto can be fairly characterized as a refutation of his earlier admirable 2004 speech at the Democratic convention (‘There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America”). 

Indeed, on a number of occasions during the 2008 campaign, Obama reverted to the “white men” tropes earlier found in Dreams from My Father and commonly heard in Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity Church. In Obama’s much heralded March 2008 apologia (“A More Perfect Union”) for intimacy with the racist Reverend Wright, he drew a moral equivalence between the racist firebrand Wright and his own grandmother, who had sacrificed to send him to prep school (“I can no more disown him [Wright] than I can my white grandmother”). ...





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