Friday
Apr272018

Case Closed

Look, I’m really telling you this for the last time.

It is a myth that Trump was elected by poor white people, who had been cruelly left behind by a rapidly changing world.

While it is true that, for a bevy of bizarre reasons, the president is wildly popular with lower-income rural white people, there are three issues with this bit of conventional nonsense. 

First, coal miners and farmers have been no more “left behind” than travel agents and typewriter salesman have. So knock it off with the strained excuses for their poor judgment and refusal to adapt to an evolving society. 

Second, there are simply not enough unemployed factory workers to account for Trump’s sickening 40 percent approval rating. Hell, every Trump voter I have personally encountered has been doing just fine, economically, and myriad studies have shown that poor people were actually more likely to vote for Hilary Clinton. 

And third, and most important, people didn’t vote for Trump because of economic reasons. They voted for him because he’s a fucking bigot.

Yes, I know many people who voted for the lunatic did so out of party loyalty or a misguided urge to stick it to the establishment or some other really, really bad reason.

But a great many people who pulled the lever for an inexperienced megalomaniac with a history of bankruptcies were not just overlooking the man’s blatant racism. They were endorsing it.

You see, yet another study has come out showing that“Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fearof what may come.” In particular, “white, Christian and male voters… turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.”

As an aside, has any profile of the average Trump voter not included at least one of the following words: “fear,” “anger,” “anxiety”? Hey, when your chief defining characteristics are all negative, it’s not surprising that your choices aren’t the most uplifting.

But I digress.

The point is that, according to this study, “losing a job or income between 2012 and 2016 did not make a person any more likelyto support Mr. Trump.” In addition, “the mere perception that one’s financial situation had worsened” didn’t matter, nor did that person’s view on trade, the unemployment rate in his or her area, or the density of manufacturing jobs nearby. None of that economic shit mattered at all. 

So what did have an impact? Well, would it surprise you to learn that “economic anxiety did not explain Mr. Trump’s appeal,” but “a growing sense of racial or globalthreat” did? Yes, “Trump support was linked to a belief that high-status groups, such as whites, Christians or men, faced more discrimination than low-status groups, like minorities, Muslims or women.” As we know, such thinking is not just paranoid, but factually wrong. However, that was of no consequence. Just the feeling, irrational as it was, that Latinos and blacks were taking over was enough to motivate many white people to support a misogynist, delusional bigot. 

The researchers point out that whites “who exhibited a growing belief in group dominance,” in the idea that “hierarchy is necessary and inherent to a society,” jumped on the Trump train, which reflected “their hope that the status quo be protected.”

Hey, that sounds suspiciously like plain, old-fashioned racism to me.

But that would be insulting to all those salt-of-the-earth types who don’t have a bigoted bone in their body and are just looking for good, honest work and blah, blah, blah.

The researchers conclude that “the prevailing economic theory lends unfounded virtueto Trump’s victory, crediting it to the disaffected masses” when in fact, it is more accurate to say cultural anxiety was the chief factor. And while the researchers are too polite to state it outright, clearly the root of that cultural anxiety was white supramacy.

So can we stop it with the image of the downtrodden Trump voter in his depressed little town who has no issue (none!) with Hispanics or gays or immigrants, and who just really wants to get back his assembly line job? Can we just fucking drop it already?

Because I really am telling you all this for the last time. 

 

Friday
Apr202018

Who’s Got Your Back?

One of the more disconcerting facts about America in 2018 is that about 40 percentof us approve of the job President Tiny Fingers is doing.

This comes despite the knowledge that his administration has no accomplishments other than a massive tax cut for rich people and corporations. And this approval level has held relatively steady even in the face of constant disasters, comical ineptitude, overt corruption, and borderline insane behavior, to say nothing of Trump’s constant attacks on decency, the rule of law, America’s standing, and the humanity of anyone who isn’t a straight white male.

Hell, even his fellow Republicans say that you must be delusional or comatoseto be unconcerned about how horrific the situation has gotten.

It doesn’t matter. Because line up 10 Americans, and four will say, “I like him, because he’s shaking things up” or some such nonsense.

Of course, Trump’s approval rating is highest among angry white men. The rest of us aren’t so keen.

You can see this by measuring the level enthusiasm for his greatest ambition — that fucking wall on the Mexican border. A recent pollfinds that a bare majority (51 percent) of white voters think that it’s a bad idea. That percentage, unsurprisingly, is substantially higher for Latinos, 71 percent of whom know that a wall is just flat-out idiocy.

But what’s most interesting is that “the community that is the least supportive of one of the main tenets of Trump's immigration plan isn't Latinos; it's black Americans.” Yes, a full 87 percent of black voters oppose the wall.

That’s right — black people hate Trump’s immigration policies even more than Hispanics do. In fact, “no ethnic group opposes the border wallmore than black Americans.”

One reason for this could be that some Latinos are so self-loathing, so eager to gain status in the eyes of white conservatives, that they will support something as crazy and denigrating as the wall (which, as I’ve stated before, will never be built). As such, the percentage of Hispanics who support the wall, while low, is still embarrassingly high.

Another reason is that, as the survey authors point out, “some Americans who identify as black may also be Latino since Latino is an ethnicity, not a race.”

But you knew that already.

In addition, “some black Americans feel that despite Trump's focus on immigration from Latin America, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from predominantly black countries are affected by his policy, as well.”

That’s all true, of course.

However, those reasons do not fully explain why black Americans are so overwhelmingly hostile to Trump’s immigration madness.

So maybe it is because African Americans, with a history of persecution that continues to this day, aren’t buying the conservative bullshit that there is no racism to see here. Or perhaps black Americans are empathetic to people who are trying to improve their lives in the face of harassment and discrimination. 

Or just maybe, as author Raquel Reichard wrote, “Our struggles, even for those of us who aren't Afro-Latino, are linked…. Black and brown people in the U.S. have always lived in the same neighborhoods, worshiped at the same churches, attended the same schools and frequented the same stores and restaurants. We are neighbors and allies in the class and race struggle.”

And in times like these, it’s good to have allies. 

Wednesday
Apr112018

Well, That Was a Quick Decade

So I took last week off from posting anything, primarily because I was traveling. I rarely skip a week, and in fact, I can’t remember the last time I went more than seven days without throwing out a couple of hundred words about the latest Trump travesty, or kick in the teeth to Latinos, or cultural breakthrough for Hispanics.

My timing was also odd, because during my absence, I hit a major milestone. That’s right. It has now been 10 years since I started my website, the Hispanic Fanatic.

If you know anything about the internet, you know that most blogs don’t last more than 10 weeks, much less 10 years.

And in truth, when I started this project, I figured I would run out of things to rant about after a hundred posts or so, and then I would get back to doing whatever it was I had been doing before I became immersed in racial politics and the subtleties of Latino culture and the history of pupusas.

But I have not run out of rants. If anything, I’ve become backlogged and have had to abandon the occasional article because the pace of our culture is always on to the next big thing.

Still, for 744 posts, totaling more than 320,000 words, I have been privileged to offer you insights, stabs at metaphorical meaning, and stray moments of dark cynical humor (yes, we laugh but we also cry).

And you have kept reading them, for a decade and counting.

And for that, I can only say the following:

Muchas gracias.

 

Wednesday
Mar282018

What’s It All About?

Many of us have spent the last year or two fretting about the white working class (WWC). Americans are concerned that WWC individuals have been cruelly left behind, and we empathize with their discomfort over a changing world.

Truly, it is to weep.

But while we knock ourselves out trying to justify their allegiance to President Trump, many of us wonder why WWC people can’t just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Or we ask why their anger and hostility should be met with hugs. Or we ponder why ethnic minorities — who tend to be poorer than the WWC — didn't clamor for Trump like their white counterparts did (hey, I’m sure racism had nothing to do with that).

But then along comes a study to say, “Guess what? All your claims that white people are disenfranchised are really just so much bullshit.”

Because a recent study led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau shows that “white boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way.” However, “black boys raised at the top are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy” when they grow up.

Think about what that means. It implies that race matters more than class when it comes to how well you do as an adult. And it further implies that white privilege is not some made-up straw man that progressives created.

The researchers found that “black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds” and that these gaps persisted “even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels, and even similar levels of accumulated wealth.” 

In other words, the only significant variable was the color of their skin. But that turned out to be one hell of a factor.

Now, the good news — if it can be called that — is that my fellow Latinos do not fare as badly as our African American brethren. The study shows that “the gap between Hispanics and whites is narrower, and their incomes will converge within a couple of generations if mobility stays the same.”

That, of course, is a very big “if” — a humungous one, in fact. Currently, Latino households have less than 2 percent of the wealth of white households. And keep in mind that other studies have shown that escaping poverty takes 20 years with nothing else going wrong.

But at least Latinos have hope, no matter how meager.

African Americans do not have grounds for anything other than pessimism. In fact, “black boys — even rich black boys — can seemingly never assume that… at some point you escape the poverty trap.”

The depressing nature of this study becomes clearer with the admission that the researchers tried to identify neighborhoods where black boys do as well as well as white boys, but called off that quest when they discovered “there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”

So would you like the primacy of race over social class spelled out even more for you? Well, the researchers have helpfully highlighted a number of alarming statistics to freak you out some more. Among them are the following:

  • Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America.
  • Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.
  • A black man raised by two parents together in the 90th percentile — making around $140,000 a year — earns about the same in adulthood as a white man raised by a single mother making $60,000 alone.
  • The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.
  • The worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks. 

Yes, you can slice and dice the data a thousand different ways. It apparently all comes out the same way, which is to reveal that the white working class — despite its constant moans of agony — is actually in better shape than most ethnic minorities.

The study also shows that Americans — be they conservative or liberal — who insist “that the fundamental problem is class and not race” are at best misguided, and at worst self-serving liars. You see, “clearly this study explodes that idea.”

It has been, and will continue to be, about race.

Wednesday
Mar212018

Worst of the Worst

For a moment, let’s travel back to those innocent days of 2012.

The country had just reelected Barack Obama, overt racism was on the decline, and the idea of building a wall on the Mexican border was laughable. Also, the only people who had ever heard of Stormy Daniels were lonely guys planted in front of a computer.

Yes, those were the days.

But let’s also remember those conservative psychics in 2012 who predicted the end of America and record unemployment. Recall those GOP deep thinkers who said Obama would confiscate everyone’s guns, institute socialism, and more or less “morph into a radical Third World Soul Brother Number One. 

Yes, it’s clear now that none of the scary things that were supposedly inevitable in Obama’s second term actually came to pass. And of course, conservative pundits have since acknowledged how wrong they were and apologized for their fear-mongering.

Ha-ha… no.

In any case, the point is that the worst for Obama never happened. At no point have liberals had to sheepishly admit, “I guess the Republicans were right, and the guy was a Kenyan-born communist all along.”

In contrast, let’s look at some of the predictions for Trump’s presidency, which were made just over a year ago. The more extreme ones (e.g., that we would be living in a dictatorship on the verge of Hunger Games mania) were always unlikely to come true.

But what about those commentators who said racists would be emboldened? Well, even the most pessimistic of us probably didn't think hundreds of Nazis would proudly march down the streets in broad daylight, confident that the president would be ok with it. 

And what of the prediction that the Trump Administration was riddled with novices and crooks who would damage our institutions and set off a wave of corruption? That’s gone down.

Remember people who were concerned that Trump was an insecure amateur who had no idea how to remotely act presidential? I’m pretty sure that was spot on.

How about the idea that Trump would damage our international standing, cede leadership to other nations, offend our allies, and more or less make America a big, fat joke? Well, do you need to ask?

What about the prediction that Trump would drag American discourse into the gutter? Or that racial animus would get worse? Yeah, those things have happened too.

And of course, what about the concern that Trump would roll over and play dead for Putin, or that the Russia investigation would weigh down the administration like a huge, dead albatross made of lead? Hey, those turned out to be safe bets.

About the only predicted event that hasn’t happened is an economic meltdown, and the guy seems determined to pull that one off too.

Again, the worst for Obama never came true.

But many of our fears about a Trump presidency have already happened, barely a year into this nightmarish ride.

In theory, at some point conservatives will have to say, “OK, you kooky progressives were right. Trump is an unqualified idiot who has caused massive harm to this nation, and we cheered him on, much to our eternal shame.”

However, by the time that happens, the country will be so far gone that no one will feel any satisfaction or relief over that belated admission. 

At least, that’s my prediction.

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