Wednesday, July 06, 2016


You may have heard about that imbecilic mope-ed in the New York Observer today by its boy publisher Jared Kushner, also Donald Trump's son-in-law, defending Pa Trump from charges of anti-Semitism. The thing is all kinds of awful, but one part jumped out at me:
In December 1972, a month after Richard Nixon’s 49-state landslide, the New Yorker’s great film critic Pauline Kael gave a speech that said “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken.” I encourage Ms. Schwartz—and all reporters—to get out there and meet some of those people “outside their ken.” One of the reasons the Observer has more than quadrupled its traffic over the last three-plus years is that we’ve been actively broadening our perspective.
Let's lay to one side Kushner's humorous claim that he has the heart of The People because they buy more of his slop than they did before he dumbed down that once-sorta-good newspaper. There are two genuinely interesting things about his editorial. The more mildly interesting thing is that Kushner actually tells the real Pauline Kael story rather than the unflattering fake version -- wingnuts are not usually so scrupulous.

The other, more interesting thing about it is that anyone, especially a New York media mogul, still has the nerve to go out in public and tell liberals that they don't know anything about The People, and that they should go amongst them and learn as Kushner did.

Part of the joke for me is the persistence of the ancient limousine-liberal slur -- that if white people of some means (that is, who can afford to bother to know what the Observer is) believe in social justice and safety nets, it can only be because they never see any poor people or minorities, because they all live on the -- well, it used to be the Upper West Side, and then it was the West Village, and now I guess it must be Davos or some shit -- and that if they ever found themselves amongst darker people they would be disgusted and turn right-wing -- you know, like Rod Dreher did.

But a lot of white people who believe in these things are poor and have lived among other poor people of various shades and hues. I certainly was, and have, for several years, and I ain't exactly rolling in dough now. I've never owned a house or a car, and now, as often, I live in a majority-minority neighborhood. Yet I am invited to feel like some rich snob compared to Trump supporters, who make an average of 72 grand a year, just because I think Trump's bullshit is bullshit, which is allegedly (and despite his inferior poll numbers) elitist.

I see a parallel between Kushner's Rich Pal of the Poor routine and several other recent columns by big-time right-wingers who, while they might not quiiiite endorse Trump themselves, are yet happy to use Trumpism as a cudgel to beat liberals. The clearest example is Ross Douthat, who in his "The Myth of Cosmopolitanism" article ties (as others have) Trump to Brexit to make it seem more inevitable-like:
The people who consider themselves “cosmopolitan” in today’s West, by contrast, are part of a meritocratic order that transforms difference into similarity, by plucking the best and brightest from everywhere and homogenizing them into the peculiar species that we call “global citizens." 
This species is racially diverse (within limits) and eager to assimilate the fun-seeming bits of foreign cultures — food, a touch of exotic spirituality. But no less than Brexit-voting Cornish villagers, our global citizens think and act as members of a tribe.
Sure, I know about tribes. I was raised in a working-class New England Catholic family. (I don't know where Douthat got his wisp-beard Chesterton impersonator shtick, but I'm guessing it isn't from the streets.)  But I got out and found another way of life. And it wasn't as a "global citizen" -- because I don't know what the fuck that means. Maybe some rich people think of themselves that way, but I've never met anyone else who did. I just found a place I liked better and put down roots there. You know -- like Americans were once expected to do.

 I'm guessing what Douthat is trying to do is pierce or at least uncomfortably tickle some soft, white-guilt underbellies from the Times subscriber list. (If yours is black or brown, forget it, he has no reason to bother; from his perpsective you don't count.) If by any chance these assholes have made you feel at all bad about not living in Fritters, Alabama or not going to church or not voting for Trump, let me remind you that this has been their racket since time immemorial: Telling you that you should feel bad because you've turned against your kind. The big difference from the days when they more overtly told you to stick to your own kind is that far, far fewer people are listening to them, and they're desperate to get those numbers up.

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