Monday, September 19, 2005

Time to turn over some rocks

Jeanne has a fantastic post over at This Modern World, typically insightful and difficult, about the way that Americans tend to look at race and poverty in ways that mislead them about the sources and possible cures for the latter -- she starts with Katrina but makes clear that this is an issue we can't just let slide when the clean up of the Big Easy is over.
Remember both pieces the next time somebody complains that when Democrats talk about race and class, it "alienates independents and moderates." Something is clearly out of whack when we can't tell "independents and moderates" that keeping victims from fleeing a disaster is wrong. In fact, something stinks if they can't see it for themselves.
. . .
If we don't confront the way the myths of savage and irresponsible poor, and mostly black, people are shaping this story, that's going to become the story. And a year from now, you can try all you want to tell "independents and moderates" that the Republicans made them less safe, but all they'll remember is that responsible and industrious people got out. And they will be sure that, in a catastrophe, they would be among the virtuous and hard-working few who escape.

A lie, certainly. A dangerous and self-deluding lie. One no one could support except on a crutch of racism.
We have to keep pushing back the boundaries of modern racism, a little bit more with each generation, and not just rest in the comfort of surrounding ourselves with enlightened friends and neighbors. The country can't afford the continued knee-jerk hatred of the south or the unspoken assumptions of leaders in other parts of the nation.

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