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Works and Days

Are You ‘Them!’?

February 5th, 2012 - 8:52 am

Until the appearance of Barack Obama on the national scene, I knew of “them” only from an old sci-fi movie in which huge ants (“Them!”) ate people.

But there are new monsters in America, and I am starting to wonder whether I am to be considered among them: those of the uninvolved and uninformed lives, the bar-raisers, the downright mean ones, the never deserving of respect ones, the Vegas junketeers, the Super Bowl jet setters, the tuition stealers, the faux-Christians who do not pay higher taxes, the too much income makers, the tormenters of autistic children, the polluters, the enemies deserving of punishment, the targets to bring a gun against, the faces to get in front of, the limb-loppers, the tonsil pullers, the fat cats, the corporate jet owners, the one-percenters, the stupidly acting, the not paying their fair sharers, the discriminators on the “way you look”, the alligator raisers and moat builders, the vote deniers, the clingers, the typical something persons, the hunters of kids at ice cream parlors, the stereotypers and profilers, the cowards, the lazy and soft, the non-spreaders of money, the not my people people, the Tea party racists, the not been perfect and mistake makers, the disengaged and the dictating, the not the time to profiteers, the ones who did not know when to quit making money, and on and on.

My God, man, how did Barack Obama & Co. conjure up so many demons?

So Are You One of the Culpable?

This is proving to be a Manichean administration. It sees the world in terms dark and light, of us/them, and then must create the necessary binaries to divide and demonize—so strange given this was the narrative of the Obama campaign against Bush, not so strange given the Chicago origins.

After three years, I realize that lots of us are on the downside of about every one of the president’s new Mason-Dixon lines. Yet I am not a one-percenter like Jon Corzine or Nancy Pelosi. I did not send my kids to private schools as did the Obamas in Chicago. I live in a racially mixed area, one of the poorest in the nation—unlike the mostly white mansion environs of John Kerry. My siblings’ families are racially mixed; I’ve never bought and sold real estate, or made much money on investments. I am certainly, then, no Rahm Emanuel, Jamie Gorelick, or Franklin Raines. I never had any developer give me a sweetheart deal to expand my backyard as did Barack Obama. I have never in my life used the term “typical black person” and would not dream of talking in terms of being a “wise white guy.” I have never been in a church where the pastor used the Lord’s name to amplify his cursing.

Sorry, No Medieval Penance for Us?

Unlike Timothy Geithner, I have always paid my taxes as I should. And unlike Barbara Boxer, I for a number of years made a living driving a tractor and pruning. In other words, I should be sorta OK in the Obama’s us/them class divides. But I also have not purchased an exemption from the Obama adjudicators, and feel no guilt about anything. I did not vote for Barack Obama and I have a bad habit of criticizing much of what he wishes to do for America. Professing to being liberal and caring, after all, in this era, is more important than being so. So instead, like many of you, I am getting the feeling that Obama plans to run for reelection on the premise that millions of Americans like us have done or are doing something quite wrong to people more noble than ourselves, both here and abroad.

Punish Our Enemies?

In the last week, there was more talk on illegal immigration from open-borders activists, the Obama administration, and Mexico—all to the effect that the United States has to shape up, be more caring, and start granting amnesty (“comprehensive immigration reform”). But what are we missing? Did not over 11 million people enter the U.S. illegally, and without apparent care about the law? I would not drive into Mexico without legal identification, or sign affidavits that I knew were false, or abandon my car at the scene of an accident in Acapulco, or register for public assistance in Mexico City, but I am to expect others can do the reverse with impunity?

Does not the U.S. allow almost $50 billion to leave the country for Latin America in remittances? Are not American social services extended to illegal aliens at a time when states are near bankrupt? Are not nearly 50,000 illegal aliens housed in California prisons at a cost of at least $40,000 each per annum?

In other words, the United States seems to have been a generous host. Why then the unending anger and accusations, rather than frequent gratitude that one is living in Fresno rather than Oaxaca? Whether intended or not, the message is hourly becoming “you better let me come into your insensitive, illiberal, and uncaring country—or else!”

Rarely in the history of U.S. immigration have the representatives of want-to-be citizens been so angry at the majority of the country into which their constituents have decided to move. Only Orwell could explain why the Mexican government is suing the state of Arizona to force it to accept its own apparently unwanted Mexican nationals who have entered that state illegally: “You better let us export to you our own whom we cannot house or feed adequately (and often will not care to)—or else!”

What We Look Like Matters—Sometimes, Always, Never?

Then there was President Obama announcing his new African Americans for Obama website , where the president appeals directly to a constituency to support him on the basis of shared racial identity. I am afraid it was quite frank; mutatis mutandis the appeal would be sort of like a theoretical caricatured President Billy Bob Alabama creating a Europeanamericans.billybobalabama.com site with appeals to those who look him to give him money on that account.

Apparently the president is worried that a 96% majority of black voters might slip to near 92% in key states, given near-record levels of black unemployment during his administration.

But the problem is that there is a pattern here. This comes after the 2010 video appealing to past supporters to continue solidarity on the basis of race and gender, and all the other minority-targeted “punish our enemies” tropes. I think we got that message about March 2008: The more noble souls in our country are supposed to ensure that conservatives do not discriminate on the basis of what Americans “look like,” and so they will accomplish that precisely by appealing to voters en masse on the basis of what they look like. What a strange logic: blacks are to vote for Obama on the basis of being black, but others must vote for him on the basis of him not being black.

The More Noble Debtor

I try to pay my credit cards off each month; pay the mortgage regardless of the fluctuating value of my house; and am paying off each month my daughter’s student loans, the last of three in college. I understand that others are far worse off and so don’t mind government helping them. But in the last three years, somehow we have become a passive-voice society. The Obama administration believes that all sorts of sinister people tricked the unknowing into running up credit card debt, taking out student loans, and buying too expensive a house—and that we the taxpayers are uncaring unless we are willing to borrow more trillions to help relieve these debts.

In the last 36 months I have heard about all sorts of enemies and victims, but not a word from the president that he respects those who pay off mortgages even when equity falls, who do not charge things they cannot afford, and who try to pay their own children’s tuition without state grants and scholarships.

Why Are We Culpable?

I see no reason to apologize or bow abroad. I am all too aware that we helped save Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Somalia and send them billions in aid to the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan. I have no guilt about the Europeans. We have paid trillions in dollars for their defense, after saving them from Germany twice, and are far less protectionist in our trade policies than are they. Compared to the caste system in India, racialism in China and Japan, tribal chauvinism in the Arab World, and class distinctions in Europe, I find the U.S. pretty open and fair, meritocratic if you will.

Why, then, would I wish to kowtow to Saudi or Japanese royals, or to apologize in Turkey for past sins?

Post-American What?

Finally, I don’t buy into the president’s trendy “post-American world” fantasies. We are growing; Europe, Japan, China, and Russia are aging and shrinking. Is there a Facebook sprouting in Istanbul? Does Mumbai give us Wal-Mart? Does the world flock to Shanghai to learn brain surgery?

I am not worried that China’s one rusty carrier will match the power of about one-third of our eleven carrier groups. Fat flabby Americans still produce per capita three times as many goods and services as do three Chinese.

I’ve seen European and Arab universities; believe me they are no Caltech or Stanford. I’ve been in three hospitals abroad; the one in tiny Selma is to them as heaven is to hell. In most places abroad, I would not drink the water. I like American doctors; they don’t smoke as they treat you and don’t roll you into Dante’s Inferno on a gurney to rot. I don’t think they pulled out my tonsils years ago only to make a buck. My local Doc does not wish to lop off my leg.

Our gas and oil reserves grow; China’s and Japan’s shrink. If I move to China, as a Scandinavian-looking white guy I will never be accepted as fully Chinese; if a Chinese moves here, he’s liable to run a company. Barack Obama and most of us would never make it as a president or prime minister in Japan or South Korea, or for that matter France.

Mr. President, sermonize to others abroad, not to us at home, about judging people on the basis of “how they look.” In India or Brazil, Obama, as most of us, would be relegated to a caste. Yes, I am worried at the present desire to run up trillions of dollars in debt and redistribute income while ignoring the sources of traditional American material wealth. Yet I still see no reason to lead from behind. I accept no post-American anything—and am quite tired after three years of being lectured that I am supposed to.

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