I am getting tired. I was exhausted before, of course, anyone who cares about justice is exhausted, but it’s not fighting the opposition that’s tiring me. It’s having to defend myself against people who insist to me that they know what I’m talking about better than I do, in defense of the people who cannot speak for themselves.
Today, a white man on Twitter whose handle featured a lot of Puerto Rican flags told me that he would happily ignore the people in my home county that weren’t white because there weren’t many of them, and that he thought everyone in my county should suffer for being racists. I did not point out to him that Tirado is a Puerto Rican name, because I married a Puerto Rican guy and then moved to where his family lived. Dude from Twitter spent an hour or two deluging me with irrelevancies about all his black friends that he thought would make me…I don’t even know what. He just needed to prove that he was the Not Racist Guy.
There are troubles in the rurals, to be sure. We have shit to confront out here. I don’t think Not Racist Guy gave a shit about any of it as long as he could prove to himself that the problem wasn’t him.
But I was talking about rural areas, which of course meant that I was deluged with “progressives” complaining at me - not asking, not engaging, just complaining - that “those people won’t quit voting against their own interests.” I cannot help but sigh, because substitute “poor” for “rural” and I have been listening to thousands of liberals and progressives bitch at me for years now. They do not listen. They do not engage. They just come to tell me that I, and everyone I know, are utter morons who can’t see what’s good for them. They do this with no hint of irony, and then they wonder why they don’t win.
It is true that there are trolls, paid or otherwise, whose intent is to annoy and divide us. I try to keep that in mind. But I think more often I am running into people who think of themselves as progressive or egalitarian who are simply not good at logic. For example, I could not possibly explain any harder that people outside urban centers live in propaganda holes. This isn’t news; you can read about Sinclair in any major outlet. John Oliver did a whole piece about it. Still, I hear from people “why do they vote against their interests” like they’re not talking to me, who lives here. Like I cannot think for myself, as though by virtue of preferring woods to skyscrapers I am announcing that I have a smaller intellect.
I am tired of hearing from people about “them.” I am “them.” I am that poor person, that rural white person, and I am nothing like the pictures people keep insisting are reality. If people could swallow their own egos, their own need for self-righteous asshattery, they might actually change something. As it is? After a day like this I am sorely tempted to place a pox on everyone’s house and let society crumble. At least we might get something honest out of the rubble.
You will not win over any demographic by insulting them and telling them that you know better than they do how their lives should run. You cannot take an infantilizing, paternalistic tone and expect adults to respond well. We have a broken society and everybody knows it.
Flattening complex problems into simple moral distinctions of “good and bad” or “smart and dumb” only shows that you came bearing a flare gun for the intellectual war. If you are looking at something that has developed over years, things our best thinkers struggle to solve, and you think you have the solution, it’s you that’s the idiot.
I don’t know what to do about any of this, of course. The answer is that if people actually cared about the things they said they did, they might put real work into making them happen. For now, we seem to still be trapped in a competition over who gets the credit for having been most virtuous. There are no solutions there.
But fine, I’m from the country. If everyone needs a fucking cookie so we can actually get to the real work, then I suppose I can just start baking.
But I am getting tired.