Part 2—Denies truth about Trump voters: We start with two important questions:
Who the heck is Larissa McFarquhar? Also, can she can possibly be deported before Obama leaves office?
The reasons for our questions are fairly obvious. In the October 10 New Yorker, McFarquhar committed an offense against Right Thinking.
She had been sent to West Virginia, determined to argue a pernicious claim about the state's vast supply of Trump voters. (Trump beat Clinton in the state, 68.7 percent to 26.5.) Here she is, at the start of her endless piece, discussing an alleged person named Rich Abraham, the first such voter she profiled:
MCFARQUHAR (10/10/16): [I]n other ways he is not the Appalachian Trump voter as many people elsewhere imagine him—ignorant, racist, appalled by the idea of a female President or a black President, suspicious and frightened of immigrants and Muslims, with a threatened job or no job at all, addicted to OxyContin. Those voters exist, but the political thinking of many others in Trump country is more ambivalent and complicated and non-inevitable than is apparent from signs hung on Main Street or carried at rallies. The perception that people in West Virginia are voting for Trump because they are racist or ignorant is significant, though, since it’s one of the reasons they’re voting for Trump in the first place.Disgraceful. Right there in her third paragraph, McFarquhar was suggesting that some Trump voters may not be ignorant racists with a lack of teeth. She had even linked words like "complicated" and "ambivalent" to her description of their alleged mental lives.
As McFarquhar continued, her Thought Offenses got worse. Does the (apparently mistaken or misleading) "perception that people in West Virginia are voting for Trump because they are racist or ignorant" help explain their votes for Trump?
As she continued, McFarquhar seemed to suggest that they did! She even permitted the promulgation of such local folklore as this:
MCFARQUHAR (continuing directly): “When people talk about Trump, they talk about how they don’t like the establishment or the élites,” Charles Keeney, a history professor at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, in Logan County, says. “When they say that, they mean who they see on television—they envision people in New York City making fun of them and calling them stupid. Every time you leave the state, you get it—someone will say, Oh, you’re from West Virginia, do you date your cousin? Wow, you have shoes, wow you have teeth, are you sure you’re from West Virginia? So when they see that the media élite is driven out of their mind at the success of Donald Trump it makes them want to root for him. It’s like giving the middle finger to the rest of the country.”McFarquhar was still typing her endless third paragraph. As she did, she let a local "professor" offer such Wrong Think as that!
McFarquhar's offenses against common decency continued for thousands of words. Inevitably, Abraham turned out to be a Trump voter of Arab descent. McFarquhar even insisted on quoting an alleged Trump voter named Bob Ojeda. Inevitably, with transparent intention, she claimed he was Hispanic.
Decent people will often find it hard to deal with people like McFarquhar. Luckily, her personal history suggests the possibility of corrective action.
Unsurprisingly, McFarquhar isn't one of Us. According to a profile in The Guardian, she isn't simply an egghead. She comes from Over There:
WOLF (10/17/15): MacFarquhar was born in London to the China scholar and former Labour MP Roderick MacFarquhar and Emily MacFarquhar, a former East Asia editor for the Economist. When she was 16, the family moved to the US. (She still retains her English accent, although she says that it shifts depending on whether she’s speaking to an American or a Brit.) In her early 20s she worked as an editor at Lingua Franca, a monthly magazine that covered quarrels and controversies in academia. After a couple of years studying American literature at graduate school, she became a New Yorker staff writer in 1998."She still retains her English accent?" We're inclined to say it figures! She probably picked it up during all those years in graduate school!
At any rate, McFarquhar's personal history suggests a possible solution to the problem revealed in her endless piece. Depending on her citizenship status, we could rid ourselves of this meddlesome "journalist" by sending her back to Great Britain, where she belongs!
For those who want to understand the crisis facing the nation's Right Thinkers, we'll recommend that you fight your way through McFarquhar's endless piece. Her attempt to undermine the "stereotypes" about Trump voters is endless.
Most egregiously, she sometimes suggests, as she does in the passage above, that the WrongVotes of the Trump supporter have to some extent been caused by Right Thinkers like Us! Before we've left the first page of her screed, she has even slandered Candidate Clinton, while suggesting that "Abraham," a vintage ridiculous Hillary hater, may not be a racist or a misogynist in any obvious sense:
MCFARQUHAR: In West Virginia, there are practically no immigrants. But Trump has promoted the idea that someone who cares about the fate of people new to the country must care less about those who have been here longer—and this idea resonates among people who believe that the rest of the country doesn’t care about them at all, and doesn’t see them as kin. When Clinton talks about Trump voters, she tends to divide them into two categories: bigots (her “basket of deplorables”) and people suffering from economic hardship. What’s missing from Clinton’s two categories is a third sort of person, who doesn’t want to think of himself as racist, but who feels that strong borders describe a home. There are many such people, and not just in West Virginia.It's obvious what McFarquhar is doing here. In the case of this alleged person—he turns out to be of Arab descent!—she says he was for the woman first. Then he supported the black guy!
Trump was not Rick Abraham’s first choice among the Republican candidates. His first choice was Carly Fiorina: he thought she sounded like a better businessperson than Trump, and he couldn’t understand why she wasn’t doing better in the polls. But after a while he acknowledged that it seemed he was the only one who liked her, so he started donating to his second choice, Ben Carson. He liked Carson because he thought he was smart and honest, although he was worried by how little Carson seemed to know about foreign policy. During the primary season, Abraham and his wife would watch the Republican debates on television, and his wife would get up and leave the room because she couldn’t stand watching Trump. Abraham sometimes couldn’t stand him, either—he found him pompous and arrogant. But he thought that was a strategy, and it worked, after all: he eliminated sixteen other candidates and won the nomination.
She says his wife couldn't stand Trump. Sometimes, he couldn't stand Trump either! This is intended to support the claim that the alleged mental lives of voters like these can be seen as "complicated" in some deeply strained sense.
Whatever! McFarquhar goes on and on and on with her lawyerly pleading on behalf of Trump voters. Before too long, she's pushing the line that the Washington Post adopted on Sunday's front page.
A lot of those votes in West Virginia are mainly votes about coal, she says. In support of this slick deception, she offers this tortured history:
MCFARQUHAR: Because of the reputation of the Trump voter, it can seem as though the state must have been Republican for decades, for reasons of culture and race, but this is not so. West Virginia is part of the Bible Belt, but it voted Democratic all through the nineties, at the height of the culture wars and the Christian Coalition, when abortion and gay rights, for instance, were far more alive as political issues than they are now. The state voted against Obama, but it wasn’t the prospect of a black President that turned it red: it began voting Republican with George W. Bush, and in 2008 Boone and McDowell Counties, just north and south of Logan, along with some counties farther north, went for Obama. Probably the main reason for the shift in 2000 was that West Virginia perceived, correctly, that Al Gore’s environmental commitments would be bad for coal.Propagandist, please! On the night in December 2000 when Candidate Gore conceded, we were told, by a major campaign aide, that Gore had lost Tennessee and West Virginia because of guns—because of major NRA ad campaigns in those states.
This fellow told us that no Democrat would ever campaign in favor of "gun control" again. On the national level, his prediction has largely held.
Now McFarquhar comes along in this piece and suggests that Candidate Trump swept the state because of coal. We don't know if that is true, but we can tell you this:
McFarquhar describes one local belief which is plainly accurate. In one of the passages quoted above, she describes a belief among West Virginia's Trump voters "that the rest of the country doesn’t care about them at all."
We'd have to say that belief is true concerning us Right Thinking liberals. We understand who These People are. On the basis of our RightThought, we can find no reason to care about life forms like Them.
Despite McFarquhar's propaganda, we know Them to be a collection of gap-toothed bigots. Why would Right Thinking exemplars like Us care about life forms like Them?
Like the Washington Post, McFarquhar tried to sell us on the excuse known as coal. Out here where self-regard is king, We aren't likely to purchase that dodge.
Still and all, McFarquhar's slippery writing can be effective. We thought of an old labor song when she invented this line of reasoning for an alleged Iraq veteran, allegedly named Bob Ojeda, who was said to have voted for Trump despite supposedly being Hispanic. What a transparent crock:
MCFARQUHAR: Trump’s promise to put America first was appealing to Ojeda because he felt it was the first time in a long while that a national politician had actually seemed to care about his state, and not because poverty was bad and poor people needed help but because West Virginia was part of America. “When you hear about illegal aliens getting benefits and you have people here starving to death and can’t get nothing, it’s just a slap in the face,” he says. “When you start talking about bringing in refugees and when they get here they get medical and dental and they get set up with some funds—what do we get? So when people hear Donald Trump saying we’re going to take benefits away from people who come here illegally and give them to people who work, that sounds pretty good.”Except for the claim that nobody cares, that's plainly total nonsense.
Trump seemed to Ojeda to treat West Virginia like family, and he had noticed that many West Virginians in return treated Trump like family, brushing off the things he said that sounded nuts or that they didn’t agree with. “In Iraq, I listened to David Petraeus speak every day about how we had to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure and protect it,” Ojeda says. “But, if we’re going to go trillions of dollars in debt over Iraq, why can’t we go billions of dollars in debt and make every single coal-producing plant clean in West Virginia? Don’t we deserve a hand? We built this country with the steel that came out of our coal, and we protected this country with our soldiers, and nobody cares. We’re more willing to give millions of dollars to people in other countries who’d just as soon put a bullet in the back of our heads. That’s why West Virginia is going to vote for Trump.”
We'll also note that Ojeda may have some false beliefs about the way certain government programs work. McFarquhar will probably say that liberals and journalists should have "cared" enough to tell the Ojedas that they're getting misinformed by some of the powerful media figures they have come to trust.
Once again, what perfect rubbish! Why would We want to do that?
Still, McFarquhar is slick. She quoted "Ojeda" saying this: "We built this country with the steel that came out of our coal."
When she did, we thought of Jim Garland, way back in the 1963, on the Newport Broadside album, recorded at the Newport Folk Festival. Garland, already 58, could be heard singing this:
I don't want your millions, Mister,To hear a brief excerpt from Garland's performance, you can just click this.
I don't want your diamond ring.
All I want is the right to live, Mister,
Give me back my job again.
We worked to build this country, Mister,
While you enjoyed a life of ease.
You've stolen all that we built, Mister,
Why must our babies starve and freeze?
According to the leading authority on his life, Garland came from the coal country of eastern Kentucky, "where he was involved with the communist-led National Miners Union (NMU) during the violent labor conflicts of the early 1930s called the Harlan County War."
Garland was a Communist, undoubtedly just like McFarquhar! At any rate, he's credited with writing "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister" during the 1930s. Even as late as 1963, right-thinkers knew how to respect the sentiments expressed in his iconic song.
"We worked to build this country, Mister?" There was a time when Right Thinkers like Us were still suckers for nonsense like that.
Back then, he had us at "I don't want your pleasure yacht." But baby, just look at our liberal stars now! They're all paid millions of dollars per year. And they tend to be very careful not to do something to blow that!
We thought of Garland's outmoded song when we read McFarquhar's endless piece. Slippery propagandists have always been able to lead us Right Thinkers astray.
Tomorrow: Equally ludicrous suggestions, ideas and allegations from deep in the Bayou State
Also recommended from Newport Broadside: Ye Playboys and Playgirls, Seeger and Dylan. Also, Coyote My Little Brother, Peter LaFarge.
Has there ever been a more beautiful song and performance than the latter?
When you hear him singing,
The few that are left,
He's warning the human race of his death...
For a full rendition by LaFarge, treat yourself: Just click here.
Does anyone here know the origin of the word teabag? Did anyone ever hear of teabagging before it was in the Curb your Enthusiasm episode? I had never heard of it before that. I always thought it was a strange club with which to beat up the opposition with because it seemed so obscure.ReplyDelete
I guess you're not gay.Delete
And you must not have watched Olbermann and Maddow in 2009 with their string of smutty teabag jokes. After all, they had to prove their hipster creds.Delete
It was on the third episode of the first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm first broadcast on October 29, 2000. I assume that is where Maddow and Olbermann got it from. In the episode Larry, playing an arch liberal, had no idea what the term meant. It was the first time I had heard of it too. Then in 2009, all of a sudden you're weird if you don't know his obscure homosexual term.Delete
Herbert Simon won a Nobel prize for his study of decision-making, discovering that people do not use a single criterion but engage in satisficing, a way of trading off pros and cons to make a choice. This applies to presidential votes too.ReplyDelete
Few people are single-issue voters. When they are, they are not engaging in the kind of decision making that people routine use to make complicated choices. They are ignoring all other characteristics to focus on only one thing. When people do that, there is something abnormal about their thinking. It is characteristic of someone with a frontal lobe deficit, someone unable to think about more than one thing at a time.
I understand that some people may become fixated on finding a certain kind of job as the panacea that will solve all their problems. When someone promises that to them, they may disregard all the warning signs that (1) the job may not materialize as promised, and (2) the person promising the miracle may be a con artist.
But lets not pretend this is normal thinking. It isn't. Nor is it ambivalent or complicated. It is wishful thinking and it is both childlike and fruitless. People lacking in flexibility, both mental and practical, are stuck in regions of the country without jobs, with dying industries, with no prospects. But this is a big country and those with more wherewithal go elsewhere, retrain, find a different way of supporting themselves. The ones who have done that left behind the ones who could not, and the result is a state full of Trump voters, mired in their own wrong choices in life and hoping Trump will rescue them. He won't.
Or they like where they live, would like more industry there so that they can support their family, think NAFTA and other deals like it eliminate that option, and think government has a role in change.Delete
"Got to get down to the Cumberland mineDelete
That's where I mainly spend my time
Make good money/five dollars a day
Made any more I might move away -"
"Cumberland Blues" - Grateful Dead
""She still retains her English accent?" We're inclined to say it figures! She probably picked it up during all those years in graduate school!"ReplyDelete
She picked it up from her parents, the way all children do. I get that Somerby's trying to portray her as elitist and is being sarcastic, but being British just makes you someone from another country.
Herbert Simon's mother was an immigrant from Germany. I find myself wondering whether the animosity toward immigrants may come from people who are stuck in their lives because they are bound by tradition (my family has lived here for generations, this is the way we've always done things, generations of my family have worked the mines). This is the essence of conservatism and it is not serving people well when the demands of the world change and they cannot be flexible. I think that is what's bothering people from West Virginia and the other red states in the center of the map. They are left behind in a physical sense as well as a psychological one.
Instead of changing themselves, they want the world to be as it was when they were able to succeed (if that was ever true). I'd be willing to bet they don't travel much either.
If feeling stuck in inflexible, traditional way of life causes conservatism, why did the liberal win 98% of the vote of blacks living in what Trump called inner city hell holes?Delete
Kids get their accents not from their parents but from other kids. If the McFarqhuars had moved here a few years earlier, little Larissa would have lost her English accent.Delete
Does the loss of coal jobs justify this? Doesn't this support the toothless stereotype a bit?
Bob, your outrage in this case is not out of hand. The column you refer to makes Paul's comment in Last Tango in Paris seem feeble. "What a steaming pile of horseshit!"ReplyDelete
""perception that people in West Virginia are voting for Trump because they are racist or ignorant" help explain their votes for Trump? "ReplyDelete
Does it matter? They voted for an illusion.
For 4 decades, Democrats have won elections by calling conserevatives bigots. This year, that strategy finally stopped working. But, liberals haven't given it up, as can be seen by their fact-free attacks on Steve Bannon. I wonder how many elections Democrats will lose before they acknowledge that the old racist-baiting strategy no longer works.ReplyDelete
"In her early 20s she worked as an editor at Lingua Franca, a monthly magazine that covered quarrels and controversies in academia."ReplyDelete
A better put-down than any that Lady Mac could invent.
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