Saturday, June 25, 2005

Elitist Bigots

Over at Major Ynos (a satirical Sony fanboy site), one of the commenters used the phrase "Get your mullet doning, nascar watching, xbox humping asses out of this topic and let the grown-ups talk okay?"

It utterly pissed me off. I'm not sure where I got it from but such elitist bigotry bugs the hell out of me. I grew up with all the caucasian / red-neck scary stories and predjudices that come from being born brown and a conquered people. I expected the worse when first moving to the mainland. I was pleasantly surprised but also given a good dose of reality. The racism and bigotry that the south is stereotyped with does exist. As it turns out it exists among other races and other places. My brother was trailed by cops in Boston for no apparent reason other than he was dark-skinned, driving in a nice jeep in a nice neighborhood heading to a carpentry job in that neighborhood. I've been warned against going to certain towns in the south because I have a tan. The most memorable came from a "good ol' boy" my welding instructor, a southerner named SSgt Vencil who warned me never to go through, let alone stop, in Paxton Illinois, which isn't anywhere near the south. At 18, with racist stereotypes about southerners still fresh in my psyche, hearing such a warning from a caucasian southerner held special force.

Yet I've seen racism from blacks too. I watched one poor young lady reduced to tears when she objected to a few black airmen changing the television channel without concern for the others in the dayroom accuse her of being a racist red-neck and brow beating her to submission because she objected to them walking in and changing the channel. Luckily my Buddy Phillip (a chocktaw) and myself were there and we out minoritied them, because they're just black and we're endangered species. Super-minority. I've heard racist remarks from blacks and asians and mexicans (and from mexican americans towards mexican nationals).

It was all quite sharp to me because it was a shocking change from the type of racism that existed in Hawai'i growing up. Also since I didn't really fit any of their race cliques I got to fit in better with various groups and see attitudes that wouldn't be displayed in mixed company.

There is another, more insidious, bigotry that I've observed. I never really saw it until I left my comfort zone and began to meet with people who were better formally educated and more liberal than the mainstream. It was a bigotry that assumed that since I had a tan I was less then them and needed them to tell me how to live and needed their help to survive. It was a bigotry that turned to disdain when they found out I was in the military, even more so that I was enlisted. Forget that my measured IQ dwarfed theirs, forget that I could struggle through books on string theory and nuclear rocketry or tell the difference between a Manet and Monet, or that I can recognize Orf's O Fortuna or that I enjoyed Rimsky-Korsakov and Prokofiev in addition to the Dead Kennedy's and Oingo Boingo. It was irritating, angering, and extremely saddening all at the same time. It was a bigotry that was so superior that my intellect, feelings, wants and needs were all inconsequential compared to their superior intelligence and education. It irritated me that they seemed to think I needed to be handed everything because a brownie certainly couldn't achieve anything without being spoon-fed.

What bothered me most about the quote at the beginning of this post is that it was also the kind of bigotry demonstrated by this last class. If I was initially viewed as a minority who was too unintelligent and lazy to do for myself, then southerners and flyover people (though the term didn't exist) were stupid and deserved to be made to suffer penance for all the wrongs committed by Americans long dead, and to take the last class of bigots guilt by proxy. I see them calling people who enjoy NASCAR stupid. I see them calling people who speak with a southern accent ignorant. I see their elitist bigotry that accompanies their hidden racism and it angers me.

Vaguely relevant non-sequitar:
Though the French have never really been succesful at implementing them, the motto they took from the freemasons is one I love. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.


No comments: