The White Man Pathology
January 10, 2016 9:34 AM   Subscribe

On an American road trip, Stephen Marche enters the fray with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in Iowa and gets a view of the campaign trail from the perspective of his whiteness. (SLGuardian)
posted by josher71 (98 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I wish that Coates had some crazy scheme, some utopian fantasy for communards in Georgia, or the return to one motherland or another, but he just wants the end of white supremacy. He just wants white people in America to grow up, to cede their inhumane sense of absurd superiority. I cannot imagine why they would. It’s fun to drink and to play cards and to imagine what Donald Trump would say to the Mexican president the day after he was elected, or whether Ben Carson would set the flat tax at 10 or 12%. The ultimate alibi is ignorance – it lies closest to innocence – but if you can’t manage ignorance, craziness does nearly as well."

Wow, this is actually very, very good. I'm not sure until we start voting in a few weeks that any of this fascination with Trump or Carson is real, but this is a pretty interesting explanation for the pathology.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:59 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I hate this kind of shit so very, very much, but I live in Iowa, so probably this asshole would dismiss me with some condescending bullshit about how I may once even have attended a literary reading.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


God help me I want a "cats for Trump: the time is meow" tshirt but I'm not sure how to wear it ironically
posted by angrycat at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Michigan is not California, we do not call it "the I-94", we call it I-94, no "the".

I had a hard time reading this, and only got about half way through, it felt arrogant and contrived. I stopped when he wrote ".. Its construction is tripartite, its significance polyvalent..."

Felt a lot like the letters home from missionaries visiting Africa in the 1800's.
posted by HuronBob at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [23 favorites]


The singer from Alice in Chains (remember them?) did an electric version of I Won’t Back Down.

This sentence could use a little elaboration.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


@swarthyvillain: Nawaf Obaid, a Saud propagandist, has Guardian articles where he says ISIS aren't Sunni. still better than this

@Lowenaffchen: guys like this scoffing at trump rallies in "flyover states" are why trump rallies exist
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I had a hard time reading this, and only got about half way through, it felt arrogant and contrived.

The author had the makings of a good piece. But he was far too busy being fascinated by himself to actually write it.
posted by Ndwright at 10:57 AM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


Oh, not Stephen Merchant. Too bad.
posted by No Robots at 10:57 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


the officer I happened to draw had a gruff belly and the mysterious air of intentional inscrutability, like a troll under a bridge in a fairytale.

“Where are you headed?” he asked.

“Burlington, Iowa.”

“Why would anyone ever choose to go to Burlington, Iowa?” he asked philosophically.


Does anybody else find it super-hard to imagine this exchange actually taking place?
posted by escabeche at 11:00 AM on January 10, 2016 [29 favorites]


When the organizers [of the Trump rally] passed around hand signs reading “The Silent Majority”, she grabbed a dozen so she could pass them around to others.
Trump supporters are neither.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I’ve never been to a place as white as Iowa. That’s the honest truth. Whenever I go to America it’s New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or Florida.

Dude has a Ph.D. in early modern drama from the University of Toronto. There is no question he's been plenty of places as white as Iowa -- that these places were located in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or Florida doesn't seem that relevant.
posted by escabeche at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


Well, I liked the article. Maybe it helps that I'm not a Sanders supporter, per se. I mean, I'd be satisfied with the guy as the Democratic nominee, and I'll happily vote for him if he wins. But I think this writer is correct when he notes—on both Red Team and Blue Team—"The vagueness of American politics ... It’s all about feelings and God and bullshit". Our politics has abandoned all pretense of being about anything other than tribal affiliations, cult of personality, and spectacle.

There is no question he's been plenty of places as white as Iowa -- that these places were located in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or Florida doesn't seem that relevant.

He's talking about the general population of, like, an entire ZIP code, not of individual buildings or campuses.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Does anybody else find it super-hard to imagine this exchange actually taking place?

Very little that border crossing guards do surprises me. If they performed an interpretive dance, maybe.

No, the last time I drove into the states (at the Niagara Falls ON/Buffalo NY crossing), the first question we were asked was "When we you last here?" I had no idea if he meant the USA, Buffalo, or the Rainbow Bridge, so I answered, "About ten years ago," which was actually not the right answer for any of those three questions. The last time I flew into an American airport, the customs officer at the airport looked at my Canadian passport and decided I was American, asking me how long I had been gone from the US (where he suggested that I actually lived). And an Israeli customs officer once demanded to know how I had first heard about Israel. "It's on all the maps?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:13 AM on January 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


Felt a lot like the letters home from missionaries visiting Africa in the 1800's.

We've observed a lot of other cultures like that, though. So, I mean. I don't mind.
posted by qcubed at 11:13 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


escape from the potato planet, I really liked it as well. If nothing else, it is very enlightening on how Americans are seen by non-Americans. But there's a lot there about the real issues we have here, still.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK, look, Coates's discussion of his self and Black selves in wholly visceral, material terms is really powerful and really appealing and very different than the exploration of the non-material, intellectual self that we're used to seeing. But its power depends on context.

White dude, White people, it does not work for us. We do not have the context of literally being regarded only for our bodies for centuries. This essay is a great example of how we come off as wholly pretentious copycats when we wield that literary trope. The whole point of Coates's use of that trope is that Whiteness is being seen as an individual, whereas Blackness is being seen as a body. We are not seen as bodies. We are seen as individual humans. We were not slaves. We were not oppressed. So please, please, let's all fucking quit trying to copy his style, please? Because you don't only look dumb, it demonstrates you're completely missing his point.
posted by schroedinger at 11:17 AM on January 10, 2016 [42 favorites]


My son’s Guyanese-Canadian teacher and the Muslim Milton scholar I went to high school with and the Sikh writer I squabble about Harold Innis with and my Ishmaeli accountant...


"So Americans have a huge problem with race everybody... oh, what? Indigenous people? Yeah, fuck those guys."




Michigan is not California, we do not call it "the I-94", we call it I-94, no "the".

We wouldn't call it that in California, either, it's I-5 or the 5.

posted by Huck500 at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


That all said, this is an insight into how White intellectuals from other countries see the USA, but does not really seem like more than that. I think there is a lot that needs to be written by White authors about Whiteness, what it means to us, how it is shaping us and how it plays into this election, but this guy has not done it.
posted by schroedinger at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Did anyone actually need this man's shallow, uninformed opinion and his woe-is-my-runner's-rash/mortality narrative? The 20 minutes I spent reading this man's purple prosaic garbage is 20 minutes I will never get back. A "perspective of his whiteness" is hardly a unique or insightful perspective.

I did find some quotes insightful, like the one escape from the potato planet mentioned above, but the wrapping around it was largely limp and distasteful.

And schroedinger, I had the same feelings about his reading of Coates but you articulated much better than I could have why.
posted by sevenofspades at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't really see this as being about how outsiders see Americans. I see it as being about how smug metropolitan types see the trash out in flyover country. This could just as easily have been written by a dude from New York or Chicago. He could just as easily have written it about stupid people in Saskatchewan.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:21 AM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


rich white people can afford to think about socialism, the poor can only afford their anger

Who'd have thought, just ten days into 2016 and the Stupidest Sentence of the Year Award is already safely locked up
posted by RogerB at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


I am now kinda wondering what the ethnic breakdown is for people who like this article vs. people who don't.
posted by qcubed at 11:25 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Favorite sentence: "The Bernie Sanders rally in Davenport was the precise opposite of the Donald Trump rally in Burlington and yet precisely the same in every detail."
posted by Peach at 11:26 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


i stopped reading when it became clear in the first paragraph that he was assuming a white reader.

qcubed, i'm white
posted by thug unicorn at 11:27 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Precise gibberish
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:27 AM on January 10, 2016


RogerB, you don't think it's noteworthy that working-class Americans (on average) are deeply suspicious of leftist / socialist ideas, whereas those who embrace those ideas are likely to be be relatively affluent?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I mean, to be honest, I'm not really paying attention to the racial angle, which strikes me as more of framing device than the meat of the piece. Perhaps a dumb and/or regrettable framing device, yeah—I don't care about this guy's white guilt or cyclist's rash or middle-age mortality crisis either. So I'm just ignoring that part, and appreciating it as an outsider's perspective on American electoral politics. It's a limited perspective, sure—just as any individual's perspective is limited. It's still worth being reminded that many of the things we take for granted in the US are not given or universal, and in fact many of them are quite peculiar.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Speaking as someone who deals with the very affluent, I'd say it's more a matter of social class than amount of cash as to who believes in socialism. A lot of my left-leaning friends are "poor" but privileged by their background.
posted by Peach at 11:33 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Stopping by mostly to say that Coates is definitely one of those Everybody In America Needs to Read This writers. Between the World and Me needs to be required reading in our high schools immediately.

This guy...yeah, I'm calling bullshit from the very first paragraph.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:33 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


This article is rather precious. The writer seems very strongly convinced of his cleverness, and he's certain that you'll agree that he's very clever too. Also very convinced of the unanimity (and pathology) of "white people" as this homogenous blob.

Right then, reading that passage, I knew that white people were going to love this book. What white people crave – more, they require it, they require it to live – is an alibi from their whiteness, an escape from the injustice of their existence.

White people crave an alibi from their whiteness? Wat?

His tone was also highly condescending to Americans of all sorts (but particularly the white ones): "I come from Toronto, in Canada, which is superior to dull old White America because it's MULTICULTURAL, and did I mention that it's in Canada, which is superior to dull old White America".
posted by theorique at 11:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder if some of his constructions are the result of his reading The Inimitable Jeeves 100 times, which he mentions in his previous piece for The Guardian.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


you don't think it's noteworthy that working-class Americans (on average) are deeply suspicious of leftist / socialist ideas, whereas those who embrace those ideas are likely to be be relatively affluent?

Not only is it not "noteworthy," it's not true. Poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans consistently skew quite considerably to the left of top-1%-wealthy Americans on policy issues.
posted by RogerB at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


Well, by "relatively affluent" (note the "relatively"), I wasn't referring to "the 1%", or even the 10%. I'm talking about the average person getting a latte at Starbucks (more typical of the Sanders crowd), as opposed to the average person getting a coffee at McDonald's (more typical, I think it's fair to say, of folks who buy into bogeyman stories about evil socialists and Muslims and gays).

But you seem to have your mind made up, so.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Matt Bruenig at Demos: Does the White Working Class Hate Welfare for the Poor?
I don't know where working class begins and ends here. But in the $30k-$75k range, you have 57% of GOP voters (non-voters are generally more progressive still) who think the government's support for poor people is the right amount or not enough. And this is not even counting the white working class who votes for Democrats, which is still a large chunk of white working class people, even if it's a minority.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:02 PM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Hahahahahahaha. I just laughed my way through this whole article. Note to self: Find some great whiteness scholars to post to the Blue.

Here's a road trip story: Me and my group of queer people of color besties were so acutely aware of our "difference" once we left our state line. We were /confused/ by how nice people were to us, and also during many parts of our trip when we made pit-stops at gas stations, we had to make decisions like, "can we leave our friend alone in the car? especially if they are a black guy? No, one of us should be with him."

It's funny in a way I can't even tell you, that it's absurd we have to be even concerned about something like that. It's a gas station! We wanted chicken nuggets! Our friend wanted to sleep in the car! Why do we have to be made to feel this way about our bodies and our existence in this America?! Why are we confused by nice white people? It's so weird! But I think it's because we knew that for all of our intersectional oppression justice work, that there's always that super vague, super concrete uncertainty of entering white spaces that it would be nice to not have to be cautious about, but unfortunately we are. It is very absurd. We wanted to have a good time, and part of that is that we have no choice but to laugh at our very reasonable awareness of the absurdity. It's rage-inducing when I read BS like this article.

I'd like to hear more queer and people of color road trip stories. Because damn, I didn't know a point when I didn't have to think about my body or my friends' bodies or how they were perceived. Not only that, my thigh hurt a lot during a road trip, so maybe I could make a listicle article about 10 different ways to fight thigh pain and white supremacy on a road trip. That might be way more helpful!
posted by yueliang at 12:12 PM on January 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


God help me I want a "cats for Trump: the time is meow" tshirt but I'm not sure how to wear it ironically

Just wait until he's out of the race and there will be no confusion...that kind of shirt gets better with age.
posted by Edgewise at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


But you seem to have your mind made up, so.

I must confess it is true, I have made up my mind that embracing right-wing culture-war talking points about "latte liberals" and demonizing an imaginary right-wing working class is unlikely to lead to progressive political victory
posted by RogerB at 12:29 PM on January 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


I basically agree with this guy, and I still found him infuriating. He's like a living series of fart noises. There's no way I would show this article to anyone rightward of him in order to convince that person of anything.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:32 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does anybody else find it super-hard to imagine this exchange actually taking place?

Nope.

Actual exchange with post-passport control, post-baggage pick up, yet another border control guard but not sure, when i landed in San Francisco a few years back:

"Good afternoon sir, where are you headed?"

"Mendocino"

"Why would you be going to Mendocino?"

"For a guitar seminar" (gestures towards the guitar case i'm holding)

"Oh, is that yours?"

"Yes"

"What's in it"

"My guitar"

"OK, thank you sir and have a nice stay".

I cannot emphasise enough how much i had to resist on holding back on any form or sign of sarcasm on my last response, because i knew i would have put myself in so much shit otherwise.
posted by lawrencium at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


I'll add my bit to the growing "weird things border guards say" meme/derail.

Me: (walking on foot across border carrying a backpack, looking like a scrummy guy walking from a meditation retreat to a hiking trail, which is what I was doing): Enters border crossing building at Quebec/Vermont border.

Border guard: "Are you carrying more than $10,000 in cash?"

Me: (unimaginatively but wisely, with straight face): "No."

***

Me: Hands Canadian passport to border guard at Toronto airport, who notices that I was born in Massachusetts.

Border guard: "So you are a US citizen?"

Me: "Yes."

BG: "So why don't you travel on a US passport?"

Me: Because I live in Canada." (Again, unimaginatively but wisely not saying what I was thinking, "Um, because I don't want to be a potentially higher value hostage?"

BG: "Why wouldn't you travel on a US passport and enjoy the rights and privileges of an American citizen?"

Me: "uuuuuhhhh....."


Also:

"You couldn’t muss Sanders hair. The disorder is just as much an aesthetic as the comb-over. I mean it always looks the same."

Not true. Back when he was mayor of Burlington, it was curly messy, and now it's straight messy.
posted by crazylegs at 1:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I must confess it is true, I have made up my mind that embracing right-wing culture-war talking points about "latte liberals" and demonizing an imaginary right-wing working class is unlikely to lead to progressive political victory

I'm not sure where you get the idea that a right wing working class is imaginary.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:30 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The right-wing working class that "are deeply suspicious of leftist / socialist ideas" is a fantasy, all right. The only times they (as a group) object to those ideas is when they are labeled leftist or socialist. Obamacare is a perfect example. It wasn't a terrible leftist idea when Republicans proposed it in the '90s, and it wasn't a terrible leftist idea when a Republican governor signed it into law in Massachusetts. Socialist proposals are often very popular with the working class, when they are presented without a political label on them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:48 PM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


There are right-wing working class people in America but overall the right skews higher-income than the left.

I wonder though (especially given what we're talking about here) how much the picture changes or doesn't if you just look at the *white* working class.
posted by atoxyl at 1:56 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


when they are presented without a political label on them.

Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Many of these folks need to be "tricked" into knowing what is best for them, because their own party has put a propaganda-type name on it?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:57 PM on January 10, 2016


This comment did clarify something for me: 'She promoted the idea which is at the core of every last thing that Trump does, that simple contact with the man brings prosperity. “When you’re in the Trump train you’re going places!”'

I've always wondered how someone as worldly as Trump would so the evangelical voters, but he is giving them the same message they're used to hearing, a combination of "the godless are destroying this country" and "trust the Lord to make you rich." That "follow me to empowerment" call being not far removed from what they hear on Oprah as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


> The right-wing working class that "are deeply suspicious of leftist / socialist ideas" is a fantasy, all right.

Joe the Plumber, former icon of the right, was real enough a different sort of fantasy.
posted by fredludd at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2016


Me: Because I live in Canada." (Again, unimaginatively but wisely not saying what I was thinking, "Um, because I don't want to be a potentially higher value hostage?"
Having recently moved overseas my mom is incredibly concerned that I not renounce my US citizenship.

She may have been your border guard. (not really, she's in TN)
posted by sio42 at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2016


Also I didn't know Alice in Chains was still together after Layne Staley died.
posted by sio42 at 2:36 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or that they were a Tom Petty cover band now.
posted by blucevalo at 2:39 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I cannot emphasise enough how much i had to resist on holding back on any form or sign of sarcasm on my last response, because i knew i would have put myself in so much shit otherwise.

He makes a seemingly mindless but not rude comment in the course of what sounds like a perfectly polite and professional interview and your default instinct is sarcasm? I thought Canadians were supposed to be the nice ones.

As to the question itself - my guess is that it's a semi-random question to see how you reacted. Which, had you been carrying a couple of kees (it happens), might have been considerable. It was a silly throwaway line that got Taki Theodoracopulos arrested for cocaine. You can read about it in his memoir, Nothing To Declare.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:56 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


1 - border guards will ask you all sorts of seemingly obvious questions and because they have immense power in the moment, you give a straight answer. But some of the questions do seem odd.

2 - man, a lot of defensive Americans up in here. Was this the best essay ever? No. Did it have some good parts? Yes.
posted by GuyZero at 3:11 PM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Just a reminder to everyone (especially the author) that white men make up only 31% of the US population. Even Donald Trump can't win an election with only 31% of the vote.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:32 PM on January 10, 2016


I thought this was pretty good, but I'm from Portland.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:48 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is a weird year, and I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen, but most informed observers think it's unlikely that Trump is going to win the Iowa Republican caucuses. Basically, going to a caucus is a pain in the ass. They're at 7:00 on a Monday night, and you have to be there to participate. If you have to work or are sick or can't get a babysitter, then you're SOL. I've been told to assume that the Democratic one will last at least an hour, and the Republican one could last a lot longer than that. It could be cold: it's 5° F right now, and the caucuses are in three weeks. And you have to look up your caucus location, because they're not at your usual polling place. Caucuses really reflect the strength of candidates' ground game: can they contact people, let them know where to go, hassle them enough to motivate them to go there, line up rides and babysitters for people who need them, etc? And Trump doesn't seem to have any ground game. The traditional thing to do has been to tap into church networks, but it's really unclear that he's going to be able to do that. Basically, his supporters are going to have to be organized, informed and motivated enough to do it without being pushed along by an organization, and it would be very surprising if that happened.

I hate caucuses with a burning passion, for what it's worth: they're completely anti-democratic, and they discriminate against people with kids, people working two jobs, people without good transportation, etc.

But I live in Iowa, so what do I know? Probably, I exist just so smug big-city assholes can make fun of me for one reason or another.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:02 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


white men make up only 31% of the US population

It's also true, however, that whites over 65 are more likely to vote. The are over-represented asst the pills by more than 8%. And people of all races who are under 35 years old are under-represented by something like 12%.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:04 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does Iowa do caucuses for anything else, or just for kinda-but-not-really voting for President on TV?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:28 PM on January 10, 2016


Best I got was a CBP officer asking me why I bought shirts in Germany. "You don't like to buy American clothing? What's wrong with US-made shirts?"

... this was after:
"Sir, do you want a for for both of us, or together? We live in the same house, and it says on the form "one per household"..."
"Are you married?"
"No, though we did just get engaged a few days ago."
"THE US GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THAT RELATIONSHIP. Get back, sir."
posted by Seeba at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


We do off-cycle caucuses in non-presidential years. I was one of not-very-many people who went to the 2014 Democratic caucus, and I would be hard-pressed to tell you what we did there. We nominated people to various committees and delegations for things. Later, the people who are nominated go to a district convention, and they nominate people to go to a state convention where the party platform gets voted on.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:41 PM on January 10, 2016


I've always wondered how someone as worldly as Trump would so the evangelical voters, but he is giving them the same message they're used to hearing, a combination of "the godless are destroying this country" and "trust the Lord to make you rich."

He has brushed up on the style of the Prosperity Gospel that has been barnstormingly successful for decades, and replaced Jesus with himself. The public have fallen for this, and the other Republicans seem thoroughly routed.

The only way I can see this story resolving in the third act is for someone to get out that Donald Trump is the Antichrist, a charismatic deceiver foretold in Revelation who will bring about the Great Tribulation and All Sorts Of Bad Shit Going Down.
posted by acb at 5:10 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think Cruz gets more Evangelical support -- actually being one -- than Trump does, but Trump gets plenty, and if the nominee gets it nearly all.

Trump may not care about gay marriage or abortion personally but he's taken a harder line against liberal media / academic / corporate bureaucrat ideological monolith than any Republican in memory. Evangelicals need that monolith shattered if they are to (at least) regain autonomy of their families and communities and (in the stretch) actually take the reigns of law and culture more broadly. In other words, you can't eat your omelette before someone breaks the eggs and Trump seems willing to do so.
posted by MattD at 5:40 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


(This is also why "everyone hates Ted" is so remarkably dumb a play against Cruz. If you want to break the Establishment, who better than some one who has been happily pissing off elitists from his first day at Princeton to his most recent Senate debate.)
posted by MattD at 5:44 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


We were /confused/ by how nice people were to us

They just wanted your delicious tourist dollars. If you tried to live or work there , though, that's when your real troubles would begin.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:02 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, today's update from Iowa is that apparently some neo-Nazis (sorry: "white nationalists") are robo-calling for Trump. I'm going to have to start answering my phone to see if they call me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:26 PM on January 10, 2016


acb: nope. A lot of evangelicals really really look forward to Revalations.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:54 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cruz is more popular than Trump with evangelicals, as was Carson until his precipitous decline. And when you actually look at churchgoing evangelicals, as opposed to people who identify as evangelicals but aren't active in a worship community, Trump's support drops further. And when you look at evangelical leaders, Trump is disliked, he has almost no support at all.

In contrast, Trump's single most avid, loyal demographic are white Appalachians who are registered as Democrats. That all by itself tells you a great deal about what's going on. Trump is a right-wing populist/nativist and so to the degree to which he does have support within the modern GOP base -- evangelicals and business -- it's because parts of those groups are also the kind of people who like right-wing populism/nativism. But many of them don't! For the people for whom their evangelical identity is paramount, Trump is not attractive at all -- for some of them he's repulsive. And for the people for whom their business interests are primary, Trump's protectionism and some related stuff is anathema.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:42 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


He makes a seemingly mindless but not rude comment in the course of what sounds like a perfectly polite and professional interview and your default instinct is sarcasm? I thought Canadians were supposed to be the nice ones.

I'm English, sarcasm is in my blood.

As to the question itself - my guess is that it's a semi-random question to see how you reacted. Which, had you been carrying a couple of kees (it happens), might have been considerable.

I knew exactly that the guard was looking for a reaction, and because i *wasn't* carrying a couple of kees and just a guitar it made it all the more difficult to not make a joke.
posted by lawrencium at 11:20 PM on January 10, 2016


Imagine how it must be for people who are going somewhere that sounds like a joke, but is actually real. Like the pharmacologist or law enforcement professional who has to say, "I'm going to a cocaine convention."
posted by XMLicious at 11:33 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


crazylegs: Title 8 requires all US citizens to enter the US via their US passport even if they have another. You can be imprisoned for entering the US on your Canadian passport. I assume you mean you entered each with each?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:18 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


A Canadian border guard once asked me on entry, with every appearance of genuine suspicion, how I could have a friend to visit in Canada if I'd never been there before.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:32 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


I thought this was great; thanks for posting. It put into words a lot of the feelings I have as a white guy whenever I visit the US. My race suddenly feels much more present and important to daily interactions than it does in all other western countries.
posted by modernnomad at 2:51 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Border guards yes. Why are you landing in Los Angeles if your company's address is in San Francisco? I'm a consultant and not required to live where hq is. But why would you want to live in LA?

On going to Canada to get my us visa stamped, border guard asks if I am married. I answer slightly startled yes, I am. Why isn't she with you? Why did you come to Canada by yourself? There was so much judgement in his voice that it was truly shocking. Had to tell him I was in Canada a couple of days and she didn't really want to waste her vacation days. I was let in with a very pronounced shake of his head.

I still don't quite understand why he needed to know my marital status.
posted by viramamunivar at 4:06 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


In my experience border guards ask a lot of weirdly personal or otherwise normally inappropriate questions. I'm not sure how much of that is to try to knock liars off-script vs. they're just really bored.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:31 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean they're basically as nosy as any other law enforcement officer but with much greater penalties for refusing to answer their questions because they can refuse you entry and/or dismantle your entire car on a whim.

I suppose it's one way for middle-class white people to get a taste for what minorities and the poor feel like when interacting with the police.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:39 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


to return to an earlier derail about "the" I-95: Canadians, especially Torontonians, always always always refer to the major arterial highway (part of the Trans-Canada!) that runs through Toronto's north end as "the 401".
posted by Fraxas at 5:44 AM on January 11, 2016


What I wonder is what is this guy's obsession with 1$ beer?
posted by corb at 6:14 AM on January 11, 2016


He's like a living series of fart noises.

this is my new favorite insult for anything
posted by schroedinger at 7:47 AM on January 11, 2016


["The Silent Majority"]
> Trump supporters are neither.

If they were, would you know it?
posted by Sunburnt at 10:02 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


What I wonder is what is this guy's obsession with 1$ beer?

As a Canadian, things are so. fucking. cheap. in the USA. Like, unbelievably cheap. Americans have no idea how much staples cost in other countries. Like avocados are a buck each in California, sometimes less. Hell, I have coworkers who have walked in with a bag of them from a backyard tree to give away. Avocados cost real money in Canada. Beer, even in the cheap provinces, is a couple bucks a bottle in stores - a bock a beer at a bar? Cross-border shopping is an actual hobby in Canada. Well, it was until the Canadian dollar imploded.

Americans complain about making their country "great again" while simultaneously living with more material prosperity than any other nation on earth. Like, how great do you expect things to be? It's literally the best existence humanity has ever known.
posted by GuyZero at 10:10 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


When I was house-hunting in California I'd often see citrus trees in people's front yards with fallen fruit just sitting on the lawn beneath them. (this was back when it rained and people still had lawns).

I was stunned. I had to restrain myself from going and simply collecting it all - oranges and lemons just rotting on the ground? Those things cost money!

And now I also let mine rot on the ground. America.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


> This article is rather precious. The writer seems very strongly convinced of his cleverness, and he's certain that you'll agree that he's very clever too. Also very convinced of the unanimity (and pathology) of "white people" as this homogenous blob.

In the Guardian? I'm SHOCKED!
posted by Sunburnt at 10:16 AM on January 11, 2016


> And now I also let mine rot on the ground. America.

Orchards don't harvest fruit from the ground and you shouldn't either unless you saw it fall seconds before. As for whether you let it rot there, that's a matter of lawn maintenance.

I bet it smells amazing when a lawnmower eats a lemon, though.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:23 AM on January 11, 2016


Also very convinced of the unanimity (and pathology) of "white people" as this homogenous blob.

I think this done on purpose to contrast with writers who write about blacks and hispanics as homogenous blobs. If you're white and you don't like it, well, welcome to being not white.
posted by GuyZero at 10:28 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Orchards don't harvest fruit from the ground and you shouldn't either unless you saw it fall seconds before.

yes and that green light that Gatsby looked at every night was just a safety device.

It's the imagery of it all.
posted by GuyZero at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Orchards don't harvest fruit from the ground and you shouldn't either unless you saw it fall seconds before.

I hate to tell you, but if you've ever had apple cider...

(And I would assume lots of other products are made from fallen starting-to-rot fruit too, but apple cider is the one I've actually participated in making.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:28 AM on January 11, 2016


I think at least some of the weird questioning is related to security screening--just to gauge your reaction. I don't know how they know if this works to weed out the bad actors, though.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:06 PM on January 11, 2016


What I wonder is what is this guy's obsession with 1$ beer?

Where I live in Canada beer is 6 bucks a bottle at a bar. Before 15% tax and a tip. So hopefully you can forgive a guy for getting jazzed about $1 beer. Because I get really fucking jazzed about it everytime I visit your fair nation. And then I get drunk. Really really drunk.
posted by wyndham at 2:12 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like this essay is also drawing on David Foster Wallace's Iowa State Fair essay, only that is a much more discomfiting essay. I'm not at ease at all with how DFW writes about whiteness but in that essay it feels like "I know that these kinds of observations sound smug, and I feel deeply uncomfortable with the way that I fall into smugness but I am not sure what to do about it", whereas this one feels...I think that there's a way where when white people talk about white privilege it feels especially clueless because we name it in this sort of keyboard-tough-guy, stating-the-facts way that seems like we think we're telling it like it is but we actually can't get at the lived experience of racism so it just feels kind of abstract and callous. (I've done this.)
posted by Frowner at 2:23 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


As for whether you let it rot there, that's a matter of lawn maintenance.

Yellowjackets (a nasty, vicious kind of wasp) love fallen fruit. When they find a place where it is, they call it home, and dig burrows into the ground under the fruit trees. In areas that have yellowjackets, the only effective prevention for an infestation of biting, swarming, bad-tempered wasps is to pick up the fruit and haul it away. Pig farmers will often take the stuff off your hands.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:27 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's one way for middle-class white people to get a taste for what minorities and the poor feel like when interacting with the police.

Although middle-class/upper-middle-class Americans who are frequent travelers don't talk to border guards. (Thanks Global Entry!) [Or really just anyone willing to spend $100 to avoid customs/immigration who doesn't have a criminal history or lots of trips to North Korea].

TSA on the other hand is harder to buy your way out of (you can get Precheck easy enough, but that just makes it slightly better).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:28 PM on January 11, 2016


I think this done on purpose to contrast with writers who write about blacks and hispanics as homogenous blobs. If you're white and you don't like it, well, welcome to being not white.

He may indeed be doing that - the whole article is very stylized and he's clearly trying to get as much as mileage as possible from his "among the wacky Native White People of midwestern Murikee and their peculiar culture". At the same time, isn't it fair to say, that two wrongs don't make a ... white?

TSA on the other hand is harder to buy your way out of (you can get Precheck easy enough, but that just makes it slightly better).

IIRC, Global Entry gives you automatic eligibility for PreCheck.
posted by theorique at 4:45 PM on January 11, 2016


It does. It also lasts for five years, lets you combine passport control with customs declaration (not that you should ever have anything to declare, because I will eat all of that jamon iberico in front of you if you stop me), and has saved my ass a few times on bad layovers.

You just have to be okay with your prints and information with both the NSA and China.
posted by qcubed at 6:46 PM on January 11, 2016


I enjoyed the linked piece immensely.

It reminded me a little of my own writing, from back when I thought writing this kind of self-involved piece actually mattered much, and the (to me, surprisingly vitriolic) response here leads me to suspect that my decision to put capital-W Writing aside may have been the right one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:33 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or perhaps it's more his approach to the topics that people are het up about than the preciousness of his prose style. I dunno.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:36 PM on January 11, 2016


You just have to be okay with your prints and information with both the NSA and China.

Sigh ... I suspect that if entities like that really wanted that information about a given person, they would either already have it or be able to easily get it, TSA or no TSA.
posted by theorique at 6:19 AM on January 12, 2016


‘It is hard to have a male and white body and to conceive of its weakness.’
posted by infini at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2016


I thoroughly enjoyed the article, now that I've just RTFA. I wonder if it was meant for an international audience?
posted by infini at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


GOPLifer: Race and the 'Middle Class'
A far more open, free, competitive and dynamic economy is opening up opportunity for the first time to minority families. Despite the significant headwinds and setbacks, it is those families who are capitalizing on this chance to move up in relative terms. The only demographic group losing ground in absolute terms is lower-income, mostly rural whites with little education. This, along with a black President, is the only new or recent development in our sixty year trend toward income inequality. It isn’t hard to understand what white voters mean when they howl their determination to “take our country back.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:59 PM on January 26, 2016


White America's Broken Heart
Much of the energy on both the left and the right this cycle is coming from white Americans who are rejecting the direction of America and its institutions. There is a profound disappointment. On one hand, it’s about fear of dislocation of supremacy, and the surrendering of power and the security it provides. On the other hand, it’s about disillusionment that the game is rigged and the turf is tilted. It is about defining who created this country’s bounty and who has most benefited from it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:25 PM on February 5, 2016


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