Since I wrote my last blog entry, I’ve been shocked and unimpressed by the media coverage of Brexit. The two major newspapers I read, WaPo and the NYT, have seemed to delight in mocking the apparent stupidity of the voters who voted to leave. This article captures my thoughts perfectly, and much more intelligently than I can.
WaPo has had a series of headlines like the following:
1.) The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it
Are you kidding me? While there was an uptick in googling “What is the EU?”, if you read the article, you’ll note that this is one of the top five search topics about the EU. I would expect this is true all of the time and for most topics. In other words, it’s a red herring and pure mockery of Britons, and in particular those who voted to leave. Condescension much?
2.) Voters in one fading port town wonder if they were misled
In addition to being too stupid to know what the EU is, impoverished Brexiters apparently also can easily be swayed by wily politicians.
3.) Brexit is a reminder that some things shouldn’t be decided by the people
Demoracy is only good as long as those pesky voters vote the way you want. Don’t let them get too uppity! (I know, I myself argued that it was sketchy to decide this by referendum – and I stand by that.)
4.) After residents voted for Brexit, this British county realized the E.U. might stop sending them money
Could this headline possibly be more condescending?
ALL of the above headlines are from WaPo, which essentially has been reeling at the thought that the stupid, xenophobic, racist, don’t-know-what’s-good-for-them voters of the UK have rejected almighty globalism. Globalism allowed me to buy a lovely outdoor sectional for $500 instead of $1500, but what about the people in SW Virginia who used to build the sectional, had healthcare and regular hours and a pension, and now work in food service if they work at all?
I love some of the quotes from the article I linked:
Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility.
It’s not just media reaction – many people’s reactions can also be classified as above. Don’t fall in category #2!
Gary Younge similarly denounced “a section of the London-based commentariat [that] anthropologized the British working class as though they were a lesser evolved breed from distant parts, all too often portraying them as bigots who did not know what was good for them.” Ian Jack’s article was headlined “In this Brexit vote, the poor turned on an elite who ignored them,” and he described how “gradually the sight of empty towns and shuttered shops became normalized or forgotten.”
The American media, at least WaPo and NYT are doing the same to the “working class.” (They’re only the working class when they’re voting for Trump – when they vote for Clinton, we call them the middle class and talk about how tough they have it.)
It’s natural — and inevitable — that malignant figures will try to exploit this vacuum of authority. All sorts of demagogues and extremists will try to re-direct mass anger for their own ends. Revolts against corrupt elite institutions can usher in reform and progress, but they can also create a space for the ugliest tribal impulses: xenophobia, authoritarianism, racism, fascism. One sees all of that, both good and bad, manifesting in the anti-establishment movements throughout the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. — including Brexit.
The point shouldn’t be to rail against Brexiters or Trump supporters for being racist and/or stupid, but perhaps to ask why they might have voted differently than we would prefer them to. I am frightened at the thought of a Trump presidency, and we are one major Clinton health event away from having it. But we deserve what we get.
As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.
INDEED, MEDIA REACTION to the Brexit vote — filled with unreflective rage, condescension, and contempt toward those who voted wrong — perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place.
The same is true of academic elites, financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.
I freely admit to loving the status quo. It’s why I like Hillary. But unlike some other liberals, I can comprehend why some people who are not doing as well as I am might want a change. And voting for the Democrats is not voting for a change – and please don’t blame the Republicans for that.
In general, the Democrats talk a lot about inequality – but their drumbeat solution is to raise taxes. How much does that help my former sofa-maker food service worker in SW Virginia? Not bloody much, I’d warrant. This person needs a job, and the fact that Trump is actually talking about jobs is shockingly novel. In some lights, Obama has done well with regard to employment, but in other lights not so much.
Something is rotten in the U.S. economy. Poor men without a college degree are disappearing from the labor force. The share of prime-age men (ages 25-54) who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970s.
I’m getting off topic here, but please WaPo, no more articles about the low IQ of Brexit voters.
I find the furor over the Brexit really interesting. I think a lot of the uproar is due to the fact that the so-called elite clearly did not want this, but the “common man” spoke. The elite have turned to FB and other outlooks to release their scathing commentary about the pain the Brexiters will suffer as a result of their so-called ignorance, racism and xenophobia. (I am really tired of these epithets being used as political arguments.) The media has covered Brexit with a decidedly negative slant, but it seems the Brits were unswayed. What’s crazy to me is that this is decided by referendum. Whose bright idea was that? Shouldn’t this be a decision made by Parliament? It seems crazy to me that 51% of the population can hold sway and enact a change that 49% is opposed to. They say it will take years for Brexit to actually occur, by which time demographic change due to immigration and ageing might actually tip the balance the other way.
The implication I didn’t consider was Northern Ireland. That country has had a fragile peace for nearly 20 years. Many people are irresponsibly, in my opinion, speculating about NI joining Ireland. My opinion is that will absolutely not occur in the next 20 years. It’s foolish to predict anything about anything much farther in advance than that, but for many of the Protestants in NI, they’d rather become part of Pakistan or Poland than part of Ireland. As far as I could tell by looking at the map, it seemed like traditional Catholic areas voted to stay in the EU and traditional Protestant areas voted to leave. Hopefully the outcome won’t disrupt the peace.
I think the UK will do just fine on its own, provided it stays the UK. If it cannot stay united – if Scotland were to leave, for example – that could be very problematic. The EU to me is more of a concern. From a world stability perspective, it seems very desirable to me that the EU is united. There are a few great powers in the world – the US, the EU, Russia, and some rising powers, China in particular. I am concerned about the future in terms of Russia and China, and if the EU is dissolved, I think it’s a great risk for the US. It seems like the Eu hasn’t been particularly well run. A lot of countries, no doubt including the UK, resent being bossed around by Germany. The elder Brits, among other things, decided they would not allow the Germans to take over on their fourth attempt. The countries just can’t seem to get along. It reminds me of the Federation of States that preceded the Constitution in our country. But the countries are so different in Europe – they don’t even share a language. Their recent history is widely varied. Is it really possible for them to maintain a viable union? I hope so.
L had her second soccer practice today. This time, she was again the other kid, but there were two coaches there. Two! I am so amused.
I’m re-reading Sense and Sensibility, and this time through, I’m really struggling with the premise that Marianne, age 16, should fall in love with Colonel Dashwood, age 35, despite his various qualities. People died younger then, to be sure, and grew up faster. Life expectancy at the time was less than 40, but this is greatly affected by the fact that perhaps 40% of people died before reaching adulthood. Also, consider that Colonel Brandon is wealthy, and it’s no unreasonable to suppose he could be expected to reach at least his 50s and perhaps 60 years of age. Being generous, assuming 60, and scaling the ages by 1.33, one could argue they are equivalently 21 and 47. Should a 21-year-old consider someone nearing 50? It is too much for me, even if the elder man is charming and rich. But, living in poverty in the 1800s would have been a terrible thing, so I guess I would have been willing to put up with a lot to be well-off. But I don’t find this reality charming or romantic.
I was talking with a (male) friend today at work about how I have a different personality that I show to men and women. This is due in large part to the fact that I interact with many, many men professionally, whereas most of my friends are women. Still, even at work, I treat women slightly differently, and I have a different way to trying to form friendships with men. Do you, fair readers, interact differently with men and women? I think even now as an old married woman, I am cautious about being too nice or too friendly towards men, lest they get the wrong idea. It’s the old shyness I’ve carried since childhood about admitting any kind of affection to the opposite sex.
Many years ago, I was living in Ireland during the 2000 Olympics. Ireland had only one medal prospect in the games. Sonia O’Sullivan, in the 5000 m run. She ended up winning a silver medal, an event for which my 24-hour-a-day production factory which didn’t stop for anything shut down production for an hour. In any case, Marion Jones was running in those Olympics, competing in five events. The Irish men I spent time with in those days all relentlessly talked about how manly Jones looked and how she must be on drugs. I accused them of sexism and jealousy, and there was no doubt in my mind that our great country full of 300 million people could produce a genetic freak like Jones without drugs. How wrong I was! In case you don’t know, she used steroids and went to prison for lying about it. Since then, we’ve found out that Lance’s glorious victories were a huge fraud, and that he was a druggie beating other druggies. I loved Lance. The athlete that beat O’Sullivan out for gold in the 5000 m was later found to be have used PEDs.
So many other athletes have also been found to have used PEDs. You’ve probably heard that Russia’s Track and Field delegation has been banned from the Olympics. This is very good news, but the bad news is the rampant drug use that led to the ban. But there are so many drug abusers still out there. The elephant in the room are the athletes living in poor countries where little or no drug testing is done, most notably Kenya and Ethiopia. American (and other Western) athletes also go over there to train, supposedly for the high altitude training opportunities and I suppose the atmosphere, but it’s also been conjectured they do it so they can use PEDs while training without being tested.
I have two athletic heroes left who haven’t tested positive: Michael Phelps and Paula Radcliffe. I have high hopes the former is just a hard-working freak of nature. There have been whispers about Radcliffe, and I often find it hard to believe her 2:15 marathon was unaided. In general, at this point, my favorite sport has been ruined for me. Perhaps it’s time to start following the NBA again.
On a side note, L had her first soccer practice last week. She was the only kid who showed up, but she had fun anyway with her coach.
It’s really disturbing seeing the faces of the victims. They are so young! How many of these people would be alive if assault weapons were banned? Or would the killer have used explosives instead?
Liberals are saying we should ban guns, or assault rifles anyway. I whole-heartedly agree. I have, however, become so pessimistic about our ability to do this. I doubt 50 deaths is enough. Perhaps if it had been 500?
Conservatives are saying it’s Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about Isis. I also agree with this, though what we can do that’s not already being done, I don’t know. The father of the killer is a Taliban supporter who immigrated to the US in ’86. (Note: WaPo has toned down its language on the Dad being a Taliban supporters since I first read the article, now merely noting he expressed gratitude to the Taliban. The father apparently posted a bunch of videos on Afghanistan in some kind of Afghan dialect. I can only assume difficulty in translating from a rather obscure language is contributing to the ambiguity on his level of support.) Apparently the killer was born here in ’86 or ’87. I’m guessing the screening of people from Afghanistan was a lot more lax back then. It’s interesting because most Afghans who fled in the 80s, I thought, were actually fleeing the Taliban – so how is it the father is apparently a supporter? Did he change his mind? It’s hard not to believe a father who believes homosexuals will be punished after death and who supports the Taliban contributed to his son’s interest in Isis. The father says it’s not about religion, and I agree – strictly speaking, it’s not. But it is related to extreme Islam, which I would argue is not really a religion, more like a cult, or simply an ideology.
I have been avoiding learning about Isis because, really, what can I do about it? But I read a little bit about it last night. Apparently they have between 3.5 million and 8 million members, depending on who you ask. Meanwhile, at least 60 million (and as many as 250 million, again depending on who you ask) people worldwide view them favorably. In many Muslim nations, including, shockingly Turkey, around 10% of people view Isis favorably. (8% in Turkey) I wonder what about Isis they favor? What percentage of Americans view Isis favorably? What percentage of American Muslims view Isis favorably? I would guess close to 0% on both counts, but as I said, I’m shocked that such a high percentage of Turks would have a favorable opinion. What percentage of Americans, I wonder, would express a favorable opinion of any extremist group, such as the IRA or white supremacists or that weird Baptist church?
People are also arguing about whether it’s a hate crime or terrorism. How can it not be both? Of course it’s a hate crime. The killer’s father argues that’s all it is, but I don’t really buy that.