We're Just Different

by digby

Joan Walsh tried to give Chris Matthews a history lesson, but he took it as Marxist propaganda. Yes, he did.

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Joan is right about this. I've written about it many times myself. There has to be a reason that the US, of all the industrialized nations, the richest country in the world, is so hostile to social welfare programs. There are a lot of contributing factors, not the least of which is our vaunted individualism. But one of the fundamental reasons America is so resistant to programs that provide for the common good is that there is a long tradition of rejecting any proposal that taxes white people to pay for programs that benefit non-whites.

Joan talked about all this in the context of a question Matthews asked about whether or not the GOP was using race to block Obama's agenda. As Joan, points out, that's fairly obvious. When you have the fatuous gasbag leadership all calling Obama a reverse racist (the new black in conservative circles) and even questioning his American identity, it's pretty clear that they are yanking the racist American id pretty hard.

But it really goes to their essential philosophy which says that the government is taking away "what's yours" and giving it to the undeserving (blacks and browns.) The fact that Obama himself is black only adds to the atmospherics, it doesn't create them. This tribalism is so deeply entrenched in American culture that its racial nature has long since been disguised in less obvious terms such as "liberalism." Obama's race simply makes it impossible for the hard core wingnuts to hide their real intent. (And they are in such deep trouble that they can't afford to be subtle anymore.)

Joan's thesis was correct, but Tweety looked at her as if she'd just said she'd joined the Heaven's Gate cult. But then he is the same guy who had earlier blithely asserted that Obama had racially profiled Sgt Crowley, so his awareness of how racism worksa is obviously limited. But the truth is that he's actually just a typical selfish wealthy person who believes that he's rich because he's morally superior to everyone who isn't as wealthy as he is. (And who obviously then admires those who are even wealthier.) His cohort's desire to kill Obama's agenda is just plain old class solidarity.

But when Matthews and other wealthy people obsess over race in the broader sense, and encourage this nonsense about reverse discrimination out of some absurd self-identification as a white working class dude, they do the work of the ruling class as well by reinforcing the All American racial divide --- and its resultant antipathy toward any kind of social welfare. Tweety and Villagers who pretend to be jess folks on yer TV do the work of conservatives by presenting their elite views in the guise of blue collar attitudes. It's a great scam.

Update: Wow. Joan got under Rush's skin.