For the past few days, the internet has been abuzz with news about the militia stand-off in Burns, Oregon. From what I can see, it’s mostly progressive people perpetuating this chatter; my conservative friends are generally silent on the matter. The media hasn’t been much help, either. Much of their coverage has followed along the lines of this tweet from ABC:
Peaceful protest? As my friend Michael Woywood pointed out, “…the guns used to take over this building didn’t magically appear. “Accio rifles!”… probably didn’t happen.” I would add that an action like this doesn’t come off on the spur of the moment; to be successful, they need planning. That means when these protesters showed up, they were armed and they had a plan that likely included at least the possibility of violence. In my opinion, that pretty much precludes the idea of a “peaceful protest”.
There have also been posts, articles, memes, etc. pointing out a number of the double standards visible in this incident. Most of them are along of the lines of “black man with gun = thug. White man with gun = patriot”. But, there is a double standard that’s not getting much play: the one that says it’s not cool to use stereotypes to denigrate people of color, but it is acceptable, not to mention uproariously funny, to use them to mock poor rural white folks.
Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I am a white working-class southerner and I have a certain kinship with the militia folks out in Oregon. I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. Because of that, if I have to listen to one more pretentious educated-beyond-their-intellgence “progressive” gleefully crow about #YallQaeda, someone’s going to get the shit slapped out of them. That’s some classist bullshit and it needs to stop.
It is a pretty common belief among blue-collar white people that they are the last group that it’s still okay to make fun of and there is some truth in that belief. Before you get your panties in a wad, think about this: how many of us get upset about words like “n—–r” or “c—k”, but have no problem with “white trash”, “cracker” or “redneck”? What the hell, progressives? Did we use up all our vaunted tolerance on minorities and people of color and have none left for working class white folks?
When you’re done laughing at your clever, little hashtag smack down, think about this: whenever you say that shit, you are reinforcing the belief of poor and working class rural white people that they are, in fact, persecuted and under attack. You want to know why they “vote against their interest” (i.e. Republican)? It’s partly because they don’t believe the Democratic Party gives a shit about their interests; probably because it’s run by people who think these folks are ignorant hillbillies and don’t bother to hide it. To be fair, the Republicans believe this too, but at least they’re smart enough not to say it out loud.
As I say in the title, double standards abound. That’s as true on the progressive side of things as it is on the conservative. Unfortunately, we’ve been so busy pointing out the speck in our conservative brother’s and sister’s eyes we haven’t seemed to notice the log in our own. Maybe it’s time we did something about that.