Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Then No One Would Be a Democrat Anymore" | The American Prospect

"Then No One Would Be a Democrat Anymore" | The American Prospect: "The Democratic Party: enemy of the working man. It was the political version of that New York Times photograph of the stockbroker and the pipe fitter joined in solidarity in the act of clobbering a hippie -- their common weapon the American flag. That white men in ties and white men in hard hats were radically opposed to one another was a foundational left-wing idea. But as a Republican state senator from Orange County observed, 'Every time they burn another building, Republican registration goes up.' Nixon told his team to get to work...The Republican business class, small-town America, backyard-pool suburbanites, Dixiecrats, calloused union members: now it was as if the White House had discovered the magic incantation to join them as one. Nixonites imagined no limit to the power of this New Majority: "Patriotic themes to counter economic depression will get response from unemployed," Haldeman wrote in a note to himself. Then no one would be a Democrat anymore."

It's all starting to look like a bad acid flash-back, or maybe acid reflux: the 40th anniversary of that annus mirabilis, 1968. I usually look back to my college days with nostalgia, but when the details come into focus I remember how perfectly awful that time was, and how I was torn up with guilt and fear.

I completely identified with the Counterculture--the only place, I thought, where I could be accepted and have a life. The straight people hated us and were out to get us. At the same time, I didn't care for the Counterculture one bit. It wasn't the violence that bothered me but the flakiness and anti-intellectualism, the talk about vibes, astrological signs and karma, the directionlessness, ignorance and plain stupidity. When I wasn't with my trusted friends I had to talk the talk: "Yeah, like, um, like wow that is great stuff. Like, um, yeah I'm a Capricorn." It wasn't just that I couldn't have a conversation about the things that interested me but that I had to fudge and muddy my talk and put up with the muddled, fudged, boring talk of guys who as far as I could tell had no interests or aspirations and weren't much more than vegetables (how else was I going to get laid?).

I liked school. I loved my academic work and wanted to be a professor so that I could do this work for the rest of my life. I was torn up with shame and guilt for not being a good hippy, for not being in solidarity with my people, for not dropping out, for hating Marcuse, Marx and Continental Philosophy, for grade-grubbing, and above all for wanting a conventional family, a house in the suburbs and a regular job. I never forgave myself for missing the demonstration at the Chicago Democratic convention because I was writing a paper on Mill's phenomenalism.

When classes were canceled after Kent state I was convinced that Academia was going to shut down before I could get my piece of the pie. At the teach-ins I attended our political leaders assured us that traditional colleges would be replaced by Free Universities offering peer-taught classes in meditation and crafts. There would be no more paying students--or paid professors. Colleges would become communes--we would grow our own food in the quad. There would be no more marrying or giving in marriage. We'd work the farm in the morning and sit around on the grass in the afternoon learning macrame. Abstract, irrelevant academic subjects would be abolished. There would be Marxist study circles in the evening at which guys would plan the Revolution while chicks in granny dresses or overalls cooked whole grains and dried beans from scratch. The Age of Aquarius was coming--and I was terrified, angry and guilty.

Maybe it would have been better if I'd gone to a big state university with a good academic reputation that catered for middle class strivers. But I went to a small liberal arts college for rich underachievers, none of whom had conventional middle class aspirations, and most of whom had no aspirations at all. They would drift for a decade or two, knowing that whenever they wanted to get back on track their families would bail them out. I could understand why the hardhats wanted to beat them up.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Pastor Casts a Shadow - New York Times

A Silly Vicar

The Pastor Casts a Shadow - New York Times

I rarely read Herbert because he's soooooo pious, but this time he's dead on.

Wright is a period piece, pumping out the rhetoric of Black Theology that was fashionable during the late '60s when he was in seminary. The basis of Black Theology, and the various other "new particularisms" that preoccupied theologians during the period, was two-fold. Academic theologians and their clerical proteges regarded the mission of the church as prophetic in the Old Testament sense: to engage in social critique and political action in the interests of justice. It would be hard to argue with this. Toward this end however, theologians and clergy appropriated the analyses and rhetoric of the secular left of the period to articulate their prophetic project

I can understand the impulse. During the high days of the Revolution there was the pervasive view that if you hesitated to endorse the radical line you were a sell-out and a wimp. Views that seemed reasonable or commonsensical were simply bait thrown out by a reactionary Establishment to block social change. Underlying this was a theory of meaning according to which factual truth and falsity were, at best, negotiable. Language was an expression of power relationships, and even language that seemed to the naive purely factual was a mechanism for promoting political agendas. Should I believe P or not? That depended on who was promoting P, whose interests it served, and what the social and political consequences of belief that P would be. Evidence for P was irrelevant or misleading because the Establishment manipulated and invented evidence and, because they controlled the mainstream media and other "respectable" sources of information, regularly bamboozled the public into accepting lies that served their interests.

More deeply however, facts simply did not matter. Was Africa the cradle of civilization? Was Jesus black? To answer those questions we were to consider whose interests the answers served and what the consequences of accepting one answer rather than another would be. White supremacists answered no to both questions and those answers served their interests. We should therefore believe that Africa was the cradle of civilization and that Jesus was black because these doctrines would smack down white supremacists, boost black Americans' self-esteem and promote social justice. History and genetics were largely irrelevant: if even the flimsiest, most conjectural case could be made for these views we should accept them and promulgate them.

Did Wright really believe that the US government spread AIDS and promoted drug-use amongst black Americans? Given any version of the correspondence theory of truth, no. He "believed" these doctrines because they came from the right place, served the right interests and would produce (he imagined) the best consequences. Conspiracy theories like this were current, though by no means universal, amongst the black masses: they came from the right place. More importantly, they served the right interests. They were an expression of the legitimate cynicism and anger of black Americans, their recognition that the government had lied to them and trashed them.

Was O.J. guilty? That was the wrong question to ask. The question was whether he should have been acquitted, and the answer was yes because O.J.'s acquittal was an expression of the cynicism and anger of the black community, the recognition that blacks were treated unfairly in the criminal justice system and in particular that black men were imprisoned, executed and lynched on the suspicion of having violated the purity of white women. O. J.'s acquittal was not about O. J.: it was about the thousands of other black men who had been unjustly treated. Similarly, Wright's conspiracy theories were not about AIDS or crack cocaine: they were about the Tuskegee Experiment and all the other ways in which the US government had screwed over black Americans. Did the government create the HIV virus and promote drug-use? To answer "yes" was not to say something about AIDS or crack cocaine: it was to say that the government had screwed blacks over, and that they had every right to be angry about that. That was true and therefore, interpreted in this way it was true to say that the US government created the HIV virus and promoted drug use to screw over black Americans.

That's theology. Ask the rector of your church whether he believes in "the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come" and he will certainly say "yes." Ask what he means by that and he will tell a long story. If you have a philosophy PhD or some other credential that suggest that he can level with you he will tell you that these clauses in the Creed are really just an affirmation of "life in depth and fullness here and now" or some such twaddle. Resurrection, he will tell you, does not, of course, mean that your body will be reanimated--or that Jesus' body was reanimated--or that you will continue to be the subject of conscious states after bodily death. Rather, he will tell you, when the Church affirms the Resurrection of the Body it means that the body is good, that sensual pleasure is good, and most particularly that sex is good. Likewise, if you pressed the Rev. Wright as to whether he really believed that the AIDS conspiracy theory, if he trusted you, he would say that what he meant was that the US government conducted the Tuskegee Experiment and screwed over blacks in innumerable other ways, and that black Americans should be angry about that.

Anger, cynicism and power politics do not play well in 2008, and what Americans found most offensive about Wright's message was his assumption that anger and cynicism were good and would motivate his constituency to play power politics in the interests of achieving justice. Wright was stuck in 1971 but Americans looked back nostalgically to the way things were a decade earlier, to the days of Camelot. As an undergraduate in 1971 I played "Urban Dynamics" a simulation game developed by our college chaplain in collaboration with liberal ministers in Chicago and originally called "Ghetto." Urban Dynamics was a territorial capture game, played out on a board that all of us recognized as a map of Chicago. There were four teams, representing (we were told) WASPs, Irish-Americans, White Ethnics, and Blacks. We started with restricted territories but the goal, we were told, was to capture as much territory as possible for our team, to beat back other teams and to achieve positions of power for our members. Beyond that, the rules were vague, but when it came to the big picture, we were told, that was the way the world worked.

I thought the ground rules of the game were simply crazy. The idea that ethnic groups were out to capture territory and expand their holdings seemed the me simply bizarre. I grew up in a tribal area and that was not the way it was. Moreover, the assumption that ethnic groups were competing teams seemed flat out wrong. The ground rules were however non-negotiable and Chaplain made it clear to us that if we thought otherwise we were simply naive. I was Black in the game but wondered why, in real life, I shouldn't be fighting for the WASPs, or why Chaplain wasn't fighting for them. This wasn't what life was like and certainly wasn't what life should be like.

Wright was however playing Urban Dynamics. He bought into the ground-rules of the game, that blacks and other ethnic groups were competing teams whose goals were to capture territory and beat one another up. Of course, it was just a game. His parishioners were not really interested in beating anyone else up and if white folks showed up at his church they would be welcomed. But he was playing Urban Dynamics and assumed, facts be damned, that cynicism, anger, power plays and identity politics would make the world a better place. That is exactly what Americans in 2008 did not want to hear, and with good reason. And that is what Obama rightly rejected when he repudiated Wright.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gay Bishop Plans His Civil Union Rite

Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal prelate whose consecration led conservatives to split from the church, said in an interview on Thursday that he and his partner of 20 years were planning a civil union ceremony to be held in his home church in the diocese of New Hampshire in June.

What a self-serving, self-advertising, self-dramatizing, self-righteous and, on the most charitable account, self-deceiving asshole!

Bishop Robinson said that by scheduling the ceremony for June, he did not intend to further inflame conservatives just before the Anglican Communion gathers in August in Cambridge, England, for the Lambeth Conference, which happens only once every 10 years.

Really? It's a remarkable coincidence that the bish should set the date at the optimal time for maximum media exposure in the run-up to Lambeth and provide ample time for journalists to arrange coverage.

He planned his civil union for June, he said, because he wanted to provide some legal protection to his partner and his children before he left for England for the conference.

What protection? And if his partner and children need protection of some sort, why didn't he figure that out sooner?

Bishop Robinson has received death threats, and he wore a bulletproof vest under his vestments at his consecration in 2003.

Can this jackass really believe that anyone cares where he--or his partner--shoves his dick? Did he really worry that the Episcopalians of New Hampshire were out gunning for him? Or was the concern that some bitter, blue-collar Baptist Bubba from rural fly-over country would hop a freight to New Hampshire to shoot him?

Bishop Robinson initially rejected, but has now accepted, the idea that he will spend the conference days in the Marketplace, an adjunct bazaar where church advocacy groups and purveyors of Christian merchandise promote their causes and wares. He said he would position himself in the Marketplace and at several evening events to make his case about how gay relationships are compatible with Christianity.

What fun! A bazaar featuring "Christian merchandise," with booths where Bishop Robinson and representatives of "church advocacy groups" can hawk their ideologies!

Maybe I'm a little unorthodox here but I don't understand why anyone needs to argue that gay relationships are compatible with Christianity any more than they need to argue that gay relationships are compatible with Plato's views about universals, David Lewis's views about possible worlds or Frank Jackson's views about qualia--past or present. Christianity is a package of metaphysical claims about the existence and nature of God and post-mortem survival, associated with a schedule of cultic activities. Metaphysics has nothing to do with where guys should shove their dicks. It's time for the Church to get out of the ethics business and leave it to qualified secular experts--just as in the past the Church wisely ceded cosmology, astronomy, biology and history to secular professionals.

Bishop Robinson said he was surprised at another controversy that arose last year when he endorsed Senator Barack Obama before the New Hampshire primary...Bishop Robinson said he had talked three times with Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and advised him on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Are we surprised? Septuagenarian Teddy Kennedy bought his 5 minutes of cool by endorsing Obama, but it isn't easy for an ugly old guy to be cool, and for a priest it's impossible, no matter how much he yaps about sex and boasts about being gay. I suppose Robinson is looking for a political appointment in the future administration--maybe as Undersecretary for Sexual Affairs.

Bishop Robinson spoke in an interview at The New York Times, and is promoting his new book, “In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God” (Seabury Books). The publicity tour will take him to a few unexpected places: a conference of black church leaders and the Hay Festival, a literary gathering in England.

But of course! I expect there will be a book signing at the Marketplace Christian Merchandise Bazaar.

[The opinions expressed here are my personal views and do not reflect the the views of my employer. If you cite or link this piece please include this disclaimer and do not include my professional affiliation]
Krugman on Obama

A few months ago the Obama campaign was talking about transcendence. Now it’s talking about math...Mr. Obama was supposed to be a transformational figure, with an almost magical ability to transcend partisan differences and unify the nation....Well, now he has an overwhelming money advantage and the support of much of the Democratic establishment — yet he still can’t seem to win over large blocs of Democratic voters, especially among the white working class...Let me offer an alternative suggestion: maybe his transformational campaign isn’t winning over working-class voters because transformation isn’t what they’re looking for.

Transcendence and transformation, whatever they are, are luxuries for the elite. Whatever else Obama is offering, this inspirational, idealistic rhetoric grates on the nerves of people who have real problems: "stuff your transcendence--we want jobs and financial security, health insurance, good schools and safe neighborhoods."

Obama, his groomers and handlers, and his elite groupies don't even get it: they don't understand that this rhetoric plays as "let them eat cake." Of course I don't doubt that if Obama is elected he will actually deliver cake, and bread as well. It is just that this "idealism" as such, and the rhetoric of transcendence and transformation, arouse suspicion and distrust in people who have been fobbed off with symbolic gestures for too long, and offered cheap, worthless intangibles while the material conditions of their lives have steadily degraded.

Unlike Krugman, I do think that Obama will win resoundingly in November--if the Democrats make the case that the misery of these last 8 years hasn't been a result of Bush's personal incompetence but is in fact the inevitable consequence of a failed ideology, and that government is the solution not the problem. That ideology is now so ingrained that it's virtually unfalsifiable. If things go badly we blame that on incompetence or assume that we haven't been consistent in applying the ideology or that we haven't gone far enough or allowed enough time to get the results.

How do you convince the American public, the working class in particular, that for almost 3 decades the US has been involved in a radical experiment which has failed? That for a generation, we have been spending down our capital and going into debt, and that now the chickens have come home to roost?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For Obama, a Struggle to Win Over Key Blocs - New York Times

For Obama, a Struggle to Win Over Key Blocs - New York Times: "Although some polling evidence hints at the depth of racial attitudes in this country and the obstacles Mr. Obama faces winning white voters, it has historically proved challenging to measure how racial attitudes factor into voter decisions. (Respondents do not tend to announce to pollsters that they will not vote for a candidate because he or she is black.) [BUT] It is also hard to discount that Mr. Obama has arrived at this place in his candidacy after winning big victories in very white states." ["But" added]

It isn't race--it's class. But no matter how much evidence to the contrary, pundits are still harping on race.

Race benefits Obama: he would not have won the majority of black votes if he were white any more than Hillary would have won a large block of women if she were male. Of course, it's one of those counterfactuals, but my educated guess is that race doesn't hurt Obama with white voters so much as it helps him with black voters. His problem is that he can't connect with the working class. Among some blacks race tips the balance--after all, Clinton and Obama are very similar when it comes to policy and competence so why not use race as a tie-breaker and vote for a favorite son? There's nothing wrong, or racist, with that anymore than there's something wrong with voting for Hillary because she's a woman--another tie-breaker.

So why do we keep talking about race?

(1) Because we're comfortable talking about race. We Americans have a shameful past; we fought the good fight and made things better, even if there's still a long way to go. We're even comfortable admitting that we still have a race problem--and are still trying to improve. It's part of the grand American story. What we are not willing to admit is that we have a class problem--or that our detestable history of racism has been largely responsible for it.

(2) The commentariat just loves demonizing the white working class--obscuring their snobbery with moralism. Very Victorian. They don't want to admit that they don't like working class people because most working class people are ignorant, inarticulate, conventional, tasteless and boring. So they pretend they disapprove of working class people because they're racists--which, by and large, they are not. They massage their snobbery into righteousness.

(3) Members of the chattering class do not want to admit that they are an elite. I've actually seen a number of articles in response to Bittergate, where Obama supporters point out that Obama is not as rich as the other candidates and, therefore, cannot be accused of elitism. I wonder if these writers are serious. We all know that even if a certain level of wealth is necessary for elite status, it isn't sufficient. Or maybe more precisely, that given a certain level of wealth, your place in the social pecking order is not determined by how rich you are beyond the entry-level wealth requirement for elite status.

I don't think this is going to be a serious issue in the November election. Even if white working class voters don't warm to Obama they'll vote for him. Unless his supporters are so keen to explain why white working class voters aren't enthusiastic by accusing them of racism--and so alienate them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aristotle & Obama & Clinton & Mill

Eureka! The real difference between Obama and Clinton supporters is their fundamental take on ethical theory--and that explains the demographics. Obama fans go for Virtue Ethics; Hillary supporters trend Utilitarian. Virtue Ethics is an elitist preoccupation; Utilitarianism is ethics for the rest of us so, predictably, while the elite--individuals, with post-graduate degrees--prefer Obama two to one, high school graduates and drop-outs favor Clinton in the same proportions.

Virtue Ethics and Utilitarianism don't merely give different answers to ethical questions: they frame the moral enterprise differently and ask very different questions. Virtue Ethicists ask: how can I attain arete--excellence or virtue? The moral life on this account is a life of self-cultivation in the interests of achieving virtue, which Virtue Ethicists regard as an essential feature of the good life. It is hardly surprising that Virtue Ethics comes from Aristotle and appealed to fellow members of the Athenian slave-owning rentier class. They had the leisure for self-cultivation and were largely insulated from the circumstances that posed a range of other moral questions.

The illiterate masses, slaves and thetes who worked to eat and ate to work, did not have the education for moral reflection or the time for self-cultivation. If they had, it is unlikely that they would have had any sympathy for Virtue Ethics and very likely that they would have been outraged by their social betters' preoccupation with self-cultivation. "We've got real problems, important problems, and these jerks are making a fuss about cultivating wisdom, courage, honesty and the like. To add insult to injury, they have the gaul to regard these fancy luxury items as important, and the sheer bloody arrogance to imagine that they're worthwhile people because of the virtues they're cultivated."

I'm with the slaves and thetes. That's why Obama's followers repel me. I used to wonder why they made such a big fuss about "change" when the concrete changes Obama proposed were not significantly different from the changes Clinton advocated. Then I realized that what most were looking for was not a change in the material conditions of their lives so much as a change in the way politics was done. They were sick of cynicism, sick of grasping power-hungry politicians, sick of spin-doctors, negative campaigning and attack ads, sick of dirty politics. They wanted politicians who were not politicians. They wanted Virtue.

They can, I suppose, be forgiven. The quest for Virtue has been the central theme of canonical coming-of-age stories since Catcher in the Rye and Salinger's saga of the Glass family. Salinger's fictional world both reflected and formed the moral vision of privileged children for generations to come. Morally awakened in mid-adolescence, these rich brats were shocked to discover that their parents, and other adults, were hypocrites and that the pious stories they'd been told as children were lies. They resonated to Holden Caulfield's whining about "phoniness," and Seymour's noble suicide out his relationship with Muriel, who sat in their honeymoon hotel room varnishing her nails while Seymour was telling whimsical stories about banana fish to a child on the beach. We were taught that these preoccupations were meritorious, that sensitivity, idealism, honesty and courage were admirable, that crass grade-grubbing was despicable, that ordinary middle-class suburbanites with good middle-class jobs were, at best, to be pitied, and that the little boxes made of ticky-tacky in which they lived were a blight on the landscape. Aristotle and the other gentlemen of Athens would have agreed.

I didn't buy it. I was hemmed in at every turn. The few desirable options I had were were long-shots and the possibility that I would end up living a miserable life was a real and present danger. I obsessed about the number of people who had boring jobs--the supermarket checkers and waitresses, and the legions of women doing routine clerical work. I knew the odds of getting an interesting job were low, and that I would have to fight for all I was worth, grub for every grade and bag every academic credential, to get one. At the same time I worried that my academic investment was too risky and cast about for fallback positions. The problem was that if I invested time and effort in securing a fallback position I would undermine my chances of getting an interesting job. I was desperate--calculating probabilities and utilities, and fighting for all I was worth.

I resented my classmates who imagined that they had innumerable options and weren't scared. I detested the idealism of the '60s, the elite preoccupation with saving the earth and ending the war, and with intangible luxury goods--with honesty, courage, and other virtues, and with peace, joy and love. I wanted a house in the burbs, a Dick-and-Jane family, and above all an interesting job where I could work hard at challenging tasks and achieve. I was outraged by my classmates contempt for my aspirations. I resented their elitism--the same elitism that working class Americans perceive in Obama and his groupies.

We're Utilitarians. We're hemmed in: we can't get what we want and are fighting for all we're worth to avoid poverty and drudgery. We can't afford Obama's childish idealism; we detest his vacuous rhetoric about hope and change. We're sick of this privileged elite who are contemptuous of machine politics, disgusted by the Clintons' power plays and shocked by the fact that in this mean, rough, dirty world people have to lie, cheat and fight to survive. We're sick of these rich, spoiled brats whining about the facts of adult life, like Holden Caulfield grousing about "phonies" or the junior members of the Glass family dabbling in Eastern spirituality and questing for Wisdom.

Would Clinton do any better than Obama if she were elected? I doubt it. Both Clinton and Obama are centrists and neither is promising the kind of change that would seriously improve the lives of most Americans--the establishment of a socialist welfare state in which everyone would have unconditional assurance of a minimally decent life. But even though Obama and Clinton are virtually indistinguishable when it comes to policy, they've become symbols of two radically different moral visions: the aristocratic, elitist moral vision of Virtue Ethics and Utilitarianism, the ethic for the rest of us, who are thwarted at every turn, who have had to fight for everything, who can't afford virtue.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama the Elitist

At the fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday, Mr. Obama outlined challenges facing his presidential candidacy in the coming primaries in Pennsylvania and Indiana, particularly persuading white working-class voters who, he said, fell through the cracks during the Bush and Clinton administrations.

“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Mr. Obama said, according to a transcript on the Huffington Post Web site, which on Friday published the comments.

The remarks touched off a torrent of criticism from Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain and Republican activists and party officials, all accusing Mr. Obama of elitism and belittling the working class.

This has legs--because it's true. And because it's one of the true things that no one dares to say.

So much for the bowling. Yes, we do know in our hearts that Obama doesn't bowl any more than Bush mucks out the cowsheds back at the Crawford ranch. Yes, we know it's an act directed at us. But it seemed well-intentioned: rather like President Karzei wearing a conglomerate Afghan costume concocted out of bits and pieces of the garb of various tribes. When politicians affect the folkways of hoi poloi or make local references to establish a connection to our states and towns they're just trying to make a connection with us, to show they're aware of us and our lives--that they're on our side.

But then a remark like this slips out and we're reminded of what they really think of us and, more fundamentally, that they see us as other--as "you people" who are venting your frustrations by "clinging" to guns or religion, you working class bigots who are stupidly prejudiced against immigrants and minorities because you don't understand the importance of proletarian solidarity. Now we see what a patronizing act the whole thing was all along: we're hurt, and ashamed of having been taken in. We've had a peek behind the scenes and it's ruined the show.

What a pity this had to happen now, because Obama will be nominated and this will dog him. And it's much worse than the Wright episode because it taps into the real problem Obama has with the white working class which is not, as the pundits have repeatedly spun it, race but class. Obama is just too posh: he is an elitist of the worst sort--like the pundits who spin his problem with the white working class as a race problem.

I suspect that the problem most working class people have isn't with race but with latte-drinking liberals who assume that they have a problem with race, write off their legitimate concerns as an irrational response to frustration and imagine that they can be handled--by cute tricks and faux folksiness.

They have real problems and legitimate concerns. They're the ones who compete with immigrants for jobs, and whose wages and benefits are being driven down by cheap immigrant labor. They're the ones who have to worry about a criminal underclass: they don't have the bucks to live in gated communities or safe class-segregated neighborhoods. They're the ones who have to send their kids to public schools where an influx of underclass kids and immigrants with poor English drags their kids down. But instead of taking these concerns seriously, these patronizing elitists assume that they're just ignorant bigots and can be managed.