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In yesterday's New York Times, Charles Blow, one of my favourite opinion writers, wrote a brilliant and poignantly evocative exhortation to politicians of all stripes not to forget the poor in all their shenanigans and manouevres.

Blow called upon his own life's experience, growing up poor and black in rural Louisiana. Blow's not many years younger than I, and growing up where he did, I'm sure he remembers just as many raggedy, barefoot and hungry poor white kids in his vicinity than not.

The poor are always with us and in the South, they're juxtaposed, black and white, and never far from each other. I was in elementary school in the Sixties, in a rural four-room schoolhouse off the beaten track yet 65 miles from that civilisation known as Washington DC. I'll always remember Bascombe and Zady May Darnell, two transplanted Tennessee mountain kids whose father had meandered into the vicinity to work for slave wages on a rich man's farm nearby.

Bascombe always missed most of September and October. Big for his age, he had to help with the harvest. He was already twelve years old, looked sixteen, and sat in a classroom of third graders. Zady May had already caught up with him. From April until the end of school in June (and throughout most of the summer) the Darnells walked to school barefooted, not just because the weather was fine and the days hot, but also because they got one pair of shoes every two years - Doc Martens - and they were meticulously saved for cold or inclement weather.

Both kids just disappeared after third grade ended and were never seen again.

Yesterday, as well, Senator Bernie Sanders also wrote about the condition of the poor at present in the country. This is what Senator Sanders does best, as the conscience of the Senate. He's a real socialist, who genuinely believes to each according to his ability and for each according to his need. The government taxes the haves in order to look after the have nots. Only fair.

Two great voices echoing the same message, only to be appropriated by a third, for recognition purposes.

As soon as Blow's and Senator Sanders's words were in print, Lady Radical, herself, Katrina vanden Heuvel weighed in on Twitter, exhorting all her followers to "remember the poor."

That's it then. Katrina's done her bit. She's acknowledged something her class always know, and that's that the poor are always with us. Yes, let's remember them. I'm kind and liberal. Now, next question?

Yes, Katrina knows about the poor. She's read about them; maybe she's even glimpsed them from a distance as she lives in the upper end of Harlem in a brownstone mansion, but that's probably as far as it goes. Write about them from time to time, and she's done her bit, at least enough to justify her Progressive credentials.

Katrina probably knows all the fashionable and au fait parts of London and Paris, but she probably doesn't know anything about the sink estate high rises in New Addington, Croydon, just south of the Thames (we call them "the projects") or the fetid banlieux of Paris. She's probably never ventured into the provincial towns in Britain to view the obese poor trawling through cut price supermarkets for BOGOFS (buy-one-get-one-free) of bags of French fries and tins of baked beans to feed a family for a week.

And in the US, her trips to the South have probably only included the upper end of Atlanta or a fashionable resort in Florida. Going into the mountains of Appalachia would give her nosebleed, and she couldn't bear the thought of breathing the same air as so many shit-kicking, inbread, banjo-strumming, trailerpark trash-talking Rush listeners, banging Bibles and speaking in tongues, who were probably all neo-Confederate racists. At least, that's what she's been told. Besides, she'd probably leave with cooties, if she even understood what they were saying.

It's better to gaze from afar and opine from the safety of one's drawing room and ensure any written endeavour gets pride of place in the trust fund gift of a publication bought by Daddy to amuse her and establish her in a topflight career that really took no effort from her at all.

There now. The poor have been suitably acknowledged. Time to move on and continue freedom-fighting at Saks.

Jesus, how I miss Joe Bageant.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I miss Joe too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    Indeed, the "Liberal Class" has little connection to the poor.  The generation coming along behind Katrina doesn't even bother to pretend.

  •  I Spent Some Time Up a Dirt Poor Kentucky Holler (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg, tardis10

    when I was in my prep school years. My nose did bleed but it was only because some of my co workers feared I might be gay.

    vanden Hueval "probably" didn't do that; though she might have. A lot of upper middle class and lower-upper class people have.

    The economics I've heard her advocate would be far better for the poor than anything either party leadership has advocated for many years. Given that the country's owners are cutting the bottom 80% of all of us out of any concern of governance, including the once large middle class they identify with a lot more than the poor and minorities, what besides working hands-on with individuals, which won't change the real problem one iota, should these types be doing?

    We don't have a vigorous poor people's movement or a real progressive movement of any strength yet. The elites being out of the conversation of the powerful don't seem to have much option before common people put together movements on their own terms and perspectives that we can join up.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

  •  Tipped and Recommended but . . . (0+ / 0-)

    wouldn't call out van den huevel on this
    she's not alone

  •  Carping about Katrina vanden Heuvel? (4+ / 0-)

    She is involved in many causes and doesn't just "write a sentence and move on." She isn't the problem, the GOP is. The GOP is hostile to poor people, people of color, the middle class, etc.

    The "anger" in your diary is really misplaced.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaEscapee

    because  this fourth dear today is NOT about Joan Freaking Walsh.  

    A callout diary, for sure, and a pattern, for sure, but at least it's a new person.  

    Brokn finger. Harder to pick ,\my nose. Typing is about the same.

    by Nada Lemming on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 11:24:09 AM PDT

  •  I have a serious question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, LivesInAShoe

    Is there a specific reason you feel the need to attack women on the left?

    I'm an ass, my father was an ass as was his father before him. This has no bearing on the fact that I am correct.

    by LaEscapee on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 11:44:13 AM PDT

  •  What did Katrina Vanden Huevel do wrong? (0+ / 0-)

    I must have missed what Katrina Vanden Huevel’s great crime was here. Was it that she said “remember the poor?”

    Even if every one of your assumptions about her personal beliefs and feelings were 100% correct, would she be so wrong to say “remember the poor?” What would you rather her say, “forget the poor?”

    Lord knows I don’t come from a privileged background, but I’ve heard KVH speak in interviews, and I’ve read her articles in The Nation, and I like what she has to say. She seems to have her heart in the right place, and she seems to want to try to do the right thing.

    Sometimes people are born to privilege. It happens. Sometimes I do feel resentment, to be honest. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But when people ARE born to privilege, what should they do? One path they can take is the path of a man like George W. Bush, who failed upward over and over again, using his family connections, until he was handed the top position of the land. All the while, he never saw the need to educate himself, or to see past the small-minded politics of the Far Right.

    Katrina Vanden Huevel has not done that. She chose an entirely different path. Frankly, even though I have been poor and lived in a trailer myself, and have had family members who can’t read very well (and I even play the banjo,) I just can’t feel disgusted with her.

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