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War gamers' pic in this case
I have told this story before, but it's worth retelling. While standing outside Planned Parenthood as clinic support during an Operation Rescue mission with a group of pro-choice women, I listened to them comment on the protesters across the street. The protesters were not Randall Terry's committed crew, but just local folks from the pro-life coalition. They were visibly working class, unlike the group I stood with. Some of the women around me were making fun of the visible signs of their working class background, most especially their clothes.

It was understandable. It was not a particularly nice day. Operation Rescue was never nice. Nonetheless, as someone of poverty background myself, the comments triggered the desire in me to leave and go stand with the other group. I knew they wouldn't be making fun of anyone; they were taking this very seriously. That's one of the marks of the working class; they seldom appreciate ironic comments and don't participate in what my fan communities call "meta." Having spent my adult life as one kind of academic or another, I find that soothing.

I was reminded of this experience again this morning, reading a story this morning quoting some Bundy "militia" -- men who view themselves as heroes and patriots. What struck me was not the same thing as struck the writer and other readers, who made fun of them for losing their jobs and asking for money. What I noticed is how much their letters resemble some of those home from the soldiers at Valley Forge -- not the officers' letters, but just the men's. They were homesick, they were tired, and they didn't want to be there, but some of them thought it was important that they were. And these men viewed themselves in the same way as the soldiers at Valley Forge -- including probably wanting to desert. If they end up winning their revolution, they'll be heroes in history. If they lose, they'll be losers, and viewed without respect, just as they are by Daily Kos community members now.

It struck me for the thousandth time that many DK writers often seem to lose sight of their supposedly progressive goal in their enthusiasm to attack as personally as their cause has been attacked.

So, Teachable Moment 1001: Attacking the person instead of a cause is only progressive (seldom revolutionary) if the person is in a position of power and is used to being in power and takes advantage of that position.

Making fun of Donald Trump's or Newt Gingrich's reasoning, or physical appearance, or social skills, is easy and fun. Same with Michelle Bachmann's. Since they've put themselves into the public eye and taken a stand, it's not unfair. Classist, certainly, since the personal attacks seem to be heavily laced with insults at peculiarities far more typical to the working class than the ruling class -- but those politicians have managed to join the ruling class (or so it appears from the outside) so -- have at it. It's not good argument, but it's legitimate discourse.

Still, I would respect liberals far more if most of their discourse went after the true ruling class -- the inheritors of wealth who all grew up together, who don't stand out as "inappropriate" and who have never had to make a power struggle simply to be noticed. Bachmann is wrong -- very, very wrong. But do you know any wealthy people who were heirs to Harvard or Yale (or, embarrassingly for them, Princeton or Brown) who took in foster children to eke out their income? Make fun of the ones who've never had to bag their own groceries because they've never shopped for them; they're the most hilarious. Really. Thinking they're successful because their Dad got someone else's Dad to hire them? Hysterically funny. But about such people, middle class and upper class liberals lose their sense of humor; they don't notice it's funny because such people are usually more like them than the working class are.

What in heavens' name is funny about a working class man losing his job to stand for something he believes in? He is being manipulated by a wealthy man to go against his own best interests -- if you're a blind Progressive -- or he is being manipulated by a wealthy man to fight for his family's interests -- if you're a cynical Progressive. Because, frankly, I don't see working class interests represented in so-called "progressive" voices who respect liberal millionaires more than they respect workers.

I believe in arming ourselves -- potentially someday against "our" own government, but unquestionably against those currently armed and challenging it. But every day, I also hesitate to advocate that position to liberals, and not only because most of you have never hit a target. It's because I don't think I could trust so-called progressives to aim at the real enemy. You might shoot my brother instead, simply because he picked a different side.

Originally posted to kestrel sparhawk on Fri May 09, 2014 at 09:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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