As I think I do every year, but I can’t bear to look, that my beloved Uncle B. died this week, fourteen years ago. I was coming home from his funeral on my twenty-first birthday. He had blue eyes and was left-handed and he read a lot. So, I liked him.
I also liked that he talked to me like a person. So many people, when they encounter children, seem to not be able to get past the whole “Ooooo. It’s a child. I should make fun of it or baby talk to it or hide from it or tell it to hide from me.” But my Uncle B. wanted to know what we were up to and how we liked school and what we thought about the Tigers this year.
My grandpa also died in May, but somehow his deathday slides right by. I’ve kind of made my peace with the old fart so it is what it is.
But I don’t have anything to make peace with my Uncle B. about. I just miss him. And when I try to imagine what it would be like to lose either the Butcher or the recalcitrant brother, I am brought up short. I can’t imagine that for my Dad.
Anyway, I had lunch with the Professor and she said she’s going to make me a cake for Friday.
And that makes me happy.
I’ve been thinking about this idea that injustice will just eventually go away if everyone starts acting polite. I think last night’s debacle gave lie to that approach. Don’t get me wrong. In situations where bad things are happening, I want them to stop and I don’t care if the people who need to stop really get why they need to stop. I just want them to.
But at some level, if you don’t address the root causes, this stuff just keeps coming back, in slightly different forms. So, yeah, everyone in the state gets that you can’t own black people, but we haven’t quite gotten over how handy it is to have a labor force that has few legal recourses and is reviled by the very people who most benefit from it. Or we get that men don’t literally own their wives and daughters anymore, but we can’t let go of this idea that it is more important for men to have the final say in what goes on with women’s bodies than it is for women to be full citizens.
I sometimes feel like we have a long tradition of being shot in the foot. We don’t all have access to even adequate educations or healthcare. We don’t all have access to good jobs. And instead of asking, “Why are we being shot in the foot?!” and demanding a quality of life equal to what other Americans have or looking around and saying “Hey, everyone in my family has been shot in the foot, for generations, but I notice few of the politicians are limping,” we take pride in passing down a tradition of being shot in the foot.
We often cheer when our legislators pass laws that will shoot us in the other foot.
And just to be sure that we never wise up to the fact that we’re being shot in the foot, we’re taught that people who don’t hobble around think they’re better than us, that they want to impose their immoral ways on us, and that they don’t know the truth. That they are, in fact, somehow uneducated elitists. That they’re the problem.
Not that some folks here know they and their kids will never have to limp.
Dear Stunned Conservative,
In the Midwest, we have a saying. I can’t remember if it’s “Don’t shit where you eat” or “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” I’ve been away from the Midwest for over a decade now. But the general point is something to do with, if you’ve got food coming in, don’t fuck it up.
And while everybody in the Midwest agrees that the car industry is in big trouble and the way out of it is not clear, if it can happen at all, everyone is also either themselves dependent on that industry in some way or knows someone who is.
So, when the Republicans were all “Screw you, Unions! Go bankrupt, automakers!” the Midwesterners heard that as “Not only is your impending hardship unimportant to us, we’re going to make it happen as soon and as devestatingly as possible.”
It is absolutely NO surprise that the Republicans were going to lose their Midwestern base with that strategy. What is stunning is that people are stunned by it.
What exactly did you imagine would happen?
(h/t Patrick Appel)