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Fuck the New York Times' fetishizing of the white working class - Elf M. Sternberg
Fuck the New York Times' fetishizing of the white working class
A recent article in The New York Times fetishizes a specific kind of 'hard work':
One recent morning, I sat near two young men at a coffee shop here whom I’ve known since they were little boys. Now about 18, they pushed away from the table, and one said: “Let’s go to work. Let the liberals sleep in.” The other nodded.

They’re hard workers. As a kid, one washed dishes, took orders and swept the floor at a restaurant. Every summer, the other picked sweet corn by hand at dawn for a farm stand and for grocery stores, and then went to work all day on his parents’ farm. Now one is a welder, and the other is in his first year at a state university on an academic scholarship. They are conservative, believe in hard work, family, the military and cops, and they know that abortion and socialism are evil, that Jesus Christ is our savior, and that Donald J. Trump will be good for America.
To which I want to add a hearty Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck.

This weird reverence for young men who "work hard" yet happen to be far away from urban infrastructure is one of the most infuriating parts of the whole "working class" thing. When I was "about 18," I worked in a warehouse, hauling boxes, cataloging the contents, and doing inventory. The warehouse was in Florida, was broiling hot even on the best of days, and was a distribution point for specialized pharmaceuticals for nursing homes. I sometimes went on courier duty. I met the nurses at the receiving stations, and I saw cops taking violent, mentally ill people to the one clinic that specialized in that work. I know a nurse who got stabbed.

I moved boxes until my back ached.

I've worked in warehouses three times in my life. Once for the pharmaceutical group, once for an international air freight company, and once for Levis jeans. The latter two were in Seattle, and in the winter those warehouses required gloves. I drove a forklift. I still moved boxes until my back ached. On Friday nights, I went home at 3am. At Christmas, I went home later.

I have had the usual plethora of young-person menial jobs. I have washed dishes in a restaurant. I have delivered pizza. I have worked in warehouses to make ends meet. And yes, I went to college and did well and got on with my life. I have two children and 30 years later am still married to my college sweetheart.

I believe in hard work and family. I believe in a police force that embraces a vision of themselves as guardians of the peace and sustainers of the dignity of the citizens they serve, not warriors for the status quo. I believe in a military that does its duty with honor, and responsible civilian control.

A lifetime of experience has also taught me other lessons: that abortion is a woman's decision and not mine, that corporations and the people who derive their wealth from them will do anything, sacrifice any honor or reputation, to avoid responsibility when their actions harm others. That if you're not independently wealthy and have at least **five years** worth of savings in the bank, you should always vote for a social safety net to support you and yours. That the government is the only institution that *can* be said to be responsible for all the people, even when it manifestly is failing to be so, and that paying your goddamn taxes is the way take responsibility for helping others.

So seriously, NYT, take this weird fetishism of young, rural, white guys "working hard" and shove it in your ear hard enough to hit brain matter. You know who work hard? I work hard. You know who works harder? The 40-something Russian immigrant women who vacuum the floors of my cozy office at 2AM. The laborers who hump garbage, and laundry, and pallets of food, and all the other stuff needed to keep the city running.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Current Music: Warpaint, Lissie's Heart Murmur

3 comments or Leave a comment
bunnybutt From: bunnybutt Date: January 10th, 2017 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Elf. You speak my experience and thoughts as well.
en_ki From: en_ki Date: January 11th, 2017 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
gipsieee From: gipsieee Date: January 13th, 2017 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. this. Thank you.
3 comments or Leave a comment