Much has been made of this report into the attitudes of millenials on a wide variety of social issues, and it seems to have been coming up again lately. In particular one singular aspect of the survey has been picked up and that is related to race relations. Perhaps this has come from Obama’s Brother’s Keeper initiative or in reaction to the recent Stand Your Ground issues and their relation to race. Whatever the reason, this 2012 survey and report is being much quoted again.
Overall, 46 percent of Millennials agree that the government pays too much attention to the problems of minorities, with 49 percent who disagree. 48 percent also agree that discrimination against whites is a genuine problem. When you disaggregate by race and count only white Millennials, the picture is much worse.
A solid majority of white Millennials, 56 percent, say that government has paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities. An even larger majority, 58 percent, say that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”
Given that millenials are notably more progressive on pretty much any issue you care to name, this appears to stand out as an anomaly. Why should millennials attitudes on race be regressive compared to everything else? The survey doesn’t try to figure out why and no commentator that I’ve read as of yet really tries to ask why this should be either. Minority commentators look at it with a sense of disbelief and point to various issues that stand in opposition to the – apparent – millennial view but little or no attempt has been made to understand it, just to express outrage.
I have a few ideas on why this might be and I don’t think it is a blip, I think it is a continuation of the progressive theme. Here’s why:
- Millennials have, apparently, been brought up to see people as people and not to discriminate on these kinds of bases. Positive discrimination or what appears to be unfair division of funds and assistance offends this sensibility and appears racist. Indeed it may well be.
- The economic situation during the Great Depression has lessened or wiped out a lot of the financial/living standards divide between blacks and whites which has previously much more strongly correlated to race for various reasons rooted in history and right wing ‘neo-liberal’ economic policy. The playing field has been greatly levelled and now that more people are at the bottom of the pyramid they’re fighting for scraps and see less reason to target that by race. There’s some legitimacy to this point of view and it is one played up to by the right wing internationally, dividing ‘skivers and strivers’ in the UK, for example, or demonising immigrants.
- The public conversations around political and economic issues have become tiresomely radicalised with the tea party on one hand and the counter-culture response to that on the other ‘a pox on both your houses’ seems like a reasonable response and one that may hold out some hope for a more reasonable future.
I just don’t think this is – or will turn out to be – a regressive step.
Margaret Thatcher is dead and this means two things.
For the 28 million people who didn’t vote for her and widely despised her its a cause for celebration. For the 14 million who did vote for her its either a time of mourning or of regret that they were ever so stupid. She’s a divisive figure in that the majority of people hated her and a minority of relatively wealthy, powerful or stupid people didn’t.
The other things that it means, besides these reactions, is that there will be a media outpouring that will largely skim over the fact she was a destructive figure of hate and will ascribe to her heroism of near Churchillian proportions. Continuing the historical rewrite Meryl Streep started in other words.
Speaker for the Dead
Celebrity bigot Orson Scott Card wrote a book called ‘Speaker for the dead’. There’s a bunch of stuff in it about alien pigs and trees and so on but the abiding idea from it – and one that will probably come back to bite Card on the arse when he pops his clogs – is the idea that one should speak the truth of the dead.
In the coming days we’re going to see a hell of a lot of Thatcher worship and the darker side of who and what she was is going to get drowned under that. People who point out the bad side to what she did, a bad side we’re still living with today, are going to come in for a lot of flak but just keep in mind that the people giving said flak were fine using the deaths of children to attack the welfare system a few short days ago.
This makes it even more important that those of us who do remember and who were alive at the time point out what a shitty person she was and don’t let a sense of ‘decency‘ that she never showed her vicrims override that.
So what, exactly, did Margaret Thatcher accomplish? Other than a ‘landslide’ win with a minority of the vote (something Tories would later criticise Labour for)?
- She literally stole food from out of children’s mouths.
- She presided over two recessions.
- She widened the gulf between rich and poor.
- She closed the mines, ruined collective bargaining and destroyed British energy independence.
- She squandered North Sea Oil.
- She narrowed our economy down to ‘The City’.
- She annihilated social housing.
- She sold off important, nationalised infrastructure to crooks.
That’s by no means a comprehensive list and by no means covers the worst. The problems we’re dealing with today are in many cases the direct result of her actions in the 80s and the continuation of these ruinous policies by her successors.
The housing crisis and the bedroom tax? That goes back to social housing. Sure, letting people buy their council houses seemed like a good idea at the time and a great economic emancipator but it also created massive problems for us today, There is no social housing to speak of but rather than build more the policy seems to be to try and force people to share and reshuffle.
She was great enough if you were a one-percenter. She successfully sold the British on the great American lie, turned the working class against each other in ways we see today in the language of ‘scrounger’ Vs ‘striver’.
She destroyed British society – didn’t even believe there was such a thing as society. She turned us from a group of mutually supportive Britons of common cause into a squabbling rabble of money obsessed idiots. The hard-won lessons from two world wars were lost. Ironically, Cameron would later hark back to this old attitude of being ‘in it together’ while continuing to widen the gap between rich and poor to Dickensian levels. Again, carrying on from Mrs T.
This austerity we unnecessarily suffer under. The arrogant and overpaid bankers and the games they play with people’s money. It all goes back to her at the root.
Even her most laudable action, defending the Falklands, was a shameless vote-grabbing scam, one that killed a lot of people and was an enormous gamble made for all the wrong, political reasons rather than the right reasons. Not that it was played out that way.
She was a friend to dictators like Pinochet. She was on the wrong side of history when it came to apartheid and South Africa. She was anti-gay, anti-freedom, antisocial. She was a red-handed destroyer who made nothing but tore apart plenty.
Was she a feminist? Simply having ovaries (or not) doesn’t make one a feminist (or not). She was, arguably, a woman (some feminists disavowed her) but she distanced herself from feminism and probably did more damage to it than any other force besides radical feminists themselves. She demonstrated not that a woman was as good as any man, but rather than she could be worse. She set women back a huge amount, she didn’t move them forward.
Why is she so Hated?
Thatcher is hated because she stuck it to the poor, the needy, the helpless and made them blame themselves. She began the destruction of health, education and other vital social fabric that we had all come to rely on. She created a new British culture that demonised anyone on welfare and told them they were worthless, useless spongers. They listened which is the even worse part.
She made our culture selfish, hateful and short-termist. The majority of people didn’t want her in power, yet there she was, playing at being a dictator. Her actions lead to mass unemployment, worse services and massive privatisation which is now being applied to the NHS. She stayed the course, despite the hardship she was causing and what it did to the UK as a whole.
She set wheels in motion that haven’t stopped. Labour abandoned the left in order to become ‘electable’ and Blair was as much a Thatcherite as anyone. She created a presidential style of power politics that Blair also exploited later on to pursue the Iraq War. Her legacy of privatisation, deprivation and hardship for the most vulnerable continues today under waxwork sociopath David Cameron and flailing muppet Nick Clegg. The things we wish we could fight today, the university tuition fees, the threats to the NHS, pointless and expensive wars, heartless government cuts, it all goes back to one woman.
This is an opportunity though. We can look back over the last 20 years, see the Thatcher legacy and from that perspective see and understand how it didn’t work. How it was sold to us. How its still being sold to us despite not working. Perhaps, then, with a pause for reflection we can turn this around. It didn’t work then and we’re still living with the consequences, so why are we doing it now?
We’re all used to that rhetoric being bandied about by the Christian right of the USA but we’re far less used to hearing it said here in the UK. In the US, which is legally a secular nation but which does have a dominant and vocal Christian culture they have a point IF, by nation, you mean the corpus of its people and not the actual political entity.
Here in the UK things are, somewhat amusingly, reversed. Officially the UK is a Christian nation, our head of state (The Queen) is also he head of the Church, at least on paper, in actuality both Church and Monarchy aren’t particularly relevant. We’re blessed (hah) that religion plays little to no role in our politics day to day, though occasionally it tries to sneak in.
Usually that’s on the part of the Conservatives, though Blair’s Catholicism was an open secret. We’ve seen it recently in attempts to change abortion processes. Now we see it in David Cameron talking about Britain’s ‘Christian values’, seemingly without any sense of irony whatsoever.
Yes, Britain has, in the past, operated under Christian values and what have we had because of it? Sectarian terrorism and war, the dark ages, child abuse, subverted schools, slavery, dominionism, imperialism, divine right of kings, witch-hunting, anti-semitism and so on and so forth. Christian values, religious values, have not helped this country they have made things worse and continue to do so with every concession we give to cults, sects and religions in public.
The advances we have made have been the result of humanist, enlightenment values. Not religion. Religion has had to revise its values to match those of a more progressive populace, not the other way around. It’s high time we acknowledged this and began to step past religion. Cameron wants us to go backwards, to a worse time, probably trying to excuse his failed ‘Big society’ idea and to pre-emptively defend the crop of awful faith schools that will soon be appearing.
Less than half of the UK population is actively religious, most are probably ‘cultural Christians’ as that’s how they identify themselves but few read the Bible or go to church save, perhaps, for Christmas services, marriages, funerals and Christenings.
Ridiculous, uninformed flailing from a man who doesn’t display even his own twisted perception of ‘Christian values’. Just another bankster.