Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Alienation in an Alien Nation

Barry Goldwater, who won 27 million American votes for president in 1964, once asked a WASP-only Arizona country club if he could play nine holes there since he was only half-Jewish.

Now the Grand Canyon State is becoming a national symbol for prejudice as lawmakers not only mandate Gestapolike searches for illegal immigrants but crack down on teachers who fail to speak English with an impeccable accent.

In Arizona's search for security, Peggy Noonan finds a response to a federal government in which "so many within it are stupid and unimaginative and don't trust the American people," resulting in "a deep and growing alienation" between those people and their national leaders.

Her diagnosis, however descriptively accurate, conflates the Bush and Obama eras by blaming alienation on "two wars that were supposed to be cakewalks, Katrina, the crash, and the phenomenon of a federal government that seemed less and less competent attempting to do more and more by passing bigger and bigger laws.

"Add to this states on the verge of bankruptcy, the looming debt crisis of the federal government, the likelihood of ever-rising taxes. Shake it all together, and you have the makings of the big alienation. Alienation is often followed by full-blown antagonism, and antagonism by breakage."

This equates Bush political breakage and Obama efforts to repair it, finding comparable eight years of destroying trust domestically and around the world to little more than a year of frantic attempts to undo the damage, complicated by "a loyal opposition" dedicated to kneejerk obstruction and fueling of racial and ethnic hatreds.

All this suggests a different kind of alienation in a country that is becoming demographically less and less WASP and falling into Tea Party rage to express its unhappiness over loss of that privileged status.

Cracking down on immigrants has a long, sad history in American life but there is particular poignancy in watching bigotry during a week in which the President welcomes to the White House championship athletes named Rivera, Rodriguez, Posada et al, who risk being arrested when they travel to Phoenix to engage in the national pastime with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If Ms. Noonan likes large words to describe our national condition, she may want to go down to the other end of the alphabet from "alienation" and try "xenophobia."

5 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Easily the best post title I've seen on the subject.

And I'd love to hear how the "loyal opposition" has been "fueling of racial and ethic hatreds" for the past year. Really, I would. It seems to me that the only time I hear race mentioned its from the left, and they are usually calling people like me (i.e. conservatives) RAAAAAAACIST for no reason other than we're conservatives. It's bizarre and very insulting. Or it was. You know, before "RAAAAACIST" was sucked dry of any meaning at all by its flagrant overuse by lefties who call everyone that . . . without grounds to do so.

JSpencer said...

Another excellent post Robert. Not very many straight arrows in the GOP quiver these days, and Noonan trying out the old false equivalance argument sure isn't going to hit the mark. Conservatives have a LOT of work to do these days if they ever want to regain lost credibility, but they sure don't seem to be putting their backs into it yet.

Octopüß said...

Fuzzy Slippers - And I'd love to hear how the "loyal opposition" has been "fueling of racial and ethic hatreds" for the past year. Really, I would. It seems to me that the only time I hear race mentioned its from the left, and they are usually calling people like me (i.e. conservatives) RAAAAAAACIST for no reason other than we're conservatives.

Today’s Republican Party is a coalition of former Dixiecrats who defected from the Democratic Party in the 1970s and 80s and right wing corporatists who fought FDR’s New Deal, among others.

In today's Republican Party, we are hear multiple voices: Those of former Dixiecrats, the voices of Wall Street corporatists, the voices of lobbyists and special interests, the voices of hardcore right wingers, and the malcontents of civilization.

So you tell me, Fuzzy Slippers, which one of these voices represents you? Get back to us when you figure it out.

Superdestroyer said...

Let's see, since 2000 the was foiunto be violating the civil rights of whites at the university of Michigan due to having separate and unequal admission standards, was found to be violating the rights of whites by having a race based busing program in Louisville and Seattle, and was found to be violating the rights of white fireman by refusing to hold blacks to the same standard as whites.

Yet, it is the whites who are racist because the whites know that open borders, unlimited immigration coupled with a government that promotes a racial spoils system is a long term disasster.

If is funny that someone claims that whites are privileged when the government discriminates against whites everyday.

jf said...

Noonan focuses on the government when the alienation extends to other major institutions.

In the Pew Research Center paper "DISTRUST, DISCONTENT, ANGER AND PARTISAN RANCOR, respondants were asked to evaluate various institutions regarding their positive or negative effects on how things are going.

http://www.people-press.org
Explore http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/606.pdf

Pew's numbers:
Banks & financial institutions 22-69
Congress 24-65
Federal government 25-65
Large corporations 25-64
National news media 31-57
Federal agencies & depts. 31-54
Entertainment industry 33-51
Labor unions 32-49
Obama administration 45-45
Colleges & universities 61-26
Churches & religious orgs. 63-22
Small businesses 71-19
Technology companies 68-18