April-May 1998 Articles:
MindPower: Divide and Conquer
--Divide and Conquer--
The time has now come to discuss a subject that has been aggravating me for quite some time. That subject is what writer Noam Chomsky calls "the unmentionable five-letter word." That word is "class."
In his book, The Prosperous Few And The Restless Many, Chomsky talks about the many statistics concerning health, infant mortality, etc., that always show African-Americans having the worst statistics compared to whites. Vincente Navorro, a professor who does work on public health issues at John Hopkins, did a study that broke down the statistics by race and class. Compared to white executives, the statistics for white workers were worse, just like the statistics between black executives and black workers. This concluded that much of the difference between black and white was actually a class difference, for the gap between white workers and white executives was enormous.
Seeing that this was an epidemic that needed some attention, Navorro submitted his findings to the major American journals. All journals rejected it. Navorro then sent his findings to Lancet, the world's leading medical journal located in Britain. There, it was accepted.
"The reason is very clear. In the United States, you're not allowed to talk about class differences." He also comes to the conclusion that Corporate America and the government are the main manipulators in silencing the discussion of class. "It's extremely important to make other people, the rest of the population, believe that there is no such thing as class. We're all just equal, we're all Americans, we live in harmony, we all work together, everything is great."
Why do many Americans fall for this? Better yet, as the 1 percent rich gets richer, why do many working-class whites let politicians scare them about welfare, affirmative action, immigration, and other things related or assumed to be related to people of color?
My guess is this: As long as whites are led to believe that they are superior, the more the rich can keep screwing them.
In order to prove this theory, let us travel back to the 1980s. We all remember the 1980s, don't we? This was when Madonna sang she was a material girl in a material world. Yes, the eighties were very materialistic. Americans worked themselves to the bone to gain that nice home and two cars. The mindset was if you didn't have the glamour toys, you were a loser. You didn't work hard enough, and the lowest of all low-life scum were those Negro welfare queens. The poor were the American Public Enemy Number One, because it was believed that the poor didn't want to work. They were thought to be lazy, good-for-nothings who just didn't want to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and take their lazy asses to work.
And as for those inner-city Negroes? All they did was kill, smoke dope, live off welfare and populate America with more lazy Negroes. They also started taking jobs away from more qualified whites.
Now, wait! Stop right there! Don't go any further! The last time I checked, African-Americans made up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population. Now, for all you geniuses out there, I want to know how African-Americans can take all the jobs away from whites, when the white population is much larger. Whites make up 74.2 percent of the population. Now, how can African-Americans take all those jobs away from white folks? (Also, these statistics should rest the nerves of those who think brothas are going to take all the white women away from white men.)
Another thing worth asking is this--how can African-Americans live off welfare and take white folks jobs at the same time? All right, geniuses, it's either/or. Either African-Americans are taking away jobs from innocent victims of reverse discrimination, or they are living off welfare. Now, which one are they doing? They can't do both. Either they refuse to work and live off welfare, or they do decide to work, but find jobs at the expense of innocent white people. Which one is it, geniuses?
Everyone was against each other in the eighties. They still are today. The unique thing about the eighties is that when someone finally checked, the one percent rich got richer after 12 years of Republican presidency. Divide and conquer! One of the oldest tricks in history and Americans fell for it.
It just didn't stop with black and white or middleclass and poor. It was also gays versus straights and pro-life versus pro-choice. Then, some sicko or sickoes decided to appeal to the Christian Right. Americans were at each other's throats with hostility as the rich laughed their asses off and got richer.
As mentioned before, these tricks by the powers-that-be are nothing new. The witchhunts in Europe were a smoke screen to cover the fact that Europe was going through hard economic times. Nazi Germany was born out of worldwide depression, in which the scapegoats became Jews.
Now, one has to question why bigots like David Duke and Pat Buchanan tend to align themselves with the Republican Party. Could it be that Republicans are responsible for much of the us-vs.-them mentality that started in the eighties? Besides, Republicans gave birth to the image of the Negro welfare queen. Oh, yes, let us not forget the Willie Horton propaganda, too, in which the picture of a menacing-looking black criminal was used to scare white people to vote Republican, because them liberal Democrats were letting dangerous niggers loose on the streets of America.
Willie Horton was a criminal who was on furlough. He raped someone on one of his days out of prison. This took place in Massachusetts, home of then-presidential candidate, Gov. Michael Dukakis. Republicans used Willie Horton to portray Dukakis as being soft on crime.
Another thing to question is the presence of more hate groups since the beginning of the 12-year Republican presidency.
One of the latest trends in scare tactics is the coverage of illegal aliens. Most of the coverage is focused on Mexicans instead of Europeans, who also sneak into the country year after year. Why more coverage on Mexicans? Mexicans aren't white. It's easier to cater to America's prejudices towards those of Spanish descent. Those of Spanish descent bring crime. They all are, with the exception of Cuban-Americans, illegal aliens who live off welfare and have a half-dozen kids.
Now, bigots, for the truth. Most illegal aliens are hard-working individuals who contribute to the economy. A small few live on welfare. Most illegal aliens are also law-abiding.
Another fact about those of Spanish descent relates to Puerto Ricans. Since Puerto Rico is considered a U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens.
As the illegal alien scare tactics go on, more and more jobs go to Mexico for cheap labor that results in more and more American families being forced into poverty. As these jobs continually go to Mexico, one still wonders why Mexicans still sneak over the border. Could it be that jobs exported from the U.S. to Mexico are very low-wage and working conditions are unhealthy and dangerous? Health regulations are almost non-existent in Mexico. When the jobs go to Mexico, Americans are forced to take jobs at lower wages, usually those jobs dealing with the public. This is where I believe most of the clash between the haves and have-nots will begin.
As someone that works on Massa's Plantation (Wal-Mart), one can tell the many stories of uppity middle-class and rich folks treating you like trash because you work at a low-wage-paying job that requires you to kiss ass. As more people are forced into jobs like these, more will be holding resentment towards Corporate America and the rich. Both groups know this. This is where the scare tactics come in. The idea is to divert the public's attention away from being screwed. By catering to America's prejudices, the powers that be successfully screw us.
This is where my theory on the white reluctance to discuss class comes full circle. Andrew Hacker writes this in his book, Two Nations,
"All white Americans realize that their skin comprises an inestimable asset. It opens doors and facilitates freedom of movement. It serves as a shield from insult and harassment. Indeed, having been born white can be taken as a sign: your preferment is both ordained and deserved. It value persists not because a white appearance automatically brings success and status, since there are no such guarantees. What it does ensure is that you will not be regarded as black, a security which is worth so much that no one who has it has ever given it away."
Many white folks are living it too easy to discuss class. Class forces whites to be on the same level as blacks. Trailer-park whites would be on the same level of blacks living in the projects. Because of white America's superiority complex, this is how the rich screw them every time.
Now, let's talk about welfare. Most people stereotype welfare recipients as able-bodied, inner-city African-American women with a house full of illegitimate children--the image that is fed to America. Little attention is paid to the many white families who are living in poverty. It is no wonder that many people believe that most welfare recipients are African-American.
According to Carl T. Rowan in his book, The Coming Race War in America, whites compose 38.3 percent of families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). 36.6 percent are African-American. 18.5 percent are Hispanic. This book was published in 1996.
Andrew Hacker's, Two Nations, sites that 38.8 percent are white. 39.8 are African-American and 15.7 percent are Hispanic. This book was published in 1992.
Both books indicate that even though their percentage is smaller than the aforementioned groups, Asians stay on welfare the longest.
As with Hacker's figures, even though the figure for AFDC is higher for African-Americans, whites are still more likely to be on welfare. Recent evidence has shown that the 39.8 for blacks would more than likely be 1 out of 5 blacks on AFDC, compared to 2 out of 5 whites being on it. (These are not actual figures. These are just examples. Still, more welfare recipients would come out of the white population than black.)
The typical welfare recipient is more likely to be a divorced or separated white woman with two children. Few of these households receive support from the kids' father.
During Clinton's welfare reform, a program that limits the time spent on welfare, one of the agreements was to force deadbeat dads to pay child support. Few fathers are forced to do this.
So, instead of attacking welfare women, how about attacking the government and deadbeat dads of all races and economic backgrounds? Also, more money is spent on useless military weapons than welfare. Welfare only takes up a small percentage of government spending.
One form of welfare that is rarely discussed is Corporate Welfare, the real welfare kings and queens. Let's say BS Autos want to build a plant in your town. This brings in jobs. So, Mayor Ass Kiss decides that BS Autos don't have to pay taxes. The residents of Screwed Valley are the ones who have to pay taxes on the roads, the building of schools, etc. BS Autos don't pay anything.
Sure, they brought jobs to Screwed Valley but, then, BS Autos decides they can make a better profit by exploiting Mexicans. So, they leave. After all the tax breaks they have received, BS Autos leave Screwed Valley totally screwed.
What happens when people are forced into poverty? As mentioned before, this is where the scare tactics come in to divert the public's attention away from the fact of being screwed. Divide and conquer, the oldest trick in the book. Will Americans stop falling for it, or will we continually let bigotry be our best friend?
Other Mindpower columns by Patrick Scott Barnes:
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