Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is There an Other America?

I never managed to post about the phenomenon called "rolling coal" back when I first heard about it a few years ago. I was so revolted and disturbed, I think I blocked it out of my mind.

Dave Roberts at Vox has done a recent write up of it, spurred by a quote he read from a particular coal-roller. You'll have to go to the link to read that quote, but here are some of Roberts's words:

Entire dissertations could be written about rolling coal. Even more than Trump’s ascension, it seems to perfectly capture a moment in time, an inarticulate yawp of protest from angry white men. They feel disdained and overlooked and they will blow thick black smoke in your face until you pay attention.

There’s no faux nostalgia involved. Unlike with, say, hunting, there’s no tale of rugged rural self-sufficiency to draw on. This is not some sturdy heartland tradition with which meddlesome elites want to interfere.

Rolling coal is new; it just caught on a few years ago. It does not improve the performance of a truck. It has no practical application or pragmatic purpose of any kind. It is purely aggressive, a raw expression of defiance: I can pollute your air, for no reason, and no one can stop me.
It's the perfect crystallization of some part of America that I do not belong in, which is the real subject of this post. In his article, Roberts also shared this graphic from Rush Limbaugh's site:

Are there really people who believe that science is part of universe of lies, while Rush Limbaugh represents the universe of reality? How can that possibly be?

I don't know, but there are also people who self-select in such a way as to end up with a poll result like this:

This poll was taken among Frank Luntz's Twitter followers, so it's not too surprising they skew right-wing and anti-Obama. (The poll was done around the same time that a scientifically sampled poll of Americans found Obama with a 58 percent approval rating.) But still. Am I the only one shocked by this?

What is wrong with white people (since we all know that's the vast majority of all the people who populate this Other America)? When did we get to be so whiny and butt-hurt? Is it really because we're reacting to no longer being the absolutely dominant force in society? Didn't we learn the lesson about sharing back in kindergarten? Or did that only mean sharing with people who looked like us?


troutbirder said...

Worse than appalling. Several decades of dumbing down on Fix News and talk radio...:(

Anonymous said...

I lived in Hagerstown, MD, with is an inch and a half from West Virginia. I have sympathy for coal. I understand why we use it, how it can be beneficial, and how Appalachia will die without it. All that being said, these people with these black smoke cars are ridiculous. Yes, I'm from coal country and I'm damn proud of it, but there is a time and a place. Coal will slowly go away and really it's best for everybody.
As for your question, yes, there is a whole other America. One that is ugly with hate and fear and anger. I don't know how to fix it. I don't understand it at all. But the fact that other people are struggling with that gives me hope.