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Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy 
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 Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy
Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy

Please use this thread to discuss Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy.



Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy
Not recalling whether Vance talked about race, nativism, or ethnicity in the book, this second time reading it I've been looking. There really isn't much. He doesn't characterize his grandparents' conservative views as being tinged with racial prejudice or mistrust of outsiders. On p. 191, he denies that the alienation that his people feel from Barack Obama has anything to do with race; rather he says it relates to Obama's elite education and ascent to the high upper class. He says Middletowners are susceptible to the lies spread about Obama's birthplace and his religion, but apparently he doesn't consider these attitudes to be influenced by bigotry. Many would assert otherwise. At one point he writes, "I've worried about racial prejudice in my own family and friends" (p. 206). His father told him he'd need to be either black or a liberal to get into Yale Law. But he certainly doesn't identify race-or more generally, ethnicity--as the basis of a grievance of Hillbilly culture. Could it be that it wasn't so much when Vance wrote the book, that it was latent before the election campaign, and came to the fore when Donald Trump used it to vault over his rivals and claim the nomination? Then, on top of this base,Trump collected enough anti-Clinton votes to win the presidency. Our perspective has changed in several ways since Nov. 8, 2016.



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Harry Marks
Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:19 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy
DWill wrote:
On p. 191, he denies that the alienation that his people feel from Barack Obama has anything to do with race; rather he says it relates to Obama's elite education and ascent to the high upper class. He says Middletowners are susceptible to the lies spread about Obama's birthplace and his religion, but apparently he doesn't consider these attitudes to be influenced by bigotry. Many would assert otherwise.

Yep. We know that West Virginians, the archetypal hillbilly culture, were the most likely to make their choice based on perceptions of race (see the last chapters of Coates' book). Vance may have been mercifully spared that stuff, or may have wanted to skip over it for some reason.

DWill wrote:
At one point he writes, "I've worried about racial prejudice in my own family and friends" (p. 206). His father told him he'd need to be either black or a liberal to get into Yale Law.
That's the kind of exaggeration that the counterculture of ignorance thrives on. He did get in. In fact, it might well be that he was an "affirmative action" admission, but he got some mentoring (from the woman he eventually married) and he figured out how to succeed in the new world he had entered.

I was quite touched by his stories of making the cultural crossing. I had somewhat similar experiences myself, and had to keep my social antennas up from college right through to my job in the government in my upper 30s. If his point is partly that signs of social class act as barriers to mobility, that matches with tons of research. What is maybe most interesting is that the barriers are often internal - a person sensitive to all the stuff they don't know about "elite culture" can be discouraged and give up.

And of course narratives like "you'd have to be black or liberal to get admitted" can easily be a cover for that kind of shame. I have to think a lot of the Trumpist/Tea Party reaction to "elites" is wounded pride. And of course people like Hannity and Roger Ailes know how to play that like a fiddle.

DWill wrote:
Could it be that it wasn't so much when Vance wrote the book, that it was latent before the election campaign, and came to the fore when Donald Trump used it to vault over his rivals and claim the nomination?
There's a lot of evidence that Trump's challenging of "political correctness" brought out latent racism. Plenty of people who would never call anyone a nigger are still offended by feeling that someone is policing their views. If they privately feel that good jobs should be kept for men, or that Black Lives Matter and Affirmative Action is a shield for bad people to get away with stuff, or just have bought into the myths about thugs and Muslims, they hate the feeling of being shushed by more respectable folks.

The new BLM response to that viewpoint is to argue for "anti-racism", and I do think that has potential for improving the dialogue. The idea is that all of us have been infused with implicit racism (including black Americans) and that if we aren't actively fighting it, we are contributing to perpetuating the problem. But that is still too theoretical and abstract to actually move those who are feeling wounded pride. If anything it could easily turn into just a new political correctness: just a smoother excuse for judging people "deplorable".



Last edited by Harry Marks on Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:41 am
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Post Re: Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy
Harry Marks wrote:
Yep. We know that West Virginians, the archetypal hillbilly culture, were the most likely to make their choice based on perceptions of race (see the last chapters of Coates' book). Vance may have been mercifully spared that stuff, or may have wanted to skip over it for some reason.

I just listened to the part where Coates cites statistics about West Virginians' attitudes about race. Racism exists along a continuum, obviously, from attitudes I may be unconscious of having, to the extreme of the Charlottesville marchers. I'm not sure at which point we're justified in labeling someone a racist. Doing so doesn't seem particularly helpful, but in the case of neo-Nazis, of course, we're just taking them at their own word. To keep dialogue open, I guess it's best to be sparing with the label 'racist.' Some commentators were certain, after the shithole slur, that Trump is a racist, no need to qualify anymore. I still think demonizing is in this case best avoided.
Quote:
I was quite touched by his stories of making the cultural crossing. I had somewhat similar experiences myself, and had to keep my social antennas up from college right through to my job in the government in my upper 30s. If his point is partly that signs of social class act as barriers to mobility, that matches with tons of research. What is maybe most interesting is that the barriers are often internal - a person sensitive to all the stuff they don't know about "elite culture" can be discouraged and give up.

Yes, that's interesting that you can second his feelings. As I can attest, though, it's possible to be ill-at-ease and self-doubting when you have a solid middle-class background. Vance tells us he felt his disadvantage even as he was succeeding beyond his previous wildest dreams, and I suspected now and then that he was making too much of these things still holding him back. But in the end I decided he was sincere. I think Vance probably has an unusual amount of natural ability--brains--but like most people, he isn't inclined to brag about his smarts. Can you guess who I'm thinking about as an exception?
Quote:
There's a lot of evidence that Trump's challenging of "political correctness" brought out latent racism. Plenty of people who would never call anyone a nigger are still offended by feeling that someone is policing their views. If they privately feel that good jobs should be kept for men, or that Black Lives Matter and Affirmative Action is a shield for bad people to get away with stuff, or just have bought into the myths about thugs and Muslims, they hate the feeling of being shushed by more respectable folks.

I probably owe Trump an apology for implying that he created racist and xenophobic feelings, when Coates' information indicates that Trump just caught a wave a rode it.



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Harry Marks
Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:12 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10 through 12 of Hillbilly Elegy
DWill wrote:
I'm not sure at which point we're justified in labeling someone a racist. To keep dialogue open, I guess it's best to be sparing with the label 'racist.'
Yes, but that's because you don't make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies. There are lots of things we recognize about people that we know better than to announce to the person, and being a less-than-overt racist is one of them.

There is a kind of guilty pleasure in reading Coates, and to some extent Vance, from feeling that one has been let inside a closed society. Coates, son of a Black Panther leader, does not mince words. In the past it would have gone without saying that black people warned other black people which police officers to avoid, which businesses were unfriendly, and generally who the "crackers" were. They could trust other potential victims not to make trouble by telling the white folks that such discussions went on.

The Atlantic has decided to give Coates a platform from which to be honest about these perceptions (but only to those who read, which is a reasonably safe group these days). But then, Coates does not want a seat at the table for dialogue, he wants the people who believe in honesty to be honest about what white culture has done, and to an extent keeps doing.

Quote:
Can you guess who I'm thinking about as an exception?
:yes:



Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:20 am
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