Mighty white of you | The American Conservative
Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone Cold Stupid and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of “Real America” by Kevin Williamson (Regnery: 2020), 256 pages.
Kevin Williamson has made a name for himself. In a time of partisan constellation, Williamson has the rare difference that both sides want to queue him above. On the right, his style was good partisan fun, as was his articles for National review During the 2012 election, he praised Mitt Romney (“If it comes to being a rich man, Mitt Romney should own it”) and criticized Barack Obama (“The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons … Professor Obama? Two daughters . Can also give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes ”).
But Willamson, like his magazine, was outraged by the rise of Donald Trump. “The white American underclass is passionate about a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles,” wrote Williamson in an infamous article for NO in 2016 “The Dysfunction of the White Working Class”. “Donald Trump’s speeches make you feel good,” he wrote. “OxyContin too.”
Williamson begins this article with an attack on Michael Brendan Dougherty, formerly of TAC. Five years later, the attack makes an ironic reading: “Dougherty spends a lot of time berating the conservative movement and its organs from which he feels alienated for some reason – an alienation that more than suggests something is personally. “Something personal” is how many see Williamson’s own writing about the white working class.
Williamson is NO“Roving Correspondent”, who rightly indicates bad boy status outside of the magazine’s rather stuffy reputation. It is unclear whether William F. Buckley would ever have hired a male writer to wear an earring or leather jackets and party shirts. Aesthetics aside, Williamson deserves his Thompson Perch by being at least one thing: no fear. In our time of “empathy” Williamson is a dissident. He’s gruff, essentially ruthless, and doesn’t give up on being deeply provocative.
He doubles his provocative thesis about poor whites in his latest show, Big white ghettoand essentially reprinted parts of his infamous column: “Nothing happened to you,” writes Williamson. “That was the big shock for me … Nothing happens. There was no terrible disaster. There was no war or famine or plague or foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the last decades hardly explain the malfunction and negligence – and the absolutely incomprehensible malice– of poor white America. “
“So the plaster business in Garbutt is no longer what it used to be,” continues Williamson. “In the 21st century, there’s more to life than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how The Man shut the factories down.”
Williamson has less of a policy than an understanding of power, self-interest, and work ethic. Again and again he emphasizes that it is so American who make the most destructive decisions, not their leaders. “Governor Reagan may have signed this original divorce law long ago through no fault of your own, but no one put a gun to anyone’s head. The American family died because the Americans killed them and they killed them because they didn’t wanted to. “
Williamson understands why he’s so mean: other people on the right, including Donald Trump’s apologists, are selling a fib. “It’s immoral because it perpetuates a lie that is destroying people’s lives: that the white working class, attracted to Trump, has fallen victim to outside forces. It hasn’t.” This is the most sensitive passage in the book that shows that Williamson naturally cares about these people and their messed up lives.
The only thing that inspires downtrodden white Americans these days, says Williamson, is vice. Cannabis will one day be legal in all 50 states, the least bad option, but right now it’s big business, mostly in the west. “The Colorado marijuana business dates back to the 1963 Las Vegas casino era,” Williamson writes. But the joke is on the hippie-dippie user base, the avid politicians over their skis for the ventures, and the old-guard drug dealers (many of the working class of all races, of course). Legalization has an endgame: Corporate America will win.
Expanding the Vegas metaphor, Williamson says, “Vice itself has been legalized, the Chamber of Commerce is in place, and the tough guys of organized crime are figuring out what ruthlessness, iron will, and intense singularity of purpose really mean than their publicly traded multinationals Take over thugs and give them their heads. You think you are a gangster Try a fight with Walt Disney. “
Sometimes Williamson’s accounts can be read like Chris Hedges, the socialist alumnus New York Times Correspondent who broke up with the newspaper because of his loud protests against the war in Iraq. “A modern Jeremiah sees national decline everywhere he looks,” said his old paper, Hedges’ latest book. America: The Farewell Tour, who takes its author on a cross-country tour similar to Williamson’s, from the porn studio in the San Francisco Armory to the ruins of Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Hedges and Williamson both say that such things are pretty bad, but while Hedges sees something akin to an international “corporate state” conspiracy, Williamson would consider the “corporate state”, if it existed, to be one of the few things in America that actually work.
What Williamson doesn’t address: Millions of Americans are bored and unhappy in corporate jobs, including what remains of industrial ones; that was de-industrialization and “free trade” decisions by our leaders, discussed and favored by the capitalist fanatics; that American schools are now spreading ridiculous, genuinely racist, anti-white propaganda, a phenomenon that has never been more turbo-charged than in the year of publication Big white ghetto.
Williamson’s reporting and analysis are so persuasive at times that the reader screams that the man is a little more empathetic with those he grew up with in an attempt to meet those who would reform our system halfway, including those reformers who were more tolerant of Trump than Williamson himself was. But I understand that wouldn’t be Kevin’s style.
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