A few days ago, in response to something that I’d posted about the battle being waged between anti-tax, “small government” Republicans and those of us fighting to maintain public services, someone calling himself Alan2102, emerged from the shadows to accuse a number of us of being “out-of-touch” with the values of real Americans – those streetlight-hating, blue collar workers that comprise the base of the Tea Party. In an attempt to make his point, he offered a quiz, authored by Charles “The State of White America” Murray, entitled How Thick is Your Bubble. As many of you don’t read the comments section, I thought that I’d move it up here to the front page, so you could see how deficient you are when it comes to the things that really matter… It’s probably worth mentioning, before you get started, that I took the liberty and added a few questions of my own, in hopes of helping Murray to make his point. (I challenge you to tell which were authored by me, and which were authored by Murray.) Here’s the quiz.
Q.1) Have you ever worked on a factory floor?
Q.2) Do you spank your children?
Q.3) Have you ever kicked a dog?
Q.4) Have you ever held a job that caused a part of your body to hurt at the end of the day? [Brains don't count.]
Q.5) Do you prefer to say “Git-R-Done” over “I have tasks to complete”?
Q.6) Do you own a Bible? [Give yourself a bonus point if you've never read it.]
Q.7) In high school, did you ever hit a kid for looking “faggoty”?
Q.8) Have you seen last year’s mega-hit movie, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”?
Q.9) Do you have at least one friend who owns no utensils?
Q.10) Can you name this NASCAR champion?
Q.11) In the past five years, have you been fishing or hunting?
Q.12) Do you seek out illiterate friends?
Q.13) Do you believe that oil is an unlimited natural resource, that men coexisted with dinosaurs, and that global warming is a hoax?
Q.14) Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian?
Q.15) Would you be a titan of industry if not for “big government” putting roadblocks in your way, and giving minorities unfair advantages?
Q.16) Do you perceive all people who are on welfare, with the exception of your family, “welfare queens”?
Q.17) During the past year, have you stocked your own fridge with domestic mass-market beer?
Q.18) Do you now have a close friend with whom you have strong and wide-ranging political disagreement?
Q.19) Have you eaten at an Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, or Outback Steakhouse in the past year?
Q.20) Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck?
Q.21) Have you ever attended a Kiwanis or Rotary Club meeting, or a gathering at a union local?
Q.22) Have you ever participated in a parade that did not involve global warming, gay rights, or a war protest?
Q.23) Do you believe that Satan is real, and working to provide health care to the poor of America?
Q.24) Would you rather live next to the owner of a coal mine, who consistently put his employees in danger, than a professor of women’s studies?
Q.25) Since leaving school, have you worn a uniform as part of your job?
Q.26) Have you ever changed the channel from the nightly news to watch Jerry Springer?
Q.27) Have you ever ridden on a Greyhound or Trailways bus?
Q.28) Did you ever watch an “Oprah” show all the way through?
Q.29) Hold your hand up to your face. Are you breathingf through your mouth?
Q.30) Did you or your spouse ever serve in the armed forces?
Q.31) Did you grow up in a family in which the chief breadwinner was not in a managerial position or high-prestige occupation (defined as dentist, physician, architect, attorney, engineer, scientist, or college professor)?
Q.32) Have you ever lived for at least a year as an adult in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your nearest 50 neighbors probably did not have college degrees?
Q.33) Have you ever had a close friend who could seldom get better than Cs in high school even if he or she tried hard?
Q.34) During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?
Q.35) If you had an intelligent child, would you do the patriotic thing and sacrifice it for the good of the ocuntry?
Q.35) Is this the highest that you’ve ever counted?
For what it’s worth, I don’t have a problem with blue collar workers, and I didn’t augment this already ridiculous list of questions with the intention of heaping scorn upon them. What I have a problem with is the notion that we, as a nation, should celebrate stupidity. And, I think it’s offensive for Murray, and others, to try to equate the two, as though every blue collar worker in America is someone who only appreciates fast food, smokes despite the health risks, drinks to excess and blows his money on stupid movies that are packed full of bare butts and incredible explosions. As someone who’s worked plenty of shitty jobs, that hasn’t been my experience. I’d argue, in fact, that Murray is the one who is out-of-touch, believing, as he does, in this archetypal “real” American, spitting chewing tobacco from the window of his monster truck, as a rebel flag flutters in the breeze from its antenna. There are, of course, plenty of people like that in the world. I’d argue that, for the most part, though, people are more complex. There are factory workers who grow organic produce, and there are bankers who rail against Michelle Obama for “trying to make us all exercise.” (Remind me to rant at a some point in the future about how stupid it is that people are angry at our First Lady for trying to tackle the problem of childhood obesity in America. I think it illustrates, perhaps better than anything else, just how far gone we are as a culture.)
More importantly, though, why is it that we’re considered to be “in a bubble” if we choose not to throw our money away on stupid movies about tits, ass and robots that can turn themselves into cars? And why is it a bad thing if I’d rather buy a locally made bratwurst than spend my money on a hormone-filled, chemically-flavored drumstick at Kentucky Fried Chicken? It’s shit like, in my opinion, this that’s the real class warfare… Contrary to what Rick Santorum may tell you, it’s not class warfare when Obama says that he’d like everyone to have the opportunity to go to a trade school or college. The real class warfare is when college-educated assholes like Santorum stand up on stage and say, ‘how dare Obama encourage you to improve your lot in life’.
For the record, in the not so distant past, I’ve bought domestic, mass-market beer, attended a Kiwanis meeting, eaten at Applebee’s, and any number of other things that, as a member of the liberal blogging elite, I probably shouldn’t be doing, according to the guy who wrote the quiz. I’ve also worked plenty of jobs that have caused my body to hurt at the end of the day, attended a parade that didn’t end in an abortionfest, and shared meals with friends and family members who served in the military. I’ve also eaten imported cheese, conspired with ponytailed academics, encouraged my daughter to learn French, and purchased opera DVDs. This is a complex fucking world that we live in, comprised of complicated, multifaceted individuals. Trying to pigeonhole us into boxes, like Murray is attempting here, isn’t just stupid… it’s destructive to the fabric our nation.
One last thing, as long as I’m ranting… In the same comment thread where this quiz was noted, another reader came forward to make a ridiculous comment on public services. He said… and I’m paraphrasing here… that we weren’t doing poor people any favors by providing them with free streetlights. He feels, it would seem, that we’re spoiling them with free light, and robbing them of the pride they would discover, if only they had to work a second or third job in order to buy their own streetlights and keep them lit. By the same reasoning, I guess we should also stop treating their drinking water for parasites, and disconnect their homes from our sewers. Just think what a great motivator it would be if they were constantly ill, wading through homes awash with feces. Then, they could really know freedom.
update: As some of you have noted in the comments section, my reading of Murray’s quiz missed the mark. Apparently, he wasn’t making the case, as Republicans of late have been known to do, that the true patriots among us are those that choose to cheer for Jerry Springer, become pregnant at 16, and actively rebel against the socialist forces in America that would seem them educated. Murray, it would seem, was making the opposite case – that we were creating a moronic, drooling, permanent sub-class in this country that has little in common with those of us, whether conservative or progressive, who struggle to send our kids to college and would rather watch Downton Abbey than one of Michael Bay’s big budget, ever-exploding suck-fests. So, I’d like to apologize. I jumped to a conclusion. Given the context in which Allen introduced the quiz, my impression was that he and Murray were in agreement that being “out of touch” with this American demographic was in fact a bad thing. It would appear, however, that Murray, a seemingly devout racist, was arguing something different… My lesson has been learned. And, from now on, I will try to actually do a bit of research before setting out on one of my meandering, late-night rants. I give you my word.