The mythical “one-percent elite”
Once again the lackeys for the rightist elite fell in the cauldron of their poisonous stew but came out unscathed. For a while, their vilification of Shirley Sherrod, a mid-level employee for the Department of Agriculture, had receptive ears in many places… from the right and from the left, all the way to the White House. And those receptive ears did cost Ms Sherrod her job and, some would argue, her reputation.
Apparently, this government official had delivered a speech at a meeting of the NAACP last March which contained some racially-charged statements.
And, apparently, the gatherers and broadcasters of rightist propaganda-smut (in this case Andrew Breitbart’s blog and Fox News) had used an edited video of the speech to make their neoconservative case by portraying a political opponent as racist.
And, apparently, even many progressive ears felt victim to this deception – including her boss, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who forced her to resign – failing to analyze the entire speech and, what’s just as important, her career background as it underlined her position on those particular issues. Vilsack, unless he was instructed by the White House to fire her, became prosecutor, judge and jury without merit or reason.
And, apparently, even after her vindication two days later, which included a personal apology from President Obama, we Americans still don’t seem to get it. Or, rather, we prefer a second round of editing which passes judgment on her speech by declaring it not racist, but one seeking racial harmony. Let’s keep to ourselves the dirty little secret of what Shirley Sherrod might have intended to say with her speech.
But truth be said, if you listen to the entire speech, it isn’t the racial overtones that come clear and true, only bold socio-political-economic implications that neither the press nor the government prefer to touch on. And those are, that it isn’t a racial war which is dividing America, but distinct and pronounced class warfare. It’s the color of money, and not skin, that seems to band us together… to fight for “a common cause.” That is my interpretation of what Shirley Sherrod was trying to tell not just the NAACP attendees but the rest of us.
If there is a time to mute that “un-American phrase” of class warfare, it is these days when such ugly and putrid growths – and not just the acne we have come to accept – are showing on capitalism’s face. Let Sherrod discharge her pistol, but let’s make sure it’s through a silencer that defuses that cursed phrase for capitalism: class warfare.
Progressives and quasi-progressives who represent the overly-mild American Left have been inordinately tentative in fighting a conservative Right sequestered by extreme elements who are not just proactive in their cause but criminally destructive in trying to reach their goals. To counter pseudo-populists (read: tea-partiers) and other traditional irresponsible vile-spewing voices, even the most vocal progressives surrender to timidity... ending up placing the blame on that powerful elite they claim to be ruling America… that infamous “one-percent” elite. That one-percent of individuals (or family units) who we’re told own more than one-third of America’s wealth (34.6 percent of total net worth, according to economist Edward N. Wolff, New York University, 2010). They are the culprits, they say.
Make no mistake, the American Ruling Class, and that’s not just one-percent of knights-in-money-armor (the economic elite) but another 10 to 20 percent of the squire-class, is in life-or-death class warfare with the rest of us, poor or soon-to-become-poor, whether we accept it or keep it under wraps. Things have not changed for millennia and Plato in his Commonwealth IV could have been easily talking about today’s America: “Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another; and in either there are many smaller divisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark if you treated them all as a single State.” And that is the divided America we prefer not to think of today.
As many as 80 percent of Americans are (… or soon to become) part of the “have-nots” group… even if the latest polls indicate that only 50 percent of our population believes that such division exists between “haves” and “have-nots.” Obviously the brainwashing by the elite continues to have some effect… although losing ground fast, since two decades ago only half as many (26 percent) saw the US as a rich-poor divided nation.
It is apparent that Corporatist Obama and his cadre of advisors, together with all those members of Squiredom, prefer that if this country is to have a divide, let it be racial… and not the existing reality: socio-economic classes.
Obama’s quiver keeps being filled with arrows of disappointment. Little by little I’m coming to the conclusion that one of the biggest frauds perpetrated on the American electorate was the portrayal of Barack Obama as the re-incarnation of FDR… a true bearer of change in the form of genuine populist reforms.
© 2010 Ben Tanosborn
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