Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: In 'Hillbilly Elegy,' a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump

The NY Times has an interesting review of a new book by J.D. Vance who emerged from white poverty. The review is fascinating reading with lots of interesting points about the culture he grew up in and that continues to fester, driving so much of the white anger. The left assumes they are driven by racism. Maybe that is a factor but not the only factor. Vance is a conservative so his views can be slotted into the "people must help themselves instead of waiting for the government" but worth reading all the same. The review opens with this selection:
After reading “Hillbilly Elegy,” you can easily understand why. This is a historically peculiar election cycle, boisterously disrupted by outsiders, one of whom found the perfect host body in the Republican Party and became its presidential nominee. An investigation of voter estrangement has never felt more urgent, and we’re certainly not getting one from the lacquered chatterers on the boob tube.

Now, along comes Mr. Vance, offering a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans.

Imagine that.

On the checklist of modern privilege, Mr. Vance, 31, has the top four in the bag: He is white, male, straight and Protestant.
Review: In 'Hillbilly Elegy,' a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump


9 comments:

  1. Don't know anything about this author or book, but a very useful and entertaining book about the (Southern) white working class is "Deer Hunting With Jesus" by Joe Bageant, who died died in 2011. A wise, compassionate but no-toleration-of-bullshit cat,,anything by him is worth reading.

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  2. The whole white 'privilege' game is false and tiresome...and flourishes only where white guilt abounds. As Mr. Vance proves.

    Not sure about the poor white vote but the country seems to be siding with the greedy crook over the orange -skinned nut.

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    1. I always challenge commenters like this on white private. You walk down the street with a baxooka and a black guy in a suit with a briefcase. Who gets stopped?

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    2. Great riddle. Is it raining? Does that matter?

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    3. I read the review and two things popped out- one was the addictions- both alcohol and drugs and the domestic violence- that are devastating to families- and unfortunately families don't realize how badly they are affected. This probably contributed to the despair the the reviewer noted.
      Two was the author was upset because people on government assistance had cell phones, but he, as a worker, couldn't afford one. My feeling is- perhaps the cell is their land line.

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    4. Black man runs for president in a purportedly racist and majority non-black country against a white man. Who wins?

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  3. My mother emerged out of poor white trashism in 1929 - hit New York city and never looked back. She would argue with this man forever and she would win. She even wrote her BA thesis on Southern Whites Who Opposed Slavery. But she would still say that racism is at the core of their beliefs. And of course white privilege exists. Look who is in jail for addictions and domestic violence, just for example. Thank you for this post though. Very interesting.

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  4. Obama and Romney walk down the street. Who gets stopped by cops?

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  5. Obama for his autograph and Romney for a loan. Racism certainly exists in every group. White privilege and white guilt not so much in NYC. We're too ethnic. I know lots of Irish, Jews and Italians who don't classify themselves as White - even if everyone else does. The "hillbillies" of the rural South and even upstate NY have no ethnicity per se and only identify themselves as White. ('Hillbilly' refers the William of Orange putting Scot Protestants in Northern Ireland to eradicate the Irish Catholics. When the English turned on them, they immigrated here. They don't identify themselves as Scottish, Irish or English - unless they get educated and/or rich, in which case they instantly become WASPs.) They certainly aren't privileged. Different in LA, no ethnicity, lots of privilege and lots of White guilt.

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