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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

In a time of questionable candidates and flame wars galore, Alexander Zaitchik has a new book that displays the disarray.

A longform Jedi with roots in the alternative press, the author last surfaced between periodical pieces with Common Nonsense, a graphic look at “Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance” in the Tea Party era. So it’s fitting that his second major project has been released in the middle of such comparable political hysteria.

For those lamenting an apparent widening attention deficit in modern journalism, Zaitchik’s detailed work should come as an informed relief. His latest, The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America, is a hearty bone for long-readers, on either side of the divide, who feel reporters have neglected to communicate the larger stories underpinning Donald Nation domination.

Though his dispatches arrive amidst a dizzying daily variety of Trump coverage, Zaitchik writes clear of the hype to illustrate conditions fomenting today’s anti-establishmentarianism, however superficial or trumped up. We asked about his revelatory travels through the industrial heartland, Southwestern border territories and Appalachian coal country.

This seems like an especially big feat—a book spanning the primaries that comes out before the election. What was the approach?

I jumped on the primary calendar near the middle, in Arizona, and finished with the June votes in New Mexico and California, a few weeks after Trump clinched the nomination in Indiana. I focused on six states representative of Trump’s marquee campaign themes—in Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and along the Mexico Border. Ideally, I would have had a little more time—I filed the last chapter in early July—but the goal was to get it out in time for the general election. This ended up fitting nicely with the idea behind Hot Books, the Skyhorse Publishing imprint of which The Gilded Rage is a part. They’re short, timely books of around 150 pages, edited by historian and Salon.com founder David Talbot.

Your dispatches have been amazingly detailed, and they focus on some elements of the side show that may have been overlooked by other writers. What observations are especially important in your mind for anyone who is really trying to understand the bigger picture high and above the spectacle?

Like everyone else, I’ve basically been swimming in the Trump story since autumn. While traveling for the book, I kept up with the circus, but not because it impacted the work. I was focused on the lives of Trump’s followers, which don’t have much to do with the cable news cycle on a given Tuesday. The animating spirit behind the book is Studs Terkel, the Chicago journalist and oral historian who conducted long biographical interviews with everyday Americans. His books of interviews revealed more about the country, in a vernacular that sometimes approached literature, than 1,000 newspaper editorials (or 2,000 “hot takes”). As I watched the Trump story explode, I thought there was a need for a Terkel approach that let Trump’s supporters explain themselves over the course of many pages, instead of just having a tiny quote box or sound byte.

When I started the project, a lot of stories were coming out that promised readers and listeners a chance to “Meet the Trump Supporters,” or whatever. But when I finished these pieces, I never felt like I’d met anybody. So I decided to go long where everyone was going short. Sometimes I conducted the interviews only after days spent building trust, hanging out, learning something about them. There wasn’t much scientific about my approach, which was the point. The book is intended as a counterpoint to all that.

The kind of data journalism people have come to depend on, if not worship, never felt more useless than during this primary. One, it was wrong in its predictions, over and over. Two, it kept missing the point. You’d see all these articles crunching numbers, like how Trump voters aren’t really that poor compared to some other voting bloc. They split some statistical hair and completely ignore the whale in the water, which is the unquantifiable psychology of pain, insecurity, anger and resentment. I think there’s obviously a role for the data stuff, but in this election, you’re better off getting drunk with a Trump supporter whose town lost its factories and whose nephews are all on heroin. That’s where I think the Trump story is—in all of these individual American stories, many of them tragedies, almost all of them more complicated than plain racism or sexism. I went around and tried to collect some of these stories. I do think they have a certain amount of political explanatory power. But beyond that, the lives of everyday Americans are just interesting—much more interesting than anything I have to say about Donald Trump, or what Donald Trump has to say about his tax returns.

How much other coverage of Trump and his campaign have you been consuming, and do you have any specific or general praises or condemnations?

I respect those (reporters who cover his campaign on a daily basis) a lot. They live and breathe the campaign and have to file stories every day, often more than once. I don’t think I could do it, and somebody has to. That said, there are serious limitations to working that kind of campaign beat. You fly in, go to a rally, get a few quotes, then go back to the hotel and file, and maybe drink with the hack pack, which is mostly made up of middle-class and upper-middle-class people from the same group of elite schools. They all live in D.C. or the Virginia suburbs. The job isn’t really structured in a way that lets them spend much time away from each other or the noise of the news trail.

I often started at the same place as the press corps, usually at a rally. But after they moved on to the next rally, I’d push deeper into the corners of the state and put in time with the people I met. I also couldn’t afford hotels, so I couch-surfed in the communities and neighborhoods of my interview subjects. In West Virginia, I stayed next door to the guy at the center of that chapter. Instead of drinking back at the Charleston Hilton bar, I went to the run-down local Juggalo club in Raleigh County where all the kids were unemployed and on pills or heroin.

Is it your job as a journalist to separate out the right-wing nut jobs from the so-called everyday Americans who are supporting Trump?

I didn’t seek out any kind of Trump voter. I just talked to people and let the chips fall where they did. If people were open to spending time with me and were halfway articulate, they usually ended up in the book. Some of these people were not pleasant; some were small-minded racists; and others were extremely sympathetic and generous in spirit. The Trump voter base—like the country, like individual Americans—is complicated. There were overlapping themes, but after five months of talking to people at length, I struggle with sketching the “average” Trump voter. I would never discount or downplay the racism and “authoritarianism” swimming in Trump’s base, but I also wouldn’t reduce it to those things.

As a native of Massachusetts, what has it been like to see such a significant embrace of Trump here in New England?

Anyone who’s spent time in Massachusetts knows that even the Republic of Cambridge isn’t all Volvo-driving Democratic socialists. The state has a lot of New Hampshire in it, and worse, and the frustrations and anger that Trump has ridden to the nomination are a national phenomenon. I wasn’t that shocked to see Trump win the primary, though I was disappointed. I admit to clinging to the conceit that my home state is a liberal oasis of reason and progressive politics, the Athens of America. Of course, it isn’t.

How thick is your skin? Does any of this bother you anymore, or are you just like somebody who cleans enormous streams of diarrhea out of sewer pipes all day and no longer even shrinks at the stink?

I spend most of my life in liberal enclaves talking to people who think like I do, so I enjoy getting out there and talking to conservatives. Not so much the cruel, bat-shit crazy ones, but most people are pretty cool on a personal level. I think it’s a good exercise in more ways than one, but above all, it’s necessary if you are going to have any clue about what’s happening in this country. You also need to know how to talk to people if you want to help build some kind of broad progressive coalition. While working on the book, I’d sometimes watch recent college grads completely unable to talk politics with a machinist with a high school education. They simply could not hold a conversation. They used jargon, or coils sprang from their eyes if they heard a word they associated with “trigger warnings” in Gender Studies 101. It’s terrifying to see.

You have now written books on Glenn Beck and Donald Trump. Are they comparable? Any striking similarities or differences?

Two greed-head egomaniacs with Messiah complexes. Hopefully Trump crashes and burns the way Beck is currently. But we’ll still have to reckon with what it all means. Trump obviously heralds and signifies much more than just an unlikely one-off in the 2016 primary.

As somebody who already spends a significant amount of time working outside of the country, would you consider moving if Trump wins?

If anything, I’d be more likely to stay in the country under a Trump presidency. Not just out of a sense of civic duty, but also because times would get “interesting,” in the Chinese aphorism sense of the word. But something tells me they’re about to get pretty damn interesting either way.

This piece was originally published in Dig Boston. The author has known Zaitchik for many years, and teaches in the same department as his father at Salem State University.

Published in Literature

On this week's strictly constitutional weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson throws around the term "political correctness"; The K Chronicles listens to some advice from Clint Eastwood; This Modern World eavesdrops on a chat between two millennials; and Red Meat interrupts God at a most inopportune time.

Published in Comics

On this week's extra-authentic weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson reflects on the Democratic National Convention; The K Chronicles makes friends with Feel Me Up Wilbur; This Modern World offers yet more scenes from a convention; and Red Meat checks on the senses.

Published in Comics

On this week's extra-Trumpy weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat enjoys the beach; Jen Sorenson helps keep America safe; The K Chronicles shares yet more of life's little victories; and This Modern World offers an in-depth Republican National Convention recap.

Published in Comics

This has been one of the most highly charged and controversial election years in recent memory.

However, all is calm in State Assembly District 56, which includes Imperial County and much of the Eastern Coachella Valley. That’s the realm of Democratic State Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who is facing no formal opposition for a second two-year term.

In 2015, Garcia reportedly made history by becoming the most successful freshman California assemblymember ever: The Democrat authored or co-authored 14 bills and two resolutions that were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Independent recently chatted with Garcia about his first term, as well as his plans for his second.

What would you identify as the highlights of your legislative accomplishments to date?

There were a couple of different things. There were some environmental bills. Assembly Bill 1059 was introduced by our office, but it was an idea that came from a local organization. That’s an important bill for a place like Imperial County, which suffers from some of the highest asthma rates among children because of poor air quality. It became effective this year, and it is going to put air-monitoring systems along the California-Mexico border to begin quantifying and collecting the necessary data to make the case that there are emissions along the border that are in excess of safe levels. Because of border-crossing wait times due to a lack of infrastructure, those living in this region are subjected to this poor quality of air. Although this bill doesn’t address those problems directly, it positions this region to go after greenhouse-gas-reduction funds through the Air Resources Board of California.

In the East (Coachella) Valley, a bill that stands out to me is adopting the new regulations for the purpose of installing new water-filtration systems in the rural parts of the district that do not have centralized water and sewer infrastructure. These filtration systems protect people from consuming contaminated water. In this case, it’s water with high levels of arsenic.

Jumping back to Imperial County, we passed AB 1095, the Salton Sea projects. The bill required the Natural Resources Agency to report to the Legislature by March of this year a list of shovel-ready projects that are now going to be part of the execution of the $80.5 million in funds that we successfully included in this year’s state budget.

How do you feel about whether real tangible progress is being made to improve the fate of the Salton Sea, and remedy, or at least mitigate, the dangers its dissipation would pose?

I feel good, because through our legislation, we outlined what the shovel-ready projects are, and I feel good because now there’s some money available to be able to execute those projects. Also, I feel very optimistic about the state’s commitment moving forward, because $80.5 million has been allocated. But, look: For the first time, the state of California has committed a significant amount of money to a problem in our region, in this case the Salton Sea, so there’s a lot of optimism. But there’s still work to be done, and for some of us, it’s not happening fast enough. So now our message is beginning to change, from, “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” to, “Here’s what’s going to happen over the course of the next five to six years.”

What issues and challenges concern you the most during the remainder of this term, and looking ahead into your second term?

This year, we’ve got some tough bills that ask for money. I can tell you that our parks bond, asking for $3.2 billion, is probably going to be a heavy lift for the governor to sign. He’s not a big fan of going out and borrowing money, even if the return on the investment is good. But I’m confident that the bill will get through the legislative process.

For us in the 56th Assembly District, the bill has about $45 million that will go directly to programs, projects and services in our area. One example is that there is a direct allocation of an additional $25 million to the Salton Sea restoration efforts that would be very welcome. There’s another $5-$6 million that is going into the restoration of the New River. … That’s in the final stages of executing a strategic plan to develop the infrastructure to clean up the water and ultimately to develop a parkway in the city of Calexico, which would be beneficial to the entire Imperial County. Also, there’s $10 million for the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy to address their land acquisitions for the purpose of habitat conservation in the Coachella Valley. We’re going to keep our push going over the next couple of weeks as it makes its way through the Senate. It’s a two-thirds bill, and it required me to get a few votes from Republicans to get out of the Assembly and move to the Senate. We’ve got the backing of six Republican assembly members, which is unheard of. So we have a reputation in Sacramento thus far of collaboration and (taking) a bipartisan approach, and I think that, too, has helped us.”

What are your thoughts about the famous proposed Donald Trump wall between Mexico and the United States?

Mexico is a very important economic partner to the state of California and to our nation. Mexico is also an extremely important partner in the case of our national security. Our relationship with Mexico can determine the safety and well-being of this country. For those concerned with terrorists from other parts of the world entering the United States, I would think that our foreign policy with our neighbors to the south and our neighbors to the north would be one of cooperation, collaboration and good communication, to ensure that we all have each other’s backs. So I think it’s really ridiculous to try to continue the rhetoric of alienating our neighbors to the south. Our foreign policy needs to be a constructive and productive one with our neighbors to the south—and building a wall does not get us to that point.

Published in Politics

On this week's completely non-plagiarized weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World looks at the Donald Trump news cycle; Jen Sorenson is relieved at what she sees regarding the new Ghostbusters; The K Chronicles has an encounter with a friendly kitty; and Red Meat talks politics.

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As the GOP geared up for its national convention in Cleveland, Republican delegates decided what would be included in the official party platform—and amid wildly inaccurate and unproven claims, cannabis reform was rejected.

Some of the anti-cannabis arguments were some real gems, including claims that mass murderers are all pot-smokers, and that there are links between marijuana and current heroin- and opioids-addiction epidemics. Seriously.

In fairness to the GOP, some delegates fought to get medical marijuana endorsed by the Republicans. “It’s not like we’re talking about Cheech and Chong here, folks. We’re talking about allowing people with debilitating conditions to ease their suffering,” Maryland delegate Ben Marchi said, according to HuffingtonPost.com. Alas, arguments like those given by Marchi weren’t enough to extricate the collective GOP delegate heads from their sandy hiding places: The measure was defeated on the second vote.

Then there’s Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee. In keeping with the GOP’s complete disregard for the will and welfare of the people, Pence was tapped to join Donald Trump on what will hopefully be a disastrous presidential ticket for the GOP.

The nut, in a nutshell:

• Indiana is the home of some of the harshest marijuana laws in the United States. Possession of even a small amount of cannabis is still punishable by 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine under the Pence administration.

• A proponent of the disastrous and failed War on Drugs, Pence still clings to the repeatedly disproven theory that cannabis is a gateway drug. He referred to it as such in a 2012 gubernatorial debate, and went on to say: “I would not support the decriminalization of marijuana. I’ve seen too many people become involved with marijuana and get sidetracked. We need to get more serious about confronting the scourge of drugs.”

• In 2013, Indiana House Bill 1006 would have revised Indiana’s criminal code—including a reduction in punishment for marijuana charges. However, Pence refused to sign the bill until the clause was dropped, and cannabis was reclassified up to a Class B misdemeanor. This was in direct opposition to the will of Indiana voters: Just a few months before HB 1006’s passage, a Howey/DePauw poll asked the state’s voters: “Currently it is a misdemeanor crime in Indiana to possess a small amount of marijuana. The legislature may consider making it an infraction rather than a crime to possess a small amount of marijuana. Do you favor or oppose making possession of a small amount of marijuana an infraction rather than a crime?” Poll respondents favored decriminalization by a margin of 54 percent to 37 percent.

So much for democracy.

Trump himself has been all over the place on this issue, saying in 1990 that recreational use should be legalized, and that the tax revenue should be used for drug education. Since his run for president kicked off, he’s moved a bit to the right, saying in October of last year to the Washington Post: “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen—right? Don’t we agree? ... And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” This seems like a pretty reasonable position to most Americans, including many Republicans.

What influence Pence will have on The Donald’s platform remains to be seen—but you can bet it won’t be favorable to the plant. If the GOP slate is elected, the results could be disastrous for the legalization movement.


On the Bright Side

Colorado is set to reach $1 billion in cannabis sales in 2016. This is not only great news for the cannabis industry; it’s great news for the state’s coffers. In addition to the 2.9 percent sales tax in the state, Colorado collects an additional 10 percent sales tax on cannabis and a 15 percent excise tax that is designated for school construction.

The population of Colorado is a little more than 5.4 million, and the state is doing a billion a year in cannabis sales. Try to imagine what those figures will be in California when recreational use becomes legal. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15.09 percent of Colorado residents use cannabis. That’s around 814,860 tokers. Compare that to the 12.88 percent of California’s 39,144,818 residents who light up—a total of 5,041,852 Golden State smokers. There are 1,623 dispensaries registered with the California Board of Equalization. In 2014, California medical-marijuana dispensaries reported $570 million in taxable income. That meant $49.5 million in taxes paid to the state, and recreational use is still to come.

Any way you pose it, California has a huge financial boon coming with legalization.


A Dose of Irony From Coalinga

The Claremont Custody Center in the Central California city of Coalinga had a capacity of more than 500 state inmates until it was shuttered by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2011, and has been sitting unused since.

Now Ocean Grown Extracts has struck a deal with the city to purchase the former prison for $4.1 million. (Timely, since the city is $3.8 million in debt.) The plan is to convert the former prison into a marijuana-extracts production center.

“It’s like the Grateful Dead said: ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been,’” Coalinga Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough said to The Fresno Bee after he and council members approved the plan in a 4-1 vote. “We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population.”

The re-purposed building will be a natural fit for a business that requires strict security and 24-hour surveillance. The new facility is expected to bring 100 new jobs to the town.

Published in Cannabis in the CV

Before Mike Pence was bestowed the responsibility of being governor of Indiana in 2013, he served six terms in Congress, from 2001-2013.

As the head of the state of Indiana, his political viewpoints have been blindly thrown onto the state within the past few years. (Most notable was his championing of a controversial “religious objections” bill in 2015 that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT individuals.) However, his congressional record contains even more information about his views—and now that Pence is Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, it’s a good time to take a look at exactly who Mike Pence is, and how he’s voted.

As a Republican member of Congress, Pence strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and worked to decrease tax hikes. He worked to strongly limit reproductive rights, advocated for conservatism in traditional marriage, voted no on government bailouts and stimulus packages, and voted no for additional federal funding for education, among many other things.

During his time in Congress, Pence worked hard to push a far-right agenda and was known to frequently bring his religious agenda into his political positions.

Regarding marriage, at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference, Pence said: “The future of conservatism demands that we stand for the traditional definition of marriage. Marriage was ordained by God and instituted in law. It is the glue of the American family and the safest harbor to raise children. Conservatives must defend traditional marriage by passing the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

Pence voted yes on a constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage illegal, no on a prohibition of job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and no on enforcing laws against anti-gay hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign has given him a 0 percent rating due to his anti-gay-rights stances.

Time and again, Pence voted against measures to increase government funding for those living in poverty and on welfare. He voted against providing additional funding for Section 8 Vouchers, increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicare, expanding State Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility and funding, and $84 million in grants for colleges where the majority of the student population lives below the poverty line.

Environmentally, Pence’s congressional track record leans far to the right as well. He strongly opposed replacing coal and oil with alternatives, and opposes Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gases. Pence voted no on tax incentives for renewable energy, yes on the authorization of the construction of new oil refineries, and yes on the drilling of the outer continental shelf.

On the issue of immigration, Pence worked in Congress to end birthright citizenship, championing a proposal that aimed to deny children automatic citizenship if they were born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents. He also supported an effort to build a fence on the Mexican border. He voted yes on reporting aliens who receive hospital treatment.

Pence is a big advocate for Second Amendment rights and has been given the grade of an A+ by the NRA.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence has a 7 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union and a 22 percent rating by the NAACP.

How well do Trump and Pence go together? This statement from Pence says it all: “More than anything else, let me be clear: We need to be willing to fight for freedom, and free markets, and traditional moral values. That’s what the American people want to see this movement and this party return to.”

No one can sum up Mike Pence other than himself: “I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

This piece originally appeared in NUVO, the alternative newsweekly in Indianapolis.

Published in Politics

On this week's utterly baffled weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson shakes her head at all of the recent shootings; The K Chronicles looks at how the sausage is made in America; This Modern World bemoans the end of humanity; and Red Meat gets ready for Halloween eggings.

Published in Comics

You feel it in your gut—that uncomfortable feeling of being stereotyped. A prejudicial belief that people with a particular characteristic—race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, etc.—are all the same means we don’t have to recognize others as individuals. It’s the ultimate guilt by association.

I was about 12 when it first happened to me. I used to pick up the evening newspaper for my dad every day at the guard shack at the old MGM Studios in Culver City. The guard and I had gotten friendly and exchanged pleasantries each day. One day, when my Culver City High School was slated to play a football game that evening against our arch rivals, Beverly Hills, the guard asked me if I was going to the game.

“I can’t go this time, but I hope our team wins,” I said.

“Well,” he said, “one can only hope you beat the kikes.”

I’m Jewish, but I had never before heard that term, nor had I experienced overt anti-Semitism. I lived in an area where many of my friends were Jewish, but just as many were not. I didn’t know how to respond to the guard—but I could feel in my gut that what he’d said was offensive, and that it somehow included me.

The word “kike” apparently comes from the time in U.S. history when there were lots of Jewish immigrants coming through Ellis Island. Many of them couldn’t complete the entry forms using the common English alphabet, and they didn’t want to sign with an “X,” because it seemed to represent a cross, so they signed with an “O.” The Yiddish word for “circle” is kikel, so the immigration inspectors came to call anyone who signed with an “O” a “kike.” However it began, use of that term to derogatively refer to Jews exists to this day.

Being blonde, and therefore not fitting the stereotype of what Jewish women are supposed to look like, I have often heard negative stereotypes about Jews casually thrown into conversation—things that clearly wouldn’t have been said in front of me if the speakers had known my identity, as if that should make a difference.

We’ve all had that experience, when a friend or family member drops some negative stereotypical term into conversation—“beaner,” “rag head,” “jungle bunny,” “Uncle Tom,” “chink”—usually without even knowing where the term originated. We can feel it in our gut.

All of this came to mind during the flap caused when the Trump campaign re-tweeted a post that had originated on an anti-Semitic website, depicting Hilary Clinton with a six-pointed Star of David against a background of money. It was subsequently explained and justified as “merely a star, like a sheriff’s badge.” There was no recognition by Trump nor his campaign that using an image representing an anti-Semitic image of Jews and money was, at the very least, worthy of recognition and apology.

If you don’t understand the history of how this image came to be associated as a negative stereotype of Jews, it’s easy to accept Trump’s explanation that “it was just a star.” In the Middle Ages, when the Church dominated European societies, people interpreted the Bible as prohibiting Christians from loaning money. Jews, however, were allowed to loan money, with interest. Many Jews at that time were prohibited from owning property or engaging in most means of making a living, so some of them became money-lenders. The stereotype was typified by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice in his character, Shylock, a term now associated with loan-sharking. As banking took off in Europe, Jews were able to finance everything from wars to exploration. However, when the time to repay arrived, some governments passed laws that non-Jews did not have to repay, or, as in England under King Edward I in 1290, the entire national population of Jews was expelled (and incidentally not allowed back as a community for more than 300 years).

This negative stereotype associating Jews with money has, obviously, survived. For anyone not to recognize the negative connotation of such a stereotype is just ignorant. For anyone implicated by such images, it’s hurtful. You feel it in your gut.

Concerns about Black Lives Matter and attacks on police officers have highlighted yet other stereotypes: police power as synonymous with the abuse of authority, and race as synonymous with criminality. We are born into a national culture that has, from its inception, valued some lives more than others, yet we react as if this isn’t a truth that needs to be addressed.

If asked to identify the ethnicity of one who is extremely good at math, you’re likely to say Asian. If asked about athletic prowess on the basketball court, you’re likely to say African American. If I mention a national identity associated with drunkenness, you might immediately respond “Irish.”

Organized crime translates to Italian. Blondes are dumb. Muslims are potential terrorists. Native Americans drink and gamble. Black men are well-endowed and barely evolved from animals—hence depictions of our president as a monkey. Hispanics are illegals.

Asians are secretive, easily depicted as devious or spies. Germans, despite more than 70 years since their involvement in World War II and the Holocaust, are as militaristic. Latinos are lazy—think of the pictorial image of the sombrero siesta, or depictions of Latinos as unwilling to learn English and assimilate, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Gays do not generally mince around with limp wrists, but when that stereotype is portrayed, they feel the negative characterization in their gut.

When leaders or public figures use discriminatory stereotypes to characterize political opponents or members of the general public, they are either indicating their ignorance of the historically negative implications—or they know and just don’t care.

Either way, we can feel it in our gut.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors