Saturday, April 26, 2008

Just Who Are the Working People?

"Barak Obama does poorly with working white people", says Chris Matthews. This phrase has annoyed me for decades, and it's time to call it out. For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature of American politics, "working people" means "blue collar workers", people who, very generally, work primarily with their bodies and not with their minds.

This was one of the many semantic battles that Republicans let Democrats win in the 70's and 80's, and it is as dishonest as it is anachronistic. We live in a society completely dependent on those who work with concepts instead of objects. The computer era has made it so that the person who can handle concepts can be 10,000 times as productive as the person who can't. The implication of this phrase, that those who don't wash their hands at the end of the day aren't "working people" is insulting to them, and does nothing but inflame tensions between the haves and the have-nots in society. It implies that people with white collars merely "push paper" while others do the "real work". This is nonsense. And having done both, I can testify that working with your mind is a lot harder than working on an assembly line.

It is time people who use this "working people" phrase are called on the absurd, inflammatory assumptions within. Anyone who puts in an honest days effort at productive activity for a paycheck is a "working person", and deserves respect for that, whatever color their collar.

1 comment:

Harriet said...

I'll add to your comment: this also says that African Americans don't work either.