Yesterday on NPR's Weekend Edition, Scott Simon interviewed a "floppy-haired," 22-year-old, privileged, white, male, college-graduate, native-English-speaker who has written a book especially, he says, to rebut Barbara Ehrenreich's research, published as "Nickeled & Dimed."
Upon graduating from college, this boy, named Adam Shepard, got on a train with $25, got off in Charleston, SC, and set out to prove that, contrary to Ehrenreich's sissy, whining, complaining, lazy (by implication), stupid, passive, immigrant/lower-class women's stories, it was STILL possible--through hard work, clean living, and true grit--for a young, healthy, educated, privileged WHITE BOY with enough ambition to live the American dream: get a job, a car, a nice place live, AND save money if you really want to,badly enough to sacrifice.
Why, the rest of the implicature went, does Ehrenreich hate America? She's obviously one of those 'blame-America-first,' commie/pinko/fag symps who should just move somewhere else, and leave the American dream to those wh are capable of seizing it...
The host, Scott Simon, was unbelievably, unaccountably deferential to this posturing little pile of privileged protoplasm, who parlayed his youth, strength, and true-blue-USA heritage into a (used) car, an apartment, and $5000 in the bank after one year.
Simon--who is easily THE most fatuous, most credulous, and least critical of a whole panoply of fatuous, credulous, uncritical reporters on a network increasingly renowned for uncritical, fatuous, credulous reporting--either ignored or didn't notice the several opportunities he had to insert a modicum of modesty into the boy's narrative. Simon was apparently overawed by Stewart's seemingly Emersonian self-reliance, Gipper-like determination to succeed, and John Wayne-like true grit--unlike those weak, whining, sniveling, immigrant/working-class women who struggled to make ends meet in motel cleaning jobs.
If they would just stop smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and buying lottery, the boy said (and by implication, also, just top having those children), they'd be up in the bourgeoisie in no time, just like him. If they'd just get off their asses, and start unloading moving vans, he implied, they'd be okay in a matter of months.
Me? I was soooo impressed. And delighted to learn that the American Dream is still available...to middle-class boys who go slumming, at least...
Actually, you might have by now inferred, I wanted to take his book, fold it a couple of times, bend the little schmuck over an industrial clothes-washer, and shove it, corners and all, up smug little shit-bag's tailpipe.
Listen to the story, and tell me if you don't agree.
UPDATE: H/w the message I sent to NPR today:
I cannot TELL you how glad I am that the American Dream is still alive ... for 22-year-old, native-english-fluent, college-educated, white boys who can hump furniture. THATs the way to put paid to that damned Barbara Ehrenreich and her "blame-America-First," anti-capitalist, Commie/Socialist, immigrant-friendly lies, isnt it?
Raygunesque self-reliance carries the day, if youre a young, privileged white male gone slumming. Just get them whiney, lazy colored women out on them bedbugs, and pretty soon theyll be cracking the middle class, if they stop smoking them cigarettes, drinkng beer, and buying lottery tickets--and having all them damn kids--Aspirins the cheapest birth-control pill in the world, if you keep one pressed between your knees, ladies...
I tell you, we need more DISCIPLINE in this country. Damn women are all hos and tweakers, anyway. Lets put Mr. Shepard in charge of the boot-straps...
Honestly, Scott Simon had at least a half-dozen opportunities to open up the discussion to focus on the differences between Shepard and Ehrenreich, and to call Shepard on his explicit comparison of his experience with those Ehrenreich reported. But Simon, as usual, was too timid and credulous--or something: cowardly?--to pursue it.
I thought I had long since resigned myself to be disappointed in NPRs coverage of issues of social and economic justice, but surprisingly, I am still disappointed when this kind of stuff inevitably occurs.