Home / a fatal blow to the illusion of meritocracy / Quand l’aristocrate protestera, le bon citoyen au nez lui rira

Quand l’aristocrate protestera, le bon citoyen au nez lui rira


Roses are red,
Violence is too.
Williamson hates the poor,
And French sorta does too.

David Jesus Advocate General French, when he isn’t jostling Brooks for space on the fainting couch, sits before his computer and uses strategic squirts of his Milk of Human Kindness to create long tragic sighs for the sorry state of humanity.

This week he used his special powers to defend Kevin Death to the Proles Williamson’s uncivil outburst against the dreadful American’ts who are ruining everything by supporting the loudest, meanest, brashest SOB on the Republican roster.

He starts by establishing his dirt road cred.

My childhood was different from Kevin’s, but I grew up in Kentucky, live in a rural county in Tennessee, and have seen the challenges of the white working-class first-hand. Simply put, Americans are killing themselves and destroying their families at an alarming rate.

One assumes the target audience experiences a tingle of admiration for French because he lives among Those People. No, not those Those People. The ones who rhyme with Frailer Rash. At any rate, like his urban counterpart who dwells among, or near, or in the same city as, those Those People, French is here to enable some sneering. So let’s all open our Bibles to that bit where Jesus goes on about what complete oiks the poor are. Like, barf out to the max!

As I’ve related before, my church in Kentucky made a determined attempt to reach kids and families that were falling between the cracks, and it was consistently astounding how little effort most parents and their teen children made to improve their lives.

(For the purposes of this post I’m assuming French didn’t pull this anecdote out of the place he stores his head. But I do note that he uses the past tense. And he’s not clear about whether this was something his church in KY did while he was growing up there or if he is talking about a recent effort that the folks back home have told him about. At any rate, can we pause for a moment to commiserate with people who have or have had to endure grinding poverty and the ice-cold, pursed-lipped, “charity” of anything like David French?

Thank you.)

If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school.

Of course I don’t expect French to be familiar with the concept of learned helplessness any more than I would expect him to be aware of how many jobs there are/were in the corner of Kentucky that spat him out. That would require empathy, curiosity and seriously undermine his theory that all people have to do to succeed is square their shoulders, stick out their chins and tell Ol’ Man Adversity to step aside. (He does undermine that point, but on purpose, so it doesn’t count.)

If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor.

(See? It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would discuss sex with French, unless they were being paid. And it was happening over a phone line. But anyway.)

And always — always — there was a sense of entitlement.

Ye divvint say, hinny! Where o where could poor white Americans have gotten the idea that they were entitled to anything? I mean, it isn’t like a major political party blared the message “If you’re white, you’re all right” for several decades.

It certainly isn’t the case that poor white people have received a steady stream of assurances that everything wrong with their lives was the fault of a poor black woman who lives in an urban area, possibly in another state, who also drives a large American car, a few young black men who eat beef, and faceless hordes of effete liberal elitists (totally different than the rugged conservative elitists) who are planning to confiscate poor white Americans’ guns, turn their churches into gay wedding chapels and put abortion clinics in the baptismal tank and teach first graders to put condoms on Jihadists. BUT, if they just vote for Smilin’ Sam, the Much Married Tea Room Traveling Republican Real American, he’ll fix everything by fixing THEM real good.

Yes, it truly is a mystery how poor white Americans could have gotten the idea that since the people who told them “Hey folks I’m just plain folks, just like you,” get paid to sit around doing nothing much, interspersed with behavior that is at odds with the whole moral purity message, that this is what just plain folks do. Can’t these people take a joke??

Of course they can, French suddenly decides. It must be some other outside force making them gobble oxy while screwing their neighbors.

And that’s where disability or other government programs kicked in. They were there, beckoning, giving men and women alternatives to gainful employment.

So … when poor white people succumb to the siren calls of booze, narcotics and thy neighbor’s spouse it’s their fault. But when they leap into the arms of Lady Disability Program, it’s her fault. (And they really do leap. They’re perfectly healthy! French knows those x-rays and MRIs of herniated discs and fractured vertebrae are all faked!! Repetitive motion injuries are a liberal lie!!!)

You don’t have to do any work (your disability lawyer does all the heavy lifting), you make money, and you get drugs.

Green Acres is the place for me!

At our local regional hospital, it’s become a bitter joke the extent to which the community is hooked on “Xanatab” — the Xanax and Lortab prescriptions that lead to drug dependence.

I’m not sure how French knows what they joke about at the local regional hospital, but it would be irresponsible for me to speculate he puts on a white coat, throws a stethoscope around his neck and sneaks in there to play doctor. Neither would I expect French to be aware that the opioid addiction crisis he’s vaporing about was brought to us by a pharmaceutical company, and I certainly would never in a billion years expect French to point his quivering digit of blame at a corporation.

Speaking of the finger, it seems to be pointing back towards blaming the poor for their fate … no …

Oh fuck it. Call it French’s Quasi-Deterministic Theory of Personal Responsibility. People are responsible for their fates unless the government program in the box is still alive.

Of course we should have compassion even as we call on people to do better. I have compassion for kids who often see the worst behavior modeled at home.

In French’s thesaurus, compassion is a synonym for contempt.

I have compassion for families facing economic uncertainty. But compassion can’t excuse or enable self-destructive moral failures.

Nor does a focus on personal responsibility mean that the government or cultural elite are blameless. Far from it, and I’ve written at length about the role of progressive culture and progressive policies in cultural decline.


Williamson and now French’s pieces aren’t completely original, but the change in timing and target makes them surprising.

Traditionally the neo-con rage/passive-aggressive tutting about people who vote for the Wrong Person occurs in the winter, after the GOP has been pantsed in an election.

Once the unintelligentsia establish that the GOP is perfect, and Minority Voter X ought to vote Republican (insert blather about shared values that doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny, but do not hold your breath waiting for anyone to connect the dots between racist airhorning and lack of GOP success with non-whites), it must be the case that the damned darkies are too dependent on food and shelter.

While it is so far only two people at one rag, and I know that the conservative elite are disdainful of poor whites I admit that seeing them use the same rhetoric about poor whites is as unexpected as a visit from Cardinal Ximenez.

Just as the rise of the Tea Party within the GOP was inevitable, so was something Trumplike, but so long The Base kept people with an R after their names were in charge, I thought all would be well with the scribbling class.

And what about pissing off the liberals? I assumed that any personal distaste a neocon lackey might have about Trump’s less subtle forms of demagoguery would have been evaporated once anyone called Trump a fascist. Clearly, j’ai eu tort.

Maybe anti-base sentiment won’t spread beyond these two. It’s hard to see how it could, especially since one party also goes out of its way to encourage its voters to buy guns to go with their guns. But maybe this is the year of taking turns to shout the quiet parts into the nearest mic.

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  • Roberta

    Of course this is completely predictable. In a way, the Republican Party is returning to the very roots of conservatism, in picking on people in a nakedly classist way, instead of using racist dog-whistles as their rallying cry and trying to hide their classism.

    I’m curious, though, does French make any effort to show there even is any gainful employment available for most people in his town?

    • ironic irony

      No, because that would undermine his entire argument. Everyone who has two brain cells to rub together to create a coherent thought knows that there are few jobs in Appalachia.

      But people like French don’t care. His ass can go DIAF.

      • Thirtyish

        Everything–everything–in his mental schema of the world can be reduced to what he so inartfully terms “moral failures” (or, conversely, “successes”), and furthermore what means exactly is determined by him, you see. It’s not ultimately situations, locations, broader economic or political forces that are rotten or not working, it’s people who are “bad” (how he defines that) and who thus deserve their lot in life.

        • ironic irony

          Thus the need for More Jesus(TM). /s

    • DAS

      Just how much effort has French ever had to expend in finding a job? I don’t mean how much work he did to get good grades, do well in law school, etc. How much effort has French put into finding a private sector job? Seems to me that with his Harvard law degree, government job (military attorney) and wingnut welfare, he’s never had to worry about where his next paycheck’s coming from or where he’ll find a job

    • Bill Murray

      I’m curious, though, does French make any effort to show there even is any gainful employment available for most people in his town?

      if they were better people, jobs would move there

    • This is a good point. If this spreads I’d be interested to see what the strategy is without the base.

  • benjoya

    as Aging Punk Pedant Pro Tem, i must point out that

    Roses are red,
    Violence is too.

    is a line from the old songbook

  • Timurid

    People of color are your enemies.
    Non-Christians are your enemies.
    And, as it turns out, most white people are your enemies.

    If you’re at war with the vast majority of Americans, what does that imply about your future as a political party in a republic? Is this where you decide to just flip over the chessboard and appoint a tyrant? I’m sure the Village with its vast military might will be there to help you make that happen. Best of luck…

    • ColBatGuano

      This sort of thing used to be easier back when they could count on only whites voting and there was a decent sized middle class to divide. Now it appears these two are hoping for an election of a House of Lords to keep the proles in line.

    • Ahuitzotl

      Limit the franchise to property holders, remove senate seats from popular vote to being appointed by the states … both of these are already ideas being widely circulated

  • Funkhauser

    If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school.

    I dunno, might there be industrial pollutants released that might have an effect on this behavior, which more active government oversight might address?

    • DrDick

      The effects of massive lead and other heavy metal poisoning from the mines, along with chronic malnutrition and a lack of healthcare were generally attributed to a proclivity for incest in the past.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist
  • J. Otto Pohl

    So what is the solution? Poor rural Whites in Appalachia appear to be a consistently reoccuring problem in the US. It also appears that today’s manifestation of the problem does include the development of a number of factors like drug addiction that complicate the economic problems creating poverty among the group. Also from the point of view of the intelligentsia whether on the right like NR or the left like the advocates of vanguardism the culture and byt of this group are generally very unattractive. Not that the prejudice is justified but white right ing intellectuals like myself have a lot more in common with left wing Black African and African-American intellectuals than they do Whites in Appalachia. I interact with the former daily. I don’t think I have ever met a poor rural White person from Appalachia. I think that social fact explains a lot of the hostility.

    • trollhattan

      I see words organized into sentences and yet, not a scrap makes sense. i.e., Wut?

      • Thirtyish

        All you need to understand is that Jotto is a “right-wing intellectual.” And he lives in Ghana.

        • Schadenboner

          white right [ed: w]ing intellectuals like myself have a lot more in common with left wing Black African and African-American intellectuals than they do Whites in Appalachia

          Wait, Otto’s white? I’m so goddamn confused…

    • Just_Dropping_By

      What does “byt” stand for?

    • DrDick

      the intelligentsia whether on the right like NR

      Bwahahahahahah! That statement alone explains why all your arguments are so deranged.

      As to the rest of this incoherent drivel, you obviously would find both French and Williamson congenial company.

      • The Dark God of Time

        Some of the problems can be traced back, IMHO, to a regionalism and reactionary POV that whatever one’s fortune in life, you don’t try to better your life or leave the place because.

        It’s risible that J. Otto is blind to the implications of his reactionism when the lower classes carry them out to their logical conclusion.

    • JonH

      The new Appalachia covers much of the US.

  • T.E. Shaw

    I’ve spent time in rural Kentucky, and one of the things I learned from talking to residents is that the local governments are incredibly corrupt. Vote-buying and voter fraud are just tools of the trade (I heard some stories about drug dealers doing seasonal work with corrupt politicians to commit voter fraud by, among other things, changing the votes of senior citizens who don’t understand how to use the electronic voting machines). It really opened my eyes as to why many of those people are so distrusting of government in general and why there’s no real driving force to provide better employment and educational opportunities.

    • DrDick

      In SE Oklahoma, the state senator was also the local capo for the New Orleans mafia in the region.

      • trollhattan

        I demand this movie be made, maybe by the Coen brothers.

        • Karen24

          The Gawdpappy

          • DrDick

            To be fair, he was a lawyer from a reputable law school.

  • DAS

    They were there, beckoning, giving men and women alternatives to gainful employment.

    He writes that as if “alternatives to gainful employment” are a bad thing. If you want a flexible, elastic labor market, you need to have some slack in it. They way you get that to happen is by providing people alternatives to gainful employment so that way they can stay alive and healthy enough to work when demand for labor goes up.

    • so-in-so

      You say that as if anything but a desperate, willing to work for any scraps, labor force was desirable.

      • DAS

        I see that the upper class of capitalists has now adopted an attitude towards the people who do the work just like how the aristocrats had to their serfs.

        Four legs good, two legs better , I guess

        • so-in-so

          You make that sound like it’s something new?

          Let me introduce you to the posts of FPer Erik Loomis…

          • DrDick

            Dates back to the founding of capitalism. Read Dickens.

        • AttorneyAtPaw

          Let them eat moral fiber!

  • DrDick

    Damn! The conservatives really are letting their freak flags fly right out in the open these days. First Trump starts trumpeting the racism and xenophobia that brings in the rubes and and now French and Williamson are screeching out the hatred of the rubes so central to the Republican Party elites (and platform). I am starting to look forward to the blood soaked cannibalistic orgy that will be the GOP convention.

  • Matt

    I’m assuming they got the data to justify their “sitting around doing nothing makes you entitled, resentful, and morally vacuous” hypothesis by asking around the National Review office.

    • Anna in PDX

      Right? Obviously there is some deep-seated understanding of what a useless bunch of parasites French, Williamson et al really are, and they’re just hysterically projecting it out at everyone else they see.

  • Rob Patterson

    “Between the cracks”.

  • ChrisTS

    Just so I’m clear on this. An already addicted, barely literate, poor person with kids is supposed to fix all this by ‘renting a U Haul’?

    • N__B

      Yup. Drive to a right-to-work state, sells some of the stocks they got from a parent, start a business, vote republican, live in a gated community, and shit on their neighbor’s lawn.

      • so-in-so

        Interesting bucket list…

      • ChrisTS

        Of course. No doubt the addiction disappears on the trip, the parent leads to read by listening to MOOCs on tape, and the kids become educated and well-behaved while sitting quietly with their IPads in the back seat.

        Arrive in right to work state and walk into high-paying job with housing provided.

        It’s all so easy if one only has some moral fiber!

        • N__B

          Moral fiber is essential to properly shitting on your neighbor’s lawn.

      • Bill Murray

        you missed strapping the dog to the roof and having it poop roll down the rear window

      • ironic irony

        “….and shit on their neighbor’s lawn.”

        I’m sure you are very nice and all, but, um, I’m glad I don’t live next to you. ;-)

    • Brett

      No, although it’s a good question why the younger folks – teens over 18, people in their twenties – are still there. The usual norm worldwide these days for young folks from poor rural families is for them to go look for work in the cities, and send money back home.

      Welfare and widespread drug addiction might be inhibiting that. The value of the benefits is pretty dismal, but it doesn’t require you to leave home.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        It turns out a remarkably small amount of government benefits can keep people from moving from their traditional rodina to areas with far more economic opportunities. This was certainly the case in Soviet Central Asia. Almost no indigenous Central Asians settled outside the region during Soviet rule. But, when the USSR collapsed and the existing safety net such as it was disintegrated millions of migrant workers moved to Russia. For decades the Soviet government had attempted to lure and implore Central Asians to move to Siberia and other parts of Russia without success. Only when life at home became truly miserable did they migrate.


      • so-in-so

        Or, lack of readily available jobs in “other places” might hinder it.

        Or maybe the constant refrain about what hell-holes and “liberal elite enclaves” the urban areas are discourages people from moving to them.

        • Brett

          French lives in Tennessee. The unemployment rates in Nashville and Memphis are about 5% and 6% respectively – not fantastically low, but not high either.

          Most migrants go farther than that, too. If anyone there wants to come and work in Salt Lake City, the unemployment rate is 2.9%.

      • ChrisTS

        I think it takes some combination of imagination and courage to leave a place and people you know to go somewhere that will seem utterly foreign to you. The rural and uneducated poor are less likely to have the imagination part, I would think.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Nonsense, I have no courage or imagination and have lived on four continents in the last fifteen years.

          • so-in-so

            No, seriously, nobody without either of those qualities does that.

            Not unless the alternative is actual starvation, sometimes even then.

            Plus, did you actually just move halfway around the world in HOPE of getting a job, or did you move because a job was offered in those places? People with a HS diploma or GED or less generally aren’t in enough demand to be offered jobs from far away.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              I applied for and got the jobs first. But, I did so because there was absolutely no possiblity of me even getting an interview for a minimum wage job in the US. So I settled for sub-minimum wage jobs abroad.

              • ChrisTS

                Yes, Jotto, your experience is exactly like that of an uneducated, rural, poor person. FFS.

              • The Dark God of Time

                With an undergraduate degree and small fee, you could’ve worked for more than minimum wage as a substitute teacher and have your day’s end at 3:20 PM. Please don’t try and make us feel sorry for you and your imagined Stalinist conspiracy of the American higher education system back then.

        • Hogan

          And the ones who do probably ARE getting out.

        • JonH

          Mostly it takes money. Money to get there, money to live there while trying to find a job.

          But I think the ones with courage and imagination are the ones more likely to have left, or to have avoided the local traps and found gainful employment and education. Maybe they joined the military. They probably also had better parental support.

      • ironic irony

        This assumes two things: one, that they have the money to move (as I am about to move out of the hellhole known as Florida, even being prepared for such a thing is expensive), and two, that these young people don’t have parents/younger siblings/their own young children to support.

        We should be careful not to assume what their motivations are.

    • Don’t be so literal!

      A Ryder truck is also acceptable.

      • ChrisTS

        Oh, I didn’t know that. Well, a whole new realm of opportunities awaits!

      • N__B

        Ryder did exhort Jenny to take a ride, so the LGM link is clear.

  • MikeJake

    Charles Murray was the son of a manager at the Maytag plant in Newton, Iowa, and he grew up among the children of Maytag’s assembly line workers, working class people with solid employment. He later wrote a book wondering why the current crop of working class white people seemed to lack the gumption of those he grew up while studiously avoiding any discussion of economic trends.

    It’s always the culture war with these pricks.

    • twbb

      Of course it has to be moral fiber. By a coincidence so astronomical that you would need infinite worlds to replicate it, enormous numbers of people in the same area, during the same time period, and subject to the same economic, political, and cultural trends spontaneously lose moral fiber at the same time.

      • liberalrob

        Sounds like someone needs to invent Moral Metamucil.

        • The Dark God of Time

          Rev. Malthus was depressed that a possible solution to the population problem he identified was “vice”‘, i. e. , some form of birth control.

          • Ahuitzotl

            And I might add, his relatives & descendants have proceeded to try and realise his vision, propagating with an astonishing degree of unrestrained fertility (speaking as one of them)

            • The Dark God of Time

              One of my great grandmothers had 17 children, 16 of whom lived to have children of their own(tthe 17th became a Catholic priest). I haven’t been to a family reunion in a while, but her descendants probably number in the high three digits by now

  • Nichole

    The GOP never fails its constituents; its constituents can only fail the GOP.

  • Schadenboner

    I am amazed at the venom the GOP elites are displaying towards their base ahead of the election. I mean, seriously, can you not shut up for another 8 goddamn months?

    I mean, Trump isn’t going to win, but this “burn the base” shit is going to hand us the Senate and cut the majority in the House down to size.

    • Ahuitzotl

      so, clearly a false flag operation?

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