Otherizing (or Attention Wal-Mart shoppers)

September 13, 2007

Jamie, over at Imbd, is taking some shit for using the term “white trash” in referring to the alleged perpetrators in this sickening story.  

In his own defense, Jamie goes out of his way to make clear his point:

I do not contend that these people committed these acts because they were poor, or white, or “hillbillies,” or any other reason that I have not explicitly stated. Regular readers will know that I am myself quite the “hick” at heart, and I come from modest means.

HOWEVER–I do believe that the very commission of this torture and inhumane treatment of a disabled woman is proof enough that these. . . people–and I use the word people lightly–are white trash. They didn’t do it because they’re poor white trash. They’re poor white trash because they did it.

Jamie has a good heart but I wonder why he even bothered defending himself. Take a look at the people he called white trash:

white-trash.jpg

Hello?  

Jamie’s detractor accused him (and others) of “otherizing” (eww, I hate made up words):

Do white people find it so problematic that a fellow white person would commit such a horrific crime that they have to otherize them? “Oh, it’s because they’re hillbillies/from the South/white trash/Catholic/one of those mafioso Italians/etc.”

Violent criminals who are white obviously must not be white enough, or they wouldn’t be criminals, is that how the theory goes? Or would admitting that American culture — not “hillbilly” culture, not “white trash” culture, not African-American culture, not Mexican-American culture, but plain old apple-pie American culture — is a culture of crime*, and not just non-white culture, destroy the careful lie our society uses to explain why there are so many people of color in prison and in poverty?

Ugh. My answer: No, when white trash people commit crimes, there is nothing wrong with pointing out that they are white trash .

And this:

If this had happened in San Francisco or Manhattan, would they still be poor white trash?

If they looked like the people in those mugshots, I would have to emphatically say yes.

(for the record, I shop at Wal-Mart)

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3 Responses to “Otherizing (or Attention Wal-Mart shoppers)”

  1. QuakerJono Says:

    Vox lost me at “no offense”. One of the most chicken-shit phrases in the English language.

    Offend or don’t, but at least have the courage to embrace the reaction to your opinion if you’re going to offer it.

  2. Jamie Says:

    It’s funny–when I go out of my way to say offensive shit no one even leaves a comment. But when I make what I think is a justified critique–WHAM, down comes the hammer!

  3. John in IL Says:

    I just thought the whole thing was stupid. Getting upset over someone calling white trash degenerates “white trash”? With all the garbage on the internet, there surely has to be something else more worthy of getting your panties in such a twist over.


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