Ed Driscoll.com Ed Driscoll.com
Why Is "White Trash" An Acceptable Phrase In PC America?
By Ed Driscoll · June 30, 2005 05:23 PM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

When I was Googling for articles on Brian Williams, I came across this piece from the April 2005 Philadelphia magazine, a slick, glossy magazine whose advertising (and there's lots of it) and articles serve as a guide to shopping and dining in the City of Brotherly Love. Here's its opening paragraph:

Arby's! NASCAR! South Jersey! It's a white-trash bonanza this month as we chat with anchorman Brian Williams, who covered the Garden State for WCAU-TV (Channel 10) in the '80s before going network and succeeding Tom Brokaw in the NBC Nightly News chair.
If I wrote a piece that began "Ribs! Rap music! It's a black-trash bonanza this month...", whoever my editor was would strike out that phrase so fast it would make your head spin--and either give me a serious dressing down or never hire me again.

And quite rightly so.

But as Larry Elder wrote in 2000, "white trash" remains a perfectly acceptable phrase in America's PC-obsessed media:

We live in an era where radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger catches fire for calling homosexuals "biological errors."

Schlessinger apologized, but protesters remain unappeased. On the NBC program "Will & Grace," critics attacked the show when a character referred to her Salvadoran maid as a "hot tamale." In response, the network dubbed in a less offensive expression. We call illegal aliens "undocumented workers." We call blacks "African-Americans." Fine.

But why, then, is it perfectly OK in polite company to call to low-income, often southern-dwelling people "white trash"?

Take the President Bill Clinton-Paula Jones scandal. Is there a greater example of the harsh treatment and media pile-on against so-called "white trash"? Recall that Jones, then an Arkansas state employee, claimed then governor Bill Clinton groped her and solicited sex.

* * *

As for Jones? Remember Clinton defender James Carville's famous line, "Drag $100 through a trailer park and there's no telling what you'll find."

In today's era of racial sensitivity, safe targets like white trash remain. Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown once called political opponents "white boys." Al Gore's campaign manager, Donna Brazile, referred to the GOP as the "party of the white boys."

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy makes a good living by poking fun at "rednecks."

But Foxworthy, himself a Southerner, calls his humor respectfully self-deprecating, rather than insulting or dismissive. But apparently anybody can ridicule low-income, uneducated whites by branding them "white trash." Could someone like Bill Maher go on national television and suggest that only "black trash" or "Latino trash" appear on such programs?

What's the point? When a guest or host appears on a show like "Politically Incorrect" and derides a category of people by race, that's entertainment.

But were the host to blanketly ridicule low-income minorities, that's hate speech. Indeed, many colleges have passed "speech codes," outlawing insensitive or demeaning language directed towards racial or ethnic groups.

Try it. Substitute "black trash" for "white trash." After all, a disproportionate number of blacks appear on these tabloid shows. Frankly, by not calling black guests "black trash," aren't we suggesting blacks who appear on "Springer" represent mainstream black America? Now that's insulting.

Picking on, demeaning, and ridiculing whites is OK. But by demeaning any group by race, we open the door and grant permission to demean others.

Bottom line, either race-based insults are offensive or they're not.

Pick one.

The irony in Philadelphia's case is that the magazine makes a great deal of its revenue--both from advertising and from purchases of individual issues--from South Jersey suburban readers looking for a guide to the big city on the other side of the Delaware.

I purchased it for years when I lived in South Jersey myself. Of course back then, I had no idea how condescending its publishers were to those of us unfortunates in the hinterlands.



Since 2002, News, Technology and Pop Culture, 24 Hours a Day, Live and in Stereo!

(And every Saturday on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.)

What They're Saying

"Good Stuff"--Lucianne Goldberg


Navigation
Weblog
Ed TV
Podcasts
Twitter Feed
Articles
Essays
Interviews
Links
About Me
FAQ
Photos

Home

Support the Site

Search

Archives
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002

Etcetera


Bookmark Me!

Blogroll Me!

Steal This Button!

Syndicate this site (XML)
Podcasts Feed

AddThis Feed Button

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

youtube_logo.gif

Our Podcasts' Apple iTunes Page

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35

Site design by
Sekimori

tumblr site counter
Copyright © 2002-2008 Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. All Rights Reserved