Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Racists, Classists At Mother Jones

Meet Bill Duane, who epitomizes what happens when your belief systems hinge on relativity. He is also the quintessential NIMBY, a guy I run into in some permutation or another, with every development project I work to get approved.

Duane is a Marin County liberal (how redundant is that?) who lives in a $1 million bungalow and has given his time to liberal causes, including Habitat Humanity ... that is, until the poor dared to come into his neighborhood, that is.

What's particularly delightful about the portrait of Duane I read today is where I found it: Not in a conservative magazine or a building industry magazine, neither one of which would have bugged Duane, but in Mother Jones.

What a horror! A bitter, unflattering profile in one of the most prominent liberal journalis in America. How bitter?
Bill Duane knows most people can't afford homes like his $1 million bungalow on a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. That's why the Marin County attorney volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Until recently, that is, when the group announced plans to build two affordable duplexes just down the street from him. "Habitat usually goes into a blighted neighborhood and enhances it," Duane says. "Here, they are coming into an enhanced neighborhood and blighting it." ...

Duane and I climbed into his Mercedes station wagon and drove to the project site, a hillside of chaparral and grass. He'd promised me it would be obvious that congestion was already bad. A lone Toyota Prius with a "Save Tibet" sticker silently cruised by. "Usually this whole area is packed with cars," he insisted. And if I researched the matter, he hinted, I might learn that the endangered Tiburon mariposa lily grows here (naturalists doubt it), and that an Indian burial spear discovered nearby might have belonged to the county's namesake, Chief Marin (a Marin anthropologist says Duane is "reporting things that are not there"). Duane next raised an environmental justice concern: Placing the affordable housing in the shadow of million-dollar homes fosters "a slave kind of mentality."
Let's put this another way: Duane the liberal is covering racism and classism with phony liberal covers -- the environment, Native American culture, and made-up concern for the mental state of the poor. None of it is true, but that doesn't matter to someone with ungrounded morality -- it makes him comfortable with a position that should be inherently counter to his core beliefs.

I see this all the time. Young activists who have never given a thought to having to ride an ambulance to a hospital are suddenly concerned that a new development will cause longer emergency response times. Moms fight projects because new students will cause school overcrowding, even though their kids go to private school.

What's most interesting about this article isn't the article itself, but how conservative some of the comments are, and how straightforwardly racist and classist the liberal Mother Jones readers are in the comments to the article. Sure, there are plenty of commenters who vilify Duane with typically nasty liberal-rant, but comments like these were a surprise:
  • When did it become "required" that people get to live wherever they want without making the sacrafices or progress necessary to get there?

  • The truth is that middle/upper-middle class people don't want the poor, minorities, immigrants, or uneducated (read that "white trash") living near them because of the damage these groups cause. Let's be honest, these groups move into a neighborhood and, inevitably, they destroy the property and drive up crime (vandalism, drug dealing, gangs, etc.). They have no respect for themselves, much less anyone/anything else.

  • I have worked hard all my life to live AWAY from people who require low-cost housing.

  • Delayed gratification has been replaced by the "I want; therefore, I am entitled to have - NOW!" mentality. Why, as I am paying for my home, should I also have to subsidize the "below market" home of my neighbor?

  • Anyone who disagrees must have a racist, bigoted cause and, because they do not agree, are obviously stupid. ... Expecting people to actually work, save and sacrifice for what they want does, in your estimation I guess, make me a racist, bigoted, elitist bonehead.

  • I simply don't give a inch to project housing. I live next to it. It's all trash and they're still trash. Say the word "project housing", I'll roll over the floor, point at you, and laugh! It never works and it'll doom to failure and more failure. It's not about bigotry, try living next to it and you tell me what you think. Try living in a mobile home park and tell me what's it like. Been there done that, all trash!
How can readers of Mother Earth, a magazine that rages against the machine and glorifies the causes of the Left, be comfortable espousing thoughts like these?

It's simple. Liberalism is the ultimately flexible belief system. Just march in the next anti-war rally, vote for the pro-gay marriage candidate and be in the opening night crowd for the next Michael Moore movie, and be reconciled.

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