Thursday, March 17, 2016


The young man who grew up across the street moved back in a few years ago.  Those kids grew up without a lot of supervision or discipline, but I don’t know that they got into much trouble.  Their teeth were bad, their clothes not well-repaired.  One of the four went to college, though I don’t know if she finished.  This youngest one, now 39, is fixing the place up some, but it’s still rather an eyesore. He has a wife,  one of them has children that visit on weekends.  He leaves early for work as his father always did, gets back late. I like him, but we never had much in common with any of them, so even now we only chat a bit in the street when our schedules cross.

A woman I work with does a fair bit of overtime at one of our worse-paying jobs.  Her husband works, but he has some sort of hip problem – he limps in with a cane sometimes – and is in some pain so doesn’t work overtime himself.  They look to be in their early 50’s. She is cheerful, and likes to post humorous things about coffee, weight loss, and nostalgic “Do You Remember?” things on Facebook. She posts occasional humorous conservative things as well, sometimes a bit mean in their insultingness about liberals, but always humor, never rageful declarations. She is very kind with the patients.

Another woman on the job learned a decade ago that I am a Christian, and so has pulled me aside to tell me about her church, and teaching videos she watches, and how sad it is where this country is going.  She keeps it secret, fearing criticism from the largely-liberal, largely nonreligious workforce here.  I tend to think she overrates the danger, but a stray comment by a friend suggests she is easily hurt by criticism, so she turtles down. She loved Sarah Palin, BTW.  She also works hard at a low-paying job, and is notably kind to patients on the geriatric unit.

I know a young woman who formerly used drugs, but has been sober for about seven years now.  She has a little boy – no help from the father, who is long gone. She works two part-time jobs, which is sometimes a schedule juggle. Her felony record (one, drug offense) renders her ineligible for Section 8 and makes it harder to get jobs, I expect, though her appearance is against her there as well.  She does not speak well – instantly obvious lower-class upbringing. Her mother helps out watching the boy some of the time.

None of these four are stupid, but I estimate they would score a little below average on cognitive tests. We used to call them working-class, salt-of-the-earth. They plug away at life, doing their bit.  They don’t have much influence, no one much listens to them outside their own homes, I suspect. Their lives are not terrible, but when we talk about The Marginalised, I think they fit. 

There is a set of Christians who like to talk about the marginalized, that Jesus cared about the marginalized, and we should care about them too.  The implication being, of course, that they care about them just fine, but I should pay more attention to them. This gets trotted out at Christmas, and as commentary on many of the currently fashionable crises.  Some folks -  not all - seem quite willing to excuse a lot of bad behavior in the marginalized.  It’s pretty easy to recognize the type of earnest Christian who keeps pointing us back to the M’s. You can tell from the headline, or even the little photo in the box.  They often learned to see the world this way at school, especially denominational colleges and seminaries.  I know exactly which people on my FB feed are going to go there, and the folks they link to are much like them. They seem to be talking about a different marginalized group, but if one tries to describe the difference it quickly gets messy.

That set of Christians isn’t talking about the marginalized at present. I haven’t seen The M’s mentioned since December 25th, actually. They are writing, posting, and linking to stories about Trump.  Not even so much Trump, but Trump supporters, and how worried they are that there are so many of these dangerous people around. And yes, some of these nice Christians aren’t afraid to make the Hitler comparison.

My four examples above are the Trump supporters I know personally*. I haven’t asked any of them why they support Trump. The Rand survey reveals that the biggest indicator of Trump support is “people like me don’t have any say.” I can believe that.  I also think I understand their defensive posture as well. “Every bad thing you say about us is true of other groups as well, but you don’t mention that.”  Which is entirely true.
*I know one other who is young and not much like this group. Then a whole separate subgroup I may mention if needed.


lelia said...

Interesting. I personally know of only one Trump supporter couple and they're nice people. I've also thought them illogical, emotional, and not all that bright. Still, they've worked hard to bless the people around them and serve God. I don't talk about Trump around them because I'm liable to become emotional and illogical on the topic.

I was surprised at the rage with which I exploded at a meme a friend posted on FB which showed the lovely family of Obama which pointed out that the children weren't drunks or involved in scandal etc, and then grandly announced that most white Christians hated that family because of the color of their skin. So I posted back to that white Christian that I didn't like Obama for (list) and I had adopted two black children and I was OFFENDED and she was better than that and . . . She posted back the meme was hyperbole and she didn't mean me etc. And she apologized to me and all her dear Republican friends and stated she would post only pictures of cute dogs from now on. And then I apologized. We're friends again.

Perhaps I shouldn't have self-identified as a most white Christian, but I did at that moment. I spent a long time analyzing why I had exploded so shamefully when I've tried to be careful on FB and have let much more outrageous stuff flow by without comment by others. I decided it came down to two things. One: I like and admire her and I want her to like and admire me. The insult seemed to indicate she found me despicable. Two: last straw syndrome. It seems like I am insulted day after day for not only having the wrong political opinion, but also for being nefarious for having said wrong political opinions. It isn't that I have the wrong idea about how the poor are to be fed and housed, it's that I'm eeeevil and want poor children to starve to death.

Maybe I do understand a little bit the rage of years of belittlement and derision have provoked in Trump supporters. I don't want to understand the rage that would provoke people into following a malignant narcissist, but I'm afraid the sickness can manifest itself in me as well. Sigh. . .

RichardJohnson said...

There is a set of Christians who like to talk about the marginalized, that Jesus cared about the marginalized, and we should care about them too. The implication being, of course, that they care about them just fine, but I should pay more attention to them.

I haven't been exposed to that set of Christians who talk about the marginalized. From my perusing of the Internet, I get the impression that discussing the "marginalized" in terms similar to your above comment is done a lot at elite private schools- often with the suggestion that the person speaking is marginalized and thus has viewpoints that should be treated with reverence.

It seems to me a bit of an oxymoron to attend an elite private school and simultaneously consider yourself marginalized. After all, at such institutions, it is not uncommon to marginalize 90% of those seeking admission by not admitting them.

Sam L. said...

Lelia's last straw broke her camel back. It isn't and wasn't her fault, though she accepts that it is, at bottom, her responsibility.

SJ said...

In my limited experience, most people who like Trump have been screwed by The System in one way or another.

Whether they're Marginalized or not, they feel like they've done all the right things. And The System messed them up. (Sometimes that's an accurate statement, sometimes not. But it's the attitude that they carry.)