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Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University

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Reflections

Hidden Injuries of Classism

by Ralph R. Reiland
 

Twenty years before Donald Trump earthquaked the political system, Jim Goad's "The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies, Hicks, and White Trash Became America's Scapegoats" was published by Simon Shuster.

Goad is currently out of jail and a contributing writer at Taki's Magazine, an online conservative magazine published by journalist, socialite and Greek shipping heir Taki Theodoracopulos.

Google Books, recapping "The Redneck Manifesto," ran a description of how Goad takes a battering ram to popular culture and conventional conceptions: "Culture maverick Jim Goad presents a thoroughly reasoned, darkly funny, rampaging and angry defense of America's most maligned social group --- the cultural clan variously referred to as rednecks, hillbillies, white trash, crackers, and trailer trash. As 'The Redneck Manifesto' boldly points out and brilliantly demonstrates, America's dirty little secret isn't racism but classism."

More succinctly, Goad delivers a bare-knuckle defense of working-class white culture.

Goad "takes on a great theme: America's white underclass do not fail because of individual character defects; they have been handed socio-economic straitjackets at birth," writes Charles Dickinson at Electica Book Reviews. "The thread Goad follows is socio-economic oppression: The Haves keeping the Have-nots in want. With engagingly satiric style, he shows how 'white cash' has always pitted 'white trash' against blacks with a divide-and-conquer ploy. The message is clear: If the Balkanization of our society and our growing multicultural wars are to end, then first rooting out the classism among whites is a necessary step."

James Carville, for instance, liberal American political consultant and lead strategist in Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign, demonstrated with his class-oriented attack on Paula Jones how the Clintons would treat women who charged Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. "If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park," he declared, "you never know what you'll find."

Paula Jones "wasn't fancy or rich, just a working woman sexually harassed by Bill when he was governor of Arkansas," wrote Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. "But she was denigrated by Clinton's top advisers as 'trailer park' trash, as someone so craven she'd crawl on dirt for the cash to slander Bill."

Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, wrote in her recent The New York Times article, "The Dumb Politics of Elite Condescension," May 28, that Democrats, to win in 2018 and 2020, must "specifically address the working class revolt against global elites, because in four years the Electoral College will again give outsize power to the whites in Rust Belt states who delivered the last election to Mr. Trump." Mrs. Clinton was trounced by Trump by a 39-point margin among whites without a college degree.

Williams contended that a commitment to social equality should be "not just for some groups, but all groups," and that means attending to the "hidden injuries of class."

As an illustration of those hidden injuries, Williams cited "a recent study, in which sociologists Lauren Rivera and Andras Tilcsik sent 316 law firms resumes with identical and impressive work and academic credentials, but different clues about social class. The study found that men who listed hobbies like sailing and listening to classical music had a callback rate 12 times higher than those who signaled working-class origins, by mentioning country music, for example."

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Ralph R. Reiland is Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, the co-owner of Amel's Restaurant, and a weekly columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-

Review. His email: rrreiland@aol.com