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Friday, April 20, 2007

New Times' 'Feathered Bastard' takes on Childress

For those who don't know, Rusty Childress is one of the prime movers and shakers in the local anti-immigrant movement here. A spoiled rich kid car dealer who never had to earn anything for himself, Rusty has surrounded himself with a coterie of rich and working class admirers who, because of their mutual hatred of brown-skinned immigrants and overwhelming love of all things white and privileged, flock to his sun-tanned white skin like jocks to a truckers hat. Phoenix's own version of Larry the Cable Guy, Rusty is good at wearing the working class uniform. But, when Rusty goes home - or on vacation - it's good ol' fashioned unearned wealth and privilege. Where'd that wealth come from? From working class people, of course! And from daddy.

Perhaps most amusingly, Rusty has counted among his circle local failed politician and bad shot JT Ready, himself famous for his many bumbling mistakes, including lying about his military service and shooting at a group of Latinos for no good reason (in a case of true Arizona frontier justice, he never went to jail while his victim was briefly deported). Last I heard from him, this huggy bear racist had been booted from the position of Master of Ceremonies for the Mesa Veterans Day parade by the organizing committee when it came out that he had been dishonorably discharged, among other things. But, I miss him, in a way. We chatted once about the benefits of the AK47. He said he had used one in Iraq, which was the first clue I had that JT, an extreme right winger, was liberal with at least one thing: the truth.

Anyhow, why do so many white working class folks defend Rusty? When I discuss it with them at demonstrations or on bulletin boards, they always wind up defending him by saying that I must not like him because I hate people who work hard and get rich. Well, of course I hate rich people. But, although I am no fan of work (having to do way more than my share, it seems to me), even I can see that if someone loves people who work hard and earn their way, the last person that someone should love is Rusty. In fact, if that was case, one might be more inclined to love immigrants. But, there's one problem. Most immigrants these days aren't white (not that these Nativists would have liked them when the immigrants tended towards Irish, Jewish or Italian).

And that's the core of the problem. When Rusty's defenders say that people like Rusty work hard and get rich, what they are really saying is that they don't want to question his privilege because they perceive him as defending their privilege: white privilege. And, of course, that's just what Rusty is doing. That slight hope, bordering on delusional, that a white working class male can work hard and make it up the ladder is integral to the white self-misconception that the white male's generally better economic position comes not from centuries of unearned white privilege but rather from hard work and bootstraps and all that.

This relationship between rich and working class whites is what makes America function. This alliance, which Malcolm X called a "devil's bargain," splits the working class in half, pitting the white part against the rest of it. In effect, what the rich have done is toss a few paltry but important benefits to white people and, in exchange, they have secured their loyalty. In a sad case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" that has now spanned several centuries, rather than taking on the rich people who make everyone else's life miserable, white folks have opted to carve out a little space for themselves in exchange for agreeing to more miserable conditions for everyone else.

The problem is, these folks - the white ones - feel under attack. And they're right, to a degree. The new global economy that the capitalists are building has less and less need every day for a privileged domestic working class. More and more the 'good jobs' - which is nothing but code for white jobs - are moving overseas. The middle class, once the shining glory of white power in this country, has begun to sink into debt and low wage service jobs. With it, what few opportunities that actually did exist for white folks (albeit, more than existed for folks of color) are shrinking. The rich are reneging on their devil's bargain more and more every day. Still, trapped in the ideology of white supremacy, the white working class can only conceive of one way out, the way that has worked so many times in the past: attack immigrants and people of color. Trained to look up the ladder for help in their struggles, they cannot imagine these poor and working class folks from south of la linea as potential allies. Nevertheless, it is precisely this unlikely alliance that will be the key to the liberation of the entire working class.


But, I'm getting a bit far afield here. This week, the New Times' disgruntled blogger, 'Feathered Bastard' (Stephen Lemons), has written about our favorite racist spoiled car dealer. It's a good piece and hits on some of the most glaring hypocrisies that come from being the wealthy leader of a working class movement bent on keeping poor people down and, eventually, deporting them.

Check it out:
Rusty's World: The secret life of PHX Kia peddler and anti-Mexican A-hole Rusty Childress.

Then, after that, take a look at a piece I wrote about Rusty last year that goes into a bit more depth, including analysis.

Racist Jet-Set: Rusty Childress and the false class consciousness of the Minutemen

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Anonymous Ulrika said...

I've always said that a don't want to be rich(maybe you don't believe but most of them work hard to get their wealth)i want to be the daughter of a rich person !!! ;)

Mon May 07, 11:03:00 PM 2007  

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