PHILLY FANS

Posted in Rants on January 19th, 2009 by Ed

No, this is not about the throttling that the Philadelphia Eagles endured at the hands of my beloved Cardinals and "Hail Larry" Fitzgerald. It's about a new friend of mine who is graciously enriching our lives and this website.

In the comment section of the recent thread about the murder of an unarmed, restrained 22 year old black male in custody of the BART police in San Francisco, we were all treated to the elegant pontifications of Ku Klux Kommenter calling itself "mimi." Read the comments at your leisure, as I see no purpose in recapping them here. I long ago learned the futility of debating knuckle-dragging racists who can barely stammer out an uncapitalized, poorly spelled non-sentence of sub-moronic hate.

Through the miracle of teh internets I was able to locate this modern day Byron via its IP address. Proving that there is some sort of god who loves and watches over me, said commenter is from Philadelphia. Not the city of brotherly love adult onset diabetes fans who booed Santa Claus the World Series Champion Phillies. I'm talking about Philadelphia, Mississippi. Could this have worked out more perfectly?

Philly Junior has no World Series baseball team, delicious namesake sandwiches, Ben Franklin impersonators, or Liberty Bells. The only noteworthy aspects of its decrepit, pointless existence have been to host two important events that help explain the kind of America that produces "mimi" – the infamous murder of three Civil Rights workers in 1964 (as retold in the popular film Mississippi Burning) and Ronald Reagan's 1980 masterpiece of dog whistle win-'em-over-with-racism politics, the "I believe in States' Rights" speech.

Rather than discuss the history of those events in any depth, it is more instructive to look at what has happened to Philly Junior since Reagan's visit so many years ago. A tactful contemporary description of the town notes:

As has been common for small towns across the U.S. in the last part of the twentieth century and since, the economic base of the town and surrounding area has been adversely affected by the abandonment by long-present industries that have down-sized, consolidated or moved to more financially beneficial locations.

Read: like the Rust Belt, only worse because it's in Mississippi. But wait! In free market wet dream America there are ways for economically dying communities in the middle of nowhere to save themselves. I will now pause while you place bets on whether the next thing I say involves a casino or a prison.

However, this adverse effect has been offset or even reversed by the development of an entertainment and casino center at Pearl River Resort, located on the nearby reservation of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

As we know full well what kind of "development" seedy casinos in impoverished areas bring, let us safely assume that Philly Jr has been and remains broadly representative of post-industrial towns everywhere. The jobs leave, the community descends into an uncontrolled death spiral, and people who have burned more books than they've read are desperate for salvation or, failing that, a scapegoat.

Now. I wonder who the folks of Philadelphia, Mississippi might choose to blame for their shitty lives. I wonder who they might consider responsible for the death of Republican Fantasy America from 1952, the great era that never was. I wonder if they blame Austrian School economics or multinational political agreements which have fundamentally (and unfavorably) altered the economic landscape from the perspective of the American working class.

Shit. I was wrong. It's the negroes. I thought I had two good guesses, but the problem is negroes. To quote Frisky Dingo's Mr. Ford, "And you can thank Ronald Reagan's ass for that!"

The Conservative God himself is more responsible than any politician not named "George Wallace" for the mainstreaming of, if not overt racism, race-based scapegoating. That the timing of this series of comments allows me to make this post on MLK Day, a holiday Reagan repeatedly and vigorously opposed until Congress submitted it with a veto-proof majority, is just one more example of how everything's coming up Ed on this subject. As most of the South (and certainly rural Mississippi) evenly mix dirt-poor white and dirt-poor black, Reagan put into action the famous words of the 19th Century robber baron Jay Gould: "I can hire on half of the working class to kill the other half."

The "mimis" of the world are no more than the logical end result of political discourse that is so eager to provide poor, angry, ignorant people with someone to blame for their plight. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain; your depressing shit hole of a town is so because of black people. In the Great Communicator's words, working peoples' paychecks shrunk because of "welfare queens driving Cadillacs", "strapping young bucks" buying steaks with food stamps, and the Voting Rights Act, which was "humiliating to the South."

Racism is nothing but the product of willful, proud ignorance and opinion leaders, be they on talk radio or in the White House, who actively encourage those who wear illiteracy like a badge of honor to find scapegoats rather than think about the root causes of declining prosperity. Racism didn't begin in 1980, of course, but you almost have to marvel at the skill with which the GOP turned the latent fear-of-anyone-different racism of the stupid into a comprehensive answer for the questions raised by the rapid and total socioeconomic collapse of places like Philadelphia, Mississippi.