Syncronicity. I was recently involved in a altercation in a comment thread at Respectful Insolence. This was the same day that I narrowly managed to keep a roof over my family's heads. To say that I over-reacted, would be putting it mildly. A commenter there, made a rather innocuous reference to persons of the lower-socioeconomic-class, which is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine. I got rather angrier than was remotely warranted and lashed out with assumptions about the commenter, based only on that reference and similar language.
I am also currently watching the series Babylon 5, on DVD, in the middle of season three. At this point in the series, the earth alliance president has been assassinated by his vice president. In an effort to consolidate power, the new president has been making end runs around the constitution. One of those end runs, is the appointment of political officers to military and military run outposts, including the space station Babylon 5. In episode eight, the commander of Babylon 5, is asking the political officer about the claims she is making about the supposed utopia that earth has become. He asks about various social ills and she claims they no longer exist, by giving them new names. The homeless and impoverished, are merely the voluntarily dispossessed, who have chosen to live as they do – for of course there are plenty of jobs for all.
This is a pervasive mentality, even outside of moderately bad science fiction television. It is not a right/left dichotomy, rather, it is a social phenomena. It is a method by which we can make ourselves feel better about negative aspects of our society, that we have given up hope of solving or dealing with. It allows us feel better about very bad decisions we make. Make it sound pretty, make it sound romantic, make it go away. Allow us to sit in our comfortable little lives, blissfully unaware of the nasty bits of reality all around us, able to ignore our crimes – for a little longer. All we ever seem to look for, is a little more time for a little more ignorant bliss.
The poor, living in soul sucking poverty, become the lower-socioeconomic-class. Criminals are simply the maladjusted, misunderstood. Xenophobic prison compounds, became internment camps. Mass sterilization programs, well, we just try to avoid talking about that. Illegal spying on American citizens, becomes the terrorist surveillance program. The dismantling of our constitution and stripping away of our civil liberties, becomes a “temporary necessity” for our security. Pretty words to make the poison palatable. Unfortunately, the problems are still there when the whitewash is stripped away, festering like a septic wound.
I will continue with some of the direct results that this whitewashing can have, after I get some sleep. I will focus on the “lower-socioeconomic-class” and the “terrorist surveillance program.” The world has always been a frightening place, but today, we live in interesting times.