Gabriel Winant at Salon on why Gordon Brown calling that woman a bigot was a big deal:
To judge Brown, it’s helpful to ask how this would play out in the U.S. Imagine if, say, Al Gore in 2000 — a figure in some ways similar to Brown — had been caught calling a retiree in Youngstown, Ohio a bigot, after she complained to him about the Mexicans filling up the neighborhood. Would this imaginary Gore have been right?
There’s not really any use saying no. It takes a certain amount of delusion to miss the racial animus in anti-immigration politics. Just have a look at this sneering and nonsensical ad from Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James, in which he complains about multilingual driver’s license exams. Or give a moment’s thought to the fact that a real candidate for office actually proposed “micro-chipping” undocumented workers. Besides, despite our disturbingly common willingness to write off Latinos and black people as not “real” members of the working class, their problems also count as the problems of working families.
At the same time though, blaming Duffy, or her hypothetical American equivalent, does sort of amount to blaming the victim. Because while the racism is real, so is the grievance. Not necessarily the particular racial hostility against Mexican immigrants — let’s not try to apologize for that. But it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why working people would resent a political order that seems thoroughly uninterested in doing anything about ever-growing levels of economic inequality.
I don’t know where I stand on this one. “While the racism is real, so is the grievance.” Meh, I don’t know. I guess the grievance is legitimate, but at the same time when this old doll is in an old folks home those Eastern Europeans and brown people she’s so worried about will be feeding her and changing her diaper.