In response to an FT article by Gillian Tett on 27th January 2017, entitled ‘All American – and much more besides’
Note: This is a interesting article by Gillian Tett, which is worth a full read:
“Earlier this week, I was sitting in a New York cab when I spotted a striking new ad from Walmart. For once, it was not promoting cut-price consumer goods. Instead, the retailer was noisily proclaiming that it employs “American workers” — and that it plans to hire 10,000 more at the end of this year.
To be fair, this is not an entirely new message; Walmart actually announced these plans last year. But with Donald Trump installed in the White House, the company is now banging that American drum more forcefully than before. “With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs,” Dan Bartlett, a Walmart spokesman, explained in a recent press release.
And Walmart is not alone. In recent weeks a wave of other companies, such as Amazon, IBM and Ford, have also been trumpeting their enthusiasm for “American” workers while manufacturers and retailers have been slapping prominent “made in America” tags on to their goods…
What should we make of this? If you listen to Trump supporters, it simply reflects a long-overdue wave of patriotism that, the new president believes, will not only create jobs but should also foster national pride and a sense of community.
If you listen to critics of Trump, however, the message smacks of protectionism and ugly nationalism. Some think that company executives are selling out by posting those “made in America” signs. “It’s craven — they’re collaborators!” muttered one former colleague of Barack Obama in Davos last week” – Gillian Tett
You're a tease Ms Tett...I wonder which former colleague of Barack Obama accused business people of being collaborators? My money's on Harvard Professor of Hubris, and Teflon coated ex-policymaker, Larry Summers...who gave us the politically correct version of that nonsense just the other day.
On your main point about the messiness of identity:
1. I understand why people who are ignored by the hypocrites who claim to represent them, increasingly identify with 'people like me' because as you suggest, it strengthens their sense of ‘community’ and 'belonging'; moreover it provides them with an answer to two of the most fundamental human questions - ‘who am I?’ and ‘why is this happening to me?'
2. You are right - we construct our own boundaries, and identity is very 'messy'…we are far more than just one thing or idea…which is why the whole notion of 'identity politics', whether from the left or the right, does not address the fundamental issues; moreover it leads almost inevitably to 'pandering' and 'victimhood' of one form or another.
3. It is not simply the ugliness of nationalism on the right that needs to be guarded against; the identity politics of the left is equally ugly when it brands Trump supporters as ‘deplorables’ – i.e. racist, misogynistic, homophobic, gun toting nut-jobs. I’m sure there are a few misogynistic, gun toting nutjobs on the right…as indeed I’m sure there are a few cry-bully, whinging snowflakes on the left…but take that game to extremis and you get left with just two categories – winners and losers. Until the Democrats have a real look at why they lost their traditional constituency of the white working class…rather than demonising those very people, they risk falling into increasingly bitter and twisted disarray.
Many thanks to my old friend Jane for sending me the following article by Brendan O’Neill, which reflects on the impact of President Obama’s eight years in the White House. The article is entitled “Obama is not your ‘magical negro’”. The phrase ‘magical negro’ is a trope in modern American literature and cinema popularised by Spike Lee in 2001...i.e. the article is not a racist diatribe. It occurs to me however, that the fact that I feel compelled to tell you that is an indication of the toxicity of the environment we are in right now…or my paranoia…probably both. Anyway, it’s a thought provoking piece which I hope you'll enjoy.