MANSFIELD: Could Something More Sinister Be Going On?

Dorothea Lange’s iconic Depression-era photos depicted the lives of the rural poor.

“It is not enough merely to win; others must lose.” — Gore Vidal

Twenty, 30, 100 years from now, historians might look back at what Republicans are currently planning to do to already struggling Americans in terms of shredding their social safety net and rightly question: Was there something more sinister going on than merely saving money to give bigger tax breaks to the rich?

When programs such as Meals on Wheels are cut (even by small amounts), and school lunches are placed on the budgetary chopping block, members of Congress have to know that some Americans will starve; when millions more Americans lose their healthcare and have to choose between medication and food, those same lawmakers have to know the result will be more people dying.

Why are they doing this in a so-called “Land of Plenty”? Aren’t the wealthy already rich enough?

Two recent books on Americana are illuminative. They can assist us (as least to some extent) in understanding the mean-spiritedness of those on the right. First we must come to realize that the days of “compassionate conservatism” are long gone — if they ever did exist in the first place.

J.D. Vance’s noteworthy memoir Hillbilly Elegy sheds light on the plight of the white underclass, and Nancy Isenberg’s definitive White Trash: The 400 Year History of Class in America brilliantly explains how whites in this country came to be known by such a derogatory name as “trash.”

From squatters, crackers, rednecks, hillbillies, sandhillers, mudsills, clay eaters and offscourings (which, to my mind, was the worse epithet since it literally means pieces of shit), poor whites were in many ways more despised by the majority culture than blacks. Slaves at least did have some value, while “po’ white trash” was merely an embarrassment, a canker on the body politic. Once their indentured servitude was completed they became throwaway people, and that’s exactly what their former masters did: Attempt to throw them away, down a rabbit hole of abject poverty.

To better off Americans — which meant landowners, after all, this was all about who owed land and who didn’t — these dregs of society were not thought of primarily as English, Irish or Scottish; they were, above all else, thought of as useless vermin. And you eradicate vermin.

And just as we know that racism is still alive and well in this country (albeit often under other guises), so too is the vitriolic hatred of poor whites by the majority culture, something that has been stewing and brewing since the beginning of the Republic.

Therefore it’s all too easy for the Trump administration to promulgate policies that primarily do damage to these two lumped-together and despised populations: Blacks and poor whites.

Armed with the knowledge (gleaned from census statistics) that in a few decades whites will be in the numerical minority in America, why not institute rules that will limit the growth of — and in some cases kill off — the perceived “enemy”? If some whites also die in the process, chalk it up to “casualties of war.” And if you don’t realize that conservatives see this as a war, then you are a complete naïf.

I realize that to suggest that some form of soft genocide might be at play in the minds of Republicans is too preposterous for some to contemplate. But we do know for a fact that conservatives will bend all of the rules to keep down the number of individuals who might vote for progressive candidates; they’ll do anything to limit the franchise, and thus keep control of the country. So what’s to say they won’t go a step further and limit the number of individuals who are alive to vote against them?

Indeed, if my summations are so wrong, are so off base, then you give me another rational reason why one group of Americans are doing such diabolical things to another.

You really can’t, can you?


From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at




Post categories:

3 Responses to “MANSFIELD: Could Something More Sinister Be Going On?”

  1. Freddie cook

    Sure I can. Whites have always been class conscious even when race is not involved. People of color just added a leve of untouchables.

  2. Jameel R Rashad

    Very relevant assumption. I’m currently reading the book “War against the weak ” by Edwin Black. And after reading “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joyce DeGruy. I tend to have a clear understanding of how and why this Republican agenda is heading.

  3. Bill R.

    I completely agree with your assessment which is why the voting patterns of rural America especially rural Southern America completely confuse me because they stay solidly Republican. Republicans have been pro corporate welfare and anti individual welfare for as long as I can remember so it boggles my mind as to why individuals who aren’t rich vote Republican.

    Eastern Kentucky has the highest density of poor whites yet they predominantly vote Republican even though Republicans have done nothing to help them. Just look at Mitch McConnell, a powerful republican senator and he has done nothing for Kentucky but made it poorer. Almost 25% of the state is on public assistance and Republicans hate public assistance. I don’t get it.

Leave a Reply