Posts Tagged ‘Chris Arnade’

Vaccine resistance is an identity movement

November 18, 2021

Chris Arnade is a former Wall Street bond trader who has spent the past 10 years of his life photographing and talking to poor and working-class Americans.

Click to enlarge.

His latest article is about why so many Americans over 50 refuse to get vaccinated, and why some regard not getting vaccinated as a badge of honor.

For one thing, he said, they don’t regard risk in the same way that college-educated, professional class people do. They aren’t the ones who work at home to be safe from the coronavirus. They are the ones who make package deliveries to the ones who work at home.

A number of the people to whom Arnade talked regard the pandemic as just one of life’s many risks, along with accidents, overdoses, firings, bankruptcies, felony gun charges, addictions and so on, which you deal with as they happen.

They don’t trust the government, they don’t trust the politicians, they don’t trust the drug companies and the health insurance companies, all with good reason.  By and large, they thinking voting is a waste of time.  And they very much resent being talked down to by out-of-touch elites.

Being unvaccinated is… …a badge of honor, a club membership card, among people who have never trusted authority, and see being unvaccinated as a way to take control of the situation.

A way to stick it to the upright scolds who have been telling me what to do all the time and are always fucking things up.  [snip]

That people have decided to turn not being vaccinated, a damn reckless position for someone over 50 to have, into an identity, shows how desperate people are to join a club.

To find a place that accepts them.  Come on in.  Join us.  The losers everybody hates.  The dumb, the dropouts.  The people with bad taste.  The people who make bad decisions.  Own your loser-dom.  Make one more stupid decision.  Come on!

No doubt these are very sweeping generalizations, and no doubt have many exceptions.  Anti-vaxxers include people in different walks of life.  But Arnade is not making things up.  His writing is based on his reporting.

He said the only way to reach the people he’s writing about is to find key people in communities, and talk them at the bowling alley or church or bar, and talk to them individually.

Sit them down, talk them through it, without scolding, without scorn, without talking down.  Refute the rumors, one by one.  No, Miss Betsy’s stroke had nothing to do with the vaccine, and her sister didn’t have a stroke.

But he said there’s a core group that is unreachable.  His guess is that it is 15 to 30 percent of the population.  Opposition to vaccination is the hill that they have chosen, so to speak, to die on.

The vaccine resistance movement is not limited to the USA.  Protests are worldwide, and probably reflect the same attitudes.


Pro-family vs. anti-family conservatives

October 18, 2018

The conservative blogger Rod Dreher put up an interesting post this morning quoting an evangelical Christian man who says he and his wife can’t afford to have children because of corporate business practices and neoliberal economic policies supported by both Republicans and Democrats.

He and his wife are both employed in STEM fields and earn six-figure incomes, but their employers constantly remind them that they can be replaced at any time by immigrants from India willing to work at one-third their salaries.  Losing a job would mean losing health insurance, which might mean bankruptcy.

A cousin actually went bankrupt because his newborn had a rare disease, and his insurance company decided that the medical staff on duty that day were not in its network, even though the hospital itself was in-network.  Then there is the cost of education, which can bankrupt even an affluent family.

The most interesting part was his contrast of European and American conservatives.

Europe’s conservatives actually are pro-family there and support pro-natalist policies. The US media as usual is embarrassingly confused about populists like Matteo Salvini, Victor Orban, the AfD in Germany, the NF in France, Vox in Spain, the Sweden Democrats and the conservatives in Denmark, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands.

These aren’t racists like the media claims, in fact quite the opposite, they are not the ones calling for invasion of foreign countries, but rather for the preservation of their own native European Christian cultures, Christian values and distinctive identities within their ancient homelands. And above all for supporting the family unit. [snip].

Europe’s populist conservatives all favor universal healthcare, low-cost childcare, free or low-cost tuition for colleges, 6 weeks of vacation (great for bonding with the family) and protection of the local labor market and wages. When I worked in Europe all Americans and other foreigners (including many tech workers from India) were paid the same or higher wages than locals, and if any employer tried to undermine the local labor market and wages, he’d be greeted with a prison term.

Source: Rod Dreher | The American Conservative

If somebody like that doesn’t think he can afford to live what used to be considered a normal life, what about the rest of us?

I’m reminded of Chris Arnade and his contrast of the “front-row kids” and “back-row kids”—the ones who get ahead because they value education, adaptability and individual success most, and the ones who are left behind because they value family, tradition and community more.

This is a good example of the coming together of the cultural conservative critique and economic radical critique of our current political economy.


Front Row kids and Back Row kids

January 13, 2018

[Updated 1/15/2018]

Photojournalist Chris Arnade believes American society is divided into a Front Row, which is doing well, and a Back Row, which is being left behind. The following is from his Twitter feed.

The prevailing culture honors the Front Row, and public policy rewards it.

The prevailing culture disrespects the Back Row, and public policy ignores it.


The View From the Back Row, an interview of Chris Arnade for Current Affairs.  [Added 1/15/2018]

Chris Arnade on how the other half lives

January 13, 2018

This includes two updates

Half the world doesn’t know how the other half lives.   (old saying)

Chris Arnade spent 20 years as a Wall Street investment banker, then quit in 2011 to start a new career as a photojournalist, first interviewing and photographing drug addicts and prostitutes in the Bronx, then traveling across the country to talk to working people and poor people who’ve been left behind in the new economy.

Arnade said that what he concluded was that addiction is the result of isolation, isolation is the result of rejection and the chief source of rejection is the U.S. educational system.

The U.S. educational system, he said, teaches that the way to achieve success is to go to a good college, leave home and devote yourself to achievement in your professional life.

Those who do this successfully are the elite in American life.   The problem is that not everybody is able to succeed this way, and not everybody wants to do this.

Some people put family, community and religion first.  In this respect, he said, there is little difference between black people and white people, or between Anglos and Hispanics.

Arnade calls the first group the Front Row and the second group the Back Row. The Back Row are not only disrespected, Arnade said.  The economic system is rigged against them.

Every important decision on national policy, since at least the North American Free Trade Agreement  (NAFTA) in 1994, has put the interests of the Front Row ahead of the Back Row.

The one institution in society that welcomes the back row is the churches, he wrote.  He himself is an atheist, but he said that churches welcome you, no matter what your credentials or lack of them.  I’m not sure that is true of all churches, but his point is correct.

Another place the Back Row is welcome, he said, is McDonald’s restaurants.  McDonald’s original business model was a place where you can get in and get out quickly, but McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants have become places where you can get a nourishing meal at a low price, charge your cell phone and hang out with friends.  Most of them have an old man’s table that retirees have staked out for their own.

If you’re a Front Row person and want to break out of your bubble, stop having coffee at Starbuck’s (or the equivalent) and stop start spending time in McDonald’s (or the equivalent), Arnade advised,