[Content Note: Class-based othering.]

So, I'm reading this piece at Salon by "card-carrying member of the ACLU" John Haggerty, who recounts his experience spending "the entire month of October [watching] Fox News for approximately three hours every day, while at the same time strictly abstaining from any other sources of information about current events." And Haggerty makes some observations about Fox News that might not totally come as a surprise to anyone who's watching Fox News for 30 minutes or so.

That sounds unreasonably snarky, maybe. But I suspect someone without his privileges, i.e. someone among the kind of people routinely and aggressively targeted by Fox News as the People Who Are Ruining America, has a slightly different perspective on the conservative news outlet. It's a very different thing to audit Fox News on the basis of How It Does News Badly and to audit Fox News on the basis of How It Demonizes People Like Me.

So, okay, Haggerty and I aren't coming from the same place. But even acknowledging that profound difference in perspective, we're both (ostensibly) progressives. Which is why this passage felt particularly shocking to me:
Even in my short time watching Fox I found poverty fading from my mind as a problem. I was surprised one day when, during a discussion of deficit reduction (something that they talk about almost constantly), I found myself nodding in agreement that there was room to cut social programs that had already been radically slashed. Fox couldn't convince me to care about the issues they are obsessed with (Obama's treachery and the deficit, mostly), but by simply failing to mention a topic like income inequality, it managed to make me stop caring about the things it would prefer that I ignore.

I have an optimistic view of Americans. I think we are basically a kind and generous people—that if we are confronted with suffering, we are willing to act, even to sacrifice our own interests, in order to alleviate it. Perhaps, I began to think, we are not becoming progressively crueler and more callous, as it sometimes appears. Perhaps we have simply forgotten about the suffering all around us because we haven't been reminded of it lately.
We have forgotten about the suffering all around us because we haven't been reminded of it lately.

Who is the "we" and the "us" in that construction?

We know certainly that it is not the people who are actually suffering. All around us.

People who are suffering because of our catastrophically underfunded social safety net, because of high unemployment, because of crushing debt, because of lack of access to healthcare, because of predatory loans and bankruptcy and foreclosure, because we can't agree that people are entitled to food—those people haven't "forgotten" and do not need to be "reminded" of their own suffering.

I know that piece was supposed to make me care about the horrors of Fox News playing some terrible game of "Us vs. Them," but I'm frankly more concerned that "card-carrying members of the ACLU" are still mired in elitist philosophical musings about the Haves' disconnection from the Have-Nots, and blaming that disconnection on the goddamned news.

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