Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Sat Apr-17-10 09:54 AM
An unexpected brush with the TeaBagger mindset
This week I wrapped up my very brief stint of employment as an enumerator for the US Census. This round of the census involved the cataloging of "group quarters," such as shelters, jails, rest homes, and the like; door-to-door enumeration should commence in a week or two. Many of our assignments involved the census team meeting in a room at a group facility and filling out dozens or hundreds of census forms from printed rosters of the facility's residents.
There wasn't a whole lot of work, to be honest, though I suspect that this is different in other parts of the country. However, I noticed several things that disturbed and amazed me.
1. The average age of the 20 workers in my group was somewhere over 60. I'm 38, and I was the second youngest of the entire team. This was kind of cool, in a way, because I'd never worked with such an age-skewed demographic. However, nearly all were male, and all were white. Two non-white people were in the training class but left before the actual work started.
2. Several of my census colleagues were openly and unabashedly racist. On the day that we enumerated a local soup kitchen, one of my colleagues broke the ice with a trio of "negro jokes
." What annoyed me wasn't simply that was racist; it was his clear assumption that everyone else is equally racist (which, I admit, wasn't too far off the mark, given the response by the other workers).
In addition to the ambient current of racism, I noticed that most of my colleagues were conspicuously preoccupied with race in general
. "I bought a pack of cigarettes, and the cashier--she was Puerto Rican--shortchanged me," or "that Oriental bus driver took a different route, so I got home ten minutes later," or "Sue and her husband--he's black--bought a new air conditioner." They go out of their way to mention race even when there's no clear reason to do so; they described nothing else about these people but found it necessary to observe that he or she wasn't white. (pure projection..it's the liberals that are preocupied with race, but like always they have to start saying things like this they have to deflect what they do, say, or how they act.)
Every time a "non-white-sounding" name would appear on our reports, one of the bigots would laugh derisively and point it out to the rest of us. "Latoya Washington," he guffawed to us. "What do you think?"
3. The workers proclaimed an almost unanimous distaste for government bureaucracy, despite being more than happy to take a paycheck from that bureaucracy.
Literally every single day that we worked, they mocked government "inefficiency and waste," with one of the aforementioned bigots actually scoffing "and they want to run healthcare? No thanks!"
When I pointed out that the government does not, in fact, want to run healthcare, he cited the old wisdom about a camel's nose getting in under the tent. "And you know that Abdul can't be far behind," he observed sagely.
I also pointed out that every corporate job that I've ever worked was at least as inefficient and wasteful as the government, but this was dismissed.
4. The workers expressed an absolute disdain for college students
. I heard complaints about how easy "these kids" have it, and how they don't know anything about the world, etc. One of our assignments was the enumeration of a local college, and we're going over the questionnaires completed by the students. Every time a minor error would pop up, such as a transposition of first and last name, my esteemed colleagues would laugh at this proof that college students have no common sense.
All in all I was fairly disgusted. I admit that I didn't confront any of them about it, mostly because there seemed to be no point. The job was only slated to last a month at most, and these septuagenarians aren't going to abandon years of bigotry just because some young Liberal tells them to. Besides, even if I'd submitted a complaint, it would have done nothing except (maybe) shortened their employment from four weeks to three, and it seemed likely to guarantee that I wouldn't be invited back for the next round of census work.
Through all of this, I couldn't help noting that my colleagues seemed to have been cast from the same mold as the TeaBaggers that we're seeing in the news 24/7 lately: white, over 50, and happy to take government assistance while castigating others who do so.
None of them actually self-identified as a TeaBagger, but the similarity was quite striking.
Also, I should disclaim that my experience likely doesn't represent a standard attitude among census workers generally, and certainly not the standard among the 65-and-up demographic nationwide. However, I live in a fairly conservative county, and (sadly) this does indeed seem to be the local standard.