Wednesday, October 29, 2008

cyborg, but not Robin Hood. honestly!

Once upon a time, in a land not really that far away, in a country not yet blessed with democracy (but destined to become the birthplace of that fantastic political experiment...uh, erm, or at least, destined to become the hoary forebear of that fantastic political experiment...) and still suffering from the hierarchical power structures in which white male privilege were visibly evident, that is, of course, feudalism...

There was a yeoman who protested the unjust practice of taxation without representation, who saw that the ruthless powers-that-were cared not for the people they were supposed to serve and protect, and with courage and daring, defied those powers in order to serve the robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

Ah, Robin Hood. The Champion of The Redistribution of Wealth. Stay dead, fiendish rogue! We used to enjoy you in our movies and applaud your heroic feats, your stand against injustice and your solidarity with the poor. You used to seem warm and fuzzy and friendly. Damn you, Disney, for making him such a cute little fox! Another example of the out-of-control liberal media attempting their insidious indoctrination... But now we know better. You're no hero in real life. You steal. You take the justifiably earned goods of those who have, to give them to people who did not work to attain them. You skunky villain. Disney should have painted you black with a white stripe down the middle.

Seriously. When did redistribution of wealth become scary? And to whom? And who are you in the narrative if it is?

But finally. Let's be up front about the fact that Obama's comment to Joe the Plumber was not a declaration of government Robin Hood-ism. The plan is not to repo your minivan and give it to the poor family across town. Stop with the uber-defensive reactionary crap--the "don't take my stuff" thing. The point is that there are, still, systemic and structural barriers to success depending on one's starting point. You've got a tougher road to basic economic security and a decent life if you get born poor and black and urban. This matters. The solution is not Robin Hood violent redistribution of wealth--that sort of thing simply props up the economic system that creates the inequity in the first place through its short term fix. And Obama knows that. The Robin Hood villain rhetoric--without the Robin Hood bit, because he is a kind of persistent hero figure in our cultural narrative after all--is a misrepresentation designed to generate fear and distrust. It's so obvious I can't believe I even have to write it.

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