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Toxic retardedness

ragged dick

Have you read Horatio Alger? He’s a lightweight, pleasant read, in the way of so much Victorian popular fiction. Good people thrive, bad people get smoted and not too too much drama along the way (not like that hot-headed Mister Dickens and his plot devices).

Horatio Alger stories are often described as “rags to riches” stories. It would be more accurate to describe them as “rags to middleclassness” stories. Here’s the plot to every one of them: be honest, cheerful, helpful, thrifty, don’t drink, work hard, look after your mom and you will prosper in America.

It’s satisfying because it’s true.

Add “don’t have any babies you can’t afford” — new for 2008! — and it still works today.

That’s the only part of Pastor Jeremiah Wright‘s sermonizing that really shocked me. All that frankly retarded stuff about the CIA engineering the AIDS virus to bring down the Twin Towers in Pearl Harbor…eh. Heard it before. But I had no idea anybody other than Goth teenagers and hardcore Marxists were arguing against middleclassness.

PEOPLE! One in a million of us, through some combination of good luck and natural gifts, will become rich. The rest of us get to choose between poverty and middleclassness. I’ve sampled both; I recommend the latter.

Apparently, another document at the Trinity United Church of Christ website clarifies: it’s okay to pursue middle-incomeness. Middle-classness is

Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of “we” and “they” instead of “us”.

I’m not sure what this means. Even if you prosper, don’t you dare be happy? If you work hard and succeed, don’t start thinking you’re better than people who don’t? No matter how far you go and how well you do, you have more in common with ghetto blacks than white people in your tax bracket?

Hey, you stay bitter, now! Is that it? How far is that going to get you?

Happily — judging from my neighborhood, which is mostly composed of upwardly mobile immigrants in many shades of mocha latte — most people come to America to chase middle-classness with everything they’ve got. They take real good care of their lawns and are unfailingly polite to the nice white lady on the corner.

Yeah, that would be me.

Did you know Horatio Alger, Jr lost his first post as a Unitarian minister for diddling teenage boys? He wriggled out of it and was never accused again…whatever that actually means. That explains why there are no women (except mothers) in his little stories. Puts a different light on the Ragged Dick Series, don’t it?

You can read Alger for free, thanks to Project Gutenberg, and it’s lots more fun than doing your job. Take it from a weasel.

March 20, 2008 — 2:16 pm
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