Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wal-Mart Hating Snobs: Racism, Classism, and Super-Snobbery

Speaking of snobbery, there was great exchange on Fox News The Cost of Freedom between Neal Cavuto, Ben Stein, Charles Payne, Jerry Bowyer, Laura Schwartz, and Pat Powell:
Head to Head: Wal-Mart-Hating Snobs?

Neil Cavuto: People who block Wal-Marts from coming to big cities like New York are just snobs who hurt Middle Class Americans. That's what Ben Stein thinks. It's time to go "Head to Head." What do you mean, Ben?

Ben Stein: Well, I mean that Wal-Mart is an incredible benefit to any community. It makes all the people around it richer because their paycheck can go further and they can buy more. It's essentially like getting a raise. But, upper middle class, snobby upper class, people who watch movies with subtitles… and I watch them, too…are saying Wal-Mart isn't good enough for us. But something else is happening. It's racism. I know people who say, "We don't want Wal-Mart in our community because it draws in the African Americans, it draws in the Hispanics, and it draws in people whose faces are not the same color as ours. We don't want them in our neighborhood." Racism has a lot to do with the dislike of Wal-Mart. I hate to say it because it's a very strong accusation, but I've heard it over and over again.

Charles Payne: I think the snobbery does play a role. It's really interesting, particularly in Manhattan, because the average apartment costs $1 million, and certainly Wal-Mart doesn't bring up the property value, it probably brings it down in part to the racism thing Ben was talking about. Certainly there's a serious problem between snobbery and the unions in these large cities. In New York, you can't build a bird cage without union approval. I think it's a combination of both. Certainly the image of Wal-Mart does not fit the image of classy, urban areas like Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter. Ben is on to something there. I think it goes beyond race and onto elitism.

Ben Stein: It's racism and classism, and super-snobbery is the main heading.

Charles Payne: Let me just say one thing. The real sad thing about it, particularly with the liberals, is that whenever they have a chance to help people, they don't. You know, they wouldn't mind a Wal-Mart in New York, as long as it's in the Bronx; it can't be in Manhattan.

Jerry Bowyer: I think Ben and Charles are both right. I think it's kind of a class-snobbishness. I don't know about the race side of it. It's plausible. But, it's also bad for the middle class in terms of employment opportunities. It's not just a consumer thing. We have friends of the family who work at Wal-Mart. Sometimes people without a college degree or professional certification can come into a Wal-Mart at an entry level and work their way up. I think that Wal-Mart ought to be allowed any place where people are willing to work at it and buy the products.

Ben Stein: Nobody's forced to work at Wal-Mart. People do it freely.

Laura Schwartz: I know snobs who shop at Wal-Mart. They may go there at 2:00 in the morning, but they do. Everybody likes a good deal. That's what Wal-Mart gives.

Charles Payne: But they don't want it in their neighborhood.

Laura Schwartz: But, you know what? You have to look at the fact that this is not snobbery-driven. This is politically-driven. It's the unions. When it comes to New York and LA, huge union towns, there's no way. But in Chicago, where I come from, Mayor Daley worked it out. Wal-Mart is now on the south side. The area has a higher percentage of lower income folks, but it's allowing them to get access to goods and services they can afford.

Pat Powell: I think she's on to something. I think it's politics and not snobbery. I think it's a politics of deflection. If you have a health care crisis in this country, it can't be your fault. It's gotta be Wal-Mart's fault. If you don't have high paying jobs, it's gotta be Wal-Mart's fault. There's somebody to blame, and who are you going to blame, but the great American success story?
What some of those commentators failed to realize is that it's both: It's union politics AND crass snobbery and racism; the unholy alliance of fringe lunatics and drawbridgers that I have written of so often. The unions have very few sympathizers. The majority of Wal-Mart hate is just pure classism and racism. PARDners like Deirdre Rogers play to that with code words like "Wal-Mart will lead to the the intrusion of undesirable social classes"

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9 comments:

Nic said...

Now that is a perfect example of fair and balanced issue based "debate." God bless Fox news and the value they bring to society.

It's been so long since you've posted a WalMart rant I was actually starting to think people could have legitimate reasons for not liking the place. Silly me... it's much easier to pigeon-hole everyone that may not agree with you about the sanctity of Walmart into a well defined group of racists, elitists, and snobs. Cheers to that!

April E. Coggins said...

Nic,
Perhaps you can point us to a few articles written by people who don't like Wal-Mart because of their return policy, or their selection, or store hours, etc. Those are the usual complaints about retailers. I never seem to hear any of those complaints brought up by Wal-Mart bashers.

Tom Forbes said...

Don't despair, Nic, I can promise you plenty more Wal-Mart rants until ground is broken on Bishop Boulevard and Pullman is no longer held hostage by a tiny group of intellectuals.

Truth said...

April, if you want a good article on why people don't like Wal-Mart I would suggest the 2007 Human Rights Watch report, which covers everything from healthcare (which we discussed before), to illegal union practices, to wages, and so on. It can be found at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/us0507/

Furthermore Tom, I think its wrong to say that the views of a group of people are not valid simply because they hold the minority. The Civil and Womens rights movements both started as tiny groups of people, both intellectuals and of ordinary people as is seen with Wal-Mart today. Yet I think we can both say that those things have been of the utmost importance to our country. Now I'm not saying Wal-Mart is anywhere near that important, but I am saying that a group cannot be discounted solely because it is small.

Nic said...

April, here's my "article" on why I don't like Walmart.

When I spend money on something I want it to last. So, if I buy clothes I want to be able to wash them more than once before they fall apart. If I want a television, I want the best that I can afford, which Walmart doesn't carry. If I want food and produce, I want farm fresh, grown in the USA stuff, which Walmart doesn't offer. So, tell me, why would I like Walmart if it has absolutely nothing to offer me? So here's the paradox: I like Walmart because it helps people that need to save money on staple items, and I don't like it because it has nothing to offer me. And by that rationale, I can say that there is a part of me that doesn't like Walmart and that part of me is not elitist, snobish, or, my favorite, racist.

April E. Coggins said...

Nic,
I can support your choice. And I agree with your decision for the reasons you offer. They are legitimate reasons to choose other places to shop. Thank goodness for free-enterprise and the power of the dollar.

I do have a problem with people who want to remove choice from other shoppers, and disguise their motive as "humanitarian." Who do they think they are kidding? The very key board we are all typing on was probably made by ten cent an hour worker in China. Their health care coverage is the ditch they will be kicked into when they get too sick to work. Even if we all agreed to pay $100.00 for a keyboard, the workers would not get paid any more money. Where are the wonderful unions who represent the Chinese workers? It's Communist China, for goodness sake, why can't the unions get anywhere with their brethren? How about supporting the Chinese worker for a change?

Adam J. Niehenke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam J. Niehenke said...

See nic you are wrong on your evaluation of yourself because you fail to realize that you are still an elitist. You may not like Walmart which is fine with me, but who are you to define for the rest of us what store is allowed to come to Pullman. Wal-mart makes the communities around it better by bringing more money to local schools and the local govenment. Moscow would shrivel up and die if a Walmart left from the loss in tax revenue. We are free market society meaning you don't have to shop at Walmart if they come to Pullman, but for the time being quit being the elitist and defining where I should shop by liminiting my choice.

Nic said...

Adam,

Please reread my above comments and tell me where I stated that I didn't support Walmart coming into the community. And when you realize that I've said nothing of the sort, I will accept your apology for labeling me an elitist.