So wise in principle, so hard in practice

Vegetation and rust overtake an abandoned trailer in Marion, Ala.

Dan Schnur had a wise column in the SF Chronicle Friday that’s a sort of counterpoint to the Sunday column I wrote about Ann Coulter.

“I have written previously about the economic, political and moral need for immigration reform,” Schnur writes. “But the increasingly heated debate on this topic has made it clear that reform opponents are unlikely to be persuaded by a strategy that relies on sermonizing, insults and condescension.”

He goes on to explain why. “The vast majority of those who oppose immigration reform — and expanded free trade, for that matter — are not hateful or angry. They are frightened.”

California — and perhaps both coasts — have a culture of condescension towards the Midwest and the South. And the surest way to get them to harden their positions is to indulge in it. I’ve made this argument at my family table: don’t insult people whose minds you want to change. Try to understand them. Then give them information.

“The challenge of explaining to the economically dispossessed that the threat to their jobs comes not from immigration and trade but from advances in technology is a considerable one, made even more difficult by the likelihood that the necessary audience is more likely than not to own a smartphone that provides a steady stream of contradictory information. But it has to be done,” Schnur writes.

A huge swath of America is afraid it has no place in the 21st century. They want to go back to the 20th. To indulge in superiority at the expense of these citizens is to miss the economic mailaise that’s tearing their regions apart — and to make them hate us. We in the San Joaquin Valley should understand this. We bear the brunt of the same snotty coastal superiority. To do it to others belies any superiority we claim.

Unfortunately, Trump’s proposals, such as slashing Obamacare, will actualy exacerbate the plight of the suffering. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But we don’t have to pile on. It’s hard, though, isn’t it? Not feeling superior, I mean. But the mentality that someone needs to beneath you lies at the root of so many American problems.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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