Barbara Ehrenreich, just after this evening's address
About 200 people showed up this evening for a presentation by the veteran lefty Barbara Ehrenreich. The author delivered her to hell-in-a-handbasket speech on the late Bush-era state of America; the ultra lib Uptown audience enjoyed it. During the lecture, she discussed her new book The Land is Their Land and read several passages from it.
The talk was held at Lyndale UCC at W 31st St & S Aldrich Ave, a beautiful (if somewhat dilapidated) 1923 structure currently on the market for $1.8m.
We live, Ehrenreich argues, in a dystopic era in which right-wing scapegoating is rampant--of single moms, gays, illegal aliens and African Americans. (Ehrenreich even skewers Bill Cosby for [supposedly] having been hoodwinked by contemporary anti-African-American scapegoating.) During the section on gay scapegoating, she mentions Larry Craig's unusual Minneapolis connection--condemning the police for interfering with the freedom of the sexually adventurous and wondering aloud if lesbians cruise airport restrooms. This seems somewhat incoherent, as she doesn't seem to be defending the unrepentant Gem State paleoconservative, and I assume she's aware that men (of all preferences) cruise for sex rather more frequently than do women.
With self-perceived transgressive illumination, the author advises, if you don't like gay marriage then don't marry a gay person. But marrying a gay person might be precisely the correct thing to do if one wants to stymie the homosexual agenda, no? ('A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her,' as Oscar Wilde had it. Certainly the opposite is true too, no?)
Ehrenreich accepts that a class war is taking place, but argues that it was started by the rich. She'd like the top marginal tax rates back up at their Eisenhower-era peak of 91%. She wants college education universally available and lambastes American colleges and universities for the high costs and many fees with which they're saddling students. Tongue-in-cheek, she suggests parents discourage the pursuit of higher education by taking away Baby Einstein and plopping the kid in front of a television, though 'it didn't work in the case of my children.' (Ehrenreich is the mother of the brilliant Rosa Brooks, of Bloggingheads fame.)
Speaking for myself, Ehrenreich's gallows-comic delivery doesn't much tickle, though many older people in the church are in stitches. During the talk, she puts forward: NAFTA eliminated 1.5m agricultural jobs in Mexico, 47m Americans go without health care, The Economist now calls America a highly polarized society, technological advancements have not made being poor in America any less unpleasant, the incomes of blue collar American men have been plummeting for at least two decades...I'd wanted to fact-check some of this stuff, but my tyrannical corporation demands I assume the position in cube 537D tomorrow morning at 0700, so that's that.