March 2, 2011

Wisconsin Update: Trashing "the Hippies"

With Governor Walker and the GOP trying their best to undermine labor rights in the legislative chamber and also remove citizen-protesters from inside the Capitol building, this NYT story and photo gallery is ultra-denigrating. To understand it, you barely have to read past the supposedly tongue-in-cheek title: Thank You for Your Support. Now, Can We Sweep the Capitol?

There’s all that, and then there’s the rest of the slideshow that is only too happy to stereotype and write off the protesters by making them look, through most of the edit, less like angry, determined and decidedly non-violent citizens than eccentric hippy meditating drumbeating sixties throwbacks.

And then, just to let you know the NYT pictures are less cute and frivolous than they are amplifying a meme, Digby offered this little nugget today:

Rush Limbaugh says the Wisconsin protesters Are “Long-Haired, Maggot-Infested, Dope-Smoking FM Rock ‘N’ Roller Types.”

…Whoops, I forgot to show you this one — the “free love” shot.

C’mon NYT, you’re really lending weight to the Governor’s push to sweep the protesters out of the building because the janitors can’t clean around them? And then, there’s also the two-fold message you’re giving — based on this photo above leading off the slideshow — that a.) the protest is somehow pitting union workers against union workers, and b.) the protesting union members don’t appreciate how good they have it.

You need to take in the caption to fully understand how it goes together. It reads:

As Gov. Scott Walker pushed for a bill that would  weaken public employee unions by taking away most of their collective bargaining rights, protesters  responded by making themselves at home in the Statehouse. All the while, a  crew of custodians – some union members, some not – have been cleaning around them. Aaron Pazour, 26, who works two jobs, is not a union member, but would like to be because he needs the benefits.

And then, there’s also the condescension in the write-up itself.  Indeed, make yourself at home!

Peace out!

(Updated for clarity, 7:30 pm PST)

(photos: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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