She is the voice we wish everyone had heard in 2016. But, hey - why listen to a scholar who specialized in how dictators use the internet for propaganda to manipulate trust?
April 25, 2018

Sarah Kendzior, who has a book of essays out, appeared on Seth Myers to basically make us all regret she was not everyone's best friend and tutor for all of 2016.

The book, The View From Flyover Country, is a collection of her essays that she wrote from 2012 to 2014 that may have singlehandedly saved the entire world had everyone read them. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. But they sure sound like they could have educated a lot of people who mattered before they stepped into the voting booth, and perhaps even educated a few *ahem* media outlets and journalists on the left...who might have not treated Trump so lightly, or his voters so dismissively.

Here is part two of that glorious segment, followed by some of the highlights from her appearance on Myers' show.

1. Parachute Journalism:

MEYERS: So when you talk about parachute journalists, what do you mean? Do you mean the reporters from places like New York and Los Angeles?

KENDZIOR: Yeah. I mean, you know, journalists from the coasts who come into the Midwest, usually with a kind of preconceived narrative in mind, who want to talk about the mystery of, you know, why are people rising up in Ferguson or why did Trump win the election? And then they stay there for, you know, a few hours, maybe a few days, come back, write the declarative story about it. It's often very superficial, very misleading, and it really does do damage, I think, to national discourse.

MEYERS: And when you're someone who is a journalist who is living in St. Louis, when you read those articles, is it frustrating to know that no one will really call them out on it?

KENDZIOR: Yeah, well, I call them out. But, yeah, I mean it's frustrating, because people are genuinely suffering. You know, we have serious problems everywhere in America does. I'm not limiting this just to where I live in the Midwest or St. Louis. But when anybody treats your community with that level of superficiality, with that lack of concern. You know, come in like it's The Hunger Games, treat you like an object, it's insulting wherever you are. And it's a shame because local journalism really has been gutted. And I think if that hadn't happened, we wouldn't necessarily have this problem.

That last point about local journalism is why Sinclair is the devil incarnate.

2. Language matters. She says people aren't "forgotten" - they are 'neglected."

KENDZIOR: Yeah. I mean, Trump likes to bandy that phrase about, forgotten people. I mean, he's -- you know, I think a better phrase would be neglected people because that puts some accountability on public officials. You know, they have a job. Public officials are here to serve us whether they believe so or not. And they've been negligent. I think that's, you know, somewhat true of the Obama administration. It's certainly true of the Trump administration. They're negligent with malice, with malicious intent. And so this idea that Trump somehow speaks for forgotten America or speaks for people in places like where I live is just -- it's absolutely ludicrous.

The sick thing is that the people who are telling our poorer citizens that they are "forgotten" are the same ones guilty of "neglecting" them. The ones who don't want to pay educators, the ones who rob our safety services blind to pay for corporate tax cuts, the ones who won't talk to lobbyists unless the lobbyists pay them - these are the ones telling hurting citizens they are "forgotten."

3. Kendzior decries unpaid labor, and correctly blames corporations (including the media *cough*) of creating this false framework of being unable to pay workers and interns. "Exposure" and "experience" does not pay my grocery bill.

KENDZIOR: I mean, the crisis is real. And it was geographically unequal, and this is something that Trump, unfortunately, did understand is that, you know, in the heartland, outside of these sort of rich coastal enclaves you did have real pain. You had a lack of jobs, a lack of opportunity and inability to get by. What corporations did though is take this idea of the recession and of the recovery and basically just decided to stop paying people. That's a thing I discuss quite a bit in the book.

They had unpaid internships, unpaid labor. They made that kind of a normal expectation, even though it's extremely exploitative and it became a restructuring. You know? They said, "Oh, it's the recession. We can't afford it. Oh, we're still recovering. We can't afford it." And they did that as a way to, you know, limit the labor pool to the most elite, to the most advantaged, and that, you know, creates problems. As I say in the book, "a false meritocracy breeds mediocrity." And unfortunately, I think we see that...

Emphasis mine. Only the wealthiest and most advantaged are the ones who can afford to take on these unpaid internships, essentially shutting out entire classes (and races and gender) of people. "Unpaid" is code for "trust fund."

4. Complain. Complain a lot.

KENDZIOR: Well, complaining gives you a chance, you know. What every social movement started out as somebody complaining and that complaint getting dismissed. And you know, I get frustrated when I see people's valid complaints dismissed, because it's often a form of compassion. You know, you're looking out for other people. You're complaining about unfair circumstances. And I think when you say to someone, "Oh, stop complaining," that's an assumption that their social position is more important than that person's pain.

And so I encourage everyone to complain, particularly under this administration. You know, let your feelings be known. And you know, on a serious note, I do study dictatorships. I have friends who've been locked up for having the kind of conversation that we're having right now. It's nothing to take for granted. Freedom of speech is absolutely nothing to take for granted. Social justice is something that we should fight for. So if you can speak out, you absolutely should.

The heartbreakingly frustrating thing is, though, this information was available to us way before the rise of Trump, in many forms, including Sarah Kendzior's work. It isn't necessarily less available. It's just harder to find because of the flooding of our consciousnesses with false and manipulative narratives put out by everyone from Breitbart News to McGraw-Hill textbooks.

Yeah. I could easily have a girls' weekend with Sarah.

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