Saturday, July 17, 2004

Your huddled masses yearning to change sheets

Hey, I heard something useful on NPR today.  No, seriously.

In conjunction with the eye-glazingly weary yet somehow obligatory Martha
Stewart coverage (all hand-wringing, all the time!) that has momentarily
replaced Scott Peterson and John Edwards at the top of the news cycle (though
you’ve got to like that ticket), Scott Simon interviewed David
who wrote essentially an etiquette primer for white-color criminals
(which I sincerely hope is not titled, Everything I Need to Know I Learned
in Stir

Among Novak's precepts:  When you finally get to prison, your impulse
will be to unburden yourself by recounting, to anyone who will listen,
all the injustice and screw-ups and sad wrongs that were visited on your
innocent person by a vengeful god/media/courtsystem/public/family/whatever: 
but don’t!  The first thing you learn is that, whatever the circumstances,
everybody in prison has been through a lot, so it’s better not to air your

If only we could enshrine that principal at the editorial gateways of
NPR-land.  I’m so tired of hearing the well-practiced whine of the
über-entitled upper-middle class over any and all of their ills and
discomforts, real and imagined.  Yesterday I fled from a 20-minute
commentary on the difficulties of managing immigrant household help during
a relative’s illness.  It turns out that they just don’t understand
what you’re going through!  Imagine being born into grinding poverty,
and managing to survive god-knows-what harrowing journey to the United
States only to discover that your reward is domestic servitude.  That's
what the Statue of Liberty says, right?:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to change sheets...

The piece was so unrelenting in its myopic self-pity it drove me to
vacuuming in 90 -degree heat. (I'm writing from the Midwest; it's not a
dry heat.)  So here is my advice to Martha and to her fans, for free: 
Pull your socks up!  Get over yourself!  Or, at the very least,
get off my radio.


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