I’m sorry, but I don’t care what you call a column printed in the paper, if you state something as a fact, you best be able to back up your claims. I, for one, try very hard (and get called out sometimes for failing) to make sure I don’t claim anything disprovable to be a fact. But apparently the Boston Metro does not have the same journalistic standards as my editor-less blog. I stumbled across the rag again yesterday when my colleague tossed it on to my desk and said “there isn’t even anything in here anymore.”
For some reason I felt compelled to explore and found that there was indeed something in there that morning- racism, elitism and bigoted hate for at-risk young people, blanketing them all as lacking a “basic skill” (From Michele McPhee: I’m wondering if they can brush their teeth or comb their hair.). The best part is, the Metro has sometime in the last few months ceased to even pretend to be a balanced an accountable news source by taking out their letters to the editor section (they do still invite 400 word responses though to email@example.com).
McPhee’s hate riddled diatribe, titled “Good Kids Get the Shaft” is today’s republican talking points at their most hateful: illegal immigrants and welfare queens are coming to take all of your hard earned monies. If you’re in the middle class or a blue collar work (read: white working class), the Blacks and Latinos want your first born as a sacrifice to their drug lords. Seriously, she almost goes there. The article is supposed to be about the Summer Jobs Program that is a partnership between The Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services, ABCD, the Private Industry Council, Boston Youth Fund, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families. The ACTUAL criteria for the jobs is as follows. In addition to being a CITIZEN or LEGAL RESIDENT, you must be low-income, live in Boston, comply with Selective Service regulations, and be between the ages of 14-24. In addition:
A youth must be one or more of the following:
• A youth who is low in basic literacy skills.
• A youth who is a school dropout.
• A youth who is homeless, a runaway, or a foster child.
• A youth who is pregnant or a parent.
• A youth who is an offender.
• A youth who failed the MCAS in the last round
• A youth who has a disability
• A youth who is truant or has a significant attendance problem in school
• A youth who requires English as a Second Language instruction
• A youth who resides in a single parent household
• A youth whose parents were employed for less than 6 months total in the last year
• An older youth with a secondary credential who has been actively seeking employment unsuccessfully for at least 15 weeks in the past year
So apparently if you have a hard-working under-employed single parent, are 18-24 and have been looking for a job for 3 months with no luck, or your parents lost their job last year, you’re a bad kid. In fact, if you have a disability and your parents struggle to pay for your medical expenses, you’re a “teen thug.”
McPhee would have you believe that only students with criminal records, babies, or heavy drug habits are eligible for the summer work. The selfishness with which she forces her bigotry on working people is beyond words. It is shameful that newspapers and television networks use their power to convince people with little media literacy and even less time to research the lies that the so called journalists spew to convince every day people to go against their own self-interest. Several of the young people that I work with believed before investigating for themselves that they did in fact qualify for these jobs that bad kids were taking their summer jobs. That is of course until they found out that those bad kids were them. This is the insidiousness of hate mongers like McPhee. When she says middle class, she is not talking about a level of income, when she says blue-collar she is not talking about a line of work. She is using codes that trick people who identify with these things into thinking that she is on your side. She is not on your side. If she was, she wouldn’t claim that your children are “teenager illegal immigrants” if they happen to speak English as a Second language or have “skills — like being good at having unprotected sex” if they’re a teenage mother (and how would they learn to use protection without comprehensive sex education, I wonder?). The fact is she is talking about any young person of color, any low-income youth, and many students in our public schools.
But perhaps most insidious of all is the claim that she doesn’t “have a problem with helping wayward teens get a leg up in life” while also claiming all of the above and also that “court-involved” is liberal code for “teen thugs.” She closes,
“The problem is that every cent of the $1.3 million in taxpayer stimulus monies aimed at helping teens is only helping the teenage children of people who don’t pay taxes. Once again the blue collar and middle class family is screwed.”
Just like every other claim that she makes here, which may be defended as “opinion,” this is an outright lie. Not only that, it shows a basic misunderstanding of what a stimulus is supposed to do. Sure, the hate mongering republicans are happy to keep an underclass until their problems come to rest on their stoop, but they don’t care who gets hurt along the way in fiercely protecting their broken ideology. The fact is, the middle class and blue collar families she claims to protect will benefit greatly from this stimulus program, either as beneficiaries directly (how many blue collar employees have been laid off in the last 9 months) or through a restrengthening of our economy, which was broken down by the blind greed and deregulation of the corporations that McPhee would no doubt support in a heartbeat. The biggest problem with this article is the disgusting way in which it parades as an opinion while dressing up in certainties that happen to be untrue (undocumented immigrants are not eligible, for example).
Opinions can be disagreed with, but they cannot be wrong. If McPhee relied on opinion in this piece, I would no doubt disagree with her, but I could not say that she was wrong, only that we have greatly differing opinions. I believe it was the great conservative hero, Ronald Reagan who said, “You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Michele McPhee would do well to study her republican forefathers a bit more closely.