The following is a transcript of my radar from Tuesday’s edition of “Rising” on HillTV.
In few corners of this country will you find that racism is not broadly stigmatized, let alone in a county that preferred the first black president by a nine-point margin. Wausau, Wisconsin is a working-class Midwestern city, located in a classic “forgotten man” district—one represented by a Democrat for decades, friendly to Obama, friendly to the Tea Party, then friendly to Trump—a city with a median income well below the state average and a beautiful slice of the Wisconsin River running right through it.
New York Times reporter Reid Epstein, who worked formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, parachuted into Wausau recently to highlight a contentious local debate for his national audience. You’ll be surprised to learn he found what he was looking for, a backwards community full of ignorant reactionaries and their victims.
“A ‘community for all?’ Not so fast, this Wisconsin county says,” the New York Times headline sneered. “The racial divisiveness that President Donald J. Trump stoked during his four years in the White House endures in the daily life of towns like Wausau,” Epstein wrote, reporting on a tense Marathon County board meeting last month.
At issue was a fairly innocuous resolution declaring the county “A Community for all” that inspired strong responses from both sides, likely because it’s peppered with charged jargon like “equity” that is common sense to the left and Marxist to the right. In his copy, Epstein was sure to include a lecture on the correct, Ivy-League certified interpretation of “equity,” writing that the word “served as a trigger for many, who made the false claim that memorializing it as a goal would lead to the county’s taking things from white people to give them to people of color.” You can do that when you have a journalism degree from Columbia, I suppose.
According to Epstein, “Those opposed to the resolution made far-reaching claims about its potential impact.” He had no similar concerns about claims from proponents of the bill that its failure would precipitate “economic calamity.”
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