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We visited Budapest several years ago, where the Hungarians took down the major statuary of the communist era and assembled it in a well-designed park outside the city in 1993. Marx, Lenin, Engels and the gang are gathered outside the city limits, where tourists and locals can find them, if they wish, but are not confronted with these symbols of a dark age, unless they wish to seek them out.

What America ought to do with the Confederate monuments being taken down is perhaps something like Memento Park in Budapest.

I heard it again on Face the Nation Sunday — both Nancy Pelosi and Bob Scheifer used the term “middle class” in speaking about middle income Americans. Come on! This is America, where we cherish the ability, or at least the potential, for people to move up through the income strata, and not be forever bound by a social “class” structure. Yet our politicians and news media, a the highest levels, refuse to align their semantics with American ideals. Hence, they contribute to perpetuating the premise that we are bound to social “classes” in the United States.

I wrote about this semantic phenomenon at some length in my blog on September 23 last year. There are plenty of “lower income” people who are anything but “lower class.” They may have degrees, creativity or just a work ethic that gives them potential for social mobility, and not everyone values mere economic mobility in the same way. And there are certainly the “upper income” types who are anything but “upper class,” eg. the Trumps of the world. As for those of us at various levels of “middle income,” we are certainly not bound to the “middle class.”

Like most of us, I find the endless reporting of the daily habits of British royalty interesting, if not fascinating, but only in the sense of voyeuristic appreciation of celebrities who are famous for being famous. But they are anachronisms of  bygone times, and to my mind they have no place in a modern democratic society which allows both social and economic mobility. While yes, there are some people of every economic strata who are “classy,” isn’t it about time we left social caste or classes to history, and take them out of our politics, our news media and our modern lives. It is time our semantics and our realities become better aligned.

May 2022

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