Nailing the definition of ‘white trash’

your say September 14, 2017 01:00

Ever alert to find intellectual stimulation in this column, I rise to the bait of Somsak Pola’s challenge to define “white trash”.

Here in Thailand we often hear talk of “hi-so” and “lo-so”, “high class” and “low class”. Almost always, in the minds of the speakers, “high class” means rich and “low class” means poor. We see the same mindset at work in the TAT’s constant quest for “quality tourists”, by which they mean rich ones.

Let’s dismiss such shallow thinking and dig for a deeper definition that doesn’t depend on money. 

“High” and “low” depend on the way you treat other people. A high-class person treats all of his fellow beings with courtesy, kindness and respect. A low-class person treats some people like dirt, especially if he thinks they’re beneath him.

Based on that definition, white trash, and trash of any colour, are people who don’t treat all of their fellow beings decently. Based on that definition, Donald Trump, despite his great wealth and high position, qualifies as white trash. (Think of the charming epithets he coined for “Crooked Hillary”, “Lyin’ Ted”, and “Little Marco”).

I suppose the opposite of white trash would be white treasure, but at the moment I can’t think of anybody in the United States who qualifies for that title, with the possible exception of John McCain. 

Ye Olde Pedant

(Neither trash nor treasure, but someplace in the middle)