A couple weeks ago, Rev. Ford and Ms. Jagannath wrote an op-ed for the Fresno Bee, contrasting Westlands Water District’s demands for irrigation water with those of the farmworkers within the district, who often don’t have access to clean potable water. Last week, the Deputy General Manager of Westlands Water District responded with his own op-ed in the Bee. I will let my readers judge the respective merits of the pieces for themselves. Instead, I want to talk about the tone of Mr. Amaral’s piece.
Mr. Amaral’s op-ed clanged for me the same way the old, male panels at CA Water 2.0 did. I hypothesize that both efforts were reflexive attempts to persuade the people who have always been in power, and that the important audience has changed enough that the mismatch calls attention to itself. Mr. Amaral’s tone in that op-ed is personal and condescending, asserting a great deal amount of power for itself. He claims the power to declare who is an activist, what other people’s real concerns are, what they ignore and what they understand. Given the relative societal power of the authors, it is a pretty nasty example of punching down.
Now, an op-ed is an attempt at persuasion. So who is Mr. Amaral trying to persuade with a condescending tone towards two women, one visibly of color? Perhaps he never considered the question. Perhaps his unconsidered default reader is a man with power. But that’s not how it is anymore. I watched carefully as you subscribed to my blog, and I can tell you. Half of y’all are women. The internet (or maybe the new era) has taught us to consciously notice the dynamic rather than subconsciously accept it. What we see is that Mr. Amaral does not care if he pisses off at least two substantial groups in the water conversation. He never thought of them, or he doesn’t believe they have enough power to matter. That’s the old way. As times change, it stands out more and looks uglier.
A kinda funny side note is that there is another group of farming advocates who is tirelessly working to be personally appealing ambassadors. They are friendly and widely available and a visit to their farms show that they’re doing really neat agricultural work. The heart of their argument is “but you’d be taking water away from nice people.” Which is true but irrelevant and only part of the story. (This piece is a good example of someone falling for that hard.) Anyway, ag ambassador people. Mr. Amaral’s undoing your good work. You might want a word with him.
6 responses to “Mr. Amaral: not woke.”
Keep it coming. I’m a newbie to your blog, one of those pesky females, 3rd generation SJV resident (thought not ag), and I’m just trying to wrap my head around everything you write about.
I am very glad you are here. The material here moves fast (well, when I write) and requires a lot of background. If you ever don’t understand something, just ask or write me. It isn’t because of you; it is because I leave out other points when I am trying to get one point across. (Or maybe because it is a joke that I didn’t tell right.)
“Perhaps his unconsidered default reader is a man with power. But that’s not how it is anymore.” Brilliant. I hope you are right.
Mr Amaral is obviously tired, arrogant, and out of touch. Hopefully you right and he is part of that soon to be changing Tired Old Guard…
I was flabbergasted by the clumsy corporate PR tone of that editorial.
It echoes the attitude of Congressman Nunes in that it seems to think that more bluster is going to convince the rest of California to ruin even more of its environment to send them water they don’t have naturally.
Arrogance, thy name is Westlands. As you so correctly pointed out recently, those other water districts down the line have been smart enough to keep a much lower profile. If a lot of ag land in the SJV has to be retired, karma would make Westlands a prime candidate IMHO.
I have long thought that their evil plan was to somehow unload the land on the taxpayers before it is finally ruined by salt and selenium.
One wise person said that in 20 years Westlands will be all solar farms. Works for me. Better than bulldozing virgin desert, and easier to connect to the grid.