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Friday, April 25, 2014

 
Bundy's Republican objectivism is almost as offensive as the racism

by David Atkins

Yesterday I wrote about how Cliven Bundy has suddenly become a pariah in mainstream Republican circles even though his rhetoric was different only in tone but not in content from that of top GOP politicians and media figures.

Obviously, the sort of overt racism preached by Bundy and his friends has become toxic to all but the rump Republican base. It needs the softening of Paul Ryan-style coding.

But isn't it time that the arguments being used by Bundy and friends were anathema in polite society regardless of racial context? Ryan's and Bundy's syllogism goes something like this:

1. Poor people are poor because they're lazy.

2. Minorities tend to be poor, therefore they must be lazy.

3. Government assistance stops people from working harder and encourages laziness.

4. Minorities stay poor because of government assistance, but vote for more government.

The first four elements of that syllogism are standard Republican rhetoric. Bundy's only sin was adding point #5, that therefore minorities are slaves of government, and might be better off as harder-working slaves.

All of this is disgusting, of course. But it's only offensive in part because of the racial element. Adding point #2 of the syllogism simply bakes in another layer of prejudice to the cake.

The fact is that people are not poor because they're lazy. Most people living paycheck to paycheck work full-time in one or more jobs. A great many others are underemployed. And we know that productivity has been skyrocketing even as wages stagnate. This is not a country that rewards hard work:



We also know that government assistance does not in fact encourage laziness to a significant degree. Moreover, if there were any truth to the argument at all, the data suggests that government assistance leads to greater laziness among whites than among blacks.

But we don't need racial context for that conversation. It's almost as offensive to say that poor people of any color are made lazy by government assistance as to say that individuals of a specific skin color are. After all, the former statement expresses an equally awful and policy-distorting prejudice that affects an even larger number of people.

Every statement in the Bundy/Ryan syllogism is vile and deserves public repudiation. It's about time Democratic politicians stood up in outrage over Republican objectivism as much as they do over Republican racism.


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