Monday, July 7, 2014

The Reverse New Deal: A never-ending tidal wave of insults and hatred

(Image courtesy of

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney scoffed at the idea that low-income Americans have a right to food and health care. (link)

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said, "...if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself." (link)

Prominent conservative "thinker" Charles Murray once wrote, "when we know the complete genetic story, it will turn out that the population below the poverty line in the United States has a configuration of the relevant genetic makeup that is significantly different from the configuration of the population above the poverty line." (link)

Republican school official John Huppenthal (Arizona) wrote that low-income Americans are "lazy pigs." (link)

Republican-appointed judge Richard Cebull circulated an email joke, about President Obama being the result of a sexual encounter between his mother and a dog. (link

A Republican party official in North Carolina said this about a new voter identification law, "If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it." (link)

Republican political commentator Ben Stein wrote: "as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work." (link)

Tea Party official Inge Marler told a joke at a political rally that included the following, "A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’ ‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’" (link)

(Image courtesy of

Republican Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina Andre Bauer said that feeding low-income children is like feeding animals, and should be avoided because they might breed. (link)

A Tea Party activist, and a member of the Republican central committee in Orange County, California, circulated an email depicting President Obama and his parents as chimpanzees. (link)

A Texas Republican candidate for U.S. Senate referred to illegal immigrants as "wetbacks" and said President Obama was a "socialist son of a bitch." (link

Republican Congressman Don Young (Alaska) said, "My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes." (link)

A Montana Republican candidate for Congress called for an "Operation Wetback" to deport immigrants. (link)

A Republican contender for U.S. Senate compared people receiving food stamps to wild animals. (link)

Glenn Beck, thought leader of the modern right-wing movement, said this of the long-term unemployed: "Some of these people, I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans." (link)

And then there are the Internet comment-makers who follow the lead of the right-wing politicians & talking heads. For example, in response to an article about low-income residents having their water shut off, a commenter wrote, "If they cut back on the beer, wine, liquor, cigs, movie rentals, expensive cars, latest fashion statements, latest electronic gadgets, tatoos like this fatty has and the pies and cakes and potato chips this fatty obviously crams her mouth with, et al., she (and they) would have no problem paying their bill" (see "United Nations Says Turning Off Poor Detroiters' Water Violates Human Rights," comment at June 27, 4:09pm).

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Things have gotten so ruthless, that even Republican Governor John Kasich (Ohio) has questioned the tidal wave of insults: "I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy. You know what? The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A."   

Indeed, when New Deal policymakers offered the less fortunate work opportunities, as an alternative to the insults they were receiving from everyone else, they performed at a high level, working on thousands of projects that we still utilize & enjoy today (see the Living New Deal). Of WPA workers, author Nick Taylor observed: "They excelled. They created works that even without restoration have lasted more than seventy years and still stand strong, art that is admired, research that is relied upon, infrastructure that endures...These ordinary men and women proved to be extraordinary beyond all expectation. They were golden threads woven into the national fabric. In this they shamed the political philosophy that discounted their value and rewarded the one that placed its faith in them" (American-Made, New York: Bantam Books, 2008).

President Franklin Roosevelt once said "We are going to make a country in which no one is left out" (The Roosevelt I Knew, Frances Perkins, 1946). Across the Atlantic, Heinrich Himmler had a different view of humanity: "Antisemitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness." (Recall the Arizona official who wrote that low-income Americans were "lazy pigs.")

Which philosophy do you like better? And which direction do you see America heading towards--inclusion or persecution?

("It Can't Happen Here" was a WPA theatre play about a Nazi-like government occurring in America. Some people think that such a thing could not happen. What do you think? WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

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