Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let 'em Die

Let ‘em die might well appear to be the new mantra of the Republican Party, if not a mantra, perhaps a kind of meta-plank in their Republican platform. That is a fundamental principle that, while not actually stated, is behind their platform. If this has not been apparent for a while it has certainly surfaced in the last week or two in all its ugliness. You will recall, if you watched the first Republican debate (I guess technically it was the second debate), when Governor Perry was defending his rather shocking record of executions his audience applauded. In the debate last night when Ron Paul suggested that if a young man with no insurance needed help he could, in effect, be allowed to die (basically for irresponsibility). This hateful announcement was also met with applause. So much for the previous Republican claims of being “compassionate conservatives,” a Bush claim that was known to be utter nonsense even when he first uttered it and now even the pretense has been abandoned.

I do not think these two recent examples of the Republicans lack of empathy or compassion should come as a surprise. They are perfectly consistent with everything they stand for (or, rather, don’t stand for). They have made it entirely clear they do not approve of welfare in any form, and are opposed to everything that might help ordinary Americans to live decent and happy lives: no minimum wage, no unemployment insurance, no tax breaks for anyone but the wealthy, no Medicare, Medicaid, no Social Security, no food stamps, nothing for those whose unemployment insurance has been exhausted, and so on. A short time ago I encountered a woman who swore that anyone who had not actually worked should not be entitled to Social Security. As she was quite adamant on this point she meant everybody who had not worked, widows with small children, handicapped people, victims of serious industrial accidents, everyone, no exceptions. When you ask these people what they think should happen to such people they do not, of course, say “let ‘em die,” but rather mumble something about their families or churches should be responsible (an idea, of course, out of the 18th century). And they cling to their belief that poor people are poor because it’s their own fault, the unemployed are unemployed because they are too lazy to look for jobs or want to work, and etc. They appear not only to lack compassion but also empathy as well as what one might think of as basic human virtues.

This same attitude exists in an even stronger form when it comes to “others,” especially “gooks,” “huns,” “Japs,” “towel heads,” “Arabs,” “Iranians,” “savages,” or anyone from other countries and, at the moment, especially Muslims. They are eager to start and continue what become endless “wars,” the “winning” of such efforts being basically irrelevant so long as their Military/Industrial/Political pot of gold continues. The fact that millions are killed and millions more reduced to abject misery seems not to bother them in the slightest. They resist all efforts to reduce our killing budgets and don’t even bother to count the lives of others that perish in these ridiculous and unnecessary hostilities. Nor do they balk at the most basic of war crimes, attacking innocent countries, torturing their captives, and even going so far as to incarcerate for life innocent captives who are never charged with anything and are in many cases known to be innocent (in such cases a fate probably worse than death). No habeas corpus for those who are apparently not even regarded as human. Even children are dismissed as simply “collateral damage.”

The only conclusion I can deduce from all this is that Republicans truly believe people of all kinds who for whatever reason lack the means to care for themselves should die, preferably as quickly as possible (maybe not even that as they seem to enjoy misery as much as death). Former Congressman Grayson recently suggested there was an element of sadism involved in their behavior. I’m not sure about that because I suspect in order to be a sadist you have to first have enough empathy to understand what you are doing, but this is a question for another time.

I cannot not say the inhuman tendencies in human beings are the exclusive property of Republicans, but it does seem to me they are much more pronounced among Republicans than others. I’m not certain whether such people have such tendencies and are therefore attracted to the Republican Party or if they learn them after they become Republicans. This attitude toward death (and apparently the value of human life in general) represents a most primitive form of Social Darwinism discredited long ago but surviving still among the “haves” who are determined they are the “chosen” and everyone else is expendable. It is possible this is an attitude only held most seriously by the Tea Party crowd but it is possible they are only the most willing to publicly express it (as they seem also to lack common sense). In any case, I believe part of Obama’s problem with these people is that he simply cannot believe such people could actually exist, Pollyanna in the Devil’s workshop, so to speak.

elusive temptress, evades
Barack Obama.


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