Moral Low Ground

US Government

National Review Editor Kate O’Beirne Calls Hungry Americans ‘Criminals’

Kate O’Beirne, editor of the uber-conservative National Review, has raised eyebrows and ire by accusing American parents who cannot provide enough food for their children of criminal child negligence.

O’Beirne’s shocking comments came Friday at a Republican gathering at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC called “Less of Washington and More of Ourselves.” She began by attacking federal school meal programs that provide desperately needed nutrition to desperately hungry children. O’Beirne had this to say:

“My question is, what poor excuse for a parent can’t rustle up a bowl of cereal and a banana? I just don’t get why millions of school children qualify for school breakfast unless we have a major widespread problem with child neglect. You know, I mean if that’s how many parents are incapable of pulling together a bowl of cereal and a banana, then we have problems… [that] can’t be solved with a school breakfast, because we have parents who are just criminally negligent with respect to raising children.”

“What poor excuse?” Poverty is the excuse. What fantasy world is O’Beirne living in? Is she not aware that the number of poor Americans is approaching 50 million? That’s one out of every six people in the United States. Almost an identical number of us don’t have enough to eat. Food banks can barely keep up with demand and with unemployment and foreclosures at record levels, more and more Americans are coming to rely upon government assistance just to provide enough to eat for themselves and their families.

So where Kate O’Brien believes it’s criminally negligent for poor, hungry parents to turn to the government to help their children survive, Moral Low Ground asserts that it would be criminal for parents not to seek assistance.

The sad thing is, millions of Americans agree with Kate O’Beirne. And not just gazillionaires living in the rarefied, ignorant air of gated communities and country clubs far removed form the realities of an America where economic inequality is growing to the point where the numbers resemble a developing-world country. Many middle-class  Americans either can’t or won’t or don’t want to believe that people actually go hungry in this country. They look around them and see unprecedented numbers of obese children and think all is “well.”

Well, it’s not. And instead of attacking the poor like O’Beirne does, we should be attacking the causes of poverty. Like economic inequality. And a “succeed or be damned” culture that blames the poor for their own suffering. And $740 billion military budgets for trillion-dollar wars of imperial expansion.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” said President Eisenhower, a Republican, many decades ago. With those wise words in mind, isn’t it the government that is criminally negligent of our children, not their parents?

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