In a world and time in which the problems of our culture are legion, and require true intelligence, wisdom and compassion to solve, we, instead, have the GOP.
Blame is a big issue for the GOP… actually, it’s a big issue for anybody, but most mature, sensible people look to place blame on the actual causes for problems rather wild, illogical punching bags meant to deflect from truth. Which is what the GOP does… which is a problem. Because without identifying the actual causes and, instead, blaming random distractions, one can stir up a lot of dust without getting an inch closer to a solution.
But don’t tell that to the GOP.
The latest entry to the Very Insane Blame Game is courtesy of House Republican Leader, Representative James Lankford (R-OK), the fifth-ranking House Republican, who got together with local constituents in Oklahoma City recently to listen to their concerns. Given that it’s 2013 and just since the tragedy of Sandy Hook we’ve had over 1000 gun homicides, one of the main topics of discussion was guns and gun violence. As part of the dialogue, a woman asked Lankford what he was doing about all the kids who were supposedly shooting people because their were high on psychotropic drugs. Lankford not only agreed with her thesis, he extrapolated on it. Here’s the exchange as reported by Think Progress:
CONSTITUENT: My question is regarding the guns and is Washington at all aware of the psychotropic drugs that these children are taking? I guarantee it 100 percent that’s our big problem. [...]
LANKFORD: I agree with that. I think there’s a bunch of issues that, quite frankly, most liberals are afraid to talk about. [...] Where are we on all those psychiatric drugs? We’ve overmedicated kids. Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put them on Social Security disability and get a separate check. That is wrong on every single level. Not only is it fraudulent to the government, but it also tells a kid with great potential, “don’t try because you’re disabled.”
Poor welfare moms. Not only are they down on their luck and struggling to feed their kids while looking to the welfare system for help while they pull themselves out of poverty (as is the case with most ), they’re once again being blamed for the ancillary ills of the world. This go-around it’s gun violence. But this is not a new GOP maneuver; there have been other bizarre entries in the GOP Blame Game; this is just the latest. A few others?
1. We’ve got gays causing Superstorm Sandy.
2. “Awful looking women” are the reason for bad marriages (thank you, Pat Robertson!).
3. Similar to Hurricane Sandy, climate change is due to gayness but more specifically gay marriage
4. And of course, the NRA and others blame mass shootings on video games…apparently they didn’t get the memo about corrupt welfare moms.
There are other examples but these should give you a good idea of how this tends to go.
The main issue with Rep. Lankford’s sliming of welfare moms is that it’s a lie. While many are concerned with issues related to overmedicating children, and while that angle certainly has merit as a topic in another conversation, linking it to welfare mothers and the issue of gun violence is cynical and manipulative. Particularly because, as Think Progress reports, it’s not based on reality:
In Fiscal Year 2011, the Inspector General’s office opened up 4,600 fraud cases related to Social Security disability programs. This number includes a wide variety of fraud, including lying about one’s marital status, stealing money from someone who has died, or unreported income. The actual number of people committing the type of fraud Lankford describes is a minuscule fraction. Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 people are gunned down in an average year. [Emphasis added.]
The Republican Party insists on insulting the intelligence of anyone with a sense of logic, by floating these random and deflective scenarios to divert from the real causes of social ills. This is particularly true when those “real causes” can be linked to issues, people and organizations supported by those on the right (i.e., NRA, gun manufacturers, right wing Second Amendmenters, etc.). When it comes to gun violence, this latest fantasy is designed to deflect from the actual cause: the obscene number of guns owned by people in the United States and the growing tendency for those either mentally ill, without impulse control, or just violence-prone to use them.
Instead, it’s poor women on welfare, who, according to Rep. Lankford, are hell-bent on cheating the system by getting extra checks for drugging the daylights out of their kids…who then go on to commit mass murder with guns.
Or something like that.
With even just the slightest of research, one can determine that the Lanza family (shooter at Sandy Hook) was wealthy, the two shooters from Columbine grew up in the suburbs, as did the Aurora movie theater shooter. The shooter at Virginia Tech had immigrant parents who owned a small business; the Tucson shooter was an only child raised by a working parent… the point is, while mental illness is certainly a component of any of these stories, and psychotropic drops may or may not have been an element in individual cases, there is not a one of them (or any others I could find) who was connected to a welfare mother.
Rep. Lankford, welfare moms are not the reason for gun violence. The real reason is too many guns, too many disturbed people, and a culture of paranoia that has aggrandized weaponry above all else.
But that just doesn’t sound as buzzy as “welfare moms,” does it?