Professional concern troll and New York Times mansplainer Nicholas Kristof touched off a firestorm last Friday when he warned of a new way in which teh poors are profiting on the backs of Big Welfare. He brought the chilling news that devious destitute parents are once again up to no good. That’s right – this time the “welfare queens” are willfully pushing their children toward academic failure, all so they can continue living the high life on the backs of their children, collecting that monthly government disability check instead of contributing to society like good Americans.
And what form has it taken this time? Parents deliberately removing their children from needed literacy programs to ensure that their children stay disabled. That’s right, hordes of parents are sabotaging the future of their children all for that monthly roughly $600 check. I ask you, what kind of meth-addled single mother – and Kristof specifically targets drug-addicted single mothers here – could live with herself after doing this to a child?
Kristof just knows the epidemic of single parenthood is a big part of the problem. Oh, yes. He cites “a growing body of careful research” assuring us that “the most effective strategy is to work early on children and education, and to try to encourage and sustain marriage.” He doesn’t bother with citing the research though…probably because there appears to be none (unless he’s referring to the notoriously sketchy “research” of rightwing Christian group National Organization of Marriage).
It would all be terribly troubling if there were any evidence of this new welfare fraud epidemic, but Kristof has never been one to concern himself with the complexities of policy and details: “I’m no expert on domestic poverty,” he says this time. But that doesn’t stop ol’ Kristof – no, he keeps on pressing on, fearless even in the absence of mere anecdote, let alone comprehensive data. A real beacon of courage in this cold opportunistic world of ours.
The man is nothing if not consistent. He defended Kony 2012 in the face of extensive evidence that that whole enterprise was a sham. He teamed up with the evangelical conservative International Justice Mission to support brothel raids in India, even though, as Melissa Gira Grant and Anne Elizabeth Moore have pointed out, sex workers have not found these raids particularly helpful. But that’s okay, because Kristof knows what’s best when it comes to saving the world!
Sometimes all that’s needed to change the world is a courageous voice. At least that’s what Kristof intimated when he took to twitter to lament the “sad” state of close-minded anti-intellectual liberals too wrapped up in ideology to know right from wrong. He even tweeted a few Chinese characters: 实事求是. This, he says, means, “seek truth from facts,” and it’s a Maoist slogan condemning entrenched ideologies that blind us to the facts. A Maoist anti-ideology slogan.
Of course, the real, hard-nosed question Kristof has been asking all these years is: Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? They probably don’t. You want to know why? Because their desperate mothers have pulled them out of literacy class and destroyed their livelihoods all for that next desperate meth high. And that’s the truly sad thing. He just wants to spread a little Christmas cheer because no child should ever be denied the joys of Christmas, but people won’t stop castigating him for it! He can’t help the fact that he’s just a romantic with high ideals – it’s just how he’s wired.
And maybe we could all benefit from that same kind of arrogant obliviousness. Heal the world, America. Heal. The world. That’s all he wants. Goddamned cynical liberals raining all over his parade with those pesky facts. Honestly, can’t they tell when someone is on their side already? We don’t have to convince Kristof – he’s one of us. Well, a New York Times-branded celebrity version of one of us, but still.
Anyway, he knows what he’s talking about. Who but Anderson Cooper has had the same blank check to travel all over the world through so many different wars and danger zones? And who but Kristof has traveled the globe just to find one or two token Oppressed Women or Children™ everywhere with whom he can feign “listening” for a few minutes.
Can’t we all just give him the benefit of the doubt anyway? Sure, he sounds identical to those British colonizers in India who expressed grave concern over the “plight” of Indian women (and brown women and children more generally) – and who saw colonialism as a way to aid them. Well, at least they saw feminist lip service as a way to justify the colonial project. Kristof has the purest of intentions, just like they did.
I’m just glad that Kristof’s piece came in time for the Season of Giving. What better way to underscore what the under-privileged don’t have than to advocate taking their last crumbs away? Slashing SSI Disability might just be the best damn gift we can give disabled children this year – take away the resources their families depend on, and force them to fend for themselves or shrivel and die. It’s hard hard world out there, you know, and we must generously give of ourselves to make sure they have the right to be free from what Kristof calls that “soul-crushing dependency.” Isn’t that what Linus says is the true meaning of Christmas anyway?
Front page photo by Sharif Zu’bi (c)