By Chauncey DeVega
Approximately 20 percent of American children live in poverty. Food insecurity and hunger leads to a long-term decline in life spans and a diminished standard of living for whole communities.
Last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to cut 39 billion dollars from federal food assistance programs. Their vote is more than just the next act in the ongoing politics of cruelty by the Republican Party in the Age of Obama.
It is a decision to kill poor people.
In America, discussions of poverty are linked in the public imagination to stereotypes about race, class, and gender. The face of poverty is not white (the group which in fact comprises the largest group of recipients for government aid). Instead, it is the mythical black welfare queen, or an “illegal” immigrant who is trying to pilfer the system at the expense of “hard working” white Americans.
Discussions about poverty are also easily transformed into claims about morality and virtue. Consequently, while the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is very efficient and involves very little if any fraud on the part of its participants, stereotypes about the poor can be used to legitimate the policing and harassment of Americans in need of food support through mandatory drug testing and other unnecessary programs.
Here, the long-term end goal for Republicans is revealed for what it is—a desire to make being a poor person into a crime.
For more on conservative racism, see Anti-Government Extremism = White Supremacy and Conservatives Fear Minorities.