I Actually Can’t See Your Halo; or, Last Grasps of a Failing Ideology

The Independent Journal Review is circulating a disturbing op-ed, presumably about Obama, and all liberals by association. The more disturbing aspect of the piece is that it’s actually about nothing but a private family matter that’s being exploited to promote the ideology of conservative self-reliance. The most disturbing truth is that the writer and the 8300 people who like it on Facebook are blind to how the whole thing undercuts the smug arguments of self-reliance that’s ostensibly being promoted.

 The only comforting part of the article to me is that it shows an ideology at the end of its rope, grasping at thin air to keep from falling away into utter irrelevance.

 The tabloid-rag-worthy title of the article: “Obama’s Celebrity Pal Has a Half-Brother on Food Stamps, Even Though She’s Worth $350 Million.”

 My first question is how many degrees of separation need to exist before President Obama is not implicitly blamed for an individual circumstance. Here we have at least three degrees, but I guess the definitive answer would have to come from the editorial board of the IJR.

 The situation is that Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles, has a four-year-old child out of wedlock; the child’s mother has had to apply for public assistance since Knowles has fallen behind on child support.

 The gargantuan leap of logic we’re expected to make: given Beyonce’s fortune, this situation is pure liberal hypocrisy on display, as we, the tax-paying public, are feeding her half-brother instead of her.

 Come again?

 I have a personal, slightly off-topic, issue with the assumption that Beyonce is a liberal hypocrite, based on this circumstance. I have plenty of friends and family who are in tight situations—I don’t hand out money freely to them (to be fair though, I don’t have $350 million), and I don’t expect Beyonce to go around throwing her money at the woman who (along with her dad) broke up her parents’ marriage, especially when there is court-ordered child support involved.

 Also, as much as I admire Beyonce as an artist, I can’t give her credit for any sort of inherent political integrity. Beyonce is a performer and an artist, not a political scientist. I guess some conservatives are so brainwashed by the nepotistic theory of legitimacy by osmosis that they think the fact that Beyonce performed at Obama’s inauguration makes her a representative of liberal ideology. Not so much.

 I have a separate issue with a conservative website exploiting the lurid details of a famous black family’s personal troubles, allowing racial tropes of promiscuity, illegitimacy and government dependence to be snatched up by those who are susceptible to such suggestions.

 On a related note, I don’t think it’s a smart editorial choice for a conservative political journal to throw around terms like “baby mama” in an op-ed piece it expects to be taken seriously.

 All these issues aside, the real trouble with this article and its ilk is that it disproves its own self-righteous point. The idea of a public safety net is based on the assumption that people will fall through the cracks, whether due to selfish rich conservatives who won’t help their families and the needy in general, or due to selfish rich liberals.

 I mean, I’m flattered that conservatives hold my ideology in such high regard that they automatically assume that I’m a selfless saint. Unfortunately, the reality is that the public safety net addresses all disadvantaged folks, not just those screwed over by conservatives.

 It’s not the sort of logical consistency that makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but it is entirely consistent for selfish liberals to say, in effect, “Let’s all pay taxes to help the less fortunate so I don’t have to worry about how much money to give my broke cousin.”

 Selflessness is a personal virtue, but we can’t run a society based on 300 million people independently exercising personal virtue at their own whims. We can’t any more expect folks to help the poor independently than we can expect everyone to go to Home Depot, pick up asphalt and paint, and do their own selfless part to build streets and highways.

 Hypocrisy exists when one’s actions and opinions are at odds. A political liberal expecting the application of political liberal ideology to take care of one’s needy family members is not hypocrisy.

 I think a better example of hypocrisy is a conservative arguing against the public safety net by giving examples of people NOT helping each other.




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