As I expected, there is already a crescendo of voices railing against George Will and his comments on This Week regarding the issue of poverty in general, but germane to the discussion of the issue of poverty as witnessed during the crises of Katrina last week. It was obvious from the moment the words tripped off his tongue that there would be many, many people ready to take him to task, and to perhaps go so far as to call for his head on an ABC network platter.
If you missed the Sunday morning, September 11th show, George laid out his ideas regarding poverty during the roundtable discussion between himself, George Stephanopoulos, Newt Gingrich, and Fareed Zakaria, a journalist from Newsweek magazine. They were discussing poverty, race and Katrina during which Will spelled out his prescription for poverty in three steps:
- Get a high school education and graduate.
- Wait until you are married (at least 20-years-old) before having babies.
- Each family needs a mother AND a father to succeed.
Will contends that a person’s best chance to avoid the grip of poverty is to follow these steps. And though it will not be easy, it’s probably your best chance for success. When I heard George say these words I immediately had a couple thoughts:
- Spot on, George
- You’re in trouble, George
Tough advice, his. Bitter pills to swallow, those. And because of the difficulty inherent in his prescription, Will is going to be labeled (among other things), “out of touch,” “racist,” “typical white male,” and so forth. You’ve all seen it hundreds of times before. And whether you agree with his advice or you don’t, you can’t argue against the validity of it, nor can you simply dismiss his admonishment as conservative Republican drivel.
But you’ll try to. It’s already happening. “How dare he sit in judgment of us,” or, “What does he know, everything he has has been given to him.” You know, trotting out the same old rebuttals to the kind of advice people really don’t want to hear because they haven’t got the wherewithal to recognize its worth, or the balls to step up their game to heed it. In other words, more of the same old bullshit preceding the line “…until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.”
As this debacle of Katrina wears on, I find myself waffling on the issues of blame, race, and poverty. Yet regardless of my feelings at any given point on those topics, I can’t deny the honesty and the value of Will’s view on the decline of a certain segment of this American population and of what it’s going to take to bring themselves back from the brink. Yes, “bring themselves back.”
If it’s unacceptable for white folk to have things handed to them, then it needs to be labeled unacceptable for all. We’ve spent decade after decade cultivating an attitude of entitlement, and for what? Where has it gotten us?
Rhetorical, so don’t bother. I’ve seen enough of it splattered across my television set over the last couple weeks to last a lifetime. It’s not about money, folks. It never has been. It’s about taking responsibility for yourselves and your actions. My parents pounded these lessons into me, and I happened to hear them again yesterday from Will. Sage advice then, as now. So do the same for your kids and break the cycle.
For more of me and my rants, visit Bite The Pariah, if you dare.