Media

For Republicans, a Homeless, 11-year-old Black Girl Named Dasani is a 'Useless Eater' Who Should Die

The right's politics of cruelty would have the poor, the brown and even children 'disappeared.'

Photo Credit: Lucian Coman/Shutterstock.com

Al Sharpton did some great work on Monday's PoliticsNation where he further exposed the politics of cruelty that have possessed the Republican Party.

Republicans want to cut food stamps, believe that kicking people off of unemployment insurance who cannot find a job in an economy where there are 3 people for every available job, and that a particularly evil and twisted version of "Christian faith" justifies punishing and hurting poor people as righteous deeds and acts that mark conservatives as the elect who are destined for heaven.

I am not a "Christian." But my understanding of the "historical" Jesus was that he was a man who died fighting State tyranny and would do anything to help the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable. The Tea Party GOP's bastardization of Jesus Christ remakes him into a figure who puts his foot on the throats of the hungry, weak, the vulnerable, and the needy, in order to motivate them into self-sufficiency--or alternatively die from a lack of breath.

For the Tea Party GOP, either outcome is acceptable.

The panoply of Right-wing hypocrites that Al Sharpton calls out, what is a rogues gallery of the cruel and the heartless, are wealthy people who have not internalized basic principles such as how noblesse oblige may actually create the social stability necessary to protect the rich while advancing their long-term interests.

wrote about how the Tea Party GOP wants to kill the "useless eaters" here. I was also fortunate to do an interview on Right of Fire Radio where I explained my argument in more detail.

During that conversation, I made a special effort to "connect the dots" between how the Republican Party's hostility to the poor and working classes is fueled by white racism and an explicit appeal to Eliminationism, i.e that some citizens are worthy of life and others are to be purged and eliminated from the body politic.

During his TV segment, Al Sharpton mentioned this heart-wrenching piece about a homeless 11-year-old child in New York by the name of Dasani. Her tale of struggle and endurance is both tragic and inspiring. Dasani is a little soldier; Dasani should not have to play such a role in what is ostensibly the world's "richest" country.

America is rotting from within while the very rich smile and gloat. The 1 percent can buy their kids tree houses that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dasani has to struggle to maintain her dignity while living in the shadow of squalor.

There are no children in Dasani's world. The super rich enjoy an extended childhood and adolescence, one that for many never ends because wealth is ultimately an insulation from the consequences of your choices: thus are the fruits of money and privilege.

The NY Times' story about Dasani and her family is socially responsible and important journalism. The fourth estate should and must do this type of work if it is rehabilitate itself as the watchdog of American democracy. Al Sharpton is to be commended for daring to get close to the truth of how the Republican Party views the working class and the poor as leeches, bums, social parasites, and whose children should be in workhouses or cleaning their schools as janitors.

Yet, The NY Times and Al Sharpton are teasing a harsh reality. Unfortunately, neither are able to state that plain fact for fear of reprisal by the Right-wing noise machine and the corporations which control the American news media. I have no such restrictions.

The Republican Party wants poor people and the vulnerable such as 11-year-old children like Dasani and her family to be "disappeared" from the body politic--in essence to die. As viewed by the White Right, they are "untermensch." The language which Republicans and their media use to describe poor, working class, and unemployed people--in particular those who are black and brown--leads to no other reasonable conclusion.

Leeches and parasites are to be destroyed; this is pest control; human leeches and parasites are to be eliminated with even greater expediency.

Little black girls like Dasani are subjected to a social phenomena known as "adultification".

Here, they are not allowed the innocence of childhood or to be vulnerable and in need of help and assistance by majority white society. The White Gaze, especially from the Right, has historically seen black folks as children for the purposes of civic inclusion and democracy (see the GOP's obsession with suggesting that African-Americans are civic children, veritable slaves, on a "Democratic plantation" without agency, as an example). In parallel, black children are seen as adults who can be imprisoned, executed, harassed by police, punished, profiled, expelled, and not allowed their innocence by a criminal justice system or educational system that deems them not allowed the white privilege of youthful error, insecurity, or nurturing.

Moreover, race, class, and gender are inexorably linked in the racial logic and rhetoric of Right-wing (and American) politics. Black women are "welfare queens". Black men, borrowing from Reagan's language, are "strapping young bucks" who use welfare to buy steaks. Because claims about poverty are also claims on morality in American society where the poor "deserve" their fate and have made "bad choices," the myth and cult of meritocracy combines with a centuries-long legacy of white supremacy to further mark and stigmatize children like brave Dasani.

If Sharpton, and The NY Times, were able and willing to offer up the basic and fundamental truth about how Republican rhetoric about poverty and people of color is not "innocent" political gamesmanship or mere bombast, but rather how the Tea Party GOP actually feels about the "useless eaters," they would tell a plain truth: the American Right-wing wants to see little innocent black girls like Dasani die...or at the very least conveniently disappear.

They are "surplus" people to be eliminated. Why? For conservatives, and those other who adhere to an Ayn Randian culture of cruelty that is intermixed with a a worldview and ideology in which conservatism and racism are one in the same, the sins of the mother and father are passed down to the child. As such, stalwart and strong little girls like Dasani are tainted with "bad culture"--and perhaps even bad genes.

As understood by contemporary Republicans, why should the United States' social safety net support and protect the poor and working classes when American elites can choose to instead enrich the 1 percent, while also continuing to support Wall Street and the Corporateocracy, those who are the "makers" and not the "takers?"

Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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