This article first appeared at National Review, under the authorship of David French.
This weekend, my colleague Kevin Williamson kicked up quite the hornet’s nest with his magazine piecethat strikes directly at the idea that the white working-class (the heart of Trump’s support) is a victim class. Citizens of the world’s most prosperous nation, they face challenges — of course — but no true calamities. Here’s the passage that’s gaining the most attention:
“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”
These are strong words, but they are fundamentally true and important to say. My childhood was different from Kevin’s, but I grew up in Kentucky, live in a rural county in Tennessee, and have seen the challenges of the white working-class first-hand. Simply put, Americans are killing themselves and destroying their families at an alarming rate. No one is making them do it. The economy isn’t putting a bottle in their hand. Immigrants aren’t making them cheat on their wives or snort OxyContin. Obama isn’t walking them into the lawyer’s office to force them to file a bogus disability claim…
… a focus on personal responsibility [does not] mean that the government or cultural elite are blameless. Far from it, and I’ve written at length about the role of progressive culture and progressive policies in cultural decline. I loathe the progressive welfare state and the elitist sexual revolutionaries who do all they can to create a culture that it simultaneously dependent and self-indulgent. I hate the mockery that poor and working-class people of all races endure, but we live in a nation of mutual responsibilities, and the failure of the government does not require the failure of the citizen. Kevin is right.
If getting a job means renting a U-Haul, rent the U-Haul. You have nothing to lose but your government check.
Read the whole thing here.