Matt Taibbi is a very controversial topic here. Some laud him as today’s Hunter S. Thompson, some deride him as a self-indulgent hack. In any case, I thought his piece on David Brooks’ column on the Haitian earthquake was excellent, not because I hate Bobo (though I do), but because it goes to something central to our current public dialog: the need to blame victims.
It’s natural, of course, that when something terrible happens to someone else you want to say it couldn’t happen to you. My neighbor dropped dead of a heart attack? He smoked, I don’t. That kid across town got hit by a stray bullet walking home from school? He was probably in a gang.
Maybe thinking that way is what keeps us from living under our beds. But when it meshes with politicizing and patting yourself on the back, it’s ugly. Taibbi:
TRANSLATION (of Bobo): Although it is true that Haiti was just like five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress…[….]
Again, unlike Brooks, I actually lived in the Third World for ten years and I admit it — I’m not exactly in the habit of sending checks to Abkhazian refugees, mainly because I’m not interested in buying some local Russian gangster a new Suzuki Samurai to tool around Sochi in. And I’ve actually seen what happens to the money people think they’re giving to Russian orphanages goes, so no dice there, either.
But you know what? Next time there’s an earthquake in Russia or Georgia, I’m probably going to wait at least until they’re finished pulling the bodies of dead children out of the rubble before I start writing articles blasting a foreign people for being corrupt, lazy drunks with an unsatisfactorily pervasive achievement culture whose child-rearing responsibilities might have to be yanked from them by with-it Whitey for their own good.
It’s a short step from lamenting that “Responsibility is often not internalized” (as Brooks does) to talking about strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks with their UN relief checks.