“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” — Rep. Paul Ryan
“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a [poor] person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.” — former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer
“There are 47 percent who are … dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe government has a responsibility to care for them.” — Mitt Romney
Look at her face.
Spend a few quality moments with that image — her booking photo. Google it if you must, but find the image — her booking photo — and when you do, spend a few quality moments with it. Not so you can be touched by the woeful cast of her expression, not so you can be moved by the tears trickling freely upon her cheeks. Spend that time, rather, so that you can appreciate the realness and individuality of her.
You see, Shanesha Taylor is poor and much of what passes for discussion of the poor in this country is less about people than about types, cardboard cutouts from the overheated imaginations of those who have little idea what poverty even looks like. So study Taylor’s picture in order that you might understand what so many won’t: She is not a type. She is a human being.
Taylor was arrested last week in Scottsdale, AZ, after leaving her two children, ages two years and six months, alone inside a hot car, the doors locked, the windows open a fraction. It was — let’s be real clear on this — something for which there is no excuse, though it’s also something with which we have become sadly familiar. Some people leave kids in the car while they stop for a drink. Some leave them so they can hit the casino.
Taylor left her kids so she could go to a job interview. She is 35 and homeless. She had no one to watch them. She was desperate for work. She took a chance.
Now her children have been taken away and she is facing two felony counts of child abuse.
And Shanesha Taylor is the enemy. Or at least that is the narrative that is relentlessly spun by pundits and politicians on the political right. She is lazy, a taker, a moocher, a scavenger, an animal bred in a culture of poverty with an entitlement mentality and an addiction to suckling from the public teat so overpowering that she lacks even the ability to be embarrassed by her plight. So yes, by all means, cut her welfare, cut her food stamps, cut her unemployment benefits. This is what the right wing says.