Every once in a while, I glance at “Let It Out,” the Star feature that showcases reader remarks. Yesterday, I was stunned to read the following:
“It appears our President is more willing to risk the lives of people flying than to cut entitlements. A sad and dangerous state of affairs.”
In two brief sentences, the writer displayed two of the traits most responsible for today’s toxic and retrograde political environment: ignorance and lack of empathy. Ignorance, because the flight delays resulting from the sequester—while inconvenient—pose no risk to safety; because the terms of the sequester (a result of Republican intransigence) gave the president no discretion to determine what budgets would be affected; and because the power to “cut entitlements” rests with Congress, not the president.
It’s one thing to be uninformed or willfully ignorant of basic facts. What struck me most forcefully about the remarks, however, was their mean-spiritedness, their absolute lack of awareness or empathy for the recipients of what the author dismisses as “entitlements.”
Despite the disproportionate attention paid to them, flight delays are merely an annoyance—albeit an annoyance to the more privileged among us. Other consequences of the sequester have included delay or termination of cancer treatments for people on Medicaid, and cutbacks to Head Start, to nutrition programs serving pregnant women and children, and to Meals on Wheels, to name just a few. That these cutbacks are causing real pain to less fortunate, less politically-empowered people evidently hasn’t occurred to the commenter–or doesn’t matter.
Too bad those who contribute to “Let it Out” don’t have to sign their names. We’d know who to avoid.