Randi Rhodes is apparently an Air America “personality”, or at least she has a regular time slot on that radio network. Until this example of her art was picked up by the blogosphere (I first saw it at Angry in the Great White North), my familiarity with Ms. Rhodes extended to vague recognition of her name. Now I have a much better idea about her moral foundation.
She’s been urging people in New Orleans to loot. You might think she simply wants the term “looting”, or its consequences, not to be applied to people in desperate straights who are just trying to survive. This would be a reasonable assumption about a rational talk show host aware of rising barbarism in a disaster area. It would also be wrong.
Ms. Rhodes tenders specific advice about looting that tells us much about her, about her employer and about people who advertise on her show or Web page (Such as Vonage on the Web site. I’m not going to listen to her to determine her radio sponsors, but maybe Boycott Liberalism can help us out.).
Ms. Rhodes advises eschewing Wal-Mart merchandise (leave that to the cops) in favor of higher value booty; big screen plasma TV’s and jewelry, for example.
As we know, some New Orleans residents did not need Ms. Rhodes approbation in order to loot; and, to be clear, taking food, water, clothing or the materials to build shelter should not be considered looting in a time where civil order has broken down as completely as it had in New Orleans. In the case of basic survival in a suddenly Hobbesian world, property rights are not absolute.
However, the debate over the moral qualities of a person who selects a 42 inch plasma TV in preference to food and water when people are dying is necessarily a short one. The optimism it shows about the restoration of electrical power is overbalanced by its lack of self-preserving common sense. Any discussion regarding the merits of broadcasting an appeal to such behavior is even shorter.
This is theft. It is looting. People who do it can be shot, and they are being shot. (The dead guy was probably supplying suppressing fire for some looters.)
Which brings us to Ms. Rhodes tactical error: Tactical, since her ethical poverty is already glaringly apparent. She should have told looters: First hit a gun store. This way you can practice sniping rescuers against the day when you’ll need to try to kill a cop or a National Guardsman if caught exercising your right to a shopping cart full of gangsta’ rap DVD’s.
The first rule of looting is – be armed. Stealing while armed offers higher probability of success.
Ms. Rhodes has done us the favor of demonstrating the Statist philosophical connection to looting, and to the practical results of nearly 50 years of rising nanny-state expectations. She tells us that the job of government is to care for us by means of confiscating other people’s property; if there is an interruption in service, feel free to eliminate the middleman.
In an irony most certainly lost on Ms. Rhodes, she’s calling for the privatization of Statism.
It is unsurprising that an Air America on-air personality should advocate looting. Air America sees the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from children and the elderly as business as usual. Randi Rhodes is simply proselytizing the Statist ideal that the function of government is to redistribute wealth. I.e., to loot.
The most successful pack of looters on the planet, not because of skill, but because of opportunity (they happen to reside in the country with the world’s largest economy), all hang out in Washington DC. These are our elected “representatives”. Looting is what they do.
Ms. Rhodes is simply logically extending the Statist looter mentality.
So if, in the next election, we hear people citing moral values as motivation for their electoral choices, we’ll have Randi Rhodes and Air America to thank for defining it.
Update: 1:27. Trackback to Small Dead Animals.
Update: 1:58. See this Mark Steyn piece. Recommended.