As council watchers know, Councilman Jose F. Moreno never refers to “homeless people” or “the homeless,” but always uses the phrase “people in the condition of homelessness.” In this video, Moreno explains why he employs this clumsy euphemism:
“We call it the condition of homelessness because once you say ‘the homeless people’ you categorize them. You “other” them.”
Moreno was speaking at a New American Leaders Project event in Washington, DC, to a roomful of other radical progressives to whom such that sounds like statements of the obvious. To ordinary folks who haven’t had their common sense educated out of them, it sounds like over-sensitive, politically-correct mumbo-jumbo.
When progressives talk about “the rich,” for example, does that “other” them? Furthermore, Moreno’s objection that saying “the homeless” means one is”categorizing” them rings hollow given his support for California Voting Rights Act-driven council districts, which are based upon categorizing voters by race and ethnicity.
Moreno then makes a startling statement:
“They’re in a condition that is man-made. And I say that explicitly: man-made. Uh, by men who’ve made decisions about our economies and the way that our democracy will not work for some, but for others.”
How’s that? Homeless individuals bear no responsibility for their condition? They’re simply victims of the machinations of the powerful? That makes no sense. Life isn’t the unfolding of some great, grinding Marxian dialectic.
Everyone’s state in the life is, to at least some extent, the sum of the good and bad decisions and choices we make. Some are luckier than others, have greater opportunities than others, work harder and form better habits than others. Some people squander every advantage and go nowhere, or worse. Others have no advantages and manage to achieve everything.
Many of the homeless are in that condition because they’re addicted to alcohol or drugs. A goodly number are criminals recently released from incarceration. Those are the results of bad choices. Shadowy men on corporate boards or from the councils of government didn’t do that to them.
Moreno’s broad-brush may be red meat for a roomful of radicals, but it’s divorced from reality and a flimsy basis for sound public policy.
The councilman from District 3 caps it off by with a healthy dose of identity politics, heavily seasoned with a victim mentality:
“It’s often difficult, I think, for America to hear that from immigrants. Because who are we? How dare we? As guests in this country, that we came through the borders, some with papers, some with not, to demand anything of a country. To demand anything of our own humanity.
Alright? We’re just suppose to come in, keep our heads down, work hard, get our paycheck, and stay quiet?”
Councilman Moreno is not a “guest in this country.” He’s an American citizen. So are the progressive activists in the room. Moreno constructs a ridiculous, condescending straw man of an “America” where immigrants are to be seen and not heard. Moreno suggests people might disagree with his opinions on homelessness because he’s an immigrant. Instead of conceding that reasonable people can be in possession of the same information and arrive at different conclusions, Moreno suggests it stems from bigotry.
This is the sort of elitist jabber about homelessness that causes ordinary folks to roll their eyes. The vast majority of people manage to make a life for themselves by working hard, sacrificing and following the rules. They finish school and avoid becoming drug addicts or criminals, and manage to raise families, keep a roof over their head and move up the ladder of life with varying degrees of success. They want to help the homeless, but believe the homeless must be willing to accept the help that is offered, on the terms it is offered. They’re tired of progressive politicians wringing their hands, treating all homeless persons as helpless victims of socio-economic forces completely beyond their control, and implying those who don’t agree with their policies are bigots.