Monday, August 08, 2005

Gov. Huckabee on "Lazy" Americans

In an interview in the New York Times magazine, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says that, "without a doubt", Americans are lazy. Why?
We're the victims of our own successes and prosperity, which have caused us to change our lifestyles from being people who had to hunt for our food to people who have more than we can possibly consume. We go to gyms and pay people so they can help us sweat. Isn't that amazing? My dad was a fireman. On his days off, he worked in a mechanic's shop fixing cars. He never had to pay someone and say, ''Help me learn how to sweat.''
Two reactions:

First, Huckabee's willingness to criticize his own countrymen reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which, upon converting to Judaism, Jerry's friend Tim claims a license to deprecate Jews, and immediately starts telling Jewish jokes. Imagine if Huckabee had said that Mexicans are lazy; or, if a Mexican politician had said that Americans are lazy; or if . . . I don't know, let's think of something really crazy . . . French president Jacques Chirac had condemned another entire country's cusine. In the public sphere, membership in a particular sociological group often excuses maligning that group; conversely, criticism is generally considered off-limits from those outside the group.

Second, is Huckabee even right? His reasoning seems puzzling. In support of the position that Americans are lazy, Huckabee points to the fact that people go to the gym. Lazy people. Rushing to the gym. To exercise. During their time off. From work. Where Americans spend more time than anyone else in the world. Some people who go to the gym might even be firemen. Who fix cars on their days off.

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