Hit & Run

Cathy Young on Linda Tirado and the Politicization of Poverty

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Linda Tirado
Linda Tirado/YouTube

The issue of poverty and responsibility starkly divides leftists and liberals from conservatives and libertarians. Is poverty caused by conditions beyond individual control, or by bad personal choices? Can the poor help themselves, or is it a social responsibility? In recent days, this debate has been dramatized by the saga of Linda Walther Tirado, the woman who (depending on which side you take) either perpetrated a brazen hoax by offering "poverty porn" to the gullible left, or told a brave, honest tale of American poverty only to be savaged by the heartless right. As is often the case with conflicting politicized narratives, writes Cathy Young, neither one quite matches the facts. Tirado's story is not a quite hoax; but there is nothing honest about it. It is a combination of partial truths and dramatic embellishments spun into a false narrative with a political agenda.