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MSNBC contributor: Americans 'freedom-obsessed' to point 'we're blind to other types of threats'

MSNBC contributor Anand Giridharadas argued Wednesday that Americans are "freedom-obsessed" to the point it blinds them to other types of threats, including "a virus" or "climate change" in a commentary that sparked some blowback on the right.

“One of the fundamental questions to me is, what’s going to be our relationship to government, the idea of government after this? We kind of look at it at three levels this week,” Giridharadas told "Morning Joe" regarding a post-coronavirus America.

“There’s a primordial American tradition going back to the founders of being freedom-obsessed, even though we’re a country founded on slavery and genocide,” the Vice TV host continued. “Being freedom-obsessed to the point where we’re always so afraid of the government coming for us, that we’re blind to other types of threats — whether it’s a virus, whether it’s bank malfeasance, climate change, what have you," he said.

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Giridharadas pointed to distrust in government beginning in earnest during the Reagan administration.

“There’s also a more recent, kind of 40-year version of this, which is the Reagan war on government,” he said. “That’s not just an idea on the right. There’s a hard version on the right, there’s a small-c ‘conservative’ kind of militant version of it, but it has also infected many people on the left in this passive sense, like ‘I believe in government, but I would never go work there,’ or ‘I believe in government, but I kind of like don’t like my taxes too high,' or I use trusts in the Cayman Islands.'”

Reagan, who consistently advocated for smaller government, said in his 1981 presidential inaugural address, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem," a quote still echoed by conservatives.

The 40th president declared in a later speech that "government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

The commentary by Giridharadas spurred blowback mostly from the right on Twitter, including from fellow MSNBC contributor Noah Rothman.


 
Giridharadas's "Seat at the Table" debuted on Vice TV in April.