A shortage in infant formula is bringing out the worst of the worst from the worst of the worst.
As Congress scrambles to address the ongoing baby formula shortage that’s left scores of new parents without a crucial source of nutrition for their infants, a host of right-wing lawmakers and pundits have seized upon this legitimate health crisis as the latest front in their thinly veiled eugenics push. In recent days, cable news figures and members of Congress alike have been encouraging the public to essentially cheer the starvation of so-called “illegal babies” who, they claim, are being prioritized over corn-fed blue-blooded American kids by Joe Biden’s traitorous socialist liberal government.
Yes, the conservative pro-life party and its allies are suddenly conspicuously chill with preventable infant deaths, so long as they’re the right infants born in the right place (or “wrong” place, as they’d likely claim).
Never mind that this entire tempest in a teapot over who is getting access to formula (a “faux outrage,” per Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler) is the result of the Biden administration simply following the law which dictates how the government must care for undocumented children in its custody. Conservatives both in Congress and on cable news have once again taken a very real, very frightening situation — the CDC estimates around 20% of babies receive formula in their first few days after birth — and have twisted it to fit their broader narrative of xenophobia and “great replacement” white nationalism. In doing so, they’re essentially conditioning their audiences and constituents to be okay with infant starvation, so long as the ones starving were born on the wrong side of the border.
As ghoulish and appalling the suggestion that the government should starve the babies in its care is on its own, it’s all the more disgusting given the simultaneous push by many of these same figures to criminalize reproductive health with the looming repeal of Roe v. Wade. The “pro-life” movement, such as it is, seems particularly interested in being pro-certain lives, at the expense of all others.
To be clear, there is a lot of serious work to be done in regards to how the nation got to a point where crucial infant care material is dangerously out of stock, from concerns over corporate monopolies to supply chain issues and questions of manufacturing redundancies. But the pundits at Fox News and their allies in Congress aren’t really interested in that, because that would involve any number of things that are anathema to conservatives, including “coming up with a solution to an existing problem.” Instead, this is just another opportunity for the right wing to play on legitimate fears in service of stoking bigotry and xenophobic nationalism, which is already being used to leverage further GOP electoral gains and perpetuate the conservative spiral of outrage and fearmongering.
Meanwhile, for parents simply trying to feed their infants, all this does is heighten their anxieties without offering anything of substance in return. In other words, it’s a perfect encapsulation of where things stand with the ostensibly pro-family, pro-life, pro-“legal babies” movement.