The Oklahoma Republican Party is getting a lot of attention on its Facebook page, following a controversial post that some say compares food stamp recipients to animals.
In a statement posted on its official Facebook page and Twitter account Monday, the Oklahoma GOP says the Food Stamp Program will distribute free meals to 46 million people. It then went on to say that the National Park Service has signs in parks saying don't feed the animals, because they will grow dependent on handouts.
Here's the full statement by the Oklahoma Republican Party,
“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow
dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
Thus ends today's lesson in irony ?#OKGOP”
The post has since been shared more than 1,000 times and received hundreds of comments. Some are supportive of the statement. However, many are furious about the comparison and they voiced their opinions.
Christine Corbin commented, "This is a gross opinion to have, and it's even crazier that you'd actually post it on social media. There's a reason your party is becoming less and less relevant, and a big part of it is stuff like this."
Bethany K Kinney commented, "This is embarrassing for all Republicans! I love my party and am a conservative, but government programs are there to help those in need! I have a daughter with autism and it is terrible that OK won't mandate that insurance companies pay for ABA, the government needs to help finance services for special needs kiddos but Oklahoma refuses. Not all government assistance programs are bad including food stamps! Please take this post down, it just shows ignorance."
Liz Ragland commented, "Shame on you, OK GOP, for comparing children and families living in poverty to animals! Your lack of compassion and tact is embarrassing to the entire state."
The post is also creating buzz among Oklahoma lawmakers.
Representative Emily Virgin from Norman posted on Twitter, "Many OK teachers, correctional officers, college students, and single mothers qualify for food stamps. OK GOP's statement is disgusting."
Oklahoma State House Democratic Leader Scott Inman posted on Facebook, "Certainly we should do all we can to reduce the number of our citizens - children, seniors, working mothers and others - who receive food stamps, but to compare them to animals is insulting, degrading and not at all in the spirit of Christ."
The Oklahoma GOP has since taken down the post and issued an apology,
"Last night, there was a post on our OKGOP Facebook page, and it was misinterpreted by many. I offer my apologies for those who were offended – that was not my intention.
This post was supposed to be an analogy that compared two situations illustrating the cycle of government dependency in America, not humans as animals.
However I do think that it’s important to have conversations about government welfare programs since our dependency on government is at its highest level ever.
Quoting President Reagan, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”
As read in our Oklahoma Republican Statement of Principles, we believe that 'free market principles are the best to stimulate our economic development rather than government subsidies or programs' and I was doing my best to echo that view.
Again, I apologize for any misconceptions that were created. - Randy"
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin also posted a response to her official Facebook page,
"I accept Chairman Brogdon's explanation that he was not intentionally disparaging any group of people and I appreciate him taking the post down.
Welfare programs and welfare reforms are important subjects that we need to have a respectful, thoughtful conversation about as a nation. Programs like food stamps have an important role; we don't want any American families to fall through the cracks or to go hungry. In Oklahoma, the majority of food stamps go to the elderly, people with disabilities and working low-income families with children, which is appropriate.
As a conservative, I believe the role of government programs like food stamps should be limited, targeted, and conditional. In Oklahoma, for instance, we have said that able-bodied individuals between 18 and 50 need to work to continue to receive food stamps after 90 days. Requirements like these ensure that food stamps remain a temporary hand-up, as they were intended to be, rather than a permanent handout that replaces gainful employment.
Ultimately, what Republicans like myself want is to help every individual who can work to find a job and a career path that allows them to achieve the American Dream. You do that by supporting healthy private sector job growth and removing barriers to economic expansion. You do that by pursuing education and job training programs like Oklahoma Works, which help people get the skill sets they need to succeed in the private sector.
When we help people find the work they need to support themselves and their families, we are giving them far more than we ever could with food stamps or welfare. Republican values are about honoring the dignity of all Americans, not disparaging them."