In a recent speech to political donors in Israel, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney attributed Israel’s economic success, as compared to its Palestinian neighbor, to its cultural superiority.
It was an inflammatory statement that harmed decades of U.S. efforts to serve as an intermediary in bringing peace to the war-torn region.
Romney’s correlation between culture and per-capita gross domestic product also raised concerns about how he would view his constituents if he wins the November election.
Romney’s home state of Massachusetts has a per-capita GDP of $52,915, one of the highest in the nation. Alabama sits near the other extreme, with a per-person GDP of $31,301. Does that make Alabama the cultural inferior of Massachusetts? Qatar — which follows Sunni law and has an absolute monarchy — has a per-capita GDP that is more than double that of the U.S. Is Qatar our cultural superior?
Equating money with cultural superiority may go over well with wealthy donors. It’s a precarious argument, however, for a politician who seeks to lead a nation consisting of many states and people who lack financial advantage.
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