Paul Ryan, former Republican vice presidential candidate and House Budget Chair, believes he’s discovered the secret to unemployment. A few years ago, he blamed unemployment on people lounging around in hammocks, but his most recent attack has nothing to do with lawn furniture. Rep. Ryan voiced his opinion on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio program Wednesday, and you could have heard a
cross burning pin drop.
Quick refresher course on right wing language: If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed a peculiar kind of code winging around the GOP. Call it a dog whistle, if you will. Food stamp president. Entitlement nation. Amnesty. It’s not just pundits who engage in the shrill blowing of the race whistle, politicians blow as well. Mitt Romney ran ads (that were thoroughly debunked) during the 2012 campaign, claiming President Obama had dropped the work requirement from welfare. Ask a right winger who’s on welfare in America, and odds are, they will tell you minorities as they try to justify their Medicaid Hoverounds and disability checks.
What Paul Ryan said isn’t so much code as it is in your face, blatant racism. Here is Ryan’s quote:
We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.
Inner city. Who lives in the inner city, according to the right wing? Why, that would be black people. Generations of men not even thinking about working. So, black grandfathers, black fathers, and now black sons, all refusing to work because it’s part of their culture. Also part of their culture is not learning the value of work. Paul Ryan now blames unemployment on black men. Small problem: ALL colors of men (and women) are unemployed at the moment. My husband’s unemployed, I have numerous friends who are unemployed, and we’re all different colors and creeds.
If you think this couldn’t get any worse, hold on. Ryan also mentioned Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist. Murray has his very own entry on Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, because he is a flaming white nationalist. Murray believes people are born lazy, due to genetics. Guess who the lazy people are? Blacks. Guess who the stupid people are? Welfare mothers. Guess who aren’t racists? White people who agree with Charles Murray. One of Murray’s favorite words is “dysgenesis,” which refers to the supposed genetic deterioration of a population, but is used most frequently by eugenicists. Murray co-authored “The Bell Curve,” along with Richard Hernnstein, a book that posited the collective IQ of America is declining because “elites,” or smart people, aren’t having babies, while the poor and less intelligent are. He has also been featured many times at VDARE.
Paul Ryan cited Charles Murray while bemoaning the black men responsible for America’s unemployment. He spoke about people driving to the sports arena past “these blighted communities.” Subtle. Let’s remember that Rick Santorum told voters during a campaign stop he wanted to make black people’s lives better. Santorum claims he said “blah people,” but I’ve watched that clip over and over, and he said black. Steve King has called President Obama “urban,” and compared immigrants to a litter of dogs. Mitt Romney wasn’t concerned about “the very poor” because they have a safety net. Neal Boortz, a conservative radio show host, has called the poor “toe fungus,” and said this about refugees of Hurricane Katrina:
I love talking to you about these Katrina refugees. I mean, so many of them have turned out to be complete bums, just debris. Debris that Hurricane Katrina washed across the country.
Obviously, some on the right don’t feel the need to use code words; they just come right out and say incredibly racist things all the time. What about Paul Ryan? Do you think he knows Charles Murray has his own entry with SPLC, and is listed as a white nationalist? Does Rep. Ryan understand that what he said was horrible? Rep. Barbara Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, responded to Ryan’s comments, saying:
Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.’ As someone who sits on the Budget Committee with Mr. Ryan, I know that his assertions about the racial dynamics of poverty are not only statistically inaccurate, but deeply offensive. Instead of demonizing ‘culture,’ and blaming black men for their poverty, Mr. Ryan should step up and produce some legitimate proposals on how to tackle poverty and racial discrimination in America. His uninformed policy proposals continue to increase poverty, not solve it. My colleague is demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues in urban and black communities.
Paul Ryan would do well to learn from this, but I doubt he will. Given the number of right wing politicians and pundits who use coded (and not-so-coded) racist language all the time, odds are, his constituents are pleased with his comments. After all, it’s so much easier to blame black men for unemployment than your own party.