Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In His Defense Of Paul Ryan's Racism, Bill O'Reilly Called Barbara Lee "A Notorious Race Hustler"


Barbara Lee has been one of the most consistent, courageous and articulate voices in Congress on behalf of ordinary working families. Corporations and the one percent do not finance her career. She doesn't represent them. She's one of the handful of progressives who represent just plain folks who never even thought about going out and hiring a lobbyist. Needless to say, when Congresswoman Lee speaks out, the might of the plutocrats is arrayed against her. Malefactors like the Koch brothers and the Adelsons are enraged when an independent free-thinker like Barbara Lee uses the media to push back against their relentless war against democracy.

By now you're probably read about the dust-up between Barbara and Paul Ryan over his racist remarks last week on a Hate Talk Radio program. Ryan, who has worked consistently on behalf of the plutocrats to cut services and programs for the poor and disadvantaged and to increase tax breaks and loopholes for the one-percent-- which very much does bankroll his political career-- castigated "inner city" men for not "learning the value or culture of work." Others shook their heads in dismay, but Rep. Lee came back at him full force-- and made him give an insincere, half-assed apology, claiming he was just "inarticulate."
My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated,” Lee said. “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.’”

Representative Lee added, “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.”
Monday, Bill Reilly, on his Fox News propaganda show, bolstered Ryan's racism for the brain dead Fox audience. Rather than debate the ideas that Rep. Lee stands for, O'Reilly immediately smeared her with the easy confidence of a racist hate monger speaking to a Klan audience:
Ms. Lee, by the way, a notorious race hustler.
He brought on another Republican propagandist, George Will, to validate his racist attack and defend Ryan's divisive dog-whistles. The congresswoman saw exactly what was happening and this morning told DWT "In attacking my statement, Bill O’Reilly called me a 'hustler.' If that’s not coded racial language, I don’t know what is." O'Reilly and Ryan, who are both, after all, descendants of Irish immigrants who were also the targets and victims of right-wing racists, both well know what coded language is and how it's used to create hatred and fear. "Dog whistling is not rooted in fiery hatred," wrote Ian Hanley López, "but rather in cool calculation-- it’s the strategic, carefully considered decision to win votes by stirring racial fears in society. Suppose we stipulate that Ryan is no bigot. So what? The question is not one of animus on Ryan’s part, but of whether-- as a tactical matter-- he sought to garner support by indirectly stimulating racial passions." Writing for Bill Moyers, López blasted Ryan last week, pointing out that "there’s a history here that the Republican Party can’t ignore-- one that explains why Lee was so quick to jump on his comments, why the Congressional Black Caucus announced themselves 'deeply troubled' by remarks they described as 'highly offensive' and why so many others have sharply criticized Ryan."

By calling out his use of “code words,” Lee put Ryan in the company of past politicians who have blown the proverbial dog whistle-- using surreptitious references to race to garner support from anxious voters. Examples of dog whistling include Barry Goldwater’s endorsement of “states’ rights”; Richard Nixon’s opposition to “forced busing”; Ronald Reagan’s blasts against “welfare queens”; and George H.W. Bush’s infamous Willie Horton ad.

These instances of racial pandering typically have been treated as disconnected eruptions, when in fact the GOP has made a concerted effort to win support through racial appeals. This pattern is so entrenched-- and so well known-- that two different chairs of the Republican National Committee have acknowledged and apologized for this strategy.

“By the seventies and into the eighties and nineties,” RNC chair Ken Mehlman said in a 2005 speech before the NAACP, “Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” Five years later, his successor Michael Steele similarly acknowledged that “for the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South.”

Despite the mea culpas, race baiting has continued: recall New Gingrich’s 2012 tarring of Barack Obama as “the best food-stamp president in American history.” Or consider another Gingrich jibe from the last election: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” he claimed. “So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”

What, then, of Paul Ryan? Was he dog whistling? To many, his strong echoing of Gingrich, coupled with the larger GOP history of racial pandering, suggested so. Nor did Ryan help himself by invoking the conservative scholar Charles Murray-- a man who co-wrote a controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve, tying intelligence to race, and who in 2000 explained that genetics will likely show, "One reason that we still have poverty in the United States is that a lot of poor people are born lazy."
America's Paul Ryan expert, Paul Krugman, agrees and explained that Ryan's claim that he was merely "inarticulate," rather than a racist, was disingenuous and even comical. "[R]ace," he wrote, "is the Rosetta Stone that makes sense of many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of U.S. politics."
We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare. How can this contradiction be explained? Well, what do many Medicaid recipients look like-- and I’m talking about the color of their skin, not the content of their character-- and how does that compare with the typical Medicare beneficiary? Mystery solved.

Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees. Instead, all the movement’s passion, starting with Rick Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC, has been directed against any hint of financial relief for low-income borrowers. And what is it about these borrowers that makes them such targets of ire? You know the answer.

One odd consequence of our still-racialized politics is that conservatives are still, in effect, mobilizing against the bums on welfare even though both the bums and the welfare are long gone or never existed. Mr. Santelli’s fury was directed against mortgage relief that never actually happened. Right-wingers rage against tales of food stamp abuse that almost always turn out to be false or at least greatly exaggerated. And Mr. Ryan’s black-men-don’t-want-to-work theory of poverty is decades out of date.

In the 1970s it was still possible to claim in good faith that there was plenty of opportunity in America, and that poverty persisted only because of cultural breakdown among African-Americans. Back then, after all, blue-collar jobs still paid well, and unemployment was low. The reality was that opportunity was much more limited than affluent Americans imagined; as the sociologist William Julius Wilson has documented, the flight of industry from urban centers meant that minority workers literally couldn’t get to those good jobs, and the supposed cultural causes of poverty were actually effects of that lack of opportunity. Still, you could understand why many observers failed to see this.

But over the past 40 years good jobs for ordinary workers have disappeared, not just from inner cities but everywhere: adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen for 60 percent of working American men. And as economic opportunity has shriveled for half the population, many behaviors that used to be held up as demonstrations of black cultural breakdown-- the breakdown of marriage, drug abuse, and so on-- have spread among working-class whites too.

These awkward facts have not, however, penetrated the world of conservative ideology. Earlier this month the House Budget Committee, under Mr. Ryan’s direction, released a 205-page report on the alleged failure of the War on Poverty. What does the report have to say about the impact of falling real wages? It never mentions the subject at all.

And since conservatives can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening to opportunity in America, they’re left with nothing but that old-time dog whistle. Mr. Ryan wasn’t being inarticulate-- he said what he said because it’s all that he’s got.

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At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

American conservatives aka Republicans et al., are full of shit and it's no secret that they just wish all that don't "look" like them go away... preferably die so that they can wait for Jesus to return and redeem all the worthy white folks who GOD really created in HIS image. Who said fairytales are just for kids...


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