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Veiled racism is still racism


WE SAY: Paul Ryan is severely out of line.

By Editorial Board



Former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., drew criticism earlier this month when he made what many have interpreted as a tacitly racist comment about inner-city men.

Ryan said inner-city men don’t value the “culture of work.” As expected, he’s received a bit of blowback. The Congressional Black Caucus came out swinging, with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., calling it “a thinly-veiled racial attack.”

Some of Ryan’s own constituents had similar reactions to the congressman’s statement. Alfonso Gardner, an African-American in Ryan’s district, called Ryan out for using “a code word for ‘black.’”

Ryan has denied the statement was intended to be racist, stating he was inarticulate and was trying to talk about society as a whole. 

The Editorial Board believes this underscores a serious problem with politicians like Paul Ryan. While Ryan might not be shouting racial epithets or going on about conspiracy theories involving President Obama, he is still perpetuating an atmosphere of ignorance.

This sort of ignorance is blind to the fact that the average black family makes 40 percent less than the average white family. It also completely overlooks the fact that white felons get jobs more easily than black non-felons.

Politicians like Ryan love to point a finger at poor Americans while shaming and blaming them for their circumstances.

Yet he’s completely oblivious to the fact that his party’s policies have had a hand in perpetuating the cycle of poverty instead of ending it.

In his speech, Ryan quoted Charles Murray, a conservative political scientist who believes black people are genetically less intelligent than whites and that “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”

Even though Ryan never said “black” or “African-American,” we know what he was implying. In 2000, 70 percent of black men and women lived in inner cities or the inner-ring suburbs. By pointing toward one of the areas in the U.S. most heavily populated by minorities, Ryan can’t claim that race never crossed his mind.

It’s beyond offensive to claim that inner-city men are lazy and then brush off the fact that most of those men are people of color.

The Editorial Board sees through Ryan’s “inarticulate” words. By blowing the racist dog whistle and then running in the other direction, he’s not fooling anyone.

Comments like Ryan’s about inner-city men only serve to feed the underlying racism in our country. And, as Ryan shows, it’s becoming more and more veiled than ever.

In the inner-city, 32 percent of people live in poverty and 14 percent are unemployed. This is compared to the 9.4 percent of suburban people in poverty and the 9 percent of suburban people who are unemployed.

President Obama has stressed again and again that everyone — from the government to churches to neighborhood parents — needs to work to give inner-city children more
opportunities.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s plan seems to be making comments that only serve to hold us back as a nation.

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