Archive - 2012

January 9th

Why Newt Gingrich Is A Racist

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See, here's the thing. I guarantee you that Newt Gingrich doesn't believe he's a racist. Even in his private moments. I'm betting he's not someone who drops N-bombs left and right at home, fondles nooses in private, and then goes out in public and has to pretend. He's actually convinced himself he's not racist. Which is why I need to explain it to him.

In case you were wondering, the reason we're discussing why Gingrich is racist is the same as why we were discussing last week how Rick Santorum was totally fucking racist. See, Republicans have a class warfare problem. I mean, this is a near constant state of affairs, I know, but right now, their class warfare problem is severe. Income inequality is at robber-baron levels, and the Occupy movement has focused attention on the fact that Republicans willingly fluff the rich, while Democrats fluff them in private, pretend they don't in public, and make sure all the laws and tax codes look tougher than they actually are.

The Republican answer to class warfare is the same as it's always been. Divide while continuing to conquer. If they can turn the lower classes against each other, nobody will notice who's walking away with all the goddamned money. It's simple, it's effective, and because the best way to turn people against each other is to exploit existing divisions, it's frequently racist. Which is why you get Newt Gingrich saying things like this. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." - Gingrich, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.There is what passes for plausible deniability amongst Republicans there. What they do, and what Gingrich, like Santorum before him, is already doing: focusing solely on the idea that paychecks are better than food stamps. Which they are. Mostly. I mean, a lot of paychecks are so shitty that the people getting them qualify for food stamps anyway, but that's another side effect of the Second Robber Baron Era, But that's a level of nuance that I would never expect Gingrich to even steal a furtive glance at while he's walking down the street with his current wife, so let's leave that alone. Paychecks are better than food stamps, so why would anyone get mad at someone suggesting that paychecks are better than food stamps?

Well, they'd get mad because it was said in a totally racist way. First, he's focusing on African-Americans. Which, when you combine it with his repeatedly calling Obama "the food stamp President', concocts a deliberate, intentional dogwhistle reinforcing the common fear among complete dipshits that Obama would, if elected, hand out piles of taxpayer money to his Negro homies and usher in a new era of white slavery. That shit's been floating around at least since he got the nomination, and Gingrich is winking at it.

But more important are all the implicit, incredibly racist assumptions in what Gingrich said, Why don't African-Americans have paychecks? Why is black unemployment at its highest level in decades? Not because a bunch of gambling banker fucks, enabled by deregulatory and mostly (though not entirely) Republicans in their back pockets, tanked the economy and walked away with billions in the process, no. It's because they're not DEMANDING them. And why aren't they out there, demanding jobs?

Because they're SATISFIED with food stamps. In other words, they could work, but they're happy living off government benefits. Which is just the latest permutation of the Welfare Queen stereotype. Which is super-fucking racist. But wait, there's more! Where is he going to go and explain that African-Americans need to demand jobs, and stop living high on the hog on the $31 a week they get to use to eat with on food stamps? The NAACP. Quite possibly the leading advocacy group for African-Americans in the country.

Which implies that the NAACP just doesn't understand the need to get jobs and get off welfare, and needs Newt Gingrich to explain it to them, so that they'll stop encouraging black Americans to be satisfied with government assistance. Which does double-duty - not only is it straight-up racist, it also smears and delegitimizes a largely Democratic-leaning advocacy group.

But it's the casualness with which Gingrich tossed off the verbs DEMAND and SATISFY that convinces me that he's internalized a lot of right-wing tropes about the laziness of the poor, and specifically, the laziness of the poor and black. Look at how he's defending himself now.

"Now I would have thought there would have been a positive response, saying, 'Gosh, here's a Republican who cares enough that he's willing to go and talk to one of the most left-wing organizations in America about how to help the people they represent.'"

Now, that's like... 75% venal disingenuous bullshit. Notice him painting the NAACP as "most left-wing". Notice his use of the word "gosh". But in there, there's a nugget of true belief. Because I think Newt really believes that if African-Americans would just listen to him, he could help them by explaining to them how they've grown lazy and dependent on food stamps. Which, again. Deeply, deeply fucking racist.

The only way it could be more ridiculous is if he stretched the truth a bit to let us think he was fine with his black co-workers.

"I mean clearly somebody who’s served with Colin Powell, who has served with Condoleezza Rice, I have a fairly good sense of the fact that African Americans have many contributions to America."

Hm. "served with". Newt Gingrich last worked for the United States Government in 1998, when he resigned from Congress. So he was in Congress when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and gone when Powell was Secretary of State. Condi's even more tenuous, spending a few years in one sub-department of the National Security Council while Newt was "serving", and that's it.

Not that it really matters, as this is what you say when you want to say "some of my best friends are black", only none of your best friends are black, probably because you keep talking about how black people don't have jobs because they're too lazy to insist on them. Tough to find people outside the power structure of the GOP willing to put up with that kind of racist bullshit.