Friday, December 02, 2011


It's curious that a party could have an African-American as its presidential frontrunner for a month and then, after that guy faltered, could dump him and turn instead to a guy who says things like this:

GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich defended his stance against certain child labor laws during a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday, saying that children born into poverty aren't accustomed to working unless it involves crime.

"Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday," Gingrich claimed.

"They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal," he added.

And if the polls are right, this is a direct transference -- Herman Cain fans have consistently said that they love Gingrich (and loathe Mitt Romney).

Granted, Gingrich said this after he shot to the top of the charts. But I think it's a safe bet that the coded racism of the remark won't hurt him -- not even with former Cain fans. (That swipe at Barack Obama as a "Kenyan anti-colonialist" hasn't exactly impeded Gingrich's progress.)

Now, maybe Gingrich will say he's being race-blind. Maybe he'll say his remarks apply equally to white kids in meth-saturated communities. (Though I doubt he'll bother.)

Still, this gets back to what I say all the time: the racism on the modern right is weirdly nuanced. That doesn't mean it's less virulent -- it just means it's not old-fashioned across-the-board contempt for non-whites.

Cain gets a pass because he's a black man who tells white people what they want to hear (about liberalism and about race). Cain doesn't see racism as a problem -- liberalism is the only thing holding non-whites back. (Well, that and lack of ego: as Michael Tomasky notes in The New York Review of Books, Cain, in his memoir, repeatedly credits his success to being the "CEO of Self," and doesn't even acknowledge that the civil rights movement helped open a single door for him that might otherwise have been closed.)

Cain and Gingrich are alike in saying that, if you're struggling, it's your own damn fault. But a purely racist right would reject Cain just because he's black, and also believe that non-whites fail because, well, they're non-white, and thus inferior.

On the other hand, if the right really weren't racist, this barely coded talk by Gingrich would be greatly damaging to him. So it comes down to what it always comes down to: modern right-wingers are enlightened about "their" non-whites, but they respond on cue to racist button-pushing regarding all other non-whites.

(Via Jonathan Capehart and Memeorandum. X-posted at Booman.)


Ten Bears said...

CEO of Self indeed, in spite of all this talk about his background as a pizza mogul and top dog with the National restaurant Association, Cain has spent much of the past fifteen years as a motivational speaker. Something well reflected in his public persona.

Unknown said...

It's funny that people who round up poor black and brown kids every day and sell them to the educrat cartels, in exchange for dollars for your Democratic political campaigns, think you are anything other than the most virulent racist criminals on the planet.

When you are tried and punished I will be there. Clapping.