Rep. Paul Ryan drew the ire of Democrats recently for telling Bill Bennett that many anti-poverty programs provide “incentives not to work and to stay where you are, that’s not what we want in society. . . . There are a lot of people slipping through the cracks in America that are not reaching their potential and we as conservatives should have something to say about that.”
He also said, “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, so there’s a cultural problem that has to be dealt with.”
Because Ryan targeted his comments at “inner cities,” they’ve been labeled as racist, without any regard to the fact that his comments (broad as they were) were also true.
“Paul Ryan Blames Poverty On Lazy ‘Inner City’ Men,” was the headline from left-wing website ThinkProgress.
But what is Barack Obama said basically the same thing? Because he has, as the Wall Stree Journal points out:
“We know young black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’—not in school, not working. We’ve got to reconnect them. We’ve got to give more of these young men access to mentors. We’ve got to continue to encourage responsible fatherhood. We’ve got to provide more pathways to apply to college or find a job. We can keep them from falling through the cracks.”
Those were the words of President Obama, speaking less than a month ago about his “My Brother’s Keeper” project to help “groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations,” especially boys and young men of color. “It’s going to take time. We’re dealing with complicated issues that run deep in our history, run deep in our society, and are entrenched in our minds.”
If anything, Rep. Ryan was more nuanced in his words than the President. Ryan merely mentioned men living in the “inner city,” without mentioning race at all. President Obama called out black men specifically.
But this is a microcosm for politics in America today. White men are privileged oppressors who cannot speak about racial, gender or economic issues unless they’re toeing the line of liberal orthodoxy. Otherwise, they’re racist/exist, etc.
Everyone complains all the time about “partisan gridlock” in Washington DC. I’m not convinced that’s as much of a problem as many people think, but can we at least acknowledge that this sort of bomb throwing is very much a part of said gridlock? When one side of the debate can’t even talk about issues without being accused of racism, etc., there’s a problem.