Paul Ryan’s Racist Dog Whistle

Paul Ryan - Reagan 2.0Digby posted a Quote of the Day that made me burst out laughing. It isn’t actually the quote that was funny. It is how she juxtaposed it with Lee Atwater’s infamous “nigger, nigger, nigger” quote. For those that don’t know it, Atwater gave an interview back in 1981 where he discussed the evolution of racial politics. He said, “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff…”

Well, as we all know, Paul Ryan now “cares” deeply about the poor. He put out his 204-page poverty report and openly campaigned against those evil liberals who want to fill children’s stomachs with food and thus deprive them of a top rate soul. But this morning on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America, Ryan 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, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.

This reminds me of the new The Young Turks segment, Is It Racist? In a word: yes!

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s just finish Mr Atwater’s quote:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is: blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

It is much more abstract! It just isn’t any less racist.

I actually think that Paul Ryan is actively a racist. He seems like an Ayn Rand true believer. Yet he doesn’t make the Ayn Rand argument: selfishness is good and all that crap. Instead, he makes the argument that is coded to sound okay to moderates but which simultaneously pushes all those tribal and racist buttons. So I don’t think he necessarily holds the “screw the poor” opinions because of any personal racial animus. But he sure is willing to knowingly use coded racist rhetoric to reach his preferred Ayn Rand dystopian future. And that is racist.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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