I promise that this is the last time I’m going to write about David Weigel’s apologetics on behalf of Paul Ryan. Understand: I wouldn’t even care if Weigel were some conservative loon, but he’s an excellent reporter. And his defense of Paul Ryan’s racist comments are really worrying.
As you may recall, Wednesday morning, Paul Ryan ranted about the real poverty problem being the fact that inner city men just didn’t want to work. This isn’t even close and many of us called it at the time, Paul Ryan’s Racist Dog Whistle. As I discussed briefly, Weigel has been trying to whitewash Ryan’s comments.
But yesterday, he wrote another article, Paul Ryan and Charles Murray. During that same interview, Ryan mentioned Charles Murray, the racist writer who brought us such delights as The Bell Curve. Weigel defends Ryan’s comment:
When I heard what Ryan said, I didn’t think for a minute that Ryan was talking about The Bell Curve. I assumed that he was talking about Coming Apart. Ryan is a sophisticated politician. He knows that The Bell Curve is toxic. And so does Charles Murray. That’s why Murray’s been writing more palatable books since The Bell Curve. But the conclusions are the same: screw the poor! In Murray’s case, however, we have a history of his writing. Remember what the thesis of The Bell Curve is: minority groups are more likely to be poor because they are stupid; thus we should have no affirmative action.
Coming Apart is about the white middle class and arguing that the problems it is having are not due to policies that funnel wealth from poor to rich and allow for unions to be destroyed. No, it is the culture of the white middle class. But once again, let’s quote our friend Lee Atwater, “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.” So the point of Coming Apart, and for that matter Murray’s whole career, is to push policies that just so happen to result in blacks getting hurt worse than whites. What Murray is doing is only unclear to those who are determined not to see it.
Meanwhile, Dave Weigel wrote, “I’m not trying to apologize for Ryan as much as I’m explaining why he might have said this.” Notice the word “might.” Ryan might have mentioned Murray because the two of them are secretly related. Who knows? What we do know is that Paul Ryan is a sophisticated politician who is using racist dog whistles. He is also committed to policies that have the byproduct that “blacks get hurt worse than whites.” That is racism in modern America. And Weigel does the nation no favor by putting the best gloss possible on every racist thing Paul Ryan says.
Update (15 March 2014 11:31 am)
Given all the attention that this article is getting (Thanks for the retweets!) I want to note for those interested, I’ve written about Dave Weigel a lot: Dave Weigel Articles. Now, as always, he is essential reading and a great reporter. He just ought to stop apologizing for Paul Ryan.