Sunday, March 23, 2014

They Willfully Misread Daniel Patrick Moynihan: George Will and Paul Ryan are the Real "Poverty Pimps'

George Will, columnist for The Washington Post, has instinctively moved to defend Paul Ryan's use of Lee Atwater's strategy of dog whistle politics and subtle racism to describe "inner city" black people as lazy and perhaps genetically inferior.

Will's poison pin produced the following conclusion to his new editorial "Paul Ryan was Right: Poverty is a Cultural Problem":
Next March, serious people will be wondering why the problem Moynihan articulated half a century earlier has become so much worse while so much else — including the rapid receding of racism and discrimination — has become so much better. One reason is what Moynihan called “the leakage of reality from American life.” Judging by the malice and intellectual sloth in the left’s reaction to Ryan’s unexceptionable remarks, the leak has become a cataract.
I am happy to be included among the malice and intellectual sloth that Will so disdains. I consider it a complement to be criticized along with other truth-tellers who have called Paul Ryan and the Republican Party to account for their lazy thinking and boilerplate racism.

Michelle Malkin's Right-wing troll website Twitchy also agrees that folks like me are detestable and "racist" for highlighting Paul Ryan's comments. I was featured in two of their posts over the weekend. The attention--hate mail, death threats, and the like--is always fun. Moreover, the comments both on Twitchy, Twitter, and other sites have proven much of what I, and others, have said about contemporary movement conservatism

The White Right is so mired in racism and white supremacy that it is the cognitive screen through which they process reality. Contemporary American conservatism is a racist ideology. Its adherents actually believe that they are anti-racists. Such delusions are not easily corrected or therapeutized.

George Will's defense of Paul Ryan is a more refined version of the talking points about poverty, race, and how black people have "bad culture" which the animate rank and file members of the White Right. George Will is not a serious thinker on these matters; however, George Will has to be taken seriously because of his over-sized presence on TV and in print.

For example, George Will's editorial offers up this twisted misunderstanding of macro-economics and culture:
The assumption that the condition of the poor must improve as macroeconomic conditions — which government thinks it can manipulate — improve is refuted by the importance of family structure.
Such a claim is based on a set of assumptions about social reality, political economy, and culture that I am unable to comprehend it. Bizarre.

The Right-wing commentariat's defense of Paul Ryan involves, as was done by George Will, a trotting out of Patrick Moynihan's work “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.”

Moynihan's treatise is like the Bible to Christian fundamentalist homophobes, bootjack street corner preachers, or the man or woman at the barbershop or the hair salon who can selectively quote self-serving passages, but has never read the whole book. 

Conservatives ignore how Moynihan identified white racism as one of the central problems facing black and brown communities. Moynihan also argued for robust government programs to confront urban poverty, fix failing schools, job supports, and financial subsidies for poor families. He most certainly would be aghast at the Republican Party's campaign to destroy the social safety net, vilify the poor, and to destroy those that the 1 percent and other corporate elites have identified as "useless eaters".

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan who stated the following would be vilified by the Republican Party and its media machine:
"First, the racist virus in the American blood stream still afflicts us: Negroes will encounter serious personal prejudice for at least another generation. Second, three centuries of sometimes unimaginable mistreatment have taken their toll on the Negro people".
Bishop Don Magic Juan, noted pimp, hustler, actor, and ubiquitous friend of rap artists such as Snoop Dogg, is now a preacher. While earnest, he lacks a rigorous grasp of biblical hermeneutics. 

George Will, Paul Ryan, and those others on the Right who embrace Moynihan as a cudgel with which to slur and beat black and brown people are just like Bishop Don Magic Juan. 

They all deploy "respected" books and accepted "common sense" "truths" to "prove" their own priors while offering "salvation" to those who are "lost". 

The real goal for Paul Ryan and his ilk is political self-aggrandizement by ginning up white racism against "those people" in order to advance policies that hurt the majority of Americans. Daniel Patrick Moynihan would not approve of such antics. I doubt that Moynihan had any use for pimps, be they pimps of the flesh such as Don Magic Juan, or poverty pimps like Paul Ryan or George Will.


Myshkin the Idiot said...

George Will says your style is unchanged for over 49 years, while their style remains the same as well and they admit to it.

Help me understand: I am aware of Robert Byrd's KKK membership and racism. He is used by the right to demonstrate the democratic allegiance to racism. What about Strom Thurmond?

I got into an argument with someone over him and they told me he just magically stopped being racist when he joined the Republican Party even though he never said that he ultimately supported integration of schools and other programs he had opposed.

There was a New York Times piece about a federal study of the structural inequalities of the American education system. Lower funding for majority black schools, more frequent suspensions of black students, higher turnover rates for teachers, newer teachers; the Republican line is basically they get what they deserve. "They are more likely to act out, misbehave." "They don't value education." If poor communities are poor on purpose (as a result of individual merits), then their schools deserve to be poor and they deserve to remain under-educated and under-utilized.

This line of thinking is harmful, extremely harmful.

More on white identity politics and conservatism from Salon:

"Telling the story of how the New Left clashed with Big Labor to bring about the end of New Deal liberalism, Cowie is impossibly fair. Some accounts stress the conservatism (and racism and sexism) of labor bosses; others emphasize the New Left’s contempt for mainly white union members and its preference for what came to be called “identity politics,” the struggle of women, minority groups and gays for equal rights.

"“Stayin’ Alive” also makes clear that the roots of intra-Democratic Party strife in the ’60s can be found in the glorious New Deal of the ’30s, which, to win the support of Southern Democrats, excluded agricultural and service workers from its new protections, including the National Labor Relations Act, leaving out many blacks as well as women.

"once industrial unions were forced, whether by upstart organizers or federal intervention, to bring blacks and women into their ranks, the decline of industries like steel, mining and auto manufacturing created a zero-sum agony in which the worst nightmares of white unionists came true: Integration often came at the expense of white guys, as the number of overall jobs began to contract nationwide. But nobody won...

"blue-collar workers drifted to the Republican Party, which came to represent a kind of identity politics for white working-class men. Cowie traces the story of Dewey Burton, an autoworker outside of Detroit who made the transition from Hubert Humphrey Democrat to George Wallace Democrat to Reagan Democrat in just about a decade. Frustrated with his job and his union, angry at Democrats for supporting mandatory busing to integrate the public schools, Burton became a symbol of the rightward drift of the white working class... Nixon went after men like Burton in 1972, with a strategy of “cultural recognition” of their grievances while paying little attention to their economic travails.

"“The majority of white working class voters [selected] Nixon by wide margins over the most pro-labor candidate ever produced by the American two-party system.” The New Deal coalition was dead."

DanF said...

It's difficult for me to decide whom I dislike more - George Will or David Brooks. George Will is so easy to loathe, but Brooks comes off as oh-so-reasonable while he advocates for the exact same racist policies as Will. Brooks is clearly more dangerous as he bamboozles white liberals into thinking that all we have is an honest disagreement on the best policy to help all people (and he intimates the false possibility that you can change his mind!), but he says nothing substantively different than Breitbart or Twitchy.

Shorter David Brooks on every subject: "Oh yes, interesting point and there's some merit to what you say! But I think it's best that we keep rat-fucking the poor and disenfranchised. That's the best way to move forward in keeping with the ideals and promise of America."

OK. It's Brooks. I really hate that guy.

chauncey devega said...

They are both pretty bad. I would have to agree that Brooks is more dangerous because he seems so "reasonable".

chauncey devega said...

That whole list of Right-wing tired "facts" about Byrd and Thurmond is so intellectually dishonest and uninteresting that I just ignore it. The Southern Dems were a faction of conservatives who then became the Tea Party GOP. Republicans who trot that mess out are doing their own version of Back to the Future or Memento. I deal in the present. When we cut off the trolls talking points they suddenly become silent--assuming they are real people to begin with.

Learning IS Eternal said...

You should have/get a YouTube channel we can all subscribe to.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Melissa Harris Perry weighs in on it with

What Paul Ryan and Obama Have in Common

"The shootings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and the Florida juries’ response, might suggest that the culture in need of intervention is that of white men who carry firearms. But social science has spent little time debating the tangle of pathology that ensnares the privileged. We are trained to intervene with those who lack resources, to find the problems there, and to ignore the perpetrators of the inequality. Even our thoughtful, well-meaning, African-American, Democratic president reacts according to these assumptions.

"It is perfectly reasonable to point out that Congressman Ryan is wrong. Private charity is insufficient to counter structural inequalities, and poverty is evidence of a deficit of resources, not a deficit of character. It is also reasonable to point out to President Obama that the achievement gap didn’t kill Jordan Davis, and that Trayvon Martin’s loving, present father was no bulletproof vest."

RPM said...

DanF nailed it about Brooks. I can't stand the s.o.b. but that's because I hear what he says or read what he rights. Style seems to overcome all substance in corporate media. Supposedly balanced P.B.S. allows that knob on every week to spew his bullshit while his liberal colleague disagrees. Allowing someone to spew nonsense and call it balanced is not journalism and is not informing the public. Now what he says but how he says it, is the most persistent legacy of Reagan. Nixon and all the old boys before would try to fuck over the poor but knew they could never be upfront about it. Idiots like Paul Ryan won't just use their coded racism they will openly tell people that they hate the poor. Not just poor minorities, we've always known that, but that they hate poor whites too. The same poor whites who vote them in time and time again. Having a former v.p. nominee say with a straight face that children told him they don't want free food. They want their parents to go out there and earn it by being underpaid and exploited, is fucking bananas. This isn't some we want to help people not be dependent or some b.s. about the dignity of work. This is psychopathic crazy talk from that Rand nut ball. They now call social security and medicare "entitlements" and Democrats just shrug and agree to the term. Are roads, parks, and fire departments 'entitlements'. Soon, if these pricks get their way.

And good post Myshkin about the changing focus and perception of the 2 major political parties. Prior to the 1960's the Democrats were the party of labor. Now they are the party of social rights. Labor a bit, but the money isn't there like it used to be, so social issues trump economic issues. Big donors can be liberal about civil rights but no one with money gives a damn about fair pay and economic justice. No money in it. Yes, republicans got the racist blue collar vote but democtrats stopped giving anything but lip service to them since the 80's. A few will remember old party platforms but the party bosses suck on the same tit as their republican "adversaries". So the two will play tag back and forth on civil rights while both continually screwing over the poor and middle class. People only really vote 3rd party for economic reasons which is why both of the major 2 will try to put emphasis on social issues instead. Jobs and economy mean jack unless living wage, vacation, reduced hours, affordable housing and full employment are part of the discussion. Otherwise it's all just fluff and let's turn against the other. Inner city values and culture of poverty? I don't think it's black teens that are throwing middle aged white men out of their homes. These sociopathic, criminal rich people and their idiotic backwards cheerleaders are the cause of poverty. Their the ones without ethics or a sense of community. Personally I blame their parents.

chauncey devega said...

Have you ever read any of Kevin Phillips' work? He is a historian, political scientist, and former GOP consultant who came up the game plan for much of the mess we are seeing these last few decades. Watch some of his CSPAN interviews. His books are dense but very compelling.

OldPolarBear said...

Good post and comments; I can't add much. I know that the phrase "beneath contempt" is overused and probably a cliche, but George Will really is an example of where it is apt. A very long time ago, I used to think his style, vocabulary, general erudition, etc., were sort of interesting and I would read him even though I didn't agree with him much. After a while, though, it became clear just what a cruel and retrograde point of view he had. Some of the things he comes up with are just downright disgusting and creepy.

Courtney H. said...

You nailed it! On AlterNet, they had that article about the study that found that Black and Latino kids are more likely to be kicked out of pre-school than White kids, and several of the comments were so disgustingly and stereotypically racist ("Black kids are gangbangers," "Blacks don't take responsibility for their pathology," etc.). Racism is used as an excuse to legitimize all kinds of crap. That's why we need to call out these racist dogs whenever possible.

chauncey devega said...

I like the Right-wing logic that "the blacks are more likely to be criminals and killers and their homes are broken so of course the kids are going to be punished."

Of course, these right-wing bigots hadn't even read the report and how the cases where black kids are punished more severely are for the same infractions as white kids.

Courtney H. said...