Monday, July 16, 2012


"I believe his vested interests are in white Americans"

When Mitt Romney went to speak at the NAACP convention, the reaction was mixed. People actually at the convention cheered and applauded Romney, giving him a standing ovation. They booed some parts (criticism of Obama), and while they aren't going to run out and vote for Romney in hordes, the participants respected him and liked parts of his speech a great deal.

Pundits, however, struggled hard to find a way to portray what he said as racist and awful. Why? Well in part because that's the pattern: white Republican = bigot. They just see the world that way, and figure he must be. Part of it is a need to tear down any benefits the speech may have given Romney politically. Perhaps even part of it is to cover up for President Obama not being there. The folks at the convention might notice their being taken for granted.

One of the most depressing attacks on Romney that I've seen came from Charlotte Stoker Manning, head of a group called Women in NAACP.
You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he’s coming from. He’s talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts — black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work.
Now, what she's trying to say is that the economy under President Obama is so awful that blacks do not have access to the basic tools of self-support and business building that Romney speaks of. And that may be for some; certainly with unemployment over 20% for black men, its going to be tough to get out and start your savings account.

The problem with her statement though is that it presents blacks as being all poor, all helpless, and all depending on the government's handouts to survive. The fact of the matter is that the great majority of blacks in America are middle class and wealthy. According to recent census data, 48% of blacks in America are in the middle class (up from 42% in 1990). Those folks can not only afford to get to work, but to save money - and do. And certainly every single one of those people at the NAACP convention had a job, had away to get to work, and was at least middle class. Even the people doing the catering and janitorial work.

President Bush had a term, I don't know if he invented it, but he's the first I read use it: the soft bigotry of low expectations. This basically means that people are being racist by thinking blacks aren't capable of doing or attempting what whites can do. That blacks cannot make it in America without white people helping them out. That without government programs and laws, blacks are unable to succeed, unable to compete, unable to face life.

That's what Ms Manning is doing here. She is essentially saying Romney's speech on America, facing life, and personal responsibility is no good for blacks because they can't hack it. That black people are innately incapable of even attempting to better themselves, by their ethnic nature.

And that's just hideous. Its the kind of attitude those very same people rightly condemn in much of middle 20th century treatment of women. Oh, its just a girl, she can't do that, you'll have to do it for her. Its the sort of demeaning, patronizing attitude that young people rebel against, trying to show they are grown up enough to do something, too.

The fact is, the institutionalized racism that blacks (and other minorities, even folks like Italians and Irish) faced in America - and elsewhere in the west - is gone. There is no more legal and systematic government oppression of minorities. The only thing holding anyone back, whatever their ethnic background, holds everyone back: personal inability, health, limits of intelligence or ambition, ill fortune, and so on.

The biggest pressure against poor people breaking out of poverty is actually government assistance. Because getting a job and bettering yourself actually reduces the benefits you get from government, people are encouraged to stay on welfare instead of breaking free. This dependence may grind against the first generation, but later ones simply see it as how life is and a natural, proper part of their lives.

Actually its not entirely true that institutionalized, government racism is gone. There is one left, and it is the ACME of soft bigotry: Affirmative Action. A government action specifically designed to discriminate against whites.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mitt's father, George Romney was a civil rights marcher in the 60s. This is how Mitt grew up.