Posted by: mulrickillion | February 5, 2012

Racial code words obscure real issues

By Juan William, TheHill.com, Jan 30, 2012 —

Two weeks ago at the Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., I asked each GOP presidential candidate some pointed questions about the racial politics that will play a big role in the presidential campaign.

Race is always a trigger in politics, but now a third of the nation are people of color — and their numbers are growing. With those minorities solidly in the Democratic camp and behind the first black president, the scene is set for a bonanza of racial politics.

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”

The code also extends to attacks on legal immigrants, always carefully lumped in with illegal immigrants, as people seeking “amnesty” and taking jobs from Americans. 

But the code sometimes breaks down.

Last week a passionate Republican told GOP candidate Rick Santorum: “I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not [president]. He constantly says that our Constitution is passé and he ignores it. … He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn’t something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president.”

Santorum did not blink. The man who recently said he meant “blah people” — when the world heard him say “black people” — as  he spoke about parasitic Americans who get better lives by taking “somebody else’s money,” did not correct the assault on the truth. Instead he agreed that Obama is attacking the Constitution and said: “Well, look, I’m trying my best to get him out of office.”

Santorum did not follow Sen. John McCain’s example in 2008 when a Republican called Obama an “Arab.” McCain responded that while he had policy differences with Obama he is a “decent, family man [and] citizen”. . . .

Just last week, the Labor Department reported that while the national unemployment rate fell slightly, black unemployment rose again from 15.5 percent to 15.8 percent and from 39.6 percent to 42.1 percent among young black people. The same report showed 11 percent of Hispanics are unemployed.

The problem is not a lack of work ethic on the part of the poor, who are disproportionately minorities. The problem is there are few good jobs for blue-collar people with the best work ethic.

Let’s have an honest debate about why this is the case and what we can do to fix it.

But I regret that our political discourse has become so fragmented and combative that the point I was trying to make was obscured by pro-wrestling theatrics and post-debate spin.

Poverty, unemployment and the hopelessness that pervade minority communities are real issues that the GOP nominee, and President Obama for that matter, should address in this campaign.

Racial code words obscure real issues – TheHill.com

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