Monday, March 17, 2014

Ryan's "Highly Offensive" Remarks

I want to talk about Paul Ryan’s “highly offensive” gaffe. There are several angles that make this an interesting issue worth discussing. Let us begin.

It Was Stupid To Say: For those who don’t know, Paul Ryan went on the Bill Bennett show and said something that has been deemed “highly offensive.” What he said was that there is
“a tailspin of culture, in our innercities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value of work.”
This is pretty much true. But in phrasing it this way, Ryan allowed the Professional Race-baiting Community (PRiCs) to start screaming about Ryan using “code” and saying something “highly offensive” about blacks. Ryan himself has called his own statement “inarticulate.”

So how can this be offensive if it’s true? Well, the answer is that he’s needlessly singled out black males for his criticism. Indeed, let me assure you that the exact same cultural problem exists (probably in even great numbers) among Appalachian males and females (or white trash generally wherever they nest), and among black women. By focusing on “inner-city men,” Ryan has injected race into an issue that is not race specific. The result is screaming PRiCs.

Had he said instead, “There is a tailspin of culture in the poorer parts of our country of people not working and just generations of families not even thinking about working or learning the value of work,” then his point would have been solid and non-controversial. Ergo, it was stupid to say this, because he needlessly caused controversy which deflected the point he wanted to make and which played into the image of the GOP as sneaky racists. A man who has spent his entire life in politics, where you must weigh your words carefully, should have known never to needlessly dance along a racial line.

Wrong Answer: Making things worse, Ryan responded. First, he called his comment inarticulate, which is fine. But then he kept talking. What he said in a statement was this:
“I was not implicating the culture of one community, but of society as a whole.”
Let’s stop there. This is wrong. Society as a whole is not to blame. It is not the fault of hardworking average Americans that there are lazy, drug addicted sh*tbirds hidden in the bad parts of town. So don’t blame the country for these people. Moreover, stop talking about blacks as having a separate culture or being a separate community. Stop playing into this idea that they are different.

He continues:
“We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity.”
Wrong! Society has not isolated or quarantined these people. That again implies that we are to blame for their sh*tiness. They have caused their own problems. They are not the victims here. In fact, the real victims are the taxpayers who pay to support their lazy lifestyles and the working poor who live nearby and find themselves robbed and assaulted by these sh*ts.

Moreover, the answer is not “to integrate” these people, unless you are talking about taking all their kids and giving them to responsible parents. Integrating these people only spreads them out and exposes more people to their criminal behavior. The answer is to force these people to start behaving responsibly.

In an effort to sound nice, Ryan has painted the criminals as the victims and the victims as the oppressors. Again, Ryan should know better.

Don’t Acknowledge The PRiCs: The worst thing you can do with lunatics and fringers is to acknowledge them. Unfortunately, after the criticism hit and the PRiCs demanded a meeting with Ryan, Ryan agreed to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus. This was stupid. First, it lends the grievance credence. Secondly, it lends the CBC legitimacy as the judges of all things black-racism. If there was a need for an apology, Ryan should have issued it without ever mentioned the CBC or any other PRiCs and then moved on... leave them talking to themselves. By kowtowing to them, even slightly, he has simply perpetuated their self-anointed role as the arbiters of black-white relations.

Fortunately, Ain’t Nobody Listening: Finally, I would like to repeat a point I’ve made several times now because it’s important. Americans have moved beyond race, and this is more proof. Had Ryan said this in the 1990s, every news channel and every newspaper would be awash in analysis of this issue. Jesse Jackoff and Al Sharpton and the other PRiCs would be holding rallies and there would be 10,000 calls already for Ryan to resign.

Instead, this is a non-issue. Outside of wonks, no one is talking about this issue. There are no rallies, no public hearings, and zero public outrage. Almost no one even knows about it. In fact, the only people who care about this issue are the ideological race baiters, left and right, who try to keep their own audiences clinging to them by screaming about race.

America just doesn’t care anymore about the grievance lobby. And that’s a good thing. Now let's hope Mr. Ryan wises up a bit.


Kit said...

I hadn't actually paid attention to this story. But a good summary, nonetheless.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Kit! No one has, and that's my last point. Had this been 20 years ago, this would have been a HUGE witch hunt. But as it is, it barely gets a mention outside of a few ideologues. That suggests the death of the race baiting industry.

Tennessee Jed said...

I agree with your points. I would point out that some would argue hat while many of these people are definitely complicit in their own situation, the very fact use of the term cultural tailspin implies a sense of hoplessness that locks these people into their situation. That resonates with many people. Look at the alcoholic. Nobody questions that person has made bad choices, but that the deck is stacked which leds to an unending cycle.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - First of all, love "PRiCs". That's a keeper. And I agree with you except for one minor point. The PRiCs who spend their time and energy breaking the secret racist "code" will find it anywhere in any word. So even if Ryan has make his remarks in exactly the way you wrote it, the PRiCs would still have "broken the code". Which is why no one is really listening anymore.

One can play the "secret hidden racists everywhere" card, but eventually you play all the cards and the game has to end. Btw, real racists are pretty proud of it, so they don't really need or use a code.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, dead on about the last point. I was taken completely off guard. I hadn't heard about this at all, and I've had my radar up for such stories, as you know.

One thing I would tack on is that Paul Ryan shouldn't have had to go at it alone. The GOP machine is horribly uncoordinated. As you say, Ryan shouldn't have legitimized the CBC. The GOP provided him no backup and essentially sent him as a lamb to slaughter. Luckily, he was spared, but nothing was gained.

Instead, the GOP should have sent a black member of the party to speak in Ryan's defense, preferably somebody with inner-city roots that Ryan has campaigned for/with. Provide the media outlets footage of the event if they don't have it. (Conservatives forget that the media is essentially lazy, that can be used as an advantage.) Also, whoever get sent should be armed and ready to preempt the inevitable "Uncle Tom" accusations. In politics, one of the worst things you can do is fulfill your opponents' predictions.

When Republicans encounter race, they act like this: LINK

tryanmax said...

Bev, to piggyback on your point, while Ryan wasn't in the position to point it out, with the race game dying, this is a hot-iron moment for someone to expose the "code word" game. (Ironically, "code word" has become a code word.) The only problem there is that satire would be the best route for that, and conservatives have retreated from the culture. So instead we have to wait for it to become such painfully obvious low fruit that Jon Stewart will tackle it, cementing conservative irrelevance.

El Gordo said...

tryanmax, good point about the crisis coordination or lack of it.
Here is my lame attempt to satirize the code word game:

Ryan (laughing): "I´m sorry, I didn´t expect the Spanish Inquisition."
PRiCs: "Now Ryan is attacking Hispanics!"

El Gordo said...

Hey, could have been worse. Ryan could have said: "No, I meant to say every group is affected ... except the Jews!"

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I definitely agree about the tailspin aspect. If you spend any amount of time among these people, you will see that the problem is one of values being taught and those values getting passed from parent to child, who pass them on to their children. What this causes is a culture that says that living on the government dole, crime, and total lack of personal responsibility is not only a right, but is the only worthwhile way to live. So to fix this will require a true cultural change in these communities.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Bev! I thought PRiCs was fitting. :)

That's true that the PRiCs will always find something to whine about, but that is, as you note, the reason no one is listening anymore. When they find racism lurking in normal words, all they do is take another small step toward irrelevance.

tryanmax said...

Gordo, Since "dog whistle" is another term that the PRiCs like to use, I would write a sketch involving actual whistles and actual dogs.

It would be a Scooby Doo parody, where the gang is brought to a small southern town to investigate the suppression of black votes. Their first stop is a Republican political rally where some milquetoast white guy is delivering a boring speech punctuated by obscure idioms and expressions. Each time he issues one, the black protesters start yelling and Scooby Doo covers his ears and crouches to the ground in typical Scooby panic.

The gang is mystified, except for Velma, who quickly explains the mechanics of the political dog whistle. It's that dog whistle that Scooby is reacting to. But where is it coming from?

"That's what we're here to find out!" she proudly declares.

As the speech drones on, it becomes increasingly apparent that the whistle will sound at anything, no matter how mundane, and the protesters are left to perform logical acrobatics to explain how common, everyday expressions are racially offensive.

The reveal comes when Fred locates the source of the whistle as coming from behind the platform where the politician is speaking. The curtain snatched aside to reveal--

"Al Sharpton!"

--crouched down and breathlessly trying to sound his whistle one last time before he is booted from the scene.

"And I woulda gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids. And your mangy mutt!"


AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Interesting, isn't it? This story is barely being covered at all. That's not how this would have worked even 10 years ago. Ten years ago, this would have been everywhere and the public would have had an opinion. Today, even the MSM has conceded that the public just doesn't want to hear it.

You are absolutely right on the Republicans. They always do this. They abandon their people to handle issues on their own and they have no coordinated counterattack plan to defuse things like this. This would be the perfect time for the GOP to flip this around and say, "Let's stop whining about imagined racism and start talking about helping people." And it would be great if a couple of prominent black GOP members could lead the charge. Sadly, our side doesn't do that.

Agreed about the culture too. This is the sort of thing that can easily be destroyed if comedians start lampooning it. But we don't really have any comedians of note on our side except Dennis Miller, who doesn't seem to have much of an audience anymore.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, BTW, You're absolutely right about racists being proud of it. They don't hide it at all.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, Satire is hard, but I'm sure that various comedians would be up to the task. In this case, the first line of defense is something we haven't even masters -- don't single out blacks. Secondly, don't kowtow in defense. Third, counterattack: "Let's stop looking for imagined racism and start helping people. These people deserve better. Indeed, the real racism is the people who refuse to let us help the blacks or rural whites or the poor because they profit from finding racism where none exists." Fourth, enter the comedians.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That would be an interesting skit. I wonder how people would react?

Personally, I think this is the sort of thing best parodied with one-liners. Mix this with prior ridiculous complaints about things that have been considered racist (especially when contradictory or utterly stupid -- like "black hole" being a racist term from the science world) and then come up with some other obviously non-racist things.

For example, point out how stupid this is, then mention that this falls into the category with other things that have been declared racist like "picnic" and "black hole" and then conclude, "So what's next? Do we remove the black crayon from the box?"

tryanmax said...

Andrew, the perfect format for that approach is the game show parody, since those are basically set ups for strings of one-liners anyway.

The name of the game: Is... It... Racist? "That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the only game show where contestants compete to determine whether or not the things celebrities and politicians say are or are not racist. Let's meet our contestants, shall we?"

You could go one of two ways with this.

Option 1: Stack the contestants with a couple of liberal political stereotypes, like an ethnic and gender studies major from UC Santa Cruz and a president of the local NAACP chapter vs. a regular Joe. The regular Joe loses in comedically frustrating fashion as the other contestants and host deride him for missing the "obvious" racism in humdrum expressions. If you want to put a fine point on it, the sketch ends with Joe exploding against the unfair nature of the game.

Option 2: Reverse the stack, with two regular folks who can easily distinguish b/w clear instances of racism and jargon like "black hole" against a liberal stereotype who implodes spectacularly by not only finding racism where there is none, but failing to see it where it is. (Of the two, I like this idea better.)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That would work perfectly actually. In terms of how to stack the deck, I would go with two normal contestants, a normal host, and then someone who looks like Al Sharpton. Al will find racism in EVERYTHING except the "n-word," where he will say, "It depends on who says it."

tryanmax said...

Andrew, the only thing about the "depends who says it" bit is that it has the potential to undermine the message of the sketch. If the foil of the sketch are race baiters, you don't want to give any room for nuance on their part. The only side allowed nuance is the "normal" side.

I've been putting my health at risk by watching many episodes of Family Guy and, believe you me, there is a formula to satire. It may be hard, but it can be learned. I should probably draft an article on the subject.

AndrewPrice said...

Putting your health at risk is right. That would be a good article.

The reason I suggest the "it depends" line would be to show the hypocrisy. You get this guy saying words like "white bread" and "Green Giant" and "tuna" are all racist, but then you get the one obvious racist word and he suddenly claims that it's only racist is non-blacks use it. I think that would be a heck of an ending to expose the hypocrisy their side engages in.

(As an aside, I'm talking about that later in the week -- an attempt to ban the N-word.)

Koshcat said...

I see nothing wrong or incorrect in his original statement and the only mistake I see is that he acknowledged the PRiCs existence. These people are wackier than the far right. You will never satisfy them so don't bother. This bullship gets coverage but did you read the weekend WSJ? Since 2008, the number of black businesses who qualified for government small business loans went from a stable 8% over the last many years to 2% and has remained there. Why does Obama and the dems hate black people? This has happened on their watch and they have done nothing to improve it. It has remained at 2% despite every other racial group increasing. That's what I would have countered with.

BevfromNYC said...

So does anyone have the official unofficial "code" book? I am almost certain that it must be handed out at birth in mostly Southern States (know what I mean?). But since I was born in California, I do believe that I did not get my copy...

Uh, yeah, just asking for a friend...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, My book is dated. It still has an ad in it for Sambo's.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Obama has been HORRIBLE for blacks. If their leaders really worried about blacks rather than enriching themselves, they would be screaming at Obama. Look at black unemployment, at how black income has fallen worse that white income, etc. But they don't care about average blacks, they care about the politics of victimhood.

tryanmax said...

You can't spell "victimhood" without "hood" which is urban slang for "neighborhood" therefore that's racist.

AndrewPrice said...

True. Very sad. Ok, victimology.

Oh wait, now I'm trying to avoid a reference to black people. Clearly it's racist to avoid referring to black people. Hmm. Ok, how about "victimhoodurbia."

tryanmax said...

I think all you can do is to acknowledge your implicit racism by participation in a biased social construct that privileges whites. And forget about making claims about what you've achieved on your own b/c anything you've done would have certainly been harder if you weren't white. And if nothing else you haven't had to suffer the burden of wondering whether every interaction you've ever had wasn't in some way affected by your race, so see, you're so advantaged.

AndrewPrice said...

Ah hah, but on the other, I've had the burden of white guilt to overcome. I am the real victim. You should gawk in awe at my achievements despite the fact I know that none of my achievement are my own.

Of course, there's the other hand too, which is that I simply reject the whole poisonous line of thinking and let whoever wants to revel in this stuff go sit in the corner and fail without me. I think I'll take that course!

tryanmax said...

Oh no no no. Your white guilt is merely an unconscious acknowledgement of the disparity you know to be true. Your failure to reject the status quo in light of this knowledge reveals just how much of a racist you are!

I'm pretty sure the rest of what you said is extremely racist, too, but I'm tired of this game.

AndrewPrice said...

Wait a minute! You're white and conservative, you can't call anyone racist! Ha ha!

tryanmax said...

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Oh, shoot. That was really racist.

Anthony said...

Ryan's remarks were very mild, too mild to matter in November 2014. Also, they were true (though that doesn't matter much).

Mild but poorly phrased comments like Ryan's are just kind of used as background to feed the narrative of Republican hostility to blacks. The really useful, inflammatory quotes tend to be provided by the Limbaughs, Nugents and Coulters of the world (unelected but high profile people often arm in arm with politicians).

The state of black America isn't something that keeps either party awake unless its politically advantageous. I remember Democrats going on about how Bush's mild recession was a depression for black America. Obama's near depression is worse than a depression for black America (I tried to think of a clever word choice, drew a blank).

Its my theory that modern black America's problems are rooted in poor choices/culture, not politics/the government so whatever the government does won't really change anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, It is mild today, but it wouldn't have been mild in 1994, and I think that makes a significant point about how things have changed. And you are right, the people offering the inflammatory rhetoric are the very people who are doing the race hustling for whites... "They want to 'brown' America! Be afraid! Buy my book!"

On the state of black America, they have absolutely been abused by their leaders, but as the numbers showed the other day, most blacks (about 70%) seem to be escaping the trap and joining the rest of America in a more race-irrelevant future. Race as an issue seems to be finding a smaller and smaller audience on either side.

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