Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dubious sightings of racism

Article first published as Jesse Jackson Slanders the Truth on Technorati.

Jesse Jackson, in an opinion piece at the Chicago Sun-Times, takes Gingrich to task for his now-weeks-old comments about poor children, about how schools might consider replacing janitors with such children. Jackson rightly notes the stupidity of Gingrich's remarks--albeit quite belatedly, since much of the rest of the political media had already addressed them--but then goes on to offer his own bit of thoughtless analysis:
The not-so-hidden assumption in Gingrich’s slur is that he’s talking about urban poverty and black and Hispanic kids. Actually, poverty is worse in rural areas than in cities or suburbs. Worse in Appalachia than in Chicago. More poor children are white than black.
Jackson is right, with regard to the numbers. But where did he find this "not-so-hidden assumption" in Gingrich's remarks? Nothing Gingrich said hinges on race or ethnicity, whatsoever. Yet, Jackson sees race immediately, assumes it's there as a matter of course.

Gingrich once suggested--while in Congress--bringing back orphanages on a large scale for children on welfare. That idea is as dumb as this one, but there's nothing racial about it, in any way, shape, or form. Gingrich made these remarks in response to a question from the audience at a speech for the Harvard Business School. He concluded by saying:
You're going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America and give people a chance to rise very rapidly.
This is yet another example of Gingrich thinking every wild idea that passes through his mind is a good idea, a legitimate idea, and one that needs to be expressed. He gives no thought to the actual job requirements of  school janitors, apparently believing that all they do is empty trash cans and mop floors. And he fails to recognize the limitations of such a program, along with the potential costs and liability issues for schools.

But nowhere does he even hint of a racial component, nowhere does he invoke race or ethnicity. Yet, Jesse Jackson is apparently not content with criticizing what is actually there, but must also criticize what is not there. In doing so, Jackson not only treats Gingrich unfairly, he also does a disservice to the legitimate racial issues and systemic racism that continues to exist in the United States. Attacking non-existent racism only serves to feed the cynicism of those who question every claim of discrimination or infringement of minority rights. One would think that by now, Jesse Jackson would have learned this lesson. Alas, it would appear that he has not.

Cheers, all.

No comments:

Post a Comment