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 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".
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.