Monday, May 16, 2011

Ear of the Listener

I do not like Newt Gingrich. As a matter of fact, I dislike him intensely, and I utterly despise his politics and his methods. Some things he has said about Obama are clearly racial slurs, such as his comment about "Kenyan anti-colonialist behavior," which was so unfounded as to be bizarre.

That being said, when Joan Walsh starts talking about “coded racism” I part company with her. People who talk about hearing “coded messages” are usually wearing tinfoil hats because the “coded messages” they heard were from an extraterrestrial. “Coded speech” is what the listener hears, not what the speaker says.

Newt referred to Obama as “the food stamp president” and Walsh claims that is a racist slur because, “It's a short hop from Gingrich's slur to Ronald Reagan's attacks on ‘strapping young bucks’ buying ‘T-bone steaks’ with food stamps” and because most food stamp recipients are minorities. The problem is that he did not say anything of the sort, those interpretations were in her own mind. What he said was that food stamp usage is high on Obama’s watch, which is absolutely true. His attribution of blame to Obama for that is largely false, but the racist element of the statement existed in Joan Walsh’s mind, not in Newt Gingrich’s statement.

Gingrich said that “Obama knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit," which Walsh is quick to point out “just happens to be home to many black people.” It also happens to be the symbol of the collapse of American manufacturing and the loss of manufacturing jobs. If Gingrich wanted to pick a city which was predominately black he would have picked Birmingham or Atlanta, both of which have a higher percentage of African-American population than does Detroit. Here, again, Gingrich was talking about loss of manufacturing jobs, and Joan Walsh heard racism.

I am not defending Newt Gingrich, who is a duplicitous hypocritical jackass, but Joan Walsh wants to create a situation where there can be no criticism of the President without the critic being labeled as a racist. It is Joan Walsh who creates controversy by hearing racism where it does not exist. Obama does not need her protection. He should not be attacked because of the color of his skin, and he should not be defended because of it either.

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