Tags: Barack Obama | Paul Ryan | paul ryan | rich lowry | poverty | racism

Rich Lowry: Ryan Called Racist for Making Same Remarks as Obama

By Joe Battaglia   |   Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 07:34 PM

Sen. Paul Ryan has been labeled a racist for raising the same points President Barack Obama made about the breakdown of work in relation to fatherlessness in America's inner cities, Rich Lowry says.

In an opinion piece for Politico, Lowry, the editor of National Review, said that Ryan "was awarded an honorary white hood by the liberal commentariat," for "making an odious play for racist votes," while Obama was hailed as being "a brave truth-teller" for essentially the same comments.

Editor's Note: Dr. Ben Carson: It's Time to Stand Up - Get His Vision for America

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, went on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show on March 12 to promote his ideas on addressing poverty. During the show, he told Bennett that there is a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”

Ryan’s comments were immediately decried by Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called his statements, "shameful and wrong," in a statement. Rep. Barbara Lee of California, a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus’s Poverty and Economy Task Force, wrote "My colleague Congressman Ryan's comments about 'inner city' poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated."

As point of comparison, Lowry offered up the following quotes, asking readers to guess "what notorious racist said the following:"
  • "Fewer young black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men. And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults."
  • "In troubled neighborhoods all across this country—many of them heavily African American—too few of our citizens have role models to guide them."
  • "We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households…. We know the statistics— that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison."
  • "We know young black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’— not in school, not working."

All the quotes came from Obama.

According to Lowry, the statement by Ryan has "broad sentiments [which] are indistinguishable from those of Obama… all emphasizing a breakdown of work and the consequences of fatherlessness and social isolation, except Obama’s comments were more explicitly racial."

Lowry says Ryan has proven to be anything but racist, pointing out that he has toured urban neighborhoods with anti-poverty activist Bob Woodson to try and shape the new conservative agenda on poverty. In marking the 50th anniversary on the War on Poverty, Ryan was named the Republican spokesman for publicizing the party's platform on the issue.

Lowry also wrote that critics have chosen to ignore Ryan's very next sentence after his pilloried statement, when he told Bennett, "Everybody’s got to get involved. You need to get involved yourself — whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is, to make a difference, and that’s how we help resuscitate our culture."

Some liberals, Lowry said, are denouncing Ryan as racist because they believe all conservatives harbor prejudiced beliefs. Lowry cited Paul Krugman, who said, "Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn’t matter. He said what he said because that’s the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time."

"Ryan is so obviously not a bigot that liberal pundits have had to deploy a slightly different argument— that the structural racism of the Republican Party is so deep and pervasive that even a possibly well-meaning politician like Ryan can’t escape its gravitational pull," Lowry wrote in reply.

Lowry said Ryan is ultimately being attacked by supporters of the status quo who object to his desire to incentivize public assistance programs rather than "pour more money into all the same welfare programs that have failed to address the root causes of poverty for decades."

Lowry sums up the racism accusations against Ryan with a sense of exasperation.

"This is all so extravagantly overwrought and strained that it’s hard to know where to begin," he wrote.

Editor's Note: Dr. Ben Carson: It's Time to Stand Up - Get His Vision for America

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