Gingrich Taken to Task at Town Hall For Linking Black People With Food Stamps
On one hand, Newt Gingrich’s bubble of privilege and lack of knowledge about the true demographics of social assistance programs like food stamps feels horrific to watch, a stark reminder of harmful racist attitudes that remain institutionalized in the mainstream Republican party.
On the other, you kind of almost hope lots of swing voters will realize this is the true face of much of the GOP’s platform, that inequality and lack of opportunity is not only tolerated but favored by Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and their ilk. But it doesn’t make it easier to listen to their baldly offensive rhetoric, most recently when Gingrich told a cheering crowd that black people should demand “paychecks instead of food stamps.”
As if the statement, clearly indicative of how Gingrich sees the black voters of America, wasn’t enough, he backed it up with an offer to meet with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to discuss the matter- a suggestion that’s so offensive, one is almost perplexed at where to start critiquing it. But one brave New Hampshire voter, 59-year-old Yvan Lamothe, took Gingrich to task on the comments at a recent town hall. Lamothe asked:
“My point is… you mentioned that black people should be able to earn a paycheck, not be on welfare, implying that black people in general are on welfare. And I really took exception to that because it demeans my accomplishments, my hard work, because I have worked all my life. I have never been on welfare.”
Lamothe, who has earned a master’s degree, continued:
“You know about history. You know that back in the 1930s, Hitler started talking in Germany about a Jewish problem. My question to you is, do you think that blacks represent an American problem, and if you don’t think that, will you stop using blacks in general as a stepping stone or a punching bag?”
Gingrich fell back on the “taken out of context” dodge, claiming that his words had not been accurately given background, making them sound more racist than they actually are. Gingrich stammered:
“What I said was, there’s a real problem in America because you have a president who’s put more people on food stamps- people, I didn’t say any ethnic group, people- than any other president in history… I said I would be willing to go to the NAACP annual convention- which most Republicans are not willing to do- and I’d be willing to talk about the importance of food stamps versus paychecks.”
According to some of the most recent Census data, as much as 85% of welfare and similar services are claimed by white people- with an assortment of other minority groups making up the remaining less than 15%. At least he didn’t go full Santorum and say he wants to make blah people’s lives better by giving them jobs and not food stamps.
Do you think that certain factions of the GOP speak racially-insensitive code when it comes to issues of poverty and social justice?