Newt Gingrich wants voters to understand one thing — should he be elected president, assuming he wins the GOP nomination — he will be the paycheck president and not the food stamp president.
Obama, he says, is the best food stamp president in American history.
“I want to be the best paycheck president,” he says.
African-Americans ought to be demanding paychecks not food stamps, Newt says.
Hold on one second.
Did he really say that?
And he continues to say it over and over and over again.
Despite the fact that the majority of people on food stamps are white.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who Newt clearly disdains, says that Gingrich uses a subtle form of racism in his rhetoric.
Speaking to CNN, Carter said, “I think he has that subtlety of racism that I know quite well, and that Gingrich knows quite well, that appeals to some people in Georgia – particularly the right wing.”
I know of what Carter speaks.
Gingrich is a graduate of Baker High School in Columbus, Ga. My hometown. He graduated in the years prior to integration, which didn’t take place until I was in my second year of high school. So in other words, Gingrich graduated from a predominately white public school. Gingrich’s world is black and white in more ways than just his ideology.
Newt Gingrich would have you believe that African Americans depend on food stamps.
Newt Gingrich would have you believe that the bulk of poor people are African Americans.
Newt Gingrich would have you believe that the bulk of the uneducated in this nation are African American.
Newt Gingrich would have you believe that the the majority of African Americans are unemployed, and that they are unemployed because they are lazy.
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed. “They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal.”
I’m sure Gingrich and his supporters will be quick to deny that this is what he’s saying but listen, he and I grew up in the same town in the same era and I can tell you that anyone who grew up in Columbus, Georgia in the 1960s and 1970s got an earful of this sort of racist rhetoric.
That doesn’t make every white person from the hood racist. I certainly believe most of us learned better. And as Oprah likes to say, when you know better, you do better.
But beyond the coded language that Carter claims Gingrich is employing, is this notion of Gingrich’s that there is somehow something to be ashamed of if you’ve ever had to draw unemployment or rely on food stamps.
I’ve done both and I’m not ashamed of it.
Food stamps and WIC helped put food on our table when Tim was in grad school and I was staying home caring for children.
Unemployment helped carry the family when Tim lost a teaching job and we were forced to move our young family of six into my in-laws’ home. And unemployment carried my in-laws during the lapses in logging.
My father-in-law remains one of the hardest working man I know.
And for the record, I work pretty tirelessly myself.
Without food stamps, and some federally-funded school loans, Tim would never have been able to complete his education. He would never have made a better life for our family. Without those unemployment benefits, millions of seasonal workers all over this nation would abandon jobs that need to be done. Agriculture. Logging. Fishing.
Being unemployed or reliant on food stamps is not something to be ashamed of. It’s a season in a person’s life. Maybe not every person’s life and if it’s not yours, be thankful, not arrogant. And if Newt Gingrich wants to talk about welfare let’s talk about the corporate welfare programs that he does support.
My kinfolk, all of them poor as church mice, had a way of talking about others. If a person did a good thing, they always said that person’s behavior was Christian.
As in, “That was a very Christian thing of you to do.”
I don’t think Newt Gingrich is acting very Christian when he uses his coded language to criticize people he considers beneath him.
People like me, I suppose.