Monday, March 17, 2014

Is Paul Ryan racist?

Paul Ryan thinks his brand of tough luck conservatism is very Christian, despite his affinity for the radical individualism of Ayn Rand.  He seeks after all to save people from the government tyranny of social welfare programs - which he asserts saps people's strength.  This is a race neutral statement on its face.  As applied.... And as explained it gets worse.  Ryan explained - as have many before him - that there is  "an inner city culture" in which men have lost their interest in work.  

Personally I find this sort of assertion to be a straight line from unreconstructed versions of blaming the effect of racism on its victims.  Ryan's now-famous statement decried “this 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.”  As Berkeley law professor Ian Lopez explained on the Bill Moyers show this is a "dog whistle" - a signal to antagonists of black people that he is with them, but can't say it out loud.  Unfortunately the racial gaps in economics and in academic performance will never be addressed by such coded criticisms.

Ryan knows that he is supposed to be a serious thinker so he justifies his position by reference to scholars.  Unfortunately for Ryan that happens to be Charles Murray - the author of The Bell Curve which asserts not only that intelligence can be measured by IQ tests, but that a genetic component has been shown. In a classic non-denial denial Murray has now announced that in his book he was very careful to explain:
If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not justify an estimate.
So Ryan's source Murray is "agnostic" on how inferior black people are - it's a product of both the  environment  and genetics.  And there certainly seems to be no place in his explanation for racist oppression.

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