Once again Newt Gingrich finds an uncomfortable spot in the political hot seat just as his numbers in the polls continue to spiral downward. This time he is being called on the carpet for yet another controversial statement about African-Americans and food stamps.
Speaking to a gathering of senior citizens in New Hampshire last week, Gingrich indicated that if he were invited to the NAACP convention in Houston, he would go and “talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
By continuously linking Blacks and food stamps, Gingrich perpetuates the racist stereotype of the Black welfare queen created by the late GOP strategist Lee Atwater and used by Ronald Reagan in his victorious 1980 presidential campaign. It is based on the false notion that all food stamps recipients are unemployed African-Americans.
I will say it again, so false. Let’s look at the facts, which Gingrich seems to conveniently avoid.
According to the Department of Agriculture, roughly 40 million Americans (18.4 million households) receive food stamps. Out of that number, 13.4 million are white while 8.9 million are African-American. Almost half of food stamp recipients are children, whom Newt wants to exploit by putting to work, making substandard wages. Eight percent of them are the elderly and lastly there is the disabled who make up two percent of the food stamp recipients. Lastly nearly 40 percent of the households that get food stamps have at least one family member holding down a job, many of whom are U.S. soldiers. The problem is that their income is not enough to cover their bills and pay for food. What does Gingrich have to say to them?
Gingrich’s obsession with linking African-Americans and food stamps as though we are the only ethnic group in America receiving them is extremely disturbing. It indicates that the former speaker of the House of Representatives who led the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994 has deep-seated psychological issues with seeing African-Americans as nothing but a poor destitute people who would rather break the law or beg for a hand-out than work for a living.
Gingrich knows his food stamp rhetoric is racist and untrue, but it plays to his largely white working-class base and, like any politician he is only concerned about getting elected no matter the cost.
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