Thursday, September 25, 2008

Racism in the rhetoric?

I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here, making commentary on a radio segment I heard yesterday, but for which I can find no audio clip or transcript. I usually like to have alll of my ducks in a row, don't want to give someone on the other side of the political divide the opportunity to call bullshit.

And, given that my lilywhite ass is going to be talking about perceived racism, I'm walking shaky ground.

The segment in question aired yesterday on NPR's Day to Day and discussed the proposed financial bailout. One of the guests was Minnesota Rep Michele Bachmann (R).

The portion of her comments that pricked up my ears was about help for struggling homeowners - if we're bailing out the companies that marketed bad loans, why aren't we also helping those individuals stuck under the same bad loans?

Bachmann, and I'm paraphrasing as fairly as I can here without a transcript, responded that she wanted not one bit of public money to enrich a private individual. She said that we shouldn't be bailing out people who borrowed beyond their means, who want to keep their home but have no intention of honoring their debts. She blamed the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, saying that we had a hundred years of stable lending practices undone by what she called, and on this phrase, used more than once, I am absolutely clear, "social engineering."

Now, given the timing of the end of what she called stable lending practices (not terrible long after the Civil Rights movement), given her throwing around of the phrase "social engineering," given that the CRA was designed to ensure available credit (not the predatory lending we have seen) to underserved (and therefore, especially given its timing, disproportionately minority) communities, am I really the only one that reads Bachmann's rhetoric as "everything was fine until we started giving those lazy, greedy darkies home loans"?

It was some damned charged rhetoric she was throwing around, and she isn't the only one. To my mind, the subtext is pretty clear. I was disappointed that she wasn't pressed more on this. The MSM too often lets slide this kind of blatantly institutionalized racist talk because it is safely couched in terms the speaker can defend as innocuous.

I'm curious to see how much more of this kind of talk will be slung around, and whether anyone will stand up to it. Unfortunately, my hopes and my predictions in this case are not aligned.


EDIT: Forgive the mistake, but the NPR show in question was actually To the Point. I will edit further with audio links or transcripts soon.


the beige one said...

I wouldn't be too surprised if the press, exhibiting signs of being an average 'Merican, do not know about CRA1977, and therefore don't know to cross examine on it.

JJisafool said...

Note the edit, that it was actually To the Point, and I expect more from Warren Olney.

If nothing else, "social engineering" should have been a red flag.

Deni said...

I do expect better from NPR, though I'm not sure why anymore.

There will continue to be racist rhetoric, that is what many politicians do when times are tough - blame blacky - instead of talking about the real responsible parties.

This is just like Ronald Regan saying that our economic woes were due to the black mother with a bunch of kids who drives her Cadillac to pick up her welfare check. Who cares if that person didn't actually exist?

Hey, FOX News has been much more bold with their racism lately. Did you hear Cavuto's remark about how the banks should have have known it was to risky to lend money to minorities?