So yesterday, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) went on BBC and opined that protesters in Charlotte are jealous of white people.
“The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” he remarked.
Speaking directly from the heart of white privilege in America, Pittenger blamed the “welfare state” for making black people lazy. “We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage, so they can’t be all they’re capable of being.”
The segment became instant viral gold and Pittenger was widely denounced for making a racist statement.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2016
Of course, within a short time Pittenger was walking his comments back for the Charlotte News & Observer.
“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart,” he said in a statement issued by his congressional office. “My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret. The answer doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies. I apologize to those I offended and hope that we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”
Then a little while later, Pittenger appeared on CNN to apologize again and try un-ringing the racist bell he had struck so hard, saying that he had been taken out of context. Watch:
As news host Don Lemon says, African Americans are always the last to feel the effects of economic recovery and the first to feel the pain of any downturn. America’s ongoing problem with income inequality is simply worse for minorities, full stop.
Pittenger’s critique of social spending is also quite exaggerated: the SNAP program, which is better known as ‘food stamps,’ cost less than $74 billion last year. Payouts for Section 8 housing assistance have never exceeded $5 billion. The federal ‘welfare’ budget comes nowhere close to a trillion dollars a year unless you include Medicaid spending.
So when Don Lemon challenged Pittenger’s assertion that “studies” prove his point, the congressman switched to blaming “slow economic growth” and “regulations” for holding back small business.
…[T]he economy has left them out. When you look frankly at the last eight years and the current economy, the demographic group who has moved the least up the economic ladder are low-income minority people. And that’s the reality. That’s a fact. So you know my desire is that every individual would have the right for an opportunity economy. That’s what America is about.
Which is funny, because I have personally witnessed (white) small business owners crumple and toss employment applications in the trash can as soon as the (black) job seeker’s back is turned. In my lived experience, what Pittenger said about blacks hating whites “because we’re successful” is a common form of psychological projection by whites who deny blacks any sort of “opportunity” and then rationalize their discrimination.
All too often, there’s no “economic ladder” to climb because it gets pulled up out of reach. The same prejudices constantly affect African American civilians confronted by police.
Pittenger represents the whiter suburbs of Charlotte, not the inner urban area where blacks have been ‘redlined’ for decades in order to sequester them economically. In a very real sense, the protests on I-277 are about the ring of concrete which has shackled African American residents of Charlotte for as long as most of them have lived.
Even if he doesn’t want to admit it, Pittenger knows this is all true; he just let the mask slip for a moment. He’s trying to spin his words now, but they reflect the actual mindset of too many white Americans — and most Donald Trump voters.Click here for reuse options!
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