The Tea Parties, Race, and the New York Times

by Benjamin Domenech on 9:48 am August 28, 2010


A “political memo” from the New York Times on the issue of the Tea Parties and race includes this line (emphasis mine):

In the Tea Party’s talk of states’ rights, critics say they hear an echo of slavery, Jim Crow and George Wallace. Tea Party activists call that ridiculous: they do not want to take the country back to the discrimination of the past, they say, they just want the states to be able to block the federal mandate on health insurance.

Still, the government programs that many Tea Party supporters call unconstitutional are the ones that have helped many black people emerge from poverty and discrimination. … many Tea Party activists believe that laws establishing a minimum wage or the federal safety net are an improper expansion of federal power.

If Kate Zernike of the New York Times truly believes that the welfare system (which President Obama is attempting to restore) has helped African Americans “emerge from poverty and discrimination,” she does so in opposition to nearly every study on the question.

This is a pattern of denial for the Times, which strongly opposed welfare reform (columnist Anna Quindlen called it “the politics of meanness”). As Kay Hymowitz wrote about a NYT series in 2005:

Read through the megazillion words on class, income mobility, and poverty in the recent New York Times series “Class Matters” and you still won’t grasp two of the most basic truths on the subject: 1. entrenched, multigenerational poverty is largely black; and 2. it is intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city.

For more on this, read Freedom Is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle over Black Family Life–from LBJ to Obama by James Patterson. Tim Carney adds more here.

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