Gingrich’s anti-Semitic code words, too

New Gingrich has used racist code words for a long time, before the current food stamp and no-work-ethic mantras. Now he’s onto something new with a “Saul Alinsky radical” drumbeat. Here he is from last night in South Carolina:

The centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky [chants of “USA! USA!”] … We are going to argue American exceptionalism, the American Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution, the American federalist papers; the founding fathers of America are the source from which we draw our understanding of America. He draws his from Saul Alinsky, radical left-wingers and people who don’t like the classical America.

Here he is in a December debate on Fox:

Who is Saul Alinsky? And what kind of first name is “Saul,” anyway? Jewish. And who Googles “alinsky”? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that whoever they are, they live in the same states as people who Google “obama citizenship” at a correlation of .73:

Some other searches that have the highest correlation  with “Alinsky” across states (all .68 or better):

  • charles krauthammer
  • conservative blogs
  • drudge
  • fairness doctrine
  • greta van susteren
  • health care bill text
  • hr 1388
  • mccain for president
  • national firearms act
  • natural born citizen
  • presidential order
  • trilateral commission

My guess is that hardly anyone in Gingrich’s intended audience knows who Saul Alinsky is. But I think he’s giving them enough information to know what kind of person he is. In December he put it this way:

…if you look at his background, he’s really a lot more Saul Alinsky and radicalism than he is anything to do with the traditional American models.

FYI, this morning someone removed the description of Alinsky as Jewish from the opening line of his Wikipedia entry, which was added in December.

When Gingrich used Black poverty to hype the coming apocalypse

The news about Ron Paul’s racism reminds me how many American politicians — if they have been around since the 1980s or 1990s — have such racial skeletons in their political closets. Even when they don’t reach the level of explicit racism of some of Ron Paul’s old newsletters.

Back then, poverty, crime and welfare — when paired with reference to “cities,” the “underclass” or single mothers — were all racial code regularly used to motivate Whites to oppose government support for the poor and bolster the policy of mass incarceration. With the fall in crime rates and the dismantling of welfare — and the rise of Latino immigration as a substitute boogeyman — the tone has changed and these issues have lost some of their racial salience.

Paul’s newsletter, in reaction to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, joked, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks,” according to the Weekly Standard.

In a fundraising letter written about 1993 and signed by him, according to Reuters, Paul not only warned of a coming “race war” in U.S. cities, but also this:

I fear there will be welfare riots in the big cities. Massive unemployment. The destruction of wealth. The erosion of personal liberties. Vicious economic controls. The exaltation of envy.

And so on: From welfare riots to government repression (see “jack-booted government thugs“), via “the exaltation of envy” (which I guess refers to poor people coming after the middle class).

Racism is one thing, but the political racism of that period — that directed against Blacks — focused on crime, violence and welfare, so much that these issues became racial issues. Ruth Sidel argued that, in the post-Cold War 1990s, poor single mothers — especially Black single mothers — shouldered much of the load of the American right’s apocalyptic tendencies.

Now, as Newt Gingrich has joined the congregation of people attempting to share the righteous limelight exposing Paul’s racism, it reminded me of a quote from Gingrich I’ve been using for years in my Family and Stratification courses, from 1995:

No civilization can survive for long with 12-year-olds having babies, 15-year-olds killing one another, 17-year-olds dying AIDS, and 18-year-olds getting diplomas they can’t read.

That was part of a series of columns published in various places, as adapted excerpts from his book To Renew America. (Here it is in the Gainesville Sun, August 6, 1995.)

In the same column, Gingrich wrote that, “our civilization is decaying, with an underclass of poverty and violence growing in our midst.” He didn’t say, “Poor Blacks pose an existential threat to White America,” but he might as well have.

Gingrich channels William Julius Wilson?

Illustrations from NY Review of Books, here and here.

Newt Gingrich, in Iowa, December 1, 2011:

Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods, have no habits of working, and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday, they have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of “I do this and you give me cash,” unless it’s illegal.

William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy (1987):

Inner-city social isolation also generates behavior not conducive to good work histories. The patterns of behavior that are associated with a life of casual work (tardiness and absenteeism) are quite different from those that accompany a life of regular or steady work (e.g., the habit of waking up early in the morning to a ringing alarm clock). In neighborhoods in which nearly every family has at least one person who is steadily employed, the norms and behavior patterns that emanate from a life of regularized employment become part of the community gestalt. (p. 60)

Wilson tried to differentiate between the “culture of poverty” and “social isolation,” but the distinction often has not come through in the popular retelling of his work.

Perhaps coincidentally, Gingrich started on this pitch in a speech at Harvard, where Wilson is in the sociology department.