Today’s discussion on “NOW With Alex Wagner” about Mitt Romney, race, religion and the South Carolina primary sparked all kinds of debate online. Some of it was even wildly inaccurate. For starters, here’s the segment in which Democratic strategist Jimmy Williams told it like it is, about his home state of South Carolina:
That of course caused the inartful fabricators at News Busters to tweet and post complete fabrications about what Jimmy does for a living (no, Ken Shepherd, he’s not a lobbyist) and about what he said (and no, Ken, Jimmy didn’t say all South Carolinians are racist. He spoke about the reality that there are still racists in South Carolina and in southern politics, that they exist in both parties — the anecdotes he talked about involved Democrats, not Republicans — and that race is one factor that will cause some South Carolina conservatives to “hold their nose” and vote for Mitt Romney, simply out of distaste for Barack Obama. And yes, some of that animus has to do with Obama being black. If you doubt the reality of any of that, you’re not living in the real world.)
Next up, the fallout from our discussion about Mitt Romney’s $50 gift to a black South Carolina woman, along with another $150 or so from his state finance director, to pay her light bill. The gift nauseated me and other members of the panel (which I wrote about on the NOW blog here) and it touched off yet another torrent of untruths. Nowhere in my discussion (pinged here by Mediaite) or in that blog post, did I call Mitt Romney a racist for giving Ruth Williams that money. I said the gesture infantalized Ms. Williams, and played into an ugly stereotype of black people as childlike and dependent on white people — it’s the Newt Gingrich/Rick Santorum vision of black Americans as constantly in search of “other people’s money,” rather than good old fashioned work. And it plays into a very prevalent conservative meme — that in an ideal world, government wouldn’t intervene to help those in need — that such things would be left to individual, voluntary charity. That’s what the right is pushing for (Ron Paul included) when they seek to defund and neuter programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. That’s the future they have in mind.
And if you don’t believe it, just listen to the Republican candidates, lately, to include Mitt Romney.
Here’s the cringe-worthy video of Ms. Williams: