Ryan’s Inheritance: Racial Coded Language

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Paul Ryan is the most recent white-minded national politician to appeal to white middle and working class empathies of racial stereotypical politics.

It’s a common practice. While conservatives catch the sharp finger more quickly, both liberals and the former employ racial coded language to support their agenda. Paul Ryan is the most recent white-minded national politician to appeal to white middle and working class empathies of racial stereotypical politics. Not excusing his action, he will not be the last. Ryan’s appeal at the CPAC conference on March 6th is a continuation of a long legacy of coercive tactics by right-wing politics to harness the voting edge from racist sentiments of white America.

Nixon used all the verbiage from the 1965 Moynihan Report, which cast the condition of African American plight as a “ghetto pathological” behavior resulting in poverty.

The social climate of the 60’s change the tone of overt racist political campaigning. No longer was it viable to use Jim Crow vernacular as a vehicle to garner votes, build political powerhouses, and secure corporate sponsors. International affairs and civil rights pressure forced America to reexamine its global image. In addition with white public backlash against civil rights gains, politicians, elected officials, and campaign managers were force to modify the language of its racist social frame. More specifically, Republican officials of the mid 1960’s gradually established its public base by courting white working-class with¬†coded racist rhetoric, while simultaneously attempting to remain “neutral” or non-racist. Case in point, this was the successful strategy of the Nixon campaign later referred to as the “Southern Strategy”. Nixon used all the verbiage from the 1965 Moynihan Report, which cast the condition of African American plight as a “ghetto pathological” behavior resulting in poverty. This report publicly introduced the terms “inner city”, “welfare dependency”, “culture of poverty”, and “crime tendency”. Senator Moynihan’s Report became one of the ‘dictionaries’ used to recode political language discourse. As a result Duchess Harris writes, “Welfare and crime had become racial code words in new political language that was developed in the late 1960’s and utilized by conservatives….”. Nixon successfully defeated the trending liberalism by flaming the bitterness of white working-class, employing the new racially coded terms. His campaign and policies against “welfare dependency” now conjured the image of single Black mothers in the cities, “crime” and the War on Drugs became code for direct tactical action against Black men across the nation.

Paul Ryan was only following his political forefathers footsteps.

From Nixon too the Bush administration of 1989, racial coded conservative politics became the dominate pimageersuasion perfecting its appeal to white America. (Carter, was no relief) Reagan’s reign became the pinnacle as he rekindled the “welfare queen” image, revision the “war on crime and drugs”, and introduced the seeds of modern day education reform manifested in George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”. Nothing new under the sun, right? Paul Ryan was only following his political forefathers footsteps. Naive to history, Ryan failed to grasp the contention between the social and political climate that produced the tactics and strategies of his party. Domestic issues such as poverty, education, gun laws, immigration, which he spoke of, have different components today than when Reagan was in office. His campaign manager failed to provide a copy of Ian Haney Lopez’s book “Dog Whistle: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class“. Conversations within my circle have given me the impression that we are not interested in Ryan’s regret. Not only does he look like a young Reagan, but he was very intentional with his choice of speech just like his 80s predecessor.

This discussion can become the deciphering tool which reveals how elite white-supremacist transforms and morphs strategies to maintain dominant influence in different eras.

Racial coded political rhetoric offers an excellent discourse to the dynamics of social control tactics issued by white elites. It opens the door to the mechanisms, forms, policies, and economic benefits that special interest groups employ to maintain white patriarchal capitalism. This discussion can become the deciphering tool which reveals how elite white-supremacist transforms and morphs strategies to maintain dominant influence in different eras.

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