Kanye West ripped into George Bush recently at a charity fundraiser for hurricane Katrina on NBC –essentially calling him a racist. Despite many Republicans claiming they were closing their wallets after the remark, he still managed to raise 30 million dollars for Katrina victims.
It is without a doubt that Mr. West, like every other American, is entitled to his opinion and its no crime to express his opinion in a manner where it can be heard by as many people as possible.
The question remains, however, is Kanye West right?
A little-noted statement by Linda Chavez, from Mr. Bush’s own administration, appears to shed more light on what Mr. West must have meant. Her statement strongly supports Mr. West’s contention, not only with regard to Mr. Bush, but also with regard to his whole cabinet. Keep in mind that Ms. Chavez is the President of the Center for Equal Opportunity and former head of Bush’s U.S. Civil Rights Commission, to make her statement even more Orwellian. She observes as follows:
(1) In New Orleans, you are dealing with the permanently poor — people who don’t have jobs, are not used to getting up and organizing themselves and getting things done and for whom sitting and waiting is a way of life, . . .
(2) This is a natural disaster that is exacerbated by the problems of the underclass. The chief cause of poverty today among blacks is no longer racism. It is the breakdown of the traditional family.
Now we know it is a Republican talking point to shift the blame for the slow response from George Bush, the person ultimately responsible, to local Mayors or even the citizens of the flood, but Chavez’s blame-the-victim attacks are beyond the pale. Republicans like to talk in “code” to their base, but their “code” is easily deciphered by anyone with a pulse. Ms. Chavez’s statement decodes from “Republican talking point” to “ordinary English” as follows:
(1) Ni**ers are poor, unemployed and lazy. Its a way of life for them to sit on their ass all day. That is why they were caught in the flood. Don’t blame Bush — its their fault for not having the means or the will to get away in time.
(2) Ni**ers do not take care of their kids. That is why they remain poor. De Jure discrimination in society plays no part in their plight, so we can pretend it does not exist. We can just scapegoat black men for abandoning their families, and pretend our policies play no role in their suffering at all.
On the face of it, it appears Kanye West is probably right, not only about George Bush, but about his entire administration. They like to couch their language in a non-offensive manner, but Chavez’s statements have a clear meaning and represent the sentiments of the entire Republican establishment.
They believe it is mainly African-American’s inherent inferiority that keeps them down. They believe that their policies do nothing to harm African-Americans, but it is a chronic laziness and a tendency of young black males to abandon their families. They make no acknowledgment of the fact that whites held blacks down for hundreds of years and that blacks have never, as a culture, been allowed to climb out of that hole.
It is backward thinking like that from Chavez and the rest of the Bush administration that contributes to the widespread contention that their administration is racist. At the very least, one cannot fault Kanye West for having that opinion, especially when his culture has been on the short end of the stick so many times, and Bush’s response is to pretend like it never happened and to blame the victims.