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Romney’s ‘47%’: Racism or ‘Insensitive’ Rhetoric From ‘Out-of-Touch Man’?

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Romney 47 Percent Mitt Romney’s 47 percent’ remarks struck a big nerve this week, and DiversityInc readers were quick to respond. DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti discussed “Why Gov. Romney’s ‘47%’ Comment Probably Isn’t Racist” in his recent “Ask the White Guy Column,” the implications the presidential candidate’s controversial “secret video” holds, and how the incident reveals the “disguised racism” that still pervades America.

What do you think about the 47-percent debate? Join the discussion!

Submit your comment at the end of this article to share your opinions about  the video with us. You also can view a clip of Romney’s response to the controversy.

If you haven’t seen the original video from Mother Jones, watch it here:

Readers Respond: Mitt Romney’s 47 Percent

Comment: Governor Romney’s comments about the “47%” are not a surprise to me. Let me just say the people in the room knew exactly who he was referring to when he used the words “victims” and “entitlement.” Republican leaders, journalists, the media, and social media have done a masterful job of promoting the narrative that Black Americans are the problem, a large number of Black Americans are getting handouts, and all blacks feel they are “victims” and therefore entitled to government help. That narrative keeps the white working class Republican base and Reagan Democrats angry and revved up so they will keep voting Republican while the Republican leaders/establishment continues to do what they have always done…Look out for and support the very wealthy and big business.

Comment: Just because when you dig further you find that the majority of the people falling into that 47% are white, doesn’t mean that the comment was not “meant” to cast aspersions on Blacks and Latinos. If Romney had Blacks and Latinos in mind when he made the comment, then it was racist–pure and simple.

Comment: No, Governor Romney’s statements about the 47%, of which I am a member, were not targeted at any particular race color or creed but are a demonstration of the uncaring, uncharitable and general disdain for individuals that do not have the same standard of living. Mr. Romney is completely clueless of how a “normal” American lives and generally has no desire to find out what life is like if you are not a millionaire. Mitt Romney is yet another out of touch rich man who is does not give a whit about the “average” American and demonstrated by his words – “…the words you speak come from the heart–that’s what defiles you” (Matthew 15:18, NLT).

Comment: Alright so in your opinion, Romney’s 47% comments were not racist. Why are we not talking about the comments that were clearly bigoted though? When he talked about having a better chance at being president if he were Mexican, this was clearly offensive to me and other Mexican Americans and simply unacceptable. For a white man to claim to even begin to understand what it means to live as a Latino in the United States is disgusting. For someone like him to even take it a step further and claim that he would excel in his race for president if he were a minority makes my blood boil, and I am even more angry that the media is not talking about this more. This type of hateful rhetoric is unacceptable yet it is happening more and more by Republicans. And they wonder why it’s getting harder and harder to keep Latinos on their side. Just a few months ago, a candidate running for judge in Harris County made a similar biogted comment saying he could “beat a guy with a Mexican name.” (referring to Justice David Medina). At a time when many Latinos are facing such hate, scapegoating, and racism in our society by places like Arizona, I would expect someone in the public eye to be more sensitive to Latino voters to empathize and really try to understand the issues that are important to them. But Romney’s priorities just simply don’t match those of Latino voters these days. It is our job as voters to stand up and denounce behavior and attitudes like this.

Reply: Mr. Romney’s statement is not racist. It is a mere reflection of his political philosophy. I think the racism lies in the perception that only minorities are on welfare or that the so called entitlements were intended to help only minorities. People forget that many of these programs stem from government’s efforts to address the Great-Depression era. All nationalities that make up the fabric of America have benefited from Social Security, Medicare, and welfare. Our parents and grandparents paid into these systems. When Congress and the White House effectively manage our economy, these programs work and are sufficient to cover those who have worked for and invested into these programs. Continuous review and reformation must occur to address current needs. One can’t expect systems built 60-plus years ago to be relevant today.

Reply: Lend me your hand so I can stand
Lend me your hand to I can feel
Lend me your hand so I can move
I’ll take your so I could walk with you or follow you.
(VAL)

I am learning each day that I am my brother’s keeper and my role is to reach out to those in need, encourage those who are battered and weary, support those who are alone and to provide, love and touch those who are less fortunate.

To care is true Christianity and true leadership.

Maybe Mr. Romney should reflect on his words and examine his principles to determine where he stands and whose hands he should be holding.

Reply: I agree with you. Mr. Romney’s statement on the surface is not racist. But, I must say his statement is based on racially tinged statements that have been made over the years with relationship to all minorities. His statements [show] he has a lack of concern or sensitivity for others who are different from himself.

Comment: Medicare wasn’t built 60-plus years ago and is needed more now than when enacted, due to the continuing, meteoric rise in healthcare costs. In fact, some people—insurance companies excepted—believe that the ideal healthcare reform would be Medicare for all. The reason 47% don’t pay income taxes—especially those working—is the result of Bush-Era tax cuts, which the Republicans championed. It’s disheartening how quickly things can change, solely due to cynical, hypocritical, political partisanship.

Comment: Classism is nearly as bad.

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Comment: The remarks were clearly racist because he characterized the 47% as dependent on government; voting for President Obama no matter what; having a victim mentality; and being irresponsible. Each one of those statements is a negative stereotype of African Americans that are frequently used by racist disciples of Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Strom Thurman. How can you ignore the comment about claiming that being Mexican born would help him politically? That’s not being pragmatic, that’s just one of the numerous examples of Romney Racism 2012.

Comment: Gov. Romney’s comments weren’t racist. Insensitive, yes………but not racist. It made me better understand how he would focus his efforts should he become president. It’s unfortunate he doesn’t seem to realize the “47%” are part of the middle class, and as such are the buyers of goods and services that will be a vital part of any economic recovery.

Comment: Mr. Visconti, with all due respect I disagree somewhat with your analysis. True, the makeup of the 47% in question is truly multiracial, but the coded language, the dog whistle as it were, still conjures up a Black face. Try singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” and change the color, but yellow still pops up in your mind no matter what word you say. So it is with “free stuff,” “dependent on government,” and no “personal responsibility” when uttered by Gov. Romney and his ilk. The reality of his words may be one thing, but the perception in the minds of those there I’ll wager was that of a Black welfare mother with multiple children. Ultra-conservatives now say “urban” instead of ghetto, and “African-American” instead of the n-word. Though the words have changed, the intent remains the same—to denigrate and demonize people based on race. Yes, the 47% includes folks who will vote for Romney, but most of them feel they deserve their tax deductions unlike Blacks, whom they feel have never worked in their lives. Was it racist, without a doubt, and spoke loudly to the subconscious racism that abounds in America, and its institutionalization into the very fabric of our society.

Luke Visconti: You’re right, but I don’t think Governor Romney put that much thought into his comment.

Comment: Mr. Romney’s comments may not be racist, but they are certainly stereotypical. When he labels this enormous group of people as “dependent upon government” as believing that “they are victims”, and as people who “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it” (in other words, people who are unable or unwilling to take personal responsibility for themselves)–those are stereotypes. Granted, there are some people who do abuse the system and who don’t have the personal work ethic or motivation to get to a better place, but that is a very small minority. (Just as there are some millionaires who enjoy nothing more than ripping off the little guy–but that’s certainly not the majority). But as Luke and many others have pointed out, most people who receive direct government benefits—such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, college-tuition assistance, Section 8 housing, Medicaid or Medicare, or Social Security—are hardworking, every-income Americans who have done everything they were supposed to do to get ahead in our country. Notice I said “direct”–as we are ALL beneficiaries of government ‘benefits’ (roads, street lights, bridges, police, fire departments, FDA, environmental protection, TSA, our armed forces, air traffic control, the list goes on). Stereotypes are inflexible generalizations at best, and inflexible generalizations with no factual basis (such as this one) at worst.

Comment: You people don’t get it! You’re focused on your sensitivities. If Obama wins–forget 47%. We’ll be on our way to much worse. The poor (no matter the race) will be poorer. The rich will not hire the poor. We cannot sustain on this course! … Caring is one thing. Entitlement is an entirely different story. Do your homework people. Stop listening to mainstream media to form intelligent opinions. Stop being so sensitive to your feelings and realize you’ve fallen into a trap like a bunch of sheep. Look at who is in charge and what he has done. Anything? Then take a look at a man that became wealthy with hard work and without handouts. You have problems with the idea that you too can apply yourself, work hard and become wealthy? I work for people like this! We NEED them. I wish America would wake up!

Luke Visconti: Governor Romney grew up in a very wealthy household. His father was a governor of Michigan and the CEO of American Motors. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s clear that Governor Romney’s father was a great American–and a proponent of civil rights–but young Mitt Romney had every possible opportunity, every possible door opened for him, and had every possible connection made for him throughout his life. Oh, by the way, it’s President Obama who grew up relatively poor. He is a model of a person who applied himself and became successful.

Comment: His goose is cooked!!! These latest comments from Romney are not racist, but…

Romney’s many, many comments over the months have demonstrated his ignorance. He lacks what it takes to be president—he has misspoken far too many times. You cannot take back your comments on the international stage; once the words leave your mouth it’s fact.

Comment: Mr. Romney’s foregone conclusion that the 47% are all for President Obama and his typifying them as “freeloaders” plays to the image of Black welfare recipients for life. Forget the fact that whites are the numerical majority of recipients of welfare, his statement plays to the latent, unconscious, embedded racism that exists in America today. If I were white, I myself would have the perspective that what he said is not racist, and let’s assume that he’s not being racist. In this case he is being classist and also writing off all those whites who make up the 47%, those who by some turn of fate need help to bridge them over a tough time. How does that feel?

Luke Visconti: Forty-seven percent is too large of a number for him to be racist: I agree that it plays into some stereotypes and that it’s classist. Dismissing people this way is also the hallmark of a person who feels their success is due to providence. That “feels” scary to me.

Comment: Was his statement racist, ABSOLUTELY, without a doubt and history has shown it. But also let me explain what I consider “divine intervention.” Had Mr. Romney used the numbers 20% or below, this would have been a TWO- maybe THREE-day story at best. After that, it would have been a talking point for the GOP and excited his base. When the Democrats complained, it would be described as “using the race card”. Let me that it a step further and as a matter of fact, his numbers would have gone up with white Americans because the lower numbers would have played into their conscience or unconscious racism that has been instilled in our society that ONLY BLACKS are dependent upon government, believe that they are victims, believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, believe that they are entitled to healthcare, food, housing, you-name-it. That’s an entitlement, and the government should give it to them. But when he said 47%, you don’t have to be educated or political savvy to understand that that number includes more than just African Americans. When he stated 47%, that’s half the population and NO WHITES, not even FOX news, could spin that one; therefore, they were forced to have to look at themselves and KNOW that he was certainly talking about them ALSO.

For more reactions on Romney and the 47 percent,  read the following comments from around the web, including responses from voters, political campaignsTwitter users, and other social media users.

Also read:

Ask the White Guy: Why Gov. Romney’s ‘47%’ Comment Probably Isn’t Racist

NAACP: Romney Shows ‘Fundamental Misunderstanding’ of Blacks’ Needs

Romney Brings Marriage Inequality to Breakfast

Are Voter ID Laws Racist?

Racist Obama Facebook Pages & Your Office: What Do You Need to Know?

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