A funny thing happened in the GOP debate in South Carolina last night. FOX NEWS’ Juan Williams implied racism in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s defense of capitalism, and Gingrich did not back down:
Williams: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said, “Black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps.” You also said, “Poor kids lack a strong work ethic,” and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?
After Williams asked this question, about three people applauded somewhat timidly, but there was mostly silence in anticipation of how Gingrich might dig himself out of this one. He had been put on the spot in front of the world by a media spokesperson who not only opposed Gingrich’s position, but who himself was black, and who views almost everything through the lenses of race.
But Gingrich did not fold. Instead he looked at Williams and responded: “No, I don’t see that.” In other words, Gingrich was saying “No, I don’t see how capitalism is racist nor do I see how a defense of capitalism is racist.” The venue exploded with applause and cheers.
The suggestion you made was about a lack of work ethic. And I’ve got to tell you, my email account and twitter account have been inundated by people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities…[People have asked] why you refer to President Obama as the “food stamp President.” It sounds like you’re trying to belittle people.
As the audience booed Williams, Gingrich responded:
Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any President in American history. I know among the politically correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable. Second, you are the one who earlier raised the key point. The area that ought to be I-73 was called by Barack Obama “a corridor of shame” because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven’t built a road, they haven’t helped the people, they haven’t done anything.
As the applause grew to unprecedented levels, Williams retreated. He literally just sat silently, staring straight ahead, while Gingrich rose above the applause to say:
One last thing…I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their Creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.