Gingrich’s Racist Attack on Food Stamps Is an Old Ploy

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 Newt Gingrich looks to be winning the race-baiting competition this Republican primary season. Fueled by a new version of his well honed attacks on the safety net, Gingrich celebrated Martin Luther King Day on Monday by restating what has become a staple of his stump speeches, calling President Obama the “best food stamp president in American history.”

The remark came, this time, after debate moderator Juan Williams asked if Gingrich’s campaign-trail suggestion that poor students be given jobs as janitors might me “viewed at a minimum insulting to all Americans, but as particularly to African Americans?” “The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barrack Obama than any president in American history,” Gingrich said before an audience that erupted into vociferous applause.

Gingrich argues that the reason so many people are on food stamps is not that the economy has thrown millions into poverty, but rather that lazy black families are getting on the dole and don’t want to work. Earlier this month, Gingrich told an audience in New Hampshire, “If the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Gingrich’s attack on the food stamp program is not surprising; it’s the kind of politics that he’s been helping to perfect for over 30 years. He’s been waging the conservative counterrevolution against economic justice for a generation, using whatever Southern Strategy relics he can get his hands on.

For two decades, Gingrich and the GOP, often with the support of Democrats, have torn to shreds many of the New Deal and Great Society era programs that kept poor folks from total destitution—and that specifically sought to close the racial gaps in economic opportunity that black children inherit from generations of American apartheid. The conservative assault on these programs has often come with racially loaded caricatures of benefit recipients as lazy, greedy and criminal. Read more here.