If I have not said it already, Ta-Nehisi Coates is on my must read list (see the links portion at the top of the page). I learned about the erudite Atlantic writer by watching him on the Chris Hayes’ edition of ALL IN and wrote about him in a previous blog post. Coates has no fear of going after whites and blacks on their views of what ailes black America and race relations in general.
Coates, in this recent article, goes after progressives for going after Paul Ryan in his recent speech disparaging the wrong headed values among men within the inner city. Inner city is, of course, code for the black community. As many have noted, conservatives are not similarly critical of poor whites living in Appalachia. These areas, particularly in the South represent the bulk of poor people in this country and hardly get the kind scolding as blacks. But Coates says Paul Ryan’s view is one shared by man on the left.
A number of liberals reacted harshly to Ryan. I’m not sure why. What Ryan said here is not very far from what Bill Cosby, Michael Nutter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama said before him. The idea that poor people living in the inner city, and particularly black men, are “not holding up their end of the deal” as Cosby put it, is not terribly original or even, these days, right-wing.
Jonathan Chait of the New York magazine takes on Coates in his critique of the men. In Coates rebuttal he respectfully pushes back illuminating his previous article and coming up with counter points that are particularly sharp.
Coates two articles and Chait’s are an excellent read.
Not to digress, but I take issue with Coates lumping Obama and Cosby in with Ryan. If memory serves, both African American men were talking to African American audiences. I believe, Cosby’s famous speech was at an NAACP event and Obama’s many speeches have usually been at events for blacks or promoting black causes. That is a huge difference then having a conservative go on a conservative radio station and make claims that have no basis in fact. Both Cosby and Obama have actually lived in the community and have made it their life’s work to make things better. In addition, there is enormous value in succesful blacks sharing their opinions about what ailes the black community to the black community.