The Amazing Racism Of Pat Buchannan

I really don't want to give Pat Buchanan any attention at all. There are  a list of people in this country--most of whom talk for a living--who stand to loose a lot if Barack Obama's take on race and racism bears out. Buchanan's stock and trade is ancient and straight out of Mississippi circa 1919. He peddles in anger and plays to that shrinking contingent of America that believes that their biggest problem is people who don't look like them. Nevertheless, the following bears comment. Here is what Pat Buchanan thinks of you.

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks — with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas — to advance black applicants over white applicants.

Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Wow. There is a lot wrong here, but one central thread of errant logic undergirds it all. Buchanan, like most racists, doesn't actually believe that African-Americans are Americans. This isn't an interpretation, Buchanan's argument that white Americans, in the form of social programs, have done more for black people than any group (including presumably the entire Civil Rights Movement!) assumes that black people have never paid any taxes for those programs. He quite literally doesn't categorize black people as Americans, but useless layabouts who've never contributed anything to the country. All those charities that Buchanan lays out, presumably none of them were run by black folks.

It goes without saying that Buchanan ignores Jim Crow, the epoch of lynching and housing discrimination. That's what bigots do. And Buchanan's rhetoric shouldn't make us angry. He's always been a racist. That said, it's always frustrating to see rank neanderthals, half-wits, and fools making the argument that black people should be thankful to them. Intellectually, Pat Buchanan can't carry Barack Obama's unwashed boxers--from last week. I just got done jogging down Lenox Ave and passed no less than five brothers that would smash Buchanan in any debate.

But Buchanan has always been big media's favorite bigot. And unlike the unsavvy racist (like say Steve Sailer), Buchanan is tolerated among polite society. He's not worth a full fisking. But anyone looking for a primer on Buchanan's thoughts regarding blacks and Jews should check out Jacob Weisberg's  piece from a few years back over at Slate. Among Buchanan's greatest hits? Supporting apartheid and dabbling in Holocaust denial. Man--makes me glad I'm cutting off my cable.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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