Catholic Leaders Call Out Gingrich And Santorum For Spreading Ugly Racial Stereotypes

Jan 20 2012 Published by under Featured News

A group of 45 Catholic leaders have called on GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to stop perpetuating racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.

In their letter to the two Republican candidates, the Catholic leaders wrote,

As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.

Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

It would be impossible for Gingrich to stop the politics of racial division, because one of the main tent poles of his campaign is racism. Whether it is the above mentioned food stamp president comments, or his plan to take poor minority kids out of school and turn them into a child labor workforce, the undercurrent in most of Newt Gingrich’s proposals is racism.

Rick Santorum is also guilty of spreading ugly racist stereotypes, but racism hasn’t been as big of a part of his campaign as it is for Newt Gingrich. One of the main reasons why Gingrich is such a threat to Mitt Romney is that he is not afraid to spread racism if that is what it takes to win the Republican nomination. Gingrich is reaping the poison fruits of the racist seeds planted by his party during the 2008 campaign.

The Catholic leaders deserve praise for taking a stand against tactics that have been used so effectively by Gingrich and Santorum. It has been disappointing that more Americans haven’t repudiated these tactics, and it is disgusting that except for Juan Williams, no one has called out Gingrich on his racist campaigning during any of the 15 or so GOP debates. The mainstream media isn’t just turning a blind eye to this destructive ugliness. They have given it a national platform.

The group Faith In Public Life consists of religious progressives and moderates who work to get the message out that the religious right does not speak for everyone Too often when the topic of religion in politics is written about or discussed, even the best writers can fall into the trap of generalizing all persons of faith based on the words and deeds of the religious right. The religious left has an outstanding tradition of promoting civil rights and social justice, and they will be needed more than ever during the 2012 campaign.

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