Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Republican firebrand, just announced that he is taking the plunge and entering the 2012 race for President of the United States. But the Georgia Republican is in hot water as far as the black community is concerned. Based on his record in Congress, and the controversial comments he has made about President Obama, Gingrich is far from popular with African-American voters.
As a member of Congress, Gingrich had an anti-civil rights record and called for the discontinuation of affirmative action programs. In his Contract With America, he favored cuts in social spending to fund more prison construction, and advocated for increased drug sentences and the three-strikes laws that have placed devastates communities of color. And he wanted to replace multicultural teachings in the schools with patriotic education.
“The traditional notion of our country as a union of one people, the American people, has been assaulted by multiculturalism, situational ethics, and a values-neutral model in which Western values and American history are ignored or ridiculed. Unless we act to reverse this trend, our next generation will grow up with no understanding of core American values,” Gingrich said. “This will destroy America as we know it, as surely as if a foreign conqueror had overwhelmed us.”
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Gingrich wants to use the federal government to trample on the property rights of Muslim-Americans. He compared the group that planned to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan to “Nazis,” also referring to them as “radical Islamists.”
On Fox News, Gingrich said “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the holocaust museum in Washington,” referring to the museum where a guard was killed by a white supremacist who entered the museum with a gun. He also said that “we would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”
In Newt’s view, “Islamofascism” is the biggest threat to the American way of life. And the presidential contender plans to meet with Pastor John Hagee of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, who said “those who live by the Quran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.” African-Americans are about 30 percent of all American Muslims, and at least 10 percent of the Africans who arrived on these shores in slave ships were Muslims. In addition, the two Muslim-American members of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) are black.
In his book, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine, Newt said that Obama and the Democrats are just as dangerous and as much of a threat as Nazi Germany. “The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did,” Gingrich said in his book. When asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News if his language was over the top, Gingrich responded: “No, not if by America you mean the historic contract we’ve had which says your rights come from your creator, they’re unalienable, you’re allowed to pursue happiness,” Gingrich responded. “I mean, just listen to President Obama’s language.” In the book, Gingrich makes numerous comparisons between the Obama administration and Hitler, and argues that “the Left” is pursuing an “international strategy to take away” Second Amendment rights to own guns. According to Gingrich, if Hitler had not disarmed “Jews and other anti-Nazi groups,” the “Holocaust would have been virtually impossible to implement.”
Gingrich also called Obama a con man who is ‘authentically dishonest,” and “out of touch with how the world works.” The former speaker also said the president suffers from “a Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview” that makes him unfit to lead. Borrowing an argument made by conservative Dinesh D’Souza — who linked Obama’s “rage” to Marxist-inspired, Kenyan anti-colonialism — Newt seems to be throwing a bone to birthers, Tea Party activists and GOP primary voters who depict Obama as un-American, a Muslim with terrorist affiliations.
In a recent poll, 51 percent of likely Republican primary voters believe President Obama was born in a foreign country. “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asked in an interview with the conservative National Review Online. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
Gingrich thinks President Obama should be impeached for instructing the justice Department to stop defending and enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, which since 1996 has permitted states to refuse to recognize a same-sex partnership legally recognized as a marriage in another state. Newt even has something to say about the president’s athleticism, not-too-subtle code word for Obama’s blackness.
“What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.” Newt was curiously silent about Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, who spent a great deal of his presidency on the golf course, with 487 days of vacation at Camp David, and 490 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Last year on Glenn Beck’s radio show, Gingrich accused Obama of trying to “end… America as it has been for the last 400 years.” For African-Americans who were enslaved and later segregated for most of those 400 years, perhaps they would find Newt’s statement peculiar. He also dismissed liberal attacks on the Arizona anti-immigration law, which critics assert criminalizes and encourages the racial profiling of Latinos, as “left wing racism.” And Gingrich characterized the Obama administration’s lawsuit against Arizona as a “cynical effort to attract the Latino vote.” Meanwhile, in 2007 Gingrich referred to bilingual education as teaching “the language of living in a ghetto” and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in different languages. Further, he called for racial profiling at airports.
When U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod was unfairly dismissed, Gingrich called her a racist. Sherrod was fired after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a heavily edited video of a speech that she gave before an NAACP that portrayed her as discriminatory against a white farmer. ” Well, let me say, first of all, Secretary Vilsack did exactly the right thing. I mean I often disagree with this administration. But firing her after that kind of viciously racist attitude was exactly the right thing to do. And the fact that we have to be genuinely colorblind,” Gingrich said. “I would hope that national NAACP would apologize for having that kind of racist comment at one of their meetings,” he added.
Newt also called for the resignation of Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American U.S. Attorney General, for failing to prosecute bogus charges of voter fraud against the New Black Panthers. The Bush Justice department accused the group of intimidating white voters in a black precinct in Philadelphia on Election Day in 2008, and the case has been a cause celebre for activist conservatives, despite the paltry lack of evidence to prosecute. “First of all, Eric Holder should resign for national security reasons. He should certainly resign over the racism inherent in the Black Panther case,” Gingrich said. “I mean I’m happy to say that Eric Holder shouldn’t be attorney general and is not doing the job correctly.”
During the nominate hearings of then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Gingrich called the jurist a “racist” and urged that she withdraw her name from consideration. His accusations stem from comments Sotomayor made during a 2001 lecture at the University of California-Berkeley. Referring to former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s statement that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases,” Sotomayor said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Gingrich wrote on Twitter, “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman’ new racism is no better than old racism,” adding “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”
Although Newt finds ample time to preach family values and criticize others for their perceived failings, he has some moral shortcomings of his own. For example, Gingrich left his first wife for his second wife while the first was in the hospital for cancer surgery. And he dumped his second wife for his third, after the second was diagnosed with MS. His explanation was that he did it for America: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that Gingrich gave money to a hate group. Last year, he funneled $125,000 to AFA Action, a wing of the American Family Association. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, AFA is a hate group that takes offensive positions against gays, Muslims, Jews and blacks. Its spokesperson once compared Islam to the KKK, and said that black people on welfare breed like rabbits. Denying that AFA is a hate group, Gingrich claimed instead that is a “Christian organization” and a “Christian based membership group.”
As one reporter said of Newt Gingrich, “It was the racism that threw me.” Well, black people aren’t thrown. If Gingrich convinces any voters to support him in 2012, it is more likely than not that African-Americans will not be in that number. Latinos and Muslims, too.