Romney Quits with Bizarre (and Racist?) Speech

As you’ve no doubt read or heard by now (hat tip to Bryan Alexander for the heads up on this via BS), Mitt Romney has dropped out of the presidential race. And, in case you missed his exit speech, the full transcript is available here. It’s really hard to know what to make of the jumbled, and quite frankly bizarre, mix of conservative rhetoric he used in his exit speech, but I’m pretty sure that there’s some deeply flawed in logic in this passage:

“Tolerance for pornography—even celebration of it—and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school—and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.”

Let me see if I understand this: “Tolerance for pornography” and “government welfare programs” lead to higher rates of out-of-wedlock births among African-Americans and Hispanics than for Whites? I suppose Romney would say that he wasn’t being racist because he included Whites in the “out-of-wedlock” birth stats in his litany of what’s wrong with this country. Of course, one of the many ironies of talking about “out-of-wedlock” births and children “growing up without fathers” (code for the “sexual promiscuity,” a term that gets applied almost exclusively to women) is that men in the U.S. have launched an all out assault against the notion of paying child support. Romney’s remarks strike me as more of the same conservative sexism and racism that sees “sexually promiscuous” Black women and Black children as the source of all social ills in this society. Given what can only be called crimes at the highest levels of the current conservative administration, it’s particularly galling to try and shift the blame onto children of color. Personally, I won’t miss Mitt or his rhetoric.


  1. Seattle in Texas

    I won’t miss him either. There are many things I could say in response to his comments…but…I’m going to be nice. I am a proponent of divorce and support single motherhood—some of my friends have had children, not got married, and refused to put the fathers on the birth certificates. Nobody should have to be forced to be in a “marriage” that is unhealthy for both the mother and children—children are better off without the chaos and this society needs to provide better support for non-married and single parent households. Plus, people need to mind their own business (including many women) when it comes to whom people wish to have intimate relationships with, etc. Thus, I close with another way to put it to Mit and his supporters (and the red side, etc.) by some of the classiest women, straight up, in the pop industry (couldn’t find the original version, although the message is identical here for a music break if so desired)–people need to get a life and quit the blaming and judging:
    Behavior is the same but projected differently towards different groups….

  2. matt

    I don’t see how Mitt is blaming kids or mothers. He explicitly blames twisted welfare incentives. There is a certain logic to what he is saying. Giving a welfare family more money if the father is not around creates a real incentive for the father to not be around. You can say this incentive isn’t very large but you can’t deny that it exists.

  3. matt

    by the way: I don’t understand the pornography thing, and I’m not a Romney apologist. That being said, the argument that welfare incentives could be improved upon is not racist nor it it misguided.

  4. Jessie Author

    Matt, I get that it’s possible to critique government incentives without being racist, it seems clear to me that he’s responding from within what Joe refers to as the white racial frame. The bizarre thing in Romney’s comments is that he makes this reach for “tolerance of pornography” and connects it to “promiscuity” (a bit of a reach, but one that points in the direction of women), then follows up with the stats on racial disparity of “out-of-wedlock” births (which points directly to women of color). So, it’s not the critique of government incentives per se that prompted me to post about his speech, it’s the juxtaposition of all that at once.

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