Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois has drawn criticism in the past for talking about race, but the way he marked the anniversary of the March on Washington has put a spotlight on the recently ousted congressman all over again.
Walsh marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington by sharing his own “dream for America” on his radio show. That “dream” turned out to be a wish list of aspirations he has exclusively for the black community, including more than a few patronizing lines.
Read the list for yourself:
I have a dream that all black parents will have the right to choose where their kids attend school.
I have a dream that all black boys and girls will grow up with a father.
I have a dream that young black men will stop shooting other young black men.
I have a dream that all young black men will say “no” to gangs and to drugs.
I have a dream that all black young people will graduate from high school.
I have a dream that young black men won’t become fathers until after they’re married and they have a job.
I have a dream that young unmarried black women will say “no” to young black men who want to have sex.
I have a dream that today’s black leadership will quit blaming racism and “the system” for what ails black America.
I have a dream that black America will take responsibility for improving their own lives.
I have a dream that one day black America will cease their dependency on the government plantation, which has enslaved them to lives of poverty, and instead depend on themselves, their families, their churches, and their communities.
Some of those dreams echo calls that civil rights leaders and even President Obama, have made. But when it comes to issues like “blaming” the system, Walsh’s tone angered some in the black community.
TheGrio.com’s Zerlina Maxwell ripped him for his “arrogant” advice in an opinion piece Thursday, also pointing out that Walsh was “notably was absent from his own children’s life and embarrassingly was sued for back owed child support while he was in office.”
“Black people aren’t the only children born out of wedlock, black children aren’t the only ones who are not graduating from high school en masse, and black women aren’t the only women having premarital sex,” she wrote.
“Furthermore, the complete lack of acknowledgement of structural factors that lead to this disparity in outcomes is par for the course for Republicans,” she added.
Instead of acknowledging those factors, Walsh took a page from the right-wing playbook and blamed the civil rights activists who point them out.
Walsh is hardly the only member of the right-wing media to claim the only way African Americans can achieve equality is by “taking responsibility” and complaining about civil rights activists who call for changes to “the system.”
While he lacked any list of “dreams,’ Fox News host Bill O’Reilly devoted part of his Wednesday show to launch yet another attack on the “grievance industry” for calling out injustice.
“The skill level of many Americans is declining, even if jobs become more plentiful, you have to be able to do them,” he said. “You have to speak proper English, be able to do basic math, and conduct yourself responsibly.”
He insisted that anyone failing to make it in America is ultimately to blame.
“America remains the land of opportunity, but only for those who are honest and responsible,” he added later. “If you are irresponsible, lazy, and corrupt, this country can be a tough place.”