When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus next week, he may have to explain his opinion of conservative social scientist Charles Murray.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) said Wednesday that he expects Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the chair of the black caucus, to “push the meeting so there will be much more light than heat.”
But Cleaver also said Ryan compounded matters with his comments last month about inner city culture when he cited Murray, the author of the much-maligned Bell Curve who has argued that “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”
“The problem though is that he was quoting Charles Murray, who has been pouring racist sewage into our open ears for a couple generations now,” Cleaver said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “NewsNation.”
“He has been pushing his theories of the Bell Curve and white supremacy, and Ryan quoted him as one of the authorities,” Cleaver continued. “He later said he didn’t know about Murray’s background, which suggests ignorance. And so, if you know the least you shouldn’t speak the loudest and that got him into some trouble. And I think that’s what people want to know is does he embrace Charles Murray or not.”
Ryan took heat from Democrats after an interview last month with conservative radio host Bill Bennett.
The 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee lamented “this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Along with Ryan’s citation of Murray in the interview, many interpreted the Wisconsin congressman’s reference to “inner cities” as a racial dog whistle. Cleaver said he was also troubled by the term.
“There’s nobody in this country who will not agree at a moment of truth that when you use certain terms it suggests race, and inner city men suggests race,” Cleaver said. “And Chairman Ryan, I think, knows that. If not, we’re going to have to try and create an atmosphere where he can learn things.”
Moreover, Cleaver said Ryan’s background makes him ill-equipped to address such matters in the first place.
“I think that it is important for Mr. Ryan to know that he has probably not had experiences in inner cities around the country or in Wisconsin,” Cleaver said. “He probably doesn’t know anything about people, African-American men or the Latino men, in the inner city. He doesn’t know.”
“If you don’t know, and speak about that which you don’t know, you are going to be ending up in a mouth trap,” Cleaver added. “That’s where Chairman Ryan has ended up.”