Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver attacked a renowned sociologist during a discussion on Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s inner city remarks made last month, saying Charles Murray has been “pouring racist sewage into open ears for a couple generations now.”
Cleaver spoke with MSNBC’s Tamron Hall about House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s planned meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus next Wednesday, where he will presumably be called to explain comments he made in March linking inner city culture with unemployment.
The Democratic lawmaker said he hopes the meeting will have “much more light than heat. I think that Chairman Ryan will be given an opportunity to explain what he said.”
“The problem, though, is that he was quoting Charles Murray,” Cleaver continued, “who has been pouring racist sewage into open ears for a couple generations now. He has been pushing his theories of ‘The Bell Curve’ and white supremacy.”
“And Ryan quoted him as one of the authorities,” he continued. “He later said he didn’t know about Murray’s background. Well, you know, that would suggest ignorance.”
“So if you know the least, you shouldn’t speak the loudest,” Cleaver lectured. “And that got him into some trouble, and I think that’s what people want to know. Does he embrace Charles Murray or not?”
Murray is a prominent and widely-respected sociologist who penned the 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” which in one chapter posits certain racial differences in intelligence and suggests some of this may be due to genetics.
The book’s measured and well-researched take on a highly controversial issue failed to halt an immediate left-wing backlash. Murray was branded a racist pseudo-scientist, with the Southern Poverty Law Center filing his name under “White Nationalist” and falsely suggesting he maintains ties with neo-Nazi groups.
David Weigel, a left-leaning libertarian journalist writing for Slate, wrote that even after reams of well-received research since 1994, “['The Bell Curve'] wrecked Murray’s reputation with some people, and it won’t get un-wrecked.”
“But the conservatives of 2014 don’t cite Murray for his race work,” Weigel continued, noting that the fascinating work Murray presented in his later works “Losing Ground” and “Coming Apart” are much more likely to be referenced by opponents of the welfare state.
“Not being able to read Ryan’s mind, I assumed he was thinking of Murray for his Losing Ground/Coming Apart work,” Weigel said, “and not for Chapter 14 of his book about how some races just ain’t got what it takes.”
For his part, Ryan rejected the notion that his remarks — in which he also cited liberal-approved sociologist Robert Putnam — were related to race in any way.
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