CONGRESS | 13TH DISTRICT | Rep. Barbara Lee brought home a $2.8 million federal grant this week for Asian health services in Oakland, but that’s not what made headlines. Instead, a tit-for-tat, first with Rep. Paul Ryan and now with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly over race in America took center stage.
Last week, Lee took offense to remarks made by Ryan on a conservative radio program and highlighted his use of the phrase “inner city.” Lee believes the phrase is actually a signifier for “blacks.”
“We have got 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 to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said, Mar. 12.
Lee responded a day later. “My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated,” she said. Ryan then apologized.
However, O’Reilly reignited the controversy on Tuesday with Ryan as his guest and called Lee a “race hustler” for her opposition to Ryan’s previous statements. In the interview Ryan appears reluctant to revisit the controversy, but O’Reilly, nonetheless, pushes back. (Watch here.)
“They don’t want a conversation. They don’t want to solve the problem,” said O’Reilly. “These race hustlers make a big living, and they get voted into office, by portraying their constituents as victims, and it’s all your fault and it’s my fault, it’s the rich people’s fault, it’s the Republicans’ fault. It’s everybody’s fault except what’s going on.
“And what’s going on, as you know, is the dissolution of the family, and you don’t have proper supervision of children, and they grow up with no skills, and they can’t read and speak, and they have tattoos on their neck, and they can’t compete in the marketplace. And that is what is going on. But if you say that you are a racist. So, no matter what you say congressman, you are going to be branded because the race hustlers don’t want to solve the problem, how’s that?”
On Wednesday, Lee said the issues of racial discrimination and poverty need to be addresses. “Unfortunately we’ve come to expect language like ‘welfare queens,’ ‘food stamp president,’ and now ‘race hustlers’ from the right wing and Mr. O’Reilly,” Lee, said in a statement. “It is disgusting and divisive and should never be accepted in our national discourse.”