WASHINGTON — Some inner city men suffer from a culture that does not value hard work, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Wednesday.
“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 the value and the culture of work,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show. “There is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) called Ryan’s remark “deeply offensive.”
“My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated,” Lee said in an email to reporters. “Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.’”
During his radio interview, Ryan cited a Harvard study finding that youth from lower-class backgrounds tended to be more isolated from society and civil institutions. Ryan’s office noted that the study’s authors themselves emphasized that their work focused on class and not race. (The study controlled for a variety of factors, including “urbanicity,” suggesting an “inner city” environment predicted less about young people’s civic engagement than their class background.)
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