MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry has drawn fire after objecting to a seemingly innocuous reference by a guest to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) as a “hard worker.” Harris-Perry suggested that the use of this term for someone like Ryan is insulting to people who once picked cotton or mothers without health care.
Harris-Perry offered her correction with the guest Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, after Aguilar said If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan.”
Harris-Perry warned “[I] want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker’ . . . Because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like.” She then continued by noting that “in the context of relative privilege, I just want to point out, that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures, people who are sucking off the system. Really, y’all do! That’s really what you do!”
Aguilar objected to the point and said “This is very unfair. I feel that we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.”
I am not clear about how many people actually call working mothers “failures” but it is not clear why we cannot recognize hard-working people in different facets of life, including Republican leaders.