Melissa Harris-Perry to Guest: ‘Hard Worker’ Is Offensive Term Due to Slavery, Working Women

Monday afternoon, David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon found this great gem from the Saturday edition of ultra-liberal Melissa Harris-Perry’s eponymous MSNBC show in which she scolded guest Alfonso Aguilar for using the term “hard worker” because it’s demeaning to slaves and working women.

Prior to the exchange, Harris-Perry described House candidate and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisc.) as “a catfish noodler” because similarly to how “you go catch the catfish with your hands,” the same can be said about what Ryan would face as Speaker in “trying to wrangle the current Republican Party into line.”

Speaking about Ryan, Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles took a different line by referring to him as “a hard worker” and supporter of so-called immigration reform:

If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on the immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

With that seemingly harmless description, Aguilar sent Harris-Perry into a tailspin as she told him that they needed “to pause on one thing because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role, but I want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker.’”

Explaining that she “keep[s] an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like,” Harris-Perry continued to admonish him for being unaware of his “relative privilege”

So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do, but in the context of relative privilege, and 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....

As Aguilar tried to respond, Harris-Perry again attacked him and other Americans for supposedly referring to slaves and working women not as “hard workers” but “failures” and “people who are sucking off the system.”

Aguilar strongly denied such a sweeping generalization, but Harris-Perry ignored him and instead declared that this “is really what you guys do as a party.”

(h/t: Washington Free Beacon)

The relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on October 24 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry
October 24, 2015
11:16 a.m. Eastern

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: But Mr. Ryan is a catfish noodler, which is basically the same thing, right? It means you go catch the catfish with your hands and I think that's basically the same thing as trying to wrangle the current Republican Party into line. 

ALFONSO AGUILAR: But – but let’s be fair. If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on the immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you, but I just want to pause on one thing because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role, but 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. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do, but in the context of relative privilege, and 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 —

AGUILAR: I understand that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

AGUILAR: No, no, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. Really, ya’ll do. That is really what you guys do as a party.

AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That’s true. Not all Republicans. That is certainly true.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center