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Joe Biden gave America déjà vu the other day at a rally in Derry, New Hampshire, when he told coal miners to learn how to code.
The best thing about Joe Biden telling coal miners to learn to code is the man can barely send an email without calling the IT department— Fishbones (@Fishbones2017) December 31, 2019
Saying “Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well,” Biden also bafflingly added that “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!” even though that isn’t actually a part of coal mining.
@JoeBiden How many people are being paid to throw coal into a furnace these days? Joe, are you stuck in the 1920's when Steamboat Willie came out? Do you still throw coal into a furnace in your house? Can you even acknowledge tankless water heaters and inventory robots exist?— DataChef4Humanity (@DataChef4H) December 31, 2019
My kid (not quite three) conflates "pretending" with "learning." He stands with his arm up in the air and says "I'm leaning to be the Statue of Liberty." This is what I think of when Joe Biden says people who toss coal in a furnace (??) will learn to code.— 'Weird Alex' Pareene (@pareene) December 31, 2019
People across the political spectrum were unimpressed by this take, pointing out that the skills involved in coal mining aren’t actually transferable to programming and that Biden’s speech in particular was especially patronizing.
A few corrections: coal miners don't in fact throw coal into furnaces, not everybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn to program, and Joe Biden isn't (as a plurality of Democrats believe) the most electable candidate they have. https://t.co/yJpzCxoagX— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) December 31, 2019
Rank stupidity from #JoeBiden.— Beau Jaxe (@BeauJaxe) December 31, 2019
Few programmers would last a day working a coal mine.
Few coal miners could compete as a modern programmer without a decade+ of training & experience, if ever.
The innate talents & developed skills required are completely different. https://t.co/RLTjDsENER
Because coal miners do so much more than just “throw coal into a furnace”. My grandfather was a coalminer, in Pennsylvania, and he worked hard hours doing dangerous & honest work. Survived an explosion. Went back in until he retired.— BohemiaBB (@BohemiaBB) January 1, 2020
There are plenty of other industries and professions—from carpentry to installing solar panels—where the skills learned from coal mining are extremely valuable. As such, Biden’s choice of “coding” for an alternative career seems a particularly poor and strange choice. The green energy industries, which will need to expand to replace coal’s place in supplying America’s electricity, would have seemed the natural choice for redirecting coal workers into instead, something commentators online have been quick to point out.
Exactly. There are many many future jobs in doing the right thing, that is, environmentally adapting american infrastructure. It is called big government, or the Green new deal, and we better get with the program now.— Willetts Magazine (@WillettsMagazi1) December 31, 2019
Meanwhile, coal miners CAN learn to work in green energy, for example, installing solar panels, and they ARE in fact learning how to do this JUST AS FUCKING HILLARY CLINTON SAID— Ohm (Unit of Resistance)🆘️ (@HereToResist) December 31, 2019
It’s possible that Biden’s remarks were intended as a counterpoint or jibe at fellow candidate Mike Bloomberg—who kicked off the whole learn to code meme on Twitter last year when he said “You’re not going to teach a coal miner to code. Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them [people] to code and everything will be great. I don’t know how to break it to you … but no.” If so the attempt fell flat, coming across instead as a tone-deaf failure to understand the issues faced by coal miners or the reality of either industry.
Twitter spent much of 2019 banning people for saying, "Learn to code." Meanwhile, Joe Biden ended the year by saying coding was so easy a coal miner could do it. @StillCrankyAF <---possible caveman. pic.twitter.com/HEoelRsu9G— Philly Talk (@PhillyTalk) January 1, 2020
Yeah, learn to code. And just like when I left college with programming qualifications, they won't be able to find a job worth a damn either.— Styky Wykyt (@stykyt) January 1, 2020
another day down in the coal mines, where i mine the coal and then immediately throw it into the underground coal furnace— Gender Reveal Pipebomb (@ApeIsrael) December 30, 2019
Biden’s remarks have certainly provided fuel for his political enemies, with both Republicans and the Democrats who oppose him latching on to his statements as yet more proof that Biden isn’t fit to be either the Democratic nominee or the president.
"Anyone who can throw coal into a furnace can write code" -Joe Biden— Nick Adams (@NickAdamsinUSA) January 1, 2020
The Democrats have abandoned the working class of America!
Is your community suffering from deindustrialization, automation, or a history of economic exclusion? Fear no longer, Uncle @JoeBiden has the solution: Simply, quit being a loser and learn to code.#Biden2020 #LearnToCode— RFK2020 (@rfk2020) January 1, 2020
You’re so out of touch with the working class— Hopeful Progressive in AZ (@FireAlertsAdv) January 1, 2020
Telling coal miners to learn to code?
How about great Blue collar jobs in green energy?
Those plants could open in their own towns
You’re repeating 2016
If Biden gets pushed in- y’all gonna be pissed off
Trump will win
may as well call them 'deplorables' while you're at it. You have called them 'useless'. You can be assured they are NOT...— Trumpster (@Gettingtrump) January 1, 2020
Joe Biden Suggests Coal Miners Should Learn To Code https://t.co/gblZLGFoF6 via @dailycaller
And a lot of people are comparing him to those who were banned from Twitter for telling newly unemployed journalists to learn how to code—and asking if he’ll also be banned for saying it. Though it’s a false equivalence—Biden’s speech lacked the harassment component of mass replying the same thing over and over to individuals specifically in order to upset them—it’s still a very bad look for the wannabe president.
Joe Biden should be telling the fake news media purveyors to learn to code since they'll be the ones out of a job!— Trump Is Your 2020 Mack Daddy⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@NewToQ1) January 1, 2020
#Grabby @JoeBiden says #coalminers should '#learnToProgram'— Conservative Biker (@RightSideBiker) January 1, 2020
Hang on. Didn't @Twitter have a meltdown and start shutting down accounts when we told #fakenews Journalists to "Learn to code"? So, I guess they'll ban Biden now? https://t.co/q8DqlfEoTn #FoxNews
Wasn't Twitter closing user accounts for saying Biden's exact "learn to code" comments?— Rummaging Globalism (@RGlobalism) January 1, 2020
Guess "learn to code" is OK for coal miners out of a job, but not OK for left wing journalists out of a job? Amazing hypocrisy.
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H/T the Hill
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org