Joe Biden tells coal miners to learn how to code

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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H/T the Hill

Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org