Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Is American Politics ran by "Dog Whistles?"

 photo 41weDHcIKcL_SY344_PJlook-inside-v2TopRight10_SH20_BO1204203200__zps483275d6.jpg

Dog Whitle is a term, not sure who coined it but it's taken on and used by Ian Heney Lopez (His book is Dog Whistle Politics)[1] to describe coded messages that politicians send to their target audiences. It's a racist message, it's a means of using the "N word" without using the "N word." A prime example is the classic story of Ronald Reagan's early primary campaign in 1980. He said something to the effect "don't you hate to see a big strong buck buying steak with food stamps." Bring and strong means he could be working, why does he have food stamps? "Buck" is a racial epithet, what southern bigots called young black men, especially strong ones. That statement took a lot of flack so he began saying "don't you hate seeing strong able bodied young fellow buying steak on food stamps." So he's telling them this is a guy doesn't derves food stamps becuase he's in good shape, they all know the color. He's saying 'I don't like black people getting help either." But he doesn't have to say that.

Lopez was on Bill Moyers the other night. (See the Video)[2] Lopez says that white middle class Americans no longer understand government as a tool to make life better, they see it as an obstacle to their own wealth. They don't accept people of color worthy of aid, so they are unfairly privileged. “It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense… It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered,” Haney López tells Bill, “it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity.”[3] This is hardly earth shattering news. My friends and I have been pointing this out to each other since the primaries of 2008. All we can do is keep watching it.

This tendency is also known as "The Republican Southern Strategy." 

In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to a Republican Party strategy of gaining political support for certain candidates in the Southern United States by appealing to racism against African Americans.[1][2][3][4][5]
Though the "Solid South" had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party's defense of slavery before the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation.[4]
 The beginnings of the southern strategy were seen in the Johnson/Goldwater Election of 1964. Johnson feared that endorsing civil rights would drive the solid south into the Republican camp and it did.It really emerged in the election of 1980 when Regan was elected that the solid south really turned republican. We saw the dog whistle effects thick and fast in the last two elections, of course with a Black Preident.

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”
The code also extends to attacks on legal immigrants, always carefully lumped in with illegal immigrants, as people seeking “amnesty” and taking jobs from Americans. [5]
Rick Santorum made some of the most flagerant exmaples, of course he wasn't even trying to encode his speech.
“I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not [president]. He constantly says that our Constitution is passé and he ignores it. … He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn’t something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president.”[6]
Even if he was Muslim which he is not, what would that have to do with him not being legally qualified to be President? No legal right to call himself President, well there was that that election ting, that's just a technicality.

 The man who recently said he meant “blah people” — when the world heard him say “black people” — as  he spoke about parasitic Americans who get better lives by taking “somebody else’s money,” did not correct the assault on the truth. Instead he agreed that Obama is attacking the Constitution and said: “Well, look, I’m trying my best to get him out of office.”[7]

At that same time Presidential candidate Rich Perry began pushing in South Carolina (with a history of Jim Crow) for voter identification laws.

While it may seem obvious to people in other states, try living in Texas. Political time in Texas is always dicier but this year it's worse than ever. The Republican ads for their primary reek with dogwhitles and stupid statements and all sorts of things. It's obvious but that doesn't mean you can keep from commenting. A certain republican running for Agriculture commissioner promises to "reform school lunches." He doesn't explain what that means, but what about school lunches need reforming? Since poor kids get them he probably wants to take them away form the children of illegal aliens. In fact most of his ad is about how "those people who come illegally must stand at the back of the line." Last night all the extremes won. The more extreme candidates won in every race. Every race featured a tag phrase about fighting Obama, stop Obama's attack on Texas. As though Federal troops are amassed on the Red River just waiting to attack. One of them said congress votes pay raises for itself and does nothing to earn them, "so stop Obama." As though Obama is the reason congress get's unjustified pay raises!

Lopez argues that Republicans are destroying the social safety net by using the southern strategy and dog whistles to procure specific policy goals. The Solan makes the argument that

But the central point here is that race is being used to wreck the middle class. This has been the way conservatives have found that they can attack commitments to education, commitments to a social safety net, commitments to infrastructure, commitments to job programs, commitments to progressive taxation that taxes the most wealthy to help the rest of society. This is about all of us, and if we continue to think, “race is the way they go after poor minorities, and yeah, that’s bad, and I’ll get to that next, but I don’t have a job and my unemployment insurance has just been cut and my kids don’t have good public schools to go to and I can’t afford private schools,” we’ve missed the point, and we’ve missed the way that race has been used to destroy a society that promotes the middle class.[8]
The further argue that one can't interject race into the issue not even to talk about it positively. The person who mentions race is the racist or is using race unfairly but the one speaking in code is accepted because he has plausible deniable.[9]

The strategy is rational and calculating. It's a clear understanding of the racial gap faced by the democratic party. It exploits the mentality that still thinks only white people deserve privilege in America. In Matt 7:16 Jesus says "by their fruits you shall know them." But how many middle class white Chrsitians understand that their refusal to accept people of color as valid people is a bad fruit and that passage doesn't just refer to minorities on welfare?

The Republicans try to claim that the Dems are using their own dog whistles when we say they are racist or we talk about the 1%. That's not even the same thing. Saying that 1% of the population controls 90% of the wealth and rules the country is hardly a secret code. That's pretty plain. Saying the right wing is racist is not a secret codes. It's not something something other than what it proportions to. Its' saying they are racist not using the term "racist" to mean something worse.The problem is not the Republicans have issues but that they wont present them honestly: they hate Obama becuase he's black. Vailed references to allowing "the minorities privilege" is not honest.

We are just working ourselves into a hole by allowing this course of action to be followed. Studies show that socieities that concetnrate wealth in the hands of few and allow privilage to be horded for the rich dont' last. Its' only when society creates instituions that spread power and opportunity about and create a level palying field that nations thrive.MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and the Harvard political scientist James A. Robinson, “Why Nations Fail” [10] Political and economic institutions, and they fail when those institutions become “extractive” and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of only a few. “Inclusive economic institutions that enforce property rights, create a level playing field, and encourage investments in new technologies and skills are more conducive to economic growth than extractive economic institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few,” they write. “Inclusive economic institutions, are in turn supported by, and support, inclusive political institutions,” which “distribute political power widely in a pluralistic manner and are able to achieve some amount of political centralization so as to establish law and order, the foundations of secure property rights, and an inclusive market economy.” Conversely, extractive political institutions that concentrate power in the hands of a few reinforce extractive economic institutions to hold power. Thanks to miles Simpson on message board for showing me this study.


(all online sources accessed 3/4/14)

[1] Ian Haney Lopez, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.
 Lopez, the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of the Fletcher Foundation’s Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship and is a leading thinker on issues of racial justice and the legal system. (He’s also a senior fellow at Demos, where I am a research intern.) quoting Salon, see below.
[2] Billy Moyers,"Ian Haney Lopez On Dogwhistle Politics of Race," Moyer's and Company Blog for Bill Moyers tv show, Feb 20 (2014).
[3] Ibid.
[4] "Southern Strategy," Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia,
[5] Julian Williams, "Racial Code Words Obscure Real Issues," The Hill, (Jan 30, 2012). Blog
[6] Rick Santorum quoted Ibid
[7] Ibid.
[8]"The Right's Dog Whistle Trick: how it Exploits Racism to Rip Apart The Social Welfare Net," Salon, Jan 20, (2014). blog
[9] Ibid.
[10] Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why National Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, New York: Crown Business publishing group, division of Random House, 2012.
on Amazon


Brendan said...

Rick Santorum is a shitty enough person that you shouldn't have to make things up and misattribute quotes to him.

"I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not," the woman in the audience began. "He constantly says that our constitution is passé, and he ignores it as you know and does what he darn well pleases. He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn't something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president."


"I think I have repeated that many, many times over the course of this campaign," Santorum said, of his efforts to remind people that Obama is a Christian. "I don't really feel an obligation to go out and repeat it over and over again as people bring that up. My position is clear, the President's position is clear, I don't think the President's a Muslim, but I don't think it's my obligation to go out and repeat that every time someone who feels that way says something."

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Look at the link cretin. do you think I write for that magazine? what a dumb ass you are!