Never mind that race relations are at their lowest ebb in eight years under President Obama. It’s Donald Trump who is trying “gin up racial animosity and fear among America’s white voters,” according to professors interviewed by the Associated Press.
And the GOP presidential candidate is doing it via “coded racist language” that speaks to these voters’ worries.
Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie says The Donald “didn’t get on stage and issue a bunch of racial epithets. We didn’t hear the N-word, and we didn’t hear other words that may offend many people. But just because he didn’t use racial slurs doesn’t mean he didn’t frame issues in a way that people in racial and ethnic groups find problematic.”
UC-Berkeley’s Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, went further saying that Trump’s message surpassed Richard Nixon’s 1968 “coded” lingo — due to its inclusion of immigrants and “refugee families with unknown backgrounds.”
College Fix editor Jennifer Kabbany dissected López’s book two and a half years ago. To the author, even seemingly innocuous phrases such as “curb undocumented immigration” and “protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration” are problematic.
Trump has been criticized for his racial language since the beginning of his campaign, which started with his declaration that the Mexican government is “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States,” including drug dealers and rapists.
“In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says ‘we and us,’ he’s only talking about whites in the United States,” said Tomas Summers Sandoval, a history and Latino studies professor at Pomona College, in Claremont, California.
Some have pointed out that Trump’s slogan “America First” was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose primary goal was to keep the United States from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. The group opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.
When they hear that phrase, anxious white voters fill in any picture they want in their minds, imagining cutting crime or pushing back against social causes like the women’s movement, said Michael Flamm, Ohio Wesleyan University history professor and author of “In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime.”
But for some, there’s a clear racial element, he said.
“For some people, law and order was a way to express a racially coded message, and some white voters responded to law and order because they believe it supported their anti-civil rights, anti-racial justice beliefs,” Flamm said.
The article does point out that candidates from both parties have “long used” coded language in campaigns, but then presents only Republican examples — including George H.W. Bush’s (in)famous 1988 Willie Horton ad.
The problem with Horton’s story, however, is that it has its genesis with that year’s Al Gore Democratic primary campaign.
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