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Prof: Republicans Use Discreet Racist Tactics To Win White Voters

A new book written by Ian Haney López, a UC Berkeley law professor, claims Republican politicians use a discreet racist language to speak to white voters and gain their support.

“Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving ‘welfare queens’ and ‘strapping young bucks’ buying T-bone steaks with food stamps,” states the Amazon description of the book. “In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.”

The description continues:

In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.

In short, to this professor, white voters are simpletons with racist tendencies who are tricked by evil, greedy Republican politicians:

Crack down on crime?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not just what it says – crack down on crime).

Curb undocumented immigration?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not honor and obey the laws of this land).

Protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not put the U.S. Constitution before Sharia Law).

White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives?” = White voters are stupid racists who can’t comprehend how this country should operate, financially and otherwise. (Not that most conservative voters believe it’s the victimization mentality and corresponding social policies of Democrats that have bled this country dry).

The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform?” = Republicans/white voters are racists who hate teachers and cops and want poor people to die in the streets. (Not ballooning pensions are bankrupting cities across this nation, teachers unions are protecting the very worst in the field, and the Affordable Care Act is so bad it’s literally imploding on itself).

The professor told Democracy Now:

“The point of this sort of analysis is not to say, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of racism against minorities.’ Yes, that’s a problem, but what’s core here is that this sort of racism is being used to fool a lot of whites into voting for Republicans whose main allegiance is to corporate interests. Right? And so, I really want to emphasize this point: This is about race, but this is about race as it affects all of us; this is about race as it wrecks the whole middle class.”

Haney López is billed as “one of the nation’s leading thinkers on how racism has evolved in the United States since the civil rights era.” His UC Berkeley faculty website claims Dog Whistle Politics “lays bare how conservative politicians exploit racial pandering to convince many voters to support policies that ultimately favor the very rich and hurt everyone else.”

I think it lays bare just how far the divide is between average Americans and the professors who claim to know so much about our country. Haney Lopez’s viewpoint is not uncommon among higher education scholars across the nation, the ones teaching our young people!

IMAGE: Scrmgenie/Flickr

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix and a visiting fellow with the Independent Women's Forum.