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Mar 04 2014

The Politics of Racial Divide

Great deal of right wing criticism of President Barack Obama is motivated by the fact that he is part African American. Many of the new voting laws being passed in Republican controlled states are racially motivated. Much of the rhetoric regarding the social safety net is openly couched with terms like “Welfare Queens,” and “lazy, dependent and entitled.” Racism in America is alive and well and flourishing.

Ian Haney López, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley and senior fellow at Demos, writes an account of the history of subtle racists language and how it is used today:

In Dog Whistle Politics, Demos’ new Senior Fellow 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.

Mr. Haney López joined Bill Myers to discuss the Dog Whistle Politics of Race



The transcript can be read here

Haney López is an expert in how racism has evolved in America since the civil rights era. Over the past 50 years, politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles – code words that turn Americans against each other while turning the country over to plutocrats. This political tactic, says Haney López, is “the dark magic” by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests.

“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.”

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