BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, more from Ian Haney López on “Dog Whistle Politics.”

STRONG>IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Democrats have understood, even as early as 1970, race was going to be an effective wedge issue against them. And when the Democrats responded, they responded not by contesting that politics, but instead by embracing it. And this is part of the story of dog whistle politics. Republicans shift right and the Democrats have tracked rightward, following them. STRONG>ANNOUNCER:

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. We’re back with the scholar Ian Haney López talking about his important new book, “Dog Whistle Politics.” Last week he told us that racism is still very much a part of our society.

But more often than not today, it hides behind code words, with messages that manipulate deep prejudice to rouse hostility against minorities and the government and summon support for policies that make economic inequality even worse. This “racist strategy,” as López calls it, favors a devious plutocracy that bankrolls the dog whistlers and destroys everyone else beneath, no matter the color of their skin. Here’s some of what he said last time:

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Dog whistle politics doesn't come out of animus at all. It doesn't come out of some desire to hurt minorities. It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense, I want to start using the term strategic racism. It's racism as a strategy. It's cold, it's calculating, it's considered, it's the decision to achieve one's one ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity.

And here's a hard, difficult truth. Most racists are good people. They're not sick. They're not ruled by anger or raw emotion or hatred. They are complicated people reared in complicated societies. They're fully capable of generosity, of empathy, of real kindness. But because of the idea systems in which they're reared, they're also capable of dehumanizing others and occasionally of brutal violence. And that's an important truth. Most people are not racists out of some sort of a sickness of the soul. They're racist because of the society in which they operate.

BILL MOYERS: Ian Haney López is now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the think tank Demos. Welcome back.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Thank you, I’m very glad to be here.

BILL MOYERS: Here we are, early in 2014, heading toward an election where every member of the House of Representatives will be elected, one-third of the Senate, and scores of governors. Can you hear the dog whistle even as we speak for this election?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: You absolutely hear the dog whistle. And I think the one that's getting the most attention, is food stamps. Why all the agitation around food stamps? For goodness sake, people are hungry. We're in the midst of a recession. There hasn't been a recovery for the broad middle. Why would we cut off stamps now?

We cut off food stamps because it's part of this old rhetoric that food stamps is for undeserving minorities, and that this is part of a symbol of government gone amok. That's one of the minor dog whistles. Here's the major one. ObamaCare. Ostensibly, this is about healthcare. But really, it's about Obama and government policy.

Now, Obama himself has been subject to a lot of dog whistling, that he's foreign born, not a citizen, a Muslim. What's happening with the term ObamaCare is all of these insinuations are being attached to a government policy. The most recent one: ObamaCare makes you lazy. Right? Now, ostensibly, this is because if you finally have health insurance, maybe you don't have to work that second job. But conservatives have turned it around and said this is about making you lazy. And lazy, of course, is one of these racial code words for minorities. So, every time they talk about the Affordable Care Act, they're going to use that term ObamaCare. And the subtext is, here comes a black man who exemplifies the way in which the federal government is now by and for minorities. Don't trust the federal government. Don't let this into your household. Vote for politicians who promise to rein in the federal government. When in fact, what they're going to do is give more tax cuts to the very rich.

BILL MOYERS: So what are the stakes here?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: The Republicans have a real stake in proving that government can't work. They need voters to be hostile to federal government. To see government as the enemy. Because that's the only way voters will support politics that actually give control of government back over to big money.

BILL MOYERS: So the flawed startup played right into that idea?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: The flawed startup played into it.

BILL MOYERS: Government doesn't work. Liberal governments--


BILL MOYERS: --can't do it.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: More than that--

BILL MOYERS: Can't deliver.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: More than that. Obama's incompetent. That had been a conservative frame for a long time. But it was absurd. It just didn't seem to match up with this cool, composed and sophisticated, incredibly competent individual. But as soon as the government startup fumbled, that racial stereotype of incompetence could be attached to Obama again. And here's the other one that was attached. Remember Joe Wilson, when he interrupted Obama, he says, "You lie."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.


IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Now, a lot of people said, well, that was a terrible breach of decorum. But very, but fewer people noted that's also an old stereotype, a stereotype of black mendacity, that you can't trust blacks, they're always lying and cheating and stealing.

Okay. That racial frame had very little traction, except after the startup. When it became one of the core themes that Republicans used to say, he promised you could keep your insurance, and now you've lost it. Obama lies. So these two old stereotypes of incompetence and of mendacity have been attached to Obama and have been attached to ObamaCare. So unfortunately, yes, the fumbled startup gave a lot of ammunition to this sort of dog whistling around Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

BILL MOYERS: What happens if you look at the tea party through the lens of dog whistling?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Two comments I want to say about this. First, I want to go back to this idea that most racists are good people. Because I think that this is incredibly important as we think about the tea party. Who are tea partiers? A lot of liberals have said terrible things about tea partiers, describing them as narrow-minded bigots, and whatnot. I think that's absurd. I think that tea partiers are, in a sense, they're us. They're our constituency. They’re Americans who are struggling, who are trying to figure what happened to their jobs, who are trying to figure out what to do about healthcare.

They're in trouble. They're really hurting like so many Americans. Now in order to understand what happened, the tea partiers have accepted the conservative line that what has happened in their lives is really the fault of minorities. So when you look at what animates the tea party, there are several different hatreds that are core to the tea party.

They hate welfare. Especially, or particularly welfare that's understood as going to minorities. Not social security, for instance, but rather food stamps. Next, they're obsessed about Muslims and Islam. And they really see this sort of threatening, this external threat in the form of the Middle East, but also ostensibly an internal threat of Muslims coming into the United States. For example, this is Kansas passing its law that there shan't be Sharia law in the courts of Kansas. Absurd, except that it triggers this racial fear. Next, they're deeply concerned about undocumented immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Finally, they hate President Obama. And Obama seems to combine both this sense of welfare, of being a Muslim, of being a brown foreign other, right?

So all of these fears that animate the tea party movement at the grassroots level, these are racial narratives. They're racial narratives that say to people, if you want to understand what went wrong in your life, if you want to understand what what went wrong in America, blame minorities.

BILL MOYERS: Sort of a bait-and-switch. You know, the issue's not really race, the issue is limited government.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Absolutely. So, think about what a lot of Republicans are actually doing in terms of their policies. In terms of their policies, they say they're for limited government. But in fact, what they're doing is giving over control of the regulatory state the corporations. They say they want to shrink the federal deficit, but in fact, they're spending massive amounts of money either in tax cuts for the very rich, or in big subsidies that go to corporations, for example the farm bill that was recently enacted.


IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Now, you can't get elected going to the American public and saying, I want to cut your funding for your schools, I want to cut funding for your social security, I want to cut your pensions. And I want to shower all that money on the very rich. You can't get elected that way.

But you can get elected going to the American public saying, we're in mortal danger as a country because something has gone terribly wrong with our society. We see it in religion, we see it around gender, we see it around abortion, we see it around same-sex marriage, and we certainly see it in terms of welfare and criminals and illegal aliens. That's the language that a very extreme wing of the conservative, of conservatives has been using to skew American politics, but also to take over the Republican party. Republicans from 30, 40 years ago, would not recognize what the party is today.

BILL MOYERS: It used to be that Democrats were the arch segregationists and racists and the dog whistlers and then that changed. And as you say, it’s no secret that since then Republicans have pandered on race in order to win votes.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: That’s right

BILL MOYERS: That’s the key to their strategy as you say –

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: That’s right. I mean, I think it’s important to understand-- so there’s another term for dog whistle politics, and that’s the Southern Strategy. That term was coined by a Republican Senator, Jacob Javitz from New York. And he coined it not to endorse it, but to condemn it. He said he saw what was happening with the Republican party in l963 and l964. And he says, you folks are pursuing a Southern Strategy. This is going to be disastrous for the party, it’s going to be disastrous for the country.

And indeed it has been. This use of race has allowed an extreme faction of conservatives, those most dedicated to the power of big money, to the power of corporations to not only hijack American democracy, but to hijack the Republican party. And that's what's so democratically destructive. We have a political party that is committed to gaining votes by increasing racial antagonism and racial fear.

BILL MOYERS: You write in your book that there was an important evolution in dog whistling under Democrats, including Bill Clinton. How so?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: So, Democrats have understood, they understood even as early as 1970, race was going to be an effective wedge issue against them. How did they decide to respond? Initally, they decided they’d just wait it out. They would distance themselves from minorities, they would try not to talk about race, and they thought that that would insulate them from these racially-provocative charges. That didn’t work. So then they decided they’d try something different. Rather than confront dog whistle politics, they thought they’d embrace it.

Now this isn't the same sort of egregious dog whistle politics of the Republicans. The Republicans early on realized that they could get elected with white votes alone and didn't feel a particular need to reach out to minorities. Democrats have a different sort of calculus. They look around and they say, we don't think minority voters have anywhere to go because the Republicans are so hostile to minority voters. So we can slap them down a little bit. We can demonize them a little bit. But as long as every so often we show that we value them, they'll continue to vote for us.

And so what you get under Democrats is a sort of moderated dog whistle politics. It's clearly trying to communicate to white voters, we too see minorities as a threat and we're going to protect you. And at the same time, it's saying to minorities, we value you and we want you to keep voting for us.

And so we see that in the person of Bill Clinton and his presidency. Yes, he distances himself from African Americans, for example, by criticizing Jesse Jackson. But even more, he embraces policies like ending welfare as we know it, or ramping up Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs and converting it into a general war on crime that really played to dog whistle themes that said to white voters, hey, I'm a new Democrat. I too understand that minorities are a threat in your life because they're using welfare, and they're dangerous criminals and the state has been coddling them and we're going to crack down on them.

BILL MOYERS: But Ian, some people are going to respond by saying this is a monotone of theory here. That Bill Clinton was considered by many blacks to be the first black president. And they will also say, crime was a problem in the-- and not just black crime, but crime was a problem in the 70s and 80s. And you just can’t attribute all of that to race.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: I don’t attribute all of it to race. But I want to but very clear. There aren't just two alternatives here, either it's all race or race has no effect whatsoever. In fact, what I'm saying is, yeah, there are complicated dynamics going on. But one of the central dynamics in American politics since the civil rights era, has been the use of cultural provocations-- primary among them race, but not exclusively --but the use of cultural provocations to try and advance a conservative agenda that favors tax cuts for the rich and that favors a deregulation of big industry.

In that context, Democrats had to decide how to respond. And when the Democrats responded, they responded not by contesting that politics, but instead by embracing it. And this is part of the story of dog whistle politics. Republicans shift right and the Democrats have tracked rightward, following them.

BILL MOYERS: You say you wrote this book to restore an interrupted future. Explain that.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Well, so I think that this is an incredibly important story. We have levels of wealth inequality today we haven’t seen in a hundred years. Okay, what was happening a hundred years ago? A hundred years ago, we had corporate titans who mainly controlled government.

What happened? Financial boom, financial collapse, the Great Depression and then the New Deal. And what was the New Deal? The New Deal was a sense that government shouldn’t be beholden to big money. That was incredibly popular.

I think the New Deal taught the country that we could progress if we were all in this together and if the government were really on the side of the broad middle class. That the government had an incredibly important role in structuring the economy, in structuring politics, in structuring society in a way that favored everybody.

And this was the New Deal, except it had a fatal flaw. The New Deal coalition depended in part on the Southern Democrats. And the Southern Democrats were, at this time, avowedly a white man’s party. And so the Southern Democrats extracted a compromise. They said they’ll support the New Deal but only if it has certain limitations. If it doesn’t help black farmers, it doesn’t help black servants, it doesn’t help farm workers in the southwest who are Mexican.

BILL MOYERS: If it helped whites.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: If it helped whites they’d support it. And it did help whites. And this is why the New Deal was so popular with whites. What happens? In l964, because of the civil rights movement, Lyndon Johnson understands that a war on poverty to succeed should be extended to an effort to promote racial justice.

And he’s right. This is the dream we need to pursue. And yet, this creates a window of opportunity. It creates the possibility for Republicans to come in and to tell people, don’t support the New Deal. Don’t support liberalism. Because this isn’t about helping people like you. This is about helping them, underserving, lazy minorities.

And that narrative works. And it works in a way-- not just in a way that this has hurt minorities. But it works in a way that this has led to a systematic dismantling of the New Deal. So that now, 50 years after that politics started we have levels of wealth inequality we haven’t seen since before the Great Depression, right?

When I say that dog whistle politics is about pursuing a dream that’s been interrupted, what we’re trying to recover is FDR and a Second Bill of Rights. What we’re trying to recover is New Deal liberalism. But now a New Deal liberalism that isn’t divided by race. We need to understand that the middle class is not a term that should have a racial signifier.

And that when we get rid of that signifier, when we understand that everybody of every race is a member of the middle class or should have the opportunity to become a member of the middle class, only then will we be at a political place where we can actually pull government back onto our side and we can defeat this sort of negative politics that keeps so many people voting to give control of the government over to the very wealthy.

BILL MOYERS: Where do Latinos show up in this equation, you for example?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: I consider myself Latino and a person of color. But we should be clear, roughly half of all Latinos think they're white. Now how does this play out in terms of dog whistle politics? In very surprising ways. On the one hand, for the last decade, going back even further, but especially for the last decade, anti-Latino campaigning, dog whistling, has been a very powerful part of conservative politics. All the rhetoric about illegal aliens, all of the rhetoric even that Mitt Romney used about self-deportation--

BILL MOYERS: Self-deportation.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Right. So you see that this has been really powerful in getting a lot of Republicans elected in House elections all over the country. It's been powerful even in Republican national politics. Now, there's also a sense that Republicans lost in 2012 partly because Mitt Romney did so poorly among Latinos.

So this has led to Republican operatives, especially at the national level, saying, we need to change our politics around immigration. We need to change our politics around Latinos. This opens up an interesting possibility. Not that they'll end dog whistle politics, but that they'll adjust it in a way that includes many Latinos who already think of themselves as white.


IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Think about the census numbers. The census tells us that in 2010, the United States is almost 65 percent white. But it also tells us that whites will be a minority of the country in 2045. But that's only if Latinos aren't included as white. If instead you include Latinos as white, then in 2045, whites will be 72 percent of the population. Or in other words, rather than being a minority in 2045, they'll be 7 percent more of the population than they are today.

BILL MOYERS: So how would it play out? What would be the signal if you wanted to reach those Latinos who consider themselves white and are in the majority?

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: I'm not sure what the signal will be. But we should be clear that within immigrant communities, there's always a heterogeneity of views. And there's-- as each generation gets established, there's always a segment of the population that looks with resentment on the new arrivals, that says, these people are holding our community down.

Maybe they're darker, maybe they're less well-educated, they're certainly poorer, we really need to restrict immigration. Because only by restricting immigration can we show that we're actually now part of the American mainstream. So, ironically, I would expect an effort to reach out to Latinos and to Asian communities, not by liberal reforms of immigration, but actually by toning down some of the hostile rhetoric. But at the same time, promising to restrict immigration.

BILL MOYERS: The Latino vote seems to be portable between the two parties, as I'm sure you know--

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: I think that’s exactly right. So this is where I say dog whistle politics is going to evolve. Now, a lot of Democratic strategists are looking at these numbers. They're saying the Latino population's increasing, they're saying the Asian population's increasing. Then they're saying, we don't need to worry about dog whistle politics anymore. Demography's going to solve this for us. Let's just hang tight. 2012 showed us the good news, Barack Obama could win, even though there was a 20 percent deficit in terms of white voters, 20 percent more voted for Romney than Obama, but Obama won the White House anyway. Let's not worry about this.

That's a recipe for disaster. Because dog whistling is going to evolve. And if it has to evolve in a way that brings in certain portions of the Latino population, certain portions of the Asian population, that's what it's likely to do. Unless we start addressing this within minority communities, but also in terms of national politics, we should expect these sorts of racial provocations to continue to define our politics for the next decade, two decades, three decades.

BILL MOYERS: The book is “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class.” Ian Haney López, thank you very much for joining me.

IAN HANEY LÓPEZ: Thank you so much.

BILL MOYERS: At our website,, there’s an excerpt from Ian Haney López’s superb book “Dog Whistle Politics.” It will anger, inform, and make you want to read more.

That’s at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

The Dog Whistle Politics of Race, Part II

March 7, 2014

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill continues his conversation with author and legal scholar Ian Haney López about dog whistle politics – code words that use race to turn Americans against each other.

Politicians manipulate deep prejudice to rouse hostility against minorities and the government, according to Haney López, and summon support for policies that make economic inequality even worse. And it’s not just Republicans and the tea party who have used this “strategic racism” to win votes, but Democrats as well.

“Democrats have understood, even as early as 1970, [that] race was gonna be an effective wedge issue against them. And when the Democrats responded they responded not by contesting that politics but instead by embracing it. And this is part of the story of dog whistle politics — Republicans shift right and the Democrats have tracked rightward, following them,” Haney López tells Moyers.

The two also discuss dog whistling and the debate over food stamps, the presidency of Barack Obama and the rise of the tea party, as well as the origins of this election strategy. Haney López also tells Bill that he expects the racial provocations will evolve to target members of the Latino and Asian communities in the coming years.

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Sikay Tang.

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  • Mari McAvenia

    Can Bernie Sanders call out to the “cool cats” if he chooses to run for the U.S. Presidency in 2016? All the dogs went running willy-nilly under the “Dog Whistle” and that got us into this bizarre, hateful mess. Senator Sanders does not appear to have a single dog in the fight. We need a leader ( not a master ) to guide us through the maelstrom. Jive turkeys like Clinton, Obama and Bush have sold us down the river when they weren’t turning us into their privatized pounds (ie: prisons and wars ). We deserve better. All of US.

  • Matt

    The mantra for a Third Way should be “Not Less Government, but rather smart, competent government.”

  • Arizona Eagletarian

    That’s not a new message. It’s been drowned out by the blaring broadcast of Dollarocracy as John Nichols calls it, in the corporate media.

  • Anonymous

    I’m very glad that Bill Moyers decided to stay on TV.

  • julogue

    Truly I have never seen a breathing, living WHITE person – except as in a circus clown. We are all shades of brown!!!

    It is concerning that all of our discussion is so focused on racism, although it is truly an issue that needs to be continually addressed. However, corporations who seek complete control of this country, are colorblind except as to green (money). It is politicians dependent on the big bucks of corporations that use bigotry in order to get elected. Corporations and the politicians who cater to them have no more concern, and no less contempt for the poor and middle-class white than they do for poor and middle-class blacks.

    If we continue to speak with the same narrow focus and the so-called “brown” populations continue to grow to a true voting majority the awful question is: In the future, will that population continue the patterns of the these times? Will they select a group to take the same roles of those who control the economy now? Notice that in other countries people of the same nationality and background are just as ruthless to their own poor.

  • oddjob

    That’s an argument built upon the idea that the whole problem is Affirmative Action. That’s a particularly juvenile way to think about this problem. That’s the thinking of a Middle Schooler, and an excellent demonstration of the results of the dog whistle politics Prof. Lopez describes.

  • Charles Shaver

    Last night I saw more about good self-governance in parts of a re-run of an original Star Trek episode on MeTV than I’ve seen in a year on broadcast TV, including PBS, and in print. As it went, on some nearly parallel evolved planet in a distant galaxy centuries later, Captain Kirk recited part of the Pledge of Allegiance and, in the midst of my frequent surfing for something more recent and entertaining, I tuned back in to hear him reading some of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Strange, but I didn’t hear anything pro-extremist capitalism or racist in the dialog.

    Thank you Bill Moyers for staying the course and thank you Ian Haney López for providing a few more insightful perspectives about how the establishment uses human frailty to manipulate voters who don’t have as sound a basis as visionary Gene Roddenberry’s imaginary Captain Kirk had. Therein, however, I believe, lies more of the problem than ‘dog whistles.’ Frequently referencing the Preamble, myself, since Ronald Reagan and his ‘trickle down economics,’ I am no longer swayed the least by tens of millions corporate dollars spent on absurd campaign advertising and misfits spouting racial code words.

    Strange, too, how merely referencing the Founders’ Preamble on occasion can enable some to see that most Republicans and Democrats have strayed far from the prescribed path to graze where the grass is ‘greener’ (e.g., Gary M. Washburn). And, I must agree with ‘julogue’ that to keep a static focus on racism is to senselessly perpetuate it, while as a culture and a nation America continues to devolve into a one-class society of slaves of all hues, and those with no class at all.

  • Binx Boling

    Maybe I missed
    something but the author’s case seems to be nonsense. Does the right use race
    at times? Sure, but its not a dog whistle, its a hit with a rolled up newspaper
    (eg Willie Horton and Reagan’s “welfare queen”).

    anyone really think that even the most moronic tea partyer doesn’t realize that
    the majority of people receiving unemployment or welfare payments is white?
    Does anyone think that even the stupidest redneck supports giving money saved
    by ceasing govt. transfer of wealth to the richest? They hear that they get to
    keep more of their own money. Its crass, but no more so than the left offering
    more money to their main constituencies for votes (unmentioned but no dog
    whistle) .

    author certainly isn’t using a dog whistle. He has scored a two-fer. Prattling
    about identity politics mixed with right-wing conspiracies is a sure winner for
    those on the left.

    Moyers, your completely uncritical acceptance of this stuff doesn’t pull anyone
    to your side. Maybe you don’t care. It is a good lead in for the likes of the
    unaccountably smug Dr. Dyer.

  • Tyler

    Mr. Lopez demonstrates his own racism in making broad and sweeping generalizations about conservative groups that repeat and deepen the stereotypes of conservatives that have been promulgated by the lies of leftist liberals who shameless label others without a shred of evidence. And Mr. Moyers does his best to validate this malicious and self serving denigration of conservatives as racists and haters of the poor. Yet we can see evidence that liberal government policies continue to suppress minorities and the poor, keeping them in the dependency class upon which the liberals rely to maintain power and influence over their lives. Shame on Lopez and Moyers for participating in this farce and being such obviously deceitful racists and elitists. We need to reject this kind of thinking and divisive and utterly destructive dialogue. Rather we should look at real outcomes, real facts, real evidence. Shun these purveyors of lies, vicious stereotypes and race baiting, else you will fall victim to their devious desire for power over you independent thought and freedom to choose.

  • jimpower

    Probably not a good idea to purge black voters from the roll in Florida, unite (as a party) to cheer on a psycopath for stalking murdering a black teenager, have rallies with signs that depict Obama as a Zulu warrior with a bone through his nose, support voter ID’s because most urban blacks don’t drive so they don’t have a driver’s license, scream about immigrants coming in illegally from Mexico while being indifferent to immigrants coming here illegally from Canada & Europe, being irate about any minority who receive government assistance while saying NOTHING about the overwhelming lion’s share of government handouts that go to the top 1%, who get BILLIONS in Welfare Subsidies, Welfare Tax Breaks, Welfare TARP, etc., create the Birther Movement against a black president that would never be created for presidential contenders actually not born in the US like John McCain & Ted Cruz (If you want me to continue I will) if you laughably want to be seen as a party that’s “unbiased” & not a white supremacist/anti-minority movement.

    The facts speak for themselves when it comes to the egregious and shameless racism of the rightwing in this country. Denying it and saying anyone who points out conservative racism is “playing the race card” doesn’t work in the reality-based community.

  • Steve Woodward

    Some excellent points there. You’ve never seen so many white, rich, Republicans screaming for gun control as when the Black Panthers started carrying guns in California in the sixties.

  • Anonymous

    I believe you may have missed the point, at least, as I see it. “Dog Whistle” politics is a strategy to manipulate the electorate, period. Who benefits is neither conservative nor liberal, who loses is anybody who is not a member. As I have never been within smelling distance of a member, I rank as a loser, as does 95 percent of America.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, maybe you’re being sarcastic, but, I don’t think so. The whole point of “dog whistle” politics is to divide people between ‘Americans’ and ‘those others’. Of course, tParty people totally accept the assertion that only ‘those others’ are scamming the system and relaxing in the government “safety hammock”. No lesser a Republican statesman than Paul Ryan, himself, coined that very phrase.

  • C Bender

    Politics aside, subsequent to the changes in our understanding of biology in the 1800s, there was a great deal of literary and scientific writing whose theme is the improvement of mankind. For example, the so-called prophetic novels of HG Wells drew upon the advances in scientific thinking of the 1800s and speculated on their implications regarding social evolution. These ideas are put into the form of a social commentary in his “Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought”. The betterment of the human species is the evolutionary trajectory, and the evolutionary process is described in these works as a natural selection process that eliminates those individuals who are unproductive, criminal, etc. One hears the same theme in the political speech that Mr Lopez describes in “Dog Whistle”, namely the criticism of government programs that “encourage people to be lazy” (I paraphrase). I don’t know if Mr Lopez has tapped this literature in his research, but there is a consistency between his “these are good people” remark and a recognition that there is some kind of social natural selection process being rationalized in the so-called political discourse. So my point is that one ought to acknowledge this literary history, derived from changes in scientific thinking, that is independent of political gamesmanship. (That this human natural selection process thinking has been abused already is evident.)

  • Anonymous

    What Wholesome Goal Worthy of

    If, by my wish, all rights became lefts or yeses,
    no’s; If,
    by my whim alone, one became two, or all, or none; If
    everyone measured by my thumb; their path by my toes;
    Then another’s
    worth would be my say as what good was done.

    If all I survey became mine all vineyards would make
    my wines;
    sows would make my bacon or chops; best beer by my hops.
    All shops would make
    my goods; all gems or gold, by my mines,

    All churches would
    sing my praises; I’d choose their bishops.

    None would gainsay what I speak; for all would seek
    my favor.
    what of why all crops are shy when lands are dry; Or
    waters reek, rains foul leaves and seasons come in furor,
    Or my promises on
    money only makes one borrow yet never buy?

    Then all would know my dream was but a horror—alack,
    a rue;
    lifetimes wasted at my say would make nothing wholesome or true. ©Copyright
    George Thompson, Sr. 2014

  • NotARedneck

    “However, corporations who seek complete control of this country, are colorblind except as to green (money).”

    Nonsense. Corporations obviously don’t have a brain so I suppose that they cannot be racist.

    However, their management is often racist. There are numerous examples of investments being made based solely on how white the community they were moving to, was. They have moved away from minority areas for decades, despite having a trained workforce and plant, equipment and land.

    There has been a definite attempt to give the diminishing fruits of real investment to the racist whites that the corporations and their RepubliCON lackeys can rely on, unconditionally, for their votes. This is also why tea party supporters are always complaining about affirmative action – as if it really exists in this world. They know that they were handed their jobs and are terrified that there might be some fairness applied in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, but in making sure the pot melts, we have to be sure some folks aren’t getting frozen out. There’s nothing wrong with paying attention to the concerns any group has. And adjustment of such concerns is entirely appropriate. Pandering isn’t.

  • Anonymous

    The Gerrymandering that goes on by both parties makes the representative govt a farce.. Most districts will not see the opposition party win an election. The parties pore big money into marginal districts only. & the black & white districts do not see the canidates.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Lopez feels if you don’t like the Obama policies you are racist & feel Obama is incompetent .. These same people are full of hate..Really. To infer the so called Tea Parties folks are racist I find offensive just like I find Harry Reid saying all bad cases of healthcare are lies. He stated the farm bill was a big bondogle for the rich… 80% of the farm bill was for food stamps. The only thing that was cut was the rate of growth in food stamps. Obviously a very liberal point of view but it was way over done..
    As far the race card… The nation is tired of it.. That dog does not hunt anymore..folks keep playing it but it no longer works only if you listen to Al Sharpton & J Jackson who have found it a lucrative industry The folks see what the President has done & responded in the polls.. 38-40% approval..You might conclude incompetance or ineffectiveness. Bush was called the same adjectives when his poll numbers were down.

  • Gary M Washburn

    The point is, race is an issue that works very well indeed, for the right, but when criticized for its use gets called “the race card” and results in a resistance to facing facts. Many of the most egregious stories about the new health care system have indeed been demonstrated to be lies. The fact remains, if you want to believe something and go looking for evidence of it, you’ll find it. If you want the truth you have to suppose something that might be true, that explains the facts as you know them so far, and then look systematically for reasons not to believe it. It’s a far more arduous method, but the results are far more reliable. As for stamps, well, I don’t know the exact numbers, but I do know that there is a major difference between a family farm and agribusiness. The former probably deserve our help, the latter surely do not, but a time of high unemployment and lowering wages is not the right time to reduce the ability of the unemployed to eat. One conservative railed against “the able bodied” receiving stamps, as if the only possible reason they do not work is laziness. If you suppose it appropriate to put words into other people’s mouths, then we could say that what this politician really meant was “you don’t work, you don’t eat!” But I don’t see a qualitative difference between this and “you don’t work, you get flogged, or lynched!”.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Lopez has a number of good points.

    However, I found him to be quite naive WRT the “goodness” of politicians who use dog whistle politics & the Tea Party people who gobble it up. I don’t find politicians who cynically manipulate the fear, ignorance, & hatred of people for their own political & financial gain to be inherently good. I also don’t find people who have such hatred in their hearts that they are drawn to swindler politicians to be inherently good. Furthermore, it seems to me that just about all of the people from both groups profess to be “Christian,” which makes their behavior extremely galling.

  • Moribund Cadaver

    The problem in part is that racism has become so deeply codified and abstracted, it is likely that a large number of people respond to tactics based on insecurity and fear about race without realizing that’s what they’re doing. America has been called the country where everyone talks so much about how bad racism is, and how there is so much racism everywhere, yet nobody is personally a racist. Because American culture is predicated very much on avoiding scandal. Trace it back to quasi-religious influences related to ideas like sin and the stain of sin. If nobody saw you do it, if nobody openly accuses you of it, then you are without sin. You haven’t been marked.

    And plenty of people respond to the dog whistles because the code words make them feel they can do something about a deeply set fear they experience, a fear based in racist thinking, without admitting to themselves that they hold racist ideas. At some level these voters feel such politicians “speaking their language” are their only choice. No matter how visibly corrupt they are, how insincere, they offer absolution from the truth about racist perspectives.

  • Mark Twain

    The term “Obamacare” itself is a dog whistle.

  • Anonymous

    I love this presentation except for one thing, the use of the term “republicans” as a dog-whistle, without acknowledgment. Let’s unpack this stereotype code-word.

  • Silence Dogood

    The two political parties represent their donors–the 1%–and use wedge issues to divide the electorate. It’s a plutocracy. Read “The State of the Union” by Gore Vidal. Our government is a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.