Preview: The Dog Whistle Politics of Race

February 26, 2014

It may be hard to believe but the 2014 midterm elections are just nine months away. With the campaign season now gaining momentum, you may already be witnessing political stump speeches, advertisements and diatribes hoping to sway your vote. You may also need to tune your ear to the sound of dog whistle messaging, says Bill’s guest, author and legal scholar Ian Haney López.

This week on Moyers & Company, López, author of the newly released book, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, joins Bill to talk about how racism has changed in America since the civil rights era. The dog whistle of racism, says López, is “the dark magic” by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests. Politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles – code words that turn Americans against each other while turning America over to plutocrats.

And yet, “dog whistle politics doesn’t come out of animus at all,” López tells Moyers.“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 own ends — here, winning votes — by stirring racial animosity.”

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  • Anonymous

    Plenty of books eventually make it to paperback, eventually. That’s been my experience. It’s about hoped-for profit.

    As a traveler, I prefer the “evil” Kindle. I can take unlimited volumes with me without being penalized by the “evil” airlines for extra luggage. ;-)

    Lesser of 2 evils?

  • Jen

    New books are typically released as a hardcover, with a secondary release date as a paperback. The publisher does make more money this way, but also many people like the durability of hardcover books. If you can’t wait, request that your local library orders a copy.