Monday, September 10, 2012

Democrats and Prejudice

Over the weekend the AP ran one of the inevitable "does racism hurt Obama?" articles. I found this part interesting:

"We're at a tipping point," said Susan Glisson, director of the Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. "But I don't know which way we're going to tip."

Glisson knows that many conservatives disagree with Obama solely because of his policies. "But I am also quite certain that there are others who object to the president because of his race, because they have a fear of blacks that is embedded in our culture," she said.

Her conclusion is based on something called "implicit bias"— prejudices that people don't realize they have.

Here's the thing - the article is a prime example of implicit bias from the left. They are positive that Republicans must be racist so they look at every word and every action for proof. With no explicit examples, they are left with code words.

"Every time they say, 'We want our country back,' I know what that means," Susan Bankston, a white Democratic National Convention delegate from Richmond, Texas, said at the gathering last week.

"You recognize it when every time the Republicans with their own convention refer to him by his first name, Barack Obama. He's President Barack Obama," said Patt Sanders, a delegate from Englewood, Calif., who is black.

These are prime examples of using a double standard. Phrases like "wanting our country back" were thrown around freely during the Bush administration. The Clinton inauguration in 1993 carried the theme "Taking back America". Similarly, I don't remember anyone who disliked Reagan, either Bush, or Clinton using his full title.

A lot of this comes from expectations and associations. Republicans oppose the progressive agenda. Since the agenda is so obviously good for the country and the world, then they must oppose it because they are evil. Racism is evil therefore anyone who is evil must also be racist.

There is also some history involved. For decades, Democrats have insisted on treating minorities (and voting blocks) as groups and used strict quotas to enforce equality. Republicans have opposed quotas, arguing that people should be judged as individuals instead of by the group they belong to. The Republicans are for examining issues on a case-by-case basis which Democrats argue it too time-consuming. Again, since Democrats regard quotas as the only useful tool for enforcing equality then Republicans must be racists for opposing them.

Once this implicit bias was established then it is fair game to examine every Republican action for racism.

Ironically, the Republicans are not the party of racism. Segregation in the South during the first half of the 20th century happened in a time when Democrats were the dominant party. Democratic governors opposed rather than helped the Civil Rights movement. The first desegregation of schools and the military came about under Eisenhower (a Republican). It was not until the mid-1960s that civil rights became part of the Democratic coalition (although black voters had been part of FDR's coalition).

Four years ago the Obama campaign assumed that many people would not vote for a black man and ran ads to downplay his race. They stressed that his mother was born in Kansas and that he was raised by whites. The sub-text was that he is a white man with dark skin. This does not speak well of the Obama campaign's opinion of his supporters.

Before we started using terms like "implicit bias" we called this prejudice: pre-judging. When Alec Baldwin tweets, "If Obama was white, he'd be up by 17 points" he is not basing this on any historic analysis. Given that the economy is doing better than at this point under Carter or Bush (41) but not as well as under Reagan, Clinton, or Bush (43), Obama's numbers are right where you would expect them to be - too close to call. To say otherwise, Baldwin has to ignore Obama's actual performance and ascribe negative motives to anyone who disagrees.

The paradox here is that the Republicans see the Democrats as "playing the race card" while the Democrats see themselves as being neutral.

No comments: