Law prof: Coded racial appeals have wrecked the middle class

Law prof: Coded racial appeals have wrecked the middle class

Two central themes are dominating American politics: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters, according to Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. The new book by Berkeley Law professor Ian Haney-López traces both developments to veiled racial appeals to white voters in support of policies that favor the extremely rich.

While spending much of the last decade studying how the U.S. Supreme Court handled race law, Haney-López documented a near complete reversal from earlier efforts at . "I determined that the shift was due to politics, not doctrine," he explained. New racial politics tells voters not to worry about concentrated wealth, but instead to believe that a big government pandering to minorities is the biggest threat, he found.

Specifically, Haney-López traced what he calls a political tradition of using race rhetoric to generate enthusiasm for conservative policies that threaten their own interests. Powerful political groups promise to "crack down on crime," "curb undocumented immigration," and "protect the heartland" against Islamic infiltration, but instead back policies that slash taxes on the rich, grant corporations control over industry and financial markets, and eradicate social services.

"People think that we're post-racial because we have a black president, but the language of race has just shifted form in the last 50 years," explained Haney-López, who uses the term dog whistle to describe the coded terms that "trigger racial anxiety," yet can be claimed as nonracial by politicians.. Through dog whistles, conservative interest groups send a message about that are inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another, he said.

Examples of race-baiting terms by politicians include forced bussing, welfare queens, illegal aliens and food stamps. "The narrative is well known, but when put all together, it's egregious," Haney-López said. "Yet, when politicians are called to account, they say, 'It's just a fact.' They're using racially charged terms with plausible deniability. The book explains how race is working this way, how race is the central, defining element of electoral politics. It's still so powerful in our society even when it seems we're post-racial."

As proof, Haney-López cited the fact that the Republican Party is 90 percent white and its elected officials are 98 percent white. The Republican Party casts minorities as the enemy, but white voters fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their own lives. Ultimately, Haney-López argued, to achieve a vibrant middle class without racial modifiers, the country needs an "activist government that's good for everybody, not one that's just beholden to the very wealthy."

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, said Dog Whistle Politics "brilliantly and painstakingly" explains how political elites persuade poor and working class whites to support regressive policies that are a boon for corporations, but actually harm them and the middle class.

A seasoned author, Haney-López has written about white and Latino racial identity in White by Law and Racism on Trial, respectively. This book, though, is his first for a broad audience. He believes it's for anyone who is frustrated with the dysfunction in the U.S. political system and senses that we're a country in crisis.

"I hope to start a new national conversation," said Haney-López, who teaches Constitutional Law, Race in American Law and seminars including Critical Race Theory. "This topic is central to the health of American democracy."

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Jan 15, 2014
Middle class shrank because manufacturing jobs turned into service jobs, paying 1/3 the pay.

Jan 15, 2014
Haney-López documented a near complete reversal from earlier efforts at racial integration
IMO it's the result of undergoing financial crisis and separation of society in a process of spontaneous symmetry breaking similar to crystallization of solution under cooling. When the society is on the rise, everyone is happy, careless and it doesn't bother about race of his neighbors. The similar trend we can observe in return to traditional roles of men and women in families, and so on. The times of hippie unisex, when the oil was dirty cheap are simply over. In addition, now we are collecting the fruits of recent globalization, when the multinational companies collected cheap labor force and leaved the solution of resulting social problems to local governments.

Jan 15, 2014
Left wing drivel deflection.

Jan 19, 2014
This is on a science site exactly why?

This is propaganda - period.

The list of "racial dog whistles" identified(?) by the left is nearly the entire unabridged dictionary: golf, Chicago, taxes, small government, constitution, and on and on and on ad nauseum. It seems the only ones who can hear these dog whistles is the left. That must make them the dogs.

Blacks vote for Democrats over 95% in every election (over 100% in many precincts) so the Republicans must be racists? No, it's because the Democrats have been screaming "racist!" at the top of their lungs for 50 years and making blacks dependent on them with free stuff paid for by the taxpayers (i.e. Republican voters) aided and abetted by race-hustlers like Sharpton and Jackson, and yes, Obama, who is just a little more slick than they are.

Jan 19, 2014
Middle class shrank because manufacturing jobs turned into service jobs, paying 1/3 the pay.

Thanks to 'liberals', unions and the Regulatory State.

Jan 19, 2014
The most vile racists are 'liberals'.
If you want to judged by your character, not the color of your skin or your sex, join a tea party, become a conservative.

Jan 19, 2014
well this morning on tv I saw the beginning of a new campaign to further disenfranchise Americans; its called a war on work. It purports to be an expose that by paying people not to have jobs ( a reference to unemployment) we are making war on work.
It is exactly what this article refers to.
Pointing fingers to 'groups' is useless as the major players in the economy are directing this separation of people from work.
Those of us over 50 see this clearly. Young people not so much.

Notice that our future is rented houses, rented cars and rented phones.
The health care is going to serve as a vehicle to absorb the paid-for homes assets,
Was it not obvious that Bohmer's opposition was merely a red herring to keep real opposition from developing?

Jan 19, 2014
It's the working class that suffers, not the middle class. The working class is made to vote against its own interests because people like the author bamboozle it into believing it's middle class when it isn't. The vast majority of the population is working class; they have nothing to sell but their labor, and can easily be replaced with whoever is next in line with the proper certification or degree. Most people don't contribute anything significant as individuals, but like to believe they do - and hence are receptive to the illusion that they're middle class. The entire American educational system is designed to create identical cogs, categorized by their degree or education, one the same as the next yet told their value is as an individual. The middle class (business owners, professionals etc) are those who hire and manage this commodity labor, not the workers. The middle class is heavily republican and is doing very well.

Jan 19, 2014
Most people don't contribute anything significant as individuals,

More socialist drivel.
You should watch "It's a Wonderful Life".

Jan 20, 2014
This book is not science. It's little more than a biased political rant.

Jan 20, 2014
"The common misperception among liberals (and many poor people) that more government interference in the market helps the poor. However, an annual cross-country study has again shown that economic freedom helps both to increase economic growth and decrease income inequality. Free markets lead to more economic growth, so the economic pie is bigger. Free markets also result in the poorest members of society getting a bigger piece of that bigger pie. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, it is economic freedom that leads to prosperity for all, not government meddling."
'Liberal' govt meddling includes using race to divide and control people.

Jan 20, 2014
BHO, a racist president:
"On Sunday, The New Yorker released an interview with President Barack Obama in which the president stated that his approval ratings had been suppressed due to racism. "There's no doubt that there's some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president," Obama stated. "Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I'm a black president.""

Being opposed to BHO's tyrannical policies is ONLY because he is half black? If a white socialist president imposed the same tyranny he would be 'loved' by the people?
BHO is being compared to the socialist Carter and tyrannical Nixon. Both white.

Jan 21, 2014
"The State reports that William Barber II (pictured), whom The Washington Post says is a rising and influential star in the NAACP, compared Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to a ventriloquist dummy. During a speech in Columbia South Carolina, Barber said of Scott, "A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy." Barber's comments were unmistakably racially tinged. He went out of his way to link the fact that Scott is black to his opinion that he is nothing more than a puppet."

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