Monday, May 5, 2014

Why DO Democrats Think Republicans Are Racist?

What!? It's Funny!
Rachel Lu, writing at The Federalist, tackles a timely question: Why do Democrats think Republicans are racist? It's a good question--here's her answer:
  1. Paranoid liberals see racist code-words ('dog whistles') in everyday speech.
  2. Where conservatives see the Civil Rights story as 'settled,' Liberals continue to fight the battle over and over because it serves their interests. Liberals need racists foes to vanquish and will invent them if necessary.
  3. Conservative policy sees good sense in its budget cuts to programs that disproportionately enlist poor minorities but liberals assume only racism could drive that behavior. This is because they see everything as Marxist class warfare.
She concludes that liberals should embrace the good news: that conservative policy is good for everyone--it isn't a zero-sum game and a rising tide lifts all ships!

Is Rachel Lu Right?

Well, hold on there a minute chief--let's start with a slightly different question: Why do young people see Republicans as racist? I mean, we know that Liberals are some kind of Marxist Muslim Mutants who were read Das Capital as a bedtime story since before they could walk--of course they see everything in terms of racial class warfare.

That's easy (and also tautological when you define Liberal as Marxist)--but young people in general? That's a harder charge to stick. What is The Omnivore talking about?

Well, Rachel knows--she's just hoping you don't. It's the report the College Republican National Committee published in the wake of the 2012 election, of course. Among other things, it asked what words 'up-for-grabs voters' associated with the GOP and found:
"closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned"
So maybe there's something else at work here than the liberals being indoctrinated from birth in the thinking of Marx. In fact several other people have tackled the question of why Republicans / conservatives get tarred with the 'racist' slur and it sticks. Here are some of the prevalent theories:
  1. There exists a factually inaccurate but easily sold "history" that explains Republican's shift to racism. Democrats (and others) use this to indoctrinate young voters.
  2. The left-wing media is responsible young voter's perceptions of the GOP.
  3. Academia is taken over by liberals and molds the minds of young voters.
Let's take a look!

There's A Handy-But-Incorrect Narrative Out There?

Maybe young voters see Republicans as racist because there exists a commonly told history--a lie--that makes Republicans out to be racists? Could be: if it was pervasive enough (and, you know, truly a lie) maybe it could shape opinions of even non-liberals?

Gerard Alexander, writing in 2010, says that just such a narrative exists: The false history that starts with Goldwater opposing the Civil Rights act, takes us to Nixon and the Southern Strategy, and then concludes with the GOP becoming the party of George Wallace rather than George Wallace voters reluctantly coming to the GOP. This is false--but easily sold, Gerard says--and he's got a point. The narrative around how Southern White voters came to the Republican party (and if they are racist at all) is more complex than that (Goldwater was a founding member of the Arizona NAACP), the move to the GOP by Southern Whites was more complex (and began before) the Southern Strategy.

The problem with this theory is that when you look more closely, the specifics change (Goldwater isn't the villain his one vote there makes him out to be--he did vote for other versions of the Civil Rights bill) but the big picture doesn't: Racist attitudes persisted in the south after the civil war--and yes, the Democrats got the mind-share at first (Lincoln was, after all, a Republican)--however sometime in the 40's with Truman (D) racially integrating the military and the Dixiecrats trying to break off (unsuccessfully) those views were feeling uncomfortable in the Democrats.

When it finally came down to the 1964 Civil Rights Bill the Democrats did stand against it on a numeric basis--but if you look at the geographical makeup of the votes it's clear that the south voted against the bill and, once you control for region, Democrats were more likely to support the bill than Republicans. Eventually the shift from D to R was complete with the south finding its home in the GOP ... and the attitudes still not completely changed.

In other words, hanging it all on Goldwater's vote is a mistake--but the idea that the South's views on race were settled by the civil war doesn't square with this either:

This Gets Us Through 1954 ...
Okay, Up To 1967 ...
1968 ...
And, In Case We're Not Current, 2012: Racist Tweets Following Obama's Re-election

It's The Media!

Nothing is more comforting to conservatives than the story that The Media and is riddled with leftist and that they intentionally (Journolist) shape the narrative we all hear to smear conservatives. This is comforting because it removes all responsibility for their behavior from their party / their actors. Are young people having their minds shaped by the monolithic cable news outlets (but not the #1 news outlet, FOX News)? Are they being preyed on by left-wing newspapers? No: there's a problem with that theory:
Right--so 65 And Over Over Are Being Seduced To Liberalism By Left-Wing Newspapers. Airtight!
That's right--as Rachel Lu undoubtedly knows, young people get their news from the Internet which is full of alternative true news sources like Newsmax and World News Daily. So the youth aren't being corrupted by The Gray Lady.

What About Schooling? Do Liberal Instructors Create Racists?

The left have taken over academia--it's the unquestioned truth. From grade school--where the pledge of allegiance has been removed--through high school where political correctness reigns--to colleges where Womyn's Studies are a required class for everyone--we hear American academia indoctrinates our children with radical left-wing ideology. Surely that's what's going on here--that survey was of College students, wasn't it?

Well, yes, it was--but as Rachel probably knows, the link between indoctrinating liberal academia and party identification isn't that bright-line. In fact, it's not so:
For the past three elections (this is from 2008) the factor in how Republican you are isn't schooling--it's income level. Some education levels (high school) make whites republican across the board (maybe political correctness isn't doing what we thought). Only at the grad / post-grad level do most whites fall below the 50% Republican line.

So Then What IS Going On?

Why DO college students see republicans as racist? Well, The Omnivore is here to tell you--and it's a two part answer:
  1. Young people see the GOP's position on Same Sex Marriage as related to that on interracial marriage. As young people are overwhelmingly in favor of SSM, including large groups of young republicans, the position on gay marriage looks suspiciously racist to them. 
  2. The second part? Well, uh, it's the racism.

The, Uh,  Racism

The GOP is not, inherently, or even largely racist. Large factions of the Republican party are, for example, big-business oriented, fiscal hawks, or believe the Republican message on economic growth. Within these factions there may well be racists--but there is little reason to believe there are more racists there than in their counterparts on the Democrats.

But let's be clear: The problem the GOP has is that the racism charge sticks to it way more than to the Democrats--and the Republicans spend time chasing their tails saying "It's NOT fair! Joe Biden says racist stuff about Obama and Democrats / The Media (but I repeat myself) don't go all Cliven Bundy on him! DOUBLE STANDARD!!"

Well, yes, Virginia, there is a double standard--but it's not for the reasons you think (okay, maybe some of it is). The reason is that people who are either for-real out-there racists or the more modern variety of people in the "I'm not a racist but--" camp find a far better home in the Republican party than in the Democrats. Why is that? Here's why:

  1. Support for the Confederate Battle Flag (just "the confederate flag" to most people).
  2. Views on interracial marriage
  3. The Spin-Machine Treatment on racist speech

The Confederate Flag Issue

One only need look further than GOP support for the confederate battle flag than to understand why this is. Here is a sample tweet The Omnivore pulled off his feed yesterday from conversations started by conservative black pundits. Let's restate this: this is a hard-core conservative talking to a black republican writer.
The Party of Lincoln fought a war (with the highest number of American deaths) against this flag. Now it gets wide-ranging support amongst conservatives to fly it? Imagine you are a black person who (correctly) sees the flag as the symbol of an organization that enslaved--and then fought to keep its ability to enslave--black people.

You are told that Democrats are racist--and Republicans are not--and you ask yourself: If a vehicle sporting that flag shows up at either group's convention, where will it get a warmer reception. If you are having problems figuring out which that is ... you're kidding yourself.

Interracial Marriage

The Omnivore's primary test for white racism is whites who oppose interracial marriage as it correlates to Republicans. Here's a graph from

It's one thing to oppose Affirmative Action on principle--but what's the principle behind opposing Black-White Dating? Now, to be sure, Democrats have their racists too (at least by this measure)--but when we line them up?

If you are going to look at which party has more racists look at which part has more whites and then which has a higher percentage of whites that oppose interracial marriage. The nearly 10% gap there is in percentages. The number of white voters in the Republicans vs. the Democrats? It's not nearly that close.

The GOP / Conservative Spin Machine

Then there's the spin-machine that gets employed when someone in the Republican party says something racist (or 'racist'--whatever). What is The Omnivore talking about? Look here:
The mainstream conservative movement using black conservatives as tools for their agenda is not even a question. For instance, take a look at this headline from The Tea Party News Network:
Interesting headline. The TPNN here is referring to Niger Innis’ remarks in response to Bundy. What the TPNN calls responding “with class” is Innis telling Bundy that he was wrong to use the slavery “analogy,” although he understood and sympathized with the point he was trying to make. The first point to make here is that Bundy didn’t use a slavery analogy. He wondered whether blacks would be better off on the plantation picking cotton than being on welfare. That’s not an analogy. That’s an opinion on public policy. It operates from the premise that slavery is better than welfare. It’s interesting that artificial black conservatives pretend not to understand the rudiments of the English language in order to suck up to, and become apologists for, white supremacy.
You can say you disagree with what Chidike Okeem is saying here, sure--but honestly? If you really think that Rancher Bundy was speaking in metaphor you're willfully blind. If you are being willfully blind, well, you're part of the problem.

You've also, of course, seen the white guy (Scott Terry) at CPAC last year who went to a panel by a black man who was going to tell the audience how to respond to racism thrown at them by leftists. This white guy suggested that black people ought to thank their former white masters for providing room and board as part of slavery!

Did he get shouted down? Run out of the convention? No: the black speaker and he made up and 'left as friends.' You can read more about the guy here--but the idea that a black speaker who is going to speak to conservatives on how to rebut the racist charge, by his own admission, left as 'as friends' with this dude gives full weight to the blog post above. That isn't integrity or inclusion--it's the opposite.


The Republican party has a problem: it's leaving itself vulnerable to charges of racism. It's creating its own double standard. The responses that the GOP offers--that racism is over, that Democrats do it too (or worse)--or that the whole thing is blown out of proportion and few bad apples are spoiling the bunch is the kind of solution that plays to its base but is not convincing to anyone not already sold. What it needs to do is what the Democrats did back in the 40's and the 60's: create an environment where racists no longer feel at  home.

Scott Terry shouldn't have felt at home at CPAC. Bundy was repudiated (refudiated!) when he "went racist" but (a) c'mon, people, did you not SEE THAT COMING!? And (b) There was a whole lot of apologism by people who had less to lose than major politicos. That apologism? That ought to have brought down a second wave of outrage.

When that didn't happen, it makes the original distancing look tactical.

Until that can be done--until the party takes it on itself to get rid of people who think the Conservative Battle Flag is A-Ok, that blacks and whites oughtn't get married, and that saying racist things is okay if they could be cast (poorly) as metaphor? Until the party figures out if gay-marriage is the hill to die on? Until then you don't need a super-Marxist class-warfare framework to have doubts about the GOP's commitment to racial equality.

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