Racism is the belief that certain races, such as black people, are genetically inferior or that they should not enjoy equal rights. David Duke, a neo-Nazi and former Klan Wizard, is a racist. Steve Bannon, Jared Taylor, and Richard B. Spencer, supporters of the Alt-Right movement, are racists.
It’s not just deplorable, but despicable, that Donald Trump has accepted their support, and even appointed Bannon to head his campaign.
Racial prejudice consists of judging an individual based on beliefs about average behavior of that person’s race. That, too, is deplorable. It is deplorable even if the belief has some basis.
The chart above shows that certain beliefs are common to white Americans across the political spectrum. It is not a measure of racism. It may or may not be a measure of prejudice.
For example, it is a statistical fact that violent crime is more common among black Americans than among white Americans. It is not racist or racially prejudiced think that African-Americans are, on average, more violent than white Americans.
What would be deplorable would be to assume that assume that any African-American you encounter is a threat, possibly deserving a preemptive violent response. What would be deplorable would be to ignore the fact that the vast majority of black people are peaceful and law-abiding.
The problem with being overly quick to charge racism is that it provides cover for the real racists. If almost all white people are racists, then David Duke and Jared Taylor aren’t be so bad.
Lee Atwater, a political adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, gave an interview in which he explained how to appeal to white prejudices.
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.
And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Raising issues such as unauthorized immigration, urban crime and welfare dependency can be dog whistles to racially prejudiced white people, but not necessarily. They are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed on their merits.
It accomplishes nothing to rule certain topics out of bounds for discussion because you think the people who bring them up have bad motives. The topics are going to be discussed, one way or another.
We liberals and progressives like to talk about “root causes” of things. We of course condemn crime, terrorism and addiction. We of course think individuals should suffer consequences for bad actions and bad decisions. But we also think it is important to think about the context in these things arise.
The big exception is racial prejudice, and prejudices of all kinds. We do not think about the context that gives rise to prejudice. Our tool for dealing with prejudice is naming and shaming.
How Breitbart Conquered the Media by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic. Says many Trump supporters are objectively deplorable.
On the Margins or Finely Interwoven by Mike the Mad Biologist. Says deplorables found in all political camps.
Uncovering White Racism by Robert Weissberg for The Unz Review. Questions the premise of the Reuters poll.
The Revenge of the Deplorables by Ron Urie for Counterpunch.
Hillary Clinton’s Basket of Deplorables by Paul Street for Counterpunch.