April 21, 2014

The science of conservative racism

First, why conservatives tend to be racists:

How Whites Are Reacting to the Browning of America

Some white people see their future minority status as threatening and it pushes their political leanings to the right.

By Martin Longman
By coincidence, this morning I read an excerpt from Stony Brook University Prof. Michael Kimmel’s book Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era (reviewed here). This particular excerpt focused on the Aryan Nation and white supremacists, but the book looks at angry white men in general. What he found was a strong correlation between white men failing to inherit any significant wealth or to achieve a status commensurate to their father’s, and a sense that white people are getting a raw deal. In the following passage, Prof. Kimmel actually seems to conflate the Republican base with white supremacists, but that’s because he sees both as points on a continuum, distinguishable only be the degree to which their discomfort and anger has caused them to hate.That such ardent patriots are so passionately antigovernment might strike the observer as contradictory. After all, are these not the same men who served their country in Vietnam or in the Gulf War? Are these not the same men who believe so passionately in the American Dream? Are they not the backbone of the Reagan Revolution? Indeed, they are. The extreme Right faces the difficult cognitive task of maintaining their faith in America and in capitalism and simultaneously providing an analysis of an indifferent state, at best, or an actively interventionist one, at worst, and a way to embrace capitalism, despite a cynical corporate logic that leaves them, often literally, out in the cold—homeless, jobless, hopeless.

Finally, they believe themselves to be the true heirs of the real America. They are the ones who are entitled to inherit the bounty of the American system. It’s their birthright—as native-born, white American men. As sociologist Lillian Rubin puts it, “It’s this confluence of forces—the racial and cultural diversity of our new immigrant population; the claims on the resources of the nation now being made by those minorities who, for generations, have called America their home; the failure of some of our basic institutions to serve the needs of our people; the contracting economy, which threatens the mobility aspirations of working class families—all these have come together to leave white workers feeling as if everyone else is getting a piece of the action while they get nothing.”
Racists "don't see race"

Next, how they justify or excuse their racism:

How the GOP became the white supremacy party—and got away with it

Paul Ryan's condemnation of "inner city" values just scratches the surface. The modern GOP is fueled by such claims

By Chauncey DeVega
Following the triumphs of the civil rights movement, colorblind white racism has largely replaced “old fashioned” racism.

While whites still use very explicit and racist speech in the “backstage,” private spaces, or online, America’s embrace of multiculturalism and pluralism have deemed such acts anathema to “decent” people. This is especially true for a nationally known politician like Paul Ryan.

Colorblind racism inverts reality and distorts the facts. It involves denying that racism still exists as a serious social problem; black and brown people are limited in their life chances not because of institutional discrimination but because of their “bad culture” or “laziness”; white supremacy and systems of white racial advantage are dismissed as either exaggerated or non-existent; racism is reduced to mean words by white people, as opposed to systematic institutional discrimination against people of color.

The most perverse result of colorblind racism is that many white people now believe that they are “victims” of “racism”, and that “anti-white racism” is a larger problem in the United States than is discrimination against black and brown Americans. Mountains of research and empirical data detail how Americans society is oriented around maintaining white privilege and white material advantages over people of color.

Colorblind racism overrides those facts by distorting white people’s (and some others’) ability to process and understand reality.

Paul Ryan’s “inner city” comment is a quintessential example of colorblind racism. He cannot plainly state that lazy black people are genetically predisposed to idleness, crime, violence, and sexual promiscuity. However, Ryan can suggest that the supposed failures of black people are really their own fault, and that all they need to do is “work hard” and have “good culture” to get ahead in America like “normal” (read: white) people.

You Don't Have To Be A Racist To Practice Racism

By Ed KilgoreIn the end, describing a policy, a message, or even an item of political philosophy as objectively “racist” is no less legitimate than any other term of opprobrium. Personally, I find the Randian doctrine whereby anyone favoring progressive tax rates or business regulations is a “looter” conspiring with “losers” to steal the fruits of capitalist innovation even more offensive than racism, insofar as it treats large majorities of the U.S. population—including all those Democratic-voting minority members—as either morally debased or incorrigibly duped. I am not about to stop criticizing that point of view simply because its advocates do not subjectively view themselves as self-righteous cads hoarding the fruits of others’ labor. Nor are Randians about to stop calling me names for my own beliefs. Nor does all my church-going protect me from being called a “secularist” because I believe in a strict separation of church and state.

The reality a lot of us naturally want to avoid is the distemper and polarization in our political discourse is not simply the product of name-calling or rhetorical hubris or bad faith. Some of it has to do with genuine and very large differences of opinion about government, culture, and, yes, race. So much as I would like to find common ground with conservatives, and much as I know many of them have fine (subjective) motives: when I see racism, I’m going to call it what it is. Just avoiding the subject is not just bad politics: it is (subjectively, for me) an evasion and a lie.
Just the facts, ma'am

Finally, the research that confirms the link between conservatism and racism:

Multiple Scientific Studies Confirm: Extreme Conservatism Linked to Racism, Low I.Q.A January 2012 article in the Journal Live Science also cites the Hodsdon-Busseri study,

“There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb…Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice.”

Indeed, University of Washington Political Science Professor Christopher Parker, author of the new book Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America agrees.

Professor Parker, interviewed by Chris Matthews says,

“What we’ve found out, we’ve come up with something that we called Reactionary Conservatism. What that means is, where as a regular conservative or a more mainstream conservative recognizes change is necessary to avoid revolutionary change, a reactionary conservative actually wants to go back in time. In the book we tie the Tea Party to the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, the Clan of the 1920s, the John Birch Society of the late 1950s and 1960s. It’s the same belief system, Chris, this idea that they’re scared of losing the America that they know and love to these other groups of people.”
Fear of becoming a racial minority makes white Americans more conservative: study

By Scott KaufmanTwo researchers from the Department of Psychology and Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University demonstrated that the more white Americans know about the changing demographics of the United States, the more likely they are to endorse conservative policy positions.

Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson conducted three studies in which white Americans were presented with information about the racial demographic shifts that have led the U.S. Census Bureau to project that “racial minority groups will make up a majority of the U.S. national population in 2042, effectively creating a so-called ‘majority-minority’ nation.”
And:Craig and Richeson found “striking evidence that perceived group-status threat, triggered by exposure to the majority-minority shift, increases Whites’ endorsement of conservative political ideology and policy positions.” However, they noted that “the addition of a simple paragraph stating that Whites are likely to remain at the top of the future racial hierarchy in a majority-minority America eliminated the conservative shift otherwise observed after exposure to the racial-shift information.”

As Jamelle Bouie noted this study strongly suggests that the coming majority-minority shift “could lead to a stronger, deeper conservatism among white Americans. The racial polarization of the 2012 election—where the large majority of whites voted for Republicans, while the overwhelming majority of minorities voted for Democrats—could continue for decades.”
Comment:  For more on conservative racism, see Whites Think They're Losing to Blacks and Excerpts from Dog Whistle Politics.

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