Monday, November 17, 2014


My girlfriend's conservative sister went off on me on facebook for continually calling out conservatives for their racism.  No need to read her side of it, pretty standard stuff, so here's my response:

Dani, it's WAY more complicated than you seem to understand.

I have never said that Republicans or conservatives are hateful people, nor do I say outright that they're racist, either. So please stop characterizing my statements that way. It's just not true.

What I HAVE said, among other things, is that conservatives have a VERY narrow definition of the word "racism," one that is generally limited to how well individuals get along with each other. This, of course, leaves conservatives completely off the hook for any policy or institutional positions that have racist effects.

Probably the best and quickest example I can offer is the widespread conservative notion that the poor lack motivation to rise above their circumstances. When one embraces that position, one necessarily rules out other factors, namely racism or discrimination, causing poverty. Now we KNOW, as a fact, due to numerous studies, actual data, that blacks suffer from poverty at 2.2 times the rate of whites. There appears to be no other compelling explanation for this stark contrast than discrimination--I mean, unless one wants to accuse blacks of being lazy, a notion with which I'm assuming you disagree. So how can blacks in poverty simply "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" when they face racism and discrimination? Well, they can't, and conservatives generally ignore this, instead pushing their "bad culture" or "culture of poverty" views.

So, I'm sure that all these conservatives are very nice people, and that they're just fine with black people as individuals. But this view about poverty they push NECESSARILY has a racist effect.

So I'm not actually calling ANY conservatives racist in the sense that they don't like black people. What I AM saying is that a lot of conservative philosophy, when made into public policy, results in racism.

And when conservatives refuse to acknowledge this point, that there is a difference between individual white attitudes about interacting with non-white people, and philosophy about human nature and the way the world works manifest as political opinion, hurt feelings result apparently. I'm pretty sure this isn't my fault: the distinction I'm making isn't rocket science; it's pretty darned easy to understand, in fact. So I make no apologies for my assertions.

But that leaves me wondering why so many conservatives misinterpret this stuff. My guess is that this "bootstraps" point of view is so strongly embraced, so much a part of the conservative identity, the conservative psyche, that imagining that it might harbor some racism is just unthinkable. And so they just don't think. They get pissed off.
Also, the Republican Southern Strategy, which actually happened, and still happens, and is a matter of documented fact. But we'll leave that for another discussion. If you haven't already decided that you hate me.
'Nuff said.