Will conservatives tackle the racists in their midst?

July 24, 2013

President Obama’s remarks about what it is to be an African-American in America have disturbed those who prefer to believe our nation is color-blind. That was always a myth, like the notion we are a “melting pot” of nationalities, all heaving together toward a common end. Even in New York, the most cosmopolitan of cities, racial groups tend to keep to themselves and differences survive across generations.

The president’s description of how it feels to be a black man in America — routinely suspected of being a criminal, followed around stores by security guards, hearing car doors lock as he crosses the street, watching women clutch their purses tight in elevators — chime with similar experiences related by others set apart from the rest by dint of their skin color.

You can hear the same sorry stories from black visitors to America, shocked to discover that here, far from being a true democracy where everyone is treated the same, it is common for taxi drivers to ignore them, or bars to serve them last, or for public officials to treat them badly simply because they are black. This soft apartheid in America has been brought to the surface by the death of Trayvon Martin. It is a salutary fact that even the most powerful man in the world is treated with suspicion in his own land simply because he is black. After 50 years, Rosa Parks has yet to finish her journey.

There are black racists, too. The most virulent racist I have ever heard was a hostile young black Baptist minister in Harlem convinced that America is run by a secret cabal of Jews. But the president’s comments have primarily exposed deep fissures among conservatives. In all conservative economic theory, from Adam Smith to Friedrich Hayek and beyond, the market operates without prejudice. The price curve has no third dimension of race. In practice, however, many advocates for the free market believe it is legitimate to treat people differently because of their color.

Black conservatives find themselves in an unhappy position anomalous to gay conservatives, or “Log Cabin Republicans,” during the tempestuous debate about gay marriage, and have discovered that a rift has opened between them and their white counterparts. After I suggested that the Martin killing was largely about race, one prominent black conservative told me about a reaction to his blog post that also cited race as a key factor in Martin’s death. “As ours is an almost exclusively conservative audience, the reaction to it has been overwhelmingly hostile,” he wrote.

There is a concealed conservative chasm between out-and-out racists, who to maintain any form of standing in respectable society keep their true natures hidden, and those conservatives who when it comes to racial hatred simply cannot or prefer not to see what is going on. The racial bigots are usually sly enough to keep their views to themselves, or carefully cast an ambiguous line into conversation to test whether their racial assumptions will be tolerated before letting rip. Appeasers of racism make ever-ingenious excuses for their racist friends and affect not to understand when racism erupts before their eyes.

It is the fellow-travelers of racism who do not wince when they hear a racial slur and who insist they cannot grasp the racial nature of crimes like the stalking and slaughter of Trayvon Martin. Here is one otherwise rational economist, an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, no less, who says he lives in “the poorest North Carolina county which has a more than 50 percent black population.” In response to my description of the Zimmerman trial as being “about race,” he wrote, “You do damage to U.S. race relations by writing opinion pieces based on uninformed and unrealistic views. You could do your part by avoiding false claims, by not fanning flames of ‘victimhood,’ and by promoting the positive attributes of our black citizens and brothers.”

When I pushed back, he conceded, “I do agree with many of your views. Many U.S. cities have ghettos. Some groups dismiss others in vile racial terms. Use of English and accent do delineate ambitions. (No matter which race.) America presently does have at least two lower or under classes based on race.” Yet he still strangely concluded, “I do NOT believe that America is riven by race.”

I wonder what this reasonable fellow felt on hearing the president insist that, in his own personal experience as a black man over 50 years, America is indeed cursed by race. Would he call the president a liar, like Joe Wilson, Representative from South Carolina, who has reserved his place in history as the first congressman to accuse a president of lying to his face? Did the president’s race have anything to do with such a sorry departure from Southern manners?

Having an African-American president has made America more intolerant, not less, as he has become the lightning rod for deep-seated racial prejudice. Frustrated that the democratic process, or what some call “the tyranny of the majority,” has returned a black man to the White House, many conservatives have resorted to dog-whistle jibes, sneaky remarks that are well understood by those who know what to listen for but which allow the perpetrator to walk the fine line of deniability.

Take Rick Santorum, who as a lawyer is precise with his words. When he told an audience “America was great before 1965,” was he signaling that the U.S. was a better place before the Beatles invasion, or before the 1965 civil rights march, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. through Selma, Alabama, that ushered in LBJ’s Voting Rights Act? Despite accusations of racism, Santorum declined to explain his remark.

In the Republican primaries, when Juan Williams, a rare African-American face on Fox, asked Newt Gingrich whether using phrases like “entitlement society,” “lack of work ethic,” and “food stamp president” was a none-too-subtle appeal to racists, the South Carolina Republicans hissed and booed the questioner. Gingrich may pick his words carefully, but such a visceral reaction tells its own savage story.

When Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, wagged her finger at the president in front of the cameras before saying she “felt a little threatened, if you will, in the attitude that he had,” was she letting her white voters read between the lines? The appeasers say: You are being too sensitive. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. We simply don’t get it. It is hard to know whether they are so wrapped up in their self-centered individualist philosophy or simply being disingenuous.

Is the notion of dog-whistle racism trumped up by liberals? Not according to Lee Atwater, the dirty-tricks merchant for Reagan and George H.W. Bush. “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 bussing,’ ‘states’ rights,’” he confessed, on the assumption, naturally, he would not be quoted. “Now you talk about cutting taxes, and these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

What relevance does all this talk about race have to America’s future? It means almost certainly we will not have a Republican president until and unless the GOP purges itself and makes racial bigotry and intolerance unacceptable in its ranks. As the number of non-white voters increases by the day and the GOP retreats into its redoubt for angry old white men, the next Republican victory slips further away.

At present, the party is a safe haven for racists, who gerrymander constituency borders to award more power to white constituencies than black or Hispanic, and make it difficult for racial minorities to vote, all in the name of nonexistent voter fraud. Republican strategists candidly admit countering “voter fraud” is really to stop minorities from voting.

Republicans like Jeff Flake are taking a risk promoting immigration reform in the face of racists among his party’s grass roots. The GOP will lose whether or not the law passes. Not many of the 11 million new voters will thank Republicans, who have implacably stood in the way of their becoming citizens, while Democrats have mostly welcomed them. If reform fails it will only confirm to Hispanics that the GOP does not have their best interests at heart.

Senator Lindsey Graham, hardly a hothead, is pessimistic about the party of Lincoln’s future chances. “If we don’t pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016,” he said. “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party.”

If moderate conservatives want to save their party, they would stop being in denial about the haters in their midst and call out racists for what they are. As Cardinal Spellman said about ignoring the threat of Nazism, “We really cannot any longer afford to be moles who cannot see, or ostriches who will not see.”

Nicholas Wapshott is the author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics. Read extracts here.

PHOTO: A message is displayed on the face of Keesha Clark during a march to protest the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, in Los Angeles July 20, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew


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The most common “racism”, which to this author means essentially xenophobia rather than racism, is actually against Euro-heritage Americans. These groups are the only ones in the USA denied the right to have their own institutions, their own culture, and their own language. The Government, and the rich, assume that these cultural artifacts belong exclusively to them, to dispose of however and to whomever they please. Any resistance to this cultural expropriation is tagged “racist” and suppressed with fervor. Note the attitudes in this article.

There is simply no reason to presume the State has the right to strip its citizens of their culture and cultural institutions only if they are “white”. That is a relic of a wealth based class system that is fine with the poor and middle classes having no control over their own culture. Be honest. The only group publicly attacked for having an identifiable, and separate, culture are American white Gentiles. If that is not “racist”, then what is?

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

Groan-so only the conservatives are racist. Sure. So when friggin’ Joe Biden refers to Obama as “clean” and when the Senate Majority Leader was a real life KKK guy and when Jesse Jackson refers to NYC as Hymietown, that stuff is OK. Give me a break.

Posted by tiderhawk | Report as abusive

Thanks for speaking to the truth. It has become nearly extinct among politicians and much more rare among the mainstream media (almost entirely owned by ultra conservative wealthy people) even though there are many more media outlets with near zero credibility or integrity.

Although racism is still rampant in the United States, what has changed significantly is the Plutocracy coming out of the closet. Affiliation with the values of the One Percenters Club used to be something that was kept quiet, yet now many in this Club trumpet their classist beliefs and weild their power through K Street lobbyists on the Members and Staff of Congress and even the Supreme Court. The Plutocracy now gorges itself at the taxpayer trough, no longer in hidden venues.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

Nicholas, in a rare lapse, missed today’s memo to the media. Trayvon Martin is not news today.

Anthony Wiener’s brave, strong, politically gifted spouse is the story on the left this cycle. He should have drafted a column informing the world that the Wiener’s are the model for America’s new “Enlightened post-modern marital/political cohabitation.” “Politics makes strange bedfellows” they say and will obviously produce some strange text messages too. We must accept the new normal without criticism or be called bigots and worse.

But, back to Trayvon, or rather to the Zimmerman acquittal, or to the qualifications of media personalities to judge the 300 million people who live in America as morally defective on any question involving race.

First, it is obvious that the media never knew Trayvon Martin alive, or cared about him. Trayvon was useful to the politicians and the media only as a dead body.

This preoccupation with his death allowed Nicholas and others to pour-out sugared oceans of words and never think to cover Trayvon Martin’s life. Nobody interviewed Trayvon’s friends, family teachers? No one put together an acknowledgement of that he had lived, breathed, spoken, had his troubles, but had hopes as well. Good luck finding any of that in the narrow, preconceived coverage of the Prestige Media. So Nicholas should begin by admitting that Trayvon, dead and African American, was his only interest.

This failure of simple human sympathy in the media has left their discussion of racism sterile and misguided. If they can not understand, or care about Trayvon, alive, how can they hope to engage the reality of millions of children and young men in danger of becoming Trayvon–or George Zimmerman? The answer is that they can not and that because of their pride, they are unaware of their own blindness.

But what if the objective was never to say something about the broad moral life of hundreds of millions of people across this continent? Read Nicholas a second time and you smell the mildew of old political sound-bites pulled-down from the attic.

If George Zimmerman had been convicted of second degree murder, Nicholas would have written that the verdict confirmed that America is a racist country and that American conservatives are evil people.

When George Zimmerman is acquitted of second degree murder, it proves only that America is a racist country (in denial) and that American conservatives are evil people.

If Nicholas had intended to actually discuss racism in American politics, he could hardly avoid the racism and abuse heaped on Clarence Thomas by the sophisticated media and political friends of Nicholas Wapshott. He might have wondered why Ted Kennedy and other leftist critics of Robert Bork launched a campaign of defamation saying he would use a seat on the Supreme Court to encourage racial discrimination. He should have tarried a moment to puzzle out what Vice President Biden meant when he told an African American audience that Mitt Romney and the GOP intended to put them all “back in chains”. (Well Biden is just stupid, mean in spirit, but ultimately stupid).

And what does Nicholas know about race? How many black children did he attend school with? Did he ever live through the desegregation of a society? When he’s alone and thinks nobody can hear, what does he think about black people? One could be forgiven for thinking Wapshott was right there at God’s elbow during the creation–such is his presumption. But what does Nicholas know about race that he can lecture the rest of humanity on good manners?

The space of this column would be put to far better use pointing out some real place and time from which we could learn how to better handle a the most diverse society on earth. Let Nicholas show me some place where bad people are better. Does India offer a good example? Should we wish Wapshott’s New York was more like Mumbai–that peaceable kingdom? Should we look to Russia for ideas on handling ethnic diversity and disgruntled minorities? Maybe China? Perhaps enlightened Europe with its record of tolerance and peace over the last hundred years?

Nicholas, there’s no place better than America in 2013 for race relations. (That may discourage you as, sometimes, it discourages me). The myths you deride about the melting pot and equality have much more strength and weight and good in them than you imagine. Mostly, Americans want to do mostly the right thing. And that’s damn near a miracle for this old world.

Now, get to work and write that column about how great Anthony Wiener’s marriage is!

Posted by lordbaltimore | Report as abusive

the lady doth protest too much methinks.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Next on Wapshott’s agenda is an article espousing NAMBLA and legalization of consensual sex with a child.

I did not know that Reuters has a constituency of those with a fourth grade aptitude without any critical thinking skills. (My apologies to fourth graders.)

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

Which lady?

I am sure Nicholas has enlightened views on all things sexual. I do not accuse him of wanting children abused. Nor do I accuse him of bad faith on issues of race.

I think he’s confused and wrong about many things in America. But at his most dismal, he isn’t wrong about everything. I comment because he’s worthy of comment. My life is too busy for abuse/

Posted by lordbaltimore | Report as abusive

The title here should have been “Will AMERICANS tackle the racists in ther midst? I hope so, as Nicholas Wapshott is one of them. When he writes of “…the stalking and slaughter of Trayvon Martin…” his words fan the flame of racism. The very terminology presumes facts not in evidence.

“Having an African-American president has made America more intolerant, not less, as he has become the lightning rod for deep-seated racial prejudice.” Absolutely wrong. President Obama is the face of hope for all minorities in every country on every continent. Our president shows the world at every appearance that anything is possible, although American society remains a “work in progress” with more than a few faults.

Obama’s is the “authoritative and credible voice” that should speak honestly and truthfully to one and all about things wrong and how to right them, whether today or over time. His ignorance about how to do this is nothing less than frightening.

He speaks of the woman apprehensive of him in the elevator or the car locks clicking when he walks by. He knows about but chooses to ignore the revulsion much of America feels towards the culture black America has adopted and celebrates.

Anyone who has observed the brilliance of General Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, Susan Rice, Clarence Thomas, etc. cannot possibly accept the premise of black genetic inferiority. But individuals do not typically judge others by their best and brightest. They look at their worst and their median.

“We, the people” watch the news night after night. We see the common and predictable results of bad parenting by black parents, bad decision making by black consumers, bad work habits among black job applicants, and the effect bad black neighbors have on quality of life and property values. We and ask ourselves WHY black “leaders” of third world nation-states AND politicians elected in predominately black constituancies have exemplified corruption at it’s most blatant and sordid. Is that racist?

The appearance of many, many young black and brown men and the actions of all too many make others fear and distrust ALL. “In yo’face” black culture (and the ever-present chip on the shoulder “attitude”) is intentionally intimidating. While the best defense for some may be a good offense, this is NOT the case for blacks.

It prevents them developing close relations with those of other races and in getting or keeping a job, much less advancing careerwise. Other citizens associate such “culture” with unpredictability and violence, a clear and present danger. Accordingly, they do NOT associate or communicate beyond the absolute minimum necessary.

None of the changes necessary to bring more blacks into the “mainstream” of American society can be initiated or implemented from outside of the black community. Blacks themselves must opt and support such change before theycan reap associated benefits. I see NO ONE but Bill Cosby standing up with a megaphone telling these truths and leading the way.

Most other “black leaders” today are too self-important, self-centered and incompetent to recognize and push forward a genuinely progressive “black agenda” of common hopes and dreams towards a nation working in concert for the benefit of one and all. That future nation needs NO Trayvon Martins.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Well this is an Opinion. So there was once factual word on the page.

Posted by Fellowes | Report as abusive

I think the comments to your op-ed here, Mr. Wapshott, go a long way toward proving your thesis. It’s absurd that people think that racism has been eradicated in America, except for black racism toward whites or liberals’ racism toward any group that aids in making a point against liberals. As irrefutable proof, conservatives like to point to the election of our current President, that foreign-born, Christian hating, racist, Islamist extremist, terrorist colluding, socialist/communist, American hating, tax-and-spend ulta-liberal, who tries to pass himself off as the first black President, but is really just mulatto, mountebank, who had “God” removed from our money, snubbed our soldiers on a visit to Afghanistan, spent $200 million a day on a trip to India, and whose wife spent nearly $500 on lunch of lobster, caviar, and champagne. No way could we have elected such a man if racism still existed here in America.

Obama is a political moderate who came into office at a very difficult time. He hasn’t done anything deserving of the vitriol and execration that I see directed toward him every day. I saw a comment on a Reuters article just yesterday suggesting that al Qaeda should come to America and get rid of our President: “Maybe they could slip into D.C. and do what no one in this country has the stones to do.” It was a comment on an article entitled “Al Qaeda says it freed 500 inmates in Iraq jail-break” http://www.reuters.com/article/comments/ idUSBRE96M0C720130723 On the same comment thread someone was blaming Obama for the jailbreak in Iraq. It’s always so over-the-top and it never ends.

Take the Affordable Care Act. Obama knew something needed to be done about our failed healthcare system. He also knew that a single payer system (which would have been better and more cost effective) would have failed. So he takes a Republican, market-based plan. As soon as Obama adopted it as his plan, it suddenly becomes a pariah, the worst possible idea for our healthcare system. Just like that. Republicans should have been championing the ACA, but instead they’ve demonized it, and are STILL trying to repeal it. What’s weird is that if Obama didn’t base his plan on this Republican idea, the conservatives would still think it’s a good idea. They hate it because they were told to hate it, because it became Obama’s plan, and you can’t support anything Obama does. If Obama didn’t propose what was formerly Mitt Romney’s plan and Romney won the election and proposed the Affordable Care Act, conservatives would be praising Romney for his brilliant plan. Instead, Republicans are even going so far as to try to undermine it at the state level to guarantee its failure. They actually want it to fail the American people. They don’t want to see it making healthcare more affordable for Americans. It’s inexcusable.

I’m not saying that the hatred directed toward Obama is all due to racism. I don’t even think that’s the main reason. But it definitely is playing a role in the shameful way conservatives have been treating our President. Part of it is that the conservative masses are being taught to hate him for political purposes (which is not unlike racism.) They have proven to be an easily manipulated, docile group, and that scares the heck out of me. Anyone doubting this only has to consider the positions held by conservatives on guns, energy, taxes, healthcare, climate change, etc. Every position advocated by these industries (or those most affected by these issues, such as taxes/the wealthy and climate change/fossil fuels industry) are also the positions held by the conservative constituents. It’s no coincidence. Screw alternative energy; pump more oil. The more guns the better. Taxes can’t be too low. Our healthcare system was fine before the ACA. There is no climate change.

Climate change is the interesting example. The fossil fuels industries are divided between those who deny climate change and those who say it’s happening, but man has nothing to do with it. So you see the same mixed explanations among conservatives. It’s sad. They sound so foolish and confused.

With guns, the gun industry fights hard to keep any gun regulations from passing because any regulation could adversely affect gun industry profits. So the gun industry, primarily through the NRA, make these bazaar arguments, like more guns make a country safer, totally ignoring that huge elephant in the room, which is that the US has, in addition to the most guns, the highest rate of gun violence among developed nations. Instead, they point to the high rate of gun violence in Chicago and the fact that Chicago has strict gun regulations. Do they actually think that Chicago’s gun violence would decrease if everyone in Chicago was handed a gun? And why is New York’s record ignored? Or Norway’s, for that matter?

I don’t know what’s going on with our conservatives, but it’s not good and it scares me to think where it all might take us. There’s just too much hate, selfishness, and a lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow Americans. Though they don’t think of it this way, they are actually repulsed by democracy because democracy requires that there be compromise and working with disparate groups. They can’t seem to accept the fact that America is not a homogeneous country. And it never will be. They need to come to grips with that.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive


The sorry fact is that America is overrun with race hatred. Each and every group promotes its own interest by attacking the other groups, some more subtly than others. Race baiting and race hate make up most of our political order. It has very, very little to do with “conservative”, “liberal”, “progressive” or “libertarian” name tags.

This seems highly unlikely to change. Obama has displayed racial sensitivity to the feelings of his own group, but little for the “whites” who would otherwise not be included with Hispanics in the “color” rainbow. But it is “insensitive” to attack Hispanics, so Zimmerman must be “white”. Trayvon himself classified him as a “creepy cracker”. Playing along with this charade does nothing at all to advance racial understanding.

Until, and unless, everyone stops throwing rocks at other groups and demanding something material from them, the intensity of conflict will continue to rise. I see very little reason for optimism. Alliances may form and shift, but the absolute division by “color” or “race” or “ethnicity” shows no sign of change. And to listen to the voices, such division is the goal of almost every discussion here. Hang on to your hat.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

There are too many non-profits, local, state, and federal agencies making a fine living off the specter of racism in America for us to ever let go of it.

Even if racism in fact disappeared tomorrow, the rumors and shadows of racism would live for hundreds more years. The press and others who make their living off the specter of race have tortured the facts in the Zimmerman – Martin tragedy to make it into some sign of generalized race relations. The facts support two people, who happened to be of different color, who self-escalated a stand-off. Had Zimmerman obeyed the advice of the 911 dispatcher, or had Martin simply kept walking there would be no misinformation to torture into a story.

Martin is dead because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time with a chip on his shoulder. Zimmerman is a killer because he’s an idiot with self-esteem issues, and with delusions of being a rescuer-super-hero. That’s the story…but that won’t sell the news, cause demonstrations, or create membership in the NAACP.

Posted by kbill | Report as abusive

“the racial nature of crimes like the stalking and slaughter of Trayvon Martin” He wasn’t stalked, and he wasn’t slaughtered. He was killed in self defense after he tried to murder George Zimmerman. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.

Posted by mstamper | Report as abusive

As I read through most of the comments here I was reminded of Mr. Wapshott’s phrase “ever-ingenious excuses” for diverting, mitigating, and denying the continuing racism toward non-whites in the U.S. Those who make these excuses are whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive

@kbill – the motivator that caused Martin to hit Zimmerman may well have been a ‘chip on his shoulder’ – or may not have been. None will ever know, except one who would not tell . If being on your family’s property is considered the wrong place, then being American does mean different things to different people

Posted by auger | Report as abusive

Response to PCScipio and Mr. Wapshott,

I am reminded by your comment(s) of the racist thought process people like you engender in yourself and then project onto others. Rather than understanding your own thinking it seems you need to see corrupt thinking in others.

What helps perpetuates racial thinking are people who excuse bad behavior by a person of one race (Jessie Jackson spitting in a white persons food) and then blame another race for having ill will towards that bad behavior. Racism can be viewed as an automatic train of thought by one person toward another due to their color or dialect etc. without considering that person as an individual. It would be nice if you who automatically project onto whites a particular way of thinking would look to view your own thinking critically. But then where would the fun and ego gratification be in that?

Posted by keebo | Report as abusive

Racism is just a simple expression of tribal values, a tendency we all have. A Psychology study showed that even black men are more distrustful of black men than they are of white men, so ingrained is our notion that black equals dangerous. Racism will always exist in some form, but being aware and trying to correct our behavior does work.

What is hilarious is how easy it is to spot the racists in the comments, exactly in line with what Mr. Wapshott is pointing out: Screaming that, “Joe Biden is a racist too, so there!” Is like a neon sign….almost as dumb and self-harming as when people innocently say, “if they can say ni&&er to each other then why can’t we say it?” Believe me, everyone else knows that you are in fact racist when you say these things.

Or to act like you cannot imagine why a black man may act like he has a chip on his shoulder. WE don’t have to approve of their stand-offishness, but we should understand it and not pretend it is due to a moral flaw, but rather name it for what it is: a reaction to being subjected to hostile behavior all day every day. These tensions are dying down, especially if you look back over the past century. This is due to the modern mixed society, and people are most racist in places…surprise! Where they always were racist, and also where there is little interaction among groups. The more mixing/mingling, the less we hate each other.

For the commenter who claims race relations are no better anywhere else in the world? You are just an example of pure ignorance. The example of Europe in the 20th C is childish stupidity. He references the world wars I presume? As a direct result of those wars such racial theories are BANNED by law, and much more importantly, are the fastest route to social anathema. As everywhere, there are racists in Europe, but not many that would dare say the things even in this article’s comments today. I live in Canada, and we don’t have the tolerance for such nonsense. If somebody brought it up in conversation, most people would voice their disgust on the spot. There is racism here, of course, but not surprisingly, the most racist groups are also “conservative” in nature. And none dare let on that they are racist until they are in “good company”. I know because I know some such racists personally.

People are so afraid of being labelled racist that they forget what it means. I have racist thoughts. If I hadn’t gone to university I may still think of myself as a skinhead of sorts. But now I see that such generalizations do not correspond to reality, even though stereotypes have to come from somewhere, usually they do not apply to a particular individual. I react to such thoughts by pointing out to myself how it appears that way due to logical fallacies, especially confirmation bias. I am not worried about being called a racist for saying I have such thoughts, but to pretend that they don’t exist is stupid, right or left. I just see those on the right doing a lot more of it than the left, and people on the left don’t use the racism of the right as their excuse. It may sound like splitting hairs, but there is a difference between having racist thoughts sometimes and defending them out loud. Especially when you decide to use pathetic logical fallacies to defend them with….

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

Here comes a half African-American/half White American man who graduates from Harvard, is more intelligent and well-spoken than 95% of us can ever hope to be (certainly myself included), who has lived life with pride, ethics and has pulled himself up from humble economic beginnings, who doesn’t cheat on his wife or “sext” pictures of his privates, or get brought up on ethics charges in Congress or sleep with hookers…and what does half the nation do? Go berserk.

So berserk they lose all common sense, and the only political party they can align themselves with is the one the black man does not belong to. Now they have plenty of company and they’re coming out of the closet.
The GOP is taking full advantage of it, too.

Now we have what I call Rabid Republicans. Old whites who are afraid of losing their superiority and power (be it money or just good old-fashioned self-aggrandizement), and low class white trash who are threatened by a man who strips away the only stereotype left that makes them feel better about themselves.

Can you imagine what will happen when we elect a woman for President? I hope I live to see that!

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

What will happen with a woman as president? Nothing. She will be exactly the same as every other president: blamed for being too liberal while actually being right-wing to center-right on policy issues. the process of becoming president, (especially the constant and escalating fundraising) ensure that Washington will never change because of a different president. Anybody “disappointed” with Obama should be disappointed in themselves. What else would you expect from a person who has so fully pledged themselves to the Status Quo before even attempting to gain power?

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive


“If I hadn’t gone to university I may still think of myself as a skinhead of sorts.”

If you take an idiot and educate them, the result is an educated idiot. An educated skinhead is still a skinhead deep down. Why am I not surprised?

Your posts reveal the “real” you. You dart away from honest debate again and again to spout your nonsense anew elsewhere hoping others will forget your myopia and lack of intellectual depth. We don’t.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@keebo: I don’t recall excusing anyone’s bad behavior and I recommend you not engage in anonymous internet dime-store psychology. I do note, though, that your post seems to bear out my point about “ever-ingenious excuses” because surely you don’t contend there is no racism against non-whites. Be advised that tit-for-tat is a rather lame excuse.

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive

You are in denial my friend. Your own views reveal a certain distaste for the wrong kind of people.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

You sound like a moron for assuming to know “the real me” from a couple of internet exchanges. You never even asked what I meant when I said skinhead. Very lazy. Did you know the first skinheads were Jamaicans working in England? They are not all racists.

I happened to know some who were and some who weren’t. To call me an educated skinhead is to jump for what you already hoped, I guess. No, I am as anti-authority as you could want: a bad candidate for a nazi ideology in the first place. I have been transformed from the person I was, though I was never all that violent or hateful in the first place. I just realized that whatever white people may have to be proud of is more of a coincidence of history that due to anything special. If the printing press had been invented in Africa, those people whould have led the changes to civilization that occurred in the last 400 years or so.

Oh, and intellectual honesty. Something people seem to abhor. I don’t deny having thoughts that I know to be untrue from time to time. In that I feel mighty superior to those who rail against immigrants, as though it has nothing to do with their ethnic heritage as well. If immigration was the problem, you wouldn’t spit venom when discussing immigraNTS. But you do, so it hardly takes a psychologist to figure out your true feelings.

Not sure what your comment about honest debate is about. I have stated my views pretty plainly, and in fact civilly, if you recall. I don’t tend to check these threads once the day is done, in case that is what you were referring to.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

congrats you still the racist here, but then again the opinion writer Wapschott is also so you know you are not alone in your failings.

/denial of facts , that would be you again.

Posted by VultureTX | Report as abusive


If you can’t express “what you mean” when writing, I have better things to do than go back and ask clarification. It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether you don’t know how to write with clear meaning or you are just sloppy in your use of words. The purpose is COMMUNICATION.

This “moron” has been responding to your verbage for more than “a couple of internet exchanges”…how about over a year? That’s a lot of drivel! Here’s your words from August 1st of last year:


I had a hunch that we had a lot in common, though I think the solutions we would offer are radically different, as you acknowledge. I should clarify: I think of myself as a left-anarchist, but I am deeply committed to non-violence as a method of getting what I want.”

Another current example of your silly observations: “If immigration was the problem, you wouldn’t spit venom when discussing immigraNTS. But you do, so it hardly takes a psychologist to figure out your true feelings.”

Anyone that FULLY reads what I write will find consistency in it. My wife’s maiden name is Hispanic, and so are my in-laws on her side. I hold NO prejudice for individuals of any minority who are born here in the U.S. to U.S. citizens, or that otherwise have come to be here legally.

I do admit to a prejudice against those of average or better minds who make a conscious choice to forever “take the path of least resistance”, or that staring out the window during their school years or leaning on shovels when they are being paid to work.

I’m also not always patient towards those who would have government confiscate dollars honestly earned to distribute to others capable but unwilling to support themselves and their family. All of these comprise “…the wrong kind of people…” for whom I DO exhibit “distaste”.

I vehemently resent all who come here or stay here illegally and their “anchor babies” whose primary motivation is to appropriate for themselves and/or their children resources to which they are not legally entitled. Such fence-jumping illegal alien squatters are contemptible in both mind and body.

When I look in the mirror I need not avert my eyes.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

When will supposedly intelligent people stop calling the president a white African-American. His father was pure African, no American slave heritage. Obama is a Western European American-African. I guess the conservatives who didn’t vote for Obama because he was Black didn’t vote for Clinton because he ???

Posted by jdmeth | Report as abusive

@jd You’re showing your colors by bringing up race, as the significant majority of the comments on here do not mention is color or his race. That’s a diminished argument typically espoused by those who have little to contribute.

Why I did not vote for Obama in 2008: zero track record other than running successful campaigns, avoidance of making critical votes in the Illinois legislature, no background or experience in the private sector (could not survive in a private law firm), espouses affirmative action and income redistribution, no lead position on any critical legislation in the Senate.

Why I did not vote for him in 2012: he did not learn much in his first four years; as a chief executive he is lazy as he sat back and let others do the heavy lifting behind his premier ACA legislation and continues to do so; his pandering to the labor union in GM/Chrysler bailout in direct conflict with our bankruptcy laws; his refusal to acknowledge there are differing opinions (I won!) in order to produce consensus; tax and spend, deficits, QE, all indicate he knows little or nothing about economics; weak foreign policy skills, his perception that America is only one of dozens of countries–so we are the equivalent of ? (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Russia, France–really?;) his divisive campaign tactics especially the zero-sum of wealth creation and penalizing success; 4.0 million fewer jobs than in 2007; Eric Holder and his other cabinet appointments, IRS, punish your enemies (now Texas); his abject failure to even speak to black unemployment in the inner cities; his immigration policy…the list goes on, notwithstanding the gross hypocrisy of living the life of those he repeatedly condemns.

The net of it is that his philosophies and actions run 180 degrees counter to my own. I never expected perfection, but when I put him up against Clinton or any other President in my lifetime who had to work with a dominant opposition in both houses, he gets a major fail. He did not get my vote in 2012 because he failed even my lowest expectations from 2008.

When one considers all of these factors, including my position that electing any Senator to the White House is a recipe for disaster (I believe that all candidates should have a minimum of one term as a governor), the color of his skin or his heritage (whatever that is) is not even on the radar. And if you don’t believe that, read Wapshott’s opinion on this website as it will serve to reinforce your need to assign all opposing perspectives into the race column.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

Will liberals tackle the racists in their left and middle? We see it every day. We see tons of black on white crime even crimes just like Trayvon/Zimmerman and the Media and liberals are silent. We see blacks killing whites for pure racism with no other reason. Black hoods shoot a white baby point blank in the face and where’s the liberal Media? Where is Obama? Al Sharpton? Even Jesse Jackson jr.? Most Americans know the majority of racism comes from the minority community today. Even black Americans who are educated are admitting this and admitting they are scared in black neighborhoods. Yet all we hear is only whites can be racist, but isn’t that racist?

Posted by Syanis | Report as abusive

You seem to bookmark our conversations, so I am sure you will find this also. If you are confused by this:

“I think of myself as a left-anarchist, but I am deeply committed to non-violence as a method of getting what I want.”

Then you perhaps deserve to have your ignorance brought up, I’m afraid. The above statement could only be confusing if you don’t know the first thing about anarchism AND non-violent activism. They are not mutually exclusive.

Though you didn’t say as much, hating the sin, not the sinner is a distinction without a difference when the crime is being alive in “your” country. The hate is palpable, and it damages yourself as well as those you hate.

Not sure why you are screaming about not communicating. You are the one who seized on a tidbit to generalize about me and my life. Kind of like the intellectual process of a racist mind, you saw that I mentioned that I “used to think of myself as a skinhead, of sorts” so you assumed to apply whatever stereotype is in your head and triumphantly wave it around like you know something. The point that you perhaps intentionally missed, was that I came to realize that such a narrow and over-simplified view of the world meant that I was missing much. During University I had time to think: not in class, but outside of class, was where I did the reading which showed me how to be a better person than I was.

The fact that I come from a “conservative” (really just reactionary) part of a “conservative” province just means I know what I am talking about when I say that in fact both most racists, and the most racist people I know are all conservative voters, while I know many confused “leftists” of various viewpoints, none of them are racist, in fact these are the people who bend over backward to include all. That said, I also tend to think that sometimes this bending over backward is taken too far, and some people would justify bad actions from a minority. I wouldn’t, because I think people should have their reputations judged by their actions, not their actions judged by their reputations. I am not here to be a booster for one “side” or another, just to point out that although it makes “conservatives” upset, their ranks include many racists, and apparently the lion’s share of the racists still alive today.

Pointing out racism isn’t racism. Whites are certainly not the only racists, no-one thinks that who has ever traveled far. In-groups and out-groups are a feature of human nature. We just need to be aware of what we are =missing when we exclude the talents of others for no good reason, I think.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

Conservatives tackling the racists in their midst would be like needles attacking the hay in their midst. There’s so many of them, it’s become, sadly, a part of the conservative agenda, but worded in different ways. I do not think all conservatives are racist, but they do support a racist agenda and sadly, the ones who aren’t racist don’t realize it.

Posted by CoryInTexas | Report as abusive

“Will conservatives tackle the racists in their midst?” Naturally this begs the question, “Can you point them out specifically without using your own racist model?” There are no more fervent nor ardent racists than those who profess ‘liberalism’ as their life and/or political stance.

Posted by ProfessorEd | Report as abusive

Whites are 10x more likely to be Assaulted by Blacks than by Whites, yet somehow, Whites are racists?

Especially Conservatives?

Wapshott’s liberal psycho-babble is just the opinion of a race hustler and nothing more.

Posted by Observent1 | Report as abusive

Liberals can’t compete in the Free Market, be it the Free Market of Commerce, or in Wapshott’s case, the Free Market of Ideas.

Unable to make a coherent case for their views, Wapshott & Ilk accuse those voicing any opposing views as simply being racists using “ever-ingenious excuses” as a cover for racism. While disingenuously shouting “racist” has been around for as long as I can remember, it’s apparently new to some of the posters. They have jubilantly embraced the easy and intellectually lazy debate technique of “Oh, you disagree with me? You must be a racist”. The thought process seems to be “Gee, that was easy, why didn’t I think of that before?”

Of course racism is something society should strive to eliminate. But when the Wapshott’s of the world bandy the charge about in a trivial manner, society at large becomes fatigued from the noise and eventually may stop listening, even in cases where racism is actually at play and should be confronted.

Liberals are lazy both intellectually and physically. Although it probably only took 20 minutes to write such a shoddy screed, I’m sure Wapshott will need a week of rest before he’s up to taking on his next piece of “journalism”.

P.S. The President misapprehends why people lock their car doors as he crosses the street, security guards follow him around, and women clutch their purses. It’s because of his white half. I’m just joking, but my point is these things happen to all men. As a white, I’ve experienced all those things plus being handcuffed and sat in a police car 3 times simply for being a “suspicious looking” person in someone else’s eyes.

Posted by SqueakyWheels | Report as abusive