Tag Archives: racism

Wright out

John McCain has instructed his campaign that Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years and general all-around nutburger Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not to be a campaign issue, contrary to the advice of his aides.

The Wall Street Journal is guessing this veto arises from fears of being labeled racist.  Allahpundit says there’s not much point to giving Obama a pass on Wright when McCain is already hitting him on his associations with William Ayers and ACORN; might as well go whole hog.

I’m not sure either analysis is right. 

My own take (and an UPDATE) below the break.

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When the only tool you have is a hammer…

One of my favorite sayings is from Abraham Maslow:  “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.” In other words, people tend to approach problems in a manner dictated by their own strong points or expertise.

As someone who was once an analyst for a political pollster, I know how powerful the temptation is to try to explain any given thing by taking a survey on it (a temptation shared, I’m sure, by journalists), and there is indeed a broad range of questions that can be answered with the right poll, to a considerable degree of accuracy.  However, with due respect to the polling staff at Stanford U. and AP/Yahoo! News who took this one, the question, “Are people voting the way they are out of racism?” is not one of them.

The strength and pervasiveness of any given person’s or group’s tendency toward racism is unquantifiable, and therefore resistant to statistical analysis.  Directly asking complete strangers about their own attitudes toward race, given how dicey a subject it is, is unreliable.  Doing it in an online poll, the samples of which are by definition self-selecting and thereby not random, makes the findings even more unreliable.  On top of all that, making it a sample of “adults,” the single loosest acceptable methodology in polling (as opposed to “registered voters” or “likely voters”) makes it more unreliable still.  Using a pattern of questioning no one else uses, robbing you of any objective mode of comparison, and you might as well not bother.

Not that any of this ever stopped the AP, the analysts for which looked at the results of this online survey, polling self-selected adults, using techniques that have undergone little if any peer review, about matters that defy efforts to pin them down statistically, and concluded that white racism may well cost Obama the election.

Click on the link above to read the AP’s release.  They have also uploaded a PDF file containing the complete topline of responses, for what little those are worth.  Read also the details of their wackadoo methodology.

Someone please inform the AP that no matter how vast or comprehensive a poll you may think you’re taking, not everything can be measured by a poll.

Swimming against the rapids

It’s times like this that make me wonder why I bother.

A columnist/commentator on the political beat at TIME Magazine, Karen Tumulty, is the latest to be so desperate to make this a racism-tinged campaign she’s liable to see it everywhere she looks.  This time, she’s indicted the McCain ad team for putting more than one black man in an anti-Obama spot.  On top of that, she slammed McCain’s camp for leaving a relevant white man out of the ad; had she simply paid a single quick visit to the official McCain site she’d’ve known that was because that same man was given his own ad entirely.

There will always be cranks who think this way, but when high-profile figures validate such conspiratorial paranoia, it ceases to matter whether or not it’s true.  If Obama loses the election, racism must have taken it from him.  If he wins, racism must have robbed him of a landslide.  If he wins by a landslide, racism must have robbed him of the first unanimous Electoral College victory since George Washington.  It looks like the cranks will be dragged into the mainstream for at least another four years.

See the TIME post, and the story of its cringeworthiness, below the break.

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So much for “code words”

OK, the good news is that Obama surrogates appear to have abandoned the “devious conspiracy” approach of racist code word warnings.  This means the English language may have a chance to breathe again soon, even when the subject turns to politics.

The bad news is that they’ve done so in favor of a more (ahem!) straightforward approach.  In the absence of any other explanation for Sen. Obama’s failure to dominate this race unquestioned, they’ve resorted to flat-out, blanket accusations of racism against huge swaths of the voting public (and not necessarily Republicans).

Enter the freakshow below the break.

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DNC member endorses McCain over “elitist”

From CNN’s Political Ticker blog:

Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter and member of the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, will endorse John McCain for president on Wednesday, her spokesman tells CNN…

“This is a hard decision for me personally because frankly I don’t like him,” she said of Obama in an interview with CNN’s Joe Johns. “I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.”

“Elitist!” Dang, I left out that recent entry in the list of forbidden racist code words, which apparently is joined by “out-of-touch,” and also “hard-working” (when used to describe voters with whom the aggrieved candidate is allegedly “out-of-touch”).

Lock up your dictionaries somewhere secure, people.  If language isn’t safe, what is?

What’s racist code for “racist code word?” UPDATE: She’s back! (Or is she?)

I’m a few days behind the news curve with this post, so forgive me.  I wasn’t going to post on this subject, but it’s been nagging at me, and it’s just too important to let go this far.  (And I did say at the beginning that I’d be posting on language, didn’t I?  Warts and all, I suppose.)

The McCain campaign released an advertisement recently in response to the Obama-Biden campaign’s reaction to the naming of Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket, focusing on nastiness funneled in her direction since the announcement that she was joining the ticket:

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo wasted no time posting down his nose at the ad, but his “rebuttal” had nothing to do with Palin.  Instead, what had drawn Kurtz’s sneering disdain was the ad’s use of the word disrespectful to describe the Obama campaign’s behavior toward the Alaska governor.  Kurtz seethed about the “contempt” inherent in the word “disrespectful.”  Now, he’s probably got a point, as far as it goes; I doubt the ad was meant to lionize Sen. Obama.  But then Kurtz takes it a step (or two, or ten, or twenty…) further:  characterizing the use of the word “disrespectful” as:

“The sort of old-fashioned contempt that whites often held blacks in (and obviously still do).”

According to David Kurtz of TPM, “disrespectful” is the latest addition to that infamous glossary known in the grievance trade as racist code words.

Gory details of the most recent incarnations and perversions of this phenomenon below the break.

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