It’s a Worldview Thing   Leave a comment

Way back in college, I was a political science minor, and one of the seminars I took was on “The Politics of Violence.” I chose that course because I had previously taken a foreign policy seminar with the professor and I admired his intelligence. I discovered that a man can be intelligent on one subject and a total fool on another.

Image result for symbol racismIf you’re unfamiliar with the 1973 book by psychologists David Sears and John McConahay, “The Politics of Violence: The New Urban Blacks and the Watts Riot, it defined a new type of racism. They called it “symbolic racism” and defined it according to three principles:

  • A newer, subtler form of racism is emerging, due to societal pressure against explicitly engaging in the behaviors and attitudes of the Jim Crow-era
  • This racism manifests itself in the sociopolitical sphere, with many using racially-targeted legislation to manifest their racism in a socially acceptable way
  • This new, subtle, “symbolic” racism has its origins in being socialized to accept certain conservative values.

Symbolic racism as a concept has merit. As a 21-year-old American Indian who was still straightening my hair, I’d encountered a few racists in my short life. Racism hadn’t disappeared from America but had become more subtle. For a while, I bought into the idea that there is such a thing as racially-motivated legislation masquerading as concern for “tradition”, that actually gets passed. I’ve revised that belief over the last 35 years and come to the conclusion that the theory of symbolic racism goes beyond this by defining conservatism as inherently racist.

Sears and McConahay argued that to support equality for African-Americans, but not to support government programs designed to ensure” this equality is a form of racism. So, if you’re for requiring photo ID to vote (the law in Alaska except in small villages where everybody knows everybody) or believe that affirmative action entry requirements in colleges and employment are unfair to whites and Asians, you’re a racist. Not, you might be … you are, according to subscribers of this theory.

Much of the subsequent study of racism since publication of The Politics of Violence has been defined by this element, though David Sears tried in a 2005 paper to stress that conservatism is a separate construct from political conservatism. Whatever his original  intentions, most people take his theory to conflate the two.

Using faulty logic, the book defines conservative/libertarian ideology to be racist by necessitating that anyone who believes in equality of opportunity must support legislation such as affirmative action and welfare, designed to assure equality of outcome. Conversely, if a person doesn’t support such policies, then they are manifesting symbolic racism. It no longer matters what you actually believe. Your “true motives” can be determined by your political actions.

In other words, fiscal, social and political conservatism, together or singularly, must be racially-motivated, despite the lack of empirical research supporting that theory. In a 1998 paper, Ramona Bobocel and colleagues empirically demonstrated there can be ideological opposition, entirely separate from racism or other forms of prejudice, to political policies supposedly designed to ensure “justice.” But that spoils the “racist” narrative, so the empirical research has been ignored by scientists and society.

Today, almost every conservative/libertarian political move is accused of being bigoted. Voter ID laws, welfare reform, Medicare reform, even tax cuts have all been furiously denounced as racist, but symbolic racism’s influence has also spread beyond the realm of racism itself.

If you opposed Secretary Clinton during her presidential campaigns, you were a sexist. It couldn’t be that you found her under-qualified or thought there was ample evidence that she was corrupt. No, the only reason you had to vote for someone other than her was that you are sexist … and that includes if you are a woman. You must be self-loathing if you voted against she-who-would-be-queen.

Those who support the First Amendment are guilty of “coded” hate speech. Clearly, you wouldn’t support widespread First Amendment protections if you understood how truly painful it is for some people to hear opinions they don’t agree with.

Exercising the right to refuse service on moral grounds is equated to Jim Crow-era lynchings and violence. If your closely-held beliefs require you to obey God even in the practice of your business, then you shouldn’t be in business.

The original theory of symbolic racism said traditional values were only being used for racist purposes. The modern manifestation of this theory equates the two. To believe in anything “traditional” is now a form of prejudice and we refuse to engage with any sort of “prejudice,” so we can’t even talk to one another anymore.

This is a fundamentally different worldview that many leftists accept without question, often far less questioned as free trade or free speech might be to those of us on the right. They might not necessarily be trying to put words in our mouths or be disingenuous. They truly believe symbolic racism is hidden in our “coded” language and they’re trying to catch us out so they don’t find themselves agreeing with us and finding themselves shamed by their fellow leftists for being “open and accepting” toward “racists”.

The way you address worldviews is by addressing presuppositions – the basic assumptions that drive this belief in symbolic racism. Only until you have examined the foundation can you rebuild the superstructure.

Yeah, that will take time and a willingness to recognize that they are sincere … if sincerely wrong.

Posted February 20, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in racism, Uncategorized

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