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December 19, 2002

DeLong on Coded Appeals to Bigotry

Brad DeLong has an on target take down of a piece by conservative Abigail Thernstrom who attacked the NAACP over its civil rights positions. Bizarrely (seemingly) she attacks them for supporting increased global AIDS funding. Or not so bizarrely, as DeLong argues, given a rightwing tradition of coding appeals to bigotry:

After it became no longer politic to appeal to certain groups of constituents by claiming that massive resistance form the South would defeat federal attempts to give equal rights to the "nigger race," southern politicians in the 1960s and 1970s found that they could appeal to the same constituents by decrying "unwarranted federal interference" that violated "states' rights." Similarly, now that it has become impolitic for a politician to say "I hate homos," some have found that they can appeal to the same constituents by talking about how they oppose expanding AIDS funding. Because in America AIDS is overwhemingly a disease of homosexuals (and drug users), you can use opposition to AIDS funding as a code to signal your approval of discrimination against homosexuals. (The fact that in Africa and worldwide AIDS is a heterosexual disease is irrelevant to this exercise in symbolic politics.)
The neoconservative rightwing is patting itself on the back for opposing segregation in 1948, even as they are making appeals to anti-gay bigotry in 2002.

Somehow, we progressives are unimpressed. Kudos to Bill Clinton for ripping the GOP on its hypocrisy.

Posted by Nathan at December 19, 2002 10:42 AM

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Except Clinton is a world-class hypocrite when it comes to race. For example, Sister Souljah, Rickey Ray Rector, welfare reform, Rwanda, etc. etc.

Posted by: Peter K. at December 19, 2002 01:46 PM

For grins, please note that Eugene Volohk recommended the op-ed.

Posted by: FDL at December 19, 2002 02:22 PM

As regards Siter Souljah, I recommend this discussion over on Atrios. unless you have specific evidence to the contrary, I think we need to retire that particular charge.

There is some good discussion there on the Rector execution as well.

Posted by: JW Mason at December 20, 2002 01:49 PM

Oh, guys, Thernstrom was only trying to point out that global AIDS funding is on the NAACP scorecard but is not obviously a "civil rights" issue. Her other example, if I recall correctly, was something about extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers.

I happen to think increased aid to those fighting AIDS in Africa is a good idea, but it is not a US civil rights issue, and it doesn't belong on a US "civil rights scorecard."

As for the "coding," if you can find a single instance of a Republican citing this vote in campaign literature, I might believe that's what's going on. But if you don't trumpet the fact that you've voted against something, the electorate doesn't ordinarily notice, unless of course your opponent chooses to broadcast it -- in which case we can safely assume your no vote is not a vote-winner, yes?

Has anyone anywhere, in either party, proudly boasted of voting against global AIDS funding? How are those troglodyte voters supposed to read the code if no one's even transmitting it?

The idea that this just trolling for the "No Money To Fags!" vote is just . . . sad. As if such folk regularly check the Senatorial roll call. As if anyone who did have a clue how his/her Senator votes wouldn't know that AIDS in Africa is almost entirely a heterosexual disease. As if . . .

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 21, 2002 01:51 AM

Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot recently called Clinton's comments on Trent Lott's racist statements "misleading" and "divisive rhetoric."

"This is another tired example of Bill Clinton misrepresenting the facts and misleading the American people to gain political advantage," Racicot said.

Hello...what political advantage!? Clinton is a private citizen now. To use the same language as Mr. Racicot, this is but another tired example of republicans attacking the individual rather than refuting the position. This was a primary tactic during the entire Clinton presidency. If you can't beat the politics and/or the ideas, beat down the person so he or she cannot be effective. Lott's resignation is just an example of republicans eating their own, after he spoke what was in his mind and heart. I'll believe republicans truly care about racism and equality, when they stop dividing people according to how much money they have to buy influence in Washington. Our society is becoming more and more divided according to socio- economic class and montetary (corporate) influence.

The recent elections were decided by fewer than 22,000 votes nationwide - no kind of mandate for this president and rest of the far right-wingers to shove their agenda down our collective throats.

In my opinion, this country is headed in the wrong direction as fast as it can get there. I used to vote for members of either major party, as long as they voted with integrity of purpose. I could respect the fact that they believed in their position, and were not just parroting the national party. These days, politicians seem to be marching in lockstep with whatever is the prevailing party agenda. This is not representative democracy, but I am convinced that the electorate will wake up to the reality of this tyranny before it is too late.

Posted by: Tim Moe at December 23, 2002 03:14 PM

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