Part 4—From the land of professors and tribes: Do 51 percent of Americans “now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey,” as the AP is now reporting?
Do that many Americans “now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not?”
In phrasing our inquiry in this way, we're ignoring the AP’s larger finding, in which 56 percent of Americans—apparently including many African-Americans—are now expressing “anti-black sentiments” based upon the things they said when asked to say how they feel about Chinese ideograms.
See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/31/12.
In fairness, it's possible that we can learn something from the “implicit racial attitudes test” the AP used to produce that second troubling statistic. But even if we can learn something from that test, are we really measuring something we would want to describe as “racism?”
Breaking! If we choose to engage in a long tribal war, the answer may well be yes! As a courtesy to the AP, we'll skip their exhaustive work on respondents' reactions to ideograms, work which measured "implicit racism." We'll restrict ourselves to the findings they reported from their test of “explicit racism.”
And so, we return to our basic question:
Do 51 percent of Americans “now express explicit anti-black attitudes?” Did that many people “explicitly” express “racist attitudes” when put to the AP’s test?
To answer that question, we need to look at the questions respondents were asked by the AP’s academic hirelings. This brings us back to the gang of professors who penned that astounding explanation of how this research project started—an explanation which was riddled with self-contradiction and factual error on the level of up-is-down.
What questions did these professors ask to determine that so many among them are explicitly racist? It’s a little bit hard to tell! As usual, the AP seems to say one thing in this report; the professors seem to say something somewhat different here. But in the AP’s discourse on method, the AP says that respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the following statements as part of the test of their explicit racism.
On the basis of responses to these eight statements, the AP believes it can discern that a respondent has expressed explicit anti-black attitudes. From now on, we’ll sometimes refer to these statements as “questions:"
Statements for agreement/disagreement:Can we say that a person “expresses explicit anti-black attitudes” on the basis of those questions? Can we say that a person “expresses prejudice toward blacks whether he recognize those feelings or not?”
1. Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.
2. It’s really a matter of some people just not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder, they could just be as well off as whites.
3. Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
4. Blacks are demanding too much from the rest of society.
5. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
6. Most blacks who receive money from welfare programs could get along without it if they tried.
7. Government officials usually pay less attention to a request or complaint from a black person than from a white person.
8. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they deserve.
For starters, consider that first question: “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.”
That question is so dumb that it takes a total political novice to pose it in good faith. Here’s why:
The term “special favors” is a highly-charged buzz word in American politics. If you searched the fifty states with bloodhounds, you couldn’t find a single conservative who would say that anyone should get “special favors” as part of a government program.
And by the way:
You'd have to search hard to find a Democratic politician who would say that African-Americans should receive “special favors.” How many major black leaders would make such a statement?
In mainstream political speech, very few progressives would say that so-called affirmative action programs dispense “special favors” to African-Americans. And yet, the AP says this question helps it spot people who are “expressing explicit anti-black attitudes”—even “explicit racism!”
In our view, you have to be politically illiterate to make such a claim, absent a great deal of explanation. But the AP provides no explanation for its many remarkable claims. The AP doesn’t even seem to recognize how serious its claims really are.
Question: What sort of response to that statement qualifies as “explicit racism?” When the professors advance their statements to respondents, respondents are given six ways to reply:
Ways a respondent gets to reply:Question: If a respondent “somewhat agrees” with a statement, doesn’t that mean, by definition, that he also “somewhat disagrees” with the statement? People, don’t torture yourselves with such issues! No, the AP doesn’t bother explaining how responses to its statements got scored. But presumably, someone who “strongly agrees” with that first statement has thereby “expressed an explicit anti-black attitude.” (What about if he "somewhat agrees?")
Neither agree nor disagree
In such ways, these fearless professors keep the R-bomb alive.
(Digression: How would we respond to that statement? We wouldn’t! We wouldn’t respond to a question in which a political trap is so plainly lodged. Obviously, we don’t think that African-Americans, or anyone else, should be getting “special favors” from government. Very few political players would ever make such a statement. But that phrase involves such an obvious trap that only a trusting soul would respond to the professors when they advance such a transparent ploy.)
Let’s continue down that list of pseudo-questions. For oursleves, we'd pass on the whole bunch. That said, what would be the racist/non-racist way to respond to this?
“Most blacks who receive money from welfare programs could get along without it if they tried.”
In our view, the intelligent way to respond to that would be to refuse to answer. That said, isn’t it likely that many people of whatever race who receive money “from welfare programs” could somehow manage to “get along without it if they tried?”
That said, this question is so vaguely worded that a secret now comes into view: These are less attempts at actual questions than poorly-disguised Rorshach tests. The professors have pre-decided which responses will be scored as “racist.”
The politically clever will avoid those responses. Other rubes will not.
That said, what is the racist/non-racist way to respond to this statement?
“Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.”
To state the obvious, tens of millions of African-Americans already have “worked their way out of the lower class.” Was it “difficult” for them to do so? If so, was that because of slavery? This statement is so clownishly vague, and so laden with traps, that the test-taker, even a politically careful test-taker, may not know just how to respond, even if for just a moment:
Is it “explicitly racist” to agree with that statement? If you agree with that statement, are you condescendingly suggesting that “blacks” are still mired in “the lower class?” Is that the way a careless respondent can display his explicit racism?
Almost surely, that isn’t how the professors see it. Presumably, their scoring system says it is “explicitly racist” to disagree with that statement—to say that it hasn’t been difficult for “blacks” to “work their way out of the lower class” because of conditions caused by generations of slavery.
(What if you think the deck is stacked in many ways against blacks, but you think it's dumb to blame it on slavery at this point in time? You may be an explicit racist if you succumb to such false consciousness!)
Presumably, most players can see how to answer that question. For ourselves, we wouldn’t arespond to so sweeping and vague and trap-laden a statement. It’s obvious that America’s brutal history has tilted the playing field strongly against African-Americans. It’s obvious that many effects of that brutal history remain today, although much of that brutal history has been mitigated over the past many years.
But no, we wouldn’t respond to the professors’ statement, which is really a Rorschach test in the form of a question. And by the way: What response to this statement displays the respondent’s “prejudice toward blacks?”
“Government officials usually pay less attention to a request or complaint from a black person than from a white person.”
For 99.99 percent of respondents, there is one correct answer: “I have no way of knowing!” For the respondent too unwise to defer, it’s fairly obvious what the “racist” answer is, even though the professors have no earthly idea what the actual answer is.
Consider this bit of American beauty: Almost surely, the professors don’t know what the real answer is. But they do know which answer is racist!
Can the AP discern “explicit racism” in the way respondents respond to those statements? Only a very weak-minded news org would be willing to make such a claim, without the slightest sign of skepticism or doubt.
The Associated Press is that news org!
In its latest report, the AP is toying with our society’s “original sin”—with the most destructive and brutal force in all of American history. They’re also tossing around the most serious charge in modern politics—the claim of “explicit racism.”
But as they do, they clown and play, advancing utterly ludicrous claims, provoking angry reactions to assertions they can’t hope to defend or explain.
As many liberals have come to see in the past ten years, the AP is often a very unimpressive news service. It often displays the low IQ—and the instinctive compliance to power—which plague the modern American press corps. It has often displayed the acquiescence to right-wing tropes which helped produce so much destruction over the past twenty years:
A few of the ways we all got here:The AP showed its low IQ when it acquiesced to those garbage-can tropes. The AP doesn’t get any brighter when it acquiesces to cant from those who pose on our side.
Saddam Hussein has a bomb and he wants to kill us, probably sometime next week.
Al Gore said he invented the Internet!
Bill Clinton somehow took part in some sort of scandal called Whitewater or something.
John Kerry was for it before he was against it. Plus, we caught him wind-surfing!
In this instance, the AP is acquiescing to a pseudo-liberal movement which some professors have been pushing since the 1970s. It was at that time that some professors began to push an exciting new concept: “Symbolic Racism.”
Presumably, some of these professors were even sincere—but tribal players frequently are. In a thumbnail, we would say that the movement toward “Symbolic Racism” (and its several offshoots) has mainly reflected, at its heart, a desire to keep calling southern whites “racist,” even after they began to abandon the traditional markers of that disease.
In this way, the professors substitute the dumbest possible human discussions for a more serious examination of evolving racial attitudes around our increasingly fragmented nation.
In recent years, a few of our dumber news orgs—in particular, Newsweek and the Associated Press—have bought into this tired old movement. As one result, we now have the AP telling us things like this:
ROSS AND AGIESTA (10/27/12): The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).Just a guess: If 55 percent of Democrats were shown to “hold anti-black feelings,” a lot of African-American respondents must be displaying those anti-black feelings too. The AP knew it shouldn't get into that the data don't seem to be available. But this is the road we all head down when a group of unimpressive professors break through into the mainstream press—when news orgs like the AP adopt this old tribal approach.
When the AP buys this line from these professors, we head down an unintelligent road. Tomorrow, we’ll review, in more detail, the remarkable things these professors said when they pretended to explain—in a professional journal!—how this project got started. Your inclination to trust these professors in technical areas may turn toward sensible scepticism when you see them making ridiculous claims aboiut things which are easily checked.
For today, though, we’ll leave you with this question: Should African-Americans “receive special favors?”
First of all, what an insulting question! But be careful, readers! If you answer that question in the wrong way, you’re displaying your “explicit racism!” We know that because the professors have said so—and the AP has bought what they sell.
Should African-Americans “receive special favors?” Do you think Al Sharpton would affirm that statement? We have a hard time picturing that.
Is Sharpton displaying his “anti-black feelings” in the things he says?
Tomorrow or later: Amtrak willing, we’ll be traveling tomorrow. (At present, it doesn’t look good.)
Tomorrow or Saturday, we’ll return to what the professors said with regard to a key question: How did Stanford and the AP start this project in the first place—the project in which the AP has now reported that more than half the country is “explicitly racist?” (Whatever the freak that means.)
We can all gain a healthy dose of skepticism when we see these professors discuss that simple historical matter! For ourselves, we end up with several questions:
How does Stanford keep its doors open when its professors publish transparent nonsense in professional journals? Also: How do professors stay employed after publishing nonsense like that?