Home / General / Is it a good idea to try to shame conservative/white/southern Americans about the history and persistence of endemic racism?

Is it a good idea to try to shame conservative/white/southern Americans about the history and persistence of endemic racism?

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stars and bars

Rick Hills argues that it isn’t:

It is completely predictable in our polarized nation that there are two competing narratives about the Charleston Church massacre. One narrative is that the actions of Dylann Roof, the young murderer, reflects and is inspired by a toxic and pervasive brew of wistfully nostalgic white supremacy and racist paranoia that swills around the internet and spills out into the open in Freudian slips and occasional acts of terror . . .

The second narrative, mostly from conservative sources, is that pervasive contemporary racism had nothing to do with the Charleston massacre. . . .The less implausible version of this narrative is that Dylann Roof was indeed a vicious racist but that his racism is an atavistic expression of a long-extinct ideology rather than a reflection of widespread contemporary attitudes and fears.

Hills finds the first narrative compelling, and the second so implausible that he assumes its mass media manifestations via Fox and the WSJ editorial page are products of intellectually dishonest ideological marketing campaigns, rather than sincerely-held views. But then he comes to a surprising conclusion:

Nonetheless, if I were to judge these competing narratives by their utility rather than their honesty, I confess that I prefer the Fox News spin. My reason, elaborated after the jump, is that Fox News’ approach has a prayer of creating a cross-racial rural coalition rooted in church and guns. By contrast, Stewart’s Naming & Shaming strategy seems not only futile but dangerous to me: Convince “mainstream” Southerners that their condemnation of racist violence is inconsistent with their embrace of Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate flag, and you might find that they dump the former rather than the latter. . .

[Jon] Stewart’s Naming & Shaming strategy invites the scolded listener to consider whether this general bundle of cultural loyalties (for instance, an affinity for Confederate flags) is causally associated a tendency towards racist violence. It seems to me intuitively obvious that there is such a link. Such a Naming and Shaming strategy, however, poses the risk that, rather than jettison their general cultural commitments to Southerness, the target audience will instead circle the wagons. Maybe it is just my paranoia, but it is not obvious to me which horn of the dilemma white South Carolinians would choose if they were convinced that there was an inconsistency between their general celebration of “Southern-ness” and their condemnation of a racist church-shooting.

The Fox News strategy, for all of its intellectual dishonesty, has the single virtue of reenforcing the aversion to racist violence by tying that aversion to the target audience’s other cultural commitments. “If you love the NRA and attend church regularly,” the Fox News interview implies, “then you should rise up to demonstrate against the anti-Christian Dylann Roof and arm Black churchgoers against others of his ilk.” Painting white supremacists as anti-Christian rather than pro-Confederate, in other words, seems like a smarter way to peel off Southern support for the frequenters of Stormfront.org and similar venues. Likewise, painting black churchgoers as potentially pro-gun seems to me to be a smarter way to ground a cross-racial rural coalition than insisting that white Southerners tear down their statues of Robert E. Lee, re-name their streets that now commemorate Confederate generals, and lower the Stars and Bars.

It’s an interesting argument. Leaving aside for the moment whether Hills’ pragmatic calculus happens to be correct in this particular case, it’s worth considering the extent to which an ongoing culture war over things like the symbolic politics of flying the Stars and Bars over the South Carolina capitol building, or demands that national politicians apologize for slavery, etc., actually serve progressive political interests. I’m not posing that question rhetorically, but merely flagging Hills’ argument as an example of the fact that it’s a real question.

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  • Jordan

    It may be a real question, but it seems like this overlooks two potentially important points:

    1) To put it mildly, its not clear that attempting to peel off frequenters of stormfront is a winning pragmatic strategy for progressive politics. To the extent that it is aimed at anyone, the naming and shaming game seems aimed at the, I dunno, queasy middle of white southern opinion who retain a fondness for “The South” but don’t buy into its racist underpinnings. By highlighting that racist reality and bringing it front and center, you may be able to peel of *those* white southerners. And I bet they are plausible members of some sort of progressive politics, while the stormfront-curious simply are not.

    2) If you want a black-white coalition, it probably helps to look at what various black southerners are saying. And many of them certainly seem to be firmly on board the naming and shaming wagon, as well as the “blame guns” one. In this way, focusing on “Stewart’s Naming and Shaming” campaign badly misses the point, in a familiar yet still obnoxious way (i.e.: focus on the white person saying these things I disagree with about race relations, rather than engage with the black people saying these things I disagree with about race relations).

    /eta various things.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      The idea that “progressive politics” itself is immune from institutional racism is a fallacy. Lots of people starting with Stokes and Carmichael have written about that fallacy.

      • Jordan

        ? Of course progressive politics isn’t immune from institutional racism. Is there anything white people have a hand in that is so immune?

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Why are you limiting the lack of immunity to racism to white people? There are plenty of cases of institutional racism outside the US where white people are not in control. There are even two cases in Africa, Mali and Niger, where explicitely black states have institutionalized discrimination against whites (Arabs, Berbers, Touregs). There isn’t anything biologically inherent as opposed to historically contingent that led to white supremacy developing in the US.

          http://www.cambridge.org/cl/academic/subjects/history/african-history/history-race-muslim-west-africa-16001960

          • Jordan

            Because we are talking about white Americans in the South. Its in the title, even.

            /fine, fine, I’ll stop feeding the Otto

            • J. Otto Pohl

              It is your insinuation that somehow the racism by whites is inherent rather than constructed that I am objecting to. That argument just reinforces the existence of racism by naturalizing it as opposed to recognizing that it has been historically constructed and is contingent rather than primordial.

              • Jordan

                Fine, I lied about not feeding otto.

                I don’t think I insinuated any such thing whatsoever. But to be clear: yes.

              • The Dark Avenger

                And J. Otto has just made clear, whining is acquired.

                • rhino

                  TJust want to comment that white people are not the only racists. The fact that white people have most of the power and can make their racism actually matter tends to obscure the fact that racism is just as common in blacks, or any other ‘racial’ group.

                  Racism is a *people* thing, sadly.

                • witlesschum

                  I tend to think the difference between white supremacy (a system that kills) and racism (more like bad manners and not necessarily a huge problem for a society) is important.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Racial prejudice is only one aspect of racism, rhino.

                  Certainly, minorities who lack institutional or political power can be racially prejudiced towards members of a majority group; no question.

                  But when you add power into the mix, it doesn’t just make the implications of racial prejudice worse. It adds in another element.

                • MAJeff

                  I tend to think the difference between white supremacy (a system that kills) and racism (more like bad manners and not necessarily a huge problem for a society) is important.

                  White supremacy is a system that does more than kill, though. It also includes things like bad manners. White supremacy is a specific kind of racism. It is manifest in both residential segregation and the clutching of handbags in the elevator. It’s not just Klansman, but your nice grandma who talks about the “nice colored boy” who cuts her lawn but is “different than those others.”

                • joe from Lowell

                  I get what you’re saying, witless chum, but I think the term “racism” is broader than what you mean, and “racial prejudice” or perhaps “bigotry” would be better in that spot.

              • Shakezula

                No indeed, supremacy/racism (vs bias) is created & maintained by whites to justify their treatment of “lesser races” and maintain their position in society.

                One key difference between racism & bigotry is minorities are forced to play along with the idea of white superiority if they want to survive.

          • wjts

            Why are you insinuating that racism outside the United States is limited to Africa? There are plenty of cases of institutional racism outside Africa where Africans are not in control.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              True.

              • wjts

                And just as irrelevant to your point about racism in Africa as your comment about racism in Africa was to Jordan’s point about racism and American politics.

                • eh

                  Which raises the question: axe-grinding, inherent or acquired?

        • rhino

          Just want to comment that white people are not the only racists. The fact that white people have most of the power and can make their racism actually matter tends to obscure the fact that racism is just as common in blacks, or any other ‘racial’ group.

          Racism is a *people* thing, sadly.

          • Jordan

            Prejudice is certainly a *people* thing, absolutely.

            I thought we were explicitly talking about white conservative southerners here, so I didn’t think my comment implied anything else. I suppose I was wrong.

            • Hogan

              Wrong in that you weren’t talking about what JOtto wants to talk about.

              We are often wrong here.

              • Malaclypse

                It seems clear that the entire internet is in the wrong on this point.

                • “When are you coming to bed?”
                  “I can’t. Everyone is wrong on the internet.”

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      right now (and my thinking keeps changing on this subject) I think your 2) is probably the best justification for the ‘shaming’ strategy- in general, it motivates the ‘base’. So far as changing minds: backing people into corners often just makes them double down, especially when they know damn well the people doing the backing aren’t nearly as pure as they let on

      • Jordan

        Well, my (2) wasn’t really intended to be a “motivating the base” argument, so sorry that I was unclear.

        Rather, I was pointing out that the broached strategy for a black-white alliance consists of pandering to (or, at least, indulging) the prejudices and privileges of white people while ignoring that plenty of black people are the ones advocating for the “naming and shaming” campaign. And that is simply no way to go about creating a black-white “alliance” worth having.

        As for your position, I mean, to some extent this requires extensive empirical evidence that I don’t have. Does it make some people double down? I’m sure it does. Does this really change their behavior or opinions? I dunno about the extent. Does this shaming strategy sometimes open the eyes of white people to what should be obvious, but isn’t (to them)? I’m sure it does. Does this happen to any appreciable extent? I dunno.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          no you were plenty clear. I apologize for using your comment as a launch pad for something else. That’s a very good point, that people on the ground think this is an effective approach. It reminds me of when Progressive Liberal comes around, though: honest, uncompromising, morally correct yes; but for the effort expended not particularly effective at promoting his/her agenda. Just something to think about

          • Jordan

            Oh ok, I see :).

            I mean, it *can* have a motivating the base component as well, obviously. There *is* a reason to call for gun laws, or for the removal of the flag from the capitol, when tragedies like these occur, although I don’t know whether this is “motivating” the base as opposed to “riding the wave of the base” or whatever.

            As for PL: I think some of this is that there are good ways and bad ways of “Naming and Shaming”. Going up to a random white person in the south and screaming at them over and over again about how they are wrong and evil and racist is, indeed, probably not productive, and this is more or less the PL approach.

            But that isn’t what Stewart was doing, and it isn’t what black leaders and AME congregants and neighborhood members were doing, at all. They were, to be corny, speaking truth to power and describing the situation as it is. They were expressing their genuine grief and anger and directing it at targets that were in fact linked to the root causes of their grief and anger. And I think that is markedly different than the type of thing that PL does.

      • KmCO

        Agreed. Trying to shame conservatives for their racist beliefs is understandable, and from a progressive movement standpoint, a well-established strategy. The thing is, though, that I’m not sure that it’s a successful one, at least not at it has been practiced to date, As Jim notes, people who are highly wedded to their beliefs are not likely to change them in the face of contradicting information, perhaps especially when that contradicting information is perceived as judgmental and targeted against the person. People become more defensive, not more open to change. So this is a really difficult problem that may be insurmountable at this point.

        ETA: for people who are less wedded to their racist ideology, “shaming” (I hate that word, but it’s the one in use in this discussion) can be and has been quite effective as a tactic for encouraging change. Thanks to Fox and other right-wing echo chambers, the number of people who are entrenched in their views at this point seems to be growing, however.

        • Jordan

          I guess I think the targets aren’t people who are highly wedded to their beliefs. As you say, they aren’t likely to change them either way, so no strategy is effective. The targets at people in the squishy middle.

          So, I do think there are people who can be shamed. At the risk of being super self-indulgent (even ironically so, you’ll see), here is one story (not about race, but still).

          So, when I was young and stupid, I read a variety of feminist periodicals. They seemed good, and I liked them, but I always thought they could use a backpage column or something where they could really benefit from an alternate opinion. Like, a man’s opinion. A feminist man’s opinion, but still, a man’s opinion. Indeed, a man’s opinion like my own! I even drafted a few sample columns (thankfully, I never sent any of them off).

          Then I get exposed to the naming and shaming enterprise that is mocking mansplaining. And I eventually recognized that this is exactly what I wanted to do for some reason, and that it was stupid for so many reasons. So now, at least some of the time, I’m aware that women don’t always, or maybe ever, really need to hear my opinion on feminist issues.

          In other words: naming and shaming worked on me. So I assume it can sometimes work on others.

          • tsam

            I see the naming and shaming as part of bringing up a generation that isn’t so virulently racist. People out of their 20s are generally finished forming their views, and tend to slide further down the left/right path as they age. Older racists are hopeless. But the naming and shaming, I would think, has some effect on the youth. I think that’s why this millenial generation’s approval of same sex marriage is way higher than every other age group. Aim at the youth.

            • Jordan

              Yeah. And, in a possibly related note, white millenials actually have really terrible views on race. Like, something like equal numbers of them (us? I’m 32, I dunno) view “racism against white people” as an equal or larger problem as “racism against black people”.

    • Richard Gadsden

      I watched Larry Wilmore right after Jon Stewart. It seemed that Wilmore made the points far more articulately and convincingly.

      • Jordan

        I agree. I mean, you have two comedy central people saying similar things! One says them better than the other! That guy is also black!

        So, of course, Hills names it “Stewart’s Naming and Shaming strategy”.

        Like I said, its an old and bad trick: if black and white people are saying things you, a white person, disagree with about race, *always* choose the white person to enter into dialogue with.

  • Malaclypse

    Noble Lies are never noble. Strauss is always going to be an ideology for aristocrats, and if there is anything that the Left needs to avoid, it is an aristocracy.

    • R. Johnston

      This. There is always virtue in plain honest truth and it is always fighting the losing fight in the long run to deliberately build disrespect for truth. Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance.

    • gmack

      Right. I appreciate HIlls’s attention to rhetoric. However, his proposed rhetoric deeply problematic. There is some chance that his proposed move might motivate more white people to condemn racist violence, but it does so (once again) by marginalizing or ignoring African Americans’ positions, narratives, and stated experiences.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Right. I appreciate HIlls’s attention to rhetoric. However, his proposed rhetoric deeply problematic.

        What we need here, clearly, is a professional rhetoric mechanic!

        (By the way, I appreciate your formation of the possessive of “Hills”.)

    • CD

      Also seems to me like an old lie, more or less that lie that underwrote the “New South” of the mid 20th century. It’s a way of moving away from lynching and state-imposed segregation to a more genteel and structural racism.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    His argument seems a bit too clever.

    • mbxxxxxx

      Yeah, Hills is projecting his response to the narrative onto southern racists who have proven themselves impenetrable for literally centuries to any appeal. Seems unlikely that this is going to be the magic bullet. Also, eliding obvious racism seems like an odd way to try to eliminate it. Fox’s response seems more like the evidence of an active atmosphere of racism at Fox. Not sure how a racist response will help eliminate racism.

      That said, naming and shaming is, imo, also unlikely to reform racist neo-confederates. Frankly, I don’t think anything will engender reform among these types. Naming and shaming may, however, discourage those “on the bubble” who may be attracted to the mentality but not true believers. That is a group that I bet comprises a large share of the Fox audience. Fox owes them a clear-eyed assessment of the motivations of Dylann Roof.

      • alex284

        I wonder how on-the-nose your use of the word “projecting” is. Maybe Hills isn’t coming at this issue from the same angle as the rest of are? That he’s so concerned with white supremacists’ feelings as opposed to African Americans’ feelings (who might not appreciate radio silence from supposedly anti-racist white liberals) is telling.

        • postmodulator

          As was demonstrated in the thread yesterday, there are African-Americans who aren’t impressed with anti-racist white liberals’ condemnations of white supremacists either.

          There was a time when I would’ve said, gee, yes. Stormwatch or whoever is such an easy target and everyone’s on the same side and there’s a lot better aims for the progressive movement. But the last flame war I got in on Facebook was with an otherwise-intelligent seeming guy who was certain I was an elitist because I didn’t recognize the moral equivalence of the Klan and the SPLC. The fact is there’s a lot more goddam white supremacists out there than anyone’s acknowledging — there’s a lot of racists out there even by the incredibly low bar Fox News sets.

          • alex284

            I clicked a link on Hills’s blog to one of his older blog posts were he argues that everyone is racist. And not in the “racism runs deep in our culture so it’ll take a lot of work to get rid of it” way, but in the “so why can’t we just shut up about it already” way.

            So, yeah, the assumption that we’re all on the same page here so there’s no reason to condemn violent racism is unsubstantiated.

      • GoDeep

        Lots of liberals generally oppose ‘naming & shaming’ b/cs reasons. I’m not that kind of liberal. Naming & shaming plays an important part in shaping social norms.

        Its not the KKK you’re trying to win over, its the middle who feel uneasy about racism but don’t want to make waves lest they offend granddad at Thxgiving. You have to get them out of their comfortable place. Just like racists seek to make everyplace a hostile place for minorities, progressives have to make everyplace a hostile place for racists.

        Stripped down this is nothing but peer pressure. As any 16yo will tell you, its damn effective.

        • Davis X. Machina

          “Which Side Are You On?” is a labor anthem for a reason.

        • cpinva

          “Lots of liberals generally oppose ‘naming & shaming’ b/cs reasons. I’m not that kind of liberal. Naming & shaming plays an important part in shaping social norms.”

          this. as the child of NYC parents, but born & raised mostly in the south (dad was a marine, ya got born wherever he happened to be stationed), I’ve had to put up with this “Romantic Lost Cause” bullshit for pretty much all of my life. I attended catholic schools in that same south, with Nuns who tended towards the “Naming & Shaming” approach to sin and sinners. it was pretty damn effective, and I’ve never quite fully recovered from it.

          as an adult, I’ve come to the realization that racism is inherent in the human brain, starting out as a tribal survival mechanism: the “other” might kill you and your tribe, best to be always wary of them. it then “progressed” to “the other might kill you/the tribe, best to subjugate them, and treat them as chattel”, a convenient excuse for slavery. further, we were also “helping” the African”, by civilizing them, and bringing to them the word of (our) god.

          after the civil war eliminated legal slavery, we were left with the long-term legacy: hard-core racism. pretty much accepted as the norm, we have evolved to the point where it isn’t acceptable in polite society, but it still exists. you don’t remove unacceptable social attributes by ignoring them, you do as the nuns did, “Name them & Shame them”.

          if, in the process of “Naming & Shaming”, you hurt someone’s delicate feelings, tough shit. they know exactly how to keep their fee fee’s from being continuously bruised: stop the type of retrograde behavior that results in them being publicly named and shamed, or move to a place where that type of behavior is still acceptable. either response is fine by me.

          failure to “Name & Shame” gives those displaying socially unacceptable behavior patterns the false sense that what they’re doing is ok, when it most definitely isn’t. they then express legitimate confusion when suddenly confronted by someone reacting badly to their behavior. don’t give them a legitimate reason to be confused.

          as you correctly noted, the KKK (and their ilk) aren’t the target audience, it’s those on the edge, who just need a firm guiding hand to set them on the right path. by not saying anything, for fear of hurting the KKK’s feelings, you fail those on the edge by withholding that firm guidance, and you sure as hell have zero affect on the KKK.

      • Jordan

        Fox’s response seems more like the evidence of an active atmosphere of racism at Fox.

        I think it might have been just a knee-jerk reaction to *always* deny, or at least avoid confirming, racism-on-the-part-of-white-people-against-black-people that fox, and most conservative politicians in general, seem to take as a default position.

        I mean, that *is* an active atmosphere of racism, of course. But I think its just because its so engrained that its second nature to them.

        • Hogan

          And the “war on Christians” narrative was already queued up on video for rapid deployment.

    • GoDeep

      What’s needed in this ‘war’ of ideas is to take the moral high ground & you don’t win that by ceding ground in some hapless attempt to outflank the KKK. You win the moral high ground by doing what King did: direct frontal assault, telling truth to power. The LGBT rights movement is another example of how to do this.

      If this was the 1860s and your allies generally thought blacks were genetically inferior & only supported abolition b/cs slavery was ‘too’ inhumane, then, yeah, you might do what Lincoln did & try the outflanking strategy. But it ain’t 1860.

  • xq

    If I were king of progressives, I would at least consider de-emphasizing these culture war issues in an attempt to court racist and/or gun-clinging whites who might be sympathetic to a progressive economic message. But progressives don’t actually have any message discipline; there’s no committee which decides on a movement-wide strategy and has the ability to police the various members of the coalition. So the strategic implications of these questions seem very limited.

    • GoDeep

      Is there any evidence that those types will ever join the progressive side as long as the progressive side has blacks? That’s been tried before & failed. FDR couldn’t even get Dixiecrats to take steps to ban lynching. The whole ‘Southern Strategy’ Richard Nixon & Lee Atwater designed is predicated on the empirical observation that working class whites will ignore their economic best interests to wage war against minorities, gays, women, etc.

      • xq

        Success of minimum wage referendums in red states suggests that if the policies are sufficiently delinked from the culture war you can sometimes make progressive wins.

        • Jordan

          … which referendums, again?

          Or are you talking about minimum wage bills in blue/purple cities in red states?

          • postmodulator

            Those are certainly the most prominent, and probably the most important, but there have in fact been statewide minimum wage hikes in noted progressive bastions Alaska, Arizona, and Missouri.

            • Jordan

              Sure, but two of those were pretty small measures, and only one of them can be associated with the south/confederacy.

              In any case, though, what evidence is there that “de-emphasizing cultural issues” helped with any of those measures?

              • postmodulator

                I’m reluctant to speak for xq, but I think his argument was not quite to that point: it was that minimum wage hikes have no inherent culture-war value, not that the proponents of those hikes carefully de-emphasized cultural issues.

                But on that point I myself would have to be agnostic. I don’t live in any of those places and haven’t looked at polling data or anything.

                • Jordan

                  I dunno, they said this:

                  If I were king of progressives, I would at least consider de-emphasizing these culture war issues in an attempt to court racist and/or gun-clinging whites who might be sympathetic to a progressive economic message.

                  And then followed that up with the minimum wage argument. If they *aren’t* arguing for a de-emphasize cultural issues to promote economic issues like the minimum wage, then I am having a hard time following them.

                • Pat

                  I think that point of view dishonors the victims of this particular shooting. I don’t want to subvert their need for justice into other progressive aims.

                  I want justice for them, by bringing out the organizations this kid belonged to and stamping them as “terrorist.”

                  I want justice for them, by incarcerating the person who got him his gun when he was legally unable to do so.

                  And I want justice for them, for him to be held accountable for his actions.

              • xq

                Yes, it’s a small example, but again, that’s my whole point. The conclusion to my original post was “the strategic implications of these questions seem very limited.”

                In any case, though, what evidence is there that “de-emphasizing cultural issues” helped with any of those measures?

                I’m not claiming any active de-emphasizing; it’s just harder for the right to turn minimum wage into a culture issue than e.g. food stamps. The evidence is that minimum wage is supported even by many Republican voters who are party-line on most issue.

                • Jordan

                  I’m not claiming any active de-emphasizing; it’s just harder for the right to turn minimum wage into a culture issue than e.g. food stamps. The evidence is that minimum wage is supported even by many Republican voters who are party-line on most issue.

                  I mean, you are probably right. Except for the part about any active de-emphasizing on your part. Thats exactly what you called for in your original post. Here, lets see it again:

                  If I were king of progressives, I would at least consider de-emphasizing these culture war issues in an attempt to court racist and/or gun-clinging whites who might be sympathetic to a progressive economic message.

                  Is your defense that you were only *considering* it? I mean, maybe, but that doesn’t really wash with the rest of your original comment, which was about message discipline or something.

                  I guess at this point I’m confused by what you are actually arguing for.

                • xq

                  Hills is arguing that we should avoid attacking Southern white “cultural commitments” in order to make gains in other areas with this group. My argument is that the theoretical potential for these gains exist–there are versions of the Southern white identity which is more compatible with some progressive goals even while maintaining their problematic cultural commitments–but that realizing these gains is extremely difficult because we have no real ability to control the grounds of the culture war.

                • Jordan

                  Ok, I see. I have a problem above and beyond the difficulty – I don’t think the specific concessions are worth the expected gains – but this is still a better version of a Hills-type argument than Hills provided.

      • Steve

        Outside of the South working class white men vote predominantly Democratic. Inside the south is is more like 40% Democratic/60% Republican.

        So it is not like the Southern Strategy eliminated economic issues for the working class or wholly won over southern working class whites…it skims just enough to make the difference.

        That is not to say that I think we should stop fighting for justice for women, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, LGBT folks, etc. to try to win these people over. They are less and less important to building a winning coalition as demographics shift.

        • Linnaeus

          Outside of the South working class white men vote predominantly Democratic. Inside the south is is more like 40% Democratic/60% Republican.

          One big reason for that is that those men are more likely to belong to a certain kind of organization that begins with a “u”.

        • witlesschum

          Yeah. The Republican coalition is much more accurately described as people with some college or a college degree than as working class. It’s a weird meme among liberals to call it that.

        • Jackov

          Poor voters in Republican, “battleground” and Democratic states all tend to be liberal on economic issues (ranging from moderate to conservative on social issues).
          Andrew Gelman has shown the major political divide is between the rich voters
          and posits the culture war is actually a battle between the rich on each side.

      • hickes01

        “The whole ‘Southern Strategy’… is predicated on the empirical observation that working class whites will ignore their economic best interests to wage war against minorities, gays, women, etc.”

        Not limited to the South. The Minnesota GOP has successfully used the City Slickers vs. Real ‘Merrican’s strategy the past two elections. You can guess the skin tone and point of origin of the Real ‘Merricans.

    • Jordan

      Why would you do that? That gets us racism and guns for what I’d have to guess is a marginal/near-zero chance (in our currently aligned two party system) of progressive economic policies.

      I think I’m glad you are not king of progressives.

      • xq

        Well, obviously you shouldn’t do it if you believe there’s marginal/near-zero chance of it working.

        • Jordan

          Why would you think there is a good chance of it working? You think that de-emphasizing cultural issues would actually attract more racist/gun-nut voters to the democrat party without diluting its already shaky progressive economic message and without losing wealthier voters (and their dollars) who side with the dems because of, precisely, those cultural issues? What is your evidence for thinking that?

          And, even if you could make that case convincingly, why do you think its worth it to sell out on “cultural” issues?

          • xq

            Why would you think there is a good chance of it working?

            I don’t. That was the point of my post. Hills is talking about “policies” and “strategy” and “calculation” but that’s just not the way the culture war has ever worked. As you imply, and contra Hills, it is likely impossible to make gains among racist Southern whites without weakening your existing coalition. You can’t simultaneously dilute your cultural message when addressing racists and then turn around and tell black people you’re just pretending.

            And, even if you could make that case convincingly, why do you think its worth it to sell out on “cultural” issues?

            Because I think wealth inequality is the biggest problem. Cultural issues matter, but not as much as being secure in healthcare, housing, food, and jobs.

            • Jordan

              Ok, for your first part, I agree.

              For your second part, not so much. If you are including racism in “cultural issues” then “cultural issues” are absolutely fundamental to being secure in healthcare, housing, food, and jobs.

              I mean, I guess, maybe not if you are a white person.

              • xq

                Racism is both a cultural and economic issue. I’m thinking of the issues Campos refers to in the opening post:

                symbolic politics of flying the Stars and Bars over the South Carolina capitol building, or demands that national politicians apologize for slavery, etc.

                • Jordan

                  Ok, fair enough.

  • Sly

    “Nothing good in this country is possible without protecting institutionalized white supremacy” is not an original argument, and the passage of 180 years has not made it any more compelling.

  • Morse Code for J

    The real question is how we can reconcile whites and blacks in a nation where Bruce Jenner can expect to be called Caitlyn. How can we save our people from being gunned down in mass shootings when there is so much partisan focus on guns instead of the obvious culprit, sex reassignment surgery?

    • J. Otto Pohl

      Well actually just as Jenner is a transexual we recently had the case of Rachel Dolezal being transracial. I don’t really think such a thing can exist since the definition of race is an immutable category inherited at birth as a result of ancestry/lineage/blood. If you can assimilate into a category it isn’t racial by definition. It might be ethnic, but not racial.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/us/rachel-dolezal-nbc-today-show.html?_r=0

      • rhino

        This is why the whole race thing is so weird. Why the hell should colour matter so much to people? I can see why friction between radically different cultures, or classes, or sexual orientations can be a thing. I’ve never gotten why colour matters. It just seems bizarre.

        Two poor people living in philadelphia, logically should have common cause even if one is white and one is black, when faced with a 1% billionaire of any colour. Yet they don’t.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Color actually only matters in certain historical contexts. It matters in the US because it was a signifier for which groups of people had power and rights and which did not. But, it works differently elsewhere. My Kyrgyz family ranges in color from dark brown to white not including my biological daughter. It has no significance because race (natsional’nost as it is called in Russian) is constructed along lines of descent from cultural groups that are signified by ancestral language not skin color here.

        • TrexPushups

          Well it was done by design in this country. Specific rich people got together and created the divide with specific actions to keep the working class divided.

          It was deliberate.

      • Jordan

        Wait, so you are going to rag on me because you imagined I thought racism was immutable as opposed to socially constructed, but *you* think race is immutable and not socially constructed?

        What a world!

        • J. Otto Pohl

          No, I think the categories are constructed as being defined as immutable. That is racial groups are formed as categories from which people assigned to them can not escape. What is a black person in the US is constructed. But, a person categorized as black in the US can not generally escape from being classed as part of that particular racial group. Eric Weitz gives a good definition of race.

          Race is the “hardest” and most exclusive form of identity. Race is present when a defined population group is seen to have particular characteristics that are indelible, immutable, and trangenerational. Race is fate; there is no escape from the characteristics that are said to be carried by every single member of the group bar none. While racial distinctions have most often been based on phenotype, race is not essentially about skin color but about the assignment of indelible traits to particular groups. Hence, ethnic groups, nationalities, and even social classes can be “racialized” in historically contingent moments and places.

          Eric Weitz, “Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet Ethnic and National Purges,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), p. 7.

          • Jordan

            *eyeroll*

            Sorry, that was a non-obvious joke post, I guess.

            I made a comment that required a mighty leap on your part to infer that I thought racism was somehow immutable and inherent to white people for some reason.

            You made a comment that would require a much smaller leap for someone to infer that you thought race was immutable.

            I had a pretty good idea what you meant, but still thought that contrast was amusing.

            And, now for real, I’m not feeding the otto anymore.

          • GoDeep

            The term “race” itself is poorly defined. We adhere to a ‘1 Drop’ rule, other countries have vastly diff rules. S. Africa had multiple classifications. As far as transgenerational goes, it wasn’t transgenerational for Pres. Eisenhower was it?

            • J. Otto Pohl

              I think the definition above is quite good and it allows for different categorizations depending upon local contexts. Technically under US definitions Eisenhower was passing. That happens a lot regardless of how you define the borders of the categories. Just because lots of mixed race people in South Africa passed as white did not mean that the legal category of “coloured” was not inherited, immutable, and transgenerational. It meant that the authorities could not always enforce the borders between the categories.

              • GoDeep

                The ease with which its evaded is why its silly to call race immutable.

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  “Race” in itself doesn’t really exist. What exists are categories based upon perceptions and beliefs. Passing doesn’t make the categories mutable anymore than forged identity documents mean that people can change their citizenship at will. The person passing is not actually changing their race. Their ancestry/lineage/blood is the same. What they are doing is hiding their “real race.” That is why people call it passing and not changing.

                • GoDeep

                  “Race” in itself doesn’t really exist. What exists are categories based upon perceptions and beliefs.

                  You’ve just made my point. Something that “doesn’t really exist” can’t be said to be immutable, esp when its based upon “perceptions & beliefs”. Perceptions & beliefs are defined & re-defined over & over again as the culture changes. Hence why its culturally constructed.

              • Amanda in the South Bay

                “Technically under US definitions Eisenhower was passing.”
                WTF?

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  If having one black ancestor makes you black in the US then Eisenhower was technically black. But, obviously it was unacknowledged. Hence the passing for white. Other societies have different criteria for membership in racial groups.

      • GoDeep

        99% of ‘race’ is culturally constructed. As such it is highly ‘mutable’.

        The opposition from liberals & blacks 2 Dolezal is crazy. Race is much more a cultural construct than is gender. Of the 2 gender is much more immutable, but many (most judging by liberal bloggers) liberals think Dolezal is nothing but a modern day Al Jolson. Craziness. The pieces by Charles Blow & Jonathan Capehart this past week were esp infuriating b/cs they are 2 gay men who’ve been very supportive of transgender transitioning.

        If Bruce can transition to Caitlyn, then Rachel can transition to Ray-Ray.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          The categories are constructed. But, as I note above what makes a category racial as opposed to ethnic is that one is born into it and cannot assimilate out of it. Neither can the person’s children and other descendents. So yes Noah Trevor is “coloured” in South Africa and black in the US. But, he has no choice about these classifications. They are imposed upon him and he can not become white in either the US or South Africa no matter how much he does Stuff White People Like. That is what I mean by immutable.

        • alex284

          Um, that’s not what transsexuality is….

          And that’s not what mutability is, either. Something can be socially constructed and still immutable.

          Also, “supportive of transgender transitioning” reads to me like folks who interpret favoring same-sex marriage as “promoting sodomy!!1!!!”

          Also, Blow is bi, not gay.

          Also too, why are capehart’s and blow’s sexuality so “infuriating”? If they were straight men who favored trans rights, would that make you less angry?

          • GoDeep

            Capehart’s & Blow’s sexuality is not infuriating. Their stance against transracial transitioning is infuriating b/cs if anyone should support the ability for individuals to construct their own identity its them. I normally agree w/ the brotha but let’s take a look at what Blow wrote abt Dolezal & exchange “Caitlyn Jenner” for “Rachel Dolezal”:

            ‘Caitlyn Jenner’, a man with no known female genitalia, is apparently, through an elaborate scheme of hormone treatment and woman’s attire, now claiming to be a woman.

            This has sparked a national conversation about how gender is constructed and enforced, to what extent it is cultural and experiential, and whether it is mutable and adoptable.

            But this isn’t simply that. This is about privilege, deceitful performance and a tortured attempt to avoid truth and confession by co-opting the language of feminist struggle, infusing labyrinthine logic with the authority of the academy, and coat-tailing very real struggles of women and minorities to defend one’s deception.

            This is a spectacular exercise in hubris, narcissism and deflection.

            And we have been distracted from real conversation about real things in order to try to contextualize a false life based on a false premise. For a moment, a fake female seemed to matter more than actual women.

            That sounds like hateful conservative clap trap. Had Blow wrote such bs abt Jenner he’d be rightfully pilloried & its no less offensive that he said this abt Dolezal instead.

            • alex284

              And if you took an article about a dog and put a person’s name in place of the dog’s, well, that’d come across as pretty mean too!

              if anyone should support the ability for individuals to construct their own identity its them

              Why, because they’re gay and bi? I’m gay, but I don’t remember when anyone let me construct my own identity. People who came before me decided that sexual orientation is a line we’re going to divide people along, and there’s one that feels like mine that had a certain name, and really I had no choice in the matter (beyond hiding the truth).

              Would trans-sexual-orientation identity be possible? I identify as straight, so therefore I am? Well, maybe a few comparative literature profs from the 1990’s would agree, but to me that would be lying, not constructing a new identity.

              Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. She did not construct her identity as a woman, she simply is a woman.

              I guess both Jenner and I could be lying, and there’s no way for anyone to prove that so most people will take us at our words. But since race is about ancestry, that makes it something that others can see and Dolezal’s ancestry was made obvious when her parents talked to the media.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        Jesus motherfucking Christ Otto stop mentioning Jenner with Dolezal in the same breath. Transracial in this context is transphobic BS, promoted by transphobic bigots online who want to mock trans people.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          I mentioned it once. But, I am not sure what the problem is here. I am not mocking Jenner. I do think, however, that Weitz’s definition of race drawing mostly on Fredrickson is a good one. If you can assimilate from one category to another then the caterories are not racial, but rather ethnic. No matter how many years I live in Ghana I am not going to become black even though I eat African food, wear African clothes, and attend an African church.

        • GoDeep

          There are conservative ppl like that. A lot of them. They are taking advantage of the logical fallacy liberals are making here. It is illiberal to say that Dolezal can’t transition. Jenner’s transition is simply our ‘The emperor is wearing no clothes’ movement that highlights the logical fallacy. How many poor whites born in the city (like Eminem) get called ‘wigga’?

          I support BOTH Jenner’s & Dolezal’s transitioning.

          • postmodulator

            Truthfully, have there been that many liberals saying that Dolezal can’t identify as black if she so chooses? I know there’s been some, but the bulk of the liberal commentary I’ve seen has been more along the lines of “Jesus, this is a fucking weird story.”

            • J. Otto Pohl

              I don’t know if they are liberals or not, but I have seen a lot of people objecting to her lying about her past. I mean it reminds me a lot of the many white people some of them famous falsely claiming Native American ancestry. There is something unbecomming about a member of the dominant ethnic group in a society falsely claiming to be part of an oppressed racial minority to advance her own career. If it was all out in the open from the start that she was rejecting her whiteness without any lies it would be a very different story. But, that is not what happened.

              • The Dark Avenger

                One of the best comments I’ve heard about his was from a radio show hose who had taken acting lessons. She pointed out that this identity was pretty much constructed the way an actor constructs a character, gives them a past, so in a way it was a role.

            • GoDeep

              Outside of 1 psychologist on Don Lemon’s CNN show I haven’t seen any liberals support Dolezal. If you know of some feel free to share. I’m a little appalled by my brothas & sistas on this.

              • The Dark Avenger

                I want to go out on a limb and say that if it had been done for financial reasons, or as part of a scam, it would be more understandable the public at large

                She’s lied to a shitload of people, perhaps made up reports of racial threat to her, that probably never took place. People naturally tend not to think well of somebody who engages in a casual deceit like this, and don’t see the massive effort to run away from her past that this implies.

                It should be apparent that she’s got a few squirrels in the attic, happy people don’t feel the need to falsify their past and pretend to be someone else. You seem to get that.

                • brad

                  This.
                  She has, in all apparent likelihood, falsely claimed being the victim of hate crimes. She sued Howard University for discrimination against her for being white, ffs.
                  Also, tho I’m white male cis scum, I feel deeply uncomfortable equating gender with race in this case. To paraphrase a commenter from another site, if transracial is a “thing” where are the groups of people who have demonstrable neurological elements to it all, who have banded together for support and advocacy, where’s the lit, the psychological history, and etc.

                  She’s mentally ill and a narcissist, not a cause.

                • Jackov

                  quibble

                  Many seemingly happy people much more prominent than Dolezal have created pasts to better serve their presents from historians to hip hop artists.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Doing it for career advancement is understandable, if perhaps morally dubious..

                  OTOH, I don’t think they make up such easily checked lies like growing up in a teepee in Wyoming, as in the present case, to advance themselves when they’d be shooting themselves in the foot by doing so.

          • Shakezula

            That’s Deep.

          • alex284

            Nope, nothing transphobic about saying transsexuality is putting on a wig and some make-up to fool people.

            • GoDeep

              As I said I unequivocally support Bruce’s transitioning to Caitlyn. No one is insinuating that Caitlyn’s just putting on a wig & make up to fool ppl. And if u’re suggesting that’s all Dolezal’s doing then its u who needs 2 look in the mirror.

              • alex284

                Um, she used a picture of her and a black man who she called her “dad” to make an implication about her ancestry that’s not true.

                She also sued Howard University for discrimination against her for being white. I don’t know of any black person who has done that before.

                She claimed to be the victim of racial discrimination and hate crimes. She claimed to have ancestors who were slaves.

                If there is a transracial identity out there that’s growing as a movement, I sure hope they don’t hitch their wagon to her.

                • Righ, and on the other side of the scale, Caitlyn Jenner is not claiming, for example, that she competed and won medals in the Olympics as a female athlete. So, yeah, that’s a huge difference between the two cases.

      • Morse Code for J

        Why do Jenner or Dolezal have anything to do with this?

        Transsexuals aren’t killing cisgendered people in public spaces because they believe that there is an undeclared war between trans and cis. This kid was on probation, and it was still not a problem for him to acquire a firearm because a relative passed the background check and was under no legal compulsion to be sure the kid could do the same before giving him the firearm. Bruce Jenner identifying as male or Rachel Dolezal laying off the spray tan is irrelevant to what happened at Emanuel AME.

        Roof’s fucked-up value system regarding race and America’s fucked-up value system regarding firearm regulation are the topics here, and deflection constitutes support. Period.

  • alex284

    I think that where Hills messes up is in assuming that Fox’s and Stewart’s reactions, as well as the spontaneous reactions of millions of others, are “strategies.” Perhaps Fox put more thought into it than it seems, but it seems like neither “naming and shaming” nor “the killer just hated Christians” were conscious strategies instead of just gut reactions.

    And, briefly, it’s interesting that it’s always the left that supposed to ask itself if it’s a good strategy to advocate what it believes vs. shutting up so that the feelings of rightwingers aren’t hurt. In this case, the issue takes a racial dynamic: black people are supposed to keep quiet about the obvious racism here because white supremacists’ feelings are more important, and by massaging those feelings maybe white supremacists will be less violent in the future.

    And my intuition is no, people whose worldview is literally “I can take whatever I want from Black people and treat them however I want because I’m white” will not change their minds if everyone else is cautious not to hurt their fragile egos. Why, they might even get the impression that they’re right if some white liberals tell other liberals that the feelings of white supremacists are more important than those of African Americans!

    Last, since when is Fox opposed to racist violence generally? Every time the murder of a black person becomes national news, they always look for a way to justify it, no matter the circumstances. Even this past week they haven’t condemned racist violence, just “anti-Chrisian” violence or “crazy dude” violence. One would almost get the impression that they favor racist violence.

    And if someone loves the most extreme racist and violent event in US history so much that criticizing it will make them stop listening to what you have to say, maybe it’s unlikely they’ll join you in condemning racist violence.

    • Pat

      I think you win the thread with this observation:

      Why, they might even get the impression that they’re right if some white liberals tell other liberals that the feelings of white supremacists are more important than those of African Americans!

      I agree that Name & Shame is important for exactly this reason.

  • Aaron Morrow

    Economic boycott to get that flag moved into a nice quiet room with some choice quotes about why it was hoisted in 1962 in defiance of civil rights. Don’t forget, it worked to move the flag before.

  • Tyro

    The entirety of post-Civil War history in the USA has been about the idea that letting the south hold on to their “heritage” and looking the other way regarding the consequences, instead of “naming and shaming” would be better for everyone. And after 150 years, the problems persist. Time to find another solution.

    • It’s too late for a truth and reconciliation commission. It’s too late for de-confederatization. Naming and shaming seems like the best option.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “Naming and shaming seems like the best option”

        Well, as long as you’re leaving the use of nuclear weapons off the table, I suppose…

        • Lee Rudolph

          Truth and radioactivity!

      • Jackov

        Best option, nay. First step maybe.

        I am eyeing some granite in Gettysburg.

        At the very least this shit should be sandblasted

        That men of honor might forever know the responsibilities of freedom. Dedicated South Carolinians stood and were counted for their heritage and convictions. Abiding faith in the sacredness of States Rights provided their creed. Here many earned eternal glory.

        and replaced with something like ‘some brave treasonous bastards died here fighting under the command of repugnant white supremacists in the cause of brutal chattel slavery.’

  • It is surely trivially, obviously true that you will not change hearts and minds by telling people “your culture is bad and you should feel bad.” Especially in a culture that already so coddles white people’s self-image, the possibility of this message being seen as anything other than an attack to be defended against is nonexistent. I have to say, looking at it from the outside, I’ve found the focus on the Confederate flag, understandable as it is, rather self-defeating. It seems to be more about self-gratification and taking out some amount of the terrible anger aroused by this massacre than any actual progress towards ensuring that nothing like it ever happens again.

    Having said all that, is there any reason to believe that changing hearts and minds is even on the menu? It would be comforting to think that the one good thing to come out of this horror would be some real change, but I actually think the lesson from it is going to be that the political and social will to make that change doesn’t exist. (I saw someone online make the same point about Sandy Hook – if the murders of first-graders made no difference to the US’s commitment to arming itself to death, nothing ever will.) So why not burn flags and wave bloody shirts in the faces of people who would like to believe that they’re the real victims of a system that benefits them disproportionately? You won’t change their minds, but you might make some of the more open-minded people listening realize just what sort of world they’re living in.

    • Isn’t focusing on the flag and other overt symbols of racism about (a) removing symbols that are insulting to a group that is a traditional member of the liberal coalition and (b) making the point that overt racism is not acceptable? How can we argue against subtle racism while ignoring unsubtle racism?

      • I just think that while you might achieve (a), doing so is not a path to achieving (b), because the fact is that overt racism is acceptable. It’s acceptable when a child playing in a playground is put on trial posthumously after being gunned down by an incompetent policeman. It’s acceptable when peaceful protests after the death of a prisoner are treated as riots. It’s acceptable when the murder of black men who were doing nothing wrong doesn’t even warrant a trial.

        What’s significant about Charleston is that it’s crossed the line where even a semi-sane excuse can be made for it (and, again, let’s remember that where that line passes leaves the murder of Tamir Rice in the “questionable” category). And even then, you have people desperately trying to spin it as being about anything but racism – people who are trying to “depoliticize” it, who are calling it a “tragedy,” or who are trying to pretend that this is about anti-Christian sentiment. When the powers that be are that desperate to avoid a conversation about race, what conclusion is to be drawn but that Dylann Roof was an extreme expression of a thoroughly acceptable attitude?

        So yeah, by all means get rid of the Confederate flag. It can’t hurt, and it’s not a worthless accomplishment. But I don’t see it as a step towards getting rid of racism, just making one particular expression of it unacceptable in “polite” company.

        • tsam

          I see it as a big step. Remember that people like Roof are drawn to symbolism the way fish are drawn to a flashing lure. That flag, flying over the center SC government, sends a strong message that says “racism is tolerated and encouraged here”. Their own government is overtly racist-and all the asshole politicians who try to make it about heritage are full of bullshit. They know it, we know it, but your average coal rolling window licker eats the lure and wants more.

          You start with the flag. That tells people that those days of government complicity are behind them (even if they aren’t), and you build from there.

          • tsam

            A highly symbolic first step, if you will.

          • Shakezula

            That flag, flying over the center SC government, sends a strong message that says “racism is tolerated and encouraged here”.

            The flag that is flying at full mast because it can’t be lowered to half mast and can’t be removed from its pole without complex legislative maneuvering, even to honor the death of a member of the legislature.

            Which is another thing Hills conveniently overlooks while Just Asking Questions. Hmmm.

            • tsam

              Right-and there is a symbolic message in that fact alone.

  • matt w

    What is Hills’s transracial coalition of black people and confederate flag-waving white people supposed to accomplish? Is he under the impression that white people who fly the Confederate flag would be amenable to taking measures to address systemic racism if not for all those mean black people and Yankees talking about how reprehensible it is? Because I was always under the impression that people flying the Confederate flag, as Southern white people go, are generally on the less in favor of doing things to address systemic racism side (to put it mildly).

    He does give a specific example… of painting black churchgoers as potentially pro-gun… which, since gun control polls much better among black people than white people, seems like basically saying that he wants black people and white people to come together to do something that white people want and black people don’t.

    • Shakezula

      What is Hills’s transracial coalition of black people and confederate flag-waving white people supposed to accomplish?

      Give the flag wavers a bunch of “black friends” to serve as cover for their racism.

      • postmodulator

        It’s the American Right’s version of compromise again: blacks and whites united in advancing white interests.

    • alex284

      What is Hills’s transracial coalition of black people and confederate flag-waving white people supposed to accomplish?

      What do we want? We can’t say because it might make some people in group uncomfortable! When do we want it? Now!

    • Latverian Diplomat

      It used to be said, and perhaps it’s still true, that Sunday Morning was the most segregated time of the week.

      And certainly, black and white churches have been on different sides of many civil rights issues.

      So, the common attribute of Church-going also seems suspect as a leg of the coalition stool.

  • priceyeah

    Baby steps. Our history is what it is, and if progressives can get gun laws and Stand Your Ground laws to be seen as an extension of the racist regime and not some pure expression of libertarianism, that’s a big win. If your timeline is 6 years, yes, shaming doesn’t work. If your timeline is 100 years, it might be a necessary component. Someone in the society has to stand up and say, “This is wrong” for something to go away, period.

    • alex284

      Basically.

      It’s like talking to generally open-minded straight people who really don’t want to admit that there’s anything homophobic about using the word “fag” or making fun of a man for being feminine, I just assume that the person I’m talking to has participated in those activities and is completely unwilling to ask if anything they’ve ever done is less than amazing.

      That old quote about change coming one funeral at a time springs to mind.

    • JustRuss

      Indeed. Hill’s argument is tempting because in the short term, it’s pretty hard to imagine Southerner’s backing off at all on the “heritage” front, because for many of them it’s a huge part of who they are. But just giving in and going along with the “it’s never about race” denialism isn’t the answer. People like to believe in fairy tales (there’s no global warming, tax cuts will solve everything!), pretending they’re true and hoping for the best is a lousy strategy.

      This is a long, long game, and telling the truth is the only winning strategy. Any real change is going to be painfully incremental.

  • Peterr

    Historically speaking, naming and shaming does work.

    Let’s be clear about who “naming and shaming” is designed to reach. On the one hand, it is designed to reach the perpetrators of hatred and oppression; on the other hand, it is also aimed at those who passively stand by, either with approval or disapproval, and allow the oppression to continue. While naming and shaming may have limited effect on the former group, it has had a strong effect on the latter.

    Naming and shaming may not have changed Bull Connor, but seeing the police dogs and hoses turned on peaceful protesters sure changed the thinking of a lot of others.

    Naming and shaming may not have changed Fred Phelps, but seeing his hateful rhetoric and abusive language sure changed the thinking of almost all of Topeka, Kansas. Allies of the LGBT community were forced out of the closet to declare their public suppport of LGBTs (“We’re Christians, and we’re not like Fred.”). Even the most conservative churches in Topeka are clear as well in rejecting Fred and his ilk (“We don’t approve of gays and lesbians, but we aren’t like Fred and his hate.”).

    Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail was a masterpiece of naming and shaming, naming the passiveness of too many of the white clergy, and shaming their unwillingness to stand up with their African-American colleagues.

    • brendalu

      Right. Make them choose a side, and make them own it.

      The “I’m just honoring my heritage” canard allows people to elide just what that heritage is. So people who claim to not see or support the racist implications nonetheless are simultaneously making the environment more hostile and less comfortable for the oppressed but more comfortable and reinforcing for the “real racists” they claim they have no truck with.

      Screw that. Make the wishy-washy middle say yes or no to this profoundly racist symbol. Yep, some of them will double down and embrace it. I still think we’ll be better off.

      • Ann Outhouse

        Make them choose a side, and make them own it.

        And in the process, make them defend the indefensible.

        Adding, people define “racism” to exclude themselves. Even white supremacists do it. Every last one of them will tell you they’re not racists, they’re just opposed to mixing of the races.

        • Pat

          Which is why we’re hearing questioning of the tactic from people who are uncomfortable with change.

  • Shakezula

    It’s an interesting argument.

    No, I assure you weaselly attempts to ignore racism in this country are boring as hell.

    “If you love the NRA and attend church regularly,” the Fox News interview implies, “then you should rise up to demonstrate against the anti-Christian Dylann Roof and arm Black churchgoers against others of his ilk.”

    Except 1. The Fox interview didn’t imply that at all. It implied that a white man shot nine black people for reasons other than race. (And I’m guessing this was the same interview where someone suggested black churches would be unsafe for whites?)
    2. Roof wasn’t anti-Christian, he was anti-black. Denying his racism doesn’t help anyone except people who want to pretend that racism is something that ended when President Obama won the election (or Iowa, per M. Malkin).
    3. Suggesting that the same people who have responded to the NRA’s repeated calls to buy more guns to protect them from the darkies could be convinced to “arm them” is too stupid to take seriously for .005 seconds.
    3a. Arm them how? Give them actual guns? WTF does that even mean?
    4. Why are only Christian, church attending African-Americans worthy of protection? My guess, he doesn’t give a shit about them, he just wants everyone to stop talking about white supremacy.

    Note also he seems to be addressing the feels of the older generation of racists who have remained racist for decades. To suggest this is just because people keep making fun of the traitors’ flag is bullshit. And to try to conflate a 21 year old with the rest of these dbags is bizarre.

    Likewise, painting black churchgoers as potentially pro-gun

    He has no interest in finding out whether black churchgoers really are pro-gun, he just wants to make up yet another story about African-Americans in order to influence white attitudes. And of course, reinforcing the idea that THEY are heavily armed and waiting to commit various acts of mayhem is unlikely to do anything but make the people he wants to court buy more guns.

    Are we sure this guy isn’t a lobbyist for Smith & Wesson or something?

    merely flagging Hills’ argument as an example of the fact that it’s a real question.

    Oh. OK. So long as it is a real question.

    • Jordan

      Well, all of this is right, but

      He has no interest in finding out whether black churchgoers really are pro-gun, he just wants to make up yet another story about African-Americans in order to influence white attitudes.

      That is particularly right. He purports to want a “black-white alliance” but his way of doing this is to give in on everything to the white people and offer nothing to the black people. *Shocked*, I am.

      • alex284

        I was going to flag that sentence too. Hills seems very concerned with the feelings of white supremacists and not at all concerned with the actual lives of African Americans.

        Again, totally not surprising that he wants everyone to stop hating on racism.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Look. We let them vote. Mostly.

          Surely that’s enough.

  • NewishLawyer

    I think we are probably in the equivalent of WWI trench warfare when it comes to socio-cultural issues. On another blog I read, a contributor is jumping up and down that the real reason the South keeps flying the flag is “snobby upper-middle class liberals from the North”. That’s right, a hipster in Brooklyn or Chicago who makes an off-hand remark against Miller Light is why the Confederate Flag still flies.

    This is obviously nuts. It is also sadly correct because having the dreaded Northeast liberals sign change.org petitions seems to cause doubling down more than anything else.

    It is essays like this that will convince White Southerners to take down the flag:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/19/southern-baptists-russell-moore-its-time-to-take-down-the-confederate-flag/

    • postmodulator

      That’s right, a hipster in Brooklyn or Chicago who makes an off-hand remark against Miller Light is why the Confederate Flag still flies.

      Ever since Miller Lite went back to those retro 80s tallboy cans, it’s been very popular in hipster bars.

    • Jordan

      That is a good essay.

    • alex284

      Before there was anything that resembled “snobby upper-middle class liberals from the North,” the South enslaved black people.

      So it’s hard to tell if Northern liberals signing Change.org cause Southern white supremacists to “double down” on racism. They seem perfectly capable of doubling down on their own.

      • Shakezula

        They seem perfectly capable of doubling down on their own.

        Yes. We’re not talking about people who were content to walk around humming Dixie until some people circulated a petition to ban the flag (which has been a source of contention far longer than the internet has existed).

        And really, it’s a bizarre combination of classist and racist beliefs: Those dumb tetchy rednecks don’t know any better but those black people need to stop riling them up by talking about the flag.

  • Nobdy

    What does the Confederate Flag stand for if jot racism? Souther pride? Pride in what? College football? Nascar? Tennessee whiskey? Southern Hospitality? None of those things really need a symbol because they are vital and alive traditions, practiced openly and lauded to this day. You don’t need a dog whistle symbol to express your Southern love of Alabama football. You can buy a Jersey and put bumper stickers on your car and sing rammer jammer yellow hammer and it won’t cause people to judge you or effect your job prospects or anything.

    The ConfederateConfederate flag stands for something else. Rebellion and racism. It came back into vogue after people stopped being able to be openly racist and it is wielded for a purely racist intent. That is its purpose. There’s a reason there’s no Northern flag or western flag.

    This is not a point on which we can compromise. We can’t approve of the Confederate Flag but disapprove of racism. That would be like hating Nike but loving the swoosh. The one is the symbol of the other. It doesn’t mean anything without it.

  • Karen24

    Hills makes an interesting point and one worth discussing. Where he misses is that he doesn’t mention the effect these symbols have on Southern black people. An honest history documenting the use of the Confederate battle flag — nobody cared about it until it was used in the marketing of “Gone With The Wind” and then adopted as a symbol of resistance to civil rights — should be enough to make Southern whites want it removed. The best people to say this are Southern black people, who can note that the flag symbolizes nostalgia for a system that kept them less than human. There are other cultural artifacts — food, music, literature, folk tales — that don’t have that political baggage and deserve more attention and preservation. We whites can of course help in this, but mostly by celebrating the distinctive practices that don’t have a color assigned to them, again, like food and music.

    The single, biggest thing that white liberals outside the South can do is to give Southern African Americans their microphones for awhile. No anathemas against everything south of Columbus, Ohio, and no “let ’em secede” nonsense. All that does is isolate the people who need the most support and encouragement, and reinforce the racists “see, they really do hate you” narrative.

    • alex284

      An honest history documenting the use of the Confederate battle flag — nobody cared about it until it was used in the marketing of “Gone With The Wind” and then adopted as a symbol of resistance to civil rights — should be enough to make Southern whites want it removed.

      Unless, you know, the people who are really attached to a symbol of racism might not be the sort of people who would be moved if they found out the symbol was racist.

      The best people to say this are Southern black people

      Because if there’s one thing white people who are nostalgic for slavery know how to do, it’s to respect the dignity and autonomy of black people!

      The single, biggest thing that white liberals outside the South can do is to give Southern African Americans their microphones for awhile.

      Southern African Americans *have* talked about this for decades.

      The issue isn’t that southern white supremacists don’t know that the confederate flag is a symbol of racism. The issue is that they do know and that’s why they like it.

      • Shakezula

        And this isn’t a Northern v. Southern African-American issue. The confederate flag is flown wherever racists happen to be because it is a symbol of racism.

        More importantly, assholes from the south who got elected to Congress because they were the best at fellating an anatomically incorrect statue of Traveller come to D.C. and make policy that affects the entire nation. They pass laws, they vote on who sits on the federal benches and they get one hell of a big megaphone to blast their messages of intolerance.

    • Lee Rudolph

      No anathemas against everything south of Columbus, Ohio

      As a born-and-bred Clevelander (but a tolerant one), I am perfectly happy to anathematize everything south of, say, Hinckley, and I’d anathematize it, too, except for my fellow-feeling with the buzzards.

      If I were less tolerant I might draw the line at Middleburg Heights.

      • Steve LaBonne

        I live in Medina. Near Billy Batchelder’s house. So it pains me to admit that you have a point. ;)

    • CD

      “An honest history documenting the use of the Confederate battle flag — nobody cared about it until it was used in the marketing of “Gone With The Wind” and then adopted as a symbol of resistance to civil rights — should be enough to make Southern whites want it removed.”

      — only if the flag is no longer functioning as a symbol, but is just a meaningless piece of cultural detritus. If people have nothing invested in it, that kind of argument will work. But of course it’s not an atavism. It represents a powerful contemporary ideology, the ideology of a wounded white nation submerged in an oppressive cosmopolitan culture/polity.

  • ChrisAndersen

    The more I think about it the more I disagree with the conclusion. Yeah, it may be logically correct that “naming and shaming” may push some borderline whites into the white supremacist camp. But it is just this kind of appeasement strategy that has given us a society in which the feelings of whites (who might be offended by being associated with racists) is considered to be more important than the feelings of blacks (who might get shot if they get to uppity).

    Sorry, no.

    Naming and shaming might very well lead to more bloodshed. But we’ve been soaked in blood for hundreds of years. At this point, what’s a little more?

  • NewishLawyer

    Another thing I noticed is that the Confederate Flag has taken on a secondary association with rural white working class people. You can see it flown in the North and sometimes in rural Canada. I think there is a “let’s piss off middle-class liberals” element. In 1998, the Onion ran a story about how Georgia was adding a middle finger and a swastika to their state flag.

    • FlipYrWhig

      It’s “the rebel flag.” It means “outsiders fuck off, I like being me.” And what the outsiders want to do is… tell you you should eat better, use less gas, not laugh at certain jokes, be nice to Negroes and Mexicans and homos, etc. That’s what they’re rebelling against. And it’s what they associate the Civil War with too: being forced to do things differently. The flag is pretty much a declaration against all forms of political correctness and meddling do-goodery. That’s why people affix it to their flagpoles and vehicles across the country and not just in the South. Gross.

      • UserGoogol

        Reactionary politics seems to really appeal to people in the sweet spot of being privileged enough to identify with the status quo, but marginalized enough that they feel like the man is keeping them down. That idealized label of “working class whites” is how they’re usually thought of but it’s really all sorts of issues which is more complicated than just race vs class.

      • Jackov

        Wave that flag hoss, wave it high
        Do you know what it means?
        Do you know why?
        Maybe being a Rebel ain’t no big deal
        But if somebody owned your ass
        How would you feel?

  • Steve LaBonne

    We’ve been coddling racists for the entire goddamn history of this sorry country. How’d that work out?

    • postmodulator

      It got the New Deal passed, but other than that there isn’t much to recommend it.

      I sometimes have expressed the visceral feeling that we should have fought a war rather than sign the Constitution in its original form. But easy for me to say, I wouldn’t have had to fight in that war.

      • Steve LaBonne

        What should have been done is the execution of every Confederate army officer and politician and every plantation owner at the end of the Civil War. It boggles my mind that filth like, say, Nathan Bedford Forrest were allowed to continue to pollute the surface of the earth.

        • postmodulator

          I semi-agree with this; I’m opposed to the death penalty, but few nations on Earth have been so merciful to such successful traitors. A few hundred years previous, England still eviscerated you alive for that.

          As a matter of history it is very, very dangerous to win a war against someone who doesn’t feel like they lost.

          • Steve LaBonne

            I’m staunchly opposed to the “normal” judicial use of the death penalty. But after such people have willfully caused the shedding of oceans of blood, it’s a different story. And as you note, we’re still living with the dire consequences of showing mercy to them.

  • Paul- read up on Wikipedia about the Confederate flags. The stars and bars is NOT the battle flag. I hate that I know this. I used to think the the stars and bars was that execrable flag, but the stars and bars is ANOTHER execrable flag- one of the official flags of the Confederacy. The “bloodstained banner” is also not the battle flag I believe.

  • wengler

    The people who fly the Confederate flag up here near Wisconsin seem to have already decoupled its message from that of Southern pride. I really wish articles like this would stop treating white southerners like babies. This is the United States. Racism exists in every single part of the United States. Only certain parts of the US deign to fly that racism proudly on government property. They’re an embarrassment to the rest of us.

  • Picayune Paul

    Red necks, motorcycle gang members, displaced people generally have a highly developed sense of honor – different, maybe, that yours or mine, but operative in that it provides definition and mooring for the individual. The modern take on things is that honor is an obsolete notion to be replaced by rationalism, social cohesion, and the power of technology. But convince your opponent that he behaves dishonorably and victory is almost certain. Hard-core individuals will persist, but those on what someone here called “the edges of the bubble” respond to believable assertions of dishonor by shaming and withdrawing support, as we saw during the Vietnam war.

    • Origami Isopod

      The modern take on things is that honor is an obsolete notion to be replaced by rationalism, social cohesion, and the power of technology.

      And that take is correct. Fuck honor culture.

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  • patrick II

    to paraphrase Harry Truman I don’t shame them I just tell them the truth and they feel ashamed

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