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The new old normal

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Here’s North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger on the BBC, explaining to his bemused host why people in Charlotte are protesting:

A few things:

(1)A key feature of the racist frame of mind is to adopt an absurd, utterly counter-factual caricature of entire ethnic group, and then apply that caricature to every single individual in that group, while using it as an explanatory mechanism for any issue involving that group.

For this guy (again, a member of the US Congress, not a guy with a sign somewhere) black people are poor people on welfare, and white people are not. Now if you pressed him on it he would admit that there are blah people who aren’t on welfare and white people that are, and he might even admit, when presented with the liberally-biased facts, that there are quite a few more white people on welfare than black people, that the vast majority of black people aren’t actually welfare queens driving Caddylacks and strapping young bucks using food stamps to buy dependency-addicting t-bone steaks etc. (Or maybe not, since you can use statistics to prove anything you know).

(2) I guarantee you Pittenger is genuinely appalled and outraged by claims that he’s a racist. Of course he’s not a racist: he’s just not PC, or a race realist, or a speaker of hard truths, or the true keeper of the spirit of Martin Luther King (He actually starts the interview with a paean to MLK; here’s the longer version if you have five minutes — it’s well worth watching for its sociological interest). Six years ago Chris Rock asked, what do you have to do now to be considered a racist by a mainline Republican, shoot Medgar Evers? That’s not even a joke any more.

(3) This is the Trump effect in action, although of course to a great extent Trump is a symptom not a cause. Open racism in national politics is back in a big way, and it’s having all sorts of social effects. Would law professor Glenn Reynolds have tweeted what he tweeted yesterday a year or two ago? I doubt it. But now that really open racism is off the leash again a lot of “respectable” people are really loving it.

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