Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class

Hardback

By (author) Ian Haney-Lopez

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 241mm x 38mm | 544g
  • Publication date: 13 February 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199964270
  • ISBN 13: 9780199964277
  • Sales rank: 296,792

Product description

The decades-long increase in income inequality has become perhaps 'the' issue in American politics, and scholars have offered many reasons for why the gap between the rich and the rest has widened so much since the mid-1970s. Most of the explanations have been social and political in the broadest sense, and many have keyed on the propensity of middle- and working class Americans to vote against their own interest. Yet given that the greatest income divide is racial in nature, why have so few looked toward racially motivated behavior as a cause? Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class is a sweeping account of how 'dog-whistle' racial politics contributed to increasing inequality in America since the 1960s. Now a pervasive term in American political coverage, 'dog whistle' refers to coded signals sent to certain constituencies that only those constituencies will understand. Just as only dogs can hear a dog whistle, only a constituency fluent in a subterranean argot can understand that argot when it is used. For instance, attacks on Obama's use of a teleprompter is a dog whistle for racist voters who question blacks' (and by extension, the President's) intelligence. Haney's book looks at racial dog whistles in America from the 1960s to the present, showing that their appeal has helped generate working class and middle class populist enthusiasm for policies that were actually injurious to their own interests. The dog whistle tactic has been with us from at least the era of George Wallace, but every candidate who has benefited from race-based resentments has used it: Nixon, Reagan (welfare queens), George Bush I (Willie Horton), Bill Clinton (Sister Souljah), and-most recently-Newt Gingrich. A sweeping reinterpretation of the recent political and legal history of the U.S., Dog Whistle Politics is sure to generate a productive and lively debate about the role of race as a fundamental driver of inequality.

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Author information

Ian Haney-Lopez is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Emerging as an incisive voice on white identity with his path-breaking book White by Law (1996), he remains at the forefront of conversations about race in modern America. A past visiting professor at Yale and Harvard law schools, in 2011 he was awarded the Alphonse Fletcher Fellowship, given to scholars whose work promotes the integration goals of Brown v. Board of Education.

Review quote

"This is one of those books that should be required reading for anyone and everyone who is struggling to understand how and why political elites succeed, time and again, in persuading poor and working class whites to support regressive policies that are a boon for corporations but actually harm them and wreck the middle class. The answer to the riddle has far more to do with race than most want to acknowledge. But it isn't old-fashioned, malevolent racism that's to blame. No, as Haney Lopez brilliantly and painstakingly lays bare, what is unraveling our nation is not bad people, but a stubborn refusal to deal openly and honestly with the reality of how race operates today." --Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow"Read this book to understand how dog whistle politics enables the wealth gap to stay the same and even to get worse not just for blacks or other people of color but for the white working class as well. As Haney Lopez demonstrates, the vocabulary of race has changed. Nonetheless, race is still skillfully used to distract our attention from ongoing and pernicious disparities in economic opportunities." --Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor, Harvard Law School, and author of The Miner's Canary"A brilliant guide to modern politics, for anyone who wants to understand how outright racist appeals morphed into the genteel rhetoric of 'states rights' and from there into today's 'defund Obamacare' -- and why Democrats too often collude in rather than repudiate dog whistle politics." --Joan Walsh, Salon.com and MSNBC, and author of What's the Matter With White People"Grounded in history rather than theory, this is recommended to readers engaged in today's political discourse." --Library Journal"

Table of contents

Preface Learning about Racism at Harvard Law School ; Introduction Racial Politics and the Middle Class ; Chapter One The Southern Strategy and the GOP's Rise as the White Man's Party ; Chapter Two Beyond Hate: Strategic Racism ; Chapter Three The Wrecking Begins: Ronald Reagan ; Chapter Four Colorblindness and Whites as Racial Victims ; Chapter Five Updating the Whistle: Clinton and W. ; Chapter Six How Conservatives Get Away with Racism ; Chapter Seven Makers and Takers ; Chapter Eight What's the Matter with White Voters? ; Chapter Nine Obama's Post-Racial Strategy ; Conclusion To End Dog Whistle Politics