Bigotry Denialism

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTSWhenever the subject of bigotry gets touched upon in this blog we see certain readers who will not only disagree with the premise that bigotry exists, but who will assert that those who claim it does, are the “real bigots.” Last week on the thread following Mike Appleton’s post “Racism Once Removed” and the week before in my guest blog “Call Me Queer” , we saw numerous comments that not only denying that their viewpoint was unbiased, but that our assertions of bigotry were themselves bigoted. While Mike Appleton’s post dealt with racism and mine dealt with homosexual rights, the reactions to presenting these different topics were essentially the same. So much so, that what I saw clearly as racial prejudice even got inserted into what was a thread dealing with homosexual rights. My sense as to why these two disparate issues were conflated by the same people is the subject of this piece, as I will attempt to put the concept of prejudice into the context of the American political scene. For many of us, including me, bigotry is viewed as the stuff of irrational hatred, but I’ve begun to sense that this is too narrow a perspective on this phenomenon. In attempting to counter prejudice, we must first be aware of the dynamics involved and stop looking at prejudice as a monolithic structure.

Those who are the object of prejudice and scorn will no doubt find my distinctions to be of little moment as their lives are so hurt by this hatred. My own sense is that the reaction of Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans to this nation’s history of oppression has been relatively mild when compared to the murderous viciousness with which it has been imposed. It says much for these people of color that they have had the intelligence and restraint to understand they were dealing with an implacable enemy and act accordingly. As someone who views their struggles merely  from the outside I know what rage boils up in my gut when I see it and hear about it, quite frankly I don’t know how much restraint I would put on myself if I directly experienced the same oppression. With that caveat let me try to explain my thinking about the distinctions that need to be made when we look at the phenomena of prejudice in this country, from my understanding of it that has developed over a long lifetime and the panoply of changes that have occurred during my existence.The way I see it we can roughly divide those who are prejudiced into two broad categories: the “Haters” and the “Politically Correct.” (PC) The “Haters” are those who have a gut level anger at a specific group that precludes any rational thought in the matter. The “Aryan Nation” and the various “White Power” groups typify this when it comes to people of color and indeed also when it comes to homosexuals. Their feelings about the hated entity are visceral and when they are confronted with their feelings they openly take ownership of them. In one sense we can almost admire their blatant hatred since they at least take ownership of it and so there is no sense of confusion about where they stand.  The other sides of this divide which I label the “Politically Correct” are those that justify bigotry in its usage by their political allies by using PC to silence criticism of bigoted statements. They may or may not be bigoted personally, but they protect their political allies by covering for their bigotry and by accusing the accuser. Many conservatives that oppose President Obama for instance are probably not personally prejudiced against black people, but then many of their supporters are and if they are politicians they do not want to alienate their base. This is true too of the Gay rights movement where we have seen many legislators and religious leaders, who have been strong opponents of Gay Rights for political gain, get caught literally with their pants down. Then to just because one is a liberal and/or a progressive does not mean that they are not bigoted. Yet the PC needs of their political positions lead them to act PC publicly.

Many Black people during the Civil Rights Era held the point of view that with racists such as these they could at least understand the boundaries of their relationship to them. They contrasted that with those “liberals” who only secretly harbored their prejudice, while publicly proclaiming their solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement. They correctly pointed out that these “liberals” were fine with imposing corrective actions against bigotry, as long as those actions affected others. It would seem from this dichotomy that the term “Politically Correct” arose and to some extent that is true, yet in my personal experience I think there was a prior step that took place and those particular “liberals” were affected by it.

Sometime in the 1930’s the Communist Party in the United States realized that organizationally they were reaching the limits of their ability to recruit. Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” had to a great degree tempered the impact of the Depression upon those who would be the Party’s normal base, the White working class. It must be understood that although Communists have always talked a good game when it came to the oppression of working people and the underclass, the movement itself was always led by a segment of the intelligentsia. Seriously, who else would slog through the mind numbingly boring and dense works of Karl Marx, but someone with intellectual pretentions? The problem for the Communists in America was that the poor and the working classes were not sold on the ideology, when it was put into opposition with the “American Dream.” The most oppressed therefore most approachable underclass in America from the Communist perspective was “people of color” and so the focus became to recruit them. They had some notable success especially with one of the most multi-talented and impressive human beings of the Twentieth Century Paul Robeson. . Paul Robeson was a certified genius, who also was an All-American Football Player, great Actor and had an extraordinary voice. He was also an avowed Communist and was for years the Party’s greatest asset in America.

My parents, who were quite liberal, had introduced me to politics at a young age as I was kept home from school to allow me to watch the important parts of Army/McCarthy Hearings, at the age of 10 in 1954. .  Senator Joseph McCarthy persecuted and destroyed the lives of many people for their possible associations with communists. In reality there never was a “Communist Threat” to this country, but it served as enough of a “bogeyman” to help enrich the burgeoning Corporate/Military/Industrial Complex (CMIC). McCarthy himself was a two whiskey bottle a day alcoholic who privately admitted that he used the “communist threat” as a political ploy. This then was the context of my understanding when I first began to meet real Communists in 1967. The Union in NYC’s welfare department where I worked as a caseworker was perhaps the most politically radical union in the country. I somehow became recognized and someone with potential and the various Communist factions tried to recruit me. What turned me off to them, besides their unworkable philosophy, was the concept of “Party Line”. This meant that if you did not spout the current part positions on all issues you were deemed to be “politically incorrect”. This was how I first heard that term and it grated on me then as it does now. The CPUSA “party line” then was “Black is right” and this translated into unquestioned support for any issue where Black people would claim was one of prejudice.  There were issues where I opposed the Union’s Black Caucus choice for union offices and found myself being called racist and a “running dog of capitalism” when the reality was I just didn’t like the candidate’s positions on union issues.

The reality is that just because one might be a member of an oppressed minority, doesn’t mean that oppression has made a person noble of character. In truth to support someone merely because they are Black, Latino, Native American, or even in my case Jewish, is actually a bigoted position. There is but one race and that is called Human. To be human is to have flaws, no matter the melanin skin content, or the ethnic background. At the time many liberals were also affected by party line as lampooned in Tom Wolfe’s book “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” which detailed the vapidity of “political correctness.” My union experiences with Party Lines and political correctness seemed vindicated for me when I read his astute observations.

Among conservative strategists and intellectual this tendency of liberals and progressives hewing to a “part line” approach was instructive since their movement had its own problems. Nixon’s election heralded a conservative comeback into political legitimacy in America. FDR and “New Deal” liberalism had become a dominant force on the American political scene. The “Southern Strategy” was put forth to recapture political dominance and get Nixon elected. While the “Southern Strategy” was aimed to destroy the Democratic Party’s hold on the Southern States, its complementary tactic of the “Silent Majority” was to win the hearts of the White working class throughout the country. The undercurrent of both these tactics and their memes were race based and the message was hidden in code words like crime and violence. While the “Silent Majority” was ostensibly about support for the Viet Nam War, in reality it was about the backlash to “busing,” the burden of which was overwhelmingly placed on the White working classes and not on the intellectuals, liberals and progressives that supported it.

Conservative strategists saw the inherent flaw in liberal/progressive actions and took the term “politically correct” in hand as a means of not only ridiculing liberal/progressive thought, but also to denature the impact of many of their supporters bigotry, by turning PC loose on those who would call racism by its true name. With the election of Barack Obama as President we see how well this strategic twist has worked. One needs only to Google “Rush Limbaugh Quotations” to see how even the media has been so cowed by the use of PC that it countenances a racist mountebank as mainstream.

While many readers here try to label me as a liberal and progressive, thus to dismiss what I write as merely trying to be politically correct, the fact is that my experience in life had led me to distrust all those who use political “Isms” as their basis of wisdom. Would that life were so simple that we could merely adopt a philosophy with which to deal with the entirety of its vicissitudes. I’ve even written about the “pursuit of political purity” that prevents people of good faith from coalescing because of disagreements on fine points of policy, rather than broad perspectives of human need.

As I see it the main thrust of what I call “bigotry denialism” is to use the concept of PC along with reversing the attack onto the attacker. This tactic would have it made impossible to ever call out what is obvious bigotry by labeling the person who does so a bigot for naming bigotry. While from one sense we may be glad that America has evolved to a point where a Black man has become President, the cause of racism in this country seems to have only become stronger. Some conservatives and indeed some liberals have declared the country to be Post-Racial America, but this is far from the case. From my perspective of age I see that racism has come out of the closet again to a greater degree than it has been since the 1970’s. Part of this is due to the universality of the acceptance of the term PC partnered with the tactic of calling the accuser the bigot. Despite the successes of the Gay Rights Movement, the counter revolution has also borrowed these tactics and in some areas homophobia is even growing as a backlash to the success of Homosexuals beginning to obtain their rights as citizens.

At this blog and in my life, I have always worked to oppose bigotry and I will continue to do so until the end. Since I’ve been around here for quite a while I can anticipate the nature of those who will attack my premises in this blog. Rather than turn this into a massive guest blog by use of a pre-emptive strike on the attacks I will let the links below of my own guest blogs do my refutation.

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

69 thoughts on “Bigotry Denialism”

  1. Bruce:
    I don’t believe anyone feels that the Communists weren’t a threat in the early days of the Cold War. It’s in how we chose to fight them that the differences showed.
    Was Senator McCarthy, by waving around a purported list with ever changing numbers, never specific accusations (or false ones), denying due process and proper trial acting much differently than the Soviets who chose to knock on doors of political opponents for expediency in the middle of the night?
    Do your ends always justify the means, or is a bloviating senator sometimes just a bloviating senator? We have a Constitution in this country, and while it is sometimes used as so much useless paper, I’d like to think that in matters such as treason, which by the way, is the one charge in that document that requires 2 concrete witnesses, we would choose to go that route. The reckless, ruthless and drunk blatherings of the Senator from Wisconsin weren’t the way to expose Communists in government, or anywhere else. It was a great way, however, for him to get himself into the news, sort of the 50’s version of Steve King, minus the cantaloupes.

  2. Chapter I
    Decoding Soviet Espionage in America
    Yale University Press

    There were broader consequences, as well, of the decision to keep Venona secret. The overlapping issues of Communists in government, Soviet espionage, and the loyalty of American Communists quickly became a partisan battleground. Led by Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, some conservatives and partisan Republicans launched a comprehensive attack on the loyalties of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Some painted the entire New Deal as a disguised Communist plot and depicted Dean Acheson, Truman’s secretary of state, and George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff under Roosevelt and secretary of state and secretary of defense under Truman, as participants, in Senator McCarthy’s words, in “a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.” There is no basis in Venona for implicating Acheson or Marshall in a Communist conspiracy, but because the deciphered Venona messages were classified and unknown to the public, demagogues such as McCarthy had the opportunity to mix together accurate information about betrayal by men such as Harry White and Alger Hiss with falsehoods about Acheson and Marshall that served partisan political goals.

    A number of liberals and radicals pointed to the excesses of McCarthy’s charges as justification for rejecting the allegations altogether. Anticommunism further lost credibility in the late 1960s when critics of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War blamed it for America’s ill-fated participation. By the 1980s many commentators, and perhaps most academic historians, had concluded that Soviet espionage had been minor, that few American Communists had assisted the Soviets, and that no high officials had betrayed the United States. Many history texts depicted America in the late 1940s and 1950s as a “nightmare in red” during which Americans were “sweat-drenched in fear” of a figment of their own paranoid imaginations. As for American Communists, they were widely portrayed as having no connection with espionage. One influential book asserted emphatically, “There is no documentation in the public record of a direct connection between the American Communist Party and espionage during the entire postwar period.”

  3. @BobK:

    Oh…my bad…”think.” I’m being liberal elitist, again.

    Yes, you are. One of the better points Spindell made was:

    At the time many liberals were also affected by party line as lampooned in Tom Wolfe’s book “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” which detailed the vapidity of “political correctness.”

    There is some hope for him. For you, maybe not so much. Ouch, I would write more, but I got to go put some cream on my sore skint-up knuckles! Walking across a shale and sb2 parking lot is a b*tch, let me tell, a real b*tch!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. Yes, this is a “can’t lose” strategy for auto-affirming posts.

    Write an article about racism/bigotry. The knuckle-draggers come out in force, to bolster your argument.

    They hate so much that they just have to assert their stupid, superstitious beliefs. It’s a religion.

    Do they think that their Heterosexual White Male deity will read their comments, and award brownie points?

    Oh…my bad…”think.” I’m being liberal elitist, again.

  5. After 18 years, everyone should have gotten the memo.

    In reality there was a “Communist Threat” to this country, not just a “bogeyman”. McCarthy has been exonerated since the Verona Project materials were released by the U.S. government in 1995 and Soviet Archives have been opened.

    Many books on the subject, amoung them: “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans. “Drawing on primary sources—including never-before-published government records and FBI files, as well as recent research gleaned from Soviet archives and intercepted transmissions between Moscow spymasters and their agents in the United States—Evans presents irrefutable evidence of a relentless Communist drive to penetrate our government, influence its policies, and steal its secrets. Most shocking of all, he shows that U.S. officials supposedly guarding against this danger not only let it happen but actively covered up the penetration. All of this was precisely as Joe McCarthy contended.

  6. Bruce the negative attention lover yet again misses the forest for the trees.

  7. I have often read on this blog that violent crime is a function of race, but the paper argues a different hypothesis:

    The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn’t paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

    Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the ’60s through the ’80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early ’90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

    So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the ’40s and ’50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

    (America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead). What do you think?

    Is Mike S correct to think that a racial bias blames young black males for violent crime, or as I want to argue, the culprit is OIl-Qaeda’s leaded gasoline?

  8. Well said Squeeky. Let’s judge Trayvon on the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Hater?

    I dislike President Obama’s policies. Hater?

    I wish we had a President like Thomas Sowell. Politically Correct?

  9. typo: “The paper hypothesizes that unleaded gasoline is the cause of the rise and the fall of violent crime.”

    should be: “The paper hypothesizes that gasoline is the cause of the rise and the fall of violent crime (lead in gas = rise but unleaded gas = decline of violent crime).”

  10. What Tony C said.

    On a non-racial type of bias tact, I have a bias against big oil.

    I call big oil Oil-Qaeda, and the dynamic it is involved in “MOMCOM” (military oil media complex).

    Mike S always leaves the oil portion out, as he did in this post, where he uses:

    “Corporate/Military/Industrial Complex (CMIC)”

    To illustrate how our biases and prejudices work, let me give an example of how our prejudices would tug and pull on both of us:

    Second, and far more puzzling, it’s not just New York that has seen a big drop in crime. In city after city, violent crime peaked in the early ’90s and then began a steady and spectacular decline. Washington, DC, didn’t have either Giuliani or Bratton, but its violent crime rate has dropped 58 percent since its peak. Dallas’ has fallen 70 percent. Newark: 74 percent. Los Angeles: 78 percent.

    There must be more going on here than just a change in policing tactics in one city. But what?

    (America’s Real Criminal Element, emphasis added). What does that have to do with oil, bigotry, or denial?

    You will see better when I quote more of that article in a minute.

    But first let me reveal what my bigotry or prejudice urged me to conclude: that Mike S has some affinity or economic interest in oil companies, and therefore does not mention them in his “CMIC” as I do in my “MOMCOM.”

    Even though I do not know that, and therefore could not honestly argue that about Mike S.

    That is just the way our vast subconscious cognitive system works.

    My underground bias system gave my conscious mind a preconceived notion based upon what is stored and constructed in what I call my cultural amygdala.

    Here is the next part of that paper dealing with what caused crime to diminish significantly in the U.S.A:

    Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

    A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?

    Well, here’s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4.

    (ibid). The paper hypothesizes that unleaded gasoline is the cause of the rise and the fall of violent crime.

    The paper’s analysis is that crime went up precipitously when unleaded gasoline was unleashed on the public, then went down just as precipitously when it was made illegal.

    YES! My anti Oil-Qaeda system kicked in and I became favorable to looking further into the hypothesis.

    I have not ultimately concluded yet, but my biases favor that hypothesis.

    When I saw Mike’s CMIC in this post, my bias said he is an oil man of some sort.

    You get my drift … that is how your bias works down under your conscious mind too.

  11. Paul: It depends on how you define racist, I suppose. Many blacks are racist in the sense that they distinguish between whites and blacks, but the vast majority of that “racism” is because whites distinguish between whites and blacks: It is a reflection of white racism against blacks.

    When a qualified black man has to apply for 50 jobs to get hired and a white man with equal qualifications only has to apply for 20 jobs to get hired, when the black unemployment rate is more than twice the white unemployment rate, when black pay is significantly lower than white pay for the same job, when schools with predominately black children are rated objectively (by standards) significantly inferior to schools with predominately white children, any normal person is going to conclude that what all of that disparity has in common is the color of their skin (or more generally the morphology of their body).

    To me, “Racism” is not just defined as a neutral distinction by race, a “racist” believes another race is inferior to their own.

    So using that definition, I do not think most blacks are racists, I think they correctly infer racism in the aggregate of whites that overwhelmingly control businesses (and hiring), banks (and loan policy), politics, the courts, and police.

    And once that happens, it becomes difficult for blacks to not attribute any decision against them to racism.

    That said, I have heard blacks express racist and bigoted positions, pure and simple, against Hispanics, gays, women, Asians, Jews, and so on. But I do not personally consider a bigoted stereotype “racist” unless it includes a component of inherent inferiority to one’s self, in morals, intellect, work ethic or some other personal characteristic due to skin color or some genetically determined body morphology (excluding gender).

  12. Eric Alva, Gay Veteran Wounded In Iraq, Booed By Anti-LGBT Protesters
    The Huffington Post
    By Nick Wing
    Posted: 08/16/2013

    Eric Alva, a gay Marine veteran who lost a leg during combat in the Iraq War, faced an unfriendly reception from anti-LGBT protesters in San Antonio, Texas, this week, while testifying in favor of an anti-discrimination ordinance.

    In a Facebook post after addressing the city council on Wednesday, Alva described the response he received from a large group rallying against a measure that would expand anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.

    “Well I just left city council chambers and I feel like crying,” he wrote. “I have never seen a city so divided and hateful towards each other. All of mankind should be ashamed. I already spoke and even some of the religious groups even booed me as I spoke. Such disrespect as they preach the word of God.”

  13. @rafflaw

    While I agree with Mike and your assertion on the increase in bigotry since the election of President Obama (still get chills writing that), I disagree with this portion of your comment.

    “I do agree that racism has had a resurgence since the election of Barack Obama.”

    I think we can trace the actual beginning of the resurgence in bigotry to a much earlier specific date and place. August 3, 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. For the first time since the civil rights era we had a credible presidential candidate open his campaign and then go on to run and win on “states rights”. This was signal from the country to the “haters” and more importantly the “Politically Correctors” that they had done enough for the “others” it was now ok to resume their respective active and passive bigotry.


    This is the #1 reason on my list of why I consider Reagan the worst president of the 20th century.

  14. I wonder if those that think “Obama is not a black man” or “Obama does not act black” realize their position is racist and bigoted, in that it attributes a fundamental difference between what a black man should do as President and what a White Man or Latino should do as President.

    In truth, the modern prerequisites of a being a President seem to require a distinct lack of principle and willingness to lie to the public, regardless of one’s race, gender, or pretense of a faith or an ideology. Such people prioritize political success above all else, and we cannot expect such people to stick by any principle, promise, group, religion or ideological premise (or even the law) if doing so is not in their own best political self-interest.

    They may have empathy, sympathy, or shed a few tears at the deaths of innocents, but when it comes to actual legislative action high political success on the national stage will always demands a cold calculus that puts politics first and makes principles a secondary luxury.

  15. This appears to be a long comment on the rodeo clown post. We respectfully disagree on that, and on PC.

  16. OS,

    Way cool. I look forward to it. If not this weekend, then next weekend.

    Fare well until then.

    It is fun doing research, analysis, then sharing it.

  17. Dredd,
    I am working on a rather long article exactly about the point you make above. I don’t know if I will get it finished this weekend, since I just snagged a bunch of new studies I had not known existed and I have to burrow through them. On top of that, I just found out we have company coming, so the best laid plans……

    But, as Gene and I both have pointed out before, by nature humans are tribal. We form into social groups and colonies. There are several psychological tests devised to assess just how each individual’s thinking processes information as they choose groups or classes. For example, the Wisconsin Cart Sort Test is one such instrument. The subject has to sort the cards with designs on them into classifications, without being told what the classifications are. The group chosen may be a tribe, clan, cult, religion or politics. But we are still driven by the most primitive parts of the brain….just like fish schooling or birds flocking together; both animals not exactly known for their intellectual skills.

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