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. davidbluefish,

    I am with you on the “race” boxes on census and other forms. The last time I had such a form in front of me, I was sorely tempted to write in, “I am too old to race.”

    Every time my wife filled out a census form, she complained there was no box for “Celt.”

    On a more serious note, if one has not been sensitized to the issue, they should spend some time with one of my clinical psychologist colleagues. She is a dear friend and former business partner. She is strikingly beautiful with dark eyes and hair, and looks white/caucasian, but when you take a second look at her, you realize there is something different about her that is hard to put your finger on. She is a Mulengeon, and did her doctoral dissertation on Melungeon culture. Checking a simplistic “race” box is a real dilemma for her. I never asked her, but I suspect she checks ‘other’. It is possible to identify with all races, and none of them at the same time.

  2. bettykath, I just watched the video link about the 3rd graders. Exactly !!

    The false sense of power based on the false interpretation of melanin content, has conveniently, religiously, monetarily, and horribly served low melanin content humans for a long while. …
    We the human race have much higher ground yet to discover. Thank goodness so many on this blog seem to be seekers of it.

  3. I repeat my two cent theory. (one of these days I am going to nail the words to express my thoughts enlightenedly)

    Anyone that checks the box for race on the US Census form is a bigot.
    I do not check it, (or I put other, or make something up).
    I am human and have tribal evolutionized instinct within me. I fight it as I recognize it.
    The term race as defined by skin color is a travesty, it is BS. and yet so ingrained in our culture that the smart people here think it has significance. You guys are wrong, you are deluded.
    My denial, or enlightenment of my stance rests on the simple truth of it.
    My work and effort raising this FACT causes me to recognize the (idiot) value I place on my “whiteness”. The US government founded by light skinned (melanin deficient) males now promotes and concretizes this false divide, with the stupid race box on the census forms.
    The human race is ONE race. There are many cultural, religious, and environmental divides. The level of melanin is only a difference in hair color. (this is too simplistic but does well to make my point). The level of melanin in only significant to bigots. There are cultural bigots, religious bigots, environment of birth and experience bigots, weight bigots, political bigots, etc. It is impossible to live and not have bigotted thoughts or emotion. It is possible to recognize and lessen them. Expose confront and discuss them.
    One hundred years ago the term “white race” was scientifically (though wrong) was thought a valid and accepted term. The abolitionists, fought strongly against slavery based on the equal intrinsic value of all humans.
    Melanin content has nothing to do with the intrinsic equal value of any human. What is the need for this idiotic continuing classification of people by their melanin content. IT MEANS NOTHING. I capitalized the sentence because it is true.
    Only human ignorance, racism, and the resistance of accepting scientific fact are arguments against my position. This is the way I see it, it is my opinion. Racism is built into the Census forms, just as it is built into our culture. I encourage everyone to refuse to check the box for race on your census forms. …. or at least think about it.

    If you are a “white person” and think that your “whiteness” is significant, you are a bigot. …. think about that!!!! :o)

  4. Jane Elliott is now a consultant. It’s worthwhile to find other clips. There is one where she did her blue eyes/brown eyes experiment on an Oprah show.

  5. Bias – not seeing someone for who they are b/c they are “different”
    Bigotry – grouping all people of a particular difference b/c they are “different” in the same category and seeing them as inferior b/c of that difference and without concern about their character or personality.
    Racism – using power of position to institutionalize bigotry to the detriment and oppression of the “others”.

    White privilege is a form of bigotry by those with the power to institutionalize their bigotry to oppress non-whites.

    White privilege in action advocating for the continuation of a racist policy:


    Wallace carried 90 percent of the state’s black electorate, linking it with rural white voters and members of the Alabama Education Association to form a coalition that defeated his opponent, Republican Emory Folmar, mayor of Montgomery.

    that was for the 1982 alabama governors race.

    how do you know you’re a racist

    when you can get 90% of the voting blacks in alabama to vote for george wallace.

  7. Paul said: “In the last election it is reported that 93% of blacks voted for Obama. I don’t have the % handy for white voters but I am pretty sure it wasn’t anything close to 93% supporting the white guy whatever his name was. So was black racism a factor in their voting patterns?

    Hmm… not one to let facts get in your way much, are you?

    Kerry got 88% of the African-American vote.

    Al Gore got 90% of the African-American vote.

    Bill Clinton got 84% of the African-American vote in 1996.

    Bill Clinton got 83% of the African-American vote in 1992.

    The difference with President Obama’s election is that more blacks turned out than in previous elections—and these additional voters were likely almost all Obama voters.

    The moral of the story is that blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic, regardless of the race of the candidate.

    But that was a nice example of a racist meme.

  8. matters 1, August 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    i thought this was a legal blog …
    Well you know the drill: it is a legal blog.

    Nothing illegal about it.

    You thought?

    That is iffy.

    It matters what you say.

    Like lottakatz said, and beyond; if you are “ignorant of the language” you will not grasp its vast potential for poetic elasticity or its use, at the same time, in scientific papers on the most legal of language issues.

  9. Lol, “race-baiting”, the new language corruption popularized by Talkingpointsmemo and Bill O’Rilley and reflected in comments here. Race baiting is not discussion of or actions against racism, just like PC is not a devious left-wing plot to stifle the first amendment. It is though the latest corruption of the language by the wing-nuts meant to demonize anyone that calls them out on their un-American behavior. Try harder, nobody’s falling for it, you just sound too ignorant of the language to be taken seriously.

  10. Squeaky, If Trayvon were white and GZ were Black, you’re right, we wouldn’t have heard about it. GZ would have been arrested that night and convicted of murder. The reason we heard about it is b/c the Black community was outraged that a Black teen was killed and the cops did a cover up. In anticipation of your objection to “cover up”, the cops didn’t collect all pertinent evidence (bagging Trayvon’s hands, recording the location of GZ’s vehicle, tox test on the shooter, telling witnesses that GZ was the screamer when they reported they heard a child screaming, testimony that contradicted their own reports, etc. The ADA said there was no evidence for charges b/c GZ said so even though his story couldn’t have happened they way he said it did and he was backed up by the chief of police. Both the ADA and the chief have either been fired or retired.

  11. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter 1, August 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm


    Like I have said before, if Trayvon was white, and Zimmerman black, I would feel the same way, The only difference would be that I never would have heard of the case because it would have lacked the whole “Racist Witch Hunt” chic. The press would have ignored it for several reasons. IMO.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter
    Squeeky Reporter,

    Did you know that your daddy, Charley, was made to wear a dress to school the day after the teacher made him cry?

    Bet he wishes he had not told his uncle about it!

    The crying I mean.

    His mommie was in prison for armed robbery at the time.

    Yep, your daddy was five years old when he wore his first dress to school the day after he cried in class.

    I guess that kind of cross dressing kills white people eventually.

    That is why your klan should stop cross dressing.

    The press ignores it because most mass murders are committed by privileged white men.

    Go finger it out.

  12. @chestercat:

    Like I have said before, if Trayvon was white, and Zimmerman black, I would feel the same way, The only difference would be that I never would have heard of the case because it would have lacked the whole “Racist Witch Hunt” chic. The press would have ignored it for several reasons. IMO.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  13. Squeeky:
    Gangsta wanna be in action? Wow, you lead a sheltered life. I won’t even begin to describe actions of teenagers of all races around Trayvon’s age, but believe me, they often seem far worse.
    I can, however, give you one interesting one, and this one is a “white” youth who got caught, here in my community. He was found the other evening with a stash of loot from a series of cat burglaries , all committed that night. Got quite a haul. This lad is from a good home, college bound, yadda yadda. The reason he did this?? A friend had chided him, telling him that he had never done anything “bad” in his life. What if these burglaries had happened the evening George Zimmerman was “not” on his watch, and if this kid was “black” and wearing a hoodie. Sure, you’ll tell me he was a gangsta and this kid I’m describing made a mistake. The kid in my town stole from about 10 homes, and finally got caught. Now, he’s sorry, and he’s “really a good kid”. Garbage.

  14. I agree with some of the points which Squeeky has been making here on the blog the past few days.

  15. Where I live, I frequently encounter blind bigotry, namely white men who think they “made it” on their own with no help from others. My wish: that reincarnation exists and they return as women of color in the Middle East. Then in the next life after that, we’ll chat again.

  16. Excellent post, Mike. Squeaky proves your point.

    As Elaine has pointed out, we all are bigoted in one way or another. It’s important that we recognize our bigotry and work to minimize it.

    Racism is a different animal altogether. As Tony points out, racism requires an element of “I’m better than you”. This element then gets reflected in the institutions that affect our lives. It’s the white power structure that passes and enforces laws that favor whites (e.g. “stop and frisk”, current changes to voting laws, shorter sentences for whites for same crimes as Blacks, more drug arrests for Blacks than whites when whites use more drugs, SYG implementation that allows whites to get off and Blacks to go to prison for similar circumstances). It’s the white power structure that creates and allows banks to red line certain neighborhoods that are majority Black. It’s the white power structure that starves predominantly Black schools. It’s the white power structure within corporations that don’t hire Blacks unless they pay them less.

    All of us, regardless of color or ideology or gender or any other attribute can be bigoted. In this country, it is only the whites that can exhibit racism by prohibiting “others” from having the same rights and privileges. The whites who can’t see this have a serious case white privilege. I don’t know of a cure.

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