“Racism Vs. Whites? You’re Kidding Me”: Majorities Of Whites Think Anti-White Discrimination Is As Bad As The Anti-Black Kind
Last week, New York Times columnist Tom Edsall, in a piece about Donald Trump’s appeal among conservative voters, cited an alarming survey on white people’s racial attitudes that made me wonder if large segments of white America are completely misinterpreting what racism is and how prevalent it remains in our society.
Edsall pointed to a study conducted last fall by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) that found that 52 percent of white respondents agreed with the following statement: “Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”
Among subsets of respondents, 76 percent of those affiliated with the Tea Party agreed with the statement. Another 61 percent of Republicans, and 53 percent of independents. A majority of whites over age 50 also agreed with the statement, and 58 percent of working-class whites agreed. Evangelical Protestants (63 percent) and Catholics (56 percent) also agreed.
62 percent of white Democrats disagreed, and 61 percent of those with a college education. White Americans under 50 also disagreed, even though it was close. Only 48 percent of whites between the ages of 18-29 agreed, and 49 percent of them disagreed. Of whites 30-49, 46 percent agreed and 52 percent disagreed.
Upon seeing these figures I immediately wondered about what exactly white Americans perceive racism to be, and how the supposed racism they receive has become equal to that of African Americans and other minority groups.
Did a leading American presidential candidate refer to large swaths of the white American population as “rapists” and “murderers”?
Have countless white Americans taken to the streets to express their frustrations with a criminal justice system that disproportionately harms and negatively impacts the lives of white Americans?
Are white Americans campaigning against profound levels of income inequality that negatively impact the white community far worse than other racial and ethnic groups in America?
When I look around America I do not see white voices making these complaints. Instead I see large amounts of white Americans expressing their frustration that some traditional white American values are being questioned, or are “under attack,” as some might say.
The controversy over the Confederate Flag has ruffled the feathers of many conservative white Americans because it questions the value and legacy of certain Southern traditions and their heroes. But should it be right for a nation’s or even a state’s decision to refrain from celebrating the lives and ideals of known traitors who were hell-bent on destroying America (who also happened to be white) to be viewed as a racist attack against the white race?
Additionally, the growth of Black Lives Matter has led many white Americans to proclaim that they are “under attack” along racial divisions, but the closest incidents of an “attack” have been occasional protests that have turned violent and resulted in the destruction of property. There has never been a concerted effort to destroy white-owned establishments in the movement, and the random destruction of property is defined as criminality and not racism.
Apart from the recent and unfounded accusation that Black Lives Matter has morphed or been hijacked into a rabid, uncontrollable movement that emphasizes the killing of white law enforcement officials, the greatest cause for concern has been the name of the movement. To some Americans, the name Black Lives Matter implies that other lives do not matter, despite the fact that this notion is actually the inverse of the intent of the name. Black Lives Matter’s intent is to highlight how historically and even to this day, but with lesser severity, black lives have been dehumanized, devalued, neglected, and abused within American society, and that collectively we need to put a stop to this damning status quo.
At no point has the existence of Black Lives Matter been about the dehumanizing or abusing of other races. It has not been about pitting the races against one another and saying that one race is superior to the other. It has been about highlighting the centuries of abuse inflicted upon black Americans, acknowledging the existing abuses, and aspiring to increase the empathy and humanity of the American public to combat these systemic problems.
Proclaiming that the movement should change its name to “All Lives Matter” or creating spin-off, competing slogans such as “Blue Lives Matter” only displays a lack of understanding of the intent of Black Lives Matter. And while the motivations of such reactionary suggestions might be honest and pure, I struggle to see how the misunderstanding of certain segments of white America regarding a national civil rights movement led by black Americans should be interpreted as a racial attack against white Americans.
Black Americans expressing their frustrations against the oppressive institutions that govern them that have been erected primarily by white Americans should not be viewed as a racial attack against white Americans.
In another PRRI survey, support among whites for public protests to combat an unfair government dropped dramatically—from 67 percent in favor to 48 percent—when the protesters were identified as black.
Criticism and racism are not one in the same, and we should not encourage lazily conflating the two.
The majority of the frustrations I hear white Americans express when racist accusations are made center on two main threads: that their lives and social structures should not be questioned and/or challenged, and secondly, that there is an inherent danger of foreign or dissimilar bodies.
These two perspectives are quite common throughout the world, so they are not necessarily “wrong” per se, but when you combine these attributes with the large expanses of land throughout America, it becomes clear that much of American civilization was built around the creation of various “whitopias”—to borrow the term from author Rich Benjamin.
The narrative of white families fleeing Europe to escape persecution and arriving in America to create their own utopian existence where they can practice their desired faith and associate with “their own kind” has been the heroic narrative that we have sold to the world. America had so much land to colonize—once the Native Americans were killed and forcefully removed from their land—that white people from across the world were encouraged to move here for sanctuary and opportunity. There was never much of a need to tolerate those who were different than you because you could always create a town or a suburban community that separated you and “your kind” from dissenting, dissimilar, or critical voices and people.
America has always been structured in such a way that white Americans were encouraged to build and expand this utopian or “whitopian” environment. Both directly and indirectly this has resulted in the dehumanizing and dismissing of non-white life, and the racist structures that have encouraged this forced separation.
However, in this modern world where information and individuals can move faster than previously imagined, the opportunity to escape and live in your own utopian world where you no longer need to value or listen to dissenting voices and may be fearful of foreign bodies is no longer an option. White Americans must now hear the voices of the previously oppressed.
White Americans receiving criticism from the people they have always demonized and oppressed regarding the structures that white society once thought to be utopian is not an act of racism upon white Americans. It is a step toward building more just and humane institutions and societies for all people regardless of race. Misinterpreting this collective social progress as anything else, and especially as a racially motivated attack, is a step in the wrong direction.
By: Barrett Holmes Pitner, The Daily Beast, September 8, 2015
Years ago, I remember Christian right leaders fretting about pastors going to jail if they expressed their anti-gay views; when that didn’t come to pass, they fretted about churches losing their tax-exempt status. These worst case scenarios never happened, because we have this thing called the First Amendment, which protects peoples’ and churches’ right to say gay people are going to hell, or shouldn’t be able to get married, or should be cured by divine redemption.
Years later, the Christian right finally has its martyr in Kim Davis. Thanks to United States district judge David Bunning—who, despite having other options for securing marriage licenses for all Rowan County, Kentucky residents, ordered Davis to jail for six days—a new heroine was born.
Yet while Davis is most obviously a symbol for a Christian right bent on claiming its religious freedom is under siege, she is really a symbol of something else entirely. The Republican Party, and even its most reliable base of support, the Christian right, is being forced to move on when it comes to the marriage issue. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 58 percent of Republican millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) favor gay marriage. A Public Religion Research Institute survey conducted last year found “white evangelical Protestant Millennials are more than twice as likely to favor same-sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%).” That’s not a majority of millennial white evangelicals, but it’s certainly significant, given that this demographic has long been one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality.
Davis, then, is a little late to the party, an anachronism delivered to the doorstep of the party’s most desperate presidential candidates. Her host and chief supporter Mike Huckabee reminded us at yesterday’s rally in Grayson, Kentucky, that Davis came to Christ just four and a half years ago. To her, everything is new again, but to evangelicals who have either embraced marriage equality or acquiesced to its inevitability, her rebirth as a celebrity victim of Rowan County’s gay and lesbian betrotheds and of the judiciary’s “tyranny” must feel a bit stale.
The Davis phenomenon has some Republicans worried, as Sahil Kapur and Greg Stohr report at Bloomberg. “I think the longer this lingers, the worse it is for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement,” John Feehery, a Republican strategist and lobbyist, told Bloomberg, adding that Davis’s stance “smacks of bigotry.”
Then there is the matter of the law. Yesterday Davis embraced Huckabee and lawyer Mat Staver, both of whom have pronounced the Supreme Court to be without authority to decide constitutional questions like whether bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Even Fox News host Gregg Jarrett called this view “stunningly obtuse” and his guest Sharon Liko, a lawyer, called it “ridiculously stupid.” Piling on, the network’s Shepard Smith described the entire spectacle as a “religious play” and criticized Davis’s refusal to accept an accommodation, adding, “Haters are going to hate. We thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they’ve granted her, something that worked for everybody. But it’s not what they want.”
While not a majority view among a group of evangelical thought leaders interviewed for the web site Breakpoint, Hunter Baker, a lawyer and political science professor at Union University, opined, “Kim Davis’s office is obligated to perform the state function of issuing wedding certificates. She disagrees that marriage can exist between two people of the same sex. I agree with her.” But, Baker maintained, “the state of Kentucky has little choice other than to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court.”
Who else agrees with that statement? None other than Donald Trump, who called the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges “the law of the land.”
Trump’s perch atop the GOP field is, of course, driving his adversaries in search of a potent boost from the fractured evangelical base. At yesterday’s rally, a Huckabee aide did the Christ-like thing of blocking Ted Cruz from a key photo opportunity with Davis; after all, the Bible does say those polling in the single-digits shall reap the glory of exploitative publicity stunts.
While Trump’s summertime standing with evangelicals was thought to be a blip, it has persisted into September—along with continued analyses of why. “Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Obama administration and of Republican Party leaders has many social conservatives cheering for him,” the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
Writing on the Fox News website, Robert Jeffress, the Texas megachurch pastor who in 2011 called Mormonism a “cult,” maintains, “No Evangelical I know is expecting Trump to lead our nation in a spiritual revival.” But, he goes on, President Barack Obama has “drastically lowered the threshold of spiritual expectations Evangelicals have of their president. No longer do they require their president to be one of them. Evangelicals will settle for someone who doesn’t HATE them like the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to.”
Do evangelicals need Kim Davis, political motivator? She may very well have missed her moment.
By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, September 9, 2015
“Fire And Brimstone Coming Down From The Sky”: Scott Walker Vows To ‘Wreak Havoc’ On Washington; As If That Would Be A Good Thing
Can one candidate steal adopt another candidate’s tone and thereby revive his struggling campaign? Scott Walker, currently languishing at around four percent in Republican primary polls, is going to try.
So today, Walker will deliver a speech meant to capture the prevailing sentiment in his party, by means of a promise to “wreak havoc” on the nation’s capital. That may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. Zeke Miller reports:
“To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader with real solutions,” Walker will say. “Political rhetoric is not enough — we need a plan of action. Actions speak louder than words. I have a plan to move this country forward. To wreak havoc on Washington, America also needs a leader who has been tested. I have been tested like no one else in this race. We passed those tests and now, I am ready to lead this exceptional country.”
Perhaps in the speech’s exciting denouement, Walker will quote “Ghostbusters” and promise “fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, rivers and seas boiling, 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”
Do Republican voters really want Washington to be overtaken by “havoc”? Some politicians say they’ll reform Washington, or clean it up, or change the way it does business. But havoc? It certainly shows that Walker is not going to bother telling Republican voters that governing is complicated, and you need someone who can navigate the processes and institutions of Washington if you’re going to achieve the substantive goals you and your party share.
Which is perhaps understandable, given the fact that in current polls, if you combine the support for Donald Trump and Ben Carson — the two candidates with zero government experience, who have never run for office before, and who promise that all the problems we face have easy, simple solutions — you get about 50 percent of the Republican electorate.
So Walker, whose fall has coincided with Trump’s rise, seems ready to try anything to emulate the current frontrunner. There’s precedent for that — in past primaries, when one candidate has won support with a particular message or style, other candidates have often tried to adopt some of it. In 2000, when John McCain was successfully portraying himself as a reformer, George W. Bush started calling himself “a Reformer With Results,” and it actually seemed to work. It was possible because it’s only a couple of steps from “reformer” to “reformer with results,” so voters could decide that while they liked McCain’s reform record, Bush offered something similar, but even better.
Walker’s theory seems to be that there are voters now supporting Donald Trump who’ll say, “I like that Trump is smashing things, so if Scott Walker wants to utterly lay waste to Washington, DC, sign me up!” This seems implausible, to say the least.
Earlier this week, the National Review published an article entitled “Scott Walker: What Went Wrong?“, which sums up the prevailing sentiment among Republicans about the Wisconsin governor. Before the race began in earnest, Walker was the thinking person’s choice to become the Republican nominee, in large part because he offered something for everyone. His union-busting and tax-cutting would appeal to economic conservatives, his evangelical roots would appeal to social conservatives, as a governor he could argue that he has executive experience, and his battles with Democrats in his state showed him to be the kind of partisan warrior partisans like. Many commentators, myself included, thought this would be a powerful combination. We put Walker in the top tier of Republican contenders, along with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
While there’s still plenty of time before the voting starts and things could (and probably will) change, for now that assessment doesn’t look so hot. Trump, on the other hand, has demonstrated the degree to which Republican voters hold not only the federal government but their own party’s leaders in contempt. As he’d say, they’re losers, politicians who have been making promises to their constituents for years (we’re going to repeal Obamacare any day now!) but have been utterly unable to deliver. If you want to capitalize on that sentiment, you can do it substantively, by moving your positions on some important issues, or you can do it stylistically, which is what Walker looks to be trying to do.
The degree to which Trump’s success would influence the other candidates is something we’ve been trying to figure out for a while now. Would he pull them to the right on immigration as they tried to capture some of his voters, or would they present themselves as more thoughtful and reasonable, to heighten the contrast with Trump? The question could matter a great deal in the general election (presuming Trump is not the nominee), because if they choose to be more like Trump, they’ll harm themselves among the voters they’d need next fall. But it may not be possible even in the primaries to win over Trump’s voters by trying to be more like him. No matter what you promise to do to Washington, you just can’t out-Trump Trump.
By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 9, 2015
One entertaining aspect of recent dramatic Supreme Court rulings was learning that the court’s high-minded intellectuals can be just as thin skinned and spiteful as everybody else. Apparently, Justice Antonin Scalia was a law-school whiz kid about 50 years and 50,000 cocktails ago, and finds it hard to accept that lesser minds are not obliged to agree with him.
For his part, Chief Justice John Roberts turned political prognosticator in his dissent to Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision legitimizing gay marriage. “Stealing this issue from the people,” he wrote, “will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”
Granted, if all you had to go by was the sky-is-falling rhetoric of Republican presidential candidates and their theological allies, you might think that Roberts had a point. But he doesn’t, partly because the Supreme Court ruling won’t bring about dramatic social change at all. It merely affirms social changes that have already happened.
But hold that thought, because political handicappers at the New York Times argue that same-sex unions could be the best thing that ever happened to the GOP. Not because millions of outraged religious conservatives will stampede to the ballot boxes, but because… well, here’s the headline: “As Left Wins Culture Battles, GOP Gains Opportunity to Pivot for 2016.”
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum believes that the gay marriage fight is over. “Every once in a while,” he told reporter Jonathan Martin, “we bring down the curtain on the politics of a prior era. The stage is now cleared for the next generation of issues. And Republicans can say, ‘Whether you’re gay, black, or a recent migrant to our country, we are going to welcome you as a fully cherished member of our coalition.’”
Sure, Republicans could say that. If Republicans were in the habit of dealing with reality, that is. Frum, a Canadian Jew who became a U.S. citizen in 2007, may be forgiven a bit of wishful thinking. Ever since getting pushed out of the American Enterprise Institute for saying Republicans were foolish not to negotiate with the White House on Obamacare, he’s been trying to persuade Republicans to act more like British Tories.
But that’s not how today’s GOP rolls. On the party’s evangelical right, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was breathing smoke and fire. A Baptist preacher, Huckabee indulged in a bit of ecclesiastical word play, denying that the Supreme Court could do “something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage.” He denounced the ruling as a “blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment,” and vowed to defy it.
In this, Huckabee echoed Rev. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who even before the Supreme Court ruling had vowed that “as a minister of the Gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse.”
Isn’t that brave of him?
However, do you really suppose it’s possible that Floyd, Huckabee, and the rest of the hyperventilating GOP candidates fail to understand that all churches have an absolute First Amendment right to their own beliefs and practices? They’re bravely refusing to perform ceremonies that nothing in this nor any imaginable Supreme Court decision would require of them.
If your church refuses to sanctify same-sex marriages (as mine certainly does), that’s its unquestioned right. For that matter, the Catholic Church also refuses to marry previously divorced couples, or even admit them to communion — an absurdity to me, but not a political issue.
Nothing in the Supreme Court ruling changes those things. It’s about marriage as a secular legal institution: two Americans entering into a contract with each other. Period.
That’s why Bloomberg View‘s Jonathan Bernstein is right and Justice Roberts is wrong about same-sex marriage causing long-lasting social resentment. Marriage, he writes, is “a done deal,” and the issue will soon be relegated to “history books alongside questions of whether women should vote or alcohol should be prohibited.”
Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision invalidating miscegenation laws, was accepted almost immediately. Bernstein points out that in states such as Massachusetts and Iowa, where same-sex unions have been legal for years, they’re no longer controversial.
Because it’s really none of your business, is it, who loves whom? And it has zero effect on you personally. So grow up and get over it.
In time, as Bernstein says, most people will.
In the near term, however, millions of aggrieved GOP voters appear to have gotten the First Amendment upside down. They won’t easily be dissuaded. Feeling besieged by the mainstream culture, they’re encouraged by the Huckabees, Cruzes, and Santorums of the world to believe that they’re being persecuted because they can’t make everybody else march to their drumbeat.
The Republicans’ problem is that to most Americans, that’s the antithesis of religious liberty, and a surefire political loser.
By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, July 1, 2015
“Anti-LGBT ‘Minister’ Franklin Graham Hates For Jesus”: Denigrating A Faith To Further His Own Agenda
I often think of this famed passage from the New Testament when I hear hate spewed by so-called Christian ministers. This Bible story in Matthew explains how Jesus observed that some had denigrated a house of worship, causing him to flip over the tables of the “money lenders” and others selling wares.
Franklin Graham’s stoking the flames of hate against a minority group in America over the past few days has again brought this Bible verse to mind. Not that Graham is a “thief” but because he, too, is denigrating a faith to further his own agenda.
Graham announced last Friday that he was pulling the $128 million account for his nonprofit organization, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, out of Wells Fargo bank. (It’s truly astounding that it has that much money in the bank—you would think that the Christian thing to do is spend at least a few million on those in need.)
So why did Graham pull this huge sum of money from Wells Fargo? Did bank executives burn down a church or sponsor an abortion-a-thon? Nope. The bank simply ran an ad that featured a lesbian couple.
This really outraged Graham. So in a moment of What Would Jesus Not Do, he posted on Facebook, “Have you ever asked yourself: How can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?” Graham’s answer: Don’t do business with Wells Fargo.
And then on Monday, Graham took to the airwaves of the Family Research Council’s radio program to call on other Christians to follow his lead and boycott any business that “promotes the gay lifestyle,” including Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Tiffany’s, and Nike. (Interestingly ISIS also recently banned Nike again proving that religious radicals share much common ground.)
Not content to simply advocate a boycott, Graham added during his radio appearance that “practicing” gays and lesbians, if accepted by Christian churches, will not only destroy the church in our nation, but also hasten the end of times. (Not sure what defines a “practicing” gay in Graham’s mind but I bet he’s pictured it.)
But Graham’s demonization of the LGBT community is nothing new. For example, last year he publicly applauded Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s horrific anti-gay laws, stating that the Russian president “has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
And Graham has often sought to stir up hate against LGBT community members who want to adopt children by warning that this was their was way to “recruit” children to be gay. He also supports discrimination against gay teens from being able to join the Boy Scouts.
Let’s be clear. Graham’s anti-LGBT words, including his new call for a boycott of Wells Fargo, is not just about opposing marriage equality. It is more than that. He doesn’t want gays and lesbians to be viewed as typical Americans with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. Instead he wants Americans to view them and their “agenda” as a threat to our nation. He wants them to be shunned, vilified, and marginalized. (Much the same way he has demonized Muslims, even warning that Muslim Americans in our government are in essence are a threat to Christians.)
And worse, in my view, Graham’s words have radicalized other good Christians. Just this weekend we saw a conservative Christian member of the Arkansas legislature lash out against a local gay-pride parade using words very similar to Graham’s. Arkansas GOP State Senator Jason Rapert objected to the 12th-annual gay-pride parade in his part of the state, claiming it was “truly one of the most offensive public displays against Christians you will find anywhere.” And as if channeling Graham, he added that the organizers specifically chose to hold the parade on a Sunday in order “to try and intimidate people who believe in the Word of God.”
It would, however, be unfair to say Graham is the only evangelical leader spewing hate in the name of Jesus. There’s a veritable league of extraordinary haters including, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association and more. They justify hate in the name of Jesus, a person who instructed his followers to love one another.
My prediction is that the shrillness of the attacks by Graham and his ilk toward the LGBT community will escalate as same-sex marriage becomes even more accepted. And if the Supreme Court decides later this month that marriage equality is the law of the land, don’t expect them to accept this defeat quietly. Instead, expect an increased dose of fear mongering, a push for even more onerous “religious liberty” laws, and even organizing support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Look, there’s nothing anyone can say to stop their hate mongering. But there’s a consequence. No, I’m not talking anyone’s soul burning in eternal hell fire.
Polls shows younger Americans are moving away from organized religion. While there are various factors for this, one-third of millennials polled last year indicated they had left their religion because of “negative teachings” about gays and lesbians.
So bottom line is that Franklin Graham can continue spew all the hate he wants but it will be to an increasingly smaller flock. And hopefully one day we will see some younger evangelical leader truly following the teachings of Jesus and call out Graham for turning a “house of prayer” into a house of hate.
Oh, and there’s another bottom line. The joke’s on Graham because the bank he transferred the money to, BB&T, has a longstanding association with Miami Gay Pride. It looks like it’s just a matter of time until the only place Graham has left to deposit his money is in his own mattress.
By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, June 11, 2015