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The "Race" Dog-Whistle

Dog Whistle - "political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the population of the general public at large while also simultaneously having an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup." - Wikipedia

Presidential candidate Tom Steyer started the volley when he said, "Every single policy area in the US has a gigantic subtext of "race." That was followed up later by Bernie Sanders saying that "we have a criminal justice system today that is not only broken it is "racist." Elizabeth Warren chimed in, "we can no longer pretend that everything is "race" neutral" and was followed up by Pete Buttigieg hitting himself along with the others as he decried that, "there are seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice." Then the ultimate remark came when Mayor Bloomberg said, "If I had been black my success would've been a lot harder to achieve."

What does this all mean? Nothing really. It's a dog whistle in its purest sense. Articulating some altruistic view of "race" relations, each candidate knows that he/she is relating to an American public who believes in the construct of "race." Rather than try to point out that 'race" is not real and work from that viewpoint, they all use coded language to sympathize and empathize with "people of color." This is the ultimate Dog Whistle.

This is not the first time that this tactic has been employed. It was most famously used in the 1988 presidential election between George H Bush and Michael Dukakis. It was an ad featuring Willie Horton, a convicted felon who had received weekend furloughs via a program sponsored by Dukakis.

On one of those weekends, Horton went on to rape a woman and stab her fiancé in a brutal home invasion. The ad played upon the concept of "race" and the idea that "black" people were somehow depraved. It worked.

So if you look at the definition above, it says that a dog whistle has "an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup." What is it in this case? It is the resonance within the "black" community that they ("black" community) are all victims and society has done you very wrong and I sympathize with you.

And I will guarantee you that many "black" people will read this and say "that's absolutely true" that "we have been wronged," but the dog whistle goes further than that. The dog-whistle also sets the premise that you are "black." More deeply encoded in that message is that you are on the bottom of the hierarchy and you need "woke people" like me to set you free. Now of course that's my characterization and none of the candidates would admit to feeling that way, but review the statements above and think about how you would perceive them if you were/are a person of color.

We've all got to ignore the dog whistles used in politics and when I think about it, if we had real people running for office with real principles, there would probably be no dog whistles. So here's to looking for honest and open politicians in the upcoming presidential election.

You might just want to put on your ear muffs to drown out the dog whistles.

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