Nicholas Kristof Goes Data-Free On Racism

Before I get started on Kristof, it’s worth remembering there’s a difference between the median voter and the marginal voter. People who vote for a candidate don’t do so for the same reasons, and, at the margins, they can be persuaded to either sit out the election or even switch sides. It is stupid for Democrats (I’m using that term because I have no idea what ‘liberal’ or ‘left’ mean anymore) to write off an entire group of people–which is to say non-college educated whites–since enough of them vote do Democratic. We need those votes.

But the key thing, as I’ve noted before, is that many whites vote for Democrats in spite and in opposition to their racist beliefs. Again, we present the most-misunderstood graphic of the 2016 election:


Back to Kristof, who wrote (boldface mine):

Some of you are saying that it’s O.K. to be intolerant of intolerance, to discriminate against bigots who acquiesce in Trump’s record of racism and misogyny. By all means, stand up to the bigots. But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots? Maybe if we knew more Trump voters we’d be less inclined to stereotype them.

Just as we should not label all Trumpists racist, it’s equally unproductive to ignore that many Americans are pretty damn racist: about twenty five to thirty percent, and they aren’t equally distributed between the two parties. From a political strategy perspective, waiting for racists to have an epiphany about their racism is about as productive as waiting for Godot (and regaining political power does matter). But if Kristof is going to tell people to get outside their bubble, it’s time for bigoted white people to do the same and peek outside of their bubble.

Because they’ve surely done as much damage as some idiot college professors.

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4 Responses to Nicholas Kristof Goes Data-Free On Racism

  1. Min says:

    Speaking as a white Southerner who grew up in the Civil Rights era, I was very surprised to note that one of the main things that reduced racism in the South was not argument or persuasion, or, in the Bible Belt, appeals to the story of the Good Samaritan or to the Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ identifies with the downtrodden, but was forced integration. There may have been a certain amount of cognitive dissonance there, justifying to yourself what you have to do, but there was also the experience of treating strangers as equals and seeing them, in response, act as equals. That experience does a lot to break stereotypes.

    Unfortunately, on the whole we remain a segregated society, perhaps even more segregated than we were back then, outside of the South. Forced racial integration is politically and legally impossible now, but that only makes it more imperative for anti-racists to gain political power.

  2. Contingent Cassandra says:

    I see a major problem with the poll: that it is likely to eliminate potential participants who think the idea of rating a whole “race” of people “in general” is nonsense, and so are likely to hang up, walk away, or otherwise refuse to answer when asked to do so.

  3. hipparchia says:

    hmmm… it would appear that more racists voted for Clinton than voted for sanders.

  4. Asking the Democrats to pick a leader is like asking cats to pick a herder.

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