Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rhetoric: "Bigotry, Identity Politics, Racism", and More

Politicians frequently fault one another for engaging in "identity politics". Sometimes this comes in the form of an allegation that somebody is "race-baiting" or "playing the race card" or "playing the gender card".

As with many accusations in the political arena, a lot of issues need to be clarified before we can take these accusations seriously:

  • What is meant by these accusations? What behavior are you accusing someone of when you accuse them of "playing the race card" or engaging in "identity politics"?
  • Having spelled out what the behavior is, what is wrong with it? Is it bad to be engaging in identity politics or to be playing the gender card?
  • Is it true that anyone actually does engage in this sort of behavior? That is, is the accusation "so-and-so is resorting to identity politics" a true accusation?

What is Identity Politics? Is it Bad?

The first thing to do when someone makes an allegation of "identity politics" is to ask them to clarify what they mean. There is so much discussion and so many different allegations of unfair references to group affiliation -- such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, class, disability and so forth -- that it's difficult to sort them all out.

But there are some themes that recur, and they do seem to carry some moral weight:

  • Allegations of racism, sexism or discrimination against some other group. Obviously, bigotry runs counter to our belief that people should be treated equally as a matter of justice.
  • Allegations that a person, policy, or action has been falsely described as racist, sexist, or discriminatory against some other group. It is unjust to falsely accuse someone of unjust behavior, to demonize people.
  • Allegations that someone is trying to motivate people or appeal to them on the basis of their race, gender, or membership in some other group. Shouldn't people instead be motivated by and appealed to on the basis of moral considerations -- such as compassion, merit, and defying injustice -- that are common to us all?

When someone makes an allegation of "identity politics", "race-baiting" or "playing the race card", then, they should be expected to specify precisely what they mean by the allegation. Once that is done, then we can investigate the facts to see if the allegation is true.

Keep in mind, there are probably at least some circumstances in which it would be acceptable -- maybe even morally obligatory -- to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, etc. That is, not all discrimination is morally inappropriate discrimination, or invidious discrimination. For instance, it might be acceptable to hire your nephew into the family business, rather than someone who is more qualified to do the work in question. Similarly, a group might prefer to hire a member of a minority group for a position that focuses on minority outreach.

"The UK just voted to leave the European Union – so-called “Brexit”. … This is the end of the world as we know it, OK? Please take this seriously. What happened? What happened was, you have this complete right-wing, crazy, racist, xenophobic horror show breaks out in the UK. They don’t want no immigrants – sound familiar? They don’t want multi-culturalism – does that sound familiar? The don’t want to have nothing to do with nobody, period, except for people who look just like them – basically, white folks – in Britain. They say they can’t even deal with white folks in Europe, they just want to be on their own. So everybody goes, “No way, who cares? These people are crazy. If you vote for Brexit, if you vote to leave the European Union, you’re going to destroy the economy. You’re gonna be doing crazy stuff. You’re gonna crash your stock market.” Does any of this sound familiar? You’ve got a movement of crazy people that are going for power, making lunatic arguments, and then you have good, thoughtful, liberal people saying, “Oh, that wouldn’t be prudent. That wouldn’t work out. The policies seem irrational.” … Crazy, hard-right lunatics just led the UK off a cliff into the vast abyss of stupidity and foolishness and soon-to-be economic chaos. Does this sound familiar? The same people in the United States will give you the same argument and tell you it is impossible that Trump can win. … The pollsters don't get it. The pollsters call reasonable people and ask them reasonable questions and get reasonable answers and put you to sleep. And they tell you that Trump can't win. And they told the people in Britain that these Brexit people couldn't win. … And the people in the UK who pushed this insane idea are the worst people ever born in the UK. These are not good people. These are not smart people. These are not kind people. These are racist, hateful people. Some of them are neo-Nazis. And people said they would never be able to get any traction. Well, look at the news. They got a ton of traction. If you don't want this nonsense to happen in the United States, quit tell – slap your friends upside the head who are watching NPR, eating their tofu, and telling you how wonderful it is that Trump is horrible. It is not wonderful that he is horrible. It is horrible that he is horrible. … This hate-wave that just tore Europe apart? Coming soon to a voting booth near you. And we need to have every single person we know doing every possible thing to stop it. Thank you."
-- Pundit and CNN correspondent Van Jones, June 23, 2016, referring to the Brexit vote and how it relates to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Jones is demonizing Trump and Brexit supporters – in part, accusing them of anti-immigrant bigotry – as well as calling them stupid. Are there no non-bigoted, sensible reasons to support Trump or Brexit? Also, Jones says people should "do anything to win", though I imagine he's being emphatic, not literal (though, much of the rest of what he said seems to be meant literally).

The greatest victims of Barack Obama’s litany of economic failures have been blacks and Hispanics. Obama’s no racist, but the impact of his policies is. Does it really matter that he means well?
-- Pundit Stephen Moore, June 10, 2016.

Comment: Moore is claiming that, although President Obama doesn't mean to harm minorities, his policies have that effect, and therefore he is hardly any better than a racist. Is that right? And is it true that Obama's policies hurt minorities? If it were discovered that Republican policies had that effect, would it be fair to accuse them of being little better than racists?

”But the Democrat Party is now an anti-Israel party. That’s not to say – by the way, just as elements of it are an anti-American party, totalitarian in their mindset. As I say, that’s not to say there aren’t some among them, obviously, who support Israel or support America. But the fact of the matter is, when you look at our college campuses, when you look at Obama’s policies, when you look at the Democrat Party – this pathetic Bernie Sanders, he is a Jew who despises Israel and is an American who despises America. And you typically find that sort of thing, a similar sort of thing, don’t you? Tends to be a parallel. But this administration, this grotesque – this President, Secretary of State, this administration is loaded with haters. And so is the Democrat Party."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, June 9, 2016, during the 1st hour of his radio show.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing people of bigotry (e.g., anti-Semitism) and being unpatriotic. It's one thing to criticize people for supporting policies that don't believe are the best for Israel or America; it's another thing entirely to say that they hate those countries, and are actively trying to undermine them. Is it really the case that many or even most Democrats hold this view? That they want government to regulate every aspect of public and private life (i.e., that they're totalitarians)?

It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.

Over the past few weeks, I have watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University. There are several important facts the public should know and that the media has failed to report.

Due to what I believe are unfair and mistaken rulings in this case and the Judge’s reported associations with certain professional organizations, questions were raised regarding the Obama appointed Judge’s impartiality. It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, June 7, 2016. The statement was a response to criticism of Trump's demand that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel recuse himself from a civil case concerning Trump University, given that Curiel was of Mexican heritage, was a member of a Latino lawyers' association, and that Trump had pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to stop illegal immigration from Mexico.

Comment: Trump is saying that his position on Curiel has been distorted, but has it? The interview in question described Trump's position as:
In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.
If this is an accurate description of Trump's remarks in the interview, then Trump is saying that Curiel's ethnicity and his membership in a Latino professional association is sufficient to justify belief that Curiel would be biased against Trump, which seems like an unfounded accusation of bigotry against Curiel (and a bigoted assumption itself: that Latinos will make judicial against their political opponents). Would it be justified to demand that a white judge recuse themselves from the civil case against Trump, because the judge would be biased in favor of Trump? If the above quote is not an accurate description of Trump's remarks during the interview, then Trump is being misrepresented, but by the Wall Street Journal, not by the wider media or any critics who based their criticism on the Wall Street Journal's article.

COSTELLO: Why does Mr. Trump keep doubling down on Judge Curiel? What's the purpose?

PALADINO: Well, answer the question for me as to why the press keeps doubling down on this Judge Curiel thing. The press has created this issue.

COSTELLO: Erick Erickson, who's a conservative blogger, he's an anti-Trump conservative, he does not like the media, either. He wrote this, this morning, of Donald Trump and his continued attacks on Judge Curiel, quote: "So the Party of Lincoln will entertain a racist as its leader in the name of winning? What good does it profit a party to win the White House and lose its soul? Because the odds are the party will not win the White House and will forfeit future victories as it sees Hispanic voters, black voters, and a solid number of evangelicals flee the party of racists." What would you say to Erick Erickson?

PALADINO: Erick Erickson just likes to use the term, "racist". He's not a racist. By far he's not a racist. This is incredible that you want to pull this word out and use it, because it always pushes back on the white guy. It’s not fair. And it's not a fair description of Donald Trump. Donald Trump might have some anxiety about this particular judge because he lives in the same real world that I do, where this type of thing does go on, where the ethnicity means something, in a court case or someplace else.
-- Carl Paladino, honorary co-chair for the campaign of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, June 6, 2016, during an interview with Carol Costello of CNN. His remarks concerned Trump's demand that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel recuse himself from a civil case concerning Trump University, given that Curiel was of Mexican heritage, was a member of a Latino lawyers' association, and that Trump had pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to stop illegal immigration from Mexico.

Comment: First of all, Paladino is using "media incitement" rhetoric. There are legitimate questions about what Trump has said, and the media are asking those questions. Second, while Paladino is right that the term "racist" has been used unfairly in the past, that doesn't mean it's being used unfairly against Trump. When Paladino says he and Trump live in the "real world", he's implying that others don't, which is a form of "stupid" name-calling. Lastly, while it's true there are cases where people (likely even judges) act on racial prejudice, there are also cases where they don't. The burden of proof is on Trump (and Paladino) to show that Curiel is doing so; they can't just speculate that he might. Otherwise, the case couldn't be given to a white judge either, because a white judge might favor Trump based on ethnicity.

Hillary Clinton went there.

“We are trying to elect a president, not a dictator,” she said of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump at a campaign rally here on Friday, just days before the California Democratic primary.

And at the last rally in the scorching San Bernardino evening, she once again let loose on Trump, questioning not only his qualifications, but his sincerity.

“I don’t understand Donald Trump running a whole campaign based on nothing but denigrating immigrants,” she said, pointing out that Trump, whose mother was Scottish and whose wife is Slovenian, has family that came over to the United States from abroad. “Is this nothing but a political stunt?"
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 3, 2016, as related in a story by Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico.

Comment: This is demonizing. Whatever Trump has done wrong, at no point has he called for, say, eliminating elections (as a dictator would). Also, though he has undoubtedly made unfair statements against illegal immigrants from Mexico, he hasn’t denigrated all immigrants, nor is his entire campaign based on doing so.

Donald Trump said in an interview published Thursday that that a federal judge's Mexican heritage presents a "absolute conflict" in his fitness to hear lawsuits against Trump University because of the mogul's hard-line stance on immigration.

While Trump has assailed the judge before with racially imbued language, his comments marked the first time he explicitly said the judge's ethnicity should have disqualified him for presiding over the cases.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had a conflict in the cases because the judge is “of Mexican heritage" and the mogul is espousing polarizing views on immigration.

“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Trump told the Journal, referencing his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that his supporters have cheered but opponents have sharply criticized.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, as related in a June 2, 2016, story by Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post.

Comment: This is a very poor (even bigoted) grounds for expecting a judge to recuse themselves. Can the only judge ruling on the case be one who has no opinion about Trump and his policies, and no heritage in common with anyone who would be affected by Trump’s policies? By the same reasoning, should any white, male judge recuse themselves from the case, because they would be biased in favor of Trump?

"And instead of telling you what they’re for, they’ve defined their economic agenda by what they’re against -- and that's mainly being against me. And their basic message is anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and, let’s face it, it's anti-change. … And the one thing I can promise you is if we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of okie-doke just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not going to build on the progress that we’ve started. If we get cynical and just vote our fears, or if we don’t vote at all, we won’t build on the progress that we started."
-- President Barack Obama, June 1, 2016, referring to his conservative and Republican critics, and Republican presidential contender Donald Trump in particular.

Comment: Obama is demonizing his opponents on several fronts. First, Republicans and conservatives certainly want smaller government, but it’s an exaggeration to say they are “anti-government” if that means they want no government at all. Second, while many of Obama’s opponents want illegal immigrants deported, that is not the same as being opposed to all immigrants and immigration whatsoever (i.e., being “anti-immigrant”). Third, some Republicans (though by no means all of them) have called for trade tariffs, but not for a suspension of trade. So how is the Republican position “anti-trade”? Fourth, it’s simply hyperbole to say Republicans are “anti-change.” They propose all sorts of change; just change that Obama tends to disagree with. Lastly, Obama seems to be saying Republicans are appealing to fear. But all candidates do this, Obama included. They point out bad things on the horizon – things that we fear – and pledge to lead us away from them. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to fear, per se; the point is, which fears are rational, and what are the best policies do deal with them?

In this year of political rage, one aspect that baffles me somewhat is the absolute, electrified, apoplectic, blurred-vision hatred of Hillary Clinton. Nor do I get the similar outrage expressed about President Barack Obama, who in Comment Section World makes Donald Trump look like a lovable Disney character. I can only ascribe this Rage Against the Clinton Machine to misogyny.
-- Political cartoonist Jack Ohman, May 22, 2016.

Comment: Ohman is accusing many of Clinton's critics of bigotry.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stern public rebuke to the military deputy chief of staff.

Maj-Gen Yair Golan said on the eve of Thursday's annual Holocaust Day that he detected trends in Israeli society suggestive of "nauseating processes" that occurred in 1930s Nazi Germany.

Mr Netanyahu said the comments were outrageous, cheapened the Holocaust and caused harm to Israel.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said he had "total confidence" in Gen Golan.

"If there's something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it's the recognition of the nauseating processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then - 70, 80 and 90 years ago - and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016," the deputy chief of staff said on Wednesday.

"There is, after all, nothing easier and simpler than hating the foreigner... arousing fears and terrifying."

But Mr Netanyahu said Gen Golan's remarks were "utterly mistaken and unacceptable to me".
-- As related in a May 8, 2016, story by the BBC.

Comment: Golan is comparing modern-day Israel to Nazi Germany of the 1930s. In what sense, though, is he saying the two are the same? If the claim is that there is xenophobia both of them, then that's true, but it's equally true of most every country today. What is it about Israel today that makes it more like 1930s Nazi Germany than today's Germany?

"Donald Trump is like the Republican's Frankenstein with orange hair. The Republican Party is reaping what it has sowed. There's all this nostalgia about Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of where three civil rights workers were killed by white supremacists. This is a party which has exploited what Trump is now exploiting. Dog-whistle racism, grievances, resentments. We need an inclusive populism, not the scapegoating populism. To speak to the real anxieties and fears and frustrations, but with hope, not demonization as Donald Trump is doing."
-- Katrina vanden Heuvel, May 8, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Vanden Heuvel is accusing Trump, Reagan, and much of the Republican party of being bigots who express their position using code words. She is also calling for a higher standard of debate in which we refrain from demonizing others, though isn't it demonizing to say Trump, Reagan, and the rest are racists?

GEIST: How do you explain the millions and millions of people who do not watch this show who actually like what they hear from Donald Trump, and they aren't taking messages and orders from us in the media, but they listen to what he says for themselves and vote for him, how do you explain that?

REINER: There are a lot of people who are racist.
-- Entertainer and activist Rob Reiner, May 5, 2016, responding to a question from Willie Geist of MSNBC concerning Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Reiner is accusing many of Trump's supporters of bigotry.

"Look, people are only voting for Donald Trump, most of his supporters are only voting for him because he’s a white guy. And frankly, if he were a woman, or if he were, I don’t know, let’s pick, Latino, Muslim, any of the groups that he’s stoked hatred amongst his supporters, if he were any of those, I don’t think he’d be getting support either."
-- Pundit Sally Kohn, April 28, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Kohn is accusing the majority of Trump's supporters of bigotry.

"I think she would be the best president, and I think it's obvious by a country mile, and that's all that matters to me. Yes, I think there are some different standards. Some of them are subconscious."
-- Former President Bill Clinton, husband to Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, posted April 8, 2016, asked by MSNBC reporter Alex Seitz-Wald whether he thought a male candidate would face the same question about being qualified for office as Hillary Clinton had.

Comment: Bill Clinton is accusing people of being hypocritical on the basis of his wife's gender, apparently, which amounts to bigotry.

"There are a lot of Republicans, including myself, who find him morally repulsive. And he’s just not — there are some things more important things than winning an election. And supporting a guy who tears at the social fabric, who insults the office of the presidency by being completely unprepared for it, who plays on bigotry and fear, who is the sort of demagogue our founders feared would upset the American experiment in self-government, well, that kind of guy, you just can’t support, even if it means a defeat."
-- Pundit David Brooks, March 18, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Brooks is accusing Trump of being a bigot and a demagogue who uses scare tactics (he is also perhaps using the language of disgust: "morally repulsive").

"But the truth of the matter is America is pretty darn great right now. … And what the folks who are running for office should be focused on is how we can make it even better. Not insults and schoolyard taunts, and manufacturing facts. Not divisiveness along the lines of race or faith. Certainly not violence against other Americans or excluding them. … And what’s been happening in our politics lately is not an accident. For years, we’ve been told we should be angry about America, and that the economy is a disaster, and that we’re weak and that compromise is weakness, and that you can ignore science and you can ignore facts, and say whatever you want about the President, and feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people, and people who aren’t like “us,” and say that the reason that America is in decline is because of “those” people. That didn’t just happen last week. That narrative has been promoted now for years. It didn’t just spring out of nowhere. And of course, none of it has been true. It just ignores reality -- the reality that America is the most powerful nation on Earth. The reality that our economy is not only stronger than it was eight years ago, that it’s, right now, the bright spot in the world. … We can have political debates without turning on one another. We can have political debates without thinking that the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. We can support candidates without treating their opponents as unpatriotic, or treasonous, or somehow deliberately trying to weaken America. That's not just one candidate who’s been saying that; some of the so-called more responsible candidates, including a gentleman from this state -- no, no, you read what he says, it's not -- it's no more rooted in reality than some of these other statements. We can point out bad policies without describing them as a “government takeover” or “an assault on freedom.” And by the way, when I say this, this is not about “political correctness.” It’s about not having to explain to our kids why our politics sounds like a schoolyard fight. We shouldn’t be afraid to take them to rallies, or let them watch debates. They watch the way we conduct ourselves. They learn from us. And we should be teaching them something about this democracy is a vibrant and precious thing. It's going to be theirs someday, and we should be teaching them how to disagree without being disagreeable, and how to engage, and how to analyze facts, and how to be honest and truthful, and admit if you make a mistake, and teach them that politics at its best is about a battle of ideas, and resolving our differences without encouraging or resorting to violence. … As Democrats, we believe in things like science. It has resulted in great improvements in our lives. Science -- that's why we have things like penicillin and airplanes."
-- President Barack Obama, March 12, 2016, commenting on the Republican presidential nomination contest.

Comment: First, Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of debate, and accusing Republicans of being "divisive". Second, Obama is accusing Republicans of being bigots who ignore facts, science, and reality. Third, he is saying that Republicans – but not Democrats? – are guilty of questioning the patriotism of their opponents.

"We have been dealing, in the last seven years, with an unprecedented level of obstructionism against President Obama. Literally, it turns out, on the day that Obama was inaugurated, Republicans came together and said, what are we going to do? And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, make it as difficult as he could to do anything. Now, we have had to fight through that and I've been at the president's side time and time again, getting a stimulus bill through when we were in the midst of a horrendous recession, The Affordable Care Act, etc. etc. etc. But what you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through. And this -- and this is on top of this birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to de-legitimize the president of the United States."
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), February 23, 2016.

Comment: Sanders is accusing Republicans of obstruction. He says that the the "birther" movement that claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S.A. – and perhaps the obstruction from Republicans more generally? – is based on bigotry. His remarks involve a variety of generalizations and exaggerations: how many Republicans "came together" and declared they would obstruct everything Obama wanted to do? How many Republicans supported the "birther" movement? And, in opposing any piece of Obama's agenda, how many Republicans did it as a matter of racism against Obama as opposed to a legitimate difference of opinion? Is Sanders part of an effort to "delegitimize" all opposition to Obama, or would that also be an exaggeration?

"But I want to mention one more critical area: Protecting that most fundamental of rights—the right to vote. Across our country, Republican governors and legislatures are erecting one barrier after another that make it harder for black people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past, and we need to call it for what it is. And in the past few days the stakes got even higher. Justice Scalia’s passing means the court hangs in the balance. Now the Republicans say they’ll reject anyone President Obama nominates, no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn’t have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he’s not the real president. That’s in keeping with what we’ve heard all along, isn’t it? Many Republicans talk in coded, racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe. This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics—or our country."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 16, 2016.

Comment: Clinton is demonizing Republicans, calling them bigots. Clinton is also accusing Republicans of using "code words". Would it be appropriate for Republicans to say, "Clinton's rhetoric is code for Marxism and communism, we need to call it for what it is"?

Of course, Democrats also sometimes campaigned outrageously, and some Republicans scorned the politics of hate. There was a marvelous scene in 2008 when John McCain was running against Obama, and a woman at a McCain rally suggested that Obama was an Arab who couldn’t be trusted. McCain corrected her and then praised his rival: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Political nastiness and conspiracy theories were amplified by right-wing talk radio, television and websites — and, yes, there are left-wing versions as well, but they are much less influential. Democrats often felt disadvantaged by the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but in retrospect Limbaugh and Fox created a conservative echo chamber that hurt the Republican Party by tugging it to the right and sometimes breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant. … So today the leading candidate for president in the party of Lincoln is an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe. And he’s not a conservative at heart, just a pandering opportunist. Donald Trump is the consequence of irresponsible politicking by Republican leaders, the culmination of decades of cultivating unrealistic expectations within the politics of resentment. It’s good to see leading Republicans standing up to him today, but the situation recalls the Chinese saying, qi hu nan xia — when you’re riding a tiger, the hard part is getting off.
-- Pundit Nicholas Kristof, February 11, 2016.

Comment: Kristof is accusing much of the Republican Party of being "extreme", and Trump of being a bigot. He is also claiming that is mostly Republicans who resort to the "politics of hate", though he doesn't offer any rigorous data to support this claim, so it amounts to the "only my opponent" caricature.

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last month mocked Donald Trump’s “New York values,” it wasn’t entirely clear what he was implying. This week we got a clue: For Cruz, “New York” is another way of saying “Jewish.” At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause. But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, February 5, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: Milbank is accusing Cruz of using code words, and bigoted ones, at that. Is the fact that Cruz criticizes "New York values" and then later uses the word "chutzpah" really a sound argument for claiming he's anti-Semitic? Yes, "chutzpah" is a "New York" word in the sense that it's Yiddish, and New York – having a large Jewish community – was the place for a lot of Yiddish words to enter the vocabulary of the U.S. But "bodega" and "deli" are similarly "New York" terms, stemming from Puerto Rican Spanish and German, respectively: does that mean "New York" is synonymous with "Puerto Rican" or "German"? It seems like Milbank is demonizing Cruz with a flimsy argument.

Trump has stoked xenophobic fears and used his crass showmanship to mark out this territory. His tactics of strong demagoguery make it completely understandable to lament his success.
-- Pundit Salena Zito, January 31, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Zito is accusing Trump of bigotry, and of being a demagogue.

"You defended New Yorkers after Senator Cruz said that you embodied New York values. You were insulted. Governor Cuomo said he was insulted. Some New York pundits, including from FOX and FOX Business Channel, said they were insulted. There are some observers out there who think that when Ted Cruz talks about New York values, he's invoking something else. He's talking about, in their view, ethnics, Jews. What do you think he means?"
-- CNN's Jake Tapper, January 15, 2016, interviewing Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Tapper is suggesting Cruz may be using code words, and bigoted ones at that.

Ted Cruz has a strong ground game in Iowa
-- Pundit Alexander Nazaryan, January 6, 2016, in a tweet including a photo of Nazis.

Comment: Nazaryan is demonizing Cruz, accusing him of being bigoted (or comparing him to bigots, perhaps comically) .

Few things are sadder or more treacherous than closing the door to immigrants who came after us, which is what some U.S. presidential candidates want to do. … Of course, most incomprehensible for many Hispanics is that the two Latino candidates, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have taken such a harsh stance against immigrants who are here simply because they’re doing the jobs that Americans won’t do. Both Rubio and Cruz have broken a decadeslong tradition in which Hispanic politicians, no matter their family origins or political affiliations, tended to defend the most vulnerable immigrants in this country. … Apparently that legacy no longer applies. “No one running for president knows more about immigration than me,” Rubio recently said during a speech in New Hampshire. Yet Rubio and Cruz are struggling to see who can demonstrate the harshest opposition to offering undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Simply put: Rubio and Cruz don’t want new immigrants to have the same opportunities that their own parents had. … There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That’s a betrayal.
-- Pundit Jorge Ramos, January 5, 2016.

Comment: Ramos is demonizing Cruz and Rubio, suggesting they are anti-immigrant. They have not blocked off opportunities for all immigrants whatsoever; rather, they have refused to support certain reforms directed at immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

Donald Trump is crude and vulgar. He’s every “-ist” in the book: racist, sexist, narcissist, for starters. His dis about Hillary Clinton getting “schlonged” in the 2008 campaign and the accompanying tirade about her “disgusting” bathroom break were weird and juvenile. But he has a point about Clinton playing the “woman’s card,” and about the male behavior that’s more concerning: her husband’s.
-- Pundit Ruth Marcus, December 28, 2015. Marcus was referring to criticisms Trump had made about Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Comment: Marcus is accusing Trump of bigotry, but refusing to use that as an ad hominem argument to dismiss Trump's criticism of Bill Clinton.

"I think that the more than the American people understand what Trump stands for, which among other things is his assertion that wages in America are too high. He wants to, quote/unquote, "make America great." And here's a guy who's a billionaire who thinks that wages in America are too high. He thinks that we should not raise the minimum wage. He wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to his millionaire and billionaire friends. But I think creating and playing off the anxiety and the fears that the American people have, the fears about terrorism, the fears about our economy, and becoming a demagogue about that, and then trying to get us to hate Mexicans, or to hate Muslims, I think that is a strategy that is not what America is supposed to be about. What I believe, in contrast to Mr. Trump, is that we bring our people together to focus on the real issues, which is the disappearing middle class, massive income and wealth inequality. A corrupt campaign finance system. The fact that we're not effectively addressing the international crisis of climate change. The fact that our kids can't afford to go to college. And moms and dads can't afford child care. Those are the issues that we have to focus on. And we have to look at the greed. The greed of corporate America. The greed of Wall Street, which has had such a terrible impact on our economy and on millions of people. So, I'm trying to bring people together to take on the wealthy and powerful who have done so much to hurt the middle class. Trump is trying to play on fears and divide us up."
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), from an interview on CNN, aired December 24, 2015. His remarks concerned Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Sanders is accusing Trump of exploiting fear, of being a demagogue, of inciting bigotry, and dividing the country.

Five years ago, I was fired by NPR for telling Bill O’Reilly that, since the September 11th attacks, I get nervous when I see people dressed in Muslim garb getting on an airplane. By admitting the truth of my own fears, I was pointing out the need to avoid politically correctness and acknowledge the legitimate link between radical Islam and terrorism. I also said once the PC muzzles are off the American people— and after all the fears are expressed — it is paramount to keep in mind that the U.S.A. is a country founded on the ideal of religious liberty. I believed then, as I believe now, that we can’t stereotype any group on the basis of the behavior of extreme, violent or criminal behavior from extreme elements. I don’t want anyone blaming me, a Christian, for the Colorado man who cited his faith as the reason he shot and killed three people at a Planned Parenthood facility last month. My point five years ago was that if our leaders pander to public fears they will see political gain in the short-term. But in a nation of many faiths, the political impulse to exploit anti-Muslim passions amounts to bigotry. And in the long run, it undermines our common American identity, a bond across religious beliefs, place of birth, skin color, and political beliefs. In other words, it is contrary to basic American values and undermines American unity — out of many, one people. The Trump Muslim ban is exactly the type of bigoted overreaction I was warning against. Clearly, most Republicans do not see it the same way. … Right-wing politicians get tons of media attention and fundraising boosts when they call for mass deportation of millions of Mexicans, building a wall along the Southern border, barring visitors from Africa over Ebola paranoia, and banning widows and orphans fleeing from Syria over ISIS paranoia. The American right needs a bogeyman and more often than not, that bogeyman is dark-skinned and a foreigner. The Trump solution is to pull up the drawbridge, wall off the United States and abandon the country’s tradition of inclusion and acceptance. Making American great seems to mean taking the country back to a time of more white people, fewer immigrants and certainly fewer Muslims. It is safe to say the odds of it happening are slim. But Trump is selling fear and even his GOP political opponents are buying it.
-- Pundit Juan Williams, December 21, 2015, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Williams is accusing Trump of fear-mongering, and accusing much of the right-wing of bigotry.

"Yes, there have been times where you start seeing on college campuses students protesting somebody like the director of the IMF or Condi Rice speaking on a campus because they don't like what they stand for. Well, feel free to disagree with somebody, but don't try to just shut them up. If somebody doesn't believe in affirmative action, they may disagree — you may disagree with them. I disagree with them, but have an argument with them. It is possible for somebody not to be racist and want a just society but believe that that is something that is inconsistent with the Constitution."
-- President Barack Obama, from an interview released December 21, 2015.

Comment: Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of debate (in particular, not shouting people down or falsely accusing them of bigotry).

Given Trump's knack for stealing the spotlight, it's easy to think he's alone in his Islamophobic views. That would be a mistake. The other GOP presidential hopefuls may not share Trump's penchant for rabble-rousing, but they're complicit in creating a deeply troubling atmosphere. And I'm not talking about the typical stand-on-the-sidelines sort of complicity. No, these Republican candidates are actively -- and dangerously -- bringing us back to scarier times with their fear-based proposals and angry rhetoric: … Ben Carson compared some Syrian refugees to dogs -- with "mad dogs" among them. Comparing people to animals is textbook propaganda, and it often leads to some pretty nasty places (think: "vermin," "blight," "eradicate"). Just imagine Carson's words blown up on a 20-foot poster. Marco Rubio equated Muslims to "Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party, but weren't violent themselves." Shameful. It was only last century that our elected leaders lumped Japanese Americans alongside our overseas enemies. The end result was internment camps, a concept that Trump refused to dismiss.
-- Pundit Donna Brazile, December 9, 2015, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily halt Muslims from entering the U.S., as well as to remarks by Republican presidential contenders Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Comment: First, Brazile is accusing Trump of bigotry, and the Republican candidates more generally of fear-mongering. She also distorts what Carson and Rubio said: Carson did not "compare" Syrian refugees to dogs in the sense of dehumanizing them and saying they were no better than dogs. Rather, Carson said the fact that some terrorists might pose as refugees in order to enter and attack the U.S. shouldn't cause us to despise all refugees, in the same way that one dog with rabies shouldn't cause us to fear all dogs in general. More, Rubio did not "equate" Muslims with Nazis: rather, he said that there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of the Islamic faith, just as there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of any other religion or movement. 

"It's not just Donald Trump that has said that Muslims are unacceptable for admission to this country … Marco Rubio after the Paris attacks said not only that we should be considering internment, he actually suggested that maybe we should close down cafes and diners where Muslims gather, and in fact, compared them to the Nazi party."
-- Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, December 9, 2015, referring to remarks by Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Comment: Wasserman-Schultz is distorting Rubio's comments in a way that makes him appear bigoted. Rubio did not "compare" Muslims to Nazis in the sense of saying they were the same: rather, he said avoiding saying we're at war with "radical Islam" because we don't want to offend non-radical Muslims would be, "like saying we weren’t at war with Nazis because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party but weren’t violent themselves". Also, Rubio said any place where people are being inspired to violence should be shut down, he did not specify that it should only apply to Muslims.

COL. TOM MOE, US AIR FORCE, VIETNAM POW: I would like anyone who is listening to consider some thoughts that I paraphrase from the words of German pastor Martin Niemöller. You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's OK to rough up black protesters because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists because you're not one. But think about this: if he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there's someone left to help you.

TEXT: Paid for by Kasich for America.
-- "Trump's Dangerous Rhetoric", a political ad released November 24, 2015, by Republican presidential contender Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), criticizing fellow Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: The paraphrasing of the famous words of Martin Niemöller – opposed the Nazis – was taken by some as "comparing" Trump to Adolf Hitler. The ad contains some distortions. First, Trump never said Muslims should have to register with the government (though he did – unacceptably – fail to reject the idea). Second, Trump never said he would round up all Hispanic immigrants; rather, he said he would deport all illegal immigrants (which means legal Hispanic immigrants would not be "rounded up", while many non-Hispanic immigrants who are here illegally would be "rounded up"). The implication that Trump is anti-Hispanic on this basis is therefore unfair. Third, while Trump did express approval at a protester being "roughed up" (which is unacceptable), he didn't justify this on the basis that the protester was black; the implication of bigotry is again unfair. Finally, Trump did not suppress journalists by – as the ad depicts – removing Jorge Ramos of Univision from a press conference. Ramos was disrupting the press event, not waiting to be called on before he spoke (as the other journalists were doing), and he was ultimately allowed back into the conference to question Trump. This hardly amounts to some sort of effort to stifle freedom of the press.

TEXT: Republicans keep saying the same thing.

RUBIO: We are at war with radical Islam.

JEB BUSH: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: Equating Islam, all Muslims, with terrorists…

TRUMP: We do have a problem radical Muslims.

CARSON: Radical Islamic jihadists.

CRUZ: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: It’s oversimplification. And it’s wrong. But don’t take our word for it.

GEORGE BUSH: We do not fight against Islam, we fight against evil.

GEORGE BUSH: The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.

GEORGE BUSH: That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.

TEXT: Inciting fear isn’t presidential.
-- Democratic Party political ad, retrieved November 24, 2015. The ad quotes Republican presidential contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump, as well as former President George W. Bush.

Comment: The ad is accusing Republicans of fear-mongering. It is also falsely accusing Republicans (perhaps via code words?) of equating Islam and Muslims with terrorism and terrorists, thereby demonizing them as bigots. Being opposed to radical Islam doesn't mean being opposed to all Muslims, any more than being opposed to corrupt police officers means being opposed to all police officers. Citing George Bush – a Republican – seems like a faulty appeal to authority, perhaps an argument ad hostes. (Plus, the ad cites George Bush selectively: he denounced Islamic radicalism.) 

Don’t worry I won’t make any exceptions, there are none to make.





The lowest of the low in my book, oh, I might offend some of these mouth breathers; so what, fuck em.

Watching the pigswill that is the GOP debates where the vilest, nastiest and most demeaning piece of drivel gets wild applause. If you want to appeal to the dregs of the earth, then go for it, don’t expect my analysis to be bipartisan.

I don’t want to get to know you better, in fact I don’t want you anywhere bloody near me. Vote for this trash and I will regard you as such.

There are not two sides to the debate there is no common ground, we have gone way beyond that, vileness is their motto, hatred their raison d'être.

Greedy, spineless cowards, fearful of anything that moves, hateful of anything different and proud of their ignorance. Proud unreasoning bigots all.

They live in their own vile pool of ingrained mindless doctrine where belief trumps fact, where ignorance is praised as a virtue.

There are those that exploit the fear, loathing and ignorance and they are the worst of the lot, where denial is easier than facing up to the truth.

To those who would send others far braver than themselves into our mindless wars I have nothing but sheer contempt.

You are scum.
-- Pundit LaFeminista, November 21, 2015, in a post entitled, "Republicans Are The Scum Of The Earth".

Comment: This is "disgusting" rhetoric. LaFeminista also accuses Republicans of being bigoted, not caring about truth and reason, and exploiting fear.

RUBIO: We need to get rid of all these illegal executive orders the President’s put in place. [TEXT: April 14, 2015]

CRUZ: I think amnesty is wrong. [TEXT: August 09, 2015]

RUBIO: DACA’s going to end. [TEXT: November 04, 2015]

TRUMP: They have to go. [TEXT: August 18, 2015]

NARRATOR: These candidates may be different, but their messages are all the same. [images of Trump, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio appear] “No” to DAPA, “no” to DACA. “No” to immigrant families. Now it’s time for our community to say “no”. We will not accept hate, we will not allow anti-immigrant attacks, we will not support the status quo. Because if they win, we lose. SEIU COPE is responsible for the content of this advertising.
-- Political ad released by SEIU COPE (the Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education), November 18, 2015, criticizing Republican presidential contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump for their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Comment: The SEIU is demonizing Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Trump as being bigoted. Opposing illegal immigration is not the same as being anti-immigrant, any more than being opposed to corrupt police officers is same as being opposed to all police.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot of talk about immigration as well. Donald Trump is speaking about history. He wants to bring back Operation Wetback from President Eisenhower and deportation force. What would that mean?

OBAMA: Well, I think the name of the operation tells you something about the dangers of looking backwards. And the notion that we're going to deport 11, 12 million people from this country, first of all I have no idea where Mr. Trump thinks the money's going to come from. It would cost us hundreds of billions of dollars to execute that. Imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children and putting them in what, detention centers and then systematically sending them out. Nobody thinks that that is realistic, but more importantly, that's not who we are as Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think when you hear people cheer for that?

OBAMA: Well, what I think is that there's always been a strain of anti-immigrant sentiment in America, ironically from folks who themselves two generations back or even one generation back were immigrants themselves. And it's the job of leaders not to play into that sentiment. Now, those sentiments get stronger when people feel insecure. And given what happened in 2007, 2008, given the fact that despite the recovery, I think people still have some post-traumatic stress and are still concerned about prospects for jobs and economic security in the future it's easy to play on those fears. But that's not that's not what you want from your president. And to their credit Republican and as well as Democratic senators and or presidents in the past, including Ronald Reagan, including George H.W. Bush, including George W. Bush have understood that we are a nation of laws, but we're also a nation of immigrants and that proposing radical and necessarily cruel solutions to a problem that can be solved by some good, old-fashioned legislation of the sort that passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate and I would've been able to sign two years ago if the House Republicans had allowed it to come to the floor 'cause there was a majority on that floor to vote for it we don't want I think, a president or any person in a position of leadership to play on those kinds of fears.
-- President Barack Obama, November 12, 2015, during interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.

Comment: Obama is demonizing those in favor of deporting illegal immigrants, accusing them of being anti-immigrant (i.e., being bigots). But being opposed to illegal immigrants is not the same as being opposed to all immigrants. Obama is also accusing Republicans of fear-mongering, and not being "real Americans".

AGUILAR: If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on the immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you, but I just want to pause on one thing because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role, but I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do, but in the context of relative privilege, and I just want to point out that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working —

AGUILAR: I understand that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

AGUILAR: No, no, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. Really, ya’ll do. That is really what you guys do as a party.

AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That’s true. Not all Republicans. That is certainly true.
-- Pundits Melissa Harris-Perry and Alfonso Aguilar, October 26, 2015, discussing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his prospects to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Comment: First, Harris-Perry is accusing Republicans of deriding people for leeching off the system (I assume when talking about welfare and related programs). Harris-Perry says she's not generalizing about all Republicans, but she still says that Republicans "as a party" engage in this sort of demonizing – which they don't – and as such Harris-Perry herself is demonizing Republicans. Second, Harris-Perry is pointing out an ambiguity in what counts as being a hard worker: however hard you work, there's probably someone else who works harder, and maybe even a whole segment of the population – past, present, even future – that works much harder than you. So, who are you supposed to compare yourself to in order to determine whether you're a hard worker? To slaves from the 1850s? Or to the other people working in your industry today? It's arguable, but it's unfair for Harris-Perry to suggest there is some sort of bigotry (or even code words?) at work in Aguilar's use of the term to describe Ryan. Who does Harris-Perry believe is a hard worker? Anyone in the U.S.A.? Herself?

"As Democrats, we’re proud that our plans to fix our broken immigration system are not rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment. They’re rooted in what we know to be our own immigrant stories."
-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.

Comment: Obama is demonizing Republicans – and perhaps people who don't support comprehensive immigration reform more generally – as being xenophobes. How is it anti-immigrant to say that people who came to the country illegally should not get citizenship and permanent residence, but that people who came legally should?

"I believe that any one of our candidates will stand in stark contrast when it comes to the priorities of the American people and how they're going to make the decisions on who they vote for for president to any of the Republican candidates. The Republicans have been trying to out right wing one another. Look, between the 15 Republican candidates that are left, all of whom are trying to out-trump Donald Trump by saying, yes, let's kick women -- let's kick immigrants out of this country. Let's take away health care from women."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), October 11, 2015.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz is demonizing Republicans, distorting their positions: Republicans aren't xenophobes who want to deport all immigrants; rather, Republicans (but not even all of them) want all illegal immigrants deported. Also, Republicans don't want women to be refused health care; rather, Republicans (again, not even all of them) don't want government money being used to support one health care provider – Planned Parenthood – so long as it also provides abortion services.

KROFT: What do you think of Donald Trump?

OBAMA: Well, I think that he is a great publicity-seeker and at a time when the Republican party hasn't really figured out what it's for, as opposed to what it's against. I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican party that's real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don't think it's uniform. He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character and, at this early stage, it's not surprising that he's gotten a lot of attention.
-- President Barack Obama, during interview released October 11, 2015, with Steve Kroft of CBS News.

Comment: Obama is accusing a segment of the Republican party of bigotry.

"There’s still those shrill voices in the national political arena, trying to undo what has already been done. But they’re not going to succeed. Don’t worry about it – no really. The American people have moved so far beyond them, and their appeals to prejudice and fear and homophobia. And because of how far you’ve moved the American people, the remainder of the work, and much work has to be done, I promise you, will come much more quickly and more surely. It will increase in its rapidity the change that we need. … The American people are already with you. There’s homophobes still left. Most of them are running for President, I think."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 3, 2015, speaking at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner.

Comment: Biden is (perhaps in the spirit of comedy) accusing someone – he doesn't say who, but likely means Republicans – of bigotry. Isn't this demonizing?

Who doesn’t love free stuff? … But in politics, “free stuff” has come to mean something very different. In 2012, Mitt Romney said he told members of the NAACP that if they wanted “free stuff” from the government — including Obamacare and other benefits — they should vote for President Obama. Last week, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, when asked about attracting black voters, said his message was different from that of Democrats because it was not “get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff.” Bush and Romney were apparently using the term to refer to the government benefits generally associated with low-income people, such as food stamps. Playing on resentment of such benefits is an old political tactic, sometimes using a barely veiled racial code, as when Ronald Reagan inveighed against a “welfare queen” during his 1976 presidential campaign.
-- Pundit Farai Chideya, October 2, 2015.

Comment: Chideya is accusing people of using "code words" for racism.

"Barack Obama is an anti-Semite. I believe that in my heart. … The proof is his foreign policy. The proof is his Iran deal."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, October 1, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program.

Comment: Levin is demonizing President Obama as a bigot. What if someone said, “Mark Levin is a racist, I believe it in my heart. The proof is his opposition to the minimum wage and affirmative action”? Would that be fair?

Ben Carson is hoping to awaken black voters to his campaign with a message of economic empowerment, saying the black community has been done a disservice by heeding political power overtures from Democrats.

Speaking to a small group of black leaders and activists last week, the retired neurosurgeon, who is surging in polling in the Republican presidential race, said he believes black Americans bring more power through the size of their bank account than by putting their “fist in the air.”

Mr. Carson said he generally shies away from focusing on race: “I say that’s because I’m a neurosurgeon, because everyone’s brain looks the same and it works the same way.”

But he said black voters should step beyond their allegiance to the Democratic Party.

“The Democrat Party, of course, is the party of the KKK. Of Jim Crow laws. And perhaps just as bad right now, of servitude. ‘Now you do this, and we’ll take care of you, pat you on the head, take care of all your needs.’ Which keeps people believing that’s what they actually need,” Mr. Carson told the small group.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, as related by a September 29, 2015, Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan.

Comment: Carson is demonizing the Democratic Party using guilt by association. Yes, the Democratic Party used to support racist policies, but they don't anymore. More, it is an exaggeration to compare the plight of African-Americans today to their situation under Jim Crow laws and say the two are "perhaps just as bad"; they are nowhere near as bad as one another.

Several candidates have said part of their immigration plan would include stripping the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution to end birthright citizenship. My question is, why should voters not be concerned that such a casual approach to disregarding the nation's supreme law would extend past anti-immigrant sentiment and on to any other portion you chose, such as the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms?
-- Activist Jose Antonio Vargas, from a September 15, 2015, list of questions posted on CNN for GOP presidential candidates.

Comment: Vargas is saying that ending birthright citizenship is a bigoted position.

"This is what kills me, honestly. The media is making this look like they’re Tea Party people. I don’t think these are Tea Party people who are following him. Some of them may be. But I think – you can’t – if you are a Tea Party person, then you were lying, you were lying. It was about Barack Obama being black, it was about him being a Democrat, because this guy’s offering you many of the same things as shallow as the same way. If you said to me that it bothered you about his past, you said to me, hey, what about his relationship with Jeremiah Wright, what about what he’s done here, here, and here, you’re not bothered by this guy. And it’s exactly the same thing."
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, September 15, 2015. Beck was referring to supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Beck is arguing that Trump is offering some of the same rhetoric as President Barack Obama did when he ran for president. Given that, Beck is suggesting that people who support Trump but opposed Obama may have been motivated by racism.

"And this whole anti-immigrant sentiment that’s out there in our politics right now is contrary to who we are. … But when I hear folks talking as if somehow these kids are different from my kids, or less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow they are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care -- I think that’s un-American. I do not believe that. I think it is wrong. And I think we should do better. Because that’s how America was made -- by us caring about all our kids."
-- President Barack Obama, September 14, 2015.

Comment: Obama is accusing someone of being both bigoted and un-American. But he doesn't name who has said that immigrant children or the children of illegal immigrants are less worthy of respect, so is it a straw man?

Congressional votes on the nuclear accord are still days away, but now is the time to focus on the damage that’s being done. Left unchecked, the effects could be lasting.

Witness evidence compiled by the New York Times:

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who opposes the deal, was lampooned on the Daily Kos Web site as a traitorous rodent.

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who also opposed the nuclear deal, said she has “been accused of being treacherous, treasonous, even disloyal to the United States.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who announced his support for the deal, was called, on his Facebook page, “a kapo: a Jew who collaborated with Nazis in the World War II death camps. One writer said Nadler had ‘blood on his hands.’ Another said he had ‘facilitated Obama’s holocaust,’ ” the Times’s Jonathan Weisman and Alexander Burns reported.

And it’s not just a matter of an apparent divide among American Jews or the gulf between major Jewish organizations opposing the Iran deal and the deal’s Jewish supporters. The collateral damage falls across religious and racial lines. As a deal supporter, I know.

In response to a recent column in which I cited senior House Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus member James E. Clyburn’s (S.C.) criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking an end-run around the White House to flay the nuclear deal before a Republican-led Congress, I received this e-mail from a reader using the pseudonym “visitingthisplace”: “Black Jewish relations have always been a two way street. The Jews gave money to black causes, marched and died for civil rights, and in return, the black [sic] looted and burned the Jewish businesses to the ground. . . . In spite of your education and your opportunities, you are still just another anti-Semitic street nigger.”
-- Pundit Colbert King, September 4, 2015. His remarks concerned the Iranian nuclear deal.

Comment: "Traitorous", "treasonous", and "disloyal to the United States" is rhetoric that questions someone's patriotism. The rhetoric against Nadler is essentially accusing him of being a traitorous, anti-Semitic Jew. The email sent to King accuses him of being an anti-Semite, and is also racist.

Geraldo Rivera made unabashedly racist remarks about Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson — while accusing Republicans of racism.

The gist of it: they’re only saying they’ll vote for Carson because he’s black.

On Fox News’ “The Five” on Thursday, Rivera commented on a Monmouth County College poll showing Carson would defeat Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up. The show’s resident liberal said he was reminded of the 1993 New York City mayoral election, in which African-American incumbent Mayor David Dinkins polled high and looked like he was going to win, only to be defeated by Rudy Giuliani.

“I think a lot of Republicans polled by Monmouth are giving the politically correct answer,” Rivera said. “I think it’s all about being the black neurosurgeon, brilliant guy.”

When co-host Greg Gutfeld asked whether people voted for Obama because he was black, Rivera again gave a racist response, saying, “Obama was the least black guy you could possibly find.”

If Carson were failing in the polls it would be because Republicans are racist, but if he’s winning it’s because Republicans are racist.

Got that?
-- Pundit Carmine Sabia of BizPac Review, September 4, 2015, regarding remarks made by pundit Geraldo Rivera on September 3, 2015.

Comment: Sabia is accusing Rivera of racism. He is also saying that some people (he doesn't name who) are going to hypocritically accuse Republicans of racism whether Republicans support Carson or not.

HANNITY: You were on my friend Laura Ingraham’s show earlier today, and she asked you a question about people claiming that you’re just in this to run for vice president. You took great offense to that.

FIORINA: Well, you know, it would be different, Sean, if all of the other candidates were asked that same question with the same regularity, but they're not. I'm the person who's asked that question over and over again, and so one can only conclude that I'm getting asked that question because I'm a woman, which is disappointing because I don't sense that with voters at all.
-- Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, September 2, 2015, during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News.

Comment: Fiorina is saying that those who suggest she's vying to get picked as a vice-presidential running mate are being sexist.

Normally, when your main geopolitical rivals are shooting themselves in both feet, the military manual says step back and enjoy the show. But I take little comfort in watching China burning money and Russia burning food, because in today’s interdependent world we’re all affected. I also find no joy in it because we Americans, too, have started burning our most important source of competitive advantage — our pluralism. One of our two political parties has gone nuts and started following a pied piper of intolerance, named Donald Trump. … America’s greatest advantage is its pluralism: It can govern itself horizontally by its people of all colors and creeds forging social contracts to live together as equal citizens. But right now we’re messing around with that incredible asset. Yes, we must control our borders; it is the essence of sovereignty. It has been a failure of both our political parties that the Mexican-American border has been so porous. So I am for a high wall, but with a very big gate — one that legally lets in energetic low-skilled workers and the high-I.Q. risk-takers who have made our economy the envy of the world — and for legislation that provides a pathway for the millions of illegal immigrants already here to gain legal status and eventually citizenship. In June 2013, the Senate, including 14 Republicans, passed a bill that would do all that. But the extremists in the G.O.P. House refused to follow, so the bill stalled. And now we have Trump shamelessly exploiting this issue even more. He’s calling for an end to the 14th Amendment’s birthright principle, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born here, and also for a government program to round up all 11 million illegal immigrants and send them home — an utterly lunatic idea that Trump dismisses as a mere “management” problem. Like lemmings, many of the other G.O.P. presidential hopefuls just followed Trump over that cliff. This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one. Every era spews up a Joe McCarthy type who tries to thrive by dividing and frightening us, and today his name is Donald Trump.
-- Pundit Thomas Friedman, August 26, 2016.

Comment: "Gone nuts" is "stupid" rhetoric. Friedman also engages in "extremists" and "exploiting" rhetoric. Friedman demonizes Trump's immigration plan as being racist (i.e., "nativism"), which is a distortion, given that it doesn't end legal immigration. Friedman also engages in "fear-mongering", "bipartisan", and "divisive" rhetoric.

Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore accused Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker of “literally” tightening the noose around African-Americans Monday.

Moore, who is black and represents the city of Milwaukee, Wisc., made the comments during a conference call with reporters timed to coincide with the Wisconsin Governor’s arrival in South Carolina.

According to a local Fox affiliate, the policies Moore believe are comparable to lynching are “Walker’s opposition to raising the minimum wage, requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, and requiring drug testing for public aid recipient…”
-- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), August 24, 2015, as related in a story by Alex Griswold of Mediaite. Her remarks referred to Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: Moore is demonizing Walker with language that invokes racism. She is using violent rhetoric, likening (or "comparing") Walker's political positions to a racist lynching.

While the recognition of these problems is welcome — even for those of us who do not follow Mr. Trump further down his anti-immigration path — the rest of Trump’s “plan” is a bitter stew served up by a man pandering to Angry White People with ideas both fanciful and harmful.
-- Pundit Ross Kaminsky, August 18, 2015. Kaminsky was referring to the immigration proposal of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Kaminsky is demonizing, saying Trump's policies are bigoted and are intended to appeal to people who are bigoted.

WALLACE: Question: Barack Obama, “anti-Semitic”?

CARSON: Well, all you have to do, Chris, is – like I have – go to Israel, and talk to average people, you know, on all ends of that spectrum. And I couldn’t find a single person there who didn’t feel that this administration had turned their back on Israel. And I think, you know, the position of President of the United States should be one where you begin to draw people together behind a vision, not one where you castigate those who believe differently from you. I think it’s a possibility for great healing, if it used in a correct way.

WALLACE: But, you know, it’s one thing, one could argue, your policy difference from Israel, but you say in your article – and you’re talking about his domestic critics here in this country – that there is anti-Semitic themes there. What, specifically anti-Semitic in what the President is saying?

CARSON: I think anything is anti-Semitic that is against the survival of a state that is surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them. And to sort of ignore that, and to act like, you know, everything is normal there, and that these people are paranoid, I think that’s anti-Semitic.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, August 16, 2015, during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Carson questioned about his August 13, 2015, accusation that President Barack Obama had issued a “diatribe … replete with coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.”

Comment: First, Carson evades Wallace’s question about Carson’s accusation that Obama engaged in bigoted behavior. When Carson does answer, he makes it sound as if Obama is unconcerned with the survival of Israel, rather than having a legitimate disagreement about what steps (for instance, the nuclear deal with Iran) are best for securing Israel’s security. Second, where has Obama said that everything is normal in the Middle East or Israel, and that Israeli opponents of the Iran deal are needlessly paranoid? It seems like Carson is knocking over a straw man. Third, Carson accuses Obama of “dividing” the nation. Finally, Carson calls for us to set a higher standard of debate and not to castigate those with different beliefs, but it seems he is doing precisely that: he is demonizing Obama as being anti-Semitic on the basis of having a different view about the merits of the Iran nuclear deal.

But just as shocking as the decision to actually agree to such a flawed deal are the lengths to which the administration is going today to tar and feather those who dare speak out against it. By playing politics with a critical national security issue, President Obama is cementing his well-earned legacy as the Divider in Chief. In a speech at American University defending the deal Obama stooped to new lows far beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency, savaging deal opponents as warmongers and saying that “those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America’” in Iran were “making common cause with the Republican caucus.” Shockingly, his diatribe also was replete with coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes involving implied disloyalty and nefarious influences related to money and power. One can only imagine the sting of his words on members of his own Democratic party, especially those Jewish Members of Congress who have publicly stated their opposition to this deal based on its merits or lack thereof. … It is clear that the president and his team are in full campaign mode, demonstrating a steely resolve to jam through this misguided Iran deal at all costs. They are smearing those who dare to raise questions and employing a take no prisoners approach complete with bigoted dog whistles and malicious whisper campaigns that cynically divide our country.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, August 13, 2015.

Comment: Carson is accusing Obama of using “code words” to express bigotry. He is also accusing Obama of “playing politics” and “dividing the country”.

There is no longer a Republican center-right that would have no problem raising the gas tax for something as fundamental as infrastructure. Sure, there are center-right candidates — like Jeb Bush and John Kasich. But can they run, win and govern from the center-right when the base of their party and so many of its billionaire donors reflect the angry anti-science, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-minorities, anti-gay rights and anti-immigration views of the Tea Party and its media enforcer, Fox News?
-- Thomas Friedman, August 5, 2015.

Comment: Friedman is demonizing the base of the Republican Party, saying they're anti-science and bigoted.

Bills are being rushed to the floor in the House and Senate in response to a woman’s senseless killing in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant with a long criminal record. That single crime has energized hard-line Republican lawmakers who have long peddled the false argument that all illegal immigrants are a criminal menace, and that the best way to erase their threat is by new layers of inflexible policing. … Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina mused about the need to find and swiftly rid the country of criminal “aliens”: “How are we going to identify that universe, however small it may be?” he said, adding, “What is our plan to identify that universe before they reoffend?” Representative Steve King of Iowa likened crimes by unauthorized immigrants to the 9/11 attacks, “a tragedy that causes my hard heart to cry.” Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said “someone in this administration probably should be arrested for negligent homicide.” Language like that is hard to distinguish from the rantings of Donald Trump, who brought his racist road show to Laredo, Tex., on Thursday. But there is room — even in immigration — for sane, sound policy. … That would be a serious solution, one that gives deserving immigrants a foothold in this country and makes it easier to uncover those who come here to do harm. It is called comprehensive reform, which Mr. Smith, Mr. Gowdy and others in their anti-immigrant caucus, now consumed with exploitive fury over the San Francisco tragedy, have fought at every turn.
-- New York Times editorial, July 24, 2015.

Comment: First, the editorial board is knocking over a straw man: many Republicans have said some illegal immigrants are involved in criminal behavior, but few if any have said all illegal immigrants are criminals (apart, of course, from breaking immigration law). The editorial board is demonizing the Republicans mentioned as being racists and bigoted xenophobes (despite the fact that their comments aren't on par with presidential candidate Donald Trump's), and is also accusing them of exploiting a tragedy.

Donald Trump is exactly what the Republican Party deserves. The Republican Party has nurtured anti-immigrant, xenophobic nastiness for years, but it has tried to do so, at least at the national level, in language that disguised it as a simple issue of law and order. Trump has blown all that to bits. … You have to see Trump’s statement for what it was: A naked attempt at Willie Horton-izing Mexican immigrants, and thereby the exploiting of the image, substantiated or not, of the brown-bodied predator destroying our country and taking the virtue of our women. It provides language for people to hide their racism and nativism inside the more honorable shell of civility and chivalry. It allows Trump to tap into anger and call it adulation.
-- Pundit Charles Blow, July 16, 2015.

Comment: Blow is accusing the Republican Party of using code words. He is also demonizing Republicans as anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and racist.

"He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn't belong there. And for him to say slaves had dignity. I mean, doesn't he know slaves were chained? That they were whipped on the back? If he saw the movie, "12 Years as a Slave", you know, they were raped, and he says they had dignity as slaves? My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives in their thirties. My father's business, our home, our freedom. And we're supposed to call that dignified? Marching out of our homes at gunpoint? This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrasment. He is a disgrace to America."
-- Actor and pundit George Takei, June 30, 2015. Takei was referring to a dissenting opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas released June 26, 2015, regarding the Obergefell v Hodges case legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Comment: First, Takei is distorting Thomas' opinion. Thomas' point was that the intrinsic dignity of people is not undermined by undignified treatment. That is, people don't lose their humanity when they are enslaved. Slavery mistreats them, but doesn't cause them to lose their inherent worth; rather, slavery is wrong because it is contradictory to peoples' inherent worth. So, he wasn't saying that slaves (or Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps) were being treated with dignity. Second, "blackface" is a racist term. Takei insists he used the word "to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts", but he must have known it wouldn't be taken that way. Third, calling Thomas a disgrace to America is akin to calling him un-American.

TED CRUZ: When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth. And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Should he apologize for what he said?

TED CRUZ: I don’t think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration. I recognize that the PC world, the mainstream media, they don’t want to admit it. But the American people are fed up. Now, listen, we are also a nation of immigrants, and we should celebrate legal immigrants, but Donald Trump is exactly right to highlight the need –

BRIAN KILMEADE: Are they mostly drug dealers and rapists that are coming across the border?

TED CRUZ: Look, they’re not mostly that. But Donald Trump, he has a way of speaking that gets attention. And I credit him for focusing on an issue that needs to be focused on.
-- Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), June 30, 2015. Cruz was responding to remarks made by presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion. Trumps remarks made it sounds as if the Mexican people crossing the border illegally into the U.S. are largely drug dealers or rapists, which there is no evidence for. Trump wasn't being criticized for talking about the problem of illegal immigration (which is perfectly acceptable for Trump to do), Trump was being criticized for this slur against Mexicans. In other words, Cruz is knocking down a straw man. The problem isn't that Trump talked in a way that "gets attention"; the problem was that he spoke in a way that was false, and that demonized Mexicans.

"We're making progress. I think you've probably noted that when there are Republican xenophobic measures to take away the DREAMers, their right to have a work permit, you see a dozen or so Republicans vote with Democrats to stop that. And that's happened on more than one occasion. On several occasions when really mean-spirited attempts to even hurt the immigrant community and their advances, you see that there are Republicans that are joining us."
-- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), June 24, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Republicans are bigots who are intentionally trying to hurt immigrants.

COULTER: I'm a student of American history, so I'm appalled by -- though I would really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America's history. The flag we're talking about --

KENNEDY: You think immigrants can't understand the history?

COULTER: Well, she doesn't. The Confederate flag we're talking about never flew over an official Confederate building. It was a battle flag. It is to honor Robert E. Lee. And anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.
-- Pundit Ann Coulter, June 23, 2015, remarking on the decision by Gov. Nikky Haley (R-SC) to no longer fly a Confederate flag in the state capitol.

Comment: If Coulter is right that Haley doesn't understand the history of the Confederate flag that was being flown, she can say so without mentioning Haley's immigrant status (which, it turns out, is false; Haley was born a U.S. citizen). There are non-immigrants (other than Haley) who share Haley's belief about the flag's history, so why should it matter whether the belief is held by an immigrant? Plus, why does this belief about the Confederate flag have a bearing on someone's more general understanding of American history? It seems like Coulter is saying that, as an immigrant (which, again, Haley isn't), Haley is not a real American. Can't immigrants understand U.S. history and be just as "American" as those born here?

RUSH: The host says to David Shipler, the author of Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword, "You write about people like Rush Limbaugh using racial imagery to criticize Obama with no repercussions. But you write in the book about an ice cream store employee who put racial epithets of Obama online and was fired. One's punished, one is rewarded," meaning me. Here's the reply.

SHIPLER: Let's face it, it's money. Rush Limbaugh does make millions of dollars, and he brings in -- has a huge audience. I think he's America's master propagandist. If you use the definition of propaganda that I heard when I was a Moscow correspondent from a Soviet professor, who described it as a truth, a truth, a truth, and then a lie. You weave in facts that are indisputable, or then half facts, semi-truths, and then by the time you got the listener engaged, you put in a lie or a semi-lie. I love to listen to Rush Limbaugh, actually. I do listen to him when I'm driving at the right time. There's practically no place in the country where you can't pick him up in the early afternoon because I really want to know how he does this. It's very clever.

RUSH: Can you imagine this, a full-fledged leftist admitting or claiming that he doesn't know how to lie and massage things to move his agenda forward? This is projection. This is exactly what these guys do. They are the ones that propagandize, and worse than that, they indoctrinate, which is what public and private education is becoming, and certainly university education. It's not mind opening, it's mind closing in its indoctrination.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, May 27, 2015, regarding remarks made about him by pundit David Shipler posted May 26, 2015.

Comment: Both Limbaugh and Shipler are resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature in accusing one another of dishonesty (perhaps "big lie" theory). Shipler is also accusing Limbaugh of racism.

RAMOS: You've said that Americans should fear immigrants more than ISIS.


RAMOS: Most immigrants are not terrorists, not criminals –

COULTER: I have a little tip for you. If you don't want to be killed by ISIS, don't go to Syria. If you don't want to be killed by a Mexican, there's nothing I can tell you.
-- Pundit Ann Coulter, May 26, 2015, during interview with Univision's Jorge Ramos.

Comment: Coulter's point is that, if Americans want to avoid being killed by a member of ISIS (aka, Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) then all they have to do is not go to Syria. But, to avoid being killed by a Mexican immigrant who is already in America, there's no such easy answer. However, the same argument could be made about avoiding being killed by a Polish, or Vietnamese immigrant (whether they're here legally or not), so why pick out Mexican immigrants in particular? Also, US citizens also sometimes kill Americans, and there's just as little solution for Americans to avoid that, right?

"The last election, 2012, about 12 million Latinos went to the polls. In 2016, about 16 million Latinos will go to the polls. And there's a new rule in American politics, and it's beautiful: That no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote. And this is new. It wasn't true in the past. … In a very close election, and the next election is going to be very close again, Latinos will decide, 16 million votes will decide who is going to be the next president of the United States."
-- Pundit Jorge Ramos, posted May 20, 2015.

Comment: Is this racism or identity politics, or merely a statement about electoral facts?

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez has apologized for an ethnically touchy gaffe that was caught on cell phone video.

The Democrat, who is running to replace California's retiring Sen. Barabara Boxer, would otherwise seem like a paragon of diversity. But when she let out a stereotypical Native American "war cry" over the weekend, it marred that image and sent her running.

Literally -- away from a reporter trying to chase her down for comment on the gaffe that many found racially offensive. But late Sunday, she spoke about the slip-up.

Native Americans know she's watching out for them, she said at a Democratic Party convention in Anaheim, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. "And they know what many of you don't know — that like so many Mexican Americans, I am proudly Native American on my mother's side," Sanchez said.

Sanchez was ad-libbing at a California Democratic party convention in Anaheim, when she made a stereotypical Native American "war cry."

Raising her hand to her lips, she let out about two seconds of it.

"I'm going to his office, thinkin' that I'm gonna go meet with woo-woo-woo-woo, right? 'Cause he said 'Indian American,'" she said, using the gesture to try to discern between Indian Americans -- with ancestry from India's subcontinent -- and Native Americans.
-- From a CNN article, May 17, 2015, about remarks made by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), on May 16, 2015.

Comment: Were Sanchez's remarks a "gaffe" or a racist slur?

Sometimes I think that Rush Limbaugh is the dumbest man in America. This happens whenever I take him at face value and forget that he is basically an entertainer with contempt for his audience. He will tell them anything. Last week, as if to validate my opinion of him, he went after Michelle Obama for playing the “race card” at the dedication of a museum in New York City. He described her as angry and complaining.
-- Pundit Richard Cohen, May 11, 2015, in an article entitled, "Michelle Obama, criticized for the sin of being black". Cohen's article concerns remarks made by pundit Rush Limbaugh on May 7, 2015, regarding comments made by First Lady Michelle Obama on April 30, 2015.

Comment: This is name-calling, of the "stupid" variety. Cohen is also demonizing Limbaugh as having contempt for his audience, and saying Limbaugh criticized Obama for being black. Cohen also uses the "they'll say anything" caricature against him. (There is also "race card" rhetoric being used by Limbaugh.) Cohen can disagree with Limbaugh's remarks without resorting to name-calling.

[Carly] Fiorina believes that her very existence proves that Republican policies cannot be called anti-woman. “If Hillary Clinton were to face a female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won’t be able to talk about,” Ms. Fiorina said in mid-April. “She won’t be able to talk about being the first woman president. She won’t be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged. She won’t be able to play the gender card.” Sounds an awful lot like Ms. Fiorina, whose claim to fame is badly managing Hewlett-Packard, is playing the gender card.
-- Pundit Andrew Rosenthal, May 4, 2015, remarking on Carly Fiorina, a contender to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2016, and a statement Fiorina made on April 16, 2015.

Comment: This is identity politics rhetoric, saying that the "gender card" is being played by someone who is accusing someone else of playing the "gender card".

Like an abusive father who beats his children then guilts them into loving him, US President Barack Obama’s new charm offensive follows weeks of berating Israel. Lobbying for his Iran cave-in, seeking support for this deal he seemed to want more than the mullahs did, Obama told The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, “It has been personally difficult for me to hear...expressions that somehow...this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.” While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should grab this olive leaf, even if it’s a fig leaf, such glib guilt-tripping cannot undo the harm caused by Obama’s assault and his dog-whistling, broadcasting hostility to those already primed to bash Israel. … Here’s a chance for Obama to demonstrate sincerity: confront campus anti-SemiZionism and the harsh anti-Zionist minority festering in today’s Democratic Party. Let him, along with Hollywood and student leaders, dictate a new script renewing the American-Israeli bond.
-- Pundit Gil Troy, April 7, 2015.

Comment: Troy's description of Obama's treatment of Netanyahu is violent rhetoric. Troy is also accusing Obama of using "code words" to communicate bigotry.

In last week’s Israeli elections, Netanyahu did play the role of Nixon—except that he did not go to China. Nor did he go to Ramallah. He went racist. In 1968, Nixon spoke the coded language of states’ rights and law-and-order politics in order to heighten the fears of white voters in the South, who felt diminished and disempowered by the civil-rights movement and by the Democrat in the White House, Lyndon B. Johnson. Nixon’s swampy maneuvers helped defeat the Democrat Hubert Humphrey and secure the South as an electoral safe haven for more than forty years.
-- Pundit David Remnick, retrieved March 29, 2015.

Comment: Remnick is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and US President Richard Nixon) of using coded language to express bigotry.

It took Bibi Netanyahu nearly a week to apologize properly for his inflammatory comment on Israel’s election day warning that Arab voters were “heading to the polls in droves.” On Monday, speaking at his Jerusalem residence to a group of Israeli Arab community leaders, the newly reelected prime minister expressed his regret: “I know the things I said a few days ago wounded Israel’s Arab citizens. That was not in any way my intention, and I am sorry.” But even after four and a half years, there has been no apology from Barack Obama for his inflammatory remarks just before the 2010 election, when he exhorted Latinos to generate an “upsurge in voting” in order to “punish our enemies and . . . reward our friends.” Nor has the president ever expressed regret for his running mate’s racially-tinged warning to a largely black audience in 2012 that the GOP was “going to put y’all back in chains” if Mitt Romney won the White House. In fact, the Obama campaign insisted no apology would be forthcoming.
-- Pundit Jeff Jacoby, March 27, 2015.

Comment: Jacoby is accusing President Barack Obama of hypocrisy when it comes to expressions of racism and bigotry.

"Nothing says let's go kill some Muslims like country music."
-- Pundit Jamilah Lemieux, March 25, 2015, regarding Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) self-stated preference for country music after the 9/11 attacks.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Cruz of bigotry. But can it be dismissed as simply a joke?

An extremely dishonest man, that's who. [and] vehemently anti-immigrant to boot. RT: @Azi @bonkapp: ¿Quién es Ted Cruz?
-- Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, March 24, 2015, in a tweet regarding Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Cruz is anti-immigrant. Plus, what is her evidence that Cruz is "extremely dishonest"?

"He doesn't like Congress. He's got his pen and his phone. And when Congress doesn't do what he says he's off doing his best Benito Mussolini. He doesn't like Netanyahu. Netanyahu just won in a landslide; Obama's never won in a landslide. The American people rose up in November and told Obama how they are disgusted with his programs and his policies. And what did he do? He turned around and spat in our faces. And he does the same in 2010 when they lose the House of Representatives. Obama has more ability to work with dictators and genocidal types than he does with people who are elected democratically. The fact of the matter is, Sean, I want to say this and this is important. Eric Holder said that this nation is full of cowards because we won't have a discussion about race. Well, I think this nation needs to have a discussion about what's going on in this White House and this administration about anti-Semitism. Because this White House and it's reaching out to Sharpton, the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, all these radical nut jobs and groups, their policies which are -- it's not just Netanyahu. They're willing to throw Israel over the side for the Islam regime in Tehran. This president's former relationships with [Rashid] Khalidi, the professor in Columbia now, with Wright the so-called reverend from Chicago. This president has a lot to answer for, and his conduct is contemptible. And I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors -- hold on now. I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors he has who are Jewish. He can hide behind them all he wants. But Mr. Holder, Mr. Obama, let's have a national discussion about the anti-Semitism that reeks from your administration."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, March 18, 2015, appearing on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News.

Comment: In what sense is Levin comparing President Barack Obama with Italian dictator Mussolini that doesn't amount to demonizing? Levin is also issuing "Americans want" rhetoric regarding the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, insisting that Obama has no mandate for what he is doing. Calling someone anti-Semitic is basically an accusation of racism. Finally, Levin is accusing Obama of guilt by association, for Obama's links to Rev. Al Sharpton, Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and others.

"The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out. … Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and [the Labor Party]."
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 17, 2015. Netanyahu's remarks on video (translated here from Hebrew) were released on Facebook on election day in Israel.

Comment: Netanyahu's remarks have been widely criticized as being racist or anti-Arab. But nothing in what he says is deriding Arab Israelis. He is simply saying that Arab Israelis typically vote against right-wing parties (of which Netanyahu's is one), so that in order to counteract that turnout, right-wing groups have to get their own voters out.

ROSEN: At different points, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have suggested that racism is a factor in criticism of them. Is there any truth in that?

CHENEY: I think they’re playing the race card, in my view. Certainly we haven’t given up—nor should we give up—the right to criticize an administration and public officials. To say that we criticize, or that I criticize, Barack Obama or Eric Holder because of race, I just think it’s obviously not true. My view of it is the criticism is merited because of performance—or lack of performance, because of incompetence. It hasn’t got anything to do with race.
-- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted March 17, 2015, during interview with James Rosen of Playboy Magazine.

Comment: This is "playing the race card" rhetoric.

"Someday, years from now, people will look back on this presidency and see it in sharper contrast. They will read how it started, with the Republican senate leader calling for the president’s defeat, declaring that the business of the opposition from the first day was to ensure the new president (a) accomplishes nothing and (b) gets booted from office as quickly as possible. They will read of a U.S. Congressman yelling “You lie” during a State of the Union. They will read how the Speaker invited, without informing the President, a foreign leader to denigrate his foreign policy before the entire Congress. And, as of this week, they will learn that a new Senator from Arkansas got the signatures of 46 other Senators on a letter to the hardliners in Iran, urging that they reject the efforts of this President to keep them from building a nuclear weapon. They will read all this and wonder: what was it that made the Republican opposition so all-out contemptuous of an American president? What made it treat him as below respect, below the dignity historically accorded his office? They will look at the concerted effort of Republican legislative leaders in three dozen states to make it harder for minorities to vote, even claiming partisan victory when successful in the effort. They will then look at a picture of this president and, perhaps, get the idea that the age of Jim Crow managed to find a new habitat in the early 21st century Republican Party."
-- Pundit Chris Matthews, posted March 13, 2015.

Comment: Matthews is demonizing Republicans, accusing them of racism.

"One of the things I’ve learned in this position is that as the only office in which you’re the President of all the people, not just some, you have to be thinking not just in terms of short-term politics, you have to be thinking about what’s good for the country over the long term. Now, over the long term, this is going to get solved, because at some point there’s going to be a President Rodriguez, or there’s going to be a President Chin, or there’s going to be a -- the country is a nation of immigrants, and ultimately, it will reflect who we are, and its politics will reflect who we are. And that’s not something to be afraid of. That’s something to welcome. Because that’s always been how we stay dynamic and stay cutting-edge, and have energy and we’re youthful. So what I would say to the next President is: Think ahead. Don’t say something short term because you think it’s politically convenient, and then box yourself in where you can’t do what’s right for the country. Think long term."
-- President Barack Obama, February 25, 2015, during town hall on immigration.

Comment: This sounds like Obama is deriding opponents of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) as being motivated by "short-term" politics rather than legitimate concerns, or thoughts about what's good over the long term. (What about the objection that CIR unfairly gives work permits to immigrants who broke the law ahead of those who are abiding by visas that prohibit their working?) This is a distortion, if not outright demonizing, particularly when Obama says that CIR – and not its opponents – reflects "who we are" as Americans. It sounds like Obama is saying CIR opponents are opposed to immigrants as a whole and aren't "real Americans". Plus, haven't we already had a president with a non-traditional name: "President Obama"?

The Texas decision clearly defines who is against immigrants in the U.S. Latino voters will remember; 2016 is not that far away.
-- Tweet from pundit Jorge Ramos, February 17, 2015. Ramos is referring to a decision by a federal judge in Texas to place an injunction on President Barack Obama's executive action on illegal immigration.

Comment: Ramos is demonizing people who oppose Obama's executive order on illegal immigration. Being opposed to providing work permits to illegal immigrants is not the same as being opposed to immigration and all immigrants. It's entirely compatible with being in favor of increased legal immigration, for instance. Ramos is essentially accusing his opponents of being xenophobes.


Examples from 2012.

"I find black garbage pail kids black conservatives fascinating not because of what they believe, but rather because of how they entertain and perform for their White Conservative masters ... We always need a monkey in the window, for he/she reminds us of our humanity while simultaneously reinforcing a sense of our own superiority. Sadly, there are always folks who are willing to play that role because it pays so well."
-- Chauncey DeVega (a pseudonym), February 12, 2011, commenting on Herman Cain, a black conservative, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Comment: To say that black conservatives are nothing more than race minstrels is simply name-calling.

"Put him back in the fields."
"Cut off his toes one by one and feed them to him."
"What do we do with him? String him up. And his wife, too, let's get rid of Ginny."
"Hang him."
-- Response from protesters at the "Uncloaking the Kochs" event hosted by Common Cause on January 30, 2011, when asked what should be done with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Video was taken by Christian Hartsock, who posed the question to the protesters.

Comment: There's no excuse for these protesters to advocate violence and/or slavery against Thomas because he is a black conservative (rather than a liberal or progressive). This rhetoric is also racist.

Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor: Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting and hate and divisive?
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC): Yes, I am suggesting that kind of stuff. I think when you start bringing up candidates that have nothing to do with the issues -- when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting and that's exactly what it is. Just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago.
-- Fox News: Transcript: Howard Dean on 'FOX News Sunday', May 4, 2008.

Comment: First of all, Horton -- convicted in Massachusetts of murder and given life in prison without parole -- had committed further crimes in 1987 after being released as part of a weekend furlough program. The governor of Massachusetts at the time -- Michael Dukakis -- was a supporter of the furlough program. Dean is referring to a 1988 TV ad that criticized Dukakis -- who ran for president in 1988 -- for supporting the furlough program. This criticism is by no means intrinsically racist. Dean needs to defend his claim that the Horton ad is race-baiting, or is somehow making inappropriate reference to race. Second, there is also a legitimate debate about whether Obama should have distanced himself from Wright sooner, given Wright's history of racial comments. Since there's nothing intrinsically racist about criticizing Obama on this point, either, Dean -- again -- needs to defend his allegation that it somehow makes inappropriate reference to race.

Major presidential contenders have won their home state roughly 70-75% of the time, losing their home state only about 25-30% of the time.
-- Results of U.S. presidential elections from 1908 to 2004.

Comment: Does this statistic indicate that voters are engaging in identity politics? That is, are they identifying with the candidate who comes from the same state as they do, and voting for them on that basis? Is that a bad thing?

(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)

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