The radical liberal magazine, Jacobin (Liberals and Racism) had a kind of cutting-edge take on the liberal mantra that all of us on the Right are racist….whatever that means. Well written, and thoughtful, it’s worth reading in its entirety. If you’re short on time, read just 6a, and 6b. below. Here’s part: 1. If liberalism appears to wobble on the edge of failure, the fault may arise not from anything liberals have done or have failed to do, but if anything from their own moral blamelessness: Liberalism, in this narrative, is faltering because its enlightened political project has run into a wall of blind, irrational racism. 2. [The Tea Party produced] a virtual cottage industry developed on liberal websites devoted to spotting real or imputed racist sentiments in the Tea Party milieu…. The argument for the fundamentally racist essence of the opposition owed largely to a concept, drawn from the academic study of public opinion, known as “racial resentment.” Developed in its modern form by University of Michigan political scientist Donald Kinder and his collaborators, racial resentment is both a theory and a body of evidence that purport to illuminate the influence of racial hostility on the political opinions of American whites. 3 ,,, , “old-fashioned” racism, based on the belief in the inherent inferiority of blacks and other non-whites, was widespread. Since the civil rights revolution, however, that type of racism has faded, only to be replaced by a newer and more subtle form of prejudice. The new version, originally called symbolic racism (now racial resentment), is a blend of anti-black sentiment and traditional individualist American values (the work ethic, personal responsibility, anti-statism), a concoction whose “color-blind” palatability only makes it that much more insidious. According to Kinder, racial resentment is now “the primary ingredient in white opinion on racial affairs.” 4. ut one conclusion is clear: liberals who have seized on it to furnish themselves with a usable narrative are not so much enlisting in a noble fight against racism as they are indulging in an ideological evasion. Racial resentment is attractive to liberals less because the Right’s racial attitudes are backward (though they are), than because the dominant, non-racial part of its ideology – a reactionary Protestant-capitalist ethic that is deeply entrenched in American discourse – has never been met with any systematic liberal opposition. 5. … a paper attempting to highlight the role of “racial resentment” in fostering white opposition to Obama’s health reform. Its findings were eagerly flagged on the usual websites like the Huffington Post (“Surprising Way Race Colors Attitudes to Health Care Reform” and the American Prospect (“Race, Resentment, and Health Care Reform”…. ). The paper’s findings sounded impressive: “Whites who were racially resentful were less likely to support the health care reform law, even after controlling for age, gender, education level, income level, employment status, party identification, political ideology, the respondent’s attitude towards President Obama and whether or not the individual had health insurance.” a. But the numbers looked less impressive. According to the data reported in the paper’s appendix, the effect of racial resentment on support for health care reform was miniscule – it was dwarfed by the effect of political party (more than twice as large), gender (more than three times as large), and, above all, attitudes toward Obama (almost eight times as large). b. The crudest sally into the racial resentment literature – and the one that got the most attention, being picked up by NPR, Salon, ThinkProgress, and others — was from the University of Washington’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality (WISER). The point of the WISER study, which was based on the group’s own poll of seven states (heavily weighted toward states in the Greater South, including none in the northeast), was to make the blunt point that the Tea Party is racist. 6. As noted above, “racial resentment” is defined by its creators as a blend of racial animus and traditional American individualism. The first point to note, then, is that the label itself is somewhat misleading since, while it highlights the racial aspect of the attitude, it conceals the concept’s close kinship with the individualist ethos. a. If the “racial resentment” term itself is misleading, the interpretations put forward by liberals of its role in Tea Partyism or opposition to health care reform are doubly so…. The inference made by liberals is that while Tea Partiers may rant about stimulus or health care reform, what they’re really expressing deep down is their resentment of blacks. But this doesn’t follow, nor does the evidence seem to substantiate it. b. … to ask why liberals, when faced with the political idiom of the American Right, gravitate so insistently toward racialized accounts of their motives…. Unable or unwilling to articulate any coherent rebuttal of their opponents’ ideological rhetoric, liberals instinctively resort to accusations that the opposing ideology is covertly racist because racism – unlike Reaganite celebrations of the magic of the market – requires no refutation. Wow...and this from an arch liberal!