Some Thoughts on Racial Code Words

Some thoughts on racial code words from Ed Haislmaier:

Writing in the American Spectator, David Hogberg offers the interesting thesis that liberals are really using a “racial code word” when they attack “outsourcing.” As Hogberg notes:

“For the uninitiated, racial code words are words politicians (usually Republicans) are accused of using to supposedly help them win votes by raising whites’ fears of minorities. According to pundit Clarence Page, racial code words include terms like “states’ rights,” “crime in the streets,” and “welfare queens.” Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. has even suggested that “tax-and-spend liberals” qualifies. The concept was trotted out again during the controversy over the University of Michigan affirmative action cases early last year. In a column in AsianWeek, Phil Tajitsu Nash lamented that “President Bush is continuing to use racial code words…such as ‘quota.'” Earlier this year, Howard Dean similarly tagged President Bush: “The President used the word ‘quota’ five or six times. The word ‘quota’ every politician and every pollster in America knows is a race coded word deliberately designed to appeal to people’s fears that they may lose their job, or their place at [a] university to a member of a community of color.”

Hogberg’s point is that, when viewed through the left’s prism of omnipresent racism, attacks on “outsourcing” can also be seen as thinly disguised appeals to bigotry. After all, those attacking outsourcing are appealing to the fears of (mainly, white) Americans that they will lose their jobs to (mainly, black, brown and yellow) foreigners. (I haven’t heard a lot of complaints about American jobs being outsourced to white Europeans. In fact, the left seemed quite upset when the Administration threatened to cut the French and Germans out of contracts for rebuilding Iraq — and keep those jobs with Americans.) Thus, such a tactic can be seen as not merely xenophobic, but racist as well.

Of course, there is always the possibility that when a politician blames his opponent for aiding and abetting the “outsourcing” of American jobs, that he is really expressing a legitimate disagreement over economic policy. But that would mean that when other politicians attack their opponents for being ” soft on crime,” or trampling “states rights,” or supporting “quotas” that they are really just expressing legitimate differences over law enforcement policies, constitutional law, or basic fairness in the workplace and academia.

Gosh, what a novel idea! Lots of people might hold differing opinions on a range of issues for reasons other than race. Naaah. That’s probably too “simplistic” an explanation.

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