Alleged Research Into Implied Racism Doesn’t Pass Muster

With all of the concern about obesity, it was a shocking assertion.  Eating more chocolate might help win the Nobel Prize!

emotional portrait of a little girl with cake

emotional portrait of a little girl with cake

Believe it or not.  There it was in the New England Journal of Medicine of all places.  Dr. Franz H. Messerli of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University concluded that:

Chocolate consumption enhances cognitive function, which is a sine qua non for winning the Nobel Prize, and it closely correlates with the number of Nobel laureates in each country.  It remains to be determined whether the consumption of chocolate is the underlying mechanism for the observed association with improved cognitive function.

For example, Switzerland has a very high number of Nobel laureates in proportion to its population and Dr. Messerli points out are also the highest per capita consumers of chocolate.  Ditto for Denmark.

It actually works pretty well until one factors in the United States.  There are a lot of American Nobel Prize winners, but our nation’s cocoa-prize ratio defies Dr. Messerli’s hypothesis.  He suggests Americans needs to collectively increase its chocolate consumption by over 275,000 pounds a year to be in compliance.

That’s OK, because Dr. Messerli considers his study to be more for laughs than for posterity.  He said:

It’s not the first time scientists have found correlations that seem to defy all logic — and indeed may.  The number of storks across Europe has been linked to birth rate, for instance, and sunspots have been tied to suicides in men.”

But what about when similarly wild assertions are made in the name of science that are not done in a light-hearted manner?  How about when the research means to use a touchy issue such as race to make political points?

There’s nothing surprising at all about when liberals play the race card.  Right now, however, it appears but they are getting more inventive.

Consider how liberal logic has tied together some pretty disparate factors to create a racial correlation about voter ID laws.

Asking someone for proof of who they are before they vote is the most commonsense and easy way to protect against identity theft. Yet critics try to compare asking for an ID with acts of Jim Crow era discrimination such making a black person correctly answer “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” before receiving a ballot.

Implicit in these suggestions of voter ID critics is that voter ID laws are meant to suppress minority votes.  It may be exactly the opposite.  As Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper points out in the National Policy Analysis “Victims of Voter Fraud: Poor and Disadvantaged are Most Likely to Have Their Vote Stolen”:

Today’s schemes often target the same black voters once deprived under Jim Crow. As former Democratic Congressman-turned Republican Artur Davis has acknowledged, voter fraud is rampant in African-American districts such as his former district in Alabama, and the schemes are less obvious and even more clever because voters often don’t realize that their vote has been negated.  In cases of “absentee ballot harvesting” and “ghost voters,” citizens may become aware that they’ve been defrauded either after showing up at the poll and being turned away, or worse, only after the election is over.  In both instances, lawful citizens’ rights to select the policies or representatives of their own choosing are stolen by the fraudsters.  Similarly, non-citizen and felon-voting schemes counteract the intentions of the lawful voter by voting for policies and representatives contrary to the real desires and interests of the legal voter.  Counterfeiters print phony money and devalue a hard-earned currency. Election fraudsters print phony votes and devalue the democratic voice of the disenfranchised voters.

Unfortunately, these schemes are common and pervasive.  They are hard to stop and even harder to prove in court, which is why states are wise to bolster their election laws, require early registration, ask for photo ID at the polls and close absentee-ballot loopholes that can be exploited by the fraudsters.

If the Justice Department was truly committed to enforcing voting rights, instead of frustrating the efforts of states and localities to combat election fraud, it would lead the charge to end this type of fraud.  Instead of using the Voting Rights Act to delay anti-fraud measures, the Justice Department should use its authority to identify the jurisdictions where voter fraud is pandemic and insist that states take measures to counteract it.

Yet a study out of the University of Delaware tries to up the ante on race in this discussion by claiming that there is a quantifiable racial animosity regarding support for voter ID.

According to the interpretation of a National Agenda Opinion Poll by the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware, “support for voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative sentiment toward African-Americans.”

Is this the smoking gun that proves voter ID laws are really racist? Not so fast.  Animosity is very much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to this analysis.

Despite the assurance from University of Delaware Communications Professor Paul Brewer that the “findings suggest that Americans’ attitudes about race play an important role in driving their views on voter ID laws,” the line of questioning used to determine racial resentment is very thin on credibility.

After a series of questions asking people to agree or disagree with assertions about voter ID arguments made by its supporter and opponents, the study’s “racial resentment scale: (asked only if the person being polled was not black), asked respondents to gauge their level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

I resent any special consideration that African-Americans receive because it’s unfair to other Americans.

Special consideration for African-Americans place me at an unfair advantage because I have done nothing to harm them.

African-Americans bring up race only when they need to make an excuse for their failure.

It’s hardly as if they are asking respondents if they resent someone because of the color of their skin.  As a matter of fact, the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a potential precedent-setting legal case regarding the first statement about racial preferences and the university admissions process.

The last statement is certainly the most provocative, but the overall results are not really indicative of an impending race war.  Only 34 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that blacks use race as an excuse while 49 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed.

ReporterNonetheless, when the researchers find support for voter ID and support for these statements on race merge — that’s apparent proof of racial hatred.

What becomes more injurious to the researchers’ case is that opposition to racial preferences is not always a racial thing.

Forget the usual suspect such as Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell or the membership of Project 21.  In 2001, a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll on racial attitudes asked the question: “In order to give minorities more opportunity, do you believe race or ethnicity should be a factor when deciding who is hired, promoted or admitted to college, or that hiring, promotions and college admissions should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race or ethnicity?”  Of the 323 black respondents, only 12 percent replied that “race or ethnicity should be a factor” while 86 percent said advancement “should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity.”

So, taking all of this into consideration, it would seem there is no way that you can honestly correlate opposition to racial preferences to racial animosity.  Yet the researchers at the University of Delaware did just that.

It doesn’t help race relations to put the assertion out there and have media organizations such as the National Newspaper Publishers Association (a black newspaper association) circulate the story, and papers such as the Akron Reporter pick it up and put it on the front page with alarming headlines such as “Voter ID Support Strongest in Those With Negative Attitudes Toward African-Americans.”

P21StacyWashingtonProject 21 spokeswoman Stacy Washington says about this:

Someone’s positions on affirmative action are not a reliable indicator of their feelings on race.  Consider the survey in which most blacks opposed preferences.  Are we to believe blacks who want to be judged on their merits, as this line of thinking would suggest, harbor negative racial views of themselves?  Of course not!  They oppose preferences because of fairness — just like they know that voter ID protects the integrity of our representative system of government and ensures that every citizen has one vote. To argue otherwise is true racism.

There is nothing more insulting to black Americans than the assertion that we are somehow inherently inferior and therefore unable to compete in the arena of ideas alongside our cohorts in this country.  Affirmative action is reverse racism at it’s worst.  It’s failure as a policy can be seen all over the country in the college dropout rates and decimated dreams of young blacks.  To allow for the possibility that votes may be stolen with ease is the same sort of insult.

Touting the effectiveness of affirmative action while arguing against commonsense laws that encourage stricter application of voter protections is a tactic of the race-baiters that we can no longer tolerate.

And it gets worse.

Another poll, this one commissioned by the Associated Press and conducted in early September, suggests that “racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president.”  Like the University of Delaware polling, it’s not that they are blatantly asking people if they dislike others because of their race.  They are reading opinions into answers, and they profess to have found that “a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.” (emphasis added)

While asking more questions, they still appear to want to consider opposition to race preferences as a sign of racial animosity (as the University of Delaware polling did).  The GfK-conducted survey asked:

Irish, Italian, Jewish and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up.  Blacks should do the same without special favors.

It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.

Blacks are demanding too much from the rest of society.

These are but a few of many questions.  And there were questions about other minorities as well.

In all these particular cases, the feelings in 2009 and now are somewhat stable.  Respondents overwhelmingly agree that preferences and set-asides are wrong, slightly agree about a need to try harder and slightly agree with the idea of blacks demanding too much.

It’s not like there’s been a spike in racial hatred bred by or because of Obama.  And not that there was festering animosity in the first place!

There are no questions about whether regulations, the break-up of the black family or government-promoted welfare dependency is a problem.

Because the respondents are not in agreement with big government remedies, it appears to be assumed that the opposition is hate-related.  It’s no better than idle speculation, no matter how much the poll costs.  There is no definitive justification with saying that these people harbor hate in their hearts.

It’s not fair, and it serves only to make a very political point.  At what cost to our society?

P21DemeriusMinorThis concerns Project 21 spokesman Demetrius Minor.  He says:

Ever since the implementation of LBJ’s “The Great Society,” we have seen the federal government effectively assist in the deterioration of the black family.  With its advocacy of welfare and entitlement programs as a substitute for a two-parent structure, we’ve seen blacks crippled by economic and social strongholds.  It’s legitimate to protest this harmful state of affairs.

The racial element becomes elevated when liberals protest blacks who choose to become free-thinkers and embrace the idea of small government, free markets and capitalism.  It’s a liberal notion that all blacks are monolithic and it has been a stumbling block in racial relations today.

And to try to portray equalizing the playing field for all as antagonistic is irresponsible.

Project 21’s Minor and Washington are co-hosts of the BlogTalkRadio program “He Said, She Said.”  Listen to them live this Wednesday night at 10:00PM eastern or anytime by clicking here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.