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Unconscious racism

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Birther Report has an article just up titled, “University of Virginia Psychologist: Birthers Racially Tinged Conspiracy Theories Paint Obama As A Usurper.” They take great umbrage at what they see as an attempt to label all birthers racist. Their incredulity at that outrageous claim can be seen in this comment:

Guest: There is nothing mysterious or racist about BHO identity questions. Why? EVERYWHERE you look you find fraud of one type or another. This isn’t rocket science guys. You have to be brain dead or an obot not to know that he’s operating under a fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card. The list is endless.

I tried to make a response to that, but I have no hope that the commenter will grok what I was trying to say:

You don’t get it.

To most people there is no “fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card”. They look at that stuff and see nobodies on the Internet pretending to be experts and spinning wildly implausible theories requiring up a conspiracy of massive proportions (including the administration, the Congress, the news media, the courts and the State of Hawaii), a conspiracy orders of magnitude bigger than any real conspiracy in history. If they bother to look into the details (and few do) they find a tissue of suspicions that falls apart under scrutiny. They see theories held almost exclusively by ideological opponents of Obama and his party. They see folks using terms like DemoRat and Libtard. They see nothing credible.

When they see a group maligning the President, and see no justification for it, they wonder why it’s happening. Racism is part of it; hatred of progressives is part of it; general tendencies to see conspiracies in clouds is part of it, smear peddling for monetary gain is part of it.

You think that with all the facts, no one can fault the birthers for their beliefs. Others think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the birthers for misreading the evidence.

But I didn’t write this article to display my ineffectual attempt at creating an “aha” moment in a birther. What I want to do is to call attention to the Mother Jones article that got the birthers so upset. It’s title, “Black Lives Matter” Aspires to Reclaim the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” doesn’t give the reader a hint about that I found most interesting in the story. It’s not so much about the police shootings of black men, or Dr. King. What is interesting is unconscious racism.

BR picked out the same quote that I did from the lengthy article, although I will copy here just the last part of it:

There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek. […] “But biased results can still occur.”

Birthers don’t realize that it is their biases (conscious or otherwise) that cause them to look at claims of Obama misdeeds with less than adequate scrutiny and to close their eyes to the obvious objections that could be raised against them.

Birther cop in Ferguson

The Americans Against the Tea Party have a couple of interesting videos up. The first shows citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, including CNN reporter Don Lemon, being pushed off the sidewalk by police. The officer involved has been identified as Dan Page, and Page is a birther—that is evident from the second video where Page says President Obama “was born in Kenya.” He doesn’t like blacks, Muslims and gays either.

Following the video, characterized by several news outlets as a “racist rant,” going viral on the Internet, Page was suspended from the St. Louis Police Department.

Mr. Page is being inducted into the Birthers from A to Z list.

Read more:

Birthers play the race card

While I have been hesitant to play the race card and make generalized statements saying that birthers are fundamentally racist, others have not, and they have used the “racist” label to good effect against birthers, to the point where I think that there are many, and maybe a majority who view birthers as racists (and undoubtedly they are right in many instances).

Birthers have been quick to pick up on any claims that they are racist and try to turn that into the entire argument to avoid the fundamental weakness of the birther position in general. However, seeing, I think, the effective use of the racist label when used against them, they are now responding in kind by labeling their opponents “racist.” Any time they can find two instances remotely parallel where the black guy is treated differently than they white guy, they cry racism, and we have seen such attacks against Barack Obama, Eric Holder and others.

We saw examples of this in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida this past July this such as the “Blackness Trumps Fairness (Eric Holder the Racist)” thread at the Free Republic from last July. Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld (in an ironic statement) suggested that calling some a racist unfairly is itself racist hate speech. Birther rock musician Ted Nugent said:

We are most offended that the president of the United States and the U.S. attorney general are clearly guilty of racism when they intentionally bring race to the fore when they make public judgments based on the color of someone’s skin instead of the content of their character in total defiance of the findings of the FBI, Department of Justice, entire state’s investigative resources and a jury verdict.

Orly Taitz is, of course, not to be left out of any anti-Obama movement. OC Weekly reports on this comment from Taitz, and her link to a racist web site:

More evidence of young black men beating up, mutilating and in some cases killing whites, particularly elderly, women and children. Black racist Eric Holder does nothing about it, only charged one white man with hate crime, did not charge any blacks, Demand impeachment hearings for Holder. Please, give me phone numbers of white men and women, who were victims of these attacks.

Black on white crime is a popular theme on the Taitz web site the last couple of days. Here are some articles, with links to the Taitz site (which still issuing that fake browser alert, so watch out):

The following are older articles from the Taitz site (where she is just copying the stories of others):

The birther fear of death

When I say “death” I don’t mean physical death, but death of a way of life. Birthers are mostly old white people who are saying: “Obama is destroying the country.” Ignore the “Obama” part for a minute, and listen to the fear that they live in the midst of some kind of destruction. Some of them think that the world is about to end in the Biblical Apocalypse, but even if the world isn’t ending, it is passing them by.1 Change comes at what appears an accelerated pace (and even if the pace were not accelerated, it would seem that way to older people whose sense of time is different). Change scares them witless because it could mean the death of their way of life. And out of this fear, they seem to be grasping at straws: that Obama is ineligible and every law he signed can be made to go away, that the Tea Party can set the clock back to 1950, that all the immigrants can be expelled2.

“Immigration and people of color” is a big deal for the status quo because in the future the United States is going to populated and controlled more by non-white people, and that can be a source of anxiety for white people. The Southern slaveholder’s greatest fear was of a slave uprising in which they would be murdered in their beds, and revenge would be exacted on them for the cruelty they had inflicted on their slaves.3 The people of the United States have exploited immigrants from the beginning, whether it be the unwilling Africans, the Irish, the Chinese or the Latinos today who work for less than the minimum wage and in some cases in slave-like conditions. Those classes will share in the leadership in American. Even racial distinctions are becoming blurred by mixed-race families. What’s even scarier to some is that other countries like Russia, India and China (among others) are growing at tremendous rates and America must share world leadership to a growing extent. (I was just in Russia and was impressed by their potential in land area, natural resources and a well-educated population if they can stay at peace and maintain internal stability for a while.)

I’m 63 years old now and I am reconciled to the reality that each generation makes its own rules and has to solve its own problems (except that the next generation will have to solve its own problems plus the ones my generation left them). While I love my Country, I also believe in the equal value of all human life. If someone not like me does well, that’s a good thing too. My view is not that white people are in decline, nor that America is in decline, but rather that we are seeing the “rise of the rest,” to use a phrase borrowed from an immigrant with a funny name, Fareed Zakaria.4

It is a brave new world, but it’s not necessarily a bad one.

I’m really not sure what to say to the birthers. “Chill out” seems trite. My former pastor strongly recommended prescription drugs for anxiety. To the extent that you can, find constructive activities, delete those gloom and doom chain emails, and spend time with your family.


1Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. John 21:18

2Note this headline from an article on Orly’s site:

How to fight Soros pro amnesty thugs? We need bikers and truckers there, advising them that they are under citizens arrest and we need to call immigration and police immediately, demand deportation and have the call to immigration on loud speaker and on video. We need congressmen there talking to immigration on loud speakers. Maybe George Soros should be arrested for misprision of felonies, for inciting violence and violation of immigration laws? Is Soros a U.S. citizen, did he get his U.S. citizenship under false pretenses?

3The book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory talks about paranoia over real and imagined slave revolt plots.

4I had a really hard time writing this article, and making it say something worth reading, instead of being a collection of platitudes. A great deal was written and deleted. I don’t think I succeeded beyond offering the idea to the reader that part of birtherism can be attributed to old white people’s fears of losing their way of life.

Sheriff Arpaio: Murray mandates monitor

Federal judge G. Murray Snow has ordered a court-appointed monitor to insure that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office establishes policies “consistent with the Constitution and law of the United States and State of Arizona…and with current professional standards,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Arpaio and his Office have been sued many times for civil rights violations and racial profiling. Birther sheriff Arpaio is appealing the ruling from four months ago where Judge Snow determined that Arpaio’s Office had engaged in systematic racial profiling.

Article says birthers are good for Obama

In an article on the Chinese web site, Global Times, California writer Charles Gray said in a significant article yesterday:

However, far from being a danger to Obama, birther mania has actually helped his political agenda and has, more often than not, left the Republican Party on the political defensive.

It’s good propaganda for the Chinese to paint the Republican party as racists, but I don’t think this article is far off the mark, pointing out the failure to produce any evidence by birther celebrities Donald Trump, and Joe Arpaio.

Anyway, “’Birther’ lunacy leaves all Republicans painted as racist crackpots” is a feel-good article for Obots, and the birthers (in particularly David Farrar and KBOA) are wailing and gnashing their teeth in comments there.