Monday, January 27, 2014

A Lesson In Conservative Political Language

Good morning, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube friends. I wrote an essay this morning - a collection of research information. Perhaps my references will show you how my mind and need for researching topics both work.
I am writing this to you this morning, because I am in the mood to talk about something. I hear a lot of people trying to rationalize other people's racist remarks, saying that it can be "taken differently depending on their intention", but in the political arena, this is not so. They do this intentionally for votes and they want votes for two things. Political contributions and votes (power). (When columnists and reporters like Anderson Cooper, Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O'Donnell accuse someone of using subversive racist messaging, many people are quick to jump on the conservative bandwagon of denial.
Are you ready for an education in conservative messaging? This is especially for those of you who think political-speak language is merely used to be diplomatic and politically correct and don't see the racist overtones in the message. (This, as we are about to see, is not a new thing. It is a centuries old tried and true system dating back to "the mother countries" of many of our origins.) We (my fellow bloggers and myself) talk about "veiled (from Merriam Webster:  able to be seen or understood but not openly shown or stated : expressed in a way that is not clear and direct) language" (from Dictionary.comany set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniformfashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another) used by conservatives to convey a RACIST message. Please, remember that this is important because we are seeing the same usage of messaging used mainly by one group. Anyone who says to you that they are not racist, might actually believe that they are just being "sensible" and not realize that they are being subverted into using racist tag language and cultivating racism in themselves with a built in rationalization system to tell themselves they aren't.
From Wikipedia: "...Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is only ever used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently themselves distasteful, for example by empathising with racist or revolutionary attitudes. It is an analogy to dog whistles, which are built in such a way that their high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs, but is inaudible to humans.
The term can be distinguished from "code words" used by hospital staff or other specialist workers, in that dog-whistling is specific to the political realm, and the messaging referred to as the dog-whistle has an understandable meaning for a general audience, rather than being incomprehensible.

(Please remember that most of this terminology is understood by Europeans and Australians in the lands that this ploy and use of language came from, and also that Rupert Murdoch is from Australia, the origin of the use of this in news - publishing and broadcasting.)
Origin and meaning
According to William Safire, the phrase may have been borrowed from the field of opinion polling. Safire quotes Richard Morin, director of polling for The Washington Post, as writing in 1988 that "subtle changes in question-wording sometimes produce remarkably different results. ... researchers call this the 'Dog Whistle Effect': Respondents hear something in the question that researchers do not," and speculates that campaign workers adapted the phrase from political pollsters.
In her book "Voting for Jesus": Christianity and Politics in Australia, academic Amanda Lohrey writes that the goal of the dog-whistle is to appeal to the greatest possible number of electors while alienating the smallest possible number. She uses as an example Australian politicians using broadly-appealing words such as "family" and "values" which have extra resonance for Christians, while avoiding overt Christian moralizing that might be a turn-off for non-Christian voters. (Oh My God, how often do we have to listen to that stuff? Now you know where they got it.)
Australian political theorist Robert E. Goodin argues that the problem with dog-whistling is that it undermines democracy, because if voters have different understandings of what they were supporting during a campaign, the fact that they were seeming to support the same thing is "democratically meaningless" and does not give the dog-whistler a policy mandate.
History and usage

The term originated in Australian politics in the mid-1990s, and was frequently applied to the political campaigning of John Howard.Throughout his 11 years as Australian prime minister and particularly in his fourth term, Howard was accused of communicating messages appealing to anxious and perhaps racist white Australian voters using code words such as "un-Australian", "mainstream" and "illegals".  (Is this beginning to sound familiar?)
One notable example was the Howard government's messaging on illegal immigration. The Howard government's tough stance on illegal immigration (How often have you heard that one lately?) was popular with voters, but the government was accused of using the issue to additionally send veiled messages of support to voters with racist leanings (We have dubbed this use of language in America "the Southern strategy" that news trolls like Ann Coulter come out and say doesn't exist, although some of their political leaders, like RNC Chairmen, have apologised for using it.) , while maintaining plausible deniability by avoiding overtly racist language. Another example is the publicity of the citizenship test in 2007. (We are hearing this recently with voter suppression and it's bi-product, voter ID cards.) It has been argued that the test may appear reasonable at face value, but is really intended to appeal to those opposing immigration from particular geographic regions.
United Kingdom
Dog-whistling was introduced to the UK from Australia[dubious – discuss] by Australian political strategist and UK Conservative Party advisor Lynton Crosby, who had previously managed John Howard's four election campaigns in Australia. In the 2005 British general election, in what Goodin calls "the classic case" of dog-whistling, Crosby created a campaign for the UK Conservatives with the slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking?": a series of posters, billboards, TV commercials and direct mail pieces with messages like "It's not racist to impose limits on immigration" and "how would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter?" focused on hot-button issues like dirty hospitals, land grabs by "gypsies" and restraints on police behaviour.
United States
Journalist Craig Unger writes that President George W. Bush and Karl Rove used coded "dog-whistle" language in political campaigning, delivering one message to the overall electorate while at the same time delivering quite a different message to a targeted evangelical Christian political base. William Safire, in Safire's Political Dictionary, offered the example of Bush's criticism during the 2004 presidential campaign of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision upholding slavery. To most listeners the criticism seemed innocuous, Safire wrote, but "sharp-eared observers" understood the remark to be a pointed reminder that Supreme Court decisions can be reversed, and a signal that, if re-elected, Bush might nominate to the Supreme Court a justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. This view is echoed in a 2004 Los Angeles Times article by Peter Wallsten.
Economist Paul Krugman in The Conscience of a Liberal (2007) extensively discusses the subtle use of dog-whistle political rhetoric byWilliam F. Buckley, Jr., Irving Kristol and Ronald Reagan in building the rightist "movement conservatism".
One group of alleged code words in the United States is claimed to appeal to racism of the intended audience. The phrase "states' rights", although literally referring to powers of individual state governments in the United States, was described by David Greenberg in Slate as "code words" for institutionalized segregation and racism. In 1981, former Republican Party strategist Lee Atwater when giving an anonymous interview discussing the GOP's Southern Strategy (see also Lee Atwater on the Southern Strategy) said:
"...You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968, you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
During the 2008 Democratic primaries, several writers criticized Hillary Clinton's campaign's reliance on code words and innuendo seemingly designed to frame Barack Obama's race as problematic, saying Obama was characterized by the Clinton campaign and its prominent supporters as anti-white due to his association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as only able to get black votes, as anti-patriotic, a drug user, possibly a drug seller, and married to an angry, ungrateful black woman.
In 2012, journalist Soledad O'Brien used the phrase 'dog whistle' to describe Tea Party Express representative Amy Kremer's accusation that President Barack Obama 'does not love America'.
During the United States presidential election, 2012, Julianna Smoot accused the Obama campaign of Anti-Semitic dog whistling when a campaign staff after a meeting between Paul Ryan and Jewish businessman Sheldon Adelson, stating in an email that Ryan was "'making a pilgrimage' to the country’s sin capital to 'kiss the ring'".
During the current 2014 mayoral campaign in San Diego, the Republican political group "Lincoln Club of San Diego County" created, paid for and mailed voters a picture of Latino candidate David Alvarez that made him resemble a menacing gang member. The edited picture involves mayoral candidate David Alvarez holding a fist full of cash, with a hand gesture specifically associated with gang members. While there is not a single mention on the ad of any gang association, Tom Shepard, a political consultant asserts that the images subtly but clearly insinuate a connection, while others disagree (and the Lincoln Club denies it) ..."
So, to any of you that still believe that expecting racism out of one party and not the other and that veiled language is a misinterpretation and a "leftist slant" on what was really being said, there you have it. This is NOT just my opinion, it is documented strategy researched by journalists and writers dating back to the fifties.
Have a nice day/night and I hope you enjoy the information. Maybe it will make you think, the next time you hear a political message, and realize that most ambiguous terms given in news reports and political messages are specifically using the terminology taught to the staff and writers for all political campaigns and initiatives.

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Parents Who Have Just Found Out That Your Child Is Gay

I keep hearing things about gay people being an abomination or worse in the twenty first century when we should be growing and evolving but some people still would prefer to live in fear.
I am a straight person who supports gay rights, not because I grew up thinking that was a good thing or that I am what some people call liberal, but because I am who I am through my own experiences. I know that I am not sexually attracted to men but I am to women, not because I made a choice to be but because I just am the way I was genetically programmed to be. I was asked once decades ago, "What would you do if you had a child and they came home one day and told you that they were gay?"  I was in a group and several people answered ahead of me. One lady said, "I don't know what I would do, or how I would feel, I guess I would have to be in that situation before I would know." I kind of thought that was a good answer at first.
I have two daughters and they are several years apart from two different relationships. The oldest one was attracted to and dating men at the time I started thinking about that question, but I thought that I would never have to face it so it didn't matter. Then the second child was born twenty years later. My youngest daughter hung out with one girl in grammar school whose parents were a same sex couple and the girl dressed like a boy. I didn't know how to feel about that, but it occurred to me at a certain point that my daughter could at some point discover she was gay.
I asked myself again, knowing many gay people who were friends at that point, would you wish this on your child? NO, no one would want to knowingly want their child to go through the disrespect and discrimination that gay people have had to endure. Later that thought turned into, "Wow, I guess no one would knowingly think about that kind of treatment and pick a lifestyle that would create that kind of dramatic mistreatment and hate in their life if they could choose another path unless they hated themselves."  And from my gay friends, I learned that they don't, for the most part, hate themselves. That only happens when they seek the approval of parents that are religiously hateful bigots.
My mother obviously came from a different generation and she had a friend that taught me something by her example. My mom worried through watching this woman basically disown her daughter for being gay because she (my mother's friend) was a LDS Christian and her minister had told her it was a choice and that her daughter was a "sinner".  Her husband was there and supported her in confronting and chastising her daughter and they asked her to leave their home until she "chose" to pick a normal lifestyle.
After her husband died of Alzheimer's disease, the woman tried to establish contact with her daughter before she died because when her husband died, two things happened. 1) She lost her mutual admiration society partner in the act of hating their daughter for being a sinner, to pat her on the back and tell her she was right in what she did, and 2) her husband's passing signalled in her that life is short and the realization that as she got older, maybe what her religious leaders had told her was wrong. The last time I heard the woman's voice was when she left a message to my mother on my mom's answering machine, crying, and sobbing out loud, "She's gone and it just occurred to me I will never see her again."
Sometimes it doesn't occur to us how much we love someone until they are gone. If you are a parent, and your child is gay, please remember, they are still your child, the one you raised and their values are probably the ones you taught them when you were still proud of them and felt like they were a gift to you and the rest of the world. The only difference is, that a part of their lifestyle turned out in a way you didn't expect, but that is okay. You will have to quit trying to understand it, and just accept it, that they are different, like all humans are different and you don't own that. If you choose to believe in God and call yourself a Christian (those are choices, how you are genetically designed at birth isn't), then I ask you to look in the New Testament where the disciples wrote about Jesus, and find the part where Jesus said you were to judge, condemn, and rebuke ANYONE, including gay people. Can't find it? That's right, because it isn't there.
If you lose your child through the choice of being intolerant and acting like a bigot, it is going to be your loss, because as you will probably see, like my mother's friend did, much too late in life, that you could have known your own child for the wonderful human being that you raised and that is a very sad, lonely epiphany to endure as you are older and realizing life is too short to hate the people you love. I suggest that if your religious leader tells you to hate your children, that you need to find a new leader or become an active leader of the movement towards the love you feel for your child.