Monday, December 12, 2016

Speaking to Racism

Have you ever wanted to ask tough questions to a racist? This journalist, Al Letson, does it. The result might be what you expect, but that it didn’t devolve into yelling and end with either one walking off, is out of the ordinary. What this tells us is, racism never ended, it just dressed itself up nicer. This has been happening for decades. The language of racism is no longer acceptable, but the institutions of racism are basically the same. It was working for a while; blacks were losing votes, losing jobs, more were going to prisons. All of these indicators were there, but with the indicators of more blacks in business and government, you might have missed it.

But it’s coming back out into the open now. No matter how powerful or pervasive, culture like this can’t remain hidden for very long. It worked because it was kept quiet. Now that people are “finding their voice”, we’re hearing it again. Meet Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed leader of the alt-right. He believes America should be all white and of European descent. He believes the races all hate each other according to natural human nature and we should have policies that reflect that. On his website it proudly says,  “Spencer’s publications and activities have been reported on by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Rachel Maddow Show, Buzzfeed,,, among many others.  Spencer has been a frequent guest commentator on the cable network RT International.” This of course does not mention what any of those publications actually say about him, or that RT is funded by the Russia government.

He lives in a small town in Montana now, but he thinks it is time to move to Washington DC and seek more attention and more funding. It’s entirely possible that he is right, and it’s also quite probable he is completely deluded. He thinks he can become an institution of the type that was started by people like Lewis Powell, in the Nixon Administration. They created the misinformation that was reported by the news organizations that were created to report them. Legitimate media had to respond but this often only served to legitimize the poorly done studies and biased data.

These include; the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute. They are not designed to answer questions or find solutions so much as instill doubt and add confusion to already difficult issues. Instead of using the university system that we built over centuries, politicians and pundits can now pick their sources. For an average person who just wants to be assured that they are right, this is a gold mine. With the rise of self-publishing and web based news, the powerful people who started this now have little control over it.

Actually, most of those people are dead. We really can’t be sure what was in their hearts. They probably didn't anticipate the world wide web. We can look at what is coming out of this cesspool of misinformation and who is using it and we can do something about it. It has a very social nature to it, so I’m afraid that means talking directly to the people who believe it. Attempting to fight non-facts with facts tends to have the effect of simply entrenching both sides. Al Letson instead talks about the people he loves and how he wants them to live together and care for each other. Spencer had little choice but to say he believed in hate.

It’s in the last 5 minutes of the show. Link is in the first sentence of this post. There’s a transcript too.

"I think we actually kind of hate each other, and that is a very tragic thing, and that's a very sad thing, and we don't trust each other. We can talk about how one day we're going to all be holding hands, or we can actually be realistic about this, and we can actually look at the power of human nature and the power of race." -- Richard Spencer

“If that is your world view then I'm sorry because like I said I have white family members that I love, and I think that they love me, so no I don't think that we hate each other. I think that there's not a nation in this world that doesn't have problems, but I would say when you just said like if we could go back X amount of years would we be better? No, because I wouldn't be talking to you right now.” – Al Letson


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