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Moyers & Company

Ian Haney Lopez on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race (#308)

This week on Moyers & Company (check local listings), author and legal scholar Ian Haney Lopez joins Bill to talk about dog whistle politics and how racism has changed in America since the civil rights era. The dog whistle of racism, says Ian Haney Lopez, is "the dark magic" by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests. Politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles - code words that turn Americans against each other while turning America over to plutocrats. And yet, "Dog whistle politics doesn't come out of animus at all." Lopez tells Moyers. "It doesn't come out of some desire to hurt minorities. It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense, I want to start using the term strategic racism. It's racism as a strategy. It's cold, it's calculating, it's considered, it's the decision to achieve one's own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity." "And here's a hard, difficult truth. Most racists are good people," he claims. "They're not sick. They're not ruled by anger or raw emotion or hatred. They are complicated people reared in complicated societies. They're fully capable of generosity, of empathy, of real kindness. But because of the idea systems in which they're reared, they're also capable of dehumanizing others and occasionally of brutal violence." Ian Haney Lopez, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, is a senior fellow at the policy analysis and advocacy group, Demos. [24 minutes] Closed Captioning

PBS Video

Series Description: Bill Moyers returns on-air and online in January 2012 with MOYERS & COMPANY, a weekly hour of compelling and vital conversation about life and the state of American democracy, featuring some of the best thinkers of our time. A range of scholars, artists, activists, scientists, philosophers and newsmakers bring context, insight and meaning to important topics. The series occasionally includes Moyers' own timely and penetrating essays on society and government. In a multimedia marketplace saturated with shallow sound bites and partisan name-calling, MOYERS & COMPANY digs deeper. As the Los Angeles Times put it in 2010, "No one on television has centralized the discussion of ideas as much as Moyers... He not only gives a forum to unusual thinkers, he is truly interested in what they have to say and who they are because he believes their ideas really matter. "

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