A new phrase recently wormed its way into American political discourse, introduced, apparently, by our very own liberal talking heads, because they believe it impolitic to tell the ugly truth about a certain large sect within the Republican Party; a phrase meant to reference all of those "good ole' boy" Republican synonyms for the deeply, abiding racism the Republican party invited into its ranks with hugs and kisses after the Democratic party took the issue of civil rights away from the Elephants.
That profound racism has had many expressions before: calling a man a boy or a monkey, Willie Horton, the Southern Strategy, birtherism, Jeremiah Wright, the poll tax, the literacy test, lynching, lunch counters, fire hoses, fire bombs, buses, viscous and growling dog fangs, being called uppity, federal troops, assassinations, voter fraud, voter suppression, finger wagging, shouts of "You lie!" etc.. To be nice to the Republicans, we now call the collection of these epithets and symbolic actions "the dog whistle," and that phrase refers to race, or "otherness," particularly regarding African-Americans. It implies black Americans are somehow less American, less patriotic, less hardworking, and less-deserving of an equal chance for success in America than are white Americans. It implies that whites do the work in America while blacks and Latinos abuse the social safety net by living off of benefits provided by white tax dollars. As Rachel Maddow pointed out on her news hour on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, the "dog whistle" is always the last resort of a losing Republican presidential candidate, with the possible exception of John McCain.
Maybe. But maybe the dog whistle is always used by Republicans. Maybe we just now need a euphemism for the wide ranging forms Republicans express their solidarity with the Caucasian race because only now have we elected an African-American as President of the United States. Maybe the election of 2010 was "The Great White Backlash" against the 2008 election of President Barak Obama, putting the House in Republican hands, and many states in absolute Republican control. As a result, President Obama looks ineffective, and the states have been able to pass legislation that virtually guarantees no African-American will be elected to the White House for many years to come. Maybe America remains a ferociously, racist country and the Obama presidency a fluke of historical coindence: the growing senility of a senior Senator's candidacy, the absurd choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, and the economic crash on the eve of the 2008 election.
The "dog whistle" is an appeal to the white voter's fear that former minorities will someday rise up and control the machinery of power in our country--the state, with all of the brute force it commands. It is the same fear once felt by white South Africans when they refused to end apartheid in a world that had proved their fear to be unfounded. The dog whistle raises fears of paying reparations for slavery, and of final accountability for the physical, social, economic, and political crimes that nearly every white voter secretly knows or intuits has been committed against minorities in the long and violent rule of the white majority in America. The specific phrase "dog whistle," apparently refers to talking over the heads of minorities, in a manner beyond their intelligence to grasp, so only white people understand the message, just as a dog whistle can only be heard by dogs.
The metaphor is apt, to the extent those whom use the dog whistle are comparable in intellect to the dullest of dogs, but fails when it presumes minorities cannot hear the whistle too; unless, for some reason, the whistlers do not care if they offend minorities, liberals and progressives. In that case, we live in dangerous times indeed, and the whistlers whistle a deadly tune. In that case, once again, civil war may threaten the Union. We all feel something big is coming, something electric hanging over an imperiled nation, like we feel an obscene clarity in the air just before a horrible storm, as daily the Right batters the electorate with lies and distortions about the Obama presidency and its supporters, and those who call themselves "progressives."
Liberals, however, give the metaphoric dog whistle too much power when they allow Republicans to sanitize their racism with such rubrics. The Left cannot allow the reactionary Right to define the terms for this debate. In truth, unwashed by the political correctness of "dog whistles," the reactionary Right is seen in all of its naked glory, free to say the dirty words of the sum of its fears: "The niggers, Jews, and spics are taking over our country." Or, those who fear the battle already lost cry out, "We're taking back our country!"
The Right's hostility to Barak Obama distorts its ideology so profoundly that it cannot even acknowledge a black man, particularly one more refined, educated, and intelligent than than the best of the Right, legally holds the Office of the Presidency. The public display of firearms around his personal appearances would never be accepted by the Secret Service, or even occur, were Obama white. And that public display, coupled with the rapidly increasing sales of firearms, viewed with the daily repetition of the theme that Obama is a bacon eating, beer drinking, non-praying, church attending, foreign born Muslim,illegitimately holding the Office of the Presidency, yet contradictorally, raised in Red diapers, has American progressives tongue-twisted as to just what to say about the hatred for Obama on the Right.
We know violence will soon erupt. We know that each new example of disrespect sharpens the crosshairs pinned on the President's back. We have not reached the shooting stage yet, although there may have been some skirmishs, but that fact is not through lack of effort by those who inflame the public airwaves every day with the latest lies about Obama's record, and the newest conspiracy theories about how Obama serves as President illegally. Except for Rush Limbaugh, who sings with impunity on public airwaves, "Barak the Magic Negro," the rest of us try to fake nice, to be fake polite to one another, no matter the real message of the other, no matter the danger aroused by the inflammatory rhetoric of the Right.
We know full well the intent of de-legitimizing the President, of portraying him as a Muslim practicing communism in America, and of whipping up hysteria over these false accusations. We know full well that those who engage in these practices talk as much to that few, imbalanced individuals who might actually take violent action against the foreign, communist, Muslim usurper illegally living in the White House as they do to their millions of somewhat normal listeners. We must remember when dealing with the reactionaries that they in fact seek to murder the President by proxy, escaping that way the guilt and the legal consequences of their intent. The same tactics have worked against doctors who provide abortion services. After raising emotions to a fever pitch, some lone gunman shoots the newest target of the "pro-life" forces who then quickly raise their hands in wonder over allegations they created the conditions for the murder, asking, "Who, me?"
Nonetheless, the polite version of letting the voters know a candidate is racist has devolved to noting that a candidate used "the dog whistle." Anything stronger and the MSM will treat us like they have treated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for announcing on the Senate floor that he has a source with Bain Capital telling him Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in the last ten years. Reid has been criticized more roundly for this little bit of theater than Joe Wilson was criticized for screaming at Obama during his first State of the Union address, "You lie!"--basically more strongly than any of the abundant weirdness coming from Tea Party activists elected to the House such as Congressman Allen West from Florida's 22nd District, who asserts there are over 80 secret card carrying members of the Communist Party on the Democratic side of the House, probably referencing the Progressive Caucus.
The media expects such nonsense from the Republicans and dutifully reports it, but it also expects the Democrats to be wimps, and when they are not, it pounds them back in their wimp hole without mercy.
So we sanitize our criticism of Republican racism with phrases like "the dog whistle." We hear the dog whistle successfully employed when someone accuses President Obama of being the food stamp president, implying that African-Americans are the majority of Americans on food stamps, instead of white Americans, meaning that Obama throws tax revenues away supporting his lazy kinfolk. Using this whistle, originally employed by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 "Southern Strategy" campaign using the image of the black "Welfare Queen" driving her Cadillac through the local McDonalds in the very city, Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were brutally murdered by the KKK with the help of the local police during the struggle for civil rights in the sixties.
We hear the dog whistle when we are told that this President, perhaps, can only be understood from the perspective of an anti-colonial, Kenyan mindset, which, for those not historically inclined, refers to the exceedingly bloody Mau Mau revolt in Kenya based upon British imperial ownership of the prime agricultural land,leading to the forced resettlement of Kenyans on reservations where they could not raise sufficient food to survive. Led by the Kikuyu and the Masai, the latter being among the most famous warriors in history, the Mau Mau nationalists were brutally suppressed by the British Conservatives using false flag attacks, concentration camps, torture, rape and mass murder in the 1950's, all learned from the Nazis in WWII, condemned as inappropriate for Jews, but considered quite appropriate for black Africans. In this context, we are to understand Barak Obama.
We hear the whistle again when this moderate to conservative President is labeled a communist, socialist, Marxist, Nazi, big spender, anti-American sell out, apologist-in-chief, when he, in fact, hardly manages to represent what precious little remains of the middle-class American dream, and speaks more eloquently about American freedom and exceptionalism than any President since Abraham Lincoln. Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls on the nation; read that again---wage and price controls---on the entire country, and dared open relations with the Communist giant, China, but no one called him a socialist.