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6 Sneaky Post-Racial Code Words Used by Politicians To Rally Their Base

 Even as late as the 1950s, it was commonplace for American politicians to lace public discourse with racial epithets. While direct references to race make relatively few appearances today, it’s clear that inciting racial division has hardly disappeared from politics.

In his book published earlier this year, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, outlines how politicians and plutocrats attract white votes by deploying veiled racial messages.

Here are six examples of code words, some mentioned by Lopez and others not, but all used in American politics to publicly transmit racial messages.


bs_Greetings_from_the_Welfare_StateWelfare, Food Stamps, Entitlement Society, Food Stamp President

Lopez notes that welfare programs were broadly supported during the New Deal era when it was accepted that white Americans could face hardships in their lives that sometimes required government assistance.

Fast-forward to the 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson demanded a racial justice component to public assistance. “Then it becomes possible for conservatives to start painting welfare as a transfer of wealth to minorities,” says Lopez.

Remember those speeches by President Ronald Reagan about “welfare queens”? Today, says Lopez, we hear “food stamps” used similarly.

Fox News contributor Juan Williams wrote in a 2012 column published in The Hill:

“The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are ‘entitlement society’ — as used by Mitt Romney — and ‘poor work ethic’ and ‘food stamp president’ — as used by Newt Gingrich.”

What people are saying

7 thoughts on “6 Sneaky Post-Racial Code Words Used by Politicians To Rally Their Base

  1. Cornelius Solomon says:

    One of the most notorious phrases used by the political establishment, Republicans in particular, is this one: "Big Government". Whenever they invoke the phrase 'big government, they are referring to minorities, the welfare state, unemployment insurance, other entitlement programs… The largest group of recipients of government largess are corporations, defense contractors, politicians, huge public works projects that are bankrolled for their friends….

  2. I hear these code words and I agree. I here these code words every day in media and life. Being the well-learned accomplished conscious young man that I am I differ to Richard Sherman:

    "I'm the top of my field. I'm All-Pro. I'm one of the best 22 players in the NFL. You're going to brush it off, but I don't think you're the best 22 anything. In sports. In media. In anything. I think you think more of yourself than you actually can prove. I'll put it like this. In my 24 years of life, I'm better at life than you!"

    What I love about what my well-deserved-to-be-cocky friend said in that interview is no matter what you call him, you can never define him. He has confidence in his accomplishment and all the rest of us brown folks need to learn to do the same. Stop seeking approval and acknowledgement from White America, they're going to copy us anyways.

  3. When Sarah Palan came on the scene, she was their darling alright, racist as she wanted to be. She reminds me of the white females slave owner, history has it they were more vicious than the men. Caused the black man total hell. What.

  4. Danny Graves says:

    Please read the statistics of how many Canadians are illegally reaping tax benefits in comparison to Mexico.

  5. Danny Graves says:

    Ill agree If you can claim rap music as insecure hate fuel.

  6. Danny Graves says:


  7. Jimmy Langley says:

    This is funny.

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