All over the internet, the results of the AP’s just released “Racial Attitudes Poll” are being headlined as “proof” that racism is alive and well in America, and that racial bias has increased in the last four years. Either the poll is being released now to attempt to make Americans feel guilty about not wanting to vote for Barack Obama, or it is setting up the excuse for Obama’s defeat, should it occur, that only racism can account for such a successful, brilliant, eloquent leader being defeated. I apologize for the cynicism. With all the talk about “firewalls,” however, it seems self-evident that white guilt, which has been the target of pro-Obama racial politics from the beginning, is one of the most obvious, odious, and desperate.
The poll, in my analysis, is garbage, and unethical garbage as well. It is an accumulation of confirmation bias, locked in with horrible methodology.
To measure “explicit” racial biases, for example, the poll asked its subjects how well certain words, such as “friendly,” ”hardworking,” ”violent” and “lazy,” described “most” blacks, whites and Hispanics. That question is a trap. To answer it at all (some did refuse) is to automatically confess irrational bias. As Marissa Tomei charmingly says to the questioning D. A. in “My Cousin Vinnie,” “It’s a bullshit question!” “Most” whites, blacks and Hispanics aren’t any of these things, within my experience, as I haven’t met or gotten to know “most” whites, blacks and Hispanics. But I do know that even if I thought “most” Hispanics, say, spoke Spanish, I would never presume that any one of them did, because that would be foolish. And if, as I did for two years, I happened to live in a mostly black area in D.C.’s Capital Hill where almost all the young black men I encountered looked at me and spoke to me as if I had ten minutes to live, and was asked, “Are most blacks unfriendly?”, I’d refuse to answer that question as well. As it happened, the vast majority of blacks I encountered every day were outright hostile, but I would never project that experience onto any individual. I could easily see, however, how the AP would find an answer based on my experience at the time “explicitly racist.”
To their measure implicit racism, respondents get questions like this: “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.” This is a matter of debate and opinion, and for researchers to call a positive response proof of racism shows their bias (and political orientation), not the respondents. Similarly, the AP asks questions like this: How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think whites are responsible for creating? “Whites”? I don’t know: I’d say Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and other race-baiting MSNBC hosts create a lot of it—are they “whites”? Because I refuse to take responsibility for the slander of those hacks, and I’m white. Are white supremacy groups “whites”? Are criminals who happen to be black, “blacks”? What are you, if you categorize people who engage in certain conduct by their race, rather than by what they do and say? I think you are a racist. Does the poll’s question mean whites acting as a race? If so, the AP is guilty of overt racism for suggesting such a thing is even possible.
How would any thoughtful person answer this question: “Some people say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast. Others feel that they haven’t pushed fast enough. What do you think?” I think it’s a vague and useless question, unless I know what the questioner thinks they are “pushing” for. Reparations? Any pushing is too much. (I must be racist.) Hunting down George Zimmerman? The black leaders who advocated that were thugs. (I guess I’m racist.) No voter ID laws? I think they are wrong. (And the AP presumably thinks I’m racist.) Affirmative action? Well, I think they should stop pushing that entirely, because, you see, I’m racist. The AP knows.
What “black leaders?” Al Sharpton, or Allen West? Oprah, or Cornell West? Maxine Waters, or Colin Powell? Condi Rice, or Sheila Jackson Lee? Are they all “pushing” the same thing? If so, I have no idea what that is, so I can hardly judge its collective speed.
The entire survey is a faux scientific method of validating what liberals and progressives do routinely: assert that if you don’t agree with their preferred race-related policies, you are, by definition, a racist. For news organizations to use its dubious conclusions based on slanted questions to justify a headline like the Boston Globe’s unforgivable “Poll Finds Majority Hold Racist Views” only shows where the real bias is located in this country.
You can read the whole survey, if you have a sufficiently strong stomach, here.
Pointer: James Taranto
Source: Boston Globe