October 29, 2006

Call for Change

If most polling is correct, many highly contested races this political season will come down to voter turnout. If you’re looking for something you can do to help reach out to fellow voters, remind them of everything that’s at stake this election season, and urge them to get out to the polls, you can join MoveOn.org’s Call for Change; an opportunity for all of us to reach out to fellow voters and discuss the real issues, cut past the hype and the television ads, and hit home with real topics that matter to all of us, and why it’s so desperately important to change up the leadership in Washington.

Calling from home is easy and simple, and getting involved is simpler; just click the image below:

Call For Change

See? It couldn’t be easier, and it’s really refreshing and energizing to be part of a nation-wide progressive voter turnout initiative.

[ Call for Change ]

Winning on Gay Marriage

The supreme court ruling in New Jersey that essentially stated that gay couples deserve the same rights and treatment under New Jersey’s state constitution as heterosexual couples do is a huge victory for equal rights and equality and justice under the law for all Americans regardless of their personal choices, but you can be sure that the conservative right won’t give this matter up without a fight. We can hold the line by not giving a single inch to their prejudicial and discriminatory demands. Understanding is one thing, empathy is one thing-in fact it’s always been the progressive mindset to be willing to accept and listen to the opinions of opponents, even when they’re blatantly and incredibly wrong-but when it comes to the way that America treats its people under the law, discrimination, intolerance, and hatred are not to be tolerated.

The ruling was a huge step forward, proving that at least somewhere in the United States, somewhere that hasn’t jumped on the homophobic bandwagon of both state laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and civil unions, the rights of all people, regardless of how their personal choices do-or most likely do not-affect the lives of anyone else are treated with honor and respect. This certainly isn’t the end of the issue, but it is definite cause for celebration.

Evan Wolfson is author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry and executive director of Freedom to Marry, the gay and non-gay partnership for marriage equality nationwide. He wrote in a recent piece at TomPaine:

Once again , America is heading into an Election Day with another round of ballot-measure attacks on gay people. While a shifting mood in the electorate may give our cause a boost—and as the public begins to wise up to Karl Rove’s gay-scapegoat-distraction plan—we are still likely to lose most, if not all, of the ballot measures aimed against us this year. We need to be ready to explain that loss to ourselves, our media and the public so the right-wing cannot spin these defeats into a false claim that our cause undermines candidates or other concerns we share.

At a similar juncture before the election in 2004, in a speech entitled The Scary Work of Winning, I described why we lose these battles. Most basically, civil rights movements rarely win early votes. After all, if it were as simple as a minority turning to the majority and saying, “Please stop discriminating against us,” we wouldn’t need constitutions or courts. Many of these attacks are cruelly aimed at gay people in states with already beleaguered communities, underfunded infrastructure, and few if any existing legal protections—this year’s wave includes Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

But, as I said in 2004, the other reason we are likely to lose in some places is that we have not fully fought the fight; we have not fully engaged in the conversation necessary—sustained and to scale—to move hearts and minds. When we run campaigns that flee from describing who local gays are and why marriage matters—campaigns that fail to connect the dots between fairness and how the denial of marriage harms families and helps no one—we are not giving people what they need over enough time to move them to our side.

He’s absolutely right, and the rest of his piece is equally compelling. Winning equal rights and protection for minorities has never been easy in the history of America and similarly the history of every disadvantaged community in any part of the world-the privileged and the majority and the empowered never willingly and happily yield rights and equal treatment to those they fear, those they hate, and those that are different than they-otherwise these issues would be easily resolved. Hatred and bigotry and privilege are incredibly difficult to overcome, and we mustn’t be dissuaded by initial losses and continue to carry the fight on. As I like to say, injustice is injustice, hatred is hatred, intolerance is intolerance, and bigotry is bigotry, regardless of who it’s aimed at-and we all need to rise to stand against it, lest it be us staring it down alone next.

[ Winning on Gay Marriage ]
Source: TomPaine.com

Worse Than Union Busting

I’ll agree with the perspective here; there’s been an incredible move in recent years away from organized labor. Labor movements and strikes get horrible press coverage, essentially appearing on television and in the newspapers, thanks to the mainstream media, as some kind of hideous, ignorant underclass that dares to inconvenience the rest of us while trying to shake down their oh-so-gracious employers for an extra several dozen thousand dollars a year.

I’ve seen the mindset in my colleagues and friends; they believe that thanks to unions, train operators and auto workers make tens of thousands of dollars more for doing unskilled work than they make doing middle-class professional work, and whenever they’re the slightest bit unhappy, they use the power of the union to shakedown the company for more money, better benefits, or more perks, and resist any kind of cost-cutting or mutual sacrifice for the health of the business. Unions have been perceived as the downfall of several industries, because apparently the workers are incredibly greedy and the executives, walking away with millions in stock and multi-hundred-thousand dollar salaries and bonuses, only trying to selflessly keep the business afloat.

Where this perversion in logic happened, I’m not entirely sure, but my best guess it had to do with the union-busting tactics and propaganda of the me-me-more-money 1980s, when people actually thought Reaganomics was a valid economic system, and disdain for the common man was key to making a buck in the cutthroat business world.

Still, large businesses from Walmart, who has gone so far as to bring its employers into “voting sessions,” where they claim to tell employees which candidates are best for Walmart (usually Republicans who oppose things like benefits and a minimum wage increase for Walmart’s very employees) but actually tell their employees how to vote, to entire industry groups like the American auto industry, have been engaging in the kind of tactics that essentially smear organized labor in the eyes of the public, and create people who would rather go to bat individually against tyrannical employers and lose than organize and win:

The over-the-top mudslinging by the Center for Union Facts, the National Right to Work Committee and other anti-union groups is nothing more than an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes, hiding the real crisis in the American workplace. Too many workers in the U.S. still can’t adequately provide basic necessities for their families, protect themselves from workplace hazards or take care of themselves when they get old or sick. The firings, intimidation and harassment that often befall workers attempting to exercise freedoms of speech and association by forming unions are threats to our democracy. When faced with union organizing drives, 30 percent of employers terminate pro-union workers, 40 percent threaten to close a worksite if a union prevails and 51 percent coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery and favoritism.

The motives behind assailing organized workers are both financial and ideological. Union-busting is big business. Just ask Center for Union Facts founder and D.C. mercenary lobbyist Rick Berman. He’s the mastermind behind the ads and has earned a living attacking other public interest groups—like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Centers for Disease Control—for clients including the alcohol and fast food industries. Although he won’t reveal who is bankrolling CUF, attacking unions seems to be the source of his latest windfall.

Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, a national labor policy organization in Washington, D.C., has more to say about the topic, and this disturbing trend in American politics. Read the full story:

[ Worse Than Union Busting ]
Source: TomPaine.com

October 23, 2006

Racists on the Ballot: Hard-Right Radicals Run in 2006

Calling out racists around the country in the districts that they’re running, Alexander Zaitchik of the venerable Intelligence Report authors for Alternet a solid rundown of racists, bigots, and hatemongers who are running for offices far and wide, from state legislature to county mosquito control board. The theory of the racists has been to undercut diversity and multiculturalism not just by decrying the so-caled “evil” that is “political correctness,” but also by moving into governmental offices at lower levels and slowly ascending to higher positions of power quietly, keeping their racial motives and pasts as hidden as possible until its time to take action collectively, with the hope of rolling back years of progress towards equality and justice for all of America’s citizens.

Zaitchik takes us around the country, from Florida to Arizona, Georgia to Montana, to show us how the horrible legacy of racist politicians like David Duke, the infamous Klan member who ran for governor of Louisiana and got the majority of the white vote there, still remains alive in America today. For example:

In 1989, notorious white supremacist David Duke ran for a vacant seat in the Louisiana state legislature and won. Despite repeated efforts — and winning more than 670, 000 votes, a majority of the state’s white voters, in a 1991 gubernatorial bid — Duke would fail to convert this electoral victory into higher office. But the former Klan leader remains convinced that the road to national power for those who share his views runs through local and state assemblies. At last year’s European American Conference, a racist pow-wow Duke organizes annually, he implored audience members to enter politics — and start small.

“State representative races can be won with modest budgets and small staffs, while affording the winner possible major media attention and the ability to file and promote legislation that can materially improve our people’s plight,” proclaimed Duke, citing personal experience.

“Most importantly, a state representative office is winnable for political novices and provides an excellent springboard for higher office.”

This electoral strategy for building an extremist political movement in the U.S. was recently echoed by neo-Nazi John Ubele in an essay posted on the website of the Nationalist Coalition, a white nationalist group. In “The 2006 Elections: A Call to Action,” Ubele expounds upon the positive uses of local campaigns, even failed ones, in helping lay the groundwork for a “national pro-White political party.” These include heightened exposure for extremist ideas and organizational and management experience for activists.

A world of hideous examples follow the link below; from politicians who have had success in the past to politicans running right now with hopes of being elected in 15 days come Election Day.

[ Racists on the Ballot: Hard-Right Radicals Run in 2006 ]
Source: The Intelligence Report (courtesy of AlterNet)

Foreign Policy Blindness

We can hope and pray and go to the polls and make our own voices as clear as a bell on election day; we can do everything we can to vote in more compassionate, fair-minded, flexible, and representative officials; but a series of significant questions remain, sadly.

The Democrats and progressive candidates running in jurisdictions around the country have long told us the failings of their Republican counterparts, and indeed linked them to the massive power chain that leads all the way down from the White House and the annals of the conservative power cabal that rules Capitol Hill and the White House from their offices on K street. They’ve been incredibly successful in this regard; because massive discontent with the status quo can often be enough to get you elected. But what’s been missing from the progressive message is not just how wrong the conservatives have been, and how dangerous a direction America is headed-we all know this, and we’ve all heard it-but what progressive candidates and Democrats running for office can really truly do for our country. In essence, don’t just tell the public why you’re not bad, tell the public why you’re (and subsequently, what you can do) better.

With regard to Americas dismal relationship with the rest of the world and our stubborn and overly aggressive foriegn policy, Immanuel Wallerstein, senior research scholar at Yale University, andauthor of The Decline of American Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World, has a few choice words for progressive candidates looking to unseat their conservative rivals and replace their domineering attitude about the rest of the world:

But what will a Democratic Congress do that is better? That, as everyone has remarked, is not at all clear. Indeed, one has to doubt that the Democrats collectively have a really better foreign policy to offer. The primary problem of the leadership of the Democratic party is that they believe, at least as much as the Republicans, that the United States is the center of the world, the font of wisdom, the great defender of world freedom—in short, a deeply virtuous nation in a dangerous world.

Worst of all, they seem to believe that, merely by purging the element of exaggerated unilateralism practiced by the current regime, they will be able to restore the United States to a position of centrality in the world-system, and regain the support of their erstwhile allies and supporters, first of all in western Europe and then everywhere else in the world. They seem really to believe that it’s a matter of form, not substance, and that the fault of the Bush regime is that it wasn’t good enough at diplomacy.

It’s true that not all Democrats feel that way, and indeed for that matter not all Republicans and independents. But at this moment, those who are ready to take a real look at the fallacies of U.S. policies are a minority—furthermore, a minority without a clear agenda themselves and certainly without a major political leader to express an alternate view.

A frightening thought in a few regards; that serious discussions about changing course with regard to our foriegn policy will be limited to a minority of progressives who would prefer real diplomacy and substantial change in the way America deals with its neighbors, treats its allies, and engages its opponents. Wallerstein goes on to predict a few foriegn policy setbacks in the future that Democrats will doubtlessly be blamed for, and put the deteriorating situation in Iraq in historical context. Still, when Democrats take at least one and hopefully both houses of Congress this fall, they may remember the importance of such a discussion.

[ Foreign Policy Blindness ]
Source: TomPaine

October 15, 2006

Reflections from a Former Anti-Abortion Activist

This article, written by Elizabeth Wardle, PhD, who was staunchly anti-abortion until she got to college, took a few Women’s Studies classes, and had the disease of ignorance cured by the treatment of education and knowledge, is the kind of experience that many people in America should have and are sadly deprived of. It fives me hope that more people, given the right information and facts on hand, could transcend the irrational and selectively moral to come to a position of understanding and empathy. Her words, excerpted from the book Abortion Under Attack: Women on the Challenges Facing Choice, edited by Krista Jacob, speak largely for themselves:

In the house and church I grew up in, there was no question about where I would stand on abortion. A fetus was a life. We opposed taking life. Case closed.

What conversation can be had when only one question is considered pertinent? I was a chaste, Christian, small-town, pro-life teenager from a happy home with two parents. My most exciting experiences were church camping trips. At sixteen, I had never even kissed a boy. Nothing had ever happened to me to suggest other questions were relevant in the abortion debate. I was sure of my views and sure my experiences provided enough information with which to make an informed decision about what was right for all women everywhere.

Thus, I goaded my girlfriends into attending protests and meetings and starting teenage pro-life groups. No one questioned me. Where we came from, my girlfriends were wrong not to have thought of going to the meetings before I did. They admired my staunch, unquestioning sense of what was right and wrong. Looking back, it’s clear I was pompous, self-righteous, and unbearably certain of myself. But I had the total peace of mind that only comes from a worldview with no shades of gray.

My certainty and peace of mind were not to last, however. College showed me that life is full of gray.

In college I discovered that some people have sex without feeling they have done something dirty, that women get pregnant who are in no position to take care of a child, and that one of the most frightening things in the world for an eighteen-year-old from a pro-life, Christian fundamentalist family would be telling her parents she was pregnant. If I had become pregnant and informed my parents, I knew exactly where I would have gone: straight to a home for pregnant teenage mothers, to be physically well-cared for and proselytized to for nine months, after which time my child would have been adopted by a good, white fundamentalist family dying for a healthy new (white) baby. I would have been shamed. My parents’ biggest concern would have been how to hide my pregnancy from their friends.

Problematic as this response would have been, it pales in comparison to what has actually happened to other Christian teenagers, who have been disowned, thrown out of their homes, and even physically harmed. It later came as no surprise that, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, one in five women seeking abortions is a born-again or an Evangelical Christian. Had I become pregnant as a teenager, I would have done all in my power–including consider an abortion–to avoid the shame I would have felt in the eyes of my Christian community.

I began to understand why parental consent laws might be a bad idea: they can raise the number of late-term abortions, as young women from conservative homes put off a decision or wait for parental or judicial consent. Some pregnant teens would even choose illegal abortions rather than face their parents’ wrath.

In my women’s studies classes I learned about poverty and racism, about misogyny, about the history of birth control (or rather, control of birth control). I learned that for many women there are several important questions that come before whether or not a fetus is a life–questions such as, “Will this pregnancy cost me my life? Who will feed this child? Where is one person who will provide me with some support if I have this child?” I learned that two out of three women who have abortions say they cannot afford a child and half do not have a dependable partner with earning potential.

Her entire piece is incredibly compelling, and I would urge anyone, on any side of the abortion debate, to read it. It’s amazing.

[ Reflections from a Former Anti-Abortion Activist ]
Source: Alternet

Study: More Than 600,000 Dead in Iraq

This story was all over the news last week, and literally no credible opposition has come to the nature and results of the study aside from conservative and war-hawky think tanks in Washington that will speak out against anything potentially negative about the nature of the war, and I’d hardly call them credible.

Using a study that goes beyond simple morgue body counts and looks at death certificates awarded over the course of the war and interviews family members and households to find out if anyone has died recently in conflict, were able to determine that far more people have died as a direct result of the war, regardless of the cause.

John Tirman, executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, who organized and published the study, wrote this:

The new mortality survey of Iraq that estimates 600,000 deaths by violence is startling and should alter the way America thinks about this war.

The John Hopkins University researchers were meticulous about the methods used to randomly choose the survey sites and analyze the data. It is state-of-the-art work, and its accuracy is not an issue. The survey is the only scientific account of the war dead. There is no other, and those who publicly dismiss the findings must offer an alternative. There is none. Every other account is deeply flawed in method, and this one is not. It is standard in epidemiology and disaster response.

Tirman’s study suggests that we desperately need to alter direction in Iraq. That idiotic chatter about “cutting and running” and “defeat-o-crats,” of partisan resolutions in the halls of government “supporting the mission in Iraq” and so on, only serve to inflame the problem and the bases on the far sides of the political spectrum, and deny us the real discussion on the course and results and the actual mission of the war that the American people so desperately need.

[ Study: More Than 600,000 Dead in Iraq ]
Source: Alternet

[ The Human Cost of the War in Iraq
A Mortality Study, 2002-2006 (pdf format)
Source: The MIT Center for International Studies

Anti-Choicers’ Frightening New Tactic

The line now is that apparently by taking away the right of the individual to make even the most basic fundamental choice-when and how to have a child or start a family, anti-choicers are somehow “protecting” women by forcing them to have the children of their rapists, abusive husbands or family members, or by forcing them to have children they can’t support, potentially can’t bear without losing their lives or risking both their lives and the life fo the fetus. “Protecting” them from what really, you say? Of course-protecting them from their own obviously incorrect morality by superimposing their own. The last time someone told a group of people that they needed to be “protected” from themselves, we earned ourselves prison camps at home, and found concentration camps abroad.

Let’s take a look at the “protective” argument from a historical perspective, eh? Sarah Blustain and Reva Siegel, writing for The American Prospect recount the history of the trend from hard-line anti-abortion and anti-choice speech to softer tones in an attempt to fool people into swallowing the poison pill.

The woman-protective rhetoric has rich antecedents in the 19th-century campaign to criminalize abortion and contraception. But in the last several decades, it has not been the dominant form of anti-abortion argument. When debate over whether to criminalize abortion erupted in the 1970s, the women’s movement was ascendant and opponents of abortion emphasized the need to protect the unborn, rather than to preserve traditional roles of women.

The woman-protective argument for restricting abortion appeared in the 1980s when a researcher began to analyze abortion responses on the model of post-traumatic syndrome. Powerfully placed anti-abortion activists resisted this shift in emphasis, hoping to keep the moral focus on the unborn. This fight over who was rightly the object of anti-abortion concern reached its height when some leaders of the anti-abortion movement urged President Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, to make official findings that abortion posed a public-health threat to women, on the model of his anti-smoking campaign. Koop, who was a prominent and passionate opponent of abortion, refused. He judged the new claim mistaken on the grounds that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to decide on abortion’s harm to women — and more: “Abortion was more a moral issue than a medical issue,” Koop reasoned in his 1991 book Koop: The Memoirs of America’s Family Doctor. “The pro-life movement had always focused — rightly, I thought — on the impact of abortion on the fetus. They lost their bearings when they approached the issue on the grounds of the health effects on the mother.”

But with the abortion debate deadlocked through the 1980s and 1990s, growing numbers of anti-abortion advocates began to recognize that they needed better ways to speak about the wrongs of abortion to the majority of Americans now concerned about women’s rights. And so anti-abortion advocates experimented with forms of woman-friendly argument that fused women’s rights talk and women’s roles talk into a case against abortion that could claim concern for a woman and her child at the same time. Recalling the genesis of this “new rhetorical strategy,” Frederica Mathewes-Green of Feminists for Life of America — founded in 1972 as an anti-abortion, pro-Equal Rights Amendment organization — recounts “Dr. Jack Willke’s early-nineties project to develop a concise response to the other side’s ‘Who decides?’ rhetoric (you may have seen ‘Love them both’ placards) and the trend of pregnancy care centers to shift focus, changing from storefronts that discourage abortion to full-fledged medical clinics or professional counseling centers.”

The political strategy behind all this is laid out in David Reardon’s 1996 book, Making Abortion Rare. (Reardon, whose research on “post-abortion syndrome” is extensively cited in the South Dakota report, writes regularly to advise the anti-abortion movement about how to vindicate its moral and religious convictions in politics and science.) As the title suggests, Reardon delights in flipping his opponents’ frames. The book explains to the anti-abortion movement the importance of addressing women’s interests to persuade “the middle majority [which] is paralyzed by competing feelings of compassion for both the unborn and for women.” In the early 1990s, Reardon and his allies advised the movement that it needed to “take back the terms ‘freedom of choice’ and ‘reproductive freedom’ … to emphasize the fact that we are the ones who are really defending the right of women to make an informed choice; we are the ones who are defending the freedom of women to reproduce without fear of being coerced into unwanted abortions.” When this rhetoric was added, Reardon reports one anti-abortion activist as saying, “‘[t]he result has been almost dramatic. … We are listened to once again.'” Today, such rhetoric is the cutting-edge argument for restricting abortion, and the rallying cry “abortion hurts women” may now be more prevalent in some political and counseling contexts than the claim that abortion is murder

“Protecting” seems to very often one way or the other turn into “subjugating,” which of course is clearly the goal of the anti-choice community-to superimpose and thrust their own morality and belief structure on not just everyone around them, but on entire communities, states, and ultimately all of us.

[ Anti-Choicers’ Frightening New Tactic ]
Source: The American Prospect (courtesy of AlterNet)

Sex, Lies And Cover-ups

The polls are swinging in favor of the Democrats this fall in front of the mid term elections. One would think that this ia a good thing in the long run, that more progressive candidates can only mean good things for America, and the ouster of the conservative right, corrupt, hateful, and now, as we’ve been learning, increasingly both buyable and morally base.

As Martha Burk explains, the Democrats have up to this point been all but reactive to the self-destructive tendancies of the Republicans and conservatives. This is all well and good, but it’s now time for progressive Democratic and independant candidates to stand up and explain now just why their opponents are useless and why their constituencies would be better off without their Republican representatives in power, but it’s also time to explain what progressive policies can do for America, focus on the core domestic issues like education, health care, fiscal responsibility along with social progress, as well as focus on foriegn policy and diplomatic issues like the gross insecurity that this administration and its cronies have subjected us to, and how greatly a change in power structure and leadership can improve our relations with the rest of the world.

Democrats need to stand up and explain not just why they’re an obvious better choice, but truly explain how they can improve things.

[ Sex, Lies And Cover-ups ]
Source: TomPaine.com

American Fascism Is on the Rise

A very long treatise on the rise of real fascism in the United States, and the very real threat that it poses to not just the fragile sense of somewhat civil harmony that we have, but any hopes for progress towards a more tolerant, educated, and understanding society-quite the contrary to the the nonsense that gets shouted at us through the media from the bully pulpit of the White House that happens to share the same word. While the President tells us about so-called “islamo-fascists,” the real fascists are gathering strength behind our ranks and festering here at home while our attention, skepticism, and all too often our hatred, are turned elsewhere.

The militarization of American culture and the exalted position of the military-beyond the honor of service and to the point of unearned absolute authority, ignorantly condoned and accepted vigilantism-specifically in the form of the 20th century lynch mob that call themselves “Minutemen,” the overall masculine fear of female power and the backlash against it with subsequent “studies” and “surveys” that prove working women are bad for families and health, the rise of white privilege and the spread of the subtle lie that equal opportunity somehow is a real thing in America when nothing could be further from the truth-all of these thigns are symptoms of a growing problem here at home, and sentiments that badly need to be addressed.

Stan Goff addresses all of these problems at length, while sharing his own story of having come from an insular military culture back out into civilian life and watching the drastic changes in the rest of America during his time serving and his time when the nation was at peace.

The reason I bring this up at all, this old news of white male terrorism in the U.S., is anything but academic. The U.S. military is inducting avowed white supremacists again after an alleged hiatus … one begun in response to the discovery of Timothy McVeigh’s ideological orientations, and the murder of a black couple in December that same year by neo-Nazis in the 82nd Airborne Division.

John Kifner, writing for the New York Times on July 7th:

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC], which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

“We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad,” the group quoted a Defense Department investigator….

This, of course, is remarkable for its abnormality … or so some might have us think.

These explicitly white supremacist groups, contrasted with the implicitly white supremacist Republican Party, for example, openly embrace a vision of fascism, and openly admire fascist leaders. And while I take issue with those who throw the F-word around as a mere epithet stripped of any operational meaning, the alarm sounded by the SPLC about fascists joining the military under less than perfect oversight to prevent their entry raises some very interesting issues about our entire political conjuncture.

And there’s more. Goff explains:

Denial supports this “non-racist” racism. A poll by the Washington Post in 2001 showed that half of all white people believe blacks in the U.S. are just as economically well-off and secure as whites.

But economic and social distance between blacks and whites is far from closed, except in the minds of many white Americans.

Six in 10 whites—61 percent—say the average black has equal or better access to health care than the average white, according to the poll.

In fact, blacks are far more likely to be without health insurance than whites. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey found that blacks were nearly twice as likely as whites to be without health insurance.

The survey in fact notes that half of whites have convinced themselves that African-Americans and Euro-Americans are educated equally well in the U.S. The empirical evidence, of course, points to a contrary conclusion. This misperception by whites is based on two things: (1) the need to believe that race as an issue is “all in the past now” and (2) the association of middle-class whites with middle-class African-Americans, which lends anecdotal support to the idea of equality-achieved, by exclusive exposure to a non-representative sample of the black population. Half of all whites believe that African-Americans enjoy economic parity with whites, another staggeringly wrong impression (the poverty rate for blacks is double that for whites, as just one example).

It really is impressive. Both how we as the American people manage to not only fool ourselves into denying history and ignoring the facts in favor of our own prejudices and hatreds, but how far a little ignorance and bigotry can go towards changing the direction of an entire culture. It’s such a shame that so much righteousness is required to steer ourselves back, but that righteousness must be mounted.