MSMsplaining Poor Whites.

There is a Vox video about the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and Trump voters. The article that goes along with it was written by Sarah Kliff.

The author is an award winning journalist who has interviewed Obama about the ACA, although her education isn’t in journalism. She is now a senior editor at Vox and regularly reports on healthcare. Vox, owned by Vox Media, is a major news website founded in 2002 by Ezra Klein. It is serious journalism of the mainstream variety. Their model is what they call “explanatory journalism”, the above mentioned video and article being prime examples.

Vox has received both praise and criticism. There is plenty of negativity toward Vox from the political right, but that is mostly a disagreement about which ideological bias is preferable. More interesting is a statement made by Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept. He writes about, in relation to the Democratic Party, the liberal media such as Vox “suppressing reporting that reflects negatively on them and instead confines itself to hagiography.”

I state all of that as a way to frame Sarah Kliff’s journalism. She has acted as a cheerleader for Obamacare. I’m not against people supporting what they believe in, but it isn’t what I’d prefer from journalism. The video ends up less interesting for this reason. Kliff is telling a story and it falls into a mainstream narrative framing that is somewhere between unhelpful and irritating.

This has to do with the mainstream media’s recent obsession with poor whites, especially poor rural whites. It isn’t limited to the liberal media. Everyone has been turning the spotlight on this minority population, as if their existence is supposed to explain everything. Charles Murray wrote about poor whites in Coming Apart and J.D. Vance did so in Hillbilly Elegy, both of which largely downplay economic realities and portray this population as a failure, having supposedly failed not just economically but also according to morality and culture, imagination and self-initiative. Going by Vance’s account, you’d think that if you look at poor whites wrong they might shoot you or beat you up, that is when they aren’t doing drugs and slutting around.

It’s been bugging me. Leave the poor whites alone. Or if you feel that understanding them is really going to help you understand the sorry state of America, at least look to authors worth reading such as Joe Bageant or Nancy Isenberg. To be honest, I don’t see anything particularly special about poor whites. They aren’t all that different from any other variety of poor people. Poverty sucks. I suppose it’s nice that the upper classes are noticing, for whatever that is worth.

It’s not that Kliff’s journalism is horrible nor what is seen on the political right. I actually did like Kliff’s video at first, but it bothered me the more I thought about it. I have no reason to think she wasn’t trying her best to be fair. The problem is that the upper classes (including the upper middle class) are so disconnected from reality on the ground that they bring so many biases to any attempt at understanding. This is why they fall back on stale narratives. The mainstream media view of race and class hasn’t fundamentally changed since the early 20th century. We keep being told the same basic stories over and over, as if the stories were all that meaningful in the first place and as if nothing has changed in all that time.

* * *

Let me give a detailed response to the video. But first I should explain what the video focuses on.

The setup is this. Sarah Kliff visited some white people in a particular area of Kentucky, Whitley County. The reason the county is relevant at all is because a woman living there, Kathy Oller, who has worked signing people up for Obamacare. This woman, horror of horrors, admitted that she voted for Trump in the hope that he would improve Obamacare. One unstated assumption is that the few people she interviews in that place can be generalized to all Trump voters. Another unstated assumption is that Obamacare was a primary reason or factor behind most people voting for Trump.

It would have been nice if she had talked to Whitley County residents who supported or voted for candidates other than Trump. What percentage of this population would have voted for Sanders, if he had been nominated? It would have been even better if she had talked to the majority who probably didn’t vote at all. I doubt most eligible voters voted for Trump because most poor eligible voters don’t vote. Why didn’t she talk to people who didn’t vote and ask them why they didn’t?

I’d also like to hear from those who aren’t eligible voters such as prisoners and ex-cons. Poor rural areas have high rates of incarceration. There is a detention center in Whitley County and a federal prison in adjacent McCreary County. Many people move to live near where their family members are incarcerated, to make visitation easier. I wonder what those people thought about the various candidates and about politics in general, specifically political reform. Why do we treat these people as if they are irrelevant? Are they not also citizens who will be effected by public policy?

Also, it would have been useful to hear from the 3% of blacks (and other minorities) living in Whitley county. It’s easy to forget that there are still large populations of rural blacks in the South. Besides maybe Hispanics, blacks were the last large racial/ethnic group to become majority urban. Whether rural or urban, with a population of 35,637, Whitley County includes over a thousand minorities. Plus, there are thousands of minorities in the surrounding counties, along with around 700,000 minorities in Kentucky (about half being black). Minorities are among the poor in Kentucky and they too have been hit hard by economic problems. Yet not a single minority was interviewed, as if minority Kentuckians don’t exist because they don’t fit mainstream stereotypes. The words ‘blacks’ and ‘minorities’ weren’t even mentioned. And the only non-white person shown in the video and discussed in the article was Barack Obama. There were minorities who voted for Trump. Who were these minorities? And what were the expecting from such a vote?

We’ll never know from this kind of “explanatory journalism”.

* * *

I always wonder about the background.

I know quite a bit about Kentucky from doing genealogical and historical research of the state. I had family there from the late 1700s to the late 1800s (some of my earliest Kentucky family came from Pulaski County which is adjacent to McCreary County and nearly touching the corner of Whitley County). Kentucky used to have a large number of blacks, about a quarter of the state’s population, and they were mostly rural. When I visited there a few years ago, I didn’t see a single black person in any rural area.

Most blacks either left the state or moved to the cities, as the early 1900s began a violent time in Kentucky. There was racial cleansing and the enforcement of sundown towns—see: James Loewen’s Sundown Towns, Elliot Jaspin’s Buried in the Bitter Waters, and George Wright’s Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940. All three of those books discuss a well documented Whitley County incident in Corbin, Kentucky that happened in the fall after the Red Summer (1919). Loewen notes that a least certain residents were still trying to maintain it as a sundown town into the 1990s and some suspect that it is still a sundown town.

On a positive note, I’d point out two things about the 1919 incident. The Corbin mob violence was immediately condemned by the then editor of the local newspaper. And the mob leader was prosecuted by the state. But less positive, the moral atrocity of this incident was wiped from the public memory in the local population and recent local officials have fought anyone attempting to bring it to public attention. Even so, the reputation of these places aren’t forgotten by blacks, as to this day many fear going near towns like Corbin.

In terms of demographics, Jaspin offers the details (Kindle Locations 2874-2877):

“In fact, census records show that the black population in Corbin, which had been sixty in 1910, was exactly three in 1920: Emma Woods and her sixty-five-year-old boarder Steve Stansbury and the affectionately nicknamed “Nigger” Dennis. Beyond the city limits, there was a lesser but still substantial drop. Laurel County saw its black population cut in half from 657 to 333 between 1910 and 1920. Whitley County’s black population went from 1,111 to 600. By 1930 it would be cut in half again, and after 1960 it would never again rise above 150.”

To put this in a larger context, Loewen writes (pp. 71-72):

“In the first two decades of the twentieth century, whites expelled African Americans from almost the entire Cumberland Plateau, a huge area extending from the Ohio River near Huntington, West Virginia, southwest through Corbin, Kentucky, crossing into Tennessee, where it marks the division between east and middle Tennessee, and finally ending in northern Alabama. In most parts of the plateau throughout most of the twentieth century, when night came to the Cumberlands, African Americans had better be absent.69 The twenty Cumberland counties in eastern Kentucky had 3,482 African Americans in 1890, or 2% of the region’s 175,631 people. By 1930, although their overall population had increased by more than 50%, these counties had only 1,387 black residents. The decline continued: by 1960 the African American population of these counties had declined to just 531, or 0.2%, one-tenth the 1890 proportion.”

This is far from ancient history, as Loewen explains (p. 381):

“Corbin, a sundown town in the Kentucky Cumberlands, had not relented as of 1990. In his 1991 movie on the community, Trouble Behind, Robby Heason asked a young white man if it would be a good thing for blacks to move into Corbin. “Black people should not live here,” he replied. “They never have, and they shouldn’t.” He did not know that African Americans had lived in Corbin until whites drove them out at gunpoint in 1919, and his attitude surely boded ill should a black family try to move in. As of 2000, almost none had; Corbin’s 7,742 people included just 6 African Americans; adjacent North Corbin had just 1 African American among 1,662 inhabitants. Around 1990, McDonald’s brought in an African American to manage a new restaurant, but he and his family left before it even opened, reportedly after a cross was burned in his yard.”

Apparently, since that time, one black man moved to Corbin and has remained. So, I guess it is possible for a black man to not entirely fear for his life now in that town. But few blacks want to press their luck. Still, maybe this signals a positive change, however slight.

I would put all of this in perspective. This kind of oppressive racism was as bad or worse all across the Northern and Western United States, including in Solid Blue states. Oregon is the only place that was officially a sundown state, excluding minorities entirely by law. Oregon also has high rates of white poverty and unemployment. How has Oregon voted in presidential elections for several decades? Democrats every time. Racial cleansing and sundown towns is how so many blacks ended up concentrated in inner cities. The point being that this doesn’t make Whitley County atypical in any way. It doesn’t seem to have made the residents any more strongly and consistently partisan, as I note further down. Besides, much of the exodus was at least partly for economic reasons, causing many whites to flee as well. It was often the economic stress that led to or fed into racial conflict.

I was looking at a map of the percentage of blacks in each Kentucky county. Whitley County is way down in the southeast part. It is mostly surrounded by counties that have relatively higher percentages of black population. McCreary County next door has 5.8% blacks and nearby Clay County has 4.4%. What is interesting is that, according to the 2000 census, McCreary only had 0.63% blacks. The video says there are 97% whites in Whitley and I assume that means the other 3% is mostly blacks, but in 2000 there were 0.34% black residents.

Maybe some of the harshest racial tensions are beginning to break down. The living memory of racial cleansing is gone with our only being a few years away from the hundred year anniversary of the Red Summer.

Anyway, the changing demographics seems to indicate some shifting of populations, since birth rates couldn’t have that kind of impact. There has been increasing numbers of Northerners, black and white, moving South. That has to do with cheap housing and employment. I’m sure there is cheap housing in the poorest counties. But obviously there is much unemployment, at least in Whitley. The question is why would there be population shifts, unless the changing racial percentages has as much or more to do with who is moving out than who is moving in.

There is something odd going on here. The unemployment rate now there is 5.7%. That isn’t particularly high compared to the national average at 4.9. It is about half of what it was in the years following the Great Recession and about the same as it was before. It was much higher back in the early-to-mid 1990s, almost to the levels following the Great Recession. Then it dropped below the present national average in the late 1990s.

Sure, the people living there are poor. But the vast majority of them are working and they live in an area that has cheap living costs. They may not have affordable healthcare now, but most of them never had affordable healthcare at any point in their lives. In objective terms, there is nothing obviously worse about their lives now than in the past. Yet these are the populations that for some reason are experiencing worsening mortality rates. It’s not loss the loss of good mining jobs that has changed recently, as good mining jobs have mostly been gone for decades.

So, what’s happened? Drug addiction and suicide rates are unsurprisingly high. And they are worsening for these poor rural populations. But these are results, not causes. They are indicative of something going on that is making many of these people’s lives seem intolerably bad.

* * *

It’s also interesting to look at voting patterns.

Whitley County is far from being a Solid Red county. In the last 20 presidential elections, the county has half the time gone to Republicans and the other half to Democrats. They voted for Bill Clinton twice and voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt four times, among other Democratic candidates. Of course, it was a way more Democratic state in the early 20th century. It was even more Democratic not that long ago. In the county, 15% are now registered as Democrats, but more than a third were back in 2000. It would have been even higher during the Clinton administration and earlier.

Whitley County is party of the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. Coal mining is known for its history of militant labor organizing and labor unions are known for their support of the Democratic Party (along with radical left-wing politics): “During the Great Depression, New Deal programs and the organizing of the United Mine Workers of America made many of the eastern counties Democratic” (Wikipedia). Even as other regions turned toward the political right, the labor solidarity in coal country helped maintain for much longer that old school Progressivism. Maybe it is unsurprising that, as coal mining jobs disappeared and local labor power was broken, the longstanding Democratic alliance faded.

It’s not like these people are ignorant partisans. When a candidate speaks to their concerns, they’ll vote for either party. Once upon a time, that meant Democrats. It isn’t as if they didn’t vote for Obama just because he was a black guy. They also didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore. The Democrats have ignored them since Bill Clinton and even he only gave them lip service, which was still more than what most Democrats offered. According to inside sources, Hillary ignored Bill’s advice to focus on working class whites. Why exactly would these people vote for a party that treats them like they don’t exist or don’t matter?

It’s rather unsurprising that they voted for Trump, considering they’ve voted Republican in the last several presidential elections. It might have had nothing to do with Trump (nor with Obama and Clinton). That is what is wrong with the video. It portrays their voting for a Republican candidate this time as somehow different than when they voted for Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush. The better question is why did they entirely stop voting for Democrats after Bill Clinton left office.

Here is a major problem with this kind of news entertainment, as I mentioned earlier. It is falling into a mainstream narrative. It doesn’t really explain anything, focusing as it does on one single narrow issue, that of Obamacare in relation to the presidential election. It tells a story and tries to cram the lives of real people into the storyline. But the narrative framing doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

Why is the mainstream media looking to rural whites to explain Trump? Most whites aren’t rural. And more specifically, most whites who voted for Trump aren’t rural. Actually, the earliest and strongest supporters of Trump during his campaign were economically above average, compared to the general population. How is looking at a poor county in a rural state supposed to explain Trump as somehow different when that county has voted for Republicans in the previous four elections?

The implication is that this is about poor rural people. But it isn’t even clear what percentage of whites in that county are rural. The unemployment rate is close to the national average and most of the population would work in whatever major cities are nearby.

More interesting to know would be to look at the places that voted for Obama in one or both of the last elections but then voted for Trump. Those places would be better indicators of what has changed. The problem is many of those places are urban, suburban, and exurban. They don’t fit into the mainstream narrative. Why did strongly Democratic states such as Wisconsin and Michigan go to Trump? Wisconsin isn’t known for its desperately poor white population and Michigan has a large population of minorities and union members. How would any mainstream narrative explain that?

Also, explain to me a rural state like Minnesota that is majority white. Why has Minnesota not gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1972? And why is Minnesota the only state to not have voted for Ronald Reagan either time? Similarly, why did so many majority white states in the rural Midwest vote for Obama, even after Obamacare? And then why did some of those states then vote for Trump? Riddle me that, Batman.

* * *

Out of curiosity, I looked at the Whitley County data for rural versus urban. It is mostly rural, at 65% of the population. I’d first emphasize that this also means 35% are urban. And urbanites vote at higher rates, partly because they have easier access to polling stations.

A second thing is that rural can describe a diversity of residential situations. Barely outside of the city I live in are many ‘rural’ residents living in old farm houses and trailer parks (my parents’ house is in a fully urban upper middle class neighborhood within the city limits and it is just a few blocks from rural country roads among vast stretches of farmland). Most of those ‘rural’ folk work here in the city and often with decently paying jobs, only living outside of the city for cheap housing. With that in mind, what percentage of that rural population in Whitley County lives near an urban area or commutes to a job in a city? More importantly, what kind of jobs are they working? What is the pay and benefits? And what are the costs of living?

Here is another thought. I know there is a difference between the reported unemployment rate and the real unemployment rate. The data I was looking at probably was only the reported data. Around 95% of the population there isn’t reported as unemployed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are employed either. We’d need to differentiate between the percentage employed and the percentage permanently unemployed, both sets of data not shown in the standard unemployment data.

My guess is that the permanently unemployment rate is higher there. If so, how high? Even so, the real unemployment data has been kept hidden since the Reagan administration. It’s not anything new. The fact remains that unemployment was lower by the time Obama left office, unless there really has been an increase in the permanently unemployed in such counties.

It’s hard to find accurate data. And even harder to determine what it means. On what basis are we to conclude that Whitley County is representative of the average white person, the average poor white person, the average rural white person, and/or the average Trump voter? Also, how do we know the people interviewed in that video are representative of the average person in that county, in that state, or in that region? It would have been nice if they had used the interviews alongside public opinion data.

Some historical background would have been helpful as well, even simply for the sake of telling a good story. There were many angles that could have been taken that would have offered far more depth of analysis and insight. By Vox’s asserted standard of explanatory journalism, the video and article was rather miserly with the explanatory details. I’m left with more questions than answers. It fails as worthy news reporting. It certainly doesn’t meet the standards of investigative journalism. Instead, it ends up being yet another human interest story, eliciting from viewers some combination of sympathy, outrage, and perplexity. Whatever the viewer response, it sells advertising and makes profit.

These criticisms wouldn’t be so important if they weren’t so widely applicable to all of mainstream media. This is just one example among many and far from the worse. It stood out to me for the reasons that, by the standards of mainstream media, it is above average in quality. It is a well made video and interesting to watch. It does have some basic value, even if only in hearing a few ordinary Americans explain how they view the political situation, just as long as you keep in mind that they aren’t necessarily representative of anyone else.

* * *

As fun as it is to chastise MSM hacks for their lack of curiosity and vision (or whatever exactly they are lacking), I feel like ending on a different note. Let me bring in the personal, by offering some observations from my own experience. After that, I’ll add some concluding thoughts.

I find no difficulty or resistance to pointing out the problems of whites who are some combination of Southern, poor, and rural. I have some sense of who these people are. My paternal grandmother was from the Deep South. Much of my mother’s family spent a couple of centuries in Kentuckiana, an area I’ve often visited. My mother, a Hoosier by birth, had a Southern-sounding accent when she was younger. I was born right at the edge of Appalachia in Ohio where I spent my earliest years of childhood. I’ve lived in the Carolinas, South and North. I’ve been friends with rednecks, dated hillbillies, and fraternized with lower class whites of a diverse variety. I live in a majority white state in the Midwest where rural life is a common experience.

Since the video is about Kentucky, let me deal with that. A few years back, my parents and I took a trip down there and it gave me felt sense of a part of the South that I didn’t know as well, even though I already indirectly knew of it from visiting my Hoosier family over the decades. In doing genealogical research, we went to many rural counties, including in southern Kentucky. I did see in some places a kind of rural poverty I hadn’t often come across before, but overall it didn’t seem like a bad place to live. Despite how it gets portrayed, Kentucky isn’t a hellhole of hopeless poverty. There are thriving big cities there, even a metropolitan area that extends up into Indiana. The county seats seemed like nice towns like found anywhere else—with public schools and public libraries, along with civic organizations.

What stood out to me most of all was how friendly and helpful people were. Kentucky has some of the feeling of the Midwest. In many ways (geographically, historically, and culturally), it is as much part of the Lower Midwest as it is part of the South. It is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and the state government never sought to secede during the Civil War (initially declaring neutrality and then joining the Union). I didn’t meet a single person who fit the stereotype of a mean redneck or threatening hillbilly, as J.D. Vance described his own family.

In doing genealogical research and traveling around back roads, my parents and I experienced nothing but kindness. Complete strangers went out of their way to help us, again and again and again. I’m not just talking about the staff at public libraries, genealogical centers, and county courthouses. Random people were simply nice.

While looking for an old family cemetery, we stopped to talk to people on a country road. I knocked on one rundown house and an entire family peeked out at me, but they didn’t have a snarling vicious dog nor did anyone point a gun at me. They politely answered my questions. Another guy I talked to was mowing his lawn and, after questioning him as well, he directed me to a nearby house. Once again, I knocked on a stranger’s door in this rural area and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet answered the door. He was so welcoming that he welcomed us onto another neighbor’s land by taking us to where the old family homestead was located. After that, he invited us back to his home.

When further down south in Kentucky, probably in Putnam County, we were looking for another family cemetery. It too was on private property. We drove down this lane where it opened up on someone’s yard. We parked and a guy came out to greet us. He didn’t act fearful or aggressive toward us. If anything, it was plain old Southern hospitality, more than I ever experienced when living in South Carolina. He didn’t mind us being on his property and showed us around and told us what he knew about the property.

These random people we met in rural Kentucky seemed like basic working class whites. I don’t know where they were in relation to the poverty line, but they were decent people. The guy who guided us around the neighbor’s property at one point spoke of someone as being a “good Christian”. That is different from the Midwest where, when praising someone, it is more typical to hear it said that the person is a “hard worker” or some such thing.

I must admit that I like the attitude of judging people by their moral worth, not their work status. Blaming people as lazy for being unemployed when jobs are scarce is neither fair nor compassionate. And then blaming their economic conditions for their voting patterns is plain pointless. People vote for the best option they see, but the sad state of affairs is that our political system rarely offers many good choices.

That was the one thing the Vox reporting got right, if it was only briefly acknowledged. The main person interviewed, Kathy Oller, explained her reasons:

“Oller likes the idea of universal coverage. She supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012 specifically because of his promises to expand affordable health insurance. But in 2016, she decided to vote for Trump. In part, she felt it was a bit of a toss-up. She kept describing voting as something akin to “Russian roulette” — you never really know what you’ll get with a candidate, she argued.”

That is what US elections are. They are a gamble where your life is on the line, as with “Russian roulette” (in the video, she describes it as pulling the lever on a slot machine; an election is a gamble where you don’t know whether you’re pulling a slot machine lever or a gun trigger, not until after it’s already too late). There is almost no way to rationally choose, under such conditions. It’s the attempt at blindly weighing of harms versus benefits and so deciding who is the lesser evil. It should be a wake up call for Democrats that so many Americans perceived Donald Trump as a lesser evil than Hillary Clinton.

This isn’t about poor rural white people, those who get called hillbillies, rednecks and white trash. It’s simply about ordinary people facing impossible decisions that can’t and will never lead to good results. Most people vote out of a desperate sense of hope, despite all the evidence that politicians of both major parties mostly ignore the public while doing the bidding of monied interests.

If journalists are going to attempt to explain something, then that might be a good place to start.

* * *

As for poor rural whites, specifically the Appalachian hillbillies, below are some more edifying pieces about who are these people and communities, what it all means or symbolizes, and why there is such obsessive concern by outsiders, specifically the moralizing paternalism among elites.

Appalachia this election year: So many stories, so little depth
by CD, The Homesick Appalachian

There is no neutral there: Appalachia as a mythic “Trump Country”
by Elizabeth Catte

Hillbilly Elitism: The American hillbilly isn’t suffering from a deficient culture. He’s just poor.
by Bob Hutton, Jacobin

J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America
by Sarah Jones, New Republic

Hillbilly Shuffle: Don’t Blame Appalachia For Trump
byJeff Biggers, Common Dreams

Author too removed from culture he criticizes
by Brandon Kiser, Lexington Herald-Leader

* * *

Some of my previous posts:

Presidential Candidates and Voter Demographics
Trump is not the White Savior
On Rural America: Understanding Is The Problem
WASP Elegy
On Welfare: Poverty, Unemployment, Health, Etc
American Class Bigotry
Whites Understanding Whites
Joe Bageant: On the White Underclass
On the White Trash Heap
What Is Kentucky?
Are White Appalachians A Special Case?
On Racialization of Crime and Violence
The Desperate Acting Desperately
Fearful Perceptions
Union Membership, Free Labor, and the Legacy of Slavery
Patchwork Nation: Evangelical Epicenters & Tractor Country

126 thoughts on “MSMsplaining Poor Whites.

  1. It was interesting to write this after my last post:

    It was only after I started writing this that it occurred to me to look further into the history of race relations there. It was pure coincidence that one of the most well documented cases of racial cleansing happened right in Whitley County.

    Kentucky has fascinated me for a while now. In the early 1800s, it was held up as the heart of a progressive vision of the country. Early Kentucky was an economically thriving place with major hospitals, universities, and such. It was supposed to represent where America was heading into the future.

    But generations of economic problems with tobacco farming and coal mining caused that vision of hope to shrivel up. It seems almost no one, other than a few historians, remember that it had once been considered such a great place to live.

    It is a state, maybe more than any other, that has stood directly over the fault line of the American Dream.

  2. A thoughtful, most interesting essay, Benjamin. It’s causing me to rethink some assumptions that, as a Northerner, I’ve long held. Thank you!

    Btw, Kentucky is one of only three states that prohibits ex-cons from voting.

    • I’m glad you appreciated it. Writing it did require a fair amount of work, although not nearly as much as some posts. Once I saw some of the interesting info, I knew I had to do a post about it.

      I’m a Northerner, by birthright. I specifically think of myself as a Midwesterner, in terms of cultural worldview and values. But I have enough connections to the South to understand some basic things about that region. Since spending some of my early life in the South, I’ve been pondering what regionalism means for decades. It made me more self-conscious about my Midwestern sensibility.

      I didn’t know that about Kentucky prohibiting ex-cons from voting. I’m not surprised, though. I actually find it surprising that it is only three states. I assumed it was more than that.

      I was considering another aspect of this. A few months ago, I wrote a post and then another one more recently, both related to Trump:

      Considering those posts, it is unsurprising that Trump gained the support of the white working class, specifically the strongholds of the old progressive Democrats who voted for FDR. These are places where unions used to be strong and, in some cases, still are strong. Trump gained large support among union members, which have been core Democratic voters for several generations.

      Bannon is the mastermind behind this. He understands the power of progressive rhetoric. It is odd that it takes a right-wing reactionary like him to understand progressive rhetoric better than most Democrats. Of course, for Bannon, it is simply empty rhetoric to manipulate people. But still, it’s impressive how he has pushed that narrative.

      The mainstream media is now trying to play catch up, to figure out what it all means. Their failure is that they’ve become attached to a different narrative that lacks much explanatory power.

    • This wasn’t a tight presidential election in Kentucky. Clinton soundly loss. But in an election that was close, voter disenfranchisement along with voter suppression tactics (voter purges, eliminating polling locations, etc) could determine the winner. That is probably seen more clearly at the local level where some communities have large percentages of their population that are prisoners and ex-cons.

      “Malone is one of more than 140,000 Kentuckians who are permanently disenfranchised because of felony convictions. The commonwealth is one of three states with the strictest felon disenfranchisement laws. Just over five percent of Kentucky’s voting-age population cannot vote because of a felony convictions, but for African Americans, that number is 16.7 percent.”

  3. This is going to be ugly.

    The GOP is moving fast in Kentucky and elsewhere at the state level.

    I think that it is because the media sees the poor in contempt, since most journalists come from a middle or more likely upper middle class background.

    • Republicans are doing the same here in Iowa. They are attacking unions at the moment, among other things. I don’t know if they realize what they’re fucking with. In attacking unions, they are attacking many of the white working class who are union members and voted for Trump. They are asking for a backlash like they’ve never seen in living memory.

  4. Oregon is blue but it’s rural areas are red. It’s the 1-5 corridor including Portland that is blue.

    That’s not to say hat the red areas are necessarily dark red of the voters.

    Oregon has plenty of racism horror stories both past and present. As you probably know.

  5. “From 1964 through 2004, Kentucky voters gave their electoral votes to the eventual winner of the presidency, whether they were a Republican or Democrat. It didn’t matter. In fact, at the end of the 2004 election, the state had sided with the eventual winner in all but two presidential contests since 1924.

    “But that has changed.

    “The Bluegrass State is now a GOP stronghold in presidential races. It has gone red in the last four elections. It went for George W. Bush twice. In 2008, Kentucky’s choice was U.S. Sen. John McCain. Four years later, it was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But McCain and Romney lost on the big stage.

    “Instead, Barack Obama, a Democrat, won the presidency.

    “What happened?

    “The easy answer as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fight for the White House is that Kentucky is following the national trend that has seen Southern states become more and more Republican over the last 40 years – whether handing big wins to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s or the recent phenomena of grabbing control of all Southern legislative chambers other than Kentucky’s House of Representatives.”

  6. “That wave was due in part to the dominance of Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, with the political outsider notching the second strongest performance by a Republican presidential nominee in Kentucky history.

    “Trump won 62.5 percent of the vote – topped only by the 63.4 percent claimed by Richard Nixon during his landslide reelection victory over George McGovern in 1972 en route to a 49-state rout.

    “Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, won only 32.7 percent – a marked decline from Barack Obama’s 41.2 percent in 2008 and 37.8 percent in 2012.

    “In fact, no Democratic presidential nominee has received less support than Clinton in Kentucky since before the Civil War.

    “The only Democrat to fare worse than Clinton across the 48 election cycles since the founding of the Democratic Party in 1828 was 1860 nominee Stephen Douglas who won 17.5 percent of the Kentucky presidential vote.

    “Of course, Douglas also had to run against Southern Democratic nominee and former Kentucky Congressman John Breckinridge that cycle. Breckinridge won 36.4 percent with both candidates losing to Constitutional Union nominee John Bell.

    “Democratic problems in parts of Appalachia and the South aren’t limited to Kentucky, of course.

    “Last week, Smart Politics highlighted how Clinton’s 26.5 percent performance in West Virginia was the worst in party history, while Trump’s 68.7 percent bested Abraham Lincoln for a new Republican record in the Mountain State.”

  7. “In what has been characterized as the most consistently Democratic county in the United States—Elliott County in eastern Kentucky—Sanders was an easy winner Tuesday night. The strength Sanders showed in the historically Democratic counties of eastern Kentucky helped him to hold Clinton to a virtual tie in the Bluegrass State. […]

    “This time, Clinton could not hold rural counties that she won handily in 2008 and that Bill Clinton won as he was carrying the state in 1992 and 1996. […]

    “Elliott County is emblematic of the challenges, and the opportunities, that Clinton faces as the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination. The county has voted Democratic in each presidential election since it was formed in the mid-19th century. “The majority of Elliott’s 8,000 residents have cast their ballots for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since the county was incorporated in 1869—the longest continuous stretch of any county in the United States,” noted a Huffington Post profile of the county published several years ago.

    “Even as other once-Democratic counties in coal country moved into the Republican column in recent presidential elections, Elliott County voted for Al Gore and John Kerry and Barack Obama—not once, but twice. (Notably, in this overwhelmingly white county, Obama won 61 percent of the vote in 2008, a higher level of support than in any other Kentucky county that year. In 2012, Obama won his second-highest Kentucky percentage in Elliott County, after the Louisville metro area’s Jefferson County.)

    “Elliott County seemed to have a thing for the Clintons. Bill Clinton won it with ease in 1992 and 1996, and that was important because votes from eastern Kentucky were critical to his narrow statewide victories in those two elections. Elliott County also handed Hillary Clinton a staggering 90 percent of the vote in her 2008 Democratic primary race with Obama.

    “But the Clinton winning streak ended Tuesday night.

    “Elliott County chose Sanders over Clinton by a wide margin, giving the democratic-socialist senator from Vermont 53 percent of the vote to just 36 percent for the former secretary of state. The collapse in Clinton’s numbers paralleled statewide patterns. Where Clinton swept rural Kentucky in the 2008 primary, she struggled in 2016. In a number of coal-country counties, the front-runner secured less than a third of the vote. […]

    “Bernie Sanders sounds plenty of New Deal themes in his speeches, which frequently reference Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s programs and proposals. That may not make a lot of sense to political and media elites in Washington, but it is more than just nostalgia. There are still a lot of Democrats in rural regions from eastern Kentucky to eastern Iowa, from northern Florida to northern New Hampshire, from central Georgia to southern Arizona—places where working-class people of many races and backgrounds struggle to get by as traditional industries decline and new industries develop on suburban “campuses” or in distant lands.”

  8. I forgot that Bill Clinton had made dismissive comments about “coal people”. He said that, “They blame the president when the sun doesn’t come up in the morning now.”

    Yes, people expect their government to serve the citizenry by promoting the public good. That is why “coal people” were FDR New Deal Progressives.

    Bill was critical of Hillary for ignoring working class whites and yet he made a statement like this. I’m sure many “coal people” remembered those words when it came time to vote.

  9. In the primary, Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders many of the largely rural coal counties of Eastern Kentucky. And she unsurprisingly then lost this same area to Trump, an area that once was strongly Democratic. There is a good chance Sanders, if he had been nominated, would have beaten Trump in Kentucky.

    Even so, more than two thousand people voted for Hillary Clinton in Whitley County and more than fifty thousand in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. Who were these voters? Those are the people I’d like to see interviewed and reported on.

    • There was one county in the entire country, in Eastern Kentucky, that has been Solid Blue for about a century and half. They never voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1869. Guess who they voted for this election? Donald Trump!

      That means Hillary Clinton, in only getting a quarter of the vote there, lost the most Democratic county that has existed in all of US history. She killed the last trace of the old school working class Democratic Party. That is her legacy.

      “Yet there remains one last traditionally Democratic bastion in Dixie: Elliott County, Kentucky, a small, sparsely populated area about the size of Chicago situated in the eastern part of the state.

      “The majority of Elliott’s 8,000 residents have cast their ballots for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since the county was incorporated in 1869 — the longest continuous stretch of any county in the United States. This despite the fact that Kentucky as a whole has trended Republican over the last several decades. In 2004, Elliott was one of 11 rural Kentucky counties to vote Democratic. In the 2008, that number dwindled to four. In 2012, Elliott became the last county to vote Democratic — not just in Kentucky, but among all predominantly white counties in the rural South.”

  10. Anecdoctal example of one, but my coach is a rural West Virginian. I don’t know what his class is, my guess is that he isn’t in poverty but isn’t wealthy but where in between I don’t know. He didn’t go to college, lives on a rural modest house with a lot of land, drives a pickup, makrscincome as a director of a seasonal resort for mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter, repairs bikes, etc.

    Anyway, I used to think he was a republican because he once told me to “close my ears and think about his coaching whenever my professors would spout far left BS” and has posted unflattering things about democrats on facebook.

    But when this election cycle started, this dude is head over heels in love with Bernie sanders. Like adores him. Haha

    • Based on the data and the regional history, it seems highly probable that there are many other Americans like that. Clinton said she wanted to redraw the political map. But she obviously failed. Or rather she redrew it in such a way that blue states turned red. OTOH Sanders could have brought some of those old New Deal regions back into the Democratic fold.

      • I think clintkn just had too much hubris. Piss poor judgment and reading of people seems to be Hillary’s way of being. Hence instead of securing traditional democratic voters she took them for granted and tried to turn red states blue! Her campaign manager should be fired for incompetence just for that.

        It makes you wonder if she has aspergers or some kind of other issue resulting in inability to read people and obtuseness. But it would also just be willful blindness as someone who surrounds herself with sycophants and won’t listen to others who don’t flatter her, including Bill

        • Yeah, that does seem to be the case. But to be fair, many Democrats seemed equally clueless. There was a mass delusion going on in the Democratic Party. With Trump as the GOP nomination, they assumed there was no way for them to lose. That is why they pushed for him being nominated. It was a complete misreading of the situation.

  11. I try to keep trumps victory in this context. I do think his rise (right wing populism) was inevitable given the state of things, but not his win. While trump is not majority popular and this needs to be kept in mind, the fact that his rise was unthinkable even 10 years ago says something.

    That said, it was hardly a sweep. Trump did flip democratic states red, but barely. Trumps rise is amazing relative to how he would’ve done in the past, but it’s not amazing in terms of being a big sweep of society

    • It says more about our political and economic system than it says about the American public. It remains true that most Americans on many issues are far to the left of the Democratic Party. A large part of Trump’s appeal is that he drew upon the leftist rhetoric of Progessivism and the New Deal. That is what changed. Trump didn’t run on culture war issues, as GOP candidates have done for decades.

  12. I think not voting was pretty common among the white working class in the mid Atlantic states. At least anecdotally. While there was more enthusiasm for trump than clintkn, “everybody sucks” seemed almost as common if not more.

    My old manager at my old job was a gen x working class dude. From a dying industrial town. Trump country right? Actually, he’s never ever voted and probably didn’t this election either considering his sentiment towards the election, and before trump inauguration his facebook status was “well everything has to come to an end. RIP USA.” His friend list is mostly from the same town and his age or millennial and most of them seem to hate Hillary but also hate trump or are apathetic. I was surprised at how many of them blamed democrats for “screwing Bernie over and giving us trump” inciudigcfrom peole who voted trump.

    You know what is intriguing about the state election results? The downballot third party candidates got more votes than the presidential candidates. Even though stein barely broke 1 percent, the green down ballots were above three percent. Many libertarian down ballots were also above five percent

    • More than any other recent election, this one was decided by those who didn’t vote. There were so many people who simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton. Many others lost all hope that voting mattered at all. It’s not that most of them wanted Trump.

      • You’ve probably heard about this already, but turnout in democratic stronghold urban areas was down. For example , Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, flipped red, AND turnout in the democratic stronghold cities like Detroit and philly were down, perhaps contributing to the narrow red win

        That’s taking into account turnout being down overall

        Generally it looks like democratic leaning people just didn’t turn out for Clinton

        • You know what gets me? There are literally people blaming and shaming people who didn’t vote for not voting clinton to stop trump .

          • When people don’t vote because they don’t believe voting matters and there is overwhelming evidence that they are right, the solution isn’t to scapegoat non-voters but to reform or reinvent the political system so that it becomes an actual functioning democracy. The only thing non-voters can be blamed for is not protesting in the street by threatening revolution if they aren’t given democracy immediately. That misses the point. Those complaining about non-voters are being dishonest. They don’t really want them to vote, no more than they want a functioning democracy.

  13. Crap like this is why Trump has gained popularity. At least Trump tries to appeal to their very legitimate economic problems. The MSM has literally nothing to offer to the poor whites, and is part of the very Establishment that is screwing them over.

    People are not as dumb as the MSM wants to pretend. It was not just racism. The Midwest is devastated by the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. I don’t think that most people on the Coasts understand that. Most people don’t want to. It’s a matter of willful ignorance.

    • It’s not just poor whites. Minorities, especially poor minorities, have low rates of voting. That is compared to the voting rate for whites. But even the voting rate for whites is low. Most eligible minority voters didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the population doesn’t vote, experiences voter suppression tactics, or is disenfranchised from voting.

      There are two basic types of democracy, direct and representative. Clearly, the US political system isn’t a direct democracy. Yet it is just as clear that our political system isn’t representative of the US population. So, in what sense can a political system be democratic when it is neither direct nor representative?

  14. My prof wrote this in response to this

    Thanks for the post. I disagree with the overall premise that white
    nationalism is the result of progressives on the left and I disagree that
    the moment for accepting white privilege as a real thing is over. I do
    think he makes a good point about not focusing only on that aspect of race,
    however. There are plenty of similarities between poor rural whites and
    those stuck in dying industrial towns in places like PA and the
    concentrated poverty experienced by, for example, blacks in some of the
    larger cities. In both cases there is a long history of inaction and
    disinvestment. The similarity should be a moment of political solidarity,
    but because of race it is not. I think this is an intentional outcome of
    Republican racial narratives going back forty years constructing poor
    blacks as somehow different and less worthy than whites but it is a
    powerful narrative at this point with significant implications. It permits
    whites to construct themselves as hard-working but getting nothing while
    constructing blacks as lazy and get everything. In fact neither group gets
    anything. The whites aren’t being shot by police, so race has its
    advantages, but it is hard to feel privileged in a dying town where anyone
    who can gets out. I put this in stark contrast to the white kid growing up
    in the suburbs and going on to college who thinks they worked hard for
    everything they got–privilege has a very important role to play in
    discussions on a college campus where the sense of entitlement and
    narcissism is overwhelming. In this age of massive access to information
    accompanied by massive partisan filtering of information it is not at all
    surprising that perfectly reasonable messages for one group would be
    channeled to another in a way that creates a sense of disbelief and

    • I also disagree with the overall premise. It’s the type of article that seems to willfully miss the point. It’s just more ideological rhetoric of a fairly simplistic variety. Blacks and poor people aren’t allowed to be individuals, except maybe when they get shot by the police. But even then, the focus on them as individuals will simply be used to generalize about all blacks or poor blacks.

      American individualism has only ever applied to those with privilege. It is assumed that all of their privilege is earned by their individual merit. As for the rest of society, individualism is just a useful tool to keep them oppressed. Blacks and the poor get portrayed as a group, not individuals, and then their oppression gets blamed on their supposed failure at being individuals. They just aren’t capable of being successful individuals, so goes the racist and classist argument from privilege.

      I would diverge from your professor on one point. He states that, “The whites aren’t being shot by police”. It is true that there are more blacks who experience police brutality as a percentage of all blacks, but it is also true that there are vastly more whites and so twice as many whites are killed by police than blacks.

      This is the real problem of identity politics. There is no monolithic white or black population. If you are a middle-to-upper class white or black, your chances of having a bad experience with police is low. But if you are a lower class white or black, your chances are much higher. That leads to the fact that most poor people are whites and most poor white people live in poor communities and neighborhoods.

      The fact that most wealthier people are white is no comfort to poor whites who are part of populations that have been continuously poor for centuries. If you’re a poor white in a majority white community and you get confronted by a white police officer, your shared whiteness won’t decrease the probability of your coming to a bad end. A lot of perceived privilege only exists in broad statistics, not in the lived experience of individuals.

      It’s like saying whites have higher average IQ than blacks. But that doesn’t help poor whites who have a much lower average IQ. Middle-to-upper class whites raise the average IQ of whites. The thing about an average is that it is a statistical phenomenon, not a concrete reality. To be accurate, the average white and the average black doesn’t exist.

    • I agree with the concluding quote. It’s not worse than it’s been in the past. It’s just coming to the surface. And ultimately that is a good thing. It’s like cleaning out a festering wound by squeezing out the pus.

      “There may in part just be a perception that there’s more people speaking [racist thoughts] now that they have a [social media] amplifier that they didn’t have in the past,” says Mr. Policinski at the First Amendment Center. “I think we’re right to take it seriously, and we have every right to be offended. But I also think there is some value in hearing this in the marketplace of ideas even though it brings pain and embarrassment and shame to those who think this language is out of bounds.”

    • I hope enough Americans figure that out one day. And then become so outraged that mobs form in the streets and march on all the centers of power, local and national. That is my dream. It’s what happened during the Populist and Progressive Eras. And that is what led to reform, out of fear of revolution.

    • Many people filled with hate and bigotry are also above average in intelligence and education, rhetoric usage and writing ability. Some of the greatest speakers in modern history were demagogues and authoritarians (or rather SDO types), a few of them truly evil. Many Jews found themselves emotionally moved by Hitler’s speeches.

      I myself was impressed by the intelligence and knowledge of Osama bin Laden, and I could see why some people would be persuaded by him. The sad part is that Osama bin Laden, in the speech I heard him give, spoke more truth than the average US politician. That is what was so depressing. He had very good reasons for doing very bad things.

    • Several things are obvious from this chart. Heroin overdose deaths are increasing for everyone. But the increase is more moderate for the most young and the most old. For the broad swath of those in the ages when most are working, the rates are skyrocketing.

      Another observation is the year when it shifted into gear, around 2010. That is about two years following the recession, maybe just long enough for people to realize that it wasn’t going to get better for them. Many people genuinely believed in Obama’s hype about hope and change. They wanted to believe. Realizing it had all been a lie, the desperation of it all became overwhelming for so many.

      Most Americans expect Republicans to fuck them over and they can sometimes appreciate such honest authoritarianism. But quite a few Americans still look to the Democrats as the party of the working class. Or at least they did until this past election. Obama’s presidency combined with Clinton’s campaign destroyed what little remaining faith most Americans had in the Democrats.

  15. My moms mentality towards us born Americans is “those losers Just need to bootstrap like me and your dad. We had nothing. They were born hereand inherited homes unlike us they had all the advantages ”

    She seriously thinks most Americans inherit property from their family. That’s the biggest thing for her, since my parents biggest disadvantage she feels is that they had to buy their own house and mortgage which is where a lot of their money went. She literally doesn’t get the us born Americans who are not as comfortable off as us.

    We’re not rich but not poor and we have a nice single house. We are pretty above the median income.

    It’s funny because i can’t seem to convince her that we are not poor and that we are in fact above average. I think it’s because in our college community she keeps comparing us to the parents friends who honestly do make more than my family, are constantly on vacation in Europe, etc. She thinks her friend group in a college down is representative of the us average

    For some reason she is very protective of clinton.

    Not sure what she was watching but when she heard of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein she literally thought they were awful people who were only on the ballot to take spots away from clinton and give trump a win. I don’t even know how you get that delusional

    It’s a bit contradictory since she thinks loser Americans have so many advantages like inherited homes but then says they’re losers because they won’t move to areas with jobs. Which would defeat the advantage of an inherited home. Not to mention the mentality of maybe that’s where their family and home is, which is something my mom cares a lot about so why wouldn’t someone else?

    • Many people who don’t understand have a vested interest to go on not understanding. If they did understand, it would require them to care about problems that are overwhelming. It’s easier to not think too much about it. Just blame those who are suffering and struggling. It’s a similar reason why people have a hard time facing climate change. It’s so massive and, if taken seriously, would require us to change so much about our lives and society.

  16. She also doesn’t understand why Americans don’t just take the one dollar a day wages that workers in third world get.

    She’s like “well those losers are upset because their factory went someplace where workers were cheaper? Why don’t they just work for cheaper then?” And “so Americans require 10 dollars an hour while insert-country can be paid 1 dollar? What’s stopping Americans from being paid one dollar? Why are they so entitled to better pay when housing is cheap? Housing is expensive in third world too and they manage to live!”

    What a fucking trainwreck

    • A dollar a day would mean most Americans would be living on the streets or in shantytowns. They would be sick and dying at high rates from lack of shelter, sanitation, healthcare, and basic resources.

      Most people don’t want to live in total desperation where they don’t know how they will make ends meet or maybe even survive. Most people don’t want their economic situation to be a life-or-death situation. Most people don’t want to worry about their children growing up hungry, malnutritioned, drinking dirty water, and with diseases that they can’t afford to treat.

      Any parent should understand that. I’d hope any human who isn’t a sociopath would understand that. It makes me incomprehensibly sad to think about people so detached from the lives of others.

  17. Also autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc aren’t real and are just Americans looking for frivolous excuses

    The last one offended me actually considering I’m learning disabled

    “I never knew anyone with these fucking problems including all these people going gay back in China”

    • It was several decades ago when, as a child, I was first diagnosed with a learning disability. My parents were closely involved in my education and my mother professionally worked with students who had learning disabilities. They were understanding parents who did try to help me.

      Yet it has only been in recent years that they have come to more fully appreciate how much of a struggle this has been for me. Neither of them ever had serious problems with learning. It’s hard for most people to understand what they’ve never personally experienced.

  18. “American with all thesecprovlems. Wtf is ADHD. They’re just lazy excuse makers. When I was a teacher I never heard of any of this shit. My bad students were bad because they couldn’t concentrate or sit still and were fidgetey.”

    Irony up to 11 😆😆😆


    I have mixed feelings. On one hand I get the frustration. But this type of stuff just plays perfectly into the alt-right or alt-lite at least. The rise of people like Milo is in part a reaction to stuff like this. There are certain types of white peolle, mostly with college social science backgrounds, who may be receptive to stuff like this. But for most people it doesn’t do much but generate more division. You can make comments on “fragility” or stuff, but ultimately people are people. Bashing people for caring less or not caring about stuff that doesn’t effect them is counterproductive. People who want more empathy from others this isn’t the way. As for social change, is social change really generated by writing stuff on huffpost aka an echo chamber? Pragmatically I can’t see stuff like this leading to the results wanted.

    What we call “white fragility” is just normal human ego. The different is that our society has whites as the dominant group. If anyone else was a dominant group you’d see the same thing. It’s ultimately rooted in the same vices, ego, caring more about what you perceive as closer than you than further, etc. Shaming people for just being human is just counterproductive

    Sometimes it makes me wonder if the alt-right stuff on people being all the same might have some truth. As in peolle should be the same/homogeneous because otherwise they just fight and strife. And the left just feeds into it. It’s madness.

    • I understand nearly everyone’s frustration. The sad part is that many (most?) of the frustrated don’t understand each other or often even seem to want to understand. It’s endless divisiveness, blind outrage lashing out at anyone who is different from oneself. Almost everyone is justified in their outrage, but few seem to express that outrage in ways that are either useful or compassionate. Just lots and lots of anger.

  20. I’m actually interested in comparing places above the below the line. The correlations exist but they’re not THAT strong

    Why is rural South Dakota such an outlier? Rural South Dakota is also not the most homogeneous place in the USA

    • It’s hard to see much of a pattern there. It’s scattershot. It does make me curious. If there is a strong pattern there, it doesn’t jump out at me.

      There are 9 Native American tribes in South Dakota. There are also 29,000 Hispanics. Both of those populations would be mostly rural, I’d assume. Those populations would be mixed up also with a rural white population.

      So, a relatively diverse population for a rural state. I could see how some of that population would contribute to trust. Native Americans and Hispanics are both highly community-oriented. Also, the type of European that settled there probably came from Northern Europe, another more community-oriented population.

      There would probably be low stress on communities in South Dakota. A state like that probably has fairly low poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Between agriculture and natural resources, it probably also has a stable economy. And the costs of living would be low.

    • I looked at the other images. It seems pointless to speculate much about this kind of data. The majority of research in this field is next to worthless. This is because it is based on assumptions driven by cultural biases. And those cultural biases are what shape our society. So, the worldview being studied is the same worldview being held by those doing the study.

      We have a modern society built on centuries of imperialism and colonialism, genocide and ethnic/racial cleansing, slavery and Jim Crow laws, systemic and institutionalized racism/ethocentrism/xenophobia, near continuous mass immigration and refugee crises, etc. We are living in a world where two world wars overturned millennia of societal development and globalization created mass destabilization.

      Exactly what the fuck is being studied?

      To these researchers, all Native Americans are a homogeneous group, all Asians are a homogeneous group, and all Europeans (minus Hispanics) are a homogeneous group. Why are Hispanics perceived as different, considering they are no less genetically and ethnically European than many non-Hispanic white Americans? The whole point is this research based on prejudiced perceptions informed by centuries of entrenched bigotry.

      These researchers look at those 9 tribes in South Dakota who may have been in conflict for centuries. They think to themselves, well, they all look the same to me. It is irrelevant to the racist/racialist mind that the oppressed see differences the privileged don’t.

      These researchers look at Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese and all they see is the racial stereotype of Asians. It doesn’t matter the differences of genetics, history, language, religion, culture, or anything else. All Asians are basically the same, to this mindset.

      Earlier in US history and during the world wars, different ethnicities and nationalities of whites were fighting and killing each other over differences that were all too real. Yet now, according to this research, they are a homogeneous population.

      Are these people ignorant or plain stupid? It isn’t actual diversity vs homogeneity that is being studied. Rather, it is socially constructed perception of diversity and homogeneity. No distinction is made between vast diversities within socially constructed labels. No distinction is made between groups that have been in a place for millennia or centuries or just arrived.

      These researchers don’t even know what they are researching. What is the chance they will get at useful data and make intelligent conclusions? The idiocy of this type of thing endlessly boggles the mind. I’m all for researching these kinds of things, but mainstream Western society including academia has its head too securely shoved up its own ass. All they are doing is using cultural biases that (Surprise! Surprise!) confirm cultural biases. It is a rare researcher who even tries to get past all this bullshit.

      There are so many confounding factors that can’t be seen with the cultural blinders most researchers have on. Where are the controls for societal stability/instability, immigrant/non-immigrant populations, war, droughts, socioeconomic class, education, healthcare, heavy metal toxicity, malnutrition, epigenetics, historical legacies, cultural genocide and forced assimilation, systemic/institutional biases, stereotype threat, and a thousand other things? Such research has never been done because we aren’t capable of controlling even a fraction of the confounding factors, much less even being able to recognize them and disentangle them.

      What is the point? What do they hope to find when they have almost no clue how to structure a useful study that would lead to meaningful results?

      • Here’s something I notice about the graphs. For San Francisco and LA.

        Silicon Valley is similarly diverse to San Fran and close by, yet is much more trusting. Similarly, SAN Diego is similarly diverse as LA and close by, yet is more trusting. Why?

        I haven’t lived in CA a while but I go to socal once a year and used to live in the Bay Area. The Bay Area is notorious for its assholeness lol.

        Compared to LA, Sam Diego does not have the same large areas of poverty and violent crime. There aren’t really “ghetto” dangerous areas/neighborhoods there like LA. Silicon Valley has some spots in East Palo Alto and of course has inequality and lots of it, but unlike sancfrancisco, once against doesn’t have notable “ghetto” violent areas.

        • I hope better research starts coming out. It’s obvious that this kind of broad research is missing the most important distinctions that would be made clear from controlling confounding factors and ascertaining causal relationships. All that can be seen from such data are extremely vague correlations with no way of knowing what is really being measured.

      • An interesting thing about that study is that the diverse places appearently volunteer and vote less, but they also go to protests more often and are more likely to be engaged in social change movements.

        Also, nonwjites and latinos in general are less trusting and civically engaged. I think that skews the results. Look st the “homogeneous” but homogeneous in being mostly one non-white group like mostly black detroit. It is less trusting that many diverse areas despite being more one-race

        • “Also, nonwjites and latinos in general are less trusting and civically engaged. I think that skews the results. Look st the “homogeneous” but homogeneous in being mostly one non-white group like mostly black detroit. It is less trusting that many diverse areas despite being more one-race”

          Yeah, non-whites and latinos have spent centuries being oppressed and disenfranchised in American society. It was only in living memory that blacks gained the vote. Yet studies show that racial prejudice continues in every aspect of our society. If non-whites and latinos had high rates of trust, they’d have to be entirely ignorant of the history and legacy of racism and ethnocentrism.

          • Fwiw it seems that it’s the nonwhites in the diverse cities dragging down the trust scores. Putnam said in his survey which he didn’t include that it was nonwhites in cities like LA that trusted much less. Basically diverse cities have more nonwhites and nonwhites trust less which drags down the scores. Nonwhites do not trust other people in general

            Interesting that even if trust scores vary, most cities record trust scores under 50% anyway.

            Here’s something to me. Trust USC a pretty vague term and can be interpreted really different by different people. I want to see the survey he used, how he worded the questions, etc. I think that matters s lot and can effect results

          • I don’t think I’ve seen a detailed demographic breakdown on trust scores.

            One would expect there being an inequality of trust in a society built on inequality. And cities exaggerate whatever inequality is present, especially in terms of the direct link between trust and segregation. If you are poor and/or non-white, why would you trust wealthier whites who have continuously and systematically fucked over people like you for centuries in this country?

            You last point is important. The data we get and the conclusions we come to is determined by how terms are defined and questions worded. I know that from years of looking at polling and survey data related to other issues. I’d assume similar problems and challenges would be found in the research on trust.

    • Non whites arecgenerally less trusting and less civically engaged though. The study even for LA showed that latinos and other nonwhites there were less trusting than the whites there.

      Look at how the relatively race-homogeneous Detroit and Cleveland are relatively low trusting, even less trusting than the diverse Los Angeles and such.,however, both these places, the majority race is nonwhite, black specifically.

      Detroit is mostly black but it’s not very trusting.

  21. Here is something I wonder. There is this patronizing perception that non-whites vote tribally (with the undercurrent that they’re irrational and just being backwards tribalists) becauyse non-whites vote predominantly democrat as a group (while whites vote more diversely.) However, I think if we had had a better system than the two party monopoly as well as ranked choice or approval or other voting system, you’d see non-whites voting more diversely. Or any “group” really

    • The clueless ignorance of the upper classes is as amusing as it is sad and pathetic.

      “Those voters, especially men, have become the Republican base, and the Republican Party has experienced the 2016 election as an agonizing schism, a hostile takeover by its own rank and file. Conservative leaders had taken the base for granted for so long that, when Trump burst into the race, in the summer of 2015, they were confounded. Some scoffed at him, others patronized him, but for months they didn’t take him seriously. He didn’t sound like a conservative at all.

      “Charles Murray is a small-government conservative and no Trump supporter (“He’s just unfit to be President”), but some of his neighbors and friends are. “My own personal political world has crumbled around me,” he said. “The number of people who care about the things I care about is way smaller than I thought a year ago. I had not really seen the great truth that the Trump campaign revealed, that should have been obvious but wasn’t.”

      “The great truth was that large numbers of Republican voters, especially less educated ones, weren’t constitutional originalists, libertarian free traders, members of the Federalist Society, or devout readers of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. They actually wanted government to do more things that benefitted them (as opposed to benefitting people they saw as undeserving). “The Republicans held on to a very large part of this electorate for years and years, even though those voters increasingly wonder whether Republicans are doing anything for them,” Murray said. “So Trump comes along, and people who were never ideologically committed to the things I’m committed to splinter off.”

      “Party leaders should have anticipated Trump’s rise—after all, he was created in their laboratory, before he broke free and began to smash everything in sight. The Republican Party hasn’t been truly conservative for decades.”

  22. Haha!

    “First the short answer:

    Understanding and tolerance.

    Now the long one:

    A lesson on tolerance from Africa.

    I am fascinated by the interactions between Central African tribes. Zambia, where I live has seventy two distinct tribes recognized by the government and with their own land and chiefs. They are incredibly tolerant of each other.

    Well, actually not exactly. The tribes formalise and “manage” their relationships with each other. They have a fascinating way of doing it. It’s called “joking kinship”. They use deliberate, light-hearted intolerance as a means of promoting understanding and tolerance.

    It works something like this. Two tribes went to war, raided each others cattle and daughters for a few centuries, and then one day everyone decided enough is enough. For whatever reason. Let’s say for argument’s sake another bigger tribe is moving in and they need to team up. It doesn’t really matter why.

    The chiefs and their indunas meet each other and declare “cousinship”. This means the two tribes are kin in every way, enjoying the benefits and disadvantages of being from the same tribe. Except for one thing. Joking.

    Joking means your are allowed to, nay, you are strongly encouraged to tear the ring out of each others’ tribes at each and every opportunity.

    Here is how it works. I, a “muzungu” (white man) go to the Simwatachela chiefdom (tonga) which has adopted me and I am treated with respect and accorded all courtesies and hospitality as a member of the tribe. Everyone will completely ignore anything different about me, such as the fact that I am quite obviously white. To joke about this would be taboo except for a few people related in a particular way. Simple.

    Now, I, the muzungu, go to a Lozi (Barotse) chiefdom. The Lozis are “joking cousins” of the Tongas. I am afforded every hospitality and treated as a member of the tribe. Except for one thing. I am mocked mercilessly.

    How can these stupid Tongas think a white man is one of them? (never mind that they themselves also “adopt”) Are they completely blind? Is it an attempt to breed new stock? Did the women do it because the men are even uglier than muzungus?

    Seriously, anything goes. (If you would like to see a good example of this have a look at the extremely popular Facebook page Lozi vs Tonga specially setup to enable good, thorough insulting.)

    It works.

    Pretending everybody was the same would be completely idiotic. The two tribes couldn’t be more different.

    For example, if you visit the Tongas as a stranger, they will treat you as a friend until you show yourself to be a threat/problem/plonker and then they will chase you off. On the other hand, visit the Lozis as a stranger and you be treated appallingly until you have proven yourself not to be a threat/problem/plonker.

    In the eyes of the Tongas, the Lozis are rude. In the eyes of the Lozis, the Tongas are false. The way both parties view it, the stupidest thing of all would be to deny that their different habits and cultures are each annoying to the other when in fact they clearly are.

    Simplistic or realistic? I don’t for one second expect this to somehow be translated to Jerusalem or Kosovo. Such a system has taken millennia no doubt to evolve in this part of Africa. However, there are some things that can be learned.

    Different cultures do rub each other up the wrong way. What is the point in denying it? The answer is for these different cultures to find common ground and understand the differences.

    For example, in most Central African cultures it is rude to stand up when someone enters the room. In European culture it is rude for men to stay seated. If the two cultures do not know this about each other there could be misunderstanding. The different tribes would get around this (if they are “cousin tribes”) by pointing out the differences and teasing each other. The teasing allows them to point out each others differences without causing offence. The next time both would know how to avoid being perceived as rude by the other party.

    At the very least people can understand different cultures by learning about them, and by accepting and making allowances for those differences.

    This starts by knowing what makes them different.

    I remember as a child other white kids laughing at black kids who would stick their finger in their nose as a polite way of indicating they were thinking/considering an answer to a question asked by an older/senior person. The same black kids would be embarrassed if someone scratched their head to indicate they were thinking. As far as they would be concerned it would indicate a case of bad lice or worse!”

    • American society isn’t good at dealing with differences. No doubt about that. The only way we deal with differences is through violence, conflict, and oppression: Civil War, race wars, genocide, reservations, internment camps, enforced segregation, classism based on racial/ethnic differences, English only laws, etc.

  23. Economic insecurity is one of the prime drivers of hate. 1930s fascism was preluded by the Great Depression, just as our present day Great Recession was the harbinger of the present state of hate politics and the rise of the alt-right.

    Moreover, in the US especially, most people have come to realize the party is over, it is no longer 1945 when the US dominated the world. After one of the greatest military triumphs in history, the US (and subservient allies) cannot even subdue and control events in backwater countries like Afghanistan or Iraq. It is clear the Emperor has no clothes and people have been lied to for decades.

    And add the insult to injury of having a black man elected to the White House. A black man who moreover abundantly displayed being the embodiment of a family values man, to degrees higher than any previous occupant. For many people, being outshone by a black man is the ultimate humiliation. The result: hatred in a never ending stream

    • Economic insecurity, pushed far enough, is also one of the prime drivers of solidarity which can lead to revolt and revolution. That is why economic insecurity has to be implemented in ways that divide and conquer. When early Virginian poor whites and poor blacks rebelled in solidarity, the ruling class enforced new racialized slave laws to ensure rebellion wouldn’t happen again. Slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc were always designed as much to keep poor whites in their place as to keep poor blacks in their place. It’s a clever and highly effective form of social control.

  24. Prejudice is an instinctual stress response, we close ranks when we feel threatened and become hostile towards those we perceive to be outsiders. Pogroms happen in times of famine. We are being bombarded by stressors through advertising, “you do not have enough of x, you do not qualify as a full human being unless you buy y, people will not love you unless you have z” all day every day. It pushes us ever further into insularity and compulsive behaviour, eating, drinking, aggression and depression.

    You are not prejudiced, you’re being intentionally stressed so you’ll buy shit you don’t need, prejudice is a side-effect, along with obesity, cardiac disease and substance abuse. Welcome to the 21st century.

    • But stress doesn’t determine the kind of prejudice that will result.

      That prejudice, if not manipulated through social control, can take diverse forms such as along class lines (e.g., multi-racial Knights of Labor fighting against the Robber Barons) or along regional lines (e.g., multi-racial Union army fighting the Confederates). The perceived ‘other’ can be defined in many ways.

      The point remains the prejudice is more often a result than a cause of stress. Black and whites wouldn’t have joined in fights against Virginian aristocracy, Confederates, and Robber Barons if not for stress (economic stress being a major contributing factor)

    • Tim Wise comes off as someone who is privileged and clueless.

      Most of those who were able to leave have already left poor rural areas. But I don’t get how people still can’t figure out that most poor whites, like most poor minorities, are urban. Very few poor whites live in rural areas and even fewer work in coal mines. Yet someone like Wise takes these ignorant stereotypes as truth.

      Anyway, it isn’t as if poor whites are asking the corporate media to obsess over them and portray them according to stereotypes from earlier last century. Why blame poor whites for what the corporate media is doing? These poor whites are just living their lives as best they can. I doubt many of them are asking for pity.

      Many of them have been dealing with poverty for generations. It’s not like something new that suddenly happened since 2008. Can someone like Wise really be that ignorant?

      What is up with this endless identity politics? Why does Wise think he can only care about one group at a time? Just because they are poor whites, it doesn’t mean they look at all minorities as enemies. Many of these poor whites voted for Obama. Many of them are old FDR New Dealers. Some of them have been voting Democratic for longer than Wise has been alive.

      All of it depresses me.

    • William Huckeby:

      So…you turn it into a “Black or White” thing? Hmmm…ok…so my friends who are black….my friends who are white….my friends who are hispanic….my friends who are asian….my friends who are women…my friends who are without a full time job or even decent benefits…they can be broken down into two categories? Black ow White by you?

      Seems to be your more of a self-promoting something or other whose real interests is into selling more books. You beat on drums and try to make this totally about race. But its way more complicated than that. Lot of different people voted for Trump. Lot of different people voted for Clinton.

      So why don’t you try something a bit more productive? Instead of beating the drum to make it about race, how about beating the drum to make it about people, of all races, of all sexes, of all orientation have the opportunity to 1) obtain and work fulltime with decent benefits such as medical insurance and 2) have the ability to secure a decent enough wage they are not starving or homeless, etc. and 3) have the opportunity to raise their heads with pride in that they can work and can provide for themselves and their family?

      Instead of trying to make things worse so you can sell more books.

    • Jim Shepard:

      Some of your conclusions are based erroneous assumptions. The notion that white coal miners and assembly line workers don’t want something better for their children is laughably stereotyped. I could provide dozens of examples to refute that particular slice of racial prejudice. Try actually speaking with some of the people you are slandering before lumping them together into a false category in order to support your prejudiced view. BTW, there’s a substantial difference between replacing jobs which have supported families for generations and creating new jobs where none had existed. The need for one does not trump the validity of the need for the other.

    • Jim Shepard:

      It is a tactic of those who wish to corner and control the wealth of this nation to encourage working people to fight amongst themselves for scraps. They seek to set us against each other by playing up differences in race, religion, ethnicity, and even gender. In accepting the proposition that we must choose between providing for retraining coal miners or establishing new employment opportunities in urban areas, you have played into their hand. Meanwhile the true engines of economic oppression and exclusion hum along unseen and unchallenged. You accuse some people of pandering. Take a look into the nearest mirror.

    • Ben Hornby:

      I hear the heart behind what your saying – that we need to consider all sides of an issue, and not base policy on race. But as an argument it is flawed. This argument is based on the false assumption that black people live in the cities and white people live in rural towns and that white people work in coal mines and oil fields and black people work in big city factories. These are stereotypes that feed bias and it’s is the furthest thing from political correctness. Getting some statistics behind race populations in specific jobs and locales and find a way to work that into your argument and it might be useful.

    • Len Shindel:

      White working-class men aren’t a monolith. Many folks commenting on this page say they were from the same region Tim talks about and their parents encouraged them to move on and get an education. But everyone doesn’t have to “get out” and both political parties have blown opportunities to provide for a “just transition” to other types of economies and jobs. A progressive politics would address the needs of both rural areas and cities and leave less room for demagogues like Trump to move.

    • Kathleen Stipek:

      And yet are those same whites not suffering? Should not all suffering be alleviated? Or do some farther left of centre than I am regard their misery as some sort of payback? These people are hurting and frightened, and that makes them easy prey to the Trump pronouncements. Try being frightened and hurting sometime and see how fast you turn to the first person who says he’s going to take care of you. All suffering needs to be alleviated, period. No child should go to bed hungry. Nobody should be ignorant. Everybody who can work should be able to find a job. This is not a matter of skin color, gender, or anything else. It is a matter of common human decency.

    • Dave Hancock:

      By denying that white working class people have problems is one of the reasons why we have Trump as president. The same can be said for denying that people of color have real problems. This country has too much of an obsession with talking and not enough doses of listening. Myself included

    • I love looking at data. But it’s just data. I always wonder what is the point. If you look at enough data, endless patterns and correlations can be found. But most patterns are meaningless and most correlations false.

      The human brain is designed to perceive connections. None of this data can tell us anything about causal connections, confounding factors, and environmental context.

      Even more just-so stories to confirm bigotry isn’t really all that satisfying.

  25. Dude doesn’t even look that white lol.

    Then again, many whites don’t look unambiguously white. As in Nordic hitler youth ideal. I think that’s more a NW European thing.

    I find that overlap between racial looks is definitely a thing. There are a lot of white people who I wouldn’t see as “mixed” in the sense we see it but they are features that overlap with blacks or Asians even if they don’t have recent ancestry from those places. Samexwith Asians who have some stereotypical European features but don’t have European ancestry. Don’t even get me started on blacks

    You say that hispanics are European mostly which is true but they are mostly of Southern European stock.

    There was a blonde chick who talked about being stared at in Argentina and Spain. Argentina is mostly white as in European but she still stuck out because natural blondes with pale complexions are still a minority in both countries.

    • Most Americans conflate white with European. But obviously many Europeans don’t look white or fully, according to American stereotypes of whiteness.

      As for that white supremacist, he looks like a mix of ethnicities. Maybe some Hispanic and Eastern European. I don’t know. The guy probably doesn’t even know his own ancestry. Most Southerners don’t, as most Southern immigration happened earlier than most Northern immigration.

      A significant number of Southern whites have African genetics as well, which might make their whiteness look a bit different. Plus, the Scots-Irish who settled in the South were a mix themselves before they even got to America (Scottish, English, German/French, etc).

      • “According to the article linked to, it appears they descend from Arabs.

        Some people consider Arabs inferior to Whites, and understand why Sicillians might take offense at this association, as implied in the nuanced and balanced comments here : Lacey Sheridan’s answer to Are Sicilians White?

        This matter, of being an inferior version of White, appears to be at the heart of the many divisions and disputes we witness among Europeans.”

  26. “Punching down”

    After watching gangs of new york and studying the subject holy fuck people are crazy and evil. This huge group of immigrants starts wrecking the city and killing black people including orphans, because rich people were forcing them to war from Lincoln’s draft and since blacks werent considered citizens they were exempt from fighting too. Which the irish resented. And the government had no problem slaughtering them either. They would just go to the next ship of immigrants and try to win/buy their votes

    • I recommend What’s the Matter with White People? by Joan Walsh. She offers some interesting context to the relationship between the Irish and blacks in the US. And she does discuss the draft riots. She notes that there was a lot going on in the violence that ensued, as a wide variety of people were attacked:

      “Over three days, a mostly Irish crowd rampaged through New York, attacking draft board workers, local and federal officials, wealthy Republican industrialists, black New Yorkers, the Irish wives of black men, and even Irish cops and soldiers who tried to stop them. Nominally protesting the nation’s first draft — which mainly hit low-income men; the wealthy could buy their way out of the army for $300 — the draft unrest became much more: a race riot, a labor insurrection, a religious uprising, and proto–class warfare, all in one.”

      One interesting point she made was that there were pockets of a different kind of outcome, where racial violence didn’t happen.

      “Despite attempts to pit the two groups against each other, there were fascinating pockets of black-Irish community, most notably in the impoverished Sixth Ward. Charles Dickens made Five Points world famous when he visited in 1842 and found blacks and the Irish living and sleeping side by side in filth and poverty. In 1850, George Foster, a reporter for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, followed Dickens with New York by Gas-Light, a tour of Irish-black underclass nightlife. Foster’s wanderings commenced after midnight, and he titillated his middle-class readers with tales of poor blacks and Irish living together in the Old Brewery tenement. At a Five Points bar, white women, mostly Irish, danced naked with “shiny buck negroes.” Foster marveled at the frequency of intermarriage between black men and Irish women, who seemed to find their husbands “desirable companions and lovers.” One missionary’s tour of Five Points found an Irishwoman who’d produced an infant by a black man he called just “Sambo.” The black Irish child would have “rum its first medicine, theft its first lesson, a prison its first house, and Potter’s Field its final resting place,” the missionary concluded.

      “Daylight in the Sixth Ward showed evidence of community: Irish boarders living with black families, blacks in boardinghouses run by the Irish, the two groups starting small businesses side by side. Significantly, during the three days of the Draft Riots in 1863, the Sixth Ward was the only one spared Irish-on-black violence. Irish neighbors protected black businesses and shielded black men and their Irish wives from the mob.”

      There were other ethnic groups involved in the draft riots, such as Germans, but once the draft offices closed these other ethnic groups stopped rioting. Many of the Irish immigrants kept rioting. Centuries of oppression had made them bitter and angry, lashing out at the easiest targets that had nothing to do with the draft.

      She makes another important point. At the time, the Irish Catholics were seen by many as the lowest of low, below even blacks. This had to do with the longstanding conflict between the English and the Irish, but this was inseparable from the bitter division between Protestants and Catholics. American Protestantism was a common religious worldview of American Anglo-Americans and African-Americans. And it was used to drive a wedge between poor African-Americans and poor Irish-Americans, despite their common cause in class conflict, although this wedge didn’t always succeed in keeping the two groups from organizing together at other times.

      Even Frederick Douglass, in visiting Ireland to gain support for Abolition, had internalized the prejudice against Irish Catholics and blamed them for their own problems, instead of blaming the English and Protestant ruling elites.

      “Of course, one could argue that we in fact have what Douglass would have called a “Black Ireland in America,” given the persistence of poverty and oppression for African-Americans. It would probably not be surprising for the abolitionist to discover that some of the loudest voices denying the persistence of racism belong to guys named O’Reilly and Hannity and Lynch.

      “Douglass’ deep ambivalence about the Irish – loving O’Connell, despising many of his countrymen on this soil – is part of a larger story about fissures of race and class that thwart progressive politics 150 years later. The failure of O’Connell’s pro-abolition Irish Address represented a tragic missed opportunity to ally the country’s two most oppressed groups, rather than see them fight one another. That missed opportunity is central to whiteness studies tomes indicting the Irish for stepping on blacks as they “became white,” which I wrote about in my own book, wishing for a history like Chaffin’s.

      “But the failure of Douglass to perceive that British and American oppression and prejudice, not just Catholicism and drunkenness, were implicated in Irish poverty — both in Ireland and the U.S. — was also a missed opportunity. The class and cultural prejudices of abolitionists helped create lingering political fissures as well, especially with the white working class. Just as Chaffin’s sympathetic portrait makes it seem unreasonable to expect Douglass to have taken on another divisive cause in addition to abolition, some may also seek to understand why despised Irish immigrants regrettably opposed black freedom. It’s a painful, poorly understood history that haunts us to this day.”

  27. Pretty much every extremist group has compelling “moderate” positions that they use to pull people in. For instance, I believe the alt right takes up the view that white men have become the new second class group.
    Now as a white man, I know I have a better life than the vast majority of the world, but I can’t deny that I’ve at times been bitter about how it seems society has decided that in atoning for our past sins, it’s OK for WM to get the short end of the stuck this time. I don’t deny the travesties of the past, but I also think it’s important to be sure that we’re fixing the issues and not just shifting them around.

    • That is a good point. Extremist groups often present themselves as moderate and reasonable. And that isn’t always entirely false, as there probably are many people drawn into extremist groups who don’t actually want extremism. There probably is a genuine struggle in such groups between those pushing greater extremism and those pushing greater moderation.

      There is a history of many extremist groups becoming respectable over time and becoming mainstream political organizations. Extremism is an attitude that is difficult to maintain for long. It’s like how the fear-mongering around the war on drugs and the war on terror have begun to fade. Such strong emotions are tiresome when there is an attempt to maintain them for too long.

      Many self-identified white supremacists don’t necessarily hate non-whites. They are often just angry, frustrated people. When conditions change, many of them change their way of thinking. It requires very specific conditions to create such a mindset. When not being constantly provoked, hate and fear tend to die out over time. But we have a society that is continuously shifting how hate and fear gets provoked.

      That is the problem with identity politics. It creates the conditions for extremism by promoting tribalistic groupthink, us versus them. It’s sad that so many Democrats have come to use such tactics in the hope of maintaining power. Trying to use identity politics for liberalism and progressivism is like trying to use Sauron’s evil One Ring for purposes of goodness. No one uses the One Ring for it rules the mind and corrupts the soul of anyone who attempts to use it.

      • All ID politics and bigotry is rooted in fact that humans are social animals. Our need to belong is there, but this need to form groups exists at same time we form out groups. We feel good belonging to a group but we also favor our group to the extent that we discriminate and exclude those not in it. Similarly we emphathize more with our own group
        I support more representation in leadership and culture for women and minorities but in a world where humans truly were not biased it wouldn’t be necessary. That our government is mostly rich white men woikdnt be an issue if humans were truly individualists instead of groupist

        • The problem is a high inequality society. If you put women and minorities in power in a high inequality society, all you’ll get is a different divide between the haves and have-nots. People will find other things to distinguish groups, women from certain places will be privileged or minorities of lighter skin will be privileged… or it will be religion, ethnicity, certain facial features, etc. As long as there is inequality, it will take the form of identity politics. The only way of preventing that is to decrease inequality.

  28. The NAACP had Jews as co-founders and of course Jews were a big part of the civil rights movement. It was an Irish Catholic in England who was a supporter of full rights for Jews in 19th century England.
    Ironically, prejudice doesn’t discriminate…

    Daniel O’Connoll. However that was tacked onto his move for Catholic Emancipation since at the time we couldn’t vote, and then we weren’t allowed to sit in parliament.
    He also tried to encourage Irish immigrants to the US to stop being dicks to Black people and freed slaves, that was a bit too much for them though.

    What’s both interesting and scary is how long ago good men like him lived and expressed modern-sounding ideas. And yet 200 years hence, racism seems to be as vibrant as ever.
    What scares me about Trump is his attempting to legalize discrimination. What I would have pointed to as a big difference between today and 50 years ago is that all laws that allowed race to be used in deciding where people worked, went to school and even whom they married are gone. (Affirmative Action is sort of a concern imho.)
    But there are plenty of people who would change this. Fortunately at this point the law is against them — I sure hope it never changes back.

    • There were leaders in the early colonial era promoting modern-sounding ideals of racial and religious equality.

      The basic notion of universal rights and freedoms had begun developing millennia earlier in the Axial Age. But the Middle Ages brought some of that thinking back to Europe and laid the groundwork for Enlightenment thinkers, which then informed the thought of later revolutionaries and reformers.

      Changing attitudes is a long and ongoing struggle. That is why knowing history is so important. We can’t know where we might head into the future without knowing how we arrived here. Everything that happens builds on what came before.

  29. People who have lived together in harmony can develop conflict depending on circumstance. For example raw and an genicide, Tutsis and Hutus lived together for ages and there were actually few pure Hutus are Tutsis by the time genicide happened

    Another example. Ethnic Koreans had been living in harmony with Russians in Far East Russia for decades, doing business intermarrying etc. during ww2 though Stalin wanted an excuse to expel the koreans and he used the “they’re Japanese sleeper cells” to stir up hysteria against the Koreans so that eventually he was able to expel them to Central Asia without much resistance

    • That is because all identity politics have a large element of being social constructs. There was research showing that you can arbitrarily divide people, treat them differently, and they will act as if they are different. That is done under artificial and superficial conditions. The specific identities can be arbitrary. The issue is what causes the focus on difference as identity politics.

    • I’ve mostly given up on looking for much capacity or willingness toward reasonable thought from alt-righters and such. They have their conclusions determined before they look at any data. As someone who doesn’t pretend to know more than is presently possible to know within the limits of present science, it all seems pointless.

      We aren’t even close in scientific research to be able to even meaningfully speculate about probable explanations. It’s like trying to explain all of the universe by seeing the reflection of the moon in a glass of water. Sure, if you study that reflection long enough, you’ll be able to make some meaningful observations. But your ignorance would still remain infinitely vast.

    • Here is something I’d like to have explained by racists/racialists/race-realists.

      The last several decades has seen a growth in the number of immigrants and minorities. This has particularly been seen in the US, but also many other Western countries. Yet as whites are a shrinking proportion of people in the US and the world, the average IQ has been growing in the US and most of the world. Also, violent crime rates have precipitously dropped in the US and most of the world.

      If whites are genetically superior and everyone else is genetically inferior, why would the increase of immigrants and minorities correlate so strongly to positive outcomes? Plus, as HBDers love correlations so much and always assume they imply causation, why do they ignore this powerful correlation?

  30. I wonder how they get the heritability estimates anyway. How do hey know that iq is 75% genetic as adult?

    It is really “genes being more powerful” as adult, or that adult brains get less plastic as therefore less mellaeble to environment? The “set” brain still that doesn’t necessarily mean the adult expression is genetic.

    If childhood programs cause gains that don’t last to adulthood that still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s genetic

    • The simplistic thinking is endless.

      Heritability rates don’t even mean genetic causation. They simply mean the correlation rate that is leftover when a tiny fraction of confounding factors are controlled for. The heritability rate, therefore, also includes many environmental factors because environments are inherited. It also includes the inheriting of epigenetics that determine which genes get expressed and how they get expressed.

      I’ve never met a race realist that understands heritability.

      I’m not sure why genes would get more powerful as an adult. Certainly, confounding factors would get more powerful as an adult. Most of the confounding factors have to do with environments, lifestyles, etc that become more influential the longer they last.

      Lead toxicity, for example, isn’t fully seen in its population effects until about two decades after the initial poisoning. Part of that is delayed effects, but even the initial poisoning could be lessened in its effects if it was treated immediately and the lead removed from the environment. The longer the lead exposure the worst the effects.

      It’s not that it becomes more powerful in its effects as a single factor, but that cumulative effects become more powerful in being more noticeable over time. This is particularly true in relation to other contributing factors (malnutrition, stress/trauma, stereotype threat, school-to-prison pipeline, etc).

      Childhood programs don’t cause permanent gains because it is only a temporary change to the environment. In order to offset all the other contributing factors, these programs and other interventions would need to be continued through the entire schooling and into young adulthood.

  31. The problem is that phenotypic genes work in an unusual way and people conflate that with genetic propagation behaviour. Phenotypic genes must act locally and be expressed in order to protect genes from sun damage hence why they behave seemingly differently.

  32. There is currently no evidence for the genetic differentiation between groups for performance on IQ test. The unfortunate perception that there is arises from the work of some social scientist who do not understand genetics.

    Much of the problem relates to the unfortunate choice to call parent offspring regressions ‘heritability’; this singular choice of terminology has lead to a number of misunderstandings, not the least of which is that racial differences in test aptitudes could be ‘heritable’.

    Colloquial heritability implies the ability or tendency of a trait to be passed from parents to offspring; however, this is not what geneticist mean when they use the term heritability. Instead, heritability is synonymous for the ratio of additive genetic and environmental variability. By changing the amount of additive environmental variation in your experimental designs you can make measurements of heritability arbitrarily high or arbitrarily low. This doesn’t mean that heritability means nothing, rather it means you have to be very careful about how you want to measure heritability in relation to a particular question. For instance having five fingers has very low heritability because most people who have fewer than five fingers have lost fingers in an accident rather than being born with fewer fingers. Clearly we know that some one who has lost fingers in an accident will not pass on this trait to their offspring; however, when the interaction between the environment and genes is much more complex, for instance when developing the cognitive abilities related to performance on IQ test, then it is no longer readily apparent to what extent environmental factors may have played in the development of that trait.

    Especially important to the development of many traits are the interaction between genes and the environment. Not all individuals will respond similarly to changes in their environment. Vitamins supplements may have little affect on the development of a healthy child, but may have a major impact on the development of a child with a genetic disorder. Similarly vitamin D supplementation my be relatively less important for light skinned people living in northern climates than for dark skinned people living in northern climates because light skinned people produce more vitamin D per unit of sun exposure. This interaction is known as the ‘G by E’ or ‘G x E’ interaction.

    Gene by environment interaction can make the question of which group has a greater genetic value of some trait meaningless. For instance, suppose I wanted to know whether plant A had a genetic tendency to grow taller than plant B. Plant A in environment A may very well have a heritable tendency to grow taller than plant B in environment A. But, what if Plant B in environment B has a heritable tendency to grow taller than plant A in environment B? There is no particular reason for defining environment A or environment B as the ‘proper’ environment to measure a plant’s height. So, it is really impossible to say whether plant A grows taller than plant B.

    An other example of a G by E interaction, for instance, may be the effects of racism on an individual. Racism is not a fundamental product of genes, but never the less your skin color affects how others treat you. Some of the scientists who have studied the racial differences in intelligence have implicitly assumed that racisms doesn’t exist. Since this is clearly not the case, there are currently no scientifically rigorous studies supporting genetic differences in intelligence between populations. This doesn’t mean that such differences don’t exist, simply that we have no evidence that they exist. In the absence of evidence, and considering the very low amounts of genetic differentiation between human groups, it is more parsimonious to believe that there is little or no genetic differentiation for intelligence between human populations.

    Finally, it should be apparent that there is really no such thing as intelligence in exactly the same way that there is no such thing as strength. Strength, say the ability to lift a heavy weight, is the product of may different, mechanically independent systems interacting. A larger stroke volume from your heart does not increase the surface area of your lungs, the surface area of your lungs doesn’t increase the number of red blood cells you have per unit volume of blood, the number of blood cells you have doesn’t increase the width of your muscles. Each of these mechanical factors is clearly critical to producing your ability to lift a heavy weight, each will clearly be controlled by different genes, and a moments reflection should suffice to convince you it is much better to talk about genetic lung volume than it is to talk about genetic strength. In the same way many computationally independent systems work together to produce our ability to solve difficult problems; however, unlike in my strength analogy, we do not understand the computational systems necessary to produce intelligence. We have a descent understanding that some systems, such as operational memory, are likely to be important, but other components remain hidden from us. Still, in the exact same way as there cannot be a gene for ‘strength’ (instead there are genes for lung volume and heart size) there cannot be a gene for intelligence.

    [Edit to add]: Finally, typically twin studies overestimate the heritability of intelligence because they fail to account for the shared prenatal environment of twins. Variation in prenatal environment (i.g. both twins exposed to alcohol during gestation) accounts for roughly 28% of the variation of intelligence between individuals, which is roughly equivalent to all other environmental factors (25% of the variation). Typically prenatal factors are miss-classified as genetic factors due to errors in experimental design, increasing estimates of heritability from 0.48 (the true value) to 0.78 (a commonly reported erroneous value).

    • This is important to understand:

      “Especially important to the development of many traits are the interaction between genes and the environment. Not all individuals will respond similarly to changes in their environment. Vitamins supplements may have little affect on the development of a healthy child, but may have a major impact on the development of a child with a genetic disorder. Similarly vitamin D supplementation my be relatively less important for light skinned people living in northern climates than for dark skinned people living in northern climates because light skinned people produce more vitamin D per unit of sun exposure. This interaction is known as the ‘G by E’ or ‘G x E’ interaction.”

      It explains why small environmental changes can have massive effects in some cases while large environmental changes can have almost no effect in other cases. This is why the average IQ of minorities and the poor is catching up with the average IQ of whites and the wealthy. The gap is shrinking quickly. This can’t be explained genetically, unless one is arguing that minorities and poor people are genetically evolving in a single generation and genetic evolution for whites and wealthy people has stalled, but that would be an odd argument to make.

      I so wish I could make people understand this basic insight:

      “Since this is clearly not the case, there are currently no scientifically rigorous studies supporting genetic differences in intelligence between populations. This doesn’t mean that such differences don’t exist, simply that we have no evidence that they exist. In the absence of evidence, and considering the very low amounts of genetic differentiation between human groups, it is more parsimonious to believe that there is little or no genetic differentiation for intelligence between human populations.”

      Race realists love their just-so stories. It doesn’t matter how weak or lacking the evidence. They can’t accept that we simply don’t know. Such intellectual humility and honesty is beyond them.

    • When you look at the data, there is no evidence they are more conservative. They are more socially liberal. As for economics, they aren’t conservative but wary because they saw their parents and grandparents get fucked over by the economy. Yet they think government should play a role in fixing the economy, hardly fiscal conservatism in terms of laissez-faire capitalism, big biz neoliberalism, and inverted totalitarian corporatism.

      There is a vast difference between rhetoric and reality. What exactly is fiscal conservatism? When was the last time Republicans stopped deficit spending, balanced the budget, decreased the national debt, and and shrank the government? On average, the debt grows proportionately more under Republican administrations (also, such things as GDP, GNP, and employment rates tend to be worse). All of this is discussed by James Gilligan in “Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others”.

      The last Republican president I know that had a fairly good fiscal policy and results was Eisenhower who, even as he defended conservative government, argued that liberalism was the proper attitude for thinking about how government effects people’s lives. Even in his brand of fiscal conservatism, he advocated for the wildest fantasies of progressives (unions, social security, etc) and defended a top income tax bracket at 91% (which is how he avoided deficit spending and so balanced the budget). It is obvious that what he considered conservative back then would be considered liberal today. He was much further to the left than today’s Democratic Party.

      Part of Eisenhower’s attitude, like that of Theodore Roosevelt, probably was shaped by the still living memory of the Red Republicans. The early Republican Party was extremely progressive and pro-government. Lincoln regularly criticized capitalists, argued for Marxist labor value, and had a known Marxist working in his administration.

      Reaganomic conservatives created and grew the permanent debt through deficit spending on the military-industrial complex (military buildup, pointless immoral wars, etc), growth of the intelligence state, militarization of the police, mass incarceration, war on drugs, corporate subsidies, bank bailouts, etc. Plus, conservatives love to spend money on programs they support such as Bush funding abstinence-only sex education, No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drug program, etc. Even worse, conservative states with their conservative populations receive more federal funding and benefits than they pay for in federal taxes.

      This “fiscal conservatism” represents everything opposed by the younger generations, including Generation Z.

      Anyway, American history shows that conservatives were among the earliest and strongest supporters of labor unions, child labor laws, economic reform, regulatory laws, social safety net, public education, social gospel, socialism, New Deal programs, etc. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by an old school socialist Christian. So, what kind of ‘conservatism’ are we talking about?

      Theodore Roosevelt was a conservative progressive who broke up monopolies, created government regulation, etc while he argued that politicians should listen to socialists and take their concerns seriously. Like many conservatives until Goldwater, TR wasn’t just a big government progressive but also against the values and worldview of laissez-faire which was seen as a threat to the American way of life.

      So, if we are going to return to old school fiscal conservatism, that might not be a bad thing. Oddly, more people on the political left today than on the political right would support old school fiscal conservatism.

      “Socialism, II — Where We Can Work with Socialists”
      by Theodore Roosevelt, Outlook (1909)

      “Moreover, we should always remember that Socialism is both a wide and a loose term, and that the self-styled Socialists are of many and utterly different types. If we should study only the professed apostles of radical Socialism, of what these men themselves like to call “scientific Socialism,” or if we should study only what active leaders of Socialism in this country have usually done, or read only the papers in which they have usually expressed themselves, we would gain an utterly wrong impression of very many men who call themselves Socialists. There are many peculiarly high-minded men and women who like to speak of themselves as Socialists, whose attitude, conscious or unconscious, is really merely an indignant recognition of the evil of present conditions and an ardent wish to remedy it, and whose Socialism is really only an advanced form of liberalism. Many of these men and women in actual fact take a large part in the advancement of moral ideas […] The Socialists of this moral type may in practice be very good citizens indeed, with whom we can at many points co-operate.”

      American Character
      by Colin Woodard
      pp. 134-135

      “When another terrible depression shook the country in 1893, reform movements sprang up across its northern tiers. Like the Massachusetts Brahmins, these turn-of-the-century Progressives weren’t opposed to free-market capitalism or Lockean individualism, but they did believe that laissez-faire was destroying both. Their philosophical mentor was the sociologist Lester Ward, the son of old New Englanders who had settled in the Yankee north of Illinois, and who became the greatest foe of Herbert Spencer and the social Darwinists. “How can . . . true individualism be secured and complete freedom of individual action be vouchsafed?” Ward asked in 1893. “Herein lies a social paradox . . . that individual freedom can only come through social regulation.” He elaborated a theory of collective action to maintain the conditions required to keep individuals free:

      “Such a powerful weapon as reason is unsafe in the hands of one individual when wielded against another. It is still more dangerous in the hands of corporations, which proverbially have no souls. It is most baneful of all in the hands of compound corporations which seek to control the wealth of the world. It is only safe when employed by the social ego, emanating from the collective brain of society, and directed toward securing the common interests of the social organism.

      “It was in essence the approach Massachusetts had been taking for decades, which would now be adopted by insurgents in other parts of Yankeedom (Jane Addams in northern Illinois, Charles Evans Hughes in upstate New York, and Robert LaFollette in Wisconsin), the Midlands (William Jennings Bryan in eastern Nebraska), and New Netherland (where Herbert Croly helped found the New Republic in 1914 and from whence came the movement’s greatest figures, Al Smith and Theodore Roosevelt).

      “Teddy Roosevelt, who served as president from 1901 to 1909, broke up Standard Oil, Northern Securities (which controlled both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways), the American Tobacco Company, and other great corporate trusts; intervened in a major mining strike to secure a solution beneficial to workers; and founded the National Park Service, national wildlife refuges, and the U.S. Forest Service. He presided over the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, and the Hepburn Act, which regulated railroad fares. His goal, he told a rapt audience at the laying of the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1907, was to restore the spirit of the early Puritans, who yoked the individualistic Protestant work ethic to communitarian goals and institutions. “The Puritan owed his extraordinary success in subduing this continent and making it the foundation for a social life of ordered liberty primarily to the fact that he combined in a very remarkable degree both the power of individual initiative, of individual self-help, and the power of acting in combination with his fellows,” he said. “He could combine with others whenever it became necessary to do a job which could not be as well done by any one man individually. . . . The spirit of the Puritan . . . never shrank from regulation of conduct if such regulation was necessary for the public weal; and it is this spirit which we must show today whenever it is necessary.””

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