Tomorrow’s Washington Post will feature an op-ed by Emory University PoliSci professor Alan Abramowitz (“In These Primary Numbers, Warnings for the Fall“) that seeks to turn logic and rationality on its head for the purposes of calling White America racist.
“Voting patterns in Indiana and North Carolina show that resistance to a black candidate among some white Democrats remains a serious threat to his chances in November,” Abramowitz writes. “Obama continues to have particular difficulty with one segment of the Democratic electorate: white working-class voters.”
His explanation of this is long on unsubstantiated, not-rationally-supportable conjecture, and his conclusions lack anything remotely resembling evidence or facts. I suppose that’s the price one pays for (or the benefit of) being a political “scientist”: rather than having an academic specialty that prepares one to conduct research (and draw conclusions from that research) and analysis, all a political “scientist” like Abramowitz seems to feel the need to do is obtain numbers. His analysis and conclusions drawn from those numbers are all assumption, with no explanation added as to how those conclusions were reached, or why they should be accepted as correct.
The backdoor assault on working-class whites begins with Abramowitz’s declaration that, despite a dearth of “overtly racist beliefs” (which he concedes “are much mess prevalent among white Americans of all classes today”), “a more subtle form of prejudice, which social scientists sometimes call symbolic racism, is still out there — especially among working-class whites.”
“Symbolic racism,” he explains, “means believing that African American poverty and other problems are largely the result of lack of ambition and effort, rather than white racism and discrimination.”
So Abramowitz has set his premise: “African American poverty and other problems” are the result of “white racism and discrimination.” If you don’t agree, you’re a racist. Further, if you don’t agree with that, then there is no point in your continuing to read Abramowitz’s assault-on-logic of a column, because the information he provides in the remainder of the piece for the purpose of fomenting guilt or outrage quite simply won’t make sense to you — and certainly won’t provoke that intended reaction.
You see, Abramowitz doesn’t bother to expand on that premise by explaining just how it is that the African American community’s problems are all being caused by racist whites; he just assumes — and wants you to assume — that it’s true, and to operate from that point of view as you read the rest of what he has to say.
The rest of the column is dedicated to showing how widespread the attitude that the African American community’s problems aren’t to be solely chalked up to bigoted white crackers is; you are expected to agree with him that that attitude and opinion is not only incorrect, but abhorrent. Some examples:
Almost 60 percent of white voters agreed with the statement that “blacks should try harder to succeed.” A startling 43 percent of white college graduates nodded at this one, along with 71 percent of whites with no college education.
“Startling” indeed. Was that supposed to be a hard-hitting statistic?
Fully 49 percent of white voters disagreed with the statement that “history makes it more difficult for blacks to succeed.” Forty percent of white college graduates disagreed with it, along with 58 percent of whites with no college education.
Wow; that’s just unbelievable. “Fully 49 percent of white voters” clearly must weigh the same as a duck and be made of wood — or whatever the racist version of that equation (which is as scientific as Abramowitz’s argument) is.
Anyway, on top of those two hard-hitting statistics (and the absent logic and analysis explaining why holding those “startling” attitudes not only make one racist, but are incorrect in the first place) is…nothing. The good “science” professor from Emory University has apparently blown his wad on just those two underwhelming polling results.
What — were you expecting more? Hey, I warned you: if you didn’t buy into the initial premise — that the belief that “African American poverty and other problems” are not the result of “white racism and discrimination” makes you a “symbolic racist” — then there was little or no point in reading the rest of the column, as it would make little sense, and utterly fail to provoke the outrage at, and shame of, those racist working-class whites that Abramowitz was do desperately hoping to achieve.
Oh, yes, the end of the piece. Abramowitz concludes:
Of course, these results don’t mean that Obama won’t win over white working-class voters. … Democrats must hope that disapproval of Bush could lead working-class voters to begrudgingly approve of a black presidential candidate.
Hm. I would argue that “Democrats must hope” that they have people in their arsenal of writers and academics who are more capable of making, and backing up, an actual argument than poor Professor Abramowitz. Then again, most high school essays are better constructed and better argued, so I don’t worry that there’s someone out there, from the age of fifteen up, who can serve as a sharper mind, and present a clearer and more coherent argument, than Abramowitz.
I have to say, it’s definitely a good thing that this wasn’t submitted to, rather then by, the good Professor, as I feel confident saying that such assumption, and such utter failure to back up both premise and argument, would surely have earned the erstwhile student who produced such poor work a less-than-stellar grade.