Author Ian Haney Lopez explains racial codewords and “dog-whistle” politics

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In the past, politicians that opposed equal rights for minorities used to be able to express that sentiment frankly. But as open racism has fallen out of fashion, many politicians have turned to coded language that stokes racial anxiety amongst their constituency. Ian Haney Lopez, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, explains that racism survives in today’s politics through racialized words and phrases concerning welfare, immigration, and terrorism. He joins us today to walk us through the history of racially coded language in modern politics, from the use of “states’ rights” to support segregation to Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” troupe and recent concern about Ebola, terrorism, and illegal immigration.

Lopez is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at Demos, a political think tank for economic issues.