Some excellent writing from the New York Times…

October 5, 2008

Here are my favorite op-eds from the past couple of days:

October 5, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Racism Without Racists
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

One of the fallacies this election season is that if Barack Obama is paying an electoral price for his skin tone, it must be because of racists.

On the contrary, the evidence is that Senator Obama is facing what scholars have dubbed “racism without racists.”

The racism is difficult to measure, but a careful survey completed last month by Stanford University, with The Associated Press and Yahoo, suggested that Mr. Obama’s support would be about six percentage points higher if he were white. That’s significant but surmountable.

Most of the lost votes aren’t those of dyed-in-the-wool racists. Such racists account for perhaps 10 percent of the electorate and, polling suggests, are mostly conservatives who would not vote for any Democratic presidential candidate.

Rather, most of the votes that Mr. Obama actually loses belong to well-meaning whites who believe in racial equality and have no objection to electing a black person as president — yet who discriminate unconsciously.

“When we fixate on the racist individual, we’re focused on the least interesting way that race works,” said Phillip Goff, a social psychologist at U.C.L.A. who focuses his research on “racism without racists.” “Most of the way race functions is without the need for racial animus.”

For decades, experiments have shown that even many whites who earnestly believe in equal rights will recommend hiring a white job candidate more often than a person with identical credentials who is black. In the experiments, the applicant’s folder sometimes presents the person as white, sometimes as black, but everything else is the same. The white person thinks that he or she is selecting on the basis of nonracial factors like experience.

For the rest of the article click here.

October 4, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Palin’s Alternate Universe
By BOB HERBERT

Sarah Palin is the perfect exclamation point to the Bush years.

We’ve lived through nearly two terms of an administration that believed it could create its own reality:

“Deficits don’t matter.” “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” “Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere.”

Now comes Ms. Palin, a smiling, bubbly vice-presidential candidate who travels in an alternate language universe. For Ms. Palin, such things as context, syntax and the proximity of answers to questions have no meaning.

In her closing remarks at the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, Ms. Palin referred earnestly, if loosely, to a quote from Ronald Reagan. He had warned that if Americans weren’t vigilant in protecting their freedom, they would find themselves spending their “sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.”

What Ms. Palin didn’t say was that the menace to freedom that Reagan was talking about was Medicare. As the historian Robert Dallek has pointed out, Reagan “saw Medicare as the advance wave of socialism, which would ‘invade every area of freedom in this country.’ ”

Does Ms. Palin agree with that Looney Tunes notion? Or was this just another case of the aw-shucks, darn-right, I’m-just-a-hockey-mom governor of Alaska mouthing something completely devoid of meaning?

Here’s Ms. Palin during the debate: “Say it ain’t so, Joe! There you go pointing backwards again … Now, doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?”

If Governor Palin didn’t like a question, or didn’t know the answer, she responded as though some other question had been asked. She made no bones about this, saying early in the debate: “I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear.”

For more just click here.

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