In an April 12 Huffington Post column, Media Matters executive vice president Ari Rabin-Havt explained that the result of the "daily dog whistles from the conservative movement" is to "ensure a permanent de facto racial segregation in our political dialogue, pitting white male voters against African Americans, poisoning our discourse, and incapacitating our elected leaders' ability to deal with real issues of discrimination."
From Rabin-Havt's Huffington Post column:
The irony is that Derbyshire's racism, while deplorable, is not nearly as corrosive to race relations as the daily dog whistles from the conservative movement. The result of 40 years of these coded attacks is to ensure a permanent de facto racial segregation in our political dialogue, pitting white male voters against African Americans, poisoning our discourse, and incapacitating our elected leaders' ability to deal with real issues of discrimination.
Code words are not only injected into stories with obvious racial overtones. When Barack Obama expressed his opinion on how the Supreme Court should judge his health care law, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove all suggested the president is a thug, signaling to the Republican base that he was no different from the depictions of Trayvon Martin circulating on the right -- a hostile black man out to assault white people.
Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Rove, and Ailes all expertly adhere to the Atwater doctrine. Racially divisive strategies are not only acceptable but the norm in the conservative movement, so long as the communicators maintain their coded dialect.
Conservative dog whistles are now as loud as air-raid sirens, creating a toxic environment that divides us by prejudice that should have been eliminated from our national consciousness decades ago. Until political racism is as unacceptable as de jure racism, our electoral climate will remain poisoned.