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Book: PROFESSOR Ian Haney López

Dealing the Race Card in Electoral Politics



oalt professor Ian Haney López has ample ambition for his book about race and politics: “I hope to start a new national conversation on a topic central to the health of American democracy.” The way Haney López sees it, U.S. politics at present is dominated by middle-class decline and the Republican Party’s increasing reliance on white voters. His book, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, traces both developments to the GOP’s use of veiled racial overtures to drum up support for policies that favor the extremely rich. Haney López says conservative politicians promise to “crack down on crime,” “curb undocumented immigration,” and “protect the heartland” against Islamic infiltration— but instead back policies that slash taxes on the rich, grant corporations control over industry and financial


markets, and drastically reduce social services. “People think that we’re post-racial because we have a black president, but far from ending, racial appeals in politics have shifted form in the last 50 years,” says Haney López, who teaches Constitutional Law, Race and American Law, and seminars that include Critical Race Theory. “Dog whistle” refers to coded terms that trigger racial anxiety—yet can be claimed as nonracial. The book asserts that these surreptitious appeals allow politicians to send messages about racial minorities that are inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. Examples include dire warnings about forced bussing, welfare queens, illegal aliens, and food stamps. Haney López notes that the Republican Party is now nearly 90 percent white, and its elected officials are 98 percent white. He says many conservatives use dog-whistle terms to blame minorities for taking over the country, hiding from many the damage actually being done in their own lives by policies that favor the very rich and fuel surging wealth inequality. “Coded racial appeals constitute the central, defining element of modern electoral politics,” Haney López says. “This book is for anyone who is frustrated with the dysfunction in the U.S. political system and senses that we’re a country in crisis.” —Leslie A. Gordon and Andrew Cohen

Dog Whistle Politics By Ian Haney López Published by Oxford University Press, 2014

MELODY MAKER: Paula Boggs ’84

MUSIC: Paula Boggs ’84

Home-brewed: Her Sweet Seattle Sound For Paula Boggs ’84, home is where the sound is. “I really wanted this album to reflect Seattle,” she says of Carnival of Miracles, to be released this summer. “My deep appreciation of Seattle’s music scene is no secret.” Nor is her contribution to it. Two years after the 2010 release of her band’s critically acclaimed first album, Buddha State of Mind, Boggs retired from her position as Starbucks’ general counsel. She has poured time into Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, civicminded volunteer endeavors, speaking engagements, and music. Carnival of Miracles was recorded in two Seattle studios and produced by Seattle’s Jonathan Plum. Original Santana drummer Michael Shrieve and former Tracy Chapman bassist Andy Stoller—both Seattle residents— collectively played on six of the 10 songs. Inspired by the Newtown shooting tragedy, the title track begins starkly—just a guitar, then other instruments played sparingly. Eventually, a drumbeat morphs into a hypnotic march. The song ends with a local gospel choir—whose members learned of the George Zimmerman verdict two days before their recording session. Boggs recalls, “They were totally distraught over the court ruling. That emotion really comes through in the song and takes it to another level.” Her band will tour later this year in support of the album, playing several major cities with a likely stop in the East Bay. “I can’t wait,” Boggs says. —Andrew Cohen

Carnival of Miracles spring 2 0 1 4 | T ra n scri p t |


Berkeley Law Transcript 2014  

The alumni magazine of UC Berkeley School of Law.

Berkeley Law Transcript 2014  

The alumni magazine of UC Berkeley School of Law.