Nikki Haley, Dick Harpootlian, and Dog-Whistle Politics

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Recently, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has been in the news after becoming a victim of a racist attack. South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian said that he wants to send Nikki Haley, a woman of Indian heritage, “back to wherever the hell she came from.” Political observers of various ideological stripes have correctly denounced this racist remark. However, while the attack is unquestionably racist, it is not overtly racist. Harpootlian vehemently denies that he meant that she should go back to India. Every person with a fully functioning brain understands that his comment was clearly a shot at her ethnicity—even though he didn’t explicitly mention her Indian heritage.

Before I continue, I must state that I am no fan of Nikki Haley. I lost all respect for her when it came to light that she self-identifies as a white woman on documents, despite the fact that she is Indian. This is clear evidence of self-hate. I do not endorse self-hating conservatives inasmuch as they make it hard for those of us ethnic minorities who are proudly conservative, proudly American, and proud of our respective heritages. People like Nikki Haley are why conservative Republicans who belong to ethnic minority groups have the reputation of being self-haters who wish they were born WASPs. People like Haley should not be representative of what it means to be a conservative who belongs to an ethnic minority group.

In any event, given that Harpootlian did not explicitly mention Haley’s Indian heritage, his racism falls into the category of dog-whistle politics. It’s funny how many of the conservatives who spent the entire 2012 election cycle denying the existence of dog-whistle politics have absolutely no problem grasping the concept when a Republican is on the receiving end of a dog-whistle attack. Conservatives can’t have it both ways. It’s either dog-whistling exists or it doesn’t. People who lie about dog-whistle politics to protect its use on their side, but scream about it when it is used against their own are complete hypocrites.

When Mitt Romney during the 2012 election cycle said, to cheers from a largely white audience, that nobody is going to ask where his birth certificate is because they know he was born in Michigan—which was clearly a birther shot at “Kenyan-born” Obama—lying morons on the right denied that there was any dog-whistling in that remark. When Mitt Romney’s campaign went to England and said that Romney would do a better job of improving “Anglo Saxon” relations, which Obama cannot do because he’s black, the same people denied the existence of dog-whistle politics there, too.


Now a Democrat makes an indirect, racist reference to a Republican governor’s Indian heritage (without ever mentioning India), and suddenly, Republicans miraculously flip-flop on dog-whistling!

This isn’t the first time that Republicans have recognized the perniciousness of dog-whistling in American politics. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republicans understood that Barack Obama used dog-whistle sexism against Sarah Palin when he made the “lipstick on a pig” remark after Palin had said that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit-bull is lipstick. They were inarguably correct. When using the “lipstick on a pig” line, Obama was taking a subliminal, sexist shot at Sarah Palin. Of course, lying Democrats denied it. While Republicans did not refer to the attack as dog-whistle sexism, that is exactly what it was. Obama was covertly launching a sexist attack on the woman on the 2008 Republican ticket, and the “feminist” Democrats allowed him to get away with it—just as the right allowed Romney to get away with his racist attacks on President Obama during the 2012 election.

I could go on ad infinitum with examples of both sides using racist and sexist dog-whistle politics to advance their goals, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Dog-whistle politics is a technique that people on both sides of the political aisle utilize—only to deny when they are called out on it. However, intelligent people are capable of determining actual occurrences of this technique. Unintelligent people like Chris Matthews, however, cite every respiratory act of a Republican as evidence of dog-whistle politics, and thus make it easy for liars to deny the existence of the concept in toto. Whether his moronic accusations of dog-whistle racism are intentional or not, Matthews harms the effort to stamp out actual dog-whistle politics by giving those who revel in its existence an easy knock-down argument to falsely suggest that the concept is wholly apocryphal.

People who are authentic anti-racists disapprove of all racism—that is, irrespective of which race it is against or on which side of the political aisle it is found. Fraudulent anti-racists, who tend to be of the “colorblind” variety, pretend to only see racism in political parties that they have no membership. As I have stated previously, racism exists in all political parties and ideologies. One has to be a pretty shameless prevaricator to pretend as though racism only exists in one party.

Unequivocally, what Harpootlian said is disgraceful, and there should be zero tolerance for such thinly veiled bigotry in American politics. However, being the honest conservative that I am, I have no fear about emphatically stating that Harpootlian is no different to some of the bigots that are tolerated, and even celebrated, on the right. He is right in the same league as Patrick Buchanan (or as I call him, PatricKKK J. PUKEhanan), John Derbyshire, and other fire-breathing, right-wing racists. Any Republican who condemns Harpootlian, but celebrates PUKEhanan and Derbyshire is not only an insanely partisan fraud, but most probably a closet racist, too.

It is pleasant to see that some conservatives have done a flip-flop on the existence of dog-whistle politics. But rest assured that they’ll flip back to swearing it’s a completely mythical concept when they want to defend a conservative using dog-whistle attacks.


The hypocrisy is just so…