This is rough.  Very rough, kinda stream of consciousness, so keep that in mind.

I was looking at this map, and I had something of an epiphany regarding how so many voters could be OK with Trumps pretty naked racism & sexism.  I’m sure some percentage of his voters just blew it off as un-serious, but the evidence of his attitudes was stark enough I figure a person would have to be working that lie pretty hard.  So why did so many find it OK enough to vote for him?  I think the answer lies in the demographics.

I grew up in the late 70’s/80’s, in very rural WI.  While I did witness some hardcore racism & sexism, for the most part, everyone was pretty tolerant.  But there was a lot of low level racism & sexism; call it ‘-ism-light’.  Enough that I was steeped in that undercurrent as I grew up.  It’s surprising how deeply it embeds, and sticks with you.

I left rural WI, joined the Navy, got educated in Madison, and live near Seattle, so I’ve had time & experience to work past the -isms, but even now, seeing ‘-ism-light’ doesn’t cause a reaction.  I have to parse it, process it, and then I recognize it and decide it’s not OK.  That filter I grew up with isn’t gone, I’ve just got a second filter on top of it, courtesy of diverse exposure & experience.

But if you never left those places, even if the environment is not so steeped in -isms anymore, people my age, who don’t have that second filter, they will have a strong tolerance for such things.  They probably wouldn’t accept it in themselves, or their immediate family and friends, but the more removed an offensive person is, the better the ability to tolerate it to a degree.

So Uncle Ned who can’t stop making racist & sexist jokes, he doesn’t get invited to family gatherings very often.  But Trump?  He’s so far removed…


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18 Responses to Overlooking Racism

  1. ScarletNumber says:

    Why should Uncle Ned not get invited very often?

    • Murali says:

      Because its unpleasant to be around a racist so you avoid inviting him unless absolutely necessary.

      • ScarletNumber says:

        Objection: assuming facts not in evidence

        Also, your post contains a non sequitur. Specifically, that someone who makes racist jokes is a racist.

        • Murali says:

          Someone who cant stop making them is. I make racist jokes. But I know when to stop. And I give fair warning that it is in fact racist. If you cant stop making those jokes knowing that people are made uncomfortable or offended by their racist content, then that shows a kind of disregard and disrespect for that person that amounts to racism (or at least often does so.

        • Oscar Gordon says:

          How about we go with the idea that he’s my Uncle Ned, I’ve known the man for 40 odd years now, and we all gotta a pretty good feel for his opinions on race.

        • fillyjonk says:

          Is a racist somehow different from that relative who finds fault with everything? Or who sets everyone else on edge? Is Racist Relative somehow worse than someone who is a problem in other ways? (I have seen cases where one person had several others in tears because of their incessant fault-finding and complaints)

          I mean, you can’t pick your family. (But you can pick your friends. And you can pick your nose. But you probably shouldn’t pick your friends’ noses. Sorry. I’m the relative who doesn’t get invited because Dumb and Childishly Inappropriate Humor)

        • ScarletNumber says:

          @fillyjonk

          I would say that a relative who is fault-finding and complaining is MUCH worse than one who tells racist jokes.

        • trumwill says:

          By my observation, fault-finders with people at the table are more likely to be disinvited than people who tell racist jokes (unless they’re also directed at people at the table).

        • ScarletNumber says:

          @trumwill

          That reminds me of the following joke:

          How does every racist joke start?

          [spoiler]With the teller looking over his shoulder.[/spoiler]

          Most people who tell racist jokes have enough sense to not do them in front of someone of that race, especially at a family function.

        • trumwill says:

          Some might, with a precursor of “I don’t mean you.”

          Or they might forget. My sister-in-law’s guy is mixed race. He’s described getting comments and jokes from both sides. (He looks southern Italian, FWIW.)

  2. kirk says:

    “I was looking at this map, and I had something of an epiphany regarding how so many voters could be OK with Trumps pretty naked racism & sexism.”

    I never detected any racism or sexism coming from Trump. I had no problem voting for him.

  3. Enough that I was steeped in that undercurrent as I grew up. It’s surprising how deeply it embeds, and sticks with you.

    *******

    …even now, seeing ‘-ism-light’ doesn’t cause a reaction. I have to parse it, process it, and then I recognize it and decide it’s not OK. That filter I grew up with isn’t gone, I’ve just got a second filter on top of it, courtesy of diverse exposure & experience.

    Oscar, I think you touch on my feelings about this. I have very similar overlapping filters, and the same process of parsing, etc., is very necessary to keep me focused on what I believe matters most.

    Do you also have a contrarian streak in all this? I ask, because I have one. When I’m around my first filter environment, I incline to defend the more diverse and accepting attitudes. When I’m around the second filter environment, I want to defend the first filter, or at least the people from the first filter.

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      It’s not so much that I want to defend the people who represent my roots, rather I want to discourage others condemning them out of hand.

      Uncle Ned may find just a bit too much humor in racist jokes, but he is also a carpenter who volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, and teaches his trade to the kids at the local Boys & Girls Club, regardless of their race.

      I refuse to reduce the man to just a racist.

  4. Kolohe says:

    Regarding that map.

    The “future” in 1964 voted for LBJ overwhelmingly – then in 1984 they voted for Reagan overwhelmingly.

  5. fillyjonk says:

    In all seriousness: yes. I do find myself “defending” my rural, less-well-educated relatives to my colleagues, and defending my colleagues’ attitudes to my relatives.

    Or I just get tired of it all and shut up around my colleagues, and offer to take the dogs for a walk when I’m visiting relatives.

    (Sitting on a fence means you often have uncomfortable things poking you in the butt)

    • I find whenever I speak up about such things around my colleagues, I usually regret it. So the rule I try to follow (but that I don’t actually always follow) is to be quiet and just listen.

  6. kirk says:

    “I was looking at this map, and I had something of an epiphany regarding how so many voters could be OK with Trumps pretty naked racism & sexism.”

    If it hadn’t been for all the sanctimonious, self-satisfied, smug, narcissistic dickwipes potificating ENDLESSLY about how every single Trump voter was a KKK member and wife beater, his supporters wouldn’t have been so motivated to vote him into office.

    They voted him in with their middle fingers, fingers pointed at people like you. Get over it.

    “It’s OVER. Go home.” — Ferris Bueller

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