On Thursday, political commentator Touré upset the Romney campaign and a lot of supporters during an appearance on the show The Cycle. When he and other guests were asked about a campaign speech by Romney that called President Obama “angry” twice, and tells him to take his anger back to Chicago, a discussion was started about whether or not this language is what is called “racial dog whistling”.
Wikipedia defines the term “dog-whistling” like this:
Dog-whistle politics, also known as the use of code words, is a type of political campaigning or speechmaking which employs coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience. The term is invariably pejorative, and is used to refer both to messages with an intentional subtext, and those where the existence or intent of a secondary meaning is disputed. The term is an analogy to dog whistles, which are built in such a way that the high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs, but is inaudible to humans.
Touré explains exactly what the message is: “You are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear”, conveyed by the use of the word “angry” twice. It’s awfully hard to imagine any other president being called “angry” and it’s not the first word that comes to mind when you ask most people to describe our president. Even his detractors don’t often use that word. The worst non-Romney words I could find were “liar” and “fascist”, neither of which are great words, but don’t immediately invoke the image of “the angry Black man”.
But it wasn’t the statement about Romney that got Touré into trouble, but rather his phrase describing the dog-whistling against Obama as the “N***er-ization” of our president. He notes that this is “othering”, and that Romney is telling voters that Obama is truly not one of us.
Of course, the use of the N-word is almost always problematic, and Touré experienced some fallout from those who believe that Touré is dog-whistling in his own way, implying that Romney is a racist and that he uses the N-word. This plays upon the stereotype that Mormons are racist against Black people. Historically, the Mormon church has held racist policies, and until 1978 were people “of African decent” were not allowed to be members. In the modern-day mainstream LDS church, people of all races are allowed, but the notion of racist Mormons continues.
On Friday, Touré publicly apologized for using the N-word to describe the campaign. In his apology, he does not retract his statements about the racial dog-whistling in the campaign, but explains that the use of the N-word muddied the conversation.
What do you think? Should Touré have apologized for using the N-word or stuck his ground?
How about the racial dog-whistling at the hands of the Romney campaign?
Watch Touré’s comments watch below, fast forward until 4:50.