Only bigots, racists, fanatics and right-wing zealots vote against Barack Obama. This is received theology in the Church of Liberalism, preached ad nauseam in 2008, and it’s a major Democratic doctrine this year as well. Only now it’s “scientific fact,” not merely accusation.
A “new paper,” that ultimate authority in academic and media circles, purports to show that only prejudice stands between Mr. Obama and a second term. Americans who cheered Mr. Obama’s success four years ago as evidence of a new day in America were living in the kingdom of the dumb and remain there today.
“If my results are correct,” writes a Harvard doctoral candidate in the New York Times, “racial animus cost Mr. Obama many more votes that we may have realized.” Such bigotry deprived the president, who won decisively with 53 percent of the popular vote in 2008, of his due. But for the bigots, the president would have won up to 58 percent of the popular vote, a landslide.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz peppers his paper with lots of learned graduate-school jargon and jive — “rational-choice theory,” “reverse causation,” “regression analysis” — but it boils down to the same old stuff Mr. Obama and his designated hitters peddled in 2008.
“Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country?” asks Dr.-to-be Stephens-Davidowitz. “Not perfectly, but remarkably well.” Or at least good enough for the op-ed page.
He concedes that quantifying the effects of racial prejudice on voting is “notoriously problematic.” Indeed, people lie about unpopular beliefs and politically incorrect convictions almost as often as they lie about sex (which is always).
But Mr. Stephens-Davidowitz employs a mechanism above and beyond skepticism, the Google search engine, to find stuff on the Internet. If you get it from the Internet, everyone knows it’s absolutely, positively good and unerringly true. He used Google to find “racially charged material,” using a new Google tool called Google Insights to pin down the parts of the country whence that material comes. Since the typical racist works hunched over a keyboard in the wee small hours of the morning with nobody looking over his shoulder, he will type outrageous words — lots of n-words — into a Google search field.
“You may have typed things into Google that you would hesitate to admit in polite company,” says Mr. Stephens-Davidowitz. “I certainly have. The majority of Americans have as well. We Google the word ‘porn’ more often than the word ‘weather.’ ” Ah, the lonely lives of Harvard doctoral candidates. (He offers neither explanation, nor citation for his assertion that a “majority of Americans” make such nocturnal submissions.)
He cites West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi as the source of most racist inquiries. Once he figured out where the baddest Americans live, he could predict, using the vote for John Kerry in 2004 as benchmark and allowing for growth in number of voters, just how many votes the president should have received in 2008.
What renders all this as malarkey and moonshine is that mining Google rants and raves doesn’t reveal who actually voted, or why, or who is likely to vote again this year. Many, perhaps most, ranters are satisfied with the raving and never bother to vote.
“If my findings are correct, race could very well prove decisive against Mr. Obama in 2012,” he writes. A big “if.” But he concedes, grudgingly, the possibility that “racial prejudice will play a smaller role in 2012 than it did in 2008, now that the country is familiar with a black president.”
The most virulent conceit working in politics today is that America is a nation of racists — except, of course, the pious and righteous liberals who harbor the conceit. In this warped view, time has not moved an inch or an hour since the era of angry Klansmen, lynch mobs and burned-out black churches. Even Bill Clinton, who knew better and had to apologize for his libel, told whoppers about remembering burned-out churches in his native Arkansas. (There was never even one.)
Rarely in human history has a nation turned itself inside out and bottom side up to make amends for racial injustice. It’s the essence of authentic bigotry to ascribe evil motives this year to those who, with ample cause, prefer someone other than Mr. Obama for president. Many Democrats and their toadies in the media insist that we must shield Mr. Obama from the consequences of his incompetence simply because he’s black. So who are the racists?
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
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