Dr. Patricia Minter is an associate professor of history at WKU whose research has focused on the American South, race relations, civil rights and human rights.
After the civil war, political parties began to utilize racism as an electoral strategy. Before the 1960s, the racist and xenophobic language on the campaign trail was, as Minter described it, “in-your-face white supremacy.” After the Civil Rights Movement politicians began using, “the coded language of white supremacy and white privilege.” Political scientists have come to refer to this phenomenon as the “dog whistle.”
However, Minter said she believes U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has reverted to the overt language of post-reconstruction politicians: “You can only dog whistle so long before someone gets a bullhorn,” Minter said.
While some Americans have been shocked by Trump’s propensity to throw the dog whistle to the wayside, others have found it refreshing. In particular, white, working-class, men have rallied around Trump. Minter said these men, many of whom are experiencing economic difficulties, are “looking for someone to blame and it would threaten everything they have believed in up to now to blame it on capitalism, which is what it is. So instead they’re looking to other.” Immigrants, women, refugees, Latinos and African-Americans have all become targets of scapegoating.
As globalization and technological progress continues to eliminate factory jobs, Dr. Minter warns: “I think it could get worse.”
Listen to the interview with Minter here.
–Lily Nellans & Jacob Dick