March 03, 2016
Ian Haney López was warning about “dog whistle politics” wrecking the American middle class before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up vociferous debate about code words as a political tool.
A constitutional scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Haney López studies the interplay of law and race and researches the connection between racial divisions and growing wealth inequality in the United States. He has been featured on the PBS show Moyers & Company, and his writing has appeared in national publications.
On March 14, Haney López will offer his take on the broad dangers of using racial divisiveness as a strategy when he delivers Tulane Law School’s Dreyfous Lecture.
The 4 p.m. event, which is open to the public, will take place in the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110 of Tulane Law’s Weinmann Hall.
The George Abel and Mathilde Schwab Dreyfous Lecture on Civil Liberties and Human Rights, established in 1965, honors the founder of the Louisiana Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and his wife, both of whom worked to end segregation and discrimination against African-Americans.
Haney López, the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, is a Harvard Law School graduate and a leading thinker on racism’s evolution since the civil rights era. In his address, “Trumpeting Racism: Race, Politics and Economic Jeopardy for All,” he plans to explore whether Trump’s attacks on Mexicans and Muslims represent “a temporary triumph of demagoguery” or a more fundamental malady. Haney López argues that, “for all his bombast, Trump is following the basic script of conservatives in the United States for the last 50 years: use racial and other status anxieties to scare voters into supporting politicians who ultimately enact policies that benefit their plutocratic funders.”
In his book Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class,” published in 2015, Haney López examines 50 years of politicians’ using racial pandering to persuade middle-class voters to behave in ways that ultimately hurt themselves and benefit the wealthiest Americans. He argues that Republicans, Democrats and tea partiers all do it to win votes.
“In our diverse society, racism has been the plutocrats’ scythe, cutting down social solidarity to harvest obscene wealth and power,” he wrote recently in The Nation.
“We will not get our country back from the very rich until we commit to a vision of ‘we the people’ in which ‘we’ means everyone, not divided by racial fear but convinced of our linked fate.”
Books available: After the lecture, Haney López will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.