Phi Beta Cons

Baiting Conservatives

Robert, I agree that many survey questions like those from the Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality are designed to “bait” conservatives into sounding racist. Your observation in the American Spectator (quoting Cathy Young) that the negative-sounding statements were also expressed toward other whites is an important part of the story, initially ignored by Professor Parker.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes blacks also take what may sound like a white-racist position. The University of Michigan polling analyst Vincent Hutchings has pointed out that when asked in a face-to-face encounter whether they agreed with the statement that “most blacks tend to be lazy,” 11 percent of the blacks surveyed agreed (15 percent of the whites agreed). That statement is more extreme than those asked of the tea partiers.

I hate even to bring up this sort of finding, as it seems to me that such questions perpetuate stereotypes. But polls become weapons in policy battles, and it’s better to have more information about them than less.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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