Thursday, January 10, 2019

Enough with the Dog Whistles Already

In response to the announcement that County Exective Calvin Ball had chosen Lisa Myers as the next Chief Of Police, one man said:

Well, we now know where you are coming from.

This was not meant to be a positive response.

I thought it was such an odd way to express disapproval. Dr. Ball has served on the County Council for twelve years. His record is out there. His campaign for Country Executive was a source of plenty of information about his goals and priorities. But suddenly, with the appointment of Lisa Myers, 

...we now know where you are coming from.

Is this is indeed the case, may I just say that this particular commenter has not been paying attention.

Of course, I don’t think for one moment that we are meant to take this comment at face value. These words are a racist dog whistle intended to indicate that Ball, a person of color, has appointed  Lisa Myers solely because she is a person of color. When whites appoints whites it must be because they are the most qualified for the job but when Blacks appoint Blacks, well, there must be something fishy going on. It must be some kind of unfair racial cronyism. It means that whites aren’t getting their fair share (read: most of the pie) so the use of coded language like “identity politics” will turn up in the comments section as a way to denigrate the choice.

I read the following statement yesterday and I think it’s quite telling:

It was once a crime to teach slaves to read. People fear equity when they're afraid to compete, justice when they know they're in the wrong. - - Janice Chan @curiositybone

This goes hand in hand with Clay Shirky’s statement:

When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

As County Executive Ball begins his administration and makes choices for leadership positions we cannot know in advance whether he (and they) will be successful in their missions. Some are inclined to believe they will. Some aren’t sure but hope for the best. Some look at his race and/or his party affiliation and know, just know, that something bad is afoot. You can hear their voices in the online comments saying, “Hey guys! Hey guys! He’s not one of us, guys!”

It’s sad. And disheartening. 

If you want to know where someone is really coming from, you’re going to have to do more than aim your pea shooter on social media.

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