Monday, January 20, 2014, 7:30 – 8:30pm

Ian Haney Lopez
Destroying the Middle Class One Word at a Time

Downstairs at Town Hall; Enter on Seneca Street. $5.

Haney Lopez_author photo_CREDIT to UC Berkeley School of Law

Dog Whistle PoliticsIn the last presidential campaign we saw attack ads from both parties, but most prominent were the ones indirectly targeting Obama’s race. Described as a “food stamp president,” President Obama still faces racism. According to Ian Haney Lopez, Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, this isn’t the first time racial language has been used in politics. Terms like “welfare queen” have indirectly mentioned race by playing off of modern stereotypes associated with minorities and welfare. But what effect has this had on the general public? Tying together some of the most prominent themes in politics, Haney Lopez’s new book, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, explores the connection between “dog whistle” appeals and the destruction of the Middle Class. He explores the history of race in politics and how “dog whistle” tactics undermine liberalism and add to growing economic insecurity of the Middle Class. Given this trend, what will the 2016 election hold?

Presented by: Town Hall and Elliott Bay Book Company, as part of the Civic series. Series supported by The Boeing Company, the RealNetworks Foundation, and the True-Brown Foundation. Series media sponsorship provided by The Stranger and KUOW.
Tickets: $5.
Doors open: 6:30 p.m.
Town Hall member benefits: Priority seating, discount onsite book sales.
Learn more: About the author.


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  1. John Peeples
    Posted January 2, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I’m really looking forward to this presentation and hope there is a discussion afterwards. I also trust that the author presents the truth and offers examples of both sides using such ‘dog whistle’ appeals. It would do my fellow Seattleites well to accept that ‘my side does it too’ and, from there, recognize their path out of such ‘dog whistle’ traps. Rather than only shining a light on the problem, let’s hope the author can suggest a solution or, at least, field suggestions from the audience.

  2. Jeff Smith
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    In John Peeple’s Orwellian post, ‘dog whistle’ is turned on its head and redefined as coded language appealing to the underlying cultural racism directed at privileged white people. Similar to the way the right-wing redefined ‘liberalism’ to mean ‘socialism.’

    Here’s hoping he attends the book talk and defends his comment.

  3. John Peeples
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    ‘Orwellian’???? Haha! The first sentence above makes no sense. What I’ve heard of ‘dog whistle’ recently reveals to me that it’s a two-sided coin, not one that has only one right side up that can be turned on its head. Let’s dispense with the name-calling and painting with a broad brush and listen to each other. I’ve got no need to defend anything. Mr. Smith’s stated hope suggests that he won’t accept any reasoned defense.

    • Jeff Smith
      Posted January 7, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink


      Presumably you read the author’s book and understand its central thesis.

      Coded racial appeals by whites (beginning with Republican opposition to civil rights in the early sixties, Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and becoming full-throated with Reagan) created a hostility toward minorities and government that resulted in harm not only to those minorities but to the middle class as well.

      If there are ‘two sides’ to your hypothetical coin, then certainly you are able to offer examples of minorities using racially coded language to engender hostility toward white people in a manner that has caused them (and by them, I guess I mean me, too) harm.

      Or, perhaps you have other specific examples in mind?

  4. Jeff Smith
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink


    I invite you to watch the author discuss his book on Democracy Now!

  5. John Peeples
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. I’ll take a look this evening. The book is now on hold at the library – I don’t want him to get any of my money. It wasn’t even in the catalog when I checked last week. I’m not likely to get it before Monday. More on the meat of your comments later.

  6. John Peeples
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Jeff, just watched the video and read some excerpts and reviews from the library site and Amazon. I’m not convinced that ‘only one side does it.’ The dog whistle ‘… but far more extensively,’ is a very lame effort to minimize the harmful effects of left-leaning dog whistles, give them a pass on race baiting, and to disparage the right. That left-leaning tactic is no different than saying it ‘hurts far worse to fall from 1,000 ft than it does from 100 ft.’ The fair-minded among us immediately see the same harm from falling from both heights. I saw very little fair-mindedness is the video (although some things I did agree with). Looking forward to the presentation and to asking a question afterwards. -John

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