How Racists Are Useful Idiots

In 1901, Russian scientist, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, conducted a series of experiments called “conditioned reflex” [also referred to as “classical conditioning”]. Pavlov attached a device to a dog to measure the amount of saliva produced when he rang a bell. He rang the bell just before he fed the dog so that the dog associated the sound of the bell with food and thus, would salivate in anticipation of eating. After doing this several times, he would ring the bell without feeding the dog – the dog would still salivate as much as before because it had been “conditioned”. In American politics, certain politicians ring a bell [by using special code words] and white racists salivate just like a faithful dog and cast their votes for those politicians. With regard to voting for certain politicians, white racist voters are useful idiots.

They are racists and thus, idiots. They are useful in that certain politicians can “ring that Pavlovian bell” knowing that the racists will eagerly cast their vote in response. Once in office, however, those politicians can submit legislation and enact policies designed to cater to the desires of their wealthy constituents. Catering to those desires often comes at the expense of the Pavlovian racist dogs’ economic and social well-being. In short, those politicians have methodically performed the calculus in how best to get elected. What is also quite possible is that, personally, some of those politicians might be mildly racists or perhaps not racist at all but they know which “bell” to ring to get votes.

To be a racist one must first eschew logic and reason at all costs – and above all, avoid the truth and ignore basic reality. This kind of utter stupidity lays the groundwork for being a faithful idiot. As long as racist beliefs are stoked, politicians can bend the racists over and have their way with them. Their racism is so deep-seated and logic-defying that given a choice between having more if blacks can have as much or having less if it means that blacks would have even less, the racists would, more often than not, choose the latter. Thus, many politicians nurture this inbred state of emotions to win elections. More exactly, those politicians exploit the cleavage between the races by providing the white racists with a convenient scapegoat; a group of people to blame because “those people” are dangerous, lazy, criminal and less intelligent.

This manipulation and use of idiots is nothing new. Hitler noted the utility of racism with respect to the Jews and thus, stated, “The masses are… stupid. Only emotion and hatred can keep them under control.” [emphasis mine]. Anton Chekhov asserted the same thing when he declared, “Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something” or some group.

But we need not refer to the distant past for examples of how some American politicians ring a bell that racist hear very clearly and who salivate like Pavlov’s dog and eagerly cast their votes for those politicians.

Richard Nixon, employed what is called the “Southern Strategy” to win the votes of racist useful idiots of the South who became disenfranchised with the democratic party. This strategy was perfected by Lee Atwater, political strategist for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He described it this way:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, N*gger, n*gger, n*gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*gger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So, you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial is saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*gger, n*gger.” [the edited spelling N*gger, is mine]2

In other words, to exploit the idiocy of racist voters, politicians reference things associated with African-Americans – rightly or wrongly – without mentioning African-Americans directly. The politicians speak with “code words” such as crime, drugs, urban areas, welfare, fatherless children, unwed mothers, reverse racism, quotas, food stamps, etcetera. Use of these words gives them plausible deniability if they are accused of racism.

Sometimes, instead of code words, politicians ring that special bell that makes the racist salivate like Pavlov’s dog by using code pictures.

In 2006, Harold “Ford was up against a white Republican, Bob Corker. The Republican National Committee bankrolled an ad that included a simpering, wriggling blond gushing about how she’d met the bachelor Ford at “the Playboy party.” The spot ended with the winking blond whispering, “Harold, call me,” – and began an angry debate over whether the ad exploited, as the NAACP put it, “a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women.””

This was also reported in the LA Times as follows: “A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to “call me” is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.

Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Ford is locked in a tight race, hoping to become the first African American senator since Reconstruction to represent a state in the former Confederacy.
“It is a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African American men and white women,” said Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington office of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the country’s oldest civil rights organization.

A former Republican senator, William S. Cohen of Maine, was more blunt. Cohen, who was also Defense secretary under President Clinton, said on CNN that the ad was “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.””

Remember, many American politicians need racist voters to advance the economic agenda of the wealthy which is also deleterious to the economic needs of those white racists. Much of what the racist voters want does not conflict with the economic interests of the wealthy. Most of the states of the former Confederacy can be characterized by the observation of Claude-Frederic Bastiat. He asserted, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

For example, when the legislature of North Carolina was taken to court for gerrymandering designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans, the US Supreme Court sided against North Carolina in Cooper v Harris. The Supreme Court, in 2017, also struck down two of the state’s congressional districts earlier this year, saying they were impermissible racial gerrymanders.” This was in complete agreement with the finding that the North Carolina legislature “enacted a voter ID law that a federal appeals court struck down, saying it targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

Race is like a shiny trinket that distracts the idiotic racists from looking at where the politicians’ ultimate objectives are revealed. It is not in the economic interest of many of the wealthy for racism to be shut down. There is much to be gained from white racism in America. Such gains are possible because, as Niccolo Machiavelli explained, “Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.”

Many American politicians have been so successful in dealing the race card to win elections, Russian propagandists took a seat at the table and dealt the same race card to disrupt and sow more dissension.
Yes, even the Russians can see that racists can be played like a cheap dollar store fiddle. Play it and the racists will dance like an elephant in a tutu – completely unaware of being used for the will of the one playing the fiddle.

To best illustrate how severely stupid racists are and how useful to the politicians and wealthy they can be, note the following. In the Pre-Civil War South, plantation owners would rather pay a black slave nothing than pay a white man for the same tasks. Later, during the Civil War, stupefied by racism, those non-slave-owning whites fought and died so that slave-owners could keep their slaves and not pay whites for the same tasks. True, the plantation owners were racists also, but could not have perpetrated a self-serving exploitive system without the useful idiots to support it. Proof-positive that racists are intellectually anemic at best and just dangerously damn stupid at worst. In either event, politicians use them like toilet tissue.

One final note: Prior to 1964 – 1968, Southern Democrats were unabashedly segregationists/racists. Later, they abandoned the Democratic party and tied themselves to the Republican party and subsequently painted the southern states solidly “red” [as opposed to “blue”]. This is not to say that all Republicans are racists [after all, many Democrats are also] but it is to say that a profoundly significant number of racists comfortably identify as Republicans as evidenced by how their social interests and those of many Republicans are aligned. And that alignment can be exploited to advance the economic interests of wealthy donors.

In any event, racists are dolts – always have been and always will be. They are Pavlovian dogs who wag their tails and salivate like useful idiots each time politicians ring that bell.

Gweneth Paltrow, Jay Z and the “N word”

[The following is an excerpt from an essay in my book, “Why They Think I’m Crazy – Except When They Really Think About It” in response to a recent tweet by Gweneth Paltrow about her experience with Jay Z during a concert in Paris, France.]

If denying the holocaust can be deemed a serious crime, why can’t we as Black people “outlaw” the use of the word that was designed to paint us as less than a piece of used toilet tissue that White bigots used to wipe their asses? Our use of the word, even within a different intent or context, does not in any manner render it acceptable, no more than a Jew wearing a swastika to a Halloween party changes what it stands for. The “N-word” is forever contaminated and heinous; it is offensive to all the senses as well as to the moral sensibilities of anyone with even a half a sense of self-respect – its context notwithstanding. 

From time to time, there has been much debate and controversy about the use of the word, “N_ _ _ _ _” (written hereafter as the  “N-word”), especially in the Black community in the US. By “N-word,” I specifically refer to the word that rhymes with “bigger” and is most often pronounced by Black people as rhyming with the word, “bigga.” Either pronunciation carries the same weight1 and either pronunciation is used to refer to African American Blacks. The use of the word within the African American Black community has generated tremendous heat between the camp that believes the word to be colloquial and acceptable or demeaning depending on the context versus the camp that believes the word to be inflammatory, degrading and revolting no matter the context. Hence the question: Should Blacks embrace the word as having various shades of meaning or should we eschew it with disdain at all times?


That word conjures up an image of what many White people judged to be foul, scornful, contemptible, revolting, despicable, loathsome and evil – or stated otherwise – what those White people thought of Black people. Not Jews, not people of the First Nations, not Latinos, or other non-Whites. This term was designed to reflect many White people’s view of Blacks – all Blacks – not just unscrupulous, low-life Blacks – all Blacks no matter if they were fathers, mothers, children, lawyers, business owners, physicians, teachers, President of the United States. As long as they were Black, they were considered an “N-word.”

Yes, I understand words and their definitions can change because language is vibrant and dynamic, but that particular word has not (because it cannot) morphed into a word so different in meaning that its original meaning is lost or its definition appropriately expanded. In short, no amount of using it in a different context can rid it of it foul-smelling, feculent stain despite the fact most Whites today do not view Black people in the same way those of previous generations did.

In other words, no matter how much we as Black people use the word in a different more benign or affectionate context, its original meaning looms large in ways that cannot be ignored or obfuscated. The word cannot be sanitized because its original meaning is stamped into stone. Not even “God” – so to speak can change the meaning of that word.

Black people who use the word – whether referring to other Blacks or not – demean their own humanity and continue to give life to the original and only meaning of the word – one of contempt and scorn for all Black people. Not even the worst of the worst of Black people deserve to be called by such a word because in its origins it meant that all Blacks were less than their White counterparts or any other humans – including most animals. The word meant Blacks were less than the slimy droppings of a pigeon. It was irrelevant to the racists that Black people are no worse than White people and that White people are no better than Black people.

Consider this: History tells us that, for some Jews, the name of their “God” was considered too sacred for any one to even utter. On the opposite end of the continuum, I believe the “N-word” is too despicable for any one, especially Black people, to utter or write.

Continuing with a similar path of reasoning, it is currently a crime punishable by imprisonment, in more than a dozen European nations, to deny the holocaust. The holocaust was one of humanity’s darkest displays of raw evil. Drawing a parallel (at least in my mind): To use the “N-word” constitutes not only a flagrant minimizing of the history of slavery in White America and the subsequent Jim Crow laws, but also an overt approval of all forms of White racism against Blacks. A Black person using the word is tantamount to a Black person joining the Ku Klux Klan at best or eagerly helping them to find the rope to lynch you with, at worst.

1 For those who think the pronunciation makes a difference, I present the words “floor” versus “flo,”  “more” versus “mo” or “it came loose” versus “it came a loose.” In short, the second pronunciation is simply the “ghetto” or “ebonic” way of pronouncing the word. The meaning remains the same.

Published in: on June 13, 2012 at 5:13 AM  Leave a Comment  
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