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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Arc of History

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

Haney López

2015

Link

2018-12-28

- Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class (2015)

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - Martin Luther King, Jr.'s paraphrase of Theodore Parker

Parker expresses a general idea: The superstition of the old world gives way to enlightened democracy. Slavery to freedom. Sure, on the level of years or decades there are reverses. A German republic fell to Nazi barbarity. But zoom out far enough and things get better and better over time.

On this scale, though, lifespans are short. Hitler might have said, "The moral arc bends away from me, who cares? I have your kids and they don't know any better." The book would suggest the lessons of the New Deal area and robber-barons are fading. Suppose the arc implies that useful new experiences come faster than details of the past are forgotten -- if this ever ceases it will be an asymptote.

Another issue, although every politician knows the destination and will get you there if you give them power, these supposed destinations don't agree. The author would believe justice does not lie with libertarian ideals (when individual starting points are unequal, at least), but some are hard set against the injustice of redistributive social programs. These disagreements limit the idea's usefulness in making predictions.

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