All eyes are on the Confederate flag, but let’s not forget what enabled Roof to turn his ideology into death with such efficiency.
On June 26th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. This is your image of the week:
Legal status of same-sex marriage in the U.S.:
- 2015: Supreme Court rules ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional
- 2013: A great year for marriage equality
- 2012: Map of the state legality of same-sex marriage in the U.S.
The social psychology of same-sex marriage:
- Why are people changing their minds on same-sex marriage?
- The contact hypothesis: Does knowing a gay person change your mind?
- Americans underestimate how many other Americans support same-sex marriage
Politicians on same-sex marriage:
- Politicians followed, didn’t lead, on same-sex marriage
- Politicians overestimate their constituents’ conservatism
- Who enjoys “traditional” marriage?
- Challenging the definition of marriage equality
- What exactly do we mean by “traditional”?
Changing public opinion on same-sex marriage:
- 2012: Support for same-sex marriage rising in every demographic
- 2012: Political affiliation and support for same-sex marriage
- 2010: Increasing cultural acceptance of gay and lesbian rights
- Naming marriage between people of the same sex
- Same-sex marriage and the social construction of social problems
- Individualist vs. social frames for favoring same-sex marriage
- Rhetorical strategy in the same-sex marriage debate
- Framing North Carolina’s Amendment One
- The changing definition of family
The movement for same-sex marriage:
- Outing Prop. 8 supporters on Google Maps
- Stigmatizing cousin marriage in an argument for same-sex marriage
- Using children in anti-same-sex marriage ads
- “Yes on Prop. 8″: Heteronormative, pro-natal, and anti-miscegenation
- A rainbow coalition against same-sex marriage
- Highlighting the economic impact of same-sex marriage
- Rhetorical strategy in the same-sex marriage debate
- Framing North Carolina’s Amendment One
NASCAR! How could this cascade of reversals have happened so rapidly? Did these important people wake up one morning this week and say to themselves, “Gee, I never realized that there was anything racist about the Confederacy, and never realized that there was anything wrong with racism, till that kid killed nine Black people in a church”?
My guess is that what’s going on is not a sudden enlightenment or even much of a change in views about the flag. To me it looks more like the process of “pluralistic ignorance.” What these people changed was not their ideas about the Confederacy or racism but their ideas about other people’s ideas about these matters. With pluralistic ignorance (a term coined by Floyd Allport nearly a century ago) everyone wants X but thinks that nobody else does. Then some outside factor makes it possible for people to choose X, and everyone does. Everyone is surprised – “Gee, I thought all you guys wanted Y, not X .” It looks like a rapid change in opinion, but it’s not.
A few years ago in places like Ireland and Europe, people were surprised at the success of new laws banning smoking in pubs and restaurants. “Oh, the smokers will never stand for it.” But it turned out that the smokers, too, were quite happy to have rooms with breathable air. It’s just that before the laws were passed, nobody knew that’s how other people felt because those people kept smoking.
The same thing happened when New York City passed a pooper-scooper law. “The law is unenforceable,” people said. “Cops will never see the actual violation, only its aftermath. And do you really think that those selfish New Yorkers will sacrifice their own convenience for some vague public good?” But the law was remarkably effective. As I said in this post from 2009:
Even before the new law, dog owners had probably thought that cleaning up after their dogs was the right thing to do, but since everyone else was leaving the stuff on the sidewalk, nobody wanted to be the only schmuck in New York to be picking up dog shit. In the same way that the no-smoking laws worked because smokers wanted to quit, the dog law in New York worked because dog owners really did agree that they should be cleaning up after their dogs. But prior to the law, none of them would speak or act on that idea.
In South Carolina and Georgia and Bentonville, Arkansas and elsehwere, the governors and the CEOs surely knew that the Confederacy was based on racist slavery; they just rarely thought about it. And if the matter did come up, as with the recent Supreme Court decision about license plates, they probably assumed that most of their constituents and customers were happy with the flag and that the anti-flaggers were a cranky minority.
Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.
In the aftermath of Dylann Roof’s racist murder, some cities in the South are reconsidering their relationship to the Confederate Flag. Should it fly? Be in a museum? Burn? The discussion raises larger questions of how to move forward from ugly histories without simultaneously whitewashing a city’s past. And, as well, how do we know when something is truly in our past?
I was thinking about just these questions a couple weeks ago when a friend of mine walked me by the monument to the Crescent City White League in New Orleans. The conical stone was erected to commemorate the return of white supremacist government two years after a lethal insurrection against the Reconstruction state government in 1874. In that insurrection, thousands of former Confederate soldiers attacked the city police and state military. They killed 11 members of the NOPD and held city government buildings for three days before federal troops arrived and they fled.
Two years later, the white supremacist politicians were back in power and they placed the monument in a prominent place where Canal St. meets the Mississippi. The monument, to be clear, is in honor of cop-killing white supremacists.
Here it is in 1906 (source, photographer unknown):
So, what to do with the thing?
In 1974 — one hundred years after the insurrection and 98 years after its erection — the city added a marker nearby distancing itself from the message of white supremacy. It read:
Although the “battle of Liberty Place” and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.
In 1993, some of the original inscriptions were removed and replaced with this slightly more politically correct comment:
In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place. … A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future.
It was also moved to a new location. Today it sits between a flood wall, a parking lot, and an electrical substation. If you wanted to give a monument the finger, this is one way to do it. Here’s how it looks on Google Maps streetview:
So, the question is: What to do with these things?
I’ll admit that seeing the monument tucked into an unpleasant corner of New Orleans was somehow satisfying. But I was also uneasy about its displacement. Is this an example of New Orleans trying to repress knowledge of its racist history? (And present?) Or is it a sign that the city actively rejects the values represented by the monument? Conversely, if the city had left the monument at the foot of Canal St. would this be a sign that it took history seriously? And, thus, responsibility for its past? Or a sign that it didn’t take an anti-racist stance seriously enough?
This seems like an obviously difficult call to make, but I’m glad that we’re using the horror of Roof’s massacre to begin a discussion about how to handle symbols like these and, maybe, truly make them a part of our past.
Cross-posted at A Nerd’s Guide to New Orleans.
Jennifer Pozner, Kat Lazo, Zerlina Maxwell, and Samhita Mukhopadhyay join Jay Smooth to discuss a few no-nos for the media this campaign season. Pozner sums it up:
Look, this matters. By focusing on personal, gendered, irrelevant details about women politicians, this conditions the American public to think that woman are ladies first [and] leaders only a distant second. Media play a serious role in keeping half the population out of the political talent pool.
Recently we ran a graph showing the evolution of facial hair trends starting in 1842. It showed that about 90% of men wore facial hair in the late 1800s, but it was a trend that would slowly die. By 1972, when the research was published, almost as many were clean shaven.
So, why did facial hair fall out of fashion?
Sociologist Rebekah Herrick gives us a hypothesis. With Jeanette Mendez and Ben Pryor, she investigated the stereotypes associated with men’s facial hair and the consequences for U.S. politicians. Facial hair is rare among modern politicians. “Currently,” they noted, “fewer than five percent of the members of the U.S. Congress have beards or mustaches” and no president has sported facial hair since William Howard Taft left office in 1913, before women had the right to vote.
Using an experimental method, Herrick and her colleagues showed people photographs of similarly appearing politicians with and without facial hair, asking them how they felt about the men and their likely positions. They found that potential voters perceived men with facial hair to be more masculine and this was a double edged sword. Higher ratings of masculinity were correlated with perceptions of competence, but also concerns that the politicians were less friendly to women and their concerns.
In other words, the more facial hair, the more people worry that a politician might be sexist:
In reality, facial hair has no relationship to a male politician’s voting record. They checked. The research suggests, though, that men in politics — maybe even all men — would be smart to pay attention to the stereotypes if they want to influence how others see them.
Thanks to my friend, Dmitriy T.C., for use of his face!