To the Editor:
Frank Rich (“In Defense of White Americans,” column, Oct. 26) provides a compelling analysis of why racially divisive political tactics have failed in 2008, but when he says “there are not and have never been enough racists in 2008 to flip this election,” he misses an important point.
Studies using the Implicit Association Test have amply demonstrated that most of us, regardless of our conscious views, harbor unconscious biases against other racial groups.
Racially charged tactics in the “Willie Horton” vein aim not to mobilize unrepentant racists, but to manipulate the rest of us — decent people with a strong belief in racial equality — by tapping into these unconscious attitudes.
This is a far more insidious tactic, but fortunately, when the racial subtext of those messages is made explicit and our better angels are free to act, we recoil from the implicit racism.
Ludovic Blain III
New York, Oct.
The writers are, respectively, associate director of the Center for Social Inclusion and project director, StopDogWhistleRacism.com.