Monday, September 9, 2013

L.A. Times stoops to new levels to find racism in Obamacare opposition

The L.A. Times is finding hidden racism in a conservative position? Must be a day ending in "Y."

In an op-ed published on Sunday titled "Obamacare: New fight, old tactics," author Nelson Lichtenstein explicitly states that "[o]pponents of the healthcare law are following in the footsteps of Southern segregationists half a century ago."

As evidence, Lichtenstein lists examples of actions taken by Southern governors and legislators who were opposed to desegregating schools, and then lists examples of actions by Republican elected officials from Southern states to try and stop Obamacare, including the repeal votes taken in the House of Representatives, and the - completely legal, mind you - refusal of many Republican-controlled states to expand Medicare and set up health care insurance exchanges. 

Never mind that over six decades separate the two groups and Lichtenstein doesn't actually find real connections between them. Never mind that the Republican Party was founded for the express purpose of opposing slavery. Never mind that opposition to Obamacare is not a Southern phenomenon, but instead is spread around the country, with 28 states in almost every corner of the country joining in the anti-Obamacare litigation:

States in red sued the federal government opposing Obamacare.
I was not aware that Idaho, Wisconsin, and Maine were Southern states.
Alrighty then. If your state's governor and legislature and attorney general are opposing Obamacare, they're racist...because when some other people in the South opposed some other legislation from the federal government over half a century ago, that was racist, and so all opposition is automatically racist.

Think about that. 

We've moved beyond just accusations that opposing President Obama's policies is racist because he's black to now going so far to say that opposing federal government policies is racist, period. 

In a country whose founders valued free speech so highly that they included it in the very first item in the Bill of Rights, is the L.A. Times really, actually arguing that opposing a government policy is automatically racist? 

Automatically racist because someone else did something 60 years ago?
Really? Really?! REALLY?!?!??!

Points for creativity, but come on now.

But wait! Lichtenstein does offer this little bit of information as proof of the super top-secret racism all these Obamacare opponents are hiding:
Across the South, nearly half of all those denied the new Medicaid coverage are Latinos, African Americans and other people of color.
Oh, well now. That sounds like it would fall under that "disparate impact" thing that the courts sometimes discuss in discrimination cases, right? This opposition to Obamacare is unfairly burdening minorities, so it must definitely be racist, right?

Ehhhh...not so fast. Our friends at the Census Bureau have published a nice little pile of data on their website. Here are the populations of non-white people in Southern states (rounded to the nearest whole percentage):

Alabama: 33%
Arkansas: 26%
Florida: 42%
Georgia: 44%
Kentucky: 14%
Louisiana: 40%
Mississippi: 41%
North Carolina: 34%
South Carolina: 34%
Tennessee: 26%
Texas: 66%
Virginia: 36%

[Note: the Census Bureau asks whether respondents are Hispanic or Latino as a separate question from race, so these figures are taken by adding the percentage of the population in the Census' "White Hispanic" category - yes, that's really a thing - to the percentages of every other non-white category: Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Some Other Race, and Multiracial American.]

Well, isn't that fascinating. Five of those Southern states, including the large populations of Florida and Texas, have minority populations of forty percent or more. The bottom line is, without making any adjustments at all, "nearly half" of the population of the South is already "Latinos, African Americans and other people of color."

Furthermore, if the issue is Medicaid coverage which provides health care benefits to low-income Americans, then we need to consider that Medicaid mostly covers children, pregnant women, and young families. Looking back at the data, children have been historically almost half of all Medicaid enrollees. 

In other words, the Medicaid population skews younger than the overall U.S. population. Guess what else happens when you just focus on a younger average section of the Southern population? The percentage that is non-white also goes up. 

Lichtenstein says you're racist if you oppose Obamacare, because "nearly half of all those denied the new Medicaid coverage are Latinos, African Americans and other people of color." Well, every time it rains in the South, nearly half of the people who get wet are Latinos, African Americans and other people of color. I guess rain clouds are now racist.

You'd be sad too, if you were as racist as this cloud.

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