The Atlantic

The Conversation

Readers respond to December and January/February stories and more.

Conservatism Without Bigotry

In December, Peter Beinart argued that conservatives would be more likely to reckon with their policies’ discriminatory effects if liberals stopped carelessly crying racist.


Peter Beinart, in leaning over backwards to be evenhanded to conservatives and liberals, poses the wrong question. Before the election of Donald Trump, few liberals believed that all Republicans were racists. The right question is: Are Trump supporters racist themselves, or do they merely condone racism?

Given the endless demonstrations of Trump’s own bigotry, I would argue that it is impossible to deny that he is a racist or claim to be unaware that he is one. So if the position of his supporters and of Republicans in Congress is, in effect, to wink at that aspect of his personality in order to advance a so-called conservative agenda, what does one call that posture other than condoning racism?

For Beinart to call this attitude merely “willfully naive,” as if Republicans are unaware of the racial impact of their policies, is an insult to the reader’s intelligence.

Steve Shabad


Peter Beinart’s recent piece points out that conservatives are likely to get defensive about the suggestion that their ideas are racist, but misses the fact that there is a correlation between conservatism and racist attitudes. More important, by focusing on bigotry, which connotes

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
The Wizard of Oz Invented the ‘Good Witch’
Eighty years ago, MGM’s sparkly pink rendering of Glinda expanded American pop culture’s definition of free-flying women.
The Atlantic5 min readSociety
When Kids Are Straight Until Proven Otherwise
Many gay preteens know early on that they are somehow different, but lack the parental and social support that heterosexuals take for granted.
The Atlantic8 min readSociety
Saved From Death Row, Only to Be Returned
A set of unusual cases in North Carolina brings new attention to racism in death-penalty trials.