Or at least, he gets upset when political science research flies in the face of his biases and ideology. Here are his thoughts on the University of Washington’s recent study on racial resentment among Tea Party sympathizers:
They won’t give it up. “Are Tea Partiers Racist?” asks a Newsweek.com headline, apparently written under the mistaken impression that this hackneyed charge is still provocative. The subheadline reveals that the story doesn’t even speak to whether the tea-party movement is racist but rather makes a more modest claim: “A new study shows that the movement’s supporters are more likely to be racially resentful.”
Well, what do you expect? If politicians and media personalities want to stir up resentment around the question of race, what better way than by badgering people with false accusations of racism?
Taranto goes on to disparage the idea of a “marginalized minority population” — African-Americans can’t be marginalized if we elected one president! — and then challenges the study by arguing that it can’t be valid because “It did not plumb the emotions of the participants, who were given a prepackaged assertion and permitted only a binary response.” Indeed, by Taranto’s lights, it’s entirely possible that Tea Partiers are less racially resentful than most, because “It’s possible that agreement with a statement like “Blacks should do the same without special favors” reflects a resentful spirit, but it could also reflect a respectful one–a confidence that blacks are as capable as anyone else.”
Taranto might not realize this, but the University of Washington’s survey is just the latest in a long trail of research devoted to examining the impact of ethnocentrism on political behavior. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam explore this in Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion (as Matt Yglesias has noted several times), and Tali Mendelberg addresses a version of this point in her book The Race Card. The clear conclusion, from both, is that racial attitudes are tied very closely to political opinions and political behavior. And while the racial resentment scale isn’t perfect, it is still useful as a means of examining the relationship between political ideology and racial prejudice. What’s more, the University of Washington’s results have been borne out in other surveys. The New York Times/CBS survey of Tea Party sympathizers found that 52 percent believe that “too much has been made of the problems facing black people.” What’s more, 25 percent believe that “the policies of the Obama administration favor blacks over whites.”
Taranto’s temper-tantrum over the University of Washington’s survey is another example of the fact that among conservative ideologues, actual racial prejudice isn’t a huge concern. Despite mountains of evidence suggesting otherwise, Taranto doesn’t seem to believe that racism has a tangible impact on the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. And he acts accordingly; his outrage is reserved for those special times when someone has the audacity to call prejudice on the conservative movement.