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COUNTERPOINT: Vacuous Wisdom of 'Dog Whistle' Theory Exposes an Empty Agenda

August 31, 2018 - 5:00pm

By now most have become familiar with -- if not fatigued by -- the Ron DeSantis monkey-line-heard-’round-the-world.

In case you are among the few leading an upright existence and haven't been immersed in political hysteria, DeSantis gave an early interview to FOX News following his GOP gubernatorial primary win. During the appearance he made what was a curious turn of phrase, employing the term “monkey this up.”

This was all Democrats of Florida and every political expert on social media needed to rise up in righteous indignation and lambaste DeSantis for racism. Good heavens, the zeal with which the Democrats and media responded is revealing in itself. Not the fact that they picked up on the term, but that the three-word pull quote is all they use as evidence of the R-word.

Whenever the accusation of racism arrives on the train car of “Dog Whistle,” that's an indicator the accusers are straining to apply the charge. Of course they already have the reflexive defense: “It was not direct, blatant racism, because he wants to have an excuse when called out on it!” Absurd.

The accusation of dog-whistle racism is dismantled with the application of logic and common sense. But first, in order to expose the ruse, let's look at what Ron actually said. In his FOX interview, DeSantis was responding to a question from Sandra Smith. Here is the full quote for correct analysis:

● "Let's build off the success we've had on Gov. Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases bankrupting the state. That is not going to work.”

Now, because there has been so much sophomoric hysteria attached to this, I have to resort to parsing, just to clarify the facts of comment -- stopping just shy of diagramming the sentences. First, DeSantis was not referring to Gillum at all in this commentary, he was talking about the entire state. Next, the use of “monkey” here is not a pejorative; it is used as a verb. It describes the action he anticipates being taken with the economy.

See that modifier, “this”? It's indicating an object, in this case the economy -- not “he”, not “him”. And lastly here, note “Let’s”, ”we’ve”, and “we”. The collective pronouns involve the residents of this state, as well as DeSantis himself, while he invoked the supposed simian slur.

There's only one way you can see racism in this comment -- if you inject it yourself.

Gillum took no time at all to make hay out of DeSantis’ comments. “It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump,” Gillum said that same day. “In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls. They are now using full bullhorns.” Gillum followed the lead of Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo, who came out swinging that same morning by saying, “It's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.” Note the use of the plural by Rizzo.

According to the race merchants, when DeSantis was asked about his opponent winning the vote he began by praising Gillum for his performance in the Democratic debates, and stating he was “articulate.” This interpretational offense is said to be a compliment/slur of the low expectations variety, and thus another dog whistle.

Interesting, however, when other politicians such as Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz receive the same kind of compliment about their speaking skills, it is not regarded as a slight. Also interesting is that we've just come eight years of us hearing about what a wonderful orator President Obama had been and what a terrible one Rick Scott is. It is surprising to me to learn our media complex is rife with gutter racists.

The entire concept of these “dog whistles” is both a convenient charge, and one that withers under logical application.

These racist code words are said to be snuck into a conversation, but they are ferreted out by the “smart” observers. We are led to believe DeSantis was attempting to secretly signal ... something, in his comment. What these so-called clever minds never manage to explain, however, is what's being accomplished by this supposed linguistic subterfuge.

Was DeSantis indicating to a cadre of voters the rather self-evident fact that Gillum is black? That seems unreasonable, silly and futile. The only way this works is if he is appealing to blind racists.) Was he coaching racist voters? I tend to believe if someone wouldn't vote for a candidate for being black, he/she hardly needs to be led to do so, especially by secret language.

Also, if a candidate was, in fact, desiring to appeal to a racist contingent, doing so on national television is hardly the gambit to use. That would be something far more targeted and less prominent. But the most obvious failure in this realization is that the accusation carries with it the absence of common sense towards campaigns.

On day-one of the General Election campaign, it would be foolhardy for any candidate to try to subdivide potential voters. You are vying to gather in as many YES votes as possible. To suggest DeSantis was appealing to racists, at the expense of the much larger base of black voters, is ignorant of basic campaign strategy. Look at the embarrassingly meager turnout for the white supremacist rally in D.C. last month, to get a glimpse of that sample size.

So with absolutely nothing to be gained by this supposed dog-whistle strategy, it stands to reason there is no basis behind the accusation. This means the people who want to have a racial controversy are the ones seeing race in the commentary, and the ones injecting race into the wider discussion.

This seems to be the intended goal following Gillum’s surprising victory on Tuesday. On his visit with Shep Smith on FOX News, Gillum decried DeSantis' supposed injection of racial issues into the race. He stated the desire to have his campaign rise above this divisive rhetoric and speak instead about the issues for the state -- and then he promptly continued harping on the hateful comments of his opponent.

Along with the FDP's Terrie Rizzo, he seems all too eager to focus on the accusation of racism and extend that discussion. That must be a message far easier for state Democrats to manage than Gillum’s far-left platform and endorsements from socialists like Bernie Sanders. So far, it appears to be the message they want to sell to Florida voters.

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.


This is all about twisting the truth, and making ANY remarks, from both candidates, explosive. Have we dragged our politics down to a level that's this demeaning, and hateful? I would love to say no, but I'm afraid it's yes. Let's start at the beginning. I want to thank Senator Joe McCarthy for releasing the bee in the bonnet about "Socialism" and then tying it to a single party. The Democrats. As if socialism has absolutely NO presence in the Republican Party what so ever. It does, but they they just don't show their colors as willfully as do the Democrats. Let's be absolutely clear about terms. Gillam is a "Social Democrat". Look it up in Wikki. Social Democrats are not "Socialists". They want every single citizen to be afforded every single benefit within the Capitalist society our Republic is. They aren't about taking your freedoms away, or taxing the crap out you to give it to some homeless, or illegal immigrant. They are for, you working hard to make this state self sufficient, all the while offering benefits to your hard work, like healthcare for all, with no out of pocket expenses (you know. Those extra bills you get after a hospital stay, or procedure). Educational opportunities for ALL, without having to sell your house to do it. Mandated family leave. Right now, a Florida company can fire you for taking time off to have a baby, or help your spouse at home after the baby. Guaranteed vacation time, and Retirement after 65. Right now now we have none of those things. You are EXPECTED to work until you drop dead. No relaxing before you die, that's not allowed. TAXES are a necessary evil in this world. Every year, as the cost of living goes up, so do taxes. Because government has to pay for things too. And every year, as your costs go up, so does the governments. When taxes go down. People loose. Bad roads, education, development, Police, Fire, safety. The list goes on. Go ahead. Lower taxes. You willing to do without all the above? Gillam for Governor! Time to change this up.

This could be a close election - between Desantis and Gillum. Both are good men who want to do Great Things for Florida. Since Desantis had an Annapolis education as well as a Legal degree... he should easily win if he doesn't monkey it up...

All the racist apologists below and the author ignore Fox News was appalled by the words too and denounced them right afterward. Why? …………….Your white sheets are showing very well and no one is fooled by your, DeSantis or the supreme liar, racist of all, Trump dog whistles...……...We've lived with them forever and all of us in the south know exactly what they are....………...If you think this is a winning strategy for November, you are sadly mistaken..

Jerry---you are a sad, misinformed individual.

Try reading the article. I show it is not a strategy, it is projection.

Changing the subject doesn't work Brad except for stupid, scared, frightened pitiful people you pander to...….... Fact is Fox News was appalled by it and said so directly afterward and nothing you say changes that...…………...And clearly shows what kind of person you are.

Accusing me of wearing a white sheet, for merely adhering to facts, shows what kind of character you possess -that would be "none".

I am no fan of Ron Desantis, but this is completely overblown. He described Gillum as very articulate which is not how anyone would descrbe a monkey. It reminds me of the brief flury of activity where some blacks described the term chain migration as racially insensitive. That all seems to have blown over and we are back to accurately describing our current immigration system as primarily based on family reunification also known as chain migration.

Great article Mr. Slager and great pic too! Unfortunately, trying to reason with Dems, especially black Dems, on the falsity of their application of the R word is useless. They live in a racial world where the color of one's skin is a determining factor of any and all attributes and condemnations. This is one of the pillars of their socialist construct. Gillum has already begun denying the socialist agenda he used to win his socialist party's nomination. For the next two months we will hear the national and local D media praise of the second coming of Barry Soetoro. One look at the crime and corruption in Tallahassee under Gillum is enough evidence for anyone to make a wise decision (vote) for Governor. Gillum's effort to turn Tallahassee into the Detroit of the south is well documented, even by the FBI.

No racism, nor character assassination here, you betcha! . . . . . . nor any facts . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Wrong!! DeSantis did not use Gillum’s name at all! He was referring to Floridians if they elect a socialist agenda. Stop and read people before you jump and that especially goes to Gillum! This is what Ron DeSantis said: “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” Do you see the word “we?”

Brad, unless you are black you don't have the experience or generational history to understand nor identify the subtle racism in certain words. Every black clearly understands that references to monkeys, chimps, gorillas, etc., in reference to a black person is racist. It has also been reported that DeSantis described Gillum as "articulate" and that he put on a good "performance." These two words likewise carry racist connotation when used to describe a black person. Either DeSantis is too ignorant or too insensitive to be governor or he is a racist. You've lost this argument.

I hate to break the news----but nothing you just said is true and is, by definition, racist. The "unless you are black" argument is tired and lame.....lots of groups have been discriminated against...and lots of people of all races have fought against racism---why? Because knowing something is wrong is not limited any race. "Every black clearly understands"....that kind of ridiculous stereo type is how ignorance-based racism begins. To suggest that calling someone "articulate" is racists just demonstrates how ridiculous your comments are....get off the CNN/MSNBC.

You are delusional or flat out paranoid.

Now actually read my column, not the headline. I addressed those exact points.

YOU PEOPLE crack me up. Childlike minds are easily butthurt.

The "you don't understand because you're not black" is a bogus argument. You can assign any meaning to a word to make it fit your agenda. Obama used the same term and no one said a thing. How about a little intellectual honesty.

I guess when I told my kids that ...I hope they were not up to any “monkey business” and when I said “ there better not be any monkey business going on” I had used verboten, racist words that had been appropriated by a particular racial group. I am sorry for being an unintended racist


Slager and SSN sure can bring them out . . . . . . . . "TO THE 'POINT' " says the racist commentator from the panhandle among whose many racist comments include "Next to Trump, obama looks like a dog turd" . . . . . . . and who throws at jewish female elected officials that they should fear and "cringe in memory of the NAZI "Crystal Nacht" demonstration when her forebearers were rounded up on freight the NAZI's also justified their actions as "democracy")" . . . . or proposes to get rid of entire arab cities thru nuclear weapons by using "The "Truman Solution" city after another" . . . . . . . . AND WORSE . . . . . . . . . despicable, as always, simply . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Libby got ‘nuttin’ Then, it got worse for them.

Both you , Mr. Slager, and Mr. DeSantis, are biased against Socialists. A Democratic platform is based on its support and belief of capitalism. To "red-bait" Mr. Gillum or any other candidate that has a liberal agenda as "Socialists" is the typical fear-mongering that conservatives, republicans and even some times Democrats use to discredit candidates, or imply that they are Stalin-like. You may have effectively countered the "racist" argument against DeSantis, but you demonstrated that you can be just as biased as all the red-baiters and fear-mongerers.

1) Biased against socialism? Yes, yes I am. That you think that is an insult is curious. 2) Gillum has been described in the press as "very far left", which is where socialism is found. His agenda - taxing big business, free government health care for all, MW-15, ect are those of social Democrats. 3) Gillum was endorsed by and personally touted avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. I believe I am on safe ground with my assessment.

Brad it appears you are more in tune to your literary skills knowledge than that of history. While Bernie Sanders proudly identifies as a Democratic Socialist Andrew Gillum supports many of the Progressive Democrstic ideals. That makes him more moderate tha “far left liberal.” Opposing the push towards Oligarchy and Social Darwinism by the 1% and the GOP puts Andrew squarely in the majority of Americans.

Please excuse my errors. I don’t identify as a Literary Genius

Socialism and unalienable rights endowed by our Creator as written by our Forefathers in the Declaration of Independence are polar opposites!

AMERICA IS biased against socialism, socialists,.. AND their Liberal, progressive supporters...(accept that, and live with that FACT)... "WE" are DONE with your attempted destruction of our American culture and also your ongoing 'revision' of America's unique and rich history ! [Can you hear MY "dog whistle" clearly ?!?]

Oh, we've heard your bigoted, blanket dog whistles before, whether about blacks, hispanics, jews or women . . . . . remember this one "Women assuming a position of power wield it like no others, with pettiness, animosity and vindictiveness" . . . . . . . as always . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . . .

We are those with whom we willingly associate. DeSantis not only associated with this bunch of incendiary seditionists, but acted as one of the groups administrators. His Navy/law background should have simply made him a better man. Click on DeSantis' picture above and read the article, if you will. I did, gagged, and now wonder about a terribly divisive and thuggish reality in Florida - should DeSantis win. Demolishing is easy - and leaves rubble everywhere. Building is hard work and takes knowledge and time. Florida deserves better.

"Demolishing"?... Let's talk Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, NY, Calif., and EVERY OTHER "wrecked" inner-city location in this country "ruled" by progressive, liberal Democrats and their "toady" politicians and "media wonks"... (Sad, eh?)


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