—November 5, 2018
As much as the Left-leaning mainstream media claims Pres. Trump uses it, I have yet to see it. I’ve been watching him on television during many of his recent rallies, and reviewed some old footage, but have yet to see the president blow on that dog whistle. Same with many of the various Republican Senate, House and Gubernatorial candidates accused of blowing the whistle. Given that Left-wing pundits tend to claim on a daily basis that Trump and other Republicans use the dog whistle to send coded messages to specific constituents, you’d think that we’d be able to see those whistles dangling from around their necks like government ID badges.
And this leads to another observation: because dog whistles are silent, how can these pundits be so good at interpreting all those alleged coded messages being sent out by Trump and other Republicans?
The short answer is that they can’t. The longer answer is that Left-wing pundits have had to resort to accusing Trump and other Republicans of using dog whistles because they have limited distinct proof to back up their accusations of racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, misogyny, Islamophobia, Fascism, Nazism, or whatever else they want to accuse Republican politicians of fomenting.
By utilizing the dog whistle tool, pundits can shape the narrative in whatever manner they want through their interpretation of what song is being whistled. Because that dog whistle is silent, a pundit can say whatever he wants—the candidate’s words might be exactly what they mean at face value, but the pundit can claim it’s a dog whistle whistling “Dixie.”
How convenient . . . .
Trump: “There are likely criminal elements within the migrant horde; they have no legal basis to enter America; I am not going to let them enter our country; they represent another example of our broken immigration system.”
Left-wing pundits: “It’s a dog whistle to the racist, white supremacist component of his base.”
Not only can a pundit easily utilize the dog whistle analogy to smear a Republican politician, but to also cast dispersions on the politician’s supporters. And, it is such an intellectually lazy tool—the pundit doesn’t have to offer up any proof or supporting evidence to back up his interpretation of what the politician is “really saying”—nope, it’s a dog whistle and that candidate who just said “America First!” was really singing “Deutschland Uber Alles.”
According to Merriam-Webster, “dog whistle,” as utilized of late by political pundits, is “a coded message communicated through words or phrases commonly understood by a particular group of people, but not by others.” While the “dog whistle” in referencing a high-pitched whistle that humans cannot hear, but dogs can, has been around for at least 200 years, it’s use as a term to describe political speech only emerged to any real extent in the 1990s. The online dictionary cites a quote from the Ottawa Citizen in October 1995 as the earliest recorded figurative use: “It’s an all-purpose dog-whistle that those fed up with feminists, minorities, the undeserving poor hear loud and clear.”
That could be a pundit in 2018 talking about Trump or any number of Republican politicians. In fact, not a day goes by that some element of what a Republican says is not automatically referred to as a dog whistle. CNN’s Chris Cillizza today accused Trump of multiple racist dog whistles based on Trump’s use of former Pres. Barack Obama’s middle name (Hussein); calling Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum “not equipped to do the job;” and saying that Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is “not qualified,” for the office.
Maybe Cillizza is right, and all three of these examples represent coded messages sent out by Trump to his hard-core racist supporters. Or maybe Trump truly does believe that the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates are not qualified for the job. After all, he’d probably say the same thing if the candidates were white.
As for Trump’s use of Obama’s middle name being a case of “playing on racial animus,” I’d say that Cillizza might be correct if he were reminded that Muslim is not a race, and was then to substitute “racial” for “Islamic.” And, unless Cillizza has some kind of secret political dog whistle de-coder, it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of dog whistle, if any, Pres. Trump was blowing in reference to the former president.
And then we’ve got Trump and the Republican Party’s recent campaign ad featuring cop-killing, illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes, and a message blaming Democrats for letting him into the country and then letting him stay. One big racist dog whistle advert according to the Left-leaning pundits—an “outrage” and the most racist advertisement since the notorious “Willie Horton” campaign ad used by the Republicans during the 1988 Bush-Dukakis battle for the White House.
While pundits may claim “racist dog whistle advert,” at least half the U.S. population probably sees it as a justified warning against unfettered illegal immigration. Unfettered illegal immigration that seems to receive significant support (sanctuary cities, open borders, etc.) from the Democrats.
So, call that one a dog whistle all you want, pundits—We’ll just call it a clarion call to secure the border and enact meaningful immigration reform.
—Originally published in Discernible Truth.