Shorter GOP pundit: Women, black people, young people do not read.

Gee I wonder why women and people of color don’t vote Republican so often?

In a recent issue of The New York Review of Books, liberal Harvard professor Benjamin M. Friedman strongly criticized the Tea Party. After citing “surveys showing that Tea Party members are ‘predominantly white, male, older, more college-educated, and better off economically than typical Americans,’” he noted parenthetically, “they sound like, say, readers of The New York Review of Books.”

Come to think of it, these people who make up the Tea Party also sound like the people who attend classical-music concerts and endow concert halls, museums, hospitals, and universities, and fund left-wing causes (George Soros, for example).

Perhaps when this generation of aging white males dies off, aging women, aging Latino and black males, and young people will become the readers of journals such as The New York Review of Books, and they will endow symphony orchestras.

I suspect not. And if not, the Left may come to regret its contempt for this particular group. Without aging white males, I doubt the New York Times would survive. How many young people, females, Hispanics, and blacks subscribe to the New York Times?

Um… probably a lot, actually? Here’s a fun fact: You can actually find some of this stuff on the internet! Perhaps Mr. Prager doesn’t know how The Google works. Perhaps he should find one of those young people he so derides and ask them to teach him.

Even better, though, is his insistence that the GOP’s demographic problem isn’t one of values, but of just convincing single women and people of color to be more conservative — as if “conservative values” were not in fact overtly hostile to the groups he’s set on converting.

For conservatives, the issue is that for generations now, they have failed to make the case for their values. They haven’t even conveyed conservative values to many of their children. And when they have, the university has often succeeded in undoing what they’ve taught.

Or, when kids get a little knowledge, “conservative values” seem cruel, backwards and self-defeating. And they realize it’s an ideology constructed to benefit one narrow segment of the population — older straight white Christian men.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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38 Responses to Shorter GOP pundit: Women, black people, young people do not read.

  1. Joedj says:

    Thanks. Keep pushing back.

  2. EG says:

    And when they have, the university has often succeeded in undoing what they’ve taught.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought that the college-educated tea party members were dying off or something?

    Anyway, “everybody knows” that among children and teenagers, only girls read, of course, because boys are out doing masculine things like throwing balls around and beating each other up. The NYT and Review of Books will have to appeal to us! Victory is at hand!

  3. PrettyAmiable says:

    Does he read the Times? Because they endorsed Barack Obama. So did the Economist and the Financial Times.

  4. Jadey says:

    I almost kept a straight face, right up until:

    How many young people, females, Hispanics, and blacks subscribe to the New York Times?

    For real, guy. For real.

    I mean, I guess he makes some decent points about political strategy in there (much as I will never be a conservative convert myself – I know a handful of conservative-leaning folks that I enjoy talking with and respect deeply, and if they can’t convince me, nothing can!), but I had trouble hearing him around that foot in his mouth.

    • EG says:

      I love the idea that only white men read the NYT. Why, it’s hard to believe it has such a circulation–he must think that there are fewer women, young people, black people, and Latinos combined than there are white men!

    • Jadey says:

      Also, I think that conservatives *have* rallied around a vision. It was just a really repugnant and exclusionary vision to enough US voters. Really, how is a “vision” all that different than having “values”, which he doesn’t contest? How is “make more people think conservative” substantially different from “make the conservative party more appealing”? Except that in his version, he’s a lot less specific about *how* to go about making people who already disagree with his political viewpoint suddenly agree with it without changing anything about the viewpoint. Lesson one from the psychology of persuasion: changing someone’s deeply-held personal values is about the hardest thing you can do and usually impossible. Changing the context of their knowledge to better fit their existing values (i.e., pointing out a gap between their professed values and the implications of their actions) actually has a chance at working to change their actions, but not their values.

      • catfood says:

        One non-crazy part of Prager’s argument: Yes, a lot of Black Americans have good reasons to favor charter schools and vouchers, and many have traditionally conservative values on sexuality. Likewise, a lot of Latinos have some culturally conservative values.

        It’s just that heyyyyy overall people aren’t stupid, and they know when they’re being pandered to.

      • Jill says:

        Sure, that’s true, sort of — except black Americans now support things like same-sex marriage more strongly than white Americans. And the last stat I read said that while a small majority of black Americans (52%) believe abortion is immoral, they also think it should be legal. A full two-thirds of black Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and nearly half of Latinos (46%) believe the same. Very few black or Latino Americans name abortion or same-sex marriage (the things we’re talking about when we say “conservative values on social issues,” generally) as important political issues. Some other fun facts from that link:

        Overall, black Americans and Hispanic Americans believe contraception is morally acceptable (81 percent and 79 percent) and strongly support expanding access to it.
        • Over 6-in-10 black Americans (61 percent) and Hispanic Americans (64 percent) say that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should be required to provide their employees with birth control at no cost.
        • Strong majorities of black Americans (92 percent) and Hispanic Americans (85 percent) favor expanding birth control access for women who cannot afford it.
        • Majorities of black Americans and Hispanic Americans also believe that methods of birth control should be available to teenagers age 16 and older without parental approval (59 percent and 54 percent).

        For years now it’s been a standard GOP talking point that their social values are aligned with the values of black and Latino voters. A little digging shows that’s not actually as true as they would like it to be, and I think it’s important for liberals to push back and emphasize that many people — often majorities — in black and Latino communities do favor policies that are socially just and progressive.

  5. James says:

    My favorite part is when he says those that fund left-wing causes are right-wing. That’s some impressive ‘utterly divorced from reality’ logic right there.

    • James says:

      Close second, the fact that he doesn’t know what “E Pluribus Unum” means.

      • matlun says:

        What is wrong about his understandning of “E Pluribus Unum”?

      • scrumby says:

        This guy seems to be implying it means many different kinds of people conforming to a single monoculture. I guess that’s one way to look at it, especially if you think a declaration of faith is a central tenet of a country that founded itself on religious freedom for a plurality of beliefs.

  6. DonnaL says:

    Women don’t read; women don’t attend classical music concerts? What?

    I can’t stand Dennis Prager.

  7. Foxy says:

    Republicans dont have a problem with white women who vote for them.The main issue is how to attract non white woman

    • Bagelsan says:

      Well, they’re cool with white women dying for them, but I guess that isn’t “[having] a problem with” them technically.

      • Foxy says:

        What do you mean?It is true that majority of white woman voted for romney

      • samanthab says:

        The majority of white women without college degrees voted for Romney. The majority of white women with college degrees voted for Obama. That ruins Mr. Prager’s argument, to which you haven’t really responded.

        And I think Bagelsan probably means exactly what she said, to which you haven’t responded, either.

  8. DAS says:

    I thought that the Tea Party was supposed to be populated by salt of the earth types who definitely don’t read such East Coast, fancy pants papers as the NYT. Is the “liberal” news media misleading me about who the Tea Party really is? ( / snark )

    Of course Prager would have us believe that us yung’uns don’t read the Times and endow symphonies ’cause we ain’t got no culture. It somehow doesn’t occur to him that we don’t read the NYT because it just isn’t the paper it used to be, and we just don’t have enough money to get good seats for the symphony … forget about donating to it.

    Perhaps if Prager really wanted us in the younger generation to take the reins of culture, he might support economic policies that would actually give us the status and resources to do so? Er … um … never mind … not gonna happen …

    • catfood says:

      Perhaps if Prager really wanted us in the younger generation to take the reins of culture, he might support economic policies that would actually give us the status and resources to do so?

      You’ve got bootstraps, don’t you? (Funny how the “job creators” need every possible advantage, but you and I are supposed to succeed in spite of any and all obstacles.)

  9. FYouMudFlaps says:

    And this is why I laugh at anyone who crows about the NYT and/or NPR being “liberal.”

  10. Alexis says:

    This guy thinks women don’t read? Who does he think is buying Twilight, the Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades of Gray?

    Hmmm, maybe there’s more white straight men reading Twilight then I’d thought. It would explain it’s outdated gender roles.

  11. matlun says:

    I find the hole “maybe our values don’t need changing” argument rather interesting. Republican politics have in fact been changing quite significantly over the last decades and moving to the right. The picture of voters abandoning unchanging conservative positions simply does not match reality IMO.

  12. im says:

    Women don’t read; women don’t attend classical music concerts? What?

    In my personal experience at the opera, I’ve noticed that while almost everyone is white and most people are at least middle-aged, there are PLENTY of women. And I am young.

    I might add that classical music usually refers to a European art, while other groups probably have their own musical traditions?

    I agree about perceptions of the Tea Party: I thought it was made up mostly of rural and/or working lower-middle and lower class people being manipulated by plutocrats. Who even knows…

    Possibilities: -Study used averages and was skewed by small numbers of plutocrat-class and/or affluent Tea Partiers
    – Tea Partiers were originally educated and well off more than lage impoverished groups of americans (but not better off than the cream of the liberal elite) and now that the economy is bad they feel entitled or something?

    As to values, vision, etc: There are also sub-values, metaethics, broad ways of looking at the world. An awful lot of atheists backslide because they never actually change how they see the world. Some of the conservative metaethics are actually appealing (including to me) while others are bad ideas.

    • samanthab says:

      The NEA’s stats say that women are the strong majority of attendees of arts events, with the exception of jazz concerts: And it’s very well known that women read more than men, and that publishers cater to this.

      As far as the stats on Tea Partiers, multiple surveys have concluded that Tea Partiers are more affluent and more likely to be college educated than the population as a whole. So your perceptions there are probably wrong. Obviously, the Tea Party would like to make it look they aren’t just a bunch of wealthy white dudes acting solely in the interest of preservation of their status. They’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to make the movement looks grassroots, but I wouldn’t take their word on that.

      • Angie unduplicated says:

        Somehow, I don’t think Mr. Stale and Pale had popular support of jazz musicians in mind. Jazz musicians have always been underpaid, underfunded, and underappreciated. Please, neglect that drinkin’ cheatin’ fighting music in favor of some quality instrumental improvisation.
        It’s far from funny that he expects the underpaid, underemployed classes of the nation to pony up for his musical tastes and to keep the NYT afloat. Does he not understand that the unemployed may be a significant proportion of the paper’s purchasers?

  13. TomSims says:

    Prager did make a correct statement when he said “The most widely offered explanation for Mitt Romney’s defeat is that the Republican party is disproportionately composed of (usually “aging”) white males.

    That is, alas, true.”

  14. Sarah says:

    I was not aware that conservatives were the grand supporters of art- I thought they (as in the stereotype of conservative men) had no interest in this liberal media.

    • TomSims says:

      @Sarah I agree completely

    • Alexandra says:

      It’s a dumb stereotype. There are looooong conservative intellectual traditions that engage with the arts, and you’ll see that if you read conservative publications like the Claremont Review of Books or even the Weekly Standard (I’ve always liked their culture writing, say what you will about the rest of the magazine). IME, Catholic intellectuals in particular, who are generally right of center, are highly cultured.

      The NASCAR Dad stereotype I suppose is this idea that salt-of-the-earth white men don’t have any time for the arts, theater, literature, music etc, but … it’s a dumb stereotype.

  15. Rachel W. says:

    I think their problem is just the opposite–they didn’t realize that we read as much as we do.

    We read about how they think they are “makers” and we are “takers.” We read about how if we want our insurance to cover contraception we’re worthless sluts. We read that they think the president isn’t a real American and the only real Americans are the ones who think, live and worship *exactly* the way they do. We’ve been reading all of this stuff for over a decade, and we decided that people who write like this should not be running the country.

    It’s not that hard. Really.

  16. AndrewJenny says:

    I feel for him: it IS hard to get people to vote for candidates who state openly, time and again, that they will enact policies that harm you and your loved ones.

    Reminds me of the “Poochy” episode of the Simpsons:

    “We attribute the failure to changes in our core demographic, combined with the overall crappiness of Poochy.”

  17. jose says:

    The problem of conservative values is that they CONSERVE our current culture, ie, with all the sexual and racial hierarchies we currently endure or enjoy, depending on where you are.

    Conservative values include giving no special help to those who are lower in our current cultural food chain, under the assumption that not giving help to anyone makes it a fair race; this willingly ignores that whites and males start ahead from birth. Their desire is to keep the power they have over everyone else. Minorities and oppressed classes can’t rationally support that.

  18. JetGirl says:

    Let’s not forget this is the same man who wrote that wives need to be at the constant sexual disposal of their husbands, because that is their real job. And that men are superheroes for not cheating at every opportunity.
    Now, why does his opinion matter?

  19. BabyRaptor says:

    College educated TeaBaggers? I doubt such a thing actually exists.

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