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Conservative Contradictions on Racial Discrimination

November 9, 2011, 3:33 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

One of the more confusing findings from the American Values Survey was a question on racial discrimination that produced seemingly contradictory results.

Asked about the issue, majorities of white evangelicals, tea partiers and Republicans agreed both that “discrimination against minorities is still a very serious problem in our society” and that “we have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country.”

AVS Survey Racial Equality.JPG

I think the answer to this apparent paradox lies in the question wording. The first statement is rather passive–the question doesn’t identify who’s doing the discrimination or how it manifests itself. The second statement gets more specific, identifying some sort of collective action (presumably governmental) that has potentially caused blowback or unintended consequences.

Those who responded positively to both statements may be small government conservatives (Rand Paul comes to mind) who believe that while there are still individual racists in society, there’s nothing the government can or should do to address it.

As with the equal opportunity question also in the survey, the results show that many seem more willing to acknowledge the problem of racial discrimination than do something about it.

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