Disarming the Dog Whistle: Tip of the Week

“Law and order” is a Dog Whistle first introduced by Presidential candidate Goldwater in the 1960s. Based on Race-Class Academy’s research, a Dog Whistle has three core elements:

  1. Promote fear and resentment of people of color, triggering racial stereotypes

  2. Promote hate for government

  3. Suggest trust for the marketplace


Dog Whistle Politics is a form of storytelling. The above elements repeat but the story connects with the intended audience. There is an air of familiarity as the story progresses and it becomes part of our everyday language. Before you know it, we believe either consciously or unconsciously that Black people are inherently dangerous and White people are victims. The goal is to divide voters into camps, so they do not unite.


One way to disarm the weapon is to call out the tactic and tell your story using a disqualifier to describe the Dog Whistle.

“Your supposedly innocent ‘law and order’ call is really a code directed to White people that you support mass incarceration of allegedly dangerous Black people who you want to paint as a threat so you can divide us and retain political power."


Other disqualifiers include, but are not limited to: supposedly, allegedly, stereotypically, in this myth, according to this racist story.


Practicing the use of disqualifiers not only works to disarm racism in others, but it also helps us realize when we are falling prey to stereotypes. Conscious and unconscious racism is built into the language we use. A deliberate effort to change will unite us. Divided we fall.


Learn more about disarming Dog Whistles that divide us by joining an upcoming three-part discussion series: Message Vision Not Division brought to you by Liberal Leadership League with content from the Race-Class-Academy: https://www.liberalleadershipleague.org/messagevision

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