Liberals were right about conservatives (and I was wrong)

For years, liberals used to accuse conservatives of having hidden racist motives, often in response to conservative advocacy of things like welfare reform or being tough on crime.  I thought those accusations were unfair, and even today I don’t think they are good reasons to call someone a racist.  However, because of the way that much of the conservative movement in America has rallied around Trump, I’ve now sadly concluded that many conservatives do in fact have a hidden racist agenda.

To give you a sense of how far down into the gutter our politics have descended, Fox News recently compared Trump to a racist drunk spouting off in a bar, and viewed that as a defense of the President.

After The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon first reported Trump’s remarks at a White House meeting with lawmakers, “The Five” co-host Jesse Watters shrugged off the slur as the way ordinary Americans talk about “Haiti people.”

“If it’s true, this is how the forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar,” Watters said. “This is how Trump relates to people. If you’re at a bar, and you’re from Wisconsin, and you’re thinking, ‘They’re bringing in a bunch of Haiti people, or El Salvadorians, or people from Niger.’ This is how some people talk.”

It’s sad that so many conservatives can’t understand why Trump’s remarks are a really big deal.

Another theme is that these countries really are bad places.  I don’t necessarily agree (El Salvador scores higher than Italy, Japan or South Korea on happiness rankings), but certainly all of these countries have lots of problems.  Even so, this fact has no bearing on Trump’s remarks.  Trump wasn’t just calling certain countries bad places, he was implicitly calling immigrants from those places pieces of shit.  Even a drunk in a Wisconsin bar knows what Trump meant when he said we shouldn’t be taking in immigrants from those sorts of places. He was talking about the characteristics of the individual people.  (I’ve spent at least 100 hours in Wisconsin bars listening to drunks (when I was a teenager), so I’m speaking from some experience.)  Over at Econlog I have a post showing that Indian-Americans earn more than any other ethnic group, and of course they come from a country that could have easily made the Fox News list of bad places.

PS.  Yes, Fox did not say the patron was “drunk”.  But let’s be real.  The whole point of referring to things said in a bar is to identify the things that people really think, when alcohol has removed inhibitions about being “politically correct”.  Thank God that Trump never drinks, I don’t want to even imagine him after a few martinis.




34 Responses to “Liberals were right about conservatives (and I was wrong)”

  1. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    15. January 2018 at 10:54

    This is DUMB.

    Culture matters Scott.

    And Trump is rightly making US the Country Club for the top 1%: 1)

    1) earn 100K
    2) like bikinis
    3) just wife and kids.

    I’ve told you this for 2 years.

    You apply that framework and we are not gong to be taking in large %’s of immigrants from SHITHOLE countries.

    It’s MATH.

    ->Trump KNOWS (if you listen to his Breitbart radio work with Bannon) that MEANS TONS OF EAST / ASIANS. Bannon hated it, Trump LOVED it.<-


    The quote shit house / hell etc was around Trump being shown a DEAL where the DIVERSITY lottery visas DID NOT GO TO THE TOP 1%.

    Instead they continued to go to SHITHOLE countries.

    LOGICALLY, asking WHY this is the case… is VALID.

    Trump is REPEAT AFTER ME turning America into Country Ckub for Earlings.

    This is strategically the BEST POSSIBLE STRATEGY for America First.

    America First means 50+ doctors stolen from other countries every year, and NO they will not come from SHITHOLES they will come from CHINA and INDIA.

    Repeat after me, Scott…

    You have become gross in your Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  2. Gravatar of Becky Hargrove Becky Hargrove
    15. January 2018 at 12:02

    morgan warstler,
    The strength of conservatives is in their dynamic ties to wealth creation. That’s not what you’re arguing for. Instead you’ve offered yet another moral argument for wealth redistribution for your favored group, and such arguments are a dime a dozen. In other words such arguments offer no unique strength as a conservative perspective.

  3. Gravatar of Russel Not SCP Russel Not SCP
    15. January 2018 at 12:11

    I’m gonna be honest, Trump seems more like a Coors Light+orange juice shandy kinda guy more than a martini. Also, Morgan, I’m seeing a distinct lack of math in your post, please show your work.

  4. Gravatar of Ol’ George Ol' George
    15. January 2018 at 12:44

    Noticing patterns is “racist” now.
    Reality itself must be “racist”, I guess.

    Christian fundies have Young Earth Creationism.

    Progressives have the blank slate view of human nature.

  5. Gravatar of Trent McBride Trent McBride
    15. January 2018 at 13:53

    For me the more offensive part is not the “shithole” part, but the part about how we shouldn’t take immigrants from those countries. Yes the first part is insulting, but the second part is immoral! The republicans (at least Trumpistas) want to be both, ignoring that accepting the shithole part as fact, this argues for letting these people come in; the democrats hate the first part, but don’t credibly commit to doing the moral part, as if a foreigner who wants to come to the US but is not allowed cares whether you tell the “no” politely.

  6. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    15. January 2018 at 15:50

    Trump wasn’t just calling certain countries bad places, he was implicitly calling immigrants from those places pieces of shit.

    You’re delusional. I repeat my remarks here:

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    15. January 2018 at 15:52

    BTW what do you have against diversity visa recipients, Sumner?

  8. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    15. January 2018 at 16:55

    First of all, Asians (who were mentioned as ‘good immigrants’ alongside Norwegians) are no more white than Salvadorans, so, as I pointed out on the other thread, imputing his comments as motivated by racism (in the strict ‘skin color’ sense of the word) is not a warranted inference. People from the countries he derided have every right to be offended, but one can’t help but notice that you, and leftists, seem to have internalized E. Harding et. al.’s belief that “Asians don’t count” as ethnic minorities.

    Secondly, there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in adversarial politics. If you insist on lumping conservatives in with white supremacists, regardless of whether they actually are, sooner or later some of them are going to cozy up to them; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Just look how many moderate progressives (Paul Samuelson comes to mind, in early editions of his textbook) ran interference for the Soviet Union during the Cold War? Not because they were closet communists, but because of what they were reacting against.

    Thirdly: of course white racists are going to be conservative, Scott, regardless of whether the conservative starting point has an iota of racism in it. That’s a trivial observation. Just as it is that anti-white racists are going to be progressives. Progressive politicians unabashedly support discrimination against white people; ergo, even if conservatives are entirely non-racist at the starting point, actual white racists are going to prefer even egalitarian conservatism to pro-“corrective-racism” progressivism; as a consequence, even a truly pro-equality political movement is going to gradually collect white racists, who are unfortunately going to influence said movement, because they find it preferable to the only alternative. This does nothing to vindicate ‘reverse racist’ progressives; they accuse everyone who isn’t one of them of being racist; naturally, they’re going to occasionally be right.

    This tendency is certainly a precarious problem; but the only simple way to avoid it is for conservatives who favor ‘mere equality’ to give up that principle and adopt the same corrective racism as the left to render themselves no longer preferable to racists relative to the left.

  9. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    15. January 2018 at 19:42

    Yes, indians make quite a bit of money on average, and some of the Stephen Miller plans involved doing things like stop H1-B renewals during Green Card applications. This one didn’t go very far, because every tech lobbyist was against it in about as harsh terms as I’ve seen any lobbyist go. What that rule would have meant is, in practice, cutting Indian immigration by 90%. The fact that this idea was floated at all shows that Morgan is smoking crack. The Trump platform is not to get different immigrants, but to get fewer immigrants.

    Now, I’d not provide a blanket statements that Republican policies are racist, but there is a non-zero segment of the base that is very happy with racist policies: Based on anecdata, some of the Republican gains from having Trump in charge was making white racist democrats switch over. Then there’s also how Republicans, acting purely to give themselves better chances of winning elections, end up redrawing districts in ways that look pretty bad racially speaking.

    I think we are heading for another ideological flip: Classical liberals find that it’s easier to influence segments of the democratic party than a party that is against immigration and drug legalization, and will end up with economic policies that look neo-mercantilist. Too many Trump voters just would be happy if the US was a lot like France, just as long as the services just went to white people.

  10. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    15. January 2018 at 21:02


    I’m more pessimistic than you. If anything, the ideological flip we’re seeing (if Trumps truly does represent an enduring shift, which I don’t think is nearly certain) is one that leads us to look more like many European countries: Socialists on the left, populists on the right, and classical liberals utterly irrelevant. Trump has not made the left more classically liberal; it seems to have done the opposite, in fact. If classical liberals are fleeing into their arms (I guess we’ll only see for real in November or in 2020) they have had no effect.

    In that sense this country may well look like France soon enough.

  11. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    15. January 2018 at 21:47

    You have to consider the context of the (private) comment, though, which was special visas for people from these countries. As well as Indians have done in the U.S., they come on skill-based visas. I don’t think they would be nearly as successful if they were drawn randomly without consideration of skills, and I’m sure you don’t think that either.

  12. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    15. January 2018 at 22:24

    All this talk of racism with regards to immigration policy is just pure BUNK!

    Liberals and the Democratic party want more immigrants because they believe they will vote for them. Conservatives and the Republicans want fewer immigrants because they believe they will not vote for them.

    Thats it. Simple. End of Story.

  13. Gravatar of Matthias Goergens Matthias Goergens
    16. January 2018 at 04:40

    I wouldn’t put too much store in reported levels of happiness. Singaporeans are famously miserable by those accounts. They like to complain. Yet they live in one of the nicest and best governed cities on the planet.

  14. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    16. January 2018 at 08:04

    Didn’t I tell you a long time ago that conservatives believe in genetic, race based theories of intelligence and a heirarchy of white people atop the genetic intelligence totem pole? Didn’t you scoff at my assertion that this is a dominant view among conservatives?

    Anyways I am glad to see you’ve finally seen the light. maybe in another 2 years you will also realize that most libertartians are just conservatives.

  15. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    16. January 2018 at 08:50

    Morgan’s right: you’re still suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    You write: “The whole point of referring to things said in a bar is to identify the things that people really think, when alcohol has removed inhibitions about being ‘politically correct’.” With reduced inhibitions people will say what they would not say when inhibited, but that does not mean they really believe what they are saying. Often they are “just gassing,” just poking a stick in the eye of the thought-police. And from your description it seems that Watters’ defense of Trump was that he was being a politician, appealing to his base (which, though a minority of voters, was large enough to get him elected). So his remarks may well have been cynically calculated rather than implicitly racist.

    (Is that really a *defense*? Well, all politicians try to please [some large segment of] the voters, so Trump would not be far outside the mainstream. Anyway, it’s a defense against the charge *of racism*.)

  16. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    16. January 2018 at 09:32

    Tom Cotton: Country or origin quotas are arbitrary, and they treat people based on where they’re from, not who they are.

    Today, for instance, over 300,000 Indians are waiting to immigrate to this country and they can’t do so, because we have arbitrary caps on the countries from which people come. If you change our immigration system to a skills-based system, that respects and treats people for who they are, as individuals, as opposed to residents of a certain country or relatives of certain people in the United States. It is a system that is more in keeping with American values.”

    Math = diversity visas are no different than diversity in colleges.

    If it is left to test scores we get tons of Asians…

    I repeat go listening to Trump being interviewed by Bannon on the radio shows… bannon5is PISSED about Silicon Valley being run by Asians and Trump thinks it is great. WANTS to have all the big brains move here.

    So kids get over yourselves…

    GUESS WHAT? We don’t seek diversity in Country Clubs, we seek scorable Merit.

    You gotta be able to make $100k (or whatever means no need for welfare and making a good chunk over avg)

    You gotta like bikinis… this is the cultural supremacy thing, western civilization FTW thing, the assimilation thing, the melting pot, not a salad thing… part of MERIT, you gotta like and wanna join Apple Pie America.

    Just your wife and kids… this is the ONLY WAY to force the first two rules… this means everyone gets into the country club on their own merits.

  17. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    16. January 2018 at 09:34

    Benny Lava has an IQ below 120.

  18. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    16. January 2018 at 09:42

    Nobody read the link I posted where Scott goes deep as he does on the importance of CULTURE.

    The PROBLEM with Scott is that he CARES about the utility gained by immigrants, and AMERICA VOTED TO NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR UTILITY.

    There is no moral way to justify MERIT BASED visas if you are worrying about UTILITY, unless you do as I do and focus on the CREATIVE DESTRUCTION of FAILING STATES / FIRMS.

    Stealing the top 1% of Earthlings, even it Africa doesn’t have a high percentage of guys who can earn $100K over here…


    The top firms who can generate the most ROIB on employees, starve the weaker shittier companies…

    The same goes for countries.

    This will crash the African states and break China etc etc much faster than if we take in their PROBLEMS.

    Scott as an eghead doesn’t have the moral capacity to BELIEVE TRULY in creative destruction, so when he does his utility calcs, he just looks at some pathetic starving people and says MAKING THEM HAPPY LIVING HERE IS HUGE GAIN.

    It’s not. Bc we must run utility based on the LONG RUN…

    The things that move history FASTER, that crash failing states faster, that move the whole world to being like Texas sooner than later… that is the MOST UTLITY POSSIBLE.


  19. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    16. January 2018 at 10:47

    Lol… Scott, it looks like you “triggered” someone.

  20. Gravatar of Student Student
    16. January 2018 at 12:09

    I am not really sure anyone objects to admitting high skill immigrants… Is anyone out there advocating that?

    The objections to a completely merit based system are:

    1.) Focusing completely on what the immigrants can do for us is immoral. You and your family are fleeing a murderous regime or other forms of brutality or dead end circumstances… sorry you don’t have a graduate degree… What a selfish point of view that is.

    2.) For every Sergey Brin or Albert Eisenstein, there are 3 (making up a number but it’s certainly more than 0 or even 1) Andrew Carnegies, Levi Strauss’s, or Andrew Groves.

    As well, there are probably even more Henry Fords… that is children of the 99%ers that came here with little skills but had offspring that changed the world.

    I don’t think it’s possible predict the next great American.

    3.) Let them all in (excluding those seeking to sneak in and do bad things).

  21. Gravatar of Antischiff Antischiff
    16. January 2018 at 12:40

    It is interesting to see so many advocating government choosing who businesses are allowed to hire, or who gets into the country. Even if government had the appropriate incentives to do so efficiently, does it have the data and models?

    If government is to decide who’s economically worth admitting, why stop there? Why not let government decide which citizens work for which companies, etc.? This is absurd.

  22. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    17. January 2018 at 09:45

    1.) Focusing completely on what the immigrants can do for us is immoral. You and your family are fleeing a murderous regime or other forms of brutality or dead end circumstances… sorry you don’t have a graduate degree… What a selfish point of view that is.

    WRONG. It is MOST MORAL. It is the way to speed up history, the break down of suffering TODAY of failed states, WHILE the US outpaces the rest, growing stronger and stronger until hey break and submit to our way of life.. is FASTEST PATH TO FUTURE.

    We should STEAL 50K-100K DOCTORS A YEAR.

    We should STEAL EVERY ENGINEER, EVERY SCIENTIST worth $100K a year here.

    Beyond, that we should use immigration to force trade issues.

    We can force China and India to open their markets in order to keep letting their kids come study in US schools.

    The real problem is that Scott doesn’t want to see this as a game of CULTURAL MONOPOLY.

    Where shitty cultures fail, they die and and are forced to crawl back by letting their best and brightest run the show.

    We BREAK other states…. we do it HERE – other states must become like Texas.

    Southern US states were broken and had to CRAWL BACK to compete using low regs and cheap labor – and they now DOMINATE northern states.

    This is why the EURO was created by Mundell!

    Everyone gets to be more like texas, that is the path of humanity.

    Anything that speeds up the world being forced to be more like Texas is moral and good.

    And boy Trump Derangement has really turned Scott into a statist jerk!

    Now he’s crying about coal poisoning the water and air. He should visit China, they are buying the US coal 🙂

  23. Gravatar of Uday Uday
    17. January 2018 at 09:50

    If there’s one thing that the Trump presidency has taught me, do not become the caricature that your opponents accuse of you trying to be. In this case, liberals who harangue conservatives for “hating the poor, supporting the interests of the wealthy and big business, trashing the environment, hating women, hating gays, etc.” I still think some of it is hyperbole but I have a bad feeling that most of it has become true under Trump.

    It reminds me of a post you made earlier here (or on Econlog, I don’t remember) about how you weren’t a progressive because you favored efficiency, versus throwing more money at a problem. I find myself agreeing with the Left on some of the pressing issues of the day (income inequality, climate change, rising healthcare costs, gender disparities) but disagree with their preferred solutions, which generally come down to bigger government and more redistribution. I guess you could consider a carbon tax “big government” but since I favor abolishing the CPP in favor of it, it would probably shrink government, while helping to decarbonize the environment in the long run. I hope this is the approach that conservatives take. Otherwise they risk becoming a party for angry old whites, which bodes poorly for their long term prospects.

  24. Gravatar of Student Student
    17. January 2018 at 10:39

    Again, I (and i would venture to guess almost everyone) am not objecting to accepting highly skilled individuals. Let’s take them all. They get in first.

    However, I don’t think it’s moral to take only them leaving everyone else to misery. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you is a good standard by which to judge morality.

    That aside though, it’s not even an optimal strategy as doing that in the past would have excluded Carnegie, Strauss, Grove, etc., and millions of people like Warslter, Sumner, and even hard working rank and file workers that add tons of value to our society.

    Consider this… let’s assume our culture is the greatest (being a proud American, I like to think that regardless). Would it be such if we didn’t have Jazz music, the blues, bluegrass, gospel and the rock and roll, rap, and others that developed from such? Would we have had laborers to build the rail network, to dig the mines, to staff the factories? Would we have had the film/entertainment industry that advertised our culture?

    I don’t think so and this type of stuff wasn’t created by doctors and engineers. There are a lot of very creative or otherwise valuable people that came here poor, uneducated and penniless.

    “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  25. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    17. January 2018 at 15:50


    All of this crazed writing on your part flies in the face of basic economic theory. You seem to think you have a good take on this, with your US as a country club perspective, but you’re not convincing anyone else, because it doesn’t make sense.

    It’s not zero-sum, for example.

  26. Gravatar of Student Student
    17. January 2018 at 16:55

    Country clubs are boring anyways… no one wants to go there unless they wear vneck sweaters and slick their hair back like Scott from keeping up with the kardashians.., yawn.

  27. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    18. January 2018 at 10:17

    TDS may be a real malady… but it’s an affliction affecting more than his critics, apparently.

  28. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    23. January 2018 at 06:31

    Your boy Tyler called old iSteve one of the most influential public intellectuals:

    Remember when you called him a marginal player in conservatism?

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. January 2018 at 21:35

    Benny, I don’t know who iSteve is, and I don’t ever recall calling anyone a “marginal player in conservatism”

  30. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    24. January 2018 at 11:23


    ISteve is good old steve sailer. That is his webzone. Tyler lists him as a leading light. You once argued that he was nothing:

    Chalk another one up to ole Benny!

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. January 2018 at 14:11

    Benny, I doubt I ever said he was “nothing”, but if you produce the quote I’ll respond. You have a tendency to make things up, like many of my commenters.

    And Tyler said he the alt-right was currently influential with some people, and that Sailor is one of several leading alt-right spokesmen. I’ve never disagreed with either of those claims.

  32. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    24. January 2018 at 17:18

    Scott you have a tendency to obfuscate and prevaricate. But if you click on the link you’ll see that I said:

    “Based on an extensive reading of conservative publications, the conservative explanation is genetic differences resulting in divergent IQ. And we all know this because we all read and know these conservatards. And yet here you are claiming that up is down yada yada yada”

    To which you replied with a typical obfuscation:

    “Maybe I’m reading the wrong conservative publications. I was aware of The Bell Curve, but is that a widely held view? I don’t see it very often.”

    Then I responded:

    “Scott, you read Marginal Revolution.”

    Your retort a typical prevarication “Benny, I don’t get it, what do Alex and Tyler agree on?”

    And here we are with Tyler calling Ole bell curve the #4 public intellectual and Steve Sailer one of the leading miscellaneous .5 public intellectuals.

  33. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    24. January 2018 at 17:27

    Here is Scott making things up:

    “Tyler said he the alt-right was currently influential with some people, and that Sailor is one of several leading alt-right spokesmen.”

    That is not what Tyler said. He said Charles Murray is one of the most influential of all public intellectuals. And Steve one of the alt right melange that is a part of the top five influential. He didn’t limit the alt-right to “some people” as you allege. Check your facts and get back to me.

  34. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    28. January 2018 at 16:15


    “Focusing completely on what the immigrants can do for us is immoral.”

    A household, a sports team, a for-profit company, a university, and a sovereign nation state, they all put the interests of themselves and their current members above foreigners.

    I’m sympathetic with building some post-nation, borderless world, but it seems unreasonable to impose this morality so exclusively on the US and Europe and even strain to exempt other nationalities/tribes/identities from any pressure of this kind.

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