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Three-Fifths Rule Still Alive


Byron York, the Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent, had a column on Tuesday that received a lot of attention in the blogs. It’s an amazing example of implicit bias. In case you haven’t seen it, here is the key passage, the opening paragraph:

On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.

As Scott Horton notes:

“More popular than they actually are?” Of course, this conclusion is reached after making the mathematical adjustment contemplated in the Constitution as adopted in 1789. In Byron York’s world, it seems, black Americans are still three-fifths citizens. They’re apparently not capable of making objective political judgments like whites, and particularly the (dwindling) number of whites who support the G.O.P. One of the most unintentionally revealing posts I’ve ever seen.

Or as David Weigel puts it, York is making “the point that Democrats wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t for the 14th Amendment. Or something.”

Two days later, York defended himself against what he described as “commentators on the left [who] are calling me a racist.” He appears entirely to have missed the point of the criticisms, as well as assigning the cheap label of leftist to them. He would do well to learn a bit about implicit bias and take a closer look at himself.

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