I’m inclined to agree with Digby that “‘I’m not terribly tolerant of this idea that we have to be kind to racists because nobody know the trouble they’ve seen.”
That observation was a response to this Vox post interviewing various thinkers about what causes people to turn terrorist and what might prevent them. One of which was, unsurprisingly, that working-class whites see themselves not getting ahead and thinking “other groups — black and brown Americans, women — are now cutting in the line, because they’re getting new (and more equal) opportunities through new anti-discrimination laws and policies like affirmative action.” And they’re frustrated because if they bring up such things, they’ll be endlessly interviewed about how hard white people have it — oh, wait, no, they’ll be criticized and people might even say they’re racist. So one interviewee says the solution is to let them vent without dropping the “r” word, especially as it’s unfair: “it’s difficult for a white man to bring up concerns about changing racial demographics without getting labeled as racist. But maybe his concerns don’t have anything to do with race. He may be concerned that as the group he belongs to loses status, he will as well — economically, socially, and so on. A good response to this could point out that, for example, New York City is very diverse and still people, including white men, lead prosperous lives”
I’m sorry, that’s bullshit. If someone’s afraid he’s going to lose status because black people or Hispanics are doing better, that’s racist (just as men feeling the same about women is sexist). And affirmative action, in most cases is just an excuse. The issue isn’t that women and non-whites are cutting in line, it’s that they’re not at the back. If they’re in the rear, white men in even the shittiest circumstances can comfort themselves that they’ll never go to the back of the line or be the last picked. If women, blacks, Hispanics get ahead with or without affirmative action, that smug security goes away.
This isn’t something that started with affirmative action. Lots of unions all through the twentieth century fought against black membership; in the post-Civil War 19th century, lots of whites refused to work alongside blacks. Part of the reason in both cases was that if a black man did the same work, you were no longer superior to blacks, and that was unacceptable (How the Irish Became White details a lot of this in regards working-class Irish). The Klan and its ilks were quite willing to lash out at any black who was doing well, no matter how hard he worked. Likewise countless women have experienced men who refuse to believe they’re qualified to do a “man’s job,” and that even if they are, they shouldn’t have the gig.
As for the idea we’re driving nice people into the arms of the Klan if we criticize their racist/sexist shit (or anti-gay or anti-Islam or whatever) that’s just another version of the “how can we have a conversation if you criticize me?” crap. It’s okay for them to complain that blacks are getting ahead of better qualified white people or going to college free, but we’re not supposed to call them out — that sounds like the umpteenth version of how it’s our duty to have compassion and understanding for them, not vice versa.
And no, pointing out the facts are on our side usually won’t help. Some may be influenced but lots of conservatives will cling firmly to their belief that blacks do go to college free, that anyone who uses birth control is an irresponsible slut, that gay marriage doesn’t actually hurt them (or hurt anyone) and that Christianity should be the state religion. Just look at how many of them still believe in Trump.