Muzzle the Dog Whistle Guide

“Dog whistles” are phrases and remarks that are designed to convey a discriminatory message or tap into racist assumptions using language that is, on the surface, innocent and neutral. When dog whistle phrases are used strategically, in order to influence voters, it doesn’t really matter whether the person using them is a bigot or not. What’s important is that these comments tap into underlying beliefs among the public and can motivate voters. With elections drawing ever closer, it’s crucial that we all become sensitive to political parties’ attempts to manipulate us through our unconscious biases and damaging stereotypes. 

Dog whistles are always deliberate. Many of these phrases have been used so often and are so good at flying under the radar, they’ve been adopted by journalists and political analysts and are now used regularly. Therefore, we have created a guide to reporting on dog whistles for writers and journalists. 

 

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Preventing racist rhetoric from manipulating voters and distracting from systemic issues is no small thing. If we are ever to get to the broader work of dismantling inequity and injustice, we will have to muzzle the guard dog who has protected racists in politics for so long.