Chronic. During a trip to Hauts-de-France, on April 9, to support the candidate of his party in the regional elections, the president of the National Rally (RN), Marine Le Pen, described the candidate Les Républicains, Xavier Bertrand , of “Globalist”. According to the dictionary of Little Robert, “Globalist” means “Economic and social policy aimed at a global perspective”. This may seem strange in the context of regional elections. But make no mistake, the way this word resonates with some is quite different. The use of a vocabulary which seems innocent but which activates the negative and generally racist stereotypes of certain segments of society is a phenomenon that researchers in political science call “Dog whistles”, which we can literally translate as “dog whistles”.
Of course, Marine Le Pen is not the only one to whistle the dogs. One can thus wonder about the true significance of the apparently rhetorical question ” But who ? “ brandished during demonstrations against the sanitary pass, or even on the resonance of Emmanuel Macron’s references to “Civilizational problems of Africa” on July 8, 2017 during the G20 in Hamburg.
A not insignificant effect
But the political use of dog whistles can have devastating effects. During his first presidential campaign, although Donald Trump engaged in an explicitly xenophobic speech against immigrants (Mexicans and Muslims in particular), he never made an openly racist speech against the black population.
Yet statistical analysis of nearly 12 million police traffic stops in 142 counties where Donald Trump held a rally during the 2016 election campaign shows an average 5.1% increase in the number of driver traffic stops. black by police (“Whistle the Racist Dogs: Political Campaigns and Police Stops”, Pauline Grosjean, Federico Masera and Hasin Yousaf, October 17, 2020, UNSW Business School Research Paper).
This effect materializes the day after the meeting and lasts for nearly two months. In total, Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign is estimated to have been responsible for more than 15,000 additional checks on black drivers, these checks in no way related to objective justifications for police intervention – collision, speeding, absence faulty seat belt or license plates. Given that a quarter of homicides committed by the police take place after an escalating traffic stop, this effect is not insignificant.
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