There are certain aspects of racism on which all Americans agree. The Klan, for example. Using racial slurs to denigrate someone. Segregated drinking fountains and city buses. The sorts of marks of discrimination that are almost definitionally racist.
Beyond that, opinions differ. While there are unquestionably race-based factors that disadvantage people from particular racial or ethnic groups, the extent to which members of some groups face discrimination (institutional or personal) isn’t broadly agreed upon.
Pew Research Center surveyed Americans to determine the extent to which they viewed groups as being the targets of discrimination in American society. The group facing the most discrimination, poll respondents said, was Muslims, with more than half of those interviewed by Pew saying that Muslims face a lot of discrimination. The least discriminated-against group of those Pew asked about? Men.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were fairly broad disagreements about the extent of discrimination various groups faced depending on the political leaning of the respondent. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (and Democrat-leaning independents) said that Muslims faced a lot of discrimination, while only about a third of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) agreed. More than half of Republicans (and leaners) viewed whites as facing at least some discrimination, while only a quarter of Democrats (and leaners) held the same position.
One of the more remarkable changes in Pew’s research was the growth since 2016 in the percentage of respondents who saw Jews as facing at least some discrimination. The percentage of respondents saying that Jews face at least some discrimination has climbed 20 points in the past three years.
That’s in part because the density of both Democrats and Republicans saying Jews face a lot of discrimination has increased.
On most other points, the views of Democrats and Republicans have not changed in sync. Since 2009, far more Democrats are more likely to say that blacks, Hispanics and women face a lot of discrimination, while Republican views of those groups have mostly stayed the same. Republicans are more likely now to say that white evangelical Protestants face a lot of discrimination than said that three years ago.
In fact, while most Democrats largely dismiss the idea that evangelicals, whites or men face discrimination, Republicans generally view members of those groups as facing around the same amount of discrimination as other groups. No group among those included in Pew’s survey was more likely to be described by Republicans as facing at least some discrimination as evangelicals.
That’s among all Republicans, about 83 percent of whom are white, and Republican-leaners. (About 6 in 10 Democrats are white.) Pew also separated the views of whites alone. Among white Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, about 1 in 5 said that whites faced a lot of discrimination. About 6 in 10 said that whites and Hispanics faced some discrimination, with slightly more saying that blacks do.
Overall and among Democrats, whites are less likely to be seen as facing some discrimination.
Pew broke out its data to identify individuals who thought blacks faced more discrimination than whites (59 percent of the total), whites faced more discrimination (12 percent) and that the groups faced about the same amount of discrimination.
In the first group, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 3 to 1. Among those who think whites face more discrimination than blacks, Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 6 to 1.
President Trump has alluded to discrimination against whites in the past. Last summer, at the anniversary of the pro-Confederacy rallies in Charlottesville that led to violence, Trump condemned “all types of racism,” an obvious reference to what some call reverse racism — racism targeting white people. In a 2016 poll, HuffPost and YouGov found that Trump voters were more likely to see whites as the targets of discrimination than any other group. A Quinnipiac University poll the same year found that Trump supporters were the most likely to be concerned about “reverse racism.”
Republican respondents in Pew’s recent survey were more likely to say that men faced a lot of discrimination than women and were more likely to say whites faced a lot of discrimination than that blacks or Hispanics do. Those results seem clearly to echo the aforementioned 2016 polling, conducted before Trump was elected president.