Category ►►► Risible Racialism
April 9, 2012
The Not-So-Obligatory "John Derbyshire" Post
Yeah, yeah, self-defined conservatives -- as are most of them -- may feel a moral and ideological obligation to distance themselves from a man who, however reprehensible are his quaint and ideosyncratic ideas about blacks, does claim to be a conservative and was closely associated with the National Review, an obviously conservative magazine and webzine. I'm reminded of the earlier case of William F. Buckley, jr., writing "In Search of Anti-Semitism," the lengthy examination of two contributers to NR, Joe Sobran and Patrick J. Buchanan, to determine whether their views on Jews and Jewishness crossed the line into out and out antisemitism in either case. (As I recall, Sobran was condemned while Buchanan was exonerated, though subsequent events might have caused Buckley to change his mind about the latter, had he revisited the issue some years later.)
The essay was later expanded into a book by the same name.
Clearly, it's of some particular interest to conservatives to investigate fellow-travelers who appear to be dancing on the brink of the reprehensible generalization of racism, which has much in common with primitive, consanguinity-based tribalism. But as I'm not a conservative but rather a libertarian, of sorts, I'm far more concerned about feuding with other libertarians (who are by and large illiterate dolts) than checking under the nails and behind the ears of conservatives. Let them launch their own dirty linen in a trial balloon and see if anyone salutes it!
But I got sucked in by my two favorite blogs, both conservative, of course -- in fact, both run by conservative lawyers: Powder Line and Patterico's Pantaloons. (I read Derbyshire's actual post, of course; but unlike Patterico, I didn't follow all the links; sorry.)
You really should read the original blasphemy that started the avalanche that culminated in Derbyshire being fired from NRO, because I won't bother quoting from it. Too much work. I'll just rattle off why he made me roll my eyes in bemused contempt, if that's not an oxymoron.
I'm a kind of libertarian; more accurately a Capitalist, individualist, pragmatist whose chief institutional goals are sustainable human liberty and individual justice... can't I just say libertarian, without being lumped together with L. Neil Smith (another science-fiction writer who despises me) and Ayn Rand? By my nature, I reflexively treat people as individuals. I recognize the existence of, specifically, race; but I reserve that consideration for statistical sociology, such as criminology, educational attainment, and employment. When talking about individuals, I treat them as, you know, individuals, without taking the shortcuts offered by profiling, which is notoriously inaccurate when based upon race.
But I find Derbyshire trying to lure me into such sweeping generalizations, and I recoil. He seems to want me to consider people only en masse, and use groupthink to deduce the specific individual... and I just won't do it. I am irked no end by anyone who urges me in that direction. Such paralogia annoys me every bit as much as Lefties trying to lure me into "Progressivism," which is also against my nature.
My objection to Derbyshire's post is not the fact that he crafts a racial heirarchy that puts blacks at the lowest level (which he surely does); but rather that he thinks I should react to an individual black -- or white, brown, yellow, or red -- as nothing but a representative of some group of humans. As if we're all interchangeable, nought but ordinal numbers that only describe where one stands in line; rather than cardinal numbers that actually seek to express the unique characteristics found in each person, that which makes him "Brad" and not "me" or "you" or some other "him."
Instead of seeing Thomas Sowell or Barack H. Obama or Steven Barnes, Derbyshire wants me to see a generic, plainwrap person-entity with a blue stripe that reads "African-American." I find it simultaneously decadent and atavistic, and I believe another oxymoron lurks somewhere within: self-indulgent decay, morally and intellectually, that orbits us back to a world of tribes, people defined by physical similarity and "blood ties" that used to describe the entirety of human civilization, fifteen thousand or so years ago.
I find Derbyshire's racial panic unevolved, unenlightened, and thoroughly unAmerican. It's the first piece of his I have ever read, and it likely will be the last. I can't buy the premise, so to hell with the bit!
And that's where I stand. I had no need to announce it, but I seized the opportunity to give a different perspective on the ancient evil.
September 10, 2010
Companion Piece: Risible Racism vs. Gender Benders
Same-sex marriage (SSM) activists frequently cite the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), a unanimous ruling that overturned all anti-miscegenation laws across the United States by holding that marriage was "one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival," and that laws banning mixed-race marriage violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. SSM activists argue that if marriage to the person of one's choosing, regardless of race, is a fundamental right, then so too must be marriage to the person of one's choosing regardless of gender.
But there is a flaw in this first, naive version of the argument: No right is absolute, not even fundamental ones; they are simply held to the strictest scrutiny, with the state or feds having to show:
- That the government has a compelling interest in the law, that it is vital and necessary, not merely desirable;
- That the law itself is narrowly tailored to accomplish that purpose without branching out into irrelevancies;
- And that the law uses the least restrictive means of achieving that purpose.
Laws which pass that three-pronged test can and do limit even fundamental rights. For example, we limit the fundamental, First-Amendment right to the free exercise of religion in various ways, such as prohibiting Christian Scientists from denying urgent medical care to their children or prohibiting human sacrifice, even of willing victims.
The brighter SSM radicals recognize this problem, so they attempt to get around it by denying that the State has any legitimate "compelling government interest" in promoting opposite-sex marriage over same-sex marriage (or, one presumes, in promoting two-person marriage over polyamorous marriage). In particular, they argue that:
- There is no possible reason to prefer opposite-sex marriage over SSM other than the purely religious, specifically the Judeo-Christian and Moslem belief that homosexual acts are an "abomination."
- Yet such a sectarian interest constitutes an "establishment of religion" and cannot possibly pass the "strict scrutiny" test.
- Therefore, the traditional definition of marriage is prohibited by the First Amendment.
I fully support the Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia: Given the clear meaning of the words of the Civil Rights Amendments and their obvious application to racial equality, the Court made the right decision. But I utterly reject its application to SSM.
Is this inconsistent or irrational? Not in the least: There is a bright line between the two that should be obvious, even to the activists themselves.
There is no possible compelling interest in preventing mixed-race marriages other than perpetuating "racial purity" and ultimately "racial supremacism." Yet there is no significant biological difference between the "races," and it's frequently hard even to distinguish between them.
Biologists cannot even generally define a "race"... there is no specific scientific guideline to judge how dark one's skin can be while remaining "white," or how narrow a nose can be while still being "African," nor even exactly what percent African, American Indian, Causasian, or Oriental descent makes a person that race: If one great-great-great grandparent of African ancestory makes one black, then why don't the other thirty-one great-great-great grandparents of European ancestory make that same person white? (Is white blood that much weaker than black blood? Did any racist ever think this argument through?)
Similarly, there is no inherent or genetic difference in how different races think, behave, or reacts; all such differences are cultural or driven by will. Even if one buys the premise of the Bell Curve, which I do not (yes, I read the book), a supposed difference in intelligence is not the same as a difference in how one thinks, behaves, or reacts.
Thus we long ago concluded that legally, there is no essential difference among people on the basis of race. And therefore any racial classification or racial law is inherently invidious and requires the absolute strictest of scrutiny.
In the case of laws banning miscegenation, no compelling government interest other than the even more vile racial supremacism or separatism has been offered for banning mixed-race marriages... so such laws clearly fail the test of "strict scrutiny" and were rightly struck down as unconstitutional.
Contrariwise, only the most radical of radicals would dispute the essential difference between men and women. The claim itself is preposterous: Men can impregnate, women cannot; women can give birth, men cannot.
Moreover, much scientific testing has discovered profound differences in the way men and women think, behave, and react; and as any parent knows, such profound differences begin at birth (some say even earlier) -- so they are not simply constructs of an oppressive society, as the most radical feminists argue.
One can easily find many compelling government interests in promoting traditional marriage over SSM (and over polyandry):
- To raise the fertility rate, so our population doesn't dwindle (as it has in many European countries), causing society to collapse.
- To provide a more stable, well-rounded environment for raising children, thus lowering crime, drug use, and other socially destructive behaviors.
- To mate the aggressive male personality with the loving female personality, in order to civilize the former and embolden the latter.
- To prevent the objectivization and abuse of women by restricting men to but one wife, not the harems we find in, e.g., the ummah and among primitive tribal cultures.
- To promote marriages that tend to last longer and be more stable -- as research clearly shows traditional marriages do, compared to same-sex or polyamorous marriages -- which in turn makes society itself more stable.
Each of these interests is compelling in itself; and traditional marriage promotes all of them. And please notice one point: Not a single one of these listed compelling government interests is in any way driven by religion. In fact, I myself am not in the least religious, yet I support all of them.
So yes, marriage to the person of one's choice is a fundamental right; but both laws that prohibit racial discrimination in marriage and laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman clearly pass the "strict scrutiny" test. We can prohibit racial separatism and supremacism, saying there is no essential difference between the so-called "races," without having to profess the absurdity that there is no essential difference between the sexes. The two claims are worlds apart.
July 12, 2010
The Surreality-Based Community
This quotation, at the very end of an ABC News article, is a real jaw-scratcher:
"We have to close the enthusiasm gap," NAACP president Ben Jealous said in an interview with the Associated Press Friday. "The danger of the Tea Party is that people see them and think about periods in history when groups like them were much more powerful than they are now, and so a lot of what we spend energy doing is explaining to people what reality is, and that the reality is that the majority from 2008 still exists."
Uh... whatever you say, Jealous Ben!
(The thrust of the article is that the NAACP is gearing up to launch a campaign against the Tea Party popular front, accusing it of being utterly racist to the core. Of course, if I even typed the full name of the NAACP, they would accuse me of being racist to the core; so what do I know?)
May 5, 2010
A Right Good Trend
The New York Times seems a bit confusticated to report that a record number of black Republicans are running for House seats this year:
The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.
But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.
How can such a thing be, when the GOP is well known as the historic home of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klan? Squirming a bit, the Times manages to find some voices to pooh-pooh the surge -- Democratic voices, naturally:
But Democrats and other political experts [Democrats are natural political experts, you understand -- DaH] express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”
Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”
Realizing that it's probably not exactly compelling to quote Brazile and Smiley on the irrelevancy of the many black Republican candidates, the Times slides seamlessly into more familiar ground:
Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.
A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 25 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites, compared with 11 percent of the general public.
One wonders whether Tea Partiers might actually be more knowledgeable about some of Barack H. Obama's appointments, such as Eric Holder as Attorney General -- his decisions, such as the decision to drop the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party after already winning it, and the president's knee-jerk defense of Professor Henry Louis Gates when the activist was arrested last July -- and his past and current associations, from the Irreverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former mentor, to his current political advisor, the Even More Irreverend Al Sharpton. Such greater awareness of just how racialist the current administration truly is might plausibly explain why Tea Partiers are more inclined to believe that the Obama administration is biased towards blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities and against whites. But let's MoveOn...
The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”
Flummoxed by the refusal of black Republicans to attack the Republican Party as racist, the Times makes one last valiant stand for the natural order of things:
Still, black Republicans face a double hurdle: black Democrats who are disinclined to back them in a general election, and incongruity with white Republicans, who sometimes do not welcome the blacks whom party officials claim to covet as new members.
Black conservatives and Republicans running for office: It's just a cynical ploy to get elected!
I love this trend; I suspect there are also large numbers of Hispanics, Orientals, and Occidentals running as Republicans this year, compared to 2008 and 2006, when GOP chances looked much dimmer. When prospects are happier, more people of all races throw their heads into the ring. Surprise, surprise.
But in particular, the more minority GOP candidates run, the harder it is for the Left to pull their favorite slander-lever, the risible racism regurgitation. Too, whether we like it or not,
we remain a dominant military superpower there are still many voters who tend to vote along racial lines -- and they are mostly minorities: I believe that Blacks and Hispanics are far likelier to ignore ideological differences and vote for co-ethnics than are whites. As long as the Republican Party is wrongly perceived as being "the party for white people only," we will continue to lose many marginal races that, politically and economically, we really ought to win.
In many ways, Hispanics are natural conservatives: They have very strong family structures and often large families; Hispanic culture supports hard work; they tend to be cultural conservatives, opposing easy abortion, drop-of-a-hat divorce, and same-sex marriage; and a great many Hispanics are small businessmen and other entrepeneurs.
The same is true, to a somewhat lesser degree, with blacks, who have been culturally crippled by decades of "leadership" by the likes of Jesse Jackson and the aforementioned Sharpton, who preach helplessness, dependency, and socially destructive behaviors (Larry Elder is positively Lincolnesque on this subject). For another example, blacks strongly support education vouchers that allow low-income students to attend private secular and religious schools, instead of the hellholes they're shunted into by geography.
There's no legitimate reason why Hispanics and blacks should overwhelmingly vote Democratic; yet the GOP has trouble cracking 35% of the former and even 10% of the latter, election after election. Sadly, I believe a significant portion of this gap is due to their tendency to vote for the co-ethnic candidate... and due to Republicans who shun "racial" recruiting, for ideological reasons.
Republicans believe such recruiting flies in the face of the nondiscrimination that has been at the core of the party since its inception in 1854, founded to oppose the expansion of black slavery; but I've never bought into that argument. Taking race into account when encouraging candidates to run is no more odious than taking into account a potential candidate's good looks, height, physique, or even self-selected characteristics like being a military veteran or having run a successful business.
Any candidate for office is first and foremost a person; and if you want to win elections, you must recruit the most likeable and electable person available, so long as he supports the party on key ideological issues. People are people, and they will react to appearances; it's foolish to ignore that simple fact, regardless of how "unfair" it may seem to short, dumpy, wannabe candidates -- or lily-white candidates in black or Hispanic districts.
I very much hope that many of these candidates prevail in their primaries, and then of course in the general election as well. We need to shed the silly and a-historic reputation of Republican racism. Besides, I'm fascinated to see how the Congressional Black Caucus rationalizes refusing membership to a dozen or more new black House Republicans; that should be both amusing and educational.
January 13, 2010
"Stonewall" Holder and Barack Milhous Obama
In our previous episode, top politicos in the Ministry of Truth -- I'm sorry, I meant the Department of Justice -- were stonewalling requests by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CRC) for documents and testimony to determine why Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli ordered career attorneys Christopher Coates and Christian Adams to drop the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP)... even though the government had already won the case by default. The NBPP never responded to the lawsuit, but possibly it had already been assured that it had a guardian angel in the Bobby Kennedy Building.
The Commission finally got so frustrated by the complete lack of cooperation by the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ that it fired off subpoenas, demanding answers to four dozen questions and the documents to support those answers. But Justice continued to waffle, finding one excuse after another not to produce any paperwork or even respond directly. At the same time, in a burst of petulance, the nomenklatura at Justice banished Coates himself to the far-away country of North Carolina.
Thank goodness we now have an incorruptable president and attorney general who would never, ever politicize the Department of Justice.
But that was then; this is now, and at last, la Casa Blanca has formally responded: All the president's men categorically reject the insolent idea that the Executive has to answer to anyone at all... not even to the congressional commission charged under statute (the Civil Rights Act of 1957) with the mission "To investigate complaints alleging that citizens are being deprived of their right to vote by reason of their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or by reason of fraudulent practices":
The Justice Department refused Tuesday to turn over most of the information and documents sought by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights explaining why a civil complaint was dismissed against members of the New Black Panther Party who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place in the November 2008 elections.
In a 38-page response, the department objected -- except for a few court records, letters and procedural documents -- to "each and every" question and document request submitted by the commission, saying the subpoenas violated existing executive orders, privacy and privilege concerns, and were burdensome, vague and ambiguous.
The lengthy response, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, also said the requested information and documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege or were not subject to disclosure because they included attorney or law enforcement work products.
The department also refused to release any information about an investigation of the New Black Panther Party case by its office of professional responsibility, saying the ongoing review was privileged information or was covered by the Privacy Act.
To slice it down to the bone, Attorney General Eric Holder is telling Congress to go flap somewhere else.
Now I would heartily agree with such a sentiment -- were we talking about senators and representatives horning in on foreign policy or the president's warfighting powers. The Constitution leaves those up to the Executive, by and large. But this isn't a case of national security: I scent the strong, smoky whiff of collusion and corruption in ObamaLand: The White House is covering up its own complicity; it should be declared an unindicted co-conspirator in voter intimidation alongside the NBPP.
My personal belief is that Holder (to a very large extent) and Barack H. Obama (to a somewhat lesser) actively support the Black Panthers' program of intimidating and frightening elderly white voters away from the polls. Why would Democrats in general support such a scheme? That's easy; they believe race-war is the health of the party.
They know that blacks will vote 95% for the Democrats, but they're pretty sure that white senior citizens, businessmen, and military veterans will vote strongly for the GOP. So the Democrats have decided it's in their interest to suppress the latter votes "by any means necessary," even buddying up with a racist organization such as the NBPP or ACORN -- or openly discarding military ballots during the election, as we saw in 2000.
Some, like Michael Barone, argue that Republicans need a positive plan for action in 2010, not just their status as "not the Democrats." Others (e.g. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line) believe a "contract with America"-type agenda might just get in the way, turning off Independents and moderate Republicans who may disagree with conservatives about important elements.
But virtually everybody would agree that campaigning against corruption and thuggishness -- clearly defined, undeniable, inexcusable, and squalid -- has nothing but upside for the GOP. After all, liberal Democrats have already painted themselves into a hole; they have preened with unendurable pomposity and condescension, congratulating themselves on their own superior moral code, for three years now; and that's long enough to own their own policies.
Now hypocrisy -- that seemingly venial sin that Americans hate almost worse than murder, treachery, and treason -- looms over the incumbents' heads like the Sword of Damocles.
Let's find a pair of scissors sharp enough to slice a strand of horsehair. This particular sword is two-edged; but in this case, both edges cut against the supermajority.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 12, 2010
Why I Am Not a Racist. No, Really.
I am unreliably informed that everybody is a racist. This is, of course, a load of ferret kidneys.
To be a racist, one must, at the very least, believe in the concept of race -- where "race" means some discrete and self-perpetuating subgroup of humans, defined by skin color and a certain morphology, but that also affects behavior and (some argue) thought itself. Anybody who accuses (e.g.) Clarence Thomas of "acting white" passionately believes in race-determinism.
This seems accurate to most people; but I simply don't believe in different "races" of Man: The morphology is inconsistent and its connection with behavior and thought is utterly spurious. What most folks imagine to be "racial" is in fact cultural... and I most certainly believe in different and often belligerent subcultures of Mankind.
But -- the critical difference -- while race is determined by birth, one's culture is, in the final analysis, consciously chosen... however much it may be influenced by upbringing.
We know that culture (a.k.a., subculture) is not determined by upbringing, because children of identical upbringing often embrace completely different cultures. There is no corner of the globe (does a sphere have corners?) so remote that it does not provide access to more than one culture. Even the most repressive third-world neighborhood, imbued in Islamism or animism or cannibalism or human sacrifice, cannot help but admit American Borg culture (A.B.C. -- "Resistance is futile!") -- from Tinkerbell t-shirts to Coca-Cola to McDonalds to reruns of Baywatch.
I doubt there's even a single country, region, province, or village that doesn't provide (if unwillingly) access to more than two cultures... perhaps Fundamental Materialist Euroculture or Catholocism or Baha'i or something spawned by historical colonialism, in addition to A.B.C.; so most people have their choice of three or more cultures to choose from, once they're old enough to notice the difference. Whichever they embrace is, by definition, their conscious choice.
Where am I going with this? Whenever options are available, choice is unavoidable: Of necessity, each adolescent must choose between all available cultureal options. That choice defines the path the individual takes... nothing cultural is carved in stone nor genetically determined.
There's that pesky word, individual. It crops up whenever we discuss thought, behavior, responsibility, accountability, liberty, conscience, and ultimately behavior. Simply put, we cannot foist upon others, or upon the impersonal Fates, accountability for our own behavior.
If Hutus slaughter Tutsis in Rwanda (or vice-versa), they cannot excuse their behavior by saying "that's the culture I was brought up in;" because many others brought up in that same culture did not participate in the attempted genocides on both sides and even tried to stop them. Just as a majority of those raised in Compton or Harlem or East L.A. or East St. Louis do not join gangs, do not engage in random violence, do not assault, rape, or murder innocents.
For those who do, their crimes are their own; they cannot blame "society."
In fact, all of the heresies of civilization, from socialism to racism to tribalism, stem from the same original sin: collectivism. The only way to sustain such cultures of hatred is to dehumanize outsiders; but to dehumanize, it's almost a logical necessity to view each human being not as an individual, not as a cardinal number, but as an ordinal number -- a representative of an entire class.
Thus, Barack H. Obama is not a man with his own strengths and weaknesses, his own ideals and blind spots, but simply "the first black president," or "a leftist" or "the One We Have Been Waiting For." George W. Bush is simply "the son of the 41st president" or "a Texan" or "a conservative warmonger."
When you insist, against all odds, on seeing each person as an individual, not as a cog in a giant collective, then "race" dissipates like morning fog in the noonday sun; the morphologies that define each race are seen as points on a continuum that are interesting to a painter, perhaps, but are orthogonal (at right angles) to all that which makes a man or woman. I'm a pale-skinned white; my wife Sachi is a dark-tinged Oriental; yet we share an intense and dispositive worldview linking us like the strong nuclear force, far more tightly than could possibly be parted by mere melanin level.
Thus I disbelieve in the concept of "race."
Ergo, by rigorous logic, I cannot be a "racist." Asking me what race I am is like asking whether I'm a good Martian or a bad Martian: The only valid response is, "will U. kindly F.O.?"
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 7, 2010
Voting Rights for Felons: Presto Retro!
Patterico has posted on this topic as well -- the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus that just ruled that felons must be allowed to vote, even from their prison cells. He posts from a lawyer's, and especially a prosecutor's point of view; and in his post, he dressed me down a bit for my previous post here... or so it seemed to me. Patterico writes:
Dafydd ab Hugh’s post on the decision sounds the right notes, I think. However, Dafydd has not read the decision or the studies upon which it is based, and so he has failed to grapple with the claims of the sociology professors who claim to have looked at the very variables Dafydd accuses the court of ignoring.
I would like to encourage Dafydd and any other interested readers to poke through the links I have provided. There are nuggets a plenty in the various studies and other links.
My response may be solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish; but at least it's not short!
The first charge is certainly correct; at the time I wrote the post, I didn't have the decision available to me. I couldn't even find the name of the the third judge (turns out to be Stephen Reinhardt, a name not unknown to many of us).
But to say I have "failed to grapple with the claims of the sociology professors who claim to have looked at the very variables Dafydd accuses the court of ignoring" is only true in the narrowest of meanings: While I didn't grapple with these particular studies by those particular sociology professors, I have been "grappling" with identical claims by interchangeable sociology and criminology professors for more than twenty years!
I wasn't born on the turnip truck yesterday.
And I've learned it's a complete waste of time, because the studies they produce are just a beard for the real function, which is to find a friendly judge or panel, as they did here, and give them any slightest hook to hang their ideology... which they also did. Professors Crutchfield and Beckett could have introduced a wind-up monkey with a plastic banana as their sole exhibit, and Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Wallace Tashima would have given in to their inner guilt and ruled the same way. We were preaching reason to the asylum choir.
The fact is that none of these claims is new. Each has been made, then debunked, in one form or another, in service to one crank liberal "reform" or another, since the dawn of all time (that is, the 1960s): that a racial disparity in measurement X -- incarceration, conviction, trial, arrest, or search -- proves unlawful and intentional racial discrimination by some or all elements of the justice system.
In the very beginning, the anointed were content to point to any racial disparity at all. When evidence mounted far past the "overwhelming" stage that, contrary to liberal dogma and utopianism, people from different cultures do indeed commit crimes at different rates, the anointed realized they had to give some ground.
Ever since the 1980s, when I first began debating this issue in bulletin boards (anybody remember those?), the pro-reform side of academe has followed the same pattern:
- The new researchers cite previous researchers who found no discrimination -- and dismiss them as naive or bought off.
- The new researchers admit that some of the racial disparity can be explained by real differences in behavior... that is, not by direct racial discrimination; this makes them look reasonable and sets you up for the Fool's Mate.
- But, they argue, not all the discrepency can thus be explained (to their unattainable satisfaction) by proper and legal responses to real differences.
- Therefore, they conclude, the remaining "gap" must be due to racial discrimination. There's no other explanation, at least none they will consider.
It's very effective, particularly on kritarchs drunk on their own power, just itching for a chance to implement divine judicial controls, enforcing radical liberalism.
I didn't have access to the particulars of this specific batch of anointed; but even if I had, I still wouldn't have bothered "grappling" with their precise claims, because that's not the problem. And my reasoning is almost certainly similar to that of the state's attorneys, and why they didn't go into the specifics of the studies, either: At core, this case hinges on principles completely independent from choosing one of two competing answers to a controversial and active scientific question.
Diving headfirst into the steaming vat of statistics is a mug's game, because it begs the real question. There is literally nothing anyone could say, no evidence that could be produced, that would persuade the plaintiffs that policing and the courts were not citidels of segregation and redoubts of racism: It is part of their fundamental-materialist religious faith.
When setting public policy on vital democratic issues related to scientific questions (hello, global warming), there are always three considerations -- threshold conditions, actually; and none covers what I think Patterico suggested I should have done:
- Is the science settled? E.g., is there a scientific consensus among criminologists and sociologists that the criminal justice system in Washington is inherently racially discriminatory, violating the rights of legitimate voters?
- If so, then what options exist to alleviate the problem? In this case, what can Washington do to bring itself into compliance with federal standards and its own state standards of racial neutrality?
- Finally, among all those options, which is the least disruptive to liberty, social order, and the will of the people? In this case, if people are being wrongfully disenfranchised, what is the least disruptive way to let the actual victims start voting again?
(Sorry for all the bullet points, but some arguments really lend themselves to such constructs.)
Alas, I don't think there is a very good match between the questions above, which should inform all major policy decisions, and the demands of a federal court trial, which is an adversarial exercise in which one side generally wins and the other loses. That's too bad... because in fact, not a single one of the three threshold conditions above is satisfied (and all three need to be). Moreover, when the thresholds are not met, the judiciary has no business interfering in public policy... even apart from any great principles of freedom that trump the scientific quibbling.
Now, if a particular prisoner wants to argue that his personal voting rights were violated, let him make that claim and duke it out in court. That would at least be a judicial task.
But instead, the question that the court considered (and ruled in favor of) was grotesquely anti-democratic, collectivist, and, to put it bluntly, profoundly unAmerican: Not whether the voting right of any particular prisoner was violated, but whether the rights of all blacks and Hispanics in Washington state were violated.
And the substance of the "right"? Why, the right to have the votes of all blacks and Hispanics, law-abiding and convicted felon alike, count for the Democrats. I won't mince words; the liberal-activist Democrats want more electoral victories, and they think this will do it.
It's the Lani Guinier Conundrum: Does a bloc of voters have the right to win a certain percent of the time? In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated Guinier to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Her nomination ran into a buzzsaw in the Senate and was eventually withdrawn.
She believed that indeed yes, blocs of minority voters -- specifically blacks and Hispanics -- had a right to win, even when they were in the minority; otherwise you have a "tyranny of the majority," she argued in the book of that title. (The hidden racist assumption is that all "minorities" think alike... or at least they should!) Thus, Guinier supported various weighting schemes to make each minority vote count for more than each of the votes of the majority. (She had to have assumed, again, that each class would vote its "class interest.")
I'm convinced that is precisely why the present case was brought: Not that the plaintiffs really cared that felons be allowed to vote, but that they assumed that a big, new bunch of black and Hispanic voters previously disallowed from voting would, when finally unleashed, vote solidly liberal-Democratic.
(Patterico notes another point: Many prisons are sited in rural areas, not in the midst of huge population centers, for obvious reasons. Thus, that "captive audience" of voters would exert a super-heavy, possibly determinative influence over local elections about local issues. In my opinion, they could practically take over small towns!)
I haven't forgotten the three questions above; we'll get back to them. But we're still dealing with the fundamental principles, and why the specific claims of liberal sociologists are actually irrelevant.
We have a fundamental principle in the United States; and that is that "rights" inhere in individuals... not factions. It does not matter how a right will affect the results of an election; freedom of speech applies to all, not just favored constituencies; either every individual has the right or none does.
In this case, no individual legal voter is denied his right to vote merely because a convicted felon with a similar skin color has lost his right to vote. My voting right is intact, even though white convicted felons housed nearby must sit out the election. However much the faction of liberal, black and Hispanic Democrats may wish they could scavange a few more votes from the prisons and among those felons who have served their time, they have no "right" to those votes.
The hyper-principle here is that the Voting Rights Act was never meant to hand more power to a particular voting faction; it was meant to protect each individual from being wrongfully denied his constitutional and state-constitutional right to cast a vote. It no more violates the voting right of a legal voter to disenfranchise convicted felons than it does to disenfranchise children, non-residents, aliens, or those who do not register to vote.
To say otherwise is to say that everyone can vote... mewling infants, alien serial killers, foreigners living abroad, and the dead. (But if the dead aren't allowed to vote, how will Democrats ever win another election in Illinois, Louisiana, or New Jersey?)
That is why it literally should make no difference whether the judicial system in Washington state is racist, because the remedy plaintiffs sought (and the Ninth Circus granted) was wild overkill, and a complete non-sequitur:
- If plaintiffs could prove that blacks and Hispanics were being convicted of bogus charges in order to prevent them from voting, then they should bring a case to release those particular blacks and Hispanics and expunge their convictions.
- If plaintiffs could prove that blacks and Hispanics were being frightened away from the polls by a latter-day Bull Connors, then they should bring a case to prevent the police from doing so, and perhaps award damages to the actual victims.
But under no circumstances should the "remedy" be to allow all felons, willy-nilly, to vote, because that is not even the problem they allege. The problem they allege is that the justice system is racially discriminatory, not that it's unconstitutional or illegal, as a general point, to suspend or eliminate a felon's voting rights (along with his right to possess firearms, his right to join the armed services, and so forth).
The proof is simple: If they were asserting a general right of felons to vote, then why bring up racial discrimination at all? If a felon has such a right, then he has it whether he is black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian -- or white; and whether he is incarcerated in a city that has a discriminatory justice system or one whose justice system is squeaky clean, even by Stephen Reinhardt's standards.
By relying on claims of racial discrimination and the Voting Rights Act, plaintiffs admit that they only assert that some felons have the right to vote, not every felon everywhere; some felons are more equal than others. A black felon housed in Massachusetts has no such right; but if he's transferred to a prison in, say, rural Georgia, where the justice system may be racially discriminatory, then he would suddenly gain the right to vote -- even if he were never detained, searched, arrested, tried, or convicted in that county. Quelle surprise!
That is why I didn't even bother examining the claims of racial discrimination in the Washington justice system: As Perry Mason would say, because it's irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial... and that is the part of this debate that has not changed since the 60s (when the lunacy began), nor since the 80s (when I began debating the lunatics).
All right, with the principles clarified, we could stop right there; we don't reach the question of the science. But we're not a court, so we can still ask those three questions about this particular issue. In case you've forgotten in all the excitement, here they are again:
- Is the science truly settled?
- If so, then what are all the options available to the state alleviate the problem?
- Finally, among all those options, which is the least disruptive to liberty, social order, and the will of the people?
On the first question, no, the science is obviously not settled, because many criminologists and sociologists argue that the justice system is not inherently racially discriminatory; as Patterico notes, the plaintiffs' experts actually cite some of those disagreeable dissenters.
"Not settled" guarantees that somebody is wrong here. It doesn't guarantee anybody is right; in theory, everyone could be wrong! But at the least, the anointed reformers could be wrong; the scientific method will have to sort it all out... assuming it's allowed to function, unlike the Climategate fiasco.
So far as I know, Patterico is not qualified to mediate between competing scientific claims about racial disparities and racial discrimination. Certainly neither am I, despite my math background; the intricacies of the science are well beyond me. But neither is either Reinhardt or Beckett; so where do they get off, ruling that Crutchfield and Beckett had better science than other researchers who found no illegal discrimination? Has either robèd gentleman taken even a single university-level course in statistics?
For an encore, Reinhardt and Tashima will issue a legal opinion on the Continuum Hypothesis, whether an infinity exists strictly between ℵ0 and ℵ1; the mathematical world waits with baited hook.
As I noted last post, all criminologists (including those hired by the plaintiffs in this very case!) agree that people from different cultures do indeed have different crime rates; the only disagreement is whether that behavior completely explains the conviction discrepency. Ergo, there is no consensus that the system is racist, and the very first threshold condition is not met.
Mind, all three must be met before it's legitimate for judges to monkey with voting or legislating. The anointed reformers have already lost the argument (though not the case, alas, at least not yet). But in fact, they lose on both other points as well:
They failed to enumerate all the available options, or even all the obvious ones. For example, they didn't suggest that each convicted felon's case should be reviewed, and voting rights granted only where a significant likelihood exists that the convict was railroaded due to racial discrimination. Why should a white convict caught red-handed robbing a Tofu store have his voting rights restored? What does that have to do with the plaintiffs' race-based theory of the case?
Finally, nobody has claimed, not even Patterico, that the majority judges weighed several options for dealing with the supposed racism within the justice system -- then picked the least disruptive of them all. I conclude a complete lack of parsimony; they jumped right to the most radical "remedy."
See? I didn't forget.
So the long and the short of it [hah, try and find the "short"!] is that I didn't grapple with the specifics of the claims by the anointed reformers because it's a dead-end detour; it has nothing to do with what's so wrongheaded about this decision. The scheme is as old as dirt, and I figured out a long time ago that there is never any closure arguing with people like Professor Crutchfield: He'll let you horse him around from one inconsistency to the next; then when you get tired and wander away, he'll loudly declare victory.
I went straight for the rhetorical jugular, the unAmericanness and radical nature of this decision. I have no regrets.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 6, 2010
Voting Rights for Felons: "Race Neutral" = Race Biased
In an astonishment of paralogia and "dumbth," a three-judge panel of (what else?) the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals has just ruled, 2-1, that felons should be allowed to vote, even while still in prison.
To add collectivist offense to insult (they went long past mere injury), their reasoning was so racially byzantine that it sounds like a parody: A greater percent of blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated than whites; therefore, depriving these felon convicts the right to vote from their prison cells violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act!
"I can hear the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree..."
Say -- wouldn't the mere fact that blacks and Hispanics are jailed at greater percentages than whites all by itself violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act ban on segregation? Let's mandate that all races be incarcerated at exactly the same percentage as their representation in society: We let all the excess blacks and Hispanics go free, and send an appropriate number of whites and Asians to prison to balance it out, even if they haven't been convicted of any crime. Sounds like a natural extension of the court's reasoning to me.
(This is a non-trivial analogy: The reasoning of this panel is that the punishment violates the Voting Rights Act because, due to black and Hispanic overreprepresentation in prison, those federally defined races suffer a "disparate impact." But by the same logic, if blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at a greater rate than their numbers in the population, that too is a "disparate impact" that dictates where people are allowed -- or in this case, required -- to live on the basis of race. I'm certain the next step is to do just what I sarcastically suggest in the paragraph immediately above.)
The majority decision was written by Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima, who was first nominated to the bench by Jimmy Carter in 1980, then elevated to the Ninth Circus by Bill Clinton in 1995 (confirmed in 1996); the dissenter -- she wanted it remanded back to the courts to consider whether this calamity of non-voting felons was mitigated by a recent Washington state law making it easier for felons to recover their right to vote after finishing their sentences -- the dissenter, Margaret McKeown, was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1997. (I cannot find the name of the concurring judge.)
Here's the court's reasoning, from SFGate, based in San Francisco:
In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the Washington law violates the federal Voting Rights Act because evidence showed discrimination against minorities at every level of the state's legal system: arrest, bail, prosecution and sentencing.
If the ruling survives, it will be binding in the circuit's other eight states, including California, which denies voting rights to 283,000 convicted felons in prison or on parole, according to a report from the nonprofit Sentencing Project.
About 114,000 are African Americans, who are disenfranchised at seven times the rate of the general population, the report said.
Among those in Washington state who commit crimes, "minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained and ultimately prosecuted," Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the appeals court's majority opinion.
For example, he said, studies showed that African Americans in Washington were more than nine times as likely to be in prison as whites and 70 percent more likely to be searched, even though a study of one police department found that officers were more likely to find contraband when searching whites.
Findings were similar for Latinos and Native Americans, none of which could be explained by differences in crime rates, Tashima said.
It's an odd kind of racism, however, that discriminates against blacks and Hispanics but in favor of Asians, who are so underrepresented in prison that they're routinely excluded from all statistical analyses of the prison population by race. This despite the fact that racial discrimination against Asians has a long history in the United States going all the way back to the mid-19th century. (American Indian is a separate category in our "race-neutral" federal taxonomy of race.)
It will probably be struck down anyway by the Supreme Court, if not by an en banc hearing of the Ninth:
A state appeals court in San Francisco upheld California's voting law last year. Three other federal appeals courts have ruled that the Voting Rights Act does not apply to bans on voting by felons.
"Part of being a good citizen is obeying the laws and not doing things to other citizens that are so egregious that you end up in prison," said Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, who promised an appeal of the ruling. "If you do, you are going to be denied your right to participate as a full citizen in our society."
Nevertheless, let's pick through the detritis of legalisms the court appears to have relied on in this wretched decision, propositions so risible that only a lawyer could argue them. It won't take long (compared to reading Tolstoy):
Blacks are "disenfranchised" at a rate not proportionate to their numbers within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; this clearly proves the entire justice system is racially discriminatory.
The assumption here is that all races, cultures, sexes, ethnicities, and nationalities should logically commit crimes at the same rate; thus, we would expect black teenagers living in Compton or Watts (or whatever the equivalent ghetto is in Washington) are no more likely to commit a felony than a Japanese-American soccer mom living in Beverly Hills. Ergo, if we find that more inner-city black youts per capita are imprisoned than Asian mothers of middle-school kids, we've proven illegal discrimination.
Anyone who accepts such a line of hooey is a dolt, robes or no robe.
Clearly, different races have different propensities towards crime. I do not believe this is due to genetics; rather, the cultures they have grown up in and voluntarily internalized "enable" wicked, evil, criminal behavior more than do other cultures. (And yes, before you ask, I have indeed read the Bell Curve and find many of their arguments unpersuasive.)
For example, the statistical tables for the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted annually by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, finds (Table 40) that blacks account for 31.7% of all completed violent crimes (single offender), including 42.2% of all completed robberies and 50.8% of all completed robberies with injuries.
Yet a quick glance through at the U.S. Census numbers for 2006 shows that blacks make up only 13% of the population (which is likely an overcount, since it's based on self-report). Even accepting this probably exaggerated figure, that indicates blacks commit violent crimes at a rate two and a half times more than their percent of the population; they commit robberies at three times their numbers; and they commit robberies with injuries to the victim at a rate four times their numbers.
Every criminologist will tell you the same thing: Blacks and Hispanics commit more violent crimes per capita than do whites; though ideologically reassuring for some, the axiom of "cultural equivalence" falls apart in the real world. Thus merely citing "disproportionality" proves nothing about causality.
(For that matter, 93% of those imprisoned in 2008 were male; isn't anyone going to investigate the "obvious" sex discrimination against men?)
Minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained and ultimately prosecuted.
Searched: If the victim describes his attacker as black, Hispanic, or Asian, shouldn't the police focus their searches on people who at least meet the description? Or should they stop and search white senior citizens, even when the victim says he was robbed by a young black male, just to even things out? This is lunacy.
Arrested, detained, prosecuted: Police arrest or detain suspects when their investigations find evidence supporting an arrest or detention. If the court wants to rule that racism pervades "the system," shouldn't they at least point to evidence that, say, blacks found with crack cocaine are routinely arrested, while whites found with crack cocaine are routinely set free?
If there was any evidence of such, I strongly suspect it would have been reported by somebody; yet I read nine separate articles and found no reference to any such evidence.
Minorities are more likely to be convicted than whites who commit crimes, and more likely to be incarcerated if convicted.
The SFGate article didn't mention anything about conviction rates or sentencing, but that must (by definition) explain the "missing" percent to account for the higher rate of incarceration of racial minorities than whites. There are a number of non-racially discriminatory reasons why certain minorities could be convicted at a rate higher than whites (and much higher than Asians):
- Type of crime -- Some felonies, such as robbery, are more easily prosecuted than others, such as confidence games, burglary of unoccupied buildings, or insider stock trading, due to the differential impact on a jury of eyewitness testimony v. forensic testimony. Blacks and Hispanics commit violent crimes at a rate higher than whites, but whites probably commit nonviolent crimes at a higher rate than do blacks. Put the two together, and you have part of the incarceration answer.
Poverty of defendant -- It seems self evident that people with money stand a better chance of being acquitted, or if convicted, a better chance of avoiding prison time, than poor people; quality of representation plays a huge role at trial (duh). It might be unpleasant to realize that the rich get off in situations where the poor, with their court-appointed attorneys, get jugged... but it is not due to race, as the O.J. Simpson trial proved.
A lower percent of blacks and Hispanics than whites and Asians are able to afford a high-powered attorney. But if that is now "evidence" of racial discrimination in the courtroom, then we may as well say that the undeniable fact that a greater percent of whites than blacks can afford big houses "proves" racial discrimination in the real-estate market. What next -- must we have racial quotas for mansion ownership? Let's just ban all private housing and make everyone live in identical, government-owned shoeboxes.
- Attitude at trial -- Do we know for sure that black and Hispanic defendants are no more likely than whites and Asians to have a truculent, belligerent demeanor, leading juries to be more likely to convict them? I sure don't, and it doesn't seem facially obvious to me that childhood and adult-selected culture would have no effect on how a defendant acts during his trial. Again, combine the two, and you have defendents of certain races sabotaging their trials by their own aberrant behavior.
- Defendant's plea -- The BJS reports that of those defendants sentenced for a criminal offense in 2006, 94% pled guilty. But how does that break down by those sent to prison and those given probation or just a fine? Is a defendant more likely to go to prison if he pleads guilty, or if he pleads not guilty and vigorously contests conviction? If the former, as I believe if it, and if blacks and Hispanics were more likely to plead guilty than whites and Asians, that too would trend towards explaining why some races are overrepresented in prison.
- Prior convictions -- I haven't seen any statistic on how many blacks and Hispanics have prior convictions versus how many whites and Asians; this can certainly affect whether the convict is sentenced to prison. Where is the study on this question?
There are five confounding factors just off the top of my head, ten minutes' thought. No story I've read has raised a single one of these factors; evidently, they don't fit what Andrew Breitbart calls the "story-board" of this issue -- the comic-book tale that journalists really want to tell -- and all facts will be tortured until they surrender to it. In this case, the story-board is summed up by some jerk at Newsweek:
But the issue of prisoners participating in our democracy buries the real news in the decision. The court threw out Washington's law because its criminal-justice system is biased against minorities. The problem isn’t with disenfranchising prisoners, it’s with a state legal system that unfairly throws so many people of color in prison that their voting power is diluted.
This is followed by a slavish recitation of the statistical "proof" of discrimination, about which seldom is heard a discouraging word.
What it really boils down to is that the burden of proof should be on those claiming the entire justice system is riddled with racism... not on the rest of us to "prove" that racial discrimination (by whom?) didn't play a role in some black mugger with mutiple priors being sent to the Concrete Mama in Walla Walla.
Let's swing back to the Fox News story for a moment; this is the quotation that fired me up to write this post:
The two appellate judges ruled that disparities in the state's justice system "cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."
What do they mean by "race-neutral?" I think it's pretty clear that they demand that all races commit crimes in lockstep with their percent of the population. When that doesn't happen, they immediately see racism as the only possible explanation.
Today, their solution is to allow imprisoned felons, who have shown contempt for the law, to vote on who will create those laws; that is, to remove that punishment for crime. But tomorrow it may be, as I suggested, to simply force the prison system to precisely mirror the racial makeup of the country... no matter what disparate impact that would have in the real world on whites and Asians accused of crimes.
But there is a deeper, even more insidious racism in this case, and it oozes from every pore of the majority: By ruling that denying voting rights to convicted felons discriminates against minorities in general, two judges are equating felons of all races with the entire minority population. It's as bad as saying an entrance exam for getting into university "discriminates against blacks." Why, because blacks are known to be unusually stupid?
How stunningly offensive. Crikey, what a horrendous calumny that is on the honest, law-abiding, minority population of the entire western United States.
How does Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa feel to learn that anti-punishment radicals equate his voting rights with those of convicted felons, or argue that Villaraigosa is statistically "more likely" to be sent to prison than, say, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom? I would be hopping mad.
This entire decision of the Ninth Circuit is based upon collectivist reasoning, seeing every person who happens to be black or Hispanic as nothing but a representative of his race, felons an all. The court gives no weight to the individual choices made by free individuals in a free society; it's a vile, despicable worldview that has more in common with Jim Crow than with the Voting Rights Act.
The best defense against racism -- the ultimate collectivism -- is not more collectivism, but rather treating people as individuals. Alas, I suspect it will be a long, long time before the Ninth Circus dips a toe into such a radical pond as individualism.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 29, 2009
Whitewashing the Panthers
The attempt to stonewall investigation into the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party -- the case was dismissed by Attorney General Eric Holder (the first black attorney general!, a fact the NBPP seems to find of great significance) and Barack H. Obama (the first black President!, ditto) even after the Justice Department won it by default -- has just taken another stupifying turn: The administration booted Christopher Coates, the voting-rights section chief who signed off on the complaint against the Black Panthers, out of the prestigious D.C. office and down to South Carolina:
The veteran Justice Department voting rights section chief who recommended going forward on a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party after they disrupted a Pennsylvania polling place in last year's elections has been removed from his post and transferred to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina.
Justice Department officials confirmed Monday that Christopher Coates, who signed off on the complaint's filing in federal court in Philadelphia in January accusing the party and three of its members of civil rights violations, would begin his new assignment next month.
I suppose there could be an innocent explanation; I understand Coates graduated from the University of North Carolina... mayhap he was just pining for the Carolinas and reckoned either one of 'em would do. But coming at the end of such a timeline of scandal, it's a bit thick:
- December 22nd, 2008: Career Justice Department officials decide to proceed against the Panthers for their intimidation of white voters and Republican poll watchers in Philadelphia during the November presidential election.
January 7th, 2009: Christopher Coates signs off on a civil complaint against the NBPP and three members alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:The complaint, filed in the United States District Court in Philadelphia, alleges that, during the election, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson were deployed at the entrance to a Philadelphia polling location wearing the uniform of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and that Samir Shabazz repeatedly brandished a police-style baton weapon.
(The third member named was Malik Zulu Shabazz, Chairman of the NBPP.)
Career prosecutors at Justice pursued the case vigorously, but the Panthers failed to participate, show up, or even respond; they simply ignored the proceedings against them.
April 7th, 2009: Prosecutors obtained an affidavit from Bartle Bull, "longtime civil rights activist and former aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign," who stated that he personally "saw the three uniformed Panthers confront and intimidate voters with a nightstick."Mr. Bull said the "clear purpose" of what the Panthers were doing was to "intimidate voters with whom they did not agree." He also said he overheard one of the men tell a white poll watcher: "You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker."
But this affidavit was never filed with the court; no explanation why not has ever forthcome.
- April 20th, 2009: The court issued a default judgment against the NBPP.
May 15th, 2009: The Department of Justice filed a "notice of voluntary dismissal," notwithstanding the default judgment against the Panthers:
Court records reviewed by The Times show that career Justice lawyers were seeking a default judgment and penalties against the three men as recently as May 5, before abruptly ending their pursuit 10 days later.
People directly familiar with the case, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution, said career lawyers in two separate Justice offices had recommended proceeding to default judgment before political superiors overruled them.
The "political superiors" would presumably be Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli (a political appointee and big-time fundraiser for Obama during his campaign -- number three at Justice); acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King; and, one presumes, Attorney General Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. himself.
New Black Panther Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson were dismissed from the case altogether; while Justice sought an injunction against Samir Shabazz that he "not display a 'weapon within 100 feet of any open polling location on any election day in the city of Philadelphia' -- until November 15th, 2012, when the injunction expires. After that date, he is evidently free to resume his armed vigil outside Philly polling places... as he is free to do immediately anywhere outside the City of Brotherly Love.
June 16th, 2009: The United States Commission on Civil Rights sent a letter to the DoJ demanding to know why the case was dismissed after it had already been won:"Though it had basically won the case, the [Civil Rights Division] took the unusual move of voluntarily dismissing the charges , " the letter said. "The division's public rationale would send the wrong message entirely -- that attempts at voter suppression will be tolerated and will not be vigorously prosecuted so long as the groups or individuals who engage in them fail to respond to the charges leveled against them."
The CCR began an investigation of the case and its voluntary dismissal by Perrelli and King, as well as others, such as the number two at Justice, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden. The Commission has the authority to issue subpoenas with which, by law, all federal agencies must comply:The commission, by law, has explicit power to issue subpoenas, and the law mandates that "all federal agencies shall cooperate fully with the commission."
It eventually subpoenaed two career DoJ attorneys, Christopher Coates and J. Christian Adams, to come before the commission and testify about the NBPP case. There are some indications that Deputy Attorney General Ogden was also subpoenaed, but I cannot say for sure.
December 2nd, 2009: Notwithstanding the law, the Justice Department ordered Coates and Adams not to comply with their subpoenas, neither to testify nor appear before the Commission on Civil Rights. The Department of Justice insisted that their own "internal regulations" dating from 1951 trump the more recent federal law.
On this same day, Ogden announced his resignation after less than a year on the job.
December 29th, 2009: And now today, the Washington Times -- which seems to be the go-to paper on this alleged violation of the rather important principle of the unbiased rule of law -- reports that Coates has just been ousted from the D.C. headquarters and reassigned to South Carolina.
Sure is a nice career you got going, kid; sure would be a shame if anything was to happen to it...
Two conclusions spring to mind:
First, the administration of Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder seems single-mindedly obsessed with crushing the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, preventing any outside investigation into said crushing, and punishing those who participated (under the previous administration) in bringing the case in the first place... those who naively believed that the point of the Voting Rights Act was to protect the voting rights of all the people, not just black liberals.
And second, I would recommend to J. Christian Adams that he get his resume in order... just in case.
I think we can find the key to unlock this mystery in the accusation leveled by New Black Panther Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz, from today's Washington Times story:
Party members have not returned numerous telephone messages and e-mails for comment, but told the Associated Press earlier this month in Dallas that the Justice Department was correct in dismissing the complaint. Malik Shabazz described the complaint as a "political witch hunt" aimed at discrediting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. -- the first black man to be named to the post.
I believe the order to kill the case came directly from Holder, if not from Obama himself, for several reasons:
- General sympathy with the leftist, blacktivist cause (perhaps absorbed by the president during his two decades in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ);
- Fear that Obama's victory (hence Holder's appointment) would be tainted by the whiff of scandal;
- And bitter, relentless, reflexive hatred of George W. Bush from Texas and everyone associated with him, leading to the automatic imputation of vile motives for every policy he enacted... including even his support for the civil-rights acts of the 1960s. If Bush pushed the case, then it must be for some disreputable, white "cracker" racist reason.
Howbeit, since they quashed the case (it seemed like a good idea at the time), Obama and especially Holder are locked into a policy of stonewalling: They're increasingly worried about the unanticipated consequences of such a blatantly partisan action, particularly after the Left kicked up such a fuss about the putative "politicization" of the Justice Department under President Bush. Thus they have no choice but to implement ever more draconian actions to keep the lid on the mounting scandal.
But Panthergate has become an out of control boiler; as the heat rises, so does the pressure. Eventually it will blow skywards, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Perhaps Christopher Coates will come to feel grateful for his exile to South Carolina, where he is less likely to be scalded by the superheated steam.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 11, 2009
Patterico has been driving a fascinating series of blogposts -- including two of mine, in my cacapity (sorry, it's after 2:00 pm, and I've had a three or four) capacity as a former guest blogger who still has blogging privileges on Patterico's Pontifications -- on the subject of racism. I find this not merely worth reading but utterly fundamental to any discussion of politics or cultural comparisons... because racism cuts to the quick of whether we see persons as individuals or as merely infinitesmial cogs in the giant machinery of State.
Big Lizards apple martini (not an "appletini," an appellation that makes us gag):
- One shot of Skyy vodka (unflavored);
- Three squirts of lime juice;
- Five shots of Dekuyper sour apple schnapps.
- Drink while watching (a) an original Perry Mason episode; (b) a "Thin Man" movie with William Powell and Myrna Loy, or (c) an episode of Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance.
Patterico's most recent "racism" entry is this, wherein he quotes a table-pounding assertion by blogger Beldar -- who I love like a sister... brother, whatever -- as if it were written on the wall by a giant finger... mene mene tekel upharsin!
Anyone of any race who denies having ever had racist thoughts is a liar. Anyone who expects us to believe that he or she has never had racist thoughts is a fool.
With all due respect (which translates to "I'm about to make a pompous ass of myself by contradicting my betters) to one of my favorite bloggers, who I have never met (though I would love to take him to sushi in Houston), this abstracted and overly symmetrical homily is a load of sea cucumber *.
Big Lizards ordinary extraordinary gin martini:
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice;
- Pour in a shot of vermouth;
- Shake vigorously;
- Pour the vermouth out and down the drain... you don't need it, it's just a condiment;
- Pour a shot of Citadelle gin into the shaker;
- Shake vigorously; the gin will pick up the slight flavor of the coating of vermouth from steps 2 and 3;
- Pour into a martini glass;
- Add three or four Tabasco peppers on a toothpick;
- Drink while listening to 1970s progrock... King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull (especially Songs From the Wood -- that kind of music. You know what I mean.)
- For a burst of flavor, eat the peppers while the alcohol still swirls around your mouth.
What is a "racist thought?" It must surely be a thought that is racist... that is, a thought that betrays a belief that at least one race is implicitly "superior" to at least one other race. Oh, wait; let me clarify some terms, so that we're all speaking the same language:
Racist: A person who believes some races are cosmically inferior to others.
Racial bigot: A person who dislikes people because they belong to a particular race.
Racialist: A person who thinks race is always a person’s most important characteristic.
Racial separatist: A person advocating a separation of the races.
Racial supremicist: A person who believes one race should rule over the others.
Racial discrimination: Treating a person differently because of his race.
…Distinct words for distinct concepts.
It’s important we all use by and large the same language: A person can be a racial separatist without being a racial supremicist (Randy Weaver, for example), or he can be a racial bigot without being a racist, or he can be a racist but not engage in racial discrimination.
More often if he’s one, he’s the other; but the terms are not synonyms.
It's important to define your terms, as Ayn Rand insisted. (I'm not a Randroid, by the way; I think she was an interesting but not compelling philosopher, and her misunderstanding of mathematical logic was of the towering, epic class. But she was right on this specific point of defining terms; trust me.)
Taking this definition as our lodestone, a "racist thought" is a thought that directly states, or at least presupposes, that (to simplify) race A is inherently superior to race B. But there exist people in the world (I'm one of them) who believe that "race" is an artificial, artifactual construct with no corresponding physical reality. That is, many of us believe that race is simply an external characteristic that is applied retroactively to humans on the basis of superficial and meaningless biophysical morphologies.
Therefore, it would be intellectually impossible for me to have a "racist thought": It would be like accusing me of believing that one astrological sign was inherently superior to another. I don't believe in astrology, I reject the physical existence of astrological signs -- not just rhetorically but in my very being; so how could I imagine that Libra, my own sign, was superior or inferior to Sagittarius, Sachi's sign? I don't even believe that zodiacal signs mean anything at all, other than the ability of humans to look at a cloud and see a horsey, a ducky -- or a scales or archer.
Similarly, I don't look at a black man and see a different subspecies; I simply see someone who occupies a particular point on an n-dimensional graph of physical characteristics... facial features, hue, height, build, and so forth. I don't see a "black" -- I see an individual who is darker than I, probably taller, has a particular shaped nose, etc.
Beldar's projections from his own programming, having grown up in the South, are meaningless to me; I don't see "races," so how could I see one race as superior or inferior to another? He can recline on his couch and make lordly pronouncements that everyone harbors racist thoughts; but he's simply generalizing from the particular to the universal... and doing it badly.
I could no more think that blacks were inferior to whites than I could think that people with yellow hair ("blonds") were inherently stupid compared to people with brown hair ("brunets")... or that libras were smarter than sagittariuses.
Now to Patterico. My friend and former blogboss asserts the following astounding claim:
Beldar makes two very important points: 1) "making a racist comment does not mean you are a racist," and 2) "you need not “intend” to be racist to be racist."
As for the first point, that is why I was careful to say that I was not calling R.S. McCain a racist....
As to point 2), there are just a lot of instances where it just makes no sense to say you “intended” racism.
The first paraphrase from the first paragraph simply plays with definitions; the second is demonstrably false. Point 1:
- The most logical and obvious definition of a racist is a person who harbors racist beliefs.
- A racist belief is one that assumes, explicitly or implicitly, that one race is superior to another.
- Anyone who believes that one race is superior to another is, by definition, a racist.
- Ergo, anyone who intentionally makes a racist statement is, again by definition, either a racist (if he is honest) or a mendacious liar (if he doesn't really believe what he says)... because he intentionally stated -- that is, trying to make people believe -- that one race is superior to another.
So what about the second point; what does it mean to say that one "intends to be racist?" Again, I think it clear that, because racist means "believ[ing] some races are cosmically inferior to others," making any statement that is racist -- implying or explicitly stating that one race is inferior to others -- one must either believe what one has said, which means one has been racist... or else one doesn't believe what one has said, which means one was telling a deliberate falsehood.
On the second prong of the fork, there are only two reasons one might say something racist without really meaning it: Either you are deliberately playing on the latent racism of some listener, hoping to mislead him into a racist belief... or else your statement was never intended to be believed in the first place. For an example of the latter, consider Carroll O'Connor, playing Archie Bunker in a teleplay, making racist comments in a conscious effort to make his character seem repugnant and reprehensible.
Other than such satirical or pedantic pronouncements, it's hard to think of an instance in which one would utter a racist comment without intending to utter a racist comment. However, I can think of many instances in which one would intentionally utter a racist comment -- but not realize there was anything wrong with such racism... which I think is what Beldar and Patterico mistake for not "intentionally" being racist.
But an analogy makes clear that this is rhetorical error. The analogy is a person who kills a rival or object of hatred, not realizing there is anything wrong with doing so. Can he still be convicted of murder? Of course he can! For murder, one must only have the intention to kill a person, in a situation not allowed by law; there is no requirement that one realize that such killing is wrong... only that he realizes that he is killing a person, and that killing a person is against the law.
Otherwise, you could not convict, say, a Sicilian who believes that it's perfectly acceptable to kill the brother of a person who wronged him. Evviva la vendetta!
For a racist statement to be intentional, I only must show that the speaker intended to state that one race is inferior to another... not that he understands that non-racists reject such categorizations. Thus, David Duke may think there is nothing wrong in saying that blacks are inferior to whites; but his ignorance or paleolithic opinons don't exonerate him from the proper charge of racism.
So the only way to make a racist statement without being racist... is to state the idea that one race is inferior to another without any desire to advance that idea. In other words, to dishonestly (for entertainment or perversity) say something you don't really believe, even for a moment... like if, in response to an attack by some liberal, I were to say ironically, "Oh yes, I think blondes are all stupid."
So other than obvious instances of irony, playacting, or mendacious instances of misleading, when a person makes a racist comment, it clearly implies that he harbors racist thoughts... hence is a racist.
Sorry, my friends; but the Beldar/Patterico thesis that one can utter unconscious racism without having any racist thought is a risible humbug.
There; who says alcohol addles the mind? God, I wish I had some LSD. Haven't had a microgram in twenty years. Yeesh. (All right, all right, don't panic; everything is back to norble.)
* Sea cucumber is the most vile, disgusting, emetic "food" animal; it is eaten only by deranged individuals, in restaurants that cater to the mentally condemned. It's the same phylum as a sea star (a.k.a., a starfish); anybody who would voluntarily eat an echinoderm like a sea star, desperately needs psychiatric counseling. (Exceptional dispensation is offered for the roe of sea urchins, which is heavenly... though not the sea urchin itself.)
September 15, 2009
Democrats, Joe Wilson, Maureen Dowd, and the "R" Word
On Dennis Prager's radio show today, he expressed utter befuddlement about the Democratic attack on Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), who shouted "You lie!" at President Barack H. Obama during the ObamaCare speech to a joint session of Congress; Prager couldn't understand why the Left would call Wilson racist, and claim his outburst was an act of racism. In particular, Prager was at a loss whether Maureen Dowd, who jumped in front of the parade with her column Saturday, actually believed what she wrote -- that when Wilson yelled "You lie," he really meant "You lie, boy!"
I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer -- the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids -- had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids -- from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president -- no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq -- convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.
("No Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W.?" Ye flipping gods! What planet does Ms. Dowd hail from?)
Indeed, Prager is not alone: I would say 95% of the Republican Party either cannot fathom how Dowd, et al, could possibly think that opposition to the Obamacle stems entirely from racism, or else flatly believes that Democrats don't believe it but are merely using it as a convenient and effective, if vile, rhetorical device. But conservatives are really being unfair to Democrats: They do, in fact, believe what they say; it's not just a handy stick to bash conservatives... and it's fully consonant with well-articulated liberal orthodoxy going back many decades, to the very cusp of the civil-rights movement itself in 1909.
I'm stunned that conservatives and Republicans fail to grasp, even today, what "affirmative action" actually implies. Haven't we been paying attention?
Left-liberal "affirmative action" was first brought to federal public policy by President John F. Kennedy (which many Republicans, especially neoconservatives, still revere) and perpetuated by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (which everybody on both sides the aisle hates). It has always meant going the extra mile (or thousand miles) to establish, encourage, or solidify "diversity"... where diversity means "an increase in the number of non-whites, non-males, and non-heterosexuals in any field of endeavor."
Kennedy seems to have first used the word in Executive Order 10925:
The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity established by this order is directed immediately to scrutinize and study employment practices of the Government of the United States, and to consider and recommend additional affirmative steps which should be taken by executive departments and agencies to realize more fully the national policy of nondiscrimination within the exeoutive branch of the Government....
The contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin....
The Committee may direct that any bidder or prospective contractor or subcontractor shall submit, as part of his Compliance Report, a statement in writing, signed by an authorized officer or agent of any labor union or other workers' representative with which the bidder or prospective contractor deals, together with supporting information, to the effect that the said labor union's or representative's practices and policies do not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, creed, or national origin, and that the labor union or representative either will affirmatively cooperate, within the limits of his legal and contractual authority, in the implementation of the policy and provisions of this order or that it consents and agrees that recruitment, employment, and the terms and conditions of employment under the proposed contract shall be in accordance with the purposes and provisions of the order.
Kennedy thus distinguished "affirmative action" from passive non-discrimination: It's not enough, he ordered, that public and private employers and contractors not discriminate against blacks; rather, they must go out of their way to remedy such de facto discrimination, even if unintentional.
As it turns out (and was clear to many from the outset), there is only one way to remedy "racial discrimination" that is neither intentional nor deliberate, but arises from actual differences and personal preferences of individual blacks and whites, men and women; and that is, in fact, to racially and sexually discriminate -- but this time, in favor of anyone who is not a heterosexual white male.
Worse, pesons of all races, both genders, and all sexual preferences must be told they cannot do what they want but must instead do what is best for "diversity." Individual blacks must attend Harvard, even if they would feel much more comfortable at UCLA; every individual woman must become a career politcian, lawyer, or aerospace engineer, even if what she really wants is to marry, keep house, and raise children. And individual gays and lesbians are pressured to marry, even if they reject the monogamous gay lifestyle as too much like heterosexuality.
Thus even from the outset, affirmative action lurched along in opposition to its false-flag, equalitarian rhetoric of treating people as individuals, not representatives of racial, ethinic, sexual, or sexual-preference groups, "without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." Affirmative action has always demanded racial and sexual preferences.
The rhetorical devotion to Martin Luther King, jr.'s "dream" of a time when people "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" -- has always been in tension against the actual political combat fought to institute programs that intentionally discriminate on the basis of race... but for "the other side" in the putative race wars. Even King himself, for all his lofty, equalitarian rhetoric, advocated programs that today would unquestionably be called "affirmative action," such as Operation Breadbasket ("King staffers gathered data on the hiring patterns of corporations doing business in black communities, and called on companies to rectify disparities").
Even King's words often advocated explicit racial preferences:
- "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."
- "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro."
- "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war."
Politically, Ronald Reagan was right when he said that King was a "near-Communist." It's inarguable that dream or no dream, King was a collectivist, no matter what he said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Conservatives and Republicans claim to understand this, but I don't think they've really internalized it... else they would have no difficulty grokking Maureen Dowd's attack on Joe Wilson.
Brilliant feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers (author of Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women; The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; and other excellent reads) distinguishes between what she calls "equity feminism" -- the belief that men and women should be given equal opportunity to achieve their goals as their individual talents and perseverence allow -- and "gender feminism," the belief that we should always support women over men. The former is the feminism she grew up believing; the latter is what the feminist movement has degenerated into, she argues. You will be unshocked to learn that Sommers is the bête noire of NOW, NARAL, and other movement organizations.
For clarity, let's adapt those terms to affirmative action in general. We'll speak of equity individualism on the one hand and diversity discrimination on the other... and now at last we can resolve Dennis Prager's dilemma.
Prager kept demanding to know how yelling "You lie!" at the president was a comment on race when it doesn't even mention race; he couldn't understand why Dowd attributed opposition to Obamunism -- including something as innocuous as trying to refuse stimulus money -- to racism, but didn't attribute opposition to George W. Bush (even by blacktivists) to racism. But Prager's confusion comes directly from trying to apply the principles of equity individualism to Maureen Dowd's column... when in fact it stems directly from her real principle, shared by nearly all liberals and Democrats, of diversity discrimination.
Once we understand that, then like a spider's web, the pieces of the "Wilson attack" fit neatly into place: Liberals consider it an act of racism or sexism to treat America's first black president just like any old, previous, white male president... just as they consider it racist to do nothing in the face of de facto racial segregation, even when self selected (e.g., fewer blacks than whites are interested in taking up golf; fewer women than men are interested in becoming physicists and engineers).
Democrats cry racism when Republicans don't extend affirmative action to Barack Obama; when we don't treat him as different and special -- when we don't give him extra deference not extended to George W. Bush (or even to Bill Clinton) -- when we don't cut Obama more slack. That is, when we don't devote our political capital to helping Obama succeed in all his leftist policies, regardless of whether we as individuals support them (unimportant), that itself constitutes racism.
And this is not dishonest partisanship or an ad-hoc position they just now made up; this definition of racism traces directly from a long line of ideology that leads all the way back to the great philosophical war between Booker T. Washington, who championed nondiscrimination and individual black achievement, and W. E. B. Du Bois, who championed collectivist political action. Alas, Du Bois long ago won that argument within the black community, and the larger community of civil-rights advocates, when he co-founded the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- rather than the "National Association for the Equal Treatment of All Individuals."
Only recently have significant voices risen within these groups, blacks, women, and civil-rights advocates, to directly challenge the groupthink ideology of diversity discrimination and call for equity individualism instead: Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, Justice Clarence Thomas, Larry Elder, Christina Hoff Sommers, Phyllis Schlafly, David Horowitz, the late Charleton Heston, and many others. The trail was blazed by the late and very great Sen. Barry Goldwater, who fought for the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it was nothing but a ban on racial discrimination in government employment and contracting... but then withdrew his support and courageously voted against it when it morphed into a collectivist affirmative-action plan that constrained private individuals' control of their own private property, even for ugly and nefarious ends.
So put the attacks into perspective, please. Dowd, et al, are not claiming that Wilson is actively engaging in segregation, white supremacy, or racism by shouting at the president; they don't think he would be perfectly happy with Obamunism if Obama were white.
Rather, they attack Wilson, et al, for engaging in passive discrimination by not treating Obama with greater deference than they would treat a white liberal president: They're not accusing us of not treating a black president as equal to a white president... they're accusing us of not treating him as "more equal" than a white president. The accusation makes perfect sense -- given the premises of the accusers.
As usual, it all comes down to axioms. Therein lies the great gulf between individualism and collectivism.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 6, 2009
Nearly Everybody Tarred by "Gates" Episode
Just about everybody associated with the Professor Henry Gates episode got tarred by it, except for the poor lady who called in that someone was breaking into the Harvard professor’s home.
She did everything that a good citizen is asked to do when he or she sees something that might be a crime. But she had to put up with being labeled a racist, even though the 911 call shows that she merely said that two people were breaking into the house -- and only after being prodded by the dispatcher did she then describe the ethnicity of the people that she saw.
Professor Gates behaved like an utter fool. One can imagine situations where being stopped by a cop is an occasion for playing the “race card” and being asked for your I.D. is an example of racial profiling. No one doubts that blacks and Hispanics have often been the victims of “driving while black” over the years, however Gates appeared entirely too quick to jump to that conclusion. He obviously operates with a chip on his shoulder.
Which brings me to the cop, Sgt. James Crowley, who committed, in my mind, an abuse of power that far too few people have remarked upon -- at least to my satisfaction.
It’s a given: Gates behaved like a bozo. However, in a free society, being rude to a cop should not be a cause for being arrested -- especially if you are in your own home. Free people have a God-given right to tell a police officer off and not be hauled off to jail in handcuffs.
That’s not to say that you have a right to resist arrest or to refuse to show your I.D. when an officer asks to see it, but once the officer established that Gates was who he said he was -- he should have shrugged his shoulders, let Gates rant, and left. It’s not illegal to be disrespectful to authority.
The officer knew that Gates had a perfect right to say what he was saying from inside his home, so he invited him to come out the door -- whereupon he arrested him. This is an abuse of power, pure and simple.
Oh yes, and President Obama behaved badly, too, by assuming a lot of things about the Cambridge police that were not in evidence. Presidents should inform themselves about situations before popping off. Obama didn’t.
July 24, 2009
Exposure: the Dark Night of Crowleygates
The initial (default) response of liberals, especially black liberals, to the Crowleygates scandal -- that because Sgt. James Crowley is white and Prof. Henry Louis Gates, jr., is black, this can only be a case of police racism or even "racial profiling" -- reaffirms a disturbing conclusion of mine from long back: With every step towards a more colorblind society, liberals instead see a mirror-image step in the opposite direction... whenever things get better, liberals see them getting worse, instead.
I have come to believe this is no coincidence. In fact, if whites and blacks (and all other minorities) actually started seeing the content of each other's character, rather than the color of each other's skin, it would devastate the march of liberalism, which depends upon helplessness and fear. Therefore, since "progressive" policy is more fundamental to the liberal worldview than mere racial harmony, any move towards colorblindness is seen as a great setback to civilization.
The net effect is that blacks are encouraged to believe increasingly risible falsehoods about "racial profiling" and "institutional racism," such as the absurdity that covert racism that can hardly be detected is worse than overt racism like Jim Crow laws. More blacks are consciously resegregating themselves socially from whites and resorting to what can only be described as "mau mauing;" and whites are now being socially (and sometimes legally) punished -- for not having a racialist viewpoint... it shows their reactionary mindsets, you understand -- their denial, their own unexamined racism!
We saw the same ugly effect during President Bill Clinton's "conversations about race" national breast-beating tour: When you put the camera on a black person and demand he talk about race, he feels tremendous pressure to dredge up real or fabricated examples of "racism" he has experienced, seen, or even just heard about -- rather than recalling the thousands of instances in which he was not treated differently or unfairly, even in situations that would surely have provoked real racism in the 1950s or 1960s. And when you put the camera on a white person and make the same demand that he expostulate on race, he experiences an almost irresistable impulse to apologize for the least infraction against political correctness... even begging forgiveness for unvocalized thoughtcrime.
Both tendencies are more marked among liberals; but even non-liberals feel the intense coercion of liberalism to see the American people as deeply, eternally, and irredeemably racist. This is terribly destructive to both minorities (especially blacks) and majorities:
- Minorities internalize the liberal myth that they can "never rise above their race," that they will never get a fair shake, that they can never succeed.
They also learn, from society, to blame every failure, from being fired to being arrested to being assaulted, on external forces beyond their control... so it's useless trying to control them by, e.g., improving their work habits, obeying the law, or picking a different, less violent crowd to hang around. This leads to a truculent, passive-aggressive apathy in some, and in others, "the rage of a privileged class," to lift the title of Ellis Cose's 1994 book. (Readers can decide for themselves which path Professor Gates chose.)
- Majorities feel like they're edging their way through a particularly dense minefield, where they must not only watch every word they say but are frequently called upon to belly-crawl for things they never did, or said, or even thought (in fact, they must apologize even for denying that they are racists).
In the minds of many liberals, "rage" has become a defense against impropriety, whether simply boorish behavior or actual criminal conduct. The first time I heard of "black rage" raised as a legal defense was when the vile and despicable William Kunstler -- lead attorney for Long Island Railroad killer Colin Ferguson (until Ferguson insisted upon representing himself) -- admitted that Ferguson had indeed shot six people to death and wounded 19 others on a commuter train in 1994; but Kunstler argued that Ferguson should be acquitted... because, as a black man, he had grown up in a "racist society" that quite understandably led to black rage. That is, Kunstler's "defense" was that Ferguson was enraged at the time he opened fire.
Who can argue with that?
During the O.J. Simpson trial at the same time, blacks almost reflexively rallied behind Simpson and accused the police of framing him, despite the mountain of evidence that Simpson was guilty. After the shameful acquittal, a black acquaintance of mine -- very moderate (though liberal), thoroughly middle-income with middle-class values and upbringing, with a good job and a talent for writing -- cheered the verdict. I asked him why, since he agreed that Simpson was probably guilty... and his answer is seared, seared in my brain. He said (this is an exact quotation), "At least a brother got away with it for once."
Two innocent people butchered due to Simpson's jealous, uncontrollable rage... but that's all right, because at least a black man managed to get away with murder! ("For once.")
Which brings us to the New York Times story linked above, relating liberal reactions to Crowleygates. The following facts are undisputed by Prof. Gates:
- Gates and another man were trying to break open the door of Gate's house;
- A concerned neighbor, thinking there was a burglary in progress, called the police;
- The police arrived in response to the call and found Gates inside his home; Gates said it was his own home, and Sgt. James Crowley demanded identification with a picture and the address;
- Gates, by his own admission, was belligerent from the start -- demanding Crowley's name and badge number immediately after showing his own ID and refusing to come outside to speak to them;
- Gates began accusing Crowley of racism for nothing more than demanding identification;
- Gates followed Crowley back out the door and onto the lawn after the initial incident was over, while Crowley was trying to leave;
- Outside, Gates continued to berate Crowley (in front of witnesses) as a racist.
Keep in mind all that inexplicable and frankly provacative, enraged, and challenging behavior of Gates; now read some of the statements gathered by the Times. They quote both black and white, but all of their interviewees appear to be liberals:
“No matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism,” said Keith E. Horton, a sports and entertainment lawyer in Chicago who is black. “That’s what the issue is to me....”
“It is unwise for anyone of any race to raise their voice to a law enforcement officer,” said Al Vivian, a diversity consultant in Atlanta who is black. “But the result at the end of the day is this was a man who violated no law, was in his own house, who is the top academic star at the top academic school in the nation, and he was still taken away and arrested....”
“It seems to me that Dr. Gates was simply arrested for being upset, and he was arrested for being upset because he’s a black man,” said Wayne Martin, 25, an official at the Atlanta Housing Authority, who is also black.
The way Mr. Martin described himself, he could be the very definition of a “post-racial” American. “I have children I’m trying to raise not to see race,” he said. “I’m beyond the whole black-white thing. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Yet Mr. Martin could not think of any other way than racism to explain what had happened to Professor Gates....
Sabine Charles, 37, a white cardiologist who lives in Hyde Park, is married to a black man and said that she could not count how many times people had interrupted the two over the years to ask her, quietly, “Is this man bothering you?”
“I say, ‘Guess what? He’s not! We’re actually on a romantic date, can’t you tell?’ ” she said. “Even here in this diverse area I’ve heard people say, ‘Look at those black guys coming toward us.’ I say, ‘Yes, but they’re wearing lacrosse shorts and Calvin Klein jeans. They’re probably the kids of the professor down the street.’ ” [Pardon my skepticism, but I doubt she has ever had the conversation she supposedly transcribes above.]
“You have to be able to discern differences between people,” she said, criticizing the practice of racial profiling. “It’s very frustrating....”
Mr. Vivian [the "diversity consultant" quoted above], 47, said that he had been unfairly stopped by the police in the past, but that he lived by “an unwritten code” for dealing with these incidents. And Dr. Gates certainly did not obey the code, he said.
Quiet politeness is Rule No. 1 in surviving an incident of racial profiling, he said. So is the frequent use of the word “sir....”
That there is a well-known code of behavior familiar to most minorities who are stopped by the police, Mr. Vivian said, is testament enough of a problem.
(Note the frequent confusion in this case between racism and "racial profiling" -- which makes absolutely no sense, as Gates was, in fact, the person that the neighbor saw and reported breaking into the house. He was not some unrelated person grabbed off the street merely for "driving while black," or somesuch.)
Those of us who are white, and who have ever been stopped or held by the police, could explain to Mr. Vivian (if that is his real name) that the same "code of behavior" is required by everybody who comes into contact with law enforcement -- majority and minority alike.
When I was at university, I was stopped and held on suspicion of burglary for about 45 minutes; I became the center of twelve police officers, who had arrived in eight different vehicles. Eventually, the sergeant rolled up in a station wagon -- which tells you how long ago this was -- took one look and said, "No, that's not him." Trust me on this: I behaved with exactly the "code of behavior" that Mr. V. says is "testament enough of a problem," that is, of racial profiling.
This brings up another problem in the racism narrative: Many middle-class, non-criminal blacks are unaware that the problems that occasionally beset them occasionally beset everyone, even whites. They get pulled over by a cop who seems not to have a definite purpose in mind; after some conversation, the cop lets them go... and they assume they were just profiled.
Well, they probably were: It may be a clear-cut case of auto-profiling. The cops got a call to be on the lookout for a bank-robbery suspect driving a white pickup with a license plate beginning 2S----. The police spot just such a vehicle on the freeway in the area, so they pull it over and investigate. The "investigation" comprises asking questions that any innocent person can answer logically and coherently -- such as "where are you coming from," "where are you going," and "is this your own driver's license?" -- but which criminals often have a deuced hard time answering at all. (If you don't believe it, watch a few episodes of Cops.)
What happened to Gates could happen to anybody, even to a white banker. The distinction is how Prof. Gates responded to the police contact. I assert that anybody acting as Gates did would likely have been arrested, no matter the race of the suspect or of the cop. But Gates is unaware of that fact, because he will not allow himself even to consider the possibility ("convictions make convicts," as Robert Anton Wilson was fond of saying): "It can't be true, because it would be so deflating to my ego if it were true!"
Another interviewee said: "“[T]he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.” Oh, wait, my mistake; that wasn't an interview in the Times... that was our illustrative President.
Alas, I believe that Barack H. Obama sees himself not just as the 44th President of the United States, but as the black man in the White House. My pal and former blogboss Patterico aptly caricatured Obama's initial statement as "I’m not taking sides on the Gates arrest -- but man, did the black man get screwed yet again!"
Liberals have utterly internalized a culture of victimhood: Liberal blacks see racism lurking behind every non-black face (and cannot see it at all behind a black face, not even Jeremiah Wright); liberal whites feel overwhelming soul-killing guilt for every act of racism, real or imagined, ever committed -- even by unrelated people decades or centuries ago -- so long as the perpetrators were white.
Sadly, the liberal narrative has been pushed so hard and so suffocatingly that liberal racialism, where "everything is determined by race," has become the default position of most Americans, even non-liberals. (Just as liberal economics, from New Deal-ism to Great Society-ism to Obamism, has settled in as the default economic position of the huge bulk of Americans.)
Even for conservatives, it's hard to wriggle out from under that heavy, stifling blanket; consider that Dennis Prager has often said that he totally opposes affirmative action... except for blacks, who, after all, have been treated shamefully by us whites. He cannot seem to comprehend that the blacks whining today have by and large not been treated shamefully; and the whites feeling guilty today did not themselves have anything to do with whatever shameful treatment occurred in the past... they're feeling racial guilt, which is the internal version of collective punishment.
My own experience tells me the self-inflicted resegregation of blacks and other minorities, and the equally self-inflicted wallowing in proxy guilt by whites, has gotten worse, not better, over the past 10-15 years... so the liberal narrative is not working as advertised. However, it may well be working as covertly intended.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
February 18, 2009
Eric Holder's "Race" to the Bottom
According to the Black Attorney General -- I would have simply written Attorney General, but every story in the elite media makes a big point of his blackitude, so I presume we're under orders to take note -- the biggest problem facing America today is that we just don't talk enough about race.
In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder said.
Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
I suppose Mr. Holder (did you know he is a black man?) hasn't considered the possibility that we average Americans don't talk much about race because we don't think about race... because we are not racists.
(Or even "racialists," which I'll temporarily define in this post as being obsessed with race to the point that virtually every issue, from the economy to globaloney to opposition to the "stimulus" porkapalooza, is fundamentally about race.)
Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
When President Barack H. Obama (the first African-American president) unveils his race initiative, I suppose it's inevitable that he will lean heavily on Gen. Holder... and that means we'll likely have a stunningly new and innovative project: a nation-wide conversation about race!
I know, I know; Bill Clinton (the first African-American president) already had a national conversation about race. But this one will be totally different, because this one will be conducted by an actual African-American black man, rather than a lilly-white "black" man who only got that appellation because he grew up in a broken home, his father deserted him, and he grew up poor and on welfare.
(Is it just me -- or does it seem a little, well, racist to imply that anyone from a socially deprived background is therefore an honorary African American?)
So we'll have yet another national conversation about race, this one focusing on affirmative action for weekends and personal friendships. If that doesn't work, Congress will just have to pass a law, a new "title" for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that makes it an offense to socialize with overly homogenous groups that do not include the correct quota of blacks, Mexicans, Native Americans, Hmong, and other federally protected (that is, reliably Democratic) ethnic groups. (Japanese, overly religious South Americans, Poles, and especially those Cuban "hystericos" in Miami don't count as minorities.)
I've annotated this next bit from the black Mr. H.; one of those "what he said" vs. "what he's thinking" pieces that makes it easier to understand the new way and what's expected of us in future:
Race, Holder said, "is an issue we have never been at ease with [except, of course, in the South, where everyone has a much higher NTF than in Manhattan, New England, San Francisco, and Hollywood, none of which allow blacks to live there] and, given our nation's history [as the most viciously racist country on the planet], this is in some ways understandable... If we are to make progress [enact racial quotas that reach into every nook and cranny of human interaction, from friendship to dating to marriage to mindless one-night stands] in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other [except for conservatives, of course, and anybody else who insists who insists upon judging people by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin] to have frank conversations [finger-wagging lectures] about the racial matters that continue to divide us [Democrat from Republican]."
So all you white people (who aren't black), and all you black and Hispanic conservatives (who aren't authentic), should begin practicing your public self-criticism confessions; you're going to need them. Probably by law.
In a country founded by slave owners, race has bedeviled the nation throughout its history, with blacks denied the right to vote just a few decades ago. Obama's triumph last November as well as the nomination of Holder stand as historic achievements of two black Americans.
Did I neglect to mention that Obama and Holder are black? My bad.
Even when people mix at the workplace or afterwork social events, Holder argued, many Americans in their free time are still segregated inside what he called "race-protected cocoons."
Gen. Holder is bemoaning the lack of mixed-race marriages, I suppose. I'll have to ask Sachi about it.
"Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago. This is truly sad," said Holder.
You know, I think Eric Holder (he's black, you know) has a point here: I've noticed that all the restaurants in my neighborhood segregate their bathrooms on the week-end; and on Saturday and Sunday, non-whites must sit at the back of the bus.
I suppose the new new national conversation about race is just the extension of Obamic diplomacy to the domestic sphere: All it takes is a nice talking out, and everything will be all right. And now, having resolved America's festering race problem -- on week-ends, we're just like the South under Jim Crow! -- he's off to Gitmo to resolve that dilemma will equal facility:
Holder is headed to Guantanamo Bay early next week to inspect the terrorist detention facility there. Obama has assigned Holder to lead a special task force aimed at closing the site within a year.
Holder's Justice Department will have to decide which suspects to bring to U.S. courts for trial, which to prosecute through the military justice system, and which to send back to their home countries.
See, there's this really simple solution that Republicans are just too blind to see; a few well-spoken words in the right ears will cause Egypt and Jordan and China and Saudi Arabia to take back their al-Qaeda prisoners, talk with them, sing and laugh, and persuade them that it's wrong to take out their understandable and righteous anger by beheading random Western men, women and children.
And Holder -- after holding a national conversation about classified intelligence information -- will then be able to proceed to trials of terrorist detainees in ordinary civilian courts, without fear of technical acquittals because the intelligence community refuses produce all its top-secret intel in court for the al-Qaeda lawyers to pore over. (Of course, CIA Director Leon Panetta -- he's not black, unless he has become black recently -- will probably just hand it all over anyway. Without preconditions.)
Golly, but I'm glad we elected a change-agent lightbringer who brings new hope for a world without conflict, war, or totalitarianism... or at least no totalitarianism of the Right.
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