Tag Archives: racism

Name Calling

In our reading on censorship, we came across this epithet, “white privilege, patriarchal, slave trading colonizer” – or words to that effect. We distinctly remember that the European Colonization was inflected like that, to make a personal noun. That’s a lot of historical baggage rolled into one epithet, and we wondered what use it could possibly have in a serious policy debate.

When Jeremiah wants to call names, he has to be content with bourgeois and imperialist running dog. “Colonizer,” though – that’s strong. Someone might be advocating, say, welfare reform, and then you hit him with white privilege colonizer. Bam! Case closed.

Unfortunately, this epithet isn’t historically relevant. The only white privilege colonizers in America were the British, and our ancestors drove them out of the country – inventing modern democracy in the process. Our traditional ancestors, that is. Most Americans today are descended from other places, like Ireland, Italy, and India. Plenty of white privilege colonizers in Canada, though.

America, it bears repeating, was never a colonial power.

The British were the most ambitious colonizers in history (after the Han Chinese). The French colonized Indochina, leading, ultimately, to the Vietnam War. The Dutch colonized much of Africa, giving us apartheid. America, it bears repeating, was never a colonial power.

After the British, the biggest colonizers were the Spanish. They invaded all of Latin America, from Tierra del Fuego to San Francisco – except for Brazil, which was colonized by the Portuguese. The Spanish enslaved and annihilated not one, not two, but three advanced indigenous civilizations – at least as bad as what “we” did to the plains Indians.

This is great news. It opens up a whole new group of people we can call “white privilege colonizers.” Too bad racial politics doesn’t consider Latins to be white. This is a drawback with epithets that depend on events from the seventeenth century. Are Spaniards white?

arab-slave-trade

The lovely Mediterranean style of architecture in California, it should be noted, comes from the Arab invasion of Spain. The Arabs, you see, were also slave trading colonizers. Maybe our new epithet isn’t so strong. We’re going to stick with running dog. Maybe “patriarchal” running dog. That’ll shut up anyone who’s male, at least, unless he’s gay.

Seriously, though, this epithet business illustrates the logical weakness of Howard Zinn’s approach to history. You can’t just scrape together all the crimes ever committed in America and use them as an argument stopper. Colonialism is only relevant if someone is proposing to bring it back.

Oh, but it’s an ingrained cultural attitude, you say. Really? An American named O’Malley whose people came over during the potato famine – after being subjugated by the British – is now a colonizer? It must be contagious! We should round them up and put them in “cultural quarantine.”

In his freshman logic class, Jeremiah learned that if you are going to tabulate, say, “bad things done by nineteenth century Americans,” you also have to look at “good things done by nineteenth century Americans,” and – for historical context – “bad things done by nineteenth century non-Americans,” plus maybe bad and good things done by Americans and non-Americans in other periods.

The proper guide to policy choices in twenty-first century America is a well-rounded study of our history in its comparative context. Anything less is just name calling.

See also: Pope apologizes for Catholic Church’s crimes against indigenous peoples

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The Redneck Channel

RobertsonMost of the editorials we read were admirably evenhanded about Phil Robertson’s remarks in GQ.  His detractors acknowledge Mr. Robertson’s right to express an opinion, and supporters acknowledge the network’s right to cut his TV show.  An example is Charles Blow’s piece in the New York Times.

The Times editorial uses facts to rebut Robertson’s ideas about racial discrimination.  It is an excellent example of why freedom of speech is so important.  Robertson also made insensitive remarks about gays.  Regular readers know Jeremiah’s position on both issues – and the salutary effect of dialogue.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Rather than writing, “Phil Robertson is a racist maniac that must be stopped,” Mr. Blow gently corrects the misconceptions.  This is an editorial that might actually change someone’s opinion.

We also read plenty of culture war stuff, about boycotting this or that, web content being taken down, and censorship on Facebook.  Many people prefer to stifle views they don’t like, and punish those who express them.

Is it better for a Phil Robertson to freely spew his views so that we can freely address the real feelings of hatred and fear that afflict some fraction of our population?

Taking offense is one thing.  Intimidation is another.  There is evidence that organs of the central state – like Facebook, Google, and the IRS – engage in censorship and intimidation.  A repressive government is not interested in dialogue.

The quote above is from the Times comments section.  No, not Voltaire – the other one.  It is vitally important to have people express these views, so that we can challenge them.  The impulse to stifle has no place in a free society.

See also:  End the IRS

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Opposing the President

Veteran actor and producer Robert Redford says in this interview that opposition to President Obama is due, in part, to racism.  Redford’s position is more nuanced than the soundbite suggests, unlike other celebrities who have compared America to apartheid South Africa.

I think what sits underneath it, unfortunately, is there’s probably some racism involved

Ben CarsonPictured here are some prominent people who oppose the president.  What do you see?  That’s right, none of them is from Hollywood.  We see a doctor, a CEO, and an economist.   Do Ben Carson, Herman Cain, and Thomas Sowell oppose the president because he’s black?  Probably not.

Let’s take a moment to define “opposing the president.”  Generally, this means opposing his policies.  Dr. Carson, for instance, is a staunch opponent of socialized medicine.  Republicans in Congress are expected to oppose the president’s policies with policies of their own.  That’s why they’re called “the opposition.”  It’s a contest of ideas.

SowellIn polls, “opposing the president” might mean giving him low approval ratings.  Pollsters struggle to distinguish policy from execution, which are different aspects of the president’s job.  The latter, by the way, is why it’s called the Executive Branch.  Policy is not the president’s main job.

So, why do Hollywood people persist in believing that opposition stems from racism?  Following Saint Francis, we must seek a reason more sympathetic than “they’re stupid.”  Imagine that you are a millionaire movie star living in California.  Ahhh.  Okay, snap out of it.

HermanCainIf you’re a Hollywood person, everyone you know strongly supports the president – on his left.  You don’t know a single Republican, and you can’t imagine what motivates them.  Hmmm.  It must be racism.

Rasmussen did a poll on this very issue.  They asked people if they thought that other people were racists.  LOL.  The sad truth is, there are some people who oppose the president only because of his race, while others blindly support him for the same reason.  Both groups are stupid.

See also:  Our First Black President

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Tragic Shooting in Detroit

KymWorthyOh, joy.  Another racially charged shooting.  The facts in brief are – drunk girl wrecks car, staggers off to the wrong house and bangs on the door, gets shot by homeowner.  The prosecutor says that race is not relevant.

County Prosecutor Kym Worthy (pictured) can probably obtain a conviction without playing the race card.  The legal standard for self defense is that you reasonably believe your life is in danger.  That will be tough to defend, with no evidence of a break in.

“In this case, the charging decision has nothing whatever to do with the race of the parties,” she said. “Whether it becomes relevant later on in the case, I don’t know. I’m not clairvoyant.”

Ms. Worthy has been doing this a long time, and she has been doing it in Detroit.  We sympathize with a prosecutor who just wants to do her job without a media circus.  As usual, this tragedy is “racially charged” because that’s what sells newspapers.

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Doublespeak

This week, the Supreme Court considers whether universities in Michigan may use race as an admissions criterion.  You may recall the original case.  Racial preferences are now illegal under Michigan law.  The plaintiffs are claiming that racial preferences are protected under the “equal protection” clause of the Constitution.

“You could say that the whole point of something like the Equal Protection Clause is to take race off the table,” said Chief Justice John Roberts.

Jeremiah’s position has been 100% consistent.  We are all Americans, period.  No special treatment for anybody.  No discrimination for or against any class, based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, height, weight, or ethnicity.

Remember when Florida published differential academic standards based on race?  The NAACP was properly outraged.  If a white man goes on TV and declares the only way black kids can get into the University of Michigan is to spot them an extra 200 SAT points, he is a racist.  If a black man says that, he is Al Sharpton.

Now, the Court must decide whether “equal” really means “greater than.”  Next term, they’re going to decide whether “and” really means “not.”

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What Did You Expect?

Each side has its lunatic fringe.  We debunked a rightist one last month.  Here is an article from Bloomberg which traces the anti-Obamacare movement back to – wait for it – the Confederacy.  This is a clumsy  appeal to racism, and the argument is stretched so thin it actually ends up supporting the other theory of the civil war.

“There were zero Republican votes, so they are stiffed at that level,” said Merle Black, a professor of political science at Emory University.

Jeremiah’s own position on Obamacare is an eclectic one.  He is for the individual mandate, and against both employer and government provided insurance.   See here.

So, where was Johnson’s race card, when he pushed through Medicare and Medicaid?  The answer is that Johnson did the work.  He knocked heads, sold favors, and built a coalition.  Along the way, there was debate and a grudging consensus.  If you are going to enact landmark social programs, you have to do the work.

Jeremiah warned, back in 2009, against passing Obamacare on a strict partisan vote.  Republicans can now disavow any responsibility for the law and its consequences.  They have nothing to lose, and much to gain, from sabotaging it at every turn.  No one should be surprised at this result.

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Color Blind

JusticeImagine reporting on the Zimmerman trial without reference to race.  Imagine a country like Canada, with no history of racism.  There are people and places outside America where “color blind” is more than a metaphor.  They really don’t see it.

In such a place, the Trayvon Martin story goes like this, “the chubby guy shot the teenager, and then the court ruled it was self defense,” followed by these two observations:

  • Americans sure do like their guns, and
  • Americans talk about race a lot.

Yes, we talk about race a lot.  It sells newspapers, and it supports the race baiting industry.  The color blind story is not newsworthy.  The race element gives it “punch.”

… investigation of a racially charged case that polarized and outraged many in the state and nation.

Recently, three black teenagers shot and killed a visiting Australian student.  No, wait – one of the murderers is mulatto so, as a group, they’re only 83% black.  George Zimmerman is the world’s first “white Hispanic,” a racial category invented by CNN.

Because of our history, people are receptive to these stories – but that’s no excuse for media pandering.  Remember the Duke lacrosse team?  The Harvard professor?  Tawana Brawley?  In seeking, sensationalizing, and outright inventing racist news stories, the media perpetuate a divided America.

When President Obama says, “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin,” he is talking about race.  We should all consider that Trayvon Martin might have been our child – and George Zimmerman, too – regardless of race.  That’s why Lady Justice wears a blindfold.

See also:  Is This Sill America?

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