Race and the Right

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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61 Responses

  1. I think the simple fact of the matter is there’s no self-awareness in these accusations, I mean…

    Really the quotes you’ve put forth are extraordinary not simply in their racism (and yes, let’s call this out. It’s racism, plain and simple) but in their utter lack of awareness in how they’re coming off.

    Not that a lack of self-awareness is an ideological matter, but the right is almost comical in this regard. It’s not simply restricted to issues of race (for example congressional reps who have been on government insurance for years and years complaining about the evils of “socialism”) but it’s certainly the issue where their lack of self-awareness appears extraordinarily bad.Report

    • This sounds right to me, although I’d only be willing to label one of those quotes as explicitly racist (it’s probably easy to guess which one). Then again, when you take the position that the only reason a black person would ever attack a white person is racial hatred, you’re engaging in some pretty blatant stereotyping of black people. Which, of course, is pretty much the definition of racism.Report

  2. Avatar NL says:

    Good post, Mark. I has this very argument with my conservative 45-50 year old cousin last night . She felt totally oppressed because Kanye West upstaged a white girl. I think this is a much bigger deal among the generations before us; particularly those who mostly grew up after the civil rights movement, during the time when people were coming to terms with the impact of racism, and felt like they were being made to feel bad about being white. reverse racism, double standard, etc…Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to NL says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t find the link again, but I came across a couple sites complaining about the lack of discussion of the racial element of the Kanye idiocy and how offended they were that the President wasn’t trying to us it as a “teachable moment.” The implication here seems to be that Kanye is part of a broader problem of black people oppressing white people, as if an entire race is answerable for the offenses of one guy. Or something.

      I think you’re on to something with the generational issue.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    …Because this kind of thing couldn’t — doesn’t — happen on buses to and from private schools? Especially if we as we promote an increasingly diverse socio-economic mix into those schools’ population? (Which, needless to say, I think would be a positive thing, as long as it is not done by means that tend toward a defunding of public education. But I think there’s no reason to expect incidents such as these to decrease as a result of such efforts, however racially motivated or not this one was…)Report

    • 1. That is hardly the point of this post.
      2. The Heritage Foundation link has some data on that.
      3. School choice does not always mean private school choice.
      4. To the extent the school choice issue is even relevant to this post, I’m just saying that this incident could have formed a springboard to discussing the topic. I’m not saying that it’s convincing evidence that school choice programs work.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        1. It’s right there in the post; you deemed it relevant. If you deem it not relevant to the post or don’t want comments on it, why include the comment?
        2. It does provide “some data”: raw incident totals with no context of the number of schools or students from which they are drawn.

        3. I did not say that all school choice is private school choice. I assumed you would include private school choice in the types of choice you would like to be provided under a “choice” regime you support, specifically in ways that tend to draw funds from public schools since IIRC, part of your reason for supporting school choice is to introduce competitive pressures into public schools’ environment in maintaining enrollment and funding. If you want to forswear all private school choice, you’d probably get yourself to the left of me on the issue, though I’m sure you could convince me to see things your way on that.

        4. The link clearly hinges strong arguments for federal(!) voucher program(s) to the violence statistics it cites. It’s unclear what exactly you are saying, but isn’t it fair to expect that if the incident were to lead us to a discussion of school choice, you’d take a strong pro- position?Report

  4. “…the fixation on the Community Reinvestment Act, the obsession with ACORN…”

    I’m not sure how I follow how those are examples of Republicans crying racism. What the GOP complains about in both cases is policies that pander to race at the expense of good judgement. While we can debate the role the CRA played in the housing meltdown, there’s little room to dispute that watering down loan requirements just to get a certain % of minorities into homes is probably not a good idea. ACORN is just a f*cked up organization all the way around and given their most recent troubles I’d say their future is short.

    Back to the bus situation…My own experience with my sophmore daughter is that I see the slow creeping of race-based negativity in her and her other white friends based on the experiences they have at school. What’s an interesting dynamic is that one-on-one they all have black friends and don’t even think twice about the racial differences. But then when they are in certain situations like riding the bus home or going to the movies, where group dynamics come into play, they genuinely fear/loathe groups of black people. On the bus the black kids will shove them out of the way on the bus and say things like, “You better move white girl.” and there’s clearly a level of intimidation. Even if specific racial comments like that are not made, there’s a racial undertone to everything that happens often because the black kids tend to congregate together. And don’t even get me started on the way they behave at the movies.

    What I see at the anecdotal level is that black kids in general seem to rely much more on intimidation and the threat of physical violence as a tool for navigating high school whereas white kids will rely more on verbal attacks and/or socially stigmatizing each other. To be fair, I’m sure some kids would rather take a one-time beatdown from some black kids than be labeled a nerd for the next three years by their white classmates, but that’s the way things are.

    Louisville is different than Baltimore in a lot of ways, just like I’m sure Baltimore differs from Los Angeles greatly…but these are the stories I hear regularly from a variety of parents and school officials.Report

  5. Avatar Freddie says:

    Consider, for example, my post about demographic changes. We have someone in the comments saying that I’m making accusations of racism. Actually, I’m explicitly not doing that. I am discussing race. But among a large swath of people nowadays, any racial talk is ipso facto an accusation of racism. Race is the central issue of American political history. We have to be able to talk about it. But strangely, the people most adverse to accusations of racism have such a broad definition of what accounts for racism talk that they inevitably steer the conversation in that direction.Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Freddie says:

      Indeed, the history of our country’s racial politics shows that the backlash against anti-racism has always proven, in the end, more powerful than the anti-racist forces in the first place. Consider the end of the Civil War; a great leap forward, officially and legally, for black people in America, immediately followed by decades of terrorism and warfare against black people that effectively undermined that leap forward.Report

    • Avatar Kyle in reply to Freddie says:

      Yes, (broadly speaking) conservative whites are so ultra-sensitive to their hegemonic decline that their shared sense of victimhood leads them to both irrationally lash out at threats/attackers and fully embrace identity politics (see Joe the Plumber/Sarah Palin). It’s really quite sad/pathetic or rather it would be if it weren’t so coarse and toxic.

      I guess where I may disagree so slightly it’s in weighting racism vs. anti-racism efforts vs. reverse racism. I think our whole national conversation on race is stuck at an impasse or at least glacial pace.

      On one hand you have people who in the attempt to reduce racism are justifiably sensitive to America’s weak stomach for race-based discussions outside of very specific contexts. On the other hand, you have people who feel hamstrung in their ability to challenge what they perceive as reverse racism and political correctness without being unfairly called a racist, which is – as Don Imus found out, an incredibly effective ad hominem attack.

      I don’t think we can really move forward until we address both, because as long as we don’t we’re denying the validity of somebody’s personal experience and I don’t think anybody takes that well enough in stride to be capable partners in a conversation.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Let’s assume that the Republican party is a soulless machine of evil, wicked people devoted to nothing more than gaining power. No ideals, no higher values, no nothing. Just power.

    They see the “racism!!!” club as a club that was used to great effect on their soft bits… and some of them, being soulless automatons, see that their opponents saw that the club was used to great effect to the point where the club was used when it was not appropriate… and the glee displayed when (oh, pick a scandal) turned out to have been a wrongful use of the club is disproportionately large… but these soulless automatons also jumped to the conclusion that even when it’s not being swung “appropriately” (not that they can tell the difference between an appropriate use and an inappropriate use), it still does tremendous damage. It was used against Bill Clinton during the primaries, for example.

    At that point, they (being soulless automatons) they turned from wondering “how can we defend against this club?” to “how can we pick it up and use it?”

    We see their feeble attempts to swing it here.

    A question worth worrying about, perhaps, is whether they will grow more skilled in its use or if the club’s nature is such that only humans (rather than automatons) can use it. We’ll see, I suppose.Report

    • Excellent and probably the most accurate description of the issue I have read. And to answer your last question – I don’t think the public will ever let Republicans get away with pulling the race card. Obama could literally install Jerimah Wright as Attorney General and if the GOP suggested he was a racist…the public would mostly ignore them.

      The GOP will always pay the price for the Civil Rights movement. Just like the Left will never really be trusted on military matters after Vietnam. On those two subjects Americans seem to have long memories. Maybe when all the Baby Boomers are gone things will change.Report

  7. Avatar Kyle says:

    So if it really was appropriate to politicize this incident, movement conservatives would have been quite well-served to follow the Heritage Foundation’s lead, and use it as a springboard to discussing the value of school choice as a means of escaping school violence.

    Yes, but this is why the right’s ability to gain traction on education reform has been such a struggle. Instead of making thoughtful, persuasive arguments they fly off the handle with race-baiting, indiscriminately aggrieved populism. It’s one step forward and three backwards with these people.Report

  8. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    …there really was something inherently poisonous about the tendency of some on the Left to enforce a view of political correctness in which anything a white person did that even remotely touched on race could be labeled as racist.

    Spoken like a true White Guy(tm) whose memories begin after the Reagan Revolution!

    I can’t imagine why some people paid attention to the words that politicians used that might touch on race.

    “Welfare queens driving Cadillacs” isn’t really racist. It’s just talking about all the Evil Entitlements(tm) that the poor get (and that the rich John Galt’s of the world have to pay for!).

    “Young bucks buying T-bone steaks with food stamps” is, similarly, not racist. I’ve heard many adolescent White Guys(tm) referred to as “young bucks”.

    The Southern Strategy, resulting in the Dixiecrats becoming “Reagan Democrats”, was just about demographics, not tapping into racism.

    The Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South” because it was worded poorly (and was too long!), not because of the color of anyone’s skin.

    “States rights!”, Bob Jones University, and the repeal of MLK holiday were similarly innocent.

    These types of comments from Republicans/conservatives/glibertarians have been going on since Methuselah was a teenager.

    I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them – the shame is ours, not theirs, and we should pay for it.
    -Mark Twain

    Report

    • This is sort of what I was talking about above. The dismissive way you treat Mark’s opinion/views because they don’t – what – pay proper homage to public racism/racial insensitivity from predominately over 20 years ago.

      Especially when in the very next paragraph, Mark clearly acknowledges why that tendency came about in the first place.

      The existence of perspectives – yes even millions of perspectives from people whose memories are primarily post-Reagan – doesn’t in any way shape or form demean or diminish the perspectives of others on race or any other issue.

      Shaming, mocking, or dismissing people for their non-conformity is partially though not wholly responsible for why we can’t have honest/productive discussions on race today. Sure, it probably makes you feel better but it’s not very persuasive and probably counter-productive.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Kyle says:

        The dismissive way you treat Mark’s opinion/views because they don’t – what – pay proper homage to public racism/racial insensitivity from predominately over 20 years ago.

        This article claims that “some” on the Left did things which were “inherently poisonous”, yet does not use words of equal strength against what “some” on the Right are doing. And, as for “20 years ago”, I could provide you with dozens of more recent examples. Would you like me to provide those examples?

        Especially when in the very next paragraph, Mark clearly acknowledges why that tendency came about in the first place.

        Yet, he calls the tendency “inherently poisonous”, not “understandably bitter” or “disgusting”. And, nothing written about the Right uses similarly strong words – it’s like David Brooks wrote it (“both the Left and the Right do it, but the Left is poisonous, while the Right is just wrong”).

        The existence of perspectives – yes even millions of perspectives from people whose memories are primarily post-Reagan – doesn’t in any way shape or form demean or diminish the perspectives of others on race or any other issue.

        I never claimed that the existence of millions of perspectives demean or diminish the perspectives of others. Find another straw man.

        Shaming, mocking, or dismissing people for their non-conformity is partially though not wholly responsible for why we can’t have honest/productive discussions on race today. Sure, it probably makes you feel better but it’s not very persuasive and probably counter-productive.

        Non-conformity? To what? Civilized discourse? The reason we can’t have an honest/productive discussion on race today is because Whites don’t want to. Very simple, Cracker.

        No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.
        – Mark Twain

        Report

    • Ugh. I thought the implication was pretty clear that what the Right is now doing is not only “inherently poisonous,” it also lacks an understandable basis.

      I’m also not referring to claims that Reagan’s use of various phrases and slogans were calculated to play to residual racism in the South, here, or any of the various things you’re going after. I am, however, referring to the way in which some (though by no means all or even most) on the Left treated any argument against various Left-preferred policies as inherently racist and made in bad faith. I recall far too many occasions in the ’90s when liberal groups would try to shut down or block speakers who advocated against affirmative action or illegal immigration, etc., the implication being that no good-faith non-racist arguments could exist against these policies. I don’t think it’s wrong of me to suggest that sort of thing was toxic.

      I also think I made a point of saying this was true only of “some” on the Left. You will note I used no such qualifier when referring to the Right.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        The point of your article seems to be feigned surprise that “the American Right is as or more obsessed with racial victim politics than the American Left.”

        My response, with quotes from Reagan, shows very clearly that the Right’s obsession with racial victim politics begins (in the modern era) with Reagan. Where we are now (Beck, Coulter, Limbaugh, et al) is a result of the racial politics that began on the Right with Reagan. Methinks you doth protest too much…

        I am, however, referring to the way in which some (though by no means all or even most) on the Left treated any argument against various Left-preferred policies as inherently racist and made in bad faith. I recall far too many occasions in the ’90s when liberal groups would try to shut down or block speakers who advocated against affirmative action or illegal immigration, etc., the implication being that no good-faith non-racist arguments could exist against these policies. I don’t think it’s wrong of me to suggest that sort of thing was toxic.

        In a general sense, there are no good-faith non-racist arguments against affirmative action or illegal immigration. So, it is understandable that “some” on the Left would decry arguments against these things to be racially motivated.

        I understand that you consider this toxic. I assume that you’ve never had to walk in the shoes of someone with dark skin. So, you really have no idea what you are talking about in regards to how someone without white skin is treated in this country.

        You say “Ugh” to my comment. I say “Ugh” to all you White Guys(tm) that think you know something about race in America.Report

        • “In a general sense, there are no good-faith non-racist arguments against affirmative action or illegal immigration.”

          Really? Please explain …Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

            When you are on the side of Right and Truth, it is so much easier to see these things. As you (and yours, most likely) are shrouded in moral darkness, you can’t see it.

            You poor, poor thing.Report

            • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

              The clever sarcasm dialog of The League of White Ordinary Gentlemen commenters.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                I would have crossed out “clever”. Or, at least, put it in scare quotes.

                Honestly, this sort of thing seems geared not to change minds or even elicit a response that you can then quote back at the person who made it but to communicate (to others? to oneself?) how much more moral footing one has than the opposition.

                The only thing it was missing was an “I’ll pray for you” at the end.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, it’s not about moral footing. It’s about non-white perspectives. Those perspectives seem to be non-existent on this blog (same thing for non-male perspectives).

                I’ll leave you in your little white male pond, little white male fish.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                See? How does somebody *NOT* post something about judging people because of the color of their skin and/or plumbing parts after that post?

                Dude, if I am lacking perspective that you think I ought to have, then *PROVIDE* it. I beg you. I promise that if you treat me like a human being capable of reading an argument presented in good faith, I will treat you like one.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                I promise that if you treat me like a human being capable of reading an argument presented in good faith, I will treat you like one.

                It is nearly impossible to believe you, since you have already poisoned the water. Dude.

                When you are on the side of Right and Truth, it is so much easier to see these things. As you (and yours, most likely) are shrouded in moral darkness, you can’t see it.

                You poor, poor thing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                My second response to this thread was a response to your use of a slur.

                The first is there if you scroll up a bit. If your argument is that my first post (the one about Republicans being soulless automatons) poisoned the water, please explain how. That’s something that I thought I was going out of my way to avoid.

                If it’s not… well. I kinda see slurs as one hell of a signal on the part of the person using them. Did I misinterpret your use of the term and subsequently react inappropriately?Report

        • Ugh.
          1. I, personally, am totally ok with affirmative action and have been pretty outspoken about this in the past.
          2. I, personally, am a staunch proponent of open borders immigration and have been pretty outspoken about this in the past.
          3. I, personally, have a big problem however with any attempt to shut down debate over policy on the grounds that support for or opposition to any policy is inherently ____-ist. This has absolutely nothing to do with pretending to know anything about race in America; it has absolutely everything to do with an unwillingness to psychoanalyze people I do not know and have never met.Report

          • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I, personally, have a big problem however with any attempt to shut down debate over policy on the grounds that support for or opposition to any policy is inherently ____-ist. This has absolutely nothing to do with pretending to know anything about race in America; it has absolutely everything to do with an unwillingness to psychoanalyze people I do not know and have never met.

            I want to make sure that I understand what you are saying here.

            So, you have a big problem with me saying (as a simple example):

            “Democrats in the early 1880’s supported and spoke about racist policies in the U.S. Congress, which supported Jim Crow laws and the repealing of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The debate should have been shut down.”

            “Ugh” is right.Report

            • Oddly, I’m totally ok with not being willing to debate policies that are explicitly racist. No psychoanalysis is required there. “Inherent” and “explicit” are two quite different standards.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I think the color of one’s skin alters what one thinks is “inherent” or “explicit”. The terms are subjective, though you seem to be applying a globally objective perspective to them.

                I appreciate the clarification, but things are much too “white” around here for my tastes (not you, Mr. Thompson, but others…).

                For those others, a hint:

                Rest at pale evening…
                A tall slim tree…
                Night coming tenderly
                Black like me.

                Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I am actually with you on everything you have said here, Mark. However, on a political history level, I think cultural context is missing from your inherent versus explicit assessment. I think in the 1880’s, you could be perceived to have had a number of very reasonable (by the standards of the time) arguments for Jim Crow laws. With the passage of time those things seem explicit, but it is likely that respectable people who did not consider themselves racist at all could weigh and even hold those views, and be considered thoughtfully intellectual about the whole thing. So, while I don’t think all people who oppose affirmative action are racist, I do get a little tired of the implication that I’m supposed to agonize over whether I really earned everything in life or whether it was given to me based on racial quotas. Nobody ever asked me if I felt robbed by the fact that my East Coast school gave a lift to West Coast students… All that is to say there is more to anti-affirmative action theory than a call for fairness. It feels like a kind of bitterness that there is a cost to addressing the legacy of racial discrimination. So is the bitterness a reaction to who pays or who benefits?Report

              • With regards to Affirmative Action – Lieberman said it best, “Discriminating against one group to atone for the discrimination of another group is a bad approach. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Best to just moooove on… pretend it never happened.Report

              • Still looking for that pound of flesh?Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to NL says:

                No, but what else is the implication of a statement that characterizes past racial discrimination with current day affirmative action? The cost of AA is simply not going to send caucasians into a cycle of poverty, illiteracy and general inferiority. It is just not.

                The fact is that to discriminate is fine. My other posts list other questionable ways in which colleges discriminate, but schools and employers alike discriminate based on myriad factors: social skills, diverse experiences, record of intelligence (test scores and the like). It is a problem to discriminate against someone because you don’t like their race and you don’t want any of them, but there is a very good argument that a large school or workplace where minorities are underrepresented can hire/admit minorities as a strategy to diversify the experience and perspective of their student body, and even to increase the exposure of the non-minority students. I just don’t think those two types of discrimination are equal. One seeks homogeneity as a rule, the other seeks variety and diversity. If Howard decided to implement a more whites policy, I would be thrilled.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                In a finite world of finite resources, every political decision leads to discriminating against one (or more) groups. The problem is that this country routinely discriminates against minorities, and Affirmative Action was a single instance of discriminating against whites.Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Yes! And moreover, Affirmative Action is just one of many forms of discrimination commonly applied with zero controversy. Think about Legacy admissions. You are discriminated against because your parent didn’t go to Princeton. Someone got YOUR position at Princeton because of their parents’ accomplishment and not their own! I mentioned this before as well, but colleges also use representational preferences for geographical diversity. So I may have gotten the seat of some kid from Long Island because there were already 200 top notch LI kids in my freshman class, and only 1 from Oregon. Nobody’s outraged about that. So is the outrage about who pays or who benefits? Seems like the victim is the same in that case, the beneficiary is the difference.

                Seriously, after hundreds of years of 99.9% of minorities not being able to go to any college, we’re now equating that with a practice in which at worst, a very small number of students on the margin of admission may not get into a particular college. I was just peeking around a site called college.mychances.net, which plots on a grades-SATs graph admissions results. Out of probably a hundred data points, one person [black female] was accepted with lower than the rejected student average on both axes. For some, that’s the outrage. What’s interesting is that one person was rejected who was above average of all accepted students on both axes. 4.0 GPA. Why? In fact, three students with 4.0 GPA and above rejected student average SATs were rejected. Why? Part of the problem is defining merit based on grades and SATs alone. Colleges make decisions on thousands of criteria, as well they should. Suggesting that that one black female, or the other 40 black students in the freshman class displaced someone based on affirmative action is loony. It just doesn’t stand to reason that a fair system would let the next 40 most meritorious students in the door, when very merit worthy white students are rejected from every school every year in favor of less merits worthy students.Report

              • No doubt, but the problem is that a lot of times those effects are really unintended. A lot of times, people will be blind to the effects of a given policy preference even after those effects have begun to create problems since people aren’t usually big on admitting that they’re wrong. In order for them to recognize those effects, they need to experience them in a way where those effects are undeniable. Even then, the world is often so complex that the person may be able to find plausible and good-faith reasons why the bad effects aren’t the fault of his preferred policy x, but are instead the fault of his hated policy y.

                They may well be wrong about that, but being wrong does not equate to bad faith.Report

              • The point about Legacy admissions is an important one, and it’s important because it’s related to one of the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action programs. Specifically, they disproportionately reduce opportunities for poor and lower middle class whites (who, almost by definition, did not benefit from past racial discrimination) while not reducing opportunities for upper class whites at all. Remove legacy admissions policies and this unintended consequence of Affirmative Action programs largely disappears, and some of the opposition to AA along with it. Ironically, some – but I don’t think remotely all – of the value of AA disappears as well, since this removes a significant (though by no means exclusive) reason why AA programs remain necessary.Report

              • NL,

                If AA has the seemingly marginal impact that you are outlining, why even bother?Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Mike,

                My undergraduate institution has about 700 students in every class, including 40 black students and roughly 600 white students. A marginal impact on the white population is a major increase in the black population. Moreover, the incremental gain of education and status of one member of a small struggling minority group has a much greater impact than the impact on the community “losing” influence. Finally, I think the real question is why not engage in a strategy with a much greater impact, the answer to which is clearly that it would then actually be a burden on the majority community.Report

              • I think you’re probably over-stating the impact that one affirmative action success case has on their community (the soft prejudice of low expectations and all that) but for the sake of this discussion I’ll accept the premise.

                Now – what if it can be demonstrated that there is an equal or greater negative impact to the majority group for a given race-based effort? Does that justify ending the effort, even if there is a positive impact on the minority group?Report

              • Avatar NL in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Sure.

                Note that I’m not saying one has a massive impact, I am saying that the incremental impact of one to the minority is 1/40 and the incremental impact to the majority is 1/600… There is really no way to sustain your argument so long as those are the facts. 1/40 > 1/600, and over time, the aggregated 1/40 is significant to the minority community and remains very insignificant to the majority community. Keep in mind that I am talking about the increment, not the total impact, which may be much greater for the minority community depending on how many admits you would have without AA. If you assume half of those 40 wouldn’t have made the cut, the AA impact to the minority is 100% increase, and the negative hit to the majority is about 3%Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to NL says:

                “I am actually with you on everything you have said here, Mark. However, on a political history level, I think cultural context is missing from your inherent versus explicit assessment. I think in the 1880’s, you could be perceived to have had a number of very reasonable (by the standards of the time) arguments for Jim Crow laws.”

                Point taken.

                “With the passage of time those things seem explicit, but it is likely that respectable people who did not consider themselves racist at all could weigh and even hold those views, and be considered thoughtfully intellectual about the whole thing.”

                This is probably right so far as it goes. I’m wondering, though, whether the term “racist” would have even been viewed as a perjorative at the time. Certainly, I can’t imagine that it would have been a charge that, once successfully leveled, would render the object of the term outside the realm of respectable discourse.

                “So, while I don’t think all people who oppose affirmative action are racist, I do get a little tired of the implication that I’m supposed to agonize over whether I really earned everything in life or whether it was given to me based on racial quotas. Nobody ever asked me if I felt robbed by the fact that my East Coast school gave a lift to West Coast students…”

                Hearing things like this was what eventually persuaded me that affirmative action programs, even on diversity grounds, were not worth opposing and were in fact worth supporting.

                “All that is to say there is more to anti-affirmative action theory than a call for fairness. It feels like a kind of bitterness that there is a cost to addressing the legacy of racial discrimination.”

                I think this is likely true of many, many opponents of affirmative action programs. I think it is almost certainly true of just about all white people who lived in or experienced the Jim Crow South and now oppose affirmative action. But I also think that for many opponents of affirmative action, the issue is more a knowledge and experience problem. For this group of opponents of affirmative action, racial discrimination is something that happened in the past, long ago, and thus has no legacy. This group is persuadable and is also acting in good faith; being accused of being racist for being opponents of AA renders them far less persuadable and likely entrenches their position.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I also think that for many opponents of affirmative action, the issue is more a knowledge and experience problem. For this group of opponents of affirmative action, racial discrimination is something that happened in the past, long ago, and thus has no legacy. This group is persuadable and is also acting in good faith; being accused of being racist for being opponents of AA renders them far less persuadable and likely entrenches their position.

                Ignorance does not mean that one is acting in good faith. That is a very dangerous thing to believe, Mr. Thompson.

                Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
                – Martin Luther King

                Report

              • Ignorance can be dangerous and still in good faith; it often is. Knowledge, sadly, is a finite resource in any given individual.Report

        • Also, the point of my post has nothing to do with “feigned surprise.” It has everything to do with the idea that the Right’s obsession is much more problematic and, yes, disturbing than the obsession of some on the Left ever was.Report

  9. Avatar NL says:

    Speaking of Crackers: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/16/troy-dale-west-man-beats_n_289136.html

    So, this guy beats a woman in front of her daughter and a restaurant full of onlookers. By all accounts, he yells racial epithets at her while doing so. He is certainly racist, but is it a hate crime? On the one hand, their argument about his rude behavior suggests that it’s not an indiscriminate act based solely on her being black. On the other hand, it seems unlikely he would have done the same to a white woman, ergo her membership in a class is the reason he attacked her.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to NL says:

      There are attorneys on the Internets far more qualified than I to answer that question, some of whom even occasionally frequent this comments section.

      That said, if this line can be proven:
      “According to Hill’s report, and confirmed by many witnesses, West screamed out racial slurs before punching her in the face.”

      …you probably have some pretty strong evidence of race as the primary motivation for the actual attack. Whether or not this alone is strong enough to lead the prosecutor to pursue the hate crime element is beyond my capabilities.Report

  10. Avatar Scott says:

    Mark:

    Every time a white person attacks a black, the left always says it is racially motivated and is taken seriously, so why can’t the right claim the same thing? It seems to have worked for the left.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

      1. This is not “the Left,” it is usually no more than “some” on the Left. It is also not remotely “every time.” When it does happen, the facts or alleged facts include some additional piece of evidence that actually supports the notion of a racial basis for the attack.
      2. Ever hear the expression “two wrongs don’t make a right”?
      3. Please explain how false allegations of racism, to the extent they have in fact been false allegations, have actually helped “the Left.”Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Sorry for for painting the left as some monolithic block. Your two wrongs theory never seemed to stop some of the left from making outrageous claims like the Tanya Brawly/Duke rape story. Making false claims energizes their supporters, brings in money and has the effect of convincing swing voters that Rebups really are the beasts that the left says they are. Has making false claims really ever hurt Jesse or Al, I think not.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

          “Your two wrongs theory never seemed to stop some of the left from making outrageous claims like the Tanya Brawly[sic]/Duke rape story.”

          “Two wrongs don’t make a right” has nothing to do with a situation where there’s only been one wrong. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” is also not a theory – it’s a way of saying that one can’t justify one moral wrong because of someone else’s moral wrong. You’re basically saying that it’s ok to make outrageous claims of racism because the other side did it first. This type of logic shall rapidly make us all blind.

          “has the effect of convincing swing voters that Rebups really are the beasts that the left says they are.”

          This requires support. I’m not aware of a single election where swing voters turned against Republicans because of demonstrably false allegations of racism. Demonstrably true allegations? Totally. Arguably (even if only at the time) true? Probably. But demonstrably false? No way. I am, however, aware that Mike Nifong failed to even get 50% of the vote in an election where he was running against someone who said he wouldn’t serve and a write-in candidate after making demonstrably false allegations of racism.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Yes the locals got Nifong because he was within reach but Jesse and Al and their ilk are still out there enjoying the fruits of their race pimping. So I would guess in the long term that it works. In the short term people believe the lie and if the truth comes out you will never be able to convince all the of people of the wrongness of the lie that they so fervently believed in.Report

  11. Avatar Kyle says:

    A few related and a couple random thoughts on race in America (not a CNN special) from the post and comments:

    *Racial insensitivity and racism are two very different though often superficially similar things. I think disgust, anger, etc…are expected human – albeit not always appropriate – responses to the latter but mostly inappropriate response to the former.

    Put another way it’s not at all racist to have been raised without a complete awareness of the myriad of ways in which minorities have been institutionally discriminated against over the years and how the effects of such discrimination continue today. Nor should they be required to overcome that historical handicap in order to voice their opinion on the issues of the day. It’d be preferable but we’re a democracy of people not historians so I won’t hold my breath.

    *-ism’s as debate ender are bad public policy and thus counter-productive. Whether it’s charges of racism, sexism, patriotism (,lack thereof), etc… Moreover, it’s very difficult to distinguish between legitimate uses of the terms and their use as an argumentative get out of jail free card (see Palin, Sarah).

    *I find most arguments against Affirmative Action to be quite odd as they hinge on the idea that they allow unqualified persons to take the spots of otherwise qualified people. Of course the agent of concern here is the institution that determines what exactly makes someone qualified not the rejected would-be attendee.

    Specific to college admissions, if you look at the numbers there are far more “qualified” applicants than spots and it’s entirely unclear whether a system without affirmative action would be any friendlier to people who think it would be were AA to be scrapped. If they want to get upset with something, the unprofessional capriciousness of college admissions counsellors is a much more ripe target.

    *The tendency for discussions of race to lapse into a black-white binary that doesn’t reflect the multipolarity of race relations in America always makes me want for more non-black, non-whites viewpoints.

    Finally, for a lighter friday fare. Report

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