— Race —

November 5, 2012

Things We Read Today (30), Monday

Justin Katz

Pre-election restlessness; race, politics, and advancement; differing job estimates without optimism; situational social issue calculus; old media as the election's big loser.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

September 30, 2012

Things We Read Today (21), Weekend

Justin Katz

Bob Plain's petit four of class warfare; CA's bid for more pension fund dollars; a martial metaphor for regionalization; a downturn for the never-recovered; Coulter v. View mention of RI.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

June 17, 2012

Review: The Price of the Ticket by Frederick Harris

Marc Comtois

Fredrick C. Harris is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of Columbia University's Center on African-American Politics and Society. In the world of academia, his racial/political bona fides are beyond reproach. so when he proposes that our first African-American President hasn't adequately addressed racial inequality, it's worth a read. In his Price of the Ticket, Harris explains that the election of President Obama has allowed the country to feel good about itself for choosing a black man as President, even as this President has done little to forward the causes for which so many of his fellow African-Americans have long fought. Harris hopes to put "Obama's race-neutral campaign strategy and approach to governing within the context of history, politics and policy."

Much of the book does just that. Harris spends a few chapters providing historical context that explains the two strategies (and the tension between them) used by African Americans to achieve political power:

The coalition-politics perspective calls on black voters to build coalitions with whites and other racial and ethnic groups to develop support for issues and policies that help most everyone. The independent-black-politics perspective presses blacks to work independently of other groups to push for community interests with the aim toward building support with other groups around both universal policies and community-specific issues.
Harris' telling of the evolution of these strategies over the decades is an interesting story and he provides valuable insights as to how the political campaigns of Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson and the late-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington laid the groundwork for Obama's successful 2008 run for the Presidency. Focusing on Obama, Harris contends that the race-neutral politics of the President--which go hand-in-hand with coalition politics--"has marginalized policy discussions about racial inequality."
Proponents of "race-neutral" universalism fail to acknowledge that policies that help everyone--what can be described as a trickle-down approach to eradicating poverty and social inequality--are not enough to correct the deep-rooted persistance of racial inequality. In many ways, the majority of black voters have struck a bargain with Obama. In exchange for the president's silence on community-focused interests, black voters are content with a governing philosophy that helps "all people" and a politics centered on preserving the symbol of a black president and family in the White House.
This is the "price of the ticket" and it's clear that Harris is no proponent of coalition-politics. To bolster his point, he contrasts the gains made by the LGBT community under the Obama Administration to the lack of progress made on racial equality. The former, Harris contends, has kept the pressure on Obama (as has, according to Harris, the Tea Party) and been rewarded while the black community has given the President a pass, a dynamic he delves deeper into in his chapter, "Wink, Nod, Vote."

Further, Harris argues that Obama has become a "hollow prize" for Black America because the President has been forced to contend with an economic downturn instead of turning his attention to implementing policies--however modest--that dealt with racial inequality. Worse yet, by Harris' contention, Obama hasn't adequately addressed inequality even within the context of the economic downturn. When asked in 2009 about the "mounting problem of black unemployment" and why he hadn't targeted it:

Obama provided the same pat answer. Obama acknowledged that black and Latino workers were disproportionately affected by the great recession, but he still insisted that policies that helped everyone would cure the catastrophic unemployment rate in minority communities.
This was in contrast to a proposal by the Congressional Black Caucus, for instance, that:
...incorporated the principle of "targeted universalism"; an approach that would geographically target government-sponsored job projects in communities most affected by the recession and with the greatest concentrations of poverty. By default, such legislation would not help everyone equally but benefit those most affected by the recession.
In other words, blacks and other minorities.

In a comparison between Herman Cain (running for the Republican Presidential nomination at the time Harris' was writing the book) and President Obama, Harris finds that both fall short of the promise that politically powerfull African-Americans are supposed to fulfill.

When you place Cain next to Obama, who appears to be too timidly strategic to raise questions about--and work overtly against--racial inequality, the actions (or in the case of Obama inactions) of both diminish black interests on the national political scene. One black candidate for president spouts bigoted views about blacks and the poor. The other is silent on issues of racial inequality and poverty. In the end, neither political party is a vehicle for blacks to directly confront inequality, because both parties push black-specific issues to the margins of national policymaking. This development tells us something about the durability of racism as an ideology in American politics. Instead of fading away in an era celebrated as "postracial," race as ideology demonstrates convincing staying power, endowed with the ability to readapt and readjust as new political situations arise. {emphasis added}
Thus, we see that Harris' critique of Obama is rooted in his apparent belief that America, as whole, is still a racist society. By Harris' interpretation, electing a black man president is not to be taken as a symbol of the end of widespread, institutional and cultural racism, but rather a signal that such racism has changed and "readjusted."

The problem is that his interpretation is based on his contention that Obama hasn't done enough to address what Harris refers to--multiple times--as racial inequality. Yet, he never truly defines that inequality and the reader not versed in contemporary African-American politics is left wondering, "so what could Obama do in the realm of addressing racial inequality that will make Harris happy?"

Harris does spend time giving examples of, and discounting, what he calls the "politics of respectibility" (Bill Cosby comes in for some criticism on this front). But without more specificity as to what policies Harris supports towards racial equality, as opposed to explaining what he doesn't support, we are left guessing. In the end, Harris has provided a fine history of the development of contemporary black political strategies. He is less convincing in supporting his contention that President Obama's decision to govern America as a coalition--and not focus on acute issues affecting African-Americans--marks Obama as a failure as an African-American president. As a result, we're just not sure, exactly, what President Obama could have done to have been a success in Harris' eyes.

March 25, 2012

The Value of Resembling the President

Justin Katz

I wonder if Melissa's Coon son looked like Pres. Obama. That's the 13-year-old Kansas City boy who may have been set on fire because "You get what you deserve, white boy."

As Robert Wargas notes, the story appears not to rate national attention in the eyes of the national media.

Wargas's post, linked by Instapundit, comes at the end of a week that saw the President of the United States describe a young black man tragically shot in Florida as follows: "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."

During the same week, movie director Spike Lee set off a series of tweets providing the home address of the Hispanic man who shot Trayvon Martin. Meanwhile, the New Black Panther Party issued fliers calling for his capture "dead or alive."

Hope. Change. And very dangerous times ahead.


It occurs to me that I should specify my intention and concern with the above.

The facts in the case of Tayvon Martin are still in question. What appears known is that Martin was visiting his father and step-mother in a gated community in which he did not live. As he walked back from a nearby 7-Eleven, neighborhood watch "captain" George Zimmerman began to follow him, thinking him suspicious. Watson appears to have asked Zimmerman why he was following him. They wrestled, and Zimmerman shot Watson.

The unknowns bear on the range of factors that bridge an accusation of racially motivated murder to self defense, and it would be unwise to propound on them from a distance. Suffice it to say, for now, that human interactions are such that it's very easy to imagine that tense situation escalating into a fight, sadly culminating in death, in this case.

The point of this post, however, bears on something that is known and available for comment across the country — namely, the shameless racial demagoguery that have poisoned our politics for far too long.


Apparently, even the right-leaning blogosphere is raising questions about the Kansas City story, wondering whether it may not be what it at first appears to be. On the other hand, an American Thinker piece expands the subject to raise deeper racial problems in the school district.

As with the Martin/Zimmerman case, though, the point of legitimate concern from a distance isn't to get to the bottom of a local investigation and pass judgment, but rather to survey the national discourse.

March 13, 2012

Race Stats on School Suspensions: Be Careful Jumping to Conclusions

Marc Comtois

RI NPR Education blogger Elisabeth Harrison reports on newly released data (collected for 2009) from the federal Office of Civil Rights showing that, when it comes to school discipline, "African-American students are more likely to face harsh discipline than their peers." Harrison reports that for Rhode Island, it "depends on the school district."

Plenty of statistics appear to support this assertion and Harrison provided some examples supporting these findings (and I paraphrase/quote her report here)*:

* Cranston - African-Americans comprised 4% of the student population but accounted for 50% of all expulsions.
* Pawtucket - Hispanic students made up 66% of all in-school suspensions but represented 25% of the district’s student population. African-Americans accounted for 33% of in-school suspensions and 29% of the student body. White students were the single largest group & had no in-school suspensions.
* Woonsocket - "African-American and Hispanic students were both slightly over-represented in the in-school suspension category."

Harrison's other finding: that these same minority groups are under-represented in advanced courses as well as gifted and talented programs. Again, results vary by community and Harrison cited a couple examples (again, this is a paraphrase/quote of Harrison):

* Woonsocket - There were no non-white students in Woonsocket’s gifted programs and no Hispanic students taking calculus even though Hispanics represent roughly 25% of Woonsocket’s enrolled school population.
* Providence - Hispanic students were under-represented in the district’s gifted programs and calculus classes, and Hispanic students were less likely to take the SAT or the ACT than their peers in other racial and ethnic groups.

This prompted RI Future's Bob Plain to observe that "the easiest way to avoid discipline at local high schools is to be white." However, while Plain didn't specifically address the achievement gap (instead focusing on the "disciplinary gap"), I think the statistics regarding the achievement disparities confirm what most educators and eduwonks have noted over the years: these poor participation rates in academically advanced programs can be best correlated to socio-economic factors rather than race.

I also think the same could be said about the disciplinary statistics. Unfortunately, there is no clear breakdown in the data that takes these factors into account. Nor does demography account for other factors. Without that information, and by using statistics in the same way, we could just as look across the data and easily conclude that being a male puts you behind the 8-ball in nearly every aspect of education. Therefore, I hereby proclaim that the easiest way to avoid discipline at school is to be a girl.

* I'd stress that while Harrison made it clear that Rhode Island showed mixed results, she primarily focused on examples that seem to support the idea that minorities are disciplined more than whites. As a counter, a quick look at the same data for such diverse communities as Warwick and Central Falls--Warwick is predominantly white and Central Falls is predominantly Hispanic--show pretty consistent numbers across the board.

ADDENDUM: Commenter "Dan" points out something I was wondering about. The relative consistency in the data for such seemingly disparate communities as Warwick and Central Falls supports the idea that economic disparity within a school system could be a bigger driver of disparate disciplinary rates than race or class itself, per se.

February 11, 2012

Personal Accountability

Patrick Laverty

Earlier in the week, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, a former major league pitcher, began his press tour to promote a book that he wrote. A couple curious quotes came from one of the interviews, with Nick Cafardo, first

[he] admitted he was under the influence of cocaine two-thirds of the time he was on the mound.
Many people have responded to that with not much more than a shrug.

The other part of his interview that I thought was curious, was this statement:

Boyd contends he was blackballed from baseball and his career cut short because he was different.

“The reason I caught the deep end to it is because I’m black. The bottom line is the game carries a lot of bigotry, and that was an easy way for them to do it,’’ Boyd said. “If I wasn’t outspoken and a so-called ‘proud black man,’ maybe I would have gotten the empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn’t get; like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe. I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren’t outspoken black individuals.’’

Blackballed? Because he's black? Because he was outspoken? Interesting. He compares his career to three other former players who also had documented drug issues, Strawberry, Gooden and Howe. Boyd is claiming his career ended because he was outspoken and still appears bitter that he was not given the number of chances that those three were given. In fact, Steve Howe was suspended from baseball nine times, including once when he was banned from baseball for life by the commissioner's office, only to have that ruling overturned by an arbitrator.

But let's take a look at the stats for what might be the real reason that Boyd was never invited back to the major leagues. According to baseball-reference.com, his final season was split between the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers, finishing the year in Texas. After his trade to Texas in July of 1991, he won two games and lost seven while recording a 6.68 ERA and allowing more baserunners per inning than at any other time during his career. At age 31, it appeared his career was in decline.

He compares himself to Dwight Gooden, a perennial all-star and someone who may have been on a path to the baseball Hall of Fame. He won a Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in baseball and won a Rookie of the Year award and continued to put up great seasons. He was widely known as one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was referred to as "Doctor K" for his prowess at striking out opposing hitters. There should be no question as to why Gooden would have received multiple chances, but he too was out of baseball when his skills declined at age 35.

Boyd also mentions Darryl Strawberry, one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his career. Another player on a path for baseball's Hall of Fame when it appears alcohol and drugs caught up with him after his 1991 season. Up to that point, he was one of the best hitters in baseball and then suffered a quick decline. When you've shown to have the elite talent that a player like Strawberry had during the 1980s, teams will give you multiple chances in hopes that you can reclaim that glory.

That leaves Steve Howe. Howe is definitely a more tricky case. Unlike Strawberry and Gooden, Howe was white and Howe was not an elite starting pitcher. Howe is the first name that most people bring up when they spoke of what was wrong with baseball's drug policy during the 80s. He was given multiple opportunities, but he is someone who also earned the Rookie of the Year award and was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball until 1983, when he checked into a drug rehab program. He had a pretty bad season in 1985 after missing all of 1984 for a drug suspension, but followed up with an above average 1987 season. He missed the next three seasons and then came back with the Yankees in 1991 while putting up great results. Once it seemed his talent had completely left him, the Yankees released him for good in June of 1996.

If you look at the career paths and statistics of the players that Boyd mentions, you can clearly see that he was not in their class as a player. Boyd was what one may refer to as an average major league pitcher, never winning any awards or appearing near the positive end of any statistical leader boards. It seems that players like Strawberry and Howe did at least make an attempt at rehab and Boyd admits that people did reach out to him and try to help him too:

“I never had a drug test as long as I played baseball,’’ he said. “I was told that, yeah, if you don’t stop doing this we’re going to put you into rehab, and I told them . . . I’m going to do what I have to do, I have to win ballgames. We’ll talk about that in the offseason, right now I have to win ballgames.’’
He had a major league career until the age of 31. When you take a look at the whole picture, things like the fact that he was over 30, was never a great or elite pitcher even in his best days, now admits that he had a cocaine habit and says that he was "outspoken", is it any real surprise that he was never offered another major league contract? No, and to attribute it to "bigotry" is simply a failure to look in the mirror and take some personal responsibility. Anything else is an excuse.

July 4, 2011

All in the Judiciary's Hands

Justin Katz

The precedent that this ruling out of Michigan, related to a constitutionally created ban on affirmative action, sets is astonishing:

The 2-1 decision upends a sweeping law that forced the University of Michigan and other public schools to change admission policies. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law, approved by voters in 2006, violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

The court mostly was concerned about how the affirmative action ban was created. Because it was passed as an amendment to the state constitution, it can only be changed with another statewide vote. This places a big burden on minorities who object to it, judges R. Guy Cole Jr. and Martha Craig Daughtrey said.

It sounds as if "equal protection" is being expanded to mean that minorities must have as much chance of changing a law as majorities. That remains the case, of course, inasmuch as minorities need only convince a majority to side with them, but this is something more targeted — like an affirmative action for democracy.

And if the ruling stands, think of the role that the judiciary will then play in our system. If the people's representatives pass a law that a judicial elite doesn't like, judges will strike it down as unconstitutional. If the people write it into the constitution, judges will strike it down as too difficult to change by democratic or judicial means.

March 25, 2011

If Not for the People, RI Would Have Fewer People

Justin Katz

Perhaps it's a function of idealism, but the continual penchant for racism in our country wearies me. By racism, I mean the division of people into racial groups and inclination to treat them as separate communities:

Without the 39,835 additional residents who identified themselves as Hispanic, Rhode Island would have lost 35,587 people from 2000 to 2010. That would have joined the Ocean State with Michigan, the only state to lose population in the 2010 census. As it was, Rhode Island ranked 49th in population growth, gaining 4,248, or 0.4 percent. ...

Hispanics officially became the majority population in Central Falls, while Providence grew closer to that status. If separated, Providence's Hispanic population of 67,835 alone would be the fifth-largest city in the state.

And so on. The thing is: they are not separated. The population did not decrease by 35,587. What is it we should determine to do differently based on this information? Should it become an outrage that Central Falls doesn't have a majority Hispanic government? Or, from the other side, should we treat "Hispanic" as a synonym for "immigrant" and panic at the loss of native-born Americans from our state?

The detriment arises from the mixture of these perspectives, such that assumptions are made about a group and then notions of how society should be arranged are imposed under those assumptions. The insinuation is that Hispanics have unique needs and points of view, and if those qualities aren't reflected in the political order, then some sort of under-representation must be to blame.

Personally, I find this bit of Census news to be more relevant, and definitely distressing:

In 2000, 247,822 children lived in Rhode Island, according to the Census Bureau. That was 23.6 percent of the state's population of 1,048,319.

By 2010, the number of children had dropped 23,866 to 223,956, or 21.3 percent of the state's slightly larger population of 1,052,567.

Unless one wishes to suggest that we were in the midst of a baby boom in 2000, the decrease in children is an indication of a waning society. Of course, it isn't necessary to turn to demographic statistics to discern that about Rhode Island.

March 16, 2011

Debating Blackness: Duke and the Fab Five

Marc Comtois

Back in the '90's, when given the choice, I preferred Duke (though I wasn't exactly a "fan") to the much-hyped Fab Five of Michigan (who actually won, well, nothing and lost 3 out of 3 to the same Duke Blue Devils). Duke had a bunch of white guys who seemed sorta privileged (and won...always it seemed) while the Fab 5 had all that sizzle and swagger--and no results. In truth, to most fans of other teams, we couldn't really abide either bunch. Sore losers and all that.

Recently, the Fab Five had one of their own ESPN documentaries (produced by Jalen Rose, who was one of the Fab5 and works for ESPN). In the documentary, Jalen Rose said:

For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke. And I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.
Rose continues to stand by his comments. Understandably, this caused some outrage, particularly amongst Duke's African-American players, such as Grant Hill who has responded to Rose.
In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only “black players that were ‘Uncle Toms,’ ” Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today.

I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s. They received great educations and use them every day. My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children.

I come from a strong legacy of black Americans. My namesake, Henry Hill, my father’s father, was a day laborer in Baltimore. He could not read or write until he was taught to do so by my grandmother. His first present to my dad was a set of encyclopedias, which I now have. He wanted his only child, my father, to have a good education, so he made numerous sacrifices to see that he got an education, including attending Yale.

This is part of our great tradition as black Americans. We aspire for the best or better for our children and work hard to make that happen for them. Jalen’s mother is part of our great black tradition and made the same sacrifices for him.

Columnist Jason Reed provides further context, mentioning the part of Chris Rock's 1996 "N*****s versus Black People" bit that mentions education:
Comedian Chris Rock tackled the sensitive issue in his groundbreaking 1996 HBO television special, “Chris Rock: Bring the Pain.” In it, Rock does a bit about how some blacks have more respect for people who return home from prison than those who earn master’s degrees.

Obviously, Rock was using hyperbole to get laughs. But he made a valid point about the need for greater emphasis on academic achievement in some segments of black society....But this is about more than Rose’s inaccurate generalization, which he could not possibly support without knowing the background of every African-American player Krzyzewski has recruited during his more than three decades at the school. Rose’s comments stirred thought on a much bigger issue: What constitutes a “true” black experience?

Reed also pulls from his personal experience.
I’m happy my son and daughter live in a two-parent home and that we’re able to provide for them. I take comfort in knowing I have a partner who shares my views on the educational foundation we’re laying for our kids together.

I don’t think that makes me any “less black,” though, than I was when I watched in amazement at how hard my mom worked as a single parent to send three sons to college. I still feel as black as I did when I lived next door to abandoned buildings and held my brothers at night when they were scared by gunfire.

My children won’t have those experiences. But to imply that because of that, their racial identity is somehow compromised is insulting — not only to them but to all of us who know how our skin color has shaped our lives.

February 23, 2011

On the Way to Extraordinary

Justin Katz

A recent review, by Charlotte Allen, of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's memoir of her family, Extraordinary, Ordinary People, is unfortunately not online except by subscription. (It appeared in the February 7 National Review.) It does give some of the feel for the path to success of a black woman who grew up during times of racial turmoil:

Like other blacks in Birmingham scraping together respectable lifestyles on meager salaries during the 1950s, the Rices were determined to do two things: ignore the indignities of segregation, and refuse to have anything to do with what today would be called "ghetto culture," the undisciplined speech, mannerisms, and mores of poorly educated lower-class blacks. When young Condoleezza, an only child, watched Amos 'n' Andy on television with her parents, they "went out of their way to point out and correct" the "butchered English" of the show's black characters, she writes. ...

Rice writes that "because Birmingham was so segregated, black parents were able, in large part, to control the environment in which they raised their children. They rigorously regulated the messages that we received and shielded us by imposing high expectations and a determined insistence on excellence." There were few single mothers, and therefore plenty of men around to enforce rules. The black schools in Birmingham were poorly funded, but boasted dedicated teachers like Angelena Rice, who tolerated no excuses for low performers. "'To succeed,' they routinely reminded us, 'you will have to be twice as good,'" her daughter writes. Middle-class blacks tended to avoid public places where they might be exposed to such indignities as "colored" restrooms. With equal fastidiousness they avoided many of the places where blacks could legally go: dives in rough neighborhoods characterized by drinking, knife fights, and the "loose women" that no respectable black females wanted to be. Middle-class social life took place exclusively within a dense network of churches, clubs, fraternities, and the homes of friends.

Even on the losing end of America's racial atrocities, faith, family, and dedication were able to provide hope. Disagreement about the best ways in which to end discrimination and recompense the damage of the past is sincere, but a better formula would have placed more emphasis on individual initiative in those three areas.

February 9, 2011

Roach: "Being Black in the 21st Century"

Marc Comtois

Former Anchor Rising contributor and GoLocalProv MINDSETTER(tm) Don Roach takes the occasion of Black History Month to speak about what it means to be black in the 21st century:

[T]he main “problem” facing black people in 2011 is a lack of identity. For centuries we were defined by others and defined ourselves by what was done to us. We were enslaved, we were treated like chattel, we had our rights stripped from us, we had few opportunities for advancement, etc.

In 2011, that’s simply no longer true. So who are we? Think about it, if your entire existence has always been defined and controlled by another group, what happens when that group no longer pulls the purse strings?

What happens when you actually win your freedom?

Maybe that’s the wrong question. Perhaps the problem is as a society we want to lump all black people together. We’re not all the same, some of us can’t dance, play basketball, and leaving her nameless some black people I know even like Country music. Perhaps a result of freedom is the loss of collective identity. Is that so bad?

No, it's not. No one is easily pigeonholed. For while, to one extent or another, we all tend to identify with one or even several groups, our individual identity goes beyond the narrow confines of the assumptions and, yes, stereotypes held by others towards those so "grouped." That goes for ethnicity, religion and even political or philosophic ideology. But it's so darned easy to make assumption, isn't it? To use the "Cliff Notes" of life and make those snap decisions about others so we don't have to engage or think quite so hard.

We're all guilty of it and, especially around here, written expression and commentary doesn't always properly convey the fullness of our character. In my experience, nothing really tops face-to-face with some food and a few beers. It humanizes us in our increasingly disconnected society. That doesn't mean we're going to go all Rodney King---I still may think you've got some f-ed up views, but at least there's a chance we'll like the same beer and think that the Sox have a chance this year (damn straight!).

October 16, 2010

Family and Race

Justin Katz

It's hardly a new conclusion, but this, from a book review by Roger Clegg (subscription required), of Acting White by Stuart Buck, bears repeating:

Suppose your twelve-year-old son came home and announced that it would compromise his racial authenticity were he to study hard and get good grades, and that he will therefore concentrate on misbehaving in class. Or, more realistically, suppose you simply saw that he was balking at homework and getting poor grades, with or without an excuse. What would your reaction be? More to the point, what would the reaction of Dr. Cliff Huxtable be?

Dr. Huxtable would explain, with as much patience as he could muster, that not studying is unacceptable and that the "acting white" justification for not studying is idiotic nonsense: Even if your teacher is a white racist, son, you should not — will not — slack off. Such instinctive rebellion, even if understandable, is obviously irrational.

The problem is that Dr. Huxtable is nowhere to be found in most black households. The fact that, as Buck points out, the acting-white malady apparently affects boys more than girls further suggests that the absence of strong fathers is a big part of the problem.

Clegg concludes that "illegitimacy must bear much of the blame" for a variety of chronic problems that the black community faces. He's correct to fault political correctness and the welfare state, but the dissolution of marriage, more generally, is a factor, as well. That is one aspect of what advocates of same-sex marriage fail to acknowledge when they make their assertions that changing the definition of marriage will harm no one.

October 10, 2010

The Race to Preserve Racism

Justin Katz

At least — many of us hoped — the United States could finally move past the racial divide. Yes, we expected opposition to President Obama to be quickly equated with racism, but it seemed the broader declarations of the United States as a racist country would be ridiculous on their face. It appears, though, that racial harmony will continue to be a long, slow development:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 36% of voters now say relations between blacks and whites are getting better. That's down from 62% in July of last year at the height of the controversy involving a black Harvard professor and a white policeman. That number had fallen only slightly to 55% in April of this year.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) now say black-white relations are getting worse, up 10 points from July 2009, while 33% think they're staying about the same.

African-Americans are much more pessimistic than whites. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of whites think black-white race relations are getting better, but just 13% of blacks agree.

It's impossible to know, now, but I'd speculate that, had President Obama been a more conventional president — more modest in his ambitions and moderate in his ideology — the trends of opinion on race would be heading in the other direction. Of course, it's not but so partisan to wonder whether the Democrats actually see that as a desirable opportunity lost.

July 9, 2010

Hucksters Not Wasting the Crisis

Justin Katz

Funny, I hadn't heard insufficient involvement of "disadvantaged groups" included among the contributing factors to our the economic crisis that supposedly necessitates a stronger government hand in the finance industry. And yet:

Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama insist that the new financial regulation bill pending a vote in the Senate is a necessity to restore stability to troubled markets. Instead, it looks as though Democrats have been more concerned about quota systems than economic growth. Buried deep within the bill is a requirement for all regulatory agencies with jurisdiction in economic arenas to start beancounting based on ethnicity and gender.

It's almost as if regulation is not a means to correct problems, but an end in itself, expanding government authority to dictate the terms of our social existence.

February 13, 2010

Hurting a Dedicated Constituency

Justin Katz

In an article about the ways in which Democrats' preferred policies hurt black Americans, Kevin Williamson emphasizes union racism and especially the minimum wage:

THE first answer many economists will give to that question is: the minimum wage. Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate who spent much of his career showing how government programs reliably end up hurting those they are intended to help, was scathing on the subject, calling the minimum wage "one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books." And he's not alone: Acongressional survey of economic research on the subject, "50 Years of Research on the Minimum Wage," has a string of conclusion lines that read like an indictment, the first three counts being: "The minimum wage reduces employment. The minimum wage reduces employment more among teenagers than adults. The minimum wage reduces employment most among black teenage males." Other items on the bill: "The minimum wage hurts small businesses generally. The minimum wage causes employers to cut back on training. The minimum wage has long-term effects on skills and lifetime earnings. The minimum wage hurts the poor generally. The minimum wage helps upper-income families. The minimum wage helps unions." Helping the affluent and high-wage union workers at the expense of the young, the poor, the unskilled, and small businesses: That amounts to a lot of different kinds of injustice, and it also amounts to a wealth transfer from blacks to whites. ...

And it's not just that the minimum wage prices some low-productivity workers out of the labor market: It's that it prevents entry into the labor market in the first place for the most marginal would-be workers. If Will the candy hustler's real economic output is worth $6.67 an hour, his implied wage on the subway, he's unemployable with a $7.25 minimum wage. He can sell candy on the subway, but he can't sell candy for Big Candy Corp., make connections, learn what it's like to go to an office every day and have a boss, get references, get promoted, and sign up for the tuition-reimbursement program. And that, not the paltry lost income of a minimum-wage job, is the price he pays. Very few American workers actually earn the minimum wage--about 1 percent, in fact--but the minimum-wage job is a gateway into the labor force for many young workers. The value of your first job isn't the money you earn from it: It's your second job, and your third. With the right experience and network, a candyman like Will can do well for himself. But without that first job, he has a much higher chance of becoming a statistical blip on the long-term unemployment charts than a middle manager at Hershey or a salesman at Cadbury.

Perhaps for reasons of length, Williamson doesn't even touch on the deleterious effects of liberal social programs (from the welfare state to easy divorce to abortion on demand) and extra-statutory principles (like identity politics) that have destroyed family structures in minority communities. If the Ku Klux Klan had called grand meeting in the middle of the last century to contrive a national conspiracy that would effect long-term evisceration of blacks' progress, the bigots could hardly have done so more effectively than the American Left.

January 23, 2010

Winning in Race by Making Policies Primary

Justin Katz

Watching the tears of joy streaming down the faces of black attendees at the Rhode Island Democrats' election-night gathering in Providence, in 2008, knowing candidate Obama's centrist rhetoric to be completely contrary to his life history and political record, and believing that his likely policies would be an unmitigated disaster, I worried what effect it might have on race relations were the Obama administration to be as catastrophically inept as I'd have predicted. To be sure, my view is that racial strife has been effectively over for decades, kept alive mainly by those who profit from the grievance industry. That doesn't mean racism does not exist, though, and the hype surrounding candidate Obama made the crashing of expectations a frightening position.

Thomas Sowell suggests that Republicans should begin the long, slow process of pulling the black community away from the self-identity link that they have with the Democrat Party by creating bonds through actual policies:

There is no point today in Republicans' continuing to try to win over the average black voter by acting like imitation Democrats. Those who like what the Democrats are doing are going to vote for real Democrats.

But not all black voters are the same, any more than all white voters are the same. Those black voters that Republicans have any realistic chance of winning over are people who share similar values and concerns. ...

Blacks have been lied to so much that straight talk can gain their respect, even if they don't agree with everything you say. Republicans need all the credibility they can get. When they try to be imitation Democrats, all they do is forfeit credibility.

Sowell covers specific policies too broadly to allow brief quotes, so read the whole thing.

December 31, 2009

A Racial Lever for the Federal Government

Justin Katz

There's certainly room for derision against the attitude that Abigail Thernstrom highlights here:

In 1996, [current Attorney General Eric] Holder told the Washington Post that he always carried a favorite quotation in his wallet. A black man's "race defines him more particularly than anything else," it ran. Said Holder: "I am not the tall U.S. Attorney, I am not the thin U.S. Attorney. I am the black U.S. Attorney.... There's a common cause that bonds the black U.S. Attorney with the black criminal or the black doctor with the black homeless person." All blacks share a "common cause," and thus, methods of election that give them proportional legislative power are a moral imperative.

The "wow" paragraph, however, has quite a bit broader an application than just Mr. Holder:

For more than two decades, the drawing of race-conscious single-member districts has been the standard means of achieving that proportionality when the level of minority officeholding has been found to be unacceptably low. But, in the best of circumstances, race-driven maps "waste" black votes. Inevitably, many black voters end up in majority-white districts and find themselves represented by a white--which is to say without representation, by the Guinier and Holder definition.

The three systems to which the Justice Department has recently agreed are assumed to be much more likely to guarantee true proportionality. They have involved school-district elections in Euclid, Ohio; town-commissioner elections in Lake Park, Fla.; and trustee elections in Port Chester, N.Y. These were towns in which, despite a significant minority population, no blacks or Hispanics had been elected to public office. The Justice Department had filed suit, and, given the absence of elected minority representatives, there was no chance the towns could successfully defend their methods of election.

Look what's been done in the name of racial sensitivity: The federal government is dictating election results to lower governments. Based on physical racial attributes, a distant government is telling small, local communities that their democratic outcomes are not acceptable. What's not acceptable is a governing system what makes use of such levers.

One can't help but wonder whether the rapidly declining value of the race card plays some role in the desperate search for other justifications for expanding power, such as nationalized healthcare and environmentalism.

December 27, 2009

White Guilt and Morally Lazy Revolution

Justin Katz

Annalee Newitz finds a cultural thread in the plot of Avatar:

These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color - their cultures, their habitats, and their populations. The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the "alien" cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become "race traitors," and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed. This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.

For his part, Mark Shea, through whom I found the above, notes a scriptural archetype:

... I can't help but notice that a similar dynamic occurs within Scripture as well, only without the dynamic of self congratulation. Moses, for instance, is precisely the guilty SWPL [stuff white people like] type in his universe. Fetched out of the Nile and raised by Pharaoh's daughter, he apparently knows, but doesn't do much about the fact that he is a Hebrew. This goes on for forty years. The guy lives in the lap of luxury while his tribe is sweating as slaves. Then, one day, in a fit of social consciousness, the dilettante rich kid who wants to feel like he has a purpose murders an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and ditches the body. Next day, this preppy from the Ivory Tower comes upon a couple of Hebrews quarrelling and deigns to swoop in and break it up. The slaves basically tell him to buzz off ("oh, and everybody knows what *you* did"). Turns out the whole "Brothers! Join me!" schtick doesn't play real well in Peoria and people resent SWPL types working out their Hero's Journey fantasies at their expense. So Moses the Savior Preppy gets scared and hotfoots it to the desert when he realizes his little Weatherman moment of Killing for the Revolution is likely to cost him something.

St. Paul came more readily to my mind than Moses, as the persecutor of Christians who became among their foundational voices. As Shea notes, Moses was a Hebrew displaced among Egyptian royalty; in contrast, Paul was a hardline Jew who sought to extend Christianity even to gentiles after Jesus called him. In either case, however, the biblical figures whom we hear echoing in modern white-guilt sci-fi bring to the fore an important area of emphasis that neither Newitz nor Shea mentions.

The standard of the white-guilt genre isn't merely that the privileged protagonist gets to play revolutionary, nor even merely that the fantasy allows him to dominate the coloreds in a good, liberating way rather than a negative, oppressive way. The more fundamental quality is that the proud "race traitor" never has to grapple with the history or legitimate claims of the people against whom he turns. He takes the minority's position and fights his native majority without the complications of having to explain to the minority where its own perspective is erroneous.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, sure, but he hardly freed them to return to some idyllic state. St. Paul took up the Christian cause, but the message that he promoted was quite distinct from "as you were." Indeed, the form of salvation that Jesus promised, as Messiah, was not freedom from domination by some other worldly tribe, but the freedom of domination by the highest divine power. In Matthew 10:36, Jesus explains it to be His mission to make "one's enemies... those of his household," but it isn't a physical battle on behalf of an oppressed neighbor. It's a charge through our shared humanity toward its fulfillment.

In the modern liberal gospel, one gains salvation by acknowledging the superior claims and moral virtue of the Other. The call isn't to advance one's community toward a more perfect expression of its own virtues — which have, in fact, done immeasurable good in the history of mankind — but to abandon one's community as hopelessly corrupt and in need of correction by a more innocent people. The former is the hard work of cultural evolution; the latter is the simple balm of revolution.

August 13, 2009

An Old Tale in a New Context

Justin Katz

Bill Sammon recalls a day, back in 2002:

When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting "Bush is a terrorist!", the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush's assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

Oddly, as Sammon points out, the media that is so keen to make readers, viewers, and listeners aware of the anger of those who oppose (if I may reuse the phrase) the Democrats' federal powergrab in a porcine "healthcare reform" costume was uninterested in Bush's riotous reception. This, of course, is merely one example of history repeating itself with a different accent. When President Obama derides "scare tactics," I can't help but recall this:

That, for those who weren't blogging seven years ago, is a screenshot from an online advertisement put out by the Democratic National Committee. Scare tactics were institutional, back in the day.

While routing around in my old archives, I came across this quotation from FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, conveyed to Washington Post readers that same month:

"White males belong to a long-advantaged group that is now having to share power and control. But I think it has less to do with race than social class."

The context was the search for the Washington sniper. You might recall that, of the various possible profiles, the one about which we heard most frequently was of the angry white supremacist Christian militia variation. You might also recall that the snipers turned out to be black, which fact didn't seem to matter to some aspects of the coverage:

The interesting parallel, though, comes in this paragraph from Harold Meyerson, which arrived in my morning paper the other day:

When future historians look back at this passage in our nation's history, I suspect they'll conclude that this Obama-isn't-American nuttiness refracted the insecurities and, in some cases, the hatred that a portion of conservative white America felt about having a black president and about the transformation of what many thought of as their white nation into a genuinely multiracial republic. But whatever the reasons, a mobilized minority is making a very plausible play to thwart a demobilized majority.

Unsurprisingly, Meyerson's reflections spring from the healthcare townhalls. "What's particularly curious about these two protests," he writes, "is that they took place on very liberal turf — Philadelphia and Austin — yet the local liberals and people of color seemed absent." Bused-in angry white mobs, you might say. In contrast to the bused-in friendly multicultural mob with which Obama set the scene for his own townhall appearance thereby disproving the "demobilized majority" thesis.

The lesson, it would seem, is that angry whites are the villains whether they're the majority, the minority, the origin of a particular policy, the opposition, guilty, or innocent. What ought to be as clear blue as whitey's eyes, at this point, is that racial division has long been serving a leftist agenda, and whether there is a new, emerging majority or a left-wing minority has been deftly pulling together the strings of power, the tone has colored opposing voices not merely as wrong, but as hateful and illegitimate participants.

Those who present such a view as part of a political strategy manipulate the insecurities of the public. And although it's a too easy psychological analysis to make, one does wonder whether those whom the manipulators thus persuade are, themselves, uncomfortable with a multicultural society, giving themselves moral credit for resisting the impulse and believing those who disagree on unrelated political matters to be succumbing to it.

(Links compiled from various sources, but conspicuously from Instapundit both then and now.)

July 23, 2009

The Moment the Veil of Post-Racialism Fell

Justin Katz

You didn't really believe all that stuff about "moving past" race, did you? No, no. You misunderstood: We're only a "post-racial" society when it benefits preferred minorities and the white liberals who crowd surf among them. By no means does that negate the right of race hucksters to continue capitalizing on their "narrative."

Of course, the pitchmen's attire has changed, and as Victor Davis Hanson points out, it can't help but give the game away:

Meanwhile, that the rest of the country is supposed to cringe and feel sorry that we are still a racist nation — as an African-American president, governor, and mayor all weigh in on the plight of an endowed African-American professor — seems odd. Sorry, but somehow I think most would tend to disagree.

One could go crazy making a continual search for hope in such things, but I do wonder if the haloed benediction of America's First hasn't just lost its fuzzy glow. Sgt. Crowley erred in the presence of a four-tiered old-boys network, and the nation has now seen an Ivy League you-don't-know-who-you're-messing-with threat backed up by the President of the United States.

Me, I can't believe that it's still in the news.

July 22, 2009

Empathy Has to Go Both Ways with Race

Justin Katz

I hesitate to help stir the pot of manufactured racial strife, but the prominent black academic Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard has illustrated too perfectly why racial division will persist until such "leaders" of minority communities as him begin arguing, by example, for mutual empathy.

Gates returned from a research trip to find that his house key wouldn't work: "the lock had been tampered with." So, he and his driver, another black man whom Gates described as large, forced the door open. A neighbor called the police and gave a description of the men.

You can guess the script. The police arrived, and one of them (white) tweaked Gates's sensibilities when he used the Voice of Authority (a "threatening" tone, in Gates's words) in the course of sorting the matter out, and the ensuing scene ended with Gates's arrest. The critical moment, in my view, comes with the professor's "instinct" that he "was not to step outside" per the officer's instructions. (Curiously, the Washington Post appears to have scrubbed that quotation from its online report.)

Having been the target of the Voice of Authority a few times when I was younger, I probably join a great many other white men (and women, too, no doubt, but fewer) in seeing no racial component to the officer's behavior. Moreover, with even a weak attempt at objective distance, something that should be as natural as breathing to a Harvardian big brain, it's possible to discern that, contrary to Gates's assessment, the policeman didn't have a single "narrative" of the "black guy breaking and entering." Rather, he likely had multiple possible scenarios in mind, and it is his often-dangerous job to weave through them all and return to his cruiser with nobody injured or killed.

A little empathy for his perspective is merited. The police department received a call about two men of a particular description forcing entry into a suburban home. Upon officers' arrival to the site, only one of the men was present, and he relatively short and old. The fact that the policeman entered the house by himself suggests that "misunderstanding" was already one "narrative in his head," but if that misunderstanding could be resolved on the porch, he could remain within view of the "half dozen" of his colleagues who were also on the scene.

It's possible that wisdom should have suggested (if protocol allowed) that the men in blue make the hastiest possible exit and leave Gates fuming on his front steps. But he began to push and belittle, escalating the scene to the point at which the officers thought it justified to arrest him and to thereby kick off a spate of news coverage and a new professional initiative for academic.

All parties involved will emerge unscathed or, in Gates's case, to their own advantage. Unfortunately for some young black man further down the cultural lines of communication, however, the "instinct" that turned an anecdote into an incident has been reinforced, and it might not end so well for him.

July 14, 2009

An Excuse for History

Justin Katz

Brian Wilder conveys an interesting and timely history lesson on slavery in Rhode Island, but he ends with a peculiar conclusion:

Today it is strange, and perhaps convenient, how little most of us know about the extent of Rhode Island's involvement in slavery.

The least we can do is to dump a word that lost its innocence when Rhode Island and its despicable plantations became the hub of the equally despicable North American slave trade. We can't honestly claim ownership of our state's and nation's past glories if we deny our past evils.

The peculiarity comes in the fact that Wilder spends most of his essay edifying the reader about not only Rhode Island's participation, but its prominence in the slave trade — which he would not have had occasion to do had the word "plantations" not been included in the state's name. In other words, "dumping" the word would make it that much easier to forget and thereby deny the very history that Wilder claims to be essential for civic honesty.

Seems to me, he should advocate for leaving the state's full name as is, perpetuating the opportunity for historical exploration.

July 12, 2009

Ignorance Is Antithetical to Freedom

Justin Katz

Keith Stokes adds some welcome historical perspective to the manufactured controversy about the last word in the state's official name — Rhode Island and Providence Plantations:

The historic use of the word plantation does not simply refer to early farms or settlements. It was specifically crafted and applied by our founding settlers as a means to express their newly achieved experience of religious liberty and expression.

The word as part of our official state name was also influenced by the sermons and writings of one of New England's most prominent 17th Century clergyman: the Rev. John Cotton. Cotton was a Puritan and religious scholar who greatly influenced early Rhode Island Colony founders Roger Williams, John Clarke and Ann Hutchinson. His sermons included references to "A plantation of them into the promised land," contemplating the search for religious freedom of the Puritans and the real possibility of finding it in the new world. ...

This section of the charter refers to the Plantations name alongside the naming of our first settlement Providence, as the recognition that God (and through his divine providence) had guided these settlers in search of religious self-determination to form this new colony. It is imperative that all Rhode Islanders recognize that the name Plantations as part of Rhode Island's founding history means much more than simply a farm or settlement. The name is at the very heart of the formation of a colony that established the belief and practice of liberty of conscience and separation of church and state.

That is a history worth knowing, highlighting the ideals of our founding but rooted in the contextual biases of the times. It's a full picture, and none alive have any reason to be ashamed or unduly proud of it.

In seeking to reify the sins of the past in order to capitalize on them in the present, those wielding the eraser would spread smudges across our past, obscuring it. "Plantations" would signify only the objectionable connotation, implying inaccuracies about Rhode Island's history. Replacing the full history with a sparse sketch makes individuals susceptible to the invidious superimpositions by which manipulators turn ignorance to their advantage.

July 8, 2009

A Cost to Racial Denial

Justin Katz

Race is not purely a matter of hue. Evidence from sports aptitude to facial bone structure proves it to be so, and denying that fact in the name of racial harmony makes it more difficult to solidify the cultural holding that the differences don't matter in a philosophical or legal context. It may also make it more difficult to analyze and eliminate differing success rates of medical treatment:

African-Americans are less likely than whites to survive breast, prostate and ovarian cancer even when they receive equal treatment, according to a large study that offers provocative evidence that biological factors play a role in at least some racial disparities.

The first-of-its-kind study, involving nearly 20,000 cancer patients nationwide, found that the gap in survival between blacks and whites disappeared for lung, colon and several other cancers when they received identical care as part of federally funded clinical trials. But disparities persisted for prostate, breast and ovarian cancer, suggesting that other factors must be playing a role in the tendency of blacks to fare more poorly.

Astonishingly, even the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society is quick to validate concerns not about the research's results, but its being publicized in the first place:

"When I hear scientists talking about racial differences, I worry that it starts to harken back to arguments about genetic inferiority," said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

The message that we all ought to hammer home repeatedly is that even genetic differences don't mean inferiority when it comes to our individual value as human beings.

May 26, 2009

Quotes from Judge Sotomayor

Carroll Andrew Morse

This Sonia Sotomayor quote from a 2001 lecture at the Berkeley School of Law has been getting a lot of attention…

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
…but as Peter Kirsanow has pointed out at National Review Online, an earlier section of the same lecture is potentially more troubling…
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.
It will certainly be fair game to ask Judge Sotomayor to expand on what kinds of national-origin based physiological differences she believes are relevant to performing the duties of a judge.

April 23, 2009

Racialism Reaches the Supreme Court

Justin Katz

And "post-racial" America continues to live up to its billing:

A divided Supreme Court took up its first examination of race in the Obama era yesterday, wrestling with claims of job discrimination by white firefighters in a case that could force changes in employment practices nationwide.

The New Haven case pits white firefighters, who showed up at the court yesterday in their dress uniforms, against the city over its decision to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results.

At issue is whether adjusting criteria in order to ensure equal outcome (read: "biased methods") isn't the maximum of what public bodies can do in the name of race consciousness. Depending which way Justice Anthony Kennedy swings, they may be able to experiment on the fly — setting up rules and them changing them after the fact when they don't like the results.

April 17, 2009

Targeting People with Dark Skin So As Not to Be Racist

Justin Katz

Sometimes, one reads statements that leave the impression that the center line of American politics is a portal from one reality — with its own intellectual and moral standards — and another. Among the (predictable) criticisms being directed toward the Providence tea party is that the vast majority of those in attendance were light skinned, and in response to a comment by Real Deal Hope, on RI Future, that it was "an issue driven rally" with an open attendance opportunity, Matt Jerzyk offers the following:

While the event was an "open invitation," the event organizers did go around the state and speak at events, groups and businesses to drive up attendance. Anyone who has ever tried to organize an event knows that turnout is driven by specific outreach. Since my criticism apparently wasn't clear enough, let me give you a specific example. Did the event organizers go to Rhode Island's largest middle-class African-American church and ask for 5 minutes to speak about their event? Or the largest middle-class Colombian group in Central Falls or middle-class Cape Verdean group in East Providence? More to my point exactly, did they go on WBRU or PODER just like they went on every other radio station or did they sit down for an interview with UNIVISION or Providence en Espanol or the Providence American?

I could be wrong about this, but as far as I know, during the few weeks in which they organized the event, the RI Tea Party folks didn't "go around the state" speaking to groups, but made media appearances. They also didn't, I don't believe, go on WHJY, Cat Country, or "every other radio station" that doesn't have a news focus. If they did either of those things, I didn't hear about it.

That's ancillary to the point, which is the astonishing racial reductivism of Matt's suggestion. We on the right — particularly of the issue-driven, grassroots segment — target our message based on exhibited interests. When time is limited, we'll approach audiences that have exhibited receptivity to similar ideas and seek to work through media of general interest for the region. The assumption is that people exhibit their interests in accord with their individual beliefs and understanding, not on the basis of their skin or heritage.

To the left, tint is primary. In order to ensure that pictures of a crowd have color, they'll approach racially populated churches about government fiscal policy. They'll research ethnic enclaves in order to check off a hit-list of identity groups. By "racial inclusiveness," they clearly intend to divide and allocate people according to their race and then get representatives in a group photograph to promote their ideological cause. They mean to herd people into categories in order to more easily direct and manipulate them.

Matt may be correct that the hard-sell leftist effort to promote identity politics makes such a strategy politically savvy, in the current context, but I don't find it especially moral. And if I had skin of a darker hue, I'd be much more self-conscious about my physical appearance at a liberal rally than a conservative one, and I'd resent the effort to make me feel that I couldn't attend an event concerned with taxation without considering whether my fellow taxpayers were palpably conscious of my race.

As I walked around that crowd on Wednesday, I saw people. Contrary to the spin, some of them had darker skin than others, but I was paying more attention to signs and t-shirts.

March 13, 2009

Life on the Plantation

Marc Comtois

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was established by Royal Charter in 1663:

Because titles to these lands rested only on Indian deeds, neighboring colonies began to covet them. To meet this threat, Roger Williams journeyed to England and secured a parliamentary patent in March 1643-44 uniting the four towns into a single colony and confirming his fellow settlers' land claims. This legislative document served adequately as the basic law until the Stuart Restoration of 1660 made it wise to seek a royal charter.

Dr. John Clarke was commissioned to secure a document from the new king, Charles II, that would both be consistent with the religious principles upon which the tiny colony was founded and also safeguard Rhode Island lands from encroachment by speculators and greedy neighbors. He succeeded admirably. The royal charter of 1663 guaranteed complete religious liberty, established a self-governing colony with local autonomy, and strengthened Rhode Island's territorial claims. It was the most liberal charter to be issued by the mother country during the entire colonial era, a fact that enabled it to serve as Rhode Island's basic law until May 1843.

To this day, the official name of the state is still the state of "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations", though the last half of the name has been forgotten by just about everyone for a very long time. Basically, the full name has been relegated to nothing but an interesting piece of trivia: the littlest U.S. state also has the longest name. So no one really thinks much about it. Well, except a few who want to officially drop the "Plantations."

Continue reading "Life on the Plantation"

February 23, 2009

Travis Rowley: No Country for Black Individualism

Engaged Citizen

The Coen Brothers' 2007 film No Country For Old Men revolves around the tale of several young men engaged in a violent race for a satchel of cash. Tommy Lee Jones plays an aging sheriff investigating the depressing trail of bloodshed, markings that inform the old man that the customs and morals that guided his generation have decayed even faster than he has. Jones ends up as a depiction of the anguish experienced by people left without a country they can call home.

Democrats remain on their quest to offer similar anguish to African Americans, as liberals now embark on their fifth decade aimed at stripping these reliable party constituents of American nationalism.

Liberal mouthpieces have long emphasized a shameful American history, one marked by slavery and segregation. And they insist that, even today, a majority of Americans hold contempt for dark-skinned people. "Something is clearly wrong when the government's most effective affirmative-action program is the preference people of color receive when entering not college, but the criminal-justice system," proclaims one prominent progressive text titled A Covenant With Black America — which goes on to say that there is "a multi-headed, multi-tentacled monster out there devouring blacks who live in certain neighborhoods."

Such rhetoric has caused many African Americans to experience feelings of anti-Americanism and national detachment. Blacks now see mirages of racism everywhere, albeit disguised by "code words" and "institutional racism." The outrage last year over Barack Obama being referred to as "articulate" provided a powerful example of this paranoia.

Anger and hatred typically accompany blacks' racial anxiety. Before the start of a game last year the NBA's Josh Howard said to a live camera, "The Star-Spangled Banner is going on. I don't celebrate this [expletive]. I'm black." Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to even stand for the National Anthem, stating that the American flag was a "symbol of oppression" and that the United States has a long "history of tyranny."

In Democratic circles, this is known as "patriotism."

These are not so much black sentiments, as much as they are liberal. But many blacks now subscribe to the anti-American wing of contemporary liberalism.

Last year Michelle Obama said that America was "just downright mean" and admitted, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." And any Google search of Jeremiah Wright provides a score of videos showing Barack Obama's longtime pastor condemning America for practicing "state terrorism" and for "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." We find Wright referring to the United States as the "US of KKK A" and thundering, "Not God bless America. Goddam America!"

His all-black congregation cheers.

To be without a home is to live with pain. But this has been the Democratic scheme for decades — to promote government intrusion by convincing minorities that most Americans, especially Republicans, reject them. Republicans are racist, and against affirmative action. Democrats care, and will give you stuff.

The misinformation campaign has succeeded. Many black Americans now view racial solidarity as more important than black individualism. Each year a handful of notorious black leaders convene an event called the State of the Black Union, calling all "brothers" to recognize the uniformed plight that all African Americans endure.

Liberals stripped blacks of their country, so they concocted a new one — the Black Union.

Because racial camaraderie has resulted in more than 90% of blacks predictably voting for Democrats, the advice to be more "inclusive" is often delivered to the GOP: Replicate the way in which Democrats pander to minorities in order to attract blacks to the Republican Party.

But safeguarding the feelings of minorities by adhering to liberals' politically correct pap is precisely the cause of blacks' adoption of big-government, anti-American liberalism. Do Republicans really want to be associated with such a philosophy?

The advice is backwards. Blacks are the ones to make concessions. They must abandon their liberalism before the party of conservatism can consider their membership. A simple matter of principle.

Yet, in order to convince Republicans to alter their strategy, Los Angeles-based writer Chaise Nunnally recently referenced in the Projo the Don Imus controversy, in which Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hoes." Even though Nunnally found the opinions expressed by conservatives involved in the debate "legitimate and defensible," he thought "they also struck the wrong note in communicating with the black community on a racially sensitive topic."

Nunnally's counsel was to be more racially symbolic, recommending Republicans find "a more race-sensitive tack to woo black voters." Join the left in their truth-stifling political correctness in order to trick blacks into voting for you.

That's how much liberals respect minorities.

Republicans would be better off listening to black conservative columnist Thomas Sowell, who recently reminded his readers, "Most Americans' principles are closer to those of the Republicans than to those of the Democrats ... [Republicans] won big when they stood for something and told the people what that something was ... Ronald Reagan was the classic example. But another example would be the stunning Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional elections ... Articulating the message of Newt Gingrich's 'contract for America' was a key to that historic victory."

Republicans win when they underline conservatism, not when they dilute their principles by pandering to special interests. They should leave such prostitution to the Democrats.

For black Americans addicted to Democrats' coddling sense of self-pity and collectivism, they will find no such slavery within the Republican Party. Only when blacks finally recognize the big-government whip held in Democratic hands, can the Party of Lincoln help them regain their independence, sustain their dignity, strengthen their families, and recapture their country.

Travis Rowley is the Chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and author of Out of Ivy: How a Liberal Ivy Created a Committed Conservative.

November 18, 2008

The Primacy of Identity

Justin Katz

The left's investment in identity politics has proven to reap rewards. In battling the concept that people should develop their senses of self in such a way as to deemphasize a relative superficiality like ethnicity, the planners and plotters and goers-along cleared the field for such results as this:

Political and sociological analysts in several interviews and teleconferences Nov. 5 pointed out that Obama's vote among Catholics reflected a 7-point increase over the Catholic vote for Kerry.

The exit polls divided voters into "all Catholics" or white, non-Hispanic Catholics. In the latter group, the shift toward the Democratic candidate was less pronounced than among Catholics overall. Fifty-two percent of white Catholics supported McCain, and 47 percent voted for Obama. Majorities of white Catholics also voted for Bush in both his elections, by 56 percent in 2004 and 52 percent in 2000.

Approximately 40 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic and another 3 percent are African-American. Asian and Pacific Islanders constitute about 4 percent.

Latinos nationwide voted for Obama by 67 percent to 31 percent for McCain. African-Americans voted for Obama by 95 percent to 4 percent. Asians supported Obama by 62 percent to 35 percent.

Without doubt, the inauguration of a black man represents a milestone in America, but there is potential, at least, for race to increase its prominence, as the now-more-powerful identity contingent wrings its investment for every drop of power.

November 8, 2008

A Race Apart

Justin Katz

MRH offers a short-answer essay, in the comments, on "otherness" and the reasoning behind political correctness:

Rightly or wrongly (I think increasingly wrongly) the default category in American society is white, Christian, and male. Anyone who isn't white, Christian, or male is to some degree the "other."

It's easy, but a little dicey, for someone in a position of relative privilege to tell someone in another category to subsume their identity. Here's an imperfect analogy: if someone told you that you should stop thinking of yourself as a Christian-American and just think of yourself as American, you might be a little offended. After all, your religion is important to you, and anyway, you don't think that being Christian is incompatible with just being "American."

Of course, no one's likely to say that to you, because Christian-American sounds redundant to us, because Christian is part of the default category.

It's an old argument, and it's never made sense to me: American means "white," so calling a black man "American" would imply his race away, and because his race is important to him, we must apply an adjective so that he can be fully black and fully American as an "African American." And somehow that will dispel racism and bring us all together.

Whenever folks on MRH's side of the ideological divide begin summarizing, for me, how I think of myself and when I might be offended, I can't help but despair a bit at the gulf between worldviews. As a matter of fact, rare are the times that I think of myself as a "Christian-American." When I think of my nationality, history, and general culture, I think of myself as "American"; when I think of my religion, intellectual disposition, and subculture, I think of myself as "Christian"; when I think of my race, I actually consider myself a mutt, but in the broad category of "white."

Political correctness requires that we always refer to Americans of a certain range of ancestry as "African American," as a short-hand blend of racial, national, and cultural descriptions. It's a very limiting, even dehumanizing thing to do, not the least because it allows a political cadre to dictate what an entire race must believe when it comes to national politics and cultural proclivities.

The underlying premise of political correctness is that knowledge of a person's race tells you something significant about everything else about that person. The alternative — the correct approach — is to assess people based on all available information and to be prepared to adjust. That includes an allowance for a particular race (or gender or religious group or orientation or whatever) to define itself, but with the understanding that a majority vote, as it were, isn't definitive for dissenting individuals.

Thus, if black Americans persist in acknowledging a distinctive subculture, it is entirely appropriate to expect its manifestation in one whom you are just meeting, but it is also necessary to reevaluate. Race is easily observed, and there appears to be some degree of a sense of brotherhood among blacks, so it isn't racist to expect certain views and behavior in accordance with the family, as it were. In deliberately merging that racial identity with their national identity, political correctness makes the familial definition the default, and those who differ on political or cultural matters become the "other among others."

Political Correctness, in other words, looks at a conservative black man and says, "not really black" — sorry, "not really African American." Such an approach only reinforces racial notions of otherhood. If somebody else is black and I am white, then the differences between us that I can profess to know are limited, because we're only talking color. He is free to reveal himself to me, and vice versa. If somebody else is African American and I am American, then we enter our acquaintance within the framework of the Other that we are supposed to lament.

Actually, what we are supposed to do is to take that framework and give minorities an advantage and a sunny presumption — providing a wedge for their political masters. As Shelby Steele writes:

... there is an inherent contradiction in all this. When whites — especially today's younger generation — proudly support Obama for his post-racialism, they unwittingly embrace race as their primary motivation. They think and act racially, not post-racially. The point is that a post-racial society is a bargainer's ploy: It seduces whites with a vision of their racial innocence precisely to coerce them into acting out of a racial motivation. A real post-racialist could not be bargained with and would not care about displaying or documenting his racial innocence. Such a person would evaluate Obama politically rather than culturally.

"Displaying or documenting racial innocence" is a way of describing political correctness, and its practitioners make tools of themselves and perpetuate that which they believe themselves to be erasing.


I would repeat something that I've said previously, though: one positive result of an Obama presidency, apart from everything else, is his standing as a direct challenge to those who've sought to exclude "white" standards of respectability and erudition from the definition of the African American subculture. Should he fail to promote the right causes and push the right agendas, however, be prepared for race hucksters to change their tone and present him as an "Uncle Tom in Chief" who was packaged for white America.

Whether such a ploy will at last undermine their own claims to speak for the black community or will reposition Obama in the same category as Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice before him, we'll have to wait and see. (I suspect he'll play all sorts of political games to avoid the rift.) Whatever the case, there may be an opportunity, however, for cultural conservatives to promote their common principles with blacks once the Left's racial manacles are broken.

November 6, 2008

An Unlikely Path for a Changed Mind

Justin Katz

In a comment over on Ian Donnis's blog, Jim Taricani illustrates an error of thought common among his generation:

Many of my contemporaries have done a fine job of talking with political correctness about race.

But too many lacked the guts to actually THINK political correctness with real conviction.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama's election represents the first important step to an America that is truly color-blind, both in mind and spirit.

Political correctness is a key reason that Obama's election will not represent what Taricani hopes it will, because to internalize political correctness is to internalize consciousness of race. As long as there remain cultural differences from one race to another, it will always represent a degree of self-delusion to be "truly color-blind," but to impose right thinking is to ensure that somebody's race is always integral to his or her identity — that he or she is always an "African American," and never just an American.

September 30, 2008

If "No" Is Racist, then Race Must Be an Ideology

Justin Katz

Jerry Landay provides an inkling as to why the Left is so viciously anxious to destroy any successful minorities who do not carry its water: They scuttle a semantic game that otherwise allows disagreement to be portrayed as bigotry. Consider:

Race determined the primary outcome in three industrial swing states. Hillary Clinton, a white, won by large margins in the Democratic primaries of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Barack Obama, half-black, but self-identified as an African-American, lost. Some 15 to 20 percent of voters confessed to post-election pollsters that race was a “factor” in their decision. Obama must win these states. ...

A York law-enforcement officer declared that America was ready for a black president. But . . . "I just don't think Obama's the right one." He declared that Palin "has more experience than he does. No one has ever told me what a community organizer is." In fact, in speeches and two books, Obama has repeatedly described his efforts to help the people who live in southside Chicago. "Community organizer" in this context has been made a code word for "black."

I'm sure that in certain company this is treated as high wisdom, but for my part, this "code word" legerdemain is so much gibberish. The officer in the anecdote raises "community organizer" in Obama's biography as a comparison to "mayor" in Palin's. The utility of liberal word games, though, is that any phrase may be made suspect for the purposes of promoting representatives of the ideology.

If Obama loses, many among his supporters will not ask themselves those tough introspective questions that failure ought to inspire. They'll simply blame racism — so simple, so comforting. And if Obama wins, the rest of us will have the opportunity to observe how quickly it becomes a matter of racial bigotry to oppose a far Left agenda.

September 9, 2008

A Difference of Unification

Justin Katz

We've been having this conversation hereabouts, and Jonathan Zimmerman puts it well:

Beneath all of this talk, of course, lies the fallacy of race itself. Although America is a richly diverse place, we're told, people in any given race are the same — or should be. That's why you still hear whispers in the African-American community about whether Obama is "really" black.

He isn't. And you're not "really" white, or Hispanic, or Asian, or whatever it is you say you are. We're all mongrels, each and every one of us. But the concept of race masks the diversity inside of each group, even as it exaggerates the differences outside of them.

Somewhere along the way (probably during the radical '60s), balkanization by race became too useful for the American Left, keeping minorities in line in tandem with a package of social allowances that have undermined their collective advancement.

July 24, 2008

Are There Valid Criticisms To Be Made of Sanctuary and Amnesty Policies?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Over at RI Future yesterday, Matt Jerzyk wrote…

When the immigration debate becomes about “them” and the “them” is largely determined by race and ethnicity, then racism is a clear component of the debate.
But how about the definition of "them" in other areas of public debate? In a post from just two days earlier, Paul Bovenzi is certainly more than comfortable with defining his view of "them" largely in terms of race…
Last I checked, the White, Conservative, Male still had a firm (and disproportionate) grasp on the power and wealth in this country, so why is he so terribly unhappy?

One more thing about the White, Conservative Male - he is also a top notch complainer!

So if you buy into Mr. Jerzyk's premise, unless a highly suspect double standard is to be applied, it seems that racism has to be considered a "clear component" of Mr. Bovenzi's argument too.


Look, what's really happening here is that the special interest groups who favor sanctuary and amnesty with respect to illegal immigration have hit a wall in persuading the general public that ignoring immigration laws is sound public policy. Unable to persuade, they've taken to trying to de-legitimize criticism of their policy positions, in the hopes that those who disagree with them can be bullied into silence.

May 4, 2008

Clarity on Profiling

Justin Katz

Race's status as an umbrella term for an amorphous category of qualities — from skin color to lifestyle choices — justify a significant degree of skepticism about claims of racial profiling. In the context of a recent University of Rhode Island investigation of state police traffic stops and searches (concerning which, I haven't been able to find more detail than that provided in today's Projo story), for example, there are various factors that could correlate with race and that would be of varying degrees of culpability when it comes to motivation for searches.

Suppose 90% of all people who were stopped and whose cars were searched were — as we used to call them — hoodies. A presumption of increased likelihood of finding something suspicious or illegal in the car is thus premised on visual clues about the character of the driver and the cultural significance of his or her comportment. Perhaps that oughtn't be grounds for searches, but it's certainly less sinister than the specter of racism, and general experience suggests that the criterion would affect races disproportionately. Driving habits and attitudes are other examples of factors that might inherently select for race without indicating racism (unless, as advocates and activists like to do, one treats them as definitional of a people).

Of course, for the analysis to be fair, we'd need more information than is available. Perhaps the presumption that hoodiness correlates with criminality is mistaken, thus making it an unfair reason to treat motorists differently. To answer the question, however, one would have to pull over and search random cars; if more hoodies have contraband, then the profile is reasonable. (In point of fact, we are operating under just such experience, albeit without the mooring of scientifically collected data.)

What numbers the Projo article does supply confuse more than they enlighten:

The authors conclude that if two drivers, one white and the other black, were driving vehicles of the same age, with no passengers, on similar roads in the same area at the same time of day, the black driver would be 1 1/2 times as likely to be pulled over as the white driver by troopers from the same state police barracks. Hispanic drivers would be slightly more likely to be stopped. ...

The study found "substantial evidence of racial and ethnic disparity" in searches where troopers had discretion in whether to search, and said there was little change from the previous studies. Blacks were twice as likely to be searched as whites, and Hispanics 1 1/2 times as likely. After adjusting for a number of factors that could explain some of the difference, the authors said, Hispanic drivers were no more likely to be searched, but blacks were still 1 1/2 times as likely to be searched as whites.

However, despite the more-frequent searches, no more contraband (mostly drugs) was found among nonwhites than among whites.

The fact that troopers searched black drivers more often than whites but found no more contraband, the study says, suggests that there was less legal basis for searching the blacks. In fact, the state police found drugs and other contraband slightly more often in the vehicles driven by whites as in those driven by minorities. (Contraband was found in vehicles driven by: whites, 42.9 percent; blacks, 42.2 percent, and Hispanics, 40.5 percent.)

Obviously, those percentages cannot be of the total number of drivers, because that information is not possible to collect, so they must represent the portion of either stops or searches. If they are percentages of those stopped, then they are noteworthy, because every car stopped but not searched would go into the "clean" category, and fewer minority-driven vehicles were not searched.

More likely, however, they are percentages of cars searched, meaning that more contraband was found in the minority-driven cars, in absolute terms. In that case, impropriety only exists if additional searches of white-driven cars would maintain the police's find rate for that group.

Reporter Bruce Landis writes that the study's "results are consistent with what one would expect from biased law-enforcement tactics," but given the very narrow range of discrepancy in these percentages, they are also consistent with what one would expect if state police officers' instincts are of roughly equal accuracy across races, but are more often triggered by drivers in minority groups.

The prescription for remedying that problem lie beyond the boundaries of law enforcement.

February 22, 2008

Obama's Effect on Race Relations

Justin Katz

A few weeks ago, Dan Yorke brought one of his coworkers (a sports guy) into the studio to discuss his Massachusetts primary vote for Barack Obama. That coworker characterized himself as the only non-racist person he knew and sought to explain why it was appropriate to look at Obama and see only a black man who would help to advance race relations in America.

Dan posed the question of whether that approach to voting was racist. To those who'd say "no," because the vote wouldn't be motivated by the candidate's race so much as his effect on a particular issue of defining import in this country, I'd ask whether the same would hold true for somebody who voted the other way for the same reason. That is, would it be racist to vote against a black man simply because the voter believes that doing so would exacerbate race relations?

John Derbyshire offered some thoughts in this line over in the Corner, yesterday:

... Imagine an Obama presidency overwhelmed and floundering, like Carter's. There are enough issues, domestic and foreign, coming down the pike to make this very possible — you know them, I don't need to enumerate. Black Americans will of course go on voting for the party of a black president regardless. Nonblacks will flee from the Democrats in droves, though. A Republican landslide in the 2010 midterms (think 1994); a clear GOP victory in 2012 (think 1980).

By that point the Democratic Party might be nothing other than the party of black Americans. To the degree that black and nonblack Americans get on with each other at all, it is largely thanks to the coalition of black citizens and nonblack liberals and interest groups represented in the national political life by the Democratic Party. A permanent sundering of that coalition would be greatly to America's peril. Black Americans would be shut out of our political life.

Plausible? More to the point, even assuming it's plausible, would it (of itself) justify an anti-Barack vote?

January 11, 2008

New Jersey's Apology for Slavery

Mac Owens

I have a piece in
today’s Christian Science Monitor about the recent resolution by the New Jersey legislature apologizing for slavery.

On the one hand, such an apology is harmless. But on the other, it feeds off of the idea that the United States has been racist from the start, obscuring the fact that it is precisely America’s founding principle that made the abolition of slavery a moral necessity.

New Jersey’s action is ironic in view of the fact that in 1999, this same legislature rejected a proposal to require all school children to recite a portion of the Declaration of Independence every day.

For those interested, there is also a short interview at the site.

January 10, 2008

Al Sharpton's Hollow Indignation

Monique Chartier

It's one thing for Reverend Al Sharpton to use the racial gaffes of others principally as a means of attracting a spotlight or a microphone to himself. It's an annoyance but the ultimate impact is on the credibility of Reverend Sharpton.

It's another thing for him to do so when the gaffe involves the word "lynch".

Tiger Woods might not be teed off about a crack that he should be lynched, but the Rev. Al Sharpton is swinging away.

The civil rights leader has demanded golf commentator Kelly Tilghman be fired for saying young players who wanted to challenge Woods should "lynch him in a back alley."

Woods, the sport's first black superstar, said in a statement he was not offended by the remark made Friday on the Golf Channel, but Sharpton vowed to picket the station if it doesn't fire her.

[I would interject here that I had a visceral reaction when I saw Kelly Tilghman's comment in a headline which abated somewhat as I read of her apologies and the reaction of Tiger Woods.]

In view of the incendiary statements he made prior to the actual lynching of Yankel Rosenbaum, Reverend Sharpton has nothing to say about a very stupid incident that involved only the word.

This one is a microphone too far.

November 6, 2007

Institutional Racism, Quotas, and Cranston

Carroll Andrew Morse

State Republican Chairman Giovanni Cicione touched off a minor firestorm in political circles with his statement that unions are a source of institutional racism. Monday's Political Scene column in the Projo summarized and exchange between Chairman Cicione and reporter Bill Rappleye on WJAR-TV's (NBC 10) 10 News Conference

State Republican Chairman Giovanni Cicione’s description of labor unions as the “last vestige of institutional racism” has — no surprise — led a coalition of AFL-CIO affiliated unions known as Working Rhode Island to urge Governor Carcieri to demand Cicione’s resignation....

Asked by reporter Bill Rappleye if he had indeed called unions “the last vestige of institutional racism,” Cicione said: “I did.”

“What does that mean?” he was asked. Cicione’s answer: “If you look back to the formation of the unions, it was in large part — if you look at Samuel Gompers and people like that that were the heads of those union movements — they were publicly out there saying the reason we need to have unions is to keep the Italians from taking our jobs. That was my grandparents they were talking about back when this started"...

“Nothing’s changed now,” Cicione began when Rappleye interrupted with a “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.”

“Look at the numbers, Bill. Look at the numbers,” Cicione continued. “Go to the Cranston Fire Department. How many women are in that Fire Department? How many people of color are in that Fire Department?”

Rappleye followed up with a report on Monday that suggested in two different places that racial quotas may be considered for the Cranston fire department. In the opening, Rappleye used the q-word directly…
Some fire and police departments across Rhode Island are coming under scrutiny for their failure to meet diversity quotas.
Later in the report, Clifford Monteiro, President of the Providence Chapter of the NAACP, made a call for evaluating Cranston's hiring practices according to rigid numerical standards…
Clifford Monteiro, president of the NAACP Providence Branch, said his group has negotiated with Cranston for more than two years.

He said it has not produced any results.

"Cranston has 11 percent minorities, and there should be 11 percent in public works, 11 percent in the police department, 11 percent in the fire department," Monteiro said.

It's a little surprising to see racial quotas, labeled "highly suspect" by the United States Supreme Court, being discussed this openly. The Supreme Court has made it clear that there are very few circumstances where racial quotas are either justified or legal. The most important recent case (not involving university admissions, which is a subset of the law unto its own) is Richmond v. Croson (1989), where the Supreme Court struck down fixed-percentage race-based set asides in government contracting in the absence of evidence of actual discrimination. As the recently sainted Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her majority opinion…
An amorphous claim that there has been past discrimination in a particular industry cannot justify the use of an unyielding racial quota.
Mr. Monteiro wants a quota in all-but-name to be applied to the Cranston fire department. He doesn't want to have to prove any specific acts of discrimination that have occurred, just that final staffing numbers prove that some form of racism must exist and therefore race-conscious government action is required. The Constitution -- and even the courts -- say clearly that this is not acceptable.

Chairman Cicione needs to be careful here, as claims of "institutional racism" belong to the same category of "amorphous" reasoning being used by Mr. Monteiro to try to justify quotas. In the future, you can be assured that Rhode Island Democrats will be citing Mr. Cicione's references to the reality of "institutional racism" as evidence of the need to change the law (whether through the legislature or through the courts) to allow more sweeping impositions of racial quotas than are allowed now.

Three other notes on Monday's Political Scene column…

  1. I'm not sure if the "no surprise" line regarding the calls for Giovanni Cicione's resignation is supposed to mean that Giovanni Cicione has again said something that has people calling for his resignation, or to mean that it has been a few days since the Democratic/labor alliance has called for someone to resign or apologize or something, so they decided they needed to put out a press release.
  2. In case anyone is wondering, it is documented that Samuel Gompers held nativist attitudes. Perhaps the current leadership of the AFL-CIO should apologize for his statements, to help smooth things over with various offended groups.

    Personally, I don't think that's necessary. The whole idea of apologizing for things that someone else did 100 or more years ago is pretty silly.

  3. Even if I was pro-quota (which I'm not), noting that Cranston has no residency requirement for firemen, I would wonder why their staffing totals would be expected to reflect just the population of Cranston, instead of a wider possible hiring area?

Institutional Racism, Quotas, and Cranston

Carroll Andrew Morse

State Republican Chairman Giovanni Cicione touched off a minor firestorm in political circles with his statement that unions are a source of institutional racism. Monday's Political Scene column in the Projo summarized and exchange between Chairman Cicione and reporter Bill Rappleye on WJAR-TV's (NBC 10) 10 News Conference

State Republican Chairman Giovanni Cicione’s description of labor unions as the “last vestige of institutional racism” has — no surprise — led a coalition of AFL-CIO affiliated unions known as Working Rhode Island to urge Governor Carcieri to demand Cicione’s resignation....

Asked by reporter Bill Rappleye if he had indeed called unions “the last vestige of institutional racism,” Cicione said: “I did.”

“What does that mean?” he was asked. Cicione’s answer: “If you look back to the formation of the unions, it was in large part — if you look at Samuel Gompers and people like that that were the heads of those union movements — they were publicly out there saying the reason we need to have unions is to keep the Italians from taking our jobs. That was my grandparents they were talking about back when this started"...

“Nothing’s changed now,” Cicione began when Rappleye interrupted with a “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.”

“Look at the numbers, Bill. Look at the numbers,” Cicione continued. “Go to the Cranston Fire Department. How many women are in that Fire Department? How many people of color are in that Fire Department?”

Rappleye followed up with a report on Monday that suggested in two different places that racial quotas may be considered for the Cranston fire department. In the opening, Rappleye used the q-word directly…
Some fire and police departments across Rhode Island are coming under scrutiny for their failure to meet diversity quotas.
Later in the report, Clifford Monteiro, President of the Providence Chapter of the NAACP, made a call for evaluating Cranston's hiring practices according to rigid numerical standards…
Clifford Monteiro, president of the NAACP Providence Branch, said his group has negotiated with Cranston for more than two years.

He said it has not produced any results.

"Cranston has 11 percent minorities, and there should be 11 percent in public works, 11 percent in the police department, 11 percent in the fire department," Monteiro said.

It's a little surprising to see racial quotas, labeled "highly suspect" by the United States Supreme Court, being discussed this openly. The Supreme Court has made it clear that there are very few circumstances where racial quotas are either justified or legal. The most important recent case (not involving university admissions, which is a subset of the law unto its own) is Richmond v. Croson (1989), where the Supreme Court struck down fixed-percentage race-based set asides in government contracting in the absence of evidence of actual discrimination. As the recently sainted Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her majority opinion…
An amorphous claim that there has been past discrimination in a particular industry cannot justify the use of an unyielding racial quota.
Mr. Monteiro wants a quota in all-but-name to be applied to the Cranston fire department. He doesn't want to have to prove any specific acts of discrimination that have occurred, just that final staffing numbers prove that some form of racism must exist and therefore race-conscious government action is required. The Constitution -- and even the courts -- say clearly that this is not acceptable.

Chairman Cicione needs to be careful here, as claims of "institutional racism" belong to the same category of "amorphous" reasoning being used by Mr. Monteiro to try to justify quotas. In the future, you can be assured that Rhode Island Democrats will be citing Mr. Cicione's references to the reality of "institutional racism" as evidence of the need to change the law (whether through the legislature or through the courts) to allow more sweeping impositions of racial quotas than are allowed now.

Three other notes on Monday's Political Scene column…

  1. I'm not sure if the "no surprise" line regarding the calls for Giovanni Cicione's resignation is supposed to mean that Giovanni Cicione has again said something that has people calling for his resignation, or to mean that it has been a few days since the Democratic/labor alliance has called for someone to resign or apologize or something, so they decided they needed to put out a press release.
  2. In case anyone is wondering, it is documented that Samuel Gompers held nativist attitudes. Perhaps the current leadership of the AFL-CIO should apologize for his statements, to help smooth things over with various offended groups.

    Personally, I don't think that's necessary. The whole idea of apologizing for things that someone else did 100 or more years ago is pretty silly.

  3. Even if I was pro-quota (which I'm not), noting that Cranston has no residency requirement for firemen, I would wonder why their staffing totals would be expected to reflect just the population of Cranston, instead of a wider possible hiring area?

October 28, 2007

Crossword Clue (Seven Letters): Whites, by Definition

Justin Katz

It's been clear that the sort of thought that the Providence Journal editorial board criticizes has been permeating university faculty halls for decades:

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been making use of a handbook called "dismantling racism 2006" put together by a consultancy called Dismantling Racism Works.

Here's a passage:

"Racism = a white supremacy system.

"Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the major institutions of society. By this definition, only white people can be racist in our society, because only white people as a group have that power." ...

Oh, here's another line from the handbook: "All Europeans did not and do not become white at the same time. . . . Becoming white involves giving up pieces of your original culture in order to get the advantages and privileges of being in the white group. . . . This process continues today."

Race-obsessed academics aren't interested in understanding racism so as to end it. They're interested in mastering its application toward their own ends.

August 23, 2007

What Black Men Think

Marc Comtois

I recently caught a C-SPAN Q&A with Janks Morton, Jr., who was promoting his new film, What Black Men Think. It attempts to dig into some of the problems--both cause and affect--facing African-Americans today. According to his website:

Since the triumphs of the civil rights legislations of the early 1960′s havoc and decimation has been wreaked on the black family with a specific devastation on the black man. With negative imagery of the media, the failed policy of the Great Society and modern era black leadership abandoning tenets that historically held the community together, a new form of mental slavery has perpetuated an undeclared civil war in the black community…
Reviews have been positive.
What Black Men Think is highly recommended as an excellent alternative to the mainstream propaganda which would have us internalize the worst beliefs about an unfairly maligned segment of society. Perhaps more importantly, this groundbreaking documentary ought to serve as an overdue wake-up call for young African-American males...to assume the responsibility of reprogramming their own minds in a positive manner instead of voluntarily internalizing a self-defeating mentality which amounts to little more than the 21st Century's equivalent of slavery...

Three cheers to Janks Morton for making a film which constructively employs a marginalized segment of the black intelligentsia as a valuable resource. Though often scorned as traitors by their more liberal colleagues, in this instance they are presented as well-meaning role models with viable proposals for their people, as opposed to being the unwitting pawns of a power structure only interested in maintaining the status quo.

Some of those conservatives are people like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, both of whom have written extensively on the failure of both the progressive "Great Society" and the self-appointed "leaders" of the African-American community to alleviate the social ills suffered within the African-American community.

Morton's primary goal is to shatter some myths about black men

The film sets out to debunk stereotypes that he said have been perpetuated for so many years that they have struck the black community to its core. Stereotypes that have insulted, demoralized and humiliated. That have left others intimidated by black boys and black men...

Morton appears on screen in dark shades, "Matrix"-like. "More than one hundred years ago," he said, "Harriet Tubman was quoted as saying: 'If I could have convinced more slaves they truly were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.' ''

At another point, the screen rolls up. Rolls down, deliberately out of focus. Morton said, "How could you have bought into the false castigations that keep you from one another?

"You sit idly by and watch your media distort your images. You know that the government stratifies you. You know that the black leadership exploits you, and you choose to do nothing."

A recent column by Sowell lends support to Morton's claim that the self-appointed black leaders and progressive whites--to whom the media run for pontification on all things African-American--offer a distorted picture:
The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994 but the left has shown no more interest in why that is so than they have shown in why many millions of people have risen out of poverty in Latin America or in China and India.

Where progress can be plausibly claimed to be a result of policies favored by the left, then such claims are made.

A whole mythology has grown up that the advancement of minorities and women in America is a result of policies promoted by the left in the 1960s. Such claims are often based on nothing more substantial than ignoring the history of the progress made prior to 1960.

Retrogressions in the wake of the policies of the 1960s are studiously ignored -- the runaway crime rates, the disintegration of black families, and the ghetto riots of the 1960s that have left many black communities still barren more than 40 years later.

Williams echoes Sowell's allusion to a better time for African-Americans:
During the 1940s and '50s, I grew up in North Philadelphia... It was a time when blacks were much poorer, there was far more racial discrimination, and fewer employment opportunities and other opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility were available. There was nowhere near the level of crime and wanton destruction that exists today. Behavior accepted today wasn't accepted then by either black adults or policemen.
Morton agrees and joins them in asking African-Americans to recall a time before the '60's, when times were tougher for African-Americans, but they were strong in their families and were more self-sufficient:
In the film, Morton and others, conservative and liberal, concede there are real difficulties in the black community. "The real, real deal with black people right now -- we have the highest divorce rates, we have the highest over-40-year-old single rates," Morton says on screen. "We have the lowest marriage rates. The highest out-of-wedlock birth rates. What I'm saying to you is . . . one generation ago, we didn't look like this."

As the movie rolled at the recent one-time showing at the Avalon Theatre, there were knowing nods throughout the crowd, as if the movie confirmed theories.

"As black women, we've been led to believe there are no good men, that they are all in jail," Thembelani Smith, 32, an IT project manager, says after the film. "That isn't even true. Sometimes because the messages are imbedded in your head, you are quick to judge. That movie was long overdue. It's good to have these kinds of conversations."

Yes it is.

August 22, 2007

Anachronistic History: Ruth Simmons on George Washington

Marc Comtois

In a ProJo story about the annual reading of George Washington's Letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Brown University President Ruth Simmons is quoted thusly:

She touched upon the moral contradictions underlying the noble desires of past leaders who were eager to uphold freedom, despite an indifference to the injustice of slavery.

“We all know that these lofty and compelling ideals were largely omitted from discourse when it came to Africans and Native Americans.… In failing to apprehend the corrosive evil of slavery and the immoral inequities that it was to create for generations of descendants, Washington compromised his legacy as a moral leader,” she said.

This is simplistic. Historians agree that Washington's views on slavery certainly evolved from his early manhood up until he freed many of his slaves in his last will. For Simmons to opine that he "fail[ed] to apprehend the corrosive evil of slavery and the immoral inequities that it was to create for generations of descendants" betrays a blindered view of history. The fact is, Washington was hardly indifferent and fully recognized the evils of slavery.

Continue reading " Anachronistic History: Ruth Simmons on George Washington"

July 15, 2007

The Democratic Party's Legacy of Racism--Part II

Mac Owens

Responding to my post on the Democratic Party’s legacy of racism, Bobby Oliveira wrote:

Up until the Voting Rights Act, which LBJ predicted "would lose the South
for years to come", you are exactly correct.

However, since that day, all those folks, foreshadowed by Strom Thurmond in
1948, have left and now hang out with the Republicans. In the South, the
religous right and the white supremacy crowd are very close friends.

I know this is a popular argument about why the formerly Democratic “solid South” became Republican. The only trouble is that it is wrong. The charge that Republican Party's "Southern strategy" was based primarily on race essentially slanders white Southerners--such as myself, who abandoned the Democratic Party of our ancestors--suggesting we are a bunch of crackers and red-necks, the sort of characters that inhabit such movies as Mississippi Burning. Yankees seem to have a selective memory when it comes to own race problems in the North.

But the appeal of the Republican Party to white Southerners in the late 60s and 70s had far less to do with race than with disgust about the Democratic Party's philosophy of government and its position on foreign affairs, especially Vietnam. Now I'm no Richard Nixon fan (I voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and for the Libertarian candidate in 1972) but he did a good job of outlining the Southern strategy in a 1966 newspaper column. There he stated that the foundations of the Republican Party were states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense. The Republicans, he continued, would leave it to the "party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice."

One source of the claim that the Republicans' Southern strategy was racist is the undeniable fact that Nixon and other Republicans criticized the civil-rights leaders who refused to condemn the riots that erupted in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination. But it is hard to make the case that it is racist to distinguish between defending civil rights on the one hand and looting and burning on the other.

But the centerpiece of the Southern-strategy-was-racist slur is the claim that during the 1968 election, pro-segregationist supporters of Alabama governor George Wallace eventually supported Nixon. But the record shows that at the outset of '68 campaign, Nixon polled at 42 percent, Humphrey at 29 percent, and Wallace at 22 percent. On election day, Nixon and Humphrey were tied at 43 percent, with Wallace at 13 percent. The 9 percent of the national vote that defected from Wallace went to Humphrey and the Democratic Party.

OK, I've posted a lot over the past couple of days and I'm taking my sons to California tomorrow for a week to visit Disneyland, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo. Until I return, discuss among yourselves.

The Democratic Party's Legacy of Racism

Mac Owens

In December 2002, I got myself into a heap of trouble by writing an op-ed for the Providence Journal arguing that, despite its current reputation as the party of racial progress, the real legacy of the Democratic Party was racism and slavery (“The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism”). The catalyst was the reaction of the press and many Democrats to the remarks of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) during a birthday celebration for the late Strom Thurmond.

The Senate minority leader at the time, Tom Daschle said on CNN that "Republicans have to prove, not only to us, of course, but to the American people that they are as sensitive to this question of racism, this question of civil rights, this question of equal opportunity, as they say they are." Among high-profile Democrats, Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer offered similar comments.

I wrote:

It’s about time that Republicans quit pussy-footing around on the issue of race. They need to point out that in both principle and practice, the Republican Party has a far better record than the Democrats on race. Even more importantly, they need to stress that on the issues that most affect African-Americans today, the Democratic position represents racism of the most offensive sort—a patronizing racism that denigrates Blacks every bit as badly as the old racism of Jim Crow and segregation.

Republicans can begin by observing that their Party was founded on the basis of principles invoked by Abraham Lincoln. He himself recurred to the principles of the American Founding, specifically the Declaration of Independence, so we can say that the principles of the Republican Party are the principles of the nation. In essence these principles hold that the only purpose of government is to protect the equal natural rights of individual citizens. These rights inhere in individuals, not groups, and are antecedent to the creation of government. They are the rights invoked by the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—not happiness, but the pursuit of happiness.

We should remember that the Republican Party was created in response to a crisis arising from the fact that American public opinion on the issue of slavery had drifted away from the principles of the Founding. While the Founders had tolerated slavery out of necessity, many Americans, especially within the Democratic Party, had come to accept the idea that slavery was a "positive good." While Thomas Jefferson, the founder of what evolved into the Democratic Party, had argued that slavery was bad not only for the slave but also for the slave owner, John C. Calhoun, had turned this principle on its head: slavery was good not only for the slave holder, but also for the slave.

Calhoun’s fundamental enterprise was to defend the institution of slavery. To do so, he first had to overturn the principles of the American Founding. He started with the Declaration of Independence, arguing that "[the proposition ’all men are created equal’] as now understood, has become the most false and dangerous of all political errors....We now begin to experience the danger of admitting so great an error to have a place in the declaration of independence." Thus Calhoun transformed the Democratic Party of Jefferson into the Party of Slavery.

The most liberal position among ante-bellum Democrats regarding slavery was that slavery was an issue that should be decided by popular vote. For example, Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s opponent in the 1858 Illinois senate race and the 1860 presidential campaign, advocated "popular sovereignty." He defended the right of the people in the territories to outlaw slavery, but also defended the right of Southerners to own slaves and transport them to the new territories.

The Democratic Party’s war against African-Americans continued after the Civil War (which many Democrats in fact opposed, often working actively to undercut the Union war effort). Democrats, both north and south fought the attempt to implement the equality for African-Americans gained at such a high cost. This opposition was often violent. Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan operated as the de facto terrorist arm of the national Democratic Party during Reconstruction.

Democrats defeated Reconstruction in the end and on its ruins created Jim Crow. Democratic liberalism did not extend to issue of race. Woodrow Wilson was the quintessential "liberal racist," a species of Democrat that later included the likes of William Fulbright of Arkansas, Sam Ervin of North Carolina, and Albert Gore, father of Al, of Tennessee.

In the 1920s, the Republican Party platform routinely called for anti-lynching legislation. The Democrats rejected such calls in their own platforms. When FDR forged the New Deal, he was able to pry Blacks away from their traditional attachment to the Party of Lincoln. But they remained in their dependent status, Democrats by virtue of political expediency, not principle….

Even the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which supposedly established the Democrats’ bona fides on race, was passed in spite of the Democrats rather than because of them. Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen pushed the bill through the Senate, despite the no-votes of 21 Democrats, including Gore Sr. and Robert Byrd, who remains a powerful force in the Senate today. In contrast, only four Republicans opposed the bill, mostly like Barry Goldwater on libertarian principles, not segregationist ones.

Indeed, the case of Sen. Byrd is instructive when it comes to the double standard applied to the two parties when it comes to race. Even those Democrats who have exploited the Lott affair acknowledge that he is no racist. Can the same be said about Sen. Byrd, who was a member of the KKK and who recently used the "n" word on national TV?

Recently at The Remedy, the blog of the Claremont Institute in California, my old friend Richard Reeb made a similar argument.

Democrats and the Black Voter

Hard and Soft Bigotry

The Democratic Party as an organized entity has been around at least since its first presidential nominating convention in 1832, when Andrew Jackson sought, and won, a second term. John Hawkins, a Town Hall columnist and a blogger at Conservative Grapevine and Right Wing News, finds little to support the notion that the Democrats have been good for black Americans, alternating between what I call hard despotism (slavery, segregation, lynching) and soft despotism (Great Society welfare and the disintegrating black family, failing schools and powerful teachers' unions, rising crime, illegal immigration, multiculturalism and abortion. This last has some dirty little secrets.). The thread connecting the old and new despotism is that blacks are treated by Democrats as incapable of exercising the full rights of American citizenship, either by holding them down by force or custom or by patronizing them as little children in need of perpetual government care. Why?

It needs to be said more that the period of Jacksonian Democracy, during which the franchise was extended to more and more citizens, was also the occasion for taking it away from blacks who had, in some cases, the right to vote in a few states, North and South, since the time of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The Democratic Party soon became the party of slavery as a "positive good" in the South, and the party of "popular sovereigny" (or "don't care" whether slavery is voted up or down) in the North. Northern Copperheads and Southern secessionists did all they could to frustrate Negro emancipation during the Civil War. Following the war, that effort continued, culminating in the notorious bargain of 1876, according to which Republican Rutherford B. Hayes' election was acquiesed in (with three southern states and an elector in Oregon in dispute), meeting the demand of the Democrats that Union troops be removed in the states where they were still in occupation (interestingly, in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina, where the electors were in dispute!). In other words, the end of Reconstruction was a political bargain that ended federal efforts, for all practical purposes, to enforce the constitutional rights of black citizens.

The 20th century Democratic bargain, the New Deal of the 1930s, was to provide big government assistance to the impoverished, including many blacks who abandoned their historic loyalty to the Republican party that emancipated them, while continuing racial segregation of and discrimination against blacks in our southern (and some border) states. The next wave of Democratic governance in the 1960s practically put blacks on what has rightly been called "the liberal plantation." Blacks are not only supposed to be eternally grateful but never to consider voting for a Republican or, more to the point, ever claiming that he or she rose in income, status, or prestige by his or her own efforts.

The Democratic Party has always appealed to the "democracy" as opposed to the "republic" which was the principled basis of the Federalist, the Whig and the Republican party. As my friend and colleague, Prof. Richard L. Williams of Glendale College has argued, Democrats are the party of appetite--of slave masters, Klansmen, lynchers, and racists in the past, now socialists, hate America firsters, the sexually liberated, abortionists and environmental extremists. However mixed its history, the Republican party heritage is one of constitutional government, free enterprise, patriotism even when it's not cool, well-governed families, and conservation, not worship, of natural resources.

A party that alternately oppresses and condescends to its supposed inferiors has difficulty following the Aristotelian principle of "ruling and being ruled in turn." Every moment the Republican party is in power is an opportunity for crying illegitimacy, and every moment of the Democratic party in power is an opportunity to make the nation over according to the desires of elite planners. The Democratic party has been a great party when it briefly transcended those limitations in the 1940s and 1960s, and the Republican has not when it felt compelled to kowtow to Democrats in me-too periods, most notably the 1970s. Political leaders of a legitimate political party treat their fellow citizens as equals, not as subjects to beaten down or nurse-maided.

In this day and age, why in the world do African-American voters maintain loyalty to a party with such a legacy of racism?

September 24, 2006

Democrats to Blacks: You Cannot Leave Our Plantation

Donald B. Hawthorne

During the Chafee-Laffey campaign, this blog site was highly critical of the heavy-handed tactics of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Now the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee deserves its own public spanking for their actions described in Democrats set to air ads in bid to derail Steele:

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's assertive campaign for U.S. Senate since the Sept. 12 primary has prompted national Democrats to start running attack ads sooner than they had planned.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee originally bought $1 million worth of TV time for the two weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 general election, then decided to start running ads Tuesday, according to the Steele campaign.

"This is a clear indication of the national Democratic Party bosses' scramble to maintain control over Maryland," said Michael Leavitt, campaign manager for Mr. Steele, a Republican...

Mr. Steele, the first black person elected to statewide office in Maryland, says the Democrats' strategy against him was revealed as early as last spring when an internal party memo was leaked to the press.

The memo called Mr. Steele, 47, a "unique threat" to black voters' loyalty to Democrats and advised Maryland Democrats to begin a "persuasion campaign ... as soon as possible to discredit Steele as a viable candidate for the community."

"Connecting Steele to national Republicans ... can turn Steele into a typical Republican in the eyes of voters, as opposed to an African American candidate," the memo stated.

Mr. Steele also points to the illegal theft of his credit report by a Democratic committee staffer a year ago, before he had declared his candidacy. The staffer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in federal court and was sentenced to community service.

"The fact that they had to steal it speaks to the fear that they have of my campaign," Mr. Steele said recently. "Quite frankly, the only way they think they can beat me is to, as they said in their own memo, denigrate and demonize me."...

The latest Steele TV ad, in which Mr. Steele warns voters that critics will go as far as accusing him of not liking puppies is intended to blunt the effect of such criticisms and images.

"Soon your TV will be jammed with negative ads from the Washington crowd -- grainy pictures and spooky music saying 'Steele hates puppies' and worse," Mr. Steele says in the ad. He then pauses and says playfully, "For the record, I love puppies."...

The Steele campaign has also criticized Mr. Cardin after a staffer was discovered Sept. 15 to have posted racist and anti-Semitic comments on an online blog. The unidentified staffer has since been fired.

Can't you just imagine a conversation like this among the Democratic senators in Washington:

"We cannot let a black Republican into the Senate. It could be the first step toward us losing our monopoly on the black vote in America. By the way, can we wrap this conversation up now? I have to go to the Senate floor and vote against the latest school choice bill for inner city children in Washington, D.C. and then attend a school function for my daughter at St. Albans."


June 7, 2006

Will the Senate Vote to Create a Racial Registry in Hawaii?

Carroll Andrew Morse

About three decades ago, the state of Hawaii decided it could ignore the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution...

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
To administer programs intended to benefit "native" Hawaiians, a 1978 constitutional convention in Hawaii created a public body called the "Office of Hawaiian Affairs" (OHA). The OHA was to be managed by a nine member board of trustees chosen by statewide elections. Not all citizens of Hawaii, however, were eligible to vote for trustees. Anyone not a "descendant of the aboriginal peoples inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands" was barred from voting in an OHA election (and from running for an OHA seat).

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court held that denying citizens the right to vote because of their racial ancestry violated the 15th Amendment (Rice v. Cayetano [2000]). Cribbing Martin Luther King, the Court issued a reminder that people should be judged on their character and not their race...

The ancestral inquiry mandated by the State implicates the same grave concerns as a classification specifying a particular race by name. One of the principal reasons race is treated as a forbidden classification is that it demeans the dignity and worth of a person to be judged by ancestry instead of by his or her own merit and essential qualities. An inquiry into ancestral lines is not consistent with respect based on the unique personality each of us possesses, a respect the Constitution itself secures in its concern for persons and citizens.
Now, through his sponsorship of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii is spearheading a move to circumvent the 15th Amendment and set up racially exclusive governance in Hawaii by recognizing native Hawaiians as an Indian tribe. Amazingly, in what is purportedly the twenty-first century, the first action mandated by Senator Akaka's Reorganization Act is the creation of a government commission charged with classifying and registering American citizens according to race...
The Commission shall--

(A) prepare and maintain a roll of the adult members of the Native Hawaiian community who elect to participate in the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity; and

(B) certify that each of the adult members of the Native Hawaiian community proposed for inclusion on the roll meets the definition of Native Hawaiian in section 3(10).

Maybe after the racial registry is created, the commission can follow-up by handing out badges to non-Hawaiians, so people won't get confused about who's who.

This bill is being considered by the Senate this week. Let's hope our Senators have the wisdom to vote against establishing racial registration and racially exclusive government within the borders of the United States of America.

February 23, 2006

Being Out of Line... as a General Practice

Justin Katz

One is almost tempted to decry insensitivity on Governor Carcieri's part, for making veiled references to the intelligence of his detractors:

I have made it clear to Steve that, as government officials, we should always avoid using sarcastic language that may be subject to misinterpretation.

But then one realizes that surely the governor understands that, more often than not, it hasn't been an inability to understand Steve Kass's recently controversial comments, but an unwillingness to understand them. If that's the case, perhaps we should be decrying the governor's own unwillingness to call the race baiters on their tricks.

Although, one can hardly blame him for a lack of forthrightness when responding to the dishonest flames of others. After all, David Quiroa — a Newport GOP "leader" — played loose with reckless absolutes (which I've bolded) in his public comment about Carcieri's budget-cut-related plan to end free healthcare for illegal immigrants:

It's quite clear that Governor Carcieri has absolutely no regard for the well-being of all children. ... It's truly sad to have a Governor who is insensitive to all minorities.

And of course, it was Quiroa who introduced the specter of plantations (which is apparently how he would characterize the 47 states that do not pay for illegals' healthcare).

Not being a lawyer, I can only question whether such statements — plainly offered as unsubstantiated fact — are worthy of a defamation lawsuit. Probably not. Presumably Quiroa has had occasion to research the matter previously, considering that this is not his first careless and offensive contribution to the social evil of racial divisiveness:

He said the raid on the Narragansetts had brought to memory the beatings and killings of Indians by the Guatemalan military in his country during the civil war in the '70s and '80s.

According to Gordon Duke, in a June 9, 2005, letter to the Cranston Herald, Quiroa also played a role in an illegal immigrant funding "shakedown" of Cranston City Council member Aram Garabedian, which culminated in a church-basement meeting that:

... was actually a pro-Laffey, anti-Garabedian fiasco. Juan Garcia opened the meeting in Spanish, praising Mayor Laffey, as though the mayor walks on water, and denounced Aram Garabedian as though he was Satan himself. Following the praised remarks were the home video of Mayor Laffeys trip to the Mexico-U.S. border an attempt to incite the emotions of the 100-person audience.

In a column in which he introduces Quiroa as a native Guatemalan who "works for Cranston's senior services agency [and] hopes to draw Republican primary support for Laffey among Latinos," Charles Bakst asked Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez "what the Republican message is to" Rhode Island Latinos. What it ought to be is that the RIGOP will never require them to sublimate their intelligence to identity politics — that they will be treated as autonomous individuals who can be trusted, because they are equally citizens (when applicable) and equally human (always), to seek honest and fair communication in the midst of misunderstanding.

The sad realization, though, is that there just may be too many people who are happy with our society's pathological handling of race. Too many individuals who like to be the object of handouts and pandering. Too many groups — understandably self-conscious in the larger society — who like excuses to band together. Too many minority "leaders" who like seeing their names in the news. Too many politicians who like having issues that generate predictable and easily manipulable responses.

Such is the dynamic that ultimately squeezes murder out of political opposition and global conflagrations, replete with fatalities, out of political cartoons.