Hillary took a shellacking yesterday in the New Hampshire primary, losing to Bernie Sanders by 20 or so points. Time to pull out the race card:
Clinton is set to campaign with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, unarmed African-Americans who died in incidents involving law enforcement officers and a neighborhood watch representative, respectively. And the campaign, sources said, is expected to push a new focus on systematic racism, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gun violence that will mitigate concerns about her lack of an inspirational message.
Remember Trayvon Martin? He was the black child on the way to the candy store who was brutally murdered by the racist white Hispanic, George Zimmerman.
Like many conservatives, I didn't start out as one. My background is working class, my parents were Democrats, and so was I until the age of 41. I came of age in the '60s. One of my heroes was John F. Kennedy, "the intrepid skipper of the PT 109" as I described him in a school essay written in the fifth grade. I was all for the Civil Rights movement. Musically my heroes were Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. I thrilled to his Blowin' in the Wind and other civil rights anthems.
As I see it, those civil rights battles were fought and they were won. But then the rot set in as the the party of JFK liberals became the extremists and the destructive leftists that they are today. For example, Affirmative Action in its original sense gave way to reverse discrimination, race-norming, minority set-asides, identity politics and the betrayal of Martin Luther King's dream that people be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
As liberals have become extremists, people with moderate views such as myself have become conservatives. These days I am a registered Independent.
The following entry is from November, 2013. One reason to repost it is because a couple of neo-reactionary conservatives have, to my surprise, asked me what is wrong with being a tribalist. I had naively assumed that among philosophers at least tribalism would be deemed a Bad Thing. So I want to give them the opportunity to make a case for tribalism. If they choose to respond, however, I hope they keep it pithy. As one of my aphorisms has it:
Brevity is the soul of blog.
We live in a hyperkinetic age. Short incisive comments are better than long rambling ones, leastways in a venue such as this.
Recent examples of what I am calling tribalism are Juan Williams' and Colin Powell's refusal to condemn the virulently anti-cop thugs that parade under the banner of Black Lives Matter while chanting "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon." It is as if these otherwise outstanding gentlemen identify as blacks first and as Americans second. Tribalism was on prominent display among the jurors in the O. J. Simpson trial. It is evinced by women who will vote for Hillary because she is a woman. The whiff of tribalism is about Geraldo Rivera, whom I greatly respect by the way, when he says things that suggest that he identifies as Hispanic first and as American second.
By the way, let me say that my opposition to tribalism is entirely consistent (as it seems to me) with wanting to keep out of our country those who would destroy it and its culture, at the present time these being radical (or, if you will, orthodox) Muslims, Muslims who support sharia and have no intention of assimilating to American culture and accepting our values. There is nothing tribal about standing up for Western values, values I have already argued are universal even if not universally recognized. The fact that dead white men discovered and promoted these values does not make them racially white values: they are universal values contributory to everyone's flourishing white or black, brown or yellow or red. And let's not leave out pinkos. We're inclusive!
Suppose you present careful arguments against Obama's policies and ideas, foreign or domestic or both. Some black is sure to jump up and shout, "Racist! You hate him because he's black!" Oprah Winfrey is the latest example. There is no point in arguing with such an idiot, argument being fruitful only with those who inhabit the plane of reason; but you must respond. I suggest "If I'm a racist, then you are a tribalist."
If I oppose Obama's policies because he is black, then you support them because he is black. If I'm a racist, then you are a tribalist! If his being black is no reason to oppose his policies, then his being black is no reason to support them either. If racism is bad, then so is your knee-jerk tribalism.
One of the sad facts about American blacks is that many if not most of them cannot seem to transcend their tribal identification. They identify, not as human beings or as rational animals or as Americans, but as blacks. That tribal identification so dominates their consciousness that even the calmest and most polite arguments against Obama's ideas cannot be comprehended except as personal attacks on their man who is, first and foremost, a black man, even though he is half-white. That tribal identification was also at play in the O. J. Simpson trial. The prosecution presented a mountain of evidence of his guilt and yet the black-dominated jury acquitted him of double homicide.
My advice to blacks: if you want to be judged by "the content of your character and not the color of your skin," to adapt the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., then drop the tribal identification. if you want to be treated as individuals, then stop identifying as members of a racial group. Why is your race so important to you? Are you perhaps raaacists?
Two important pillars of the Black Lives Matter perspective are: Claims of racist treatment made by blacks must not be questioned; and at no time should the behaviors of blacks themselves be brought up, since any possibility of blaming the victim must be avoided. These are on display in the most recent writings of CNN correspondent Marc Lamont Hill.
Does anything more need to be said about BLM or Marc Lamont Hill?
My brand of conservatism takes on board what I consider to be good in the old liberal tradition. I like to think that it blends the best of conservatism with the best of liberalism. A couple of sharp young philosophers have surfaced to challenge me, however. Their brand of conservatism looks askance at paleo-liberalism and sees it as leading inevitably to the hard leftism of the present day. So a fruitful intramural debate is in progress. I agree with much of what they say, but I think they go too far in reacting against the lunatic excesses of contemporary liberalism. If I label my interlocutors as neo-reactionary, I mean it descriptively, not pejoratively. I am grateful for their readership and commentary.
I pressed one of the sparring partners for a list of theses, and he came up with the following. My comments are in blue. His remarks and my responses are of course tentative and exploratory. So keep your shirt on.
1. Natural authority and social organization:
(A) Men are natural leaders of any human group. Their natural function is to build and protect society. Some men are natural leaders of other men. Women are nurturers. Their natural function is to raise the people who will compose and inhabit the society. There are exceptions to these broad norms, but any society that attempts to act against these norms will sicken and die in short order.
BV: I agree, but with some important qualifications. I'll start with our agreement. Differences in social role as between the sexes are grounded in hard biological facts. The biological differences between men and women are not 'social constructs.' The male sex hormone testosterone is not a 'social construct' although the words 'hormone' and 'testosterone' and the theory in which which they figure are. That women are better at nurturing than men is grounded in their biological constitution, which lies deeper than the social. This is not to say that all women are good at raising and nurturing children. 'Woman are nurturers' is a generic statement, not a universal statement. It is like the statement, 'Men are taller than women.' It does not mean that every man is taller than every woman.
Does it follow from the obvious biologically-grounded difference between men and women that women should be discouraged from pursuing careers outside the home and entering the professions? Here I begin to diverge from my interlocutors. They don't like talk of equal rights though I cannot see why a woman should not have the same right to pursue a career in medicine or engineering or mathematics or philosophy as a man if she has the aptitude for it. (But of course there must be no erosion of standards.) How do our NRs, who do not like talk of equality, protect women from men who would so dominate them as to prevent them from developing their talents? On the other hand, men as a group are very different from women as a group. So we should not expect equal outcomes. It should come as no surprise that women are 'underrepresented' in STEM fields, or in philosophy.
Why are they 'underrepresented' in philosophy? Because women as a group are not as good at it as men as a group, because women as a group are not as interested in it as men as a group, and because the feminine nature is conciliatory and averse to what they perceive as the aggressive, combative, and hostile aspects of philosophical dialectic. This is surely a large part, if not the whole, of the explanation, especially given the Affirmative Action advantage women have enjoyed over the past half a century. The hostility perceived by women reflects something about the nature of philosophy, namely, that its very lifeblood is dialectic and argument. Argument can be conducted civilly, often is, and of course ought to be. But it still looks to the female nature as a sort of 'fighting,' a sublimated form of the physical combat that men are wont to engage in, even when dialectic at its best is no such thing. So there is something in the nature of philosophy and something about females that explains their 'underrepresentation.' Those are sneer quotes, by the way. Anyone with an ounce of philosophical intelligence can see that the word I am sneering at conflates the factual and the normative. Therefore it shouldn't be used without sneer quotes.
You cannot refute my point about women by citing women who like the blood-sport aspect of philosophy. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. Harriet Baber, for example, who is Jewish and exemplifies the Jewish love of dialectic, writes:
I *LIKE* the blood-sport aspect of philosophy. To me, entering my first philosophy class, freshman year (1967) and discovering that you were not only allowed to fight but that the teacher actually encouraged it was liberating. As a girl, I was constantly squeezed and suppressed into being "nice" and non-confrontational. I was under chronic stress holding back, trying to fudge, not to be too clear or direct. But, mirabile dictu: I got into the Profession and through my undergrad, and, oh with a vengeance in grad school at Johns Hopkins, everything I had been pushed throughout my childhood to suppress, and which I failed to suppress adequately to be regarded as "normal," was positively encouraged.
Anecdote. I once roomed with an analytic philosopher at a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute. I recall a remark he made about philosophical discussion: "If you are not willing to become a bit of an asshole about it, you are not taking it seriously." The guy was obnoxious, but he was right. In a serious discussion, things can get a little tense. The feminine nature shies away from contention and dispute.
If you deny that, then you have no knowledge of human nature and no experience of life. Ever wonder why women are 'overrepresented' among realtors? They excel men when it comes to conciliation and mediation. I don't mean this as a snarky put-down of the distaff contingent. I mean it as praise. And if females do not take it as praise are they not assuming the superiority of male virtues?
It is a non sequitur to think that if the Xs are 'underrepresented' among the Ys, then the Xs must have been the victims of some unjust discrimination. Men are 'underrepresented' among massage therapists, but the explanation is obvious and harmless: men like to have their naked bodies rubbed by women in dark rooms, but women feel uncomfortable having their naked bodies rubbed by men in dark rooms. It is not as if there is some sort of sexism, 'institutional' or individual, that keeps men out of massage therapy.
Blacks are 'overrepresented' in the NFL and the NBA. Is that because of some racism 'institutional' or individual, that keeps whitey out? Of course not. Blacks are better than whites at football and basketball. Jews are just terrible. Chess is their athletics. Jews dominate in the chess world. Is that because the goyim have been suppressed?
Does my talk of blacks and Jews make me a racist and an anti-Semite ? To a liberal-left dumbass, yes. For they are incapable of distinguishing between a statement whose content is race and a racist statement.
As it seems to me, I am treading a via media between the excesses of the neo-reactionaries and the even worse excesses of the leftists. My challenge to the NRs: How can you fail to see the importance of equal treatment of men and women? One of the NRs claimed that the notion of equality of opportunity is vacuous. Why? To require that applicants for a job not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, or creed, is not vacuous. It has a definite content. That it could use some spelling out is not to the point. What I mean is this. Some creeds are such that people who hold them must be discriminated against. Suppose you are an orthodox Muslim: you subscribe to Sharia and hold that it takes precedence over the U. S. Constitution. You ought to be discriminated against. The U. S. Constitution is not a suicide pact. This is a point that Dr. Ben Carson made recently in connection with eligibility to become POTUS. But the scumbags of the Left willfully misrepresented him.
(B) Real authority is based on personal relationships within which this kind of natural social organization develops and comes to be understood. The institutions of society should reflect this kind of real authority. It is wrong and very dangerous to try to force other structures on to human nature, e.g., the ludicrous spectacle of pregnant women in Europe pretending to be 'defense ministers', reviewing the troops.
BV: My objection is that this is an extreme statement. Taken without qualification, it could be used to justify slavery. A society consisting of slaves and free men is in one obvious sense a "natural social organization." The naturally powerful dominate the weak and enslave them thereby exercising "real authority" over them.
(2) Aristocracy, for lack of a better name: Rule of the Excellent. Democracy in anything like its current form is clearly not an example. Monarchy of some kinds might well be. But in any case, the ideal for me -- which I'm not presently able to articulate in much concrete detail -- is a situation where those who are motivated by a love for their community rule. But I doubt that there is any technique or system that ensures this situation. It's just something that may happen from time to time in the organic development of a culture, perhaps. Or maybe God helps to set up the right preconditions.
BV: Rule of the excellent sounds good! But who are the excellent? Those with titles and/or inherited wealth and the power it brings? The stronger? Does might make right and fitness to rule? Granted, pure democracy would be disastrous. There must be principles that are not up for democratic grabs. But concentrating power in a monarch is just as bad. A system of checks and balances is best. Power corrupts, etc.
(3) Racial, ethnic and national differences and inequality:
(A) Not all human biological groups have the same abilities or interests or psychologies. We should never expect that all races will act the same, achieve the same things, etc.
BV: This is an important truth. The fact that leftists denounce those who express it shows how evil the Left is. Not only do leftists suppress free expression, they suppress free expression of what is obviously true. For the Left it is the narrative, not the truth, that counts. If the truth fits the narrative, then leftists embrace it; if the truth contradicts the narrative, they reject it. Part of their narrative is that everyone is equal or to be made equal. At the same time, their narrative is in the service of their will to power. Power is what they want, the power to level and equalize. In order to achieve this, however, they must be unequal in power to those they would equalize. Herein lies one of the contradictions of the leftist project.
But the truth of (A) is consistent with a framework of equal rights that protect all regardless of sex, race, or (non-destructive) creed.
(B) It is perfectly legitimate, then, for members of a given race to wish to live and work among their own kind.
BV: I tend to agree. As I like to put it, no comity without commonality. One cannot get along with people who do not share one's values. This is why unrestricted legal immigration from Muslim lands, of people who make no effort to assimilate, is insane. I would add that people have a right to their likes and dislikes. More importantly, we have a right to our culture and its preservation, and a right to defend it against those who would destroy it. On top of that, our culture 'works' while theirs doesn't -- which is why they won't stay home. They won't stay home and they bring their inferior religion and culture with them. Or do you deny that Islam is the saddest and poorest form of theism?
But skin color and national origin cannot be the sole criteria here.
I would have no problem with living next door to a Muslim like Juhdi Jasser or blacks like Ben Carson, Juan Williams, Walter Williams, Condoleeza Rice, Shelby Steele, Herman Cain, Jason Riley, et al. and including mulattoes like Colin Powell even though the latter amazingly, and presumably in the grip of tribalism, refused to condemn Black Lives Matters, that thuggish outfit that undermines the rule of law and demonizes police officers. That refusal is as absurd as if I were to refuse to condemn the mafia. "Look, I'm Italian; I can't condemn my own kind!" (The 'tribalism' of blacks, Hispanics, and women is another topic we need to discuss one of these days. And now it occurs that the NRs may be guilty of some tribalism of their own.)
I would welcome that sort of diversity. Diversity, within limits, is good! It is just that leftists, being the willfully stupid stupidos that they are, make a fetish out of it and fail to realize that there is a competing value: unity. But going to the opposite extreme is also bad. See how fair and balanced I am? [grin]
(C) For whites, there are no important benefits to 'racial integration' or 'diversity' and there are some very profound and irreparable harms. Therefore, whites should be race-conscious and reject the false racial guilt that has been programmed into them over the decades by anti-whites, Leftists and hostile non-whites.
BV: This needs some qualification. Popular music has certainly benefited from something like 'racial integration' and cross-fertilization. Think of jazz, blues, rock, etc. This is a huge separate topic. It would be interesting to study the degeneration of black music from the Negro spirituals on down to soul-destroying hip-hop and rap crap. Arguably, one of the reasons blacks will always be on the economic and social bottom of society is because of the base, crude, degrading, and outright evil 'music' they produce and consume. What you pump into your mind is even more important than what you pump into your gut. A diet of dreck is destructive. Of course, the whites that produce, partake of, and profit from this evil shit can't be let off the hook either. (Didn't Bill Bennett go after Sony a while back? By the way, conservatism is not equivalent to support for big corporations!)
Should whites be race-conscious? I have always held the view that blood ought not matter, that race ought not matter, that we ought to try to treat each other as individuals and not as tokens of a type or members of a group. I have always held that before we are men or women, white or black, Gentile or Jew, we are rational animals and indeed spiritual animals made in the imago Dei. We are persons and equal as persons to be treated as ends only and never as means (Kant). We are brothers and sisters with one and the same Father and it is this metaphysical fact, if it is a fact, that underpins our normative equality. Remove this underpinning and the normative equality collapses. (Or can you think of something that could be put in its place?) Empirically, of course, there is no equality among individual or groups. Life is hierarchical as Crazy Fritz liked to say. Nietzsche, who gave aid and comfort to National Socialism, drew the consequences of the death of God quite fearlessly: no God, no truth, no moral world order, no respect for persons as persons. It's all power at bottom: "The world is the will to power and nothing besides!" (Is this why some leftists love him so much?) Nietzsche undermined key supports of our Western heritage with its dual rootage in Athens and Jerusalem. But for my neo-reactionary sparring partners I think I hear the strains of Blut und Boden perhaps supplemented with Blut und Hoden (blood and balls/testicles) with the Horst Wessell Lied playing in the background. I don't mean to be disrespectful to them, but there is a danger here. The danger is that in reacting against the commie Left you end up a fascist.
Does blood matter? Well, it does matter for many, but should it matter? Perhaps the question is this: Is it morally justifiable to tie one's very identity to one's race or ethnicity as opposed to tying it to being zoon logikon or imago Dei? Unfortunately, there are women who identify as women above all else; among them are those who will vote for Hillary because she is a woman! That is despicable. It is as if I were to vote for a man because he is a man. And if we do identify racially, ethnically, sexually, how do we live in peace with one another in a world in which distances have been technologically shrunk and buffers removed?
Dennis Prager harps on the differences between the sexes, differences deeper than any 'social constructing/construing' can reach; but he also maintains that blood does not matter. Is that a logically consistent position? Can one be a sex realist but not a race realist? Is Prager's conservatism at odds with his liberalism? I put the question to myself. Further: Is there a Right race realism and a Left race realism? The above are not rhetorical questions.
(4) Transcendence: There is ultimately no reason to do anything or care about anything unless we can tell some (believable) story about ultimate things. Hence any viable society must have such a story. (I think Christianity is the best.) Right now we in the west are quite literally dying for lack of one. This story should be the basis for political society. (I am not advocating an Iranian style theocracy; but think of how Christianity continues to color everything in our society even though it is explicitly rejected and denounced. Once the Left has really rejected Christianity it will just curl up and die.)
BV: I agree that Christianity is the best of the five great religions. It is supreme among religions. Islam is the worst, the adolescent punk of religions, still 'acting out' after all these centuries, still pissed off over ancient grievances, still angry about the Crusades which were a defensive response to Muslim land-grabs!
We are push-overs for the Islamo-fanatics and their leftist enablers because we no longer believe in ourselves or our great heritage. We have become soft and weak and unwilling to defend the conditions of our soft and prosperous way of life. The abdication of authority on the part of university administrators and professors is just one proof of this. Another is our unwillingness to assume the burdens of procreation. We do not believe in our values and principles sufficiently to transmit them into the future.
Here is the problem. We need a believable narrative about ultimate things. And we may need it as a support of our politics, though this is not obvious to me. (Politics rests on normative ethics which rests on philosophical anthropology which is the metaphysics of human nature and from there we enter the entire constellation of metaphysical questions.) We need an account of the ultimate why and wherefore to keep from lapsing into the somnolent nihilism of Nietzsche's Last Man. I use 'narrative' to hold open the question whether the account must be true to be life-enhancing. A narrative is a story, but a story needn't be true to be a story, whereas the truth needs to be true to be the truth, and it is at least a question whether a narrative must be true to be life-enhancing in the long run. (There is of course the temptation to go pragmatic here and say, with William James, that the true just is the good by way of belief.)
To get to this believable narrative about ultimates, however, we need open inquiry and free discussion, values my neo-reactionary interlocutors seem wary of trumpeting. (They seem to think that any truck with liberalism leads inevitably to the insanities of hard leftism.) We need to arrange the confrontation of different sectors of culture that are at least partially hostile to one another. For example, philosophy and religion are clearly at odds, but each needs the other and each profits from dialogue and some 'fighting' with the other. Philosophy and science are at odds to some extent as well. Left unchastened, science can transmogrify into an absurd scientism, just as religion, left unchastened, can turn into fanaticism and fideism and an embrace of the irrational. The religions need each other too. Judaic legalism and tribalism profits from Christian critique just as the excesses of Buddhist metaphysics (anatta, anicca, dukkha) are curbed by Christian personalism and its eminently more balanced view of impermanence and suffering. If there were some real philosophy in the Muslim world, Muslims would not be so bloody (literally!) fanatical and murderous. Philosophy induces a certain healthy skepticism. And so on. Science versus religion. The vita contemplativa versus the vita activa.
Note that if it is salutary to have a dialog with Buddhism and Hinduism and Taoism and perhaps even witj some of the more respectable strands of Islam such as Sufism (its mystical branch), then we cannot be blood-and-soil nativists: we need to be open-minded and 'liberal.' Being an aporetician, I am driving toward the articulation of a problem: We need a believable, action-guiding narrative. To be believable it must be coherent and rationally supportable. To arrive at such requires the examination and evaluation of competing worldviews. But bitter and protracted disagreement is inevitable. We won't able to agree on the best overall action-guiding narrative. We will splinter apart into a plurality of positions. This weakens us over against the Muslim fascists who would impose a worldview by force and a crappy one at that. Same with the Left: they have no compunction about using the awesome coercive power of the State to bring people into line with their destructive agenda.
(5) Non-neutrality: There is no system of abstract principles neutral with [respect] to the good, e.g., principles about Harm or Equal Freedom or Autonomy. Hence there is no way for the state or any other authority to act on neutral principles. We are always already in the fray, fighting on some side whether we know it or not. The only thing anyone can really do is to try to figure out what is Good and then go from there.
BV: Agreed, we need some substantive theory of the Good. (By the way, aren't all supposedly neutral principles also committed in some substantive way or other? Give me an example of a purely neutral, purely abstract principle.) Trouble is, we disagree about what the ultimate good for man is. The visio beata? The bios theoretikos? Submission to the will of Allah? The maximum of autonomy and self-determination? Pleasure? (Nietzsche: "Man does not seek pleasure; only the Englishman does.") The greatest material well-being of the greatest number?
And of course we will disagree about the metaphysical underpinnings of any theory of the human good or any theory of the purpose of human life.
I suggest that what we need to do is battle the totalitarian forces that would squelch free inquiry: radical Islam, the Left, and the scientisticists (to give an ugly name to an ugly bunch), many of them New Atheists. We need to be intolerant in defense of our space of toleration. We need to be intolerant toward the New Atheist suppression of religion by the Dawkins Gang and their ilk while at the same time tolerating decent atheists. In conjunction with this: defense of our Enlightenment culture by means of a stoppage of illegal immigration; a moratorium on legal immigration from Muslim lands; the destruction of ISIS and other terrorist entities; a vigorous defense of Israel; a more robust confrontation with leftists and other destructive types, especially those who are destroying the universities. That for a start. And of course, when dealing with evil-doers, the threat of physical violence must always be 'on the table.'
"Roughly 150 Black Lives Matter protesters reportedly stormed a library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Thursday night to berate students studying there for their supposed racial privilege." Here.
The solution, of course, is to expel the BLM thugs. But that would be a 'racist' thing to do. So is it the leftist view that blacks are thuggish by nature and simply cannot be expected to behave in a civilized manner? So who are the real racists here?
TRIGGER WARNING! The above contains careful thought and big words and will upset and offend the 'safe space' crybullies, the BLM thugs, and the liberal- left scum who apologize for them.
Addendum (11/20): If the secular sphere has a 'sacred' space, that would be the university library, the repository of the best thoughts of humanity. The university is finished if such a space is allowed to be invaded and disrupted by thugs and savages.
It has been over fifty years now since the landmark civil rights and welfare legislation of the 1960s, an example of which is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But blacks are still not doing very well. Why? There is an explanation below the fold. But I must issue a 'trigger warning' to the PC-whipped. The opinions of the author may cause grave psychic distress. If you venture below you and you alone accept full responsibility for your distress. DO NOT go there if you identify as liberal, leftist, progressive, socialist, Maoist, as politically correct or (what may be the same thing) if you are opposed to free inquiry, open discussion, free speech, and intellectual honesty.
Robert Paul Wolff over at The Philosopher's Stoneopines:
Ben Carson may just be the most thoroughly despicable person to make a run for the presidency in modern times. So I take particular pleasure in the third quarter financial report that revealed that the good doctor spent 57% of the money he raised -- raising money. I think while he has devoted himself to uttering ugly, contemptible things in his soft, soothing voice someone has been taking him for a ride. I hope his deeply religious supporters appreciate the fact that their dollars are being spent searching for dollars [and running up impressive tabs at expensive eateries -- but that is another story.] Actually, since his biggest fans are faithful attendees at Christian services, they are probably used to this. (Emphasis added.)
Professor Wolff is not just some two-bit blogger, but an accomplished philosopher who has written some good books. But then he posts scurrilous, slanderous stuff like the above. (And this is just one example.)
What explains the Left's hatred of conservative blacks, a hatred so intense that it unhinges otherwise rational people like Wolff? Comments are enabled. I'm interested in your theories.
How is it that if a conservative argues against the ideas or policies of a black leftist such as Obama he is immediately labelled a racist, while if a leftist like Wolff viciously and personally attacks a black conservative while ignoring the content of his remarks, he escapes the charge of racism?
Here is what Dr. Ben Carson said about guns and the Holocaust: "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."
For this and other observations Carson is coming under vicious attack from the Left. What follows is Dennis Prager's commentary:
Those comments were actually labeled anti-Semitic.
Now, while "greatly diminished" is debatable, the general view strikes me as simple common sense: Why wouldn't it have been a good thing if many Jews in 1930s Europe had had weapons? Of course it would not have prevented the Holocaust, but it might have saved some lives; and just as important, it would have enabled armed Jews to die fighting rather than to die unarmed and with no ability to fight. If Jews in Europe had been asked, "Would you like to be armed when the Nazis come to round you up?" what do Carson's critics think the great majority of European Jews would have answered? Indeed, what would the critics themselves answer?
No normal person thinks that armed Jews would have prevented the Holocaust (nor did Carson make such a claim). But no normal person should think that it would have not have been a good thing if many European Jews had weapons. The hallowed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began with the Jews in the Ghetto possessing a total of 10 handguns. Imagine if they had a thousand.
In The Washington Post, David Kopel of the Cato Institute, who teaches Advanced Constitutional Law at the University Denver Sturm College of Law, cited the diaries of Jews who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. They expressed unalloyed joy at being able to kill some of their Nazi tormentors, and deep regret about not having been armed and been able to fight back sooner than they did.
But even if one believes that Carson and Kopel are wrong, how could one characterize Carson's comments as "anti-Semitic" or "blaming the victims [the Jews]"? How could one label statements expressing the wish that the Jews of the Holocaust had been armed "anti-Semitic"? Yet, among others, a contributing editor to the Forward, a leading Jewish newspaper, wrote that these remarks were "profoundly anti-Semitic, immoral and disgusting." And Carson was attacked by prominent Jews in Time and by the Anti-Defamation League.
The left is in full-blown smear-Carson mode. He is, after all, the left's worst nightmare -- a black Republican who is brilliant, kind and widely admired, including by many blacks.
It is a rule of left-wing life that black Republicans must have their names and reputations destroyed. The left knows that if blacks do not vote overwhelmingly Democrat, Democrats cannot win a national election. (Emphasis added.)
So, the smearing of Dr. Ben Carson has just begun.
Monday’s violence [at the West Indian American Day Parade] also should provide advance warning that the New York City Council’s plan to decriminalize such quality-of-life laws as public drinking and public urination is a recipe for disaster. The decriminalization agenda in New York and nationally is driven by the specious claim that enforcing the law unfairly targets blacks and subjects them to draconian penalties. The parade toll shows the opposite: the best way to save black lives is to enforce the law.
This suggests a polemical definition of 'liberal': a person who never met a standard he didn't want to erode. You have to be pretty far gone to think that public intoxication and public urination are acceptable behaviors, and are you not a racist if you think that blacks cannot be held to minimal standards of public behavior?
If reasonable laws unfairly target blacks, do laws against armed robbery unfairly target males inasmuch as males as a group are much more likely to commit such a crime than females?
Suppose someone said that the latter laws are 'anti-male' because they 'target' males rather than females. You'd say the person is an idiot, right? You would explain to the fool that, of course, anti-armed-robbery laws have a 'disproportionate impact' on males because -- wait for it -- males, as a group, are much more aggressive than females, as a group, and much more likely to commit murder, armed robbery, rape, and other dastardly deeds.
Victor Davis Hanson argues that this is just another of a series of silly slogans fated to perish of its own inanity and be forgotten. He gives it a year.
Meanwhile lawlessness rises as Heather MacDonald documents.
Part of the problem, of course, is the refusal to hold the Black Lives Matter crowd and their leftist enablers to account.
All lives matter. It follows that black lives matter, including the lives of the peaceful, law-abiding, hard-working black residents of Ferguson, Missouri. And because these black lives matter, it matters that laws be enforced. All reasonable laws from traffic laws to laws against looting and arson.
As if to prove once again that that there is no coward like a university administrator, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, after having said in an e-mail to students that all lives matter, has retracted her statement and apologized.
Horribile dictu. And yet another proof that the universities of the land, most of them, have turned into leftist seminaries and hothouses of political correctness. And yet another example of abdication of authority by those in positions of authority.
And so I pinch myself once again. Am I awake? Or is this all a bad dream? Could this stuff really be happening?
Memo to President McCartney: grow a pair, or the female equivalent thereof. You don't apologize for speaking the truth; you stand up for the truth and fight back against the the foolish know-nothings whom you are supposed to be 'educating.'
A more recent case is that of Martin O'Malley who after proclaiming the self-evident "All lives matter" apologized for his 'insensitivity' to people who parade around chanting "Pigs in a blanket! Fry 'em like bacon!"
Disgusting. Pathetic. Never apologize to scumbags and thugs. Never grovel before evil doers.
Here. No commentary necessary. To post this pernicious nonsense is to refute it.
“Many white people in Oregon have no idea that our schools and state are immersed in white culture and are uncomfortable and harmful to our students of color, while also reinforcing the dominant nature of white culture in our white students and families,” one of the conference documents explains.
The manual defines this “white culture” with a list of values, such as “promoting independence, self expression, personal choice, individual thinking and achievement,” because apparently those are strictly “white” concepts and not emphasized in black communities.
The training instructs participants to stop “blaming when students don’t meet standards” and instead start “examining our beliefs and practices when students don’t meet standards.” It advises faculty to avoid “controlling or teaching discipline to students” and to instead think about “changing school practices that alienate students and lead to disruptions.”
It also tells participants to stop calling dropouts “dropouts” and to call them “pushouts” instead — after all, these kids clearly had no choice. They were basically kicked out of school by all of the white privilege.
If you care to read something intelligent on 'white privilege,' see here.
The Stanford Encyclopedia notes in its article on Essential vs. Accidental Properties, "A modal characterization of the distinction between essential and accidental properties is taken for granted in nearly all work in analytic metaphysics since the 1950s.” Personally, I find modal definitions of this type very hand wavy. Ed Feser states my objection more eloquently than I can:
From an Aristotelian-Thomistic point of view, the possible worlds analysis of essence has things backwards: we need to know what the essence of a thing is, before we can know what it would be like in various possible worlds; talk of possible worlds, if legitimate at all, must get explained in terms of essence, not essence in terms of possible worlds ( Aquinas, iBooks edition, page 90).
I think the modal characterization will be a dead end for us.
Two points. First, I do not understand how one could characterize the essential versus accidental distinction except modally. Second, a modal characterization need not be in terms of so-called 'possible worlds.' One should not suppose that a characterization is modal if and only if it is in terms of possible worlds.
First point first. I am a blogger and a native Californian. I might not have been either. So being a blogger and being a native Californian are accidental properties of me. I could have existed without possessing these properties. But I could not have existed without being human. So being human is an essential property of me. Generalizing, if P is an essential property of x, then x must have P, it cannot not have P. If P is an accidental property of x, then x need not have P, it could lack P. And conversely in both cases.
Note that I had to use modal words to characterize the distinction: 'might,' 'could,' 'must,' 'need not,' 'cannot.' I conclude that the accidental-essential distinction is irreducibly modal: it cannot be made except modally. It is indeed essentially modal!
To appreciate this, consider the first two accidental properties I mentioned. I was not always a blogger: speaking tenselessly, there are times at which I am not a blogger. But I was always and will always be a native Californian. Speaking tenselessly again, there are no times at which I am not a native Californian.* It follows that we cannot define an essential (accidental) property of x as a property x has (does not have) at every time at which it exists. The distinction cannot be made in temporal terms; one needs to employ modal language.
If a thing has a property essentially, then it has the property at every time at which it exists. But not conversely: if a thing has a property at every time at which it exists, it does not follow that it has the property essentially. So again it should be clear that the distinction in question is ineliminably modal.
I should make it clear that the modality in question here is non-epistemic/non-doxastic. Suppose Tom died an hour ago, unbeknownst to me. I ask you, "Is Tom teaching now?" You say, "Could be!" But of course it can't be that he is teaching now if he is dead now. You are not saying that it is (really) possible that he be teaching now; you are saying that his teaching now is logically consistent with what you know or believe, that it is not ruled out by what you know/believe.
Second point second. From what I have written it should be clear that we don't need the jargon of possible worlds to talk modally. But it is a very useful and graphic way of talking. Accordingly,
D1. P is an accidental property of x =df there are possible worlds in which x exists but does not instantiate P.
D2. P is an essential property of x =df there are no possible worlds in which x exists but does not instantiate P.
We can add a third definition:
D3. P is a necessary property of x =df there are no possible worlds in which x exists but does not instantiate P, and x exists in every possible world. Example: Omniscience is a necessary property of God: he has it in every world in which he exists, and, since he is a necessary being, he exists in every world. Non-theological example: Being prime is a necessary property of the number 7: 7 has it in every metaphysically possible world in which it exists, and it exists in every such world.
The above definitions do not sanction the reduction of the modal to the non-modal. For modal terms appear on both sides of the biconditionals. Nor could we say that the right-hand sides explicates or analyzes the left-hand sides. So I agree with Feser as quoted above. What is first in the order of metaphysical explanation is a thing's being essentially thus and so or accidentally thus and so. We can then go on to represent these states of affairs in possible worlds terms, but we need not do so.
Jenner and Dolezal. Is Jenner essentially male? I should think so. Being male is a biological determination. It can be spelled out in terms of sex chromosomes. They are different in males and females. Jenner as he is today is a sort of super-transvestite: he is not just a male in women's clothing, but a male who has had his body surgically altered to have female anatomical features. But he is still male. How could he be a woman? You can't be a woman without first being a girl, and he was never a girl.
If you deny that Jenner is essentially biologically male, will you also deny that he is essentially biologically human? If not, why not? If literal sex change is possible, is species change possible?
Is Rachel Dolezal essentially Caucasian? Well, of course. Race, like sex, is biologically based. It is not something you choose. Nor is it a social construct. Barack Obama thinks that we Americans have racism in our DNA. That's bullshit, of course. There is nothing biological about being a racist. But there is something biological about race. You can be a traitor to your country, but not to your race.
Biology matters! And so does clear thinking and honest talk. Obama take note.
*Ignoring the fact, if it is a fact, that I existed pre-natally. If this wrinkle troubles you, I can change my example.
Imagine a German restaurant so named. Blood and Soil. My astute readers needn't be reminded of the provenience of this phrase. "Best blood sausage in the East Valley!" Or MOM's Diner of Mesa. "Fine Aryan cuisine served up right by members of the militia of Montana." Would you be offended? I just made up those examples.
But this is a real example: La Raza Steak and Ribs, a Mexican joint in Apache Junction, Arizona. When I mentioned this to a friend, he replied, "That would be like naming a German restaurant Die Rasse, The Race."
Once again, the double standard. So once again I ask: what would be left of the Left were leftists disembarrassed of every single one of their double standards?
The use of La Raza in the private sector as part of the name of a business is offensive, but tolerable. But it is a different story when state sponsorship is involved.
It is arguable that there ought not be any state sponsorship of divisive symbols such as the Confederate flag. But, as Victor Davis Hanson points out in an important column,
There are plenty of other overt racialist symbols that separate Americans. One is the prominent use of La Raza, “The Race” — seen most prominently in the National Council of La Raza, an ethnic lobbying organization that has been and is currently a recipient of federal funds. The National Council of La Raza should be free to use any title it wishes, but it should not expect the federal government to subsidize its separatist nomenclature.
I hadn't heard of the Dolezal case until reading your blog post. It occurred to me that this case might serve as a counterexample to the standard epistemological position that belief is necessary for knowledge.
I don't know Dolezal's psychological/epistemic state. But suppose she knows that she isn't African-American by race, but she has convinced herself to believe she is so. Would she have knowledge without belief?
Perhaps yes. Or perhaps she doesn't really believe she is African-American by race. Or, perhaps she is double minded: one mind knows and thus believes she isn't, and the other lacks knowledge on the matter but believes she is.
Anyway, I'd be interested in your take.
As I construe his example, the loyal reader is offering a case in which a subject knows that p without believing that p. Thus he is supposing that Dolezal knows that she is Caucasian, but does not believe that she is. If so, we have a counterexample to the standard view that, necessarily, if S knows that p, then S believes that p. On the standard analysis, believing that p is necessary for knowing that p. What the example suggests is that believing that p is not necessary for knowing that p.
We should distinguish between a weaker and a stronger thesis:
1. It is not the case that knowledge entails belief. (Some cases of knowledge are not cases of belief.)
2. Knowledge entails disbelief. (No cases of knowledge are cases of belief.)
Belief I understand to be some degree of readiness to act as if such and such (the content believed) were the case. Everyone concedes that one can believe where one does not know. But it is now widely assumed that you cannot know what you do not believe. Hence the well known analysis of knowledge as "justified, true belief." But this seems to me, as it has to numerous others, to be a mistake. Belief is, as Hume correctly held, a passion. It is something that happens to us. Thought, observation and testing, even knowledge itself, can be sources of belief, and indeed should be. But one may actually know (dispositionally, occurrently) without believing what one knows.
Whether or not one believes what one represents truly and has an appropriate basis for so representing, depends on factors that are irrelevant to truth, understanding and evidence. It depends, one might simply say, on how rational one is. Now I do not think that this point about belief in relation to knowledge is essential to the rest of this paper, but I mention it to indicate that the absence of any reference to belief in my general description of knowledge is not an oversight. Belief is not, I think, a necessary component of knowledge, though one would like to believe that knowledge would have some influence upon belief, and no doubt it often does.
Now we can't get into Dolezal's (crazy) head, but the following is plausibly ascribed to her. She knows who her biological parents are; she knows that they are both Caucasian; she knows that Caucasian parents have Caucasian children; hence she knows that she is biologically Caucasian. Could she nonetheless really believe that she is not Caucasian?
Perhaps. Belief is tied to action. It is tied to what one does and leaves undone and what one is disposed to do and leave undone. Dolezal's NAACP activities and her verbal avowals among other behaviors suggest that she really believes that she is racially black.
But if Dolezal really believes that she is racially black, when she knows that she is racially white, then she is irrational. Why not say the following by way of breaking the link between belief and knowledge:
D1. S knows that p =df S justifiably accepts that p, and p is true.
D2. S believes that p =df S accepts that p and S either acts as if p is true or is prepared to act as if p is true.
These definitions allow that there are cases of knowledge that are not cases of belief without excluding cases of knowledge that are cases of belief. What is common to knowledge and belief is not belief, but acceptance.
Centuries ago Voltaire said that “to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” I now offer you Pollack’s Principle of Privilege:
To learn where privilege lies, simply see how people choose to identify themselves.
Once upon a time, people of mixed race did everything they could to “pass” as white. No longer. The mulatto Barack Obama ostentatiously identifies himself as black, while pallid Elizabeth Warren listed herself in the legal and academic community as a “Native American”.
Another sign of this inversion of privilege is that membership in groups considering themselves ‘oppressed’ is as tightly restricted as an exclusive country-club, and for the same reasons. No sooner had the news about Ms. Dolezal came out than she was denounced as a scurrilous pretender to victimhood. But people only defend what has value. In a right-side-up world, no sane person would ever bother fighting to keep others from seeking low status — but they will do whatever it takes to wall off their privileges against unqualified pretenders.
J. Christian Adams ends his piece on the Dolezal caper as follows:
Race is the fuel that runs the modern progressive agenda. It’s 24-7 race. Race is the weapon for the great transformation, for plunking Section 8 housing in wealthy residential areas, for undermining law enforcement and for transforming election laws.
It’s time that Americans start shaming those who would divide us.
Unfortunately, the race baiters who would divide us are shameless and thus impervious to shaming. Nixon could be shamed. But Hillary Milhous Clinton?
Is Dolezal perhaps a trans-racial mulatto? White in reality, black in her mind? Or white in the actual world, but black in some merely possible world? Another example might be George Zimmerman: Hispanic in reality, white in the febrile, race-obsessed, politically correct imagination of the NYT.
I caught a segment of Sean Hannity's show the other night during which a 'conversation' transpired over the recent spike in violence in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. At 2:06, Adam Jackson, activist and CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, begins a rap replete with the usual leftist jargon: systemic inequality, structural racism, etc.
What struck me was Hannity's failure to deal with ideas at the level of ideas, in this instance, his failure to question the very idea of structural racism. That is what he should have done. He should have cut off the leftist rap with some pointed questions: Just what is this structural or systemic or institutional racism you leftists are always talking about? Care to define these phrases? Can you provide a nice clear example for the audience? Is it evidence of 'structural racism' that the enforcement of the law has a 'disparate impact' on blacks? And while you are at it, tell us what exactly racism is supposed to be. Is it racist for a white cop to enforce the law in a black community? How can you speak of institutional racism when the institutions of our society have been reformed so as to help blacks and other minorities in all sorts of ways via Affirmative Action, federally-mandated desegregation, and the like?
But Hannity posed none of these questions. Typical conservative that he is, he is not at home on the plane of ideas and abstractions where one must do battle with leftist obfuscation. Conservatives are often non-intellectual when they are not anti-intellectual. I am talking about conservatives 'in the trenches' of ordinary life and the mass media, not about conservative intellectuals who are intellectual enough but whose influence is limited. The ordinary conservative, uncomfortable with ideas, gravitates toward particulars, the actual facts of the Freddie Gray case, the Michael Brown case, the Trayvon Martin case. That is all to the good of course. When one considers what actually happened the night Michael Brown lost his life one sees that there was nothing racist, let alone structurally racist, about Officer Darren Wilson's behavior.
But it is not enough to bring the leftist back to the hard ground of actual fact; one must also puncture his ideological balloons. When the leftist starts gassing off about 'disparate impact,' you must rudely point out that blacks are disproportionately incarcerated because they disproportionately commit crimes. The 'disparate impact' of law enforcement is not evidence of racism 'structural' or otherwise; it is evidence of disproportionate criminality among blacks. Why won't leftists admit what is obvious? Because they labor under the conceit that we are all equal. Now here is a another Big Idea that your typical conservative is not equipped to discuss.
Another example of conservative cluelessness is Bill O'Reilly. He often points out that we live in a capitalist country. It's true, more or less. But citing a fact does not amount to a justification of the fact. What O'Reilly appears to be incapable of doing is providing arguments, including moral arguments, in favor of capitalism. That is what is needed in the face of libs and lefties who, when told that we live in a capitalist country, will respond, "Well then, let's change it!"
But having a nasty streak of anti-intellectualism in him, O'Reilly would probably dismiss such arguments as mere 'theory' in his Joe Sixpack sense of the term.
Conservatives, by and large, are doers not thinkers, builders, not scribblers. They are at home on the terra firma of the concrete particular but at sea in the realm of abstraction. The know in their dumb inarticulate way that killing infants is a moral outrage but they cannot argue it out with sophistication and nuance in a manner to command the respect of their opponents. And that's a serious problem.
They know that there is something deeply wrong with same-sex 'marriage,' but they cannot explain what it is. George W. Bush, a well-meaning, earnest fellow whose countenance puts me in mind of that of Alfred E. Neuman, could only get the length of: "Marriage is between a man and a woman."
That's right, but it is a bare assertion. Sometimes bare assertions are justified, but one must know how to counter those who consider them gratuitous assertions. What is gratuitously asserted may be gratuitously denied without breach of logical propriety, a maxim long enshrined in the Latin tag Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. So one reasonably demands arguments from those who make assertions. Arguments are supposed to move us beyond mere assertions and counter-assertions.
Could G. W. Bush present a reasoned defense of traditional marriage, or rather, just plain marriage, against the leftist innovators? If he could he never to my knowledge supplied any evidence that he could.
And then there is Romney. He lost to Obama in part because he could not articulate a compelling vision while Obama could. Obama, a feckless fool with no understanding of reality, and no desire to understand it, is a great bullshitter & blather-mouth who was able to sell his destructive leftist vision. Romney had nothing to counter him with. It it not enough to be in close contact with the hard particulars of gnarly reality; you have to be able to operate in the aether of ideas.
For a conservative there is a defeasible presumption in favor of traditional beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. The conservative is of course right in holding to this presumption. But if he is to prevail, he must know how to defend it against its enemies.
To beat the Left we must out-argue them in the ivory towers and out-slug them in the trenches. Since by Converse Clausewitz politics is war conducted by other means, the trench-fighters need to employ the same tactics that lefties do: slanders, lies, smears, name-calling, shout-downs, pie-throwing, mockery, derision. The good old Alinsky tactics. And now I hand off to Robert Spencer commenting on Andrew Breitbart.
Politics is war and war is ugly. We could avoid a lot of this nastiness if we adopted federalism and voluntary Balkanization. But that is not likely to happen: the totalitarian Left won't allow it. So I predict things are going to get hot in the coming years. The summer of 2015 should prove to be positively 'toasty' in major urban centers as the destructive ideas of the Left lead to ever more violence.
But liberal fools such as the aptronymically appellated Charles Blow will be safe in their upper-class enclaves.
Announcing his presidential bid this month, Sen. Rand Paul said he wants to repeal “any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color.”
Did he really say that? If yes, then he's pandering Hillariously . 'People of color,' to use the politically correct phrase, are disproportionately incarcerated because they disproportionately commit crimes. Is Rand now a quota-mentality liberal? Then to hell with him. It says something about him that he won't stand on principle even though he has no real chance of getting the Republican nomination.
Imagine a history teacher who tells his students that in the American South, as late as the 1960s, certain citizens lynched certain other citizens. Would you say that the teacher had omitted something of great importance for understanding why these lynchings occurred? Yes you would. You would point out that the lynchings were of blacks by whites, and that a good part of the motivation for their unspeakable crimes was sheer racial animus. In the case of these crimes, the races of the perpetrators and of their victims are facts relevant to understanding the crimes. Just to describe the lynchings accurately one has to mention race, let alone to explain them.
I hope no one will disagree with me on this.
Or consider the case of a history teacher who reports that in Germany, 1933-1945, certain German citizens harassed, tortured, enslaved, and executed other German citizens. That is true, of course, but it leaves out the fact that the perpetrators were Nazis and (most of) the victims Jews. Those additional facts must be reported for the situation to be properly described, let alone explained. Not only that, the Nazis were acting from Nazi ideology and the Jew were killed for being Jews.
According to recent reports, some Muslim jihadis beheaded some Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach. Now beheading is not lynching. And religion is not the same as race. But just as race is relevant in the lynching case, religion is relevant in the beheading case. That the perpetrators of the beheadings were Muslims and the victims Christians enters into both an adequate description and an adequate explanation of the evil deeds of the former.
This is especially so since the Muslims were acting from Islamic beliefs and the Christians were killed for their Christian beliefs. It was not as if some merely nominal Muslims killed some merely nominal Christians in a dispute over the ownership of some donkeys.
Bear in mind my distinction between a 'sociological' X and a 'doctrinal' X.
What did Barack Obama say about this? He said: “No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism."
Now that is a mendacious thing to say. Obama knows that the behavior of people is influenced by their beliefs. For example, he knows that part of the explanation of the lynchings of blacks by whites is that the white perpetrators held racists beliefs that justified (in their own minds) their horrendous behavior. And of course he knows, mutatis mutandis, the same about the beheading case.
He knows that he is engaging in a vicious abstraction when he sunders people and their beliefs in such a way as to imply that those beliefs have no influence on their actions.
Why then is Obama so dishonest? Part of the explanation is that he just does not care about truth. (That is a mark of the bullshitter as Harry Frankfurt has pointed out.) Truth, after all, is not a leftist value, except insofar as it can be invoked to forward the leftist agenda. It is the 'progressive' agenda that counts, first, and the narrative that justifies the agenda, second. (Karl Marx, 11th Thesis on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it." Truth doesn't come into it since a narrative is just a story and a story needn't be true to mobilize people to implement an agenda.
There's more to it than that, but that's enough for now. This is a blog and brevity is the soul of blog as some wit once observed.
What is to be done? Well, every decent person must do what he or she can to combat the lying scumbags of the Left. It is a noble fight, and may also be, shall we say, conducive unto your further existence in the style to which you have become accustomed.
Over at NRO, I found this in an otherwise very good column by Charles C. W. Cooke:
I daresay that if I had been in any of the situations that DeBoer describes, I would have walked happily out of the class. Why? Well, because there is simply nothing to be gained from arguing with people who believe that it is reasonable to treat those who use the word “disabled” as we treat those who use the word “n***er” . . . .
Isn't this precious? Cooke shows that he owns a pair of cojones throughout the column but then he gets queasy when it comes to 'nigger.' Why? Would he similarly tip-toe around 'kike' or 'dago'? I doubt it. It is clear that he is aware of the difference between using a word to refer to something and talking about the word. Philosophers call this the use-mention distinction. Call it whatever you like, but observe it.
True: 'Boston' is disyllabic. False: Boston is disyllabic. True: Boston is populous. False: 'Boston' is populous.
Consider the following sentence
Some blacks refer to other blacks using the word 'nigger.'
The sentence is true. Now of course I do not maintain that a sentence's being true justifies its assertive utterance in every situation. The above sentence, although appropriately asserted in the present context where a serious and important point is being made, would not be appropriately asserted in any number of other easily imagined contexts.
But suppose that you take offense at the above sentence. Well, then, you have taken inappropriate and unjustified offense, and your foolishness offends me! Why is my being objectively offended of less significance than your being merely subjectively offended? Your willful stupidity justifies my mockery and derision. One should not give offense without a good reason. But your taking inappropriate offense is not my problem but yours.
In this regard there is no substitute for sound common sense, a commodity which unfortunately is in short supply on the Left. You can test whether you have sound common sense by whether or not you agree with the boring points I make in such entries as the following:
I heard Nicholas Kristof use the phrase the other night. But is there such a thing as religious profiling?
I have argued that there is no such thing as racial profiling. The gist of my argument is that while race can be an element in a profile, it cannot itself be a profile. A profile cannot consist of just one characteristic. I can profile you, but it makes no sense racially to profile you. Similarly, apparel can be an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. I can profile you, but it makes no sense sartorially to profile you.
The same holds for so-called religious profiling. There is no such thing. Religious affiliation can be an element in a profile but it cannot itself be a profile. A profile cannot consist of just one characteristic. I can profile you, but it makes no sense religiously to profile you, or to profile you in respect of your religion.
There are 1.6 billion or so Muslims. They are not all terrorists. That is perfectly obvious, so obvious in fact that it doesn't need to be said. After all, no one maintains that all Muslims are terrorists. But it is equally obvious, or at least should be, that the vast majority of the terrorists in the world at the present time are Muslims. To put it as tersely as possible: Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.
It is this fact that justifies using religion as one element in a terrorist profile. For given the fact that most terrorists are Muslims, the probability that a Muslim trying to get through airport security is a terrorist is higher than the the probability that a Buddhist trying to get through airport security is a terrorist.
Or consider the sweet little old Mormon matron from Salt Lake City headed to Omaha to visit her grandkiddies. Compare her to the twenty-something Egyptian male from Cairo bound for New York City. Who is more likely to be a terrorist? Clearly, the probability is going to be very low in both cases, but in which case will it be lower? You know the answer. Liberals know it too, but they don't want to admit it. The answer doesn't fit their 'narrative.' According to the narrative, we are all the same despite our wonderful diversity. We are all equally inclined to commit terrorist acts. Well, I wish it were true. But it is not true. Liberals know it is not true just as well as we conservatives do. But they can't admit that it is true because it would upset their 'narrative.' And that narrative is what they live for and -- may well die for. A terrorist 'event' may well be coming to a theater near them, especially if they live in New York City.
It is the same with Muslims as with blacks. Blacks, proportionally, are much more criminally prone than whites. That is a well-known fact. And as I have said more than once, a fact about race is not a racist fact. There are facts about race but no racist facts. There are truths about race, but no racist truths. The truth that blacks as a group are more criminally prone than whites as a group is what justifies criminal profiling with race being one element in the profile.
Again, there is no such thing as racial profiling; what there is is criminal profiling with race being one element in the profile.
There are two mistakes that Kristof makes. He uses the unmeaning phrase 'religious profiling.' Worse, he think there is something wrong with terrorist and criminal profiling, when it is clear that there isn't.
But Kristof's heart is in the right place. He doesn't want innocent Muslims to suffer reprisals because of the actions of a few. Well, I don't either. I have Turkish Muslim friends. I met Zuhdi Jasser a while back. (The sentence I just wrote is logically independent of the one immediately preceding it.) Perhaps you have seen him on The O'Reilly Factor. An outstanding man, a most admirable Muslim man. May peace be upon him and no harm come to him. I mean that sincerely.
Leftists like to call themselves 'progressives.' We can't begrudge them their self-appellation any more than we can begrudge the Randians their calling themselves 'objectivists.' Every person and every movement has the right to portray himself or itself favorably and self-servingly. "We are objective in our approach, unlike you mystics."
But if you are progressive, why are you stuck in the past when it comes to race? Progress has been made in this area; why do you deny the progress that has been made? Why do you hanker after the old days?
It is a bit of a paradox: 'progressives' -- to acquiesce for the nonce in the use of this self-serving moniker -- routinely accuse conservatives of wanting to 'turn back the clock,' on a number of issues such as abortion. But they do precisely that themselves on the question of race relations. They apparently yearn for the bad old Jim Crow days of the 1950s and '60s when they had truth and right on their side and the conservatives of those days were either wrong or silent or simply uncaring. Those great civil rights battles were fought and they were won, in no small measure due to the help of whites including whites such as Charlton Heston whom the Left later vilified. (In this video clip Heston speaks out for civil rights.) Necessary reforms were made. But then things changed and the civil rights movement became a hustle to be exploited for fame and profit and power by the likes of the race-baiters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Read almost any race screed at The Nation and similar lefty sites and you wil find endless references to slavery and lynchings and Jim Crow as if these things are still with us. You will read how Trayvon Martin is a latter-day Emmett Till et cetera ad nauseam.
For a race-hustler like Jesse Jackson, It Is Always Selma Again. Brothers Jesse and Al and Co. are stuck inside of Selma with the Oxford blues again.
In case you missed the allusions, it is to Bob Dylan's 1962 Freewheelin' Bob Dylan track, "Oxford Town" and his 1966 Blonde on Blonde track, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."
Wake up you 'progressive' Rip van Winkles! It is not 1965 any more.
I now hand off to Rich Lowry who comments on the movie Selma.
We need more of this sort of thing. Less 'civility,' more condemnation of liars, race-baiters, and inciters-to-violence. Civility is for the civil, not for mendacious, self-serving, underminers of civil order. There can be no civility without civil order.
The stinking lies and deceptive half-truths surrounding this topic come from the top down, from Obama, through Holder, to The New York Times and then on down through the lower echelons of the leftist media until they finally become the destructive and murderous actions of the know-nothing, looting and rioting rabble. "The fish stinks from the head."
And ideas have consequences.
The lies of the anti-cop Left are well-exposed by Heather MacDonald here.
Eugene Robinson is one of those black commentators whose tribal identification makes it impossible for him to be objective. His latest column begins like this:
WASHINGTON -- It is absurd to have to say this, but New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton and President Obama are in no way responsible for the coldblooded assassination of two police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday. Nor do the tens of thousands of Americans who have demonstrated against police brutality in recent weeks bear any measure of blame.
At this point I stopped reading. Why? Because what Robinson is saying here is just obviously wrong. It is as wrong as saying that de Blasio has blood on his hands. De Blasio didn't pull the trigger, nor did Sharpton or Obama. The black Muslim did.
But to say that de Blasio, Sharpton, Obama, and the demonstrators "are in no way responsible" or do not "bear any measure of blame" is plainly false, and Robinson must know that it is. I conjecture that it is his tribal identification -- his identification as a black man -- in tandem with his identification with the 'tribe' of leftists that makes it impossible for him to see the obvious. The editors at NRO get it right:
This Saturday, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated on on the streets of New York for wearing the uniform that keeps those streets safe. Only one man, a felon who may have been mentally ill, bears responsibility for robbing two young families of their fathers and husbands.
But his heinous act has served to focus attention on the rancid element of the recent anti-police protests that — even when they haven’t included arson and assaults on cops – have been lawless and replete with other hateful sentiments. Just last weekend, some protesters in New York were infamously chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”
President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and New York mayor Bill de Blasio have all played their own irresponsible parts; they have all lent moral support to occasionally violent protests.
That is the truth. Obama, Holder, and de Blasio are in dereliction of duty. Their duty is to uphold the rule of law and civil order, not undermine them by sowing the seeds of disrespect for the law and the agents of its enforcement.
We are being inundated by a tsunami of toxic Unsinn from the Left anent race. Sadly, a lot of this sewage comes from blacks, many of them well-placed and privileged, but profiting from the lies and slanders and hence assiduous in cultivating their 'grievances.'
Of course they do. All lives matter. Black lives, white lives, yellow lives, red lives, even redneck lives. And let's not forget the lives of black cops. They too matter. Did someone well-placed proclaim that black lives don't matter? Who? When? Where can I find him?
All lives matter. It follows that black lives matter, including the lives of the peaceful, law-abiding, hard-working black residents of Ferguson, Missouri. And because these black lives matter, it matters that laws be enforced. All reasonable laws from traffic laws to laws against looting and arson.
As if to prove once again that that there is no coward like a university administrator, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, after having said in an e-mail to students that all lives matter, has retracted her statement and apologized.
Horribile dictu. And yet another proof that the universities of the land, most of them, have turned into leftist seminaries and hothouses of political correctness. And yet another example of abdication of authority.
And so I pinch myself once again. Am I awake? Or is this all a bad dream? Could this stuff really be happening?
Memo to President McCartney: grow a pair, or the female equivalent thereof. You don't apologize for speaking the truth; you stand up for the truth and fight back against the the foolish know-nothings who you are supposed to be 'educating.'
One of the tactics of leftists is to manipulate and misuse language for their own purposes. Thus they make up words and phrases and hijack existing ones. 'Islamophobe' is an example of the former, 'disenfranchise' an example of the latter. 'Racial profiling' is a second example of the former. It is a meaningless phrase apart from its use as a semantic bludgeon. Race is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. A profile cannot consist of just one characteristic. I can profile you, but it makes no sense racially to profile you. Apparel is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. I can profile you, but it makes no sense sartorially to profile you.
Let's think about this.
I profile you if I subsume you under a profile. A profile is a list of several descriptors. You fit the profile if you satisfy all or most of the descriptors. Here is an example of a profile:
1. Race: black 2. Age: 16-21 years 3. Sex: male 4. Apparel: wearing a hoodie, with the hood pulled up over the head 5. Demeanor: sullen, alienated 6. Behavior: walking aimlessly, trespassing, cutting across yards, looking into windows and garages, hostile and disrespectful when questioned; uses racial epithets such as 'creepy-assed cracker.' 7. Physical condition: robust, muscular 8. Location: place where numerous burglaries and home invasions had occurred, the perpetrators being black 9. Resident status: not a resident.
Now suppose I spot someone who fits the above profile. Would I have reason to be suspicious of him? Of course. As suspicious as if the fellow were of Italian extraction but fit the profile mutatis mutandis. But that's not my point. My point is that I have not racially profiled the individual; I have profiled him, with race being one element in the profile.
Blacks are more criminally prone than whites.* But that fact means little by itself. It becomes important only in conjunction with the other characteristics. An 80-year-old black female is no threat to anyone. But someone who fits all or most of the above descriptors is someone I am justified in being suspicious of.
There is no such thing as racial profiling. The phrase is pure obfuscation manufactured by liberals to forward their destructive agenda. The leftist script requires that race be injected into everything. Hence 'profiling' becomes 'racial profiling.' If you are a conservative and you use the phrase, you are foolish, as foolish as if you were to use the phrase 'social justice.' Social justice is not justice. But that's a separate post.
I wrote and posted the above in July of last year. This morning I find in The New Yorker a piece entitled No Such Thing as Racial Profiling. It is just awful and shows the level to which our elite publications are sinking. It is not worth my time to rebut, but I will direct my readers to the author's comments on the R. Giuliani quotation. Get out your logical scalpels.
Addendum. There is also the liberal-left tendency to drop qualifiers. Thus 'male' in 'male chauvinism' is dropped, and 'chauvinism' comes to mean male chauvinism, which is precisely what it doesn't mean. So one can expect the following to happen. 'Racial' in 'racial profiling' will be dropped, and 'profiling' will come to mean racial profiling, which, in reality, means nothing.
Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population. [. . .]
"High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination," wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice." "The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments."
Here, by Steven Hayward, with a tip of the hat to an old friend, Ingvar Odegaard. My comment:
Whites who speak of 'white privilege' would do well to reflect as well on 'black privilege.' One of the 'privileges' of blacks these days, apparently, is the right to riot and loot when a decision of the criminal justice system goes against their prejudices.
There is a lot of talk these days about white privilege. I don't believe I have discussed this topic before.
1. White privilege is presumably a type of privilege. What is a privilege? This is the logically prior question. To know what white privilege is we must first know what privilege is. Let's consider some definitions.
D1. A privilege is a special entitlement or immunity granted to a particular person or group of persons by the government or some other corporate entity such as a university or a church on a conditional basis.
Driving on public roads is a privilege by this definition. It is not a right one has just in virtue of being a human being or a citizen. It is a privilege the state grants on condition that one satisfy and continue to satisfy certain requirements pertaining to age, eyesight, driving skill, etc. Being a privilege, the license to drive can be revoked. By contrast, the right to life and the right to free speech are neither conditional nor granted by the government. They can't be revoked. Please don't confuse a constitutionally protected right such as the right to free speech with a right granted by the government.
Faculty members have various privileges, a franking privilege, a library privilege, along with such perquisites as an office, a carrel, secretarial help, access to an an exclusive dining facility, etc. Immunities are also privileges, e.g., the immunity to prosecution granted to a miscreant who agrees to inform on his cohorts.
Now if (D1) captures what we mean by 'privilege,' then it it is hard to see how there could be white privilege. Are there certain special entitlements and immunities that all and only whites have in virtue of being white, entitlements and immunities granted on a conditional basis by the government and revocable by said government? No. But there is black privilege by (D1). It is called affirmative action.
So if we adopt (D1) we get the curious result that there is no white privilege, but there is black privilege! Those who speak of white privilege as of something real and something to be aware of and opposed must therefore have a different definition of privilege in mind, perhaps the following:
You can rely on liberals to politicize race and racialize politics. But they also excel at the racialization of crime. Victor Davis Hanson has their number in Crimes of Exactly What? He discusses a number of examples besides Ferguson. Excerpts:
Racializing crime is a serious business, because it breaks society apart along tribal lines. It is all the more dangerous when elected officials like the president and attorney general are sometimes the worst offenders, given their racialist slurs like “nation of cowards,” “punish our enemies,” and “typical white person” and cheap editorializing in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. So on their cue, are we to look at lurid fatal crimes in the news and see them not as matters of individual evil acts, but rather as collective tokens of larger racial hatred? And are we to detect some sort of state culpability that suggests shared guilt for the violence?
[. . .]
If we were to embrace the abjectly racist worldview of Eric Holder or Al Sharpton, where would the racialization of crime end? Who would decide which interracial crimes illustrated premeditated racial hatred — or criminal laxity on the part of the state — and deserved national attention? Which adjudicator could or would declare that one interracial incident was idiosyncratic without transcendent significance, but the other typical and thus representative of collective pathology?
What exactly has this country stooped to, when our officials and public figures traffic in politicizing the end of human lives? We are becoming not just a sick country, but an amoral one as well. What Ferguson wrought will not end well.
William Voegli claims that the phrase 'political correctness' first entered the American vocabulary in 1991. I don't know about that, but I do know that the concept is much older: PC derives from the CP, as I explain in Dorothy Healey on Political Correctness.
I now refer you to what Bill Whittle has to say about the leftist narrative and political correctness. (HT: Monterey Tom)
Whittle refers to a man I blogged about on 30 August 2009:
The Gun-Totin' Obama Protester Was Black!
If a black man exercises his Second Amendment rights, is he really black? For liberals, the answer, apparently, is in the negative. For them, apparently, the only real black is a liberal black. Take a gander at this video clip. You will see an Obama protester with a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, a pistol on his hip, and an ammo mag in his pocket. But the shot has been edited so that we cannot see that he is black. And you liberals have the chutzpah to tell me that the MSM does not tilt to the Left? To depict the man's color would not fit in with the leftist party line that opposition to Obama's policies has its origin in racism. Apparently, a black man who does not fit the leftist 'narrative' is not black, but a 'traitor to his race.' And the same goes, mutatis mutandis, for women who do not toe the party line.
In this clip you can see that the man is indeed black.
Here are two points that need to be made again and again in opposition to the willful moral and intellectual obtuseness of liberals and leftists.
1. Dissent is not hate. To dissent from a person's ideas and policies is not to hate the person.
2. As a corollary to #1, to dissent from the ideas and policies of a black man is not to hate the man. A fortiori, it is not to hate the man because he is black.
It was on this date in 1995 that the verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder trial came down: not guilty! To refer to this proceeding as the trial of the century ought to offend anyone with a modicum of historical sense and a concern for the English language. It is on a par with Tom Brokaw's silly reference to the World War II generation of Americans as the "greatest generation." Here is an example of what I am opposing:
We always hear phrases like "Fight of the Century" and "Trial of the Century" ... well, this really was the Trial of the Century. A Pro Football Hall of Fame running back might or might not have killed his wife and one of her male friends. All evidence pointed to him. No other suspects. No alibi. A disturbing history of domestic abuse. A motive. Blood splattered everywhere, including back at the suspect's house.
Nonsense! Irresponsible journalism of Brokavian proportions. If the Simpson double homicide trial was the Trial of the Century, then what were the following?
Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925)
Nuremberg Trials (1945-49)
Alger Hiss (1949-50)
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1951)
Adolf Eichmann (1961)
Clinton Impeachment (1999)
Most of the above were far more significant than the Simpson trial.
Who was Simpson? A guy who was uncommonly good at chasing a piece of pigskin around a field who one night gave vent to his murderous rage in a brutal double homicide. The only thing significant about that trial was that it exposed the tribalism among so many blacks, their incapacity to abstract from their racial identity and evaluate evidence rationally and objectively. This tribalism was again on clear display recently in the Trayvon Martin case. Except for a few black conservatives, black commentators on the trial displayed a depressing level of delusional thinking. Yes, you are delusional if you think there is a meaningful comparison between the Emmett Till case (1955) and the Martin-Zimmerman proceeding. Either that or you are contemptibly mendacious.
Whatever became of Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the Simpson trial? Her story here.
Herein are enunciated a number of important truths that few these days have the courage to express. Mr. Pollack concludes:
These commonsense truths are the basis of the widely accepted idea that indigenous societies have a fundamental right to defend and preserve the cultural and demographic integrity of their homelands. Nobody in the liberal West imagines, for example, that the forcible settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet, and the ongoing displacement of traditional Tibetan culture, is conducive to the happiness of the Tibetans.
There is a curious blindness, however, on the part of the educated elites of the liberal West to acknowledge that these obvious principles, the generality of which should be entirely and uncontroversially self-evident to anyone of sound mind, might in fact apply to Western peoples and homelands. Can any person not a child or an imbecile look at, for example, Britain, Sweden, France, or the Netherlands and seriously imagine that the native people of these countries are happier (or freer) now, after decades of mass immigration of Muslims and other non-Europeans, than they were when the populations of these nations were almost exclusively British, Swedish, French, and Dutch? Can anyone even begin to think such a thing is actually true?
Via Malcolm Pollack's recent entry commenting on the Rotherham, England sex slave scandal, here are a couple of formulations of Lawrence Auster's First Law of Majority-Minority Relations in a Liberal Society:
The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group behaves, the more evil whites are made to appear for noticing and drawing rational conclusions about that group’s bad behavior. (source)
The more troublesome, unassimilable, or dangerous a designated minority or non-Western group actually is, the more favorably it is treated. This undeserved favorable treatment of a troublesome or misbehaving group can take numerous forms, including celebrating the group, giving the group greater rights and privileges, covering up the group’s crimes and dysfunctions, attacking the group’s critics as racists, and blaming the group’s bad behavior on white racism.
For clarity and generality I would rewrite the first formulation as follows:
The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group or individual behaves, the more whites are made to appear evil for noticing and drawing rational conclusions about that group’s or individual's bad behavior.
At Auster's site you will find many examples in illustration of his First Law. The recent Ted Robinson incident is another. The story is here:
The 49ers have suspended radio broadcaster Ted Robinson two games for comments he made regarding domestic violence on KNBR on Monday afternoon.
In discussing the controversy regarding former Ravens running back Ray Rice, Robinson said the victim, Rice’s wife, Janay, bore some of the responsibility for not speaking up after she was knocked unconscious by her then-fiancee.
“That, to me, is the saddest part of it,” Robinson said.
Robinson also said her decision to marry Rice after she was assaulted was “pathetic.”
Robinson was punished for "noticing and drawing rational conclusions" about this case. Obviously, you are pathetic if you marry a man who has knocked you unconscious. You are pathetic, foolish, and uninterested in your own long-term happiness. A man who has the power to kill you with one blow and has revealed his character by landing such a blow is obviously not a good marital prospect. As I have said many times, if you want to gamble, go right ahead and gamble with money you can afford to lose; but you are a fool if you gamble with your happiness. Besides, if you reward such a man by marrying him, you set a bad example for other women and encourage the man to do it again. One has a moral obligation not to aid and abet criminal behavior.
Suppose what I said is obvious is not obvious to you. That doesn't change the fact that Robinson has a right to express his opinion. If you have any common sense you will agree that what Robinson said is correct. Correct or not, he has a right to state his view. After all, he is a broadcaster and a commentator. (Of course, this right is not a First Amendment right; what sort of right it is would make for an interesting discussion.)
Was there anything 'racist' about what Robinson said? Obviously not. Race doesn't come into it at all. It is foolish to marry a man who pounds on you. That's true for white couples, black couples, and interracial couples. Remember Nicole Brown Simpson? O. J. pounded on her, but she stood by her man until she couldn't stand any more because she was lying in a pool of blood.
So what we have here in the Robinson incident is one more of many instances of mass race delusion.
It is a funny world. A man who claims to be white called me a racist because of my post, Self-Control and Respect for Authority. I ignored him, my policy being that scurrilous attacks from unknowns are ignored (and they are read only up to the point where the scurrilousness manifests itself). Scurrilous attacks from known cyberpunks like Brian Leiter, the academic gossip-monger, however, cannot go unanswered.
As I said, it is a funny world. The day before the attack by the unknown, Professor Laurence Thomas, Professor in the Department of Philosophy and in the Department of Political Science in the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, sent me this:
Dear Dr. Vallicella:
I write to thank you for having the courage to be ever so forthright. That is trait that I so very much admire. I do not claim that I agree with all that you say. But I do claim that I have learnt so very much as a result of reflecting upon your ideas. There is profound agreement between us is with respect to the following remarks by you:
There is no decency on the Left, no wisdom, and, increasingly, no sanity. For example, the crazy comparison of Trayvon Martin with Emmett Till. But perhaps I should put the point disjunctively: you are either crazy if you make that comparison, or moral scum. You are moral scum if you wittingly make a statement that is highly inflammatory and yet absurdly false.
Indeed, the two cases are quite unalike even if one holds that a wrong was done in each instance—a view that I unequivocally do not hold. Indeed, when I looked up the Emmett Till case, upon hearing that the Martin case was analogous to it, my very first thought was that there is simply no comparison between the two cases. And that is exactly where I continue to stand. Holding that the two cases are analogous bespeaks a horrendous level of moral depravity. There is simply no way in which the killing of Till can be characterized as self-defense by those who killed him; whereas it is manifestly obvious that it was out of self- defense that Zimmerman drew his gun and shot Martin. And the rush to characterize Zimmerman as a racist was simply stupefying given his very rich history of blacks. [Prof. Thomas is referring to Zimmerman's black ancestry. See here.]
People have noted that Zimmerman’s behavior has been more than a little erratic since the court ruling in his favor. It is stunning to me that people cannot make sense of why that is so, given the horrendous attitude of so many people who claim to be ever so committed to justice. A former student of mine recently brought to my attention your essay “Self-Control and Respect for Authority”. And once again, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Whenever I approach a police officer while I am walking, I display a simple measure of deference. That is how I behave regardless of the ethnicity of the officer. And never in my life has any police officer made the presumption that I might have committed a wrongdoing, although given my physical features there can no doubt whatsoever that I am a black person.
So I bear witness to the reality that being black is not at all a sufficient condition to raise a policeman’s concern about one’s behavior even if the police officer is white. Am I servile? Absolutely not. But having a deep, deep sense of self-respect is perfectly compatible with showing all sorts of people, including police officers a measure of respect, just as giving one’s seat to a pregnant woman who boards a crowded metro train is perfectly compatible with having a deep sense of self-respect. There is no incompatibility at all between have full measure of self-respect and yet showing others respect, be they law officers or “ordinary” citizens. I typically refer to myself as a radical conservative. Quite simply, my radical view is that acting responsibly is a gift that we give to ourselves. What is more, I hold that we should act responsibly even if we have been the victims of wrongful behavior in the past. It is utterly horrendous to hold that having been the object of wrongdoing constitutes an excuse to do what undermines one’s own sense of worth. I have gone on long enough. I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful remarks over the years. And while I have not left academia, I can indeed understand why you have done so. Be well and flourish, sir.
Recently I have been pinching myself a lot, figuratively speaking, to see if I am awake and not dreaming all the delusional race nonsense I keep hearing about. Herewith, a very recent example.
Bruce Levenson, owner of the Atlanta Hawks, sold his controlling interest in the NBA franchise because of this piece of 'racist' e-mail that he very foolishly sent in naive ignorance of the climate of the country. I excerpt the 'offensive' part, bad writing, bad punctuation and all. Emphasis added.
Regarding game ops [operations?], i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn't much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off [went on?]. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can't get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs [tickets] and they are the primary demo [demographic] for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:
-- it's 70 pct black -- the cheerleaders are black -- the music is hip hop -- at the bars it's 90 pct black -- there are few fathers and sons at the games -- we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
Then i start looking around at other arenas. It is completely different. Even DC with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.
Before we bought the hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the nba's urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean [arena] back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don't know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.
Now could any reasonable person, as opposed to a person in the grip of a delusion, take offence at any of this? Of course not. Levenson is a business man who is offering an explanation of why ticket sales are low. His explanation is two-fold. First, the black crowd scares away the southern whites who are uncomfortable with being in a minority and who do not enjoy black entertainment (hip hop, all black cheerleaders) and do not want to be in a family-unfriendly environment (few fathers with sons). Second, there is a lack of affluent black fans.
Now whether or not Levenson's explanation is correct, it is surely plausible. But the main thing is that there is nothing racist about it. To report that certain whites are scared by certain blacks is to report a fact about the way those whites feel. It is not to imply that the whites are justified in feeling the way they do. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't.
The mistake that liberals (whether white or black) make is to confuse a racial explanation with a racist explanation.
It is a special case of the confusion of a racial statement (a statement whose subject-matter is race) with a racist statement. For example, the statement that blacks are 13-14% of the U. S. population is a racial statement, but not a racist statement. Capiche?
Suppose I state that men, on average, are taller than women, on average. Is that a hateful thing to say? Is it sexist or 'tallist'? Does it express a 'bias' that I need to overcome? Of course not, it is true.
Now here is another distinction that is probably wasted on a liberal. It is the distinction beween the content of an assertion and the asserting of that content. I see a man with no legs. His name is Joe Blow. I assert within earshot of Joe Blow, Joe Blow has no legs! The content of my assertion is true and unobjectionable. But my asserting of it in this context is morally objectionable and for obvious reasons. But in other contexts both the content and my asserting of it would be unobjectionable.
What is going on here? How do we explain the mass race delusion of liberals? Some possibilities:
Liberals are in general very stupid people who cannot think but only emote and associate.
Liberals are not, on average, any dumber than conservatives, but on certain topics they stupefy, or perhaps I should say enstupidate themselves consciously and willfully and in a way that makes them the just recipients of moral censure.
Liberals are not, on average, any dumber than conservatives, but on certain topics they stupefy, or perhaps I should say enstupidate themselves unconsciously -- they are infected with a PeeCee virus but are unaware of being infected.
UPDATE: A reader comments:
I don’t know if you saw it, but after the remarks came out Levenson stated that he’s not worthy of owning an NBA franchise. Now, I assume you know about the recent kerfuffle about Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers (another NBA team). He made some racial comments in a private conversation that were leaked to the broader world, and as a result was forced to sell his team.
That’s the background, and now a theory: Levenson did all of this as a trick to be forced to sell his team as profitably as possible. Because the league is forcing him to sell, they have to assure him of getting the price that an auditor deems it to be worth rather than what it would get in the real world. In other words, it may just a cynical trick to make more money/divest himself of what he perceives to be a bad investment.
The reader may have something here. Levenson's grovelling is suspicious. Businessmen in a position to buy a controlling interest in an NBA franchise tend to have big egos. One expects them to fight and not act the part of a pussy, especially when the accusations made against him are so palpably absurd.
America is experiencing immigration problems somewhat like Australia's. The idea of 'multiculturalism' some would say is beginning to show its flaws. Who do you believe should be allowed to enter your country? Please feel free to be as politically incorrect as you like.
1. First of all, one must insist on a distinction that many on the Left willfully ignore, that between legal and illegal immigration. (Libertarians also typically elide the distinction.) Legal and illegal immigration are separate, logically independent, issues. To oppose illegal immigration, as any right-thinking person must, is not to oppose legal immigration. So, to answer one of the reader's questions, no one should be allowed to enter illegally. But why exactly? What's wrong with illegal immigration? Aren't those who oppose it racists and xenophobes and nativists? Doesn't everyone have a right to migrate wherever he wants?
2. The most general reason for not allowing illegal immigration is precisely because it is illegal. If the rule of law is to be upheld, then reasonable laws cannot be allowed to be violated with impunity simply because they are difficult to enforce or are being violated by huge numbers of people. Someone who questions the value of the rule of law is not someone it is wise to waste time debating.
3. There are several sound specific reasons for demanding that the Federal government exercise its legitimate, constitutionally grounded (see Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. constitution) function of securing the national borders, and none of these reasons has anything to do with racism or xenophobia or nativism or any other derogatory epithet that slanderous leftists and libertarians want to attach to those of us who can think clearly about this issue.
There are reasons having to do with national security in an age of terrorism. There are reasons having to do with assimilation, national identity, and comity. How likely is it that illegals will assimilate, and how likely is social harmony among citizens and unassimilated illegals? There are considerations of fairness in respect of those who have entered the country legally by satisfying the requirements of so doing. Is it fair that they should be put through a lengthy process when others are allowed in illegally.
There are reasons having to do with the importation of contraband substances into the country. There are reasons having to do with increased crime. Last but not least, there are reasons pertaining to public health. With the concern over avian influenza, tuberculosis, ebola, and all sorts of tropical diseases, we have all the more reason to demand border control.
Borders are a body politic's immune system. Unregulated borders are deficient immune systems. Diseases that were once thought to have been eradicated have made a comeback north of the Rio Grande due to the unregulated influx of population. These diseases include tuberculosis, Chagas disease, leprosy, Dengue fever, polio, and malaria.
You will have noticed how liberals want to transform into public health issues problems that are manifestly not public but matters of private concern, obesity for example. But here we have an issue that is clearly a public health issue, one concerning which Federal involvement is justified, and what do our dear liberals do? They ignore it. Of course, the problem cannot be blamed solely on the Democrat Party. Republicans like Bush and McCain are just as guilty. On immigration, Bush was clearly no conservative; he was a libertarian on this issue. A libertarian on some issues, a liberal on others, and a conservative on far too few.
4. Many liberals think that opposition to illegal immigration is anti-Hispanic. Not so. It is true that most of those who violate the nation's borders are Hispanic. But the opposition is not to Hispanics but to illegal entrants whether Hispanic or not. It is a contingent fact that Mexico is to the south of the U.S. If Turkey or Iran or Italy were to the south, the issue would be the same. And if Iran were to the south, and there were an influx of illegals, then then leftists would speak of anti-Persian bias.
A salient feature of liberals and leftists -- there isn't much difference nowadays -- is their willingness to 'play the race card,' to inject race into every issue. The issue of illegal immigration has nothing to do with race since illegal immigrants do not constitute a race. There is no such race as the race of 'llegal aliens.' Opposition to them, therefore, cannot be racist. Suppose England were to the south of the U. S. and Englishmen were streaming north. Would they be opposed because they are white? No, because they are illegal aliens.
"But aren't some of those who oppose illegal immigration racists?" That may be so, but it is irrelevant. That one takes the right stance for the wrong reason does not negate the fact that one has taken the right stance. One only wishes they would take the right stance for the right reasons. Even if everyone who opposed illegal immigration were a foaming-at-the-mouth redneck of a racist, that would not detract one iota of cogency from the cogent arguments against allowing illegal immigration. To think otherwise is to embrace the Genetic Fallacy. Not good.
5. The rule of law is a precious thing. It is one of the supports of a civilized life. The toleration of mass breaking of reasonable and just laws undermines the rule of law.
6. Part of the problem is that we let liberals get away with obfuscatory rhetoric, such as 'undocumented worker.' The term does not have the same extension as 'illegal alien.' I discuss this in a separate post. But having written thousands of posts, I don't quite know where it is.
7. How long can a welfare state survive with open borders? Think about it. The trend in the USA for a long time now has been towards bigger and bigger government, more and more 'entitlements.' It is obviously impossible for purely fiscal reasons to provide cradle-to-grave security for everyone who wants to come here. So something has to give. Either you strip the government down to its essential functions or you control the borders. The first has no real chance of happening. Quixotic is the quest of strict constructionists and libertarians who call for it. Rather than tilting at windmills, they should work with reasonable conservatives to limit and eventually stop the expansion of government. Think of what a roll-back to a government in accordance with a strictly construed constitution would look like. For one thing, the social security system would have to be eliminated. That won't happen. Libertarians are 'losertarian' dreamers. They should wake up and realize that politics is a practical business and should aim at the possible. By the way, the pursuit of impossible dreams is common to both libertarians and leftists.
8. Even though contemporary liberals show little or no understanding for the above arguments, there are actually what might be called 'liberal' arguments for controlling the borders:
A. The Labor Argument. To give credit where credit is due, it was not the conservatives of old who championed the working man, agitated for the 40 hour work week, demanded safe working conditions, etc., but the liberals of those days. They can be proud of this. But it is not only consistent with their concern for workers that they oppose illegal immigration, but demanded by their concern. For when the labor market is flooded with people who will work for low wages, the bargaining power of the U.S. worker is diminished. Liberals should therefore oppose the unregulated influx of cheap labor, and they should oppose it precisely because of their concern for U. S. workers.
By the way, it is simply false to say, as Bush, McCain and other pandering politicians have said, that U.S. workers will not pick lettuce, clean hotel rooms, and the like. Of course they will if they are paid a decent wage. People who won't work for $5 an hour will work for $20. But they won't be able to command $20 if there is a limitless supply of indigentes who will accept $5-10.
B. The Environmental Argument. Although there are 'green' conservatives, concern for the natural environment, and its preservation and protection from industrial exploitation, is more a liberal than a conservative issue. (By the way, I'm a 'green' conservative.) So liberals ought to be concerned about the environmental degradation caused by hordes of illegals crossing the border. It is not just that they degrade the lands they physically cross, it is that people whose main concern is economic survival are not likely to be concerned about environmental protection. They are unlikely to become Sierra Club members or to make contributions to the Nature Conservancy. Love of nature comes more easily to middle class white collar workers for whom nature is a scene of recreation than for those who must wrest a livelihood from it by hard toil.
C. The Population Argument. This is closely related to, but distinct from, the Environmental Argument. To the extent that liberals are concerned about the negative effects of explosive population increase, they should worry about an unchecked influx of people whose women have a high birth-rate.
D. The Social Services Argument. Liberals believe in a vast panoply of social services provided by government and thus funded by taxation. But the quality of these services must degrade as the number of people who demand them rises. To take but one example, laws requiring hospitals to treat those in dire need whether or not they have a means of paying are reasonable and humane -- or at least that can be argued with some show of plausibility. But such laws are reasonably enacted and reasonably enforced only in a context of social order. Without border control, not only will the burden placed on hospitals become unbearable, but the justification for the federal government's imposition of these laws on hospitals will evaporate. According to one source, California hospitals are closing their doors. "Anchor babies" born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.
The point is that you can be a good liberal and oppose illegal immigration. You can oppose it even if you don't care about about increased crime, terrorism, drug smuggling, disease, national identity, national sovereignty, assimilation, the rule of law, or fairness to those who have immigrated legally. But a 'good liberal' who is not concerned with these things is a sorry human being.
I hope I have been politically incorrect enough for my reader's taste.