Archive for the ‘Race’ Category.

"True poverty is not being able to afford some small principles" -- When Sarah Jeong Hammered the Powerless

This is one of the more remarkable pieces I have read in a long time.  Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu describes how Sarah Jeong and Vice magazine refused to acknowledge that maybe a woman in China is in a different situation than a woman in Brooklyn and outed her for a few clicks.  An excerpt:

These are not games you play in China, it doesn’t matter if the sum total of their experience living a warm sheltered life in America makes them think it will probably be ok. Things are not the same here. That is not how agreements with sources works, Vice wasn’t in a position to understand the exact nature of the risk I face or what limits have to operate within- and didn’t care to find out. It doesn’t matter if the story “reads positive” or “seems fine” to an American reader- they are not who I have to be concerned with....

It’s not that a White American can’t understand China- that is nonsense, there are countless American journalists and scholars here that are experts in this field that Jason Koebler or Vice could have contacted to verify what I was telling them, I begged them to. They simply didn’t care....

Then Sarah drops a veritable atom bomb of an Appeal to Authority, she is Korean (having lived a full week as an adult in Korea). South Korea is pretty much the same as Mainland China, therefore I was never in any danger. She invokes the monolithic Asian culture myth precisely because she knows her largely White audience believes this anyway.

You can get your full daily RDA of irony by reading it all.

Power, Privilege, and Free Speech

This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to the Daily Princetonian a couple years ago in response to an editorial calling for speech codes of some sort (e.g. bans on "hate speech")

This is why I think Progressives are making a huge mistake in opposing free speech, on their own terms.

Speech codes are written by and for the privileged.  They are written by the oppressor to shut up the oppressed.  George Wallace did not need the First Amendment, black kids trying to go to the University of Alabama needed it.  So the progressive opposition to free speech (e.g BLM shouting down the ACLU over free speech) is either 1) completely misguided, as the oppressed need these protections the most or 2) an acknowledgement that progresives and their allies are now the privileged, that they are the ones in power, and that they wish to use speech codes as they have always been used, to shut up those not in power.  In our broader society the situation is probably #1 but on university campuses we may have evolved to situation #2.

The folks who wrote the first amendment were thinking about this dynamic.  Had they instead decided to write a speech code, it likely would not have been good.  It might well have banned the criticism of slavery, for example, if Jefferson and his Virginians had anything to say about it.  But they didn't create a speech code, thank god.  In fact, I am trying to think of any time in history I would have been comfortable with the ruling elite locking down the then-current norms of their society into a speech code, and I can't think of one.  What gives you confidence, vs. the evidence of all history, that you can do so today with good results?

Unfortunately, in the time since I wrote this, the ACLU has apparently abandoned its absolute support of free speech and seems ready to knuckle under to Progressive speech codes.  But never-the-less, I was thinking about this issue of speech codes and power when I read this:

Police officers in Crafton, Pennsylvania, arrested a 52-year-old black man, Robbie Sanderson, for shoplifting at a CVS in September of 2016. He called them Nazis, skinheads, and Gestapo as they cuffed him.

Because of those epithets, Sanderson was charged with "ethnic intimidation." Insulting the officers in such terms was an anti-white hate crime, from the perspective of the authorities. Sanderson had made bias-motivated "terroristic threats," they claimed. The alleged motivation increased the seriousness of Sanderson's crime from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Anyone with any education about history could have predicted such an outcome with total certainty.

Ugliness at Harvard

Long time readers will know that several years ago I became convinced that Princeton was discriminating against Asian-Americans in their admissions process, a process I had participated in for over a decade.  Princeton, as far as I am concerned, can bake its academic cake for whoever they want, but I in turn don't have to participate in it so I quit.  I found the disconnect between Princeton's pious words on diversity and the reality of their actions to be distasteful, and I really really did not like having to toe the party line when Asian interviewees asked me if I thought they had an equal chance of admission with other students.

More data on this issue is just becoming public as various briefs that have been filed in a lawsuit representing Asian-American students against Harvard are being released.   I thought this bit from the Wall Street Journal looks pretty ugly.

Asian-American applicants have higher academic and extracurricular scores than any other racial group, as well as the highest overall rating from alumni interviewers, according to the plaintiffs. However, Harvard’s admissions officers assign Asian-Americans the lowest score of any racial group on the personal rating, which includes a subjective assessment of character traits such as whether the student has a “positive personality,” the plaintiffs said.

Do you think they mark them down as "inscrutable?"  Remember, this is from an institution that criticizes pretty much everyone else on the planet for propagating racial stereotypes.

Well, WTF Was He Supposed to Do?

Update:  Well, apparently my lack of knowledge about the practice of law was particularly evident in the post below, as several readers let me know.   From this source

Since 1978, attorneys in California criminal trials have been forbidden to exercise peremptory challenges based on a lawyer’s belief that certain individuals are biased because they are a member of a specific racial, ethnic or religious group. (People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258, 276, citing, Ca. Const., art. 1, § 16 [right to representative trial by jury drawn from cross-section of community], overruled in part by Johnson v. California (2005) 545 U.S. 162, 168-173 [125 S.Ct. 2410, 162 L.Ed.2d 129].) In 1986, the U. S. Supreme Court followed California’s lead and held that jury challenges based on group bias violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79, 89 [106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69].) This has commonly become known as the "Wheeler/Batson" rule.

I don't want to be that guy whose point is disproved but who sticks by it anyway, but I stick by my point.  It's not clear by the timing that Kaine's actions were even illegal at the time, and the narrative below shows Kaine as responding to behavior of the opposing attorney.  If he did not at the time have access to Wheeler/Batson challenges, then his actions seem a reasonable response.  Again, it would be interesting to hear from attorneys actually involved in trials, but are there many attorneys who don't think the racial makeup of a jury makes a difference, even if they have to be more subtle in managing it?

/Update

The Washington Examiner seems to think they have somehow caught Tim Kaine red-handed:

As an attorney in the 1980s, Tim Kaine once had three white jurors struck from hearing a case in which his client, an African-American, alleged she was discriminated against by the defendant, who was white, the Daily Beast reported Monday.

Kaine explained later that the move was aimed at securing more black people on the jury, thus increasing his client's odds of winning her housing discrimination suit.

The white defendant's attorney employed peremptory strikes on the day of the trial to have three black people removed from the pool of potential jurors, the Daily Beast report explained. Kaine responded in kind: He used peremptory strikes of his own to have three white jurors removed, and succeeded in getting one African-American onto the jury.

Kaine explained later in an article for the University of Richmond Law Review in 1989 that he believed having more black people on the jury would swing things in his client's favor, implicitly admitting the tactic was race-based.

I am not an attorney, but doesn't this happen pretty much every single day in every single court?  This strikes me as about as surprising as a baseball manager substituting in a left-handed hitter to face a right-handed pitcher.  I would think that given any sort of reasonable legal ethics, if Mr. Kaine thought this action would help his client, then he was virtually obligated to do it.

If one wants to lament that black and white jurors come to different sorts of verdicts for black plaintiffs and defendants, then I suppose one could rant about that but it's hardly Tim Kaine's fault.  He has to deal with reality as it is.  If you really wanted a racial gotcha story, imagine  the facts reversed to something like "white defense lawyer refused to strike other whites from jury despite the fact it might have helped his black client."

Postscript:  And yes, I know the Lefty SJW's would have gone apesh*t if a Republican candidate as an attorney had struck black jurors from a trial to help his white client, but that does not make the critique any more correct.

I Still Don't Understand Why Racism is Defined Assymetrically

What if I wrote this:

"For me as a white man, it's really nice to just go out with other white men sometimes," ... "I have to do so much less translation. When you're white around black people, you have to explain every little thing, even with people who are perfectly nice and well-meaning."

My presumption would be that this would be treated as evil and racist.  But what was actually written was this, which by its reception by Kevin Drum and others is apparently perfectly OK

"For me as a black woman, it's really nice to just go out with other black women sometimes," said Sabrina Stevens, an activist and progressive strategist. "I have to do so much less translation. When you're black around white people, you have to explain every little thing, even with people who are perfectly nice and well-meaning."

The answer I generally get for treating racism asymmetrically (e.g. almost anything a white person says about blacks is racist, but nothing a black person says about whites is racist) is that it's all about privilege and power imbalances.  But the author, at least in this passage, is not talking about privilege and power imbalances.  She is merely talking about differences in outlook and perspective, which are presumably symmetric.  She is more relaxed around similar people, which is likely true of many of us.

Drum, fortunately, seems to get the point about safe spaces, that there is a huge difference between people privately creating spaces populated only by folks of their own selection (ie freedom of assembly) and public institutions (such as universities) enforcing segregated groups and spaces, particularly spaces meant to avoid contact with ideas at an institution dedicated to spreading ideas.  The first strikes me as fine, the second as generally unacceptable.    Of course women have spent the last 30 years of trying to purge private spaces where men choose to hang out solely with other men, so they shouldn't be surprised if they get a teensy bit of push back when they try to create such spaces for themselves.

Social Justice Warriors and Original Sin

I have come to the conclusion that the concept of original sin must be one of those that are quite appealing to humans.

For literally millennia, original sin has been a foundational part of much of Christianity.  We were all born with original sin, and so effectively started life with guilt.  It turns out that it is much easier to exercise power over the guilty than over people who consider themselves innocent.  The Catholic Church took advantage of this power by claiming that no individual could wipe away their original sin, their inherited guilt, without active engagement with the Church itself.  I will leave aside theological arguments** here, but conclude that the Church used the original sin doctrine in part to enhance its temporal power.

As Christianity fades somewhat as an active part of Western culture, the idea of Christian original sin seldom comes up much in any practical way.  But that does not mean the world has abandoned the concept of original sin - no indeed.  Racism is one of the classic examples of original sin - in it, someone born black, or Jewish, or whatever, is tainted with an original sin that they cannot wash away, and makes them somehow inferior to others.

Much of what social justice warriors say sounds racist to me, as they often offer negative generalizations of whole groups based on race, or gender, or sexual preference.  In my naive younger days I used to think that judging anyone based on their race rather than their individual actions and values was racism.    However, SJW's have managed to change linguistics in their favor, conveniently redefining racism (or sexism) as only applying to those in historically more powerful groups  (e.g. white males).  By this definition, a black woman can never be a racist, no matter how much she negatively stereotypes other racial groups.

Well, OK then.  I am tired of fighting this definitional issue.  So I will just say that SJW's frequently fall in the trap of believing in original sin.  Whites, males, heteros, successful people - they are all tainted in the SJW mind with original sin, so much that any utterance from any individual in these groups is deemed as having no value and therefore should be ignored or actively suppressed.  This is actually a radical version of original sin that goes way farther than the Catholic Church ever took it, though I would argue it is promulgated for roughly the same reason - to enhance one's power.

 

** Speaking of original sin, in one of the great misconceptions that Christians have of their own religion, the immaculate conception was not Mary's virgin birth of Jesus but rather her own birth without the taint of original sin.

Apparently Beats Headphones are Oppressive and Racist Now

Apparently Beats headphones are now a "symbol of oppression" and wearing them is grounds for being berated and perhaps attacked by protesters.

Now, I always thought Beats were over-priced and over-hyped, and thought they were mainly a marker for people who preferred brand signaling over performance (at the risk of angering some of you, I would put Louis Vuitton bags as the leader of this category of products).

Apparently, making Dr. Dre wealthy(er) from his involvement as a co-founder of the product, and enriching the bank accounts of many other hip hop artists for their endorsements, is now "oppression."  Hmm.  Well, I am happy to do a public service here and take their endorsement checks and thus the burden of this oppression off their shoulders and on to myself.  Who says we libertarians are not public spirited?

So what is next?  I can't see any particular different between Dre's involvement with Beats and Michael Jordan's involvement with Nike -- are Air Jordans the next symbol of oppression?  What am I missing here?

Black Lives Matter Has a Pretty Decent Plan. Too Bad they Don't Seem to Know What to Do With It

There is much to criticize in how the BLM movement operates, but I can get behind much of the plan they introduced last month.  I don't agree with all of it, but I seldom agree with all of any plan I see proposed from any side of the aisle.

In discussing the plan, Kevin Drum fails to address the elephant in the room for the Left in making progress on this, and that is the enormous reluctance of Democrats to challenge a public employee union.  And you can bet that police unions will likely be the biggest barrier to getting a lot of this done, even perhaps ahead of Conservative law-and-order groups (you can see the token sop thrown to unions in point 10 of the plan, but it ain't going to be enough).

By the way, there is much that progressive and conservative groups could learn from each other.  Conservative groups (outside of anti-abortion folks) are loath to pursue the public demonstration and disruption tactics that can sometimes be helpful in getting one's issues on the public agenda.  The flip side is that public disruption seems to be all BLM knows how to do.  It can't seem to get beyond disruption, including the unfathomable recent threat to disrupt an upcoming marathon in the Twin Cities.   It could learn a lot from Conservative and libertarian groups like ALEC, that focus on creating model legislation and local success stories that can be copied in other places.  Many of the steps in BLM's plan cry out of model legislation and successful pilots/examples.

A Question for Black Lives Matter

BLM coalesced as a reaction to police brutality and lack of accountability for how they treated black citizens.  The organization claims its problems are rooted in the ghetto-ization of blacks that has robbed them of their agency.

Can I observe that both these problems are ones of an out of control, unaccountable, over-powered government?  Police are government officials allowed to operate with few checks on their behavior.  Black ghettos were explicitly created by the New Deal and maintained by Federal policy for years.  No doubt many private citizens are still racist, but they can't legally shoot you on the street or say where you can and can't buy homes.

So why does the leadership of BLM so consistently support the further expansion of government power?