Race


TalkingPointsMemo says Tennessee tea partiers are trying to fuck with our history:

“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Sure, no problem.

Washington helped make this country prosperous by supporting slavery, a key element in the wealth of the new nation.

Jefferson made his own personal contribution to “the melting pot”.

Jackson opened the frontier by removing Native Americans from the land.

More (saddening) detail from the Memphis newspaper:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.

James W. Loewen at History News Network:

In 1971 I testified in Yazoo City about how the county formed its juries. Among its registered voters, Yazoo County was almost exactly 50% white, 50% black. White officials supposedly drew juries from the list of registered voters, supposedly randomly. Nevertheless, juries, consisting of twelve members and two alternates, kept coming out twelve white, two black. Moreover, the African Americans would often be the same two individuals! As a sociologist, it was not hard to do the statistics and show that this could hardly have happened by chance. Indeed, such a string of juries would have occurred randomly less than one time in four billion attempts! Haley Barbour was 24. He had just managed the U.S. Census for the state of Mississippi, so he had to know the racial composition of his home town. He had enrolled in Ole Miss law school and had connections with his family’s law firm in Yazoo City, so he had to know the racial composition of Yazoo’s juries. Yet about the state of civil rights in his home town, as he told Andrew Ferguson, “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”

Pretty damning, I think.

Small upside: hopefully people who haven’t thought about the history of this country have learned a little bit more than they knew before.

More at HNN; Ta-Nehisi Coates doing good work as always.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a beautiful piece on compassion over at The Atlantic, which I will not undermine by selectively quoting here. You should go read it. But I will pull out a tangent, which is a nice sound-bite:

The problem with rage is that it’s a conversation-stopper, it forecloses all other questions.

and a comment from reader and sometime guest-blogger Cynic, about being a plantation owner in the antebellum south:

You sketch a compelling picture of the thousand strings tied to any man who wishes to abandon the core social structures of the world in which he lives, to abandon his status and privilege and obligations. That sort of change is wrenchingly hard. But I find it harder to empathize with those who simply accepted this state of affairs, or worse yet, defended it. Jefferson, at least, strained all his life against those thousand Lilliputian ropes, by his exertions pulling his society a little further towards his ideal. He never severed the bonds, to be sure, which I suppose makes him a hypocrite – he enjoyed, and exploited, all the privileges they conferred. But I prefer the tormented hypocrisy of the individual sinner working for moral reform to the perfect complacency of the obdurate sinner defending the sinful society.

I am almost seduced by Cynic’s language—

I prefer the tormented hypocrisy of the individual sinner working for moral reform to the perfect complacency of the obdurate sinner defending the sinful society.

—into liking Jefferson, but truly, I’ve always thought Jefferson’s hypocrisy was worse than those who moved blindly through their world in unseeing conviction that brutality and exploitation were merely the natural order of things.

Whom do you find harder to forgive?

I drafted this nine months ago, and never published it for some reason (fisking seems so outdated?), but although it’s from the journal of the American Enterprise Institute instead of the American Spectator, I am currently fired up with hatred for the faux intellectual approach of the would-be conservative intelligentsia, and so am posting it now.

For a wonderfully designed and written indictment of this tendency that is not completely outdated, please see The Economist on Dinesh D’Souza on Obama.

A wee blog post from Charles Murray, of The Bell Curve fame. This is the entire post, from 23 December 2009. I am obliged to rant.

I’ve been marooned in Paris the last three days, waiting for a plane home after the snowstorm mess (“Poor Charles,” you’re all saying). Last night, having been struck by how polyglot Paris has become, I collected data as I walked along, counting people who looked like native French (which probably added in a few Brits and other Europeans) versus everyone else. I can’t vouch for the representativeness of the sample, but at about eight o’clock last night in the St. Denis area of Paris, it worked out to about 50-50, with the non-native French half consisting, in order of proportion, of African blacks, Middle-Eastern types, and East Asians. And on December 22, I don’t think a lot of them were tourists.

Mark Steyn and Christopher Caldwell have already explained this to the rest of the world—Europe as we have known it is about to disappear—but it was still a shock to see how rapid the change has been in just the last half-dozen years.

Okay.

Europe is changing, becoming polygot, multicultural. Fine. Nothing racist about recognizing that. It’s not even necessarily racist to lament it, or think it’s a bad thing. Even if you think it’s a bad thing because you hate non-white people, sure whatever, that’s your privilege. And if you want to focus on place of birth rather than on passport to define French, well, that’s a legitimate approach even if I disagree.

But this—what Charles Murray actually wrote, as opposed to what he might hypothetically mean—has no legitimacy. None at all.

I collected data

You walked down the street looking at people. Trying to dress up bad research methods as scientific. Not okay.

counting people who looked like native French (which probably added in a few Brits and other Europeans)

Hmm. If you pay some bit of attention to dress or facial movements, I’m pretty sure it’s not that hard to winnow out most of the British people in a crowd of Parisians. So, I strongly suspect you were counting people with white skin and defining that as native French? Not okay.

about 50-50, with the non-native French half consisting, in order of proportion, of African blacks, Middle-Eastern types, and East Asians.

And where did you categorize the inhabitants of the Caribbean islands Martinique and Guadeloupe, which are PART OF FRANCE, making them native French people who are also black. You don’t seem to know such a category even exists. Ignorance of relevant facts is not okay.

Nor do you appear to be aware the word “native” refers to place of birth, not ancestry, nor that immigration has happened for a very long time, nor that immigrants often have children. Not okay.

It’s the intellectual dishonesty I can’t stand.

“Black” does not translate into “What white people do not do.”) It meant a shared way of speaking, a verbal and nonverbal language which gave me a kind of comfort.

I am not black in the way that my father was black. There is no reason why my son should be black in the way that I am black.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Many Black Americas

* * *

Haley Barbour and memories of the civil rights era:

That’s when he brought up Bailey.

He said she was “a very nice girl” who “happened to be an African-American, and, God bless her, she let me copy her notes the whole time. And since I was not prone to go to class every day, I considered it a great — it was a great thing, it was just — there was nothing to it. If she remembers it, I would be surprised. She was just another student. I was the student next to her.”

Bailey, reached by phone, reacted to Barbour’s story with surprise that bordered on confusion.

“I don’t remember him at all, no, because during that time that certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for me,” she said. “My interactions with white people were very, very limited. Very, very few reached out at all.”

Okay, by the time of the March on Washington, probably everyone knew guns wouldn’t be tolerated, sure. Especially anywhere near the capitol, or in masses.

But I once heard a Virginia woman tell the story of her family and school desegregation. This was not a major city, or a major school, or a well-known figure, just your average ordinary black middle-class woman remembering her childhood.

Her father escorted her sister to third grade with a gun in his trunk.

All the other fathers, too. They didn’t wind up needing to use them, or, as I remember, even wave them around, but they were ready.

To me, that expresses the magnitude of the civil rights movement: how strong the feelings were on both sides, how wrong massive resistance was, the value placed on education, the transforming of children into a literal battleground for the debate over what America would be….

Taking my kid to school with a gun.

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

If you were looking for a group who was quickly assimilating into this new, insurgent America, the Cherokee were the “model minority” of their day.

But it didn’t matter. White farmers in Georgia did not want to assimilate the Cherokee, they wanted to rob them. In due course, they extended the reach of Georgia law over Cherokee lands.

They claim to fear the immigrant clinging to his language. No. What they fear is the immigrant learning theirs.

EJ Dionne in The Washington Post:

Opponents of the 14th Amendment used racist arguments against immigrants to try to kill it, even though there were virtually no immigration restrictions back then. President Andrew Johnson played the card aggressively, as University of Baltimore law professor Garrett Epps reported in his 2006 book on the 14th Amendment, “Democracy Reborn.”

“This provision comprehends the Chinese of the Pacific States, Indians subject to taxation, the people called Gipsies, as well as the entire race designated as blacks, people of color, negroes, mulattoes, and persons of African blood,” Johnson declared. “Is it sound policy to make our entire colored population and all other excepted classes citizens of the United States?”

Where do I sign up for the fight to protect the 14th Amendment’s position on citizenship?

Things I read on the internet are confusing me. I’ve been on vacation and haven’t kept up with the whole Shirley Sherrod story, but I caught this insane piece by Jeffrey Lord from a few directions, including Edge of the American West. Then Lord defended himself, and engaged critics in his comments. Then Lord also engaged in the comments of a very weak critique from a colleague.

The hook for the original Lord piece was that Sherrod was lying because her relative was not lynched, but merely murdered (the bizarreness did not stop there, but that’s what’s required for context).

I can’t find how to link directly to specific comments, but this exchange starts with Angus Johnston| 7.27.10 @ 2:15PM. I’ve tweaked it substantially, losing quite a bit of flavor for conciseness.

Angus: “The opinion to which you refer never uses the word “lynching”

Lord: “Bingo!!!! You win the prize. The point, exactly. A decision that never uses the word lynching cannot be about lynching!

The only thing that counts is what the Court says the definition is. Not anything else.

Progress.”

Angus: [but] “There was no crime of lynching under federal law in 1945.”

Lord: “So how could Ms. Sherrod have said with such assurance her relative was lynched?”

Angus: “So now it’s your contention that there were NO lynchings in America during the Jim Crow era? That’s what you’re going with? That because lynching wasn’t a crime, it didn’t exist?

Ouch.”

Some RBOC thoughts:

There is no hope for the national conversation on race.

Here’s an introduction to Angus.

Terry Pratchett wrote in Maskerade that using multiple exclamation marks is the sign of an insane mind.

We need to turn Jeffrey Lord into a verb for the act of making it all worse by ineptly defending yourself in the comments.

Is naming a drink “AZ 1070″ an effective way to ridicule Arizona’s unAmerican anti-immigrant law?

Img 1082

Honest question. I can’t decide. The server asked the bartender what the name meant, and she (herself with a little bit of an accent) came back laughing, so I guess the bartender made it funny, but…

* * *

At trivia last week, the server suggested my friend try a mixture of pear hard cider and framboise (raspberry beer). Ooh, sounds good—four all around.

Later, the trivia emcee shared a list of “jokes” along the lines of:

  • “When men say I’m not hungry, it means they aren’t hungry.”
  • “When women say how do I look, it means do I look fat.”
  • “When women say no, it means yes.”

When we got the bill, the pear/raspberry drink was identified as “PANTYD”. Someone asked:

“Pantydropper. I think it’s tacky, I don’t like to use it.”

Thank you, sir. I should have overtipped him more than I did.

Thankfully, we are taking a trivia hiatus for the summer, so hopefully I will have forgotten the sexism before I go back.

PS. Both drinks tasted damn good.

From Ta-Nehisi Coates, finishing up Confederate History Month:

[Ben Tillman in 1900:]

We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be equal to the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him. I would to God the last one of them was in Africa and that none of them had ever been brought to our shores. But I will not pursue the subject further.

Tillman didn’t give this address in the backwoods of South Carolina, he delivered it on floor of the United States Senate. The Confederacy birthed the Ku Klux Klan. It introduced [a] century of criminality and lawlessness which was tolerated for over a century. The South is still recovering.

There’s a statue of Ben Tillman in front of the South Carolina statehouse. Some of the legislators want the statue removed. The statue should stay–and they should add a plaque with excerpts from this speech.

from lines ever more unclear:

The point here is that we do not have a long history of homegrown terrorists that are immigrants or that aren’t Christian. This is not the case in Britain: where the devastating 7/7 attacks were carried out by British Muslims, all but one born in Yorkshire, the other born in Jamaica, raised in Yorkshire; and where pockets of disaffected Muslim youth are becoming increasing concerns.

This is what we do better than Europe. We welcome immigration, our national myths are about immigration. But now it seems we’re willing to give up our one advantage and cast suspicion on anybody who doesn’t look American, whatever that means.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is killing it over at the Atlantic. First critiquing , then yes, honoring confederate history month. I only linked a couple of pieces, but there’s a whole series worth reading.

But the one piece I found most weirdly interesting was David Frum’s contention that people shouldn’t get all het up over the recent insipid proclamation, when Gilmore’s 1991 proclamation offered much more praise and respect to actual named Confederates, as well as denouncing slavery. And of course, as a historian, I much preferred Gilmore’s—I don’t really care if white Virginians want to honor their Confederate ancestors. Everyone needs some myth in their life. It’s not the respect for Confederates, but the active distortion of history and the incompleteness of the story, that creates the problem.

And I thought it was really odd that David Frum, who I just now heard of after the AEI thing but who has been constructed as the last intellectual Republican, can’t see that.

Six months ago, Anil Dash predicted what would happen when Facebook let you pick your own name for http://facebook.com/yournamehere. One part read:

June 13, 4:04pm: A white guy named David discovers every variation of his name on Facebook is already taken, and finally reconsiders the condescending contempt he’s always had for black people who give their kids unique names. This tiny bit of racial reconsideration is the only unequivocally good news to come out of the Facebook Usernames launch.

Comment posted on Facebook when a white Italian-American woman who married an Asian-American man posted pictures of her infant:

How delicious!!
But seriously, where are the Italian genes?
I guess the hint of blonde.

All-White Basketball League (I implore you, do not read the comments at that link. I only read a few, but you just KNOW.)

Clint Bryant, athletic director at Augusta State University, laughed when he heard the news.

“It’s so absurd, it’s funny, but it gives you an idea of the sickness of our society” he said. “It shows you what lengths people will go to just to be mean-spirited. I think at any basketball level, no matter if it’s all black, all white, all Hispanic, all Asian or anyone else, the players should just be a basketball team.”

Don “Moose” Lewis, the commissioner of the AABA, said the reasoning behind the league’s roster restrictions is not racism.

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of “street-ball” played by “people of color.” He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans’ dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

“Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he said. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.”

Nope, no racism there. The default assumption that white players never grab their crotch? Totally not racist.

Why not define the league around whatever “fundamental basketball” is—no dunking? pass three times before every shot? Immediate ejection for grandstanding?—instead of around race, and somehow just happen to only get white players? That’s how you do racism—you gotta institutionalize it, not spell it out. Who taught these people how to hate?

And what’s the American-born about—they don’t like Steve Nash?

It is pretty funny, though. Hat tip to the twitter hashtag #allwhitehoopleague.

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