Tag: Discrimination

The Case Against Reparations

The cover story on this month’s Atlantic is a very long piece from Ta-Nehisi Coates making the case for reparations to the black community. A lot of people are responding to Coates’ article without having read it. Conservatives are bashing it for demanding money, even though it doesn’t make any specific suggestions for what reparations would mean. Liberals are praising it for things it doesn’t say.

Although I frequently disagree with Coates, I’ve found him to be an illuminating and gifted writer. He often makes me aware of things I didn’t know about, gives a perspective I haven’t considered and has a keen appreciation of history. I read through the entire article and I found it to be illuminating, thoughtful and, in many parts, enraging. But while I agree with almost all his arguments, I disagree with the ultimate conclusion.

Buckle in. This will take a while.

The case, of course, starts with the original sin of slavery. Although this field has been plowed before, it’s always worth remembering that this was not some small institution confined to a few plantation owners. This was the single most important institution in the country:

The wealth accorded America by slavery was not just in what the slaves pulled from the land but in the slaves themselves. “In 1860, slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together,” the Yale historian David W. Blight has noted. “Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy.” The sale of these slaves—“in whose bodies that money congealed,” writes Walter Johnson, a Harvard historian—generated even more ancillary wealth. Loans were taken out for purchase, to be repaid with interest. Insurance policies were drafted against the untimely death of a slave and the loss of potential profits. Slave sales were taxed and notarized. The vending of the black body and the sundering of the black family became an economy unto themselves, estimated to have brought in tens of millions of dollars to antebellum America. In 1860 there were more millionaires per capita in the Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the country.

TNC makes the argument that much of America’s ante-bellum wealth was built on slavery. This isn’t refutable. What is refutable is that much of America’s wealth today is still based on that. The United States paid a tremendous price in fire, treasure and blood to rid itself of slavery. Over $10 billion spent, which be half a trillion today. 600,000 killed, including nearly one in thirty southerners. Entire families were destroyed, entire cities burnt to the ground. The survivors lost all their “wealth” when slavery was abolished and most had to sell their property to northerners just to survive. A huge amount of lingering southern poverty can be traced to the impact of the Civil War. Whatever wealth slavery conferred on America — and it was significant — it was completely annihilated in the war between the states.

TNC then moves on to an era that was only slightly less horrible for black people — the Jim Crow era:

In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state.

The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system.

Lynchings, terror campaigns, full-scale robbery of law-abiding citizens. The State or a bank could assert that a black person owed them money and they had little recourse. Prices paid by and to blacks were determined not by the market but by whatever was decreed by a white person.

That’s been gone over before, too. But here’s where the article contributes something original and important: what happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when blacks moved north and found themselves being systematically looted when they had the temerity to try to buy a home.

… Ross was not really a homeowner. His payments were made to the seller, not the bank. And Ross had not signed a normal mortgage. He’d bought “on contract”: a predatory agreement that combined all the responsibilities of homeownership with all the disadvantages of renting—while offering the benefits of neither. Ross had bought his house for $27,500. The seller, not the previous homeowner but a new kind of middleman, had bought it for only $12,000 six months before selling it to Ross. In a contract sale, the seller kept the deed until the contract was paid in full—and, unlike with a normal mortgage, Ross would acquire no equity in the meantime. If he missed a single payment, he would immediately forfeit his $1,000 down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself.

There were no options open to black borrowers besides these predatory loans. Banks would not lend to them. When the FHA was set up to increase home ownership, it “redlined” black neighborhoods and made black people ineligible for federally-guaranteed loans. When black people went to court, the courts upheld the predatory “lenders”. Covenants were put in place that restricted blacks from certain neighborhoods. When black people bought houses in white neighborhoods without formal covenants, they would find themselves the victims of mobs who would throw stones or set their houses on fire. The ghettos of Chicago didn’t just happen; they were made. This legacy continues today. A black person who has an income similar to a white person has a much higher chance of living in a high-crime neighborhood or a poor neighborhood.

Remember that for most people, a huge percentage of their wealth is tied up in their home. When you force someone to buy a home at above market value on predatory terms then prevent them from leaving if the neighborhood goes bad, you are creating a wealth gap. And the compound effect of all of these crimes over decades is staggering.

Adhering to middle-class norms has never shielded black people from plunder. Adhering to middle-class norms is what made Ethel Weatherspoon a lucrative target for rapacious speculators. Contract sellers did not target the very poor. They targeted black people who had worked hard enough to save a down payment and dreamed of the emblem of American citizenship—homeownership. It was not a tangle of pathology that put a target on Clyde Ross’s back. It was not a culture of poverty that singled out Mattie Lewis for “the thrill of the chase and the kill.”

Discriminatory laws joined the equal burden of citizenship to unequal distribution of its bounty. These laws reached their apex in the mid-20th century, when the federal government—through housing policies—engineered the wealth gap, which remains with us to this day. When we think of white supremacy, we picture Colored Only signs, but we should picture pirate flags.

The thing is, even with all these things I fundamentally disagree with the conclusion: that America’s wealth and prosperity was largely built on things like slavery and discrimination. I would contend that America’s wealth was built despite these things.

What would America be like today had there been no Jim Crow, no racial covenants, no KKK, no redlining, no slavery. Let’s posit, for the moment, that black people would be in far better economic shape and have more wealth. Would that mean white people were poorer? Would it mean America was poorer? No. American would be richer. Anti-poverty spending would be lower, crime would be lower, white flight and the massive expenses of commuting might never have have happened. White businesses would have 10% more customers, 10% more business partners, 10% more distributors. White customers would have 10% more businesses. White workers would have 10% more employers. Slavery didn’t build America. The South may have been rich on paper before the war but conditions in the South were appalling. John Adams described it as so poor it was like visiting a different country. To this day, the South is poorer than the North. Past institutionalized racism and the economic destruction it wrought is a huge reason for that. There are parts of the South were half the population is black. Imagine if that half were prosperous. Redlining and contract mortgage didn’t build Chicago, it nearly destroyed it.

Racism did make black people poor, yes. But it does not follow that it made white people rich. It made specific white people — like slave owners or contract lenders — wealthy. But the overall impact on the country was a huge negative. It’s like the thieves of the recent financial crisis. They got rich. But the country suffered.

Think about what happened when women entered the work force. Our economy surged. Our wealth increased. For men as well as women. If black poverty vanished overnight, black people would obviously be the biggest beneficiaries. But white people would benefit too.

Still … it’s hard to read TNC’s compilation of events and not conclude that black people spent the better part of two centuries being systematically robbed and abused by their government and by their society. It’s hard not to be weighted down by the sense of injustice. So does that justify reparations?

Well … in some cases, yes. I do not object to reparation paid to specifically wronged individuals by the specific people or agencies who did them harm. It’s the same reason I didn’t oppose reparations to Japanese people who were interred during World War II. Those claims were paid out on a case by case basis to people who were wronged, not to same vague group who was wronged by some other vague group. I did not object to reparations being paid to the families of Tuskegee victims or the survivors of the Rosewood riots.

But what about larger reparations? Would that not rectify some of our country’s racial wrongs? Well, that hinges on one of the biggest problems with Coates’ article: it basically ends its argument in the 1970’s. In doing so, it ignores one additional huge atrocity visited upon the black community — the War on Drugs. The War has turned inner cities into war zones. Black drug users are far more likely to be busted and far more likely to go to prison for being busted than white drug users. Black kids are more likely to get arrested for crimes and more likely to get harsh punishment for them.

But more importantly for this specific argument: we’ve been doing reparations for a while now. We haven’t call them “reparations” specifically, but the aim was to ameliorate the damage of two centuries of racism. And the results have ranged from nothing (when black people have been lucky) to disaster (when they haven’t been). Johnson’s War on Poverty was cast in explicitly racial terms. The result, many believe, was a small reduction in poverty at the cost of the death of the African-American family.* Urban renewal and “job creation” efforts have been heavily targeted at inner cities. The result of these policies was the wholesale destruction of inner city economies to the benefit of wealthy outside interests. A few years ago, racial discrimination by the Department of Agriculture was addressed with the Pigford settlements. That “worked” in that the only negative effect was some corruption.

(*Liberals like to jump up and down because poverty fell from 20% to 12% after the Great Society and black poverty fell from 40% to 25%. This ignores two things: the biggest reductions were at the beginning and right after Bill Clinton’s much-hated welfare reform, and; poverty rates fell faster in the years before the Great Society. Pre-1960 data is difficult to pin down because the government only began officially measuring poverty in 1959, which allows liberals to claim the Great Society cut poverty while ignoring everything that happened before then. The best numbers I can find indicate that poverty fell from 30 to 20% between the post-war era and the Great Society and black poverty went from 70-80% down to 40%. Whatever the exact numbers, it is clear that poverty was already plunging when the Great Society was foisted on us.)

Moreover, TNC hinges his argument on housing policy. But the last forty years saw a huge push to revise our housing policy and make credit easier for the poor and minorities to obtain. The result was a financial crisis that made things far worse for poor people and minorities, that destroyed what little wealth they had … again. TNC notes that subprime mortgages were heavily targeted at minority communities — even for those who had good enough credit to get prime loans. That’s true, but subprime was a small section of a massive swindle, aided and abetted by our own government’s “ownership society” policies. And Wells Fargo, for one, did pay reparations for that. And should have.

Take a look at this article, which uses hilarious Length of the Mississippi arguments to figure out what slaves were owed. It then suggests several possibilities for reparations including the idea that money be made available for investments in businesses. But we’ve tried that. You can look the desolate economies of our inner cities to see the result.

And that brings me to my conclusion: my main problem with reparations is that I don’t think it will solve anything. Giving black people a bunch of money may provide a temporary infusion of cash. But it will not solve the problems that truly plague the black community — poor education, few job opportunities, mass incarceration, broken families. When affirmative action first sprang up in college admissions, I predicted it would fail because it did not address the real problems that were lowering black admissions to college — broken families, poor public schools, high crime. It attempted a fix at the back end, like curing lung cancer by giving someone cough medicine. Affirmative action has faded but what has sprung up is almost worse: a massively leveraged financial system which encourages more and more people to go to college but leaves many of them worse off financially (and, as usual, blacks are getting the worst end of the deal.)

Let’s look at other instances of reparations. Presidents Reagan and Bush eventually paid out reparations to Japanese Americans interred during World War II. TNC cites the precedent of Israelis who demanded reparations from Germany and got them. That may sounds like a precedent for reparations for blacks. But … does anyone think that the prosperity of the Japanese-Americans or Israelis was created by reparations? Does anyone think they would currently be poor without them? Israel grew before reparations and grew after them and still has a strong economy 50 years later. Even with most generous assessment, reparations contributed only 15% to their economic growth over the decade of reparations and that at a time when Israel had minimal infrastructure to build wealth with. That is not nearly equal to the chasm that exists in our inner cities.

In both cases, the reparations were a moral judgement, not a way to ameliorate poverty. Paying reparations might make some feel better. It might assuage some lingering white guilt. But in the end, the impact of it on the black community will diminish and disappear. Just like when we sink billions of dollars into public schools. Or when we sink billions into “big projects” and “job creation” in our inner cities. We’ve tried this. Unless you are talking about the most extreme reparations (such as the suggestion by one wag that the government simply give money to black people every year to make up the difference in income between them and white people), this will be a temporary infusion that will go away very quickly.

The solutions to black poverty — to poverty in general — are far more complex. Black poverty may throw its roots in racism. But it has been compounded over the years by government malfeasance and cultural decay. That can not be fixed with money. We’re already spending hundreds of billions trying to. It can only be fixed by giving people the means to make money — through education and opportunity — or by stopping doing the things that hobble them — crony capitalism, the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. That will take time, possibly generations. It will involve changing the way we do things in many ways. But that would be real reparations, not another liberal silver bullet.

In any case, you should read Coates’ article. Not because of the conclusions he reaches but because of the relentless documenting of the African American experience. It is long and depressing but a must-read. The racial history of this country does not define us. Nor does it justify whatever policy some Lefty think tank comes up with. But it should not be forgotten.

(TL;DR version: there is no question that economic destruction has been visited upon the black community by institutionalized racism from the early days of this country up to the present day. However, as is often the case with liberals, TNC correctly identifies the problem but identifies the wrong solution. Reparations, even if you accept the idea of collective guilt, aren’t working and will not solve the problems that ail black America.It will only put them off. Again.)

Jim Crow in Pink?

Last week, the Kansas House passed a bill that would basically provide legal protection for religion-based anti-gay discrimination.

On Wednesday, the Kansas House passed HB 2453, which offers legal protection to individuals and businesses that refuse service for same-sex couples, specifically those looking to get married. Under the bill’s language, individuals, businesses and government employees would be immune from legal reprisal for refusing service if they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing customers’ orientation. HB 2453 was approved by the Kansas House 72-49 and is set to move on to the state senate.

Note: it has died in the Senate. For now. Religious institutions themselves have always enjoyed a ministerial exception to anti-discrimination law, an exception that SCOTUS recently upheld 9-0. This law and others like it would be the first to grant the exception to private individuals and businesses.

According to the text of the bill, HB 2453 would prevent any legal action against groups or individuals who “provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits” to couples.

This measure was cast by its supporters as a move against discrimination. Specifically, discrimination against those with religious objections to homosexuality. In fact, a number of states are now considering these measures.

A few thoughts:

First, I don’t buy the idea that anti-LGBT-discrimination laws are themselves a discrimination against people of faith. There is no law that forbids someone with anti-gay beliefs from living anywhere or doing business with anyone. They aren’t confined to anti-gay ghettos. They are being forced to do business with someone whose lifestyle they object to. That’s bad enough; let’s not pretend that not being allowed to discriminate is a form of persecution.

Supporters of the bill argue that they are being forced to “celebrate” a union they see as immoral. But Kristin Powers picks that part:

It’s probably news to most married people that their florist and caterer were celebrating their wedding union. Most people think they just hired a vendor to provide a service. It’s not clear why some Christian vendors are so confused about their role here.

Whether Christians have the legal right to discriminate should be a moot point because Christianity doesn’t prohibit serving a gay couple getting married. Jesus calls his followers to be servants to all. Nor does the Bible call service to another an affirmation.

Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, the largest church in Kansas, pointed out to me what all Christians should know: “Jesus routinely healed, fed and ministered to people whose personal lifestyle he likely disagreed with.” This put Jesus at odds with religious leaders, who believed they were sullied by associating with the “wrong” people.

Now you can argue that laws forbidding discrimination against gays violate people’s right to freedom of commerce and association. I’m sympathetic to that argument. I have never been completely comfortable with anti-discrimination legislation in the context of private transactions. I think it was justified in the context of the Civil Rights movement for reasons explored by James Joyner: the institutionalized government-supported edifice of racial discrimination was so massive that it was unfair to expect blacks to patiently wait for generations until “market forces” brought it down (assuming they ever did).

Is the institutionalized discrimination against gays that severe? Gays would probably say it is; but I’m not convinced. Take the recent case in New Mexico: the court decided that a photographer could be forced to work a gay wedding despite her moral objection the union. Does she not have the right to decide what and whom she will photograph? And, as a purely practical matter, do you want your wedding photographed by someone who thinks what you’re doing is wrong? Are there no wedding photographers who will do a gay service? When my dad was growing up in Atlanta, there were people who wouldn’t do Jewish events. But there were enough who would that it wasn’t a problem. Must we decree universal tolerance?

All that having been said, the idea of encapsulating a “right to discriminate” into law makes me nervous. If someone proposed a law to give people a right to discriminate against interracial couples, it wouldn’t fly. If someone proposed giving Catholic photographers the right to discriminate against couples who were remarrying after a divorce, it wouldn’t fly. If Muslims petitioned to be allowed to refuse to service non-Muslims, we’d be screaming about sharia. But because it is gays and because not being allowed to discriminate is now being cast a form of oppression, these bills are popping up all over the place.

Religion can not be a duck blind for bad laws because, very quickly, almost anything will be swept into it. There were many people who cast slavery in religious terms, arguing that God himself had wrought slavery because black people were inferior and because they were being punished for the sin of Ham. Jim Crow segregation was supported in religious terms for the same reasons. Pharmacists claim they shouldn’t have to fill prescriptions for birth control if they have a moral objection. Economic issues are frequently cast in religious terms — from both right and left.

I really feel like we’re opening a can of worms here. Indeed, several bills have been hastily withdrawn and rewritten because people realized they were far too broad (Arizona’s law, for example, could have been interpreted to let non-Christians refuse service to Christians). How does someone show that their refusal is based in religion and not just bigotry? Does this only apply to Christians or does it apply to Muslims as well? What if people have religious objections to re-marriage or marriage after pre-marital sex or inter-religious or inter-racial marriage? And how far does this extend? Can you refuse to rent an apartment to a gay person because he might bring his gay partner over? Can you refuse to serve a gay couple in your restaurant because giving them a salad would be “celebrating” their union? Can government grants be withdrawn from businesses that invoke this religious exemption? These are all issues that will come up if these bills pass.

(The gripping hand here is that the Republicans have to know that — whatever your opinions of the laws’ merits — these laws will never hold up in the courts. The courts have traditionally upheld anti-discrimination legislation even in private transactions. At the very least, no lower court will allow this; it would have to go to SCOTUS. Given that, it’s possible this is all just pandering to the conservative base. If so, it’s stupid pandering. Poll after poll shows that young people — the future voters — are much more supportive of gay equality and that anti-gay legislation turns them away from the GOP. The fraction of Americans who oppose gay marriage has been falling steadily for ten years. In red state Missouri, thousands of people — including many devout Christians — turned out to support Michael Sam against the Westboro Baptist “Church”. So the GOP might gain something in the short term. But they will lose more in the long term. Still … I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt and assume there’s an actual principle behind this.)

The more I turn this over, the more I think it’s a bad idea. No matter how much supporters dress these laws up up as a religious freedom bills, they are still designed to give official legal protection to discrimination. I don’t think that’s a place we want to go, not unless you’re willing to challenge the entire basis of anti-discrimination law. It’s one thing to defend people’s freedom to transact business with whom they wish; it’s a bit more to provide official sanction for a very specific discrimination.

I bet they got this backwards…

And it is not so much that the study’s findings that male jurors are more likely to find overweight women guilty is accurate, but that dudes will give a good looking female a lot more leeway.

New Haven, Conn. (CBS CONNECTICUT) – Male members of a jury are more likely to find a defendant guilty if the accused person is an overweight female.

According to a recent study by Yale University psychologists, male – and not female – jurors are also more inclined to believe that a fat woman is a repeat offender who had malicious intent.

The researchers gathered a group of 471 pretend peers of varying body sizes and described to them a case of check fraud. They also presented them with one of four images—either a large man, a lean man, a large woman, or a lean woman—and identified the person in the photograph as the defendant.

I think I woukld like a closer look a data, but I would not be surprised that there is visual bias. Or maybe every guy has a big-boned chick – is that PC or what? – that wronged them, and they just know better? I don’t know, bI am not inclined to think a female is guilty just because she isn’t attractive unless she also is tatooed up & down with gang symbols, is smoking a fat stogie, cnstantly cracks her knuckles, and has a hoarser voice than James Earl Jones. Or maybe if they are me they just see the costs to Obamacare they will have to pay. But then they should also be pissed at overweight dudes. Or is it about the fact females outlive dudes and will cost more?

Yeah, what a dilema. It does look like big girls are not going to get much love in progressive CT.

The Elizabeth Warren debacle in MA.

In Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Warren is yet again running against Scott Brown for the seat vacated when Ted Kennedy was called to the matt to explain the Mary Jo Kopechne incident along with a slew of other such abhorrent things, there is a big brouhaha going on that seem to put the whole affirmative action movement into perspective. The gist of this unfolding scandal is that before Warren, and I should add her husband in a two-for deal, was hired by Harvard, she identified herself as a double minority – a female and a Native-American – but that distinction quickly vanished once she was part of the Harvard staff. The left has focused, as expected, on the angle that the issue is whether she had the right to claim that status or not.

At issue is that Warren is reputed to be, depending on how you break it down, 1/32 American Indian. Keep in mind that while some point out that this claim is based on a number that assumes that the ancestor she claims this minority status from had to be 100% Native, or the possibility that the Native-American was a second wife, a practice that was common back then, this is still not the focus discussion, even when this is exactly what the left hopes to make it. That argument they can win or use to distract from the bigger issue.

But Warren being Native-American or Native-American enough, is not what is at issue here: what is, is the thing that paints the whole Affirmative Action movement in a dark light, and that is the fact that Warren identified herself as Native-American while that served her career advancement purpose, but quickly dropped that once she got the Harvard hire. The story has morphed from the ludicrous “it was done by others, and not me” line off defense her campaign first tried to hide behind, to the even more insane and disgusting “I used it to make friends” meme, with the usual suspects in the LSM and academia working double time to make the absolutely unbelievable and stupid case that universities, the most diversity driven cesspools of affirmative action, in this classic affirmative action case did none of that, and that she was hired because she was just that awesome. That claim by Harvard and the many others is easily debunked by just looking at the facts.

What we have here is a case of a true believer, a collectivist twit of the highest order, gaming the affirmative action system, and who cares if she was doing it within the boundaries of what was allowed or not, and then pretending that the system isn’t a huge scam. That’s the big story. Warren got tenure at Harvard because she was a double whammy for their affirmative action compliance program, a woman and a Native-American collectivist to boot, and there is no argument the left can make to deny that. Then, when she had arrived, she conveniently dropped her Native-American bonafides because she didn’t need them out there anymore. After all, someone could then use those to point out she was an affirmative action hire. Of course, the admission that the system is rigged and totally abused isn’t something the left wants highlighted. I expect that amongst the intelligentsia in leftist politics and the LSM some will keep pretending, to the bitter end, that the mean right is just picking on this innocent woman – War on women! – while others, once the heat gets too close for comfort and endangers the whole AA scam by making people question how often this practice happens, will throw her under the bus, pretending to be offended that she gamed the system, as if the system isn’t constantly gamed and totally arbitrary, anyway.

We shouldn’t let the left’s credentialed elite get away with this and hammer home how stupid and worthless the whole AA scheme really is. Even in blue MA, I think, the revelation that the elite are abusing the system that’s supposed to provide social justice, thus providing nothing of the sort, will have consequences. If it causes this pseudo-marxist’s campaign to implode that’s good, but if it finally provides enough people with the knowledge of how insanely stupid and illogic the vile AA scheme is, and then undermines it’s credibility and helps us do away with the whole leftist scheme, it is even better. I wonder how many better qualified people, some even other Native-Americans got shafted because of Warren. No wonder Native-Americans are pissed at her while the LSM and the left, if you will pardon the expression, are circling the wagons.

Racism can only come from honkeys

At least that is the message we are now getting, loud and clear, from incident after incident, where the victims are attacked for clearly racial reasons, just like this case in Philly, the city of brotherly love:

THREE JUVENILES accused of assaulting a cabdriver and his passenger in Center City Saturday night while shouting racial slurs will not be charged with a hate crime, the District Attorney’s Office said yesterday.

The teens, who are black, were not charged with hate crimes because there was no evidence that the assault had been motivated by the race of the victims, who are white, said Tasha Jamerson, D.A. spokeswoman. Just shouting racial epithets during the commission of a crime doesn’t rise to the level of ethnic intimidation, she said.

Can you imagine the reverse being dismissed as non racial? Some white teens beat up a black whatever, use racial language, and the people that straddled us with the bullshit racial double standards come out and tell us straight faced that it is not clear the attack was motivated by racial reasons? BTW, this is NOT the first of these kinds of attacks. A clear pattern is emerging, and the message is frightening to me: basically we are getting confirmation that our suspicions that all the crusade to deal with their ever prevailing notion of rampant racism against minorities, was not really about getting rid racism, but was a cover to propagate racism in one direction.

“They just didn’t have that in this case,” she said. “If they had somebody who, two blocks before, heard them say, ‘We’re going to beat somebody up because they’re white, brown or purple,’ it might be different.”

How likely are they to apply this same standard when the reverse occurs? Historically the same people now telling us there was no evidence of racism have constantly and consistently impugned anyone else, to the point that they made it obvious they had the ability to read minds or something, when the race baiting machine stood to gain. I guess there is no gain here admitting that this case, which doesn’t fit the narrative, actually is racism pure and simple.

Watch these teens get off with neary a slap. Don’t be surprised if they all take it to mean they have a free hand to do more of this either. That’s exactly the message these people want send.

What’s a Little Harassment Between Friends

David Greenberg has a useful take on the Herman Cain business. He talks about the changing of sexual mores in politicis over the last fifty years — how extramarital affairs went from unspoken private behavior to very public and ruinous scandals; how divorce went from politically ruinous to acceptable; how homosexual behavior could once have destroyed a politician but is a smaller problem now. The relevance to Cain:

It may be hard today to imagine that sexual harassment could be considered anything but proof of a serious moral deficiency. The crime has appropriately moved from a widely tolerated practice to one whose gravity is dinned into the heads of every employee in every workplace. But the behaviors that fall under the rubric vary widely, and some may result not from malice but from the inability of men accustomed to one set of rules to adjust to new realities. Certain kinds of flirtation deemed unacceptable today could perhaps one day be regarded as relatively harmless. At the least, in this case, as in the others, we should halt the rush to judgmentalism. We shouldn’t assume that our own culture’s newly developed notions of sexual right and wrong are timeless and absolute.

Bill James once noted that social progress often comes in the guise of its opposite. In the early 90’s we had an explosion of sexual harassment scandals — Clinton, Clarence Thomas, tailhook, you name it. But what had changed was not men’s behavior. What had changed was that women stopped putting up with it. For whatever social or economic reason, the early 90’s was when millions of women said, “You know, I really don’t like it when you rub my shoulders like that at work.”

For many men, especially of Cain’s age, this was a radical shift in the landscape. Rush Limbaugh wrote a whole chapter about behavior in radio studios that would now be considered harassment. He wondered why women suddenly didn’t like it. What he missed was that women had never liked it; they had tolerated it.

We don’t know the details, of course, but the timing of the complaints makes me wonder if the same thing happened to Herman Cain. It is likely that the way he had acted around women didn’t change, but what was acceptable and unacceptable did. It’s also possible, as he claims, that his behavior wasn’t harassing but got swept up when the pendulum swung too far. As numerous people have pointed out, the settlement amounts are “nuisance suit” level.

What’s really critical is whether Cain changed his behavior or whether this behavior has continued. I’m willing to cut politicians some slack on past behavior or beliefs. But not if it is reflective of who they are today.