Race in America

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Race in America

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 27, 2008, 7:25 pm

OK. I'm posting this topic here mainly because I know it doesn't belong in GD and I sort of need to vent, and also sort of want to talk about this (although I'm admittedly a bit hesitant to bring up this topic on the internet).

So last night a friend and I were at a show until late, and we went out for a midnight dinner afterwards - and that's when we saw the results from the primary. I was very excited to see Obama's win (see the thread about Hilary if you want background on that...), but our conversation turned to the race issue, and specifically the "Bradley effect" as well as this idea that by winning over more black voters, Obama could be simultaneously alienating whites.

I have a really hard time with this idea, mainly because it doesn't make sense to me. That someone would allow their voting decision to be swayed by who else was voting for that person? Don't you want the candidate you like to be the one getting the most votes - from anybody? The claim being made by some pundits is that the more support Obama gets from the black voters, the more white voters will be turned off from him. Huh?

This sort of extends to a more personal conversation I just had a few minutes ago. Asking someone whom I care very much about what he thought of the SC results, the response I got was very unexpected. Basically, the comment was something along the lines of, "I think Obama is going to win, and he's going to destroy this country." When I asked why, or what he meant, he said because Obama is black, and went on to express some really backwards-ass ideas about black people. Note that this person didn't say anything which reflected any actual understanding of politics or the issues, or anything else even remotely intelligent.

I guess the question I want to ask is... how do you even reason with someone like that? How can you talk to someone with such ignorant ideas? And how do you handle it when someone you care about is such a blatant jackass? (I'm trying not to be specific, but this is someone who I can't just "decide" not to have anything to do with anymore - which would be my general response to someone who said these kinds of things.)

I know this is a huge topic to let out of the bag, but since we did the sexism/women issue about Hilary, maybe we can try to (respectfully? Probably a pipe dream, I know...) flesh out why race is even still an issue here in this country? There's been a lot of skirting of this issue in this group, but I don't think we've directly asked these questions - maybe because we're afraid to find out just what attitudes are still floating around? Or maybe because we know those attitudes are there, and it's disturbing to face up to them?

Ultimately, I wonder how successful a deliberative democracy can be when such ignorance is at the root of peoples' decisions. That's a whole different discussion, I know, and the issue of discourse failure is one that actually really interests me. But this particular form of it is just so much more pernicious, and seems to me to be so much more harmful to what we're supposedly doing, and this conversation I just had... it really just blew me away, because I think somewhere in the back of my head, I knew there were people who think like that, but suddenly encountering it right in front of me - I just didn't think I actually knew anyone who was so clearly incapable of independent thought - and I say that because all of his justifications (yes, this person tried to justify his racism to me) were such blatantly ignorant stereotypes which he clearly had just heard people say and then decided to repeat, without applying any critical thinking whatsoever. How do you combat willful ignorance?

edited to add: Sorry, I realize this post is a rambling, confused jumble of thoughts. Hopefully I managed to communicate what I was trying to get across.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 7:37 pm

In my experience those types of comments, attitudes, judgments, etc. are the result of both ignorance and a willful lack of investigation. I am usually speechless when confronted by blatant racism, sexism, classism, etc. and I withdraw from the conversation because I feel so passionately the opposite that I can not carry on a civil discourse. My niece's husband has some of those characteristics and I love him a lot. So, we just plain agree to not talk about stuff. His wife feels much as I do and she tells him it is not worth the pain of passionate disagreements to discuss the matters. I respect her decision and we talk about all the other stuff in life: football, traffic, weather, do it yourself house improvements, cooking, etc. etc.

I really wish I had more patience and clarity so I could discuss these issues without the rancor but I have not yet learned that level of equanimity. I have however learned to not jump on my own judgment wagon and feel hateful towards these people.

I feel so grateful that the USA has finally gotten to the point where we can have serious candidates who are not the white men of our history. I expect this campaign to be very vigorous all around and some passions will be enflamed. I am going to try to stay with the thinking people.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 8:13 pm

This reminded me of my younger daughter a few years ago, at age 4, faced with someone commenting that her best friend was black. They'd been best friends for a year and she'd never considered noticing that there was a racial difference. She was quite flustered trying to process in here mind that a difference existed and figure out why that was relevant. Several years later, she has, unfortantely, been acculturated to the idea of a difference arising from race, and a barrier between races.

I suspect race has become a dramatically less important issue today than it was 20 or 40 years ago, particularly in areas where some degree of real integration has existed for a significant time. And that is likely part of the reason Obama draws best in a younger demographic. For older folks, the reality of race as an unavoidable difference and barrier between people is much more real because of the degree of segregation that existed in America as they grew up. When I worked on Jesse Jackson's campaign in 1984, the campaign at the beginning was and couldn't but be about race. There was a brief and wonderful moment when Mondale sputtered and suddenly Jackson started getting covered as something other than the black candidate and everything changed. That was immediately before Jackson's "Hymietown" comment threw it all away and the moment passed.

It's hard to fathom the persistence of racism; and racism has certainly diminished in America but will die very hard. When the Jackson campaign was happening, I think the way to deal with it was confrontation - it was something significant that needed to be slapped down. Today, I think treating people expressing such views as showing signs of insanity, severe feeble-mindedness, and other infirmities may be the best approach. It shouldn't be acceptable in any setting, but it also shouldn't be so strong anymore that it needs to be made the focus of attention.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 9:51 pm

Racism is certainly alive and well in the United States, but I don't pretend to understand it. Ultimately, irrational behavior is not going to be easily comprehended rationally. I (at the moment) live in a part of the country where racism is everywhere. Within walking distance of my house, I can find signs where the "No Negroes Allowed" is only lightly painted over, literally and figuratively. When people talk about going "N----- hunting," you aren't completely sure if they mean it. Nobody has told some of these people that the Civil War is over. I expect that the vote here will pretty much go on racial lines--for both races. See it, yes; understand it, no.

I would have loved to see Condie Rice run. I think that she represents someone that Hillary and Obama are not: that is, someone qualified for the office based on merit.

tammikuu 27, 2008, 10:44 pm

I would agree with A_musing that racial attitudes are moderated in younger generations. Although it is now unacceptable to be blatantly racist in public, that doesn't mean everyone's attitude has changed. Just look at the venom about immigration – it is much more acceptable to be openly hostile to dark-skinned people when you can call them illegal.

My work takes me into a variety of industries, all up and down the West Coast, and I work with people at all levels of the organization. I am not surprised when uneducated people in low-pay/low-status jobs spout garbage – they have so little, and they perceive that any gain by some other group will come at their expense. What is really appalling is the number of educated people who share these attitudes. They don’t say anything in public, but I can’t count the number of times someone has launched into a diatribe in the middle of a private meeting or a dinner. Obviously they feel confident that I will share those opinions. Of course, when I am dealing with clients, I can't be confrontational. The most I can say is that I don’t share those views.

I grew up in a rural area of the northeastern US, and literally never saw an actual live "non-white" person until I got to college, but my Dad (WWII generation) was extremely hostile to a wide variety of racial and ethnic groups. I couldn't understand how he could have all of these bizarre ideas about whole groups of people he didn't even know, and we had some furious arguments over it.

He had been a lifelong Democrat, but eventually changed to Republican, probably after 1968. We used to watch the conventions together. I can remember him pointing to a Democratic delegation from one of the more diverse states and saying, "See, that's what the Democrats have become...a bunch of (obscenity) (obscenity) (racial slur)." Of course that started another argument, but he was convinced that he wanted to associate with people who “looked like” the Republicans, i.e. overwhelmingly white. Now, I don’t consciously share any of those opinions, but I do have to wonder…is it possible I internalized enough of that venom that an adverse experience or two could change my attitude?

tammikuu 27, 2008, 10:45 pm

Obama is definitely an appealing candidate. When I saw his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, I was convinced I was looking at the first African American president. I would like to think that we have had enough African Americans performing well in high profile positions, that race should no longer be an issue. But I’m not sure that is true. In any case, it takes more than speeches…just ask Mario Cuomo.

Right now, any of the 3 remaining Democrats would appear to have a pretty good chance in the general election. But pollsters have documented their problems in trying to get accurate responses when one candidate is white and the other is not.

Older voters, who turn out in higher percentages, have probably internalized a lot of racist attitudes they might not admit in public. It doesn’t take much in the way of dirty tricks to sway those voters, as in the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina or the 2006 Senate race in Tennessee.

Already Obama is at the top of the internet rumor mill, mostly due to allegations he is Muslim. He isn’t, and it shouldn’t matter anyway, but it obviously does. I have noticed that Obama changes his speech patterns when he feels relaxed. Several white voters have commented to me that he sometimes sounds like a preacher at a revival. To the people who have said this, that comment is negative on two counts: he sounds “too black” and “too religious”.

Gore and Kerry should have been in the white house, but they were both too genteel to fight back when the filth started to fly. Some posters here have expressed an interest in having Obama thoroughly tested during the primaries, to be sure there are no surprises that can be sprung after the nominations are concluded. Others have referenced the need for sharp elbows as long as Karl Rove is still on the scene. We know who excels at that! Right now, I would like to see Edwards win a state or two, to keep the contest open for a while longer.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 5:27 am

Obama is excellent at mouthing meaningless platitudes that keep his base satisfied, and that should be enough to take him to the White House. He appears authentic, and people yearn for authenticity.

On race: race is real. That's where you have to start.

Look around the world, and tell me where different ethnic groups live together in harmony.

Africa? I don't know if the news from Kenya is reported in the US newspapers. If not, Google on it. Try the phrase "machete-wielding youths". (I know, it's all the White Man's Fault.)

Europe: look at Serbia, where a large -- majority? -- of the population support rabid nationalists. And they have something to be rabid about, since their cousins in Kosovo are being murdered and driven out by the lovely Albanians.

Ordinary people know that race and ethnicity is real, regardless of pious liberal protestations to the contrary. They know that, often, having to live near other ethnic groups than their own is a recipe for trouble and unhappiness.

White fear of Blacks in America today is caused mainly by the bad behavior of a significant section of the Black community. For example, Blacks are 13% of the population but commit a majority of the murders. Other ethnic groups (including Blacks from abroad) who come to America flourish. This cannot be said for many American Blacks, whose behavior keeps them poor. Most whites (okay, not a certain type of liberal ideologue) know this. Probably most Blacks know it too.

Intellectuals who are able to face this fact are also, generally, able to judge each individual on his own merits. Or so I would hope.

We do shy away from race, but we should not. We have to live together. Pretending not to notice bad aspects of reality is usually a very bad idea, because it prevents us from acting intelligently to change it.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 6:47 am

but our conversation turned to the race issue, and specifically the "Bradley effect" as well as this idea that by winning over more black voters, Obama could be simultaneously alienating whites.

What evidence do you have that this is in fact happening? If it is, you may have a point. If it is not the rest of your post is moot.

I have a really hard time with this idea, mainly because it doesn't make sense to me. That someone would allow their voting decision to be swayed by who else was voting for that person?

Perhaps you can also answer this question: What was the racial breakdown in the SC primary? As in, what percent of the African-American vote when to Obama vs. Clinton vs. Edwards (though I guess he's now done for all practical purposes), and then what percent of the white vote went to each of the candidates? I guess if your thesis holds we should see the African-American vote split between the candidates and the white vote clustered on one of them. I went looking for this and couldn't find it.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 7:21 am


When you say "whose behavior keeps them poor" after focusing on the higher rate of violent crime for African Americans, you are suggesting a single explanation for black poverty. That, of course, is intellectually facile, but it may be you're making a political rather than intellectual statement. There is a certain brand of conservative demagoguery that does this habitually.

Does this mean you don't think discrimination plays a part at all? Or that the state of the inner city schools has anything to do with it?

tammikuu 28, 2008, 7:23 am

Can't post a whole lot now, as I have to get ready for work, but replying to 8 gmork - first of all, *I* have no evidence this is happening. I was commenting on the fact that this is what the pundits are saying. My point was that I have a hard time accepting it as a real phenomenon, although I'm starting to think I'm being naive.

As far as the racial breakdown in SC, black voters make up a majority of the democratic base there, and Obama received close to 80% of the black vote on Saturday.

Be back for actual discussion a bit later this morning.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 8:03 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 28, 2008, 8:48 am

PHJ: I have a really hard time with this idea, mainly because it doesn't make sense to me. That someone would allow their voting decision to be swayed by who else was voting for that person?

GMORK: Perhaps you can also answer this question: What was the racial breakdown in the SC primary? As in, what percent of the African-American vote when to Obama vs. Clinton vs. Edwards (though I guess he's now done for all practical purposes), and then what percent of the white vote went to each of the candidates? I guess if your thesis holds we should see the African-American vote split between the candidates and the white vote clustered on one of them. I went looking for this and couldn't find it.

ME: I think Gmork was trying to make the point in a roundabout way that there is a sizable bias of blacks to vote for Obama, which does nothing to disprove Ms. Jerk's points. There are many factors influencing any decision; one that was clearly in play in South Carolina was that African Americans are excited about the potential first election of a black President (Bill Clinton aside). But, the point made was that there may still be SOME white voters, perhaps a small number but still a number that could affect the election, who would not vote for a candidate because he was supported by African-Americans. Of course, such voters would almost always be predisposed against the Democratic candidate, but might be more so with Sen. Obama, since it is starting to look like he will pull out a meaningfully larger black vote.

Query: since it does look like Obama may pull out black voters who do not always vote (based solely on S. Carolina's turnout), and since there are voters like me out there who like both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama and may well decide between them based on my assessment of which is electable, should I not consider that extraordinary black support when I'm thinking about voting for Obama? How different is that calculus from the calculus PHJ is talking about, where the decision is made based on racial fear or hatred of the other parties supporters?

tammikuu 28, 2008, 8:08 am

Eh. I thought I had some numbers relating to the racial breakdown of the South Carolina Democratic primary, but I didn't look at them closely.

Brain work slowly from spending all night and morning looking for a new job and reading Mises.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 8:55 am

You folks looking for a breakdown of results from SC:


Note that there are 5 pages of this--on the 1st page is a breakdown by race, and on the 4th a breakdown by race and gender.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:12 am

Obama has Secret Service protection. I hope they are the best and that there are enough of them. For every X number of people who yap mindlessly, there will be some nutball who will act on his slope-browed racisim.

I suspect, though, that any attack by a racist nutball will be among the easiest for the Secret service to thwart.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:10 am

I find it interesting that I haven't heard so much as a whisper in this thread that racism is not a one-way street.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:14 am

That's because whites can only be racist. Duh. No argument necessary.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:15 am

Whites can only be racist? Hm.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:24 am

>7 Doug1943: Doug

Obama is excellent at mouthing meaningless platitudes that keep his base satisfied

Tell me, do you know of ANY politician who doesn't do that? The Republicans are falling all over themselves to pander to the NRA and the religious fundies.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 9:24 am

#15 Well, JFK was shot by a white guy, and Gandhi was killed by a fellow-Hindu ...

tammikuu 28, 2008, 10:52 am

>20 joehutcheon: My understanding is that only two Presidential candidates (Democrat or Republican) have Secret Service protection at this time: one has lifetime protection because she was First Lady (Sen. Clinton), and the other because of threat(s) (Sen. Obama). If Senator Obama succeeds in being elected President he will face the usual hazards of the office, plus hazards from racist nutballs, I'm afraid.

That is no reason for a brave person not to proceed, of course, but I hope he will not court trouble by not listening to his protectors. We might long for another JFK, but not in all respects!

tammikuu 28, 2008, 10:53 am

I know for a fact that racism is not a one way street. Back in the seventies, my mother, who was in her late sixties at the time, myself andf my daughter lived in an apartment in a transitional area of Atlanta, out toward Greenbriar off of Campbellton rd. The process of change from one hundred percent white to one hundred percent black took about two years. Race relations in the apartment complex for the first eighteen or so months were cordial and friendly. I don't know that any close friendships were established, but for a while all went smoothly, as far as I know. After a critical mass of black folks was reached, my mother began getting phone calls warning her about allowing my daughter to play outside or there would be trouble. Some calls swore to push us out of the apartment complex, etc. After my daughter being beaten up twice on the playground by larger black kids, and after the tone of the phone calls became nastier and nastier, we finally moved.

This was during the day when the watchword was that "people who experienced racism could not be racist themselves."

These kind of events, while learned from white people are very unpleasant and figure in to attitudes of even enlightened whites toward blacks.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:02 am

What you experienced was hooliganism, simple bullying and criminal harassment. It is not racism. Racism requires the perpetrator to be in a position of power which is non-negotiable and which can not be successfully challenged by appealing to broader societal standards.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:07 am

I don't buy that. One does not have to be in power to be a bigot.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:09 am

I agree you do not have to have power to be a bigot. Bigots are just stubborn, inflexible, intolerant boors.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:14 am

And so you make a distinction? Interesting.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:15 am

#23 That's not how I see it. If someone attacks you because of the colour of your skin, that amounts to racism in my book.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:15 am

Absolutely. Some bank which refuses mortgages to people in a certain neighborhood may be practicing racism but is not necessarily a bigot.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:17 am

Not according to every dictionary I've ever consulted. That would be the RESULT of racism - the denial, that is. The actual FACT that a person is racist has to come first. If that person wasn't in a position to affect anyone else, s/he would still be a racist, just a powerless one.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:24 am

I'd add that, whilst not all bigots are racist, all racists are bigots.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 11:35 am

>14 Medellia: Thanks for that link. The stats are interesting.

>5 oregonobsessionz: We do shy away from race, but we should not. We have to live together. Pretending not to notice bad aspects of reality is usually a very bad idea, because it prevents us from acting intelligently to change it.

This I agree with. So one of the questions we have to ask is how do we change it? My first instinct is always to answer these types of questions with the answer, "education." Education has the power to bring certain groups of the population out of their undesirable socio-economic positions, it has the power to focus attentions on more productive activities, and it also has the power to discourage or work against ignorant biases. Of course, looking at the stats from Saturday which Medellia12 posted for us, you'll notice that as a "most important issue," education isn't even listed in the exit polls.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 12:03 pm

Maggie, considering that the phone calls referred to our "honky white asses" and other, nastier, racial slurs, I can tell you, once the power in the apartments shifted from the white management to black management and there were many more blacks than whites, not just a simple majority, but a large majority, black racism was totally apparent. This was not just a few confused, hateful people, this was a concerted effort to run off all the white people who hadn't already gone. I was not surprised, I had seen this behavior before in similar circumstances.

Just as racism played its part against allowing blacks to move to certain neighborhoods, so racism played its part in turning neighborhoods from mixed to black.

This was pure racism.

When you say, "Racism requires the perpetrator to be in a position of power which is non-negotiable and which can not be successfully challenged by appealing to broader societal standards." It sounds to me like you are saying in a racially biased climate only those who are among the repressive class can be racist. I agree. In the incident above the repressive, racist class was black.

I've lived in neighborhoods that were fairly evenly divided where poverty was rampant, racism was a formal position taken when in the greater community because it was expected, where everyone was mostly happy. I've lived in lily white neighborhoods where white racism was very real. Even during Jim Crow, blacks didn't want white people moving into their neighborhoods. In fact many black people had a pretty sweet deal during Jim Crow. Granted, they were still subject to white mistreatment and prejudice, but within the black community, they were successful, had power and influence, both in the black and sometimes white communities, and were happy with their circumstances for the most part. I do not advocate returning to Jim Crow as a way of making life better for African Americans. I merely suggest that nature draws us together in possible groups that provide the best benefit and protection for the group at large.

Unfortunately racism is part and parcel of every human being who ever lived. At one time it was an important survival trait, now, as with most good things, it has become a potential threat to survival and does not contribute in any positive way to life at present. That's why we are working hard at understanding it and dealing with it.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 12:20 pm

To try to get back to the point at issue, I don't know that black racism has much impact on Presidential voting patterns, unless it causes some people to just stay home. An awful lot of black folks have voted for white Presidential candidates in the past.

Does racism help or hinder Obama's campaign? I'd say the answer is yes, it does both, both because the open, vociferous racists have little to no credibility and are little more than an oversized lunatic fringe group today. I believe that lunatic fringe group actually helps Obama, since they're people who would vote against him anyways but do a good job of discrediting the people they support. On the other hand, I think there is a sizable group of people who will simply feel uncomfortable with voting for a black person without being able to verbalize it, and the real question is, will those people make a difference?

The Bradley effect is specifically the idea that a black candidate might over-poll, because people will say they support them but then fail to do so in the voting booth. I don't see conclusive evidence of that now - Hillary got great movement at the end in New Hampshire, but Obama got it in South Carolina. We'll see whether there is that kind of movement and in which direction on Super Tuesday.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 1:56 pm

By the way, I believe the Bradley effect in the past has been noted mostly in general elections, not in primaries. And this makes sense, since it would mainly effect the fence sitters, who tend to vote less heavily in primaries.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 28, 2008, 2:34 pm

Oregon: I said: "Obama is excellent at mouthing meaningless platitudes that keep his base satisfied."

And you said: "Tell me, do you know of ANY politician who doesn't do that? The Republicans are falling all over themselves to pander to the NRA and the religious fundies."

Of course! What I meant was: he is better at it than usual. (And isn't your example of Republican pandering to the NRA, etc. something else besides mouthing platitudes -- I think your objection is that the Republicans are NOT just soothing the NRA, but actually will do what the NRA wants.)

A_Musing: Is discrimination "a" part of the Black problem? Of course. And if we want to talk about the current effects on Black psychology of past discrimination, it is even more true.

But it is not the main part, by a long shot. Almost every non-Anglo Saxon group that has arrived in America has been the subject of prejudice and discrimination: the Irish, the Jews, the Chinese ... and Blacks from the Carribbean do much better than indigenous Blacks, although they are subject to the same racial prejudice.

If you want to say that the Black underclass behaves as it does because of past racism, I won't argue with you -- that is a somewhat different point.

I was making an intellectual point, which has to be turned into political understanding, by both Blacks and whites.

Black behavior is not "the" "single" explanation for Black poverty. There are almost certainly no "single" explanations for anything in society. But it is by far the most important explanation.

Here is a thought experiment: if all Blacks began to behave like Jews, they would be out of poverty in one generation.

Now ... I know this is not possible. Behavior is itself not an autonomous variable. We do and do not have free will.

A fifteen year-old Black girl in a Chicago public housing project, who has never even known someone with a steady job, who has an IQ of 85, who does not know her father, whose mother has three other children each by a different father, cannot just magically assume the attitude and work ethic of an Ashkenazi Jew or, for that matter, of a Mexican immigrant.

But, so long as she is pandered to by demagogic political leaders like Sharpton and Jackson, aided by self-hating liberals, so long will her chances of fighting her way out of her environment be all the lower.

Lefties define racism in such a way as to excuse Blacks from being guilty of it. They just cannot handle the fact that "racism" -- preference for kin as revealed by exernal genetic markers -- is deeply ingrained in all normal people.

Countries which do not have substantial ethnic minorities -- especially those which make sure they do not -- can accommodate their feelings of racial superiority without offending anyone, or without being fully aware they hold them. No one thinks of the Chinese as racist, but they are in fact very deeply racist.

In civilized societies racism can be -- not always is -- suppressed and sublimated and made subject to the standards of behavior we have come take for granted post-Enlightenment.

Thus even American white racists today do not behave like many African Blacks behave towards those not of their own tribe, because the Americans are constrained by a matrix of social attitudes and legal sanctions that discourage the violent expression of racism. When they weren't so constrained, only a couple of generations ago, their behavior could be every bit as savage and disgusting as that of the tribal warriors we see in Kenya today.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 2:42 pm

For Blacks to vote for Obama is not an example of racism or even of racial awareness.

It is reasonable to expect that Black prospects will be better under a Black President.

And it is not automatically "racism" to make advancing the prospects for your own race the main determining factor in deciding how you vote, especially if you perceive that your race has not been treated fairly by politicians of other races.

Furthermore, Obama promises -- and I believe he is sincere in this -- to govern in a way that is fair to all races. He is not campaigning as "the Black candidate".

"Black racism" is a trivial concern. In fact, a strong Black racial consciousness that channeled Black energies into self-discipline and self-improvement -- as opposed to grievance-mongering or providing an easy living for demagogic hustlers -- would be a positive development.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 2:54 pm

One of the things that irritates me, Doug, is that you say a lot of very sensible things. This is only irritating, because often couched among very reasonable statements are unwarranted assumptions and controversial, unargued-for claims.

As unwarranted assumptions go, I think you have a lot of them concerning why blacks somehow deserve or earned the racist sentiments that many hold. For example, you say in #7 that "White fear of Blacks in America today is caused mainly by the bad behavior of a significant section of the Black community." I would disagree with this. Some blacks behave badly. So do some whites. But the person who comes to the table a racist is usually inculcated into those beliefs by family members, close friends, the community they live in - and so when a black person acts badly, will attribute it to their "blackness," while when a white person does, they'll find some other aspect of the person to blame it on ("that guy's an asshole" or "stupid drunk," etc).

Similarly, the claims that black behavior is what keeps them poor is again a massive understatement of the causal chain leading up to much of the black poverty in this country. You seem to allude to an understanding of this fact in 35 & 36, but then still seem prepared to make this wide, generalizing statements which seem to me to betray your own racist tendencies.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I don't think so. You even seem to be suggesting that racism is or can be a good thing. And while I don't think that identification with a specific racial or ethnic group is always a bad thing - you're right that such identification can serve as motivation for much good - the accompaniment of hatred or fear of the "other" does not seem, to me at least, to be doing any good in that equation. Can't we have one without the other?

tammikuu 28, 2008, 3:12 pm

Um, by Blacks behaving more like Jews, you mean you want more Leon Trotskys?

Jewish advancement in this country has come by fits and starts, with considerable bias, occassional violence, and a number of extraordinary political and economic battles. Jews led and made up many of the labor unions in this country, and those unions were important to their advancement. Jews as a whole have been both plagued by and aided by the ability of many Jews to assimilate, and there have been wildly differing experiences for Eastern European and German Jews.

But, at no point in the United States (since the adoption of the Constitution - I am well aware of limits in Colonial times) has there been a legal prohibition on Jews voting or owning property.

"If Blacks began behaving like Jews...." Somehow I just choke on this sentence - there is nothing there to either convince or argue. Just a mash of self-fulfilling assumptions.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 4:40 pm

I find this whole thread very frustrating. Each of us posting a long series of paragraphs, any one of which could be the beginning of a dialog. The use of terms without adequate definition further muddies the discussion. For example, how can this statement: "White fear of Blacks in America today is caused mainly by the bad behavior of a significant section of the Black community." be true since white people have exhibited fear of black people historically dating from the very beginnings of slavery in north America. White fear of black uprisings instituted many inhumane practices which can in no way be accounted for by "black bad behavior".

My main frustration rests with not being able to consider each assumption used in the above arguments. I mean, I could... I know that... but I just don't think I will spend that much time and energy on it. I just end up thinking "this is so wrong headed". There are hundreds of thousands of examples of black people in the US of A behaving in socially responsible, productive manners. They too however are routinely experiencing racism and its pernicious damage.

tammikuu 28, 2008, 4:55 pm

"Black behavior"

I love how the behavior of certain Blacks is supposed to be representative of all blacks. Why are the uneducated, ignorant criminal, and otherwise poorly behaved whites (of which there are millions) not perceived to be typical representatives of their race?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2008, 3:19 am

>35 Doug1943: Doug

...isn't your example of Republican pandering to the NRA, etc. something else besides mouthing platitudes -- I think your objection is that the Republicans are NOT just soothing the NRA, but actually will do what the NRA wants.

I hadn't noticed Giuliani or Romney expressing much interest in the NRA agenda prior to this primary season. They, along with McCain, have also been somewhat at odds with Evangelicals in the past, but now they are courting them.

A fifteen year-old Black girl in a Chicago public housing project, who has never even known someone with a steady job, who has an IQ of 85, who does not know her father, whose mother has three other children each by a different father, cannot just magically assume the attitude and work ethic of an Ashkenazi Jew or, for that matter, of a Mexican immigrant.

But, so long as she is pandered to by demagogic political leaders like Sharpton and Jackson, aided by self-hating liberals, so long will her chances of fighting her way out of her environment be all the lower.

This must be a favorite quote. I seem to remember seeing this example several times with slightly different details, but it always leads to public flogging of "Sharpton and Jackson, aided by self-hating liberals". I suppose her mother drives a Cadillac. Would you care to offer a solution, that doesn't involve handing over public funds to ideology-driven groups?

I know a number of people who volunteer in programs intended to help people out of poverty, for example SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, ESL and adult literacy tutoring for adults, etc. Reflecting the local population, most of the recipients of these services are white, but their lack of pigment (and resulting lack of pandering by Sharpton) does little to prevent self-defeating behavior.

>37 philosojerk: philosojerk
>40 weener: weener
re "black behavior": You are both correct; unfortunately, many whites (including our friend Doug) will attribute bad behavior by any individual African American as "black behavior", while the very same behavior by an individual white would be attributed to one or more factors specific to that individual.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 5:02 am

I overheard a conversation which intregued me:

Apparently the way the pictures have been taken on Fox news Obama's skin tone is darker compared to many other channels. ?!

I'm TVless so I can't confirm on deny this, but can someone with access have a look and let me know if it's true. ?!

If it is, then as Fox are presumably against Obama, it would be reasonable to think that they at least do believe race is still important in US politics. Or maybe they are trying to increase Obama's vote share by making him look darker?

tammikuu 29, 2008, 7:43 am

>42 reading_fox: Interesting, I hadn't heard that. I'll be working from home all day today, so I'll see if I can bear FNC long enough to take a look-see for you.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 3:52 pm

On darkening skin colors: I read that the Democrats in Lousiana did the exact same thing when printing Bobby Jindal's photograph on leaflets. It could be true, but wonder about this, since it is so easy to catch, and runs against the grain of today's public morality.

I claim that "racism", or more broadly, preference for one's own ethnic group and suspicion or worse towards other ethnic groups, is almost certainly biologically-rooted. This would explain its universal character.

This does not mean it is "good", or something that we cannot, in the right circumstances, suppress. It is just a powerful natural impulse, which changes, or can change, over time. The popular Christian attitude to Jews is an example of the mutability of these feelings.

Common white attitudes towards Blacks have probably changed a lot over time. Two hundred years ago, most whites in the US probably thought of Blacks as only marginally human -- definitely deprived by nature of intelligence and the capacity for self-discipline. The very low cultural level of the sub-Saharan African population was probably critical in this, as it still no doubt is in shaping current white perceptions of Blacks.

Whether or not they feared them was probably a function of whether they lived near a lot of Black slaves. Certainly whites who fell into the hands of Blacks during one of the infrequent slave rebellions had a lot to fear. Slave rebellions, regardless of the race of the slaves, are never very pleasant things. (Moral: don't enslave people.)

Today, I suspect white attitudes are a lot more complex. There are still hard-core racists about. There are certainly people who piously say all the Politically Correct things. Most whites do not fall into that category, I reckon. They are probably committed, at some level, to the idea of fair play, while not being ignorant of racial realities. (I base this on a melange of unscientifically-collected data: discussions with relatives, the fact that a quarter of whites in not-very-liberal South Carolina voted for Barack Obama, etc.)

We need to tell the truth. More later.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 4:16 pm

>I claim that "racism", or more broadly, preference for one's own ethnic group and suspicion or worse towards other ethnic groups, is almost certainly biologically-rooted. This would explain its universal character.

Christ on a stick! Next thing you know, Doug's going to start blathering about "the other".

tammikuu 29, 2008, 4:21 pm

That's when we take him out back and shoot him.

(Right, Doug? Isn't that what the directive says?)

tammikuu 29, 2008, 4:28 pm

Yes, one big (not-so-happy, rather dysfunctional, but inescapable) family. Perhaps, Doug, the point is not this (perhaps biological?) preference that you are at pains to underline, but what the hell are we to do with it? What constitutes being a decent individual, citizen and neighbor? Not easy questions, since most of us can attest that we are less than perfect with our immediate family, let alone our extended family. (And the way those jerks treat us--don't you want to strangle them?). But there we are.

No easy answers. But the resignation of determinism is a pitfall for both left and right.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 4:57 pm

I've concluded that I learn more about different individuals posting here than the issues raised by Ms. Jerk initially. It is a frustrating discussion.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 5:05 pm

>42 reading_fox: I tried to watch some FNC today while eating lunch. I managed about 20-25 minutes before I had to change the channel or I would lose my appetite. Regardless, although they talked about Obama and the Dem's race, they never showed any video of him (or of Hilary), so I got no evidence either way on that one.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 6:16 pm

That's when we take him out back and shoot him.

That's not a very nice way to treat the other, pookie.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 6:18 pm

Sure it is. How else are we supposed to get a ConservoVan?

tammikuu 29, 2008, 6:19 pm

Krolik: Yes. How far human behavior can be changed by social institutions is, to my mind, the most interesting question in the social studies.

Although I am a good conservative and believe in Original Sin, although Darwinian Original Sin rather than the Biblical version, I am also an optimist, and I think a study of history justifies that.

I don't have time right now to reply to most of the posts above. So I will just try to inflame the liberals here by reasserting a simple proposition:

Whereas in the American South (and to a lesser degree, in the North also), up to about thirty years ago, the main problem facing Black people was the behavior of white people -- and that behavior had to be changed through various forms of coercion -- now the main problem facing Black peole is the behavior of Black people.

Fifty years ago, in Mississippi, a Black person could act like a Jew or a Sikh or a Japanese -- study hard, stay in school, come to work on time, get married before having children, save his money -- , and still be excluded from the best schools and universities and jobs, and not even be able to vote. Nor did the equal protection of the law, a basic minimum of a civilized society, cover him.

That has changed radically, dramatically. Today, if you stay in school as long as you can, work hard and be a reliable employee, don't have babies out of wedlock ... you will do as well as anyone else in this society, no matter what your race.

This does not mean you will have it easy. People with low IQs in particular, who cannot acquire a useful skill, have never had it easy, and don't have it particularly easy in the United States today.

This may well be a situation that calls for more state intervention and forced redistribution of income, as the Left always wants. But here we are talking about the Social Class question, not the race question.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 6:22 pm

PS: Could someone who is more hip than me explain this "Other" stuff? I have tried to figure it out from context, but it remains a mystery to me. Is it a translation from the French?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2008, 6:56 pm

I believe that it's simply a generalisation of how we treat those that are not like ourselves... in whatever way.

Jerzy Kosinski (A nutter if ever one existed) has this passage in The Painted Bird that might offer some illumination.

Sometimes days passed and Stupid Ludmila did not appear in the forest. Lekh would become possessed by a silent rage. He would stare solemnly at the birds in the cages, mumbling something to himself. Finally, after prolonged scrutiny, he would choose the strongest bird, tie it to his wrist and prepare stinking paints of different colors which he mixed together from the most varied components. When the colors satisfied him, Lekh would turn the bird over and paint its wings, head, and breast in rainbow hues until it became more dappled and vivid than a bouquet of wildflowers.

Then he would go into the thick of the forest. There Lekh took out the painted bird and ordered me to hold it in my hand and squeeze it lightly. The bird would begin to twitter and attract a flock of the same species which would fly nervously over our heads. Our prisoner, hearing them, strained toward them, warbling more loudly, its little heart, locked in its freshly painted breast, beating violently.

When a sufficient number of birds gathered above our heads, Lekh would give me a sign to release the prisoner. It would soar, happy and free, a spot of rainbow against the backdrop of clouds, and then plunge into the waiting grown flock. For an instant the birds were confounded. The painted bird circled from one end of the flock to the other, vainly trying to convince its kin that it was one of them. But, dazzled by its brilliant colors, they flew around it unconvinced. The painted bird would be forced farther and farther away as it zealously tried to enter the ranks of the flock. We saw soon afterwards how one bird after another would peel off in a fierce attack. Shortly the many-hued shape lost its place in the sky and dropped to the ground. These incidents happened often. When we finally found the painted birds they were usually dead. Lekh keenly examined the number of blows which the birds had received. Blood seeped through their colored wings, diluting the paint and soiling Lekh's hands.

There's a Siouxsie and the Banshees song that alludes to the book titled, oddly enough, "The Painted Bird"...

on lead poisoned wings you try to sing
freak beak shrieks are thrown at your confusing hue
the peacock screaming eyes show no mercy no mercy

painted bird it's absurd
just a tainted bird hurting their twisted nerve

the flock will make you choke on this sadistic joke
and the whippoorwills they make a din
in laughing unison you're hitchcock carrion
carry on

painted bird it's absurd
just a tainted bird hurting their twisted nerve

i hear your sorrow maybe tomorrow
you'll lose you sorrow
when a fated weather will cleanse away
that painted feather and all that sorrow

a coquette in fur purr for the painted bird
confound that dowdy flock with a sharp honed nerve
because we're painted birds by our own design
by our own design there's no more sorrow

have you heard about the painted bird
just a tainted bird hunting their twisted nerve

we've lost our sorrow now it's tomorrow
no need to hide your feather under a fated weather
no more sorrow...

now we're painted birds mocking that twisted nerve

Many from the goth scene see their mode of dress as an extension and rebellion against such a "flock mentality". ie. If it angers you that I am different from you, I will exaggerate these differences and sharpen the delineation. They choose to flaunt their status as society's painted birds. You can see the same thread run through most counter-culture movements... The Beats, Punk, etc.

Oddly enough, one of the very few times I went to (Not a work-safe link whatsoever...) Bondage-A-Go-Go in San Francisco, I was not flaunting my painted bird style enough. I went wearing a pair of Gap khakis and a baby blue cashmere sweater.

I was shunned.

It seems that if you get enough painted birds together, they turn into a flock themselves and can exhibit the same flock mentality that they claim to despise. A reaction to a scene can easily turn into just another scene.

tammikuu 29, 2008, 10:44 pm

I went wearing a pair of Gap khakis and a baby blue cashmere sweater.

You should have told them you were being ironic.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 12:21 am

This is a very well-read forum of individuals.
I just wanted to begin by stating that, and saying that I am pleased with the way everyone has (basically) conducted themselves and expressed themselves with decorum and respect.

The fact that this topic is a hotbed issue across the Internet, (and the world), shows that this campaign means a lot of different things to a variety of people.

As a bi-racial woman, this election has held more than a little interest to me, and the following is my two cents:

What we are really discussing on this forum is the topic of acceptance. Acceptance based upon the pigment - the amount of, or lack of, melanin found in the skin. We might as well be discussing eye colour.
Obama has personally disappointed me purely for the fact that he refuses to embrace his bi-raciality. He, like most of America, has chosen a side. That is a blow to the acceptance that I've found within myself. It is a blow to the acceptance that others before us have sought. (See Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege) Barak Obama was presented with a unique opportunity, as a biracial candidate, to speak out for the acceptance of all races of people. However, he has not done so. He's done everything but scribble out the "Caucasian" portion of his birth certificate. Isn't America ready to embrace the beauty that is a blended culture? Left, Right, Black, White. Why must a side be chosen?

I choose to stand in the middle. I choose grey.

Edited for grammatical corrections.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 3:28 am

>Obama has personally disappointed me purely for the fact that he refuses to embrace his bi-raciality. He, like most of America, has chosen a side.

When I worked on the P-Coast trading equity options, one of my best friends was a guy named Hanif. Hanif's mother was white, while his father was black.

Hanif always self-identified as black. His reasoning, or so he told me, was that when he walked down the street no one ever called him a "cracker" or "peckerwood". "They call me a nigger," he said, so I say "yes, I'm black. Is that a problem?"

tammikuu 30, 2008, 3:45 am

Jesse: Then, are we just talking about natural animal behavior? If I, an old white male, turn up at a party of young people, they will treat me in a certain way -- maybe with respect, maybe with contempt, probably with a mixture of both. This is before I have said a word. Perfectly natural, and something analogous would have happened had this scenario been enacted 5000 years ago, or even 50,000 years ago. So why has a new concept, "Otherhood" or whatever you called, been found necessary?

Liberals: Here is an example of what I am talking about, which, like the girl in Chicago, I have probably used before.

I have friends who could not have children, so they adopted a little girl from India, a baby. She was quite dark-skinned, and in school, the Blacks treated her as one of them. I don't know what the whites treated her like. But the key point is this: she was bright, and from a middle-class home (of left-wing liberals, by the way) which valued education. She was at the top of her class, academically.

But she came under a lot of pressure from the Black kids for "acting white". They didn't take pride in her, because she was better than the white kids, much less try to emulate her. They wanted her to be a failure.

Now, of course, the white kids are perfectly aware of these Black attitudes. They will draw conclusions from them, about Black ability to succeed at intellectual endeavors, which some of them will, in the nature of things, unfairly apply to every Black person. (Man is a generalizing animal. Animals are generalizing animals, because it helps them survive.)

They will also learn that there are now penalties, in polite society, for openly expressing these prejudices. Part of being civilized is learning how to say what you do not think, so they will say the "correct" things. Some of them will even internalize the things that they are supposed to think, rather than what their experience has taught them, but most will just engage in the sort of double-think and suppression of cognitive dissonance that we all engage in when confronted with unpleasant situations like this.

Those white kids who generalize (wrongly) about all Blacks, based on what they saw in school, can be condemned as "racists". But I believe the real problem is in the sort of thing I have identified in this example: the "acting white" phenomenon, among other things, which is an example of self-destructive Black behavior.

Bi-racialism: if I ruled the world, I would require everyone to have their babies by someone of a different race. The race problem would vanish in three generations. And contrary to those who believe that "genes determine all", mixed marriages in modern society, where physical tribal separation and adherence to custom is breaking down, are much more frequent than they would be if we were simply puppets of our DNA. Make interracial love, not race war!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 7:55 am

Well, I wasn't going to post any more, because it is fruitless - those who insist on stereotyping by group really just talk about themselves.

But, Doug, why are those "Black attitudes" - why are you projecting them to a race from a single situation?

My African roots are as distant as any European's, but growing up in an all-white rural Northern community, I got the exact same pressures. You weren't one of the gang if you were an egghead. So are they "white issues", given my experience?

Moira - I am actually leaning more and more strong toward Hillary these days, but in Obama's defense, last night on the news he was campaigning with white relatives in Kansas and publicly but nonchallantly making the point. But I think much of what fuels his campaign is that he is nonchallant about race - he simply doesn't view it as as much of an issue of it as did, for example, Jesse Jackson.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 8:58 am

those who insist on stereotyping by group really just talk about themselves.
Excellent. A self-defeating statement.

(Are you talking about yourself?)

After all, you are "stereotyping by group" when you assert that those who stereotype by group are really talking about themselves. Right?

Of course one can speak in generalities with the usual reservations that there are many exceptions to the rule. Just as you speak of certain brands of "conservative demagoguery," Doug speaks of certain types of "Black attitude."

Not rocket science really.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:22 am

are hitler, stalin, ted bundy, and g.w. bush examples of the behavior and attitudes of 'white' people?

tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:28 am

The comment about conservative demagoguery was a tongue-in-cheek response to "a certain type of liberal idealogue". I do need to add more smileys to my posts. ;)

tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:35 am

A-musing: I think that is possibly the root of the issue I have with Obama. The fact that he can be so "nonchalant" about it, while it is of some importance to the majority of America.

Further, I don't feel that race should be his main focus, (obviously. I mean, we are still at war, right?), but it is an issue worth addressing. At least to me. I just wish he would out with it and say once and for all, that he is neither. But, there I would wholeheartedly agree with Jesse.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:46 am

Obama claiming his "Caucasionness" and his "Africanness" leaves the Orientals and other ethnic minorities such as the Native Americans out altogether. Do you thiink it possible Obama is not running as the "Black Candidate" or the "Mixed Race Candidate", but as the American Candidate?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:56 am

I'm sympathetic to Obama choosing not to make race an issue - I suspect that it is politically wise to not do so. But I also think that it ultimately must be an issue and am waiting to see how it plays out in the general election. I do think geneg is right, he's trying to run as a candidate of all - it is a tough thing to accomplish.

But there are some odd ways in which he hasn't been tested on some fundamental issues about race - issues on which Hillary has been tested.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 10:53 am

Nope. Sorry. He's made it pretty clear that he's pandering...and besides, why should he get to trivialize this issue and not make some sort of statement?

He has stated in several interviews that he relates more to his black side, and "knows he's black...". He tossed the whole not-black-not-white-but-American thing out the window a long time ago.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 11:01 am

#64 there is an argument supporting the idea that obama (and clinton) should appeal to their "identities", described as "strategic essentialism."

i think it's amusing that a person would claim something about themselves ("gender" or "race") over which they have no control. however, because of the debased nature of political culture in the USA, clinton and obama are compelled to play this game.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 1:06 pm

On Racism:

Though I agree with Doug that we inherit a tendancy for kin preference from our common evolutionary history that does not mean that we must always and in every case prefer our kin.

"Your honor, I beg to be excused for awarding my brother a fat sinecure , my genes for nepotism made me do it". Maybe not the primo defence line eh?

And while I agree that a predeliction for kin preference may aid and abet the growth of racism
I dont think racism is "simply" kin preference writ large.

Racism as I see it involves two elements:
1. The belief that ones character is shaped exclusively or overwhelmingly by ones parentage.
2. The demonization of an identifiable group (I like the canadian term "visimin" for visible minority) as possing all or mostly negative traits.

And yes, ugly as it is, it is possible that the self same people who yesterday suffered from demonization and racist exclusion or worse, when the circumstances change, or if they achieve a local domination in a limited area, can themselves turn around and dish out as bad as they got.

On Obama
He is clearly one of America's success stories. I gather he was born neither "on the wrong side of the tracks" nor "with a silver spoon in his mouth",
and may have had a wobble or two when younger.
But he worked, studied, and got ahead.

The man is clearly able and active and , the ladies tell me, quite attractive.

A regular "yuppie".

It also seemed, just for a moment, that if America were about to elect a visimin, he might be the one.

So far, his campaign has been moderately successful at selling him as the "uncola", the one with a difference, the non partisan , kinder gentler one who brings hope of change.

Its a great line, and I feel that there is a large market among voters who want what he's selling.

As for myself, I dont believe it. It may be crude to put it this way, but just to be clear, I think he lies.

Nonetheless, I'm a yellow dog democrat. If he gets the nomination , which I think unlikely, I'll vote for him for president, fearing that my fellow citizens will succumb to racism and vote him down for all the wrong reasons.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 1:21 pm

How does one deal with non-sequiturs? It is probably not necessary to, since those who cannot see why a certain statement is a non-sequitur to start with, will not be able to understand the explanation for why it is a non-sequitur.

Anyway, a quick rehearsal of the argument:

(1) Blacks, as a group, have special problems in the United States that whites do not have, or do not have to the same degree. Poverty, and all its attendant ills, is the most obvious and important example. (For the demogogues and willful mis-interpreters: not all Blacks are poor; not all whites are non-poor.)

(2) These problems are not, today, in the US, in their main, the result of current white attitudes and actions. The problems of the poor (white and Black) are caused mainly by their own behavior.

(3) As regards white racism:

(a) All ethnic groups are naturally suspicious of other ethnic groups, and more comfortable with their own ethnic group. The expression of these feelings, and possibly the feelings themselves, can be modified by social circumstances. If this was not true, we would not see the very high rates of out-marriage among most minorities.

(b) Much of white disdain for Blacks is not based on irrational prejudice, but is a perfectly understandable reaction to the high rates of crime, welfare dependency, out-of-wedlock births, and other destructive and self-destructive trends within the Black community. Fair-minded whites will not generalize from the actions of a significant minority, or, maybe, a majority, of Blacks, to all Blacks. But many people are not vigorous and self-sacrificing in their fair-mindedness.

And for all the self-righteous Lefty demagogues pretending to swoon in horror: would you want your children to go to a 90% Black inner-city school? No? Why not? What about a 90% Chinese inner-city school? Think there might be a difference? (To anticipate a possible irrational response: No, Hitler was not Chinese.)

tammikuu 30, 2008, 1:39 pm

The problem, Doug, is with your premise #2:

(2) These problems are not, today, in the US, in their main, the result of current white attitudes and actions. The problems of the poor (white and Black) are caused mainly by their own behavior.

It's a false dilemma - which, like a non-sequitur, is a logical fallacy.

You presume that the only two potential sources for "the problems of the poor" are (a) the result of current white attitudes and actions, or (b) their own behavior. You make no room for other issues to come into play here - such as a failing education system which only grows continually more and more unequal, a lack of genuine equality of opportunity, dwindling jobs (aided by immigration and outsourcing, both), and a whole host of other factors.

Also, your "self-righteous lefty demagogues" line is getting pretty tired. Find some new material, please.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 2:01 pm

#70: at last, an opportunity to cease the hand-wringing and endless chatter and DO something with regard to the "failing education system which only grows continually more and more unequal"...school choice.

See this NYU study on the out-performance of inner-city minorities in Catholic schools:


This is such an easy first step, if indeed, we are sincere in our effort.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 2:08 pm

Philosojerk: Okay, I will try to find some new material.

Looking at your other factors. The problem is, two of them are either they are not on the same logical plane as (1) the behavior of whites and (2) the behavior of the poor, or they are just a way of restating these two factors. One of them, though, is worth discussing. And I propose a fourth.

Start with "a failing education system". Why is it failing? Are you claiming that Black youngsters go to school with high ambitions, and work hard, but, for some reason -- white teachers with low expectations? -- are failed by the school system.

Why does the system work for Vietnamese, then? Why has it worked for every other ethnic minority?

No -- the problem is the behavior of the students. Not the behavior of the teachers. Nor is it a funding problem, in the main. If we doubled, or tripled, educational spending, it would have little impact.

Your second point: "a lack of genuine equality of opportunity". What does this mean, exactly? That when a young Black applies for university, his race is noted and he is sent to the back of the queue? But exactly the opposite takes place.

In fact "lack of genuine equality of opportunity" is just a meaningless phrase.

Your third point, "dwindling jobs", is a serious one. I believe this must exacerbate the Black situation. If there were plentiful unskilled jobs available, the condition of the Black poor would be better.

But note two things: the Black poor have always been poor, decade after decade, North and South, regardless of the unemployment rate. And: if jobs are "dwindling," what are all the millions upon millions of poor Mexicans, who do not even speak English, doing when they get here?

"A whole host of other factors". Well, let's hear them.

I myself would nominate the insane "war on drugs" as themajor external cause of Black poverty, since it presents young Black inner-city males with a quick, although ultimately sterile, source of ready money, namely drug-dealing, which finally puts them into the criminal-justice system.

However, legalizing drugs would not suddenly alter things. Drug-dealing is an option for everyone else, too -- and some people from every ethnic group fall into it -- so it is not an automatic destroyer of community morale.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 6:55 pm

>71 enevada: Thanks for posting that. Interesting and relevant results. And the following passage, I think, directly answers Doug's repeated assertions that it is blackness, rather than other factors, which play the largest role in bad behavior or intellectual/professional success:

Notably, the study found that the performance of Catholic schools with high concentrations of poor black and Hispanic students surpasses that of public schools with student populations that are less poor and more white or Asian, despite larger teacher-to-student ratios and lower per pupil spending in Catholic schools.

In other words: it is a qualitative educational difference that is at issue here, not black vs. non-black, as Doug has so frequently asserted in this thread.

And more directly, Doug, your most recent post makes it blatantly obvious that when it comes to public schooling, the issues it faces, and the economic factors involved, you clearly are talking about something you have no direct knowledge of. I taught government at a middle school in the middle of the Magnolia projects in New Orleans, and so have direct evidence to controvert your claims. Additionally, that time teaching in made education pretty much my "issue," my passion. I've spent more than the last full year focusing about 85% of my research on education and issues of justice regarding such, because I thought until December that it was going to be a major focus of my dissertation.

So, since you asked:
What are the problems facing our failing school system? Number one on my list would be the teacher's unions and teacher tenure - issues which have a lesser, if not a nil, effect on private school systems. The major unions in this country have got such a strangle-hold on public education, that they've all but eliminated any accountability for instructors, or the ability to promote on the basis of results, instead of seniority. This goes hand-in-hand with the question of centralized vs. decentralized administrative power. A much greater proportion of private schools make administrative policy and curricular decisions within the school, with (direct or indirect) input from teachers, whereas public school districts are growing exponentially in both population-size and geographic-size, moving administrative decisions and questions about curriculum further and further the actual classrooms - and thus further and further away from those in the best position to make informed policy decisions as to what works for whom and where.

Also, funding. It's not that we're not spending "enough" on education - it's that we're not spending it the right way, nor is it being distributed in a manner which would equalize schools in richer vs. poorer neighborhoods. At the school at which I taught in nola, students were passed along up the chain with no real attention being paid to whether they actually qualified for promotion. Teachers just didn't want to deal with them, and they were under pressure from higher-up to pass students because ultimately, school success rates were measured by looking at pass/fail rates. I was teaching a class for 6-7th graders, and the average reading level among my students was 2nd grade. There weren't enough textbooks, so students who already didn't have reading skills were seated 5 or 6 to a book, some forced to read upside-down. When I was removed from the school due to a shooting (I was there teaching through a community outreach program which Tulane sponsored), I was moved instead to tutoring kinds in a fourth-grade class, and was told in no uncertain terms that my goal should be to help them pass the LEAP - the Louisiana exam which students take after 4th and 8th grade in order to be promoted.

Which is the next problem I could talk about - in the mass movement to "improve" education, public school curriculum has moved directly away from actually educating, and towards testing. Students are taught how to pass the exams, what to remember... but they are not taught how to think. They are not taught critical thinking skills. They are not taught anything that is of much use, since once they get out of school, they'll likely never have to take another standardized test.

There's a lot more to it, but the point should be clear: all these issues that you like to reduce to one-liners and witty quips are far more complex than you make them out to be. You're either being naive, or intentionally obtuse - neither of which makes your arguments any stronger.

Equality of opportunity is a huge topic that I'm frankly too tired at the end of my day to spell out - but I would contend that a successful education system would do much to equalize the playing field.

Finally, I do think you're right about one very important factor affecting the poor, and minorities, in this country: the drug war. It needs to end, and it needs to end ten years ago. I will spare the other readers of this thread my expostulation on that one, as I'm sure I've already put enough of them to sleep. Maybe someone else can pick up the thread here... Frankly, this discussion is becoming rather tiresome, since I don't believe that you're really interested in discourse so much as in continuing to spin your rhetoric and to stir people up.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 7:11 pm

Actually, it has become less tiresome to me - because I think we - you, philosojerk - have very ably identified one of the key problems facing minorities today – the substandard education, especially for those who live in inner cities and can not afford private or parochial alternatives to public education.

This really is an area that we can work across the board to implement change. Your assessment based on your practical experience seems spot on to me – I dropped out of education for the very frustrations you faced, and have pulled my own children from public schools. I still have many friends and family members who teach in public schools; and the best of them are burning out fast. I do think it is a critical situation, one that can’t be ignored.

The State monopoly of public education no longer serves anyone’s interest but its own. It’s time to have that discussion.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 8:13 pm

#73 Thanks. I was thinking this thread had become a complete waste. Question: Is this supposed to be a PRO or a CON view? I gave a speech very similar to this at a GOP woman's forum about 10 years ago and got an ovation.

tammikuu 30, 2008, 8:31 pm

The PRO is progressive (supposedly) and the CON is conservative. Now the question may be can one be conservatively progressive or progressively conservative?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 2008, 11:08 pm

Steve Sailer is one of the few people that I'm aware of that has been documenting Obama's lifelong obsession with not being black enough.

Sailer also discusses Obama's half-brother, Mark:

Perhaps the most poignant and telling episode in Barack Obama's 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, is the story of his first and last meetings in Kenya two decades ago with his doppelganger, his half-white half-brother Mark, who was then a physics student at Stanford.

As any of the handful of people who have read all 442 superbly-written but humorlessly obsessive pages of Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance" can attest, extended family is central to the would-be President's psychology. Moreover, Obama has encouraged voters (for example, in the opening of his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convetion) to make up fantasies about how his complex family background means that Obama holds whatever views on race that they do. Thus, we constantly hear all the chatter about how Obama "transcends race."

In reality, it is Mark who "transcends race," and Obama rejects him for doing so.

Like Obama, Mark is also a son of Barack Obama Sr. and a white American woman. But, as the excerpt from Obama's memoir below shows, Mark's realism, well-adjusted response to being of mixed racial background, and lack of ethnocentrism disturbed Obama because, while Mark looks much like him, Mark's values are different. After their lunch in Nairobi in the late 1980s, Obama cut off ties with Mark.

So Obama's playing down of his biracial makeup may just be an attempt to move beyond the typical angry black man routine black politicians often adopt, of which white voters shun.

But as Doug mentioned, race is a very real aspect of American society. As long as individuals self-identify as belonging to a group (a salient, higher order group such as a race, ethnicity, or religious sect), then it will always and forever be an issue.

"Moving beyond" race is, quite honestly, mere fantasy. Wish we could, but positive we can't.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 1:25 pm

But if we wish to we can pretend to move beyond race.

Philosojerk, enenvada and any other teachers out there I would be very interested in hearing what you REALLY think about the problems facing educators and students today. If one of you would start a thread on this topic it would be great.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 3:08 pm

I'm sorry, but Doug1943's posts have awaken me from my slumber. And I must apologize in advance for what I am about to write (both in the literal sense and because of the way that I must explicate my position).

Doug, before making sweeping generalizations about an entire racial group, postulating that somehow a minority of blacks are representative of their entire race and that "black misbehavior" (as if misbehavior is somehow intrinsically black) is the single biggest obstacle in the way of "black" advancement, you might want to step back and reconsider your position.

Allow your feeble mind to imagine this: a person is born and is immediately confined to a cage. They grow up in that cage; all they know is that cage. Periodically (lets say once a week), their parents come into the cage and besides feed them bread and water, beat the shit out of them. The child grows up, and year after year the child is subjected to this abuse. The child is demonized is told that they are a scourge on the earth, physically abused, etc. And the parents continue to beat the shit out of this child until the child's 18th birthday. Then, all of a sudden the child is released from the cage and told that they are now free.

Now, let's say that this person, through the help of some organization, manages to become educated about the world, learns to speak properly, etc. But as time goes by (lets say five years) they develop self-destructive behaviors, such as drinking and shooting up dope, etc.

Now, in your narrow definition of responsibility, that person is technically responsible for their actions. Of course we can deride this person by saying, "you're just playing the victim" or "you bumb why don't you go to therapy and become a productive citizen" or "you just want a handout". But to suggest, that the history, which lead to this point is somehow not a direct cause of their subsequent self-destructive behavior is a misguided assumption at best.

Now, we can say that most (and in the case of slavery none) of the black people today neither experienced slavery first hand nor experienced segregation first hand. However, albeit not as extreme, black people have experienced demonization time and again by America.

First the dixiecrats in the south demonized black people throughout the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Then Lyndon Johnson effectively threw them out of the party, so they went to the republicans. And when Richard Nixon and the republicans are hollering for law & order by the end of the tumultuous 1960's what they really mean is "hey we got to get these niggers and white nigger lovers in check. And when Ronald Regan propigates the myth of the black welfare queen and the grown man buying a steak with food stamps, what he's really saying is "these niggers is takin' your tax dollars". And when Ronald Regan opposed Martin Luther King Day, what he is really saying is "no nigger ain't gonna be commemorated on my watch". And when Ronald Regan kicked off his campaign in the south talking about state's rights, what he is really saying is "oppressing niggers is a state issue". Basically, the democratic and republican parties have a long history of pandering to racist whites.

And unfortunately black people can't get just remove these memories from their collective consciousness. Black people are literally traumatized. Growing up as a black man in the hell hole of Newark I have first hand knowledge that the ghosts of slavery, and parchman farms, and sharecropping, and segregation, and white backlash in the 60's and 70's, and Reaganism in the 80's, and the demonization of black men by the prison-industrial complex, haunt black people, black men in particular. All of the historical circumstances, which have given rise to the disproportionately fucked up condition in which black people find themselves lurk at the black of every poor black person's mind.

So, to suggest that the biggest obstacle in the way of black advancement is is "black misbehavior" is blatantly disingenuous. White people are the one's who took us from Africa and fucked us up in the first place. And now that this has culminated in self-destructive behavior and yes, irresponsibility on our behalf, you want to blame it all on black people. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, brother, you better come again.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 3:54 pm

bigal123, thank you for saying what I could not. I agree with you.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2008, 4:09 pm

It remains interesting to me that a question about how to deal with someone who had explicitly racist attitudes has re-focused on whether or not "blame" should be levied on black Americans for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. I remember many of those events he was talking about (remember busing in Boston - it might be helpful to think about things that were publicly said about and done to black school children at the time).

I agree with everything Big Al says. I am saddened that he needs to say it, and that the conversation veered in this way.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 4:16 pm

Bigal, You go bro' - call a spade a spade.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 4:18 pm

Big Al, as much as I agree with the general gist of your post, I'm still gonna flag it as a personal attack, solely for this...

Allow your feeble mind to imagine this:

Aside from that, I think the post kicks ass.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 4:35 pm

Doug's mind is many things, but not feeble. And I have been proved wrong in my belief that we had moved beyond the need for identity politics. Wishful thinking, on my part - and, yes, perhaps feeble.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 4:56 pm

An excellent discussion, and I am glad that Big Al has come in and put the liberal position succinctly.

I said, in my initial post in this thread:

"White fear of Blacks in America today is caused mainly by the bad behavior of a significant section of the Black community.

For example, Blacks are 13% of the population but commit a majority of the murders.

Other ethnic groups (including Blacks from abroad) who come to America flourish.

This cannot be said for many American Blacks, whose behavior keeps them poor."

The liberal position can be summarized as follows:

1. None of the above is true, because:

There are Blacks who do not behave badly.
There are whites who do behave badly. (Theoria came up with this gem.)

Therefore, no discussion of numbers, percentages, crime rates, welfare rates, babies born out of wedlock etc. is valid. Quantifiers like "many" or "a significant section" can be ignored, beause, oh, goody, here is my chance to lambaste a racist, and luxuriate in my own self-righteousness.

If you believe this is a good argument, then here is one you will also like.

I claim that, on average, women are shorter than men.

"What??? Not just a wicked racist, but a vicious sexist too!! Why, I know plenty of tall women, and plenty of short men."

If you are nodding your head in agreement now, don't bother to read further. If you see the fallacy, carry on. I won't take the time to explain, because I know from experience that if you believe in Adam and Eve, arguments from geology and archeology are beside the point.

I said, to support my point about the causes of white attitudes stowards Blacks, that "Blacks are 13% of the population but commit a majority of the murders"? In response, I am accused of not supporting my argument. I note that no one from the liberal side has dared to even touch this particular statistic.

So, liberal argument number one: denial of the facts, or a bit of obfuscation which involves confusing quantifiers.

But then Big Al gives us liberal argument number two: It's the white man's fault.

There's nothing wrong, and it's the white man's fault.

In other words, he tacitly admits that the appalling statistics about Black crime and welfare dependency and generally self-destructive behavior are true, but wants to blame it on someone else. (Okay, for the demagogues and innumerate: we are talking about a significant section of the Black population, not all Blacks, maybe not even a majority. But if the numbers were the same as for all other racial groups, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.)

Of course these statistics are true. We all know they are.

Are they the result of the specifics of Black history, or are they the inevitable result of Black genes?

Let us agree that they are the result of Black history. Had Blacks not been enslaved, but rather had immigrated to the United States like, say, Arabs have done, we wouldn't see this widespread social pathology.

Of course, everyone's behavior is strongly influenced by their history. Jews were merchants and scholars and followers of other peaceful pursuits -- Israelis are fierce warriors, and their historically-recent treatment by the non-Jews of Europe can explain a lot of that. (By the way: the next time you hear a Lefty complaining about Israeli brutality towards Palestinians, explain that not all Israelis are this way, and anyway, it's the goyim's fault.)

Everyone has a history. So what?

The question is what to do about those aspects of the world that we don't like. The section of this thread about the educational system is well worth pursuing, perhaps in a different thread. I was especially interested to see a liberal who has recognized the clash of interests between Blacks who want a decent education for their children, and the teachers unions.

But ... no amount of change in the education system will change this basic fact: if you are poor in America today, it is because of your behavior. No matter if your behavior was caused by the wicked old white man, or if the Devil makes you do it, or if the CIA is selling drugs in your neighborhood, or if the Jews are spreading AIDS among your people ... or any of the other pathetic and ignorant myths that circulate ... the fact is, poor people can get out of poverty by following a few simple rules. Now it may be impossible to follow them.

If you are a ... oops, can't use that example again, especially since just citing an example make certain people switch off their brains, so I will just say: of course in real life we know how hard it is to even do something like go on a diet.

So yes, it will be difficult to effect a change in behavior by the poor. It will take some sort of powerful social movement, probably with a religious core -- maybe non-Christian. Something akin to Zionism, without the territorial aspect.

So: I claim that the attitudes purveyed by Big Al, and pandered to by the grovelling liberals here, are part of the problem.

Any Black person in America who will stay in school and get a diploma, and carry on to get all the schooling he can, and/or a useful skill;' who will stay off drugs; who will not have a baby out of wedlock; will succeed, just like every other minority has.

How to make it as easy as possible for them to do this is the question.

Those who don't, won't. But they will have the consolation of being catered for by demagogues like Al Sharpton, and comfortable middle class liberals and radicals (Black and white) who DID do those things, but who have a stake, material or mental, in maintaining a large class of dysfunctional victims to feel sorry for or militant about.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2008, 5:02 pm

I was especially interested to see a liberal who has recognized the clash of interests between Blacks who want a decent education for their children, and the teachers unions.

You should know your audience, Doug. I'm not a liberal, but a libertarian. Which is why your continual lambasting of "self-righteous liberals" is so ridiculous, at least during the portion of this thread during which I was the primary other conversant. What do you know? Somebody who's not a racist who's also not a Lefty!

I'm retreating back into hiding, though, because the general tone of this thread long since reached a point beyond my level of patience and tolerance.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 5:39 pm


Although you make some excellent points, I really think you need to get out more.

First, racial politics in this country are as good and simultaneously almost as bad as they have ever been.

On the one hand there is a rising black middle class, who are more concerned with basic middle class issues than they are racial issues on a personal level. They want to their children to do better than they are, they want a nice house in a good neighborhood, and a recession proof job. They look at Al Sharpton the same way many white conservatives look at Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh--on our side maybe, but do we really need friends like this?

On the other hand; the attitudes of Black America tend to be pretty pessimistic these days. The odds of their kids doing better than they will less than even. Racism is still a factor, and they see it on a regular basis. (I did not believe this until recently, when I spent significant time with some influential African Americans in our community. It is not their perceptions. I saw cases where a white person asked about an apartment, and was shown the apartment, and ten mintues later an African American person asked about an apartment, and was told there were not available. I saw white people walking into stores and getting waited on immediately and nicely dressed upper class African Americans not being waited on AT ALL. Believe me, it is alive and well.)

Crime is still a major factor in some parts of the African American community, although the odds are that if you are black, you will be shot by another black man, and if you are white, you will be shot by a white man.

Predictibly, these and other factors raises some issues for the African American community. The traditional conservative approach of "Let the market take care of things" is not a welcome approach, because the market produced slavery at one time, and because the fact is, the market will NOT take care of some of these issues. They a conservative government active in providing welfare for large corporations, via military no bid contracts, etc, and then hear that welfare is killing their race. Go figure.

And to top it off, anytime whites discuss racial issues, they tend to insist that we start from the premises that racism is dead, the past has nothing to do with where you are now, and you are your own worst enemy. Now, if we can agree on that, we can have a civilised discussion, and if not, well you are playing the victim card, and we WILL NOT listen that argument...plus Al Sharpton just said something stupid, and we all know all blacks follow everything he says.

To say that whites have no part in the current condition of African Americans is just as silly as to say that whites are completely at fault. The problem is, when it comes to talking about white complicity, whites get all defensive, and refuse to go there at all, with a cry of, "I never owned slaves!"

I think it is important to admit:

a) there will always be racism. To think otherwise is utopian. We can do better, and we have (and probably will) do worse, but it will not be eradicated.

b) people have to take responsibility for themselves. Whites have to take responsibility for our history, AND african Americans have to take responsibility for the disfunctions of the community. It is both/and, not either/or. (I HATE either/ors.)

c) Things can, and should be better. They are not better because we are not involved, or we don't care, or we don't know how to make them better. (That statement is not aimed solely at whites.)

d) White people trapped, enslaved, bred, bought and sold Africans. Deal with it! Just because your daddy is rich dont mean you get off scot free. Take some responsibility.

hmmm...that is probably enough rant for now. Probably too much.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 6:40 pm

First, to respond to the initial question of what to do with people with whom you are personally (maybe even familially) connected who are racist (or maybe racist). My answer is this simple: try to reason with them, if that doesn't work then break off ties with them. Listen, we have to be real and sometimes being real requires courage. Honestly, if my mother was racist towards whites, I would give her the occassional call to tell her I love her, but besides that she would not be invited in my home, around me, my wife and kids, etc.

Now, to get back to Doug1943's most recent comments. First, as I initially made clear in the first sentence of my previous post, I apologize for the personal attacks and for offending you. However, the reason why your argument is so weak is because you keep trying to ascribe a position to, I think, most of the people on this thread that isn't reasonable. For example you say:

"White fear of Blacks in America today is caused mainly by the bad behavior of a significant section of the Black community.

For example, Blacks are 13% of the population but commit a majority of the murders.

Other ethnic groups (including Blacks from abroad) who come to America flourish.

This cannot be said for many American Blacks, whose behavior keeps them poor."

The liberal position can be summarized as follows:

1. None of the above is true, because:"

But after point 1 (above), the rest of your points are moot. I will be the first person to stand up and say that black people in the ghetto, particularly black men, engage in self-destructive behavior. That is the undeniable truth. But, where I disagree with you is where you say "This cannot be said for many American Blacks, whose behavior keeps them poor". The assertion that it is only the behavior of black people that keeps them poor is a direct denial of the historical circumstances, which lead to the disproportionate poverty in which African-Americans find themselves. As such, white people's past behaviors, and the ghosts of their pasts behaviors (whether we want to admit it or not) is the primary reason why blacks engage in the self-destructive behavior to begin with.

This is the only thing that really makes sense, think about it, are we really willing to say that blacks are inherently more violent than any other race, that blacks are inherently prone to sell drugs, etc.? So, even when you say "Everybody has a history. So what?" you miss the point. Yes, everybody has a history, but everyone doesn't have the same history. And certainly, noone in this country can claim to have a history similar to that of African-Americans (except the Native Americans who are experiencing the exact same problem, which manifests itself with different symptoms).

Listen, history is a not a solid block of actions, which take place in isolated chunks. History is a continuum of actions created by causes, which leads to effects, which creates more causes and more effects. History is a web, not a straight line. You try and cut off the line at the 1950's claiming that everything before that should be thrown out, and subsequently blacks are now totally responsible for what they do. This view of history is completely absurd. Problems in the real world have real causes (no matter how much we want to slice off major parts of history we can't), and the problems within the black community have their origins in this country's history. Period.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 6:56 pm

Arctic: Much of what you say I agree with. In fact, there is little that I disagree with, except for the fact that, while YOU may be responsible, in part, for the Black condition today, I am not.

"White people trapped, enslaved, bred, bought and sold Africans?" So what? Arabs did too, and still do. Africans did too. White people also evolved a civilization that put an end to slavery, except in those parts of Africa we cannot influence. So ... let Blacks feel guilty for slavery, if they want, or for the absolutely disgusting behavior of Africans today who butcher each other every few months. Let Arabs feel guilty. And if you want to feel guilty, go right ahead. But don't ask me to feel guilty, because I AM NOT GUILTY. Racial guilt is in fact a racist concept.

Some of what you imply that I believe, however, I do not believe. No honest person reading my posts will draw the conclusion, for example, that "whites have no part in the current condition of Blacks."

Of course whites hold racial attitudes, and generally negative ones, about Blacks. Some of these are just common-sense generalizations about what to expect from large numbers of ordinary Blacks. But some are no doubt unfair generalizations that are wrongly applied to every Black person.

I know the examples you give of current racism towards Blacks are true. They are similar to the sorts of petty racist attitudes that existed towards the Jews until fairly recently in the US, and which probably still exist in various places. And some were not so petty -- such as the "Jewish quota" at universities.

Nonetheless, the Jews prospered. And if many Blacks do not prosper now, it is not because of the residual racism of non-Blacks.

Speaking of which, Koreans hold those same attitudes. Vietnamese hold them. Mexicans hold them. Ask yourself why this is so.

Despite the remaining racist attitudes which exist, whites as a group have gone an enormous distance in the United States to deal with Black problems. Remember, although whites practiced slavery, it was also whites who ended slavery, whites who agreed to dismantle segregation in the South, whites who passed all the Civil Rights Acts, whites who pay the taxes which fund the welfare payments and the public housing projects, whites who passed Affirmative Action bills to put Blacks at the head of the queue regardless of merit.

So, any whites who wish can cringe and crawl if they want. I have nothing to cringe and crawl about.

Most ethnic stereotypes, especially the negative oens, have strong elements of truth in them. No one is supposed to say this, but it's true.

And generations of liberal social scientists have done experiments to show that racial stereotypes can be very persistent, and can heavily influence the way we perceive reality. They designed these experiments to confirm their pre-conceived beliefs, of course, but I think they are right. If you expect to see something, you will. If you see a member of a different racial group behaving badly, this example will stick in your mind, whereas contrary examples will not. All this is well known.

Civilized, educated middle class people try to rise above these stereotypes. And so we should.

But what has this to do with the central argument here?

The central argument is this: we agree that significant numbers of American Blacks are not, unlike all other ethnic groups, living at the standard which should be possible in the United States today. In a word, they are poor.

I claim that the main cause of this is their own behavior, not white racism. If their behavior would change, their social circumstances would change.

I also know that it is not easy to change behavior. So I am not "blaming" anyone for anything -- "blame" is just an emotive word that gets in the way of dealing with the problem.

Anyway, enough of generalizations, let's talk specifics.

I claim that if you talk like this: “Why you ain’t where you is go, ra,” then you won't be able to get a good job. You won't be able to become a pilot, speaking like that. You won't be able to become a doctor, speaking like that. Therefore, everyone who might have any influence on Black young people should discourage them from speaking like that, and encourage them to speak proper English.

Would you agree?

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:08 pm

I'm kind of tired of much of this, so I'm going to pose a hypothetical, and see what reactions I get. Please, everyone feel free to answer.

Imagine you are at a hiring committee meeting for your business (school, other employer), and you have two good candidates. One went to a fancy Northeastern school, the same one their parents went to, and got solid grades - top third of the class. They've had a series of summer jobs that were interesting, often internships - these give them good connections for the future as well as interesting experiences. Some but not all of them were set up through friends of their parents; they clearly took some initiative in setting them up. One person on the hiring commitee is a friend of their parents, and speaks glowingly of them. Their recommenders all emphasize that they work hard.

The second candidate went to a state school, and got great marks - top 10% of the class, though at a less competitive school. They have worked every year at the best paying jobs they could get, mostly menial labor, and worked during the school year. They grew up in an inner city area, and don't have the same connections or experiences as the first candidate.

Which do you push to hire and why?

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:10 pm

Big Al: Of course current Black behavior has something to do with past Black history.

I don't believe for a minute that genes are the explanation for how whole societies behave, as I have argued extensively in this forum. Otherwise, we wouldn't see Germans and Jews exchanging stereotypical roles from peaceful businessmen to committed soldiers, Danish Vikings becoming Danish nice guys, Greeks going from the founders of Western Civilization to nothing much, Romans turning into Italians, etc. (Anybody I haven't offended yet? Let me know and I will try to include your ethnic group.)

But ... is current behavior determined by past history? Cannot people change? Of course they can. After all, isn't it what you want racist whites to do? To change. Not to let their past history determine their current actions? Even if they are poor whites (the worst racists), who could be give the excuse that their impoverished social circumstances justifies their behavior.

It's the old free will/determinism argument, really. And you can argue a perfect case for both sides. But in practice we assume that we do have free will.

That 13-year old girl does not have to get pregnant. And the adults who excuse her behavior in getting pregnant are the real problem, not her ancestors' history.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:23 pm

13 year old? That's why the voting age is 10, right? Because we expect 13 year olds to make responsible decisions...

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:46 pm

The sins of the fathers will be visited on the sons even unto the seventh generation. A hundred and forty years, we're about there.

While there may be some irrational discomfort when blacks and whites get together, most of us have developed strategies for ignoring this feeling.

Fortunately, true, vicious racism is dying out in America. In 20 - 40 more years I expect it to be a thing of the past.

I think there are enough black people like Bill Cosby who understand the dynamics of the black community who recognize that they can't change the white community, but they can change the black community. Let's let them do their work while the whites work on themselves.

Let's lay off the white/black issue and talk about the Hispanics in and around LA for a while. Or we could work over the Irish and the Catholics, oh, wait, we've already done that.

I would like to point out one fact that I think needs to be made in terms of history. White people weren't the only people selling blacks into slavery.

I also want to congratulate Bigal on stating his case honestly and with no holds barred. One problem blacks and whites have is an inability to be perfectly candid about what they think and how they feel on this issue. I believe Bigal has done that and deserves a round of applause.

Since the winners write the history, here's a little lesson white people can study on for a while. When I was in Vietnam I had a Zippo cigarette lighter with my unit crest on one side and the following on the other side:
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For I am the evilest son of a bitch in the valley.

I thought this was really cool when it was important to be the evilest sob in the valley, but when I grew a little older and looked around and realized this fairly well summed up the philosophy of a lot of the people I knew, I took some time to reconsider the ramifications. If whites can't look in the mirror, why should we expect anyone else to?

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:39 pm

A_Musing: Everything else being equal, I would hire the fellow who went to the state school. Why? Because I am a bleeding-heart conservative. However, you can sometimes reap great rewards from being Nice:

Once, when I was the Admissions Tutor in the Maths Department at a University of London College, I received a letter from a fellow in St Lucia, who had got a maths degree from the University of the West Indies. He wanted to do a PhD with us.

There were two problems. I was told by various people that the UWI was a thir-rate institution, so, even though his degree was a First Class one (the British classification system, sort of like cum laude), he was probably not up to doing a PhD. And, he had no money. Either or both of these were probably the reason that of the 80 letters he sent, to every higher education institution in the UK, we were the only one to even reply to him.

I decided that he was worth putting the effort in for, given his great determination. And I knew that St Lucia had the highest per capita number of Nobel Prize winners, too: one of whose book I had had for an economics course, the other of which was a poet I like. So I was prejudiced. It took two years of writing letters, but we finally got him a scholarship.

He arrived here, and began a PhD, supervised by me. He turned out to be a marvellous researcher, energetic and thorough. He got his PhD -- no affirmative action, in fact, I know for a fact that at least one of the Exernal Examiners was a definite racist. Then he went on to get a Law Degree. (And picked up a Grade Eight in Music along the way -- highest you can get here.)

Now he is a professor (lecturer here) in Computer Science. We travel out to Singapore every year together to do revision lectures out there.

He had a strong family, and a strong faith connection (Roman Catholic, as it happens). He never plays the race card.

And the reason I know this race stuff is on the way out is this: he had a Polish girlfriend for several years. One day he told me that he was going back to Poland, to visit her family. I was apprehensive, knowing something about Poland and their racial attitudes (they still blame the Jews for their problems, even though they and the Germans killed all their Jews). I tried to discourage him from having what I was sure would be an unpleasant experience.

He went anyway. And had a wonderful time. The times they are a'changing.

(BTW, ladies: he is now unencumbered: handsome, 6' 2" tall, healthy, late-30s, great prospects, good bank account, a perfect gentleman ... and looking to get married and start a family. He has considered moving to the US. Private messages only, please.)

I hate all this race stuff. I hate nationalists of every stripe, would-be genociders all. All the result of a historic accident -- the isolation of the various human tribes that wandered out of Africa a hundred thousand years ago, worked on by a little natural selection for sun-resistance and genetic drift.

Until we have gotten past the race/nation/tribe issue, we will not fulfill our destiny, which lies, literally, in the stars. But I reckon we will have put it behind us within another four or five generations.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:45 pm

Jesse:: You're right. Adults should not try to influence children in any way, except to build up their self-esteem. To do so would be to add age-ism to the sins of racism, sexism, heterosexism, appearanceism, classism, etc.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 7:51 pm

Gene: Blacks don't seem to have a problem expressing themselves. It's whites that are addled with white-guilt, which prohibits them from engaging in any honest dialog about race.

No one wants to be perceived as racist. Unfortunately, talking openly about the subject and dissenting from the mainstream opinion will get one labeled just that.

It's a fact of life. Race relations may continue as they are, possibly worsening with the massive influx of Hispanic immigrants. But we won't know what to do about it precisely because we don't openly talk about race.

Moving beyond the white/black topic sounds like a grand plan. How about the Hispanic/black topic:

Ethnic Cleansing in L.A.: Acting on orders from the Mexican Mafia, Latino gang members in Southern California are terrorizing and killing blacks.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:04 pm

You asked me not to make you feel guilty. I am not asking you to FEEL anything. You are dealing with the emotive aspects of racism. If you feel guilty, that is your problem. I am simply saying that whites came to Africa, kidnapped Africans, brought them in chains to this country, established a very repressive system of dealing with them AS A RACE, then, we we did finally free the slaves, subjected them to Jim Crowe laws, inadequate schools, and separate and very unequal treatment under the law.

If that makes you feel anything, that is your problem, but it is a historical fact. Now these people are still here, and have inherited many things from that earlier dysfunctional time.

You see, communities do not just appear. They evolve. And as they evolve they deal with the world around them, and adjust to it. Southerners, for instance, learned passive/agressive behavior, which is still seen in the South to a large degree, from Reconstruction days. (This is your cue to feel guilty again.) Is that a dysfunctional behavior? Damn straight, but if we dont DEAL with it, it will continue to be dysfunctional.

Given that blacks are still here, and have inherited traits from slavery, it is time we addressed that problem with some steel and vigor, not cop outs or guilt feelings. (Here in Alaska we have the issue of Boarding Schools, and how they really destroyed many native traditions and families, and we have to face up the ill effects of those.)

Generally, ignoring reality is a foolhardly thing. Instead of whites saying, "Damn, we did a horrible thing, now what can we do to change and help this dysfunctional culture," we said either, "Damn I feel guilty" and we masturbate our guilt all over them, or we say, "Not my problem," and we walk away. Neither strategy has proven itself over time.

So, any whites who wish can cringe and crawl if they want. I have nothing to cringe and crawl about.

I don't know why we have to stoop to this level. I hope NOTHING I said makes anyone cringe or crawl. That would be stupid, and I am almost offended you read my post that way. At no point do I want anyone to cringe and crawl, because that would be totally stupid and very counterproductive.

As to why other cultures are different, again, I go back to the notion of cultures evolving over time. They had different preconditions, thus evolved a different way of dealing with what it means to be a minority in this country.

Speaking as a white person, we may want to get a handle of this notion of dealing rationally with racism before we become the minority, and not after, because we are laying the foundations of a house we will have to live in one day.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:10 pm

And for the record, I know three thirteen year girls who became pregnant, and one fourteen year old. They were all white.

As to the speech in the job interview, I am of two minds. On the one hand, my father, who used to interview for multinational corporations, told me he didnt care how a person came across in an interview, as long as a) they were competent at what they wanted to do, and b) they could answer the question, "What do you want?" to his satisfaction.

On the other hand, perceptions are a reality. If Obama spoke like that, he would not be a contender. I realized that I lost my southern accent, because people around me assumed about 20 fewer points on my IQ because of it. I didnt try to lose it, and in fact, i miss it, but I did. I have heard some incredibly articulate persons who had very deep "black" accents.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:10 pm

How far does this "reality" go back? Did blacks in the 50s, 40s, and 30s exhibit the same levels of criminality and promiscuousness as they do today? If anything, the historical "chains" of slavery are nothing more than an ad hoc excuse for the current levels of crime, abortion, and promiscuousness.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:20 pm

Actually, whites will not become a minority in America, as much as liberals would like to see it happen.

Yes: I want to help to change this dysfunctional Black culture. That's what I have been saying. But liberals don't want to do that: they want to excuse it, and Blame the White Man.

I am a Southern white. I overcame my cultural background -- with a lot of help from my parents -- and rejected racism and took part in the Civil Rights movement.

Again: ALL peoples, races, tribes are self-aggrandizing and willing to eat neighboring rival peoples, races, and tribes alive if they can.

Whites are absolutely no different in this respect than any other group, except that we were better at it, because we had a more advanced culture -- i.e. guns and armies -- than anyone else, and, because we had a more advanced culture than anyone else, we have, as a culture, gone beyond that sort of thinking, although not without atavistic lurches backwards, as witness Hitler's Germany, or the Balkans.)

The rest of the world has sometimes paid lip-service to these wonderful ideals of universal human rights, but lip service is about it. Put it his way: if you are Black, and want a decent life, try to live in a country ruled by whites.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:22 pm

In the 30's, 40's and 50's, with black people living mostly in segregated communities, the people who cared about statistics didn't really care what levels of criminality black people exhibited.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:26 pm

# 100 Could you please rephrase your post without your erroneous references to "liberals."

How about "people"? If your thinking about liberals is any indication of your thinking about people of other races, you might have an issue or two you need to deal with.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:33 pm

Gene: Point taken.

But in other words, it is quite possible that black criminality and promiscuousness was relatively constant from emancipation to now. And such, these characteristics only recently popped into the consciousness of whites after the repeal of racist Jim Cow laws.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 8:41 pm

One of the things that defies explanation in African American communities is the amount of Black on Black crime.

I know some social psychologists who refer to it in terms of self-hatred. When someone starts to believe they are inferior, they take it out on others. (There is a very interesting youtube segment called "someone like me" where a young african-american girl is given two dolls, one clearly "white" and one clearly "african-american" and she is asked a series of questions on which doll is prettier, has the prettiest hair, prettiest face, etc. Finally at the end, she is asked which doll like most like SHE does, and at first she chooses the white doll, then with a look of utter dejection in her face, realizes it is the black doll, and chooses it--then pushes it away from her.

Things like that are not caught very well in this discussion. That has nothing to do with civil rights, and everything to do with self image.

I have no idea how to deal with issues like that.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 9:28 pm

#98 Codyed
"How far does this...go back? " Did WHITES have this same level of promiscuity & criminality in the '30's , 40's & 50's that they have today? They probably have more today because there are more people today contending for fewer resources. Life is harder now than it was a few generations ago, the gap between rich & poor wider. Money, or the lack of it determines how people behave to a greater degree than ethnic background.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 9:39 pm

From now on Doug1943 I'm not even going to respond to your posts directly; because quite honestly I find your racial generalizations simply disgusting. You keep trying to squeeze the people on this thread into little molds, trying to dismiss their arguments by labeling them "liberal" and then claiming that these "liberals" don't want to hold "blacks" responsible for their conduct. I cannot say anymore resolutely how disgusting this assumption is. (See below)

Doug1943: I want to help to change this dysfunctional Black culture. That's what I have been saying. But liberals don't want to do that: they want to excuse it, and Blame the White Man.

I don't know how many times I have said I will be the first to admit that "blacks" are responsible for their own behavior, but that white people are also responsible, insofar as they are a large part of the historical circumstances which have lead to this current crisis in the "black community".

At this point, you're not even responding to my arguments. You don't even deny that white people are atleast partially responsible for the self-destructive behavior of black men, in particular. This can only lead me to believe that you really agree with me, but are too unwilling to admit it. You realize the truth of what I am saying, but instead of having the courage to give me credit for pointing out this truth, you fall back on sweeping racial generalizations and then try and (erroneously) define people's positions. I think that it should quite obvious to everyone on this thread that you are attacking straw men; no matter, continue attacking an invisible argument that only exists in your mind.

tammikuu 31, 2008, 9:49 pm

As for you codyed, you should really read my preceding posts. Indeed, they quite handily deal with your contention that "If anything, the historical "chains" of slavery are nothing more than an ad hoc excuse for the current levels of crime, abortion, and promiscuousness."

Listen, assuming that there is a reasonable explanation for the dysfunctional condition of the "black community," and black people aren't inherently more violent, sex crazed, and abortion prone than any other race, there are only two options. Either blacks really are genetically inferior to every other race (which clearly defies the logic of the second half of the previous statement) or there are other problems that are not being paid attention to. Thus, my central contention is that the only reasonable explanation for the dysfunctionality of the "black community" resides in the origins of the demonization of blacks within this country, even if "blacks" act irresponsibly today.

No matter how much Doug1943 wishes to compare black people to other races his comparisons will always be undermined by the fact that black people have a drastically different history of being demonized, more so than jews, and any other racial minority in this country (except Native Americans).

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2008, 10:27 pm

You have provided no data to support you claims that the scars from history are responsible for current black predicament. It makes for great sophistry but it also precludes other explanations such as genetics, hormones (both of which Doug rejects), and vestigial culture hanger-ons from West Africa (when you import groups, you don't entirely erase their patrimony no matter how much you beat it out of them).

MarianV: You are actually buttressing my argument. If the same conditions are appeaing in the white population as they are in the black population, then that may suggest that there is something else other than some historical antecedent which is causing them to be reprobative.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 2:16 am

BigAl: Of course "white people" are responsible for the current condition of Black people. And Black people are responsible for the current condition of white people. Everything is connected to everything else.

Having said that, which is a truism, then what?

What is it that white people should do now? Don't expect them to act any differently, by the way, than any other people.

Suppose you had a friend, who had a serious weight problem. She is obese, and is very unhappy about it.

Her friends divide into two groups.

One group emphasizes that her weight is not her fault. It has someone who says, "Well, you probably had a traumatic childhood. You're eating to find the love you were denied then." Another member of this group says, "It's in your genes. Not a lot you can do about it. Some people are just naturally fat." Another one says, "What can you expect? Look at how McDonald's load their food with fat. Look at how the supermarkets put candy at the checkout. The whole capitalist sysem is designed to make you fat. Not your fault."

The other group -- me -- says: "You're fat because you eat too much, for the level of exercise you take. If you want to lose weight, you will have to eat less, and/or exercise more."

Of course, members of the first group will scream at me for being so insensititve, "fattist," ignoring this woman's terrible childhood, the culpability of corporate food giants who manufacture sugar- and fat-filled food at low prices and craft wicked advertisements to encourage her to eat it. They will reassure her that it's not her fault, and feel ever so self-righteous and sensitive for saying it. Then they will go off to the gym, or to the salad bar.

Leaving me to say "You're fat because you eat too much, for the level of exercise you take. If you want to lose weight, you will have to eat less, and/or exercise more."

helmikuu 1, 2008, 5:05 am

#90 - without describing their skill sets in terms relevant to the requirements of the position neither of them would even make it to interview. Businesses that I've worked for don't care what your background is, they care that you can show you can do A. (actually being able to do it seems irrelevant) Besides I'd probably hire my cousin, or my assistant who wants the job.
as you were.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 9:10 am

The institution of slavery destroyed the Black family. People living in family groups prevented the slave owner from obtaining the full benefit of their labors. In the larger plantations, men & women were segregated. By the time emcipation arrived, most Black people had no idea of family structure. During reconstruction, efforts were made to teach them skills & enable themselves to make a living but it was the African American churches that did the most to help the people survive & hold on to their new freedom as the whites imposed their "Jim Crow" laws after the Federal troops withdrew.

People who live in Africa have strong families. It is the legacy of 300 years of slavery here which did not allow married couples to live together & raise their children together that still casts a shadow on African American family life today. Some people have overcome it. As each generation matures, the legacy fades a bit more, but in many cases, it is still the woman who tries to hold the family together & often raises the children alone. This can happens also with white families, but whites are surrounded by families where the father not only earns the living but is an example to his children.

There is not much that white people today can do to help except to insure that all "safety nets" are in place & working & that both churches & government agencies are standing by & have the funds & trained personal to offer aid.

There are signs now that the color of skin is starting to lose its importance. I am aquainted with many more families that include bi-racial children. Black/white dating raises fewer eyebrows. Global warming may give some whites "permament tans". And what is it with these people that spend so much time in tanning boothes so they can look less white?

helmikuu 1, 2008, 1:31 pm

Doug, you know less about the many aspects of weight gain than you do about race. Sigh.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 3:29 pm

If there is one thing I just can't stand it's some sanctimonious skinny person telling me why I'm fat.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 1, 2008, 4:49 pm

My hypothetical, by the way, is one drawn from my own experiences. In interviewing people just out of law school for a law firm, I'd say out of every ten resumes four fit in category number one, four fit in category two, and it is always much harder to convince a committee to hire out of category two. But that is where the stars are, who know how to overcome a little adversity. Unfortunately, candidates from the elite school backgrounds raised by professional suburban parents are simply safer best when a decision is made by committee. But minority candidates fall disproportionately in the second category (note neither category indicated race).

As to the rotund analogy, no one here has been arguing that a key to getting out of poverty is NOT the actions of the person trying to get out. Doug, can you figure out who you're arguing against, and who has said that? It's called empowerment, and there really isn't any other option.

That doesn't mean that the right answer to "how do I deal with a racist person" is to say "the racist isn't the problem, it's those black people acting like black people who are the problem themselves." But this has been said before, some just choose not to listen.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 4:57 pm

The major problem with the rotund issue is that losing weight entails NOT consuming. It is possible not to eat if you don't have food.

In order for it to really make sense, we need to turn the metaphor around. You find a starving person. You say to them, "You are too skinny because you don't eat enough food. If you want to gain weight, you must eat more food. Go and eat!"

That might work for an anorexic girl from Beverly Hills (but I doubt it), but not for someone in, say Bangladesh.

We are assuming that person has the resources to BUY more food. I can see Doug in a refugee camp in Somalia, telling the people all they need to do is to eat more food.

Now many African-Americans live somewhat between Beverly Hills and a refugee camp.

Take a kid from a dysfunctional background, with poor schooling, and self-esteem that stems from petty to vicious racism, and then tell that kid, "All you need to do is get a good job, make money, and you can be just like me."

Right. /end sarcasm

helmikuu 1, 2008, 7:58 pm

I know -- from past experience -- that it is not possible to talk honestly about race with liberals.

It is not that liberals are particularly dishonest -- or, not any more dishonest than conservatives. It's just that this is such an emotional issue, and liberals feel so terribly guilty, that it is very hard for them to deal with those of us who disagree with them, in a straightforward fashion. They are so keen to please the Black militants, to prove that they are not themselves racists.

So I have watched what I have said re-phrased and paraphrased to have me saying things that I did not say, and do not believe. I also know that it is fatal to start protesting, Oh No, I am not a racist. The pack then senses blood, and re-double their efforts.

So all I can do is to hope that a fair-minded person who comes into this thread late will read the whole thread, and note carefully what I have said, and then note how the liberals have twisted it.

Just to work backwards: A_Musing attributes this view to me, supposedly a paraphrase:

"That doesn't mean that the right answer to "how do I deal with a racist person" is to say "the racist isn't the problem, it's those black people acting like black people who are the problem themselves.""

So: I am supposed to have said that the problem is "black people acting like black people".

Of course, I said no such thing. I said that the problems of the Black poor are not, today, caused by white racists.

Arctic_Stranger says that my message to " a kid from a dysfunctional background, with poor schooling, and self-esteem that stems from petty to vicious racism, and then tell that kid, "All you need to do is get a good job, make money, and you can be just like me." "

Of course, I said no such thing.

What I said was, for anyone coming in late: "... significant numbers of American Blacks are not, unlike all other ethnic groups, living at the standard which should be possible in the United States today. In a word, they are poor.

I claim that the main cause of this is their own behavior, not white racism. If their behavior would change, their social circumstances would change."

I also indicated, repeatedly, that changing behavior is not easy. Otherwise, diets would work.

But, according to the liberals, this is all wrong.

The causes of the problems of young Blacks, including their self-destructive behavior, lies outside of their control. It is due to petty, and vicious, white racism, which destroys their self-esteem. It lies in a bad educational system -- "bad" in the liberal view means "not having enough money spent on it".

This is what the racial grievance hustlers want to hear, of course. The Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons would be right out of business if young Black people changed their behavior. So they must not change their behavior -- because, after all, It's The White Man's Fault.

Liberals are, objectively, the Ku Klux Klan of our times: their attitudes serve to keep the Black poor infantalized, permanently blaming others for their own problems, dependent on the state, and fed a diet of demagoguery and lies.

I repeat: residual white racism, while annoying and unpleasant, is NOT what causes Black poverty and high crime rates.

Past racial oppression was real, and has current effects, but is irrelevant to solving the problem: what is necessary is to change the current behavior of young Blacks who act in a self-destructive way.

Bad behavior is easy, prudent behavior is hard, and liberals just provide excuses for the bad behavior. But what is needed is Tough Love.

And what does that mean?

Don't get pregnant at 14, don't get anyone else pregnant at 14, stay in school and get your diploma, get all the schooling and skills you can, get a job and turn up for work on time, don't have children out of wedlock, don't do drugs, speak standard English, don't dress like someone in prison.

Arctic_Stranger says that this is impossible: it is like asking a starving person, where there is no food, to eat.

He thinks that it is literally impossible for young Black people to act responsibly, given white racism and past history and all.

It is the counsel of despair. Anyone with this outlook -- despite having, no doubt, the best of intentions -- is condemning poor Blacks to a lifetime of poverty.

Because if their behavior does not change, their circumstances will not change.

If you're fat, and you want to lose weight, you will have to eat less, and//or exercise more. It doesn't matter if you have strong impulses to eat because you were denied love as a child. It doesn't matter if billions of dollars are spent by the food industry to tempt you. These facts are irrelevant, if you want to lose weight.

But if your friends secretly think that you can't really lose weight, then of course they will tell you that it's not your fault you're fat. And maybe they will be right. But their consolations will help destroy any chance you might have to lose weight, because, if you are fat, you must eat less. You must change your behavior.

Sorry, but that is how the world works.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 8:21 pm

Again, you are refering to the land of fat, when I am saying, and you may not be able to see this, that it is not a land of plenty. The whole diet metaphor is so faulty it is totally unusable and the fact that you bring it up again shows you have not yet understood my point.

We are NOT talking about fat people here, and you demean the real arguments by continuing in that vein.

Personal responsibility? Fine. Are you REALLY saying that Blacks do not take personally responsibility for their lives? Are you even saying that a majority of them do not? A large minority?

I think you need to come and spend time with the countless of black families who do take responsibility, and are still not getting ahead. Their issues are not crime, teen pregnancy, fatherless families, but lack of health insurance, ability to get a good education, and then find decent work that pays a living wage.

Arctic_Stranger says that this is impossible: it is like asking a starving person, where there is no food, to eat.

He thinks that it is literally impossible for young Black people to act responsibly, given white racism and past history and all.

That is a bare bones account of what I said. (Should I really go into the whole issue of not being able to have a decent conversation with a conservative because they only hear what they want to hear? That would be untrue of course, but it would take the discourse down the level of your approach.)

I am saying that your understanding of the situation of African-Americans is mostly faulty. I base this on the absolutely wrong-headed way you use the metaphor of a "diet" thus showing your lack of understanding about the true Sitz im Leben of many African Americans. And I base it on the way you glibly refer to "Blacks" as if that that word summed up the totallity of the African American experience-- and as if that really meant anything significant about a very large portion of the American Public.

helmikuu 1, 2008, 10:34 pm

If historical antecedents play a role in the conditions of which blacks are faced with today, then one might be able to detect lower levels of self-esteem in the black population. But research suggests that the opposite may be true:

As for social class, in which the expectation is that the social order will be reflected in individual self-assessments, people of color are hypothesized to have lower self-esteem than are white people. In research comparing whites and blacks, blacks often have equal or higher self-esteem than whites, and a number of theories, including those related to self-protection and disidentification, have been offered to explain these findings (see Crocker, Voelkl, Testa, & Major, 1991; Steele, 1992).

In case anyone is interested, the one group with the lowest overall self-esteem is white women (no, you're not fat and you look great in that dress).

helmikuu 2, 2008, 2:36 am

Why, thank you Codyed. Maybe, just maybe, I can change out of these running clothes and put a dress on. Trade the sneakers for heels, though I prefer running to dancing.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 2008, 5:39 am

This thread is really giving me a headache. It reminds me of a guy I went out with a few times, many years ago. I decided I had to get him out of my life because his never-ending quest to assign blame was so corrosive. Whenever anything went wrong, even the tiniest glitch, he felt absolutely compelled to assign blame (to someone other than himself) for whatever had gone wrong. I was more interested in figuring out how to avoid that particular snag next time around: Hey, it’s life, $h!t happens.

Doug, please stop attributing these ridiculous viewpoints to liberals. Perhaps the attitudes you cite were common among your Commie fellow travelers in a previous life, but that was two generations ago! Only a tiny minority of the population ever got swept up in SDS et al to begin with, and even those who did have mostly moved on. Several individuals who claim to be liberal to some degree have stated their opinions here, and in most cases, they don't overlap your stated liberal credo at all.

Personally I don’t feel any guilt whatsoever over slavery. None of my ancestors arrived in this country earlier than the late 1880s, and the most recent immigrants came around 1905. They were all desperately poor (certainly not slave owners in the old world or the new), and they immigrated to an area where the only non-whites were the battered remnants of a few Indian tribes. Still, I have benefited from being in the majority, in a society that tends not to offer much to its minorities.

Although we still have racists, and probably always will, I would agree with Doug’s statement that white racism is not the greatest problem facing black communities today. The real problem is that we have a semi-permanent underclass that cuts across racial groups, and it hits blacks harder because of social problems that originated with slavery. Most of the whites I know would not object if a middle to upper class African American moved in next door, or got appointed manager at work, or got elected to the presidency. They – and I – would definitely have a problem with living next door to gang members or welfare families of any race or ethnicity.

MarianV pointed out that slaves were prohibited from marrying. They were also prohibited from learning to read and write. Things might have worked out if Lincoln had survived to serve his second term. Instead, “reconstruction” was carried out by people who had more interest in taking vengeance against white southerners than they did in integrating the freed slaves into society. This led to the rise of the KKK, Jim Crow laws, segregation, etc. Unfortunately, in more recent times we had welfare programs structured in a way that encouraged poor women to remain unmarried and to have too many children.

No one posting here has argued with the idea that those who wish to leave the underclass need to avoid a life of crime, postpone pregnancy, and get an education. The problem is how to make that happen. Doug offers the knee-jerk conservative approach: “They should just pull up their bootstraps and work hard. I did, and it worked for me.” Unfortunately it is a total fantasy to expect that young teenagers, who don’t have much judgment to begin with, and have never been exposed to middle class values, will just spontaneously adopt a middle class worldview.

Everyone posting here leads a relatively privileged life. I would guess that every one of us grew up surrounded by people who valued education, who understood deferred gratification, who expected the next generation to do better than the last. Being surrounded by people who thought that way, we absorbed those attitudes automatically, and they appear to be completely obvious. These ideas are NOT obvious to kids growing up in the underclass. I have cousins who didn’t finish high school, who are frighteningly ignorant in every way imaginable, and who are raising their kids to be just like them.

I have mentioned before (probably in response to a similar argument) that several of my co-workers volunteer in a program that helps poor women to get jobs. The women in the program are typically uneducated and going into the work force for the first time in their lives. They might be coming off welfare, or escaping an abusive partner. The co-workers who volunteer in this program tell the most incredible stories about the things they have to teach these women.
Don’t go to a job interview dressed like Madonna or Britney Spears.
Don’t drink or use drugs before (or during!) the job interview.
Don’t bring your kids along to the job interview.
If you get a job, you have to show up on time. Every day. Yes, even if you don’t feel like it.
It’s not OK to take things from work.
And so on…
This being Portland, most of the women in this program are white.

If we want things to change for those in the underclass, we need to be doing constructive things to help them understand why and how to change. Habitat for Humanity is a good example of a program that works. It gets people out of substandard housing by offering homes at very favorable prices, with generous financing terms. But the really important part of the program is the time the recipients spend working on their new house. They gain confidence, they meet volunteers from different social groups, and they learn skills that will allow them to maintain the house once they move in.

helmikuu 2, 2008, 6:08 am

hey bigal, i also think your post # 79 is great, and also flagged it solely because of the 'feeble mind' crack.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 2008, 9:15 am

#120, oregonobsessionz:"Everyone posting here leads a relatively privileged life. I would guess that every one of us grew up surrounded by people who valued education, who understood deferred gratification, who expected the next generation to do better than the last. Being surrounded by people who thought that way, we absorbed those attitudes automatically, and they appear to be completely obvious. These ideas are NOT obvious to kids growing up in the underclass. I have cousins who didn’t finish high school, who are frighteningly ignorant in every way imaginable, and who are raising their kids to be just like them."

Not being US-American, I am not going to comment on anything except the above.
The class issue brought up above is almost universal. In Germany, there is only a very small black minority (which is sociologically probably not comparable to US blacks). The largest ethnic minority we have are turkish immigrants and their children (and grandchildren). The german history of mass immigration started only in the 1960s. A high number of the immigrants from Turkey were ill-educated (analphabetic, or only primary school education). In those families, education mostly is simply not valued, and it shows in the performance of most of their children in school. Add to that the german school system which failed abysmally in the PISA assessment, and you get a group where kids (mostly boys) fail to get a middle school diploma (class 9, lowest grade in Germany) generation after generation. Girls fare better, for some reason. These families do not (yet) have problems with teen-pregnancy or single-parent families, since the social pressure to toe the line is still very strong, but in many respects they are like what was described as "black behaviour" in this thread. Youngsters not getting a job, relying on welfare or small crime (theft, etc.), and so on.

The solution? A revamp of the German school system, that allows for better education of disadvantaged pupils (who don't have the same encouragement at home as teacher's kids). Currently, if you're a working class kid, the chances of you getting to university are much, *much* smaller than if you were middle-class or upper-class.

#120, Oregonobsessionz:
Don’t go to a job interview dressed like Madonna or Britney Spears.
Don’t drink or use drugs before (or during!) the job interview.
(...)And so on…

These are the same problems observed in turkish *and german* underclass families. The solution is the same: Tell them again and again, take them by the hand until they have learnt it. But it WILL cost money. Question is: Does it cost more money to teach them once and have them succeed, or to pay welfare for years/the rest of their life/their stay at a jail (worst case)? At the moment, social programmes are being cut here. But politicians are starting to come round. After a regional election last week was only narrowly lost by a (mainstream) christian-democratic politician basing the last days of his campaign on bashing "criminal immigrants", the discussion is on again, with an open letter from his party mates telling him off for starters.

helmikuu 2, 2008, 11:33 am

Does anyone out there watch "The Wire"? This show presents many of the factors underclass blacks, adults and children, have in their lives causing them to make the choices they make, and yes they are choices. Given the circumstances they encounter daily, both from adults and others, from the corrupt black politician and businessman who finds it worthwhile keeping the underclass going, to the gang member who sees his "business" as an opportunity to move into the mainstream of American life, to the kids on the street that find worth and family with one another through the drug trade.

Two things needed for African Americans to succeed in American life, in acceptable middle class ways are support of family and a desire to be successful. How we inculcate these goals in someone to whom success is managing the drug distribution on their own corner is an issue for all of society. When teenage boys see their chums riding around in Cadillac Escalades with wheels that cost more than my house, bustin' caps on the competition and being looked up to in general that looks an awful lot like success, especially when most of the male influences are in jail for just the behavior the kids admire, it makes it awfully hard to think about readin', writin', and 'rithmatic as necessary to success, especially when it is decidedly not taught with a licorice stick.

I too think you should drop the weight loss metaphor, Doug. After many many years of wrestling with my weight, it is apparent to me all weight loss schemes including the very basic issue of don't eat more than you burn is bunkum. No one, I repeat, no one, knows why some people are fat. There are no such things as easy answers to the race issue or weight loss. Some things are just more complicated than the usual facile conservative answers would make one think.

helmikuu 2, 2008, 3:33 pm

Let's see where we agree, and where we disagree. It's worth doing this because I happen to agree with quite a lot of what the liberal posters say in their posts, and I disagree with quite a lot of what some fellow named "Doug" says, as paraphrased by them.

So that this post doesn't become an MSc, I will not say anything in it about liberals' motivations or their beliefs. That is a separate issue, and not so important anyway.

Nor will I talk about white racism, yesterday and today, and its relation to Black poverty and crime.

Here is the burning question: why, in America today, are there poor people?

In many countries, there are poor people, and, until their governments change, or at least change their policies, most of them will remain poor, regardless of what they do.

In Communist China and Socialist India yesterday, in Socialist Zimbabwe today, most people were poor, and were poor because their government followed policies which kept the economy from growing, and a growing economy is the absolute minimum for ending poverty.

Those countries which have taken the road of capitalism have seen their wealth grow enormously, and have seen a large section of their population lifted out of poverty. Many, many people in India and China still remain poor -- some even suffer more now than they did under the egalitarian pauper-regime -- but the direction of motion is clear.

But in America, this is not the case. If you are persistently poor in America it is because, in almost all cases, because of your behavior. I say persistently poor, because it is quite common for young people to have no assets and almost no income. But if they persist in this condition for decade after decade, it is, in most cases, because of their own behavior.

Now there are two possible responses to this. One is logical, and one is, strictly speaking, not.

The logical response is Arctic_Stranger's. He claims that poor people in America are like poor people in Zimbabwe. Nothing to do with their behavior, which is just fine. He says that there are "countless" families who do everything they should do -- but they cannot get health insurance, or a good education, or decent work that pays a living wage.

The fatherless youths in the ghetto are not statistically significant. The pregnant teenager is just a conservative myth. The 50% Black teenage school dropout rate (I am quote Bill Cosby here) is a lie, or, if not a lie, is justified, because getting a diploma is worthless anyway, apparently. The one-third of young Blacks going to prison is because of ... white racism? In any case, the problems of the poor could not, according to him, be dealt with by a change in the behavior of the poor. The food is just not there.

Now that is an argument worth having. I think he is spectacularly wrong, but we can address facts and figures and case studies and decide on the truth of his proposition based on them.

And there may well be, by teh way, some truth in his view -- there may well be something, involving forced income transfer from the people who mysteriously do succeed, that we can do to make education better, to provide more unskilled jobs, to make other people pay for the health care costs of the poor, to make it easier to buy a home, which will, perhaps, help them get out of poverty. (Even here, though, I would contend that these rewards should be tied to reciprocal actions by their recipients, because I believe that we must change behavior, and you don't change bad behavior by rewarding it.)

Here we would have to look at the long history of "programs" to help the poor. There is actually a huge set of case studies that we can draw on -- don't think incentives, job training, mentoring, everything you can think of -- has not been tried. It has been. But that can be discussed in another thread.

Then there is the second view. It is not really a logical answer to the argument that until poor people change their behavior, they will stay poor, but it is in fact an effective one.

This view is: it is not possible for the poor to change their behavior. They have no free will, not really. They are like fat people who may want to lose weight, but who, in practice, never will. And this is due to past history, or current racism, or bad genes, or God knows what, but in any case, it's impossible.

And those are the two arguments. Most people on the liberal side probably believe both, a little bit, simultaneously, and in fact there is no logical contradiction between them: it is logically possible that poor people cannot change their behavior, and that even if they did, it would be no use.

On the other hand, as I read through the liberal contributions, I notice something interesting: many of them are quite sensible. They seem to recognize that, yes, the behavior of the poor does need to change. They just want to point out that it is not very easy for it to happen. (I agree, and I have a fifteen year old girl living in a public housing project in Chicago who has never even known anyone with a job etc which they can use as an example, if they want, since I have exhausted my user-license with her.)

They want to see various government programs to help the poor change their behavior. And I certainly would not disagree with that on principle.

So, I am a bit bemused by the arguments. Are all we arguing about is "sensitivity" and "understanding" -- do we actually agree on fundamentals?

Probably not.

Now, I have not addressed the following important question: how should we address the problem of the poor? Is it a hopeless case, like the prospects for Gene and me losing thirty pounds? Or can something be done?

So, in another thread: the conservative program for ending poverty in America.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 4:50 am

Doug1943, it is abundantly apparent that this is going to be fruitless unless you stop ascribing arguments to people that they are NOT making. What liberals are you talking about? What liberals in this thread are making the arguments that you ascribe to them in your last post? Why does this discussion have to be about "liberals" vs "conservatives"? Why can't this discussion be about a problem facing America? As a country?

I'm sorry, but unless you stop trying to (erroneously) paraphrase people's positions here this discussion will get nowhere. Therefore, instead of paraphrasing I suggest that you go back through the posts on this thread and actually start quoting people.

However, I suspect that you will have a hard time doing so because there are NO quotes made by supposed "liberals" who espouse any of the positions you continuously "paraphrase".

helmikuu 3, 2008, 5:42 am

Big Al: Fair enough. I get pretty angry when I am ascribed positions I do not have, so I should be very sure that I don't do the same thing.

Also: I agree completely -- I cannot tell you how much I agree -- that it is a million times better to say "Here is a problem, what shall we do about it?" and not rule out anyone's ideas on the grounds that they are a liberal or a conservative or whatever, than to trade insults. Now, on the other hand, man is a warrior. So perhaps I have fired the first shot here, just out of reflex action. If so, mea culpa. I would much rather discuss what, if anything, we can do about our school system to improve it, than to yell at liberals. (And I saw a potentially very interesting discussion, within this thread, initiated by someone who knows what she is talking about, which probably should be transferred to a thread all of its own.)

So, over the next few hours I shall go back and read through this thread and examine it, as you suggest, and see if I have been guilty of ascribing positions to people that they do not hold. If I find myself guilty, I'll hold my hands up to the crime. Hell, I've done much worse things than that, so it won't be a big deal.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 5:53 am

Doug, If I remember correctly, you characterized my general outlook as being no better than a grouchy Jacobite's. I was furious.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 6:57 am

Cody: I hate, just hate, discrimination of all sorts. I always try to enrage everyone, if at all possible, in the interests of fairness. (Although I don't recall using the term "Jacobite" about you, or anyone for that matter. You aren't a secret supporter of a Stuart Restoration are you?)

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 2008, 8:53 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 2008, 12:59 pm

Doug at #126: So, over the next few hours I shall go back and read through this thread and examine it, as you suggest, and see if I have been guilty of ascribing positions to people that they do not hold.

You might want to start with this one, friend:

Doug at #116:Liberals are, objectively(emphasis added), the Ku Klux Klan of our times.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 1:04 pm

I'm not very good at noticing social trends.

If I had to make a living as a cool hunter I'ld be way slimmer than I am now.

But, unless I'm the victim of a media plot, even I can see that the zeitgeist seems to be bestirring itself.

People likely to vote are going around saying they want "change", they want some adult supervision over the economy, foreign policy, immigration, and government generally, They want serious people seriously committed to solving problems, They want, or think they do, non partisan, or bi partisan honest and able people being pragmatic and getting on with it.

Among such voters, which tend to include young people and educated people (according to the polls)
in greater proportion there is heavy support for Obama.

I agree with DOug that candidate Obama is pretty good at selling that particular meme, but that President Obama may be dissapointing in practice, but thats neither here nor there.

The question is, has America, or enough of America
shrugged off its racism, or become wiling to suspend what racism it does have to make exception for Obama, or is an Obama presidency (Assuming he were the democratic candidate) doomed from the get go because there's no way a visimin is beoming the president of us all ?

helmikuu 3, 2008, 2:06 pm

Bob: Re. your message #130. No, that is a perfect example of NOT ascribing a position to someone that they do not have. (Although it may be provocatively worded. No, it is provocatively-worded.)

By "position" I mean a subjective stance, as opposed to the objective consequences of a position.

For example: during the Second World War, pacificists who urged young men to refuse to serve in the military objectively aided Hitler. This was not their subjective intention.

Today, people who provide sophisticated excuses for self-destructive underclass behavior, and thus, in their own way, helping to maintain a climate of opinion which guarantees that this behavior will continue, are objectively acting like an intelligent Ku Klux Klan would act -- although the KKK is selective in its ill-will, aiming at all Blacks, rather than all the underclass.

I have heard anti-war liberals argue that objectively the invasion of Iraq has aided Al Queda -- in fact, I think I could find that exact argument made in this group. It is a perfectly valid speculation --- its truth is another matter. I understand that when an anti-war liberal accuses me of objectively aiding the Islamists, he is not accusing of me of wanting to aid the Islamists. (Okay, there are a few nutty types around who will say that, too, but we may disregard them.)

So much for "objective" vs "subjective."

But, speaking of subjective views, I don't reclall whether or not I have said it here, but I do happen to believe that many "anti-racist" whites sub-consciously believe that, in some deep-seated and unalterable way, a large section of Blacks are, as a group, beyond the possibility of change. This doesn't make them "racist" in the conventional sense -- and the word "racism" is so vague as to be almost useless anyway -- but it is a position congruent to that held by many who would be called by liberals, genuine racists.

Such people will say, "That's just the way They are. They'll never change."

You can hold that view and hold generally negative feelings about Blacks, and, if you are sophisticated, call on various supposed findings about race and IQ and behavior in general to back you up.

Or you can hold that view and feel sorry for them and feel guilty for, in some way, contributing to their condition.

I happen not to think that any group's general behavior is immutable, whatever the truth about genes, as I have argued here in another context. We have too many examples in history of groups of people undergoing fairly radical transformations in a a fairly short time, historically-speaking.

We don't really understand how society works, and we don't really understand what makes groups of people undergo these radical transformations. All we can do is make hopefully-informed hypotheses based on our observations and personal experiences.

And my guess is that anyone who tells someone who wants to make a difficult change in their lives that the odds are against them, they can do everything right but still will probably fail, that it is like dieting, etc ... is not doing them any favors.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 4:26 pm

I for one, will say that almost everytime doug ascribes an argument to me is, at best, only 1 tenth right in summing up my points.

The logical response is Arctic_Stranger's. He claims that poor people in America are like poor people in Zimbabwe. Nothing to do with their behavior, which is just fine. He says that there are "countless" families who do everything they should do -- but they cannot get health insurance, or a good education, or decent work that pays a living wage.

In Doug's black and white world, where people seem to only exist to prove him right on everything, I am sure this is what he THINKS I said.

In saying that whites might possibily have a role in dealing with the racial issue in this country, I am not saying that they are 100 percent to blame, and 100 percent responsible. But gradiations of a theme does not seem to work well for doug's arguments, so he ascribes the more radical understanding of my points, which of course he can easily take on. What he cannot really take on is the more complicated argument that a) the environment and history of a people have a lot to with their current standing. To deal with their problems, you cannot ignore either history or culture. b) Whites did a whole lot to create current African-American culture, c) Some of the problems doug posits are racial issues are in fact issues of poverty first, not race, d) while blacks cannot "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, they certainly have a role in bettering their lives. The large African American middle class shows this is possible, but e) others will need more help, because their circumstances put them at a greater disadvantage and finally f) racism still exists, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to hide from something. That existing racism is still a major problem, and NO AMOUNT of self-determination from the African American community can overcome that. That is a problem that lies with the dominant culture that can perpetuate and turn a blind eye to racism.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 5:18 pm

So, can we conclude that until all or almost all whites become anti-racist, that large numbers of Blacks will continue to drop out of school before graduating, get pregnant at 14, and end up in prison?

If so, how will we know when this miracle occurs?

And exactly how has this white racism made the Black illegitimacy rate increase dramatically since 1960? Were we less racist then?

And that large Black middle class -- how did they overcome that all-pervasive white racism?

helmikuu 3, 2008, 5:31 pm

So, can we conclude that until all or almost all whites become anti-racist, that large numbers of Blacks will continue to drop out of school before graduating, get pregnant at 14, and end up in prison?

Again, Doug, no one has stated this directly or indirectly, so you might not want to lead us to that conclusion. Keep working on -

So, over the next few hours I shall go back and read through this thread and examine it, as you suggest, and see if I have been guilty of ascribing positions to people that they do not hold.

You'll get it eventually.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 6:42 pm

Okay, then what follows from this: That existing racism is still a major problem, and NO AMOUNT of self-determination from the African American community can overcome that.

Is it a "major problem" because it plays a major role in making Black kids drop out of school and get pregnant out of wedlock?

If not, how exactly is it a "major problem"?

helmikuu 3, 2008, 6:54 pm

Doug, Doug, Doug.
Even IF that's what "liberals" are "objectively" doing, apologizing for or explaining away the behavior of America's underclass does not equate to "the KKK". It just doesn't.

When the Dems won back the House in 2006, the very FIRST order of business was to increase wages for the poor.

Now, I wouldn't make a large effort to claim that the 110th Congress is in any way "liberal" - but the opposition to increasing wages in this country was entirely conservative.

Now, up above, everybody in this thread seems to have agreed that something must be done to bring America's poor up out of poverty - and the conservatives in Congress reliably oppose the most direct measure to accomplish this.

So don't tell me that those who working to improve the lot of the poor are "objectively - the KKK of our times".

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:01 pm

Another question: Let us grant that inner-city -- ie Black public -- schools are bad, and this plays a role in preventing many Black youngsters from getting on the right path to a decent life.

Then the question becomes: why are they bad?

Let me phrase it another way: suppose one of these bad schools, which is now, say, 95% Black, in its student body, became, overnight, 95% Vietnamese.

Same teachers, same money spent, same physical plant, same books, same syllabus, same tests.

Would it still be a "bad" school?

Would Bill and Hillary still have refused to let Chelsea go to it?

helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:08 pm

Well, much of the reason they're bad is that the schools are largely locally financed.

And when the tax base evaporates - as businesses moves out to the 'burbs or over to China - so does the funding for the schools.

Put the funding of school districts on a even footing, and then we'll talk.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:08 pm

Bob: There are aspects of the political program associated with liberals which are good for poor people. I won't go into the minimum wage issue, which is not so straightforward as you might think -- but I will grant, that in principle, it might be.

What I am referring to is the overwhelming liberal instinct to pander to some of the worst mis-leaders of the Black community -- men like Al Sharpton -- and to endorse and justify the attitudes of self-pity and blaming others that prevent the underclass from taking advantage of all the opportunities that are available in this wonderful capitalist society of ours.

If liberals had had their way, we would not have had the welfare reform of 1996 (?) -- thank you Bill Clinton!!! -- and in fact we would have increased welfare payments.

In general, the program of the Left, although no doubt motivated by good intentions on the part of a lot of its adherents -- is a program for equality in poverty. Where the Left have really had some power -- India, China, Africa -- we can see this most dramatically.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:40 pm

which is not so straightforward as you might think -- but I will grant, that in principle, it might be.

I've thought about it. And we tried running an economy without a minimum wage floor. That experiment has been run.

"If liberals had had their way, we would not have had the welfare reform of 1996 (?) -- thank you Bill Clinton!!! ..."

So - you're saying that Bill Clinton is not a liberal?

Where the Left have really had some power -- India, China, Africa -- we can see this most dramatically.

And you're saying that the liberalism of the New Deal was not of "the Left"?

It seems we may have some common ground. We can join together in opposition to Stalinism and the loony left - but you need to come back to the liberal fold and help us build a better America. Over the opposition of the conservatives.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:46 pm


I REALLY think you need to stop trying to sum anyone else's opinion, and just start stating your own...except that your own has not been able to stand up under argument. Like a person who finds themself in a foreign country and cannot speak the language, all you are doing is yelling louder.

I NEVER said that if all whites become anti-racist, then the African American utopia will arrive. What I DID say was that white racism is A FACTOR (NOT, as you falsely assume I am saying, that it completely a white problem).

Seriously, if you are not going to deal with the arguments I am making then shut up. Stop playing UberRush Limbaugh.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 7:53 pm

I've been working through this whole thread, trying to summarize the various arguments, and to be fair to the liberal side.

A bigger job than I thought it would be.

As I do it, I would like to ask a favor of the liberals here:

Philosojerk paraphrased me as follows:

Doug's repeated assertions that it is blackness, rather than other factors, which play the largest role in bad behavior or intellectual/professional success. (Message #73)

Now I believe Philosojerk chooses her words carefully. I am sure that she believes what she wrote, namely, that I think that it is "blackness" which explains things like the poor academic results of many Black students.

So, what I would like to ask is for her, or anyone else who feels like it, to find where I said anything like this.

Now I suppose you can argue that the statement:

it is the poor behavior of the Black underclass which explains their poverty

is equivalent to the statement

it is the Blackness of the Black underclass which explains their poverty

but I think that is an unfair and inaccurate inference.

However, maybe it is the beam in my own eye that I cannot see. So, would my liberal opponents here please supply quotes, or please affirm that the inference seems fair to you.

(As an aside: an infininitely more important question is raised by Message 73: if attendance at a religious school raises the performance of minority students -- and if it is not just a question of self-selection -- then why is this the case? Could it have something to do with discipline and standards and high expectations and no excuses? A topic for a thread of its own.)

helmikuu 3, 2008, 8:03 pm

Arctic: I am working on it. It won't be done today -- it is 1am here -- but in the next day or two I will lay out your arguments and mine, side by side, and then we can see where we agree and where we disagree.

Although ... it seems pretty clear to me, in the analogies we chose to describe the problem.

I said that being poor in America today is mainly a result of behaving in ways that keep you poor. I said it is like being fat: if you are fat, the only way you are going to lose weight is to eat less and/or exercise more. This reality is independent of why you became fat in first place. (Gene pointed out, as I know all too well, that it is actually very very hard to will oneself to eat less. So true.)

You said that the problem of the poor in America was rather like the problem of the starving in Africa. There is literally no food for them to eat.

I think that sums up our differences nicely.

If there is no food, nothing that the starving can do will help. They will have to sit and hope that someone brings them food.

If the problem is too much food, then what has to happen is that the afflicted person has to eat less, no matter how difficult this is. His friends can help him eat less by taking away his food, admonishing him, praising his efforts ... but at the end of the day he must eat less.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 8:30 pm

You seemed to miss the part where I said most African Americans are somewhere between Beverly Hills and Somalia.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 8:31 pm

And it is missing things like that which make me angry about about the way you characterize my arguments.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 9:05 pm

Okay, my careful summary of our positions will reflect that. And I too have been made angry by what I think are really careless -- close to dishonest -- characterizations of my position here, but, like you, probably, I just count to ten and try to let my communications be yay yay and nay nay, on the assumption that, on past performance, the individuals involved are not dishonest, but just moved by the emotional heat of this subject to be a bit hasty in their writing. Let he who is without sin, etc.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 9:23 pm

for the record, I dont think you are racist, at least not any more than I am. I just disagree with you.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 2008, 10:02 pm


Look hard at statements like your "black attitudes" in post 58; this is the kind of statement that gets the blood boiling. My response in post 59 focused on the fact that I had these same pressures in a poor white area - eggheads weren't part of the gang. Why did you declare them "black attitudes"? You say something about it being in the nature of people to generalize, but when you generalize from a specific situation to a general statement about race, you are stereotyping. That is one of the key basis for discrimination.

If you're trying to analyze the discussion, you may want to focus on the differences between what causes certain problems and how those problems are addressed. Identifying the cause of a problem (e.g., past discrimination) doesn't commit a person to any particular solution, though understanding the cause may help you find some solutions. Just as a diatribe about potential solutions does nothing to address a discussion about underlying causes.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 10:31 pm

A_Musing: Could you quote the sentence or sentences in that post that you object to?

That post of mine recounts the true story of friends of mine who had a "Black" child (from India), academically gifted, who was pressured by the other Black kids (African-Americans) not to "act white" and succeed academically. Now, if you are saying: surely not all the other Black kids did this, then you have a point, technically speaking.

Perhaps I should have said "a lot of the other Black kids", or "many" or "a significant number"... it's that old problem of quantifiers.

Consider the phrase "White racism". It is usually, I assume, used to mean "the racism of many/a lot/a significant number of/a majority of/... whites".

So I assume when someone says the former, that they mean the latter, unless the person using the phrase is has passed through some campus sensititivity training camp and learned that all whites are racists.

It's clear, I would think, from all my other posts, what I mean. To continually qualify what I am saying would get pretty tedious -- which is why everyone who posts about the sins of whites doesn't bother to carefully qualify their statements either: they assume reasonable good will on part of people reading their statements.

Or ... maybe you are denying that the phenomenon of "acting white" (i.e. Black criticism of Blacks who try to succeed) is not a real one, or is not important in explaining why the Black underclass perpetuates itself? You can certainly find Lefty academics who will helpfully endorse that view, and if this is your position, we should argue about it.

Anyway, to what sentence(s) in particular do you object?

helmikuu 3, 2008, 10:47 pm

I am suggesting that the quick distillation of the phenomenon of the gang excluding the egghead as a "Black attitude", and the use of the phrase "black attitude", stereotypes.

When the same thing occurred to me, was it a "white attitude"?

That phrase, "Black attitude", is something to think about.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 11:57 am

I still don't see the sentence(s) that you object to.

The "you're acting white" phenomenon is well-known. It may or may not be a factor in the very real problem of the high Black dropout rates. We should not pretend it does not exist.

A more detailed look can be found here, including the arguments from both sides on whether or not this is a real problem.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 12:31 pm

ref #!50
That post of mine recounts the true story of friends of mine who had a "Black" child (from India), academically gifted, who was pressured by the other Black kids (African-Americans) not to "act white" and succeed academically.

Until someone can show me that I'm the dupe of some really nasty urban legend, I'll agree that there are schools where a sufficient number of kids have bought that self defeating rot as to be a real impediment to education.

A group that believes and behaves that way must have its self esteem in the sub basement. Are you saying that african americans, as a matter of racial endowment are "blessed" with inadequate self esteem and with self defeating social mores?

That everything is explained by "nature" and nothing by "nurture" ? That biology is all and culture is nothing?

helmikuu 4, 2008, 1:41 pm

I don't know that I would go so far as to say nature is all and nurture is nothing. But ity's pretty close. I would say that irrational responses to rational situations are driven by nature. I can't believe ANYONE would rationally teach children an irrational desire to fail in "Whitey's School" when there is no rational replacement. Like it or not, for 99 and 44/100 of Americans "Whitey's School" is the only path to success in a rational world.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 2:00 pm

Issues African Americans face today:

This are not any order. The list is from a group of AA's I meet with twice a month to discuss racial issues in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

1) Racism and Discrimnation--Still alive and kicking.

2) White vs Darker skinned AA's. Straight vs Kinky hair.

3) Living with the belief that their children will not do better than they are doing. (This from middle class AA's).

4) What it means to be Black in America. How "Black" can they be, without evoking criticism from white collegues and friends.

5) Dealing with stereotypes from other communities. (One of the guys recently retired. He has had health problems, and so has a very healthy diet. For his retirement dinner, the company he works for ordered soul food, which he never eats.)

6) Feeling like they are in competition with other minority communities for limited resources.

7) Lack of role models for their children. (Blacks on TV tend to be either very bad role models, or pretty rich and famous...one is to be avoided, one is unattainable.)

8) Level of interaction with the "White" world. For example, is it better to go to a Traditional Black school (Morehouse, or Spellman) where they don't have to compete with whites and can have more access to things like being school president, etc; or to a white school where they do have to compete, for a more comprehension understanding of where they will fit "in the real world."

9) Michael Jackson

10) Anger. I see it come out every week. These are not angry men and women I meet with, but they get angry at the way they are treated, and it comes out in these meetings. One admitted later, that he cannot show that anger anywhere else, because he will be accused of being one of those uppity blacks.)

11) Self esteem issues. Beauty in our culture means "White."

12) Having to hold to a higher standard. When a single mom is white, she is heroic, but if she is black, she is a welfare mother. The high rate of divorce in the white community is considered tragic, the number of single moms in the black community is considered a black mark on them as a people.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 2:18 pm

ModalUrsine: You ask Are you saying that african americans, as a matter of racial endowment are "blessed" with inadequate self esteem and with self defeating social mores?

The problem with answering your question is that I do not know what you mean by "racial endowment".

If you mean: do I think these problems stem from genes, the answer is: I doubt that genes have a lot to do with it. I put it in this way, because I want to leave open the possibility that there are genetic components to behavior -- the case is pretty strong for their having real influence on IQ -- and we will know a lot more about this in a few years.

We had this discussion a couple of months ago, so I will just summarize what I said then: someone can have a relatively low IQ and still live a decent life. Social customs and a host of legal and other extra-legal influences are probably much more important in determining whether they do or not than the necessarily very general influence that genes might have on behavior. So I wouldn't absolutely rule it out as irrelevant, but I wouldn't expect it to be very important as "nurture" and social environment either.

In any case, we don't know much about how societies work, and how they change. We have seen whole peoples transformed in the span of a few generations, for good and for ill.

We cannot even agree on highly specific social questions, like, Do concealed carry laws tend to lower the rate of armed violence? or Did the legalization of abortion in the early 70s contribute to the drop in the crime rate 20 years later? (The "pre-emptive capital punishment" argument.) There are intense debates by social scientists on both sides of these issues.

The "acting white" phenomenon may not be significant. Or, it may only be significant for high achievers. I know that my friends reported it to me in the case of their daughter years before I read about it as a general phenomenon.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 2:23 pm

I could have added "acting white" to the list of issues. It is known as the crabpot syndrome, and many blacks recognize it and deplore it.

You see it most among teens. And we all know teenagers are the best indicator of how a people as a whole act, right?

helmikuu 4, 2008, 5:02 pm

The problem is, teen-agerhood is the crucial point at which you can screw up your life for a long time, or even for good.

Get pregnant, and/or drop out of school, join a gang and start doing crime -- and you are probably lost forever.

People of extraordinary moral character can turn themselves around later in life -- Malcolm X is the best example of this -- but it is very hard.

So if "acting white" is a real phenomenon, and has negative effects -- then they will be amplified when applied to a 14-year old.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 5:57 pm

>The problem is, teen-agerhood is the crucial point at which you can screw up your life for a long time, or even for good.

Or it might just be a period where most of us make many mistakes and learn from them... I believe this is normally referred to as "maturing". You might be a prime example of this, no? Or do you believe that you are of "extraordinary character"?

helmikuu 4, 2008, 5:59 pm

We were so much older then. We're younger than that now.

helmikuu 4, 2008, 6:04 pm

Well, I'll do everything humanly possible. Unfortunately, we barbers aren't gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 7:03 am

Jesse:What might work, or at least not fail, for the middle class, can be devastating for the underclass who are trying to make it into the middle class.

American Blacks had the great misfortune to throw off the legal impediments to their social advance just at the same time that the old-fashioned standards of behavior were being undermined.

But the poor -- the Black and white poor -- need exactly those old Victorian virtues at which sophisticated whites sneer.

Cocaine for a futures dealer may not be a ticket to oblivion. For a poor kid it is often exactly that.

A young woman with an education and a well-off family who will support her might get away with becoming a single mother, without it hindering her career too much. This is not true for a young woman without these advantages.

The Sixties left a poisoned legacy to the poor. Unfair, but there it is.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 11:59 am

#157: "I could have added "acting white" to the list of issues. It is known as the crabpot syndrome, and many blacks recognize it and deplore it."

What does "acting white" exactly mean? Could you explain it to this clueless European? Thanks :-).

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 2008, 12:07 pm

Acting white often exhibits such characteristics as lacking the ability to groove, walking with a clinched buttox, and talking through the nose.

But more seriously, to act white means doing well in school and being a productive member of society. That may sound flippant, but that is pretty much what it boils down to.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 12:38 pm

My little sister is biracial and she was definitely teased in school for acting white. It is more than doing well in school, tho. It involves your pop cultural affinities as well; use of slang, pronouncination of words, music you listen to, what kind of clothes you wear, etc.

I remember the time she decided to "be black" for a while. I could barely understand what she was talking about, mostly for the slurring. Thank goodness that phase didn't last long.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 2008, 12:41 pm

For a more balanced discussion that 164, wikipedia is not bad:


There are similar debates within many ethnic minorities (a derogatory comment commonly made by British imperialists, for example, is the idea of someone "going native") about the extent to which someone has to give up their culture to fit in with or get ahead among the majority. The idea in some of the literature is that acting white includes not just adopting white culture but also doing things like excelling in school.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 5:58 pm

The Wiki article is a good place to start, which is why I included a link to it, with a favorable reference, in my message #154.

The reality is, society is so complex, dynamic, recursively self-aware, that no single explanation for behavior, or prescription for how to change it, is likely to be more than a partial truth.

When I taught in a mathematics department in London, there was a small group of Black students -- African and Afro-Carribbean -- enrolled. Far from there being pressure among them not to "act white", they were -- with the exception of the Chinese -- the hardest-working students there. (Of course, these were university students. The situation with Afro-Carribeans in the state schools in London is terrible, and similar to the problems in the US.)

And another thing I noticed was that, with just one exception, all of them were members of one or another Christian sect -- Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals -- just the kind of religious groups at which sophisticated white atheists love to sneer.

Whatever the truth about the existence of God, the practical consequences of religious organizations in a hard heartless world may be very positive.

Well-off whites can afford to do drugs and be free with their sexual practices, and to laugh at the "Jesus Loves You" stuff. But for other people, a strict religious environment may be exactly what they need to help organize their lives, resist the kind of temptations that could lead to personal tragedies, and motivate them to fight their way out of poverty.

I'm for whatever works. We don't know why whole peoples can have a renaissance and radically transform their behavior in the space of one or two generations. Every case is probably different, and no doubt involves dozens of interacting factors. But we know that it can happen.

I read the first paper on "Acting White" a couple of years ago -- the one that says it is not a real phenomenon -- and couldn't find anything to fault in its method. And yet I KNOW what my friends' daughter experienced -- they had no ideological axe to grind in mentioning it to me, being liberals. And I know how strong peer pressure can be -- it is probably the most decisive thing in the environment of young people.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 6:42 pm

Doug -

Have you considered that anti-intellectualism may not be a racial trait, but instead might be fairly broad across society?

We're back to the point I was making when I asked whether the white kids who behaved the same way to me in a small town in upstate NY, were "acting white". I'm hoping at some point you'll get this point.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 7:21 pm

Yeah, I got teased for being a book-loving dork, too.

btw, my biracial little sister gave up her "being black" because she realized it was pretty stupid to think reading and learning weren't cool. Then she went through a phase much like what Doug often espouses. Those pendulums can be dizzying.

At this point she's a young woman (19) and she seems more concerned about her poverty (and she was raised by the white side of her family) than her race.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 7:32 pm

What book-loving dork hasn't been teased for it?

Which is why turning it into a racial thing is silly.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 7:43 pm

Right. Nothing to see here folks.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 8:12 pm

"What book-loving dork hasn't been teased for it?"

C'mon...name a main character in a book from your childhood that wasn't a book-loving dork? Look at the folks here - all pretty healthy egos, all book-loving dorks. What gift did I get every year at Christmas? why, a book. Was I atypical? Not in the least.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 8:19 pm

You only got ONE book for Christmas?

(Ok, one character... Misty of Chincoteague).

helmikuu 5, 2008, 8:26 pm

Big family, I got one book and ..oh, look! new underwear! - and I was happy.

Misty, ok, you got me...name one human main character from a book....

But no - the point is: reading is celebrated in our culture, absolutely.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 8:31 pm

I think reading is celebrated in much of our culture, but that across races there can be an anti-intellectual element. Labeling that anti-intellectualism "acting white" in one setting suggests it's NOT cross-racial.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 8:46 pm

Just because there is overlap in qualities that doesn't mean such qualities do not effect one group more than another. Crime is cross-racial, but it's obvious with those with two eyes that some groups are more crime prone than others.

When we live in a world normal distributions, the tails are what matter the most.

helmikuu 5, 2008, 9:50 pm

Littlegeek, you don't have to answer this question if you think it's too personal, but would you happen to be biracial as well?

Biracial people always fascinate me. I think it has to do with their unique circumstances of having to deal with an eventual identity crisis. Not all multiracial children go through that phase--I certainly didn't. But many do and it can be quite a disturbing process.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 2008, 4:03 am

A_Musing; Of course anti-intellectualism is not a racial trait!!! I doubt that there is any human behavior that is not to be found in every racial group, to one degree or another. The question is, to what degree in each group, and its signficance for them.

Racists claim that low Black academic achievement is due to genes. Others claim that it is due to racist oppression,which may be expressed in subtle ways, of which the offender may not even be aware (teachers with low expectations, for example), or through not spending the same amount of money on education for Blacks as for whites (which was certainly true in the American South for a long time).

I believe that it may be the case that it is mainly due to internalized attitudes which deprecate the sort of behavior that could lead to conventional success. (It may well be true that these attitudes are themselves rooted in past history -- in fact, it would be silly to deny any influence of the past on anyone's current beliefs and attitudes -- but that this can be overcome - must be overcome.)

For example, I would be willing to bet that, seventy years ago, if you had investigated a mixed Irish-Jewish school in New York, you would have found that the Jews were excelling academically, and that the Irish kids scorned this behavior and exerted anti-intellectual peer pressure on their own more ambitious members who "acted Jewish".

As a side point: I am sure others have pointed this out, but there is probably a lot in common between the American Black poor today, and the Irish in Britain and the US in the 19th and first part of the 20th Centuries, in terms of both behavior, and how they are viewed by others. If true, this would make sense, as both peoples have some things in common with respect to their history, having been oppressed by another people. The British used to scorn the Irish in both Ireland and Britain -- now Ireland is outpacing Britain in terms of economic achievement.

And there is certainly general scorn among the less academic directed towards the more academic. I was teased a lot as a child by my fellow Southern whites, who nick-named me "Mr Molecule," among other things, because I was interested in science instead of football.

In all of these cases, we are talking about statistical generalizations, which may or may not be true, or which may be true but of little relevance.

My belief is that the "acting white" phenomenon is a significant problem among Black youth, in a way that is not true among whites, even though the same anti-intellectual attitudes are to be found everywhere.

I don't see what is controversial about this. Is anyone really maintaining that, as statistical generalizations, we can say that all ethnic groups everywhere in the world at all times have exactly the same attitudes towards obeying the law, working hard, honoring academic achievement?

There is a joke that used to circulate in California:

Question: How do you know when your home has been burgled by a Vietnamese?

Answer: Nothing has been stolen, but all your homework has been done.

Everyone should "act Vietnamese".

helmikuu 6, 2008, 11:27 am

#177 No, I'm totally lily-white Northern European. My sister is my Little Sister as in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, we're not biologically related.

But she feels like family just the same.

helmikuu 6, 2008, 12:15 pm

On Cultural attitudes

Though my friend Sextus is sure to call me a dogmatist on this issue (but his schtick is of course that only he and his school are free of dogmatism) I really do believe that not all cultures are created equal.

In particular, and at the risk of being lumped in with "socially conservative" right wing grumps, I will go further and say that some cultural attitudes serve one much better than others at getting on in a complex. literate, technical, multi ethnic, fluidly hierarchial society such as ours. Work, Study, "Leave thy drink and thy whore, and stay in a door" really will get you "More than two tens to a score".

So now, "For sixty four dollars and a box of cigars", as they used to say,
since we're pretty well convinced that cultural attitudes are not determined by genetic factors ...they change too fast and they are too diverse even among seemingly related groups :
A) Do the less successful minorities in fact have a less successful culture
(or is that some sort of optical illusion, or false generalization)
and if A is true, then
B) Why is that and can anything be done to help?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 2008, 3:46 pm

I hope there are lots of liberals like ModalUrsine, who has simply stated some common sense.

I'm going to break my pledge not to generalize about liberals (you see how weak our willpower is), and say this:

Prior to the Civil Rights Revolution, the liberal view of the Race Question was the moral one, and the conservative view was not.

Conservatives are disposed not to favor radical change, and also to favor self-help rather than state-underwritten collective advancement.

From a pragmatic point of view, this predisposition is often the right one, but not always. In the case of an oppressed ethnic minority, it was woefully inadequate.

The Left was correct in its general orientation here: Black oppression was a great evil, and had to be destroyed before any widespread advance of Blacks in America could be expected. And this required taking on the state -- both defeating it in some places, and using it in others.

Liberals can be proud of their support for Black rights prior to the 1960s, and conservatives cannot be proud of their general indifference to this issue. Black oppression was systematic, widespread, embedded in the legal system in the South and informally embedded in white attitudes in the North.

The only way to change it was to raise hell.

But the forces in favor of changing the status quo on the Race Question were weak: hell-raising before the 1950s didn't have much effect, where is was not actively suppressed. All that changed when the United States moved onto the global stage, and had to answer to the global non-white majority about its mistreatment of its Black citizens.

When we shook our finger at the Communists about their lack of democracy, they had a perfect answer: What about the Negroes in Mississippi?

So the American ruling elite changed its attitude toward formal racial oppression, and slowly became in favor of doing away with it. This gave the Civil Rights movement space to grow in.

So -- up to the 1960s, liberals good, conservatives bad.

But ... the great paradox is that after the 1960s, what the Black movement needed was to take advantage of all the opportunities for advancement which opened up, and to move out of victim status. Objectively, many Blacks have done this. But there remains a very large "tail" of underclass Blacks who have not, and who have retained the self-defeating consciousness of being permanently aggrevieved victims.

And the conservative attitude -- which stresses self-improvement, self-discipline, and which looks with suspicion on getting government help -- is now the right one.

I believe many -- MANY, NOT ALL -- liberals are unable to say what needs to be said. Their reluctance to speak the truth on this issue comes from white guilt, a general desire not to offend, and the fact that, as Irving Kristol noted, liberals seem to be incapable of opposing any movement which is supported by large numbers of poor people.

Thus we see the terrible phenomenon of liberals who know better, remaining silent when Black lunatics spout nonsense; we see them actively aiding in the mis-education of Black children, by doing things like approving the African-American Baseline Essays, initially introduced by the arch-typically liberal Portland Oregon Board of Education.

These white liberals, who would not dream of having their own children taught Creationist balderdash, are happy to let Black children learn utter nonsense. (Details here. To give credit where it is due, it has also been liberals -- with more backbone -- who have agitated against the use of this ludicrous tosh in the "education" of Black children.)

In a way, this is a kind of racism: treating someone differently because of their race.

If we cannot talk openly about a problem, we cannot solve it.

helmikuu 6, 2008, 3:56 pm

In defense of conservative Republicans, I think there were many 1950s era conservative Republicans who were eager to advance civil rights.

The association of the right and racism really came about as the Republicans figured out they could win the South in reaction to Johnson's Civil Rights Act. If you're looking for liberal views of race before the 1960s, you might have an easier time with Eisenhower than Byrd.

helmikuu 6, 2008, 4:16 pm

I know a fair amount of people who considered themselves conservative, but marched in the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s, or at least supported it. My wife is from LA, and more than once I have heard stories from her parents friends of their involvement during that time (and later learned they also voted for Goldwater!)

I think your generalizations are way off. What is probably closer to the truth is that when the issue was voting rights in the south, it was a fairly easy issue, especially for Northerners and Westerners, who, god forbid, were not racist like those Stoopid Southerners.

However, once that issue got solved, the issue became more complicated. It was no longer about voting, it was about who got which pieces of the pie, and suddenly it was no longer "Those poor negros." Now it was those uppity black folk. Imagine them, wanting a piece of MY pie!

Not to say all the tactics and ways of approaching issues used by people dealing with the new issues were right, but when it became a matter of intregrating schools in BOSTON, all of sudden it looked like things were getting way out of hand.

Economic issues are MUCH, MUCH harder to deal with than straight forward civil rights issues which tended to huddle around Jim Crowe laws and voting. A lot of reasonable people, on both sides of the fence, got really unreasonable during those times.

So the question is, not how and why was everyone wrong or right "back then" but more "how can we deal with this issue today. Some people want to drag us back to the good ole days when darkies just stayed on the farm and voted--democratic, like they were supposed to. Some want to sell the farm, without a thought as to who will be running the farm.

Personally I think there has to be better way. We have to recognize BOTH past sins AND personal responsibility.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 1:16 pm

Arctic says, "Economic issues are MUCH, MUCH harder to deal with than straight forward civil rights issues. . ."

Ah, economic issues. It's easy to take the morals out of economics because economics is blind to morality. Not only have we separated morality and economics, but we have sold both our individual and collective national soul to the dollar.

We are learning what happens when a nation uses economics as its moral arbiter. When one believes that free markets solve all problems, one is denying ones own moral culpability in favor of the market, which of course is all about the dollars. Instead of God being the fount of all morality, we look to the market, which of course is amoral, to replace God. This is the plain definition of idolatry. Thank God, I will probably die before our nation bottoms out, but I fear greatly for my children and my grand-children.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 2:35 pm

Getting the economics right is a necessary but not sufficient condition to having a decent society wherein we may live good lives.

The liberal belief is that the problems of the poor, and especially of the Black poor, are not the result, mainly, of their own behavior. Therefore the state must step in and take money earned by those who are not poor, and give it -- perhaps via "programs" of one sort or another -- to those who are poor.

The conservative belief is that the problems of the poor are mainly the result of their own behavior. Conservatives seek ways, possibly including via the state, to reward good behavior, and to not reward bad behavior.

Some liberals and some conservatives can agree on some things -- income-transfer programs (liberal) that seek to reward good behavior (conservative) are an example. Thus, some at least of both liberals and conservatives might consider supporting state programs, paid for by the non-poor, which made job training available for people who wanted to make the effort to gain a skill. That is essentially what state-supported education is.

Conservatives have a particular insight which liberals find hard to accept: individual advancement is likely to be an individual thing, rather than a collective thing.

This is why conservatives tend to support educational vouchers: we want to reward those individuals who seek to get their children out of the terrible peer-pressure environment of low expectations and bad behavior. This means some will be left behind, which liberals find hard to accept.

It seems hard to condemn children to remaining in the failure-generating environment of inner-city state schools, just because their parents are too ignorant or indifferent to enroll them in a private school paid for by vouchers. Liberals would like to raise everyone at once. Conservatives are skeptical about the possibility of doing this, and prefer to provide routes out for the more motivated, accepting that not everyone will take them.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 2:46 pm

The liberal belief is that the problems of the poor, and especially of the Black poor, are not the result, mainly, of their own behavior. Therefore the state must step in and take money earned by those who are not poor, and give it -- perhaps via "programs" of one sort or another -- to those who are poor.

That is NOT what I believe. I think you are about 20 years behind the times. (What do you think the whole welfare reform thing was about?) I cannot say what conservatives think, because I am sure I would be as bad at that as you are about liberals. But I know that most liberals believe it is a combination of the two, and that working on just one of the areas, without also including the other, is just perpetuating the problem.

while you may find people who espouse only one side of the issues, they don't represent the practice of liberals.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 2:56 pm

I would rather have the government give my money to people who need it than to those who don't. I don't think Republic economics has squat to do with lending a helping hand and everything to do with facilitating the economic rape of America. For an example check out how much money Halliburton and Exxon have raked in over contracts and subsidies. I'm still at a loss as to why the US Government gives a tax subsidy to a corporation making in the neighborhood of $100,000,000,000 absolute profit per annum. My guess is, way more money goes up than down.

Vouchers won't solve any of our educational problems. In fact, by setting the private education system in competition with the public schools, the public schools become major losers with only the worst kids attending them. We need to come to grips with the fact that a one size fits all education system does not work. The public schools would probably perform much better if the children who did not fit that pattern were not forced to attend. Until schools stand up to pushy parents with pushy, trouble making kids by relieving them of their scholarly opportunities until they join the program, or permanently. Public schools become daycare for the average student. Kids who are too cool to learn need to be gotten out of the way of those who realize this is their best hope for a decent life.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 3:03 pm

There is ongoing confusion about cause and cure.

It is possible to acknowledge a wide range of causes, not limited to discrimination, poverty, and racism, without thinking the only cure is to remove the cause.

I understand Doug left the country several decades ago - I don't think he understands what has changed in those decades. He's arguing against McGovern rather than Clinton, and thinking of the world of Malcolm X instead of Barrack Obama. It heartens me that the characterization of many conservative positions are just as far off.

But on a substantive level, the big disappointment of the last two Presidential terms was that when liberals and conservatives compromised to get to a program like no child left behind, the conservatives then failed to support its funding, leaving a slew of unfunded conservative mandates.

helmikuu 7, 2008, 11:25 pm

Doug1943: Here you go again with those generalizations and straw-man arguments. Weren't you supposed to be gathering quotes...

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 2008, 6:04 am

BigAl: Yes, I am supposed to be doing that. I copied the whole thread and transferred it to a Word document. It came to fifty single-spaced pages! Now I must print them out, and read them, highlighting the quotes which emplify both sides, and summarize them.

Why haven't I done this, since I promised it would take only a few hours? (1) I am also writing exams, and (2) I am lazy.

But I will get on to it today.

Arctic: That is why I used the word "mainly". I know that there is a range of liberal beliefs -- I take the Nation magazine as representing the "average" of them, just as I take National Review to represent "average" conservatism. And it's my strong impression, from reading this magazine over the years (and a number of other liberal journals) that the liberal view is the the problems of the poor are mainly due to factors beyond their control, not to their own behavior. No one has said anything here that would make me change my mind.

As for the Clinton welfare reforms -- are you telling me that liberals supported them? That's not how I recall it, but I could be wrong.

I wouldn't contrast Malcolm X (whom I did and still do admire tremendously) and Barak Obama, by the way. It would be more reasonable to contrast Barak Obama and, say, Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.

But I notice, again reading the Nation, that Obama is apparently not very liberal at all -- almost a creature of the large corporations which have been funding him. So my arguments are not directed against Obama, but against liberals -- or, against the sort of liberals whose publications I read. Maybe the liberals who take part in this forum are a minority strain.

helmikuu 8, 2008, 11:53 am

Can sekf defeating cultrural attitudes be turned around?

HEre's a fascinating article from the New York Times (Fri Feb 08 2008). It may require a login (which you can get for free) to see the article


In essence, a highly unlikely character became the Principal of a "failing" Bronx school. The description of the place sounded like the worst horror story. Kids running around in the halls, classes at 5% attendance, gang activity and rampant chaos violence and "an atmosphere no conducive to learning" to state it most blandly.

As far as I can see, the two "big ideas" that the prinicipal, a Chasid, of all things, brought to the table was

a) Establish order. They describe recapturing the halls as a specie of counter inusrgency, Nice.

b) Show the kids a world beyond the narrow one they already know.

The Times article was definitely a friendly one. I suspect there is another way to tell the story which wouldnt be quite so upbeat; but suspicions aside, I can believe that without an orderly environment nothing good can happen, and that if really is true that the biggest problem in bringing adequate schooling to socio-economic groups at the bottom of the ladder is
the existence of a self defeating culture, then one way to "crack" the culture is to introduce kids to a larger menu of choices than they ever suspected was out there for them.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 2008, 12:43 pm

I copied the whole thread and transferred it to a Word document. It came to fifty single-spaced pages!

For some reason, I envision this statement causing Arctic-Stranger, Pro and Con's august creator, to chortle with glee, a la Dr. Frankenstein or Mr. Burns. "It's alive ... alive!!! Excellent." :D

On the topic itself, I think it's fascinating that philosojerk's original question (as I understood it) was actually about racism and racist attitudes, and their possible effects on the elections; and the thread soon morphed into Black Americans specifically, and what to do about the Black underclass, and conservative vs. liberal approaches to that. Not that I'm complaining, just that I find it interesting that the thread took that specific turn.

In regards to philosojerk's statement, "I wonder how successful a deliberative democracy can be when such ignorance is at the root of peoples' decisions," I agree, but I also see some causes for hope. Louisiana, for instance, once sent Klansman David Duke to its House of Representatives, yet it has also recently installed Indian American Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal as its governor. ("Indian" as in South Asian Indian, not First Nation/Native American.)

Things can and do change, and sometimes, they change for the better. Or maybe I'm just feeling artificially optimistic this morning.

Edited to fix 2 typos. So much for optimism. :D

helmikuu 8, 2008, 5:09 pm

I've discovered a blog devoted to "acting white" - it seems some African-Americans are studying white people to figure it out.


helmikuu 8, 2008, 8:18 pm

Actually, what caught my attention in the first few posts of this thread was the assumption that racism and prejudice are somehow just irrational, or wicked, or inexplicable.

I was surprised to see that view held here, because it seems so obviously wrong to me. And I have always thought that all of the people who post here see the same reality, but just have a different mix of values and dispositions towards the social world. But here was something flatly wrong -- obviously wrong -- being asserted as if it was something we should all puzzle over.

Also, I like to break taboos. (Coming next: Zionist power in America.)

helmikuu 8, 2008, 10:24 pm

ref #194
If racism means that one believes in , acts on and thinks that public policy should be based on the theory that the most important factors determining a persons character are biological, i.e. "genes", "blood", "ancestry", "family" and the like and moreover that some groups, you know who they are (usually not ones own, not surprisingly) have a host of negative qualities that are built in and unchangeable; then yeah, I think that sort of racism is "a bad thing".

Irrational? Well not so long ago the best science available supported the theory though scientists have since changed their attitudes. I'ld say the theory is mistaken and to the extent that the theory flatters us or gives us permission to act in beastly ways toward others it is involved with our emotions.
I suspect that people find reasons to believe or lean toward the theory for reasons other than its objective evidence or for the excellence of the observational data supporting it.

As to "inexplicable" ...well hardly. Cooperation within the group and competition between groups seems to be a constant theme of human organization. Cultural clashes are well known, demonizing other groups is also a common phenononon as is the exploitation of inter group conflict by "leaders" for their own purposes.

So I dont want to put words in you m mouth but do you want to argue that racism is "a good thing" or a neutral thing?

Or that like it or not the theory has merit (i.e. is true or true enough in some regards) regardless of its being out of favor with egalitarians?

I seem to remember at least one post where you posit that culture is probably more influential than "blood", so that would get you expelled from most "racist" caucuses.

So that leaves me confused ( a not unfamiliar state, I must admit) about what you're arguing here.

helmikuu 9, 2008, 8:24 am

Apologies and reparations--there's a topic for a new thread!

Apparently, Australia will apologize in March to Aborigines for taking children to be raised in white homes.

Also, "Up from Slavery"--The Righteous and Reasonable Ambition to Become a Landholder: What Would Have Happened if Former Slaves had Received Land after the Civil War? By Melinda Miller, Univ of Michigan

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 2008, 1:12 pm

No. I do not think racism, by almost any definition, is a good thing, or even a neutral thing. It's a puzzle to me why anyone should think I hold such views.

But then I don't think that "racism" as you have defined it here -- and I think that your definition is a pretty good one -- is actually very widespread in the United States today, especially not as an evil that can be fought by new legislation. And, more importantly, to the extent that it does exist, it is not the main problem facing American Blacks right now.

And although I do not rule out the influence of biology on behavior, I think the influence is weak, at best, when it regards to how people actually behave.

Usually, when talking about the relationship of race and biology -- ultimately driven by genes -- people mean one or both of two different things:

(1) a supposed preference for the bearers of genes related to one's own, which is signaled by how they look, whose flip side is the lack of this preference for those who are genetically-distant; this is presumably shared by all races.

(2) the ascription of various negative behaviors to other ethnic groups, presumably genetically-rooted.

I don't rule out either. But there are plenty of reasons to believe that human behavior is also shaped by much stronger factors, which are, to a great extent, under our control.

For example, for centuries, Jews and Christians viewed each other as The Other. Inter-marriage was extremely rare. A genetic-determinist could have pointed to this as proof of his views. Today in America more than 50% of Jews marry non-Jews. Poof! goes that theory.

Someone fleeing from Mongol horsemen, or Viking raiders, could be forgiven for believing that their pursuers were just acting out the influence of hormones which made them aggressive and violent. Who fears these people today?

I believe that material factors have a much stronger explanatory power: if we want to understand what is driving the tribes butchering each other in Kenya today, we ought to start not with genetic considerations, but with a look at the competition for land, and for influence with the state. (In much of the world outside the West, when one ethnic group dominates the state, it simply uses it as another weapon in the struggle for scarce resources, many of which are under state control in Third World countries -- part of the malign legacy of Third World socialism. Where the state is closer to the ideal of equal justice for all, and where its influence is limited anyway, the motivation for inter-ethnic hatreds is correspondingly less.)

Having said that, I should also say I don't think we really understand how society "works" very deeply. We have seen radical social change over time, much of it for the better, but we cannot speak with confidence in detail about how this has been caused. This is especially true since much of the ultimate cause has been profound changes in the economy, which are largely beyond our control.

We just have some general common-sense rules of thumb to guide us, mainly dealing with what not to do, rather than with what to do.

I am sure I also caused offense by making what to me is just a common-sense observations, with which I'll bet almost everyone reading this agrees, even if he will not say it out loud: most of current white attitudes towards Blacks is driven by the current behavior of a lot of Blacks: and I don't just mean crime and other social pathologies, but the tendency of Black leaders -- I am talking about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and their minions here, not Thomas Sowell or Colin Powell or Bill Cosby -- to Blame the White Man for this.

I knew, from past experience, that this observation would trigger off a powerful emotional blast, in which all logic goes out the window.

No one turns a hair when we talk of "white racism" -- no one assumes that this refers to all whites, no one assumes that it is something inherent in whites which they cannot overcome, no one quickly lists whites who are or were not racist,-- but use a phrase like "Black crime" and all of these reality-avoiding mechanisms, willful distortions or misunderstandings, and logical fallacies, are immediately brought into play.

I know all this. And I suppose I should always carefully qualify my statements, add the appropriate disclaimers, use the right quantifiers ... "Now I'm not talking about all Black people" .... "Of course, there are reasons for this, rooted in slavery ..." "Whites commit crimes too..."

But among intelligent adults, who are familiar with each other, I think it would be an insult to do this. A real insult, not an invented one.

And more importantly, I think frank talk between white and Black is critical for solving the problems, if they can be solved. There is a strong tendency for the white intelligentsia to suppress what they really think, to act out of guilt, and the desire not to hurt feelings -- not the worst of motives --, and thus to tell Blacks what they think they want to hear. (And of course there are some people who have actually internalized Newspeak on racial issues, and are genuine Newthinkers.)

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 2008, 7:54 pm

ref #194
We may actually be getting somewhere.

The bones of contention seem to be:

1. How widespread is racism in America today ?

2. How big an obstacle is racism for African Americans today?

3. What is the proper role, if any, of government either to reduce the amount of racism that remains or to neutralize its ill effects on the target population?

4. To what extent (and this is the question that raises hackles and makes some people think there's racist intent in merely asking it) are white people's negative attitudes about blacks an accurate perception of the behavior of significant numbers of blacks themselves?

I have some opinions on all of the above which I'll talk about soon. Gotta go now.

helmikuu 26, 2:12 pm

Scott Adams says completely reasonable, in his regular online commentary fair and just things about race*-- and predictably brings a storm of vile hatred down upon himself.

in which he notes that, according to a Rassmussen poll--a direct link to which I've not found-- that some 46% of those polled replied either "agree" or "not sure" to the statement, "It is not alright to be (of the) 'white' (race)".

Just think about what the commentary and public respose should be if the poll had reported the same results in respose to the polled statement "It is not alright to be 'black'" -- if you dare.

I find no indication of any comment on this news-brief anywhere in "Talk".

How about that?!!

* 46% of Blacks (self-identified as such) responded either "agree" or "not sure" to the statement: "It is not OK to be 'White'."

heinäkuu 28, 11:27 am

Finally got around to reading Warmth of Other Suns, and Florida sounds as bad or worse as any state during Jim Crow era. LOTS of history there!

Florida's Black history standards are even worse than reported
Michael Harriot | Jul 27, 2023

OPINION: While critics have singled out the part of Florida’s social studies standards referencing the “benefits of slavery," theGrio found numerous examples of miseducation embedded throughout the curriculum.

10. The enslaved benefited from slavery
9. Black “patriots” fought in the American Revolution
8. The white people who fought to end slavery:
7. But Black people owned slaves, too!
6. Negro conservatives
5. But slavery existed in every society
4. You can be Black and patriotic… But not both
3. There’s a lot missing
2. Where are all the white people?
1. It makes white people comfortable.


Muokkaaja: elokuu 5, 7:01 pm

I am aware of evidence that #s 9,8,7,6,5, and 3 are not entirely untrue - especially # 8 (i.e., hundreds of thousands of white Union soldiers died to end slavery. Fuck them?)

There is, of course, no acceptable apologies for slavery, nor is there any upside to it, but there is more than enough guilt to go around. E.g., black people originally had black slaves in Africa well before black slavery began in America. E.g., First Nation tribes made slaves of conquered tribes, i.e., slavery existed in the "New World" well before 1492, and some owned black slaves afterwards. Etc.

As to #9, what about Crispus Attucks? Shall we flush him down the toilet of history because he does not fit the narrative?

The attempt to teach about slavery in some committed non-ideologial way would seem best but isn't going to happen. Those on each side insist on having it "politically correct" under their particular definition of correctness.