December 29, 2006

Here's the post where I take on Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine.

Ron Bailey has put up a long attack on me on the Reason Magazine blog. It's his version of what happened at the Liberty Fund colloquium on Frank S. Meyer, which I've alluded to but avoided talking about in detail. Now that he's written so much over there, it forces me to get specific about some things I'd rather leave unsaid. Here's Ron:
... Althouse bizarrely came away thinking that conservatives and libertarians were frightening "true believers." Why? Evidently because they took political and moral ideas seriously.
False. I came away surprised that some people, especially the libertarians, were hardcore, true believers, wedded to an abstract version of an idea and unwilling to look at how it played out in the real world. I had come to the conference thinking I had more in common with libertarians but was quite put off by them in person. By contrast, the conservative position, because it had more to do with the real-life context, was much less troubling to me. This surprised me, because I disagree with so much of what social conservatives favor.
Much too seriously for Althouse's comfort. For one thing, there was quite a bit of discussion about the relation of virtue to liberty. Meyer's argument is that liberty is the necessary prerequisite for practicing virtue. Apparently some conservatives, such as L. Brent Bozell, Jr. (see Bozell's 1962 essay "Freedom or Virtue?" which we read for the seminar) with whom Meyer was arguing, believe that the state has the right and obligation to coerce virtue. This is anathema to libertarians. The first concern of libertarians is state power and this paramount concern for the abuse of state power means that the state should stay out of private activities that traditional conservatives might consider vicious, e.g., personal use of recreational drugs, voluntary prostitution, and so forth. Anyway, this politico-philosophical discussion apparently confused Althouse. Perhaps her skills at abstract thinking have been dulled by all the time she spends dissecting the particularities of legal cases as a law professor.
False. This didn't "confuse" me. But thanks for the "apparently." I agree -- and said at the conference many times -- that the state should not coerce virtue when it doesn't affect other persons. What disturbed me was the assertion in the writings that the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were pernicious. And when I said that at the conference, a lot of the participates immediately challenged me. Did I think the law was right?!! This is what I mean by the excessive belief in the libertarian principle at the abstract level. These folks -- including Bailey, I think -- would have left restaurants and hotels to continue discriminating against black people as long as they pleased. Someone asserted that the free market would solve the problem better than government regulation. I said that the restaurant in the case about the constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in fact made more money by seating only white customers and serving take-out to black people. One other person at the table agreed, but the point was pushed past. It didn't fit the abstraction. I thought the failure to deal with this point was very damaging to the credibility of what we were reading and talking about.
In any case, I had never met Althouse before the colloquium nor even read her blog. When chatting with her over cocktails, she seemed pleasant enough if a bit vague. In casual conversation, she made sure that I knew that she had been a "hippie" back in the day.
Self-deprecation and modesty doesn't play well with libertarians. "Cocktails," by the way, was a glass of wine. Bailey -- I'll say -- wasn't pleasant or vague. Should I counter with some adjectives about him? He was brusque and didn't seem at ease chatting over cocktails. Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink, and she reveals some little fact about herself. What do you do? Smile and reveal some little thing about yourself and make connections? Or do you grunt a few syllables and decide she's a lightweight?
During the sessions when the group analyzed various texts from Meyer, she often seemed lost, not really following the discussion. As she has blogged, she was clearly out of her milieu.
I was uncomfortable with the crowd I found myself in because I felt they were essentially celebrating a man who had written a slim book touting a political philosophy that was used in its time very specifically to oppose civil rights and desegregation. Too many people at the table wanted to talk -- at length and repetitiously -- about abstractions, such as the meaning of the word "virtue." I found this perverse and offensive. I may have "seemed lost" to Bailey, and I surely was not content to just "follow the discussion." I thought there were serious matters that had to be dealt with. Why should I respect this man Meyer at all to want to engage with his book? He wrote screeds in the National Review urging the southern governors to take over the National Guard and fight off school desegregation! It was simply bizarre. Yet I had committed myself to nine hours of conversation! I had to listen to everyone politely. I had no option to walk out. If that look on my face "seemed lost," then I was doing a decent enough job of concealing my true feelings. It wasn't easy.
One session at the end of conference was devoted to Meyer's defense of federalism-his idea is that the constitutional structure that divides state power among political subdivisions tends to limit the power of the state over individuals, thus enlarging the sphere of personal liberty. The tragic historical abuse of federalism was state-mandated racial segregation which Meyer defended. As I understood Meyer's argument, he believed that preserving federalism as bulwark [sic] against the growth of central government power was more important to him than vindicating the rights of black Americans.
Big of him, huh? He really believed his principles, so deeply that black people were just going to have to suffer for his beliefs. What a guy! But you tell me: How do I know he loved his principles first and felt just terrible about how other people were going to have to pay the price for his lofty commitments or whether he actually came to love his ideas because of where they would lead? Why do you love the abstractions you love? To ask this question is not to fail to be an intellectual. To fail to ask this question is to fall short as a thinker.

I heard way too many people say they wanted to stay on the abstract level and then flatter themselves by saying this made them intellectuals. This did not unleash waves of admiration from me, however. It made me begin to entertain the thought that some of these seemingly normal, nice enough people really were racists. How could you tell?
Now here's where Althouse begins to get strange. During that session, as I recall, absolutely everyone around the table condemned Meyer's defense of federalism in the face of the real evil of state-mandated segregation. Everyone!
Yes, state-mandated segregation. But I had brought up the subject of discrimination by private business-owners, which was roundly defended at the table in the name of restricting government to the most minimal level of intrusion on the individual, in hardcore, true-believer libertarian style. (Believe me, the readings expressed the most morbid fear of government you can imagine.)
But apparently not vigorously enough for Althouse.
Because my problem was not limited to state-mandated segregation. You were very clear that that was all you opposed.
Although she did not say it during the sessions, she apparently believes that past racism means that federalism is tainted. She has not made very clear what that "taint" means for the future of federalism.
I've written about this a lot, and not only did I talk about it at the conference, but I've been writing about this in law review articles for 20 years. You might try educating yourself about what I think before writing a big attack on me. Or maybe you're the one with dulled thinking skills. My point, which is quite clear, is that federalism has been associated with the evils of racism historically and that this presents a problem for those who would portray it as good thing today. There are many people who simply experience "federalism" as a code-word for racism. I have written about the positive values of federalism for a long time and have often encountered this problem. I know from long experience that it is crucial to disaggregate federalism from the history of racism to make it attractive in political and legal arguments. As long as Bailey is disparaging my intelligence, I may as well say that Bailey's inability to get this point doesn't make him look terribly smart.
However, during the session, some participants did wonder if there was a way to rescue federalism and really re-establish states as 50 different "laboratories of democracy." Contemporary libertarians strongly favor federalism because it allows some states to permit gay marriage, physician assisted death, medical marijuana, concealed carry of handguns, and surrogate motherhood contracts and other private activities without interference from the Feds. I would be even more startled to discover that Althouse opposes these and similar cases of federalism.
Bailey doesn't seem to know that this is a subject I've written a great deal about in my scholarly writing. Nor does he seem to remember that I brought up this aspect of federalism at the conference. I was the main person who did! Talk about not paying attention!
Of course, libertarians who are eager to prevent the state from interfering in the lives of citizens in order to enforce its version of virtuous behavior, support this kind of federalism. This point was made repeatedly in conference sessions.
Yeah, mainly by me.
As I said, if Althouse thought America's shameful racist history meant that federalism is beyond rescuing (including the "good kinds" just mentioned), she had ample opportunity to make that point during the formal sessions.
Which I don't, so this is just an obtuse point.
However, she can't expect everyone in the room who have been discussing these issues for years to just roll over and agree with her. Oh, by the way, did I mention that no one defended Meyer's views on federalism and racial segregation?.
Again: obtuse.
Liberty Fund colloquia strongly encourage conversation among participants outside of the formal sessions. Participants dine together every evening and are usually seated at tables of six or so participants in order to facilitate conversation. (Althouse weirdly and incorrectly refers to these rules that aim to encourage discussion as "cult-like" here.)
The surly Bailey doesn't appreciate my sense of humor.
After dinner, conferees are invited back to a hospitality suite for cocktails and snacks where they can talk further with one another for as long they like. As it happens, I was sitting at a table at the dinner in which Ann Althouse had her apparent epiphany about tainted federalism and her panic attack about the racial sensitivities of conservatives and libertarians.
We'll get to what he terms a "panic attack" further down.
What happened is that since she had not joined several of us in the hospitality suite the previous night, she asked what we have been discussing until 2 am. Some of my tablemates at dinner told her that I had provoked a spirited debate (lasting perhaps and hour and a half) about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I had asserted that state-sanctioned racial segregation was so egregious a violation of the rights of black citizens that it was absolutely necessary for the federal government to intervene to smash it.
Again, note that he was only opposing "state-sanctioned racial segregation" and only because it was "so egregious" a violation. And apparently, it took a big one-and-a-half-hour fight even to get through that point! I'm trying to convey to you readers just how retrograde things were here. At what point would you start to wonder if this is what it is like to be with racists (of a certain level of intelligence and social class)?
The whole political point of libertarianism is to strictly limit the power of the state over individuals. Mandating racial segregation via state power (as was done in the Southern states) is precisely the kind of state tyranny what libertarians detest [sic]. In any case, I think she found my view of the Civil Rights Act agreeable.
Hardly. You would have protected the individual rights of the businesses that would have gone on discriminating. You only wanted to limit the state, which is what you always want to do anyway, in service of your big idea.
During the discussion in the hospitality suite, absolutely no one defended state-sanctioned segregation and all agreed that Federal intervention was necessary to outlaw state-enforced Jim Crow segregation.
Again with the "state-sanctioned"! That isn't the point. This is so obtuse!
Once the topic had been broached over dinner, I turned to another tablemate who is a fervent Catholic intellectual to discuss some bioethical stuff. We had brought up transhumanism during one of the sessions earlier in the day. The two of us were having a perfectly civil conversation about the moral status of embryos. Anyway next thing I know, Ann Althouse is shouting at two of our dinner companions demanding that they prove to her (Althouse) that they are not racists! She kept asking over and over, "How do I know that I'm not sitting at a table full of racists?" This was completely bizarre! It should go without saying, but I will say it: No one at the conference could even remotely be accused of being racist.
I've already explained how I came to feel that the people I was sitting with could in fact be racists. At the table, I asked my question calmly at first, but was met with continued assertions about the rights of business owners and hypotheticals about the rights of white people. There was a long, irritating hypothetical about KKK members that I couldn't hear over the din of the restaurant. The other woman at the table who was going on in this vein was very young, in her mid-twenties, and she maintained a smug expression on her face as she talked about the rights of white people and repeatedly declined to express concern for the history of racism in the United States and the suffering of real people. It was always back to the hypos about white people. I tried very hard not to express anger at her, but finally I did: How do I know you're not a racist? It was a serious question, something I'd been wondering about all day.
Apparently, the three of them had been discussing the constitutionality of the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act that forbids private businesses to racially discriminate among customers. That is an interesting issue where people ask serious questions about how to balance state intervention and individual choice. Anyway, it's an important issue over which people of good will may disagree-once state-enforced segregation is obliterated, will individual choices under equality of law and in a free market place end racial discrimination? Perhaps not. As Nobel Economics Laureate Gary Becker has argued if a minority group is a very small percentage of a population, then the costs of discrimination will be borne mainly by the minority and market forces may not be strong enough to overcome such discrimination. To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes. But beneficial outcomes may not be the only desideratum of state intervention. Consider the egregious violation of property rights that took place in the Kelo v. New London case. After all, forcing Ms. Kelo to sell her house so that the city could give it to a private developer is beneficial to the city of New London's tax base. Again, people of good will can have serious disagreements on where the proper limits to state power should lie. For example, should the Feds outlaw gay marriage, medical marijuana, concealed carry, surrogate motherhood even though some states want their citizens to have the opportunity to participate in those activities? Some conservatives would say yes. Libertarians would say no.
Got that? He thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it.
In trying to explain to Althouse why private discrimination might be OK, I later pieced together that my tablemates had posed the question of whether or not Althouse would want to have the right to refuse to serve KKK members if she owned a restaurant--say, the KKK members were planning to have a weekly luncheon meeting at her cafe? My interpretation of what happened is that because she didn't want to appear to be hypocrite, she refused to answer and kept asking more and more abstract questions about their example. When she was backed into a corner, she lashed out, suggesting that people who disagreed with her feelings were racists. Eventually, she was so upset that she began crying. Of course, at that point the possibility of civil intellectual discourse completely evaporated.
My friends, in all honesty, what made me cry -- and I'm not too sentimental, as you may have noticed -- was the realization that these people didn't care about civil rights.
I was also astonished by the poise with which my tablemates handled Althouse. Our companions did not raise their voices nor dismiss her (as I would have), but tried to calm her down. In fact, Althouse made the situation even more personal by yelling repeatedly at one of my dinner companions (who is also a colleague) that she was an "intellectual lightweight" and an "embarrassment to women everywhere." In fact, in my opinion, with that statement Althouse had actually identified herself. Before Althouse stalked away, I asked her to apologize for that insult, but she refused.
I don't think I said "embarrassment to women everywhere." That doesn't sound like my language. But I really was very angry at this young woman for her smiling and for her incessant justification of racial discrimination. I left the table because Bailey himself yelled at me in an extremely harsh way. He just kept saying "You don't know her. I know her." Basically, they were colleagues, and he was vouching for her. He didn't respond on the substantive issue. How could he? He agreed with her about private discrimination. At that point, I was so offended by these people that I got up and left. I felt terrible about causing a scene and being part of any ugliness. But on long reflection, I think I would have felt far worse if I had sat through all of that without saying anything.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ron Bailey shows up and I respond:
RON BAILEY: Professor Althouse: It is perfectly OK to complain that you think that people are foolishly adhering to principle while ignoring actual experience in the real world. What is NOT OK is for you to shout at other people calling them "racists" because they don't completely agree with your analysis. Especially when they are NOT racists.

Ron, you took the cake for shouting that night, but I agree that I got angry in the end, after much provocation and a severe lack of friendliness. I did not call people racists. I talked about how important it was to distinguish yourself from racist things that adhere to your abstract ideas. If anyone at that table had had the decency to say sincerely that they cared about civil rights and wanted to find a way to make it show that they hated racism, I would never have gotten angry like that. You suddenly became very vicious toward me, in defense of your friend. It looked really ugly. I was just begging for people to care about racism. Your colleague had an infuriatingly insolent smirk on her face for two hours. I tried very hard to deal with it, but it was just too much for me in the end. You did nothing to reach out toward me, a moderate, who came to the conference interested in libertarians. You completely alienated me and lost me as a potential ally, which was surpassingly foolish politically.

RON BAILEY: As you know calling someone a racist in America in the 2lst century is the worst epithet you can use. Deservedly so, racism is despicable. So you'd better reserve the term for people who really are racist, say, David Duke.

Oh, spare me. You're the one that just wrote a big, long post on a prominent website insulting me every which way you could think of. And yeah, racism is very bad. That's why you should try harder to disassociate yourself from it! Since it's so ugly, get the hell farther away from it. Don't attack me for saying you're standing too close to it... unless you like the impression it gives!

RON BAILEY: Finally, as much it pains me, I guess I have to spell it out for you. When I write: "To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes" that means that I support the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act. Now have I jumped through your racial sensitivity hoops enough?

No. You admit that there were benefits but you still stood by the principle that government should not have acted, and you're still calling my concern about civil rights "racial sensitivity hoops." It's quite absurd, really. You didn't have to make a big display today of how little you cared, and I never wrote a post about you. Go ahead and stew in your own fetid juice. You're missing a part, man.

RON BAILEY: BTW, your ad hominem, "Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink" implying that if I'm not racist, that I may be anti-feminist. Priceless.

It wasn't an accusation of sexism, Ron, as the context of my post makes pretty damned clear. It was a way of saying that you did not understand the function of small talk and were socially awkward. You still don't get it. And the only reason I went ahead and wrote it is because you blatantly insulted me. You took any number of gratuitous shots at me and that freed me to be rude right back at you.

UPDATE: Three academics respond to this post, and I fight back here. I'm not responding to everyone who goes after this post, though. There are a few people who apparently monitor this blog constantly and do dumb little posts that -- really -- I have seen. If you send significant traffic here, and I never respond to you, it's because I think you're boring, little man.

154 comments:

downtownlad said...

Well good for you for standing up for your beliefs.

I agree with your opponents on the law though. The 1964 Civil Rights Act discriminates against racists. And if people want to be racist and refuse to serve black people in their private establishment, the government really should have zero say over the matter.

Sucks if you're black though.

This goes for gay people as well. We're allowed to be denied housing, gardeners in Texas can refuse to provide their services to gay people, we can be kicked out of hotels and restaurants, organizations such as the Boy Scouts can refuse to accept gay youth as members - in fact this happens all the time. That's ok - people are allowed to be anti-gay bigots. That's freedom. And that government shouldn't mandate that we all be nice to each other.

I just have a problem when that bigotry is practiced by the government.

Gahrie said...

But I had brought up the subject of discrimination by private business-owners, which was roundly defended at the table in the name of restricting government to the most minimal level of intrusion on the individual, in hardcore, true-believer libertarian style.

OK here's where you lose me again. The above arguement that you find so objectionable, is exactly the same arguement that you use to justify abortion. Why is it so horrific when applied to the right of free association but so benign when applied to the right to kill a fetus?

Anonymous said...

To clarify: You feel someone who thinks a privately owned business should be at liberty to serve whoever it wants, in whatever environment it chooses, needs to be sensitive to the fact that others may deem them callous or insenstive. Your company at this confab did not, you feel, vigorously enough assert their lack of racism when this general question was being discussed in the specific context of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Thus you felt they were morally handicapped. They felt you were hurling ad hominems, "racist" being about as toxic a one as you can hurl in our society. Seems to me we have nothing more than a disagreement regarding etiquette.

Unless, Ms. Althouse, in hindsight you really DO think they were closet racists. In which case we have a whole 'nother shootin' match. If this is not the case you should probably apologize for insinuating they were, and they should probably apologize for being uncharitable in observing racial pieties that were clearly important to you, an invited guest.

Then can we all move forward and figure out how a more Federalist approach can deliver a country with at least a fighting chance of being all things to all people?

amy said...

Sounds like it was a horrific experience for you. Your rebuttal is a bit amusing though, mainly because I've been reading your site for about 2 years or so now. I suppose his article might sway folks who don't read your site, but anyone who's read your site on any sort of regular basis would read his article and go "What? Who is he talking about?"

Dirty Harry said...

While I personally agree that the feds or the state should strongly mandate against private business discrimination, I don't think those who disagree with that are racists.

Can a black person be libertarian?

The libertarian POV is that people are essentially good and able to regulate themselves. Eventually a business that discriminates would be shamed out of business. And should be shamed out of business.

I don't think that's a racist position. Nor is it a position opposed to civil rights -- because civil rights will be enforced by good people.

It's just anti-government. Again, I think the government should enforce civil rights laws, but don't feel anti-govt or Federalism equatee racism. A by-product could be racism but racism may be a by-product of many things. Like keeping the government out of regulating abortions for instance.

Chum said...

For what it's worth, after reading Bailey's interpretation of what thinks you said in your post, and the rest of his comments I can see why he never got you at all. I doubt he much cares to listen to anyone with a different perspective on an issue.

Actually, his comments give weight and confirm for me anyway, your observation of... 'Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening.'

Interesting in that this is as far as you went in response to the discussion while his response is an over the top, personal attack.

Were Bailey sincere in his beliefs, he would have argued your points of disagreement without the need for attack, thus proving this one point.
What a wanker.

Dirty Harry said...

While I agree that the government should vigorously enforce civil rights, I don't think those who disagree are racists or are even opposed to civil rights.

Can a black person be a libertarian?

Libertarians believe in the basic decency of people to police themselves. They believe a racist company will be -- and should be -- put out of business due to public shame.

That's not anti civil rights. It's looking for civil rights from someplace other than the government. That's not racist.

As I said before, I disagree with this philosophy because I believe all people must know the government protects their basic human rights, but I don't question the intentions of those who disagree.

Shooter said...

Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink, and she reveals some little fact about herself. What do you do? Smile and reveal some little thing about yourself and make connections? Or do you grunt a few syllables and decide she's a lightweight?

I reveal that I was an Army Aviator and ask her for her phone number.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, you're a libertarian ideologue.

Dirty Harry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...

"This goes for gay people as well. We're allowed to be denied housing, gardeners in Texas can refuse to provide their services to gay people, we can be kicked out of hotels and restaurants, organizations such as the Boy Scouts can refuse to accept gay youth as members - in fact this happens all the time. That's ok - people are allowed to be anti-gay bigots. That's freedom. And that government shouldn't mandate that we all be nice to each other."

Thanks to federalism, that's obviously not true everywhere.

hygate said...

I suspect that someone who is getting refused service because of the color of their skin is going to be pretty uninterested in how the Libertarian’s philosophical justification for supporting such discrimination differs from a racist’s. And while Libertarians may not be racists, they are definitely utopians who are willing to sacrifice a few minor things (like civil liberties for minorities) if that is what it takes to usher in the golden age that would ensue if only their philosophy was adopted by all.

Also, it seems odd for him to be bringing up the Kelo decision in this context. Wasn’t Kelo a triumph of federalism? I thought that the Supremes ruled that it was up to the individual states to set the rules concerning taking of private property for public use.

Rick Lee said...

Wow... this exchange really presents the event in a different light from what I perceived from your exchange with Jonah. When I watched the Blogging Heads video I couldn't help but think that you and Jonah were just misunderstanding and talking past each other. This is different.

I've always considered myself to be a "libertarian leaning Republican" but this shows up the true believers to be rather foolish. I was just a kid in 1964 but I remember taking seriously the idea that you couldn't legislate racism out of people. But I was really surprised to see how quickly the country got used to the idea of integration. Within a few short years it just seemed silly to think that blacks were once barred from some restaurants and hotels. How anyone could argue against this incredibly positive outcome based solely on ideology is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Idealogues of any form can be individually exasperating, but they become impossibly so when arranged in self-reinforcing groups. Rather than honestly facing the evidence of flaws in their ideology and examining routes to improve ideas, this group banded together to attack you. This kind of mobbing is a common dynamic in dysfunctional organizations and is among the defining characteristics of a cult.

Ann Althouse said...

That last comment of mine was directed at DTL.

Awbnid said "You feel someone who thinks a privately owned business should be at liberty to serve whoever it wants, in whatever environment it chooses, needs to be sensitive to the fact that others may deem them callous or insenstive. Your company at this confab did not, you feel, vigorously enough assert their lack of racism when this general question was being discussed in the specific context of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus you felt they were morally handicapped. They felt you were hurling ad hominems, "racist" being about as toxic a one as you can hurl in our society. Seems to me we have nothing more than a disagreement regarding etiquette. Unless, Ms. Althouse, in hindsight you really DO think they were closet racists. In which case we have a whole 'nother shootin' match. If this is not the case you should probably apologize for insinuating they were, and they should probably apologize for being uncharitable in observing racial pieties that were clearly important to you, an invited guest."

I have an honest question and I needed an answer. I tried asking diplomatically only to be met with repeated assertions about how terrible government power is and so forth, which at some point feels like denial. I'm not saying they are racists, but they are surely insufficiently sensitive to the central problem in American history. And they are also extraordinarily ineffective at making their ideas palatable to nonideologues. Keep in mind I was trapped in a small room with them for 2 days and 3 nights! How much of this sort of thing would you take? And at what point would my taking it make a person of good will think that I am a racist or insufficiently sensitive to racism?

Anonymous said...

I've already explained how I came to feel that the people I was sitting with could in fact be racists. At the table, I asked my question calmly at first, but was met with continued assertions about the rights of business owners and hypotheticals about the rights of white people. There was a long, irritating hypothetical about KKK members that I couldn't hear over the din of the restaurant. The other woman at the table who was going on in this vein was very young, in her mid-twenties, and she maintained a smug expression on her face as she talked about the rights of white people and repeatedly declined to express concern for the history of racism in the United States and the suffering of real people.

So white people aren't real people? How do we know *you're* not a racist? No really, prove it to us!

Your question was an inappropriate one, simply because an unanswerable question designed to escalate the conversation into a tense emotional standoff. There is no way to 'prove' to someone you're not a racist. There is nothing you can say or do that can't be answered with "Well that's just an outward show. What you *really* think is..."

For that reason, it's extremely poor form to go around asking people to prove they aren't racists and completely bypassing the substance of their argument. If you think their argument is a racist one, say so, and demonstrate why.

My friends, in all honesty, what made me cry -- and I'm not too sentimental, as you may have noticed -- was the realization that these people didn't care about civil rights."

Please spare us the self-righteous tears at the fact that not everyone is as enlightened as you and doesn't measure up to your high moral standards. I don't break into tears when seated around pro-abortion folks because I am suddenly struck by the realization that they just don't care about babies.

Also, don't make the mistake of assuming that since these people have arrived at different conclusions about civil rights than you have, they don't care about them at all. I think it's obvious they *do* care about them, and deeply, just in a different way than you do.

"I don't think I said "embarrassment to women everywhere." That doesn't sound like my language. But I really was very angry at this young woman for her smiling and for her incessant justification of racial discrimination."

I think it's clear what really got you was the smiling and the smugness. In which case your display was regrettably somewhat shameful. She may have intentionally set out to get your goat and obviously succeeded completely in making you utterly lose control of yourself. Probably what annoyed you (as it would anyone) was her taking delight in advocating a position you found personally repellant.

And drawing limits to what behaviors the federal government can address does not mean you endorse those behaviors. I, for example, don't think we should be using SWAT teams to break into the homes of suspected drug dealers, but that doesn't mean am attempting to justify this.

I'm a big fan of your blog, and find most of your posts to be insightful and intelligent. This seems like an unpleasant aberration to me, brought on by the fact you don't really know how to handle yourself in the company of people who hold beliefs contrary to your own.

If you ascribe motivations of malice and racism to everyone who thinks differently than you do, then yes, you're going to find it difficult. You can either see a racist behind every bush, or someone else who has also thought about the matter and simply arrived at a different conclusion.

That's not to say they are *not* racists but the conversation will go a lot more smoothly if you don't jump to that conclusion. I don't think your practice of saying "Hmmm these people *could* be racists -- better ask them to prove they aren't" particularly helpful or wise.

At any rate, saying the federal government should not have intervened to end racial segregation no more means you support racism than saying the federal government should not have intervened to try to save Schiavo means you support euthanasia.

Anonymous said...

I think someone needs to issue a pardon to heal our nation and move past this long national nightmare that is the Chicago Liberty Fund conference.

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rightwingprof said...

"I was uncomfortable with the crowd I found myself in because I felt they were essentially celebrating a man who had written a slim book touting a political philosophy that was used in its time very specifically to oppose civil rights and desegregation."

And there's where you're missing the boat. You're ascribing actions to ideas, confusing Meyer with those who used his statements to uphold segregation.

Genetics has been used to justify eugenics. By your logic, every genetics paper must begin with a disclaimer that the author is not a supporter of eugenics. You can think of similar examples from any science.

Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for a very good reason: the Constitution does not grant the Federal government the power to make those intrusions on private property, i.e., businesses. Goldwater was no racist, and he strongly disapproved of segregation. He opposed the Civil Rights Act out of principle, even though he knew it would be the death of his campaign for the White House.

Do his principles frighten you?

Palladian said...

Ugh. This is why I hate people who think they're "intellectuals". I can just hear the voices ringing through the drafty cloisters in their heads: "Wow, I'm at a colloquium! I'm a real intellectual!"

These things are like Viagra for people who haven't had a real intellectual hard-on for years.

Imagine a country run by these people. Imagine your rights being looked after by downtownlad. Imagine if you were a black person in some Southern state looking at the honest concern and sympathy on the faces of the Ron Baileys of the 1950s as they went to eat dinner, post-colloquium, at a place that wouldn't serve you.

Did anyone ever see Hitchcock's Rope? An entertaining look at where intellectuals and their big, abstract ideas lead.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

And at what point would my taking it make a person of good will think that I am a racist or insufficiently sensitive to racism?

Well, to what people of good will are you referring?

Surely there were people of good will at the conference. If you mean your readers, I think they know you well enough not to assume that since you were at a conservative/libertarian conference without a confrontation that you are actually a closet racist. Such a belief would imply, of course, that that person thinks *all* conservatives and libertarians are closet racists themselves, and thus bar the person in question from being 'of good will' in the first place.

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about the being perceived as 'insufficiently sensitive to racism'. To me, that demand is a perniciously foul sacrifice to the gods of political correctness. Now you can be condemned, not because what you believe is wrong, but that you weren't sufficiently strident and confrontational in defending the 'correct' viewpoint against the benighted barbarians and neanderthals who hold different views.

Such an idea should be rejected out of hand. You can almost always be deemed 'insufficiently sensitive' by the true believers and zealots. Best to not even start down that path.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post!

Libertarianism is an extremely useful political philosophy, but just like any other ideology, it fails when taken to its extreme. Not only do moral questions arise, but in practical terms, it simply isn't true that society benefits as a whole when individuals are entitled to (almost) complete liberty. Economists run into the same problem: market capitalism works very, very well... except when the market produces negative externalities. And monopolies. Government shouldn't turn a blind eye to those issues.

Anonymous said...

As a libertarian this is an issue that I have ogten struggled with. I am unconfortable with the government forcing private buisness to serve customers that they don't want, but on the other hand, the reality of the Jim Crow South leads me to believe that there might not have been any better solution. While I might agree with DTL and the participants of that conference in principle, sometimes compromises must be made. I guess I'm more of a pragmatic libertarian rather than a "true believer"

brian said...

Here's a hypothetical for you:

Say you're black, and you're looking for a place to get something to eat. Would you rather go into a restaurant and get deliberately horrible service because the place is ran by a bigoted moron, or be warned ahead of time and not bother going in?

If not for the unfortunate demonization of black economic self-sufficiency, private discrimination would've been rendered irrelevant and unsustainable in the long run. A more conspiracy-prone type would suspect this was the reason MLKs view of resistance was eventually accepted while the Black Panthers were considered little more than a gang right up to their collapse, but I'm not going to go there...

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell, you committed a cardinal sin: You cried. During a conversation at a casual dinner (not during the conference). Therefore, you are unbalanced. Any point you made is irrelevant. You are obviously an irrational woman.

Prediction: This aspect will get ever-increasing play. We shall next be regaled of stories about you crossing your legs or folding your arms, an obvious manifestation of your deep-seated hostility to the cause.

JohnK said...

Ann,

The issue for me is did you actually cry? I have never met Ronald Bailey but I doubt him and the libertarian crew quite warrent crying. Further, as a law student who watched law professors brutalize 1ls, if you actually cryed I can't believe you call yourself a lawyer. Did you ever practice law? Have you ever been to court? If so, I hope it wasn't over anything important because you typical district judge will Ron Bailey look pretty tame. Further, if you did indeed cry, I think you owe every 1L you have ever called on in class and terrorized and apology. It is not so easy having to defend yourself to a group of smart people when you haven't already read the book 10 times and know all of the answers is it? The general consensus among Reason commentators who were lawyers is that Bailey deserves a medal for finally slapping down one of the worst forms of intellectual bullies known to man; the law professor.

djw said...

I'm curious as to what you think would be sufficient evidence that a person is not a racist. I agree with you on the merits, and I even agree with you that the libertarian position here constitutes a data point in favor of the conclusion that the holder of that view might, in fact, be racist. But how could she possibly prove the negative? What sort of thing could she have said that would have satisfied you?

I think it's fair to say that raising unanswerable personal questions is bad form.

Anonymous said...

BTW: In RE:

the realization that these people didn't care about civil rights.

No, they don't. Someone could probably argue with a high likelihood of being proven right that many of them don't care for the Bill of Rights, either.

Then again, Ann, it has been my experience that most people have little interest in the rights of others, but a lot of interest in their own. (A good example of this might be California voters rejecting equal housing as late as 1964.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

But I really was very angry at this young woman for her smiling

This is where Vigilance pays off. You let them crack a smile, and the next thing you know they've grown breasts.

Dave said...

Ann, you hit the crux of the libertarian problem when you write "they are also extraordinarily ineffective at making their ideas palatable to nonideologues."

Personally, I am a libertarian, ideologically so, and so Bailey et al are preaching, ironically, to the choir when I read their word. That said, I do understand that people who not convinced of the libertarian position do not necessarily appreciate we libertarians referring to them as nanny-statists/communists/liberals/fundies/etc.

The fundamental point of disagreement between a liberal of your stripe and a libertarian of Bailey's stripe is that where you see the government as having the potential to do good, libertarians see in those actions naivete and the law of unintended consequences. From my perspective the evidence supports the libertarian view that, on average, government intervention negatively affects people's lives.

Meade said...

You were in fact trapped in that small room?

I must have missed that part.

That is simply wrong. I myself would not be able to take that at all. I would freak out completely and do anything necessary to escape and I would not care one whit who might think (erroneously) that I am a racist or insufficiently sensitive to anything.

You were their guest and they mistreated you. They may have the civil right to do that but they have a moral responsibility to be civil and to apologize to you for causing you to suffer. Trapping any person against his or her will is beyond rude. It is cruel,inhumane, and indecent.

Todd and in Charge said...

Ann, great post. Congratulations for sticking up for so elemental a point. To me, as a lawyer, the public accomodations concept was a noble and clever construct that led to an unassailable good. And it was not without precedent in other, more mundane areas of the law, as the Supreme Court convincingly established in a string of well-reasoned opinions.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Althouse, were you not aware -- prior to your attending the Liberty Fund event -- that libertarians oppose the the portions of the Civil Rights Act banning private discrimination? Were you unaware that the Liberty Fund is a libertarian group?

If you were ignorant of these facts going in, I can see why you would have been blindsided and upset. But the concept that one could simultaneously oppose government infringments on individual property rights and yet virulently despise the belief and practice of racism is not that hard to comprehend. It is an ideological position, of course, and it's your prerogative to be frightened by views that are outside the mainstream.

But it doesn't make libertarians racist, anymore than it means that liberals who oppose having the Ten Commandments on the courthouse steps favor murder, adultery and theft.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, that Civil Rights Act of 1964. I always thought the reason Bork got "borked" was precisely because of his vigorous and unregretted intellectual attack on that statute (in the name, of course, of federalism). Can't the true believers get it through their heads that post-1964 it's unacceptable in this country to hold power if you believe the state can't stop businesses from discriminiating on the basis of race?

Anonymous said...

I think these people are racists all dressed up in a pointy intellectual hood without any eyeholes cut in it.
So, you were a hippie. I love that but a pitbull would have been more useful in that situation

Donn said...

The question for me is whether you are "sensitive to racism" or "oversensitive to racism," two very different things. From your reaction (crying), my guess is that you are oversensitive.

By the way, I enjoy your blog!

J said...

"What disturbed me was the assertion in the writings that the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were pernicious. And when I said that at the conference, a lot of the participates immediately challenged me. Did I think the law was right?!! This is what I mean by the excessive belief in the libertarian principle at the abstract level. These folks -- including Bailey, I think -- would have left restaurants and hotels to continue discriminating against black people as long as they pleased"

When you "defend" your position by assuming it's self evidently correct, you do open yourself up to charges of being a "lightweight". People can hold the opinion that, as with drug laws, anti-discrimination laws create more problems than they solve. And they may be completely wrong in those beliefs. But dismissing them as racists hardly defends your position.

"I'm not saying they are racists, but they are surely insufficiently sensitive to the central problem in American history"

You had me for most of this one Anne, but that remark oozes stereotypical academic thinking almost to the point of parody.

"And they are also extraordinarily ineffective at making their ideas palatable to nonideologues"

That one, on the other hand, describes every activist Libertarian I've ever met to a T.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Althouse mentions her companions during this evening were "extraordinarily ineffective at making their ideas palatable to nonideologues", and this is why she found their lack of racial mea culpas distressing. Thing is, this was not a forum in which making their ideas palatable to the general public was much of a priority. You really should have recognized that. So I could see how asking if someone is a racist, in this context, is more an accusation than an honest query.

Of couse, it should have taken only a soupcon of social skills for them to recognize such reassurance was important to you, so if they were interested in maintaining goodwill and collegiality such reassurance should have been offered. Unless, of course, it would have been insincere...

Good manners are way more important than people generally assume.

I do, by the way, think Mr. Goldberg's observation about how conservatives and libertarians are required to offer these reassurances far more often than their jousting partners on the left is spot-on. The constant demand for apologies for historical misdeeds made upon the libertarian and conservative axis tends to cast all they say afterwards in a sinister light. Of course, I realize that is not what was going on here. But the precedent can make people defensive.

How often, for example, does one of your Leftist students have to precede her case for redistributionist economics by apologizing for Stalinist genocide?

SteveWe said...

I'm not a lawyer. And maybe I'm dense. But, as a citizen, I have no problem with Federal authority prohibiting discrimination in the area of public accommodation. If racists run a motel or a restaurant, they should be open to and serve all -- regardless of race, creed, or handicap. (This also applies to taxicab operators and their objections.)

The Feds (and States) should stay out of regulating private acts between individuals except where it can be shown to cause harm (i.e., a minor cannot engage in consensual sex).

Abortion could be considered a private choice and act. It can also be considered a killing of the most defenseless human. And that battle has not yet been concluded.

It is the drawing of the lines that separate what is permitted and outlawed, that we must ponder and eventually provide our considered vote as citizens.

I've read this post and the earlier one about the conference and it seems to me that the Libertarians are dealing only with abstractions and not with the applications of law.

Anonymous said...

That's all well and good, but forcing a bigoted gardener to mow a gay couple's lawn doesn't stop him from being a bigot. And there are plenty of gardeners who will take that business with a smile.

So in what way does government intrusion in that private transaction actually help anyone? As far as I can tell it only serves to sooth the souls of a few pro-government types who aren't even involved.

Pogo said...

One problem with libertarianism is that it free-rides on judeo-christian heritage and mores.

Hence, it can assume that a market approach would have achieved the same ends, with fewer downstream problems, given sufficient time. To their support, they can point to the riots and anarchy of the 1960s as a legacy that could have been avoided by a more gradual approach. Similar arguments have bean (and still are) made against the Civil War, also on Federalist grounds.

From a market perspective, one key issue lost to libertarians espousing that concept is that one of the government's primary duties is to secure property and provide an adequately enforced and legal system by which business can reliably and fairly transact.

But a collusion to exclude one segment of society from legal business activity threatens that stable economic environment, and is therefore an injustice. Such a system involves two sets of economic rules, which is not a supportable libertarian view. Therefore, I think they violate their own core principles here.

Anyway, that's the way I see it.

Anonymous said...

I would have been reduced to tears to just by the sheer fact of having to associate with those self congratulatory gas bags.

You weren't necessarily "out of your milieu"....more likely bored out of your mind.

The "true believer" is probably one of the most dangerous people on earth. They believe so strongly in their own idea and mantra that they have no room for logical thought or to change when the reality of their actions is proven to be disastrous or at least not what they anticipated. They, rather, try to change reality to fit their preconceived and dearly held ideas.

Smilin' Jack said...

I agree with DTL regarding civil rights, so I guess that makes me a libertarian ideologue (or maybe even a racist, in Ann's view) even though I think a lot of libertarian ideas (like privatizing roads) are wacky. Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with discussing ideas in the abstract without regard to their consequences. Need every discussion of nuclear physics include disclaimers of Hiroshima?

I'm not black or gay, so I don't have anything to whine about...but as an atheist I almost do: In February 1964, when the landmark Civil Rights Act was being debated in Congress, the House of Representatives passed a measure by a vote of 137 to 98 that explicitly excluded atheists from protection under the new law that would otherwise abolish employment discrimination. Fortunately, the measure failed in the Senate. Still, just forty years ago, the same House of Representatives that declared it illegal to engage in employment discrimination against African Americans was willing to give employers free rein to go on discriminating against people who didn’t believe in God.

Ann Althouse said... I have an honest question and I needed an answer. I tried asking diplomatically...

Oh, come on...you can't ask diplomatically if someone is a racist...just asking the question at all is tantamount to calling them one. And "racist" is like "nazi"...the first one to deploy it in an argument loses by default.

...they are surely insufficiently sensitive to the central problem in American history.

I'm not sure that whether certain people could eat at certain lunch counters really constituted the central problem in American history...considering that at the time we were living under the threat of nuclear Armageddon, and all.

Anonymous said...

I would have been reduced to tears to just by the sheer fact of having to associate with those self congratulatory gas bags.

You weren't necessarily "out of your milieu"....more likely bored out of your mind.

The "true believer" is probably one of the most dangerous people on earth. They believe so strongly in their own idea and mantra that they have no room for logical thought or to change when the reality of their actions is proven to be disastrous or at least not what they anticipated. They, rather, try to change reality to fit their preconceived and dearly held ideas.

Anonymous said...

Professor Althouse: It is perfectly OK to complain that you think that people are foolishly adhering to principle while ignoring actual experience in the real world. What is NOT OK is for you to shout at other people calling them "racists" because they don't completely agree with your analysis. Especially when they are NOT racists.

As you know calling someone a racist in America in the 2lst century is the worst epithet you can use. Deservedly so, racism is despicable. So you'd better reserve the term for people who really are racist, say, David Duke.

Finally, as much it pains me, I guess I have to spell it out for you. When I write: "To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes" that means that I support the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act.

Now have I jumped through your racial sensitivity hoops enough?

BTW, your ad hominem, "Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink" implying that if I'm not racist, that I may be anti-feminist. Priceless.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I have a question and a comment, though I suspect neither will make it through the new anti-Mortimer-Brezny-comment-screening policy:

1. Was Ilya Somin at this conference?
2. As much as you tire of endless talk about your hotness, this post is white hot. You should do more of these.

Alan said...

It's hypocritical not to serve racists if you are against perpetuating racism.

This kind of reasoning would break me down to tears too.

Anonymous said...

However, during the session, some participants did wonder if there was a way to rescue federalism and really re-establish states as 50 different "laboratories of democracy."

Notice that pretty much went out the window right after the 2002 elections, when the Federal Government was under the control of Republicans and Democrats started winning a string of previously GOP governorships.

So much for 'standing on principle.'

Dirty Harry:

Segregation existed for a hundred years and nobody 'shamed' people into getting rid of it. In fact, my mother (a Jew from New York) lived in Tennessee at that time and was threatened because she did have a black friend who she went places with. A white friend of mine who also lived in one of the Carolinas (I don't remember which one) was ostracized by the community he lived in for publically drinking from the 'colored' drinking fountain. So if there was 'shame,' it was directed at what was back then called 'white trash' (it has a completely different meaning now), i.e. whites who opposed segregation and did things where they refused to play along with the game.

gahrie:

The abortion issue is a complicated one. You are balancing the rights of the fetus with the rights of the mother. However, as was established by the ending of slavery, every person has a right to his or her own body. No one else owns you or can tell you what to do with your body (though people can lose this right if they commit a crime that causes them to be incarcerated, for example.) So then we get to the definition of who is a 'person.' Legally, this has always been defined as 'a person who is already born.' It is only recently that some states have begun defining seperate penalties for crimes committed against fetuses and pregnant women (which laws I would be in favor of if I didn't feel that the motivation is sometimes a backdoor way of going after abortion rights). As a matter of fact, I might recommend that you read a post I once wrote, entitled, "the success of liberals in stopping abortion." No one wants more abortions, and Liberals have actually implemented ideas (usually against opposition by conservatives) which have reduced the number of abortions by a quarter over the past decade or decade and a half. There are many ways in which liberals and conservatives could find common ground on abortion, if we recognize that there are many ways to fight against something other than banning it. Keep it legal, then we can talk about how to reduce its frequency.

Anonymous said...

"I have an honest question and I needed an answer."

Ann, the question, "How do I know you're not a racist?" isn't so much a question as an insult. How could you think otherwise?

John Tabin said...

Wow, Ann, you come off really, really bad in this exchange. When you conclude that someone doesn't care about (your preferred positive freedom version of) civil rights, you start crying.

Yeah, you're not an ideologue at all. Give me a break.

Ann Althouse said...

Brendan asks some questions:

"Were you well acquainted with the works of Bailey, and not just the most controversial aspects of his biography?"

No. I don't even know the "most controversial aspects"! I guess I should look it up. What's the relevance to this discussion. He wrote a big post attacking me. I hadn't even mentioned him before here.

"And since the Left routinely attacks you as being less than an "authentic" woman, was it really necessary to invoke gender when you slapped that girl down?"

Well, I don't believe I attacked her as a woman like that. It's not the way I talk, and it doesn't make sense. It's not about women and men, it was about race. I did call attention to her age, though. I think she just seemed to lack appreciation for history and human suffering. I'm not one to require extra sensitivity from women.

"And what on Earth would prompt actual tears from a seasoned law prof who trades punches (i.e. Sullivan) with the best of them?"

I spent 9 hours in talks plus 3 nights at dinners with people who were all -- apparently -- quite right wing. We were discussing strong right wing positions, with me as the only one on the outside. You just need to try to picture how frustrating it was, and how disturbing the racial issue got over that stretch of time. Then picture a young woman smirking from across the table for 2 hours and prattling about white people and how bad government is. Then picture a big, gruff guy lashing out at you. It was surreal. But the thing that made me break down -- I kid you not -- was the realization that these people really didn't care about civil rights.

Maybe you'll give me some credit for strength in keeping my bearings, resisting the overwhelming pressure of the crowd, speaking up for civil rights, and walking out on them in the end.

"By all accounts, this was a high-brow academic symposium. Considering all the mixed company, I sincerely doubt they felt this was a "safe place" to let their racist hair down. But you were there an I wasn't, so I'll honor your feelings."

Well, that's a funny way to put it. I don't know if they were really racists or just people who didn't care too much about racial oppression, but infer what you will. I asked them to say something to show they cared, and they just wouldn't. I can't think of the last time I ran into such insensitive people. When I came home and told this story to my friends, you can imagine how they laughed and said, "Well, of course, they're racists!" My little adventure was the source of immense hilarity here.

OddD said...

Well, what if they are racist?

And by that I mean, "So what?"

Isn't part of the point of libertarianism that one is free to be an asshole?

The various states violated the 14th amendment in various ways after it was passed in 1868. So, the system was broken--with tacit agreement by those in power--for a hundred years.

And then the resolution to the issue comes in the form not of enforcing the current laws but in enacting a whole bunch of new ones that (naturally) extend Federal poewr.

It seems to me that the Libs deeply held belief smacked up against Althouse's--she is a fervent, intense, and true believer that the extension of state power in the '60s was for society's betterment.

Of course, neither point of view can be proven, and both are, in fact, equally abstract. The Libs arguing that state power is bad and the Althouse arguing that it was good in this particular case.

For myself, I think it not a bad point from which to start any political discussion. If libertarians are somewhat more intense, it's perhaps because nobody seems to address any modern problem by saying, "Well, first of all, the government shouldn't be involved in this discussion."

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Ann:

On that dinner conversation--

Never be embarrassed about standing up for what you believe in. I'm glad that you did that.

Joe said...

While I identify with the general sentiment of libertarianism, I find the specifics of the movement impractical. It erroneously assumes that human rationality is fundamentally just. It isn't.

The problems lies with facilities where a large, undefined class of people may freely enter, such as a restaurant, while prohibiting another class. If a member of the latter insists on entering, the only legal recourse is to involve the police, at which point, the private discrimination becomes government sanctioned discrimination. It is at this point the libertarian idealogy completely breaks down.

JohnK said...

"And what on Earth would prompt actual tears from a seasoned law prof who trades punches (i.e. Sullivan) with the best of them?"

I spent 9 hours in talks plus 3 nights at dinners with people who were all -- apparently -- quite right wing. We were discussing strong right wing positions, with me as the only one on the outside. You just need to try to picture how frustrating it was, and how disturbing the racial issue got over that stretch of time. Then picture a young woman smirking from across the table for 2 hours and prattling about white people and how bad government is. Then picture a big, gruff guy lashing out at you. It was surreal. But the thing that made me break down -- I kid you not -- was the realization that these people really didn't care about civil rights."

Are you kidding Ann? You spent three days with people who disagree with you, oh the humanity. My God, don't you understand that just because someone doesn't see government coerion as the sollution to bad behavior doesn't mean that they endorse that behavior? I am not saying you have to agree with their position, but aren't you smart enough to understand it? "They don't care about civil rights"? That is not true and you know it or at least I hope you know it. Are you so sheltered that you have never been confronted with anyone who disagrees with you and to have to do so for more than a few minutes makes you cry? And then you have the nerve to call some other woman a "disgrace to their gender"? I am a military lawyer and I know women who have been to war. You cry when confronted with someone who disagrees with you. Who exactly is a disgrace?

I am not surprised you are moderating the comments and mine will never see the light of day because it is pretty obvious in the words of Jack Nicolson, "you can't handle the truth". I am really disapointed in you. Virginia Postrel has a word for you and a good one "diva".

Anonymous said...

"I asked them to say something to show they cared, and they just wouldn't. I can't think of the last time I ran into such insensitive people."

Ann, maybe you really see it that way. But it comes across, in both accounts, as you accusing them of being racists. What were they supposed to say? That's not the sort of question you ask in good faith to further a discussion; nor is it the type of question that deserves an answer. It's an insult.

cyberbini said...

Ann, I couldn't find your answer to the question posed by Bailey? If you owned a private business (say a restaurant) do you feel you have the right not to serve KKK members?

I think many libertarians view a private business in the same way they view a private home. Do you have the right to restrict someone from your home because you don't like their race? What are the differences between a business and a home that make the legal distinction different? Just curious about your opinion on that.

OddD said...

Joe: "While I identify with the general sentiment of libertarianism, I find the specifics of the movement impractical. It erroneously assumes that human rationality is fundamentally just. It isn't."

I think you have that backwards: I think it assumes that collective reasoning is fundamentally flawed.

And if human rationality isn't just at the individual level, on what basis can you claim greater rationality at the group level? Groups are notoriously bad at making correct decisions.

Going back to American racism, state laws in some cases directly constrained individual behavior that we would now consider moral and just. On what basis will you claim greater routine rationality by the group?

The fact that libertarianism is seriously singled out for this shows an illiberal prejudice that's well-worn into the modern psyche.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JimK said...

While I do not deny the basic concept here that libertarianism...or rather Libertarians (note the big L) often focus on abstract things while ignoring how they play in the real world...Althouse, by your own words, it's kind of obvious that you're not without sin here.

First you say:

"Well, I don't believe I attacked her as a woman like that. It's not the way I talk, and it doesn't make sense. It's not about women and men, it was about race."

Then you say:

"Then picture a young woman smirking from across the table for 2 hours and prattling about white people and how bad government is. Then picture a big, gruff guy lashing out at you."

Nice. Paint the picture of The Big Mean Man attacking little old you, and a terrible little spry of a Young Angry Misinformed Miss, also attacking little old you. Why, you were under assault from smarminess and pure anger! It's a wonder your very physical safety wasn't threatened!

But you don't talk like that, right? Wrong. You do talk like that and you just did. Was it necessary to emphasize her age, his size and/or appearance and their respective genders? No. It was not. But you did it anyway to paint the picture of a victim. Your hyperbole was over the top.

Before you go SO far with this, maybe you need to slow down and examine the words you are picking and choosing. In two paragraphs you managed to do exactly what you just said you weren't doing.

Is it at all possible, even a little bit, that you were doing the same thing at this conference? Professor - examine thyself. Blogwar later. Now's the time to make absolutely certain that you were not part of the problem. After all, it takes two to tango.

Ann Althouse said...

RON BAILEY: Professor Althouse: It is perfectly OK to complain that you think that people are foolishly adhering to principle while ignoring actual experience in the real world. What is NOT OK is for you to shout at other people calling them "racists" because they don't completely agree with your analysis. Especially when they are NOT racists.

Ron, you took the cake for shouting that night, but I agree that I got angry in the end, after much provocation and a severe lack of friendliness. I did not call people racists. I talked about how important it was to distinguish yourself from racist things that adhere to your abstract ideas. If anyone at that table had had the decency to say sincerely that they cared about civil rights and wanted to find a way to make it show that they hated racism, I would never have gotten angry like that. You suddenly became very vicious toward me, in defense of your friend. It looked really ugly. I was just begging for people to care about racism. Your colleague had an infuriatingly insolent smirk on her face for two hours. I tried very hard to deal with it, but it was just too much for me in the end. You did nothing to reach out toward me, a moderate, who came to the conference interested in libertarians. You completely alienated me and lost me as a potential ally, which was surpassingly foolish politically.

RON BAILEY: As you know calling someone a racist in America in the 2lst century is the worst epithet you can use. Deservedly so, racism is despicable. So you'd better reserve the term for people who really are racist, say, David Duke.

Oh, spare me. You're the one that just wrote a big, long post on a prominent website insulting me every which way you could think of. And yeah, racism is very bad. That's why you should try harder to disassociate yourself from it! Since it's so ugly, get the hell farther away from it. Don't attack me for saying you're standing too close to it... unless you like the impression it gives!

RON BAILEY: Finally, as much it pains me, I guess I have to spell it out for you. When I write: "To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes" that means that I support the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act. Now have I jumped through your racial sensitivity hoops enough?

No. You admit that there were benefits but you still stood by the principle that government should not have acted, and you're still calling my concern about civil rights "racial sensitivity hoops." It's quite absurd, really. You didn't have to make a big display today of how little you cared, and I never wrote a post about you. Go ahead and stew in your own fetid juice. You're missing a part, man.

RON BAILEY: BTW, your ad hominem, "Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink" implying that if I'm not racist, that I may be anti-feminist. Priceless.

It wasn't an accusation of sexism, Ron, as the context of my post makes pretty damned clear. It was a way of saying that you did not understand the function of small talk and were socially awkward. You still don't get it. And the only reason I went ahead and wrote it is because you blatantly insulted me. You took any number of gratuitous shots at me and that freed me to be rude right back at you.

Anonymous said...

We should protect everyone's right to be as bigoted and narrow minded as they want to be. This includes private establishments that say "No Whites", "No Catholics", "No Atheists", "No Brunettes", "No Men", "No One under 5 foot 3", etc, etc ... As long as the public is not "forced" to support said establishment. People will vote with their dollars and outrage.... or not.

The legislation of morality is a great evil.

Jesse said...

You admit that there were benefits but you still stood by the principle that government should not have acted, and you're still calling my concern about civil rights "racial sensitivity hoops."

Except that he just said, in this very comment thread, that the government should have acted to stop the private discrimination. And he almost certainly said as much in his conversation with you at Liberty Fund as well.

It was a way of saying that you did not understand the function of small talk and were socially awkward.

I've seen Ron is many social situations, and he's perfectly capable of making small talk and of being cordial and charming with people he disagrees with.

I wasn't there, of course, and it's possible that Ron really was socially awkward that day. It's also possible that the person who was socially awkward was the one who later started screaming insults at a fellow conference-goer, bursting into tears, and storming out the door. I think I'm willing to form a hypothesis.

hygate said...

Professor Althouse, I have a question. You didn't know that Libertarians sanction the right of non-state actors to discriminate against others for whatever reason they wish? It's a fundamental part of their philosophy. They don't try to hide it. Their view is that as long as you are not using the property to commit “fraud or force” against someone else then what you do with it is your business alone. As for the insensitivity you sensed towards the United States racially troubled past, think how far in the past the civil rights era must seem to a 23 year old.

Pogo said...

I imagine a more acceptable argument to libertarians is that the exclusion from legal commerce due to race was practiced in a pervasive and systematic fashion and enforced via illegal violence. This therefore violates basic free trade by certain segments of society. That is, the non-blacks formed an illegal guild, there is an implicit tax without representation visited solely on blacks, and free trade between indiviuals was impossible because the government was not quelling the extra-legal violence needed to enforce this state of affairs.

That is, arguing "Racism" talks past cries of "Statism", and becomes ignored. Yet I think their own arguments are anti-libertarian if deeply explored, even if one assumes neutrality towards issues of racism.

sonicfrog said...

From DTL's post:

I agree with your opponents on the law though. The 1964 Civil Rights Act discriminates against racists. And if people want to be racist and refuse to serve black people in their private establishment, the government really should have zero say over the matter.

I am a libertarian minded person, and gay. I have often pondered the question of what role should play, and how far the govenrment should intercede, when dealing with discrimination. I feel your arguments are faulty on several fronts.

First there is the issue of the private establishment. A restaraunt can be a privately owned entitly, but, unless it is a truely private affair, such as a restaraunt contained within the confines of a private and exclusing golf coarse, then it is open to the public at large, thus it is intended for public access and not a private establishment. Restaraunts can still discriminate. For instance, most will not serve customers who are not wearing shoes and shirts (unless of coarse it is on the beach, then all bets are off). But there are substantive reasons behind that type of discrimination. Those rules help provide a more sanitary dining environment, which is logiacal, reasoned, and good for business. But there is no rational reason to prevent someone of a particular race from eating at your establishment.

Racist vs Black. Lets reverse the situation. Can a black restaraunteer decline service to a racist? You say yes. But, unless the racist is a well known public figure, i.e. David Dukes, or he or she is wearing their feelings on their sleeves, tatoos or tee shirts, then how is the black restaraunteer to know that
person is a racist? But the racist restaraunteer will almost always be able to tell if a customer is black. Now carry this example over to employment. Libertarians dislike the idea that one person is less equal than the other. Yet, by your rules, you have set up a situation where one person has less inherent choices and freedoms than the other, thus they have been made unequal. That's not very libertarian AFAIAC.

This goes for gay people as well. We're allowed to be denied housing, gardeners in Texas can refuse to provide their services to gay people, we can be kicked out of hotels and restaurants, organizations such as the Boy Scouts can refuse to accept gay youth as members - in fact this happens all the time.

Just because something happens all the time does not make it OK.

Should gay people be denied housing just because they are gay? No. But that doesn't automatically give them the right to claim discrimination because they didn't get the house they wanted. If a tennant has had bad experiences with gay renters, say the last three gay renters left the apartment or house without paying the last months rent, or trashed the place, then I think the landlord has good reason to want renters of a different persuasion.

Should a gardener be able to choose not to enter into a contract with you because you are gay? It's short sighted, and bad for business, but since he would be an employee, he should have the right to not work where he doesn't want to.

Gays not getting served or getting kicked out of hotels and restaurants? See the previous paragraph on restaurants.

That's ok - people are allowed to be anti-gay bigots. That's freedom.

I agree. People should be free to be bigots if they want. People are free to pick and choose who they include in their circle of friends and aquainances. If they want to have dinners at their house hosting KKK members, or even rent their restaurant out to an after hours dominatrix party (as long as they clean up afterwards), fine. There is nothing the government can or should do about this. That's freedom. It is when the general public is directly affected that the government does, by its very nature, have some role to play in the afairs of its citizens.


Any libertarian would have a hard time arguing against the government acting in the public interest, after all, isn't the public good the reason we have a government run police and fire department? Sometime government regulation is very necessary in order for business to serve the public good. Study the history of early commercial radio and the FCC at its creation (chaos created by stations competing against each other on the same frequency in the same market, false advertising and fraud were abundant) then you understand that some govrnment interference is vital to the country as a whole. And if you think about it, our government came about through a process that intended to decipher what system would be best to serve the citizenry of the country, i.e. the public good. Yet the establishment of a government, by that very act of establishing guidlines, encroaches on the hard line libertarian views of personal freedom.

Hard line libertarianism = little government = Articles of Confederation = chaos.

Ann Althouse said...

rightwingprof said...""I was uncomfortable with the crowd I found myself in because I felt they were essentially celebrating a man who had written a slim book touting a political philosophy that was used in its time very specifically to oppose civil rights and desegregation."And there's where you're missing the boat. You're ascribing actions to ideas, confusing Meyer with those who used his statements to uphold segregation."

Meyer himself wrote articles using these ideas to oppose government action to remedy segregation and race discrimination. Can I be any clearer?! Why are we spending 9 hours celebrating a man who did this? Why are we interested in the abstractions that came from a mind that thought this?

In any case, how would you feel at a 9 hour conference celebrating the political philosophy of Karl Marx and not engaging with the real world damage done by them?

Daryl Herbert said...

That the word "racism" is loaded with different meanings, as well as the difficulty in proving a negative, make your demand a bad idea; shouting it is even worse; crying in response is yet still worse.

And yet. In reading the backstory provided by Bailey I can see how it ended up there. Your fisking of his story is classic in what it adds, even if it can't redeem you completely. (in the early days of warblogs, taking apart an article by Robert Fisk and responding to it interspersed with the original article was called "fisking")

Again with the "state-sanctioned"! That isn't the point. This is so obtuse!

Deliberately obtuse. Probably why it was impossible to have a conversation. Always avoiding the main issue, that a whole bunch of racist whites would discriminate against blacks (for some businesses it would be economically beneficial and others would be willing to take a money hit to do it). Constantly falling back on "white's rights" and hypotheticals about white people who are also open members of a terrorist organization(?).

You apparently tried for hours to have a real conversation, and every time they didn't like what you had to say, certain people pretended like it meant you didn't "get" their big ideas (Bailey will have a very hard time denying this, as it clearly comes through in his article as his attitude even after the fact).

Michael Farris said...

joe: "The problems lies with facilities where a large, undefined class of people may freely enter, such as a restaurant, while prohibiting another class. If a member of the latter insists on entering, the only legal recourse is to involve the police, at which point, the private discrimination becomes government sanctioned discrimination. It is at this point the libertarian idealogy completely breaks down."

Excellent comment. Though I think true blue libertarians would also sanction the right of a property owner to use personal (incl. armed) force to remove a member of the unwanted class if they ignore verbal orders to leave the property owner's property, so theoretically the police would not be involved.

Generally ideology needs to be balanced by something else (call it moral considerations, common sense, spirituality or whatever) otherwise it invariably leads to dehumanization.

Daryl Herbert said...

BTW, your ad hominem, "Think about it. You're a middle-aged man, meeting a woman for the first time, having a drink" implying that if I'm not racist, that I may be anti-feminist. Priceless.

I read it as an implication that your social skills are as bad as mine.

That you fail to recognize the implication for what it is suggests your social skills may be worse than mine.

Anonymous said...

But the thing that made me break down -- I kid you not -- was the realization that these people really didn't care about civil rights.

I think I've already addressed how silly this is: imagine a pro-lifer explaining that the reason he broke down at a pro-abortion dinner was that he finally realized these people just really didn't care about babies

In both cases, it's an absurd position to take. Coming to a different conclusion than you does not mean they don't care about the issue at all. In fact, half of your complaint seems to be that they care too much.

Moreover, the idea that a law professor can be reduced to tears by the simple realization that there are people who don't think like she does is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

Then picture a young woman smirking

Yes, we get the smirking bit. The smiling bit. That, more than anything else, is what got under your skin. That also doesn't speak very well of the self control of law professors, if people making 'mean faces' at you can reduce you to tears.

When I came home and told this story to my friends, you can imagine how they laughed and said, "Well, of course, they're racists!" My little adventure was the source of immense hilarity here.

That's a large part of the problem. You live a very insular life, as do almost all academics, and have little practical experience in the 'real world' dealing with 'real people' who have different beliefs than you do. This is quite obviously true or you shouldn't suddenly be shocked at the possibility that you might be sitting at a table with racists: those of us that get out and about meet quite enough obvious ones in the course of everyday activities. We don't have the luxury of fleeing in tears everytime we are confronted with folks not like us or that's all we'd spend our time doing.

You just don't know how to react to folks who hold views directly contrary to your own when the view concerns an issue you hold important. It's a bit tricky, but it can be learned with time. But when the only people you have interactions with are intellectually shallow liberals who never have their preconceptions challenged either, you are ill prepared to deal with such a situation.

Now, I realize the situation is inherently a bit unfair: personally, I wouldn't have chosen to be the 'sole outsider' at an event like that. However, law professors are supposed to be made of sterner stuff. ;)

Simon Kenton said...

Cyberbini wrote:

"Ann, I couldn't find your answer to the question posed by Bailey? If you owned a private business (say a restaurant) do you feel you have the right not to serve KKK members?"

I am looking for this answer too.

nunzio said...

At the end of the day, what's most upsetting when dealing with fanatics like Bailey is that they are palpably more bothered by Kelo (raised voice, leaning forward in their chair, finger-waging) than they are about the fact that society dehumanized blacks.

I don't know if this is unconscious racism, but it's wrong.

There's a certain point where abstraction smashes into the brick wall of reality. To think that even a white business owner (or home owner) who wanted to serve or sell to blacks at one time was perfectly free to do so by the invisible hand of the free market is just ignorant.

At best, these whites were socially ostracized, at worst, they were attacked and/or their businesses or homes fire bombed. This was well after the 64 Civil Rights Act.

I certainly would hate for the government to take my home, pay me a few bucks, and then sell my former property to Wal-Mart too. But I'm more bothered by the fact that my former neighbors broke our windows and destroyed our car because my parents were willing to sell our house to a black family.

This was the free market at one time. Things have gotten better. I believe the federal govt's committment made this possible.

Balfegor said...

"I asked them to say something to show they cared, and they just wouldn't. I can't think of the last time I ran into such insensitive people."

Ann, maybe you really see it that way. But it comes across, in both accounts, as you accusing them of being racists. What were they supposed to say? That's not the sort of question you ask in good faith to further a discussion; nor is it the type of question that deserves an answer. It's an insult.

I'm not sure it's that. I think the underlying issue is whether an absence of "sensitivity" necessary implies racism in this context.

Thinking of myself, I'm more or less wholly lacking in sensitivity (or really, just plain sympathy) with the poor or their plight, but the last four nonfiction books I've read have all been about the poor in some respect or another (about slums and squatter cities around the world, about the "underground economy" of an American slum, about the culture of British slums, and about global inequality), so I'm quite interested in learning about and understanding their situation, and I certainly consider poverty a problem worth solving. This may not be quite the libertarian indifference to real-world consequences of their ideal political philosophy the professor is objecting to, but anyone determining whether I'm anti-poor or hate the destitute largely on the basis of expressed sympathy or sensitivity is pretty much certain to conclude that I am, actually, anti-poor. I don't, after all, feel their pain in any way whatsoever.

And maybe I am -- but I don't feel myself to be so.

Richard Dolan said...

It's always amazing to run into folks who just don't get the truthiness of that old saying, "a page of history is worth a volume of logic." Ann apparently ran into a roomful of them at this conference.

Here Ann stands up for the reality-based community; Bailey et al. seem to be concerned more with some ideal world rather than the one we all happen to inhabit. It follws that Bailey's nostrums about social organization, governmental structures and the like apply only to that fictionalized place they've conjured up for themselves. That's dandy if one's idea of intellectual pursuits are similarly non-reality-based; it all becomes an exercise in entertainment more than anything else. But it's quite weird where, as here, the ostensible subjects under discussion matters bearing on public virtue, social organization and the proper object and application of governmental powers; and is even weirder given the implication that the subject matter of the conference ought to have some significance for how our shared world is organized and run.

But I would be slow to conclude that the non-reality-based folks at this conference were racists. It's not racial minorities that these folks scorn; it's the deviation between their idealized realm and the grubbier world inhabited by the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Althouse,

Do you believe that racist scum such as David Duke have the right, under the U.S. Constitution, to publish racist material?

If so, do you think that opinion gives others the right to ask you to prove that you are not a racist yourself? Or to ask whether you're adherence to the 1st amendment makes you a "true believer" that doesn't appreciate the reality that results from your abstract views?

That seems like a close parallel to the kind of criticism you are levelling at the other attendees of the conference.

Gahrie said...

Althouse:

In any case, how would you feel at a 9 hour conference celebrating the political philosophy of Karl Marx and not engaging with the real world damage done by them?

This is at least the second time you have used this example. The first time I, and another poster reponded with our observation that this is in fact precisely what happens when ever Marx or communism is discussed. We even provided the most over used sentence in economics: "True Marxism has never been tried."

So far no one has tried to refute our assertion, and you have ignored it.

Jonathan said...

Ann said:
In any case, how would you feel at a 9 hour conference celebrating the political philosophy of Karl Marx and not engaging with the real world damage done by them?

I would feel pretty much like I did my last 3 years of High School Social Studies classes (world History, American History, and Civics, and that is approaching 20 years ago!) Disconnected.

Ann I'm curious: why did you not walk out? It's obvious that what happened was uncomfortable, so why would you continue to subject yourself to it? I'm well aware that some of these conferences cost a great deal of money, but at what cost point do you put your dignity?

I'm not sure I could have stayed. I would have gladly parted with the couple of hundred bucks or whatever the cost was and found a nice coffee shop to relax in and blow off the steam.

Ann Althouse said...

"Was Ilya Somin at this conference?"

No, but co-Volokh conspirator Jonathan Adler was, and I have no problem with Adler, who put together a great set of readings and was very understanding talking to me after the ill-fated dinner.

Someone asked why I didn't know in advance what libertarians think. I didn't think people would go to the limit but would moderate away from the hardcore position (which is profoundly anti-social).

About that abortion discussion analogy. If I were at an abortion rights conference and one person was pro-life expressing deep concern for the unborn, I would engage with that person and make a great effort to show I cared and that I respect his or her beliefs. I would take up the challenge to try to demonstrate how I could believe in abortion rights and still care. And seeing this person outnumbered would motivate me to make a special effort to reach out and make him or her feel comfortable and included.

As to my position on the hypothetical: It's not a good hypothetical, because it doesn't have the democratic majority passing a law requiring the restaurant owner to seat people even if they openly talk about hateful things. So you have to reconfigure the hypo first to make it equivalent. Without the statute, the restaurant owner has free choice. With the statute, the restaurant owner would have an argument that the statute violates free speech. It's a complicated subject. I would have loved to discuss fixing the hypo and then answering it, but the restaurant was so loud that I had to shout every sentence and it just wasn't conducive to the level of discussion that would have been needed. Bailey chooses to say I was stymied and afraid of being a hypocrite. He's totally wrong about that. He wrote a disgusting screed that was all about insulting me. I don't know what his motivation was, but it looks really nasty from here. Was it that what I said about libertarians? Man, if he had a clue, you'd think he'd use the opportunity to make libertarianism sound good, rather than further alienating a person who came there looking for some common ground.

On the point about libertarians having the attitude that it's okay to be an asshole. Yes, I picked that up. There seems to be a style of saying toughly outrageous things. The young woman, for example, made a joke about genocide with the punchline "Keep your corpses off my lawn." It was funny, and I laughed at the time. I thought she was lampooning libertarians. Maybe she wasn't. But acting like you don't care about anything but yourself and your property is the style. You can hardly complain if it makes people think you're insensitive!

Brett McS said...

Priceless. Well done Ms Althouse. The Libertarians are tribal: They don't want to be successful, they want to be pure.

Pogo said...

Re: "I am looking for this answer too."

But you miss the larger problem.

When the act becomes systematic and engaged in by the majority of the population, it requires state coercion to prevent the attempts by (insert unwanted guest here) to use your services or buy your products.

Over time, these seemingly individual acts become the de facto law, and the state is now engaging in restraint of trade. Which is exactly how Jim Crow worked.

But libertarians certainly cannot condone that.
So it is both a problem of scale and of unintended consequences that they fail to consider when devising this libertarian utopia.

Liberty, taken to extremes, begets state control from the right and the left.

Palladian said...

Were there any black people at this high-level intellectual colloquium?

J said...

"In any case, how would you feel at a 9 hour conference celebrating the political philosophy of Karl Marx and not engaging with the real world damage done by them?"

Like a fairly typical college student. Are you serious or this is just some demonstration of the bubble of unreality professors live in? Nothing Meyer did even thought about maybe approaching the possibility of doing the damage Marxism has done. For one thing, you need to be alive to experience discrimination.

Smilin' Jack said...

Ron Bailey said...
Finally, as much it pains me, I guess I have to spell it out for you. When I write: "To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes" that means that I support the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act.


Bailey's being disingenuous here through selective quotation. In his Reason post he goes on to say "But beneficial outcomes may not be the only desideratum of state intervention....In trying to explain to Althouse why private discrimination might be OK...." Seems reasonable to me to infer from that that he does not support the public accommodations sections of the Civil Rights Act. At least, what he wrote certainly does not mean that he does.

But anyway, can one not hold and discuss the position that "beneficial outcomes may not be the only desideratum of state intervention" without being a racist?

Alan said...

"Okay you folks against racism and bigotry, if you owned a private business (say a restaurant) do you feel you have the right not to serve KKK members?"

And if I say "yes" am I supposed to be a hypocrite? LOL

Brett McS said...

One thing I find funny/endearing about Americans is the way they bang on about racism. You want to find real racism? Travel to Asia. Try Japan. They are polite to a fault, courteous etc etc. But they genuinely, honestly believe that they are a superior race to all others; that us non-Japanese are inferior (with different scales of inferiority).

And yet, does it cause any real problems? Not to me it doesn't and millions of others who deal with the Japanese find them excellent partners. Racism is very, very far from being the worst thing in the world.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Ann, there's an old saying to the effect that after enough people have said you're drunk, you should lie down.

This is now the third time I can recall in which you've ended up in a kerfluffle with a bunch of people who felt that you simply had decided that a certain dogmatic assertion was the sole touchstone of rationaql thought --- much to other's surprise. (I'm thinking of your dislike ot the Pajamas Media business model, your following argument with Jeff Goldstein, and now this.)

Three issues, three groups of people.

Maybe it's time to wonder if there's something on your part that is leading to these things?

OddD said...

On the point about libertarians having the attitude that it's okay to be an asshole. Yes, I picked that up.

Not okay but rather not criminal. I think what must be frustrating for libertarians is this notion that "sensitivity = state intervention".

As a libertarian, one could devote one's life to: serving the poor; fighting racism; trying to prevent abortions; even bringing democracy to the Middle East. Yet still feel that none of these were causes for state intervention.

You can accuse them of insensitivity; they can more fairly accuse you of a lack of imagination.

Anonymous said...

Bailey says, "As Nobel Economics Laureate Gary Becker has argued if a minority group is a very small percentage of a population, then the costs of discrimination will be borne mainly by the minority and market forces may not be strong enough to overcome such discrimination. To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes. But beneficial outcomes may not be the only desideratum of state intervention. Consider the egregious violation of property rights that took place in the Kelo v. New London case."

To which Althouse responds, "Got that? He thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

This statement alone makes me realize Althouse can no longer be taken seriously, which is a shame, because I would generally say I agree with the underlying premise that the abstractions and purported intellectualism of libertarians and conservatives is simply unspoken racism. It certainly does not mean Bailey "thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

What is becoming so sad about this blog is how it has devolved into Althouse's obsession with her self-perception. That's distinguished from the traditional opinion-making of blogs. Here, every other post starts and ends with a comment about her not being a liberal or conservative (while this issue obviously shows she isn't a liberterian, we see yet again that

However, Bailey clearly stated he believed the Civi Rights Act mandates on private businesses had beneficial outcomes, and then pointed to one (ONE) example where he felt such mandates on state power were excessive. I don't know the man, but this analysis does not a racist make.

Nor does that mean Bailey "thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

Sad how this site has basically devolved into Althouse's obsession with self-perception. Each post starts and ends with the comment about how she's a moderate (we now know she's not a libertarian, but of course, "the conservative position, because it had more to do with the real-life context, was much less troubling to [her.]"

Anonymous said...

Bailey says, "As Nobel Economics Laureate Gary Becker has argued if a minority group is a very small percentage of a population, then the costs of discrimination will be borne mainly by the minority and market forces may not be strong enough to overcome such discrimination. To me, the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that compelled private businesses to serve people of all races have largely resulted in beneficial outcomes. But beneficial outcomes may not be the only desideratum of state intervention. Consider the egregious violation of property rights that took place in the Kelo v. New London case."

To which Althouse responds, "Got that? He thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

This statement alone makes me realize Althouse can no longer be taken seriously, which is a shame, because I would generally say I agree with the underlying premise that the abstractions and purported intellectualism of libertarians and conservatives is simply unspoken racism. It certainly does not mean Bailey "thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

What is becoming so sad about this blog is how it has devolved into Althouse's obsession with her self-perception. That's distinguished from the traditional opinion-making of blogs. Here, every other post starts and ends with a comment about her not being a liberal or conservative (while this issue obviously shows she isn't a liberterian, we see yet again that

However, Bailey clearly stated he believed the Civi Rights Act mandates on private businesses had beneficial outcomes, and then pointed to one (ONE) example where he felt such mandates on state power were excessive. I don't know the man, but this analysis does not a racist make.

Nor does that mean Bailey "thinks the government should have left the private businesses alone to discriminate against black people as long as they felt like it."

Sad how this site has basically devolved into Althouse's obsession with self-perception. Each post starts and ends with the comment about how she's a moderate (we now know she's not a libertarian, but of course, "the conservative position, because it had more to do with the real-life context, was much less troubling to [her.]"

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, Althouse. You were invited to a Libertarian symposium and you were surprised they espoused Libertarian ideals. Your response? You accuse them of racism and then burst into tears.

Goodness.

I'm a fan but your vague first posting about this, and Goldberg's hesitancy, confirm your behavior was, well, bizarre.

You're a 20 year law professor. A blogging diva. An adult, for crying out loud.

I'm worried about you. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Wow! And I see you're moderating comments now. I don't comment much but this is the first time I've come across it here at Althouse.

Something is wrong here, Professor. I hope you're all right.

Ron said...

Well, it's good to see the year end in a good old-fashioned donnybrook! Just when some of us had settled into Comfy Chairs, the verbal artillery has rattled the root cellar again...Let's have a calm '07 to prepare for the Blogosphere Ragnarock that will be the election year...

Shooter said...

Well, that's a funny way to put it. I don't know if they were really racists or just people who didn't care too much about racial oppression, but infer what you will. I asked them to say something to show they cared, and they just wouldn't. I can't think of the last time I ran into such insensitive people. When I came home and told this story to my friends, you can imagine how they laughed and said, "Well, of course, they're racists!" My little adventure was the source of immense hilarity here.

You know, I could have easily been one of the people there (I wasn't) and I would be quite offended at this blanket of bigotry that you and your friends decide to cast on anybody who does not agree with you.

From reading your comments to the items posed, it would not matter in the slightest if I had told you that I was completely against racial discrimination and have never practiced it, you would still call me a racist.

Advocating the elimination of all laws that discriminate on the basis of race probably does not matter either.

Now, I do discriminate on the basis of sex in my daily life. Does it make me homophobic if all of my porn is of women, I only date women and I support women in the arts at women's interpretive dance theaters, but never men's?

Frankly, you remind me of a New Republic reporter who wrote about me earlier this year, but I thought I was on a date. She made a bunch of race-related talk that just sounded like young ignorance at the time. Afterward I saw it for what it was, race baiting from a closet racist who could not get a good racism quote for her article from her clumsy assumption that a libertarian automatically means racist and ended up with the mildest of scoldings.

I suspect that at the end of the conversation I would get the same reaction when handing you my business card that I got from her: “You don’t look Hispanic.”

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, what's most upsetting when dealing with fanatics like Bailey is that they are palpably more bothered by Kelo (raised voice, leaning forward in their chair, finger-waging) than they are about the fact that society dehumanized blacks.

Oh, what nonsense. It is entirely reasonable to be bothered by injustice in the world without jumping to the conculsion that the government is the most appropriate savior. By attempting to draw parallels with Kelo, in which the government is the central villian, you're demonstrating an instinctive unwillingness to consider that possibility. And that's Ann's problem too.

Ann Althouse said...

Jesse: "Except that he just said, in this very comment thread, that the government should have acted to stop the private discrimination. And he almost certainly said as much in his conversation with you at Liberty Fund as well.:

No, he didn't. Reread, Jesse.

Ann Althouse said...

Jesse, to be clearer: What Ron is saying is that he concedes in retrospect that there were benefits, and he approves of them, but he adheres to an idea of the limitation of government that would hold the 1964 Act to be unconstitutional. He does not repudiate that, and that is the essence of the libertarian believe that he holds to. I have not seen him step back from that.

Ann Althouse said...

And let me just add, Jesse, that if Ron really thought the government ban on private discrimination was justified, he could have said it at dinner, and he certainly could have written his long attack on me differently. I mean, he attacked me today, viciously and deliberately. I'm just answering back now. He's got a long way to go to make it up for me. He made himself my enemy, and I was interested in libertarians. I was interested in Reason Magazine! The editor of the thing went out of his way to reach out to me at the CNN party on election day. What a clumsy blunder! I'm back at my view that libertarians are... missing a part...

Mortimer Brezny said...

Were there any black people at this high-level intellectual colloquium?

Yes, because any event with Jonah Goldberg is intellectual. One might wonder why Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams was not invited, or if invited, why either man chose not to attend.

Ann Althouse said...

Jonathan: "Ann I'm curious: why did you not walk out? It's obvious that what happened was uncomfortable, so why would you continue to subject yourself to it? I'm well aware that some of these conferences cost a great deal of money, but at what cost point do you put your dignity?"

I had made a commitment in agreeing to attend. I was disappointed and bored by the direction the discussions took, but my real problem only occurred at the final dinner after the formal discussion sessions were over. I was determined to sit through that last dinner, and for a long time I just sat silently, waiting for it to end, feeling an unbelievable coldness toward the people around the table. I can't remember what pushed me to speak after all of that, and I wish I hadn't. Only by speaking did I get in touch with how deeply offended I was by the people I was sitting with, and I stupidly moved myself to tears by voicing what I thought was true and still believe to be true: these people did not care about civil rights.

"I'm not sure I could have stayed. I would have gladly parted with the couple of hundred bucks or whatever the cost was and found a nice coffee shop to relax in and blow off the steam."

It was not about money, it was about respect for some of the people who were involved with the event and for the commitment I had made. If one person had sided with me, it would have been different. If one person had said, come on, let's get out of here, these people are hopeless, it would have been entirely different. In the end, I did get up and leave, so that's that.

Jesse said...

Ann, I work for Reason, and I know Ron. I've discussed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with him. I know what his views on the subject are.

He thinks the law was a good thing, public accomodations clause included. He also thinks that it involved trade-offs, and he understands how someone could share his values but come down differently on the public accomodations question because she weighs those trade-offs differently. If his post seems a little ambiguous, that's surely because he wants not just to explain his own position, but to explain why he feels Katherine (we might as well use her name) can have a different take without being a racist.

Katherine says, incidentally, that she did indeed talk quite a bit in her discussion with you about her opposition to racism and her support for the civil rights movement, though not for that particular segment of that particular piece of legislation. I mention this because you have said in this thread that no one at the dinner was willing to give you those reassurances. Perhaps the restaurant was just too noisy for you to hear her.

Finally: It's not as though Ron's post came out of the blue. You've been writing about this for weeks now, and not exactly in the most flattering ways. It's not hard to see why someone might want to set the record straight.

Ann Althouse said...

Pete: "I don't get it, Althouse. You were invited to a Libertarian symposium and you were surprised they espoused Libertarian ideals. Your response? You accuse them of racism and then burst into tears."

Well, that didn't happen. I challenged them to show me that they cared about racism and in doing so I caused myself to tear up, so I got up and left. I didn't "burst into tears" and I didn't accuse people of being racists. But I'm not ashamed to have deep feelings about insensitivity to racism. Do you think I should be?

John Kindley said...

Ann,

You perceive Ron Bailey's post as a vicious attack on you to which you are now responding, but I think it's pretty clear that the initial salvos were fired by you in your initial posts about the Liberty Fund conference, to which Bailey's post was a natural and predictable response, defense, and clarification of events. I doubt that Bailey's post would ever have been written if not for those initial posts of yours, which were clearly derogatory towards the attendees of the conference and libertarians in general.

One good thing about this flame war is that I've now been made aware of the generally high quality commentary and discussion over at Reason Magazine's blog, which I really hadn't frequented before. I plan to start going there often.

Zeb Quinn said...

Personalities, slights, and emotions aside, the matter under dispute comes down to these things: Does America's history mean that race must trump everything else? Do all other values we hold dear, all other rights contained in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere, including all other individual rights and property rights, necessarily yield when the Important Work of Racial Equality is afoot? Since different people of principle will answer those questions differently, it needs to be asked, if you answer them with a no does that make you a racist?

Anonymous said...

What Ron is saying is that he concedes in retrospect that there were benefits, and he approves of them, but he adheres to an idea of the limitation of government that would hold the 1964 Act to be unconstitutional.

While I don't accept that it was unconstitutional (the courts have certainly not held it to be), let's suppose that Mr. Bailey is right. Consider then that there are times when strict adherence to the doctrine of Constitutionality is as bad as strict adherence to any other dogma:

Of course the President had only authorized his delegation to France to discuss the purchase of a strip of land on the east side of the Mississippi river to provide the United States with access to the sea in 1803. Congress had agreed to back the offer with five million dollars.
And then Napoleon's finance minister, Talleyrand walked into the room (being aware that he needed quick money to finance his wars, and that French colonies in North America would be easy pickings for the English) and offered to sell the whole of Louisiana (then the entire western watershed of the Mississippi) for fifteen million dollars.

As one of my college professors once said in describing the reaction of the Robert Livington and James Monroe upon hearing the offer, 'It may be illegal as heck for us to agree, but let's not be stupid.'

And Thomas Jefferson, who was in favor of strict limits on Federal power and of the constitution, received the news on July 3, 1803-- two months after the treaty was signed, was ecstatic that the offer had been made and accepted.

That is because Jefferson, Livingston and Monroe were aware that reality trumps dogma, and presented with a decision that would truly affect the course of American history as much as any decision that they would ever be part of, they were not fools.

But one has to wonder, if Ron Bailey had been there, he would have been so small-minded as to suggest that because it was unconstitutional, perhaps they should have suggested to Napoleon that he see what the Spanish would give him instead.

Now, I have at times argued that I believe that some policies of President Bush are unconstitutional and believe that he shouldn't pursue them (in particularly the warrantless wiretaps.) The difference of course is that when there is a question about whether doing something is unconstitutional then an effort should be made to test it in court. This was done and the court held that Congress should pass the law instead of the executive. So Congress did and the President signed it. I may still not like the law but now I can at least accept that the courts have ruled that it passes constitutional muster (Thomas Jefferson and his negotiators had no such option). This is what happened with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was challenged in court, and those challenges were defeated. If Mr. Bailey believes there is a new angle on why it is unconstutional then he can still challenge it in the courts.

JimK said...

"But I'm not ashamed to have deep feelings about insensitivity to racism. Do you think I should be?"


Ann, do you realize that the more you go on about this, the more you are coming off like the world's oldest emo Myspacer?

Seriously. What's next, crying because the words are dying?

I asked you once before, are you 100% certain, after calming down to think, that your choice of words and your behavior contributed nothing to this flare-up? Because right now you're positioning yourself as the put-upon victim by choosing to use words like "trapped" and phrases like "a big, gruff guy lashing out."

Just callin' it like I see it after reading all your posts and follwoing all the links to read the other side.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Katherine says, incidentally, that she did indeed talk quite a bit in her discussion with you about her opposition to racism and her support for the civil rights movement, though not for that particular segment of that particular piece of legislation.

I think that lifeguards have an honorable profession and so do emergency medical technicians. In fact, I admire both so much that I trained accordingly and am certified as both. I rejoice at the sight of EMTs saving lives and lifeguards saving lives. But last week, when someone was drowning right in front of me, I didn't jump in the water, haul that baby girl out, and administer CPR. I just don't believe in certain kinds of intervention and that little girl had a liberty interest in drowning to death.

Ann Althouse said...

Jesse: "Katherine says, incidentally, that she did indeed talk quite a bit in her discussion with you about her opposition to racism and her support for the civil rights movement, though not for that particular segment of that particular piece of legislation. I mention this because you have said in this thread that no one at the dinner was willing to give you those reassurances. Perhaps the restaurant was just too noisy for you to hear her."

Jesse, the position taken was only and adamantly only in opposition to government-required segregation. They utterly failed to respond to my need that they show that they cared about the terrible history of racism in the United States and the reality of human suffering. I wish you could see a videotape of the insolent attitude they displayed. They made it utterly clear over the course of two hours that they had no intention of showing any concern for what I cared about. You work there. You are going to tend to support them. There's nothing I can do about that.

Kyle said...

I forget the guy's name, but someone in the thread posted a dopey remark about Japan and racism. He says the Japanese are deeply and unashamedly racist:

"And yet, does it cause any real problems? Not to me it doesn't and millions of others who deal with the Japanese find them excellent partners. Racism is very, very far from being the worst thing in the world."

You moron. Sure, Japanese racism hasn't caused you any problems -- you're not living under the thumb of the racists.If someone is Ainu or ethnically Korean and living in Japan, racism does indeed cause real problems. For people just living next door to Japan -- like, say, in Korea or China -- Japanese racism caused huge and lethal problems back in the days when Japan was feeling its oats.

And spare me that condescending "you Americans" crap. Thank God, we are not the only people who detest racism. Brits, Australians, Canadians, Germans -- I've met many people from many different countries who accepted as a basic rule of civilized thought that racism is detestable.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: "Did anyone ever see Hitchcock's Rope? An entertaining look at where intellectuals and their big, abstract ideas lead."

Yeah, I love that movie. Perfect reference too. The teacher has his abstract ideas and he's just horrified to learn how the students applied them.

Anonymous said...

As expected, much is being made of Ann tearing up. (Some would even have it that Ann was sobbing uncontrollably.) I say, "So what?"

It is much more fun to make fun of a woman who teared up than discuss what really happened: not a single other person at that dinner had anything positive to say about civil rights, given the opportunity. Apparently, it was fine with all the others at the table when one person went on and on about white people's supposed lack of civil rights. This was their private behavior. Because someone reported it, we are now seeing their public persona being defended and displayed in print and on the internet. It seems to me that they are quite obviously not the same (YMMV).

Other observations after reading all 109 comments:

Ron Bailey: Your comments thus far strike me as being well within the realm of personal savaging and far removed from rational discourse or debate. Not exactly a sterling moment for one who advocates Reason.

Daryl Herbert: IMO, this was priceless:

I read it as an implication that your social skills are as bad as mine.

That you fail to recognize the implication for what it is suggests your social skills may be worse than mine.

Eli Blake had the best advice for everyone here (and almost all of those at the dinner, judging from their protestations after the dinner and after their private behavior was publicly revealed):

Never be embarrassed about standing up for what you believe in. I'm glad that you did that.


Charlie (colorado) is my choice for bringing up irrelevancies, but even so, I agree that there is a thread that runs through those Charlie. I realize you'll never recognize it on your own. But, I'm not up to the job of spelling it out for you. Suffice to say, that it is positive and not the negative you so fervently hope it to be. Sorry, Charlie.

Some of us already knew what Jesse Walker thinks of tears. He's the one who likes to publish inappropriate pictures of little girls crying and make fun of them because he detests their father and wants to hurt him, too. It seems that sins of the fathers should be visited upon the children in Jesse Walker's world, especially if it gives him a chance to get even. Proof positive that one can have a mean streak immeasurably wide and be immeasurably thin-skinned at the same time.

Under the circumstances, no need to ask that immortal question, "Have you no sense decency, sir?" No, he doesn't. Not now. Nor will he most likely "at long last." And there is "no sense of decency" to be "left" as none existed.

So, as an observer, I can't give much credence to anything Jesse Walker says about someone's supposed social skills, sensitivity, or personal behavior.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me start by saying that I haven't followed all the ins and outs here, that I am relatively libertarian, but that I do think that the overall result of the CRA of 1964 has been positive, and esp. that it has eliminated much of the overt racism existing in this country prior to that.

First, a somewhat different analogy. Assume that you are a strong believer in the individual rights view of the 2nd Amdt., etc. And you meet Mrs. Brady. Or the parents of some of the kids killed here at Columbine or Platte Canyon High Schools. Or the widow of a slain cop. And, they suggest that you are pro-criminal because of your view on the 2nd Amdt. The standard response is that guns don't kill, people do. That the guns are only the mechanism used.

Indeed, while I deplore the situations above, where guns are used to kill the innocent, I don't view my support of gun rights, etc. as evidence that I support the murder of innocents with guns. Rather, I look also at the benefits of gun ownership, including that in many cases, they deter just that type of violence.

Back to the issue of tying racism to support of federalism, etc. I think that tarring someone as racist because they ascribe to a philosophy that facilitated segregation and racism is akin to suggesting that someone is pro-murder because they support gun rights. Yes, the tool of federalism, etc. was used to further segregation and racism. But that doesn't mean that support of that tool or philosphy is racist. Which is how you can have a Goldwater opposing the 1964 CRA and racism in his private life.

I think that maybe part of the reason that this got so heated is that most of the participants most likely don't consider themselves the least bit racist. After all, racism really doesn't have a real place in libertarian thought.

I get a bit heated every time a liberal calls me a racist because I am conservative and a Republican, due to the fact that so many conservative Southern Democrats came over to the Republican party after the 1964 CRA was passed. To me, the liberal view of affirmative action, etc. is far more racist than the color blind vision that I, and many other conservatives, believe in. So, I am insulted whenever someone who believes in color coding all of life calls me a racist.

My guess (not being there, etc.) is that the true believers there overreacted to Ann's question about the connection between racism and libertarianism for the same reason that I overreact when someone backing racial quotas calls me a racist. I don't think I am, and I have little doubt that these people don't think that they are either.

That all said, I do think that it is important to look at the fact that federalism, etc. was used for most of the preceding 100 years to impose Jim Crow racism against Blacks in this country. Maybe the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s would have resulted in an elimination of racial discrimination by now. But it might not have, and it wouldn't have done it nearly as quickly.

Indeed, you could make the same argument about the civil rights amendments. Slavery was fated to wither and disappear in this country for economic reasons. But absent the Civil War and those amendments, etc., it most likely would have limped at least into the 20th Century.

So, as a more pragmatic libertarian and conservative than many of those attending, I find myself glad that the Civil Rights laws were passed, believing that this country is better because of it - despite all of the negative externalities (in the form of other federal government extensions of power made easier) that resulted.

Shooter said...

Dr Althouse,

Since I am a guy with a military background who might have asked you for your phone and room number during coctails if I had been there, this might not mean much, but I shall scribble it anyway.

After growing up in Cook County Illinois and being picket on, sometimes even beaten up (I usually finished the fights, but not always), for our family being friends with a black family and inviting that black family to our home, with NO idea why these villagers were so upset with us until much later in my life, I am really dissapointed in you.

I grew up in a home that used no racial slurs, but our neighbors and extended relatives did and it was years before I *knew* what they were saying. This was not in 'the south' this was in COOKE COUNTY ILLINOIS for Christ sakes! The same county Hillary Rodham grew up in and not that far away from her town. When we moved to KNOXVILLE, TN in the 1970s the blatant racist nonsense around us stopped.

In my experience, the most racist people I have met have been Leftists, even if they say they vote Republican, which is not as rare as you might think. Either they proclaim every black person needs a handout or people with last names like my real one need to be on welfare while illegally mowing yards, but they should not be illegal.

When we are successful they think it was some quota and they boast about their efforts, trying to take credit for "helping people of color" or whatever trendy phrase is hip at the time.

Guess what? Some of us long-vowlies can actually complete high school and college without handouts. We are even skilled enough to operate tanks, helicopters and other 'complex to a lawyer' equipment. Perhaps it is news to you that we have opposing thumbs, just like you might posess.

Okay, complex to a lawyer was unfair. Complex to a professor is more appropriate.

Know what? I am surrounded, in a very good way, by black people who made their way the same way I did, by IGNORING BIGOTED WHITE LIBERALS LIKE YOU!

Side note: almost everybody thinks I am hispanic when they see my name on a resume or a business card, but my grandfather got that Spanish name in an orphanage in Naples Italy.

BTW, when are the bars in DC going to be covered by the Public Accomodations stuff you have had such a spirited debate about? More than once I have attempted to enter bars where every male in line was black and I was told not to get in line. Also, I was harassed in a bar, not private, told that it was "for women".

I thought all of that was illegal, but I have been told by several DC bartenders, who are required to know something about who they can legally serve and refuse service to, that they can refuse service to anybody FOR ANY REASON.

Is this really legal? If not, I think you might have a valid cause to champion on discrimination in places of public accomidation.

downtownlad said...

I don't think I'm a libertarian ideologue. I will take the libertarian position in many cases, but not all.

But I think this law gets to the very nature of freedom. If someone wants to be a racist in the way they run their own private business, they should be free to do so. And I have major qualms in the government telling people in how they should think.

Now let's look at the situation you had in 1964. The problem is that you had many people talking about federalism and states rights and not enough people talking about the owners of these establishments being bigots and racists. I think part of that was that segregation was endorsed by the government for so many years. Why should we be surprised if a private restaurant doesn't serve black people, when government law mandates that for public places???? That was the root of the problem, i.e. government endorsed racism for several centuries.

In light of that, I don't get worked up about laws such as the 1964 civil rights act that was needed to prod along private business, after centuries of state sponsored racism. But now that racism has lessened considerably, I would be in favor of repealing the law. If a private business refused to serve blacks, I would guarantee you that you would see protests galore in front of that establishment (at least I would hope so).

But as a libertarian, the 1964 Civil Rights Act is not one I get terribly worked up about - since it's quite apparent that it's effect for society was overwhelmingly positive. Kind of like the no smoking law in New York City. I hate the law in principle, but whatever - I really do like the fact that there is no smoking in bars anymore - since I don't have to get my clothes dry-cleaned every time I go out.

But state mandated morality is something that continues to bother me. One day it is state endorsed racism (i.e. segregation - very bad), the next day it is state endorsed virtue (i.e. NO segregation - very good). And today it's state endorsed homophobia (no gay marriage).

I'd vastly prefer that the government just stay out of the morality business altogether - even if there are some negative repurcussions.

But I don't think I'm an ideologue, since I don't think the least amount of government is always the better solution. But on the balance, I would say it is.

Shooter said...

If a merchant or their agent does not tell you why they are not going ot wait on you can they be jailed for a thought crime?

CharlesWT said...

Wow! A fiskfight!

downtownlad said...

By the way Ann - I think it is very valid of you to ask those people at the table if they were racists. Because I have a hunch they were.

Many conservatives oppose expanding the civil rights laws to cover sexual orientation. And they always speak in the context of federalism. And I agree with them in principle. But from experience - I know that the real reason many oppose these laws - is that they themselves FAVOR discrimination against gay people. The hard part is getting them to admit it. Nobody wants to admit they are a bigot.

So when people relay that opinion to me, my response is usually to drill further - "Hmmmm. You aren't opposed to laws that ban discrimination on the basis of religion, but you opposed to including them on sexual orientation grounds. Why? If it's federalism - then you are being inconsistent. And if you oppose these laws on the basis of religion - then why don't we ever hear about you calling for the repeal of them?"

And it is strange that people get so worked up about these laws - laws that really only hurt racists and bigots.

I say repeal all these laws - but shouldn't this one be at the bottom of the list? Why the vehment opposition to this law in particular???

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm going to jump in. Long time reader. Also an academic somewhere.

In the BloggingHeads.tv diavlog, Jonah Goldberg tried to establish his non-racist credentials by stating that National Review led the call to oust Trent Lott.

This needs clarification. Yes, National Review did call for his ouster. But... and there's a big but.

1) National Review stated unequivocally that Trent Lott "didn't have a racist bone in his body."

2) The reason National Review wanted him ousted was because in his BET interview with Ed Gordon, Lott said he supported affirmative action programs (and also sundry other liberal ideas).

Ann, you're very very naive. Very naive. You're smart, funny and a treat to read. But you're very naive.

Please go and read Jonah Goldberg's articles. They're online. Read John Derbyshire. And while you're at it, read the websites of the Council of Conservative Citizens and American Renaissance. Read VDare.com. Read Pat Buchanan's "Right from the Beginning," where in 1988 he wrote about "negroes."

OK, here, let me quote something from National Review, circa 1957:

"The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists."

Anonymous said...

One more thing Ann, Ashcroft loved to talk about states rights. He loved to talk about the Federal aggression against states rights.

He didn't think much of states rights when Oregon voted to allow euthanasia, or when California decided to allow medical marijuana.

"States rights" is very old code. For Jim Crow. That is all. It means little else.

Ann Althouse said...

aj said: "The reason National Review wanted him ousted was because in his BET interview with Ed Gordon, Lott said he supported affirmative action programs (and also sundry other liberal ideas). Ann, you're very very naive. Very naive. You're smart, funny and a treat to read. But you're very naive. Please go and read Jonah Goldberg's articles...."

I'm not sure what you're point is here. I should have opposed Goldberg more? You did watch the diavlog, didn't you?

"OK, here, let me quote something from National Review, circa 1957: "The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.""

Yeah, what's you're point?! I've been talking about this sort of thing all along. This was in the readings for the conference. If not that quote, plenty of stuff like it. This is why I had the big problem I'm describing! You're not making much sense insofar as you're criticizing me, but I hope that quotes helps some people here see what I'm talking about.

downtownlad said...

Ann - that quote is from conservatives though, not libertarians.

So I don't think it supports your case. I would like to see some quotes from someone who is a libertarian, that shows they are a racist.

I think the fact they say absolutely nothing about the negative repurcussions that the repeal of these laws might have, is kind of strange though.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I wasn't saying that you should have gone after Jonah Goldberg more.

My point was that when Jonah Goldberg tries to establish his non-racist credentials by stating that National Review called for ousting Trent Lott, we need to dig in a little deeper to find out what really happened.

I didn't mean to sound critical when I said you were naive. It's just that you've suddenly become aware of certain streams of conservative thought. Fact is, it's all out there in the open. Go read some of these people, and you'll no longer be shocked to hear some of the stuff you heard during the conference.

Ann Althouse said...

DTL: Frank Meyer was a founder of the National Review who had a theory of fusing libertarianism and conservatism. That was what the conference was about. I appreciate your urge to distance libertarians from racist crap like that, but this is the very urge that I was upset to find absent. The libertarians and conservatives were both warming up to Meyer and ignoring his connections to racist policies. Was Meyer a racist? I don't know. But he was too close to racist policies for comfort. I'll have to look up the quotes in the materials that bothered me so much. I'll print them in some later posts.

downtownlad said...

I'm not trying to distance libertarians from racist crap.

I know, from my own experience, that many libertarians couldn't give a damn about racism or other kinds of bigotry - because they live in their own little bubble. And they are often completely immune from bigotry themselves, likely to be both white and straight, and usually male. How convenient.

And if they're not racist or bigoted - then they are usually completely oblivious to the fact that racism or other kinds of bigotry actually take place in the world.

Take this quote from your favorite writer Virgina Postrel.

To gay-rights supporters, the Colorado vote in particular looks like a win for bigotry. The measure's sponsors were, certainly, anti-gay. But lifting anti-discrimination laws is not the same as mandating discrimination–by either the state or private citizens. And the margin of victory came from voters who saw anti-discrimination laws not as statements of equal rights but as guarantees of special privileges. These swing voters were anti-regulation, not anti-gay.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/29341.html

Give me a break - OF COURSE the voters were driven by anti-gay bigotry.

I'm a libertarian. Maybe I'm a libertarian ideologue (I think libertarian idealist is a better term). But as you know, I am not one to be silent when I think bigotry is taking place. Unfortunately, many conservatives and libertarians are. And when you call them on that - they go ballistic. Get used to it.

peter hoh said...

Interesting reading. Not sure if I can add anything but a fanboy shout out to my favorite blog diva.

I don't think Althouse much cares how this is read by outsiders, but Bailey ought to think more about how this will be viewed by outsiders.

Bruce said...

Ann, you write:

These folks -- including Bailey, I think[incorrectly] -- would have left restaurants and hotels to continue discriminating against black people as long as they pleased…

But the thing that made me break down -- I kid you not -- was the realization that these people really didn't care about civil rights."


I think this is the essence of it – you seem to believe that the (positive) civil rights of black Americans trumps all other civil rights, including the (negative) civil rights (do they have any in your view?) of the private hotel owner, regardless of the consequences.

A typical libertarian is vexed by the issue because they see it as a clash between two claims of civil rights. Precisely because they have not fanatically fallen in love with your apparent concept that a black American’s civil rights trump all other rights, regardless of the consequences, like a former senator from your state, you question whether they are, or have ever been, a member of the racist conspiracy of America, and are guilty as charged despite their protestations.


Some of those negative consequences might include those despicable hotel owners having to worry that if they refuse service to a rowdy, disrespectful customer who happens to be black, they will put their business in jeopardy, because they fear they won’t be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to a jury of Ann Althouses that there wasn’t even a slight bias against the customer due to his race.

Even George McGovern discovered that hotel owners are people, too. Writing on how a mountain of regulations ruined his hotel business, he wrote:

I voted for most of the programs that were in operation, but I am convinced that many could and should be simplified or eliminated

though in fairness, he did not list regulations against discrimination among the most egregious.

Despite these concerns, I think in 1964, it was the right thing to do. I’m not so sure it is still needed, however, especially as the vast majority of businesses now seem keen on “diversifying” their workforce, even if it means violating the letter (if not the spirit) of the 1964 act.

It is the libertarian concern for everyone’s civil rights, that first attracted me to their cause, and contributed to my turning away from my liberal family upbringing. And they stand for these rights even if it means constantly being called racist and other names. If it brought you to tears that they were not mortified by your implicit accusations, it is probably because they’ve been called such names many times already for the most trivial of reasons, and have developed a thick skin by now. Liberals, it seems to me, are too eager to play favorites, regardless of the consequences, because of their so very enormous hearts and generous spirits. Witness the recent Duke Lacrosse issue as an example. The tone of your posts leads me to believe that is where you belong.

And yes, racial bigotry makes me angry too. Growing up I remember being spat on, while the person muttered “Iranian, go home” (I’m Jewish, so the confusion is understandable, I suppose), and had my naughty bits punched several times because someone incorrectly believed I was gay (and I refused to deny that I was out of principle). And I witnessed quite a bit of bigotry towards the newly arrived Vietnam boat people. Perhaps because in my personal experience, I didn’t personally witness such vehement hatred towards African Americans, it is harder for me to understand your apparent belief that pausing to consider, or, heaven forefend, side with any civil rights that might get in the way of the African American’s civil rights is indicative of the same mind-set that led to 9/11.

Hope I didn’t make you cry!

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell many of the folks commenting on this post seem to be missing Ann's point in the same way as those at the conference.

If you are going to advocate an idea that a racist would clearly support (because it furthered their racist beliefs) then you should be prepared to couple your idea with some additional ideas that clearly separate your position from the racist position.

If you are unwilling or unable to enunciate those differentiating thoughts then it seems like "How do I know you aren't a racist?" is a legitimate question. In the context that Anne described, it is clear that this was a question intended to highlight the weakness of the intellectual argument being presented and not an attempt to accuse anyone of racism.

As far as I can tell, Ann was taken aback when the response to her question was a blank stare rather than some clarifying thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

Random thoughts:

Libertarianism in its pure form is indistinguishable from religion. The morality of libertarianism - government cannot compel anyone to do virtually anything - is prized over the results of that conduct.

I seriously doubt these people were racist. I have little doubt that they didn't care about bad racial results because the Libertarians don't care about any results (and the party lies about results because it knows people care, though obviously they're not the only political party to do so.)

I absolutely understand Professor Althouse's frustration; you cannot talk to doctrinaire Libertarians like normal people. Of course, you cannot talk to lots of political extremists; Ann Coulter and Daily Kos promote their own versions of hatred for anyone who doesn't think like them.

But I have some understanding, if not sympathy, for the others at Professor Althouse's table - the Libertarian view is that virtually all government intervention is morally evil (even if they don't put it this way all the time) and that any other results are superior. They just don't look at results, and it's not out of racism.

I say all this as a libertarian-leaning fiscal conservative and social liberal; I am against making low-cost methamphetamine available at Walmart and I like the Interstate Highway System, so I'm barred from the doctrinaire gatherings of the sort Professor Althouse attended.

Conservatives and libertarians are not generally racist, and I think Professor Althouse just wasn't used to the religious fervor of Libertarian adherents.

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
Palladian: "Did anyone ever see Hitchcock's Rope? An entertaining look at where intellectuals and their big, abstract ideas lead."

Yeah, I love that movie. Perfect reference too. The teacher has his abstract ideas and he's just horrified to learn how the students applied them.


Not sure what your point is here. Every professor of philosophy should be required to prove to your satisfaction that he is not a Nazi before lecturing on Nietsche?

JimK said...

""States rights" is very old code. For Jim Crow. That is all. It means little else."

Wow.

What utter nonsense. When all else fails, including the ability to make a reasoned argument, trot out the accusation of racism, eh?

Talk about being the crux of the issue...

Daryl Herbert said...

dewave: So white people aren't real people?

Not hypothetical white people, no.

Instead of discussing real people who experienced real changes in their lives because of federal civil rights laws (and the real suffering they endured before those laws were passed), Ann was treated to idiotic hypotheticals about KKK members.

hygate said...

I forget the guy's name, but someone in the thread posted a dopey remark about Japan and racism. He says the Japanese are deeply and unashamedly racist:

"And yet, does it cause any real problems? Not to me it doesn't and millions of others who deal with the Japanese find them excellent partners. Racism is very, very far from being the worst thing in the world."


It would seem that he hasn't heard of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, or The Rape of Nanking, or the Bataan Death March, or even World War II. He certainly hasn't spent much time talking to any Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos. or Okinawans.

rightwingprof said...

"Can't the true believers get it through their heads that post-1964 it's unacceptable in this country to hold power if you believe the state can't stop businesses from discriminiating on the basis of race?"

The problem, of course, is the slippery slope, which has been proven correct, as bill after bill taking away private property rights has passed since then. Examples abound. The Endangered Species Act, which allows government to tell you what you can and cannot do with your private property. The idiotic Chicago foie gras ban. The equally idiotic NYC transfat ban.

The legacy of the Civil Rights Act is that private property no longer exists in the mind of government, and liberals who believe government should have nearly unbounded power. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, the saying goes, and nothing exemplifies that better than the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And you can't make a case that the legislation itself led to a social change. It did not. Social change never comes about at the force of government, but only with changes in attitudes. Forcing bigots (and by no means all of the Southern businessmen were bigots) to serve people they hate does not initiate so-called tolerance.

Daryl Herbert said...

my tablemates had posed the question of whether or not Althouse would want to have the right to refuse to serve KKK members if she owned a restaurant--say, the KKK members were planning to have a weekly luncheon meeting at her cafe? My interpretation of what happened is that because she didn't want to appear to be hypocrite, she refused to answer and kept asking more and more abstract questions about their example.

You wouldn't play the KKK hypothetical game, because it would have revealed you to be a hypocrite!

I used to think "intellectual" was a fair-minded description of the Reason crew. Now, I'm not so sure.

Do they really still think the KKK analogies were in any way valid or useful to the discussion? (some commenters here are even pressing Ann for an answer!)

How does voluntary membership in a racist terrorist group have any resemblance to skin color?

How is it in the least bit relevant? It can't be, unless . . . Reason writers think being black is like being a terrorist.

At least, Reason thinks blacks should have no more rights than terrorists (insert joke here about how Reason believes in broad rights for terrorists)

sonicfrog said...

DownTown, based on your last comments, I may have misjudged you. If so, sorry 'bout that.

Someone brought up a great example of the pseudo-libertarian Ashcroft. I voted for Bush and co. the first time because he was very much into the states rights thing, or so I though. But it turns out the states rights and the voice of their citizens only mattered as long as the laws and propositions being approved by the states agreed with the Bush team. When they didn't, well, lets amend the Constitution, or use congress to userp years of judicial review concerning Veggie Girl, Terri Schaivo.

PS. Veggie Girl is not used in a derogitory sense toward Schaivo or the family, I always felt very bad for all personally involve. It was meant to show how stupid and blind the congress was in getting involved in the first place, and to denote how sick and tired I was having to hearabout the case over and over and over again.

Forgive misspelling (what did tori do now) I just woke up.

Balfegor said...

Re: hygate:

It would seem that he hasn't heard of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, or The Rape of Nanking, or the Bataan Death March, or even World War II. He certainly hasn't spent much time talking to any Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos. or Okinawans.

Oh come off it. It is, shockingly enough, possible to recognise that, uh, murdering millions of Chinese, raping Korean women, and all the rest, are kind of independently evil quite apart from the racism aspect of it. And possible to recognise that racism and mass murder are two separate and distinct things.

Koreans are, as far as I can tell, roughly as racist as the Japanese (I have less access to Japanese private opinions, of course, because I'm not Japanese). Indeed, I've heard Korean students justify their racist stereotypes by stating that they are, in fact, true. Blaming racism for nasty things people have done regularly all through history is like blaming patriotism for the American Indian genocide. People do blame it, of course, but "racism" alone isn't actually the cause -- it takes something more than just thinking your own people are superior to other peoples, before you're willing to go massacring those other peoples. Or, for that matter, setting up legal regimes like Jim Crow to keep those other peoples down.

There's not really a direct logical connection between "I am better than you" and "You should die." Thinking I'm better than you may make it easier for me to get to "you should die," -- make me less concerned about your death, perhaps, or less sympathetic to your suffering. But so will all kinds of things, like a deep commitment to Communism, or religious fervour, etc. And it still takes something else, before I can get to the point where I actively work to bring about your death. That something doesn't seem to me to be racism, but something different in kind, and vastly more evil.

Anonymous said...

Radar and JRM both make excellent points:

Radar wrote:

If you are going to advocate an idea that a racist would clearly support (because it furthered their racist beliefs) then you should be prepared to couple your idea with some additional ideas that clearly separate your position from the racist position.

If you are unwilling or unable to enunciate those differentiating thoughts then it seems like "How do I know you aren't a racist?" is a legitimate question. In the context that Anne described, it is clear that this was a question intended to highlight the weakness of the intellectual argument being presented and not an attempt to accuse anyone of racism.

As far as I can tell, Ann was taken aback when the response to her question was a blank stare rather than some clarifying thoughts.

Keep that in mind, and consider these quotes from JRM's thoughts:

I seriously doubt these people were racist....the Libertarian view is that virtually all government intervention is morally evil (even if they don't put it this way all the time) and that any other results are superior. They just don't look at results, and it's not out of racism....I think Professor Althouse just wasn't used to the religious fervor of Libertarian adherents.

To that someone might add that Libertarian adherents are not used to being taken seriously.

I do remember quite well that, prior to 1997, many well-known and apparently serious libertarians were prone to wax eloquent about the wonders of the government of Hong Kong, as if it were some nirvana on Earth, proof that the libertarian ideal was a practical one.

Funny how things work out. I spent a lot of time living in Hong Kong and had more than a passing knowledge of the place. This paradise of laissez-faire government was compelled by reality to house a majority of its population in public housing estates. Not publicly-financed private housing estates, mind you, but publicly financed, publicly maintained and publicly subsidized for presumed perpetuity because there was absolutely no financially feasible way to house the people of Hong Kong privately.

This aspect of life in Hong Kong was usually ignored, or rarely mentioned except in passing. Oh, there would be the odd lamentation that the government had somehow succumbed to outside pressure and abandoned its principles every now and then, but those were rare and without genuine consideration of realistic alternatives.

(Lest anyone think these were grand mansions, they were about 600 square feet per family at best, IIRC, and until the mid-70's, toilets and showers were public, "down the hall," not in the apartment.)

Finn Kristiansen said...

Sometimes we come to a fork in the road where being right and being moral do not quite overlap. The roads split, and one must first recognize the split, then make a choice and not pretend the split, and the path you take, is of no consequence.

Often the grand theories of our time, on paper, read quite well and offer a line of consistency that should lead to greater good.

More often the theories leave out the human personality that winds its way through every ideological and cultural experiment. On paper, things look grand, and we take to our projections like optimistic entrepreneurs who have fudged our excel spreadsheets to make it all seem feasible.

Our inputs are faulty. We assume rationality and a type of benign self interest. We assume most men are basically good, and while that may in fact be true, we cannot discount the possibility that the amount of evil in the few is far more concentrated, and quite capable of overwhelming that general good (or generally good idea).

Whether looking at Christianity, libertarianism, liberalism, Marxism, Mormonism, Communism, Catholicism... all are marred by the nature of man poking through, and causing sometimes brilliant or consequential concepts to pisa this way and that, and implode.(And yet, with Christianity we have perhaps the only system designed with the idea that you WILL screw up and fall short of perfection).

Under every system, the strong, the ambitious, the majority, the greedy, the competitive, have pushed forward.

Sometimes it takes an elected government of the people to act as a corrective to individual human impulses and concentrations of private power or misbehavior.

hygate said...

Oh come off it. It is, shockingly enough, possible to recognise that, uh, murdering millions of Chinese, raping Korean women, and all the rest, are kind of independently evil quite apart from the racism aspect of it. And possible to recognise that racism and mass murder are two separate and distinct things.

Koreans are, as far as I can tell, roughly as racist as the Japanese (I have less access to Japanese private opinions, of course, because I'm not Japanese).


Oh come off it yourself. Of course those actions are independently evil. And, having lived in Korea for a year, I’m quite aware of their racist believes, thank you very much.

Blaming racism for nasty things people have done regularly all through history is like blaming patriotism for the American Indian genocide.People do blame it, of course

Actually, no they don’t. Most people blame it on the fact that the settlers wanted the land for themselves. Racism allowed them to morally justify whatever it took to acquire that land.

There's not really a direct logical connection between "I am better than you" and "You should die." Thinking I'm better than you may make it easier for me to get to "you should die," -- make me less concerned about your death, perhaps, or less sympathetic to your suffering. But so will all kinds of things, like a deep commitment to Communism, or religious fervour, etc.

The word I think you are looking for is fanaticism. And I agree that racism isn’t the ultimate evil. However, it isn’t just an interesting personality quirk either. What motives besides racism were behind the Holocaust? Pursuing it actually harmed Germany economically and forced them to expend resources that could have been better spent, from their point of view, on their war effort; when racists acquire the power to act on their ideology bad things happen.

Anonymous said...

we cannot discount the possibility that the amount of evil in the few is far more concentrated, and quite capable of overwhelming that general good (or generally good idea).

This is the central assumption that we libertarians make about people, government and the people in government. This is what it's all about.

If we limit the amount that one person can legally dictate the way another can live his or her life, we've minimized the damage.

Sometimes it takes an elected government of the people to act as a corrective to individual human impulses and concentrations of private power or misbehavior.

Power corrupts. Unchecked power begets more unchecked power. Greater power results in greater corruption and more power.

What has more power than government? And what has less accountability? Can I sue the attorney general if Justice kidnaps me and holds me indefinitely by mistake? Can I have him thrown in jail?

Now what if Lee Raymond had me kidnapped and held indefinitely? Don't I have many more recourses upon escaping detainment?

Why would government, in your view, be immune to such human impulses, instead of more succeptible?

Congressmen, on average, do 5% better in the stock market than professional stock brokers do with their private portfolios. Does that reek of corruption and insider trading, or is Congress simply full of economic geniuses?

Can you honestly say that government regulating your activities would produce more justice and a better life than you deciding for yourself?

Daryl Herbert said...

rightwingprof: And you can't make a case that the legislation itself led to a social change. It did not. Social change never comes about at the force of government, but only with changes in attitudes. Forcing bigots (and by no means all of the Southern businessmen were bigots) to serve people they hate does not initiate so-called tolerance.

This is just wrong.

If the government forces a change in society--a change in everyone's circumstances, a change in things they experience every day--that absolutely can cause things to change in their hearts.

Peoples' daily lives changed a great deal when integration was made law. The racist slights they used to experience--gone. Replaced with new and different racist slights. I'm not saying in one wave of the magic wand everything was made better, but it certainly changed, and those changes had tremendous fallout.

Massive structural changes to society can have far-reaching effects on individuals.

When the Army integrated and forced whites and blacks to live together, that did cause people to change their attitudes.

Government is incredibly (scarily, even) powerful. That's why I lean libertarian on most issues.

Not every government program works as intended, of course (another reason I lean libertarian). But there's no denying the potential power.

Ray Gardner said...

An extreme, but accurate hypothetical example of how the market works to correct.

An all-white NBA team.

ASX said...

Ray Gardener,
Look at some of these photos.

You might call this an example of how racial discrimination works in actual practice:

http://www.hoyabasketball.com/gallery/teams.htm

Steve Sailer said...

It's 1692 again, and there are witches/racists to be routed everywhere.

Ben Masel said...

In the times and places which birthed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the lines between Stte sanctioned, and private racial discrimination were blurred, as efforts to exert social pressure on discriminating businesses met skewed intervention from local and State law enforcement.

Lynette Warren said...

Ann,
I agree -- and said at the conference many times -- that the state should not coerce virtue when it doesn't affect other persons.

You ignore the virtue of allowing people to dispense with their property in the way they see fit and justify coercion by saying that property owners' rights adversely affect other persons.

So don't go thinking you've got a leg to stand on when Obama, Kennedy, Schumer, Clinton, et al make noise about how it affects other persons when they can't confiscate a bigger portion of your income to finance their latest "for the children" programs.

If you want to run away from private property rights because it's all too scary and mean, then do so. Just remember that when you do, you land right into the arms of the very nanny state you like to decry.

boldface said...

Ann, this is real simple: to you, racism of any kind and in any degree is so much more important than anything else that you're willing to limit other people's freedom to stamp it out if that's what it takes. To the others, personal liberty is so important that they're willing to tolerate some private racism if that's what it takes to protect personal liberty.

That does'nt make them racists any more than it makes you a totalitarian. Yet under your theory that you had the right to demand that they prove they are not racists, they would have had the right to turn around and ask you to prove that you're not fascistic. The same way that you think it's legitimate to ask whether they chose their principals because they enable racism, it's legitimate for them to ask whether you chose your principles because it gives you and those who think like you power over others.

This was a fruitless dispute, Ann, and it was based on little more than people on both sides attributing bad motives to each other. I have been reading you for a long time, but honestly, I expect better from you.

Harkonnendog said...

Ann,

There was a huge cultural gap between you and the other people at that table. Demanding that someone from that group prove to you that they are not racist was akin to pulling a Kramer. It was that bad.

You don't understand how angry that makes people, how unfair and ridiculous and underhanded they consider such a demand.

For many conservatives, and for libertarians especially, an accusation of racism AUTOMATICALLY has no basis in fact- it is regarded as a transparent attempt to stifle open speech, nothing more. It is akin to saying a man molests his daughter unless he agrees with you... (That's a bad example but I don't know how to express it strongly enough and make sense.) Anyway, to compound the sin by demanding someone PROVE they aren't racist is even more disgusting and unfair... it is impossible to prove and by trying to prove it, by stooping to prove it, a libertarian legitimizes an illegitimate attack and encourages a shame-based rather than an ethic-based polity.

Accusations of racism are common on college campuses, I know. But outside of certain highly liberal circles you should never go there, not if you want to have a rational exchange of ideas.

Harkonnendog said...

Ann,

There was a huge cultural gap between you and the other people at that table. Demanding that someone from that group prove to you that they are not racist was akin to pulling a Kramer. It was that bad.

You don't understand how angry that makes people, how unfair and ridiculous and underhanded they consider such a demand.

For many conservatives, and for libertarians especially, an accusation of racism AUTOMATICALLY has no basis in fact- it is regarded as a transparent attempt to stifle open speech, nothing more. It is akin to saying a man molests his daughter unless he agrees with you... (That's a bad example but I don't know how to express it strongly enough and make sense.) Anyway, to compound the sin by demanding someone PROVE they aren't racist is even more disgusting and unfair... it is impossible to prove and by trying to prove it, by stooping to prove it, a libertarian legitimizes an illegitimate attack and encourages a shame-based rather than an ethic-based polity.

Accusations of racism are common on college campuses, I know. But outside of certain highly liberal circles you should never go there, not if you want to have a rational exchange of ideas.

jerrylv3 said...

One should not be able to discriminate based on race, gender, or ethnicity - things that people are born with. The KKK is a voluntary association with a political ideology. Very different things.

The young girl going on about white people this and that, maybe not be racist but she's not far behind.

Lynette Warren said...

Jerry said:
One should not be able to discriminate based on race, gender, or ethnicity - things that people are born with. The KKK is a voluntary association with a political ideology.

Practicing Catholics and Jews hold voluntary associations with their respective religious organizations. Should Ann be able to kick Catholics and Jews out of her hypothetical restaurant?

Jesse said...

Some of us already knew what Jesse Walker thinks of tears. He's the one who likes to publish inappropriate pictures of little girls crying and make fun of them because he detests their father and wants to hurt him, too.

I have not done this, nor anything even remotely resembling this.

A former colleague of mine did do something faintly resembling this. I presume that you have mixed us up -- and that you do not bother to check your facts before firing off false accusations anonymously.

Guts Strongman said...

The other day I went out to a restaurant, which was wonderful, because I still remember my grandmother telling me about how restaurants used to not serve her. First Obama is elected, and now I can go to any restaurant in my price range, what a country! Unfortunately, my meal was interrupted by a gaggle of socially awkward freaks. One of them was a tow-headed woman, a bit long in the tooth; she was sobbing uncontrollably and muttering the lyrics to "give peace a chance" under her breath. She was being yelled at by a bespectacled gentleman who resembled a cross between late Bill Murray and a chimpanzee. I would have liked to stay in the restaurant, but what with all the racket, I left after the first course. What a shame.