Who is Althouse? * View only LAW posts * Contribute * Shop AMAZON*
I hope it hasn't become that (and for that matter TV shows that trivialize racial issues do a disservice by taking an issue that needs to be dealt with seriously.)There are plenty of hard statistics out there that show that, for example, schools with majority minority populations receive less funding that schools with majority white student bodies, or that people who commit crimes in which the victim is white generally recieve longer prison terms (or if it is is murder, more often the death penalty) than if the victim is black, or that members of minorities with a comparable educational background still don't earn as much as white people.That said, it is also true that there are demogogues on both sides of these issues, both those who choose to ignore the very real racial disparities that still exist, and those who look at every perceived slight and scream that it is racism even when there is no evidence that it is.But we still are stuck with the society that was created over a hundred years of institutional racism, and to simply claim that because discrimination is illegal today that therefore there is no residual inequality from the way that things were before is to be intentionally ignorant.
I'm thinking we are witnessing the late throes of a long process.
The latest episodic entry, that of Dog the Bounty Hunter, is by far the most entertaining, what with Dog on national TV explaining between tears and heaving sobs he that thought he had a special bond with black people that gave him permission to use the N word because his "cellie" was black, and that he's just now figured out that he's not black. Good stuff.
Not according to the article.Progress would entail in-depth discussion of issues and problems. That honest ventilation would lead to reconciliation and resolution. What turning the Great Race Debate into entertainment does is set aside the honest ventilation for another day, instead focusing us on a superficial caricature that desensitizes us to the horrors of reality.Reducing enlightened discourse to bland entertainment is a failure to achieve progress and suggests actual regression has occurred. There once were enlightened an earnest debates about race on television. But the article suggests that era has vanished due to the profit-motive of mass media.One of the signs that intellectual discourse reduced to entertainment is regress is that the public is not represented in what’s shown onscreen. It would be one thing, the article implies, if the entertainment encapsulated the multiplicity of perspectives out in the real world and engaged with the audience. Instead, "Television makes politics entertaining by turning politics into polarized conflict between two sides ... The audience sympathizes with one side or the other because they are basically getting entertained. It leaves the public with no place in the conversation." The motives of the mass media and the public interest are at cross-purposes: "TV is trying to give us a lot of drama, conflict, pictures, basically to entertain us, keep us there watching that channel. That is not a venue that is compatible with public conversation.”Even worse than obliterating any chance for public conversation, turning intellectual discourse into binary shout fests may actually further racism: “While the media provides context for events and a frame of reference by which people understand each other and the broader culture, they also perpetuate stereotypes and fuel sensationalism in the race debate, says Doreen Loury, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Arcadia University outside Philadelphia, where she teaches a course called "African American Images in the Media." And even where it does not further racism, it may render no blatant racism invisible to a majority group primed to disbelieve it is typical or commonplace for those who experience it: The inability of many whites to acknowledge racism has a deep impact on the way race is discussed in society, because white people "control the discourse on what constitutes race in this country," says Paula Rothenberg, a senior fellow at City University in New York and author of "White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism." "The reality is [in] every aspect of life -- economic, social, political -- white people benefit from the way the system is organized and black people experience deficiency," says Rothenberg, who is white. "The system is constructed so that it appears to be fair and just and neutral to all, when in fact white people inherit white supremacy and benefits. . . . "White people are more likely to be hired. More likely to be paid higher salaries. Treated fairly. More likely to be assumed good people and kind people. . . . Every aspect of the system is rigged to benefit whites and to criticize or challenge people of color."
There are plenty of hard statistics out there that show that, for example, schools with majority minority populations receive less funding that schools with majority white student bodiesThat's hardly surprising, since schools are generally funded out of local property taxes.
"Progress would entail in-depth discussion of issues and problems."If that's the only path, we're in big trouble. It isn't going to happen, and I don't think anyone really wants it to happen. What do you think can be said that would convey new information? Wouldn't these discussions cause discord?
If that's the only path, we're in big trouble. It isn't going to happen, and I don't think anyone really wants it to happen. What do you think can be said that would convey new information? Wouldn't these discussions cause discord?According to the article, you are correct if "anyone" excludes nonwhite people. Perhaps no new information can be conveyed to someone who refuses to hear what you are saying. I take it the many academics, scholars and scientists both, who were interviewed for the article believe that the discord is already there. It's just that t.v. is papering it over and letting "everyone" avoid acknolwedging it.My understanding is that most of these discussions are productive and enlightening, such as the results of the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which was initially opposed by those who didn't want to "dredge up" the past. (Which is rather hilarious, given that there are people alive who remember segregation.)http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/1898-wrrc/I'm not sure whether this post is supposed to be ironic.
A says the plight of black America, and in particular the black underclass, is caused by institutional racism.B says that the plight of the black underclass is caused by self-inflicted wounds,i.e.,children without fathers, pervasive music and poetry that celebrate violence, and dysfuctional beliefs. A says B is blaming the victim, expressing racist views, and that the ideas of Booker T,. Washington, Bill Cosby, Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell cannot be taken seriously.B says that A is engaged in self-deception and that A's proposed solutions not only don't work but make the situation for the black underclass even worse.Can this argument be resolved without more discord?
Can this argument be resolved without more discord?1. Racism need not have anything to do with class.2. The problem with your "analysis" is that all of the conservative blacks you cited agree that both institutional racism and personal responsibility are parts of the equation. The discord, to great extent, is manufactured.3. In fact, the WaPo article quotes Shelby Steele at length. Steele is a conservative fellow at the Hoover Institute who is quoted in the article making my point #2.
"According to the article, you are correct if "anyone" excludes nonwhite people."No. It's not for me to say, but I don't think black people really want to have a discussion with white people about race. Like an honest back and forth conversation? How would that work? Not well, I think we know. "I'm not sure whether this post is supposed to be ironic."No. I'm just speculating that these compartmentalized (almost ritualized) acknowledgments of racial problems may be a stage in what is actually progress. I'm asking a question. I don't really know, but I don't accept the assumption that it is some sort of decline in race relations.
It's not for me to say, but I don't think black people really want to have a discussion with white people about race. Like an honest back and forth conversation?If there are objective facts on the table, I'm sure they do. I think much of the problem is that any number of historical events were recorded inaccurately, like the Wilmington Race Riot. Once those facts are on the table, the kind of discussion being had consists of more than opinionated bickering.I don't really know, but I don't accept the assumption that it is some sort of decline in race relations.I did not read the article to posit a change in television programming reflecting a change in race relations outside of the world of television. I read the article to posit a decline in television programming that serves either to stall progress or worsen conditions insofar as it taints those exposed to it. I think it's rather unconstroversial to claim that polarized shout-fests have become more prevalent on television, whether the subject is racial or not. I don't know what the impact is on society at large, beyond those who watch it, but I think studies have shown that people who watch polarizing shows tend to be more partisan. That could be causation or correlation.In any event, I will say that public affairs programming that honestly discusses issues of any sort used to be more commonplace twenty to thirty years ago as prime time entertainment.
Not much to say.
What do you think can be said that would convey new information? That ``You women watching this news magazine are soap opera addicts and ought to get a life. Our only motive is that you not tune away. Your motive is entertainment by inner struggle, soul-searching and everlasting frustration.'' James Thurber on the soap opera formula might help.
Mortimer Brezny said..."I think much of the problem is that any number of historical events were recorded inaccurately, like the Wilmington Race Riot. Once those facts are on the table, the kind of discussion being had consists of more than opinionated bickering."Don't you mean that white people should sit quietly and receive lessons?"...I will say that public affairs programming that honestly discusses issues of any sort used to be more commonplace twenty to thirty years ago as prime time entertainment."I agree that news shows and news watching habits have changed, but this is a transformation that transcends race, so I don't think it says much about race relations. Times change, and I think with time people are getting better about race — but not so much by talking about it as a subject — by living in the world together.
Mortimer wrote: "Progress would entail in-depth discussion of issues and problems."I disagree in part. I think that relationships end prejudice.I recall my daughter in Kindergarten picking the best dancer in her class as her dance partner. Smart girl! His name is Calvin and he is a dark skinned black child.His mom and I are about the same age, 40 then, in 2000, so we recalled horrible racial problems. We stood next to each other and beamed, both tearing up just a bit. "Isn't that wonderful?" she asked? "It is like a dream" I said. She chuckled, catching my reference, and responded "Isn't it!"Our children will grow up with healed hearts when it comes it race. They give funny looks of incomprehension when people talk about racism.The more children who are raised in this manner, the faster the problem will fade into glorious obscurity. I do not believe that healing will come about from programs or discussions or laws or bussing or anything a "civil rights leader" says or even occasionally does. Those things do not change people's hearts. Relationships change people's hearts.Trey
Mortimer Brezny said..."I think much of the problem is that any number of historical events were recorded inaccurately, like the Wilmington Race Riot. Once those facts are on the table, the kind of discussion being had consists of more than opinionated bickering."Don't you mean that white people should sit quietly and receive lessons?I agree. This example from The Corner always always seemed to me what was really expected when someone proposed a conversation about race:http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Y2IyMTVhYThmNjllYmJiOTA2NjRiOGQ1NzNkMGEzMzY=Liberal: You hate black people.Conservative: You're right, I hate black people. Oh my! How awful I am!Liberal: I agree! You're awful!Conservative: What a great conversation we're having about race!
Ann,You write: "I don't think black people really want to have a discussion with white people about race. Like an honest back and forth conversation? How would that work? Not well, I think we know."How do you know? Yesterday I was listening to ESPN Radio, and Spencer Tillman was thrilled that the guy he was talking to brought up Barack Obama in connection with whether big-time football programs risk alienating their donor bases if they hire black football coaches. Tillman was thrilled that his interlocutor brought up the fact some people don't think Obama is "electable." Tillman wants it TALKED about. Is Obama electable? If not, why not? Do people want to talk about that? Tillman does, and Tillman's black. I'm not ready for your word that discussion isn't what blacks want.And you ask, "Wouldn't these discussions cause discord?" Um, yes. So what? Wouldn' any discussions over matters as disturbing as the continuing legacy of the fact we treated a significant part of our population as property based on the color of their skin?
IS it a melodrama? Yep. An eternal soap opera of victimhood and counter-victimhood protestations?Yep.And it follows the metanarrative script written by prominent NYC communists in the 50s that used Bolshevik notions that truth is not as important as social justice - Notions embraced by the MSM in the 60s and codified and regurgitated. And since the media informs the public as to the reality and punishes white or black deviancy from the approved race relations Party Line - and with the power of Victimhood and grievance so homored - it persists in absurd ways.No person with comon sense believed a rape happened at the Duke Lacrosse Party, that 43 outstanding men would risk their lives and futures as felons covering up for 3 other exemplary men deciding to do a crazy gang rape in a house as big as a double-wide with another stripper there and all activities outside noted by neighbors. All the facts pointed to the prostitute lying. All the witnesses said she was lying, she had a criminal record, a past false rape accusation, and had deep psychological problems requiring hospitalization.That did not matter to blacks or Leftists, media hacks that filled in the blanks on the race metanarrative script and published it as fact - and a nutty DA backed solidly by most blacks and the racists of the NAACP - that lined up like good little Stalinists and black racists to push the proper metanarrative of assuming automatic white guilt in any racial incident.And even, if they weren't guilty, they had to pay for crimes of their incorrect race, gender and class.Ronald L. Woodson writes tellingly in that WP article that race grievance peddlers are locked into a role as Civil Rights Reenactors, much like Confederate reenactors that gather in camps. To sing the good old songs, do marches, make speeches the Confeds did generations ago -discuss the old slights and insults, and venerate Robert E. Lee like he was Saint Martin Luther King. Half-believing all that distant past still applies to today -- until it is time for them to go back to their day jobs and suburbs.Meanwhile, it is safest for the white, Asian, and hispanic side to avoid all discussion about race as it applies towards blacks because of all the trouble that could come from expressing one's honest views. Best to just let Lefty and black race grievance hucksters lecture them in silence, see if what they want is a threat to their wallets and families and politely disagree at that point, but otherwise shut up because the metanarrative of race, as drawn up by some very cunning people in the 50s, still has great power to punish them.
Don't you mean that white people should sit quietly and receive lessons?No.I mean a conversation about facts is different than stereotyping someone to his face, venting prejudices behind the veil of "this is what I have seen in my very limited life experience," or boring "explanations" of why prejudice is not really prejudice when other people share it. I'm not interested in hearing "this is how [insert racial category] are" from anyone.Tetonsig,I'm not a liberal and I generally dislike liberals. But that doesn't mean I want to hear a false partisan screed in the vein of "this is how liberals are". I'd rather openly discuss what liberals actually think and why it's faulty, if that's the case, based on the facts.I don't like ignorant, biased people of any color.
Relationships change people's hearts.I don't see how one can have in-depth discussion without forging a relationship of some kind.
"...honest ventilation would lead to reconciliation and resolution."While it is nice to think that that would be the case, the fact that it apparently hasn't yet gives me very little hope that it will be true in the future.What do you mean by "honest ventilation"? And how will reconciliation follow?
What do you mean by "honest ventilation"? And how will reconciliation follow?That's a paraphrase of what the article says. Read the article that Ann linked to.
It think it is generally accepted that truth commissions lead to reconciliation. Truth commissions generally work.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_commissionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_Reconciliation_Commission_(South_Africa)http://www.greensborotrc.org/
"I think it is generally accepted that truth commissions lead to reconciliation. Truth commissions generally work."Generally work? The South African one seems to have "worked". I'm not sure about the track records of any others.Perhaps I am suffering from a massive failure of imagination here, but I don't see what such a commission would do, with regards to "the debate over race".
Yes, generally. The link to that scholar who talked about them on Philosophy Talk notes in the discussion that they generally have worked everywhere they have been employed since the South African one, as that has been adopted pretty much as the model.We already have a commission on civil rights. It produces reports. The problem is they are political screeds, rather than historical investigations of race-related events. It very easily could do work like the Greensboro TRC, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, and the Wilmington Race Riot Commission did. Those are American and were successful also.I'm not really interested in having you parse my language.
Also, while I am not a proponent of reparations, the discovery related to several reparations lawsuits has produced interesting findings. A commission with subpoena power could have done that at a lower social cost.
Mortimer Brezny: "I mean a conversation about facts is different than stereotyping someone to his face, venting prejudices behind the veil of "this is what I have seen in my very limited life experience," or boring "explanations" of why prejudice is not really prejudice when other people share it. I'm not interested in hearing "this is how [insert racial category] are" from anyone."I just have a hard time seeing people getting into those discussions effectively. As long as you're face to face, maybe talking about something else we're interested in would bring more harmony and crush more stereotypes. If we talk about race, we're going to get mad or offended soon enough. "Truth commissions."In the United States? Hard to picture that! Maybe in the aftermath of a specific conflict in a particular place, but not more generally.
Maybe in the aftermath of a specific conflict in a particular placeDealing with widespread denial is one of the express purposes of a truth commission.It depends how you define "aftermath". The Wilmington Race Riot was in 1898, if I'm not mistaken, but North Carolina government undertook the Commission in 2005. There already is a commission on civil rights, and many people think that was its purpose. The "never gonna happen" attitude is also how people reacted to the proposals for a Holocaust Memorial and a National Slavery Museum. I have never had a conversation with a racially biased person whose bias failed to infect their conversational repartee on other subjects. You might think sports would be a race-neutral topic ("How about those Mets?"), but it really isn't. ("Too many Mexicans on the team.")
There is no "debate over race" in this country. They're people who dislike racism and think blacks are treated unfairly due to it. And on the opposite side, nobody.Calls for a discussion on "race" by blacks = more government/business handouts/quotas for blacks. I don't blame blacks for doing this, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But can't we skip all the hot air and phony outrage?
"We already have a commission on civil rights. It produces reports. The problem is they are political screeds..."...and why would a TRC be any different? "I'm not really interested in having you parse my language."Well, okay, but that seems highly ironic in the context of a comment thread about "in-depth discussion" and "honest ventilation". I'm trying to more fully understand your point, and now you're telling me to buzz off.
I know of a California-based political company that kept a list of "black precincts": These were all the precincts in the state where predominately black people lived. Without an actual ethnicity designation (which is probably illegal), you can't identify black people very well. So what this company would do is take these precincts and eliminate the other ethnicities (which are identifiable by name). Black politicians would then target those people for special mailings.In the '80s, that list was over 200 precincts. By 2000, it had dropped to less than 50.One of the takeaways from this was that the state was simply becoming more integrated.The political and media sideshow is really just that: a sideshow.
There is nothing about my "point" that is hard to understand. In fact, I haven't really made much of a "point" other than that (a) truth commissions work, (b) facilitate dialogue, and (c) are cheaper than lawsuits.What I did was paraphrase the article that Ann cited to, which you could have read for yourself. I linked to the relevant commissions here and abroad. I linked to a scholar discussing TRCs generally, which answers many of your subsequent questions. I take it you have not listened to it.Here is the link to the US commission, which you could have found yourself: http://www.usccr.gov/It's rather obvious that the difference between an independent commission, as TRCs post-South Africa's tend to be, and one that is politicized is a real difference. The 9/11 Commission is generally regarded as nonpartisan and its report is respected. The US Civil Rights Commission, by contrast, is generally thought of as a politicized institution.I am not a liberal, but here is Paul Krugman, sarcastically, on that topic: "when Reagan fired three members of the Civil Rights Commission, it wasn’t intended as a gesture of support to Southern whites. It was all an innocent mistake." http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/10/innocent-mistakes/I'm not going to argue with you about the fact that you lack the ability to Google. And there is a difference between skepticism and arguing from ignorance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignoranceIf you want to doubt the effectiveness of TRCs, you're entitled to your opinion. The First Amendment encompasses false belief and this is a free country.
And I am not claiming that the 9/11 Commission is a TRC. My "point" is only that commissions can avoid politicization.
...and why would a TRC be any different? I provided a link by which you can access the Wilmington Race Riot Commission report. It is not a political screed. It's just a comprehensive historical account of what happened. TRCs exist to get beyond political infighting, which is why they are used most commonly in the wake of bitter civil wars.
Look, both Althouse and I are having trouble what such a commission would do, and how it would work. That is not the same thing as saying, "I can't see it working, therefore it can't work." It's a question, not an argument from ignorance. I'm just asking you, as a proponent of the idea, for concrete examples of what such a commission would do. Posting a flurry of links is not an answer. None of those links address the question. What would the commission do? Crank out historical reports on specific incidents? Who will read them?And I also have a great deal of trouble believing that such a commission, in the current political atmosphere, would not be highly politicized. Unfortunate, but true.
I'm just asking you, as a proponent of the idea, for concrete examples of what such a commission would do. I'm not proposing an idea. There already have been truth commissions here (e.g., Greensboro, Wilmington, Tulsa) and they have worked. I linked to them. If you want to know how they work, look at the links.We also have a federal commission that in theory does the same work, but it currently is politicized.How could one un-politicize it?This should be rather obvious to anyone who has looked at the membership of the commission on the website link I gave you.By law, the commission has 8 members, 4 of whom are Presidentially appointed and 4 of whom are Congressionally appointed. By law, no more than half the committee may be of one political party.Except the two Democrats on the commission are hacks installed there because of their relationship to the Senate and House majority leaders. One is a lawyer crony of Hary Reid who lives on a Native American reservation and lobbies for gaming rights. The other is a former aide of Nancy Pelosi who has no relevant expertise in the area.The two independents are both registered independents, but one works for a conservative think tank (yes, she is a respected scholar, but the think tank standards are lower than those in academia, and the Commission reports are larded with think tank level analysis), and the other is basically a hardcore conservative law professor whose claim to fame is penning a few controversial anti-affirmative action articles. (Nothing wrong with that in the abstract, but you'd think the Commission members would be objective; and, anyway, the point is that the "independents" are really shadow Republicans.)All the Presidential appointees are Republicans. Nothing wrong with that because Bush is in office. But none of them have any relevant expertise in the area, other than than they happen to be minorities. (I suppose Peter Kirsanow has experience in labor law, but being a lawyer generally is not the same as having expertise in history or any of the social sciences.)One could improve the Commission quite easily. Instead of having 6 Republicans and 2 Democrats, one could follow the law and have 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Instead of using the Commission slots to reward cronies who happen to be minorities, one could put some historians, economists, anthropoligists and sociologists of any race on there. And one could give the Commission subpoena power, rather than simply permitting it to hold hearings. As a result of its lack of the subpoena power, the scholars who tend to give testimony before the Commission are self-serving and self-interested hacks from think tanks supporting the party of whoever is President.I don't think you and Althouse are making the same argument, frankly; you'll notice I didn't expose any fallacies in her reasoning.What would the commission do? Crank out historical reports on specific incidents? Who will read them?This is not an argument. This is your condescending ignorance pretending to be sophisticated skepticism. The fact is that TRCs work and the commissions in Greensboro, Wilmington, and Tulsa were reported on by the press, consumed by citizens, became the basis of lesson plans in schools, and are available online. Indeed, I'm talking about them to you right now and suggesting you read them before leaping to unfounded conclusions. Your "argument" is like claiming that no one will watch Presidential candidates chat it up with Iowans on C-SPAN. Except it is broadcast on C-SPAN, people do watch, and when something interesting happens, it is picked up on AP.
"In the United States? Hard to picture that! Maybe in the aftermath of a specific conflict in a particular place, but not more generally."...is what Althouse said, which (as far as I can see) isn't much different from what I said."This is your condescending ignorance pretending to be sophisticated skepticism."Seriously, what's with all the hostility here? I find it amusing that we can't even have this discussion without your breaking out the insults. "Reconciliation and resolution" indeed.
Seriously, what's with all the hostility here? Here's what Ann didn't do:Claim that "I'm trying to more fully understand your point," refuse to read the materials that explain "the point," and then claim "I find it amusing that we can't even have this discussion without your breaking out the insults. 'Reconciliation and resolution' indeed.'"I already said I'm not arguing with you over your unwillingness to read the materials that answer your questions. If you want to take that as hostility, be my guest. I call it time management.
Let me add that I certainly support deep historical research and education in matters of race. This is probably the most important theme in American history and we should care about developing it. I'm just saying that I think that it doesn't mean much that our trashy news media pump these little encapsulated stories that people like to latch onto (like what Imus said). It's human nature, and it's probably innocuous.
...and I'm saying your links didn't answer my questions. Oh, well. This is obviously going nowhere.
Let me add that I certainly support deep historical research and education in matters of race. This is probably the most important theme in American history and we should care about developing it. I'm just saying that I think that it doesn't mean much that our trashy news media pump these little encapsulated stories that people like to latch onto (like what Imus said). It's human nature, and it's probably innocuous.I pretty much agree with that. and I'm saying your links didn't answer my questions. Then you are deaf and blind, and I cannot help you. I am not a doctor.
"I pretty much agree with that."Ah, harmony!
Mortimer, here's why a TRC won't work: because the median age in America is around 36. Well over half the country isn't even old enough to remember a time when it was socially acceptable to express racist sentiments or to discriminate on the basis of race.Racism doesn't matter to us, because during our lifetimes racism has been a trivial force in America. There is, in fact, quite a lot more yammering ABOUT racism than there is actual racism. The last thing we're interested in is... more yammering about racism. Sheesh, enough already.
TRCs generally work, except for the ones that don't reach the predetermined conclusions I have in mind. No true Scotsman would regard our existing commission as a true TRC.
Post a Comment