The Richard Sherman kerfuffle reveals the real racists among us

This is not polite behavior, and I expect better from all people.

This is not polite behavior, and I expect better from all people.

Words have always changed their meaning over time.  Some of the ones that used to have neutral, descriptive meanings came to be seen as insults because of their association with disfavored people in society.  For example, a spinster used to mean a woman (usually single) who spun wool or flax into thread.  It came to mean a desiccated, embittered, lonely single woman.  A bel dam was the French phrase for a beautiful mother.  It eventually devolved into “beldame,” meaning an ugly old hag.

Words for people who originated in non-Northern Africa (notice my carefully non-racial phrasing) have long had a similar problem.  Southern whites used to call them “colored” or used the “N-word.”  People who were not racist came to reject both those words.  The former pretty much vanished; the latter has now become more toxic than the formerly toxic F-word.  (While “nice” people once used the “N” word in polite company but not the “F” word, that distinction has been turned upside down.)

The next descriptive word to come along was “Negro” (from the Spanish word for the color black), a word that was considered polite and respectful.  It too was eventually seen as being a demeaning insult, so the word “black” cropped up.  After that, I kind of lost track.  There was African-American, which confused my kids who thought it referred to all people with dark skin.  They’d see a Ugandan or Nigerian on television, shown in his home village, and lisp “Look, it’s an African-American.”  Then there was the phrase “person of color,” which I’ve always thought is unpleasantly close to the Jim Crow appellation “colored person.”  In any event, I avoid it, because it’s too non-specific, applying almost randomly to blacks (my preferred word), Asians, Hispanics, Polynesians, East Indians, etc.  As a person of pallor myself, I find that vague appellation confusing.

The one constant in the past when it came to blacks and neutral/respectful appellations, was that, as time went by, blacks, supported by Leftist whites (usually in the media and academia) would tell the rest of us that words once used to describe blacks were verboten, and then offer up a new word they preferred.  This cycle played out every ten years or so.

In Obama’s America, however, we’re seeing something new.  Blacks are now taking any negative word and saying “You can’t use that word any more, ever, because to the extent it’s a negative word, you must be applying it to us.”  The latest example of this involves the kerfuffle about Richard Sherman, who voiced a short, boorish tirade against Michael Crabtree.  People looked at Sherman’s behavior and sought adjectives to define it.  Words such as “gracious,” “thoughtful,” “kind,” and “clever,” just didn’t seem right.  Instead, looking at his foam-flecked, maniacal rant, people who cared enough to comment decided that the noun “thug” and its adjective version “thuggish” were more accurate.  I would have used “boorish” (as I did above) or “ill-mannered” if I’d been asked.

By using the words boorish or ill-mannered, I would have been commenting on verbal behavior that was the antithesis of gracious, thoughtful, kind, or clever.  The same presumably holds true for those who thought “thuggish” more accurate than “gracious.”  I doubt it occurred to any of us — it certainly didn’t occur to me — that, by accurately labeling Sherman’s conduct, we were all engaging in dog whistle racism. It’s amazing that we’re all so naive.

You see, it turns out that all of the people who thought that Sherman, an African-American, verbally misbehaved when he shouted out maddened insults at Michael Crabtree, who is also an African-American, are racist.  So, if I get this right, people who reasonably expect a well-paid, professionally successful black man to conform to ordinary social standards, and who therefore express surprise when he doesn’t, are racist.  From which one can reasonably conclude the opposite, which is that the non-racist approach is to look at Sherman’s hysterical rant and say, “Yup, that’s totally normal behavior for one of those black-toned people of color.”

I am not making this up.  According to everyone from Charles Barkley to Bill Maher, being surprised when blacks behave badly means we’re racists.  Well, Messrs. Barkley and Maher, I have news for you:  You’re the racists and, to put it bluntly, you’re disgusting, low-down, dirty, thuggish, debased racists.  My expectations are that people of all races, color, creeds, countries of national origin, genders, and sexual orientations can behave graciously, even when under pressure.  I look at content of character.  You revolting race-mongers have made it painfully clear that you believe that color is destiny, and that the darker the skin color the more people are destined to behave badly.  You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!  There is absolutely nothing to distinguish your views from the views expressed by the mid-19th century trader auctioning slaves off under the broiling Southern sun.

How about a different approach to Holder’s demand that schools stop disciplinining minorities?

out-of-control-classroom-300x225It’s already old news now that Eric Holder has announced that schools must stop disciplining minority students because he feels they are disproportionately the subject of school discipline.  Many who read his edict thought, first, that a ukase against discipline based upon skin color, rather than conduct, was just about the most racist thing they’d ever seen; second, that this will be a disaster for minority children who are seeking some structure in their lives; and, third, that it marks the end of any discipline at all in schools, as each school drops to the lowest common denominator of possible behavior.

Robert Arvanitis has suggested that there is a different way to achieve racial parity — a way that would also expose how appalling Holder’s ideas are without turning schools into out-of-control war zones:

Holder now complains that valid, objective standards for school discipline are nonetheless racist if the results fall disproportionately on minorities.

Forget the rational rebuttals — it is unfair to all the other kids who are deprived of education; it ignores the root causes such as fatherless homes, causes engendered in turn by failed left policies.

Time to fight back in a smarter way. Let’s frustrate the left’s feedback mechanisms just as they themselves try to hijack and distort the real metrics of society.

************

For every “favored-minority” student disciplined for real cause, we report the required multiple of non-favored kids on comparable status. I don’t mean lie, I mean we actually do things like “in-school suspension.” No harm to records, which are all sealed for college applications and recorded in aggregate anyway.

Now if Holder catches on and seeks separate categories like in and out of school suspension, then we refine it a bit. Everyone is on “in-school” suspension,” and held in separate classrooms. We spend some extra for dedicated tutors for such separate classrooms. And when the real troublemakers fail to show up, then hey, they’re marked delinquent as well.

My point is that there is no rigid rule system the statists can impose, that we cannot game. I have long experience with such things as tax, accounting, and regulatory frameworks. They all fall because of the algebra — it’s called “over-determined equations.” When there are more constraints than free variables, there will necessarily be contradictions and inconsistencies in the system for us to exploit.

So rule away Eric; check, and mate.

My enlightening dinner with Blue State liberals

Dinner party

I had the opportunity the other day to dine with a collection of Blue State liberals.  It was enlightening, not because I actually learned anything from them, but because I learned about them.  It was also a reminder of how far I’ve traveled ideologically, because I used to be one of them.  Looking at them, I don’t regret my journey.

Most of the evening, of course, was idle chitchat, without any political ramifications.  Inevitably, though, politics and ideological issues cropped up.  I’ll just run down a few topics.

Antisemitism in higher education:

I was told in no uncertain terms that Columbia University cannot be antisemitic because it’s in New York.  My offer to produce evidence to support my thesis was rebuffed.  For those of you who, unlike Blue State liberals, feel that facts are valuable, these links support my contention that, New York address notwithstanding, Columbia is in thrall to Palestinian activists and BDS derangement:

100 Columbia professors demand divestment from Israel

Professors preach antisemitism from the Columbia pulpit

Columbia professor Joseph Massad, a one man antisemitism machine

Columbia students delighted at the opportunity to dine with Ahmadinejad

And of course, there’s simply the fact that Columbia is one of the more ideologically Left schools, although that wouldn’t have bothered my dinner companions.

The effect of taxes on investment:

One of my dinner companions is a successful investment analyst.  I asked him if he’d been hearing about any effects flowing from the Obamacare medical device tax.  “No, of course not.  It’s — what?  — a two percent tax.  That’s not going to make a difference to anybody.”  Again, my offer of contrary data was rejected, because it was obviously Fox News propaganda, never mind that it’s not from Fox News.  Stephen Hay, at Power Line, neatly summarizes a Wall Street Journal article predicated on actual investment data:

Today in my Constitutional Law class I’ll be taking up the famous case of McCulloch v. Maryland, the bank case from 1819 in which Chief Justice John Marshall observed that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy,” which immediately set my mind to thinking about . . . Obamacare.  Obamacare’s medical device tax—a tax not on profits remember, but on revenues—is doing its destructive work already.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “Funding Dries Up for Medical Startups,” noting that “Investment in the medical-device and equipment industry is on pace to fall to $2.14 billion this year, down more than 40% from 2007 and the sharpest drop among the top five industry recipients of venture funding.”  It seems we have to relearn every few years (such as the luxury boat tax of 1990, swiftly repealed when it killed the boat-building industry) the basic lesson that Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan taught us: tax something and you get less of it.  Especially when you tax it like Obamacare, where the tax significantly reduces the after-tax return to investors.

When a 2% tax is on after-tax returns, and it targets a specific industry, surprisingly it does make a big difference to people.  Right now, the difference is at the investment level, but soon it will be at the consumer level, as consumers are less likely than ever before to see life-changing inventions such as the insulin pump or the cochlear implant.

American healthcare compared to other Western countries:  Everybody agreed that America has the worst health care compared to those countries with socialized medicine.  Britain doesn’t count, my fellow dinners told me, because it’s “chosen” to offer bad health care.  My attempts to talk about freedom of choice, market competition, declining government revenue, cost-based decisions to deny treatment to whole classes of patients, etc., were rudely brushed aside.  “That’s just Fox News propaganda.”  Likewise, the liberals also dismissed as “Fox News propaganda” my statement that the studies they’re relying on have as their metric availability of coverage, rather than quality of outcome. I therefore wasn’t surprised when they equally rudely dismissed me when I said that a recent study showed that America has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world.

Since I know that you’d never be that rude, let me just quote Avik Roy, who actually studies the numbers:

It’s one of the most oft-repeated justifications for socialized medicine: Americans spend more money than other developed countries on health care, but don’t live as long. If we would just hop on the European health-care bandwagon, we’d live longer and healthier lives. The only problem is it’s not true.

[snip]

The problem, of course, is that there are many factors that affect life expectancy. One is wealth. It’s gross domestic product per capita, and not health-care policy, that correlates most strongly to life expectancy. Gapminder has produced many colorful charts that show the strong correlation between wealth and health.

[snip]

If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?

[chart omitted]

U-S-A! U-S-A! What’s just as interesting is that Japan, the country that tops the overall life expectancy tables, finished in the middle of the pack on cancer survival.

I’m not doing justice Roy’s article with these snippets, so I urge you to read the whole thing.  Suffice to say that my companions were uninterested in data that ran counter to their narrative.

The racist inside every liberal:  My dinner companions did concede that culture is a factor in health care, although they stopped short of admitting (as they should have) that a country as diverse as America will never be able to counter cultural differences with socialized medicine.  (Or, rather, they couldn’t admit that it would take overwhelming government coercion to do so.)

One of the guests described a patient with a treatable disorder — i.e., one that could be controlled with a carefully regimented plan of medicine and treatment — who was too disorganized to follow the treatment.  As a result, this person ended up in the emergency room one to two times a month, at great cost to the system.  The healthcare provider finally hired a minimum wage worker to remind the patient to take the medicines and to drive the patient to the hospital.  Another guests said, “Black, right?”  The person who told the story said, “I can’t tell you that, but probably.”  They snickered companionably over the fact that blacks are just too dumb to care for themselves.

Another way of looking at it, though, was that this patient did fine:  The patient didn’t have to fuss with drugs (and their side-effects), got emergency treatment on an as-needed basis, and ended up having a dedicated employee to detail with the finicky little details of disease maintenance.  Who’s snickering now?

The power that maintains slavery:  One of the people at the dinner was a student studying American history.  The curriculum had reached the Civil War.  The student asked a good question:  “I don’t get how the slaves let themselves stay that way.  After all, they outnumbered the whites.“  Good point.  The liberal dinner guests started mumbling about systems, and complexity, and psychology.  And I do mean mumbling.  They didn’t offer data.  They just mouthed buzzwords such as “it’s complex,” or “you have to understand the system,” or “well, there’s a psychology there.”  I interrupted:  “The slave owners were armed.  The slaves were denied arms.  The side with weapons, even if it’s smaller in number, wins.”  To my surprise, none of the liberals in the room had anything to add.

The food was good and my dinner companions were periodically interesting and charming, so the dinner wasn’t a total loss.  Nevertheless, I found dismaying the arrogant ignorance that powers their engines.  All I could think of was my own blog’s motto:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”  That was my dinner in a nutshell.

Huffington Post contributor guilty of shocking anti-Asian racism

The dishonesty and indignities of 19th century anti-Chinese stereotyping

The dishonesty and indignities of 19th century anti-Chinese stereotyping

We don’t know who HuffPo contributor and Obama apologist Jason Linkins is, but HuffPo had better get rid of him pretty quickly.  An online publication with HuffPo’s impressive Progressive credentials can’t afford to have racists on its writing staff, and Linkins’ sin was pretty egregious.

Linkins’ racist attack on Asians comes early in a 1,900 word long article explaining that Obama didn’t really, actually, totally lie when he said 24 times that, if you like your insurance, you can keep it.  Given the fact that millions of Americans have already been told that they’ve lost their policies and tens of millions more (both those with individual and those with group coverage) will soon hear the same message, Linkins’ really has to sweat to achieve this equivocal, but still Obama-friendly, conclusion.  Ultimately, what Linkins seems to say is that Obama and his minions just sort of lied, rather than really lied, but they did it for your own good, to get you out of that horrible ghetto of people who own cheap plans that contain only provisions they actually want.  Talk about being damned with faint praise.

This type of prevarication — which Linkins honestly terms “spin” — is not newsworthy.  What’s noteworthy is Linkins’ use of demeaning pidgin English (emphasis added):

Well, the news today is that lots of people aren’t going to keep the plans that they are on, and are receiving notice from their health insurance providers that they will be shunted onto different, perhaps more expensive plans. And they no likey.

Wow!  What’s with that dig at Asians?  I mean, who can forget 1935′s Charlie Chan in Paris, when the nefarious Max Corday insults the sophisticated Chan by speaking to him in pidgin:

Max Corday: [in a condescending pidgin English/Chinese accent] Me happy know you. Mebbe you likee havee little drinkee?

Charlie Chan: Very happy to make acquaintance of charming gentleman.

[imitating Corday]

Charlie Chan: Me no likeee drinkee now – perhaps later.

Think about that:  Even in 1935, when Hollywood was still creating segregated movies and engaging in the worst types of stereotyping regarding blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc., Hollywood and America understood that the pidgin phrase “me likee” or “you likee” was deeply disrespectful and demeaning.

I think it’s pretty disgusting that Linkins sends out a dog whistle to HuffPo readers tying discontent with Obamacare to Asians.  This is especially suspect when one realizes the growing number of Asian Americans practicing medicine and attending medical schools.  Is Linkins trying to blame Asian doctors for Obamacare woes?  We won’t speculate further, because we can’t pretend to know what Linkins was thinking.  All we know is that this kind of despicable subliminal racism taints everything it touches.  Linkins needs to be disciplined immediately, both as a punishment and an example.

***************************

For those unfamiliar with my sense of humor, the above is, of course, satire.  It’s true that Linkins used the phrase “they no likey,” and it’s true that this phrase is associated with the worst kind of anti-Asian racism.  I strongly suspect, though, that Linkins’, typical of his political class, is completely oblivious to the linguistic history behind that distasteful phrase.  I’m therefore equally certain that Linkins didn’t intend in any way to be racist.

My point in writing this post has nothing to do with Linkins.  It is, instead, to heighten awareness of the fact that, for malevolently-minded people, as I just pretended to be, finding and attacking these “dog whistles” in good Alinsky fashion is easy.  It’s a cheap, down-and-dirty way to smear ones political opponent.  I didn’t have to bother reading what Linkins wrote, so I didn’t need to challenge it on the merits.  Instead, I called him a racist and considered my job done.  Were I actually to write this way seriously, rather than as satire, my real theory would have been that people who are racists can’t make good arguments and they certainly cannot make arguments that deserve to be considered on their merits.  (If you’d like to see an intelligent, substantive challenge on the merits to Linkins’ argument, check out James Taranto.)

When I hear about blacks complaining that Lordes’ The Royals is a racist insult to black people because she talks about “Cristal (champagne) and Maybachs”; or that Blurred Lines is “rapey” (making Robin Thicke a rapey-ist) because it takes a fairly honest look at today’s hypersexualized club scene; or that any negative remarks about Obama’s politics are an unerring indicator that a critic is racist, I can only say that we’ve crossed a line.

Indeed, it’s something of a time line, because we’ve effectively returned ourselves to the Middle Ages, where small cadres of scholars tainted intellectual discourse by wasting their time debating the numbers of angels that could fit on the head of a pin.  While these arguments were always reserved to a minority, they bespoke an intellectual narcissism, frivolity, and incestuousness that makes intellectual growth impossible.  It’s as if the whole world has fallen prey of Wallace Stanley Sayre’s dictum that “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.”

In terms of cries of racism, the stakes are certainly low as to each individual combatant.  Linkins doesn’t care about me and I don’t care about him.  Were he to call me a “right wing wacko,” I would sneer right back at him that he’s a “delusional Marxist.”  We’d then retire to our corners in the proud consciousness of duty done, at least when it comes to the battle of ad hominem attacks.  But while we’re congratulating ourselves on the quality of our insults, ordinary Americans are tuning out.  They know I’m not a right-wing wacko, but am instead, a nice neighborhood soccer mom, who believes “that government is best that governs least”; just as they know that Linkins is an ordinary working stiff who truly believes that redistribution of wealth, if it’s only done right, could work.  Their verdict as to both of us is “They’re mean and stupid, and I’m not going to listen anymore.”

Dog whistles are for dogs.  Most people are poor communicators at best, which means that we should give them the benefit of the doubt before rushing to the worst conclusions.  Failing that, the marketplace of ideas is effectively dead.

America’s institutions of higher learning are cesspools of Progressive racism

Back in the early 1990s, it was funny when American whites were told “White Men Can’t Jump.”  We’re also told on a regular basis that we can’t dance and that we’ve got no rhythm.

I always assumed all of these were gentle cultural jokes.  It turns out that, even if they started out that way, now that we have been thoroughly marinated in twenty-plus years of intensive political correctness, all jokes are over.  Now we’re getting to the serious part of our re-education.

Gawker, which is hardly a conservative hotbed, is reporting that Hampshire College booted a band because, while it played “Afrobeat” music, its performers are actually white.  The band announced its firing by saying it was told “that we were too white to play Afro-beat.”

The college, rather than issuing a statement saying that the band totally misunderstood, blah, blah, blah, made it worse.  It proudly announced dismissing the white-staffed Afrobeat band on the basis that its students were concerned “about cultural appropriation and the need to respect marginalized cultures.”

One is tempted, of course, to say that no black person should ever act in Shakespeare or perform Beethoven.  Fortunately we, unlike Hampshire College, do not judge people by the color of their skin but, instead, look to the content of their character and their innate skills and passions.

Hampton College’s obsessive, racist, demeaning sensibilities are scarcely unique.  In the same vein, in deference to the pathetic and stupid non-white students in their midst, the patriarchal, Progressive students in the University of Georgia’s Student Government Association are planning to honor mediocrity, which they obviously believe is the best to which non-whites (and gays, and women) can aspire.  According to them, success is simply too overrated when it comes to non-white, non-male, non-straight people.  From the UGSGA’s announcement:

It seems like whenever a minority identifying individual “succeeds”, he or she is identified as a “success story.” We will be featuring successful members of different minorities speaking of their own story and success, with a focus on how this idea of “success story” shouldn’t exist. The idea that minority success is “outstanding” means it’s not the norm–we don’t want “success stories.” We just want stories.

This event will feature different success stories from UGA, Athens, and Georgia, because we believe that hearing stories from our neighbors and friends is truly the most impactful way to humanize these issues.

For however many thousands of dollars their parents (and the taxpayers) spend annually to fund the University of Georgia, the kids have managed not to learn that “impactful” is not a word.  They have learned, however, the cool trick of simultaneously demeaning their culture’s accomplishments and looking down on minorities for even aspiring to achieve in this culture.

Remember, please, that there is no one — absolutely no one — more racist than a Leftist.

“Obamacare is racist”

When I think of elderly people, including the ones naive enough to have believed Obama’s lies (at their age, they should have known better), my heart bleeds as I try to imagine them navigating Obamacare, and that’s true whether the system works or is broken.  No matter what, a generation that wasn’t raised on computers, and that may be further hampered by physical disabilities, is not going to find even the best possible site easy to navigate.

My mother, who was born in the very early 1920s, is a very bright woman, but she was never able to master computers.  The is true for all of her friends, both the ones I’ve known my whole life and the ones I’ve met since she moved into a retirement community.  My father, my mother-in-law, and my father-in-law, alav ha-shalom, all had the same problem.  They were old dogs, and computers were a new trick.  This cartoon pretty much sums it up:

Mom's keyboard

If you’re laughing, it’s because you know someone — probably a person over 70 — who views the computer precisely that way. Obviously, this isn’t true for all older people, but it’s certainly true for a greater number of them than you’d find in the 50-70 cohort. Moreover, in the under 50 cohort, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have at least some familiarity and comfort with computers.

For the older people, dealing with Obamacare is going to be a nightmare — and they are the some of the ones who will be most intimately connected with it.  After all, I doubt that many, if any, of them have insurance with pregnancy benefits.  That means that, if they don’t get insurance through some retirement fund, their policies will be cancelled and they’ll be pitched into the Obamacare marketplace.  Once there, they’re going to have to figure out the Obamacare exchange.

Robert Avrech, at Seraphic Secret, reminds me that I’ve forgotten another cohort of people who can’t handle the difficulties of Obamacare.  Unlike the elderly, who are limited by vision problems or arthritis or dementia or unfamiliarity with a new technology, these people are limited by . . . race, and only by race.

Yes, race.  To see why, check this out.

Zo and some friends take on the racism behind Sarah Silverman’s “‘Black NRA” video

It must be enormously frustrating for the Left that new media no longer means that the Democrat white power structure can be the official and the only voice for black America.  Because Democrats’ vested interest is in keeping blacks subordinate to the Democrat party, that Leftist voice has always worked full-time to tell blacks (a) that they are victims and (b) that they can find succor only within Big Government.

Sarah Silverman’s unfunny video about a “black NRA” is the perfect illustration of this paradigm.  It attempts to be a satire implying that the NRA wants to kill blacks.  The problem is that this world view is so grossly untrue that the video does nothing more than engaging in skin-crawling racism that tells the world that blacks are irremediably murderers who cannot be trusted with weapons.  (That is, the only way to save blacks isn’t to change their culture, it’s to keep all of them helpless.)  Ouch.

Last week, I posted Colion Noir’s rebuttal (along with Silverman’s video).  This week, the honors go to Zo and friends:

What I particularly like about this video is that it acknowledges a problem — black drug use and gun violence — but refuses to fall into the “we are victims, whites are racists, Big Brother is the savior” trope. Instead, it’s a video that speaks about true black empowerment, not by insulting whites into obeisance, but by raising blacks up to the full dignities of all Americans.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

The deep, pervasive, ugly racism of the anti-Gun left

This Sarah Silverman anti-gun commercial comes from “Funny or Die.”  It’s not funny.  In the parlance of comics, “Silverman died up there.”  Not only is it not funny, it’s terribly, terribly racist, since the implication is that the only thing that blacks will do if one gives them guns is commit murder:

Aside from being racist, the video the video raises stupidity to epic levels.  The wonderful Colion Noir, after delivering a few nicely calculated verbal blows to the video’s participants, gets to the heart of the matter:

It’s worth considering as you watch both those videos that anti-gun efforts in America, going back to the revolutionary war, have been aimed at keeping black people in their place, in part by keeping them away from their right to bear arms.

Paul Weston — “I am a racist”

Defending what is good about your country is racist.  So is describing Islam and its cultural and political practices.

Regarding Islam, let me be clear that this is not the same as the antisemites making things up about Jews, as they have since time immemorial.  Instead, what we know about Islam comes from the Muslim world itself:  from their concrete (and bloody) acts, from their media, from their speeches, and from their houses of worship.  They are open about what they are.  It is we who bury their true nature under platitudes and lies.

Martin Luther King III rejects his father’s legacy by going to Washington to parrot the race hustlers

(This post originally appeared in slightly different form at Mr. Conservative.)

Just because your father was a great man doesn’t mean you will be a great man. Exhibit A for this truism is Martin Luther King III, son of the great racial harmonizer, Martin Luther King Jr. Standing in Washington, D.C., where his father stood 50 years ago to state that people should be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, MLK III proved himself to be just another two-bit race hustler. And so a dream dies in one generation.

Several thousand people gathered in Washington today to remember Martin Luther King Jr’s brilliant “I have a dream” speech, which he delivered exactly fifty years ago this month. In stirring tones, the elder King set forth his vision of an America in which people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Republican, would have wept if he had lived long enough to see what the Democrat party has done to his legacy. His greatest sorrow might have been that his son, Martin Luther King III, has turned his back on his father’s inclusive, color-blind ideology, and become one with the race hustlers.

This is pretty strong language, but it’s the truth. Here is what Martin Luther King III said as he stood where his father had once stood.

And so I stand here today in this sacred place, in my father’s footsteps. I am humbled by the heavy hand of history. But more than that, I, like you, continue to feel his presence. I, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness.

The admonition is clear: this is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.

The vision preached by my father a half century ago was that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content up their character. However, sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest, and even to murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.

Regressive Stand Your Ground laws must be repealed. Federal anti-profiling legislation must be enacted.

John Adams, another famous American, once said “Facts are stubborn things.” Here are a few facts to challenge MLK III’s infantile remonstrance against “racism” in America:

1. Content of character: The undisputed facts show that Trayvon Martin was a hulking thug who used drugs, played with guns, got into fights, skipped school, and talked trash. The same undisputed facts show that George Zimmerman was a neighborhood favorite who went the extra mile for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin – so much so that he spent enormous time trying to help a young black man he believed the police had unjustly targeted.

2. Stand Your Ground laws: Neither the prosecution nor the defense breathed a word about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law (also known as the Castle doctrine). Instead, this was an out-and-out case of old-fashioned self-defense. The evidence showed that Trayvon was sitting on top of Zimmerman trying to bash his brains out on the pavement. Zimmerman didn’t have the choice of standing his ground or trying to flee when he was shot. The situation had devolved in “it’s either him or me.”

3. There was no profiling. Police profile. Zimmerman is not a police officer. He is an ordinary citizen. Ordinary citizens observe, make decisions, and react as they see fit. You cannot enact federal laws imposing on all ordinary citizens some bizarre standard by which they’re not allowed to defend themselves against black aggressors, because to do so is “profiling.”

The only thing the MLK III got right is that racism lives today. But the racism in the Zimmerman case wasn’t Zimmerman’s racism against Trayvon. Every bit of evidence introduced at trial or revealed by fact-finders showed that George Zimmerman was a mixed-race man who treated all races with respect.

The real racism in this case was that shown by the race hustler’s in the Democrat party and the media (but I repeat myself), who made the decision to lynch George Zimmerman during that brief window of time when they thought he was white. Even when they were corrected, and learned that Zimmerman self-identifies as Hispanic, they created a bizarre new racial classification called “white-Hispanic” so that they could play out their revolting racist fantasies against him.

Martin Luther King (did I mention he was a Republican?) would be shocked at the way in which his son and the Democrat party have perverted his color-blind message and turned it into as aggressive a form of anti-white racism as was ever practiced in the old days in the anti-black south.

Is the mainstream media the spiritual descendent of Charles Manson?

Charles Manson

This post poses a very provocative, even inflammatory, question:  “Is the mainstream media the spiritual heir of Charles Manson?”  Will you be too surprised if I answer “yes”?

Let’s start with Charles Manson.  Manson had a goal:  he envisioned a new world order, with himself and his followers as the leaders.  To bring about this new world order, he first had to destroy the existing one.  He came up with an idea that he called “Helter-Skelter“:  he was going to incite race warfare because he was pretty sure that would bring America down, leaving room for him and his followers to take over.  He figured that the best way to start an apocalyptic race war was through violent murder.  He wasn’t going to do the murder himself, of course, but he did incite his dumb, sexually-opiated, often drugged followers to commit the deeds on his behalf.

Now, let’s think about the mainstream media.  The MSM has a goal:  a completely Democrat-dominated political machine, with the MSM and the politicians it’s created in total control.  Because this will be a statist new world, the MSM must first destroy completely America’s current, still vaguely capitalist market and individualist ideology.  To that end, the media has decided that it will incite race warfare, because it’s pretty sure that race warfare will destroy existing institutions and allow it and its political class to take over.  Media members figure that the best way to start this societal breakdown is to sow so much division between blacks and whites in America that the country becomes dysfunctional and, if necessary, bloodied.  The media elite are not going to sully their own hands, of course, but they will work hard to incite their followers to commit the deeds on their behalf.  (And sadly, to the extent they have followers in black inner cities, these are young people who are minimally educated, inundated with unhealthy sexual messages from movies and rap songs, and too often on drugs.  Just think of Trayvon….)

I can’t prove the MSM’s goal, but I can prove its tactics.

Exhibit A is the way the MSM has used Obama’s presidency to paint every single American who opposes his politics as “racist” — so much so that the MSM dictionary defines “racist” as “someone who expresses any disagreement with Obama’s policies or conduct while in office.”  Since roughly 50% of the country doesn’t like what he’s doing at any given time, 50% of the country is therefore by definition racist. (Here’s just one example, but it’s remarkably easy to cull dozens or even hundreds.)

This “opposing Obama” message is pounded home through relentlessly repeated and embroidered stories about rodeo clowns; Obama’s fellowship with murdered black teens; and even the obscenity of referring to Obama as “Obama,” rather than as President Obama.  By the way, this last one is a dilly, because Chris Matthews, rather than admitting that other presidents have been called “Carter,” “Reagan,” “Bush,” “Dubya,” or “Clinton,” compares the casual approach to Obama’s name to the way non-believers refer to Jesus Christ as “Jesus” or “Christ.”  Wow.  Just . . . wow.

Exhibit B is the racial incitement that permeated every bit of the MSM’s coverage of George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin shooting.  It began when NBC doctored Zimmerman’s 911 call to make it sound as if he was a racist; picked up steam when the media coined the phrase “white-Hispanic” to cover-up their problem when they discovered that Zimmerman identified as Hispanic; entered the world of farce when the media only reluctantly revealed, when trial court motions made it impossible to ignore, that Martin wasn’t a 12-year-old choirboy but was, instead a husky, drug-using, gun- and violence-obsessed, thug; and just kept rolling with homages to hoodies and Skittles.  Bill Whittle does the best summary I’ve seen of the media’s “hi-tech” lynching of a non-black man:

Exhibit C: Oh, I don’t know. Take your pick. How about the new movie “The Butler,” which takes a real man’s quite distinguished and interesting life, and turns a star-powered movie into a parable about white and Republican racism?  The director, incidentally, makes it clear that these racial accusations are no accident.  Or maybe look at the way Oprah, the PETA-admiring “woman of the people,” makes a national incident out of her claim that a Swiss salesclerk was “racist” for suggesting that Oprah might like something cheaper than a $35,000 animal-skin purse.

Or maybe, as Rush pointed out, you just want to notice how the media completely ignores any violence that doesn’t fit in the narrative.  Rush pointed to the recent murder of Chris Lane, a (white) baseball player from Australia who was shot dead by thug-addicted three teenagers because they were bored.  Rush points out that the media assiduously refrained from commenting on the killers’ race (two were black and one is white, or white-Hispanic, or white-black, or whatever).

The media did exactly the same thing, incidentally, with the even more heinous 2007 murder of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian in Knoxville, Tenn.  That young (white) couple was so brutally murdered by five (black) people that it’s nauseating even to think about what was done to them.  The killers outdid animals in their savagery, since they added a fiendish human imagination to their feral brutality.  The national media said as little as possible about the murder and nothing about its racial implications.

Nothing restrained the media, however, when it went out of its way to destroy the lives of the (white) Duke lacrosse players after a (black) prostitute falsely accused them of rape.  The media played that every day, every way, on every air or piece of paper over which it had control.  When the players were vindicated, the media was remarkably silent, failing even to issue an apology for yet another “hi-tech” lynching.

The fall-out from the media’s relentless racial harangues is more racial tension in this country than at any time since the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.  Despite the fact that there are no racially discriminatory federal laws in America; that there are no overtly racially discriminatory state laws in America; that there is a black man in the White House who got reelected (although Gawd alone knows why); and that compared to other nations in the world (including the Europe the Left so loves) America is a remarkably inclusive nation, blacks feel deeply that whites are bad people.  By this I mean that blacks don’t simply note note that, occasionally and unfortunately, they have the misfortune to run into some idiot who spouts stone age nonsense.  Instead, with relentless prompting from the mainstream media, they feel very strongly that whites view them negatively and are their enemy.  As such, too many of them believe that whites, at most, destroyed and, at least, humiliated.

The MSM has worked its hard to convince blacks and many other minorities, including the LGBT crowd, Hispanics, and, increasingly, Asians that the status quo is bad for them, that there needs to be a new world order, and that the evil white people (excluding, of course, all the white people on MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.), must be done away with.

And that is why I say that the MSM is the spiritual heir of Charles Manson.  It’s “helter-skelter” all over again.

Any humor about Obama is ipso facto racial humor

The clown kerfuffle — a rodeo clown dons a presidential mask available at any Halloween costume store and is instantly transformed into a fiery member if the KKK — has helped clarify something about the Left’s response to any non-Democrat generated references to Obama.  I found this clarification in yesterday’s Best of the Web, in which Taranto takes apart a CNN post in which Judy Quest, a “professional” clown, discusses the rodeo clown’s breach of “clown ethics.”  (Keep in mind, incidentally, that a rodeo clown isn’t a real clown, because his primary job isn’t to entertain but is, instead, to keep the bull from trampling a downed cowboy.  Looked at that way, he ‘s more of a gladiator, but whatever….)

The key language in Quest’s article revolves about the first entry in the clown code of ethics:

1. I will keep my acts, performance and behavior in good taste while I am in costume and makeup. I will remember at all times that I have been accepted as a member of the clown club only to provide others, principally children, with clean clown comedy entertainment. I will remember that a good clown entertains others by making fun of himself or herself and not at the expense or embarrassment of others.  (Emphasis mine.)

And here is Quest’s interpretation of that language (emphasis mine):

We have a code of ethics that we adhere to so that our life of making the world smile goes on without hurting people. Among the ethics is a ban on “blue humor.”

This mean [sic] no sexual or racial humor. The joke always needs to be on us and never on an audience member. If someone is offended or made the “victim” of a joke, it is totally against what the clown community would consider funny. . . .

Think back to what Tuffy the Rodeo Clown did. Do you recall any racial component to his humor? Traditionally, of course, a black racial component would have involved:

1.  Shuffling

2.  Watermelons

3.  Lots of “yassir, yassir, I’se doing it, sir.”

4.  References to laziness.

5.  References to obsessive sexuality.

6.  Hugh, grinning white mouths.

7.  References to criminality.

8.  Clear intimations of stupidity.

9.  Eyeball rolling.

10.  Slyness.

11.  References to uncontrollable (and inappropriate) rhythm.

Tuffy did none of that.  Instead, he donned a mask of a white-black man whose skin happens to be blacker, rather than whiter.  (I use the term “white-black” to describe Obama because, if George Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic and half Caucasian, is “white-Hispanic,” than Obama, who is half Black and half Caucasian, is “white-black.”  Precision is important, right?)

In Quest’s world review, any mention of or reference to Obama, even without any mention of his race or any use of traditional negative stereotypes about blacks,  is ipso facto racial and, therefore, racist.  In other words, Obama, just by being, is racist.

To liberals, there is no “Obama the man,” or “Obama the president,” or “Obama the Democrat politician.”  There is only “Obama the black,” a man devoid of personality, accomplishments, foibles, passion, or anything that makes him a person, not a stereotype  — and if that’s not racist, I honestly don’t know what is.

Incidentally, this is what “racist” humor actually looks like, and this was the “clean,” “wholesome” family variation:

(There are no YouTubes of the traditional racist patter that preceded the dance.)

Florida assures its citizens that they can all be murderous thugs

Putting aside all the racist rhetoric flying around from the Left, the uncontroverted evidence coming out of the Zimmerman trial proved that (a) a hooded figure was sitting on top of another man brutally beating him and (b) the man being tried for murder showed all the signs of someone who was on the receive end of a severe beating, from the broken nose to the bleeding back of his head.  Putting aside the racist rhetoric from the Left, the incontrovertible facts that the court refused to admit (incontrovertible because they came from the dead man’s own phone), showed that the dead man was a drug user and fighter who was fascinated by guns and violence.

Now, Florida’s state capitol has announced that you (and you and you and you and you!) are Trayvon!  This assault on American (and Floridan) integrity and decency takes the form of a painting unveiled at the state captiol, purporting to show a hooded figure being shot in the back of the head (which avoids the fact that Trayvon wasn’t running away but was, in fact, intensifying his full front assault) by a man who looks like a cross between George Zimmerman and Stalin.  However, instead of seeing Trayvon’s face in the hoodie, it’s a mirror.  (This ham-handed propaganda device somehow made me think of “Soylent Green” — you know, the bit where he says “It’s people!”):

Florida engages in race baiting

In other words, says the State of Florida, we’re all drug addled thugs who try to beat people to death.  Even worse, if you look at the wall sign behind the painting, it says that we’re looking at the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

If you’d like to let the State of Florida know that you find this fact-free, racist at of political propaganda offensive, you can contact the capitol building at the building’s website.  As always, remember that a polite, firmly worded message is effective.  Obscenities, personal attacks, and threats only make you look bad and strengthen the other side’s sense of self-righteousness.

The continued African-American death wish

Here’s a concept to keep in the back of your mind as you read this post:  Black people — especially black men — in America are murdered at a rate far greater than their representation in the American population.  While blacks make up less than 13% of the population, more than 50% of those murdered in America are black (and, if you drill even further down, you’ll see these murders happen primarily in Democrat-run cities).

And now to my post….

Ebony magazine has hopped on the Trayvon Martin bandwagon by using four different covers for its current edition, all of them showing famous black men wearing hoodies.

Ebony magazine covers

Trayvon, of course, was wearing a hoody the night he attacked George Zimmerman and died as a result of that attack.  The jury concluded that, given the undisputed evidence that Trayvon was attacking him, Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.  Importantly, Florida has a self-defense law called “stand your ground,” which means that, if someone is threatening your life, you don’t have to try to run and hide — you can fight back, even if it means you kill the attacker. Neither the prosecution nor the defense referenced that law, but it existed as a subtext to the case.

On the right hand side of each celebrity cover, you can see the phrase “Repeal Stand Your Ground.”  This reflects the fact that the race hustlers latched onto “stand your ground” as an inherently racist doctrine.  In the world view they’re selling to American blacks, “stand your ground” laws are actually official permission to lynch black people.

Logical minds (that would include mine, of course), see a problem with the race hustlers’ world view:  given that black man are proportionately more likely to be killed than any other group in America, it makes sense to give them the optimal ability to defend themselves against attempted murder.  Absent that right, they are sitting ducks.  The perpetrator thinks, “Hah!  I’m going to shoot you regardless of any laws, because I don’t give a flying f*** about the law.  But you — well, you might care about the law.  That means that there’s a good chance that, if you’re even marginally law-abiding, you either won’t be armed to defend yourself or, if you’re armed, you’ll hesitate to act for fear of getting in trouble yourself — which gives me enough time to shoot you dead.”

When we refuse to give law-abiding citizens arms, and we ensure that the laws fail to give them an affirmative right of self-defense, we’re committing a peculiarly Darwinian experiment, one that sees us, as a society, do whatever we can to stamp out the genes of law-abiding citizens in favor of those people who engage in feral, murderous, amoral, and immoral behavior.

I posted it yesterday, but I’m going to post it again today.  Please watch Elbert Guillory’s video on behalf of his Free At Last PAC, and please consider donating to the case.  It’s time to counter the racist Leftist Darwinism, one that sees African-Americans a helpless, albeit periodically murderous subspecies, with tidal waves of well-founded faith in the brotherhood and equality of all people, regardless of race, color, creed (if their creed rejects religious totalitarianism), or national origin:

Please consider contributing to the Free At Last PAC.

Barack Obama joins the race-baiters following the Zimmerman verdict

As you’ve probably realized, I have very limited access to news and the Internet on this vacation. My shipboard Internet plan gives me about five (very expensive) minutes a day, which is just enough to make sure I don’t have any emergencies in my inbox, to write to my family, and to post one article. Today, however, I got hold of a Canadian newspaper and got to see how President Obama once again stirred the racisim pot with his Zimmerman trial comments.

First, I should tell you my point of view: the verdict was entirely appropriate. The prosecution was unable to prove that Zimmerman did anything other than act in self-defense — and that was despite the judge’s decision to exclude all evidence about Trayvon’s thuggery, and the prosecution’s efforts to paint Zimmerman as a crazed, cop-wannabe racist.

The riots that followed the verdict were the logical outcome, not of a corruk racist jury verdict, but of the ground work laid by the professional race-baiters, Obama included. Obama continued that race-baiting with his comments following the trial.

You may recall that, when the killing went national, Obama opined that Trayvon, a drug using, gang-emulating slacker, could have been his son. I think Sasha and Malia were probably surprised to hear that, while they’ve been raised to be as good as gold and as pure as Ivory Soap, their imaginary brother would have been a thug.

Obama has now upped that rhetoric. In his latest foray, he announced that, 35 years ago, he himself could have been Martin. Apparently Obama’s youthful escapades with dope and “smack” were more serious than he let on. And maybe I wasn’t crazy when I surmised that, based upon pictures of Obama at Occidental, he had a coke nail.

As for the rest of his little talk, all Obama did was add fuel to the racial fire. He said that the judicial system is unfair to blacks, that there’s profiling, and that racism continues to corrupt our justice system. Way to go, Obama.

In a way, it seems that Obama is trying to finish the work Charles Manson started. As you may recall, Manson’s whole goal with that horrible night of Helter-Skelter murder was to start a race war between blacks and whites. He believed that war was a necessary predicate to a complete collapse of the American system, with Manson and his followers emerging as victors at the end. Obama, with his divisive talk, also seems intent upon sparking an America-ending race war, with the obvious belief that he and his apparatchiks will be the last men (and women) standing.

It’s going to be a long three and a half years until Obama’s reign of racial terror finally ends. I only hope that there’s something left standing when it’s all done.

Elbert Guillory explains why he is a Republican — and they are words that EVERY American should hear

I’ve already admitted to my crush on Elbert Guillory, a crush that formed when he was still a Democrat, although he must already have been planning to leave that party.  My political crush has just deepened into a full-blown, out-and-out case of political passion.  If you haven’t yet watched this short video Guillory made to explain why he switched parties, you must.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s one of the most important videos I’ve ever seen.  The only thing that saddens me about it is that it won’t be run on MSNBC, or ABC, or CBS, or NBC, or NPR, or on any other major media outlet.  I think everyone should see this video, no matter their race, creed, country of national origin, or gender identity.  It’s that good:

I don’t know about you, but I’m still cheering.

Regressive Progressive’s strike again, spending hundreds of thousands of education dollars on recycled liberal claptrap

Do you remember the show Good Times, the one that made Jimmy “J.J.” Walker a star?  It was a spin-off of Maude which, in turn, was a spin-off of All in the Family — all Norman Lear productions.  The show revolved around a black family living in the Chicago housing projects.  The mom and dad were hard workers, and their goal was to save their children from the pitfalls of housing project life.  The three kids were the goofy J.J., a perpetual optimistic and clown; the pragmatic Thelma, who felt the burdens of poverty; and the militant activist, Michael, a middle schooler who reliably voiced core Leftist ideology.

I watched the show religiously when I was in middle school and high school, but remember very little of it.  Actually, the only thing that stands out in my mind is an episode involving standardized testing.  Michael argued that the tests were hopelessly racist, because they reflected a world of knowledge denied black children.  The example he gave was a multiple choice question:

Cup and ____________

a.  Saucer

b.  Table

Michael contended that testing children on the phrase “cup and saucer” was inherently racist because poor kids — i.e., black kids — didn’t have saucers.  They would pick “cup and table.”  The fact that “cup and saucer” is a phrase — meaning that it’s not about logic and knowledge, but is about recognizing common English usage — was irrelevant.  After all, generations of people used the phrase “hoist by his own petard” without having any idea what either “hoist” or “petard” meant.  They just understand that the phrase referred to someone’s own behavior catching up with him.  Neither the character Michael nor the show’s writers cared about English language or logic.  They cared, instead, about explaining away low black test scores by pointing to inherent racial bias in the tests.

The thing about Progressives, as I’ve mentioned often enough, is that their arguments have remained unchanged over decades.  They frame abortion as if we still live in a world where pregnancy out-of-wedlock is a social crime that leads women to back alleys and death; they view race relations as if the Civil Rights fight in the South happened yesterday, but took place all over the country; and they believe in Keynesian economics despite decades of evidence that it fails.

If yesterday’s news is anything to go by, they’re also still reciting tired old educational tropes, although they’ve now get the taxpayers funding their Leftist cant:

Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, a principal with Oregon’s Portland Public Schools, has become convinced that America’s “white culture” negatively influences educators’ world view and the manner in which they teach their students.

For instance, last year a teacher in the district presented a lesson that included a reference to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gutierrez says that by using sandwiches as an illustration, the teacher was engaged in a very subtle form of racism.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” asked Gutierrez, according to Portland Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

It’s likely that Gutierrez didn’t arrive at this idea entirely by herself. Instead, she might have had it spoon fed by an organization called “The Pacific Education Group”:

The Pacific Educational Group is the brainchild of Glenn Singleton, whose mission is to enlighten educators about how public schools promote “white culture” and “white privilege.” He argues that those conditions are responsible for the black/white achievement gap that exists throughout America’s public education system.

Learning Leftism doesn’t come cheap. Last year, despite the fact that the Portland school district is hurting for money, it spent more than $500,000 on PEG seminars that teach this claptrap.

This type of attack on education isn’t just expensive and it doesn’t just demean non-whites.  It is a very important part of the tactic of destroying America from the inside out by denying her a common culture.  In order for a nation to function, something has to tie the individuals within that nation together so that they feel a common cause with each other.  Multiculturalism, which insists that it’s racist to teach Americans a common culture, doesn’t turn us into a charming tossed salad, which was the metaphor the Left used to counter the old “melting pot” idea.  Instead, it creates tribalism within America.

Tribalism is okay if America is a single “American tribe.”  It’s a problem, though, when you have disparate groups within borders all viewing the others with fear and suspicion.  Then you end up with the Balkans, Rwanda, or large swaths of the Arab Middle East, where tribal hatreds periodically explode into blood baths.

(One interesting piece of trivia:  Jimmy Walker is a conservative.  He’s not a doctrinaire conservative, but he’s definitely conservative and not shy about it, either.)

Zombie has come up with a great neologism: “progracist”

You don’t really have to work hard to know what a “Progracist” is.  Indeed, it’s surprising, once you think about it, that nobody invented this neologism before.  I mean, it would have applied as perfectly to Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger as it does to today’s Progressives.  Please check out Zombie’s post and add the word to your vocabulary.

Is it racist to remind people that the American government first disarmed Native Americans and then decimated them?

A week or two ago, I put this poster on my site:

Guns in government hands

I think it’s an un-racist poster.  It reminds people that government will always be a minority’s worst enemies.

What I didn’t know was that, in Greeley, Colorado, someone put up a billboard echoing that sentiment:

The friend who sent me this video said exactly the right thing about those who are now crying foul:

I love the premise here: “Pay no attention to history, it may offend someone!”

The homogeneity of Leftist thinking at American institutions and its effect on poverty at the ground level

I’ve written before about one of my favorite writers, Paul Fussell.  He wrote a wonderful essay entitled Thank God for the Atom Bomb, about the righteousness of dropping the atom bomb.  He was in the Army when Truman dropped the bomb, so Fussell wholeheartedly approved — and had the data to back up his personal opinion.  (More recently released data completely backs up his 30 year old hypothesis.)  I also wholeheartedly approve, as my Mom was a few weeks away from dying in a Japanese concentration camp when the bomb dropped.

Fussell also wrote what I think is one of the greatest books ever about WWI, The Great War and Modern Memory.  I just bought the Kindle version to reread because my copy, which I bought in college, has disintegrated. It’s a beautifully written book that looks at both the war and concurrent war literature to track a vast paradigm shift in intellectual thought during the four years the war lasted.  Young men went in imbued with Victorian ideas of chivalry and honor; they came out jaded, cynical, and completely unable to accept that aggression is sometimes necessary and could have been useful in preventing Hitler’s rise. It is a triumph of both military writing and literary writing.

What you might not know about Fussell was that this iconoclast was a university professor.  Nowadays, the phrase iconoclastic professor is an oxymoron.  Not so in Fussell’s heyday.  Wikipedia sums up his military and academic career:

Fussell attended Pomona College from 1941 until he enlisted in the US Army in 1943. He landed in France in 1944 as a 20 year-old second lieutenant with the 103rd Infantry Division,[8] was wounded while fighting in Alsace, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was honorably discharged from the army in 1946, returned to Pomona to finish his B.A. degree in 1946-7, married fellow Pomona graduate Betty Harper in 1949, and completed his MA (1949) and Ph.D. (1952) at Harvard University.

He began his teaching career at Connecticut College (1951–55) before moving to Rutgers University in 1955 and finally the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. He also taught at the University of Heidelberg (1957–58) and King’s College London (1990–92). As a teacher, he traveled widely with his family throughout Europe from the 1950s to 70s, taking Fulbright and sabbatical years in Germany, England and France.

As his writing shows, Fussell was an entirely original thinker who didn’t march to the beat of anyone’s drum.  Indeed, he delighted in challenging what was already becoming stifling academic orthodoxy:

Fussell stated that he relished the inevitable controversy of Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (1983) and indulged his increasing public status as a loved or hated “curmudgeon” in the rant called BAD: or, The Dumbing of America (1991). In between, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (1988) confirmed his war against government and military doublespeak and prepared the way for Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (1989). The epiphany of his earlier essay, “My War”, found full expression in his memoir Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic (1996), “My Adolescent illusions, largely intact to that moment, fell away all at once, and I suddenly knew I was not and never would be in a world that was reasonable or just”. The last book by Fussell published while he was alive, The Boys’ Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-45 (2003) was once again concerned with the experience of combat in World War II.

Fussell was never petrified or brainwashed by his academic career.  I wonder what Fussell would have thought if he’d been a teacher at Bowdoin in the last twenty years or so.  Bowdoin found itself in the news lately because of what David Feith calls “The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World.”  It all started when Barry Mills, Bowdoin College’s president, had a golf game with investor and philanthropist Thomas Klingenstein.  During the game, the subject of academic diversity came up.  Both Mills and Klingenstein would agree that Klingenstein didn’t like it.  According to Mills’s retelling at a subsequent graduation ceremony, Klingenstein was hostile and, in a word, dumb.  Writes Feith:

In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer’s announcement: “I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons,” said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills’s telling. During Mr. Mills’s next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin’s “misplaced and misguided diversity efforts.” At the end of the round, the college president told the students, “I walked off the course in despair.”

Klingenstein got word of this graduation address, which implied that the anonymous golf-companion was a troglodyte and racist, and knew that Mills was talking about him.  Klingenstein decided to set the record straight.  Rather than just saying “that’s not what I meant,” or offering his opinion about diversity, Klingenstein took his money and funded a National Association of Scholars project that carefully examined Bowdoin’s curriculum, especially in the last ten years.  The results were eye-opening, to say the least — or, saying a little more than the least, eye-opening to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on in, and the product (i.e., graduates) coming out of, these academic “gatekeepers of civilization”:

Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.

The school’s ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There’s the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity. There’s the dedication to “sustainability,” or saving the planet from its imminent destruction by the forces of capitalism. And there are the paeans to “global citizenship,” or loving all countries except one’s own.

The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper’s true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has “no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation.” Even history majors aren’t required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.

One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which “examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces”), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”

Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that “four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative.” In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama. Not that any of this matters if you have ever asked around the faculty lounge.

“A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans,” sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is “intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate.”

This is an intellectual, academic paradigm shift of almost incomprehensible magnitude.  Since its inception, regardless of the reality on the ground, America’s self-image (which was sold to generations of school children and college students right up until the 1950s) was of an inclusive nation, a melting pot, dedicated to the principle that all American citizens are entitled to equal treatment under the law; have a right to equal access to American opportunities (with it being up to the people whether to take that access); and are subject to the downside risks should they refuse to seize the opportunities or violate the law.  With slavery and Jim Crow, we deviated from the principles, but the principles were sound.

At Bowdoin, though, and others like it, the paradigm has shifted.  Young people are taught a new, ugly paradigm about their country:  America is composed of disparate groups, with a few select groups made up of white men (and, probably, Jews) controlling the nation and doing what they can to exploit, denigrate, and impoverish a never-ending, every-growing list of victim classes, ranging from women, to homosexuals, to non-white races, to Muslims, to fat people, to anything that can be brought under the umbrella of victim.  There is no such thing in this world as equality of opportunity.  There is only equality of outcome that can be attained by using the government to strong-arm the ruling class of white males (and, possibly, Jews) so that they redistribute their ill-gotten gains to the victims.

I was talking the other day to a friend who works at elementary schools in a large, urban ghetto.  These schools have no white children.  The schools are dreadful, and the children — innocent victims all — suffer terribly.  They grow up in abysmal poverty, and they don’t have role models within their homes showing  education or wealth.  Their neighborhoods are rife with crime (especially gun fire) and substance abuse. Almost all come from broken homes.Their streets are dangerous because of gangs.  The message one receives from those brave enough to work in those neighborhoods is that these children can succeed only if we pour government funds into their schools.  And if those funds don’t work, then we need to pour more in, and still more in.

In my mind, I compared these children — and they are so sad, since they are bright little lights that are blinking out — with the immigrants who came to this country between, say, 1850 and 1950.  They lived in ghettos; they lived in abysmal poverty; their parents didn’t speak the language of wealth (many didn’t even speak English); the streets were dangerous, not because of gunfire, but because of knives, disease, and starvation; there was significant substance abuse (alcoholism and opium); schools were grossly underfunded, etc.  And yet these children became working class, their children became middle class, and their children became upper class.  It wasn’t a 100% success rate at every generation, but it was a substantial rate at every generation.

They went from this:

Jacob Riis tenement photograph

and this:

Jacob Riis image of street kids

to this:

Suburban kitchen

What’s the difference between then and now? I don’t believe that it’s because American blacks (and it’s mostly blacks stuck for generations in ghettos) are forever developmentally disabled by slavery. John McWhorter points out that blacks were ascending rapidly, both socially and economically, before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society enticed them into welfare and single parenthood (welfare pays single mothers better than two parent families).  Starting in the 1960s, the increasingly Left-leaning white leadership in America told blacks that, the end of slavery and Jim Crow notwithstanding, they are not created equal and they are not equal under the law.  They are different — they are needier.  Without Mama and Papa government, they are nothing.

I think it’s this paradigm shift, one that starts in the Ivory Towers by creating infinite victim classes, all of which that can be raised up only by government intervention and control, that trickles down into the streets. In the old days, you had to do it yourself, so you did. Nowadays, the government is supposed to rescue you. Homes don’t emphasize education, self-sufficiency, and upward mobility. They emphasize “Why isn’t the government helping?”  This is not about race, or slavery, or poverty — it is about an intellectual environment that explicitly educates future leaders that government needs race-victims, and slave-victims and poverty-victims to fulfill its purpose.  Without those classes, government is meaningless and by definition a vehicle of evil.

Paul Fussell, who thought outside the box, would not have approved.  (Or at least I like to think he wouldn’t have approved.)

Alec Baldwin — the poster child for racially-obsessed liberals

Alec Baldwin was in the news this morning for having another rage attack on New York’s streets, this one complete with foul racial epithets. The easy line to take with this is that Alec Baldwin is a racist.

I’m not sure it’s quite that simple, though. Instead, I see Baldwin’s problem being one of racial (not racist) obsession. To liberals, everything in their world gets run through a racial prism. Nothing is neutral. It’s either about race or . . . it’s about race.

Even when something couldn’t possibly have anything to do with race (e.g., dog food), the absence of a race discussion is itself racist. After all, there are probably poor children somewhere, who are probably black, who are possibly eating dog food in lieu of human food, almost certainly because of racist Republican economic policies or attacks on welfare.

What this means is that, when a cosseted, undisciplined, rage-filled Progressive gets angry, there is only one way to lash put: In racial terms. Just as a dog’s thoughts are ball, ball, food, ball, food, food, ball, belly rub, nap, ball, food,, the sum total of the Progressive’s thoughts are race, black, white-Hispanic, racism, racist, black, and, when angry the n-word.. Truly, aside from a continuous background loop of “me, me, me” sung by a Hollywood-inspired celestial chorus, the racial soundtrack is the only thing filling Baldwin’s brain.

The problem for all of us, of course, is that too many Americans, both black and non-black, have been taught for the last 40 years that this racial paradigm/prism is the only lens through which to see the world. Until this changes, we will not find common ground, and we will continue to live in a racially-obsessed society, with the worst racists being the ones who obsess most about the subject.

Found it on Facebook: a story about a mass murder that didn’t happen

One of my high school friends is black, pro-union, devoutly Christian and (to my surprise, given her San Francisco upbringing) apparently pro-Second Amendment.  She passed this along from one of her Facebook friends (who is a big numbers conservative Christian Facebooker):

San Antonio police crime scene

San Antonio Theater Shooting

On Sunday December 17, 2012, 2 days after the CT shooting, a man went to a restaurant in San Antonio to kill his X-girlfriend. After he shot her, most of the people in the restaurant fled next door to a theater. The gunman followed them and entered the theater so he could shoot more people. He started shooting and people in the theater started running and screaming. It’s like the Aurora, CO theater story plus a restaurant!

Now aren’t you wondering why this isn’t a lead story in the national media along with the school shooting?

There was an off duty county deputy at the theater. SHE pulled out her gun and shot the man 4 times before he had a chance to kill anyone. So since this story makes the point that the best thing to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun, the media is treating it like it never happened.

Only the local media covered it. The city is giving her a medal next week.

Just thought you’d like to know.

I remain disgusted with the media’s deliberate attempt to whitewash news while at the same time creating their own narrative for whatever sinister reasons.

As far as I can tell, the only thing inaccurate about the story above is the date — the shooting that was stopped by an off-duty deputy took place on December 30, not December 17.  Everything else is accurate — guy goes into theater, starts shooting like crazy, people panic, and then this happens (emphasis mine):

The gunman entered the theater, Antu says, where he fired a shot but did not hit anyone. An off-duty sheriff’s deputy working security then shot the gunman.

The best defense against a crazed, armed bad guy, is a heroic armed good guy.  End of story.

One more point:  the Facebook post says “I remain disgusted with the media’s deliberate attempt to whitewash news while at the same time creating their own narrative for whatever sinister reasons.”  Apropos the media narrative, it’s worth noting a point that Dan Baum, a pro-Second Amendment Progressive, makes in a Harper’s Magazine article he wrote after the shooting in Aurora:

Among the many ways America differs from other countries when it comes to guns is that when a mass shooting happens in the United States, it’s a gun story. How an obviously sick man could buy a gun; how terrible it is that guns are abundant; how we must ban particular types of guns that are especially dangerous. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence responded to the news with a gun-control petition. Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times has weighed in with an online column saying that “Politicians are far too cowardly to address gun violence . . . which keeps us from taking practical measures to avoid senseless shootings.”

Compare that to the coverage and conversation after Anders Behring Breivik murdered sixty-nine people on the island of Utøya in Norway, a year ago next Sunday. Nobody focused on the gun. I had a hard time learning from the news reports what type of gun he used. Nobody asked, “How did he get a gun?” That seemed strange, because it’s much harder to get a gun in Europe than it is here. But everybody, even the American media, seemed to understand that the heart of the Utøya massacre story was a tragically deranged man, not the rifle he fired. Instead of wringing their hands over the gun Breivik used, Norwegians saw the tragedy as the opening to a conversation about the rise of right-wing extremism in their country.

The problem in America isn’t the Second Amendment.  Instead, the problem comes about because the Progressive media creates a warped narrative that takes guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.  The result is that guns exist, but law-abiding people (a disproportionate number of whom are black) die from killers who know that there is no one and nothing that can stop them:

It is true that all countries in Southern and Western Europe had lower murder rates than the U.S. But it might be worthwhile to parse the U.S. number if we continue to make such comparisons.

In over 52% of the murders in the US in 2011 in which the race of the murderer was known, the murderer was black. Over half of the victims of murder were also black. But blacks are only 13.6% of the population. Put all that together, and the murder rate in the US for non-blacks was more like 2.6 per 100,000 in 2011.

As Peter Baldwin put it in his book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences, “Take out the black underclass from the statistics, and even American murder rates fall to European levels.”

It’s timely, as always, to remember that gun control in America began as a way to keep blacks defenseless and disenfranchised.  Progressives dress the whole thing up in prettier language, but their eugenic roots are starting to show.

 

Supporting gun-control is racist

In America today, especially in America’s media, the worst thing you can call someone is “racist.”  In our Obama-era people who oppose Obama are racist; people who support the Constitution are racist; people who use the word “Chicago” are racist; people who comment about the president’s lean physique (unless they’re drooling female reporters) are racist; and –here’s the kicker — people who oppose gun control are racist.

Why is opposing gun control racist?  Because blacks are proportionately much more likely to find themselves at the wrong end of the gun in America than are whites.  Even though blacks comprise only 13% of the population, in 2007 alone black death rates due to guns were more than twice white death rates.  Put another way:

Black teenager boy killed by gun

Young black males die from gun violence at a rate 2.5 times higher than Latino males, and eight times higher than white males. Gun injuries are suffered by black teens at a rate ten times higher than white teens.

Guns are an extraordinary scourge within the black community — a fact that also explains why America’s gun homicides are (a) high and (b) unequally spread geographically.  A vast proportion of gun crime is inner city crime.

Given these appalling statistics — black men being mowed down by a plague of bullets — liberals say that anyone who doesn’t want to remove guns from the street is a fortiori a racist.  The logic is simple:  guns kill black people; Republicans, who are disproportionately white, resist any form of gun control; therefore Republicans hate black people.

The problem with the above liberal analysis is that it’s an entirely false syllogism.  Here’s the truth:  what’s killing black men is gun control.  Black men live in dangerous areas and we have disarmed them.

Don’t believe me?  The numbers back me up.

Chicago protest Don't shoot I want to grow up

Chicago is now, and has long been, a deadly city for blacks.  The sweetness and light of non-stop Democrat rule has done nothing to make it safer.  At a certain point in this deadly trajectory, Chicago Progressives made an announcement:  a lot of the people who died in Chicago died from gunshots.  Thinking simplistically, they decided that the next step was to get rid of the guns.  Chicago therefore enacted some of the most repressive gun-control in the nation.  Had the Democrat logic been correct, the “homicide by gun” rate in Chicago should have plummeted in the wake of this legislation.  As John Lott explains, the opposite was true:

Since late 1982, Chicago has banned the private ownership of handguns. Over the next 19 years, there were only three years where the murder rate was as low as when the ban started.

As shown in the forthcoming third edition of my book “More Guns, Less Crime,” before the ban, Chicago’s murder rate was falling relative to the nine other largest cities, the 50 largest cities, the five counties that border Cook county, as well as the U.S. as a whole. After the ban, Chicago’s murder rate rose relative to all these other places.

In other words, banning guns killed black men.

Chicago is not anomalous.  Washington, D.C., showed precisely the same pattern.  Here’s John Lott again, looking at the way the numbers are, rather than the way Progressives think they ought to be.  When Washington banned legal guns, murder rates (and that would be murder rates of black men) shot up:

Washington’s murder rate soared after its handgun ban went into effect in early 1977 (there is only one year while the ban was in effect that the murder rate fell below the1976 number and that happened many years later — in 1985). Its murder rate also rose relative to other cities. Washington’s murder rate rose from 12 percent above the average for the 50 most populous cities in 1976 to 35 percent above the average in 1986.

In 2008, fed-up citizens, aware of their rights under the Second Amendment, sued.  A fairly conservative Supreme Court looked at the Washington, D.C., law, and concluded that it did indeed violate the Constitution.  At this point, with the gun-control ban lifted, if the liberals had been right, even more young black men should have died.  But, says Lott, the numbers showed that the opposite happened:

When the Heller case was decided, Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty warned: “More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence.” Knowing that Chicago’s gun laws would soon face a similar legal challenge, Mayor Richard Daley was particularly vocal. The day that the Heller decision was handed down, Daley said that he and other mayors across the country were “outraged” by the decision and he predicted more deaths along with Wild West-style shootouts. Daley warned that people “are going to take a gun and they are going to end their lives in a family dispute.”

But Armageddon never arrived. Quite the contrary, murders in Washington plummeted by an astounding 25 percent in 2009, dropping from 186 murders in 2008 to 140. That translates to a murder rate that is now down to 23.5 per 100,000 people, Washinton’s lowest since 1967. While other cities have also fared well over the last year, D.C.’s drop was several times greater than that for other similar sized cities. According to preliminary estimates by the FBI, nationwide murders fell by a relatively more modest 10 percent last year and by about 8 percent in other similarly sized cities of half a million to one million people (D.C.’s population count is at about 590,000).

In words of one syllable (for any Progressives reading this): If you take guns from the good guys, bad guys kill them.

In Washington, D.C., and in Chicago, both good guys and bad guys were black.  When the Progressives told law-abiding black citizens that they would have to disarm, these same citizens died in greater numbers than before.  Keep in mind, too, that the gun ban also affected the bad guys.  Bans create black-market arms’ races, with the bad guys working hard to corner the market and, because they are working outside the law, having to compunction about  killing their competition.

The negative effects of gun control transcend race, of course.  In England, the BBC expressed genuine surprise when statistics showed that, despite a repressive ban on all types of guns, gun deaths increased:

A new study suggests the use of handguns in crime rose by 40% in the two years after the weapons were banned.

The research, commissioned by the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Shooting, has concluded that existing laws are targeting legitimate users of firearms rather than criminals.

The ban on ownership of handguns was introduced in 1997 as a result of the Dunblane massacre, when Thomas Hamilton opened fire at a primary school leaving 16 children and their teacher dead.

But the report suggests that despite the restrictions on ownership the use of handguns in crime is rising.

At this point, people who are not blinkered by statist ideology and an irrational fear of guns are saying “Well, duh!” But the Leftists, God bless ‘em, are always driven by an unreasoning optimism that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try imposing even more state control and spending more money.”

It doesn’t seem to occur to these Ivy League geniuses that exerting more control and spending more money make sense only if the gun ban sort of succeeded in the first place by slightly lessening gun-related homicides.  In that case, maybe trying harder might create greater benefits. However, if your actual outcomes are the exact opposite of the intended outcomes, it might occur to any rational person that you’re on the wrong track and should make a sharp, fast u-turn.

Lynching in the Democrat South

By the way, it’s reasonable to believe that, in America, the increase in black deaths isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Progressives have a long and ugly history of racism. In the years leading up to the Civil War, the Democrats were the party of slavery. In the years after the Civil War, right up until the Civil Rights Movement, they were the party of the KKK, lynchings, and Jim Crow. In the North, the Progressives weren’t crude enough to agitate for lynching. They aimed for scientific eugenics, with Margaret Sanger’s primary goal when it came to birth control being the eventual elimination of the black population. Abortion, which is one of Planned Parenthood’s primary services, also has a disproportionate effect on blacks.

And that brings us to gun control, the genesis of which wasn’t to prevent crime but was, instead, to disarm the black man:

The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws — and not in any subtle way. Throughout much of American history, gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics “in their place,” and to quiet the racial fears of whites. This paper is intended to provide a brief summary of this unholy alliance of gun control and racism, and to suggest that gun control laws should be regarded as “suspect ideas,” analogous to the “suspect classifications” theory of discrimination already part of the American legal system.

Nowadays, I acquit modern Progressives of active genocide, but there’s no doubt that, by following in the footsteps of their racist forebears, they are having equally racist outcomes.

It turns out that there’s one way to stop gun-crime:  more legal guns that are in the hands of law-abiding, rather than law-breaking, citizens:

Luckily, some years ago, two famed economists, William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale, conducted a massive study of multiple victim public shootings in the United States between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected their frequency and death toll.

Landes and Lott examined many of the very policies being proposed right now in response to the Connecticut massacre: waiting periods and background checks for guns, the death penalty and increased penalties for committing a crime with a gun.

None of these policies had any effect on the frequency of, or carnage from, multiple-victim shootings. (I note that they did not look at reforming our lax mental health laws, presumably because the ACLU is working to keep dangerous nuts on the street in all 50 states.)

Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.

Their study controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment, retirement, poverty rates, state population, murder arrest rates, violent crime rates, and on and on.

The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.

Concealed-carry works best in limiting the number of deaths in a mass murder scenario, but it also is very helpful in preventing crimes generally. A bad guy who thinks that the owner of House A might be armed is more likely to go to House B, as long as House B has this sign in the window:

No guns

Of course, if both Houses A and B have this sign in the window, I bet the bad guy will go away altogether:

NRA sign never mind dog beware of owner

So, the next time some condescending or faux-outraged Progressive asks you how in the world you can oppose gun control, tell him that it’s because, unlike him, you’re not a racist.

To a hammer, everything is a nail; and to an identity politics fanatic, everything is racism

My father, alev ha-shalom,  had forgotten more about English — his third language — than most people will ever know.  In addition to reading novels and non-fiction for pleasure, he would amuse himself reading dictionaries, grammar books, and stories about the English language.  (In that last genre, my favorite was one called Word Origins and Their Amazing Stories, a book that, sadly, is no longer in print.)

One of my father’s pet peeves, going back to the 1970s, was the way the word niggardly had been banished from most vocabularies, because people assumed that it had the same root as a vulgar and disrespectful word for black people.  In fact, niggardly, which means miserly, or stingy, has an honest Anglo-Saxon etymology:

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English nyggard,  equivalent to nig  niggard (< Scandinavian;  compare dialectal Swedish nygg;  akin to Old English hnēaw  stingy)

This honestly rooted English word even shows up in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales:

We all desiren, if it mighte be,
To han husbandes hardy, wise, and free,
And secret, and no niggard, ne no fool,
Ne him that is aghast of every tool,
Ne none avaunter, by that God above!

Having now proven the word’s bona fides, let me step down from the soap box.  Given the two words’ auditory and spelling similarity, despite one being an Olde English word calling someone stingy, and the other a rude bastardization of a Latin word for the color “black,” I’m more forgiving than my father was when people express discomfort upon hearing the word niggardly.  It just looks and sounds wrong.

The question remains, though, how far a culture should go to challenge honorable traditions that coincidentally run afoul of modern sensitivities.  In Sweden, for example, modern sensibilities are chipping away at the traditional Santa Lucia celebration, which has seen children, since forever, parade around dressed up as stars, gnomes, Santa Lucia, or gingerbread men.  The politically correct brigade is now worried about those gingerbread men.  You and I think of them as tasty, spicy cookies that all sensible people love; the PC crowd knows that they have a darker symbolism (pun intended):

Schoolchildren in Sweden have been banned from dressing up as gingerbread men for a Christmas parade because their teachers fear the costumes could be considered racist.

[snip]

[H]eartbroken 10-year-old Mio Simiv was told he could not wear his gingerbread man costume to the celebration because it might be seen as ‘offensive’.

Angry mum Jenny Simic told local media: ‘I thought he had to have got it wrong so I called the school and they said people might find a brown gingerbread character offensive.

Mrs. Simic also went on to make a larger point, which is that the other costumes, when taken out of context, can be forced into equally ugly interpretations.  You see, those gnome costumes really don’t stand up to close scrutiny ….

‘I said, well then my son won’t participate. He won’t support some Ku Klux Klan procession – because that’s what the little Lucias look like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses.’

Also, I’ve heard that gnomes are vertically challenged, so it won’t be long before the Little People start voicing their objections.  (I feel I have a say in this one, as I just learned that my statuesque 5 feet tall is a mere two inches above official Little People status.  Funnily enough, I’ve never felt short, and most people who know my are surprised to learn what my actual height is.  As one man told me, to my great delight, “You have the most beautiful posture I’ve ever seen.  You carry yourself like a queen.”  But back to my post….)

The Swedish school tried to backtrack by claiming the absence of gingerbread came down to student allergies, but I’ve yet to hear of someone being allergic to a gingerbread man costume:

In my experience, one of the best ways to get past differences between people is to stop focusing on them so obsessively — or at the very least, to stop focusing on the marginal things that irritate petty people, so that you have energy and credibility to deal with the things that really matter. Aesop knew that crying wolf is counterproductive.  After decades of backing down in the face of the Leftist war cry of “racist,” more and more people are looking in their hearts, recognizing that they’re not racists, and fighting back.  That’s the good thing.  The bad thing is that, in this swirling sea of “racist” caterwauls, the real racists will suddenly find themselves able to blend in with the crowd so that they can spread their poison.