Beyond banning the box: racial discrimination, 2016 edition

It is widely believed in left-wing circles that much if not most black unemployment is due to invidious discrimination by white employers. Since blacks have higher rates of incarceration than other identity groups, employers who provide a box on employment applications to indicate arrests or convictions have an easy way to “discriminate.”  Thus the movement to “ban the box,” which was successful in Columbia, Missouri and other locations of liberal good will.

The next step for nanny government is to ban credit checks for employment, which can similarly serve as a convenient excuse to oppress. Why should our social justice warriors stop there? Let’s ban pre-employment drug tests while we are at it. They must be discriminatory as well.

Now that 11 states have banned pre-employment credit checks, and the self-congratulation has started to die down, what are the results?  A scholarly study of the credit-check ban looked at 74 million job listings from 2007 to 2013. The conclusion was that black unemployment went up one percent. Another study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, July 2015, found that prohibition of pre-employment drug testing also increased black unemployment.

The pure in heart who thought that rampant employment discrimination could be ameliorated by government action are perplexed. Rather than give up the narrative of anti-black discrimination they indulged in all manner of speculation. You can read more in a Washington Post story

We’ll suggest a few other speculative explanations not deriving from a liberal worldview. The first depends on the assumption that very few employers discriminate against blacks and those who do hurt their businesses. Why would any employer want to reject the best applicant because of race? Since there are more white people than black with bad credit, drug problems, and jail histories, the result of those feel-good laws is to present an employer with a higher percentage of white applicants than before. Assuming a random, non-biased selection this will lead to more hiring of whites. A related speculative explanation is that the legislation does indeed reduce discrimination, but this time against whites who previously had been subject to discrimination.

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)


Political correctness: the view of Juan Williams

Williams is a moderate Democrat who lost his job at NPR to PC intolerance over comments he made about Muslims on the O’Reilly Factor (Fox TV network.) Although his comments were clearly in favor of tolerance of Muslims, he was canned by the “liberal orthodoxy” at NPR. In his 2011 book, Muzzled: the Assault on Honest Debate, he offers an extensive discussion of PC. (See pp.32-58.) He is a very decent man, a good reporter and writer, and worth reading. He writes without bitterness over his dismissal. I’m using Williams to be able to approach the issue from something like the center.
IMO he makes some very good points, but is better on the ‘political’ than the ‘correctness’ side. In emphasizing muzzling, important to a reporter, he misses some essential aspects of contemporary PC. The 2011 publication date may have something to do with this.
PC as terminology goes back to the 18th century, but was confined to statements about electoral politics. Starting with the 1960s it raises its ugly head in the context of the culture wars. “…there is a real connection among language, thought, and action. It was a first glimpse of future culture wars as leaders in liberal movements began insisting on new language in the name of fairness but with the real goal of changing politics and society by establishing a vocabulary of acceptable terms and language for people who cared about equality and justice.” (p38) I would put it this way: the Left knew that “terminology is ideology in disguise” and adapted its tactics accordingly. The term ‘Negro’ was banned in favor of ‘Black’ then ‘African-American,’ chairs became anthropomorphized, and grammatical barbarism became acceptable with ‘singular they’ (note 1.)
Surveying the landscape up to the present, he avers that both sides used the PC weapon. Since the 1960s there has been a back-and-forth as one side then the other gained political ascendency. The Right used “divisive wedge issues” like gun rights or abortion to “to mock the Left as self-righteous and given to censorship.” (p43) Note that the goal was to win elections. PC tactics “win at the ballot box.” (p53) But now hard liners on both sides have migrated to the political fringes. PC is at its core an Us-vs-Them tribalism. “We are all adopting the vocabulary of the aggrieved, and it comes at the expense of some notion that we all share a common cause. The rising tide has been replaced by zero-sum. The conversation is now a hostile negotiation.” (p55)
I find his equivalence between Right and Left rather unconvincing, notably with respect to recent issues on campuses nationwide. The Right is not trying to change America to fit its “preferred vision”. The Left is. Wedge issues are genuine issues; debate is welcomed. Eric Holder’s wished-for conversation on race is not a conversation wherein all points of view are welcome. Whence the ferocity one sees on the Left? Whence the new emphasis on speech codes to prevent giving offense? (Only those on the Left seem to have the right to be offended.) Or the rancor directed at ‘hate speech’ and the vitriol directed at the speakers, who as moral lepers must be punished, reeducated, or somehow prevented from speaking? How does ‘hate speech’ automatically convict one of immoral ‘bigotry’ and gain instant expulsion from the club of the bien-pensants?
Williams perceptively points out the importance of “critical theory” on campus – as in critical race theory or critical legal theory. “Critical theorists did not view institutions in the traditional sense as just business, government, education, and the like. They viewed these institutions as representations of social inequality when it came to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and politics.” (p39) But he does not pursue this insight. Let me try. These ‘white’ institutions, which hold ‘power’ in the sense of wealth and cultural hegemony, must be destroyed or “fundamentally transformed” if there is to be true equality and social justice. Thus ‘racism’ is not simply the result of people harboring racial animus, but rather of an unequal power relationship. Thus it is possible to have institutional racism without any racists. Thus people without power cannot be racists. Of course if you commit a ‘microaggression’ to a black person, your conscience may be clean but it is still racism. Thus Rachel Dolezal passing as black is a true victim of racism, although 100% Caucasian. The problem is ‘whiteness.’ This “critical” point of view is what ConcernedStudent1950 wanted the Mizzou administration to confess to, accept, and apologize for. In this way conversation and ‘honest debate’ are stymied, as terminology has been so radically warped by left-wing ideology that people are simply talking past each other. PC has now evolved into something rather different from what it used to be; – clearly a symptom, part of something greater, coming from a new place. A fuller explanation will have to account for this.    Troglo
Troglo (L. H. Kevil)
Note 1. The term ‘singular they’ designates the non-standard use of ‘they’ for the singular indefinite antecedent ‘he.’ For while old-fashioned feminism requires the use of ‘he or she,’ ‘s/he,’ or just plain ‘she’ to avoid the traditional use of the ‘sexist’ ‘he,’ it is just easier to sacrifice grammatical agreement in number to a sloppy ‘they.’ Demolishing a grammar rule is a bonus. But now even that is not sufficient. Freshmen entering university are asked for their PGP, their preferred gender pronouns to replace the offensive he, his, she, hers. Zi and hir are popular choices. Professors must make an effort to utilize these barbarisms in class.

The Appeal of Donald J. Trump: perception and reality

For much of the twentieth century the Left has placed a linguistic noose around the neck of the Right. Certain words having gained totemic power are never uttered. Other words, like ‘discrimination’ or ‘phobia ’ are distorted beyond their true meaning to support accusations of bigotry or racism. To be so accused is to be judged, convicted, and sentenced on the spot. Recently the noose has tightened so that many conservative points of view dare not be uttered else debate on the merits be forcibly shut down. In parallel there has been a marked increase in totalitarian government power: same-sex marriage mandated by the Supreme Court; the persecution of photographers for declining to participate in homosexual nuptials; women in combat roles; forcing schools to permit ‘trans’ boys to shower with girls athletic teams; possible Federal prosecution of the ‘deniers’ of climate-change orthodoxy.

In short the space in which ordinary Americans can speak and act has so shrunk that a powerful reaction has arisen. Conservative voices have self-censored; there has been no significant fighting back. Into this space Trump has stepped. His tough talk is needed to puncture lefty illusions. Regarding the Mexican border or trade treaties, his promises are seen as preserving the integrity of our traditional American culture and economy. His revolt is against all elites, not just the Republican party establishment. Trump is seen by his supporters as a positive, conservative force for restoring health to our sick, confused, feminized society. The more Big Media seeks to brand him as a brown-shirted neoNazi and inspires violent protests, the more his supporters see the need for a thorough cleansing of our Augean stables.    Continue reading

The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, by Kirsten Powers (book review)

The title reveals what this book is about. Miss Powers is a lifelong Democrat who has evolved and recognizes many of the dangers presented by today’s liberals and radicals. From a pink-diaper upbringing by leftie academics and atheism, to sometime girlfriend of Carlos Danger (aka Anthony Weiner,) then to a convert to Christianity aided by charismatic Presbyterian minister Tim Keller, and last year to Roman Catholicism, she is a rare example of what a liberal should be: courageous enough to be open-minded and willing to see the faults of one’s own side. The author modestly does not talk about herself, but concentrates on the misdeeds of the Left. Recommended.

The liberal Left – Miss Powers calls it the illiberal Left – has arrogated to itself the role of “authoritarian speech police.” Long past tolerating different opinions, it brands those who contradict its tenets as bigots, racists, sexists, misogynists, homophobes, &c. As such their speech is inherently harmful like a virus and should be suppressed.

“The illiberal left yearns for a world sanitized of information that offends them. So why not just tune out the views they don’t like? They can’t. They are authoritarians at heart; they know what Americans should think and what information they should consume….In 2014, the outside world got a peek at the illiberal left’s staging area – academia – with a spate of high-profile 2014 commencement speech cancellations and forced withdrawals. These were spurred by the protests of lefty students and professors outraged that someone who held views with which they disagreed…would be allowed to deliver a commencement address.” (pp6-7)

Continue reading