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.

Racial unrest on campus: where is the backbone?

It is surprising and revolting that on American campuses there have been practically no voices decrying the outlandish claims of the protesters. The only voices of reason come from outside the campus hothouses. (A good example here.)  These Emperor-is-fully-clothed claims would require us to believe that American universities and colleges, – which have instituted racial preferences in admissions, scholarships, and faculty hires, special buildings for black students, programs in black studies, endless diversity programs including mandatory “training,” deans in new positions devoted to diversity and equity, speech codes to protect minorities from hurt feelings – that these universities are hotbeds of racism and racial injustice driven by a climate of racial oppression, the consequence of ubiquitous white privilege and the sin of “whiteness.” Nor have there been many voices on campus remarking that the other demands of the protesters usually come right out of the playbook of their radical professors. Few dare point out that the protesters, having been indoctrinated throughout their schooling, are being manipulated by these radicals, their student leaders, and interested outsiders.  Continue reading

Black privilege and free speech at the University of Missouri

Summary. Recent events at the University of Missouri (MU) threaten to harm it for years to come. The loss in one day of the President of the Four-Campus System and the MU Chancellor by forced resignation was bad enough –who of any competence would want those jobs? But the remedies proposed by the black student protesters would further bring the University down the path of political correctness gone amuck, with accelerated erosion of the academic values of truth, open debate, and honest respect. There is no racism on the MU campus. Many students, taught by faculty radicals, believe it is everywhere, sustained by an ether-like substrate of white privilege. Their claims largely result from indoctrination and hurt feelings, not the real racism faced by their grandparents and earlier generations. It is simply astonishing that baseless protests could so quickly bring down the administration and hurl the campus into chaos. This could only happen if MU’s core were not weakened and corrupt. MU is on the path to becoming a transuniversity, a radical political organization believing it is really a university. The protesters are well aware of their power and have issued further demands concerning sexism, homophobia, transism etc., echoing the litany of progressive grievances. The two resignations demonstrate once again that successful revolutions will hunt down their insufficiently radical members. One wag commented that MU has gone from Animal House to Animal Farm.

This is sad, very sad.

For more discussion, click the link and read on.  Continue reading

Political quickie: a question for Barack Obama

Given on the one hand the President’s hand wringing over the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, not to speak of his Justice Department’s ‘civil-rights’ investigations into the deaths, and on the other his silence about the murder of Kate Steinle, we wonder why the press has not asked him this simple question:

Do white lives matter?   Troglo


Political quickie: four Ferguson follow-ups

The protests are diminishing. So is it not beyond time for calming statements from our politicos? Not a chance. If anything their statements have stirred the pot, not calmed it. And the news media supinely parrot the flawed findings of the Department of Justice (DoJ) report on the Ferguson Police Department. Our previous posts are here, here, and here.

Now Heather MacDonald has written another of her perceptive articles refuting the claims of police misconduct such as racial profiling. In Fueling cop-hate: how politicians fan the flames she highlights the half-truths and deceptions of Eric Holder:

The Brown report should have forced a massive reconsideration of the virulent anti-law-enforcement campaign that sprang up in the wake of the shooting. Instead, Holder paved the way for the report’s marginalization by calling, a few days before its release, for a lower standard of proof for civil-rights cases. Implication: Only an artificially high standard of proof prevented Justice from prosecuting Wilson.

After she demolishes the DoJ report accusing the Ferguson PD of systematic racism because the report lacked proof and misused statistics, she inculpates President Obama for stoking resentment with more untruths:

President Obama echoed the Holder spin two days after the reports’ release. “We may never know exactly what happened” to Michael Brown, he told students at South Carolina’s Benedict College. Actually, we do know what happened. Numerous credible witnesses and the forensic evidence confirmed Wilson’s account. But Obama presented the case as a subtle standard-of-proof problem: “The finding that was made was that it was not unreasonable to determine that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Officer Wilson.” He then blasted the Ferguson PD: The overwhelmingly white force was “systematically” biased, he said, placing minorities under its care into an “oppressive and abusive situation.” Such rhetoric guaranteed that the purges of Ferguson officials in the wake of the second Justice report would fail to satisfy the protesters.

Meanwhile, following on the Holder-Obama provocations, the group “MU 4 Mike Brown” demonstrated the night of March 12 in front of the home of the Chancellor of the University of Missouri (MU.) (What does a university over 100 miles from Ferguson have to do with Mike Brown anyway?) It was reported that one demonstrator said of the Chancellor: “Call him out…for not doing anything.” Demonstrators carried signs proclaiming: “End racism now” and “We back; we black.” MU long ago erected an quasi judicial structure designed to punish infractions against diversity and equity, along with sexual-assault kangaroo courts and other tokens of politically correct sincerity. Since no level of racial pandering is ever enough, the demonstrators evidently believe that since racism runs rampant on campus, why doesn’t the Chancellor stop it just like that? That they seem to be protesting for its own sake more than for anything specific shows, we think, the extent to which the organizers of the racial games are able to keep the pot of racial resentment at boiling level.

Perhaps the demonstrators want institutional change of the kind advocated by MSNBC’s resident radical Ed Schultz:

What about disarming the police? What about just having them carry nightsticks and the authority to arrest? It would take a brave person to do something like that. But there are places on the face of this earth where there are police officers that don’t carry firearms. I know the right wing’s gonna think I’m crazy for saying that but if you really want change, you have to institutionally show it to the people that you want to do this.

We recently heard a talk by a St Louis pastor who grew up in Ferguson. Until age 18 all he heard in school and on the street was that white people hated him. As he dabbled with Black Muslim practices he began to encounter white people for the first time and these experiences turned out positive, to his surprise. This cognitive dissonance – forgive us this academic term – eventually led him to think his way out of the PC box, to Christ, and to an unfortunately retrograde evaluation of Ferguson similar to ours.   Troglo


The flawed and controversial Department of Justice report on Ferguson

The report may be read here. It was clear last summer that Officer Wilson acted appropriately and could not reasonably be charged with any crime. But news media hyperbole and non-stop coverage kept the pot boiling. Under pretext of possible civil-rights violations, the race hustlers at the Federal Dept. of Justice (DoJ) started an investigation of Officer Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department. The motivation was political gain and perhaps ideological blinders. No surprise then that the findings regarding the Ferguson PD are scandalously flawed.

The findings of “racial bias” are bogus and the methods used to show them are so crude and wrong-headed they would not pass muster in an undergraduate term paper. A further problem is that the media will not mention these criticisms. Apparently anyone who disputes the findings is unenlightened at best and racist at worst. All we heard was that the report was characterized by adjectives like “scathing.” There was no effort to report the other side, because when it comes to race, there is no other side. Did you hear that the report is “controversial?” Neither did we. (We slipped this term into our title just to catch your attention.) ‘Controversial’ is only used for reports and points of view the left does not like. Ours, for example.

The biggest flaw in the DoJ report is the use of the legal doctrine of ‘disparate impact,’ which, as has been pointed out time and again, for example here and notably by Heather Macdonald here, is logically and statistically invalid and inconclusive.   Continue reading