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.

Marriage equality and Rachel Dolezal: a riff on the liberal mentality

Consider the “marriage equality” slogan of left-wing advocates of marriage between homosexuals. To us it has always been weak and off-point. All marriages are of course equally marriages, including common-law ones. Same-sex unions or domestic partnerships are not marriages. So in what sense can marriages and non-marriages be equal?

The outing of Rachel Dolezal, the President of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, as white by her parents sheds light into this dark corner of the liberal mind. Although her parents showed photos of their blonde, blue-eyed girl, according to an AP AP story, she dodged the question of her actual race by stating that “We’re all from the African continent” and “There’s a lot of complexities …and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.” It appears to us that the “complexities” lie exclusively in Miss Dolezal’s mind. Just as Bill Clinton was acclaimed by some as the first black President, for some racial identity need not be factual or biological. If you identify with a group, and “disguise” yourself as Rachel’s mother said about her, your subjective belief becomes reality.

It is a common criticism of liberals that their policy positions reveal more about their subjective states than about reality. Just so with marriage between or among homosexuals. If, as some believe, couples marry themselves, for liberals their couplings become real marriages, which it is incumbent on the non-discriminatory state and Federal governments to recognize. Only in this sense could the slogan of “marriage equality” make sense.

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Political quickie: Repeal the Death Tax

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to repeal the Federal Death Tax, legally called the Estate Tax. Even if repeal passes in the Republican-controlled Senate, the President will veto it. Nevertheless the left has put itself into a rage. Their arguments against repeal are:

  • Repeal would reward the wealthy and then only a very few
  • It would punish the poor
  • It would perpetuate a new aristocracy
  • It would cost the Treasure and contribute to the deficit
  • It would exacerbate income inequality

These are weak arguments. They reveal that liberals are envious and hateful, thus their tenacious support of this punitive, unusual, and very stiff tax. They are little concerned with fairness, equity, and the principle of even-handed justice when it comes to their enemies, the evil rich. To our mind, the fewer the people who must pay the estate tax, the more unfair it is. Even if it forces only a single family to sell a business or farm to raise the cash needed to pay the tax, it is discriminatory, punitive, and anti-American. The death of a family member is horrible; the insertion of the greedy hand of the tax man into this event is as unnecessary as it is unseemly.

A few more points. The estate tax is now at the confiscatory level of 40% with an exemption level of $5.43 million. Pace the left, it affects far more than the people who have to pay it, since the desire to avoid or minimize it costs many years of planning with expensive attorneys. How many people know when they are going to die and how much their business or farm will be valued at that time? These planning and other costs, which otherwise would have gone into growing a business, amount to a large percentage of the tax revenues gained. Thus this is an inefficient tax as well as an unfair one. While accumulating the estate paid tax upon tax; a new tax payable on death is unfair double taxation. The motivation for passing wealth on to children is a family value, as well as a great motivation for economic growth – resulting in increased tax revenues. This tax is anti-family. Inherited wealth and life insurance payments are generally not considered income at the Federal level, with the exception of tax-deferred retirement accounts. But if death is not a taxable event for inheritance, why should it be a taxable event for estates? Sweden and Norway, those bastions of progressivism, recently repealed their estate taxes. By liberal logic, should we not follow suit?

The only real question remaining is not why should the estate tax be repealed, but why the Republican Senate will not also vote to repeal? Perhaps for the same reason that ten Republican Senators voted today to confirm Loretta Lynch for Attorney General despite her support of Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions.   Troglo


I am CharlieHebdo – I am Chief Cochran

The horrifying massacres at the offices of Charlie hebdo, the Parisian satirical weekly, were a radical Muslim response to cartoons poking fun at and making light of Mohammed. With the exception of most of the mainstream American media, many newspapers and magazines republished some of the cartoons or otherwise proclaimed their solidarity with Charlie and support of the right of free speech. It is expected that the forthcoming issue January 14 will sell over a million copies, twenty times more than average. The surviving journalists of Charlie hebdo garnered support worldwide, even from those who found the cartoons tasteless and vapid, in support of tolerance, not solely free speech.

So it is outrageous that one day before the murders in Paris we should see an example of American intolerance and lack of respect for the expression of unpopular opinions. Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was dismissed by the Mayor for views expressed in his book, Who told you that you were naked? 

An egregious violation of the Chief’s free-speech rights? Of course. But this kind of intolerant action in the name of tolerance is becoming less and less unusual. Did the Chief advocate murder of Muslims or something similarly vicious? His book merely stated that homosexual acts are sexual perversion. In the eyes of the Atlanta city administration this expression of Christian views amounts to “discrimination.”

Now it is apparent that Chief Cochran’s dismissal represents

  •  A violation of his free-speech rights
  • An intolerant act in the name of tolerance
  • Discrimination against Christians under guise of fighting discrimination

Chief Cochran expressed Biblical views about sexuality that Muslims agree with. Somehow we doubt that a Muslim city employee would be subject to such persecution for expression of the same beliefs. Muslims must now be a quasi legal ‘protected group,’ but it is always open season on Christians.   Troglo


The dismantling of marriage: the tactic of manipulating terminology

Let’s create a new aphorism: Who controls the terminology controls the debate.

A little background: the banishment of the formerly polite, neutral term, ‘negro.’ Those controlling the debate pushed the substitution of a new standard term, ‘black.’ Then followed the now universal ‘African-American’ or, on the coasts, ‘person of color.’ To refuse to be subject to this manipulation risks one’s being labelled ‘insensitive,’ which in this context means racist. And for conservatives, racism is the one accusation that cannot easily be shed. The group victimized by discrimination is putatively given the right to control terminology, though in fact control is actually wielded by the progressive forces behind the claims of discrimination. Continue reading