Friday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    Jerry Holdbrook

    Can you break critical race theory down in a thread please

    @michaelharriot

    This is damn near impossible. It’s like asking: “Can you briefly explain how the universe works?”

    However, there are some things people should know.

    A thread.

    First of all, you should know that critical theory, as a tool for examining social structures, has been around for more than a century.

    Broadly put, no social structure is perfect, and all social structures must be examined

    And we know that when you examine or “critique” something, especially a society, the critique is NEVER objective. It is always colored by the perspective of the observer. I know this sounds like something someone says when the edible kicked in, but here’s an example.
    Everyone knows America founded was founded on July 4, 1776. I don’t think there’s any debate about that.

    Except, there is.

    1776 was just the year a bunch of white guys wrote a breakup letter to King George saying the American colonies were tired of being England’s sidepiece.

    But that was on June 7, so America didn’t become a country then. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t even signed until August, after the Revolutionary War had been going on for over a year. And the war lasted until 1783. And the Constitution wasn’t ratified until June 21, 1788
    How was America founded before we became an official country?

    In fact, for years, Jefferson and Adams disagreed on the July 4 thing. In his papers, Adams told his wife it was July 2, 1776

    So what happened?

    Basically no one remembered.

    Happy Independence Day! John Adams predicted we would all celebrate Independence Day on July 2. What happened?
    On July 2, Congress declared independence. John Adams wrote the day “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” What happened?

    And if you ask the indigenous people of North America when this country was founded, they’d tell you there were cities, states and organized governments long before white people arrived.

    My point is: How we define “America” has always been determined by white people.
    In fact, enslaved Black people were not technically “Americans” until the passage of the 14th Amendment, which defined citizenship.

    If white people arbitrarily decided that America was founded in 1776, the only reason someone would argue with another date like… ummm…1619
    is if they were not “critically” examining history. Does that make sense?

    OK, here’s something else you should know:

    Not ONE SCINTILLA of what I just said has anything to do with Critical Race Theory.

    It’s just something white people disagree with
    Basically, CRT was first used to examine and study the law through the lens of race. But “critical theory,” doesn’t just examine social structures, nor should it. If the smart, educated arson investigators showed up to examine a fire, wouldn’t you want them to try to put it out?
    So CRT has a few premises.

    1. Racism exists: Because… duhhhh

    2. Racism is “ordinary”: This is the part that people get wrong. Tucker Carlson and Tim Scott would have you believe that CRT teaches that “America is a racist country” While that might be true, (and, IMO it is)…
    CRT does not say that. It proposes that racism is “ordinary,” or “not remarkable”

    For instance, everyone in the US does not carry the cold virus. But the reason that doctors don’t freak out when a patient has a cold is that they know having a cold is not remarkable. It is normal

    3. Racism and white supremacy serve a purpose: Racism exists because a certain segment of society benefits from its existence. And because it serves a purpose, white people don’t really have an incentive to get rid of it…EVEN IF THEY DON’T AGREE WITH IT.
    For instance, if you are in a boardroom or at Thanksgiving dinner and heard someone do or say something racist, you might think it’s despicable. But if you like your job, your position or simply didn’t want to upset your aunt Becky, you might not say anything.

    4. Race is a social construct: Now, here is where I have a slight (not major) disagreement. I would argue (and I have taught) that race is an ECONOMIC construct (and I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about supply, demand and the material manifestation of resources)

    But in any case, I agree that race is just some shit that people made up. It has no basis in science, biology or genetics. It’s arbitrary to believe a person from Southern Italy, a person from Eritrea, a person from Saudi Arabia & a person from Thailand are in 4 different races.

    5. The interpretation and socialization of races evolve. Irish and italians were once not considered to be “white people.” To keep a white majority, Hispanic people may soon be considered “white.” Also, what is Hispanic, anyway? How are Dominicans “Hispanic” but Haitians “Black”?

    How are Mexicans “Hispanic” but Pueblo Indians considered “Native American” just because they are separated by a river? I don’t know either

    Now, CRT was MOSTLY used to examine the law. For instance, to understand why enslaved Black people were counted as 3/5ths of a person in the constitution, you could point to the fact that there were more slaves in the South. You could look at congressional representation, or…

    You could say: “Oh yeah, there were only white men in the room when they agreed to include that in the Constitution.”

    And one of the things that critical race theory says is that the idea of race-neutral “colorblindness” actually invigorates white supremacy.

    How?
    Well, if white supremacy exists, and it is normal, and it benefits white people, then pretending as it doesn’t exist, failing to eradicate it, or acting as if it ISN’T normal not only allows white supremacy to flourish, it FURTHER NORMALIZES it.

    Take Plessy v. Ferguson for instance. For years, the US acted as if it was possible for public accommodations to be “separate but equal” because, the south believed in the idea of race, thought that separating races was “ordinary” and that policy benefitted white people.

    Until Brown v. Board said “separate cannot be equal,” white supremacy was so ordinary that we are STILL trying to undo its ordinariness.
    This is a VERY VERY simplified explanation, but ask yourself this:

    DO YOU THINK SOMEONE IS TEACHING THIS CONCEPT IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

    Hell no.

    What may be true is that there are people who learned CRT and looked at the way history is taught and said:
    “These books are filled with lies. They pretend to be colorblind but they don’t include a true perspective of history.”

    Now you can disagree but ask yourself:

    1. If it did not benefit white people, would the most powerful white men in the country fight so hard to preserve it?
    2. If racism and white supremacy weren’t “ordinary” then why do so many white people disagree with CRT while MOST Black people think it’s important?

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  2. Teve says:

    “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.”

    -E.O. Wilson

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  3. Teve says:
  4. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    For instance, everyone in the US does not carry the cold virus. But the reason that doctors don’t freak out when a patient has a cold is that they know having a cold is not remarkable. It is normal

    I’m not sure this analogy works. The reason doctors don’t freak out when someone has the cold isn’t because it’s “not remarkable,” but because it’s rarely deadly. Cancer is also “not remarkable,” but it’s certainly taken a lot more seriously than a cold, for obvious reasons. How common something is and how harmful are two entirely separate questions. And racism is far more comparable to a cancer than a cold.

    I love the rest of the analysis, though. Carry on.

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  5. Teve says:

    Even though this was posted in March, I didn’t see it until literally twelve oh one this morning and I went damn! one minute into the day and I have already seen the stupidest fucking thing I will see all day.

    @ACTBrigette

    First Lady Melania Trump is an American hero and every girl in this country should look up to her.

    She’s proof that you can come from a communist country and achieve the highest level of success in the United States.

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  6. Scott says:

    Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers

    High level officials:

    Election officials and their families are living with threats of hanging, firing squads, torture and bomb blasts, interviews and documents reveal. The campaign of fear, sparked by Trump’s voter-fraud falsehoods, threatens the U.S. electoral system.

    Some, like Raffensperger, are senior officials who publicly refused to bow to Trump’s demands to alter the election outcome. In Georgia, people went into hiding in at least three cases, including the Raffenspergers. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told Reuters she continues to receive death threats. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – a Democrat who faced armed protesters outside her home in December – is also still getting threats, her spokesperson said, declining to elaborate.

    Low level workers:

    But many others whose lives have been threatened were low- or mid-level workers, just doing their jobs.

    Texas voter suppression law (which didn’t pass but will return in a special session) allows this:

    allow poll watchers “free movement” within a polling place, except for being present at a voting station when a voter is filling out their ballot. It also makes it a criminal offense for an election worker to “distance or obstruct the view of a watcher in a way that makes observation reasonably ineffective.”

    Poll workers are typically temporary workers, mostly retirees, who, while paid, would gladly volunteer as a civic duty. They are people I know in the neighborhood. Given the shenanigans poll watchers engage in, there will be criminal accusations against the workers. I suspect there will be a shortage of these folks because they just won’t put up with it.

    This is the assault on the election system at the granular level.

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  7. Mikey says:

    @Teve: Great thread, I read that earlier this morning. Herriot added the link to this piece later on:

    Why White People Hate Critical Race Theory, Explained

    Is that why they hate Critical Race Theory?

    Nah. They don’t know what it is.

    Whenever words “white people” or “racism” are even whispered, Caucasian Americans lose their ability to hear anything else. If America is indeed the greatest country in the world, then any criticism of their beloved nation is considered a personal attack—especially if the criticism comes from someone who is not white.

    They are fine with moving toward a “more perfect union” or the charge to “make America great again.” But an entire field of Black scholarship based on the idea that their sweet land of liberty is inherently racist is too much for them to handle.

    However, if someone is complicit in upholding a racist policy—for whatever reason—then they are complicit in racism. And if an entire country’s resistance to change—for whatever reason —creates more racism, then “racist” is the only way to accurately describe that society.

    If they don’t know what it is, then how can they criticize it?

    Have you met white people?

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  8. CSK says:

    From Salon, by way of Raw Story:

    http://www.rawstory.com/trump-mental-health-2653288928/

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  9. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    As with anything Trump, one should never assume one has seen the stupidest fucking thing one may see in the course of the day.

    I will concede that’s a good contender.

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    CRT has the same problem as Defund the Police. Neither can be explained to non-academics in a comprehensible way. CRT will inevitably be dumbed down to ‘white people bad,’ and Defund translates as, ‘surrender to crime.’

    I read through that whole Twitter thread and still don’t know what the fuck CRT is in any practical sense. I know it makes a great red meat sandwich for the Right, but what does it actually do? What does it change? What does it make better? Because to be honest it translates to me as exonerating the individual racist while focusing attention on ‘institutions’ which is another word no one understands. What does the individual voter (or non-voter) do about institutional racism?

    Dear White Voter: You are a bad person because racism is institutional which means it’s, I don’t know, um, about churches and schools and Wall Street and stuff that happened a long time ago and had nothing to do with you, but you’re still a bad, bad person.

    We can’t get people to understand herd immunity but they’re going to understand critical race theory? This is one of those things academics come up with and think is terribly clever, but has no applicability in the real world, no relevance to individuals, and ends up irritating the hell out of people for no worthwhile end result. In fact it’s practically guaranteed to do more harm than good, just like Defund.

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  11. CSK says:

    This is good. I had never thought of comparing Trump to the Jacobites, but it’s quite apt.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/will-trumpism-go-way-jacobites/619176/

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  12. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds: here’s the thing, though—unlike “Defund the police,” which came into public view from activist circles, CRT wasn’t something the left was pushing out to the public. It’s like the trans bathroom bills being blamed on the left. That controversy didn’t arise with the left, but the right. It was the right that made trans people using bathrooms that match their gender identity an issue, brought it out in public and started screaming about it. The right is doing the same with CRT. It’s even more insidious, because they’re seeking to redefine anything that discusses or addresses racism at all as CRT and therefore something to ban. (Saw a tweet today from a right wing pundit that said that anyone using words like racial justice, racial equity or diversity is promoting CRT).

    I don’t know what the answer is to the right’s bad faith takes on it, but it’s not to blame the left for pushing CRT on a non-woke public, because we didn’t.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Monala:
    I think CRT is being pushed by the Left across social media. I don’t spend my time reading academic journals, nor do I follow right-wing media, and yet I’ve heard about it a lot from people on the left, and almost always in the most imperious tones. Lots of things I ‘must understand’. Must is a very big word for progressives.

    From a writer’s perspective ‘must’ is a stupid word choice because the immediate retort form any person with spirit is, ‘fuck you,’ which renders that stentorian imperative impotent. It’s like when employers would say, ‘you can’t just quit,’ as I was walking out the door. Fewer demands, more persuasion would be helpful.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Monala:
    And if I had an edit function, I’d add to the above that CRT is being pushed into schools, which is absolutely pushing it on the public.

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  15. Kylopod says:

    @Monala:

    It was the right that made trans people using bathrooms that match their gender identity an issue, brought it out in public and started screaming about it.

    Also, as I mentioned in the other thread, it’s far from clear that the bathroom issue has hurt Dems politically.

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  16. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds: who is pushing it in the schools and how?

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  17. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Wow. I never thought I’d see the day you would credulously accept the right’s bad-faith bullshit take on something. Disappointing.

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  18. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds: people on the left are saying that they want to understand CRT because they are hearing a lot about it and don’t know what it is. That doesn’t mean they’ve been pushing it onto the public. Likewise with schools: a lot of school districts are coming up with these CRT bans, but I’ve yet to see evidence of K-12 teachers teaching it — and if it is being taught at all it’s likely in a high level class like AP US history.

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  19. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’d add to the above that CRT is being pushed into schools

    Like Monala, I’d like actual examples of who, and how CRT is being pushed. Perhaps an example of the CRT syllabus that is being forced.

    IMO, what is feared here is that vulnerable children might be exposed to (as an example):
    “Until the US Constitution was amended, it was the institutional view of the United States that negros were not entitled to vote because the negro was ,,,,, chattel property and therefore not fully human.”

    We certainly don’t want our children to see our blemishes.

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  20. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’d add to the above that CRT is being pushed into schools,

    Which tells me you have no idea whatsoever what the term meant before the GOP and Fox news morphed it into demonized buzzwords.

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  21. George says:

    @Mikey:

    If they don’t know what it is, then how can they criticize it?

    Have you met white people?

    Or any people on almost any subject that might effect them? Ask people about say teaching evolution in schools or climate change — or Covid and vaccinations. Everyone’s got an opinion, but few any expertise. I’m not even sure that’s a bad thing, better to allow some people to spend their time claiming the earth is flat and perpetual motion machines are possible (ie the laws of thermodynamics aren’t true) than persecuting people for suggesting heliocentric models of the solar system.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Dealing with a wifely dental emergency so phone only and my thumb is old. I used ‘schools’ in the sense of college not elementary schools FFS which only barely teach even the thinnest sort of history and AFAIK are nowhere near anything that might be called a theory. I’d be thrilled if schools in the elementary sense taught any sort of history. And CRT is clearly becoming a regular part of college curricula.

    I’ll address all the condescension above when I have a keyboard with punctuation.

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  23. Teve says:

    Conversation
    Sam Metz
    @metzsam

    A group wants Washoe County teachers to wear body cameras to ensure parents that no “critical race theory” is being taught in classrooms.

    Clearly we should just message better to these reasonable people.

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  24. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    Clearly we should just message better to these reasonable people.

    Well. At least this thread is safe from crows.

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  25. Scott says:

    @Teve: This was suggested (on Next Door) by a busybody senior citizen (age 73 with not even a grandchild) who out of boredom decided to get involved in school district affairs. Said since we are all used to zoom classrooms why not leave the cameras on so we can monitor what the teacher is doing. And there was a clear reference to CRT. Basically, other parents said, “Hell No, I don’t give permission for my child to be on camera”. Subtext, you creepy old man.

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  26. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Well… He seems nice.

    “Some people, at the highest levels, need to be made an example of: an execution or two or three,” Hostetter told his audience. “Tyrants and traitors need to be executed as an example so nobody pulls this shit again.

    Question is: Does he still feel that way? Now that HE is the one arrested for insurrection? Does he realize that HE is the traitor of which he spoke?

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/alan-hostetter-capitol-attack-arrest-fbi_n_60c27653e4b0e6bab7a5a0be?v6o

    Silly MAGA. You were lied to. Bigly.

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  27. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    Well, he can always argue that he was one of those pathetic little saps grievously misled and manipulated by Trump, as his fellow bold insurrectionists are doing.

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  28. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I used ‘schools’ in the sense of college not elementary schools

    Ok, appreciate that clarification.
    Thing is that many of the “bans” on CRT are directed at k-12. Obviously some legislators are concerned about CRT being discussed in the K-12 setting.

    (personally, I feel that by the time a person has the right and privilege to vote (collegiate age), they should not have politicians dictating what they can be exposed to.)

    Best wishes to your wife.

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  29. just nutha says:

    @charon: It seems to me that many people on this forum are not anywhere near as liberal as they’d like to believe they are. Michael Reynolds is one of them.

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  30. Teve says:

    Ed Yong
    @edyong209
    Replying to
    @edyong209

    I’ll be splitting the prize money between everyone who worked on my pieces last year—every editor, copy editor, fact checker, artist, and more. Even when individuals win Pulitzers, their work depends on a community. I want to honor mine.

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  31. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    To quote from your post:

    If they don’ know what it is, then how can they criticize it?

    Have you met white people?”

    The strong implication there is that white people are too stupid, vicious, and/or corrupt to understand CRT. It also suggests that they never will understand it, so why bother to explain it?

    Issuing a blanket condemnation of people is not the way to win their hearts and minds.

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  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ll address all the condescension above when I have a keyboard with punctuation.

    Uh oh, here comes another Reynolds Rant about he’s more authentic than all of us because he spent a night in holding 40 years ago.

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  33. Mikey says:

    @CSK: If you read what Herriot wrote after that question, you’ll see that isn’t what he meant.

    When has not knowing stuff ever stopped them from criticizing anything? They still think Colin Kaepernick was protesting the anthem, the military and the flag. They believe Black Lives Matter means white lives don’t. There aren’t any relevant criticisms other than they don’t like the word “racism” and “white people” anywhere near each other.

    Plenty of white people understand CRT. But doing so requires accepting some pretty uncomfortable truths about American history and how we benefit from social and legal structures in ways Americans of color do not. Nearly all the white people who criticize CRT are not prepared to do those things.

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  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    OK, I have a keyboard.

    First, ‘schools’ came out because I was thinking colleges and universities, and then paused to wonder if that was redundant, and then took a brain side trip into Brits referring to ‘Uni’ and using ‘college’ in what I assume is its original way to mean a school within a Uni, followed by wondering what ‘Lyceé’ means in practice, only to be interrupted by my wife yelling, ‘they have an opening, can we make it there in 20 minutes?’ Inartful language choice obviously, but I just never imagined elementary schools as having a dog in the fight since I know a little about history curricula in grade schools and a little is all there is to know.

    That said, and slightly OT, there is a larger issue here, and it has a lot to do with narrative. I’ve been concerned, and written about it here and elsewhere, that this country in which expansion into various frontiers is a key story element, has lost its plot. The American narrative is no longer what it was. The narrative with which progressives are attempting to replace that narrative, isn’t so much a story as self-flagellation. Critique and re-assessment is not narrative. And yes, it sounds self-serving, but people need a story. We are not people of a race, we are people of an idea.

    What we have now is a fight over narrative. The Right wants to hold onto its liturgy. The Left wants to erase that creaky but inspirational storyline by shining the harshest possible light on it. ‘America was founded on racism,’ is clickbait for intellectuals. It’s also reductionist nonsense. This country wasn’t founded on any single idea or practice, it was founded by multiple individuals and multiple groups with a plethora of motivations, but if you wanted a single word to define the driving motivation of this country’s founding, that word would be money, not racism. Racism served money, not the other way around. But there was also religion, and adventure and yes, even idealism.

    Now, before someone upstream decides to tsk tsk that I’m not a true liberal – because there’s nothing the Left likes better than a good heretic hunt – I’ve put my time and money where my mouth is. I wrote a 1500 page trilogy that was an alt history of WW2 that presupposed women in combat without diminishing either the sexism or the racism of the US in the 1940’s. I wrote about Tulsa before the Watchmen or Lovecraft shows. I’m trying in my own limited way to come up with a narrative that is neither lazy hero worship nor a hair shirt. There are two things about the Left’s assault on the Divine National Bullshit that drive a lot of Americans crazy: one is that they have the facts, and people don’t generally love facts. The other is that they don’t know how to tell a story. They only know how to shame, heap scorn and wallow in guilt.

    Well, you don’t make a narrative out of the spectacle of intellectuals lecturing on the sins of the past. Backstory has to be a part of Story, it’s not the whole story unless you’re writing an obituary. And yes, again, we need a narrative, a unifying narrative, a set of common assumptions and beliefs. That narrative has to be the truth as we know it, and it also has to be generous and hopeful. If you go carryin’ pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

    Your average Joe sees us, us Lefty smart-asses, coming up with a theory that has an acadamese name, and they combine that with SF schools canceling Abraham Lincoln, and students forcing professors to apologize for the sin of opposing anti-semitism without acknowledging the suffering of the Palestinians, and they think we’re fucking crazy. And not just crazy, but imperious and arrogant to boot.

    If you want people to change, you have to give them more than the stick of scorn. You have to paint a picture of where we’re going: Carrot Country. If that picture looks like a Brown University liberal arts teach-in catered by the vegan society, that’s not going to work. I say this as a professional when it comes to creating narratives: bleak, miserable self-denial with regular lashings does not work outside of certain fetishes.

    Our job is not to be right, our job is to protect the lives and rights of people who can’t do it alone. The Backstory may be genocide, racism and greed, but the Story is: Here’s how everything is going to be amazing. Hope isn’t rational, but it is powerful.

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  35. CSK says:

    @Mikey:
    But the rest of Harriot’s message isn’t being conveyed very well, is it? By which I don’t mean that Harriot himself isn’t conveying it; it’s that the message itself isn’t getting out there.

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  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    The strong implication there is that white people are too stupid, vicious, and/or corrupt to understand CRT.

    You missed one: That so many white people just don’t care because it’s not their problem.

    It also suggests that they never will understand it,

    Because they don’t care. Why should they? Things are working out great for them right now.

    so why bother to explain it?

    Why try explaining shit to people who don’t f’n care?

    Issuing a blanket condemnation of people is not the way to win their hearts and minds.

    This is where one should follow Jim Wright’s advice to insert an Emergency Not All.

    ____________________
    …not all…
    _____________________

    Break glass and insert “not all” into any tweet where I’ve used a general label to generally describe a general group, sex, ideology, religion, or population.

    And when it comes to the tender hearts and snowflake minds of white people who can’t take even the slightest criticism without cries of persecution, screw that. They need to grow the Fck up.

    And we haven’t even touched on all the white people who will fight to the death for the racist status quo.

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  37. JohnSF says:

    @CSK:
    The Trumpkin/Jacobite analogy had occurred to me (I have a vague feeling I might have mentioned it in passing here at some point), but then I’m a British history nerd.

    Thing is, you’d best hope the analogy is mistaken.
    The path to, and consequences of, suppressing the Jacobites in the UK involved such unpleasantness as the Glorious Revolution (or the unacknowledged Dutch Conquest, LOL), King William’s wars in Ireland, the risings/invasions of 1715, 1719 and 1745, the Protestant Ascendancies, the Penal Laws, the breaking of the clans, arguably in part the Clearances etc etc.

    And even today the poison lingers on; the anti-Jacobite Orangists still march in Belfast.

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  38. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    What you’re saying is that this is an insoluble problem.

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  39. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    I know. I had an ancestor who was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Dublin for taking part in the ’45.

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  40. Teve says:

    Jason Campbell
    @JasonSCampbell

    Doubling down from yesterday, Newsmax guest calls for high school student who said “Allah” during the Pledge of Allegiance to be criminally investigated:

    “I’m calling on the state attorney general to look into this”

    We Democrats just need to rephrase what we say, I’m sure we can get through to this guy.

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  41. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I wrote about Tulsa before the Watchmen or Lovecraft shows.

    It took until 2020 for a black person to be given the chance to do shows about the Tulsa Massacre from her community’s perspective, and MR somehow thinks this represents a ding against Misha Green…

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  42. EddieInCA says:

    @Teve:

    If Democrats started acting more like Republicans, all the country’s problems would disappear.

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  43. JohnSF says:

    Thinking about the politics of anti-Jacobitism (according to one tradition) and anti-Catholicism and/or English domination (according to another) and the analogies with the Trumpist/fundi-Evangelical/Q-anon strain.

    And the other topic of “critical race theory” and the tensions between aspirations to justice and the political impications of minimising opposiion.

    The question is, what this the most effective way of dealing with an entrenched ideological opponent while minimising the potential of persistent mutual enmity.
    Never mind the immediate dangers of an opponents electoral victory.
    (Or in 18th century Britain, military victory)

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  44. JohnSF says:

    @Teve:
    Michael Harriot:

    How are Dominicans “Hispanic” but Haitians “Black”?

    Well, that’s easy enough: Dominicans are grouped as “Hispanic” because they speak Spanish; Haitians aren’t because they speak French.

    (Not to mention a long history of Dominican and Haitian mutual antipathy)

    You could group Haitians with French Canadians, Cajuns, and Guianans as “Western Hemisphere Francophones” I suppose.

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  45. just nutha says:

    @EddieInCA: Or the country would be burned to the ground, depending on how one defines “started acting more like Republicans.”

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  46. JohnSF says:

    Also, I wonder how Michael Harriot would answer a rather naive question: if the established power structures absolutely entrenched racialised dominance, how did Brown v. Board… occur in the first place?

    I honestly do not know if this is the case with CRT, but a lot of other “critical theory” concepts have a problem of working toward an effectively pre-ordained endpoint.
    That is, that injustice is so embedded in the structures of society (small print usual reads “capitalist society” but emphasis varies) that individuals are almost incapable of breaking free of their ideological priors, and a wholesale reconstruction of unjust society is required.
    And that gets a bit tricky.

    Some problems, both analytical/historical, and political, spring to mind:
    Starting with the basic one of, as I said, how can the existence and successes of meliorative policies be explained?

    And perhaps ending with: that projects of radical social reconstruction often fail to achieve adequate consensus, hence require problematic levels of coercion, and therefore have a tendency to collapse either into failure or into “poisonous success” (eg the supression of Jacobitism and many, many other examples.)

    Maybe don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.
    Or maybe not.
    I don’t know.

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  47. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JohnSF:

    One could argue that the answer is that in some sense, Brown v. Board of Education didn’t happen. That is, while explicit segregation was eliminated, politics also blocked any attempt at remedy so schools are by and large nearly as segregated today as they were in 1954.

    So to answer you question, a lot of people are fine with racism just as long as it’s not too obvious about it. You can kind of see this in the Never-Trump Republicans. They don’t really have policy differences from the MAGA wing of the party, they just don’t like that Trump was so open about what was really motivating a lot of these policies.

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  48. Mikey says:

    @JohnSF:

    Well, that’s easy enough: Dominicans are grouped as “Hispanic” because they speak Spanish; Haitians aren’t because they speak French.

    Whether intentionally or not, you’ve proven Herriot’s point.

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  49. CSK says:

    @Mikey:
    It’s Harriot.

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  50. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Well, that’s easy enough: Dominicans are grouped as “Hispanic” because they speak Spanish; Haitians aren’t because they speak French.

    So if a Dominican moves to Montreal, their children raised there will magically have become Haitian?

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  51. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Yes; but if you take CRT to it’s logical conclusions (as I, admittedly on superficial and at near-first encounter basis, am doing): why bother being “not too obvious about it.”?
    Why not; “…hey, we’re racists, loud ‘n’ proud, and the Supreme Court hereby reinstitutes formal bondage”?
    How does CRT explain countervailing impulses achieving any judicial, political or social leverage in an unrecontructed society?
    Bearing in mind that most other “critical theories” are predicated on the necessity of social reconstruction.

    OK, so maybe the Supremes are a sufficiently small and enlightened group to be explained, somehow or other, as cutting loose from their social grounding.
    But how in heck do you explain the Civil Rights Acts?

    I’d need to look into it more, but CRT on first glance seems to me to have some problems in accounting for actual historical events.

    Reminds me a bit of “Old School” Communists problems accounting for post-war social-democratic polities, or Libertarians incapacity to get to grips with modern social-market economics.
    It indicates some basic problems in the underlying axioms.

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  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Well, there are a whole lot of stupid white people who think their feelings are what is most important in this discussion, and that until their feelings are addressed they aren’t even going to bother *listening* to what black people have to say.

    **and here’s the funny thing, it’s all out there. If one wants to learn about CRT all one has to do is google it, go read what comes up. Harriot is good but there are others. If one does do so… Surprise! It’s not settled. People still argue over the ifs, ands, and buts. But one can get a pretty good feel for what it means and how it interprets US history. IF one puts in just a little bit of effort.

    Sigh… Yeah, asking white people to exert a little effort, to push at the boundaries of their comfortable lives, just to see a little bit of another person’s reality.

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  53. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Why did Jefferson keep slaves after years writing about how bad slavery was? Because it’s easy to be against slavery in the abstract, but when there’s an immediate material cost to being against it, suddenly it’s hard to follow through. So instead he went to a significant effort to design Monticello so that the slaves would be largely invisible.

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: if the established power structures absolutely entrenched racialised dominance, how did Brown v. Board… occur in the first place?

    Do you actually think Brown v Board ended “separate but equal”? That was the beginning of white flight. So that the “established power structures” shrugged and said, “free market.”

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  55. Jax says:
  56. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    It’s Harriot.

    Did I mention I’ve been watching a new series of “All Creatures Great and Small” and have James Herriot on the brain? 🙂

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  57. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Depends what they think, primarily, I’d say.
    And secondly, what the local social consensus is (or consensuses? consensi? whatever) seeing as peoples identities are often, like or not, socially defined.

    If a Haitian moves to Mexico, do their children become Dominican?
    Back-formation of national identity is rather unlikely; said Dominican-Canadian is going to identify as Canadian more likely than as Haitian, I’d have thought.
    (And that’s assuming they became Francophone at all, regardless of Quebecois best efforts in that regard.)

    Thing is, Haitians and Dominicans consider themselves to be different, and have different histories.
    How much and how long this might persist in third countries would tend to vary lot, and depending on a lot of variables.

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  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Luck favors the prepared mind.

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  59. JohnSF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Do you actually think Brown v Board ended “separate but equal”?

    No I don’t.
    I think it merely made a start to a limited and grudging erosion of the formalised structures of post-Reconstruction White supremacy.
    And didn’t begin to deal with the “informal” separate-but-unequal found in the segregations of the Northern cities.

    My point is, though, if racial dominance was as entrenched as CRT seems (on my first impressions) to be implying it has NO coherent way of explaining Brown at all. Or any “white” concessions whatsoever.

    I’m not saying racialism was not, and is not, a massive issue.
    I am saying that at first glance CRT seems inadequate as an explanation, and is therefore rather likely to have flaws in its remedies.

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  60. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    A white guy who works full-time but struggles to pay the bills probably doesn’t see his life as “comfortable.” Perspective, as I said the other day in another context, is everything.

    I repeat: The problem is insoluble.

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  61. JohnSF says:

    @Mikey:
    Maybe; or maybe not.
    I’m not entirely sure what points Herriot is aiming to prove.
    My point is that identity is primarily historically contingent, and liable to a mix of personal and social factors that vary a lot depending on the environment.

    There is no “Haitian” or “Dominican” “race” that can be defined with sharp edges (like a lot of things to do with human language, we tend to mistake a convenient label for a inherent reality).

    But, socially, Dominicans and Haitians seem to think there is a difference.
    And as in a lot of human things, once the social construct is generally accepted, it becomes an effective reality.
    Nationality is both a shared “construct” and one of the most powerful forces in modern history.
    But one that can break down and reform if circumstances change.

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  62. George says:

    @CSK:

    A white guy who works full-time but struggles to pay the bills probably doesn’t see his life as “comfortable.” Perspective, as I said the other day in another context, is everything.

    Nor would a white guy who can’t find work and is living on the streets. Generalizations about all white people are as useful as generalizations about all people of any race (ie completely useless).

    Class (ie how much wealth you have) is a better indicator of comfort than any other measure. Race is tied strongly to class (ie more minorities are poor than whites), but the determining factor is still wealth — Oprah is living more comfortably than some white street person.

    Interestingly enough that even applies to things like being killed by police — over 1000 people are killed in America by police every year, about half of them white, which is only a third the rate that they kill Blacks and Indigenous people. Want to make a bet on how many of those 1000 are rich people? I suspect billionaires are killed by police at one thousandths (if that) of the rate of poor people.

    Racism is horrible. Classism is just as bad, though saying that in America means you’re a communist.

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  63. Teve says:

    Dear White Voter: You are a bad person because racism is institutional which means it’s, I don’t know, um, about churches and schools and Wall Street and stuff that happened a long time ago and had nothing to do with you, but you’re still a bad, bad person.

    I’m gonna edit this but leave in the parts that Critical Race Theory actually says.

    Dear White Voter: You are a bad person because racism is institutional which means it’s, I don’t know, um, about churches and schools and Wall Street and stuff that happened a long time ago and had nothing to do with you, but you’re still a bad, bad person.

    Things I’ve read about CRT are entirely different than this take. CRT says a system can produce a racist outcome even if a person involved in that outcome would find racism abhorrent. Blame Whitey First is simply not what it’s about.

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  64. CSK says:

    @George:
    I agree.

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  65. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Why did Jefferson keep slaves
    But does that depend on race rather than just being a selfish bastard when it comes done to any economic inconvenience?
    I’m reminded of some late-Classical/early-Christian era cases who were philosophically persuaded slavery was wrong; but did not allow that to affect their behaviour.
    Or for that matter the Medieval slave trade of pagan east Europeans to North African markets by Italian middlemen.
    (The origin of the ethnic category “Slavs”, incidentally.)

    Race is not necessarily a factor require to explain being a callous, self-serving bastard.

    The development of “racialised slavery” in the Modern era is of course a very real thing, with especially pernicious consequences, which modern America is still ridden with.
    So, Jefferson was probably a selfish, racist sod, who at least had the half-formed conscience to try to hide the reality from himself.

    A bit like the whole host society of “white” Europe/America in that period, in fact.

    As I say, I don’t disagree with CRT in seeing the society of that time as racist; and its legacies being profoundly problematic. But it looks to me that CRT is making the social structures too determinant.
    Again, if so, why would Jefferson have even entertained the idea that slavery was bad in the first place?
    After all, that is surely contrary to his economic interest and social position?

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  66. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    irritating the hell out of people for no worthwhile end result.

    Maybe people should control themselves more effectively.

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  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: My point is, though, if racial dominance was as entrenched as CRT seems (on my first impressions) to be implying it has NO coherent way of explaining Brown at all. Or any “white” concessions whatsoever.

    CRT does NOT say there wasn’t “a limited and grudging erosion of the formalized structures of post-Reconstruction White supremacy”. It says, “So what? The informal structures of post-Reconstruction White supremacy has changed not at all/near enough.”

    JFC, spend a day out here among among my neighbors and just try to have a discussion about race. Are things better? Sure. They no longer *threaten to shoot the little nigra* for coming into their yard to retrieve his ball. But they still do everything they can to make their father/mother want to live elsewhere.

    ** true story, from 1990s small town just down the road

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  68. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: A white guy who works full-time but struggles to pay the bills probably doesn’t see his life as “comfortable.”

    Of course not, but he doesn’t get pulled over, dragged out of his car and tasered for having a burnt out tail light either, does he? He probably doesn’t get shot for holding a cell phone either. He probably can get a fair assessment of his house without taking extraordinary measures too.

    Once again, all it takes is putting forth a little effort to see how it is for the other. To imagine what it is like to be George Floyd, drunk/high trying to buy a soda and using a fake $20 bill somebody pawned off on you that you were too high to even notice (it’s been a few decades but yeah, I been there a time or 2 when I was so stupid I couldn’t tell) and having a cop kneel on your neck until you were dead.

    It’s been a bit, I think it was right after George Floyd was killed, but it might very well have been after some other unarmed black man was killed by the cops (hard to keep them straight ever since the cops lost control of the narrative) but there was an STL cop killed and his partner was wounded trying to rescue him by a home invasion psycho who lay in wait for them.

    The psycho was captured alive.

    You can do the racial math.

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  69. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    Things I’ve read about CRT are entirely different than this take. CRT says a system can produce a racist outcome even if a person involved in that outcome would find racism abhorrent. Blame Whitey First is simply not what it’s about.

    Ding!

    I get why people skip over my long posts. But I did a decent job explaining the basics of CRT and CLS a couple weeks ago.

    Is there more to both of them? Yes.

    Would it make my post much longer, less likely to be read, and require more work on my part for less payoff? Very much yes on all counts.

    The point is, the pragmatists like Reynolds refuse to even attempt to figure it out. He’s correct that critical theory and the various postmodernist views suffer from a lack of practical steps to take. This is a point I tried to make to Michael over a year ago–that waving away aspects of it as virtue signaling is a fundamental misunderstanding of why the younger crowd engage in the behaviors he criticizes.

    And it’s a simplified, politicized version of the concept of biological signaling, but that’s a related subject not worth exploring atm.

    But maybe if those oriented toward pragmatism did more to understand these concepts, we could find workable solutions.

    Expecting description and analysis to be easy when the object of study is an organism whose behavior we barely understand that interacts within its species to form a structure of accelerating complexity is a fool’s errand. Not to mention that the structure formed also changes the constituent individuals within it.

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  70. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Sure. You can see that. I can see that. But…there’s a group of people, not small, who are going to interpret that as a claim that they themselves are being held personally responsible for George Floyd’s death.

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  71. JohnSF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It says, “So what? The informal structures of post-Reconstruction White supremacy has changed not at all/near enough.”

    Well, that seems true, according to the accounts I have read: IANAA (“I am not an American) but I’ll surely take your word for it.
    Heaven knows there is still plenty of racism embedded in British society that needs dealing with.

    I’m NOT arguing they are mistaken in terms of desiring justice.

    I’m primarily being picky over CRT underlying explanations for it. Again, this is based on a limited exposure to CRT; but it seems highly likely to share similarities with other critical theory types: a basic over-estimate of material interest as the motivator of social systems.
    A lot of critical theory seems to me to be a transfer of economics into social analysis that downplays other aspects.
    Again, it seems unable, in its own terms, to explain how a racialised society could even begin to change at all, even slightly.
    And that may lead to flaws in how remedying injustice is best achieved politically.

    But that is something that you Americans will have a much more informed view on than I ever can.

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  72. Monala says:

    @JohnSF: but entrenched doesn’t mean absolute. It never has. There were some free blacks living in the south during the pre-Civil War years. Does that mean slavery wasn’t entrenched in the south?

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on CRT, but the absolutist statements that people make about it seem uninformed. As far as I can understand, CRT doesn’t say all white people are oppressors, or the US is irredeemably evil, or no progress is possible.

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  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: But…there’s a group of people, not small, who are going to interpret that as a claim that they themselves are being held personally responsible for George Floyd’s death.

    And I am so very very tired of them and their white fragility.

    @JohnSF: Again, it seems unable, in its own terms, to explain how a racialised society could even begin to change at all, even slightly.

    I am tired, and how much of it is due to a very long day and how much is due to never seeming to make any real progress, I don’t know. I saw deseg race riots in the mid 70s and here we are, almost 50 years later still arguing over the same damn things. For 8 years we had a black president and apparently we felt the need to assuage the hurt feelings of the racists so we gave them 4 yrs of trump.

    I’m gonna have a nice soup and salad, scritch my dogs, and go to sleep. I’ll feel better in the AM, I always do.

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  74. Monala says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: thank you for trying.

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  75. Teve says:

    @oliverdarcy

    Tucker Carlson says he agrees with the idea that the coronavirus was created in a lab and intentionally released by China to damage the world.

    I’m not a virologist but I know one and several biologists, and based on everything I’ve read and heard, I’m about 90% likely zoonotic infection, 9% accidental lab leak, <one percent bioweapon.

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  76. Mimai says:

    It’s been mentioned that many people have not actually read – shallowly, much less deeply – about CRT. So their “understanding” of it is superficial at best and more often warped by their primary informational sources. This comports with my experience.

    I do wonder how many people have a medium to deep understanding of CRT. I’m talking about people who advocate for CRT. It seems to me that their understanding is largely gleaned from wikipedia. Maybe 1 or 2 other sources too…..if we’re talking about the committed. Don’t get me wrong, wikipedia is great. But it’s wikipedia. If my suspicion is correct, a lot of self styled experts or advocates of CRT have a rather shallow understanding themselves.

    [Sidebar: This is not unique to CRT or its advocates. This is universal. So please don’t interpret what I write as judgmental. I don’t mean it to be. Rather, I mean it to be descriptive…from my point of view, natch.]

    Sure, their understanding is deeper than many of their interlocutors. But that is a rather low bar. How many folks can – without too much effort – rattle off 3-5 of the strongest points against CRT?

    Even better, how many can rattle off the strongest critiques from the “right” and then juxtapose those against the strongest critiques from the “left”? [I’m hoping people don’t avoid this question by perseverating on the terms “right” vs. “left”…….you know what I mean.]

    I suspect that the former (“right” critique) is difficult, but perhaps doable for some. I suspect that the later (“left” critique) hasn’t even occurred to many/most. An honest self reflection on these matters should foster some humility and hopefully motivate some further learning.

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  77. Kurtz says:

    @JohnSF:

    I’m primarily being picky over CRT underlying explanations for it. Again, this is based on a limited exposure to CRT; but it seems highly likely to share similarities with other critical theory types: a basic over-estimate of material interest as the motivator of social systems.
    A lot of critical theory seems to me to be a transfer of economics into social analysis that downplays other aspects.

    But I think we can say that 20th century economics makes the same mistake in terms of ignoring everything but economic decisions. Rather than seeing economics as one lens through which to view society, as a discipline it has sought to “discover” laws that describe an ideal social order. This object–a natural market that exists outside society and can be described and measured like we can describe the motion of a launched object via Newton’s laws of motion–is as real as the fountain of youth.

    When economists attempt an interdisciplinary approach, it becomes more difficult to apply the scientific method and introduces more avenues of bias. But it’s still viewed as objective.

    Placing economics as outside the realm of political structures rather than viewing them as interdependent and interconnected results in absurd claims such as Friedman’s view that classical liberalism’s strong property rights as the catalyst for rising living standards. Meaning, he completely disregarded the liberalization of political rights that occurred almost simultaneously.

    I think the natural reply from a critical theorist to your objection (put much more delicately than many who make it) would be that understanding how our institutions and the behavior they produce maintain existing power relations is the all important first step to finding concrete solutions. But criticizing it on the grounds that it doesn’t offer a solution is an error because they never claimed it to be a sufficient corrective, but intended it as a diagnosis that must be heeded in order to find an effective treatment.

    To put it more sharply, objecting to its lack of alternatives dooms all proposed pragmatic solutions to failure, because they don’t address the institutional designs that maintain an oppressive system:

    Critical Legal Studies=indictment of the concept of blind justice/demonstrating juridical and judicial processes are not neutral

    Critical Race Theory=indictment of the notion of colorblind institutions/demonstrating that both public legal practices and private economic institutions are not neutral in terms of race

    The only path to real solutions is to recognize the non-neutral architecture in those institutions.

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  78. EddieInCA says:

    @JohnSF:

    I’m Dominican from both my mother and father. My mother’s side of the family goes directly back to Juan Pablo Duarte. He’s my Great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. We have Dominicans that are black. And they’re called black. I have first cousins who are darker than Idris Elba and other first cousins who are lighter than Taylor Swift.

    The majority of Hatians are black. The majority of Dominicans are not. It’s not hard.

    But you can same the same about Puerto Ricans and Cubans. There are many who are black.

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  79. EddieInCA says:

    @Kurtz:

    I read every single one of your posts, regardless of length, because I usually learn something I didn’t know from most of them. So, from me, thank you.

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  80. Kurtz says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Thank you and you’re welcome! I do my best to provide some semblance of reliable explanations. Most of the time, it’s a matter of refreshing things I haven’t read in a long time.

    A group of commenters I wish posted more:

    You, @Jim Brown 32, @Andy, @HarvardLaw92, @Lounsbury, @Cheryl Rofer, @JohnSF, @DeD

    It’s a diverse group from ideological and experiential perspectives.

    At times I allow some of them to get under my skin, but they always provide valuable insight and bring serious knowledge to the table. And I’m not one that has a ton of room to criticize habitual line-stepping.

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  81. JohnSF says:

    @EddieInCA:
    I’ll second that; I usually get in interesting perspective from @Kurtz:
    And that last on critical theory is well worth a long ponder.
    I hope I don’t get under your skin too often; I know a fair bit about American history but only second hand, not as lived experience.
    So I have been known to fundamental fails in interpreting things American.
    Because my social and political assumptions often remain basically British/European, except where the differences are so prominent they ARE the subject (e.g. guns, evangelicalism etc)
    So don’t hesitate to pull me up short when I’m getting something basic wrong.

    @EddieInCA:
    I had a feeling that in addition to the language thing, racial differences were a factor; but was uncertain so did not mention that.
    I wonder, and perhaps you would know: would black Cubans in the mainland USA get identified/self-identify as black or Hispanic?

    Also just googled Juan Pablo Duarte.
    Wow; I vaguely knew that there was a history of tensions between the two countries, but not that Dominica had fought an actual war of independence against Haiti!
    Yet another example of the limits of my knowledge of the histories of the Americas.

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  82. George says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Of course not, but he doesn’t get pulled over, dragged out of his car and tasered for having a burnt out tail light either, does he? He probably doesn’t get shot for holding a cell phone either. He probably can get a fair assessment of his house without taking extraordinary measures too.

    Actually that might well happen to him if he’s poor — half of the people killed by police are white, and I suspect all of them are poor whites. I can’t recall any rich whites being killed by police and i suspect its very rare, but 500 poor whites are killed by police every year, some of them unarmed. In fact, some of them were shot for the horrible crime of begging for their life while crawling down a hallway (search on Daniel Shavers killing if you doubt this), and of course the police who executed him was found to be not guilty.

    It happens more often to blacks (3 times more often), but it still happens 10x more in America to poor whites than in any European nation. Being a poor white isn’t much much different to the police than being black or indigenous — one of the big accomplishments of the GOP is to convince poor whites that they have more in common with rich whites than with poor black and indigenous peoples. A quick look at who actually gets killed by police (armed or unarmed) shows how wrong that is. Poor whites get killed by police regularly, they get stopped for broken tail-lights or just because the cop is bored. Never seems to happen to rich whites though — when was the last time a billionaire was shot by police?

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  83. Kurtz says:

    @JohnSF:

    I hope I don’t get under your skin too often

    If you had in any meaningful way, you would know.

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