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Res Ipsa Loquitur

January 22nd, 2008 · 19 Comments

So, I was way beyond done with these stupid newsletters, but some people—mindbogglingly, and contra Ron Paul’s own assessment—seem determined to assert that really they’re not so very racist at all, if only placed in the proper “context.” This is both plainly false and a little galling.

It strikes me that the best “context” is the unvarnished articles themselves. So I’m just going to post a handful of them, rendered in full as plaintext, for more convenient reference. Actually, I’m inclined to think that the tendency of summaries to pull out a couple especially bad lines has blunted realization of exactly how awful they were taken as a whole. Most of them are much worse in toto than their most offensive sentence.

There are people who’ve read these in full already, of course, and concluded they’re not so bad. I don’t see much point in saying anything to them. Rather, I’m posting these for the benefit of people whose moral sense is not totally broken, but who may not have bothered to click through to the PDFs posted by The New Republic, and instead found some tortuous rationalization of a few isolated lines compelling. At this point, this has nothing to do with Ron Paul—who, let’s stipulate, probably didn’t write any of these and probably doesn’t agree with them—and everything to do with my irritation at seeing bigotry minimized.

Here’s one from January 1993:

The Disappearing White Majority

“Census: White Majority to Shrink in Next 60 Years” ran the headline in the Washington Times. The Census Department has suddenly changed its predictions. Consider the new data. Whites now account for 75% of the population, but if current immigration and birth rates continue, whites will total just 53% by the year 2050. As whites are dying off, they are not replacing themselves. Meanwhile, Asian immigration is taking off, and black births are booming. The black population, now about 32 million, will double in the next 60 years. And the Hispanic population will triple.

I know it is considered impolite to worry about this trend. We are all the same under the skin, the argument goes. Whatever the truth of that assertion, it is an empirical fact that, in a mixed economy democracy, nearly every racial and ethnic group votes its group interest except the white population. Whites don’t vote for candidates that promise to promote white interests, whereas blacks and Hispanics do.

Groups other than whites have strong ethnic and racial identities. They are devoted to using the state to advance their cause. That, inevitably, means more welfare, more affirmative action, more grants of privilege, etc. That demographic shifts have profound political implications should go without saying.

What is often forgotten is how such changes affect our culture. Nearly every other group but whites are allowed a certain degree of cultural autonomy. Blacks have black schools, clubs, and neighborhoods. The same is true of Hispanics. It is human nature that like attract likes. But whites are not allowed to express this same human impulse. Except in a de facto sense, there can be no white schools, white clubs, or white neighborhoods. The political system demands white integration, while allowing black segregation.

The youth culture is already driven by ghetto music and ghetto values. Just look at the clothing young people wear today (baggy jeans, backward hats, high-top sneakers) and the music they listen to (which has a thumping beat once heard only on safari). And the sexual ethics of our youth are also degenerating to the level of the ghetto.

Is there any way to stop the trend? No politician of any major party is going to speak out on these themes (although the one who does would do quite well). But there is a way to save your own children. Every home should be dedicated to Western standards of religion, music, values, education, dress, and manners. We need a cultural remnant as much as a financial one.

I don’t really have anything to add to the piece itself here.

From October 1990:

KING CITY? (October 1990)

A mob of black demonstrators, led by the “Rev.” Al Sharpton, occupied and closed the Statue of Liberty recently, demanding that New York be renamed Martin Luther King City “to reclaim it for our people.”

For what it’s worth, and because we all love “context,” this appears to refer to a stunt staged in support of Lenora Fulani‘s quixotic (to use a charitable term) 1990 gubernatorial campaign.

Hmm. I hate to agree with the Rev. Al, but maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis?

But Al, the Statue of Liberty? Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house.

Of course, this is just a joke. Call me humorless; I failed to break out in rolling guffaws.

From July 1992:

ENCORE

Riot gear, tear gas, smashed windows, destruction, and death. These have become the symbols of urban America in 1992.

Just after a basketball game ended on June 14, blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot, even breaking through protective steel shutters with crowbars to steal everything in sight.

They set dozens of fires and burned down buildings along the former “Magnificent Mile.” Clothing and grocery stores went up in flames. They flattened two taxicabs by turning them over and jumping up and down on them en masse, then diving head first into the crowd. (Is this why Hollywood tells us White Men Can’t Jump?).

They shot or otherwise injured 95 police officers, and wrecked 61 police cars. They killed five people burning to death a liquor-store owner and his girlfriend desperately trying to get away. And they injured more than 100 other people. Police arrested more than 1,000 blacks.

A brief interjection. This description appears to be drawn from the New York Times account of the riot in question (or some derivative thereof), and gets the facts wrong in a few key ways, all of which seem calculated to make an authentically bad situation sound still worse. Here’s the Times:

Before the night was over, 100 people were injured, 95 of them police officers. More than 1,000 people were arrested; 61 police vehicles damaged, including 4 by gunfire, and several fires set. Officials this evening had no count of the number of stores looted and no financial estimate of the damage. [….]
In apparently the worst incident of violence, a store employee and his friend suffered burns when looters set a South Side liquor and grocery store afire. The employee, Khalid Hasan Ali-Rifagee, 23 years old, was listed in serious condition today, and his friend, Cindy Schanstra, 23, was listed in fair condition. [….]
The other three reported civilian injuries involved shootings, two people shot by store owners and one 23-year-old man who [was] shot by a police officer on the West Side after he threatened the officer with a gun, the authorities said.

Back to the newsletter:

“When you celebrate something in America, you break a window and grab something,” explained Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “When people have an excuse to loot, they loot. And when they have an excuse to shoot, they shoot.” Oh? Not in my neighborhood or yours either.

Of all the stores that were looted, only one had its goods simply thrown on the sidewalk rather than stolen: a bookstore. The owner of Stuart Brent Books said “Think of the shame they brought to one of the three or four great streets in America. The thing that frightens me is how close we are to barbarism.”

Close? Mr. Bent, we’ve arrived, yet this rioting was barely mentioned by the national media. The liberals want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare.

The media explained the L.A. killing, rioting, and looting as a considered protest over the Rodney King verdict. What’s the excuse this time? Happiness over a Chicago Bulls victory?

Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems. On the same day as the Chicago riot, blacks in Belmar, New Jersey, went on violent rampage.

Organizers of the MTV music festival had heard reports that cars nearby were being vandalized and so cut short a rap concert by one hour. That was enough to send the black mob into the streets setting fires, throwing bottles, and looting stores.

In Los Angeles, we were told, it was “no Justice, No Peace.” What was it in Belmar? “No Music, No Peace”? Or in Chicago? “We Won, No Peace”?

Again, for what it’s worth, the Times‘ account.

From December 1990:

“DR.” KING

So now even the establishment press admits that Martin Luther King plagiarized his PhD dissertation, his academic articles, his speeches, and his sermons.

He was also a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.

King, the FBI files show, was not only a world-class adulterer, he also seduced underage girls and boys. The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy revealed before his death that King had made a pass at him many years before.

And we are supposed to honor this “Christian minister” and lying socialist satyr with a holiday that puts him on a par with George Washington?

Congratulations to Arizona! Who could doubt that the result would be exactly the same if the other 49 states could also vote on a holiday or this affirmative-action saint?


Of course, it’s not per se racist to note that King plagiarized parts of his dissertation, or that he had a reputation for fooling around (though not, so far as I’m aware, with “underage girls and boys”). But if this sums up your attitude toward “Dr.” King (you’ll find those scare quotes throughout the old Rothbard-Rockwell Reports, by the by)—and in particular if it seems natural to you to regard the “evil of forced integration” as precisely equivalent to the oppression of Jim Crow, such that the civil rights movement was (at best) a wash—well, yeah, you’re a fucking racist. Sorry.

On the subject of Dr. King, incidentally, compare the language of this newsletter with this relatively restrained companion piece. Just for fun.
How about October 1992:

BLAST ‘EM?

If you live in a major city, you’ve probably already heard about the newest threat to your life and limb, and your family: carjacking.

It is the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. The youth simply walk up to a car they like, pull a gun, tell the family to get out, steal their jewelry and wallets, and take the car to wreck. Such actions have ballooned in the recent months.

In the old days, average people could avoid such youth by staying out of bad neighborhoods. Empowered by media, police, and political complicity, however, the youth now roam everywhere looking for cars to steal and people to rob.

What can you do? More and more Americans are carrying a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example).

I frankly don’t know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.


Remember, this is totally non-racist, because “animals” here just means carjackers. Who happen to be “urban” youth, of unspecified race, who do “hip-hop” things to “unsuspecting whites.”

Let’s close with a slightly more subtle one (relatively speaking), just to be fair. July 1994:

RACE AND CRIME

We hear lots about black-on-black crime. But what about interracial crime? One out of ten of those crimes is white on black, whereas nine out of ten is black on white. This is even more impressive, in a negative sense, when you realize that blacks are only 12% of the population.

Criminologist Jared Taylor reports that if you subtract the crimes committed by blacks from the overall U.S. crime rate, we have no more crime proportionately than Western Europe, and less than Britain.

A couple things here. First, “Criminologist” Jared Tayor is not a criminologist, but rather the editor of the repugnant “racialist” journal American Renaissance. Second, let’s do a little math—if my Hispanic brain can manage the arithmetic—and see how “impressive” this actually is. Suppose you have a population of 100,000: 90,000 white and 10,000 black. If criminality is randomly distributed, and 1 percent of the population is criminal, you get 900 white and 100 black criminals. Now assume that each criminal randomly targets a victim, without regard to obvious factors like income. What happens? We get 900 white crimes: 810 white-on-white, 90 white-on-black. The 100 black criminals also commit 100 crimes: 90 black-on-white, 10 black-on-black. Under that scenario even though the population is only 10 percent black, interracial crime is a 50-50 split.

But now add a couple other factors that we know tend to correlate with both crime and race. Stuff like, say, poverty, or broken families, or bad schools. Add the plausible supposition that criminals like to target people who actually have money for them to steal. It seems like those variables might perhaps have something to do with this picture. Funnily, none of those are mentioned: There’s no hint of an attempt to control for or explain by reference to any of those things. It’s almost as if someone were trying to leave the impression that criminality is an intrinsic function of race.

Have we had quite enough of this swill? I know I have.

Tags: Journalism & the Media


       

 

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Matt Tievsky // Jan 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Nice post title.

  • 2 Gil // Jan 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Julian,

    I think David Friedman’s recent post helps explain the difference in interpretation that occurs among libertarians.

    I agree with you that the quoted articles are in bad taste and appeal to those with nasty ideas, but I don’t find them quite as outrageous as you do.

    Call me a boor, but I think it should be ok to point out uncomfortable statistical facts, and it should be ok to joke about almost anything. It doesn’t mean that the statements are correct and complete, or the jokes funny; but, they shouldn’t be taboo. Thoughtcrime bothers me more.

    And, I don’t think it’s fair to interpret these things in the worst possible way. For example, I wouldn’t assume that “Replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.” implies equivalence.

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Jan 22, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Is it really appropriate to trot out the specter of “thoughtcrime” because I call someone out for some repugnant views? And sure, jokes are tricky, but the question for me is: What’s the attitude behind the joke? If someone is just being outrageous, fine, whatever. But there seems to be a genuine nastiness behind these.

    I also have nothing against pointing out “uncomfortable statistical facts”, but I have a big problem with the selective use of facts to bolster racial animosity. So yeah, when I see someone trumpeting data about black criminality without a word about any of the most obvious confounding factors, citing a notorious racist as the “authority”, I think that’s irresponsible and wrong.

  • 4 Anonymouse // Jan 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Uh, this is a beautiful post.

  • 5 flyerguy // Jan 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    “yeah, you’re a fucking racist” – Julian, just because you can use the f-word on the Internets doesn’t mean you should. It’s beneath you and detracts from what’s otherwise a powerful and persuasive piece. Why?

  • 6 Julian Sanchez // Jan 22, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Well, this stuff (and the attempt to trivialize it) makes me angry, and sometimes I think it’s good to let that show through a little. I apologize if you found it offputting.

  • 7 Gil // Jan 22, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I wasn’t really disagreeing with your judgments about the motivations and views.

    I agree that they are pandering to people with nasty, ignorant, prejudices. And, you’re right to call them out for it.

    I’m just questioning how vitally important this is, and whether it makes sense to get so angry that some people view it as less earth-shakingly-awful than you do.

    I’m still trying to see the benefits of the Paul campaign, and view this as not sufficient to negate them.

  • 8 anonymous // Jan 22, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Perhaps somebody here can explain this to me, but how is the stuff in those newsletters any different from what Bill Cosby has been saying for years about the problems facing black culture? If that’s your standard for “racism” then Cosby must be a self-hating black.

  • 9 Mark // Jan 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    First off – I agree with flyerguy that the f-bomb took away from an otherwise “powerful and persuasive” piece. The reason I say that is because I fully expect that sentence will become all that certain circles take from this post, and will use it to discredit the remainder of it.

    Second of all, anonymous (shockingly!) posted this:

    “Perhaps somebody here can explain this to me, but how is the stuff in those newsletters any different from what Bill Cosby has been saying for years about the problems facing black culture? If that’s your standard for “racism” then Cosby must be a self-hating black.”

    Reading this comment made me realize that Dave Chapelle knew what he was doing when he pulled his show on the grounds that it was being used by racists as justification for their racism. There is a pretty wide and obvious difference between Cosby’s criticisms of black culture (or Chapelle’s equal opportunity hijinks) and these newsletters. Tone matters, context matters, and audience matters.

    When Cosby criticizes black culture, he is attacking a specific portion of black culture that is living up to certain stereotypes, not ALL blacks; these newsletters however assume that ALL blacks live up to those stereotypes.

    Moreover, Cosby’s criticisms are just that- criticisms; the intended audience is the people whose behavior he is criticizing. In other words, it’s seeking to effect a change in behavior in his audience. The newsletters, however, are addressed to no such audience; instead, the behavior they seek is to enhance and reinforce the stereotypes of its audience of white supremacists and racists.

    The difference between the newsletters and Cosby isn’t that Cosby is black and the newsletter writer is white. The difference is instead that the newsletter makes broad generalizations that it believes apply to ALL blacks; Cosby’s criticism, however, says that a certain group of blacks is playing to a negative stereotype. Cosby’s criticism is that this group is choosing to act in a harmful way, and that it can and should cease to do so on its own. The newsletters however implicitly assume that blacks in general (not just a subgroup of blacks) are criminals not by choice but by nature, and thus the power of the state is necessary to stop them.

    To then use Cosby’s criticisms as justifications for the newsletters is to utterly ignore Cosby’s actual words, audience, and context. It is the equivalent of saying “I’m not a racist….I have black friends.”

  • 10 Gil // Jan 22, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Mark,

    On what basis do you so confidently conclude that the newsletter writer(s) were making claims about ALL blacks?

  • 11 Mark // Jan 23, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Gil:
    The implication seems pretty clear to me in their gratuitous and repeated use of the word “blacks” without any qualifications. Never do they say “individuals,” or even “some blacks.” It’s pretty clear from the newsletters that the key element in the actions they discuss is the race of the criminals. The clear and unambiguous intent of the newsletters – at least of the passages in controversy – is to perpetuate stereotypes. Otherwise, the repeated emphasis on race serves no purpose within the context of the newsletters.

    The newsletters that have come to light don’t directly say “all blacks,” but the passages pretty clearly imply (and intend) to perpetuate generalized stereotypes about all blacks.

  • 12 Julian Sanchez // Jan 23, 2008 at 12:26 am

    So, actually, I don’t think it’s totally irrelevant that Cosby is black: That’s an important part of the context. For the same reason that (say) your siblings get to complain about your family in a way that would be deeply obnoxious for an acquaintance to do. (A certain George Carlin routine comes to mind…) That said, I feel pretty sure Cosby wouldn’t put it quite like this.

    Note in the first item how smoothly the writer moves from talking about “black” institutions and culture to “ghetto values,” without a hint of qualification. Ditto most of the rest of these: Black demonstrators are presumed to be habitués of the crack house and the food stamp bureau. Rage and rioting are a “black” phenomenon. And need we recall that little gem from a newsletter not quoted here about how we may suppose that 95 percent of black men in DC are criminal? I guess technically that exempts 5 percent — phew! Guess that’s not racist after all, huh?

  • 13 Fred S. // Jan 23, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Sanchez,

    I’m baffled as to why you would be so indignant that people are actually responding to your piece. Has some sort of unofficial statute of limitations elapsed in the two weeks since you wrote the article in question? If your intent was to deliver a deliver a hit piece and then be “way beyond done” with it, perhaps you should have stapled unsigned copies to the telephone poles in your neighbourhood instead of posting it beneath your byline and e-mail address.

    I can only imagine that this display of peevishness, combined with you impassioned use of the Anglo-Saxon expletive, is an attempt to stymie your critics with the depth of your feeling rather than the strength of your arguments. Good luck with that tack.

    P.S. By invoking those sociological explanations for black criminality, you at best push the issue to arm’s length. You are then left to explain the enduring quality of disproportionate black academic underachievement/poverty relative to the social mobility of other non-white groups that began in the same milieu.

  • 14 Julian Sanchez // Jan 23, 2008 at 9:16 am

    See, this is what makes my jaw drop. Justin Raimondo foams at the mouth for 5000 words and it’s a “reasoned response”. I say “fuck” once and, woah, I’m over the line. And in the event that this is actually unclear to anyone: My irritation is not about people responding. It’s about people *not* responding to our actual claims, and instead attacking the motivations (and sartorial choices) of the authors and editors.

  • 15 Gil // Jan 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I hereby go on the record in support of your “fucking racist” formulation.

    I think that you write it infrequently enough that it conveys the force you intend.

    But, I must point out that there’s at least a bit of a similarity between people who focus on the style rather than the substance of your argument, and people who focus on the nasty pandering of people Paul has associated with, rather than the positions he actually holds and professes today.

  • 16 James Kabala // Jan 23, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    On the subject of profanity, it’s worth noting that Raimondo himself directed an f-word at Matt Welch in the comments of his original post, so I guess the combatants are even in that respect.

    On the other hand, on the subject of tone-deaf bad jokes, I seem to remember a certain crying little girl…

  • 17 Julian Sanchez // Jan 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

    I knew someone was going to bring that up. But really, that was a joke about Santorum Sr., and pretty explicitly.

  • 18 Micha Ghertner // Jan 24, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    “You are then left to explain the enduring quality of disproportionate black academic underachievement/poverty relative to the social mobility of other non-white groups that began in the same milieu.”

    Which other groups apart from African Americans began in a milieu of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and continuing structural discrimination?

  • 19 Richard Garner // Feb 3, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Another good post, Julian: although, I would point out that your “criminals like to target those who actually have money to steal” point only goes so far – economic analysis of crime suggests that whilst rewards influence the decision to commit theft, so too does likelihood of capture: A high income from a theft one has little chance of succeeding in is less attractive than a lowish income one is very likely to get away with. Add to this the fact that the poor cannot afford security mechanisms as well as the rich, amongst other factors, and the important factor that policing is often poor in poor neighbourhoods, and we get an explaination as to why crime is worse in poor neighbourhoods.

    Going back to this whole Ron Paul issue, you may be interested in my posts on Liberty Forum here and here, in which I defend your Reason article against an LRC writer.

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