Rafael Correa is charismatic man who knows how to communicate. Two qualities that helped him to reach the presidency of Ecuador in 2007, a nation that up to that point had been on unstable political ground. Before Correa at least seven presidents had alternated between scandals, popular protests and replacements – until the Palace of Carondelet had as its occupant this economist turned leader. During the 10 years of his tenure in office he promoted a Citizen Revolution which improved the conditions of the poorest Ecuadorians with a vast improvement of social programs. Working now as journalist with Russia Today Correa has been able to reflect on what it takes to be a strong decisive leader. “It isn’t about if someone dislikes me or not, I have no control over that. I never looked at my job as President as trying to please everyone it was about what was needed to move the country forward.” With that same clarity Correa warned during our interview in Caracas that, “what we have in Latin America now is an onslaught; an aggressive return of the neo liberal past. It is a terrible neo conservatism that respects absolutely nothing, neither democracy nor human rights, nor constitutional order and with an impressive double standard at the inter-Americanism at the world level.”
Coleman Hughes, a black student at Columbia, goes there. His essay begins like this:
In the fall of 2016, I was hired to play in Rihanna’s back-up band at the MTV Video Music Awards. To my pleasant surprise, several of my friends had also gotten the call. We felt that this would be the gig of a lifetime: beautiful music, primetime TV, plus, if we were lucky, a chance to schmooze with celebrities backstage.
But as the date approached, I learned that one of my friends had been fired and replaced. The reason? He was a white Hispanic, and Rihanna’s artistic team had decided to go for an all-black aesthetic—aside from Rihanna’s steady guitarist, there would be no non-blacks on stage. Though I was disappointed on my friend’s behalf, I didn’t consider his firing as unjust at the time—and maybe it wasn’t. Is it unethical for an artist to curate the racial composition of a racially-themed performance? Perhaps; perhaps not. My personal bias leads me to favor artistic freedom, but as a society, we have yet to answer this question definitively.
One thing, however, is clear. If the races were reversed—if a black musician had been fired in order to achieve an all-white aesthetic—it would have made front page headlines. It would have been seen as an unambiguous moral infraction. The usual suspects would be outraged, calling for this event to be viewed in the context of the long history of slavery and Jim Crow in this country, and their reaction would widely be seen as justified. Public-shaming would be in order and heartfelt apologies would be made. MTV might even enact anti-bias trainings as a corrective.
Though the question seems naïve to some, it is in fact perfectly valid to ask why black people can get away with behavior that white people can’t. The progressive response to this question invariably contains some reference to history: blacks were taken from their homeland in chains, forced to work as chattel for 250 years, and then subjected to redlining, segregation, and lynchings for another century. In the face of such a brutal past, many would argue, it is simply ignorant to complain about what modern-day blacks can get away with.
Yet there we were—young black men born decades after anything that could rightly be called ‘oppression’ had ended—benefitting from a social license bequeathed to us by a history that we have only experienced through textbooks and folklore. And my white Hispanic friend (who could have had a tougher life than all of us, for all I know) paid the price. The underlying logic of using the past to justify racial double-standards in the present is rarely interrogated. What do slavery and Jim Crow have to do with modern-day blacks, who experienced neither? Do all black people have P.T.S.D from racism, as the Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist Donald Glover recently claimed? Is ancestral suffering actually transmitted to descendants? If so, how? What exactly are historical ‘ties’ made of?
Hughes goes on to lament the double standard the public applies to famous black writers. For example:
The celebrated journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates provides another example of the lower ethical standard to which black writers are held. In his #1 New York Times bestseller, Between the World and Me, Coates explained that the policemen and firemen who died on 9/11 “were not human to me,” but “menaces of nature.”1 This, it turned out, was because a friend of Coates had been killed by a black cop a few months earlier. In his recent essay collection, he doubled down on this pitiless sentiment: “When 9/11 happened, I wanted nothing to do with any kind of patriotism, with the broad national ceremony of mourning. I had no sympathy for the firefighters, and something bordering on hatred for the police officers who had died.”2 Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss—a young Jewish woman—was recently raked over the coals for tweeting, “Immigrants: They get the job done,” in praise of the Olympic ice-skater Mirai Nagasu, a second-generation Japanese-American. Accused of ‘othering’ an American citizen, Weiss came under so much fire that The Atlantic ran twoseparate pieces defending her. That The Atlantic saw it necessary to vigorously defend Weiss, but hasn’t had to lift a finger to defend Coates, whom they employ, evidences the racial double-standard at play. From a white writer, an innocuous tweet provokes histrionic invective. From a black writer, repeated expressions of unapologetic contempt for public servants who died trying to save the lives of others on September 11 are met with fawningpraise from leftwing periodicals, plus a National Book Award and a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant.
Hughes says this double standard is common in society:
But we make an exception for blacks. Indeed, what George Orwell wrote in 1945seems more apt today: “Almost any English intellectual would be scandalised by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it.” Only a black intellectual, for instance, could write an op-ed arguing that black children should not befriend white children because “[h]istory has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” and get it published in the New York Times in 2017. An identical piece with the races reversed would rightly be relegated to fringe white supremacist forums. In defense of such racist drivel, it won’t suffice to repeat the platitude that ‘black people can’t be racist,’ as if redefining a word changes the ethical status of the thing that the word signifies. Progressives ought not dodge the question: Why are blacks the only ethnic group routinely and openly encouraged to nurse stale grievances back to life?
Read the whole thing. It’s very, very brave. Hughes is a black undergraduate at an Ivy League university, yet he has no been afraid to say what has been unsayable. That man has guts.
By the way, his essay is not merely an exercise in whataboutism. He addresses real philosophical and moral concerns in it. He focuses on blacks, but as a general matter, if you read the mainstream press, you’ll find there’s a tendency to treat gays and other minority groups favored by liberals with kid gloves — as if they were symbols, not real people, with the same virtues and vices that everybody else has. For example, in a previous job, I observed that some liberals in the newsroom viewed local Muslims through the lens of the culture war between liberals and conservatives, and did not want to hold them to the same standard with regard to extremist rhetoric, apparently because doing so might encourage conservatives in their own biases.
Another personal example: last year, I wrote several posts about Tommy Curry, a radical black nationalist who teaches philosophy at Texas A&M (see here and here). In his written work and spoken advocacy, Curry advocates what can only be described as anti-white hatred. Don’t take my word for it; go read the blogs I wrote, which quote generously from, and link to, Curry’s own work. A white man who spoke the same way about any racial minority would never have been hired by a university — A&M hired him knowing exactly what they were getting, because he had published — and would never be retained by one after his racism became known. I linked in one of the blogs to a podcast (subtitled, “White People Are The Problem”) on which Curry was a regular guest; on that particular episode, this philosophy professor argued that white people cannot be reasonable, because they are white.
Imagine being a white student in that man’s class.
But there is a different standard for bigots from the left. The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote a long piece about the fallout from my blogs, and positioned it as Curry having suffered because he wanted to “force a conversation about race and violence” — a conversation that people didn’t want to hear. The writer — no doubt reflecting the biases of his own professional class — could not seem to grasp why people would be really offended by the unapologetic racism of Tommy Curry’s writing and speaking. This is precisely the double standard that Coleman Hughes decries. It is lucrative for radicals like Curry, Coates, and others, but a just society should hold us all to the same standard of discourse and morality. This is one aspect of the Enlightenment that I am eager to defend. It’s not only morally right, but practically, observing it it is the only way we will be able to keep the peace in a pluralistic country.
I found Hughes’s essay via Prufrock, a free daily digest that comes to you in e-mail, to which you can and should subscribe by clicking here.
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The first thought many guys probably had after reading the title of this article was, “Wait, what? Is that something that needs to be defended? Since when?” …Since liberalism went
Muslim politicians in the Western world come in two general varieties: those rare ones who are candid about their desire to transform the West in accordance with the dictates of their faith, and those, far greater in number, who prefer to disguise that ambition. The first category includes people like Abdirizak Waberi, a Swedish MP turned Islamic school principal who has actually admitted he believes in “banning music and dancing, prohibiting boys and girls from socializing, and allowing men to beat their four wives with sticks when they became disobedient,” and Brussels city councilman Redouane Ahrouch, who openly advocates for sharia government and recently called for a separation of the sexes on that city’s public transport.
In the second category are Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who while striving to pose as a progressive allows his mask to slip now and then (recently, he told an interviewer that “every Muslim is a bit of a salafist”), and London mayor Sadiq Khan, another faux liberal who has, in fact, ordered police to put less emphasis on monitoring potential terrorists and more emphasis on harassing Islam critics. And let’s not forget Minnesota’s (and the DNC’s) own Keith Ellison, who poses as a standard-issue Democrat but belonged for a decade to the Nation of Islam, speaks at CAIR events, and has ties to several pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic groups.
Also belonging to the latter category is Somali-born Bashe Musse, a Norwegian Labor Party politician who has been a member of the Oslo City Council since 2011. During the last couple of weeks he’s been making headlines because of a Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) report on “dumping.” What’s dumping? Like honor killing and female genital mutilation, it’s a common practice in Europe’s Muslims communities. Instead of sending their kids to regular neighborhood schools, many Muslim parents in Europe send their children off to madrasses – Koran schools – in the countries from which they, the parents, emigrated. The children stay in these schools for years at a time, memorizing the Islamic holy book while their agemates back in Europe learn math, science, and literature.
“Dumping” is eyebrow-raising for more than one reason. Many of these kids’ parents were allowed into Europe in the first place because they professed to be refugees from oppression in their homelands. The fact that they’re shipping their kids off to schools in those same countries gives the lie to those claims. The parents also often maintain that they’re proud to be French, Swedish, or whatever, and that they’re striving to assimilate into their adopted nations. But the whole point of sending these kids to madrasses in the Muslim world is to shield them from what the parents consider the baleful influence of Western civilization.
Last year, NRK produced, as noted, a report on Somali madrasses in which children from Norway have been enrolled. Many viewers considered the revelations eye-popping. In fact it was old news. In a 2004 study, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Norway’s Human Rights Service (HRS) documented, in extraordinary and devastating detail, the grim reality of daily life in these institutions, where the conditions are almost always primitive and where the atmosphere is less that of a First World school than of a Third World prison. NRK’s report, which contained interviews with children living in Norway who had attended the Somali madrasses, confirmed HRS’s findings: at those “schools,” the children had been tied up, whipped, beaten, and subjected to other sorts of brutal treatment that would ordinarily be considered torture.
Which brings us to Bashe Musse, who in addition to being an Oslo city councilman is also the official chief spokesperson for Norway’s Somali community, the largest non-Western immigrant group in the country. After NRK’s report aired last year, he claimed to be shocked by its contents. But on May 29 of this year, NRK reported that in an interview aired on Somali TV, Musse had dismissed the children’s testimony about the madrasses and regretted that such lies, as he called them, had been “sold to the Norwegian people” by the Norwegian media, which he characterized as “one-sided.”
When confronted by NRK with a transcript of his comments to Somali TV, Musse insisted that the person who had translated his words from Somali into Norwegian had fouled up, entirely misrepresenting his views. NRK thereupon engaged the services of another translator, whose product was essentially identical to that of the first translator. It then presented the transcript to various government officials. Frode Jacobsen, head of the Oslo Labor Party, said he was “surprised and shocked” by Musse’s “double communication,” which he described as “very unfortunate.” Norway’s Minister of Integration, Jan Tore Sanner, also expressed concern, but did not call for any action against Musse. The Progress Party’s immigration spokesman, Jon Helgheim, went quite a bit further, scorning Musse as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and urging that the Labour Party discipline him in some way. But as far as I have been able to determine, no one in a position of power has demanded Musse’s resignation or removal from the City Council.
Lying to infidels, of course, has a name in Arabic – taqiyya – and it is one of the chief weapons of Islam in its eternal conflict with non-believers. Among its more celebrated practitioners is “Euro-Islam” proponent, Oxford professor, accused serial rapist, and current jailbird Tariq Ramadan, who is known to routinely say one thing to Western audiences in French or English and another to Muslim audiences n Arabic. Indeed, Caroline Fourest’s book about him is entitled Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan. To employ taqiyya, as Musse appears to have done, is to demonstrate definitively that one is not on the side of the West but that one is a double agent – a partisan, a person whose true loyalty lies, shall we say, elsewhere.
Within a few hours of being caught dead to rights on NRK as a practitioner of doublespeak, Musse made an announcement. Did he resign? Of course not. He declared that NRK had represented him to the Norwegian public as a liar and, what’s more, had painted an unflattering picture of Somalia. Accordingly, he had contacted a lawyer, Arild Humlen, to ascertain what legal rights he had in the matter.
What makes this story important, needless to say, is that Musse is not an outlier. Far from it. Increasingly, all over the West, Muslims hold elected positions, some of them at a very high level. It is considered to be racist, or at the very least to be in terribly bad taste, to question whether they can be loyal at once to their totalizing, all-encompassing religion and to their officially secular country and its (still) mostly non-Muslim inhabitants. Once those poiticians are caught engaging in taqiyya, of course, there is no further reason for doubt on this score.
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On this day in liberal judicial activism.