The Racial Double Standard

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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Ben Shapiro: The Suicide of Europe

On Friday, the British police arrested Tommy Robinson, founder and former leader of the English Defence League, a far-right anti-Islam group. Robinson is a controversial character, to be sure, a sort of Milo Yiannopoulos lite. His chief focus is on the threat of radical Islam, which he believes threatens the integrity of the British system.

You don’t have to like Robinson. But whatever you think of him, his arrest is absurd by any measure. You see, Robinson was arrested for standing outside a court building and reporting on a trial involving the alleged grooming of young girls for sexual assault by radical Muslims.

Now, what would be illegal about that, you ask? It turns out that Robinson was given a suspended sentence last year for filming outside another court building, where a trial for alleged gang rape by radical Muslims was taking place. He wasn’t inside the courtroom. Nonetheless, the judge believed he was somehow biasing the jurors. According to the judge, Robinson was sentenced thanks to “pejorative language which prejudges the case, and it is language and reporting … that could have had the effect of substantially derailing the trial.”

This time, Robinson was again arrested for prejudicing a case, only he wasn’t inside the court building. He was outside. And the media were originally banned from reporting on his arrest so that his trial wouldn’t be biased. In other words, Britain has now effectively banned reporting that actually mentions the Islamic nature of criminal defendants for fear of stirring up bigotry — and has banned reporting on reporting on such defendants. It’s an infinite regress of suicidal political correctness.

But at least the Europeans have their priorities straight: While it’s perfectly legal to lock up a provocateur covering a trial involving Muslims, the European Union is now considering a ban on products like cotton buds, straws and other plastics for fear of marine litter. And just as importantly, it’s now perfectly legal to kill unborn children again in Ireland, where voters — with the help of a cheering press — decided to lift the ban on abortions until the 20th week, condemning thousands of children to death.

This is how the West dies: with a tut-tut, not with a bang. The same civilization that sees it as a fundamental right to kill a child in the womb thinks it is utterly out of bounds to film outside a trial involving the abuse of children, so long as the defendants are radical Muslims. The Europeans have elevated the right to not be offended above the right to life; they’ve elevated the right to not be offended above the right to free speech, all in the name of some utopian vision of a society without standards.

Discarding those standards was supposed to make Europeans more free; it was supposed to allow Europeans to feel more comfortable. But the sad truth is that no society exists without certain standards and Europe has a new standard: enforcement of its “tolerance” via jail sentence, combined with tolerance of multiculturalism that sees tolerance itself as a Trojan horse. The notion of individual rights sprang from European soil. Now they’re beginning to die there.

PHOTO: Ben Shapiro speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The post Ben Shapiro: The Suicide of Europe appeared first on New Revere Daily Press.

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With or Without Legalization, Sports Betting is Here to Stay

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a federal law forcing most states to ban sports betting is unconstitutional. The decision didn’t, strictly speaking, legalize sports betting—it just got the federal government out of the states’ various ways so they could decide policy on their own terms.

It’s still not clear that they’ll get to do that, given that Lord High Scold Orrin Hatch, in his role as a senator from Utah and co-author of the legislation that was just kneecapped, plans to introduce a new bill intended to “to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena” and, not incidentally, choke off sports-related games of chance.

While it should go without saying, I’ll say it anyway: that’s a stupid idea. The federal law and related state and local statutes have never eradicated the thrills and risks of games of chance; they’ve only made them illegal, and driven a thriving industry and its customers underground.

In the ruling, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority: “As the Tenth Amendment confirms, all legislative power not conferred on Congress by the Constitution is reserved for the States. Absent from the list of conferred powers is the power to issue direct orders to the governments of the States.” And the Professional and Amateur Sports Protections Act (PASPA) of 1992’s “provision prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling schemes violates the anticommandeering rule.”

That’s a sound win for the Constitution and for state autonomy, if not quite for individual rights. The ultimate legality of sports gambling now rests on the hands of state legislators who may or may not have more respect for freedom of choice and the simple reality of the world around them than their federal counterparts. Whatever they decide, though, gambling will continue with or without official approval, just as it has for…well…forever.

My grandfather, Salvatore “Chips” Tuccille was a professional gambler, as my father detailed in his memoir, Heretic. One of my father’s earliest memories was of the paddy wagon passing by on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, and his “father, petty gambler and carouser now known throughout the neighborhood as Chips, staring bug-eyed at neighborhood gawkers through the iron bars in back…The cops had raided the waterfront and hauled in Chips and his fellow riffraff, hustlers and suckers alike.”

But neither that bust nor another really deterred him; his biggest scores came later, on the troop ships to and from Europe during World War II. And my grandfather was no outlier, as illegal gambling goes.

PASPA “restricts all but a handful of states from legalizing sports gambling,” Eric Meer wrote in 2011 in the UNLV Gaming Law Journal. “This has allowed a thriving shadow economy of mob-associated bookies and offshore websites to operate with virtual impunity.” Meer documents the history of federal efforts to restrict gambling, concluding that “Congress can try to prohibit or discourage sports gambling, but underground bookmakers will continue to serve the public’s demand.”

Just how popular is sports gambling, even with Orrin Hatch and his buddies putting on their frowny faces at every mention of the activity? “Estimates of the scope of illegal sports betting in the United States range anywhere from $80 billion to $380 billion annually,” concluded a 1999 report commissioned by Congress, “making sports betting the most widespread and popular form of gambling in America.”

Yeah, that was almost 20 years ago, before widespread broadband Internet provided easy access to off-shore operations. I wouldn’t bet on the industry having shrunk since then.

March Madness alone accounts for about $12.5 billion annually in illegal betting, Bloomberg guesstimated in 2015. But Jay L. Zagorsky, an economist at Ohio State University, sniffs at such figures. He thinks the total illegal sports betting industry “only” accounts for about $67 billion in business every year.

On occasion, the U.S. has flexed its muscles against gambling operations based overseas, such as with the 2006 arrest of the unfortunate David Carruthers, CEO of BetonSports, while he was changing planes in Dallas during a flight between London and Costa Rica. Carruthers was arrested in transit because the U.S. had no jurisdiction over him where he and his company were based and operating perfectly legally under different laws than the sort favored by Hatch.

That the arrest was more for public-relations purposes than for actual effect is clear from Meer’s subsequent paper documenting PASPA’s failure and from the Bloomberg and Zagorsky estimates of the money changing hands in defiance of the law. Perhaps such grandstanding deterred a few aboveboard companies from offering betting services online to American customers, but that left the industry open to the upscale heirs of the likes of my grandfather.

“A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine,” Justice Alito continued his scathing critique of PASPA on his way to driving a judicial spike through its heart. He could have added, though it wasn’t his writ to do so, that it was an equal blow to the right of individuals to make their own choices, and to sheer common sense, since a long history tells us that banning markets for popular goods and services just drives them underground.

“Hopefully, Congress or the federal courts will recognize that PASPA (1) has failed to accomplish what it set out to do, (2) continues to support a thriving shadow economy of mob-associated bookies and offshore websites, (3) unfairly restricts the sovereignty and economic freedom of the states, and (4) makes detecting possible athlete and referee bribery more difficult,” Meer concluded in his 2011 article. “PASPA is a bad bet that is no longer worth gambling on.”

Honestly, PASPA was always a sucker’s bet. Unfortunately, politicians represent a ready supply of suckers for just such legislative scams.

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