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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MSU Faculty Members Vote Down Koch-Funded Research Center

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University faculty members have voted against establishing an economic research center funded by a five-year grant from the Charles Koch Foundation. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the university will continue to …

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Islam’s Erasure of Christianity

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

A recent article titled “Passages from the Bible discovered behind Qur’an manuscript” is a reminder that for centuries Islam has been literally and figuratively erasing Christianity.

The report tells of how an eighth century Koran was found to be written over a Christian book, possibly the Bible: “French scholar Dr Eléonore Cellard … noticed that, appearing faintly behind the Arabic script, were Coptic letters. She contacted Christie’s [an auction house], and they managed to identify the Coptic text as coming from the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy—part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament.”

What this means, and how Western scholars understand it, are two different things:  “This is a very important discovery for the history of the Qur’an and early Islam,” said Cellard.  “We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities.”   Christie’s specialist Romain Pingannaud concurs: “It shows the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam.”

What is euphemistically referred to as “cultural interactions between different religious communities” and “the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam” is a reference to the near cultural annihilation of Coptic Christian civilization by Islam on the former’s own homeland.  The closest the report gets to this simple fact is by saying:

Christie’s… believes that the manuscript is likely to have been produced in Egypt, which was home to the Coptic community, at the time of the Arab conquest. It said that the fragments “resonate with the historical reality of religious communities in the Near East and as such are an invaluable survival from the earliest centuries of Islam.”

For an accurate glimpse of this “historical reality,” one need only turn to John of Nikiu, a Coptic bishop and eyewitness of the seventh century Muslim invasion of his Egyptian homeland.  He recounts atrocity after atrocity perpetrated by the Muslims against the indigenous Christians, simply because the Muslim invaders deemed “the servants of Christ as enemies of Allah.”  His chronicle is so riddled with bloodshed that John simply concludes, “But let us now say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed…”

Once the conquest was over, the “rightly guided caliphs”—Muhammad’s relatives and companions—forced the “milk camels [Egypt’s Christian population] to yield more milk” by squeezing them dry of their wealth and resources, write the Arab chroniclers.  Apocalyptic scenes permeate contemporary accounts concerning these times of wholesale extortion followed by starvation: “the dead were cast out into the streets and market-places, like fish which the water throws up on the land, because they found none to bury them; and some of the people devoured human flesh” from starvation, writes the chronicler Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa (d.987).

In short, and to quote nineteen century historian Alfred Butler, “that they [Egyptian Christians] abhorred the religion of Islam is proved by every page of their history.”

The Islamic takeover and financial bleeding of Egypt (documented in my new book, Sword and Scimitar) was always accompanied by a war on Egypt’s Christian heritage and nearly snuffed it out (as it did in other formerly Christian lands, from North Africa to Anatolia).[1] In the eleventh century, Fatimid caliph Hakim bi-amr Allah ordered the destruction of 30,000 churches, including Christendom’s most sacred church, that of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  Saladin, who overthrew the Fatimids, ordered mud smeared on Egypt’s churches, and their crosses broken off.  Then came nearly three centuries under the Mamluks, who were even more repressive than their predecessors.  Under their reign, Coptic ceased to be a living language, as the punishment for speaking it included the severing of one’s tongue.

Such is the “cultural interactions between different religious communities” that the scholars are fascinated over.

Erasing a Coptic language Bible and supplanting it with the Arabic Koran is a reminder of Islam’s enforced erasure of all Christian vestiges in Christianity’s ancient heartlands.   The more entrenched Islam became in Egypt, the more Coptic culture—from its language to its churches—slowly disappeared, or was rendered invisible through a number of edicts (commonly known as the Conditions of Omar).

Even the already circulating Christian coins that the caliphate appropriated had their crosses effaced so as not to resemble crosses.   Islam’s erasure of Christianity in its own homelands continues to this day, including in its war on churches, and in even more subtle ways—such as literally erasing Christianity from the history books.

Yet Christie’s specialist Romain Pingannaud’s claims that the recent eighth century Koran find is “quite extraordinary…  It’s fascinating, particularly because it’s the only example where you have an Arabic text on top of a non-Arabic text. And what’s even more fascinating is it is on top of passages from the Old Testament.”  The report elaborates by saying that such books (palimpsests) are “extremely rare … with only a handful having been previously recorded, none of which were copied above a Christian text.”

Erasing Christian books of their scriptures and supplanting them with the Arabic Koran was actually par for the course.  Dario Fernandez-Morera writes that one celebrated Muslim cleric held “that the sacred books of the defeated Christians must be burned to make them ‘disappear’—unless one can erase their content completely so one can then sell the blank pages to make a profit.  But if one cannot sell these erased pages, they must be burned” (The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, 41).

Happily, and as this recent discovery of a Christian text under the Arabic Koran suggests, sooner or later, everything will be uncovered—including the eyes of Western people to Islam’s past and present.

Notes:


[1] As Alfred Butler explained “[T]he burdens of the Christians grew heavier in proportion as their numbers lessened [that is, the more Christians converted to Islam, the more the burdens on the remaining few grew]. The wonder, therefore, is not that so many Copts yielded to the current which bore them with sweeping force over to Islam, but that so great a multitude of Christians stood firmly against the stream, nor have all the storms of thirteen centuries moved their faith from the rock of its foundation.”

 

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Cybersecurity skills will pay off in Army, says a top Cyber Command officer

It took 20 years for Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner to reach the rank of colonel. In the not-too-distant future, that rank could be an entry-level position for those with the right cybersecurity skills, she said Thursday at cyber conference in Augusta.

“That’s pretty extraordinary, and it represents a huge cultural shift to our Army,” said Buckner, who heads the Army’s cyber policy and strategy at U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md.

Buckner, who helped create and lead the U.S. Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon’s Cyber Center of Excellence from 2014 to 2016, was the keynote speaker at the second annual Invest Augusta conference, which aims to bolster metro Augusta’s growing cybersecurity industry.

Buckner was promoted earlier this year to her current position – officially known as director of Army Cyber, G-3/5/7 – from deputy commander of Joint Task Force-ARES, the offensive force countering the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

She said direct commissioning of talented cybersecurity and electronic warfare professionals is just one of the ways the Army is becoming more entrepreneurial.

“We are breaking all sorts of glass here in the Army,” she said. “I’ve used what the private sector does – what you do on a daily basis with your talent – to model some of these programs.”

Army Cyber Command is in the process of relocating from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Gordon. Buckner said the primary question her Washington-area colleagues have about Augusta is the availability of jobs for their spouses and the quality of education for their children. She said cyber is “very much a family business.”

“The spouses who are in our military families and their children, they are increasingly employed in the same line of work, even if they’re not wearing the uniform,” she said. “Most of my counterparts, if they don’t have a son or daughter in the service, they are getting degrees in cybersecurity and continuing that line of work. So the high-end workforce that this region is increasingly attracting as a part of Army Cyber’s movement down here should not be lost on any of you.”

U.S. Cyber Command last week was elevated to the Department of Defense’s 10th unified combatant command, and its new leader, Army Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, getting promoted to a four-star general. Nakasone had been in line to head Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon. His replacement, Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, a former commanding general for Fort Gordon’s Cyber Center of Excellence and chief of staff for U.S. Cyber Command since 2016, has been confirmed as Army Cyber Command’s next commander.

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© 2018 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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