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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Is it Possible to Know Goodness without European History?

It’s an often repeated and battled about question for young people, and those young of mind. “Is it possible to be good without God?” And its various iterations.

Here Judeo-Boomer Dennis Prager demonstrates his 115 IQ with an infographic worthy of a Jordan Peterson debate. By the way, if you intend to start a YouTube channel, I suggest you watch as much PragerU as you can. His audience is mostly boomers, the content is easy to parrot, and if you are young, female, and remotely good looking you’ll get both the beta bucks and the boomertards who publicly claim they wish their daughters had role models like you, while watching for the YouTube alert to hope they can add something new to the yank bank.

And If you want to seem edgy forget Patreon and go MakerSupport (which is a good site, by the way, without sarcasm). For a conservative, MakerSupport it will make you seem too edgy for Patreon. If you want to be more mainstream, Patreon is safe as is pretty much everything else deplatforming the real right these days. Hell even Candace “I found Reagan on the road to Damascus” Owens got a public apology from Jack Dorsey for calling her “far-right”.

Here is the answer from a non-militant nearly life-long atheist: Yes. Yes, you can be good without God; yes, even if God does not exist, murder is (still) wrong.

I was an atheist for 37ish years and I was, for the most part, a pretty good person. This is typically a Prager-tier question to atheists in a futile display of boomer-autism to convince young people who have rejected by stench if not logic and history the contemporary religious scene that passes for “Judeo-Christianity.”

Most of my former fellow atheists were atheists because they didn’t like Christianity. I don’t blame them. I don’t like it either. I grew up around Evangelicals who genuinely believed things (frequent but not universal among them) such as:

  1. Scientists are lying about the age of the Earth, the Great Flood, the discovery of certain archaeological sites whose existence would conclusively prove not only the Bible but the Evangelical version. Some Evangelicals believe that dinosaurs were put there by the devil to confuse man.
  2. Scientists lie about stuff all the time, I trained in Geophysics as an undergrad and once had a professor tell me to pretend a mountain didn’t exist so my gravity data would match up with the model we were using. Think about that the next time Bill Nye talks about “climate change models”.
  3. Jews are God’s chosen people and the reason they keep getting kicked out of — well, everywhere they’ve ever been — is because of anti-semitism. I’ve heard Evangelicucks say “Jews are God’s barometer for evil. If someone like Hitler hates God’s chosen people, he hates, God and therefore goodness.” That’s some Hagee-tier rationalization going on there guys. Even if you believe Jews are God’s chosenites, does it follow that it’s always the other guys fault you get kicked out? If a woman goes on 109 dates with 109 guys and no one calls her back, the common denominator is her.
  4. Complex eschatology such as dispensationalism, millennialism, pre-millennial/post-millennial dispensationalism, the two witnesses being stuck down in Jerusalem, and “Biblical prophecy” coming to fulfillment in our lifetimes because Izrul, as John Hagee pronounces it.

Have some of Pastor Hagee at his absolute most Judeo-Boomer:

They really believe this stuff. He is not a fringe nut among American Christians.

In reality the primary cause of the rise of secularism among the west isn’t any goofy belief though, or iron clad paradox seen on Reddit or a logical presentation of science YouTube Skeptic.™ It’s the fact that the churches don’t actually mean anything anymore. Churches are not a home for strength and men you respect. They are the home of the concessionist. They are the place you go for warm feelings of childhood.

In their desire to shield their children (and let’s just be honest here, many of these Christian men, raised in the church and on the internet, are rather uncomfortable with physical sex as well) from “the world” they have constructed a sterile cultural bubble where Christians cannot survive.

When gay marriage was legalized in the US several years ago, one of my best friends, a devout memeer of his Baptist Church, and a layman who often helped out with things needing to be done, turned to me — the secular, single man, who enjoys amusing my married friends with disturbing stories of debauchery — turned to me and said, “I told pastor, that if he wanted to marry a gay couple in our church, I’d stand by him. I’d be proud to have a gay family member.”

Christians today lead nothing, they follow Caesar. They follow, and have followed for a very long time, because they are afraid of “the world” which does not belong to God. In fact, many of my Christian friends like to blame Hollywood, or the MSM, or celebrities, or politicians, academia, really anything they can, for the problems facing the country and the west.

They’ll blame everyone but the one group responsible: themselves.

In the 1970s Christian boomers retreated from the culture and left it to young Marxist culture-makers to bastardize and darken everything good about American and European culture. The fruits of those seeds were reaped in the 90s when The Ellen Show aired TV’s first lesbian kiss, when women began appearing in combat roles in action films, when the zeitgeist turned to feminism as cool. I remember watching MTV play women artists back to back to back to back all weekend one time to prove to radio programmers you could make money off female artists.

As if women had never sung before. But in the 90s my generation witnessed as our classmates: historical illiteracy and professional oppression were the parents of a little mulatto baby named Social “historical oppression” Justice. She has an even more temperamental brother coming of age called “Corporate Social Responsibility” watch out for that ingrate. He’s what happens when HR gets a Six-Sigma black belt.

Back to the question of goodness. We today debate goodness and morality not as if they were subjective. But as if they were a figment of the imagination of Descartes’ demon. Pascal’s Wager once made sense because the worldview of the people to whom he was speaking knew the difference between love and happiness. Today, we seem to have two categories of words related to morality: words that make GoodFeels and words that make BadFeels.

Ask an atheist if it’s possible to be “Good without God” and you’ll usually get snark, or if the atheist is out of college, an eye-roll and an “of course it is: is am good.”

But rather than ask the basic question “Good without God” why not ask a question that rebukes Descartes’ demonic scenario which can only be answered by the very Enlightened cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). And do not apply Pascal’s Wager to people who would rather take ten dollars today than twenty tomorrow. Just watch this regular blonde woman say she would change her opinion on weather preference for $55 US!

Religion today is fungible. It means little because it is a social club one joins to get ahead in life or to have people like yourself with whom to associate. It has no moral foundation.

But it once did.

So rather than address the tired question, “Can you be good without God,” ask, “Is it possible to know if another person is good without a socially agreed upon set of values?”

In more elegant terms: If one claims, “Man can be good without God” simply reply, “But how would you know if he is good without the reality of asking such a question in the shadow of more than a thousand years of European Civilization?”

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