Woke Restaurant Serves Discomfort Food

The DC reader who sends this says the Schadenfreude is delicious. He is correct. Washington City Paper reports on the hilariously failed effort of Busboys and Poets, a local restaurant, to be racially woke. Excerpts:

Sometimes you can have the best of intentions and still miss the mark completely. Such is the case with Busboys and Poets‘ “Race Card” initiative, which aims to foster discussions about race and privilege among its diners by handing out literal “Race Cards”—cards featuring larger questions about the state of race relations in America—to patrons as they enter.

recent Facebook post featuring one of the “Race Cards”—which reads “Did you perceive me as racist because I’m a white male?”—has garnered more than 150 shares and even more comments, with people criticizing Busboys and Poets for taking a somewhat tone-deaf approach in trying to foster a conversation about race. Other “Race Cards” that Busboys and Poets employees are handing out read: “What is your experience with race in America?,” “Have you ever been in a place where you were the racial minority?,” and “How often do you discuss race with your friends or family?”

Akosua Johnson, who posted the picture that went viral, says that a bartender at Busboys and Poets handed them the card when they sat down at the bar. Johnson, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, wrote on Facebook that the bartender, who was white, “had no idea how to actually engage with this poorly constructed, forced ‘conversation’ and so just walked away immediately after dropping the cards in the middle of my meal.”

Oh boy. This is getting good. I had to re-read the next part of the story to realize that the antecedent to the pronoun “them” is actually one person. A very woke person: Akosua Johnson, who was REALLY OFFENDED that Andy Shallal, owner of the restaurant had no reached out to the Professionally Woke Grifter-American Community for advice before playing the race card. He probably figured that by being intentionally progressive — left-wingery is written into the mission statement of the local restaurant chain — he was covered. Wrong!

You can imagine what happened next — but it’s fun to read the indignant statement from DC’s Black Lives Matter, in which its spokeswoman excommunicates Shallal and his restaurant, because he tried to do the racially correct (by BLM standards) thing in the wrong way. Akosua Johnson concludes, sadly: “The creators of this Busboys program erred in not choosing to engage more directly with racial justice activists and educators.”

Whole thing here. It usually makes sense to just shut up and cook. Who the heck wants to go eat or drink at a restaurant that serves discomfort food? Busboys and Poets, which describes itself as “a community where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted,” deserves this pain.

Meanwhile, Akosua Johnson would like you to compensate Akosua Johnson for Akosua Johnson’s  semi-hemi-demi-shakedown social justice accomplishment (or at least hire zir to enlighten the unenlightened):

Read more from The American Conservative…

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. 

Read more from The American Conservative…

Incels Are the Product of an Incomplete Sexual Revolution

We all need more freedom to openly discuss—and engage in—sex. Instead, we all too often pounce on provocative opinions and hem in what is Couple in Beddeemed “acceptable” bounds of debate. This is a shame.

Consider the rhetorical maelstrom created when George Mason University economist Robin Hanson recently suggested that the Toronto attack— in which a self-described incel (an involuntary celibate) mowed down 10 pedestrians — shows that we should worry not just about income inequality, but also the sexual inequality that is leaving too many men sexually frustrated. Hanson, whose blog Overcoming Bias is dedicated to raising uncomfortable questions that cut against ingrained thinking, mused that “cultural elites” might consider “redistribution” schemes that could help incels get a fair share of the action.

This was a provocative suggestion, no doubt. But Hanson wasn’t really serious about it. He is a libertarian, after all, so talk of “redistribution” was more in the vein of a thought experiment. Still, many people were understandably offended by even the hint of a suggestion that men are “owed” sex, or that this particular man was somehow justified in his violence because of some societal failure to keep his sexual drive satiated. This was, after all, the second instance of incel violence in four years.

But almost everyone reacted poorly.

Liberals roundly pilloried Hanson. Slate‘s Jordan Weissman called him “America’s creepiest economist,” before doing an entirely tendentious interview with him with the aim of exposing Hanson as a nutjob. Wonkette‘s Robyn Pennacchia accused Hanson of “singing the songs of horny men.” Motherboard‘s Samantha Cole declared that Hanson really wants “women to f–k violent men.”

Such high dudgeon does little to advance the cause of mutual sexual understanding among men and women. The fact of the matter is that although the sexual revolution offered the possibility of more sexual fulfillment, it also produced new frustrations and challenges.

The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat, who defended Hanson (and came in for a heap of criticism as a result), rightly pointed out that the “Hefnerian” ethos that the revolution generated has made the “frequency and variety in sexual experience” the “summum bonum of the human condition.” This might work for the “beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways.” However, it poses special problems for people who lack sexual draw and confidence.

Many feminists consider any discussion of the innate differences between male and female sexuality verboten. But it is hard to deny that evolution has wired the two sexes differently when it comes to sex. The qualitative sexual experience of men and women might be similar. But, by and large, as evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman points out, men tend to desire more sexual partners, need to know someone for less time before wanting to have sex with them, and have lower standards for sexual liaison. By contrast, women tend to be more discerning and discriminating (because they bear the brunt of producing offspring).

The sexual openness of today’s liberated women often means that men’s more easily stimulated sexuality is constantly triggered. However, social norms still put the onus on men to approach women and open themselves to rejection. The combination of heightened desire and increased risk from assertive women adds up to constant inner anxiety for many young, inexperienced men venturing into the sexual world. This doesn’t mean that incels are right or owed, or that sex actually ought to be redistributed, or that incels are the “real” victims here. Indeed, incel forums can be dark and degraded places where misogyny and violent rhetoric often runs amuck. But ferocious and reflexive demonization from the left isn’t helping matters. It is still necessary to understand the root cause of these new sexual pathologies.

Now, none of this exonerates conservatives, of course.

All too many social conservatives want to shut down pornography, tighten controls on prostitution, and restore puritanical norms from a time when men and women could only try to meet their sexual needs within the confines of life-long matrimony. This obviously should not (and will not) happen, if for no other reason than it traps too many couples in emotionally and sexually dead marriages.

The trouble with the sexual revolution isn’t that it happened, but that it was incomplete. The problem is not that sex has been over commodified as hardline feminists and conservatives (talk about strange bedfellows!) like to assert; the problem is that it hasn’t been commodified enough. The sexual industry in the broadest sense hasn’t matured enough yet to cater to the myriad and diverse needs of lonely single people (of both sexes). Where are the Dr. Ruths for single people facing confidence issues or looking for advice? Is it really a surprise that young men turn to each other for solace in the deep recesses of the dark web — and that the result is often very ugly?

Progressivism’s promise is to move toward social arrangements that increase the number of winners and diminish the number of losers. But until we achieve a utopia where everyone wins, we’ll have to figure out ways to offer relief to the losers. This will require liberals to start taking the plight of people like the incels seriously, and stop penalizing intellectual mavericks like Hanson who have the nerve speak up on their behalf. And it will require conservatives to stop romanticizing an imperfect past and look for viable solutions that don’t involve turning back the clock.

This column originally appeared in The Week

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College demands student remove Jesus, Bible references from graduation speech. Then she fights back.

Colorado Mesa University officials demanded that a student get rid of references to Jesus and the Bible in her graduation speech to fellow nursing students — that is, until she got a Christian legal firm involved, the Daily Sentinel reported.

How did this all start?

Karissa Erickson’s classmates chose her to speak at a pinning ceremony — which takes place Friday and is a separate graduation ceremony for the nursing program at the Grand Junction college, the paper said.

Colorado Mesa University (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

But then CMU nursing faculty reviewed Erickson’s speech and took issue with a few of its words, according to a May 4 letter Alliance Defending Freedom sent to the school.

Seems Erickson shared a story about overcoming adversity and then noted, “God always has a purpose.” She followed that up with, “I find comfort in Jesus’ words, and I pass them on to you. John 16:33. ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take comfort, I have overcome the world.’”

How did the school react to the Jesus and Bible references?

A school official emailed Erickson and told her to take out the part saying “you find comfort in Jesus’ words and cite a [B]ible verse,” ADF’s letter noted, adding that the official also said “speeches should be free of any one religious slant” and that “some people don’t appreciate those references.”

When Erickson inquired further, another school official told her that several years earlier students took offense at Bibles being distributed on campus, the ADF letter explained, adding that “due to the ensuing negative publicity it received, CMU no longer allows Bible verses or remarks about any specific religion because someone might be offended.”

That official added to Erickson that she had to remove the religious references from her speech or “there will be repercussions. This program will not tolerate it,” the ADF letter said.

How did Erickson respond?

Erickson contacted Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal outfit said in a news release — and once CMU received the letter from the law firm protesting the speech censorship, school officials backed down.

“When they were confronted with what the law required, they quickly backtracked and allowed the student to speak freely,” Alliance attorney Travis Barham told the Daily Sentinel. “I am genuinely impressed the university corrected its actions so quickly.”

What is the college saying now?

CMU spokeswoman Dana Nunn told the paper that university faculty were “trying to do the right thing, but made a mistake” in ordering Erickson to remove religious references.

“It was a well-intentioned misunderstanding of what was appropriate,” Nunn added to the Daily Sentinel. “I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people have their own interpretations of the separation of church and state, and the faculty member that initially asked for the change was just trying to do the right thing, she was just not correct legally.”

Nunn told the paper she could not speak to ADF’s claims that Erickson was threatened with “repercussions” but said there is no university ban on talking about religion.

‘This sort of thing pops up with alarming frequency…’

“This sort of thing pops up with alarming frequency, where university officials come under the mistaken conclusion that the First Amendment requires them to purge all speech of anything that’s religious,” Barham added to the Daily Sentinel. “They think they’re fulfilling the commands of the First Amendment, but they’re actually violating it.”

Barham added in the news release that, “America’s Founding Fathers regularly opened public ceremonies with prayer, and federal appeals courts have consistently ruled that universities can do the same at their graduation ceremonies.”

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the firm’s Center for Academic Freedom, concluded: “Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s voters and civic leaders. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges and universities exemplify the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students. Colorado Mesa University has shown it wants to do that by taking quick corrective action in agreeing to let students speak without unconstitutional censorship.”

Read more from The Blaze…

Chinese-American filmmaker bucks cultural appropriation charge with ‘The Rider’

“Cultural appropriation” has become the rallying criticism of progressives offended by artists who reach beyond their own experience to create literature, music, cuisine — even movies — that explore the worlds of others. It’s a criticism that …

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