Race: November 2004 Archives

Race Posts

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I haven't updated my Favorite Posts section of my blogroll in a very long time, and I'm finally getting around to that tedious task. As part of that process, I'm collecting all the race posts currently in the list into this post so that I'll end up with a much smaller list to start with. Otherwise I'm not going to have enough room to keep the list on one page, one of my guidelines for any section of my blogroll. Since there's nothing really new here but just a bunch of summaries of and links to old posts, I'm going to put it all in the extended entry. I should also mention before going on that my similar Theology Posts, Apologetics Posts, and Posts on Homosexuality should be getting updated through this process. I'm not going to move them forward in time at this point.

Update (11-26-04): Somehow I forgot to include October, so I've added one more.

John McWhorter voted for Kerry (which is good evidence that calling him a black conservative is at best inaccurate), but he's urging black voters not to stay monolithic in their exclusive loyalty to Democrats. One thing I really appreciate about McWhorter is his willingness to say what he likes about Bush while disagreeing with him on important issues. He does the same about Republicans in general, and he thinks Republicans favor policies at some times and with some issues that should lead black voters to vote for them now and then. He's insisting that the black voice will not be heard by Democrats if they can rely on the black vote every time without doing anything to earn it, and even liberal black leaders like Al Sharpton repeatedly make the point that Democrats don't have black concerns at heart most of the time.

As a result, black voters are merely the mascot of the Democratic party, as evangelicals have been with Republicans, though if you believe the pundits that might change. One reason why it might be changing is that evangelicals who are hardline conservatives threatened to bolt if Bush went too soft of gay marriage, and many of them did anyway. McWhorter is saying that black voters need to consider Republicans and then vote for them when they have good things to offer, regardless of the racist past of the Republican party (not that the Southern Democrats are any better). I think he's right. The only way black voters' concerns will be listened to and acted on is if their vote is at stake. If black voters were swing voters, as all the other minority groups are, then parties would have to give the dominant mindset of black voters a place at the table.

The same might be true of evangelicals. The issues many evangelicals care about that more moderate Republicans have avoided have now come front and center for the Republican leadership, but there's a catch. If the Republican leadership continues to ignore the biblical concerns for things that conservative Republicans tend not to care about, then many evangelicals will still feel ignored within the Republican hierarchy. Some evangelicals care more about gay marriage and abortion than caring for the world God has given to any government to steward, both in terms of the environment or in terms of the people. Many don't see a hierarchy and want someone who will value all their principles. Since that's harder to come by, picking and choosing will always go by what seems more important at the moment, and gay marriage judicial and mayoral activism and the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies on a court favoring abortion 5-4 have decided the vote this time around. That may not be so next time.

I've said this before about him, but I'm incredibly impressed by Senator Russ Feingold from Wisconsin as a man of character. I strongly disagree with a number of his views, but he knows when a political manuever by his colleagues or those who support his views is just downright evil. He stood against the Borking attempt on John Ashcroft, with only one other Democrat voting alongside him. Now he's attacking those who demean Condi Rice with their racist language about her being an Aunt Jemima, calling them racially insensitive. This guy is not conservative in any way, and he admits that this kind of language is racist. Why is it that so many other liberals won't see how close to the bottom of the barrel this sort of thing is? Feingold has no political reason to say such things. I'm not sure I'd vote for him, but I'd be glad to shake his hand and tell him I appreciate what he's done in standing up for what's right.

I was waiting until the final post in this series showed up, but it was supposed to be Monday and hasn't appeared, so I'll just go ahead and post links to all the posts so far. Rick Sander has been blogging about his research on affirmative action at law schools at The Volokh Conspiracy. A lot of it matches up with things I already knew, but I picked up some interesting facts from his observations and arguments.

The opening post explains where he's going and points out that he's politically liberal with a strong history of supporting civil rights. I get the sense that this recent work of his converted him to the view that affirmative action is harmful and that he hadn't thought so earlier. Part 1 argues that three common views (and statements by practitioners of it) are just plain false: "(a) the preferences are small and not automatic, (b) race is one of a myriad of factors taken into account to create a diverse class, and (c) everyone admitted is fully qualified to do well at the school". Part 2 discusses the negative effect of affirmative action in law schools in terms of grades, graduation rates, and acceptance into the bar. Part 3 looks at the negative impact of all the prior effects in the job market. Part 4 predicts, with real numbers as the basis, what would happen if affirmative action would be removed. I already believed a lot of these arguments in the general case, but the way he's done this with law schools in particular and with hard data seems to me as if it should be pretty convincing even to those who start out believing these policies are overall helpful. Read on for more detailed analysis.

I haven't done anything further in my series on affirmative action in a while (see the introductory post to links to the rest of the series), but I hope to be putting together a few more entries in the next week or so because I'm about to cover the issue in my classes again. I've just done some more reading on the reparations issue, which I first covered in Part V of this series. There are actually two separate and unrelated arguments for reparations, and I now think the issue is much more complicated than I did before, so I wanted to say some things about that.

The main argument I'm considering come from Bernard Boxill's paper "A Lockean Argument for Black Reparations" in The Journal of Ethics 7 (2003):63-91. If you have universty or other access to the internet, you can find this at the Kluwer site for online papers, but you'll probably need to access it through you're library's website. The main objections I'm considering are all available online without academica access of need for registration. Thomas Sowell: Reparations for Slavery?, The Reparation Fraud, and The Reparations Fraud: II and then John McWhorter, The Reparations Racket. McWhorter later develops this argument in a chapter of his Authentically Black, but the key points are in this piece.

Volokh had a nice discussion last week about the race of Bush's judge appointees. I was going to post it before the election, but somehow it got buried in my list that I was unable to read carefully through in the last days of being alternately completely exhausted or completely absorbed in grading, in both cases leading to not much blogging.

The interesting result of what Volokh says is that a higher percentage of Bush judge appointees are black than the percentage of lawyers who are black. His appointment rate is higher than the proportional level of the entire available pool of black lawyers. Given that he has a smaller selection pool to pick from if he wants conservative judges, that means he's had to go much further out of his way to find them than Clinton did to get his much higher percentage of black appointees. The NAACP is mad at Bush because his judge appointments are not proportional to the percentage of blacks in society as a whole. This is why the quota version of affirmative action was rendered unconstitutional in 1978 (not that the spirit of quotas is completely gone, but it's technically illegal now to reserve a certain number of spots for people of a certain racial classification). The NAACP thinking here is exactly along quota lines, as absurd as the consequence turns out to be.



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