Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson misses the target and gets lost in the race space…

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I recently saw a clip of Cosmos host and all round brilliant Neil Degrasse Tyson answering a question posed during a panel discussion. The question, which wasn’t really a question at all, had to do with former Harvard President Lawrence Summers’ comments on the disproportionate representation of women in science and math fields and his wondering if innate differences in sex might partially explain it.

The heavily mustached Tyson, seeking to ensure clarity in the event that there was any confusion, stated emphatically “I’ve never been a female.” He quickly followed with “But I have been black my whole life”. He went on to suggest that he might be able to tangentially address the issue. “So let me perhaps offer some insight from that perspective because there are many similar social issues related to access to opportunity that we find in the black community as well as the community of women in a male dominated, white male dominated society.

He goes on to talk about the roadblocks, he faced beginning as a 9 year old who had decided that he wanted to study astrophysics. Teachers would ask if he wouldn’t rather be an athlete. Later, security guards would follow him in stores thinking he might be a thief. He states that the decision to become an astrophysicist was for him “The path of most resistance through the forces of nature in society, the forces of society.” He follows with this: “And fortunately my depth of interest in the universe was so deep and so fuel enriched, that every one of these curveballs I was thrown and fences that were built in front of me and hills I had to climb… I just reached for more fuel and kept going.

He then wonders why there are so few others (blacks or women) where he is: “Where are the others who might have been this? They’re not there. And I wonder how, who, what is the blood on the tracks that I happened to survive that others did not, simply because of the forces of society that prevented, at every turn, at every turn…

Finally, wrapping up he says: “My life experience tells me that when you don’t find blacks in the sciences, you don’t find women in the sciences, I know these forces are real and I had to survive them in order to get where I am today. So before we start talking about genetic differences, you’ve got to come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity, then we can have that conversation.”

Just as Dyson has never been a woman, I’ve never been a black person. But as a sentient person I recognize that discrimination exists. It always has and until we’re all either clones or robots, it always will. Discrimination is about making choices and making choices is part of life, and people make them for all different reasons. Whether it’s hiring a cousin over a more qualified stranger, a man choosing the younger more attractive secretary over the older more experienced applicant, a woman choosing the 6’ ft brooding Adonis over the 5’4” nice guy, or a white family choosing to attend the mostly white church 4 blocks from their house rather than the mostly black church a block and a half away… discrimination of all sorts exists and takes place every single day. It exists everywhere… and for lots of different reasons, some of which society can seek to minimize and some of which it can’t. Think about it, when was the last time you chose to hit on someone you found unattractive? At the end of the day, life is not fair because we’re all different, with different characteristics, abilities, skills, personalities, likes, dislikes, prejudices and as Dyson pointed out, drives.

And that’s where Dr. Dyson misses the mark. He said it himself when he talked about his desire being so deep that it fueled him to overcome all obstacles to his success. Despite what he calls the “forces of nature” set against his success, he succeeded to a level he would likely never have imagined. His success was not due to some phantom “system where there’s equal opportunity” but rather his success was due to his desire to succeed and his willingness to work for it. Just as it was for Clarence Thomas, Jackie Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Reich, John Stossel and millions of other Americans. Is Dyson suggesting that he is superman and that other blacks and women don’t have what it takes to succeed in life as he did, and therefore they need some special advantages he did not have? I don’t think so. By his own words one could make the argument that Dyson succeeded because of the challenges he faced, not in spite of them. After all he used the roadblocks to fuel his passion to achieve, which led him to become one of the best known scientists in the country.

The problem with Dyson’s comments is that he puts the focus in the wrong place. He suggests that we don’t currently have “a system where there’s equal opportunity” and implies that it is possible to create one. The United States may not be perfect, but for those who are willing to work, for those who have the drive, for those who have the passion to pursue their goals, the United States offers more opportunity than any nation in history. Dyson and tens of millions of others prove that point. But by focusing on a mythical, unachievable, discrimination-free society or system, he undermines the single most powerful factor in someone’s success… their own willingness to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their goals.

There are indeed challenges that blacks face in the United States. And likely they are greater and different than those faced by whites. But the question is, what is keeping more blacks from achieving success? Is it white racism in a world where even the hint of racism can cost a company millions of dollars or open an individual’s life up to social and online scorn and ostracization? Or is it teachers’ unions that force mostly minority students to stay in failing schools? Is it minimum wage laws that keep black youth unemployment near or above 50% and remove opportunities for work experience? Is it government welfare programs that make it feasible for 77% of black babies to be born to unwed mothers?

What has a better chance of unleashing the potential power of success for blacks who have yet to achieve it? Focusing on some impossible dream of a where equal opportunity is equated with equal outcomes or rather empowering everyone by focusing on equipping children with the tools and skills to pursue their passions and overcome all obstacles with the vigor Dr. Dyson did. My guess is the latter would.

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

36 Responses to “Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson misses the target and gets lost in the race space…”

  1. 1

    mathman

    What a load of expurgated ****.
    I am a white male, with a Ph. D. in mathematics. Just how did I do that, when none of my predecessors managed more than one year in college? When I had no connection with any Ivy League school? When I grew up in a backwater of San Diego, CA? When I had no sponsor during my formative years?
    Does Dyson think it was easy for me? Those who had it easy managed to sign on with advisors who assigned topics leading to quick degrees and tenured posts. Not me. I chose my own path, and slogged along for 12 years.
    Dyson needs to go look at the quality of the work done in academia. How much of what is published is ever referred to or used? NOT MUCH. How much might be fake? If the work is never verified, how would you know?
    Like many before him, Dyson speaks from utter ignorance when he steps outside the bounds of his own discipline. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. And Larry Summers had a legitimate question, as was proved when the ladies came down with the vapors as he spoke!

  2. 3

    ilovebeeswarzone

    IT might be that, what gave him the drive to meet the challenge ,
    was the vision of other blacks who did not have a far out vision of the future,
    and fail to make the effort , they needed to continue a study requiring so many years of learning,
    he look at other blacks and refuse to be a same looser,
    it”s what drived him, i think, and the vision is scary enough to itself that he didn’t need to search further for the push to continue, that gave him a fear big enough to have him separate from the other,
    and study until it hurt,
    the conflict begin in the first act of procreate, the genes are in conflict to prone in the developping human to become, already, and that is life itself driving the person to not give up, but
    those looking for the easy road end up in the easy down ward hole, burried by mud, sticking on them
    who are to lazy to clean it out, that is the for life loosers forever angry at other for their own demize, and hopless from being helped,
    he refuse to follow and listen to his inner voice telling him to not give up, because of his gifts to learn,
    he was conquer by his own inner drive to go and learn that science calling him,
    she call just a few, he was one of them, and succeede beyong his imagination, and he must now be in awe
    to know all this extraordinary science always left un finish, calling for more for all his life to learn,

  3. 4

    Nanny G

    The thing about being a black person who works hard to become an astrophysicist or biochemist or other hard science PhD, all doors open for you because – in your field you are coveted.
    University science departments and research labs are all looking for that black researcher to help them look good on paper in terms of racial balance.
    While mathman might have to compete hard for a job opening, any black with his equal degree might waltz right in past him.
    I don’t begrudge the high position of Dr. Degrasse Tyson, but I wonder if he has not noticed this happen – or if he was blind to it?
    Does he imagine being at the top, the tip of the spear, of your chosen research field is EASY for whites?
    Is he crazy?

  4. 7

    Tom

    I’m not sure which is a stranger conclusion: arguing that centuries of racial discrimination against blacks in the Unites States is somehow analogous to the freedom to choose whether or not to date an unattractive person, or arguing that attempts to mitigate discrimination are pointless because these are “mythical” and “unachievable” goals. I imagine a student of American history might quibble with the conclusion that discrimination cannot be battled legislatively and in the courts of law. Certainly there are many conservatives who acknowledge this reality, as we’ve recently seen the VRA and affirmative action laws gutted. Did John Roberts state the VRA was an unworkable solution to a mythical problem, or did he argue it worked so well it was no longer necessary?

    What courses right under the surface of arguments like this is an assumption that blacks just aren’t trying hard enough. It’s hard to tell if this is actually about anything else, regardless of how well the lead is buried. Neil Degrasse Tyson succeeded because he possessed a “desire to succeed” and a “willingness to work for it”. Tyson can go to lengths to explain the hurdles he faced, but to the author of this piece, those aren’t real world barriers to success, they’re merely character tests that good people pass and flawed people fail. According to the author, Tyson was, in fact, quite fortunate to have faced discrimination because it fueled his “passion to achieve” What a lucky guy. So in the course of several paragraphs, discrimination has been taken from unfortunate side effect of freedom of choice, to impossible to solve problem, and finally to fiery forger or character. Beautiful. The author casually dismisses identifiable structural inequities in our society and replaces them with a moral test. That’s one way to turn victims of an injustice into morally flawed failures worthy of contempt.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    There is no evidence that black people are less responsible, less moral, or less upstanding in their dealings with America nor with themselves. But there is overwhelming evidence that America is irresponsible, immoral, and unconscionable in its dealings with black people and with itself. Urging African-Americans to become superhuman is great advice if you are concerned with creating extraordinary individuals. It is terrible advice if you are concerned with creating an equitable society. The black freedom struggle is not about raising a race of hyper-moral super-humans. It is about all people garnering the right to live like the normal humans they are.

  5. 8

    Rich Wheeler

    @Tom: Thank you.
    Monday was a great day in Boston. My mom grew up and was a school teacher in Hopkinton. I watched the start of the race many times.

  6. 9

    Aqua

    @Tom:

    What courses right under the surface of arguments like this is an assumption that blacks just aren’t trying hard enough.

    I don’t think that’s the case. First, I’m a big fan of Tyson, even though I’m very disappointed in his new series, Cosmos.
    Tyson did what anyone that truly wants something does, he didn’t let obstacles stand in his way. He didn’t let naysayers distract him from his goal. That isn’t a black vs. white thing or a male vs. female thing, it’s personal ambition thing.
    Tyson is a little bit older than I am. Did he face some form of racism along the way? I’m sure he probably did. He just didn’t let it distract him. Tyson’s track to success is no different than someone like Howard Schultz. They are just a few years apart in age, born and raised in the same area. Both of Tyson’s parents were highly educated whereas Schultz was the first in his family to attend college.
    No one is suggesting that blacks aren’t trying hard enough. We have a whole new generation out there that lacks ambition and race has nothing to do with it.

  7. 10

    Tom

    @Aqua:

    Tyson did what anyone that truly wants something does, he didn’t let obstacles stand in his way. He didn’t let naysayers distract him from his goal. That isn’t a black vs. white thing or a male vs. female thing, it’s personal ambition thing.

    I couldn’t disagree more. As Coates points out, the goal shouldn’t be creating supermen, it should be allowing people to live their lives like normal human beings. This touches on one of multiple red herrings I believe exist in this OP. Of course the world can never be made entirely fair and of course many people are discriminated against for a variety of reasons. These are both terrible excuses though for doing nothing about institutional bias. To use one example from the OP’s list of strawmen, some short people may face personal discrimination, but short people as a whole were never enslaved, they were never the victims of a post-slavery century of Jim Crow, terror and exclusion from economic and political power. As far as I know, short people don’t live in homogenous enclaves where they are forced to submit to stop-and-frisk tactics by law enforcement because they are short. Short people don’t, to my knowledge, make up a disproportionate percentage of the US prison population. Short people aren’t arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned more than average sized people for non-violent drug possession regardless of similar usage rates throughout the height spectrum. The periodic murdering of short teens isn’t condoned by a large percentage of the US population because short teens are considered inherently threatening. Nor, to my knowledge, is it common for highly respected, successful and well-to-do short people to be stopped and questioned by police while shoveling their own driveways for no apparent reason other than being short. So the entire “we all face some form or discrimination in life, get over it” argument misses the mark by quite a bit. No one can legislate personal bias, but institutional bias can certainly be addressed. Do white teens in Greenwich CT have to leave their house every day knowing they might lawfully be targeted for a pat down by police because they fit a profile? Many black teens do. To say that discrimination cannot be addressed when it’s embedded in US law, when it informs how law enforcement act and how the legal and penal systems behave, is preposterous, in my view. But first we need half of the US population to admit that discrimination even exists. This is the half that labels anyone who points out the obvious as playing the race card, end of discussion.

  8. 13

    Aqua

    @Tom:

    As Coates points out, the goal shouldn’t be creating supermen, it should be allowing people to live their lives like normal human beings.

    What’s normal? Is it running at just enough speed to get by? Shouldn’t normal be trying to reach your full potential? How is that creating supermen?

    To use one example from the OP’s list of strawmen, some short people may face personal discrimination, but short people as a whole were never enslaved, they were never the victims of a post-slavery century of Jim Crow, terror and exclusion from economic and political power.

    Yes, and there is a whole race of people living right here that was almost exterminated. I’m not trying to play down the role of slavery in the United States, but black people are not the only people to ever be enslaved. As for Jim Crow I have never seen a segregated hotel, restaurant, water fountain, or anything else. My kids certainly haven’t seen any of that. I don’t believe Dr. Tyson experienced Jim Crow either since he was raised in the Bronx.

    Nor, to my knowledge, is it common for highly respected, successful and well-to-do short people to be stopped and questioned by police while shoveling their own driveways for no apparent reason other than being short.

    I read the whole story. Seems West Hartford has an ordinance against door-to-door soliciting. A guy that “resembled” Glanville had been reported and the officer looked on the next street over, in Hartford, and ran into Glanville. Was the officer a douche? Maybe, but I don’t know that was profiling.

    This is the half that labels anyone who points out the obvious as playing the race card, end of discussion.

    Of course discrimination exists. Right now as I type this, Clarence Thomas is being called just about every racial slur in the book, but it isn’t by anyone on the right. And not everything is the race card. If I disagree with someone’s philosophy and that person is a person of color, why does that have to be racists? Right now no one on the right is allowed to disagree with the president or attorney general without being called out on the racist carpet. I’m not saying there aren’t racists out there, but the vast majority of people that disagree with the president and the attorney general are not disagreeing because of race. And we certainly are spewing the racists vitriol that Clarence Thomas is currently being inundated with.

  9. 14

    Tom

    @Aqua:

    What’s normal? Is it running at just enough speed to get by? Shouldn’t normal be trying to reach your full potential? How is that creating supermen?

    Normal, I imagine, would be not having to teach your children to fear any interaction with the police, or to be wary of men like Micheal Dunn, out of necessity of life and limb. This is just my impression of a small sample of the ‘abnormal’ concerns of black parents in what conservatives keep telling us is a post-racial America. This impression comes from actually listening to people like Coates, or Doug Glanville, or Barack Obama, rather than dismissing their concerns as playing the race card.

    As for “creating supermen” this is reference to the conservative predilection for holding up the achievements of extraordinary individuals as proof that anyone can overcome discrimination and therefore nothing needs to be done about it. That’s the red herring in this OP, the idea that promoting achievement and addressing structural problems in our society are mutually exclusive. Ridiculous. Why on Earth would any parent not choose both?

    Of course discrimination exists. Right now as I type this, Clarence Thomas is being called just about every racial slur in the book, but it isn’t by anyone on the right. And not everything is the race card. If I disagree with someone’s philosophy and that person is a person of color, why does that have to be racists? Right now no one on the right is allowed to disagree with the president or attorney general without being called out on the racist carpet. I’m not saying there aren’t racists out there, but the vast majority of people that disagree with the president and the attorney general are not disagreeing because of race. And we certainly are spewing the racists vitriol that Clarence Thomas is currently being inundated with.

    You seem to be referring to personal bias, which I’ve already conceded cannot be legislated away. I very clearly indicated I’m talking about institutional/structural bias. Here’s a question for you: how do you account for the astonishing racial disparity in America’s prison population? One million blacks locked up, the leading cause being non-violent drug offenses. What is the reason?

  10. 16

    Brother6

    Neil Tyson, (forget the deGrassi), had determination and he has found success in his life ventures, but he forgets that his determination was supplemented by LUCK. He was lucky that as a young man riding home after meeting Carl Sagan he was not stopped by some racist cop and subject to the insanities that those situations can bring. Also, as he ventured through schools, colleges and universities, he was lucky that he did not let a racist teacher put him off his mark and remove his drive for success. What happens with American-Africans is too often they let the remarks, impedances and hatred of others take them away from their goal. Perhaps this is because they are bombarded with reminders that they are “Black” (what ever the hell that is). But the social acceptance by Vince, who penned this panel of propaganda, that racism will always be part of America is self defeating. If WE THE PEOPLE want to end racism, sexism, and any other injustices, it is WE who must put a stop to them. Not by accepting things as they are and saying “well that’s the way things are”, but by saying “Let US change this situation.”

    As an American and a scientist, I am proud of the success that Neil Tyson has achieved, but my admiration for him is more for bring attention back to science and engineering, and hopefully he will bring young American boys and girls back to the desire to make great scientific advancements and not to learn how to load another cell phone app or utter nonsense called rap.

    To all, rather you are black, white, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander, in some form or in some manner, if you are put in an unfortunate situation, YOU will be subject to bigotry and racism. It is what you do after that unfortunately exposure that will determine your success or failure in life. Don’t let them take your dignity.

    In closing, how about we accept that humans like most other animals come in various colors and that color should never be considered the basis for their success or failure. I wonder when will Americans get tired of talking about the problem of racism/sexism and set about removing the problem from this society. Do any of you also wonder?

  11. 17

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Brother6
    YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD POINT,
    It should be added that it’s hard to not think RACIST,
    when one see one color play a game of knockout ON THE WHITES CITIZENS, INJURING THEM BY DOING SO, and enjoye it,
    OR see crimes they call little crimes on people by one same color that you cannot but define because it”s so
    aparent and so not dealt with by the administration, YES IT’S HARD TO OVERLOOK THE COLOR,
    BUT HE DID LIKE YOU SAID MANAGE TO OVERCOME THE FACT OF WHAT SOME YOUTHS TRY SO HARD TO MAKE TRUE, HE WAS LUCKY TO NOT LIVE AMONG THEM,
    WHO WOULD HAVE ATTACKED HIM FOR BEING SO SMART, AND ATEMPT ON HIS LIFE SO TO KEEP THEIR PUBLIC PROFILE , OF FOREVER POORS WHO WHERE BORN ON THE WRONG SIDE OF SOCIETY BECAUSE OF THEIR COLOR, WHICH STORY,HAVE BEEN SOLD TO THEIR PARENTS AND OLDER GENERATIONS BEFORE THEM AND TRANSMIT TO THEM AS AN ALWAYS TO BE POOR YOUNG .
    CRIMINALS, GETTING AWAY WITH LITTLE HURTING CRIMES,
    NEIL TYSON HAD A GIFT OF PATENCE ALSO TO BE STRUGGLING WITH THE STARS KNOWLEDGE,
    THE PROBABLY HIGHEST SCIENCE AND MOST DIFFICULT SCIENCE HE COULD FIND AND HE DID NOT LET GO FOR ANY OBSTACLES COMING HIS WAY, AND LIKE THE ACTORS BLACKS WE LOVE TO SEE BECAUSE THEY ARE SO SMART AND GOOD AT THEIR SCIENCE, NEIL WAS GIVEN THE ADMIRATION
    NOT BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK, HE WAS ABOVE IT, NO IT’S BECAUSE HE WAS SO SMART TO BE ABLE TO LEARN SUCH FAROUT KNOWLEDGE,
    BEST TO YOU WHICH YOU ALSO HAVE THE SAME OF MY ADMIRATION, AND OUR BLOGGER MATHMAN WE LIKE TO READ HIS COMMENTS ALL THE TIME, HIS KNOWLEDGE HAS TRAVEL THROUGH THE CIBER SPACE TO REACH US OUR MIND WHEN HE COMMENT,
    BYE

  12. 18

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Ditto
    THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE around VANCOUVER ,
    it was close to the JUAN DE FOCO PLATE,
    i thought you might be interested,
    JUST CAPTURE IT THE QUAKE WAS 6.6
    BYE
    AM I RIGHT TO THINK THERE IS MANY EARTH MOVEMENT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS,
    COLLAPSE OF GROUND IN MANY PLACE, WHAT COULD BE GOING ON UNDER OUR FEET?
    AND THERE IS AN ICEBERG ON THE MOVE THE SIZE OF MANHATTEN,
    BYE

  13. 19

    Aqua

    @Tom:

    Here’s a question for you: how do you account for the astonishing racial disparity in America’s prison population?

    Historically, minorities tend to live in the inner cities. Crime is a problem in most inner cities and has been for as long as there have been inner cities. When you go fishing in a stocked pond (inner city) you’re going to catch more fish than you would in a normal pond (suburbia). The police have a target rich environment.

    One million blacks locked up, the leading cause being non-violent drug offenses. What is the reason?

    I’m not a fan of the drug laws and the minimum sentencing. I’m actually ok with the president’s and attorney general’s plan to commute sentences for non-violent drug offenders, at least the way the have it laid out right now, (that being no gang ties, no cartel ties).
    There are some disparities in sentencing, which is what the minimum sentencing requirements were supposed to take care of.

    I’m talking about institutional/structural bias.

    Let’s get the whole “race card” issue squared away. When the president says some of the criticism he gets is because he’s black, that’s the race card. When the attorney general stands up in Al Sharpton’s group and claims attorney general’s and president’s don’t typically get treated that way, that’s the race card. Even though Holder said he didn’t mean race. We live in an age of video and there is proof out there that president’s and attorney’s general get treated that way all the time. Claiming that someone disagrees with you simply on the basis of race is the race card because you are shutting down debate. It would be like me saying the only reason you don’t agree with me is because I’m from the south. That would negate all valid arguments you have.
    Saying you were profiled is not playing the race card. I don’t believe Glanville was playing the race card in his story. Even though the police officer had a valid explanation for asking him the question. The officer definitely could have handled it better. There was no reason for him not to assume Glanville was the homeowner and he should have approached it that way. But the bigger question is, how do you fix it? Because just like there are idiots such as Michael Dunn, there are idiots like Crystal Gail Mangum.

  14. 20

    ilovebeeswarzone

    HOW COME A TWO YEAR OLD IS STARING AT A BLACK TWO YEAR OLD,
    IS IT RACIST?
    the both mother are reacting to it,
    one is the white mother giving a negative rebut to her two year old in a stern voice,
    he will have a negative print in his mind for life,
    while the other mother quicly move out or give a stern order to her two year old,
    looking at the other also, insisting unable to take his eyes from the other doing the same,
    is that racist? no it’s not,
    so why if the adults are doing it, it’s racist , we all do it discretly, not to offend, but to acknowledge,
    the color, and why not should we,

  15. 21

    Tom

    @Aqua:

    Historically, minorities tend to live in the inner cities. Crime is a problem in most inner cities and has been for as long as there have been inner cities. When you go fishing in a stocked pond (inner city) you’re going to catch more fish than you would in a normal pond (suburbia). The police have a target rich environment.

    As far as it’s true that in some communities police are free to profile and target minorities, I’d say that’s partially true. And I will give you that it makes sense that in higher population densities, more arrests are likely. But the evidence is so compelling, wide-spread and overwhelming that the truth is the disparity can’t be explained just by environment. Taking what many people would consider a rather benign transgression – arrest for marijuana possession. The racial disparity exists in almost all states and counties in America, not just big cities. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/04/the-blackwhite-marijuana-arrest-gap-in-nine-charts/

    It’s not that some states treat the races equally and others treat them really unequally. Only in Hawaii are the rates even close to equal, and that’s biased by the fact that blacks make up only 1.6 percent of the population. In the state with the second-lowest disparity, Alaska, blacks are 1.6 times more likely to be arrested. In the state with the biggest, Iowa, blacks are 8.34 times more likely to be arrested. D.C. has the second biggest; in the District, blacks are 8.05 times more likely to be arrested.

    Similarly, the vast majority of counties arrest blacks at a higher rate than whites, with some having a disparity of greater than 10 to 1.

    The truth of the matter is that, if you really look at the research, it’s pretty much impossible to erase race as a factor in the arrest/imprisonment disparity in America. And this is just one part of the forces Tyson alludes to which impact “access to opportunity”, as he politely put it. This viewpoint, of course, runs head-on into the contemporary conservative doctrine that race and racism play no role in anything in our society. The historical record, statistical evidence and common sense are being set aside by conservatives when they frame the entire debate as one about lack of effort, something that of course can never really be proven. Jonathan Chait, in a recent piece on the interplay of race and politics in contemporary America, points out how the reaction to the OJ Simpson verdict broke along racial lines, while the verdict in the Zimmerman trial broke along ideological lines. The gulf between how conservatives and liberals view anything that has to do with race is huge right now. An interesting example is Cliven Bundy. Conservatives see a hero standing up to a tyrannical government. What some blacks have pointed out is this is actually a rather extreme example of white privilege. Is there any conceivable scenario where law-breaking blacks arm themselves and attempt to provoke a fight with law enforcement in, say, Harlem, and the government backs down and let’s them just do their thing indefinitely? So you can just imagine how the apocalyptic conservative rhetoric is viewed on the Left, when someone like Cliven repeatedly breaks the law for years, then invites armed conflict and is shown that level of deference by the so-called tyrants, while minorities are routinely rounded up and sent to prison every day for crimes as small as having a joint in their pocket. People are truly seeing two different worlds. I suppose it doesn’t need to be pointed out that Bundy, based on recent comments of his that have come to light, shares the wide-spread conservative opinion that blacks are just much too satisfied and aimless being on the government dole and seem constitutionally unwilling to just try harder. He just perhaps said it in a less politically correct and coded fashion.

    Let’s get the whole “race card” issue squared away. When the president says some of the criticism he gets is because he’s black, that’s the race card.

    Why leave off the second half of the quote I assume you’re alluding to: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president… now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.” Poor Obama. The guy clearly tries to see things from both sides more than most. Not only that, he goes out of his way to try and explain to conservative whites how blacks think and feel in certain situations, most notably in his speech after the Zimmerman verdict, and what does he get for his efforts? He gets accused of being a racist, of playing the race card, of trying to stoke animosity. A nuanced and frank articulation of how people think and feel differently based on shared experiences and heritage doesn’t even register on the conservative radar.

    And I have to ask, is it the race card if it’s true? I am sure some day we will have greater access, document-wise, to things Obama has read directed at him and the greater clarity and perspective of time, and I don’t think the conservative take on Obama is going to age very well. From the Birther hysteria on day one, right on down the line to Obama the tyrant and racist, I think in ten years a lot of people are going to be conveniently forgetting they were ever involved with such rhetoric.

    OK, here’s the thing that really annoys me about this obsessive focus by the Right on “the race card”. The Right treats the race card as if it is somehow the moral equivalent of racism. How many times have I heard that playing the race card is just as bad as being racist? But is it really? What skin in the game does the average conservative American have that makes the race card such an affront, such a threat? The race card is a rhetorical device. Racism, particularly in the guise of discrimination, that’s an actual real this-can-ruin-your-life – or end it – threat. Not getting that job, the cab that doesn’t stop for you on a rainy night, being profiled by law enforcement, going to jail, being killed by an armed racist because you’re wearing a hoodie: these are real consequences. What is the consequence of the race card again? You hurt your hand while pounding on the dash board listening to the Rush talk about the race card? I think people need to get some perspective in this country. You are not directly a victim because you think Al Sharpton played the race card unless you allow yourself to be the victim of your own disproportionate anger about something that will have no measurable impact on your life. But victims of discrimination and racism, they are real victims being directly impacted. So while I understand the convenience behind the motivation to do so, to compare the two as somehow equivalent showcases a detachment from reality that is difficult to comprehend.

  16. 22

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Tom
    YOUR COMMENT WOULD PASS WITH A BUNCH OF IGNORANT READING IT,
    BUT NOT HERE, BUT YOU TRIED HARD,
    NOBODY IS RACIST HERE, NOBODY IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY ALSO,

  17. 23

    Aqua

    @Tom:
    In reference to the Washington Post link, that’s screwed up. I’d like to know how the police officers are thinking, but I would still have to go with population density as the major factor.

    contemporary conservative doctrine that race and racism play no role in anything in our society.

    I don’t know what doctrine that is. Conservatives believe that race should play no role in society. We’re not so dense as to believe it doesn’t. We just don’t believe that every single issue is about race.

    Jonathan Chait, in a recent piece on the interplay of race and politics in contemporary America, points out how the reaction to the OJ Simpson verdict broke along racial lines, while the verdict in the Zimmerman trial broke along ideological lines.

    That’s a whole other post. Isn’t it a little funny to you that the first thing the press did was call Zimmerman a “White Hispanic?” Conservatives didn’t make it about race, the left and the press did.

    Conservatives see a hero standing up to a tyrannical government. What some blacks have pointed out is this is actually a rather extreme example of white privilege.

    I can’t speak for other conservatives. I didn’t see a hero. The governor of Nevada said he paid taxes to the state. But even so, even if he was negligent in paying federal grazing fees, here is what I saw. I saw the BLM with snipers and paramilitary gear. The BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT with snipers and paramilitary gear. Our border patrol agents have H&K P2000 handguns. They are patrolling our borders with .40 caliber handguns while the BLM has snipers and paramilitary personnel training their weapons on a US citizen.
    This makes me just as angry:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/23/cops-raid-the-wrong-apartment-tie-down-innocent-75-year-old-woman/
    It doesn’t make me angry because she’s black, it makes me angry that a US citizen is being traumatized by an ever increasing police state.
    This makes me angry as well:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/24/cops-found-nothing-in-raid-so-they-planted-drugs-to-frame-innocent-woman/
    And I don’t even know what color they are.

    I suppose it doesn’t need to be pointed out that Bundy, based on recent comments of his that have come to light, shares the wide-spread conservative opinion that blacks are just much too satisfied and aimless being on the government dole and seem constitutionally unwilling to just try harder.

    That is a complete and utter lie. I’m not sure about the latest statistics, but I believe the majority of people on welfare are white. The overwhelming majority of conservatives find Bundy’s comments repulsive. The problem most conservatives have with welfare is the way it incentivizes bad behavior. If you get married you lose benefits. Have more kids, get more money. Get a job, lose benefits. We don’t want people punished for trying to help themselves. There has to be a better way. If you get a $2 an hour pay raise, it shouldn’t cost you $400 a month because you lose childcare benefits. There isn’t a one size fits all way to do it. Just like the ACA, people shouldn’t be looking to work less hours so they get a bigger subsidy on the exchanges.

    Why leave off the second half of the quote I assume you’re alluding to

    Not the quote I was thinking about, but I get your point.

    What skin in the game does the average conservative American have that makes the race card such an affront, such a threat?

    Maybe you should ask the Duke Lacrosse players or the men whose lives Tawana Brawley destroyed. That is a little extreme, so I’ll try to address your point a different way. Instead of using Obama or Holder, I’ll use my very own congressman, the ever brilliant Hank Johnson. I think he’s an idiot. On about the same scale as I think Alan Grayson is an idiot. So you should understand, race plays no part in this for me. If I were to get into a conversation with someone that supports good ole Hank and they tell me that I only think that way because Hank is black, that’s playing the race card. What skin in the game do I have? I just got called a racist. Is that on par with racism? Yes it is. Am I going to be profiled or thrown in jail? No, but I have been falsely accused. I have actually been told by people that I can’t be racist because I’m a half-breed, a statement I find completely ignorant. Just because you’re not white or all white, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist. But I would like to point out, that I’m not a racist. I have way too many other things to worry about in my life to be concerned with the melanin levels in another person’s skin.

  18. 24

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Aqua
    you are giving us the reality of life, as it is realy, not from the MEDIA PERSPECTIVE,
    THAT’S WHY I LOVE FLOPPING ACES SO MUCH,
    because of you and the other outstanding bright minds,
    we read real human who thought DEEPLY before typing,
    WHAT THEIR INNER GUTS AND HEART AND SOUL IS UNDERNEAT THEIR BODY,
    I AM ALWAYS IN AWE WHEN I READ SUCH TREASURE,

  19. 25

    Rich Wheeler

    @Tom: “Is it the race card if it’s true?” I’ve been asking that question here for over 2 years. crickets
    Great discussion between you and Aqua.

  20. 26

    Tom

    @Aqua:

    That’s a whole other post. Isn’t it a little funny to you that the first thing the press did was call Zimmerman a “White Hispanic?” Conservatives didn’t make it about race, the left and the press did.

    No, the facts on the ground made it about race. It would take more delusion than I can muster to think that the exact same scenario would have unfolded if Trayvon were white. We know too much about what Zimmerman said when he initially saw him. Am I to think that “they always get away with it” is referring to humans in general? Please. And none of this explains why many conservatives raised Zimmerman up as a hero while simultaneously performing a character assassination on a dead teenager in order to justify his murder. I will give you that many conservatives stuck to ‘just the facts’ in an effort to prove Zimmerman’s lack of legal culpability, but I assume you haven’t forgotten the hundreds of comments on FA about the nefarious soda he was carrying on his person, or those persons who goulishly trolled through his social media sites looking for stereotypical gangsta pictures? When I read comments like that, the inescapable conclusion I draw is that these people value this teens life differently than they would their own son or daughters.

    The BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT with snipers and paramilitary gear.

    I would have to plead ignorance about the proper protocol and correct weapons law enforcement should employ when confronting someone who has allegedly defrauded the government of over a million dollars and who has now gathered armed anti-government militia to make some sort of last stand. Of course the end result is nothing happened. This man has so far gotten away with crimes that you or I never could because he put peoples’ lives in danger and law enforcement wisely didn’t escalate.

    That is a complete and utter lie. I’m not sure about the latest statistics, but I believe the majority of people on welfare are white.

    Exactly. So my point is, why is that conservatives like Bundy – and the OP – find it necessary to exclusively lecture African Americans that they, as a group, need to get off of welfare and get a job? Why isn’t Bundy looking at white people on welfare and drawing the conclusion that they would all be better off on a plantation?

    If I were to get into a conversation with someone that supports good ole Hank and they tell me that I only think that way because Hank is black, that’s playing the race card. What skin in the game do I have? I just got called a racist.

    You’re assuming that would be the reaction. I would suggest you need new friends if it is. I am not saying that people don’t falsely leap to that conclusion. I am saying that too many conservatives equate the two in the manner of “playing the race card is the same as racism”. And let’s not forget that there is playing the race card and there is falsely accusing someone of playing the race card. Do you think not one person has accused Glanville of playing the race card to try and shut him up? It’s a bludgeon to freedom of expression that works both ways.

    Just because you’re not white or all white, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist. But I would like to point out, that I’m not a racist.

    I don’t think you or most conservatives are. That doesn’t change the fact that modern American conservatism continues to exhibit the lasting vestiges of white supremacy. What I would term pure ideological conservatives such as yourself seem to want to quarantine these unfortunate events and dismiss them as isolated incidents. But perhaps what you need to do is accept that, just like on the Left, you’re in a big tent and not everyone in your tent shares your principles and views.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/cliven-bundy-wants-to-tell-you-all-about-the-negro/361152/

    A couple days ago Jonathan Chait asserted that modern conservatism is “doomed” because it is “rooted in white supremacy.” The first claim may or may not be true, but there’s little doubt about the second. Whether it’s the Senate minority leader claiming that America should have remained legally segregated, a beloved cultural figure fondly recalling how happy black people were living under lynch law, a presidential candidate calling Barack Obama a “food-stamp president,” or a campaign surrogate calling Barack Obama “a subhuman mongrel,” the preponderance of evidence shows that modern conservatism just can’t quit white supremacy.

  21. 28

    Aqua

    @Tom:

    It would take more delusion than I can muster to think that the exact same scenario would have unfolded if Trayvon were white.

    I don’t believe that is true at all. What I do know for sure is that it wouldn’t have gotten any media attention. There is a difference.

    And none of this explains why many conservatives raised Zimmerman up as a hero while simultaneously performing a character assassination on a dead teenager in order to justify his murder.

    I didn’t know he was raised up as a hero. I thought he was an idiot. Heretofore, being an idiot isn’t against the law. If it were Nancy Pelosi would be serving a life sentence. Just to be fair, John Boehner would be in the next cell over serving a similar sentence. Hell, let’s face it, 80% of congress would be in prison.

    I would have to plead ignorance about the proper protocol and correct weapons law enforcement should employ when confronting someone who has allegedly defrauded the government of over a million dollars and who has now gathered armed anti-government militia to make some sort of last stand. Of course the end result is nothing happened. This man has so far gotten away with crimes that you or I never could because he put peoples’ lives in danger and law enforcement wisely didn’t escalate.

    I don’t think you have to be wise in the way of government weaponry to understand the BLM doesn’t require paramilitary weapons. They are nothing more than paper pushers. As for Bundy getting away with anything, he hasn’t. Everything is still in court, exactly where it is supposed to be. If he isn’t paying what he’s supposed to be paying, put a lien against his property. If he’s trespassing, you call the sheriff or the US Marshal.
    But let me say this and you can dismiss it out of hand if you wish, but Obama has set a dangerous precedent by deciding which laws he wishes to actually enforce. Once someone in an elevated position decides to ignore the law, it sets a dangerous example.

    You’re assuming that would be the reaction.

    Joe Wilson said “you lie!” Maureen Dowd said what you didn’t hear was “you lie, boy!” We could sit here and go back and forth on the race card. Maureen Dowd played the race card and the implication is that Joe Wilson is a racist, or at the very least was racist in that moment.

    Do you think not one person has accused Glanville of playing the race card to try and shut him up? It’s a bludgeon to freedom of expression that works both ways.

    Agreed and I’m glad you see it as such.

    That doesn’t change the fact that modern American conservatism continues to exhibit the lasting vestiges of white supremacy

    I just don’t see it. David Duke was a democrat. George Wallace and Robert Byrd were democrats. I understand your big tent theory, but I do not see a white supremacy legacy. And just as an aside, who said this about President Obama:

    a ‘light-skinned’ African American with ‘no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’”

    That would be Harry Reid.
    As for Bundy, I said earlier his comments were repulsive. Is he a racist? Maybe. I just think he’s ignorant.

    For Rich’s question:

    Is it the race card if it’s true

    You’d have to give me an example. Let’s take Joe Wilson’s comment where Maureen Dowd laid down the race card. No one knows if “boy” was what Joe Wilson wanted to finish the sentence with except Joe Wilson and God. But if that is the way he intended it, yeah, it’s racist. Is that what we should believe? That everyone that speaks out against a leader of color is that they are racists?

  22. 29

    Rich Wheeler

    @Aqua: If I call someone a racist and he is in fact a racist am I playing the race card? If the answer is yes then playing the race card is not necessarily a bad thing? Or is the answer no?
    I’ve been trying to understand Conservative thinking on this for 2 years.
    Btw I agree Bundy is ignorant and Zimmerman was an idiot.

  23. 30

    Ditto

    @Rich Wheeler:

    If I call someone a racist and he is in fact a racist am I playing the race card?

    Unless you can prove your claim, you are committing liable or slander (depending on the medium,) and defamation of character. Personal opinion is not sufficient. So, without unvarnished proof, yes you are likely playing the race card. Automatic, reckless and disingenuous use of the claim “racism!” has diluted and undermined the impact and importance of true racism. Are you not familiar with the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

  24. 31

    Rich Wheeler

    @Ditto I ask again :If there is unvarnished proof that he is a racist–they do exist–am I playing the race card? Some here say that if you call someone a racist you must be a racist. Seems to me, very faulty logic.

  25. 32

    Ditto

    @Rich Wheeler:

    You didn’t mention having “proof” in your initial question, therefore you aren’t asking the same question “again.” If you can unquestionably prove a person is a racist (and you’d best be sure,) then calling them a racist is legitimate. IF you can’t prove it, then you are may legitimately be called out for unjustly defaming their character with slander or libel. You may “think” that the person is a racist, but your opinion is not proof. Neither is selective editing of fact to make it appear that a person is a racist.

    Some here say that if you call someone a racist you must be a racist.

    Bullcrap. I think you are purposely misrepresenting other posters here. If someone is falsely slandering someone as a “racist” when they aren’t, or claiming that someone is racist because they don’t support Obama, or they are blaming something on racism when it isn’t, all in order it to insert racial tensions into an issue, then the accuser is unquestionably a race-baiter. They may also be racist, (as bigotry exists among all ethnicities,) and should they select another race to blame for their false charge of racism it would certainly be racist, but it does not logically follow that all who claim others are “racist” are themselves racist. They may however, be held responsible for slandering an innocent person.

    I strongly suggest leftist stop crying “racism” at every news story that happens to involve people of different races, as they are destroying both their own legitimacy and doing a severe disservice to true racism.

  26. 33

    Aqua

    @Rich Wheeler:

    If I call someone a racist and he is in fact a racist am I playing the race card?

    No, in my opinion that isn’t playing the race card. I think you could call a skinhead a racist.

    I’m not burying my head in the sand and saying racism doesn’t exist, it does, and not just in the white community. But it is no where near the levels it was even 20 years ago. Take the Glanville story Tom posted. According to Glanville, the next town over has a no soliciting ordinance. Someone reported soliciting to the the West Hartford police. Glanville said the next logical street the solicitor would have traveled was his. The officer was out of his jurisdiction and made an assumption. Was the officer racist? Maybe he is, I don’t know him, but I don’t think you can make that assumption based on just his actions. Was he prejudiced? Yeah, he saw a black man shoveling snow and assumed he was the solicitor from the next street over. Everyone prejudges based on experience and police officers more than most. Could he have handled it better? Definitely. “Excuse me sir, have you seen anyone you don’t recognize in your neighborhood?”
    All I’m saying is that there is a difference. Calling an action racists right out of the gate is just wrong. The media is the biggest race bating organization we have. If they can tie a crime to race in anyway possible, they will do it.

  27. 34

    Rich Wheeler

    @Ditto: my #29 “is in fact a racist.”
    Agree that calling out a racist should only be done when there is “unvarnished proof.” Racism where it exists should not be condoned or ignored.
    Aqua No question things are better than they were 20 years ago. I’m afraid many still bury their head in the sand. “Progress not perfection.”
    I continue to enjoy your debate with Tom, who IMHO, is one sharp Yankee.

  28. 35

    Tom

    @ Aqua

    But let me say this and you can dismiss it out of hand if you wish, but Obama has set a dangerous precedent by deciding which laws he wishes to actually enforce. Once someone in an elevated position decides to ignore the law, it sets a dangerous example.

    You raise an important point worthy of further debate. You say Obama is setting a dangerous precedent. As an aside, I’ve noticed that many conservatives have a funny way of judging Obama’s actions in relation to his predecessors. It’s almost like there were the real Presidents, and then there’s Obama, the “different” President. For example, I still remember a time, long ago, when conservatives approved of non-wimpy things like law enforcement and displays of power in the name of peace and order and fairness. Ah, the mid-2010s. So a cursory google search tells me there was a guy named George Washington who suppressed a tax protest known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The facts don’t all align perfectly – they were farmers and Bundy is a rancher – but there are some commonalities. Washington took 13,000 armed men to put down the rebellion. (Overkill, George?) The rebels dug in in a place called Bower Hill, so Washington wisely pulled his men back and decided this would be best handled in the courts. Kidding! There was an actual armed conflict, people were shot, people were killed. The question is precedent. That’s one example of something that happened a long time ago. Do we really need to list the others? So is Obama doing something new? Doesn’t seem like it to me. Incidentally, conservatives being the most consistent and fair minded people around, how does the Right judge this Washington character? Sounds like a tyrant. What is he, 10, 20 times worse than Obama?
    Let’s say you’re the guy who is responsible for the lives of the men sent in to deal with the problem that is Cliven Bundy. Twenty years of defiance. Rhetoric like: “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” “I abide by almost zero federal laws…. I’ve got to protect my property. If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it.” His wife: “I’ve got a shotgun. It’s loaded and I know how to use it. We’re ready to do what we have to do.” So what is the law enforcement principle in a circumstance like this, when you’re sending your people potentially into harm’s way? Do you aim for equal force? A little more force? A lot more? Are you trying to make it a fair fight or are you trying to send the message that this isn’t a fight you can win? I know there are law enforcement types who can answer this question and I’m sincerely curious.

    I just don’t see it. David Duke was a democrat. George Wallace and Robert Byrd were democrats

    Come on. I said “modern” American conservatives. Not Democrats from a generation or two ago who also happened to be conservatives.

    Joe Wilson said “you lie!” Maureen Dowd said what you didn’t hear was “you lie, boy!” We could sit here and go back and forth on the race card. Maureen Dowd played the race card and the implication is that Joe Wilson is a racist, or at the very least was racist in that moment.

    This is why i enjoy getting into debates with smart guys like you. I really had to think about this and you are correct. As someone who abhors racism, it would be hypocritical of me to discount the power of a false accusation of racism. People should not throw that term around lightly and if it’s done falsely, for political reasons or to defame someone’s character, that’s a terrible thing. This doesn’t change the way I feel about racism v the race card of my impression that many conservatives hide behind race card panic as a way to ignore or excuse away racism, but the truth is the truth. The bigger issue to me isn’t about finger pointing and people who are literally active racists. . It’s about laws and customs in our country that are discriminatory. Let’s call it “soft” racism. People who are not racists knowingly or unknowingly abide by discrimination every day. We all do, myself included. And yes, there are people who I think try to make that an easier thing to do by inflaming racial resentments. What is more harmful to society, the myth of the knockout game or thousands of urban youth entering the criminal justice system, some who will be in and out for life, due to non-violent drug offenses? What do people on the Right care to talk about more? This stuff is all a distraction. Bundy is an easy target, because he’s not a smart man, but smart racists know how to dress up their sentiments in neutral language, and that will always be the case. Going after people isn’t the long-term answer, as we’ve seen, because if people can argue away the racism of a Cliven Bundy or a Ted Nuegent, they can excuse anything. So what do we do? Go after policy, address harmful norms and lack of understanding between people.

  29. 36

    Aqua

    @Tom:

    It’s almost like there were the real Presidents, and then there’s Obama, the “different” President.

    I know many, many conservatives that called Bush out on his extra-constitutional activities. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld ring a bell, the Patriot Act, and most of the right just about lost its mind with NSPD-51.

    For example, I still remember a time, long ago, when conservatives approved of non-wimpy things like law enforcement and displays of power in the name of peace and order and fairness

    I still consider myself pro-law enforcement. I have to believe the vast majority of police officers have the best interests of their community at heart. I have good friends that are cops and I know this to be true of them. If we talk about law enforcement planting drugs, staging crime scenes, or busting in on a 75 year old woman and tying her up, they have the same sentiments I have. We have a Constitution for a reason. It goes back to the point I made earlier. If the federal government doesn’t need to abide by the Constitution, why would local governments feel they should?

    a cursory google search tells me there was a guy named George Washington who suppressed a tax protest known as the Whiskey Rebellion.

    I fully believe Alexander Hamilton had naked pictures of George Washington. How could such a great and learned man fall for such complete bull crap that was Hamilton? First he takes Hamilton’s side over Madison in regards to the National Bank. Madison! And Jefferson to boot!
    I would have been on the side of the rebellion. The tax was unfair as enacted. It was repealed by Jefferson later. Andrew Jackson did pretty much the same with South Carolina nullification and even refused to abide by a SCOTUS decision, leading to the Indian Removal Act. I think Washington was wrong, I think Jackson was wrong, and I think having an armed BLM is very, very wrong.

    Let’s say you’re the guy who is responsible for the lives of the men sent in to deal with the problem that is Cliven Bundy.

    No, let’s don’t say that. Let’s say we use the courts and liens. You have two federal court orders against Bundy, which I think should be nullified, but that is a different story. But you have two court orders, put liens on his property and start collecting. Meanwhile the case will continue on to the Supreme Court. And if the court follows the Constitution, the BLM will lose. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17:

    “and to exercise like Authority over all places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock Yards, and other needful Buildings.”

    What is more harmful to society, the myth of the knockout game or thousands of urban youth entering the criminal justice system, some who will be in and out for life, due to non-violent drug offenses?

    I don’t think the knockout game was a myth. And I’m all for reforming the laws for non-violent drug offenses. There are a lot of conservative/libertarians that feel the same. I can think of several republicans President Obama could reach out to, to make that happen. He won’t, but I can hope.

    So what do we do? Go after policy, address harmful norms and lack of understanding between people.

    We have laws on the books, more laws won’t change anything. We change things, communities change things. Our kids think less about race, gender, and sexual orientation than we do. Their kids will care even less. But laws can backfire. Our children and grandchildren will wonder why they are being punished by affirmative action laws. Affirmative action laws will eventually breed contempt and in many cases already have. We need to protect the rights of minorities while also protecting the rights of everyone else.

    This is why i enjoy getting into debates with smart guys like you.

    Likewise. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ve always thought population density to be a prime factor for the disparity in prison population. I read an article saying more blacks are moving to the suburbs and whites are moving into cities. It will be interesting to see how the stats play out.

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