Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Racism: Beauty and The Beast

It is occasionally comforting to imagine that the people of evil spirit all look evil or ugly. That way you can tell who they are ahead of time and avoid them. It is also comforting to imagine that the election of a black President meant that America was finally starting to move past its ugly history of white supremacy and racial hatred towards a "post-racial" era. However, both of those ideas are complete fairy tales. Racial hatreds persist. And it's not just the stereotypical obvious skinheads or toothless inbred Southerners driving pickup trucks who spew racial hatred of the other, especially black people. Nope this stuff is nationwide. It's found in high-class and low-class people. People of great beauty and people of astounding ugliness can agree on how much they hate blacks. People who are living paycheck to paycheck and people who can light Cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills can find camaraderie in their shared disdain for citizens of African descent.

I am talking of course of two recent incidents. One incident involved mathematician and conservative columnist John Derybshire. The UK born Derbyshire (who is a walking example of why I think the US should have a more restrictive immigration policy) has a long history of writing hateful pieces about Black people. But in a recent piece for Takimag, he outdid himself in a scornful rebuttal to the idea that Black parents have to caution their children how to behave around whites, particularly white police officers. You can go read it there if you like. Basically his "argument" is that most black people are stupid and violent. He also thinks blacks are lazy and primarily have jobs via affirmative action. He sums up by saying he warns his children to avoid black areas or events with large numbers of black people. This is a typical excerpt.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.

There was actually some conservative push back. A conservative economist was actually one of the first people to call for The National Review to fire Derbyshire for his Takimag article. The National Review did "fire" Derbyshire. Derbyshire himself did not seem too bothered by this. He has self-identified as a racist since at least 2003. No one who has ever read a representative sampling of his work can honestly say they weren't aware that Derbyshire has a special dislike for Black people and NAMS (Non Asian Minorities-Derbyshire is married to a woman of East Asian descent and evidently makes exceptions for that group).

The second incident of note was that a Chicago area bartender named Jessica Harr, decided to share with the Facebook world how much she hated Black people. She called for expulsion of blacks, used racial slurs, talked about how ugly and dumb black people were and said she'd never hire any blacks. Of course when the s*** hit the fan this MENSA member made her page private but by then it was too late and her employer decided that it was probably best if Harr found a new place to earn money.

UPDATE: Proof owner Mike Bloem, who waited almost 24 hours to respond to the situation, had this to say about the incident: "Proof would like to confirm its belief in equality, fairness and tolerance to all our friends and partners. Sadly, on occasion, we are all exposed to ignorance and racism. We believe that by continuing to be true to our ideals and leading through our actions that each of us can be an agent for positive change." 
Yeah, whatever. The truth of the matter is that women who look like Harr usually don't have a problem getting hired in the nightclub/food service/hospitality industry. I am certain that in a short period of time she will have a new gig. And perhaps she will only share her racist rants in person instead of on Facebook. Problem solved, right?

Well, not really. The issue is that Derbyshire and Harr both appear to have lots of supporters, judging by the comment boards of some conservative websites. And as I stated Derbyshire's attitudes have been crystal clear for years. He didn't all of a sudden decide that he hated Black people. So I don't really understand why now The National Review decided that it could no longer publish his work. The other interesting thing to me is that Derbyshire's relative openness about his attitudes is almost of benefit to me. I know exactly where he stands. I know that he doesn't like me and won't give me a fair shot. But Harr is the sort of person who smiles in your face but goes home to rant about how she wants you expelled from the country. Unless I'm looking for it, I may miss it. I have worked with and for people like Harr in the past. There's always some seemingly non-racial reason they have for why they're moving forward and you're not. And it's always delivered with a smile. Such people are dangerous.

1) Do you think the US is more racist now than before the 2008 election or are people just dropping their masks?
2) Is it fair to fire someone for what they wrote on their Facebook page? How about private email?
3) Had you heard of Derbyshire before now? Is there anything he said that was true? Do you think his attitudes are common among conservatives?
4) Why did The National Review decide to sever ties with Derbyshire now?
5) Ever worked with open racists? 

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