My Photo

« McCain On Taxes | Main | Getting Past the Past »

March 25, 2008

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515c2369e200e551704cd48833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where's The Gratitude?:

Comments

Gratitude? Sorta like the beaten wife should be grateful her abusive spouse stops hitting her. Black people getting civil rights wouldn't have been possible without someone (guess who?) taking them away in the first place.

it surprises me that msnbc keeps him on -- i compare him to an iceberg. you see bits on msnbc, but it's nothign compared to what lurks beneath.

maybe they just need cover for their "liberal" turn. they can always say, "hey, we're balanced - we have the old racist on here too"

"In America, you get food to eat,
Won't have to run through the jungle and scuff up yo' feet,
You just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day,
It's great to be an American."

It doesn't appear that Pat Buchanan has added much to Randy Newman's lyric, except maybe that he really means it...

chris rock said it fairly well (paraphrased):

being black in america is like having an uncle that put you through college, but molested you.

The most reliable irritations of the day, for me, are Pat Buchanan's several appearances on MSNBC. How a man who has helped to author so much grief and acrimony in this country could be afforded such an influential place in our discourse is an enduring mystery.

I console myself with my cherished belief that if Barack Obama really is elected president, Buchanan will likely disappear in a puff of black smoke.

The thought I keep returning to whenever I think about the Wright flap and the various responses to it is how vast the disconnect remains between mainstream (white) culture and the lived experience of African-Americans in this country. Buchanan, who's never been particularly shy about his bigotry, is just the fringe-right symptom of a sadly common condition.

About four years ago, I was having dinner with a friend and her husband, both African-Americans. (I'm white.) I hadn't previously met the husband, but we hit it off pretty quickly and, over some drinks, we all started discussing the election. This was shortly after Kerry had clinched the Dem nomination and the broad outline of the fall campaign was beginning to take shape. The guy--a college-educated professional, very bright--started talking about how the whole exercise was a sham: these two Yalies, two Skull and Bonesmen, would make it look close, but in the end Bush would win by a couple points.

I didn't hear from him again until a few days after the election, when he sent me an e-mail that amounted to "Did I call it, or did I call it?"

Now, this was not an "angry black man" and by no means a radical: the guy and my friend lived on an acre out in New Jersey and were about as bourgeois as it gets. He wasn't even especially pissed off about the outcome. But he just took it for granted that the whole democratic exercise was a farce and that decisions were made within a limited circle of powerful individuals.

It's always dangerous and usually stupid to extrapolate from a tiny sample. But I think this is a fairly commonly held view. I've worked in community-based organizations where African-Americans comprised the majority of the workers including the leadership--again, very smart, very accomplished people, not wacky radicals--and it was accepted as a matter of course that the system was just stacked against the interests of the (almost entirely African-American) community we represented.

It shouldn't be surprising that Jeremiah Wright, a talented and passionate guy in a position of responsibility within a similarly situated community who's old enough to remember when the system was unapologetically repressive and suffered first-hand by it, got a little worked up from time to time. But it is.

Obama's response was pitch-perfect here: he managed to explain both where Wright's (far from atypical) anger came from, and why it can't be the alpha and omega of how the African-American community views its country. I've never been more proud to support him. This nuanced argument, however, is probably well beyond the likes of Pitchfork Pat, or the similarly minded simpletons who would take him seriously.

I’m down for the struggle. It’s tough to have any compassion for a government that would engineer designs to kill its own Citizens.

“The government lied, about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”
-The chosen Spiritual Advisor to the President of the United States of America (who didn’t recognize a thing after twenty years)

Al Gore has tripled on InTrade since I recommended him. He's currently in red on Drudge.

Lots of Bills so a new name:

This right wing meme of "Obama listened to 20 years of hate from his pastor" is just unmitigated crap and really needs to be squashed.

What, Bill, do you know about what Wright had to say for 20 years? Um, nothing. Your desire to extrapolate from a tiny sample is just nonsense.

And, for that matter, since when has anyone's pastor become so important to them that they automatically become a "chosen spiritual advisor"? What does that mean, "spiritual advisor"? Does it inform someone's politics? Should it? Is this what we've come to in the 21st century -- we need to examine the pronouncements of someone's pastor to "ensure" that they are somehow OK?

Whatever happened to the JFK dictum, that he would not let his Catholicism get in the way of what was best for the country? Some of this actually came up in the last election, where Kerry was criticized from the right for *not* adhering to the Church's position on abortion rights. Why have we even allowed any of this to become part of the discourse in this country? I am frankly appalled.

And, while I'm at it -- that FHA loan issue is huge when we talk about economic equity in the US today. Many white families have accumulated wealth through home ownership and inheritance. That opportunity was denied African American households, and it makes a huge difference. To pretend otherwise is, might I say again, unmitigated crap.

Already linked this on another threat but, hey, there it was off topic; here it’s fitting.
A video of the Rev. Wright preaching his chickens-roost post-9/11 sermon, from
BNF via Alternet.
It’s a pleasure to link it again because it stands in such stark contrast to the familiar, Damning America clip. Meditative as well as monitory, it’s not Damn Them but Look quietly and honestly into your own heart. The citation of Malcolm was quoting a former white ambassador saying on Fox that Malcolm was right. Enjoy.

Sorry Whammer. I was wrong. Probably just my typical white guy bias.

Whoops. I was gonna let the awkwardness of ‘former white ambassador’ sit there. But I do acknowledge the Freudian slip. Guess I must have internalized the abrasive contention as it sometimes must be. ‘thread would be the word I wanted.

...and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

I realize the populations are completely different, but -- frankly -- I'm fairly that, en masse, blacks in the UK have done better than blacks in the US. [Not that Buchanan would be familiar either with black poverty or foreign countries, of course.] The same could likely be said about other European countries, though I know much less about them.

So he's not just bigoted but ignorant. But I repeat myself.

"Probably just my typical white guy bias."

Aw, don't worry your pretty head about it, Bill, we're just ribbin' ya.

Nice blog, BTW.

I am astonished about the FHA, a program of which I had only a rough knowledge but great admiration. And to the degree that it helped create a strong middle-class with persistent wealth, I still admire its effectiveness. Now I find out that it not only sustained the racial inequities of the time but actually increased them... Well, this is something people should know and I'm shocked that I didn't know it. The economic map of this country would be entirely different had this program been created with a commitment to equality that matched its commitment to prosperity.

Factoring in the degree to which public education is funded by property taxes, the FHA was doubly discriminatory. There are two principle roads to the move from lower class to middle class or higher: Real estate and education, and they go hand in hand. The policies of the FHA managed to subvert both in minority communities.

I suddenly have a new appreciation for the quote from Faulkner that Barack Obama likes so much: "The past isn't dead and buried. It isn't even past."

The real world impact of the FHA's discriminatory policies can still be felt and felt by everyone. If the FHA was fair, our current racial divides would be much narrower, and our overall wealth much greater.

I guess I should thank Pat Buchanan for his mendacity. Without it, I wouldn't have learned about this important aspect of our shared history. Failing that, I'll just thank Hilzoy for her education instead.

Boy do I feel like an idiot. Having used food stamps, rent supplements, and Pell grants in my lifetime I never realized that qualified me for affirmative action programs as well.

Having used food stamps, rent supplements, and Pell grants in my lifetime I never realized that qualified me for affirmative action programs as well.

Didn't your parents tell you you were black? Sheesh.

I didn't know about the FHA either. Mark Kawakami's points are well-taken.

Duh! Didn't you know they should all be bowing down and thanking Lyndon B. Johnson?

OCSteve, let your inner soul brother out! :)

Hilzoy, two separate things.

1. Paul Krugman presents the same take on New Deal programs in The Conscience of a Liberal, and his citations back up the case well - if they'd been racially inclusive, the Southern bloc necessary to get things passed would have rebelled. But he does a good job both acknowledging this as a reality and condemning the racists for making it so, and a lot of the book focuses on ways of building a new coalition that wouldn't get hung up the same way. So it's not just you. :)

2. In 1988, when I was still in college, Pat Buchanan published a memoir, Right from the Beginning, and National Review gave it a lot of review space. What most struck me was the passage where Buchanan describes how, as a young man, he and his friends would get into fights with cops, knowing that their parents were so powerful that one of two things would happen. Cops that recognized them would refuse to resist in the first place; cops who didn't would fight back and then face the humiliation of being told to let the aggressors go because their daddies said so. And there was no indication that Buchanan felt that this was anything but a perfectly licit form of fun for a rich Irish-American boy to engage in.

That utter lawlessness justified as youthful fun remains the essence of Buchanan to me. Like Scalia's recent public attack on the idea that American law should be taken as having universal value or any relevance at all beyond the mores of our particular tribe, it's an articulate expression of a complete surrender of what I think of moral principle. It's barbarism. It's the rule of the strong, pure and simple. Whenever I see that Buchanan is indignant over anyone else doing something he disapproves of, I think, but where's your ground for objecting, buddy? You don't think that you have to obey the law if you can get away with it, why should the rest of us have to live better than you?

To talk about these programs as a gift from whites to blacks makes no more sense than saying that blacks who live in Manhattan should be grateful to whites for "giving them" Central Park or the subway. Whites did not "give" those things at all, nor did they give them to blacks in particular.

So a conservative commentator once again dishonestly pushes the meme that social programs are for blacks at white folks' expense? You don't say...

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks.

No need to read any further, is there?

What most struck me was the passage where Buchanan describes how, as a young man, he and his friends would get into fights with cops, knowing that their parents were so powerful that one of two things would happen.

Pat Buchanan is a gold-plated dick. Always has been, most likely always will be.

He's on TV because a lot of folks like that kind of thing.

It's a really good thing that we have folks like hilzoy, who will patiently and thoughtfully respond, point by point, to the bile folks like Buchanan spew out. It's very important to do that, so that the conversation isn't all on their belligerent, obnoxious terms.

I am, sincerely, grateful for it, because my knee jerk reaction to folks like him is a hearty "F you".

Thanks -

"It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American."

In other words, slavery worked out great so stop bitching about it, an argument I've heard before.

Of course, you could make the same case about the Holocaust: Jews who fled Eastern Europe for the USA were obviously better off here than behind the Iron Curtain. So by this logic, they should get down on their knees and thank God for Hitler driving them (or their parents or grandparents) to become Americans.

He's on TV because a lot of folks like that kind of thing.

I think it's kind of like that: lots of folks love the tasty outrage. Certainly there are far too many people who agree with him (one is too many, IMO), but the larger wave of outrage-spectating drives this more than anything else, I think. Reasoned discourse is a bit too boring for the mainstream.

Not that I have proof, mind you.

I had a college classmate who argued in perfect sincerity that "conversion by the sword" was, on balance, a great thing during the Crusades. Because the dead people were, you know, "saved."

We weren't really as good friends after that.

Buchanan and other 'conservatives' ALWAYS point out the progressivity of the income tax system (even though that has been reduced), and then point out that many low income earners do not pay any income taxes. They do this in support of taxd favors that they've gotten from Bush/Cheney.

These 'conservatives' do not note that social security, unemployment, and medicare programs, are funded by payroll taxes, that are imposed on all earmed income, and as to social security, are capped at $102,000. This results, for most, in an effective tax rate that is highly regressive.

Warren Buffett, the wealthiest man in the world, compared his effective tax rate with all the other people in his office. His rate was the lowest, much lower than his own secretary.

Given, indeed.

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross did this much better:

David: Right. Bob, did you know that in the early 1800's it was legal for white people to enslave African-Americans?

Bob: Hmm.

David: But then, Abraham Lincoln, a *white* man, set them free.

Bob: Yeah. And David and I believe that it's never to late for us to say to our African-American brothers and sisters--[strums a chord]

Bob and David: You're welcome.
[singing] Hey you're welcome.
Hey don't mention it.
Use that freedom in anyway you like
'Cuz you're not slaves no more
Don't have to behave no more
But we're sure if you do...
You're welcome to
yoobie doobie doobie doobie dooo. [song ends]

David: You're welcome.

It's even more pathetic that the man identified as the most responsible for ending slavery was a Republican. Now they have become the party of racism.

Fraser: for god's sake, don't give the man any ideas.

I find it ironic that Buchanan would have been ideologically opposed to most, if not all, of the social programs he cites as demonstrations of white largesse.

These 'conservatives' do not note that social security, unemployment, and medicare programs, are funded by payroll taxes, that are imposed on all earmed income, and as to social security, are capped at $102,000. This results, for most, in an effective tax rate that is highly regressive.

Nope, still progressive. Now, if you can somehow account for sales tax, property tax, and the like, you might be able to make a case for regressive. Ditto itemization and such.

I believe that in the context of the taxes you list, though, the proper argument is too progressive/not progressive enough.

There is, due to the SS cutoff, a big flat spot on the effective taxation rate vs. income curve that practically begs to be curve-fit with the rest, but you can't do that without uncapping SS collections, or putting in a new tax rate bump that will somehow be tied with the progression of the SS cap over time.

Porcupine_Pal: Buchanan and other 'conservatives' ALWAYS point out the progressivity of the income tax system (even though that has been reduced), and then point out that many low income earners do not pay any income taxes. They do this in support of taxd favors that they've gotten from Bush/Cheney.

Well as much as I hate to be lumped in with the likes of Buchanan I have to cop to the conservative bit (scare quotes and all) and admit I’ll tend to point out how progressive our income tax system is…

I’ve got to fire off a nasty-gram to Bush/Cheney though because they haven’t delivered for me. As it happens I’m working on my taxes this week, so it was easy for me to see that while my 07 total income (and AGI) is a bit less than it was in 99, my 07 effective tax rate is more than 2% higher than it was in 99. I’m out here holding up my end of the deal but they screwed me over. Almost makes me miss the Clinton years…

Meanwhile based on the “Economic Stimulus Payment Notice” I received yesterday (which cost $48M to mail?) I’ll note that a married couple with 4 kids who have not paid a dime in income taxes will receive $2,400 to help revive the economy. Now that is regressive! Speaking of the EITC: In 1999 19.3 million returns collected $31.9 billion. In 06, after evil Bush made the system more regressive, 22.4 million returns collected $43.7 billion.

Look, I don’t mind paying my fair share. I’ve taken advantage of these social programs myself and in my younger years I was plenty thankful that there were many years when I paid $0 in income taxes. But your brush gets a little broad when you claim that conservatives in general talk about our progressive tax system due to the sweetheart tax favors delivered up for us by Bush. Most of us are not in that 1% sweet spot. (30% of the country self-identify as conservative.)

Most of us are not in that 1% sweet spot.

Yes: the other 29% of you support a system designed to make you poorer in order to make the top 1% richer. If that's what you want, why grouse about it? If you want people who aren't in that top 1% to be better off - even that family of two parents and four children trying to scrape along on an income too low to pay income tax on! - then you're hardly a conservative.

Oh, and corporate taxes. Those might just tilt us over into something regressive, somewheres on the income distribution.

in order to make the top 1% richer

The top 1% already are richer.

At least, richer than me.

It was only a matter of time before someone played the boingo card.

I didn't know about the FHA either and am doubly shocked, that I didn't know.

I am white and am the proud recipient of numerous Pell grants. Thanks Senator Pell.

I had many white friends in high school who received food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicaid, WIC, and various other types of assistance. The proportion of white to black households that receive assistance varies by geography.

Thanks for another great post.

Here's the joker in the Boingo deck.

OMG, as the kids I play World of Warcraft say, Slarti. I concede complete strategic defeat in the face of that.

Bruce’s comment crystallized a central signifier in the “conservative” (there must be a more accurate adjective with which to nail the mindset) smokescreen obscuring contested privilege; the contempt shading the utterance of ‘entitlement’.
It’s the noise made by the privileged, mightily resentful of any who feel entitlement should be distributed in a more egalitarian manner. Oligarchy feverishly flailing to suppress democracy.

felix: It’s the noise made by the privileged, mightily resentful of any who feel entitlement should be distributed in a more egalitarian manner.

See conservative reaction to any suggestion for establishing a national health care system: once they accept that since other countries can, the US could too (which itself takes a while, thanks to the health insurance companies highly successful corporate propaganda) it does finally come down to: but omg! that means I might have to wait in line!

No, my objection is that I don't like plans that are likely to hamper innovation.

No, my objection is that I don't like plans that are likely to hamper innovation.

As I recall, what you object to is not "hampering innovation" but "doing anything to prevent the pharmaceutical industry in the US from making obscene profits".

US scientific research standards are excellent, but groundbreaking scientific research leading to worldclass innovations comes from public institutions where research isn't required to be profitable, not from private institutions looking for the next way to stick the great American public with a scented cure for hemorrhoids. (You can take that as a political joke if you like: could go either way.)

Seb,

Just so I'm clear, do you prize innovation so highly because you think innovation is a good in and of itself, or do you prize innovation primarily because it improves outcomes?

If the latter, then I'm slightly confused because there are many innovations that are far easier to adopt under a more universal health care environment and these innovations do save lives.

For example, consider electronic medical records. It seems crazy to sacrifice thousands of people a year to death and disability because pharmacists can't reliably read doctor prescriptions. For that matter, preventative care in general is not well supported under the current system: spending a little money on preventative care now to recoup much larger savings later is not cost effective since other insurers can pick up those patients and recoup the benefits without paying any of the costs.

I guess my point is that awesome hi tech innovations look really impressive, but in many cases, much simpler lower tech fixes can yield vast improvements in outcomes and our current system is really bad at delivering those low tech fixes. Hi tech improvements can improve things at the margins, but the margins are, by definition, a small fraction. Low tech improvements like widespread use of statins, or EMR, or aggressive diabetes screening and early case management are not nearly as sexy, but they make a difference in the lives of much much larger populations.

About the Holocaust being good for the Jews and giving the nuts ideas: Too late already. There is a significant number of people that think that Hitler should be blamed not for trying to exterminate the Jews but for handing them the club to beat the world over the head with. There are even some nuts that believe that the Jews actually organized the Holocaust with exactly this in mind ("We'll get the ultimate victim status and can blackmail the world with it forever!"). In post-war Germany the opinion that Holocaust survivors were not trustworthy by definition was quite common ("If there was that Holocaust, you should not be here alive*. So either there was no Holocaust or you must have done something disgusting to survive it. In either case you should be ashamed").
---
While I am at it. It is still considered "too early" to elect a Jew German Head of State (Bundespräsident) by the same argument presented** in the other thread ("too many antisemites around, we better don't even try")

*alas, that mindset has not yet died over here.
**presented, not endorsed

For welfare policies that discriminated on the basis of race see:

Shifting the Color Line: Race and the American Welfare State by Robert C. Lieberman

Bottom line: you cannot understand the patchwork of American welfare, including state run unemployment insurance and state run AFDC without understanding the strength of Southern Democrats in the FDR coalition that demanded the ability to segregate, and to enforce labor discipline.

For another (classic) take, see Piven and Cloward,
Regulating the Poor.

Ten paragraphs from Hilzoy and dozens of comments, but not one word about the really incendiary crime statistics cited by Buchanan?

That blacks rob whites at 150 times the rate that whites rob blacks? And blacks rape whites at 100 times the rate that whites rape blacks?

As much as the Left would like to ignore these grim statistics, the white working class will revolt from an Obama campaign that doesn't confront these types of racial issues honestly.

Jesurgislac:

"As I recall, what you object to is not "hampering innovation" but "doing anything to prevent the pharmaceutical industry in the US from making obscene profits".

You recall incorrectly.

"US scientific research standards are excellent, but groundbreaking scientific research leading to worldclass innovations comes from public institutions where research isn't required to be profitable, not from private institutions looking for the next way to stick the great American public with a scented cure for hemorrhoids."

For the most part, you're wrong. It is more nuanced than you being completely wrong as public institutions do indeed play a role. But it isn't nearly as big a role as you seem to think, and the transition from the public discovery to the useable drug is enormous in a vast majority of the cases (on the order of tens of millions of dollars per drug).

Turbulence:

"Just so I'm clear, do you prize innovation so highly because you think innovation is a good in and of itself, or do you prize innovation primarily because it improves outcomes?"

I don't understand your question. I'm not even sure what medical innovation as a good in and of itself (as divorced from outcomes) would be. Something like the fashion industry?

"For example, consider electronic medical records. It seems crazy to sacrifice thousands of people a year to death and disability because pharmacists can't reliably read doctor prescriptions."

It does doesn't it? But efforts to correct that have been largely thwarted by HIPPA privacy concerns--a law which isn't exactly well known for its conservative antecedents. This is an excellent example of the fact that laws in one arena can have very important side effects in other areas.

"For that matter, preventative care in general is not well supported under the current system: spending a little money on preventative care now to recoup much larger savings later is not cost effective since other insurers can pick up those patients and recoup the benefits without paying any of the costs."

First, the research in preventative care does not actually bear these large savings out in most cases. Second, it isn't likely to stifle innovation if you believe that an entire field isn't being served. So if the government wanted to be the prevention-care specialists, I would be more open to that then the idea that an alleged failure in one area means that the government ought to take over the whole field. (But the reality is that most of the easy prevention issues are well known, but involve personal choices that people--eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, etc). Third, the insurance-switching thing you worry about pretty much isn't real in the US market. Most people get insurance through their work, and switch it when they switch jobs. The incentive to worry about people switching companies based on lost expenditures in prevention doesn't make sense in that context.

"I guess my point is that awesome hi tech innovations look really impressive, but in many cases, much simpler lower tech fixes can yield vast improvements in outcomes and our current system is really bad at delivering those low tech fixes. Hi tech improvements can improve things at the margins, but the margins are, by definition, a small fraction. Low tech improvements like widespread use of statins, or EMR, or aggressive diabetes screening and early case management are not nearly as sexy, but they make a difference in the lives of much much larger populations."

First, some of these started out as high tech solutions. Second, the growth in expenditures is at the end-of-life margin. Third, HMOs already do much of what you are talking about.

My main problem with the 'health care is unlike any other market because costs are up and up' argument is that it doesn't bother with a baseline that would be used in any other economic analysis.

Costs for any particular health care good, tracked over time, are flat or down. They start at functionally infinite cost before discovery (no amount of money will get you the treatment), they fall to very expensive in the first years (like any technological advancement), and then they fall to a much lower price within 5 to 10 years (like any technological advancement) usually with a lower bound representing the human service factor (in this case doctor's time). This is like any market anywhere.

The difficulty is that if you are sick and there exists a treatment that is still in the price-falling 5-10 years you want it even if you can't afford it. But that price doesn't exist just to annoy people or because research companies are evil, it exists to support the ridiculous amount of research and the 995 out of 1000 failed projects that go behind that.

The person who sees the currently existing treatment doesn't care about the new treatments that won't happen (or will be delayed 10-15 years) if we destroy the system. And maybe you think that state of the art for right this second is enough. But if you believe that, lets design a system where the government pays for state of the art for now, and other people can opt out into the state of the art for the future. Then we can have the government pick up 8-10 years from now (when the prices have dropped) and move up from there every year.

Patrick Buchanan should get out more. I mean, just the other day a young black man came up to me out of the blue, warmly shook my hand, and said, "Thank you, sir, for what you've done for blacks in America." We were about to have a wonderful and engaging conversation about how great white people are, but we were interrupted when the police pulled him aside for questioning because he matched the description of a robbery suspect as a young black male.

But he was smiling because the officers were white.

Sebastian: But it isn't nearly as big a role as you seem to think

It seems I have a higher opinion of American scientific research than you do, which is kind of sad and strange.

and the transition from the public discovery to the useable drug is enormous in a vast majority of the cases

Yes, and much of that research is also carried out at publicly-funded, public institutions.

(But the reality is that most of the easy prevention issues are well known, but involve personal choices that people--eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, etc).

In my city, publicly-funded co-ops located in low-income areas sell cheap fruit and vegetables so that people on a low income can afford to make the personal choice of eating more fruit and vegetables every day (and buying them for their children, too). In my city, there are publicly-funded gyms and swimming-pools which have cheap memberships for people on a low income, and less-cheap but still affordable memberships for people in full-time employment, so people can afford to make the personal choice of getting more exercise. (Good public transport helps with that too.) In my country, if you want to quit smoking - or drinking - you can get personal help via the national health service. All of this is taking the long-term view that it's worthwhile paying out public money to make it easier for public to make healthier choices, live a healthier lifestyle, need less help from the national health service, and thus ultimately cost the public less money.

This is practical, joined-up thinking. It's the kind of thinking the US health care system is set up to avoid.

Third, the insurance-switching thing you worry about pretty much isn't real in the US market. Most people get insurance through their work, and switch it when they switch jobs.

I suppose "most people" is true if you mean a simple majority. In 2002/2003, over 80 million people in the US didn't have health insurance for all or part of those two years. As the total population of the US is over 300 million, I suppose yes, 220 million is "most people"... but 80 million people is an awful lot of people just to dismiss like that.

As for "switching jobs": A friend of mine got cancer, back in 2004. She and her partner had been hoping to move in together (they lived an impossible commuting distance apart) but after she got cancer, she couldn't leave her job because she couldn't move to another health insurance policy, and she certainly couldn't afford to move and be jobseeking and uninsured while she had cancer, and neither of them wanted her partner to be jobseeking and uninsured while she was coping with cancer. They were both hoping, of course, that she would recover, but she died in June 2006. She and her partner never did get to live together for longer than a week at any one time.

This is not, I gather, even a particularly unusual story in the US: yet I couldn't help thinking that had they lived in the UK, she could have quit her job - or her partner could - they could have lived together, without needing to worry about health insurance.

(I try not to think too much that she might have lived longer, too, if finding an odd lump had meant a rapid appointment and an as-rapid test, rather than weeks of putting it off because the co-pay was expensive and the lump might go away...)

Even without that: the US health care system made their tragedy needlessly worse than it could have been - there was nothing but the health insurance-tied-to-job problem that kept them apart at the end. She didn't know that her partner wasn't there - she was deeply unconscious when she died: but her partner knows it, and has to live with knowing it.

Wow. Just wow.

I thought the days of "the slaves were happy" were so far behind us. But now Pat Buchanan wants African-Americans to be grateful for slavery.

I'm with russell.

Here's a thought, Sebastian:

1. Scale back our military and concomitant spending to about a fourth or less of its current size, and devote its resources entirely to the protection of our national borders and territory. No more foreign adventurism, no permanent overseas posts, etc.

2. Create a national health care system.

3. End the stupid stem cell research funding bans.

4. Have a health-research equivalent of DARPA.

How much you want to bet we'd have cures for AIDS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's within a generation?

On health-care costs. I may have noted before, but it still seems notable:
For the two years prior to last February I drove down to Virginia to visit my father, who lived in the nursing facility of a military retirement community on the grounds of Fort Belvoir. Due to disability he found writing insuperably laborious so I wrote out his checks and paid his bills while visiting. He of course had government health insurance so I’m unsure if his is a representative example; but every visit there were a couple of hands full or more of statements, not bills, from his government-contracted providers. Many many envelopes full of detailed statements that required no response. It always seemed kind of crazy to me.
As I understand it forty per cent of health care costs are associated with paperwork. It seems it ought to be possible to use more of the money spent on health care on health care.
Yet another area where accustomed patterns are not the solution.
In the matter of research Bell Labs was outstanding to the degree the demand for profit was not the most pressing issue. The prejudice that profit must frame the pursuit has made its myopia more than evident. Whether publicly or privately funded, research ought to furnish benefits for portions of the population who are unable to contribute much in the way of short-term gains.

RE: hilzoy, on Pat Buchanan's screed:

Pat Buchanan, the angry white conservative Catholic Doppelgänger to the angry black Rev Wright. Go Pat, go… but with the following caveat (agnostic rant):

Teaching Christian salvation to African slaves (or inculcating it into the brains of captive little white kids) isn't anything to brag on -- perpetually peppering little brains (black or white) with illogical religious doctrine inevitably causes those tortured victims to end up seeing the world thru lenses as distorted at those 'gag' eyeglasses made from the bottoms of 2-inch thick soda pop bottles. And in this one instance I heartily am in favor of reparations to the descendants of African who suffered from it.

Nor do I agree with Buchanan that "America has been the best country on earth for black folks..." it's a big world, with lots of good places and bad, black and white. But if he's talking about the status of current living descendants of the slave trade, he's not that far off base.

Slavery was widespread in the old world and the new. The question, then, is how are are descendants of African slaves transported by force to other nations faring in the modern world, compared to the US?

Here's a few examples:
In Brazil, for instance, where about 3 million slaves were shipped between 1550 and 1888, a country where people of African descent make up nearly half the country's 180 million population?

"Economic, social and other forms of racial discrimination remain the main legacy of the enforced mass migrations of the slave trade."

Average monthly income for all Brazilians around US$127, less for African-Brazilians.

And Mexico:

Mexico's African slave descendants "have been out of sight and out of mind, generally considered unworthy of any special attention… For all intents and purposes the biological, cultural, and material contributions of more than 200,000 Africans and their descendants to the formation of Mexican society do not figure in the equation at all."

"the African-descendant populations in Mexico are often overlooked and highly marginalized."

Average annual Mexican income is around USD$2,000, but the poorest 40% of the population receive only about USD$550 annually (African slave descendants at the bottom of the bottom of earnings.)

What about Castro's Cuba? After 40 years of socialistic color-blindness, a "preferential racial hierarchy still exists there: Whites at the top, Mulattoes in the middle, Blacks at the bottom," reflected in the categories of equality most U.S. African Americans would find important: education, income levels, and status.

Average income in Cuba is $10 per month per person, no figures available for African-Cubans, but you can make your own extrapolation.


And hilzoy, when you say "when blacks finally won civil rights" shouldn't that be "when blacks and whites won civil rights?" Because the history of the abolition movement clearly shows that whites were in the forefront of the abolition of slavery: they organized it, and spearheaded it (including a lot of VERY white women like Lucretia Coffin Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a lot of lily-white Quakers who railed against the slave trade as early as the 1760s).

The second part of your assertion, that the enactment of civil rights in the country "was hardly due to a spontaneous surge of generosity on the part of whites" is only half true: yes, it wasn't spontaneous, but it was built on generous helpings of moral certitude that slavery was wrong, and it was carried along on a persistent, concerted effort by good white people over many many years of effort (from the 1700s to the 1960s) by mostly white abolitionists and mostly white politicians who in the 1800s banned slavery in the Northwest Territory, and freed the slaves in Maryland and Virginia, and emancipated them during the Civil War; and by modern civil rights activists and mostly white politicians (including the Kennedys and Johnson) who passed the necessary legislation to enact the voting rights bill, etc etc etc.

But all things said, that was then, this is now. Nobody living today had anything to do with slavery. Certainly nobody whose ancestors came here after the Civil War. To suggest that white-skinned Americans bear collective responsibility for what happened to Africans slaves, or their descendants, simply because we have the same skin color as the slave-holders of the Old South is a racist argument built on the assumption that a DNA gene exists for racial-guilt which is passed on generation to generation.

Nobody living today had anything to do with slavery. Certainly nobody whose ancestors came here after the Civil War. To suggest that white-skinned Americans bear collective responsibility for what happened to Africans slaves, or their descendants, simply because we have the same skin color as the slave-holders of the Old South is a racist argument built on the assumption that a DNA gene exists for racial-guilt which is passed on generation to generation.

Well, so what?

The whole business about how I am not responsible for slavery because I had nothing to do with it is a bit strange, and almost self-defeating.

My moral responsibilities to others do not, in the general case, depend on the relationship, if any, between my ancestors and theirs. The descendant of a Quaker abolitionist has the same obligations as the descendant of a Confederate soldier, who in turn has the same obligations as the immigrant who arrived yesterday.

Part of those obligations is to see the facts as clearly as we can, and to seek justice in light of those facts.

JJ:

"Nobody living today had anything to do with slavery. Certainly nobody whose ancestors came here after the Civil War. To suggest that white-skinned Americans bear collective responsibility for what happened to Africans slaves, or their descendants, simply because we have the same skin color as the slave-holders of the Old South is a racist argument built on the assumption that a DNA gene exists for racial-guilt which is passed on generation to generation."

(a) Where on earth did I suggest that whites bear collective responsibility for slavery?

(b) Why would anyone think that the fact that no one now living is responsible for slavery settles anything? When slavery ended, vicious institutional racism did not. (See previous Emmett Till post.) Individuals now living are responsible for a lot of dreadful stuff.

(c) The main point of bringing up things like the history of Social Security and the FHA was to rebut Buchanan. But they also show that explicitly discriminatory government policies have effects that last into the present. And that raises the question whether we, the citizens of the country whose policies those were, have some obligation to help undo those effects.

Note that this is not a "oh, my ancestors weren't there" issue. It;s not about collective white guilt, or anything like that. It's about collective American responsibility for the actions we undertook as a nation.

gwangung: "Gratitude? Sorta like the beaten wife should be grateful her abusive spouse stops hitting her. Black people getting civil rights wouldn't have been possible without someone (guess who?) taking them away in the first place."

Wasn't it Africans who first took them away and bundled and bartered them off?

African complicity in the slave trade.


And to put your wife-beating analogy in perspective, wasn't it some upstairs and downstairs and all-around-the-block white Americans who stopped the abuse? Or are you suggesting all white Americans were engaging in the same behavior? And wasn't it white Europeans in England and France and other European nations who also concluded the abuse (slavery) was wrong and outlawed it? In fact, slavery is now antithetical to the European and American ethos. But apparently sill flourishing in Africa, where blacks are still capturing and selling other blacks for personal gain.

Maybe you should drop reverend Wright a note about that, since his mission is to promote "a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA." Hopefully there's a non-negotiable non-black-on-black slavery clause there too.

Out all afternoon, not caught up with the conversation...but hilzoy's post at 8:35 reminds me not for the first time in the last couple of days of a book that was invaluable to me in grappling with the idea of collective responsibility and related concepts:

"An Ethic for Enemies," by Donald W. Shriver, Jr.

It doesn't make the hard things seem easy, but it does make it easier (at least for me) to think hopefully about them.

hilzoy: "It's about collective American responsibility for the actions we undertook as a nation."

And that's the problem. It punishes for the sins of the father. It suggests that one generation can be punished for the injustices of previous generations. That the injustices committed against any member of one group entitles future members of that group to retaliate against any member of the original perpetrator's group.

My father left Austria in 1939 and ended up in the USA, where he met my mother. If not for Hitler, I wouldn't even exist! My gratitude to the Nazis knows no bounds. (All my grandparents' property? Hey! This is my life we're talking about!)

I’ve linked twice to the 9/11, ‘chickens-home-to-roost’ sermon from TUCC, Here’s the ‘God-damn-America’ sermon. Nails it nicely.

And to put your wife-beating analogy in perspective, wasn't it some upstairs and downstairs and all-around-the-block white Americans who stopped the abuse? Or are you suggesting all white Americans were engaging in the same behavior? And wasn't it white Europeans in England and France and other European nations who also concluded the abuse (slavery) was wrong and outlawed it? In fact, slavery is now antithetical to the European and American ethos. But apparently sill flourishing in Africa, where blacks are still capturing and selling other blacks for personal gain.

Maybe you should drop reverend Wright a note about that, since his mission is to promote "a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA." Hopefully there's a non-negotiable non-black-on-black slavery clause there too.

It's all about you, you, you, isn't it?

The implication is if whites can grant civil rights, then they can take them away. Not sure that's the implication that Buchanan or you would want to make. I think civil right are inherent or granted by principle, not by people.

And that's the problem. It punishes for the sins of the father. It suggests that one generation can be punished for the injustices of previous generations.

The law doesn't have that problem, you know, on an individual basis. If a father swindles someone out of a right, the son may have to compensate for that.

Jay Jerome --

What's your point? Can you sum it up in a sentence or two?

Cause I'm not getting it.

Thanks -

Boy, a couple notes:

I read this after reading hilzoy's post on getting Iraq right or wrong and reading a lot about Iraq for obvious reasons. And reading Pat's comments made me wonder when, if not already, he or others like jonah will be saying the same thing but substituting Iraqis for blacks.

Secondly, I always thought Jay was a Clinton supporter. I now realize that is wrong. Even Clinton wouldn't say what he has said.

And since Wright has been brought up, I leave this quote:

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader
whom I have heard speak a number of times. He has served for
decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society.
He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia
which still tarnish the American dream. To evaluate his dynamic
ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave
injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the
African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a
people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and
violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has
been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions
and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear. Those of us
who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr.
Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize. This is a
critical time in America’s history as we seek to repent of our racism.
No matter which candidates prevail, let us use this time to listen again
to one another and not to distort one another’s truth.

Dean J. Snyder, Senior Minister
Foundry United Methodist Church
March 19, 2008"

And who exactly is Snyder? The white pastor of the church Hillary and Bill attended while Bill was President.

hilzoy: more on this:
"It's about collective American responsibility for the actions we undertook as a nation."

Let me clarify: I recognize collective responsibility to correct injustices. That's what we all did, starting in the 60s. But in regard to civil rights issues, the black blame-game has become institutionalized, and the black rhetoric emanating from it is based on stereotypic black racial attitudes about 'whites' that perpetuate racism.

Your posting on Emmitt Till as a defense of the commentaries about Rev Wright highlights the problem. You used Emmitt Till to rationalize/justify Wright's sermons (the it didn't happen so long ago defense). Yes, the Emmett Till murder was a horrible injustice, and guess what: white America loudly protested the murder, and protested the subsequent unfair trial verdict which freed the murderers - with outraged editorials in newspapers and magazines, and by white artists and folk singers who recorded songs in protest, like Bob Dylan ('This boy's dreadful tragedy I can still remember well/ The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till') and Pete Seeger ('The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it ain't no lie/ Was just for the fun of killin' him and to watch him slowly die') and as a result white Americans, and specifically white civil rights activists (like me) who reacted to those events with revulsion were energized to join together to tear down the institutions of segregation in this country.

And all things considered, amazing CHANGES resulted over the past 50 years: the armed forces were integrated; so was major league baseball and football and basketball; all state and local Jim Crow separate-but-equal Laws were declared unconstitutional, and blacks could no longer be legally denied access to formally segregated restaurants, hotels, theaters.

And what have those of us who have supported the civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s and 80s gotten in return for our good-faith efforts from black American leaders, and politicians, and reverends, and overall from the black populace? A continuing accentuation of the negative, directed at 'whites' and a propensity to categorize any criticism directed at them as 'racist' no matter how appropriate the criticism is. From my perspective, African American blacks in this country have become more racist in their attitudes than the majority of whites. This has been made clear over and over, from OJ to Rev. Wright. It's certainly clear in the 80 to 90 percent black vote for Obama in the primaries: a lop-sided abandonment of the Clintons, who both conscientiously supported black voter interests their entire careers, to vote skin-color, irregardless of the issues.

I no longer see blacks in this nation as an oppressed people (in the last half-century they've had a privileged head start over other emerging minorities, who, lacking the same racist baggage, seem to be overtaking them) but as a disgruntled voting block, like Christian Evangelicals, more interested in their own self-interested agendas then the common good. And in stating that, I'm sure I'll be labeled a racist with the same smug self-righteousness the conservative religious right labeled me an anti-American traitor in other blogging venues.

Nell: I thought the days of "the slaves were happy" were so far behind us. But now Pat Buchanan wants African-Americans to be grateful for slavery.

He's just seeding a field that Michael Medved was tilling late last year.

Jay Jerome: Pay attention, please. When people talk about things done in the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s, it's not about our fathers (or mothers). It's about us, and our brothers and sisters, and our neighbors, and the people all around us. When we talk about how in 2001, a simple study showed white felons more likely to get job offers than identically qualified blacks with no criminal record, we're talking a bigotry active right now, discriminating against our fellow Americans this decade, this year, this afternoon. When white people in Atlanta got five times the loan amounts, and better terms, than black people with the same income in the late '80s, that's something that might affected some of us reading this, or our older sisters and brothers, and it's still going on too.

That's the key point. America is still a country steeped in discrimination. It affects how our fellow citizens who happen to belong to some minority work, learn, live, try to provide for themselves and their loved ones, try to improve their standing in the world, try to stay healthy, try to enjoy life. All the conservative ranting about the past serves in part to distract from the fact that as a nation, we're still screwing over the victims.

DonBoy: "My father left Austria in 1939 and ended up in the USA, where he met my mother. If not for Hitler, I wouldn't even exist! My gratitude to the Nazis knows no bounds. (All my grandparents' property? Hey! This is my life we're talking about!)"

Mrs. L, a beautiful Jewish grandmother with fierce blue eyes and a Mona-Lisa smile, who came to the US from Germany in the 1920s, lost most of her family to the ovens -- aunts, uncles, cousins, two of her three sisters, her mother and father. For years after WWII was over she would rant against the Nazis, cursing them out in a vociferous flow of German and Yiddish and New-Yorkeses.

But her anger was never directed at 'Germans' -- no blanket accusations of hate at them, only at the specific segment of German society responsible for killing her relatives.

Notice, that's what you did too: you focussed on the specific, not the general: Nazis, not Germans.

Understand my point?

Jay: nothing in my post talks about blaming collectivities. Nothing in my post on Emmett Till "used Emmitt Till to rationalize/justify Wright's sermons". You are taking things people say and reading things into them.

I do think that we, as a nation, did a number of very harmful and unjust things to blacks, things that are not in the distant past, but whose effects continue to this day. I have therefore said that I think that we as a nation might do well to try to correct some of these lingering effects.

If you could point me to that part of my posts that prompts your railing about the "black blame-game", etc., etc., etc., please do. If not, it might be worth asking yourself what it is in you that causes you to imagine what is not there.

JJ: also, I don't see where DonBoy blamed Germans. He talked about Hitler and Nazis. I can't see that either is out of line: Nazis are a group, but they are a group defined by voluntary membership in an abhorrent political party.

"From my perspective, African American blacks in this country have become more racist in their attitudes than the majority of whites."

I believe you.

"I can't see that either is out of line: Nazis are a group, but they are a group defined by voluntary membership in an abhorrent political party."

Jay Jerome was actually making that point, Hilzoy.

He's alleging that "African American blacks in this country" are "racist" at "whites," which he's analogizing to Germans in WWII, and saying something to the effect that they should only be unhappy with the equivalent of Nazis in our society, although he also seems to be saying that discrimination against "African American blacks in this country" is now, and has been for a long time, non-existent, and that the big problem is "African American black" racism against the suffering masses of "white" folk, who apparently are having a hard lot of it as a result, and thus Jay Jerome is Angry, because those ungrateful African American black folk are all aggravating and harshing his mellow.

Thus are the perceptions of Jay Jerome, apparently, and I take him at his word that that's how the country looks through his eyes.

He's alleging that "African American blacks in this country" are "racist" at "whites," which he's analogizing to Germans in WWII, and saying something to the effect that they should only be unhappy with the equivalent of Nazis in our society, although he also seems to be saying that discrimination against "African American blacks in this country" is now, and has been for a long time, non-existent, and that the big problem is "African American black" racism against the suffering masses of "white" folk, who apparently are having a hard lot of it as a result, and thus Jay Jerome is Angry, because those ungrateful African American black folk are all aggravating and harshing his mellow.

Thus are the perceptions of Jay Jerome, apparently, and I take him at his word that that's how the country looks through his eyes.

I knew quite a few white people who felt the same way in the 1960s, and used the same words.

"I knew quite a few white people who felt the same way in the 1960s, and used the same words."

Peter de Lissovoy:

[...] "Outside agitator" was another favorite. They loved this old 1930s lingo, but I was too young to catch those echoes. To me an agitator was some kind of a mechanical device, a component in a washing machine, or whatever. Therefore such words never reached me, never even broke the skin. They were always growling out that one, almost as much as "n[****]rlover" — never just "agitator" either, always "outside agitator." All I could think of was some unit peripheral to a household device, since it was outside, so it never had the intended effect on me at least. Personally I never felt outside anything. I felt inside everything that mattered; something on that order must have bothered the crackers. We were surely held in the warm embrace of the black community who fed us dinner and cheered us on as best they could. The whites' insinuation that had we "outsiders" not been there, the local black folks would not have been "agitated" was so patently absurd and so plain hopeful on the part of the crackers that whenever I heard this terminology I just thought how benighted these white people were really and how much they were going to be required to learn.

[...]

[Peter de Lissovoy was a SNCC worker in 1963 and worked in Atty. C. B. King's campaign for Congress in 1964.]

de Lissovoy.

Understand my point?

I think I do, now.

There's a lot of paranoia in, for example, Wright's sermons, and it shows up elsewhere as well. The CIA deliberately introduced crack into black communities. AIDS was deliberately introduced into Africa. Etc.

There's also a defensive strain of victimization in a lot of the rhetoric heard in the black community.

We, as a nation, have also spent a lot of money and effort over the last 40 or 50 years trying to address the social and economic problems that beset the American black community.

I'm not going to comment pro or con here on any of the above, I'm just acknowledging it as a fact.

What's also a fact is that black Americans have an absolutely unique history in this country. Their forbears came here, against their will, as property, and they and their children remained property until 150 years ago. Then for the next 100 years they were deprived of most of the basic privileges and rights that all of the rest of us take for granted, by law in much of the country, and in fact in almost all of the country.

It's true that many white folks were instrumental in changing that. It's also true that the skin color of the folks who were beaten, set upon by dogs, sprayed with firehoses, imprisoned, and killed to make the change happen was overwhelmingly black.

And, after all of that, black people are still treated differently than any other kind of people in this country. Still. Each and every day.

WTF do they have to do to be treated, plainly and simply, like everyone else?

It would piss me off, I can tell you that. I might even begin to suspect that it was deliberate, that other folks were, in fact, picking on me, just because of the color of my skin. You might, too.

So, while there is a kernel of truth in what you're saying, I think you miss the much, much larger reality.

Just my two cents.

Thanks -

The trouble I always have with the "What do I have to do with slavery?" argument is that many of the people who make it will often demand credit for positive things America has done even though they have nothing to do with those either: Today's white Americans shouldn't be blamed for slavery, but they should be proud of ending it. Jim Crow is dead and should be forgotten, but we should all take pride in our performance in WWII. And so on.

Just a quick note on the pharmaceutical industry discussion. I'm a chemist doing federally funded research and I have also interned at Pfizer for a summer. While there are some stupid incentives that are in place for the industry and many bad decisions that they have made, this does not mean that drug companies are making obscene profits simply off the backs of government research.

Generally when a new drug is developed, the public part comes at the very beginning of the process. Usually this is identifying a target in the body that if hit by a drug would affect a particular disease. This is a very valuable contribution and without it most of the really new and innovative drugs would not be developed. However, after that point it usually takes 10-15 years and close to a billion dollars to find a safe, effective, side effect free tablet that can be taken orally once or twice a day and used to affect the biological target and cure the disease. Drug companies invest this enormous amount of money with considerable risk.

Recently, Pfizer discovered that a potentially blockbuster heart medicine (torceptatrib) was not effective at reducing strokes in its final clinical test before FDA approval and because of this lost 800 million dollars (and 12 years of research time). That isn't small change even for a giant drug company, and Pfizer has since closed one of its research sites and had to lay off many scientists. Pharmaceutical companies make a lot of profit, but they also take on a lot of risk, and spend an enormous amount on research and development.

This doesn't mean I oppose efforts towards reigning in the cost of drugs and universal health care, I am in support of both goals. It's just not so simple as the big, bad drug companies making huge profits off all the work of the poor government funded scientists

OK, this column from today's Plain Dealer was so good at explaining a crucial difference that some obstinate people are determined not to understand, that I'm going to quote it in full:

The caller was polite but insisted that I call him back to talk about race.

"Miss Regina, white people don't understand racism. I'm sick of white people saying black people are racist. We're not racist. You call me back."

Benjamin Hall is 54. He lives in downtown Cleveland. He's 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He's the guy at the library, the bus stop or the ATM that old white women fear.

"There are a lot of black panhandlers and beggars," he said. "But it ain't me. I'm well-groomed. I could be the best-dressed black person in the room with a briefcase and everything, and they grab their purse and want to scream rape just because I sat next to them."

He was turned down for a job once. He said the business owner told him that he scares the hell out of people.

"A lot of big black men scare the hell out of people. They so afraid of me it's a shame," Benjamin said.

Benjamin called after I suggested Sen. Barack Obama was right: It's time we break the racial stalemate and deal with our bitterness and biases.

Dozens of white callers told me it's time to get over the past. Slavery is history. Lynchings are history. Jim Crow is history. Black people need to stop carrying a grudge. Get rid of the chip on their shoulders. Move on.

Dozens of black callers wanted me to know that slavery, discrimination and segregation can't and shouldn't be forgotten.

"We were enslaved, treated subhuman," Benjamin said. "Don't nobody forget about Pearl Harbor. Don't nobody forget about the Holocaust. Don't nobody forget about the Japanese in concentration camps here."

He insists that black people are not racist. They're prejudiced.

What's the difference?

"Racism means you can put your foot on a person's neck and keep him from elevating himself. Blacks have no power to be racists. We control nothing in this country. We can't take nothing away from you," he said.

"Our prejudice is a reaction to your racist actions. It is not an action, it's a reaction. Like Billy Joel sang, 'We didn't start the fire.' We just reacting to the fire."

And what is prejudice?

"I don't like you because who you are," he said. "I'm judging a whole group of you all for the actions of a few."

He knows he and other blacks engage in guilt by association, that most white people are not at fault for slavery and discrimination, that many white people treat blacks far better than blacks treat other blacks.

"I'm not saying we ain't at fault. We're at big fault," he said.

There's black-on-black crime, there's the prejudice of light-skinned blacks against dark-skinned blacks, he said.

I asked Benjamin a question that two dozen white readers asked: "Why do you call yourselves African-Americans instead of just Americans?"

"Call me anything but a n----," Benjamin said. "All we're looking for is some identity. Our identity was stolen. We want to be part of this melting pot but we want our own identity and culture, too."

Where do we go from here? The answer isn't white or black. For Benjamin, it's golden: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

"We don't hate you," he said. "We're just scared. We hide behind our prejudices because we're scared."

I recognize collective responsibility to correct injustices. That's what we all did, starting in the 60s.

"We gave the blacks 40 years of half-hearted, unenforced 'Affirmative Action', which moved them from share-croppers to wage-slaves! They should be on their knees thanking us for being so kind, when we knew they didn't deserve it."

===========

The CIA deliberately introduced crack into black communities.

While I don't believe the CIA actively introduced crack into the black communities, they certainly turned a blind eye to the cartels which were doing so. Lot's of "aiding and abetting" there.

=================

Recently, Pfizer discovered that a potentially blockbuster heart medicine (torceptatrib) was not effective at reducing strokes in its final clinical test before FDA approval and because of this lost 800 million dollars (and 12 years of research time). That isn't small change even for a giant drug company, and Pfizer has since closed one of its research sites and had to lay off many scientists. Pharmaceutical companies make a lot of profit, but they also take on a lot of risk, and spend an enormous amount on research and development.

Isn't this an argument**against** the status quo? At this rate, Pfizer will reserach themselves out of business very quickly.

Two stories that happened to me personally that made my hatred of racism and the absurdity of 'category thinking' that has given birth to it even more personal.

I had a job in 1968 with two fellow employees, Pat, the son of a Jamaican immigrant, and -- I forget the name, call him Klaus -- who was born in Germany, both in their early twenties, I believe.

Pat was far from an 'angry black' even in that angriest of all years, and very rarely discussed race at all, but one day he simply said "my father fought for this country against his father, but his family can buy a house anywhere in America, and we can't."

A year later I was going to attend a SF convention. Broke as usual, I asked a friend if I could share a room. "Sure."
"I have a girlfriend who might want to come along. Is that okay?"
"Of course, no problem."
"By the way, she's black."
"I'm sorry, Jim, I can't go along with that. I am a believer in civil rights, but I was brought up to believe that interracial sex was wrong. You'll have to find another place to stay."
(Was my friend a 'liberal Southerner?" No, he was a Long Island Jew of the sort who'd probably been given an NAACP membership at birth, and who, until this happened, had always taken the liberal position in discussions. So much so that if I'd asked to bring a boyfriend along -- he knew I was bi -- he would have agreed, but only -- I'd guess -- if the guy was white.)

(Ironically, we both had a friend, a fellow fan, who was known for wearing a 'Never' button and who made no bones about believing that, in general, whites were surperior to blacks, and deserved the privileges they got because of this. Yet, in person, while there weren't many black SF fans at the time, and this was mostly the context I saw him in -- I can say I never saw him treat or respond to a black person in any way differently than he did a white person. And that included sexually. His best friend had a black girlfriend who was fully accepted -- as would mine have been.)

One final point on the 'why don't they get over it already' argument. Several people have pointed out that there is still a lot of discrimination left, and there is. But family histories are also important, and there are probably very few black families who do not have an "Uncle Hiram" in the family who had a college degree, was brilliant, and could only get work as a porter, cotton=picker, or busboy. And everyone has stories of totaly innocent relatives rousted by the cops for the 'crime of being black,' while at the same time knowing that if there was 'black on black' crime, the police would get around to investigating it, if they had time, sometime a few weeks down the road. (It's gotten better, but there are still plenty of racists in uniform.)

Pat Buchanan's right, and he was right to point out those things. Blacks don't understand gratitude. Blacks only have contempt for Whites and for America.

As for slavery - that was more than 140 years ago. Get over it. Buchanan is correct when he says America - and the White people who pay almost all the taxes - have been more than generous in the past decades. And blacks have still failed to prosper.

Some of the comments talk about White fear of blacks. It's the first I've heard of that. I am familiar with black-on-White crime, but I think blacks misunderstand the situation. When black men walk down the street near Whites and the Whites tense up or show some outward sign or..whatever.. that's hatred of blacks, not fear.

Finally, I appreciate this blog post. I hope to see many more like it. Because I don't want blacks to accept responsibility. And I do want blacks to keep blaming Whites for blacks' failure. It does nothing good for blacks (and neither do I,) but it keeps race relations where I want them to be.

I got nothing in particular to add here, I just didn't want the above to be the last word on this thread.

We're all here together -- black, white, yellow, red, whatever. Nobody's going anywhere.

We better learn to get along.

Thanks -

russell: ditto. I just saw it and contemplated a reply, but thought: the nuttiness of that comment speaks for itself. And by generalizing as Lyn does about blacks, she makes it all the easier for me to say: when you talk about what's going on when whites do X, you do not speak for me.

WTF is up with people capitalizing "White" and "Black"? It's like reading warmed over Gobineau...

And by generalizing as Lyn does about blacks, she makes it all the easier for me to say: when you talk about what's going on when whites do X, you do not speak for me.

Isn't there some irony or hypocrisy here when some white folks complain about blacks stereotyping whites?

See, I love when stuff like this happens, because it shows that, contra the comments made by e.g. Xeynon, Jay Jerome and others in threads of this nature, virulent racism is not socially unacceptable. At all. Certainly Lyn does not or did not expect to receive any opprobrium for his (her?) comments, and there are plenty more just like it and worse if you click through to his (her?) blog. At best he probably expects to be disagreed with by some mushy-headed liberals, but I bet Lyn expresses these same thoughts among family and friends and finds lots of agreement.

So we've clearly got a much longer way to go than the "get over it" crowd would like to believe.

By the way...

Much further down the list of racial complaints, but still irritating nonetheless....

More on my end of things as a theatre/film artist, but still...irritating that studios don't think Asian American leads can sell sell films...

There was a flurry of posts about 21 on the "Ethnicity" thread of TWoP when the casting was announced (wasn't one of the "Real Life People" Middle-Eastern -- it was a mix of different types of Asians from what I understand). This is much worse than Angelina Jolie playing Mariane Pearl.

On the other hand, I just saw a film based on a Donald Westlake novel where 3 white characters were played by blacks (Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac and Carmen Ejogo) and a 4th played by John Leguizamo. So there is occasionaly good news.

I hadn't clicked through the link. Yikes.

About Asian leads: have they never heard of Chow Yun-Fat?

About Asian leads: have they never heard of Chow Yun-Fat?

Well, for Asian American roles, you generally want Asian American/Asian Canadian actors...

But you don't have a shortage of those, like Archie Kao, John Cho, Roger Fan, Grace Park, Linda Park and other folks who can pass for under 25s....

If you've seen http://imdb.com/title/tt0384504/>Saving Face, you will have met two lovely and talented actresses: Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen. If you haven't (this applies to all here -- is there a collective term for the denizens of ObWi?), do so. It's fun, sad and very positive.

Apropos to the larger discussion...

Asian American actors have a million of these war stories (hey, didja hear the one about Bob? He makes a living doing voiceovers as tough, private detective types, but when he does live action, they always dub HIS voice with someone who's a half octave higher and speaks with an accent....)...But in a town like Hollywood or New York, it's not safe to name individuals. Safer to generalize it to the wider industry.

Similarly, I think this is the case with people of color and society in general. Safer to generalize it than to name the enemy to his face. But that has its own drawbacks and effects on the generalizer....

The 21 debacle reminds me of the *ahem* whitewashed 2004 Sci-Fi Channel adaption of Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea.

There's a history of that, I'm afraid...Quincy M.E. was really Asian and not Jack Klugman...

gwangung: true enough; my bad. ;)

Well, I do have an advantage.....

Many people have found Rev. Wright's statement about the U.S. government giving blacks AIDS extremely controversial and flat out ridiculous: “The government lied, about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”

"Why would he say that?" they wonder. "How outrageous!" they exclaim. If you want to know why he would say it, and why alot of people believe him, check out one of the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards:
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.

This book is chock full of statistics and accounts of government sponsored medical experiments and atrocities targeted at blacks. After reading about the horrors listed here, it's not a leap to think the government lied about HIV.

I used to rebel against the verse about the sins of the fathers are visited upon the heads of seven subsequent generations. I thought it was prescriptive and vindictive.

Now, I think of it as descriptive, unless there is some sort of intervention. Traumatized behaviors are still vestigal in the behavior of subsequent generations for a long time, even if the descendents don't know the reasons.

It then becomes the moral responsibility of subsequent generations of all to intervene, to add grace to the equation, to change the a grim determinant outcome.

It isn't about punishment for what our ancestors might have done; it is about looking to the future and trying to right a listing ship.

Thanks for this post.

I'll remember the main points when my dad goes into his semi-annual "Black people have got it so good" rant.

Progress note: this was almost a monthly rant when I was a kid. Now it's: "Who knows? I never thought I'd vote for a black man for president...but I've never voted for a Republican in my life."

The politics of race changes slowly. But, as my dad says, Who knows?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

September 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast