Good Friday Morning, especially to the NHL and NBA, who look like they’re finally back! We have sports again! I started the newsletter this week, thinking I was going to write on one subject, that I had jotted in my idea journal. But I started writing and veered off in another direction. Part of it comes from watching the #BlackoutTuesday events on social media where everyone changed their accounts. I saw so many accounts do things that, knowing their stance on various issues, I know they don’t listen or care about what blacks say or think. And this point was true on both sides of the political spectrum. So that’s what I’m jumping into, with a line that kept running through my head: black lives matter, until they don’t. Thanks for reading this week, links to follow.
- Something interesting in Minnesota. Amy Klobuchar has been the main person “announcing” the charges and arrests in the George Floyd case. A US Senator announcing the decisions of local prosecutors and police of their state is not normal. This story suggests that Klobuchar is trying to stay in consideration for Biden’s VP slot by getting as close to the prosecution of the police officers involved with George Floyd’s death. She has a poor record in prosecuting police and never gained any traction with black voters in the primary. It also looks like Democrats in Minnesota are trying to help her.
- Steve King (R) of Iowa and Valarie Plame (D) in New Mexico both lost their primaries this week. Excellent news. King was one of the most racist members of the Republican Party. It’s good that he’s gone. Valarie Plame, of the Plame affair fame during the Bush administration and publisher of an anti-Semitic screed lost too. It’s good to see racists in both parties lose.
Where you can find me this week
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The death of George Floyd: A reminder of imperfections in our Union – The Conservative Institute.
The elements of our political discontent – The Conservative Institute.
Black Lives Matter. Until They Don’t.
Black lives matter until they don’t. That was the thought I had this week as I watched everyone switch to blackout profile pictures on social media. Everyone pretends to care, right up until the moment that caring about black lives conflicts with their political beliefs. And we have considerable friction, and not just in protests or riots.
Last week, I wrote about solutions to the problem of police brutality. One of those was challenging or eliminating the existence of police unions. It is, perhaps, the most challenging item on the list because public-sector unions have a dominant presence in politics. As a conservative, the very existence of public-sector unions is an anathema, and I’d love to eliminate them. That’s not true for the left.
And as I got to thinking about public-sector unions, I realized those unions block reforms in two fields where black Americans have requested change: policing and public schools. Police unions have opposed many reforms over the years. And teachers unions oppose various school choice measures that many black parents support by wide margins.
There’s a general principle underlying this point. I can make the same point, three different ways, and partisans will switch sides for no reason. Here’s the argument:
- Police unions prevent political accountability. They serve as the first line of government force against citizens. Eliminating these unions would help achieve much-needed reforms in policing and remove tension and friction in the communities served. The left supports this; the right does not.
- Teachers’ unions prevent political accountability in the public education system. Eliminating these unions would allow us to achieve much-needed reforms in the education space and remove tension and friction between communities and the schools in them. The right supports this; the left does not.
- Public-sector unions prevent political accountability in government. Eliminating public-sector unions would allow us to achieve much-needed reforms in government and remove tension and friction between rulers and citizens.
The first and second are the same as the third, but partisans switch sides solely based on who is involved. People only see the truth when their personal preferences align. If you believe public-sector police unions are bad, you should explain why teachers’ unions are excellent. And vice versa. The argument against one is an argument against the other.
Black lives matter until they don’t. If you’re a white progressive, black lives matter until you face the prospect of giving them the power to plan their children’s education. The same people marching with signs and banners would oppose that. We know that because Elizabeth Warren, the chief of all progressives, the woman who claimed one drop of blood made her Native American, did EXACTLY this during her campaign. Black voters saw through Warren’s schtick, which is one reason why she failed.
In December, Sarah Carpenter, a black woman and member of the “Powerful Parent Network,” challenged Warren after a rally in Atlanta. Carpenter and parents with her put together a GoFundMe to travel from Memphis to Atlanta to hear Warren speak and challenge her. Here’s a description in case you missed it at the time:
The five-second clip of Carpenter and Warren has gone viral in part because of Warren inaccurately denying that her own child went to private school. But the full nearly 17-minute video is also worth a look.
“We didn’t want to disrupt,” Carpenter tells Warren, almost apologetically, but not quite. “The only way I know is to fight,” she says. “I dream big and I fight hard for kids.”
The house-cleaner-turned-education-reform-activist from Memphis tells the law professor-turned-politician from Cambridge, Massachusetts, “These parents came from that place where our kids were stuck in failing schools, and we can’t allow our kids to be stuck in failing schools. We got to have the same choice that you got for your kids.”
The impromptu meeting ended with the senator, under pressure, agreeing to review the education reform plan issued by her campaign, which would restrict choice by ending federal funding for charter school growth and by demanding more “aggressive oversight” of those already serving students. Long-time school choice activist Howard Fuller, who joined Carpenter in confronting Warren in Atlanta, noted that her plan’s discussion of charter schools uses “all the union buzzwords, privatization, corporate.”
Go ahead and read the full story. Sarah Carpenter is an incredible story and advocate. In the NYT’s coverage of this encounter, they never used Sarah Carpenter’s name. They only referred to her as an “activist.”
Elizabeth Warren never changed her education plan. She’s still as anti-school choice as ever. The rest of the Democratic field fell in line behind her. A Harvard poll of various school reform found that “African American Democrats support targeted school vouchers, universal vouchers, and charter schools at 70%, 60%, and 55%, respectively. … However, just 40% of non-Hispanic White Democrats support targeted vouchers, 46% support universal vouchers, and 33% support charter schools.”
Black schoolchildren matter. But they don’t if it’s politically inconvenient. Do you know who else doesn’t matter to progressives? Black college men.
In 2011, the Obama administration rolled out new regulations for Title IX to go after sexual assault allegations on college campuses. Black men only represent 6% of undergraduates nationwide, but they make up a large share of those getting accused of assault on college campuses. And when that happened, those black men lost their due process rights:
The Title IX guidelines lowered the evidentiary standard from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of the evidence,” broadened the definition of sexual assault, and stripped away traditional due process. Since 2011, it has been customary for schools to withhold crucial information about the charges from the accused student. All opportunities for cross-examination either by the accused student or an attorney or advisor ceased to exist. So did the right for the accused to examine the evidence against him.
When the Education Department rolled back those rules and restored due process rights, three times as many black men were getting expelled compared to other races, progressives went ballistic. And now multiple blue-state Democratic Attorney Generals are trying to reinstate the rules that strip due process rights. Joe Biden notably wants to return to the Obama-era regulations. As Reason Magazine cheekily noted, if Biden got judged by these rules with the accusations Tara Reade leveled against him, we’d kick Biden out of school.
And for all the talk of how urban policing is corrupt and draconian, it’s not Republicans running most of these cities. It’s Democrats. If you’re arguing that city leadership is not listening to black communities, what does that say about the parties running them?
None of this is to say that the right is better. Though the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and long supported abolition and ending Jim Crow, it lost its way. Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the civil rights laws hurt Republicans tremendously. The modern Republican party has so many issues on the topic of race that it’d take an equally long newsletter to go through them, for which I don’t want to write this week. Because the point I’m making here isn’t that there’s hypocrisy, it’s that there’s a reason Black Lives Matter exists — because neither of the major political parties in America acts as if Black Lives do matter.
Progressivism comes by its racism honestly. Woodrow Wilson was an incorrigible racist who created Jim Crow laws on a federal level, rolling back protections and jobs that protected blacks. FDR continued many of Wilson’s policies (and failures). The progressive movement pushed eugenics hard, specifically to eliminate black populations that they detested. This idea, pushed in modern media, that racism sits on only one side of the political spectrum is complete hogwash.
Black lives matter until they don’t. And that’s the problem. Everyone keeps quoting the Martin Luther King Jr. line, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” It’s a great line and right. But when you go to these protests, you see many white people on the left destroying property and acting unruly, and black people trying to prevent disaster. The riots are happening with whites. Talk to any black person, and they’ll tell you the same thing: they’re tired. They’re tired of these “conversations,” tired of these events, and tired of these moments.
We’re beyond unheard. Black people believe no one is listening to them. Democrats and those on the left take blacks for granted and don’t listen to them for any policy. And Republicans bizarrely stopped caring about attracting black voters. Take your pick on which one is worst; as a person on the right, I have my opinions and anger at the GOP on this subject, which impacts my view.
Black people in the United States are unique in that they’ve had to fight for every step. I’ve always liked this analogy written by a black conservative (don’t know his name, but you should follow him on Twitter) to white conservatives:
Clear your mind and picture this in your head. There’s a mountain in front of you and atop that mountain stands a man. There’s also a man at the base of the mountain. Both of these men have hurled rocks at each other for days now, and sometimes they actually hit their target. (I know what you’re thinking; the man at the base of this mountain must have one hell of an arm but work with me here!) Getting hit with a rock is painful for the man up top but is especially painful for the man at the bottom of the mountain. As these things go, the man atop the mountain has been hit and has the scars to prove it; the man at the base is a bloody mess. Now, why is that? Seems obvious, right? The man at the top of the mountain has the stronger position.
I like to use this story as a metaphor for race relations as I see them within Conservatism and how my fellow conservatives deal with these issues when they arise. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the man at the top of the mountain is white while the man at the bottom of the mountain is black. The rock represents racism and prejudice in this dynamic. You see, black people in America (as a whole) have never been at the top of that figurative mountain, so we have never known what that power feels like. In our minds, we’ve always been at the base of the mountain trying to climb up and reach equal footing.
Part of bringing blacks fully into the fold of American life is giving them complete and equal access to that power at the top. The point I’d make to those on the right is that they have far more in common with their black neighbors in America than they might think. It’s time to reach out. Many reforms the black community request are good for everyone. And the point I’d make to my friends on the left, you don’t listen to black as you claim. The left opposes all kinds of ideas and policies that blacks support, yet claims to support and represent them. You can’t claim to speak for or represent anyone. Black Lives Matter is about more than policing. It’s about the whole experience of being an American. It’s about taking all three words — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — sincerely to heart and guaranteeing it for all.
We all have our blind spots. I know I do, and I’ve certainly not been perfect on the subject. But that’s America in a nutshell. We aren’t perfect, but we’re willing to work towards that more perfect ideal. We have a chance to do that now, to begin a new era. I hope we realize this. Otherwise, we’re all going to get tired of walking around in this wilderness of unnecessary racial tensions.
Links of the week
Authors Retract Studies That Found Risks of Using Antimalaria Drugs Against Covid-19: Three authors involved in Lancet article that drew scrutiny said they couldn’t get full data set behind study; an article in the New England Journal of Medicine was also retracted – Wall Street Journal
Testimony: Shooter used racist slur as Arbery lay dying – Associated Press
Libertarianism For Me, Authoritarianism For Thee – Chris Arnade, American Compass
Stop Playing with Fire – Jim Geraghty, National Review
Bill de Blasio Has Failed: Like the president, New York City’s mayor has shrunk from sight amid anti-police protests. – Alex Shephard, The New Republic
The C.D.C. Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for This Moment.’ What Went Wrong?: The technology was old, the data-poor, the bureaucracy slow, the guidance confusing, the administration not in agreement. The coronavirus shook the world’s premier health agency, creating a loss of confidence and hampering the U.S. response to the crisis. – Eric Lipton, Abby Goodnough, Michael D. Shear, Megan Twohey, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sheri Fink and Mark Walker, The New York Times
The religious right ousts Steve King – Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner
Ben’s Chili Bowl Founder on Civil Unrest—In 1968 and Today: ‘The neighborhood was literally destroyed.’ – Declan Garvey, The Dispatch
What My Family Saw at the Nashville ‘I Will Breathe’ Rally: And afterward. – Nancy French, The Dispatch
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!