Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, Racist Hate….and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Question: If Ta-Nehisi Coates’ racist and hateful, anti-white, anti-US essay for The Atlantic is respectable public discourse, why isn’t Dylan Roof’s manifesto?

I think it is fair to that we know what the standards, or rather double standards, are in Barack Obama’s America. We have repeatedly been told by progressive activists that “hate speech” either isn’t or shouldn’t be protected by the Constitution, but the essay “Letter to My Son” by a regular Atlantic contributor, published by the magazine as literature, shows that “hate speech” is a narrower category in the progressive universe than its catchy name would suggest. Pompous, pretentious, labored, and smug anti-white, anti-American speech isn’t hate, apparently, but rather wisdom.

I just want to know what the rules are now.

Blogger/law professor Ann Althouse threw a link to the long piece by Coates to her readers without comment, as is often her technique. Actually, she highlighted a comment to the essay by one of the readers of Metafilter, who gushed,

I sat in the parking lot of my gym for 30 minutes reading that amazing, amazing piece. I’m rendered inarticulate by its power, by its purpose, by how fucking important it is and how I wish every person in this country would read it and really hear what he’s saying. And, just, goddamn. It’s so good. It references MLK in the same breath as Wu-Tang, and it’s all woven together so fucking effortlessly, but the references aren’t winky nods to pop culture, they’re buttressing an argument that is already so strong and undeniable and.

Althouse left off the last line, which was…

God. I know this sounds hyperbolic, but fucking hell, I hope this letter is taught in civics classes and literature classes for decades to come.

The Professor is correct: the positive reactions to this monstrosity are at least as fascinating as the essay itself. Read it all the way through, if you can. I found the long article extremely hard to get through. The prose is the sort of over-worked, straining-to-be-poetic slog that black revolutionaries and poets of the Sixties used to excel at, often from prison; Eddie Murphy did some hilarious imitations of them. Style and pretentiousness aside, the essay is tragic, frustrating and deeply sad: if this or anything even close to this is a common state of mind among African Americans, then it is small wonder progress in U.S. race relations is regressing. Continue reading

The Worst Timing Of Unethical Conduct Ever? African-American Mom Asks White Police Officer To Abuse Her Son

Fake Arrest

The African-American community needs to get its objectives and messages straight…quickly. That is, it needs to do this if it really knows what its objectives and intended messages are. This story should make everyone, including them wonder.

In  Columbus, Georgia, Chiquita Hill’s  10-year-old son, Sean,  was disrespectful to his teacher and repeatedly defiant in class. Sean’s mother was beside herself, and as I just heard her explain on HLN, was worried about what the child might be like when he reached puberty. Thus she devised the brilliant idea (yes, many people—cretins, but still—are saying that on social media) of “scaring her son straight” by calling 911 and having a police officer pretend to arrest him and take him to jail. Let me repeat that: there are people on social media saying this was a good idea.Many of these people have children themselves. Think about it.

Hill said her son didn’t believe she had called the cops on him—for the crime of talking back to his teacher— until Columbus police officers showed up at the door and put him in handcuffs, put him in the patrol car and pretended to take him to jail.  “It happened so quick he didn’t know what to do,” she told the media. “I don’t know what they said to him but he came running down the hill, gave me a big hug said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Then Chiquita posted the pictures of her son in handcuffs on Facebook, where it has gone viral and will last forever.

There is nothing ethical, civilized, justifiable, reasonable, rational or right about either the conduct of the mother, or the conduct of the police officers. In the context of speeches and protesters in Baltimore and elsewhere  proclaiming angrily that the police forces of  the United States are racist and determined to exterminate black males, the episode is also hypocritical on the part of both the police and the mother, while intentionally seeding the racial distrust both police and African Americans are supposed to be working together to defuse, not working together to create.

I assume that readers here have functioning ethics alarms so let’s do this as a game, shall we? Before you read further—no cheating now, this is an ethics blog–vote on how many ways this episode involved wrongful conduct. Then see how close you came by finishing the post.

Did you vote?

OK, here’s the tally: Continue reading

The Freddie Gray Ethics Train Wreck: If Protesters Really Want Justice, Then They Have To Stop Making Justice Impossible

Maybe it's all the same train wreck after all....

Maybe it’s all the same train wreck after all….

Yes, the mysterious death of Freddie Gray from injuries he sustained while in the custody of the Baltimore police has now become a certified Ethics Alarms Ethics Train Wreck. That honor was guaranteed once Baltimore’s mayor started stumbling over her words and meaning and then blaming others; when looters and rioters began burning down stores and a seniors home; when the finger-pointing began and when shameless Republicans started politicizing the riots, notably Texas Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX) who somehow reasoned that the Baltimore riots prove the dangers of gay marriage.

Most of all, a train wreck rating was guaranteed once the African-American activist response to Gray’s murder, inflamed by incompetent handling of the incident by the Baltimore police department, exactly followed the script of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck. Gray’s death was pronounced a murder and the police response a racist cover-up before all the facts were known or even knowable. Never mind: “Black Lives Matter” signs were paraded on the streets, and columnists and news reporters began telling the story as if Gray was—not might have been, not probably was, but was—just another in the long line of young black men murdered by the police. After all, we had the recent Walter Scott shooting, captured on video, to justify a presumption of racism and murder.

But a presumption of racism and murder, absent proof, is never justified. It isn’t allowed in court, and it isn’t ethical out of court. Never mind: that’s where we now are with Freddie Gray and Baltimore. Maybe this isn’t a new Ethics Train Wreck. Maybe it’s just the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, just rolling on.

As with Mike Brown (and Trayvon Martin’s death) , the underlying narrative of the protests over Freddie Gray’s death appears to be less certain than it originally appeared. The Washington Post reports that a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray says he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle, suggesting that Gray  “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” The prisoner’s statement is contained in an affidavit that’s part of an application by the police for search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest. If that account has any credibility at all, it could result in a prosecutor’s legitimate refusal to indict any officers. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Baltimore riots

Being the mayor of any city in the throes of a race riot is a losing proposition; being an African-American mayor when the rioters are all black and the riot was sparked by the mysterious death of a black man in police custody is a hopeless proposition. Last night’s riot in Baltimore actually justified the kind of para-military response that got Ferguson, Missouri condemned by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, but that approach was politically impossible. I don’t know what I would have done in Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s hot seat, except hope against hope that President Obama didn’t come out with a statement that Freddie Gray could have been his son. So this is not the time to second-guess the mayor’s actions.

For the record, my assessment is that the volatile combination of acculturated black community contempt for policy authority and long-incubating and neglected racist inclinations in police departments was activated nationwide by seven years of cynical exploitation of racial divisions and distrust by President Obama, Eric Holder and the Democratic Party for electoral gain. Race riots were the predictable  consequence, and I say that with confidence because I predicted it in 2012, when Trayvon Martin’s death was elevated to a national issue just in time for the President Obama’s re-election push. Rawlings-Blake may have been part of that effort; I haven’t investigated that. She certainly inherited its results.

My verdict of incompetence in her case focuses less on her failure to prevent or contain the riots than on her inept communications skills. Leaders have to communicate clearly. If they can’t, they have a duty to learn: the skill can be taught. (I’m looking at you, W.) If they can’t communicate, their leadership ability is intrinsically crippled. Leaders who have to constantly “clarify” what they said, or “walk back” comments, or claim that they were “quoted out of context” when they were just quoted lose the public’s trust, and deserve to.  Public officials have to be careful  what they say, and how they say it, and this is a crucial, indispensable skill in their chosen field.

Rawlings-Blake held a press conference as the riots in her city were unfolding, and said this:

“And I’ve made it very clear that I worked with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars, and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wish to destroy, space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance, and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate and that’s what you saw.”

Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage target employee who just wasn't wearing her red shirt today, because whites are such racists. It's amazing she wasn't shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a white shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, Target bags, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage Target employee who just wasn’t wearing her red shirt that day, because whites are such racists. It’s amazing Michelle wasn’t shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

I suppose it should be no surprise that my bias toward “Comment of the Day” candidates tilts toward comments that save me a post. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of this edition, a comment by johnbuger2013 (and I can’t wait to see what johnbuger2014 has to add!). The effort by Michelle Obama to paint normal , harmless, benign and trusting interactions between black and white citizens as racist profiling is really horrible, and the degree that the news media (“oh, there go those tea-bagging right-wing media again, picking on the Obamas for nothing!”) is ignoring the implication of what she did is not merely horrible but terrifying. Essentially, it is a declaration that the media will accept false accounts as truth as long as it furthers the narrative that all blacks—even the Obamas!—are constant victims of thinly disguised bias and racism.

What Michelle launched into the the public discourse, and “People” irresponsibly abetted, is yet another Big Lie, like the myth that Mike Brown was gunned down while surrendering with his hands up.  Though she was dressed at the time of the alleged incident like a shopper, with a cart and a giant purse, in sunglasses and wearing a Nike cap, Michelle absurdly told the magazine that a shorter fellow shopper, who was short but white—that’s the key, white—asked her if Michelle  could take down an item from a high shelf because the shopper assumed the first Lady was “the help’–because she is black.  The story is unbelievable on its face, and more than that, it exposes Obama as an anti-white bigot. Never mind: everywhere, her offensive characterization is being treated as fact. Fact—even though it is impossible, even though shoppers ask each other, regardless of race, for assistance all the time. Knee-jerk loyalists to the cause of race-baiting, victim-mongering, eternal grievances and Team Obama—including other commenters here— have twisted logic and fairness into grotesque shapes to justify this disgraceful story. The Big Lie, as we know, works.  From the Hollywood Reporter:

“During the show’s Hot Topics section, the co-hosts addressed Barack and Michelle Obama’s recent statements that they’ve been mistaken for the help.”

But Michelle wasn’t mistaken for the help. Michelle is so paranoid, bigoted and race-obsessed that she thought she was mistaken for the help with no justification whatsoever. Never mind: her story is now Truth. From US:

“The ladies [ of “The View”] got into a heated discussion when O’Donnell, co-host Rosie Perez, and Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox agreed that it’s racist when African-Americans are profiled in stores.”

But Michelle wasn’t profiled in the store (and nobody on The View’s panel of ignoramuses had te wit or integrity to point out that the whole discussion was based on a falsehood). Someone foolishly mistook her for a normal, well-adjusted, non-white-hating human being who would happily assist a stranger without assuming the worst about her. This will teach her. next time, only ask white shoppers for help: they won’t hate you for it.

As you might be able to tell, I am upset about this story, and the trend it represents, and angry with anyone, regardless of race, who won’t view it objectively and condemn it for what it is. But this is not a politics blog, but an ethics blog, and even though ethics outrages just pour out of the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck like the waters of Niagara, my mission is broader,  my target audience is broader still, and on a topic like this, where 90% of journalist are inclined to promote a lie, I can’t accomplish much by flogging the same issue day after day on Ethics Alarms, other than assuaging my own frustration.

I digress, however. Here is the Comment of the Day, by johnbuger2013, on the post, “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”: Continue reading

What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway

Target Michelle

The current People Magazine has a feature titled “The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” in which both Obama’s reflect on their personal experiences with a racist America. It begins like this…

“The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.”

Here is a relatively recent experience, the first one cited by Mrs. Obama in the article, that “stung”:

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the First Lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target [in 2012], not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the First Lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.” 

That’s right, Michelle feels—or says she feels—that this incident was proof of incipient racism, one of the “micro-aggressions” that white society inflicts on African Americans daily, sapping their self-esteem, confidence, and trust in society.

She’s right that it “happens in life” and isn’t new. In fact, it happened to me, in the local Target, coincidentally, just last month. A very short elderly Asian woman asked if I would take down a large container of laundry detergent from a high shelf. Obviously, she thought I worked at Target and was denigrating me, applying racial stereotypes to a large bald Greek-American man.

I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that what happened to Michelle at Target was not an incident of racial stereotyping. The photo above shows how Michelle was dressed on the fateful day, and anyone who would mistake her flowered blouse, Nike hat, shades and shopping cart as the uniform of a Target employee had recently escaped from a Home for the Bewildered. What wasn’t new about the encounter is that in a healthy, ethical community strangers should ask each other for kindly help and assistance, and normal, non-paranoid, non race-obsessed citizens—and especially their leaders, who are supposed to model responsible  behavior— ought not to be so warped by ideologically-dictated confirmation bias that their immediate reaction is, “Hmmmm…what did she mean by that?” Continue reading