Posts Tagged ‘racism’

The 1873 Colfax Massacre

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

Another bit via Timothy Sandefur’s book on Frederick Douglass: In 1873, in the midst of a political clash in Louisiana between rival governments, the April Colfax Massacre ended in the death of some 150 Black people. Wikipedia has an entry with numerous references. Smithsonian also has an article on the matter.

Cases of Racist Discrimination

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

As I’ve written elsewhere, I found an 1895 case in Aspen, Colorado, involving a man accused of violating the state’s anti-discrimination law.

In his book on Frederick Douglass (p. 39), Timothy Sandefur discusses how Douglass would be refused service and that his fellow white Abolitionists also would decline to use the service. One time, when Douglass “refused to yield his seat on the train to a white man, a mob tore the bench on which he was sitting from the floor of the car,” Sandefur writes.

Later (p. 75), Sandefur notes that Douglass was concerned with private discrimination, such as “the boycotting of black businesses by white customers” and the practice of some labor unions of “admitting only white members as a means of limiting competition for jobs.” And “black entrepreneurs were often excluded from access to capital.” (And of course government discriminated in various ways too.)

Sandefur also discusses (starting on p. 78) the 1875 national Civil Rights Act promoted by Charles Sumner. “It prohibited discrimination in hotels, theaters, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation,” Sandefur summarizes. Douglass argued that a person “has the right to walk, ride, and be accommodated with food and shelter in a public conveyance or hotel.” But the Supreme Court gutted the act with its Civil Rights Cases of 1883. Wikipedia summarizes, “The decision has never been overturned, but in the 1965 case of Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, the Supreme Court held that Congress could prohibit racial discrimination by private actors under the Commerce Clause.” In 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson established the “separate but equal” doctrine (which pertained to government policy). While I’m mentioning infamous Supreme Court cases: In 1857 the court under Roger Taney ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that Black people do not have U.S. citizenship.

Sandefur (p. 86) writes: “Douglass and Wells might break up segregation in a Chicago eatery, but an ordinary farmer who tried to do the same in any rural Mississippi coffee shop might very well be murdered.” (Douglass once took wells to a “whites only” restaurant for lunch.)

American Racism

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Anyone who doubts that racism remains a problem in America should watch video taken of a man holding a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison, Arkansas, and the racist hate this provoked.

Progressive Eugenics

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

The widespread acceptance of eugenics in the United States, especially by progressives, is a troubling part of U.S. history unknown to many Americans.”

Racism and Anti-Intellectualism on the Left

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

A document from the National Museum of African American History & Culture overtly embraces racism and anti-intellectualism, asserting that “white culture” entails individualism, “emphasis on the scientific method” and “objective, rational linear thinking,” a belief that “hard work is the key to success,” and a “future orientation”—along with a bunch of other things that are either mixed, neutral, or bad. This is a package deal of epic proportions. It constitutes an extraordinary smear of the many great Black scientists (not to mention hard-working people in all fields) of history and of today. It is also comically self-refuting; for example, is it an objective fact that “white culture” entails those things, or is that merely the subjective preference of the author? If the latter (as it obviously is), why should we believe any of it?

In related news: “Museum Curator Resigns After He Is Accused of Racism for Saying He Would Still Collect Art From White Men.”

Racism in Ohio

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Is there racism in America today? As video from Bethel, Ohio clearly indicates, the clear answer is yes. See also Buzzfeed‘s report.

See also a report about a disturbing racist incident in Indiana.

A Black Militia

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

There’s a black militia group in Atlanta called the “Not F***ing Around Coalition.” See also video of a march. The overtly racial tone of the group worries me.

Douglass on the Freedmen’s Monument

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

David W. Blight has a really nice op-ed about the Freedmen’s Monument, which some people want to tear down: “A huge parade involving nearly every black organization in the city preceded the dedication of the monument on April 14, 1876. . . . Horse-drawn carriages transported master of ceremonies and Howard University law school dean, John Mercer Langston, and the orator of the day, Frederick Douglass, a resident of that neighborhood. . . . The $20,000 used to build the monument had been raised among black Americans, most of them former slaves.”

The Smithsonian has the text of Douglass’s speech.

Timothy Sandefur has more on Douglass’s views of the memorial.

Stone on Police Violence

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Economist Lyman Stone has out a new article on police violence. The main finding is that police in the U.S. kill a lot of people, some 1,700 people per year: “Police violence in America is extraordinary in its intensity. It is disproportionate to the actual threats facing police officers, and it has risen significantly in recent years without apparent justification.”

What’s the problem? Stone: “Police unions . . . cause higher rates of police killings by shielding bad cops from discipline. . . . [P]olice unions have military-grade equipment they can use to violently crush protests against their abuses, and they are legally immune from most consequences.”

Is there a racial component to this? Other reports suggest not. Stone, citing a recent study by Mark Hoekstra and CarlyWill Sloan, says yes: “Using the unpredictable and somewhat random patterns of 911 calls and what police happen to be dispatched in response as an approximation of a more formal randomized study, a team of economists recently demonstrated that white officers in particular are much more likely to use potentially lethal force against black citizens. When randomly dispatched into more heavily black neighborhoods, white officers’ odds of shooting someone quadrupled, while there was virtually no change for black officers. This study controlled for crime patterns at the time of day and in the neighborhood to which the officer was dispatched, and was able to observe black and white officers dispatched into the same neighborhoods, and the same officers dispatched into multiple different neighborhoods. It is by far the most robust study of racial bias in policing yet conducted, and found an enormous effect that can best be described as racial bias leading to excessive use of force, especially lethal force. Racial bias in police killings is real.”

Mount Rushmore

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I thought the AP did a nice job of putting the story of Mount Rushmore in context. From the modern vantage point, I think it was a bad idea to erect the monument there. But, unlike regular statues, the monument obviously cannot be moved. So my take: Live with it and learn from it as an artifact of American history.

The Russell Senate Office Building

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I happened to be on Peter Boyles’s radio show today and he mentioned that Senator Michael Bennet wants to rename the Russell Senate Office Building. I got the impression Boyles doesn’t think much of the move; I made a noncommittal remark because I didn’t know about the story.

Bennet called for the renaming of the building on June 12. The building was named after Democratic Georgia Senator Richard Russell Jr., who served in the Senate from 1933 through 1971. There is no doubt that Russell was an open segregationists and a coauthor of the 1956 Southern Manifesto.

Originally called simply the Senate Office Building (SOB), the building opened in 1909. The building was not named for Russell until 1972, a year after Russell’s death. Senator Robert Byrd, in suggesting the change, said of Russell, “I do not think any man who has ever served in this body contributed more of his intellect, his knowledge, and his extraordinary skills, to enhance the integrity of the Senate, which he so deeply revered.” Another Democratic Senator, Philip Hart, “took the position that the Senate was acting too soon after the two senators’ deaths [Russell and Everett Dirksen] and should delay acting until ‘history’s estimate’ of them could be recorded.” In retrospect that seems like a prudent take.

Incidentally, long ago I worked as an intern for Senator Hank Brown, who worked out of the Hart Senate Office Building, named, ironically, for Philip Hart.

Racial Terror

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

White domestic terrorists murdered some 2,000 Black Americans between 1865 and 1876, and an additional 4,400 from 1877 to 1950, reviews the Guardian. See the Equal Justice Initiative’s report.

DiAngelo on White Privilege

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Someone recommended to me a 2017 talk by Robin DiAngelo on “white privilege.” She begins with some good points about how many white people make light of racism through dismissive language. She especially doesn’t like the phrase, “I don’t care if people are white, black, pink, purple, or polka-dotted.” People don’t really come in those other colors, she says, so such languages ignores the very real history of racial tensions. Okay, point taken.

I’m leery of her insistence of the universality of “implicit bias.” The evidentiary standards for demonstrating that someone has such bias seem to be on par with the evidentiary standards of convicting witches (an analogy others have used). “The fact that you loudly proclaim that you are not a witch only demonstrates that you are one.” I’m not claiming that there is no such thing as implicit (unconscious) bias. I’m just saying that, if there’s literally nothing that one could even conceivably say or point to to show that implicit bias is not at work in a given case, that’s a problem. So I think the right approach here is, “Let’s dig into the evidence for implicit bias and see where it is actually at work, not begin the discussion by assuming it is omnipresent.”

Just a quick note here about objectivity: DiAngelo claims that no one is objective due to their biases. But that’s just the wrong way to think about objectivity. It is either the case—that is, an objective fact—that someone is affected by some bias at some time, or it is not the case. To reject objectivity is to dismiss all of one’s own claims as unreliably subjective. Objectivity, properly understood, does not mean assuming an unreal person with no biases. It means (in part) understanding what biases are so that we can work to overcome them.

DiAngelo also rejects “individualism” on the grounds that it assumes a person is “unique and outside of socialization.” But that’s not what individualism means. It is true that each person is unique—even identical twins are very different in myriad details—so DiAngelo is mispackaging her concepts. But obviously it is not true that anyone is outside of socialization. No one thinks that, and individualism properly understood embraces the fact. What individualism means is that each person matters, each person has moral worth, each person has unique thoughts and goals and values.

DiAngelo does not outright dismiss universalism—the idea that we “are all one” in some important sense—but she claims it doesn’t reflect the reality in which we live. Again she misunderstands the concept. Universalism in this sense does not imply that everyone is the same or has the same experiences. It means that, in certain important ways, we are all alike. We are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with basic respect by our fellows and with fairness and equality under the law. It is simultaneously true that we are all unique individuals in important ways and all alike in important ways. A universalist (properly understood) anticipates a truly post-racial world, in which a person’s skin color simply does not matter, any more than a person’s hair color or height matters (aside from highly specialized contexts, such as certain gene-specific medical issues). There is a huge difference between the position, “Race matters, it is fundamental, and it will always matter,” and the position, “Race matters now for historical reasons, and we should strive for a world in which it doesn’t matter.” That second position is both the proper individualist and universalist aim.

DiAngelo sees “racism as the very fabric of our society.” I think that’s a serious overstatement. I fear that DiAngelo is reinforcing tribalistic thinking, when our aim should be to overcome it.

DiAngelo discusses the problems with the schools. I agree, the government-run school system is a disaster, especially for minorities (although some students do well in them). We all know that wealthier people tend to buy pricey houses as a way to get their kids into good schools, a process that often excludes the less-wealthy. “Privilege” is fundamentally a legal concept, and the laws around schooling do privilege some people over others (which is to say, disadvantage some people more than others), no doubt. But DiAngelo’s claim that all discussion of “good schools” and “bad schools” is racial coding is just ludicrous. Some schools are, by any objective measure you care to check, better than others. It is not racist for parents (of any color) to want to send their students to better schools.

DiAngelo makes the same claim regarding talk of “good” and “bad” neighborhoods. But some neighborhoods, objectively, have higher crime than others. No rational person would, other things equal, choose to live in a higher-crime neighborhood over a lower-crime neighborhood. There’s nothing racist about that. Now, of course, we can and should talk about why some neighborhoods have radically higher crime than others. Here, too, I largely blame horrible government policies, starting with the drug war and the mass-incarceration disproportionately of minority people. So, yes, we can and should talk about what is keeping some neighborhoods trapped in crime and poverty. But it is not racist not to want to live in a poor, high-crime neighborhood. Indeed, from what I see, parents who live in such neighborhoods typically want their children to grow up and leave them. Are those parents “racist” too?

My main concern about DiAngelo’s treatment of “white privilege” is the vagueness of it. Let’s talk specifics! Let’s talk about how the drug war damages neighborhoods, finances violent gangs, and drives the mass-incarceration (largely) of black men. Let’s talk about the laws that often make police unaccountable for their abuses of power. Let’s talk about how the teachers’ unions entrench today’s government schools that so often fail minority students. Let’s talk about how zoning laws often create enclaves for the wealthy white. Let’s talk about how the restrictive immigration laws horribly harm many people born outside (and inside) the country. And so on. DiAngelo’s emphasis seems to be on convincing “white” people that they’re racists. I think the proper emphasis is on figuring out what, specifically, is wrong with our society at an institutional level, and working to fix those problems. Convincing everyone they’re racist fixes nothing (and isn’t true). Convincing people that certain institutions are flawed and can be fixed in specific ways offers a path to actually improving people’s lives, whatever their color.

DiAngelo ends with a great point that white people should strive not to be defensive if accused of doing something racist. Sometimes that criticism is well-founded. My worry is about accusations not based in fact. Again, someone accused of witchcraft, back when people were murdered for being “witches,” probably reacted defensively when accused of witchcraft. If we start with the presumption that all accusations along a certain line are true, we set ourselves up for the sort of social-media mob “justice” and “cancel culture” we are now seeing all around us. Some people obviously are racist. Some people explicitly tell us they are, and some people (Donald Trump) repeatedly say and do racist things. But when we’re talking about things like “micro-aggressions” and relatively minor sleights, I think the way to go is to argue, “I think this particular expression or action is racist, here’s why, and here’s the harm it does.” That’s well and good. Obviously racism is not like witchcraft in that racism actually exists and some people actually are racists and say and do racist things.

Although I take issue with a number of things that DiAngelo says, her talk is well worth watching, not only to better-understand her position, but as a spur to think more seriously about how racism continues to plague our society a century and a half after the abolition of slavery.

Incidentally, DiAngelo also has a longer 2018 talk about “white fragility.”

Denver’s Black Press

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

When working on my article about early Colorado legislator Joseph H. Stuart, I relied heavily on articles published by the Statesman. Corey Hutchins offers some good history of the Black press in Denver. The Statesman was founded in 1888 and was rebranded the Denver Star in 1912. History Colorado reviews the story: “The Statesman/Denver Star flourished under the direction of notable editors and publishers. Joseph D.D. Rivers, the first proprietor of the Statesman, was a former student of Booker T. Washington. . . . Edwin H. Hackley, who took over as editor in 1892, was the first African American to be admitted to the Colorado bar. . . . In 1898, George F. Franklin bought the Statesman from Hackley and served as editor until his death in 1901, after which his widow, Clara Williams Franklin, and his son, Chester Arthur Franklin, acted as editors/publishers. In August 1906, the Statesman became Franklin’s Paper, The Statesman. Then in November 1912, C.A. Franklin announced that the Statesman would become the Denver Star . . . in order to distinguish it from the similarly titled Colorado Statesman, edited and published by J.D.D. Rivers, the original editor of the Statesman. In March 1913, Franklin sold the Denver Star to the Denver Independent Publishing Company, which published the paper under this name until 1963.” The newspaper archives lists the Statesman and the Star but not the Colorado Statesman.

Incidentally, an overtly racist newspaper also ran out of Boulder during part of 1925, the Rocky Mountain American. The Denver Library offers more detail about this.

The Tulsa Mass-Murders

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

In 1921, a white mob murdered hundreds of Black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, injured thousands more, and burned down “Black Wall Street.” Some of the perpetrators “were deputized and given weapons by city officials.” This is not that long ago. I personally knew people who were alive back then. This level of moral atrocity is difficult to process. This is severe domestic terrorism.

The Klan in Colorado

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

We cannot understand the present unless we understand the past. In that spirit, I have started to look more deeply into a rotten element Colorado’s past, the rise of the Klan in the ’20s.

In a recent article, I look at the life and work of the remarkable Joseph H. Stuart, an African American Colorado lawyer elected to the state house (I believe) in 1894. Back then, the Republican Party still was the party of Lincoln, and most black people were Republicans.

Distressingly, the Klan rose in Colorado in the 1920s and, for a time, took over the Republican Party. James S. Davis tells this story for Colorado Magazine (1965). “Grand Dragon” John Galen Locke established the Klan in Colorado in 1922, Davis writes. By 1924, the Klan selected “almost all” of the Republican Party’s candidates. By 1925, “In both the Senate and the House there was a majority of members elected from the Klan-controlled Republican party,” Davis writes. Governor Clarence Morley had close ties to the Klan.

Let’s pause here on Morley. The state’s biography of him notes that he didn’t actually enjoy many legislative successes. “Despite his apparent lack of legislative success, Morley was responsible for ratifying the Colorado River Compact, strengthening prohibition laws, developing a successful inmate labor program, and promoting legislation that allowed the state to carry its own insurance on its public buildings.” He developed “a police force, that many felt, enforced the prohibition laws too aggressively.” Morley was arrested in 1935 on mail fraud and later spent five years in Leavenworth. Wiki has Morley down as serving as governor from January 1925 through January 1927, after which he was succeeded by rival Democrat William “Billy” Adams. (I’m not sure how governor’s terms worked back then.)

Lynn Bartels quotes a document from the Center for Colorado and the West (a document that, unfortunately, I cannot find): “His [Morley’s] vitriol toward all things un-American was thinly veiled as an attack on Catholics, and further, on immigration. His goal wasn’t simply to eliminate the use of demon alcohol by banning the use of sacramental wine; it was to stop key elements of Catholic practice, thus the religion itself. Morley espoused the view that if public schools weren’t good enough for Catholic children, then Catholics should not teach in public schools. He agitated for the University of Colorado to fire all non-Protestant (that is, Catholic and Jewish) professors.”

Ed Quillen discusses Morley, Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton, U.S. Senator Rice Means, U.S. Senator Laurence Phipps, and others in Colorado government associated with the Klan. Quillen notes (I don’t know where he got this), “Colorado, in a perversely progressive way, was the only Klan realm with a women’s auxiliary.” Quillen notes that the ’20s iteration of the Klan was inspired by the infamous and racist film, The Birth of a Nation. Quillen says the Klan’s “national leader, Imperial Wizard William Joseph Simmons . . . himself went to Denver to start building the Colorado Klan” in 1921. Here is an important detail: “Dr. Clarence Holmes, president of the Denver NAACP chapter, started a drive to integrate Denver’s theaters. The Klan burned a cross in front of his office and sent a threatening note, but he persisted.” The Klan chased one black man out of Denver with threats and (people suspected) bombed houses. The Klan in Denver kidnapped and beat two men, Patrick Walker and Ben Laska (a Jewish lawyer). Quillen quotes Robert Alan Goldberg: “Just two Klan-endorsed bills became state law: one requiring schools to fly the American flag and the other making ownership or operation of a still a felony.” (This doesn’t perfectly square with Davis’s account.)

Quillen writes that, in the ’20s, some of Colorado’s Italian “immigrants ignored Prohibition in favor of their traditional wine-making, which quickly evolved into bootlegging and violent struggles for control of the liquor trade.” The Klan actively participated in sheriff-sanctioned liquor raids. However, Quillen writes, “Colorado Springs Police Chief Hugh Harper was one of the few Colorado peace officers to fight the Klan from the moment it arrived.” Quillen notes, “C. C. Hamlin, publisher of the city’s two leading newspapers [and a Republican], The Gazette and the Evening Telegraph . . . flayed the Klan on the front pages and the editorial pages.”

Reviewing Phil Goodstein’s In the Shadow of the Klan, Sandra Dallas writes, “The Klan organized boycotts of stores owned by Catholics and Jews, although many female Kluxers refused to stop patronizing Neusteter’s, the high-fashion store that was owned by Jews.”

Back to Davis: Davis quotes the Denver Times, January 13, 1925 (p. 1) to summarize Morley’s inaugural address. (Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be part of the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection and is apparently only on microfilm at History Colorado, which seems crazy to me. It’s 2020 and we’re still using microfilm?) Morley laid out the following goals: “the establishment of a state reformatory for women, appropriation of funds to carry on negotiations for interstate river treaties, a minimum wage law for women, assistance in revival of the mining industry, elimination of further taxation on gasoline,” and so on. Klan-inspired items “included the passage of acts excluding certain aliens from residing in the state, eliminating from the prohibition law the right to obtain intoxicating liquors for sacramental use, amending the primary election law so that members of one political party could not participate in the primaries of an opposing party, and abolishing many state boards, bureaus, and commissions.” (Davis goes on to explain why the Klan favored some of these proposals.) A detail: The legislature passed a bill that “eliminated primary elections entirely,” but Morley vetoed it. Although the House was friendly to Morley, Davis writes, a coalition of Democrats and disaffected Republicans blocked most of Morley’s program in the Senate.

An odd detail: Morley gave a pre-inaugural address by radio, surreal to read, in which he touted Colorado’s treasures and told a dumb joke about “dry farming” as not relating to Prohibition.

Another Klan aim, writes Davis, was “repealing the civil rights laws, which would allow discrimination against Negroes.” (Here Davis cites the House Journal, p. 216, and the Denver Post, January 24, 1925, p. 14.)

A document from the Mesa County Library notes a curious detail: “Even people like future Oscar winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo” contemplated joining the Klan; he “thought about joining but didn’t.” (I have no idea what the source for that is.) Here’s what IMDB says: “Of his early politics, a much older Dalton Trumbo told how he asked his father for five dollars so he could join the Ku Klux Klan, a mass organization after the First World War. He didn’t get the five dollars.”

See also a write-up from the Denver Library.

Denver even had it’s own Klan newspaper for a few months, the Rocky Mountain American.

Westword‘s Conor McCormick-Cavanagh has a couple of informative write-ups on Twitter about the Klan in Colorado (one and two), specifically about Stapleton. Why did the Denver airport get named after a KKK mayor? McCormick-Cavanagh quotes Colorado state historian William Wei: “I suspect that it was, in part, a reaction to the civil-rights movement that was occurring at that time, during the mid-1960s. They came up with this way of honoring him and were implicitly opposing the efforts of civil rights.” See also McCormick-Cavanagh’s article in Westword.

This is some grim and distressing history to review. But review it we must, to prevent something similar from happening again.

Theodore Johnson on Racial Injustice

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

This is in National Review, which is significant. Johnson recounts his own arrest when cops pulled him over on a pretext. He writes, “The creation of the black American occurred in a system that rewarded the deprivation of a black person’s liberty and exacted harsh penalties when the racial order was breached. Violence was meted out at every point of enslavement, becoming the primary language in which the nation spoke to these new Americans. As they sought freedom from bondage, animated by the same spirit that had inspired a young nation to declare its independence in the summer of ’76, slave patrols were established to deter uprisings, to capture those who dared to escape, and to enforce the laws and codes that further stripped black Americans of their autonomy. State-sanctioned brutality — carried out by private citizens, commissioned patrols, and state militias — was the means to keep black Americans marginalized, delivering a bastardized conception of justice that any reason, or none at all, was enough for it to be employed with impunity.”

The Heroism of Patrick Hutchinson

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Patrick Hutchinson, a protester in London, carried an injured white man over his shoulder to safety. He said, “You have to show some sort of love for your fellow man.” He said, “I want to see equality for everybody. I am a father, a grandfather and I would love to see my young children, my young grandchildren, my nieces, my nephews have a better world than I have lived in. The world I live in has been better than my grandparents and my parents and hopefully we can continue until we have total equality for everyone.” He added, “We’re all one people, we’re all one race.”

Walter Walker’s Sin and Reform

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Colorado Mesa University’s Walker Field will be renamed. The airport in Grand Junction used to be called Walker Field, and its address remains Walker Field Drive. So who is Walter Walker? Dan West reviews, the president of the college, Tim Foster (a former Republican legislator) said Walker is “the leader of the Grand Junction Klan, the founder of the Grand Junction Klan.” West writes, “According to interviewees from the Mesa County Oral History Project, Walker helped bring the Ku Klux Klan to Grand Junction and was a member. He later turned against the group and published editorials in the Daily Sentinel attacking the KKK and was even the target of violence from Klan members.” On one hand, I have no problem with changing the name of the field due to Walker’s sins. On the other hand, I hope that we don’t lose the lesson of Walker’s reform.

A Daily Sentinel editorial provides important context: “Walter Walker . . . was the second owner and publisher of The Daily Sentinel who helped establish Mesa Junior College and the local veterans hospital, built The Avalon and brought air service to Grand Junction. . . . He was also responsible for bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Grand Junction in the 1920s. . . . Noel Kalenian provides a thoughtful treatment of Walker’s story [here] based, in part, on audio recordings of interviews with Walker’s contemporaries included in the Mesa County Oral History Project housed at the Mesa County Libraries. . . . The Klan was proving to be a political force in Colorado — and across the country — in the 1920s. Prohibition provided the Klan with a new platform to spread its anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, white Protestant nationalist rhetoric. It promised to clean up communities and rid them of bootleggers and moonshiners. But that’s not how the Klan operated here. Beer was served at meetings. It was more of a men’s social club. . . . Under Walker’s leadership, the club refused to take an activist position on the Klan’s tenets. But at some point, Walker was stripped of his leadership position and the club took a sinister turn. That’s when Walker started writing editorials warning of an organization ‘that preyed on prejudice to incite hatred,’ Kalenian wrote. . . . In September 1925, several local Klan leaders including a deputy sheriff and a police officer assaulted Walker as he walked from a barber shop to his newspaper office. But that didn’t stop his anti-Klan campaign and membership dwindled to insignificance by 1926.”

The Sentinel may be putting a positive spin on the “social club,” but its portrayal of Walker seems accurate. Here’s what Kalenian says: “According to [Robert Alan] Goldberg [author of Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, which seems to be out of print], the Western Slope’s geographic isolation from Denver in an age of poor roads allowed the Klan in Grand Junction to function as a kind of social club similar to the Elk’s Lodge, but with cross burnings, grotesque robes and dumb, pointy hats. Membership in the Klan was so popular among Mesa County’s white Protestants that it seemed like everyone wanted to join, even people like future Oscar winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (who thought about joining but didn’t), Al Look and Walker. Look and Walker later started an organization called the Soup Eaters to help poor and minority children in the Grand Valley. After leaving the Klan, Walker supported the presidential candidacy of Al Smith, a Catholic. The club under Walker’s leadership eschewed many of the Klan’s tenets, including prohibition. In fact, Goldberg says that the Grand Junction club served beer in their meetings. The club also refused to take an activist position on immigrants, African-Americans and Catholics, and kept the small minority of Klansmen who favored action against such people at bay.”

Black Man Pulls Gun in Self-Defense, Cops Arrest Him

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Five people harass and assault a black man. The black man calls police. Before police (sheriff’s deputies) show up, the black man pulls his gun to defend himself. And then guess what happened: “When the deputies arrived, they took the handgun from McCray, went back and talked to his antagonists, and then, without getting his side of the story McCray said, they arrested him.” Thankfully, the sheriff’s department finally got its act together, dropped the charges against the black guy, and arrested the actual criminals.

University Dogmatism

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

An anonymous person claiming to be a Berkeley history professor (who knows) wrote a lengthy letter to colleagues rejecting “a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders.” The history department responded, “An anonymous letter has been circulating, purportedly written by a @UCBHistory professor. We have no evidence that this letter was written by a History faculty member. We condemn this letter: it goes against our values as a department and our commitment to equity and inclusion.” Yes, Berkeley is “inclusive” except of anyone who dares express an opinion outside the university’s established orthodoxy.

Police and Race

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Here I want to look at several sources on police and racism.

John McWhorter wrote a piece in 2016, “Police Kill Too Many People—White and Black.” He begins by pointing out that police killing white people typically doesn’t get the same media attention as police killing black people. He concludes, “We can all agree that the police kill too many innocent people, but at this point, we can disagree—as eminently reasonable minds—that the cops kill out of bigotry.”

Here is the abstract of Roland Fryer’s 2016 paper: “This paper explores racial differences in police use of force. On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force—officer-involved shootings—we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings.” A New York Times article reviews this study.

David J. Johnson leads a more recent (2019) study. From the abstract: “We report three main findings: 1) As the proportion of Black or Hispanic officers in a FOIS increases, a person shot is more likely to be Black or Hispanic than White, a disparity explained by county demographics; 2) race-specific county-level violent crime strongly predicts the race of the civilian shot; and 3) although we find no overall evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities in fatal shootings, when focusing on different subtypes of shootings (e.g., unarmed shootings or “suicide by cop”), data are too uncertain to draw firm conclusions.” The authors amend a sentence of the original report as follows: “As the proportion of White officers in a fatal officer-involved shooting increased, a person fatally shot was not more likely to be of a racial minority.”

Update: Lyman Stone, looking at a more-recent study, concludes, “Racial bias in police killings is real.”

July 6 Update: The authors of the 2019 study requested that it be retracted. However, they stand by their original findings, only worry about people’s incorrect inferences from the article.

Racial Quotas at the Oscars

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

To ensure more diverse representation, and in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy will create a task force of industry leaders, appointed by David Rubin and that will include governor and A2020 Committee chair DeVon Franklin, to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31, 2020.” Isn’t this just racial quotas?

King the Colorblind Radical

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

In a 2019 piece, Coleman Hughes calls Martin Luther King Jr. A “colorblind radical.” Hughes also posts a series of quotes from King showing that he saw the civil rights “movement in nonracial, universalist terms.” For example, King said, “The important thing about man is . . . not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin but the quality of his soul.”

Martin Luther King Jr. on Violence

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Reason has out a video, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unwavering Opposition to Violence Still Matters.” He said, “I think for the negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.” (Today of course that reference is antiquated.) The video shows clips from a 1966 interview, in which King says, “Riots are self-defeating and socially destructive.”

I am glad that, overwhelmingly, the protesters of late have avoided violence. It is unsettling, though, how many “intellectuals” have vocally egged them on to violence.

We should recognize here that the context is protests versus rioting and looting. Violence in cases of actual self-defense is another matter entirely.