Wednesday 31 December 2014

Running The Straight Race

It is a sobering thought, even on New Year's Eve, that this site's propagation of the view that I have been seeking to promote, by whatever available means, for more than 20 years, has put me in the position where Owen Jones, whom I had never previously met, autographed his book "To David" without needing to ask who I was, while at the same time I am probably closer both personally and politically to the American paleoconservatives than any other writer in Britain, and certainly as close to them as anyone over here.

Moreover, it is notable that most of the paleocons' British associates are at least broadly on the Left, and would definitely describe themselves as such: Neil Clark, Rod Liddle, Brendan O'Neill.

Even Peter Hitchens supports public ownership of the railways, the utilities and the Royal Mail, with a restored Central Electricity Generating Board once again tapping into this country's vast reserves of coal while also making mass use of nuclear power, the principal lobbyist for which has always been the trade union that is now Unite.

Peter gets around this by pretending that that kind of thing has nothing to do with whether or not one is left or right-wing. He is on his own there.

The American Conservative, the only publication in the world to have paid directly for my bylined work this year (admittedly, the days of being paid for that look increasingly to be coming to an end), and which approached me for it rather than having me pitch, publishes articles advocating Presidential runs by Elizabeth Warren and Jim Webb, while making it clear that it could not support any likely Republican candidate other than that hugely improbable nominee, Rand Paul.

Against Hillary Clinton, I rather suspect that Neil, Rod and Brendan would also support Paul. I certainly would. Against Jeb Bush, we would all, I am sure, support Elizabeth Warren or Jim Webb. As, very clearly, would The American Conservative.

There is a real difference in that Neil, Rod and I, and I suspect Brendan as well, would support Warren or Webb against Paul, whereas the paleocons would take the other view. If the choice were between Bush and Clinton, then we should all be together on the first flight to Mars.

But then, ever dividing us, there is race. Isn't there?

Well, is there. Herewith, two of my associates.

First, the Southern Avenger himself, Jack Hunter:

Over the last week, many conservatives seemed to be unified around one narrative: Race or racism had absolutely nothing to do with the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings, the protesters had simply made it such and this led to the tragic murder of two New York City police officers.
The shooting of an 18-year-old black male by a white officer in Berkeley, Missouri, near Ferguson, on Tuesday—accompanied by a video that appeared to support the cop’s actions—reinforced this narrative among conservatives. So did the senseless riot that followed.
Many conservatives believe race or racism was never a factor at all in the Brown and Garner cases, or in most of these types of cases. Many insist that the protesters were just making all this stuff up.
Who disagrees with this? Black people.
In poll after poll after poll after poll after poll—strong majorities of black Americans have consistently said that race plays a role in how law enforcement is applied and how the justice system is conducted in the United States.
We know that black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than whites. We know that 1 in 3 black men can expect to go to jail in their lifetime.

We know that 1 in every 15 black males in the U.S. is currently incarcerated. We know black offenders receive longer sentences than white offenders.

We know that despite the same rate of use of marijuana, blacks are 4 times more likely to be arrested.
Black NYPD police officers give some perspective.

Reuters reported on Tuesday:
Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.
The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.
On the Garner killing, Reuters added, “Said one officer from the 106th Precinct in Queens, ‘That could have been any one of us.”
These are just a few of the statistical realities and perspectives black Americans know too well, and through which they viewed the Michael Brown and Eric Garner controversies.

It’s almost impossible to imagine them not seeing a racial component.
But are blacks just misperceiving these circumstances as racism, as many conservatives seem to think?

Or have black men and women have observed things in their communities for a very long time that many outside their communities aren’t aware of?
Is this even a possibility? Many conservatives: Nope.
Years ago, I used to say inflammatory things as a conservative radio shock jock, “The Southern Avenger,” knowing it would generate a certain animosity, even racial.
I thought it was a badge of honor, that this was my role. I believed part of being a conservative was simply to ignore minority criticism, or perhaps to point to other minorities who agreed with me.

Over the years, I’ve changed my mind significantly.
But do many and perhaps most conservatives subscribe to this mindset?

I must ask—particularly given recent events and the reactions to them—is part of being conservative just not caring what black people think?

It should be noted that there were diverse conservative opinions about the Eric Garner decision.
Conservatives do not need to agree with every criticism made by black Americans of law enforcement and our justice system, but they do need, at a bare minimum, to consider them.

They need to acknowledge that they exist.
They need to listen.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul has listened. He even agrees that black Americans have a point  about racism and our current system.

The conservative reaction? Paul has been called  “anti-cop,” accused of “pandering” and worse.
So much for minority outreach.
Politics is tribal. The dynamic of conservatives vs. liberals and Republicans vs. Democrats isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
But in the past few months since Ferguson erupted, and the last week in particular, it has felt a lot more like conservatives vs. blacks—that the right thinks African Americans don’t have a point, an argument, or even a side worth considering when it comes to these controversies.
I hope I’m wrong.
And then, Jim Antle:

At the moment, it appears House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will avoid Trent Lott’s fate: being tossed out of the Republican congressional leadership in a racially charged controversy.

But will the Republican Party escape its fate as a political party black Americans and most other nonwhites are convinced hates them?

The question enrages conservatives, who raise some pointed queries of their own.

If Scalise shared David Duke’s racist views, why has it taken more than a decade—and some liberal trolling around hate websites—to reveal it?

Many liberals don’t even try to be fair in reading the hearts and motives of their political opponents.

Some of them claim to believe conservatism is inherently racist; others simply employ the charge as a political weapon.

They cannot be appeased, so why keep handing them Republican scalps?

Finally, isn’t there double standard at work here?

Al Sharpton has a long, documented history of racial demagoguery, yet he is welcome at the White House. Jesse Jackson called New York City “Hymietown,” an anti-Semitic slur.

President Obama himself attended a church led by a pastor who delivered racially incendiary sermons.

Scalise’s claim to be unfamiliar with the racist ideology of an obscure group is more plausible than Obama’s assertion that he was unfamiliar with Jeremiah Wright’s anti-white rants.

Democrats tolerated a former Ku Klux Klan member in their Senate leadership team as recently as the Obama administration.

Avowed segregationists were part of the New Deal coalition, appearing on presidential tickets with Franklin Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson. Progressives like Woodrow Wilson held Duke-like racial views.

All good points. I’ve made many of them myself and will continue to do so, as liberal Democrats should be held accountable.

But conservatives shouldn’t stop there.

As the Bible says, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

I was among the conservatives who thought Trent Lott needed to go back in 2002 (coincidentally, back when the Scalise talk allegedly happened).

Not because I thought his complimenting Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign was anything other than flattery, blowing smoke up an old man’s posterior on his 100th birthday.

But I did think once a controversy arose, the Republican leader of the Senate—a successor to Everett Dirksen, who helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Bob Dole, who voted for it—should be able to manage a more convincing denunciation of segregation than Lott proved able to muster.

Democrats may never police their own in this fashion.

As Michael Brendan Dougherty observes, however, “I can’t think of a more unattractive pose than arguing that the Democrats have awful standards and the GOP should sink to them.”

Why should conservatives and Republicans accept, within certain limits, this partisan double standard?

First, the GOP has a much bigger burden in trying to win over minority voters than the opposition.

The Democrats recovered from their legacy of supporting slavery and segregation; Republicans have yet to recover from Barry Goldwater’s vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Second, Republicans have a harder case to make to minorities and many white voters that their opposition to social welfare spending, unchecked immigration, racial preferences, leniency toward lawbreakers, overly expansive anti-discrimination laws and hate crimes legislation are all motivated by something other than animus.

Making that case becomes impossible if conservatives associate with people who advocate white supremacy, speak disdainfully about African-American intellectual abilities and appear to believe the worst thing about slavery is that it brought black people into the Western world in the first place.

Or maybe conservatives don’t associate with such white racists, but merely conclude they are no worse than the National Council of La Raza. David Duke is about as bad as it gets.

We should downplay this fact because of Sharpton and Wright? That’s not to say conservatives should always retreat in the face of racism charges.

There should be no abandonment of conservative principles or individuals who are falsely accused. But conservatives should be smarter.

Think how much easier life would be for at least one Louisiana congressman if racists had never felt welcome at conservative gatherings and white nationalists could never hide effectively at anti-tax meetings.

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