09 May 2019

Being a Progressive, Yesterday: Race

(We are offline due to a much-needed research period this winter/spring, so we've decided to re-publish some earlier pieces you might have missed the first time.)

Votes for women-- white women only, please

'The Conservative is afraid of the future,' goes the old trope, 'and the Progressive is afraid of the past.'

What the Progressive especially fears is his own past—that is, his fellow travelers of yesteryear. As Joe Biden is learning, what passed for 'leftist thought' 30 or 40 or 100 years ago can turn a modern-day liberal's ears scarlet. We hope you find this stroll down memory lane as fascinating as we did.

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[Re-post, original post here.]


Slate ran a series a few years back, 'Liberal Creationism,' after the brouhaha over James Watson's remark that Afros were less intelligent than other groups.  In this prescient piece, the author warns that many of the old 'racialist' tropes are likely to soon be proved true, and that the average progressive should mentally steel himself for it:


If this suggestion makes you angry—if you find the idea of genetic racial advantages outrageous, socially corrosive, and unthinkable—you're not the first to feel that way. Many Christians are going through a similar struggle over evolution. Their faith in human dignity rests on a literal belief in Genesis. To them, evolution isn't just another fact; it's a threat to their whole value system. 
The same values—equality, hope, and brotherhood—are under scientific threat today. But this time, the threat is racial genetics, and the people struggling with it are liberals. ... You can try to reconcile evidence of racial differences with a more sophisticated understanding of equality and opportunity. Or you can fight the evidence and hope it doesn't break your faith.

The proof is at this point hard to ignore, even if thought leaders are doing their level best to conceal it. As blogger JayMan asks from atop his mountain of scientific data, How much hard evidence do you need?  It is likely that in the next several years some lab finding will 'clinch' the question once and for all, pushing HBD into the mainstream as it has germ theory or heliocentrism.

Microbes and Planets: The skeptics had to be convinced


At that point, what is a sincere progressive to do?  The notion of cognitive or behavioral differences between ethnic groups is, for him, deeply repugnant.

One is tempted to hand him the same 'deal with it' doled out by his ilk to those who found the monkey-to-man mythos unpalatable:


But it may be more kind to invite such folks to spend some time with their own forebears--the Progressives of the late 19th / early 20th centuries.  People who like themselves were born with a desire to make the world a better place, but who unlike themselves did not shy away from the realities of human biodiversity.

So who is this creature, the Progressive?  What did he once believe and may believe again?


06 April 2019

Reparations for Slavery: Fair or Folly?

We are offline due to a much-needed research period this winter/spring, so we've decided to re-publish some earlier pieces that you might have missed the first time.

With 'reparations for slavery' back in the news thanks to presidential hopefuls such as Kamala HarrisFrancis 'Beto' O'Rourke, and Liz Warren, here is some data we were able to find on the subject back when Ta-Nehisi Coates last floated it. We hope you find it as interesting as we did.  


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[Re-post, original post here.]


Having addressed Atlantic editor Ta-Nehisi Coates' wish for reparations for red-lining, we now turn to another of his claims: That descendents of U.S. slaves deserve cash payouts for their forebears' suffering.

There is the question of both a) the legitimacy and b) the practicality of such a scheme. We shall only discuss the former, because if it is truly worthwhile, the latter can always be worked out.


Poring through Coates' 17-page article, we have guessed that he objects to U.S. chattel slavery on the following grounds:  1) Its very existence was unconscionable, 2) It was unusually inhumane, 3) It destroyed the Afro family, and 4) It helped create the large black-white wealth gap we see today.

We shall address his points one by one.



11 February 2019

Reparations for Redlining?

We are offline due to a much-needed research period this winter, so we've decided to re-publish some earlier pieces that you might have missed the first time.

With 'reparations for red-lining' back in the news thanks to the plucky Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here is the data we were able to find on this thorny question back when Ta-Nehisi Coates last tossed it in the punch bowl. We hope you find it as interesting as we did.  


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'Ingenious and powerful,' 'important and compelling''stunningly ambitious;' it has 'broken traffic records and vanished from newsstands,' 'setting ablaze' social media.  What is it?

It is 'The Case for Reparations,' Atlantic's June 2014 cover story by editor Ta-Nehisi Coates.



The idea has been tossed around since Emancipation, falling out of fashion as of late. Coates brings it roaring back in this long-form piece, calling on Euro-Americans to 1) publicly express their guilt about past oppression, and 2) pay reparation money to their Afro countrymen.  Does his argument hold water?

The 17-page article covers much ground, but it seems Coates seeks redress for three major wrongs:

  • Slavery
  • Land theft
  • Red-lining

They are three quite different topics, and should be treated as such.  We shall begin by addressing the most recent: so-called 'redlining.'

Coates tells the story of Clyde Ross, son of Mississipi sharecroppers who came to Chicago in the Great Migration:
'Three months after Clyde Ross moved into his house, the boiler blew out. This would normally be a homeowner’s responsibility, but in fact, Ross was not really a homeowner. His payments were made to the seller, not the bank. And Ross had not signed a normal mortgage. He’d bought “on contract”: a predatory agreement that combined all the responsibilities of homeownership with all the disadvantages of renting—while offering the benefits of neither. 
Ross had bought his house for $27,500. The seller, not the previous homeowner but a new kind of middleman, had bought it for only $12,000 six months before selling it to Ross. In a contract sale, the seller kept the deed until the contract was paid in full—and, unlike with a normal mortgage, Ross would acquire no equity in the meantime.'

Why was Ross obliged to buy a house 'on contract'? Because he could secure no regular mortgage financing. Chances are, in large part because he was Afro-American.