Saturday, March 10, 2007

Response to Glen Dean

Yesterday morning, I put up a post in response to blogger Glen Dean, who had written a piece calling the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a "disaster". He's posted a response to me, so I feel like it's only fair to keep up the dialogue.

I find it interesting that he said I "really make any argument based on anything intellectual, but he does play on our emotions." See, I was responding to a piece that did exactly the same thing. Rather than giving a legal rationale for the Civil Rights Act being bad, he simply tried to stir outrage that the government intervenes in private business.

But there were much bigger accusations yet to come:

"Freedonian is a typical guilt ridden white person, the very type responsible for holding back progress in the black community. I have always believed that liberals like Freedonian are actually the most racist of us all. Think about it. The definition of racism is "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." In order to support "leveling the playing field" and percentage quotas, one would have to believe that a certain group needs help due to them being inferior. Liberals are obsessed with race. They treat black people like helpless little babies. But they are not helpless little babies. They are human beings, just as equal as anyone."

It's not the first time I've heard that. Of course, the argument makes just as little sense coming from Mr. Dean as it has all the times it's been used before. It's something of a meme among conservatives to try and turn the racist label upside down and pin it on us. Even in the original piece he ran, he refers to Sean Hannity bragging about Republicans passing the Civil Rights Act--- Of course, Hannity omitted the fact that the modern Republican Party's southern power base is built upon playing to the angry white man that didn't understand the difference between rights and privileges, giving birth to the Southern Strategy.

In doing so, he's using several straw man arguments--- Namely, that I have implied that a black man is not my equal and must be helped along. I made no such argument at all, either implied or implicitly.

My argument regarding what would happen without the Civil Rights Act is based not on the worthiness of the black man, but the willingness of a white man to hire him. And that problem is something that hasn't gone away yet. Maybe some generation in the future will be so enlightened that race isn't any more of a consideration than hair color. I hope that if this post still exists fifty years from now, the whole argument is considered "quaint". But we're not there yet.

To the white people reading this--- You know damn well that at some point, some ignorant bigot has made a remark to you about people of another race, most commonly blacks (Although increasingly Hispanics as well), that tells you that they don't view them on equal footing. Whether it's the guy at the next table at the restaurant, the bartender in Pesky Fly's comment on my original post, or any other of a myriad of situations, bigots have a tendency to think they're safe demonstrating their ignorance in front of us. The Archie Bunker generation is still with us. We don't have to try and guess what they're thinking. They tell us.

And some of these very same people make workplace personnel decisions. It's at best, Pollyanna-ish and at worst, completely disingenuous to say that the world somehow works itself out for the betterment of all if we just lift the regulations.

We've seen what happens when there are no laws in place against workplace discrimination. From the end of the Civil War to 1964, there were no safeguards in place, and the nation created an informal system of economic apartheid that was designed around ever keeping black Americans from ever gaining a solid foothold in this nation. And that doesn't even address the inequalities that were imposed through violence, whether it's killing blacks that wanted to end Jim Crow, or even keeping them "in line" socially by murdering them for looking at white women.

Would we necessarily undo every bit of the progress we've made if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was repealed tomorrow? No. I suspect that the days of white men being able to hang blacks with impunity are gone, and there will be some progressive employers that will continue to hire the best man for the job regardless of race.

But how many businesses would have to swing back to the old ways to adversely affect people who deserve better?

"Should we be like Germany and lock up people who deny the holocaust?" he asks in the context of asking how far I would go to legislate against racism. I know he's spun me as "hating freedom" or some such blather. Personally, I loathe those who deny the Holocaust, but I don't believe in legislation desgined to alleviate hurt feelings. But the argument is a specious one--- Does Holocaust denial make it harder for a Jew to put food on the table? So the question is as irrelevant as if you had asked me which was higher--- Ann Coulter's IQ or her bra size.

"Do you not believe that government is too large when it has the right to tell a small business owner what percentage of a certain race he must hire and what minimum wage he has to pay that person? That type of government too closely resembles Stalinism for me. What about you?"

Gee, I dunno, Glen. I think the government is probably too big. We could fire every Bush appointee in the Pentagon, replace them with strategically shaved monkeys in suits, and raise the median IQ in that building by a good thirty points. But if you're asking me if the notion that employers shouldn't be able to take advantage of a soft job market to create an environment where desperate workers compete with one another to earn slave wages is somehow indicative of an oversized government. I'd probably say no.

But the Stalin reference is a classic. I mean, just when I thought you were running out of talking points, you reached shoulder deep into the conservative cliche bag to drag "commie" out. Bravo. Really, you outdid yourself. I am forever cowed by your verbal prowess.


Glen Dean said...

Thanks for the compliments.

Do you know what a Jim Crow law was? I believe it was a law passed by government. Who could not vote at that time? The key to the Civil Rights movement was to make sure that citizens would not be denied the right to vote based on race. Title II and Title VII went way too far. The rest of the Civil Rights Act was good and necessary.

Freedonian, we are just different. You consider me naive and "pollyanna-ish" to have a consistent belief in the concept of liberty and property rights. Liberals and social/big government conservatives are pretty much the same. They are like brothers. Both have a concept of what is moral, although different concepts, and both believe that government should be used to enforce those morals. Also, both believe the other is wrong for doing so. I disagree with both.

Freedonian said...

Jim Crow was not just legal, but social. There was no law requiring a separate water fountain for blacks--- But there was no law against it, so white America, and white southerners more than most, exploited every possible avenue for making life hell for black people.

Title II and Title VII are pivotal. Without Title II, it would be perfectly legal to stick blacks in the nosebleed section of an arena, or next to the ice machine in any hotel. I'm not sure how you define "equality", but that fits no definition I've ever heard. Would they be free to go to another hotel? Sure. And quite probably, another hotel that would do the same thing.

And Title VII is not only just, but it's magnificent. Title VII tore down the system that guaranteed that black people, as a race, could never move ahead. What were they going to do when white people turned them away in the workplace? Start their own businesses? With what?

The system in place was designed to make sure that a black child could be born, work his ass off for his entire life, and end up no better off than he was before--- And that was assuming something that we really couldn't--- That he wouldn't be hung for doing something "uppity" like looking at a white woman or failing to show a bigot more respect than he really deserved.

Now, you seem to live under this delusional haze that the market would have just "worked itself out" had it been left alone. But it had been left alone for almost 100 years by that point--- How well did it work out?

And... For the record... Nice that you took them as compliments, but they weren't meant that way. They weren't meant as true insults--- Just an admonition that when you're trying to sit at the big kids' table, you should bring something more than a pocketful of cliches with you.