All posts filed under: BLM

Robin DiAngelo’s Misreading of Michel Foucault

This article is lightly adapted from the author’s new book Reinventing Racism: Why ‘White Fragility’ Is the Wrong Way to Think about Racial Inequality published by Rowman and Littlefield. Robin DiAngelo’s academic papers have consistently shown a tendency for indoctrination over debate. This tendency reflects a distrust of objectivity that stems from the influence of philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida.1 While this is not the place for a deep dive into philosophy, the basic idea for DiAngelo is that power and knowledge are so profoundly connected that it is virtually, if not entirely, impossible to make an objective claim about what we know, because knowledge is never neutral. This view conflates objectivity and neutrality. It is also wrong. In the 2012 book she co-authored with Özlem Sensoy entitled Is Everyone Really Equal?, DiAngelo invokes Foucault’s panopticon to illustrate how “[p]ower in the context of understanding social justice refers to the ideological, technical, and discursive elements by which those in authority impose their ideas and interests on everyone.” For example, she writes about …

Victimhood or Development?

On October 20th, Brown University professor of economics Glenn Loury and Columbia University professor of linguistics John McWhorter were joined on Loury’s Bloggingheads podcast The Glenn Show by Shelby and Eli Steele to discuss the new documentary What Killed Michael Brown? The film is written and narrated by Shelby, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an award-winning writer, and directed by his son, Eli. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of that discussion. LOURY: What Killed Michael Brown? has already produced a lot of controversy. I hear that Amazon was a little bit reluctant to let you guys put your film up at their streaming service. I don’t know what that’s about, but the reviews that I have read are very positive, including the review that I offered here with John in our last conversation. So where did the idea for making this film come from? S. STEELE: This film came from the realization that we had a body dead in the street. We felt the whole American racial situation was somehow concretized, …

Does Racism Explain Black Disadvantage?

A foundational tenet of the Black Lives Matter and similar racial justice movements is that gaps between blacks and whites on many socio-economic measures are produced primarily by racism. Racial inequalities in educational attainment, financial success, social status, crime, and health are thereby transformed from inequalities to racial inequities. That is, differences between races are not seen merely as a demographic fact but as an indictment of the fairness of our society. Each new inequality uncovered, from the unequal effects of COVID-19 to sentencing in the court system, is offered as evidence for the charge of systemic racism and injustice. The possibility that inequalities might be a result of black culture, historical circumstance, or heritability is dismissed a priori or even ruled out of bounds. For example, research into the genetic basis of racial IQ differences will not be awarded grants from government or foundations, which makes it very difficult to pursue. The only exception to the prohibition on research into the genetic basis for racial disparities is in the medical area, where genetic explanations …

America Has Serious Problems. It’s Time to Stop Blaming Them on ‘Trumpism’

Donald Trump may have been defeated in his quest for re-election. But not so the shadowy ideology he supposedly champions. “Even in defeat, the embers of Trumpism still burn in the Republican Party,” declares the Washington Post. “Trumpism wasn’t repudiated,” warns a New York Times columnist. “Trump may be on his way out—but Trumpism marches on,” proclaims the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. At the Guardian, it’s “Trump lives on.” At the Chicago Tribune, “Trumpism has been vindicated.” The Daily Beast ran a piece entitled “This Isn’t Enough—We Wanted a Repudiation of Trumpism,” and, to hammer home the point, added an unsettling graphics banner that reads, “Dark Victory.” And what is this “Trumpism” of which they speak? It’s hard to say, since Trump himself was always a recklessly unpredictable populist who changed tune unpredictably to suit his own ambitions and vanities. But in the way the term is used journalistically, “Trumpism” often serves as a stand-in for all that is malignant in the world—a sort of Voldemort-like spirit nourishing itself on unicorn blood within the souls of …

PODCAST 121: Jamil Jivani on the Inconvenient Truth About Donald Trump’s Non-White Supporters

While Trump’s hopes of a second Presidential term seem to be vanishing, his surprisingly strong showing among Black, Hispanic, Muslim, and Asian voters is challenging the progressive claim that Trump’s primary appeal is rooted in racism. Quillette’s Jonathan Kay discusses these surprising election results with author and journalist Jamil Jivani.

For Five Months, BLM Protestors Trashed America’s Cities. After the Election, Things May Only Get Worse

This week marks the first time in living memory that widespread violence was widely viewed as a foreseeable, and even expected, outcome of an American national election. The votes are being counted just days after riots broke out in Philadelphia, causing the governor to deploy the National Guard in the largest city of a key battleground state. Since June, in fact, such scenes have been a common phenomenon in dozens of American cities. The Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a group that has opposed Donald Trump, ran simulations that foresee disruptions caused by pro-Trump actors. “During TIP’s exercises, Team Biden almost always called for and relied on mass protests to demonstrate the public’s commitment to a ‘legitimate outcome,’ with the objective of hardening the resolve of Democratic elected officials,” the group (somewhat predictably) reported. On the other side of the spectrum, the Texas Public Policy Center (TPPC) and the Claremont Institute cast TIP’s prediction as a “candid admission of the high likelihood of Team Biden encouraging street demonstrations that might spiral out of control.” The Claremont-TPPC’s …

‘Nobody Likes the Other Guy’: On the Road With Donald Trump’s Diehards

I sent my friend Robert a note that I might not be around when he gets to New Orleans. He’s moving from Kansas to start a new life, arriving November 2nd, the day before the presidential election. I told Robert I had been hearing from some friends that there was going to be armed violence in the streets. These friends are Trump supporters. They work in the housing trade—painters, carpenters, furniture movers. More of them are mixed race than not. A couple are white. The point is, they aren’t media people. They aren’t well-educated, generally. But they’re the main people in my life these days, the people I interact with day to day. They believe things that seem crazy to me. But I spent the last 20 years in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles around well educated, ambitious liberals. And those people aren’t so great either. So when a Trump supporter complains about the racist treatment of Amy Barrett’s children, I understand where they’re coming from. There’s certainly enough racism to go around. …

What Divides Us Is Class, Not Race

Black lives matter. It’s become a rallying cry for those seeking social and racial justice. These three words express the idea, symbolized by the death of George Floyd, that race defines the fault line fracturing our society. Racism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It always has an economic context. When Brownshirts attacked Jewish shop owners in Nazi Germany, an opening act in one of history’s greatest genocides, they were acting on anti-Semitic propaganda that cast Jews as leeches sucking Germany’s lifeblood. This was an ugly and murderous lie. But it became attractive to those suffering amidst the reparations that had been imposed on Germany after World War I, and whose effects impoverished the country’s workers. The villains in today’s racism narrative tend to be cast as privileged, white middle-aged men—beneficiaries of a system that everyone can see is unfair. But the idea that the injustice baked into our economic systems can be reduced to race is false. For years, I was chief economist at one of Canada’s biggest banks. Since I stepped down from that …

Who Speaks for Black Lives Matter? The Answer Can Be Complicated

On October 2nd, the New York Times ran a profile of Hawk Newsome, the Bronx-based co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. “At over 6 feet tall and 300 pounds, often wearing a bulletproof vest beneath his shirt and puffing on a Padron 1964 Anniversary Series cigar, Hawk Newsome is hard to miss,” wrote reporter Derek M. Norman. “When [he] is not speaking with the news media or organizing events, Mr. Newsome, 43, can be found at marches from Charlottesville, Va., to Minneapolis to New York City. ‘The first thing I do is open up my Bible to see what the scripture of the day is,’ Newsome told the Times. ‘If there’s anything I want back more than anything from before, it’s church. Every Sunday I’d go, twice.’” Aside from wearing a bulletproof vest, Newsome also rents multiple cars, so he can “switch them up because it’s safer and nobody could keep track of what I’m driving.” He also told the Times that when he attends protest events, “Usually, I’ll have one or …

The Prescience of Shelby Steele

I have long believed that race is a mask through which other human needs manifest themselves. I think we often make race an issue to avoid knowing other things about ourselves. ~Shelby Steele, Seven Days In Bensonhurst Shelby Steele is experiencing a revival. For over 30 years, the controversial black American essayist and culture critic has consistently produced some of the most original insights to be found on the precarious issue of race in America and has been met with reactions that range from reverence to revulsion. Usually, it’s one reaction or the other. To his critics, Steele is a race traitor, a contrarian black conservative who makes a living assuaging the guilty consciences of whites at the expense of his own people. To his admirers, he is a lone voice of clarity in the chaos of America’s racial discourse who, at 74 years of age, continues to speak uncomfortable and disconcerting truths to power. But his greatest strength may turn out to be a knack for anticipation. As the social upheavals inspired by America’s …