Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shirley Sherrod, LeBron James and the End of Racism

Shirley Sherrod's speech to the Georgia NAACP Chapter, and the accompanying furor, along with LeBron James hour long special about where he'll play Basketball in the NBA for the next few years, signal the end of Racism. Well, not really. But if not the end, or even the beginning of the end, then certainly, the end of the beginning. With apologies to Winston Churchill. The whole affair signals an end to White guilt, and a discussion of how racist Whites in ways large and small mistreated Blacks (both undeniably true, and in the distant past). In some ways this is healthy, the Civil Rights Era is as distant to us now, as the Jazz Age was to the end of the Civil Rights Era (if you count that as the year 1968). All things must end. But it quite likely that the end of White guilt, or at least the end of the beginning phase of the Civil Rights Movement, will restructure America and how it governs itself in entirely predictable ways, that the elites, commentators, and casual observers will have to actively will not to see.

The full video of the speech is here. You may also find it at the NAACP's website. To be clear, when the NAACP accused the Tea Party Movement (without any documentary evidence) in formal resolutions that the Tea Party Movement was "racist," Andrew Breitbart was sent an edited copy of the video (via mail, on disk) of the Sherrod speech. He asked his source for the full speech, did not get it, and ran the copy that he had, on his website. Making the point that the audience (NAACP members) applauded the bits about discriminating against a White farmer. Andrew Breitbart DID NOT EDIT THE VIDEO, he merely ran the only video copy he had, and next to the video asked for members of the public to send him a copy of the full speech so he could post it. Which indeed, he has.

Meanwhile, Cleveland fans found little reason to live once LeBron James announced (in a one hour national TV special) that he was playing for Miami's Heat:

Both incidents mark the end of White guilt and racism. A Black President and a Black professional athlete (referred to on ESPN's Sportscenter non-jokingly as "King James") commanding the highest elected office in the land and tens of millions of dollars per year, respectively, along with the fixed television attention of a nation, nationally, belies the idea of a racist White America that deserves to be punished for past sins. At least, one could feel for Cleveland fans. They live, in or around Cleveland, after all. These guys put it perfectly: click here [The guys disabled embedding, but watch it, truly hilarious. "At least we're not Detroit!"]

Let us be clear. News accounts state that Sherrod's father was shot to death by a White Farmer in 1965, over a dispute regarding ownership of disputed cows. The jury did not indict the farmer who shot her father. It is not suprising for Sherrod to harbor racial animus against Whites, and White farmers in particular. She would not be human, otherwise. Nor is it surprising for a Black audience to chuckle and applaud a tale of humiliation and personal destruction of a White farmer. If Blacks don't have personal memories of suffering under White racism, they can be guaranteed that someone in their family did indeed suffer it, unless they emigrated from Africa quite recently, in the last 30 years or so. No reasonable person, White or Black or Hispanic or anything else, would dispute this reality of past oppression and brutality.

Whites have largely, however, stopped caring. Assuming the White farmer who shot her father was her father's age, it is quite likely he is already dead. If not dead, then certainly so elderly that the ravages of age make him infirm. The shooting death of her father, however terrible, and however awful there was no jury indictment, had nothing to do with Whites living today, many if not most who either not even born, or only toddlers, when the incident happened. They have nothing to feel guilty about, and largely don't. Moreover, White guilt has as its necessary corollary, the absolute purity of Black innocence. As blameless victims. The jury nullification, by a majority Black jury, of OJ Simpson's murder trial, for killing a White woman (his ex-wife) and a White man (bystander Ron Goldman) makes trading on long-past outrages of racially based jury nullification a non-starter for most Whites. As do various other outrages, including the dismissal of the charges, after the defendants had pled guilty, of voter intimidation by the first Black Attorney General, against the New Black Panther Party. Even more explosive are the charges brought by J Christian Adams in Pajamas Media that Whites under the DOJ Civil Rights Division are deemed to not possess civil rights. J. Christian Adams being the former DOJ Civil Rights attorney who resigned under protest.

Whites are not consumed with views of "White supremacy." David Duke, of loathsome memory, late of the Klan and other racist groups, lives in either Salzburg Austria or Mandeville Louisiana if Wikipedia is to be believed, in near penury. [I cannot find a picture of his house, but news accounts depict it as not being very nice.] Louis Farrakhan's mansion, on the other hand, rivals Oprah's, and images of it may be found here, and here. There are sadly no photos of the Farrakhan mansion on Google Streetview. There are some photos here, as you can see the fountain is turned on. Let it be noted, that with Whites at approximately 65% of the population, and with greater average income than Blacks, David Duke (deservedly) lives in penury. Sadly, Louis Farrakhan, appealing to the 12.5% of the population that is Black, lives in a mansion, though one of admittedly bad taste.

Rev. Wright has a million dollar plus mansion overlooking a golf course, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A video tour of Wright's new mansion may be found here. Rev Wright's new mansion (complete with four car garage, don't forget to take the video tour) is located in an exclusive, nearly all-White gated community.

Your average NFL fan would react with horror and outrage if his team's coach announced he was replacing his Black players with White ones. An immediate 16 game loss season would be predicted — and quite likely come true. Black players predominate in the NFL and NBA. The National Football League is about 70% Black, the NBA about 80% Black. The former brings in about $4 billion in revenue, most of it from White fans. The latter brings in about $1 billion in revenue, again from White fans. After Michael Jordan's retirement, LeBron James is Nike's chief marketing tool (and former base of Cleveland's economy):

There are no White Corners in the NFL, only two White Wide Receivers, and no White Safeties. Why is that? Does the NFL have a policy forbidding the employement of White players, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell standing in the NFL Training camp doorway? No. Terrell Owens had a scorching 4.36 second 40 yard dash time, and Wes Welker had a 4.55 second 40 yard dash, at that speed one of the faster White players. The other White Wide Receiver who started in the NFL during the 2009 Season was Austin Collie, with a time of 4.63. The average White NFL fan believes, based on the published statistics and what he can see on the field with his own eyes, that the Black athletes at the highest level of performance have measurable advantages in speed, certainly. And likely strength and size as well. Speed, size, and strength are not everything, of course, even in the NBA, but there are not many players the size of Muggsy Bogues playing in that league either.

Far from believing in White racial supremacy, your average White sports fan will readily concede Black superior athletic prowess, certainly in speed, as the top 13 men in the 100 Meter Dash will confirm. Black athletes such as LeBron James command enormous salaries ($96 million over five seasons), because the largely White fan base believe they are the best, most athletic, and most exciting performers. Aside from his salary, LeBron James makes millions from endorsements and sales of various signature athletic shoes, jerseys, and the like.

Black dominance in sports that draw large and lucrative fanbases, with the enthusiastic backing of White fans who believe Black athletes to be superior (in speed anyway) to White athletes, means charges of racism not only ring hollow, but tend to enrage White fans. Do not they follow with pride and interest, the local sports celebrities, almost all of whom are Black? Do they not regard Black athletes as superior? Did not We Are All Witnesses posters of LeBron James dominate Cleveland buildings? Calling people "racist" who follow with obsessive interest their fantasy players, stats, and achievements, in the NFL, or NBA, nearly all of whom are Black, only angers Whites. While sports, particularly football and basketball, and baseball, played a great part in the end of Segregated America, that sword cuts both ways. Fans who enthusiastically embrace Black athletes are not racist, and resent being called racist.

But anger was not the main emotion that the Sherrod video evoked. Rather, it was fear. "I did just enough, to help him, so he couldn't say I didn't do anything for him." That was Sherrod's most explosive comment, and the one quite likely that is sure to help transform American politics. Whites have largely positive views on Black athletic superiority, at least, in professional sports that matter (outside of NASCAR which is more of a skill sport drawing speed/motor enthusiasts). But they do not wish to be punished for things that other White people did, long ago. The concerns are practical — how to avoid being punished by another Shirley Sherrod. For though in Sherrod's tale, she eventually relented, and a mere seven days before the Farmer lost his farm, did some things to help him keep it from foreclosure, there is no way to tell which non-White government official is intent on punishing Whites who come before them, and which are not. Like counterfeit money, the bad drives out the good, and lowers the value of the good to that of the bad. Shirley Sherrod might have had her epiphany, but others just as well might not. In the "post-racial" and post-Jobs America, there is little margin or give to tolerate for long the prospect of being made an example or victim for long past racial transgressions. This has led to a transformation, led by both Sherrod and James.

The two have helped transform American politics from its post 1975 configuration of Affirmative Action and private advancement, to one of hedging downside risk amidst lack of White guilt.

After 1975, with the continuation of Richard Nixon's Affirmative Action program by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, a consensus was achieved regarding racial preferences. Blacks and other non-Whites along with White women would receive Affirmative Action preferences, particularly against White men. But government's scope would have ultimate limits, it would not intrude on daily life, pick life's winners and losers, regulate every little thing of daily living, and the private sector would be where the jobs would exist, with government employment stable, but finding limited wage growth and being small in number. The opportunities would be in the private sector, with Affirmative Action of its own, but far smaller and limited in scope compared to government. Entering government service meant forgoing wage growth for security and pensions. For many, not a winning hand anyway.

As long as the economy grew, and private sector wages and jobs grew with it, social peace was obtained. No one wanted to rock the boat, generate accusations of racism, and endure social ostracism while the money was good.

Now, with private sector job growth collapsing, the only jobs that are growing in both wages and numbers are government jobs, particularly federal ones. The chart by Megan McCardle of the Atlantic shows government hiring the only real increase in jobs since the start of the recession. The "green shoots" were entirely government created. Indeed government is the only sector experiencing wage growth. Some of it completely corrupt, as in the Southern California City of Bell. But much of it simply patronage-pork. The result of the nearly $800 billion stimulus money, and the $1 billion TARP fund. Meanwhile, as the Inspector General of the TARP program reported (noted in The American Thinker):

[D]ealerships were retained because they were recently appointed, were key wholesale parts dealers, or were minority- or woman-owned dealerships.

While the IG report blasts the Administration for "needless" job losses that did not add to the economic viability of either GM or Chrysler, but rather detracted from it, to the tune of 100,000 jobs, the choices were clearly made on the basis of race and gender. Other allegations were made that Republicans and Hillary Clinton donors were disproportionately among the closed dealerships while none of the closed dealers were Obama donors.

Be that as it may, the expansion of the 2,500 page ObamaCare bill into daily life, with the requirement for small businesses to report to the IRS all purchase of $600 or more via 1099 forms, is ripe for abuse by race. Add to that the quota requirements for doctors and nurses rolled into the ObamaCare bill, and the Financial Regulation Bill (the Dodd Bill), including absolute percentages for senior management gender and race targets that must be met, and the potential for "I did just enough, so he couldn't say I didn't do anything" is vast. Let us examine the agencies that are most likely to be those directly affecting ordinary White voters lives.

The EEOC Website has statistics for Equal Employment and demographic composition of selected Federal Agencies. The 2009 Report is here. As Whites are about 65% of the population (check for a quick demographic breakdown), Blacks 12.5%, and Hispanics about 22.5% (Asians are about 1%, there are of course rounding errors), it is instructive to see what federal agencies over and under represent Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks.

The Department of the Treasury is 24.35% Black, 60.72% White, and 8.9% Latino. Contact Representatives (those dealing with the public directly) are 32.00% Black, 51.34% White, and 13% Latino. Tax Examiners are 23.6% Black, 60.82% White, and 10.6% Latino. Blacks are over-represented by about 50% overall, and 156% at the Contact Representative level. This drops to about 50% (slightly less) over-representation at the Tax Examiner level. Latinos are of course under-represented compared to their presence in the general population. For the Dept. of Education, Blacks are 36.62% of the workforce, 52.9%, and Latinos a paltry 4.42%. The Dept. of Health Services, set to play a major role in daily health care in America, is 19.89% Black, 51.1% White, and 3.1% Latino, with Asians making up 7.19%. The Small Business Administration is 26.47% Black, 56.34% White, and 10.7% Latino. Loan Specialists are 20.87% Black, 62.19% White, and 10.12% Latino.

For those curious, the Dept. of Agriculture is 10.84% Black (Blacks are under-represented), 77.67% White, and 6.24% Latino.

The response among White voters has been clear. The Tea Party clearly feels a targeting of their members by race. While it is true that some Tea Party members are Black and Hispanic, and some prominent victims in the Tea Party of anti-Tea Party, union violence, such as Kenneth Gladney, are Black (victimized ironically by White SEIU thugs, mostly supporters of Obama):

… it is clear the the Tea Party is a mostly White, middle aged, and female led organization. Not the type to stage street brawls, as its average participant is a White woman in her fifties, a small business owner or middle class professional such as a real estate agent. But one clearly seeing a big fat target painted on them for "spread the wealth" along racial lines, and wanting to stop and indeed roll back the growth of government. Not the least of which is the economic threat "I did just enough so he couldn't say I didn't do anything to help him" presents.

The middle class, middle aged, mostly female Tea Party, is not comprised of fanatical sports followers. Members of the Tea Party don't stay home from work, on NFL Draft Day, for example. But like sports fans of the NBA and NFL, they don't harbor racist, or racial supremacist views about Whites being somehow "superior" to any other group or race. Any such belief would not be only morally but aesthetically repugnant to them. But the lack of racism, or any personal connection or responsibility for it, also means they don't feel guilty. The fifty-five year old real estate agent, the 46 year old accountant, the 58 year old small business owner do not feel as though they or anyone in their family benefited from past racial oppression of Blacks, or even had a hand in it. The extraordinary social mobility and personal mobility that helped break regional and local traditions for good and bad, also left with it a "history-less" amorphous group of Americans, mostly White, who do not feel any special guilt or shame over past racism.

If you moved from Dallas, to Phoenix, to Kansas City, to Minneapolis, to Nashville, to Denver, in your lifetime, a series of moves by no means unusual, what is your personal connection to beating of civil rights protesters in 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge? None. Nor is it your concern, as a middle class White voter. The only concern is, how do you hedge yourself against disaster? Against "I did just enough so that he couldn't say I didn't do anything?"

The answer the Tea Party came up with, is roll back government to a point where it is so small, and distant from people's lives, that it does not matter if the federal and local agencies are disproportionately non-White. Again, the job growth and wage growth would be in the private sector, free from Affirmative Action, and quotas, for the most part. This is the Tea Party agenda.

The other, more likely outcome in the end, will be forcing proportional quotas relative to the demographic strength and unity of White voters, who are moving towards Black and Hispanic patterns of bloc voting.


Because shrinking the federal, state, and local governments will be almost impossible. First, far too many commercial interests are tied up in all three types of government. Not just utilities, banks, and broadcasters, highly regulated, semi-monopolies, that help construct barriers to entry with the help of friendly, "captured" regulators, but the Big Three Auto companies, two of them owned by the Feds themselves, and likely to remain with significant government ownership for decades to come. Also embedded in government are various construction companies, home builders, manufacturers, the media (angling for their own bailout), computer companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Google, Oracle, IBM, and even E-bay and Yahoo. Also included in this embedded interest group marriage in government would be unions, from SEIU, to the AFL-CIO. Practically speaking, these groups combined have such financial, political, and organizational power that they can and will block any roll-back of government.

Not the least of which is that a Big Government helps make them permanent winners and other players forbidden even to enter.

But secondly, the temptation to "fight fire with fire" and simply put your own thumb on the scale is likely to overwhelming, and borne out by human history. In Indonesia, in Malaysia, in every other nation with significant amounts of multicultural, multiracial, and multi-religious populations, the dominant groups have dealt themselves the dominant, winning hand. Not the least of which is the widespread (and generally, true) perception that smaller groups, being insiders, have rigged the game. Thus government even after the Asian Crisis of 1998, has not grown smaller. It has grown marginally less corrupt in South East Asia, and also South Korea and Japan, but that corruption has been the turnout of one set of majority group, allied mostly with the Chinese diaspora business empires, in favor of another group of majority populations. So in Indonesia, the reformers are still Indonesians, you won't find many ethnic Chinese (who are periodically purged from business and political influence, not allowed in government at all, and the subject of informal anti-Chinese riots) in the corridors of power, officially anyway. The same is true of Malaysia which has formal quotas for the minimum amount of majority Malays and the maximum amount allowed for Chinese. In Singapore of course it is the other way around.

No one believes the government in America is anything less than corrupt, among the majority of White voters. Nor is there any trust that if the government was "rolled back" it could be managed as a sleeping dragon, providing useful cooking fire. All fear that the dragon will simply wake up and burn the entire place down with massive racial transfers and indeed, demographic transformations designed to create a permanent Democratic voting majority by importing the majority of Mexico. With the economy failing under no-growth, or anti-growth policies, punishing small business, promising carbon taxes through EPA regulations if nothing else, the engine of employment, small business, is tempted to grow by the only means available — capture of government. Which not only hedges downside risk of another Shirley Sherrod, but also massive wealth transfers to favored political and racial groups, and critically, allows the small businesses that help "capture" government to jigger things so they are the winner.

A bank that is viewed as corrupt will have few citizens willing to die to prevent its robbery. They might even stage their own pre-emptive robbery.

America is not what it once was. The private sector job and wage growth that led to social peace while non-Whites, particularly Blacks, found stability in employment in the governmental sector is gone. Now Government is expanding to pick every bit of winning and losing. Prof. Russel K. Nieli, University of Princeton, Lecturer in the Politics Dept. has calculated that for the most highly competitive public and private colleges, that provide "winners" by producing tomorrow's leaders:

To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550.

And that moreover, students participating in 4H, Boy Scouts, or Junior ROTC might as well not apply. That "poor Whites need not apply" to any of the elite colleges. The Gates Foundation, in conjunction with this, has no scholarships or aid available to poor Whites at all, reserving all of it for people of color.

The fundamental unfairness of this, as Whites feel they don't deserve to be "punished" for wrongs done decades ago by people mostly long dead, will not in my opinion lead to the Tea Party dream of a limited, color-blind, fairly irrelevant government.

In my considered view, America will morph into some version of Malaysia, or Indonesia, with a threatened, demographically fragile majority taking every step to protect and preserve its jealously guarded, hard-won spoils. With the devil taking the hind-most.

This is entirely foreseeable. If something is impossible to continue, it won't. Bernie Madoff had a long string, but it eventually ran out. So too, did the housing bubble. "US Housing prices haven't crashed in unison across the country in 70 years," housing market bulls announced. Until it did, utterly predictably. People don't want to see the obvious. That hard choices are the general mark of the human condition. That as Machiavelli says, when the poison is not obvious, it is easy to treat, but almost impossible for the patient to recover, when the malady is seen by everyone. This is mostly due to the hard choices involved. Affirmative Action, White Guilt, racial quotas and preferences that punish Whites (and Asians) to enable others, is a bubble, just like the Housing Market.

America has become a reverse Indian casino, with White voters moving to the position to "cast members out of the tribe" to make the money, always shrinking, go farther. Stasis and stagnation bring with it ugly choices. Including the end of racism and White Guilt. For that, Shirley Sherrod and LeBron James are at least partly responsible.


Anonymous said...

I will believe that white voters outside the South will grow a spine when I see it happening with my own eyes.

Kinuachdrach said...

Interesting post, Whiskey. But I think you miss an important limitation on government -- its ball-busting financial crisis.

As you mentioned, if something can't continue, it won't. And government can't keep growing on borrowed money.

Oh, the Political Class will try. But borrowing more money raises the interest rate on all their borrowings, consuming the new money they just borrowed. Similarly, inflating the currency pushes up government's interest costs.

Raising tax rates reduces overall revenues, as even more jobs go overseas.

Cutting spending is necessary, but it involves taking away someone's goodies.

In a failed economy, unemployed & desperate blacks, whites, pinks, browns, whatever are likely to find they have more in common with each other than they do with high-living government employees of the same "racial" group. It is hard to predict what happens after that, except that the near future will be very different from the recent past.

Anonymous said...

"There are no White Corners in the NFL, only two White Wide Receivers, and no White Safeties."

Whiskey, your point here is basically correct but your numbers are wrong. I get the impression that you don't really pay much attention to football, so you should stick to generalities.

Whiskey said...

I watch every Sunday. Who are the White Safeties and Corners? I have not seen a one (bear in mind I don't get NFL Sunday Ticket, so I watch what CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN broadcast).

I can't think of a White Safety or Corner, on the Vikings, Saints, Jets, Giants, Titans, Raiders, Chargers, Chiefs, 49'ers, or Seahawks. I don't see much of Buffalo, the Browns, the Pats, out here in the West Coast.

Anonymous said...

Jim Leonhard for one.