Not all racists are racist

busing“There are no racists in America.” That’s the tongue-in-cheek conclusion reached by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book Between the World and Me. Americans have generally eschewed public expressions of racism even while actively perpetrating it. From separate but equal to anti-miscegenation campaigns to police brutality to vote suppression, those involved have seldom owned up to any racist intent. We have lots of black friends. Our bodies lack racist bones.

Yet by some alchemy, a society that imagines itself devoid of racists continues to produce consistently discriminatory outcomes. Having a white-sounding name is worth as much on a resume as an additional eight years of work experience. For racial minorities rates of employment, wealth generation, and education continue to lag. Police encounters remain remarkably and unnecessarily dangerous for black and Hispanic Americans.

Our aversion to racism makes sense. A culture premised on freedom and markets demands that individuals be evaluated on their individual merits. One need not care about morality or justice to be troubled by the practical implications of racism. Bigotry skews market outcomes in ways that impose unnecessary costs on everyone. So why has it been so difficult for Americans to shed a legacy of bigotry and violence based on race?

There may be answers in the way our brains work. Understanding how we process reality may help us recognize and weaken the machinery that keeps institutional racism in place. It may also call into question some the tactics that have informed social justice movements for decades. Evolving beyond a racist heritage may require us to move in some counter-intuitive directions in the near term.

Nobel winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two different mental modes in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow. Most of our lives are spent in an automatic or intuitive mode he calls System 1. This intuitive mind uses mental shorthand to make rapid assessments of otherwise complex scenarios. System 1 tells us in a flash who is friendly or which food tastes good or which way to turn on a familiar route to work.

Reason and deliberate thought belong to System 2. Rationality requires concentration. It applies complex computations to difficult problems. Kahneman explains that the phrase “pay attention” typifies both the character and the mental cost of operating System 2. While intuition is nearly automatic, reasoning is effortful and expensive.

Conclusions reached by System 2 can influence System 1, but only by a process of inculcation. If you’ve ever learned to do something, whether speaking a second language or using a sophisticated game controller, you have experienced the way rational thought can train your intuition. If you’re an American who has driven in Britain, you can attest to the mental cost of consistently leveraging System 2 against System 1 to continue choosing to drive in the left lane.

Our cherished anthem, “All men are created equal” is a product of our reasoning minds. It is, as Jefferson claimed, ‘self-evident,’ but only on careful, considered reflection. Almost anyone who has evaluated the question at any length arrived as some version of Jefferson’s vision. We associate racism with ignorance or willful oppression for good reasons. On the level of System 2, racism doesn’t make a lot of sense.

While reason generally rejects race-based biases as false, unreliable, and morally compromised, those conclusions do not automatically transform our intuition. Our brains struggle to cope with aggregates. We use stereotypes to simplify this process, usually to great effect. As Kahneman explains:

“One of the basic characteristics of System 1 is that it represents categories as norms and prototypical exemplars…Some stereotypes are perniciously wrong, and hostile stereotyping can have dreadful consequences, but the psychological facts cannot be avoided: stereotypes, both correct and false, are how we think of categories.”

Parallels can be found in Jung’s archetypes, mental models of reality embedded in stories and myths that shape our understanding of the world at an intuitive level. Perhaps even deeper than culture, some of these models seem to be programmed at a genetic level. Responses to certain colors or odors in food, aspects of facial recognition, and other behavioral responses seem to be entirely innate.

A lifetime of exposure to a fundamentally racist culture builds a mental shorthand that operates largely unnoticed and unquestioned. Perhaps the most troubling example comes from Jefferson himself. Having authored our founding statement of human equality he continued to own slaves. Fathering children with one of his slaves still did not shake his attachment to the institution. Reason does not always move our intuition.

It is possible to neutralize the influence of System 2. Have you ever turned down the volume on your car radio while coping with a difficult driving task? That’s System 2 kicking in, looking to consume more neural resources for concentration. We rely on rational thought to debunk falsehoods and correct intuitive errors, but that process sometimes fails. Distractions, noise, and emotions – especially fear, can close down rational processing. Kahneman observed in a study that:

“Subjects were required to hold digits in memory during a task. The disruption of System 2 had a selective effect: it made it difficult for people to ‘disbelieve’ false sentences…System 1 is gullible and biased to believe. Indeed, there is evidence that people are more likely to be influenced by empty persuasive messages, such as commercials, when they are tired and depleted.”

It is one thing to correct a bias acquired during a moment of suggestibility. It is another thing altogether to recognize and correct a logical fallacy acquired over a lifetime of powerful cultural reinforcement. Pair those falsehoods with deep emotional attachments, particularly fear, and people will cling to a falsehood at significant personal and social cost.

For many who grew up drinking from a white’s-only fountain, President Barack Hussein Obama is a living, breathing challenge to their intuitive reality. Every time he emerges from Air Force One, System 1 tells them, loudly, that something about this situation is frighteningly wrong. When they see pictures of him vacationing in Hawaii or playing golf, they experience something like the alarm bell at a fire station.

Older Americans may be an extreme example, as Jim Crow was engineered to cultivate and reinforce a false System 1 model. However, institutions steeped in racist programming continue to shape our heads today. Look at what happened when Bomani Jones wore a t-shirt satirizing the Cleveland Indians’ logo, transforming it to “The Caucasians.” The hostility he faced was a sadly hilarious exercise in missing the point.

It is possible to use Kahneman’s System 2 reasoning to correct aspects of System 1 processing. The problem is that we find these corrections profoundly uncomfortable. System 2 processing is painful and exhausting. The more we can rely on System 1 to successfully navigate a day, the more pleasant that day was.

We correct errors in System 1 processing through doubt and questioning. We find doubt uncomfortable. Worse, doubt is also slow, reducing the pace at which we react to events unfolding around us. In other words, we pay a functional price for a consistent embrace of doubt.

Imagine going through all of your day’s activities while trying to perform three-digit multiplication problems in your head. That’s what it’s like to constantly question your System 1 assumptions. People who embrace ambiguity are often less “happy” by traditional psychological measures than those who enjoy an unconsidered existence. Those doubters are also, however, better at judging reality. As a consequence, they tend to me more successful at most (though not all) activities. Success and bliss are in some ways incompatible. Our stereotype of the grinning idiot bears a kernel of truth.

Obstacles to achieving an ever more just and meritocratic economy are embedded deep in our heads. One of the most painful examples of this challenge can be found in among police in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written about stunning police brutality and discrimination in one of American’s most prosperous black suburbs. Under black leadership, in a solidly black community, police in Prince George’s have a troubling reputation for violence against black suspects. The problem is fairly universal. Half of the police charged in the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore were black. The Mayor, DA, and Police Commissioner were black.

Shocking treatment meted out by a black institution on black youth sounds bizarre absent an understanding of System 1 and System 2. You don’t have to be white to absorb the cultural programming of a racist system. Institutional racism is, as the phrase implies, institutional.

No one inside those institutions needs to carry a conscious, willful, rationalized animosity toward another race for that system to produce a biased outcome. Just as our biases are programmed into our intuition, they are programmed into the machinery of our institutions. Black Americans are subjected to this programming right along with their white peers. Their subtle absorption of racist notions, extending even toward a derogatory self-image, is one this systems’ most perverse and depressing outcomes.

We might reject the idea of racial discrimination at a conscious level in System 2. Meanwhile our unconsidered, embedded understandings of the world, some of which are older than we are, leave us churning out discriminatory practices whether from habit, tradition, or pure thoughtlessness. Consciously revisiting the programming that informs our intuition is inherently uncomfortable and generally unwelcome. The simple inconvenience of leveraging System 2 to interfere with System 1 is often enough to end the process. Add in the social cost of acknowledging racism in any form in any setting, and the strident, often passionate, public resistance to reform makes much more sense.

Complicating our challenge of dismantling racism is our habit of moral shaming. Open displays of racism have always been seen as ill-mannered, but across much of our history they were tolerated. Forcefully de-legitimizing public displays of racial ignorance and hostility has played a vital role in the progress we’ve made in recent decades. Tactics that were helpful in one setting may be posing problems as we advance.

More than ever before, publicly acknowledging racism in any context, even a past context, can have serious negative consequences. We insist on viewing racism in all its forms as a deliberate choice, the fruit of a morally deformed soul.

If racism can be institutionalized, if it can be the product of a culture as much as a choice, then addressing racism solely as a personal moral flaw is itself flawed. Think of the black police officer that exercises cruel and unnecessary force in responding to a suspect solely because that suspect is black. The act is wrong and socially undesirable. Is it racism?

Achieving a fundamentally more just society may confront us with a counter-intuitive next step. We may need to undo something we worked very hard for a long time to accomplish. We may need to destigmatize ‘racism’ per-se and develop a more nuanced language around the subject.

It is often said that the Inuit have a vast vocabulary to describe snow. America, a nation burdened with a long, vexing racial heritage has only one word to describe racism.

In our language a ‘racist’ may be someone who unconsciously passed over a resume with a black-sounding name. A ‘racist’ is also a guy who dragged a black man to death behind his truck. If the same terminology accurately describes Trump fans that beat up black protestors and the clueless, affluent Bernie-Bros who denigrate blacks voters’ support for Clinton, then we have a language problem. One of the things we learn from the interplay between our rational and intuitive thought processes is that language matters.

There is truth in the blanket application of the term ‘racist’ to all of these scenarios, but that truth obscures consequential ambiguities. We may have created an environment in which previously successful strategies are beginning to work against us. The stigma attached to racism had a certain utility when dealing with Klansmen in the 60’s that it loses in many cases when applied to a doctor or a police officer now. Institutional racism residing in the intuitive mind has a different meaning and impact from the violent actions of deliberate, determined bigots.

Despite our best intentions, and occasionally still our worst, American institutions and the people operating in them continue to consistently generate discriminatory outcomes. Achieving truly fair and open access for blacks and other minorities to our economy and society may call for a subtler understanding of how racism actually works. We may be making it unnecessarily difficult for people to explore and reconsider to their discriminatory biases, setting up unintended obstacles to insight.

Coping with the impact of centuries of programming requires a richer language, one capable of sincerely plumbing these depths without sanction or censure. Nothing shuts down System 2 like high emotion and noise. We need vocabulary capable of nuance, communicating wider shades of meaning. Not all racists are racist.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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133 comments on “Not all racists are racist
  1. objv says:

    “… two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.” Daniel Kahneman

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Well I am watching at this very moment a live feed of a reporter at Grand Central in New York City where Trump is about to make an appearance. There is a large group of protesters mostly darker than the typical crowd of people who attend his rallies. They are holding up placards/posters with graphics of him donning a Klan hood. Ah… The glorious fruits of the improved GOP minority outreach.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        One of the things I keep seeing in interviews over the years that always amuses me but also frustrates me is the absurdity of how GOP activists or surragates for the RNC keep saying “We have made more progress” or “We want everyone in this country to fulfill their potential” or “We realize an increase in votes for the GOP by certain demographic groups won’t significantly change overnight, or in this upcoming election” or “the Democrats have taken the black vote for granted”, etc., etc., etc. Look, most black people would rather be taken for granted by some politicisns than face rule from some politicians who would have no problem in serving them up to a lynch mob. Given what of seen of his rallies, with Trump that might be literal. Trump if anything has exposed the theatre of it all, the unseriousness of these efforts that seem more of designed to alay fears of more inclusive white moderate voters in the suburbs than to actual win support from non white voters. It is nothing short of a political placebo. GOP minority outreach frankly has less mass and tangibility than my Google+ cloud account. I think about Goldwater and inexplicable sin of not supporting civil rights legislation during his 1960’s campaign against Johnson and the pivot of black/minority voters from the party. We are almost halfway through 2016 people! We have a true authentic white nationalist (who would have been a great addition to the film Gangs of New York) on the cusp of taking the nomination. One has to wonder… How much more f***ing time do these “Baghdad Bob” Republicans and conservatives need to figure out how to mend that fracture from over half a century ago.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        Here is an interesting excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article:

        “The Washington Post/ABC News poll illustrates why both Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz project as weak general election candidates. A full two-thirds of U.S. voters have an unfavorable impression of Trump, compared to just 31% with a favorable view.”

        “Those figures make the New York businessman the most disliked “top-tier” presidential candidate in more than 30 years, according to ABC—trailing only former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. More than half of respondents reported a “strongly unfavorable” view of Trump.”

        Irony alert! Wasn’t it David Duke who most recently/infamously voiced his strong support for Donald Trump’s candidacy?

        Is it possible that in the end, everyone who might be sympathetic to Trump and willing to vote for him in the general election will essentially be same number of voters who years ago were sympathetic to David Duke as a presidential candidate?

        Remember how majority leader Steve Scalise once said he was “David Duke without the baggage”?

        Perhaps Donald Trump is “David Duke without the wardrobe”.

        Can I get a amen?!

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        Sometimes I think of this one line from the revamped Battlestar Galatica tv series when I think of Trump:

        “All of this has happened before…. and will happen again.”

        …and other times I think of this picture.

  2. 1mime says:

    Reminder – Tonight 8pm central – Final debate – Clinton/Sanders – CNN

  3. 1mime says:

    I have noted that there seems to be a disconnect by Republicans between what happens in the 2016 election and their actions leading up to November. Discriminatory laws, failure to fund communicable disease research and readiness (Zeka), even more harsh laws against women’s rights, yada yada. Well, now they have really stepped in it. The House Freedom Caucus (the ultra conservative group of 40 House members who block-vote) are refusing to support the budget deal Boehner crafted with the White House. They want deep cuts – not just to programs that serve 90% of America, but more of those other kinds of cuts, the ones that cut more taxes for “you know who”. They want to execute this plan this summer…..timing it just in time for the presidential debates and all the town hall meetings where vulnerable members up for re-election go home to curry favor with constituents. You’d think they would try to keep the lid on – at least until they win the Presidency, hold the Senate and put another ultra conservative justice on SCOTUS…..but, you would be wrong. As Rachel Maddow says, “watch this space”.

  4. Rob Ambrose says:

    Mime, you asked in the last post about “best case scenario” for the current GOP fiasco. How about this one, which I can totally see happening:

    The party fractures at the convention, and Trump (or Cruz) loses in a landslide in November. At the same time, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party hugely over performs thanks to the huge amount of ppl on both sides who won’t vote for HRC or Trump/Cruz (not all that crazy, Johnson is currently polling at 11% of the national vote, and has legitimacy as a former governor of NM).

    The establishment part of the GOP (corporate types, moderates, “Fiscal Con/Social Lib”) figure it’s easier to leave the GOP to the Trump wing and start fresh then try to dislodge them. They THEN figure it’s easier still to join a party with an existing national infrastructure then start from scratch.

    People realize the Lib Party is actually a pretty good fit for a huge number of Americans values (FC/SL) and it becomes a no brainer for the 30-40% of the moderate/corporate wing to migrate to the LP. This of course brings a huge new spotlight on the LP’s platform and as ppl hear about what the LP actually stands for, they realize ” you know, that kinda sounds like how I feel” and another 20-30% of centrist Dems migrate over to the LP, which gives it national legitimacy and ascends to take the GOP’s place as one of the two national parties.

    This would be a win/win scenario for America. In one fell swoop, you would have excised the cancer of the racist/obstructionist/religious fundamentalist, while at the same time creating a sane party capable of compromise and governance to act as a counter weight to the Dems.

    As well, the inevitable autoposy of the GOP’s rotten corpse will provide a perfect cautionary tale for what NOT to do as a political party. The GOP actions ofbthe past 20 years will be taught in poly sci classes a hundred years from now, which should somewhat help in preventing it from happening again.

    Can you imagine an American were the Christian Fundamentalists have greatly diminished political power? Government would finally become functional again.

    Here’s the platform of the LP. If my barometer of the “average American” is correct, this is a winning platform.

    • 1mime says:

      Boy, that’s going to take some study. In the past, when I’ve listened to the Paul duo, they did make sense in many areas but their approach was overly simplistic to accomplish any of it. I don’t have time right now to study all of Johnson’s positions – and I’d like to do so before getting back to you.

      Frankly, I don’t see the Republican Party ceding control to any other group. They will probably split their membership along ideological lines, but I don’t see them giving up the party name. I also wonder if there is enough unselfishness to restructure from within, so I’m at odds with myself.

      I hope Lifer weighs in on your ideas about Johnson. I have to say that my view of the Libertarian Party platform has been one of great skepticism, but I admit that I haven’t studied it seriously. Maybe it’s time.

      Good thinking outside the box, Rob! See, our millennials are already at work on the next new political party!

    • 1mime says:

      Been doing some light research on libertarians and came across this comment:

      “My dad used to say “The pot of sin cannot break without getting full”. Libertarians believe that you cannot destroy the government till it has become truly dysfunctional and Republicans are best at doing the dirty deed.


      Either that or they really like regulating vaginas.” Neel Kumar, Quora

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Rob- I could live with most of Mr Johnson’s stands on issues.

      The one that I cannot agree with, is his stand on eliminating the national debt.

      First, let me say that I was a charter member of the Concord Coalition. It was founded by Paul Tsongas, Peter George Peterson, Warren Rudman. It was a bi-partisan organization to reduce the government deficit/debt. By the way, Paul Tsongas was the most likeable politician that I’ve ever heard speak.

      There are many ways to measure our debt, in discrete amounts, or as a percentage of gdp, etc. It seems to me the only measurement that makes sense is the amount of our taxes paid to interest on the debt. In the link below it states that it is lower now than since the 70’s. Still, it could be too high. I don’t know what the sweet spot for the amount of debt but too low would be as bad as too high. As explained in the link.

      What I strongly believe, is that considering what could have happened at the end of President Bush’s term and the beginning of Obama’s term would have been horrific if not for TARP, the bailouts, and the “quantitative easing”. It is not hard to imagine unemployment rates rising to the heights reached in the Great Depression of the 30’s. With the corresponding turmoil. Our present Debt is worthwhile. IMHO.

      We have to figure out a way to get in front of the American people and tell them we have been feeding them… Let us just say we misunderstood the way our economy worked.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Unarmed – don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t join the hypothetical LP in my above scenario. Just that I could see the platform to be appealing to a large segment of current GOP, the part that is against Trump and wants to get away from all the religious/social/culture wars stuff (which I think is a strong plurality).

        But it’s better then the current GOP for sure. At least in the above scenario, BOTH parties would basically agree on the social fundamentals of living in a civilized society (diversity, tolerance, bigotry unacceptable etc) and the debates would shift more to fiscal policy (I.e. appropriate taxation rates, role of gov’t , foreign policy etc).

        This would represent a significant upgrade in the status quo.

        Not to mention, as moderates from both ends stream into the party, its inevitable that the LP platform would also change along with it, likely in the direction if the moderates.

      • 1mime says:

        I have to admit that Johnson’s 2012 proposal to cut the budget by 43% was staggering. I am doing some research on his positions on women’s rights. Not sure he is as “flexible” as he represented. There was a lot to digest in the webpage….wonder how many people make the effort. It’s not a quick scan, that’s for sure.

        I understand your premise, i.e. that the Libertarian platform might hold interest for disaffected moderate Republicans, but I have little faith that even a single sweeping loss will entice the GOP to make the fundamental changes to become more inclusive, more tolerant, and less arrogant. I would like to be wrong about this because I want the Republican Party to heal itself. I just don’t think it will be through playing musical chairs. It will take more and deeper losses and that will take time as the electorate has got to demand it. Their education and evolution in thinking will have to happen either first or concurrently.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Rob – OK, I see where you’re going now. And I agree. It definitely would be an improvement over the GOP as it is now.

  5. Rob Ambrose says:

    So much for Trump not dog whistling.

    Im unfamiliar with this part of NY. Is there ANY reason why, in a vacuum, a presidential front runner would give a speech in patchoque? Other then being the site of a famous hate crime where a Hispanic was murdered for being Hispanic?

    Is there any industries nearby that a GOP front runner might want to highlight?

    Cause this sounds awfully lot like Reagan kicking off his campaign with a speech in Philadelphia, MS, site of another famous hate crime.

    If this is what it appears to be (a pretty clear dog whistle to white supremacist) then it’s outrageous, even for Trump.

  6. 1mime says:

    This is what happens when you elect a Democrat to replace a right wing southern Republican governor (Jindal). Compare recently elected Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ (Democrat) pro-active action to prevent discrimination within the limit of his authority with the recent discriminatory religious liberty legislation supported by neighboring Mississippi Republican Governor Bryan and North Carolina Republican Governor McCrory. Both of these governors could have vetoed the legislation as did the Georgia Republican Governor Deal. Instead, when pressed by business and the public, they chose to defend it and sign it. It shouldn’t be a matter of which party is in control; it should come down on what is reasonable and responsible leadership. Right now, this is not the case with the majority of Republican Governors.

    Reuters: “Louisiana governor signs anti-discrimination order

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an order on Wednesday protecting gay and transgender state employees and contract workers against discrimination. Edwards followed the lead of past Louisiana Democratic governors in using such an order because state law does not protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination. The move came as North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, faces a backlash after signing a law barring local governments from enacting ordinances to ban anti-LGBT discrimination. “

    • vikinghou says:

      Not meaning to be flippant but, had Governor Bel Edwards signed a bill à la Mississippi, the French Quarter would become a ghost town.

      • 1mime says:

        “The French Quarter would become a ghost town…..”

        Yes, there is that wee little problem area….the place that some in the fundamentalist pastoral community said was being punished by God with Hurricane Katrina because of all the homosexuals who lived there…A “real” Christian attitude….punishment, not empathy.

        No, Gov. Edwards has been a straight shooter from the start. I think he wanted to send a clear message on the issue before anyone in the state legislature who might have been “inclined” to follow Mississippi’s lead (if that is possible). Believe me, a very large number of LA legislators used to be Democrats before they became “born again Republicans”. Politics in LA is not too different than TX. Lots of egos, opportunists, and very shallow values.

  7. Rob Ambrose says:

    Just move along folks, nothing to see here. Nothing wrong with our capitalist system, everything is fine.

    Just remember: its affordable tuition and universal healthcare that will destroy America. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Money quote:

      “Their lobbying appears to have offered an incredible return on investment,” the report reads. “For every $1 spent on lobbying, these 50 companies collectively received $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.”

      This is why so many of us are so leery of Clinton. I would choose her over anybody on the GOP side anyday, but HRC is part of the problem. You can’t change a broken system when you are funded by it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        It can’t be easy being a politician. I sort of understand how, if you receive “help” from people or groups, you would feel indebted to them. And if you refuse this type of “help,” can you still succeed in your bid to win an election? You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      • 1mime says:

        Donations are more necessary for people seeking federal positions than state or local level positions. It costs less to run for local office and one usually is well known. At the national level, the cost of campaigning is obscene. Donations should never be used for influence and if given, there should be no expectation of recompense. All any donation should accomplish is “access”….an answered phone call….a face to face meeting on issues of personal concern…input of an informative nature without obligation. For elected officials to understand more fully the issues before them, they need to consult with a broad array of knowledgeable persons. This access should never impugn one’s integrity and independence to make decisions. That is where it becomes a corruption of the process. Longevity in office makes it more difficult to separate personal relationships and votes. Public service can be very satisfying when it is performed honestly. If it is a stepping stone for political gain, it is false and will compromise the individual’s judgement.

        We should publicly finance major offices. We should limit campaign duration. We should require public disclosure of all donations. We should make voting as easy as we can. If we did just these few things, campaigns wouldn’t cost so much and candidates would have greater freedom to campaign and serve with integrity. That’s the antithesis of the status quo.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I think we should have access to our legislators whether we make a donation to them or not, and whether or not we voted for or otherwise showed support for them.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct, but at the federal level, that access is more controlled for a number of practical reasons. If you have ever tried (as a citizen) to contact your member of Congress directly and succeeded in getting them to call back, good for you. Usually, you end up speaking with a staffer, and usually, that is adequate. The best time to speak directly to your Congressperson is when they are in the area at local forums. It will not be a quality conversation as you’ll be competing with a zillion other persons. What I am trying to explain in response to your original question is that large donors shouldn’t ever expect more than “access”, and, typically, they have the bucks to meet in DC in person. You and I wouldn’t.

      • 1mime says:

        I receive a regular email update from Politico Influence, which provides donor info. They reported that in the first quarter of 2016, “Not Running for President” Paul Ryan, received $17M in donations from large donors. See how it works?

        $17M….things are amok in our political process. Undoubtedly, Ryan will parcel these donations into House races to assist Republicans who need financial help to keep their seats. How is a $10 donor going to compete? By having two million $10 donors….how hard is that to accomplish without a big organization? Hard, if not impossible. This is why Bernie chose to run on a Democratic Party platform and not mount an independent run. It takes money to compete for major offices in America and that leaves a lot of really fine people out of the running.

    • 1mime says:

      Rob, here’s a list of career and post ’99 donors for Clinton and Sanders. On the face of it, your concern about Clinton being handcuffed to deal with corporate America seems true enough. Yet, I look back at the Obama years, who in his first term had a huge chunk of his donations come from the WS crowd, and he went after them…Did any get sent to jail? No. Should some of them? Probably. But, if you study O’s record, comparing what he said he wanted to do vis a vis corporate America and what he achieved, he did try but was blocked by Congress. IOW, Congress was the impediment to O’s intentions, and, he was rather busy cleaning up their great recession mess. So, there are limits to executive power.

      Hayden’s point is basically that Clinton has the experience, skill and contacts to make more things happen that support the Democratic platform than does Sanders. Is he right? There is no way to find out but to vote and watch the results. Despite what Lifer says about the need for political parties, I am joining the ranks of those who believe America needs a wholesale remake of our political process. Right now, elections are shams. We are seeing how delegates and establishment really control the whole thing. The “primary/caucus foreplay” allows the American people to believe they are really going to have “general election sex” only to find out someone else all along is in control. Have I become totally cynical? Pretty much. Do I have a viable alternative? No. Do we need one? Yes.

      For me, and I suspect for you, it’s all about gaining balance in power. I don’t care about “control”, what I want badly is consensus and an open, fair deliberative process not rife with lobbyist, and party control. We will each vote with the best interests of our country at heart, interests which I firmly believe depend upon not only sending a message to the extremists in the Republican Party, but putting us on a path to correct/overturn bad decisions that have crippled our democratic process. For me, the Democratic Party is the checkmate to the Republican irrationality, but they are far from an ideal mechanism. Possibly millennials can develop a new and better political process. I’m all ears and hopeful that there is a better way.

  8. 1mime says:

    An absolute, Must Read. Tom Hayden eloquently spells out what’s at risk with a Sanders vs a Clinton. One of the best pure testimonies for progressives I have read in a very long time. He clearly understands what’s at stake and explains clearly “why” he is supporting Clinton. It’s compelling.

  9. Griffin says:

    The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, has declared April 25th Confederate Memorial Day and apparently April as a whole is considered Confederate Heritage Month.

    Also it turns out those “religious freedom laws” can be used against interractial couples as well as the LGBT community. As is happening in Mississippi already.

    I wonder if Trump is inspiring them to be more openly racist or if it was coming to a head anyways, with the GOP becoming increasingly extreme and unstable regardless of Trump.

    • vikinghou says:

      I’ve never been to Mississippi. This is just another reason to stay away.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t know what to say except that my husband grew up in Natchez, MS, and he got out as fast as he could. When he chose me as his wife, he completed his transformation to a rational (ha ha) person. They still celebrate the deep south traditions for tourism value, which is fine, except that it bleeds over into their politics. If the casinos hadn’t located off the gulf coast, I don’t know what MS would be doing for income. I don’t know if this state can be saved, frankly.

  10. We are social primates who evolved in cooperative/competitive extended family groups, i.e. we are inherently *tribal*. The veneer of civilization (System 2) is thin; like cleaves to like. And even when we think we are operating under System 2, often it’s just subconscious rationalization of underlying System 1 motives. It’s who we are; we run with what we brung. Roll with it.

    • 1mime says:

      It’s a choice if one wants it. Many don’t.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        It’s not really a choice. We’re all animals at the end of the day. System 2 is work. But that’s okay. It’s good enough to build civilization on.

    • vikinghou says:

      Rodgers and Hammerstein perhaps said it best.

    • objv says:

      “we run with what we brung”

      Yep. We’re stuck with what we got. It would be nice if we could employ a System 3 to figure out when System 2 was just rationalizing System 1’s primitive reactions.

      In any case, Tracy, this little, social primate is throwing you a virtual banana for bringing up a good point.

    • goplifer says:

      I don’t know about that. No living creature is less ‘stuck with what we brung’ than human beings. We’ve had tools for maybe 1% of our evolutionary history, domesticated animals and agriculture for even less. Yet we’ve managed to adapt to them reasonably well.

      Written language, ocean-going vessels, and cities have existed for a tiny fraction of our history. Flight, mass communication, and medicine are a ice-blink on an evolutionary time scale. Should we keep them, or “run with what we brung?”

      Evolution selects for adaptive innovations. Learning to function in large social units consisting of diverse ethnicities, races and geographic backgrounds is a very powerful adaptation. Some will achieve it. Others?

  11. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Well, one of the comments in the link roundup linked to a pew poll showing that Asians are now the largest immigrant group coming into the US.

    What are the outcomes for that group? Is there any research into this? What about subgroups such as the Chinese, Indians, Japanese etc.?

    Gut instinct says says that outcomes are pretty good. Random googling says that Asians have the highest per capita income. So, assuming that the data does show no disadvantage for Asians, why does tribalism and System 1 thinking not have negative effects here?

    • goplifer says:

      One group of people comes from such a long distance that only a relatively well-educated, monied elite can make the trek. Another group was brought here by force and systematically looted for hundreds of years. That looting only officially ended a few decades ago.

      Asians, particularly the Chinese, do face stereotypes, bias, and in some cases violence here, but they have generally performed pretty well in spite of it. Blacks and Hispanics are playing with a very different hand and face some unusual challenges.

      • 1mime says:

        Asians are perceived as “white” by most Americans. That is a huge advantage in and of itself. Certainly the Asian immigrants are incredibly hard working and their emphasis on education for their children is well known. But, if I had to select one attribute that helped them gain acceptance, I’d say that being perceived as “white” was significant.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I didn’t know people of Far Eastern descent were considered “White” by most Americans. Is this based on formal studies, on your personal experiences, or is this your personal view?

        I personally don’t consider them White. Maybe it’s because I’m HIspanic, but I consider them to be fellow members of an ethnic group, and for that reason I feel an ethnic connection to them, same as I do with Blacks.

      • 1mime says:

        That is my personal view and one that I have heard expressed by peers. I have no statistical correlation to offer. Maybe some other people will share their opinions on this view.

        For what it’s worth, I love Hispanic people and their culture. I love their strong sense of family, their warmth, their sweetness. Sure, there are probably some bad dudes out there in the group, but my experience with Hispanics has been very positive. I can identify more with the basic values of Hispanics than I can with my WASP background. (except for the fact that I am not a Catholic and don’t think the church has always served it’s flock well)

        BTW, Tutta, one of my favorite movies is based upon a rag tag group of Mexican kids from Monterrey who won the 1957 American national little league baseball championship against huge odds. If you have nephews (or for your own viewing pleasure), this is a great story and very well done. Entitled: “The Perfect Game” (Be sure to get the one about baseball as Disney put out one with the same title on golf.) This movie portrays how positive thinking, persistence, humor, desire, and a great priest and family can overcome great odds. You will want to own this movie and share it often. Here’s the background, and a link to the movie trailer.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I feel the same type of ethnic connection to people of Italian and Jewish descent, even though I do see them as White.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, so maybe the connection I feel with other ethnicities is just another form of tribalism, a tribalism that is sometimes based on being the underdog.

      • 1mime says:

        I believe we associate with people who share our values, who we like and trust. Tracy may be correct in that where we end up living results from a “herd” mentality, but I don’t think our young people are as locked into this narrow stricture. They are more about quality of life and inclusion. They represent a future that I wish I were young enough to share.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Plus, Asia is a huge (YUGE) continent, so the term “Asian” doesn’t just apply to those who used to be called “Orientals,” but also to people from the Middle East, etc.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Anyway, thanks, Mime. I’m rather fond of White people myself. 🙂

  12. vikinghou says:

    OT, but could this be the beginning of the GOP schism?

    • 1mime says:

      Ben Ginsberg described the delegate maneuver way back on the eve of Super Tuesday on the Rachel Maddow Show. That’s pretty much what Cruz is doing – picking off Trump delegates at the state level. I think it’s a real possibility that Cruz gets the delegate total he needs to claim the brass ring and Trump gets the rear door. After all, the GOPe hasn’t been real subtle about their efforts to discredit him. The big question is, what does Trump do if this scenario happens? I just don’t see him walking away quietly. More of a “screw this”, this is war. Trump doesn’t have to signal his intent yet because he’s still hoping he will gain the requisite 1237 delegates from primaries in the remaining states and avoid the melee. I simply have no trust of Cruz and apparently, the light is going on finally for Trump that neither should he.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Trump would pursue a scorched Earth policy. Even if he lost fair and square, he would light the place on fire before he left. The man is a total narcissist. And I mean that in the clinical sense, the guy has an obvious personality disorder.

      • goplifer says:

        He’d set the place on fire if he won, too. That’s just who he is. This is what happens when you open the door to these kinds of people. It’s likely to be a brand new party(s) by the end of next year.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, what is a best case scenario for the Republican Party? For the GOP establishment?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I think best case is Cruz wins the nom, gets trounced in the general along with the slate of tea partier up for reelection and the GOP realizes the party needs to boot out the trash and move back to the center right.

      • goplifer says:

        The realistic best case scenario isn’t all that great: Delegates abandon Trump in a particularly humiliating way, bad enough that a core of StormTrumpers insist on forming their own mutant party. Cruz or whoever the nominee is fails to clear 40% of the popular vote.

        A galaxy of more moderate groups emerges all over the country and finally starts to get some attention of funding in an internal fight over the party’s identity. As they start to win, some of the Cruz wing of religious bigots gets upset and joins forces with the Trumpers to form a more coherent, regionally (Southern) dominant third party.

        For 4-6 six years that organization gradually dies away while the Republican Party, under new, younger, mostly urban leadership regains its footing. By about 2026, whatever organization the Trump/Cruz wing had tried to form is whittled down. It probably never disappears, becoming like the Democratic Farm & Labor Party in Minnesota, holding on in a few particularly backward corners of the country until its eventually absorbed back into either the GOP or the Democrats.

        That’s the best case. It isn’t likely. More likely is a complete breakdown over the next three years that ripples through the Democratic Party as well. We may be approaching the end of an era in which political parties matter. We will miss that era.

      • 1mime says:

        Before I can take comfort in a new group of young people taking over, I’d have to know “which” young people are most likely to ascend to the top. If it is the likes of the TP Freedom Caucus group, we are in another bad place. I guess the basic question here is: what would a responsible leadership of young people look like?

        As for the political parties, if they disappear it is their own fault. Republicans due to arrogance and Democrats due to structural ineptness. The old “be careful what you ask for” may prove true but short of Bernie’s revolution, what else will motivate positive change? Given the schism between our electorate, and (IMO) the utter irrational positions of many on the right, can we depend upon our millennials to “grow” us out of this mess?

        Here’s a sobering editorial opinion to chew on of what “young” leadership might give us:

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime you say:

        “Before I can take comfort in a new group of young people taking over, I’d have to know “which” young people are most likely to ascend to the top. If it is the likes of the TP Freedom Caucus group, we are in another bad place. I guess the basic question here is: what would a responsible leadership of young people look like?”

        Of course exceptions exist, but I would say the vast majority of tea party types are on the wrong side of 50.

        Then you have groups like these young CC activists (aged 8-19) who are suing the government to make sure they have something left of the world to inherit.

        Frankly, I think the youth of America “get it”. I believe you’re asking the wrong question. we shouldn’t be worried about the youngsters coming in, rather Its can we prevent the old timers from messing everything up irreversibly until it’s our turn.

        I know there are plenty of Boomers (like yourself and others on this blog) that are progressive, rational, solutions oriented people. But, as a whole, I don’t hold the entire generation in a ton of esteem. The Boomers are the only generation who had it better then their parents AND their kids, and they insist on pulling the ladder up behind them once THEY achieved their American Dream.

        They happily benefitted from a tax regime which paid for their high quality public education, kept their infrastructure in good shape, and had a strong social safety net in place should they need it. Of course, once they made their bones, they used their wealth and immense political influence to decimate education and infrastructure spending, try again and again to privatise Medicare and SS, and generally f*** everything up for the rest of us, all to ensure that they pay a pittance in taxes relative to their parents and grandparents.

        You’ll forgive me if I see the current ppl in power as far more worrisome then the generation tat comes next. Frankly, my generation will probably spend the next 40 years cleaning up the mess left to us.

      • 1mime says:

        In behalf of a subset of those who are screwing up everything for those coming behind (forget the whole “building on the shoulders of giants” pap, I am so frustrated. It’s the quiet acquiescence to obvious wrong that bothers me. And, you are correct, don’t mess with “their” SS or medicare! You young kids are on your own….

        Whether I am wrong or not, I am comfortable with where I stand on issues of today. I don’t really give a crap whether it “fits” my demographic – age, race, income – when you see wrongs around you, you have to speak up. Of course that means I have a rather narrow, but spirited, circle of friends, but I’m ok with that too.

        If our future were in hands like yours, Ryans, and Griffens (I don’t know the ages of many of the other commentators), I would be so happy. I hope the future is not as grim as our current history. It can’t get “much” worse, can it?!!!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Here’s the link of the lawsuit in OR

        Kind of a sad commentary of current governance when teenagers are forced to sue gov’t in order to protect their birthright.

      • 1mime says:

        Amazing that they found a judge who would permit the suit to go forward. THAT is even more incredible. Keep us posted on this, Rob. I love it!

      • JK74 says:

        Lifer; I’m not sure about your assertion that political parties will cease to matter. They seem pretty common across time & space; probably because they are an effective way for people to get their way in a political (or quasi-political) environment. By banding together with others of more-or-less like mind, we can get the things we think are important done (and the things we don’t want done blocked) by helping others get their important things done; you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. No two people are in total agreement on all matters, let alone their relative importance, so we have to swallow some minor disagreements in order to achieve the broader agenda.

        This seems to be breaking down for the GOP; the various wings are no longer willing to play nice, as you are well aware. I agree that a period of instability is ahead. One resolution could be by a (Bill) Clinton of the right, who does enough anti-hippy-punching to pull in the moderates, but keeps the lunatic fringe in the tent (where else do they go?) until they simmer down or die off; basically what the left did to remove the “socialist” charge. The other way it could go is that the Dems become more dominant, as the GOP becomes ever more toxic & demographically challenged. Eventually the Dems split (the tent can only get so big), but by then the old GOP is irrelevant anyway, outside of a few pockets. I have no idea which way it will turn out; as a non-American, in many ways I can just say, not my problem, except if the elephant goes rogue the jungle suffers much more than if a mouse does. As long as it remains a purely political bunfight, and doesn’t lead to too many boneheaded decisions by the US government, the rest of the world can just look on in somewhat baffled amusement. (You mean they’re now discussing d*ck sizes? I thought it was bad enough when it was boxers or briefs!)

    • vikinghou says:


      I’m having a real hard time imagining that the GOPe would allow Cruz to be the nominee. He’s the personification of sleaze and mendacity. And his Elmer Gantry elocution is like nails scratching a chalkboard. But I’m not a Republican.

      • 1mime says:

        Trump is obviously not the choice of the establishment. I’ll leave it to Lifer to weigh in on how unified the GOPe is against Trump, but if you recall, on more than one occasion, Lifer has suggested that Cruz is the only other viable candidate. He is second to Trump in delegate count and has a formidable ground operation. I never said the GOPe “liked” Cruz, but they “like” Trump less….and they “hate” losing…especially this race with so much at stake. But, mine is just one opinion. So far, Lifer has called everything down the line. My money is on Lifer’s view.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Nobody would accept the nom. It’d be a suicide mission.

        Cruz’s supporters AND Trumps both feeling cheated? Whoever the GOPe nominated would become more hated then Obama by more then 50% of the base

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, if the Republican Party is going down, they sure seem to be in denial. You see TP and Freedom Caucus founder Lee jockeying for a seat at the Senate leadership inner circle, directly challenging Mitch McConnell and his top lts. You see red state governors thumbing their noses at big business with absurd religious freedom laws and more challenges to women’s rights. You see the big donors for the GOP moving money into state level races to protect majorities in the House and Senate. You have Paul Ryan distancing himself while still trying to set the bar for the delegate process and a pre-determined field of eligible candidates. In sum, there seems to be a total disconnect between current practice and future potential liability in the 2016 election.

        And, that’s just on the Republican side of the aisle. Hillary and Sanders are gloves off with innuendos that Sanders will contest the nomination at the Democratic convention….Their situation is minor league stuff as compared with the Gop brawl, but it is certainly a messy process.

        I listened to an interview of NYC Mayor DeBlasio tonight on Chris Hayes show and he commented that the parties are basically private businesses, and, as such, they can do what they want – change the rules, make new rules, control the process and the outcome. I had never really thought about the parties in that way and it makes me more receptive to a pure popular vote and elimination of the delegates. If that means, and it probably does, eliminate the Electoral College, then maybe that is the next thing to go. The bottom line is our system is not working. It’s not ensuring that our elected officials do their jobs as outlined nor is it resulting in a process for encouraging participation in the process by both potential candidates or citizenry. I, for one, would be open to a radical change in the process for electing members of Congress and President.

      • goplifer says:

        Our founders worked pretty hard to avoid building a democracy. They had good reasons for this. For example, a pure democracy in this case would likely product a contest between Trump and Sanders this season, and between a couple of pop stars in the next one.

        Those obstacles to democracy built into the system are designed to put people in charge who are engaged, qualified, and concerned about outcomes. The alternative is a system in which we get to be led by whoever is most entertaining.

        We do not have a political problem in this country that could be solved by *more* democracy.

      • 1mime says:

        And, when those “in charge” are abusing their positions and the “system” protects them as is the case now? When the SC emboldens them with rulings that make kingmakers of those who know how and have the resources to “game” the system? When gerrymandering protects a party despite changing demographics?

        Not so sure anymore, Lifer. The “process” is in my cross hairs.

      • 1mime says:

        From the Fiscal Times, a look at how the Cruz/Trump debacle will play out.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “that the parties are basically private businesses, and, as such, they can do what they want – change the rules, make new rules, control the process and the outcome.”

        Mime, that’s pretty much the fact of it. Primaries are not protected”elections” in the way that the general is.

        The GOP and Dem parties have been the only game in town for so long that there is a general sense that both are some quasi part of the government, or protected by voting rules, but they really aren’t.

        Anybody can start a party and enact whatever rules they want to choose their representative in the general, where specific rules DO apply. There is nothing to stop me from starting the United Beard Party, and have our representative be the guy who shows up at the convention with the longest beard, if I so chose.

        That bearded dude would of course have to follow the laws in the general, but the process required for nominating him can be whatever us Bearders want it to be.

        IOW, primary voters are not voting in an official sanctioned federal election the way that general voters are.

        Of course, with that said, nobody is going to convince the Trumpeters that Cruz is committing election fraud and “stealing” the election.

        “The system is rigged!” Is a much more digestible sound bite then the long winded explanation above.

      • 1mime says:

        In close contests for the presidency, a la gore/bush, even popular vote is not protected. I am convinced that the party system is rigged and not in the favor of one man one vote.

      • 1mime says:

        There are those who think the US is not a democracy but an oligarchy – that our presidential politics is rigged. Be sure to open the link referring to “the US is an oligarchy”…interesting theory.

      • 1mime says:

        Just saw this and thought of your comment, Viking. Cruz is dangerous. Knowing how he singularly cost the US Treasury billions of dollars in his last “green eggs and ham” shut down of government, he’s gonna double down on that, months in advance? The man has no shame. He is milking the system in the name of religion and fiscal balance and is as fake as they come. Like a snake, you don’t want to get too close but you need to watch them very carefully.

  13. Stephen says:

    The way you break racism is personal contact. My last employer had in some of it’s abandon buildings black and white restrooms. So racism was well practiced at one time. One of the older employees a black man told me how his shop (maintenance) mostly white men came and got him one day during lunch, bringing him to their lunch room. They had worked together for years and dependent on each other. They could see no reason the silly taboo of separation should continue.That day separate showering ended too. I have worked with brilliant men and women of all ethnicity. You can peer into the future in places like Orlando where already the population is a minority majority. This is not going to be a hard pull. It will evolve naturally as the nation becomes a minority majority country. Those who say I want my country back or going to be losers. Nothing goes back to an early time. Better to adapt and thrive with new circumstances.

    • objv says:

      Stephen, I completely agree. Personal contact is the best way to change stereotypes.

      I worked with many wonderful African-American nurses and I greatly admired them. I taught Sunday School with a African-American guy and enjoyed talking with him. Working together on an equal basis with people from different cultures changed the way I reacted to various situations and images.

  14. Tom says:

    “If same terminology accurately describes Trump fans that beat up black protestors and the clueless, affluent Bernie-Bros who denigrate blacks voters’ support for Clinton, then we have a language problem.”

    This is, I think, where the term “white privilege” comes in. A working definition of “white privilege” is the clueless acceptance of institutional racism and white supremacy. It’s not just a new word for racism, because it’s really a different concept.

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      The problem with the concept of white privilege is that it is wrong. White privilege is not a thing; otherwise, Appalachia wouldn’t exist.

      Living in a non-shitty household isn’t really privilege anyway; I’d say that’s an incorrect view of it. Rather, I’d say that it is better to think of people who don’t live in such places as being disadvantaged. It is a more rational outlook, and it leads to better results – our goal is to bring them up, after all.

      • 1mime says:

        “Our” goal? Whose goal exactly are you speaking of, Titanium? In reality, that is.

      • Griffin says:

        “white privilege” does not mean every single white person gets a million bucks at birth. There are poor whites as well, obviously. But generally it is easier for someone born into a white family in the US than a black family. Of course, class is usually more important. It’s easier to come from a middle-class black family than a poor white family. However it’s also generally easier for someone who comes from a poor white family rather than a poor black familye, because you don’t have to deal with as much racism against you on top of everything else.

        Yes you can hunt for exceptions here or there but we’re talking about general trends in the country as a whole.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t think you understand what “white privilege” means. It’s not a personal thing, but an institutional thing, and it’s benefits are very subtle.

        Blacks and whites have drug usage at the exact same rate, yet blacks are 8 times more likely to be jailed for drug crimes. That’s white privilege.

        Crack is an epidemic in the black community in the 80’s an the repsonse is Three Strikes, “superpredators” and mass incarceration.

        Heroin is an epidemic in poor white communities right now ad the response is compassion, treatment, and understanding. That’s white privilege.

        Black kids playing with guns are murdered by police. White kids playing with guns is justs boys bein’ boys. That’s white privilege.

        It’s on the same spectrum as racism, but kind of the opposite. Racism is personal, it’s the result of purposeful actions made by the individual, and the individual has the power to stop it, if they wish. White privilege is systemic, and it benefits everyone, even the most bleeding heart liberals. White privilege benefits whites eevn if they’re aware of it and don’t WANT to benefit from it. In that way, it is much more subtle and easier to not identify.

      • Tom says:

        Pointing out that there are poor white people represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of “white privilege.”

        For instance — as a defense attorney I’ve noticed that the circumstances surrounding whites accused of marijuana possession are frequently different from those surrounding blacks accused of the same. The latter are frequently pulled over for an unrelated traffic violation (which may or may not have actually occurred, or at least which the arresting officer may not have actually observed) and have their vehicle searched on “probable cause.” The whites accused of it frequently were literally smoking marijuana in front of a police officer or they consented to a search of their vehicle. That’s white privilege in action: not being actively targeted by police.

  15. Griffin says:

    “If same terminology accurately describes Trump fans that beat up black protestors…”

    If “the” same terminology accurately describes Trump…?

    You definitely described a big part of the problem, but part of the motivator for lower-class whites to hold onto racist beliefs is competition for jobs and scarce resources. Maybe if we made it easier for them to get a decent living without the need to put down minorities that would help as well. A Basic income could help there.

    • 1mime says:

      Competition for jobs may be the “reason” white working class people cite today for their anger towards people of color; however, this is a very old problem, one that existed when brown people posed no threat to job security.

      • Griffin says:

        Or course I was just saying it was another cause on top of the others already listed. Addressing this is going to take multiple solutions.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, it will require multiple solutions, the problem is, that the people who need help the most are those least likely to receive it. The “nones” – the people who live in the shadows of our society. That’s the message Foss and Stevenson were describing.

      • Stephen says:

        Trump supporters are not so much against immigration as using that to undermined their wages and benefits. So you are correct. Legal immigration does not threaten that but illegal does. No person will work for less than they can earn in an open market. But illegal immigration has the whiff of slavery in it and is not an open market. Hard to have bargaining power when one word can get you deported.The way to fix it is to put in jail and general population the people who hire them including the top management and owners. Do that and we can stop illegal immigration without an expensive useless wall. And business will get out of the way and let us reform immigration policy. Any politician who is not willing to support and do that is conning people.

      • 1mime says:

        And therein lies the real hypocrisy in the Republican opposition to immigration reform. Employers who have benefited from cheap labor who can’t complain have been an albatross around the necks of those who do want immigration reform. For the last year plus, America has had a negative net immigration from Mexico. Those who are here illegally (and many came in on legal visas and have overstayed them while contributing to the US economy and staying out of trouble) want to remain. How do you deal with 11 million illegal citizens who now have families and roots in our country? It’s a complex problem.

  16. fiftyohm says:

    I submit there is a substantial difference between individual racism and the institutional variety. There is little doubt that one of the leading causes, (perhaps *the* leading cause), of poor outcomes in our minority communities is the criminal justice system. The staggering percentages of people of color imprisoned for drug crimes and other nonviolent offences, (many as a result of so-called ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policies), have a disastrous on the futures and families of the convicted.

    While a sound argument can be made that most drug laws were essentially racist in their origins, US drug laws are not that out of step with the rest of the developed world. It is a stretch, in my view, to tie these law-and-order policies to racism per se. Fix this issue, and we’ll be a very long way in the right direction. This is where the emphasis should be, and not misguided self-loathing.

    Adam Foss did an excellent TED talk on closely a related topic:

    • 1mime says:

      Thanks, Fifty. That was inspirational. Foss needs to become a mentor to young prosecutors everywhere. Our justice system is so broken. As he stated, imprisonment is not only a poor return on investment, it is wrong when there are good alternatives.

      The sequel TED speaker was Bryan Stevenson, who wrote a book I have quoted many times: “Just Mercy”. His work in prisons and jails in AL and throughout the south is equally inspiring. He formed the “Equal Justice Initiative” which he has stuck by for over 30 years, forgoing the lucrative opportunities he could have enjoyed as a Black, Harvard graduated attorney.

      People like Stevenson and Foss are the real heroes today. When you listen to these men, politics seems so trivial. Here’s the link to Stevenson’s TED talk.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Thank you, mime. These two are indeed inspiring. It strikes me that were we to only take care of just the problems mentioned in these two videos, perhaps the rest would just take care of itself. Stevenson’s very last comment on the post-talk Q&A was spot on. It’s just not that hard, for god’s sake.

      • 1mime says:

        If you have time between your bread-baking, chef prep and wood-working in Canada, read “Just Mercy”. So often when we think about the problems of incarceration, we focus on cost and numbers. Stevenson’s book makes the lives of the people within the system real – especially our youngest offenders – to those of us on the outside looking in. At the very least, each of us who cares about things like this needs to know what is really going on. Stevenson says that state and local prisons are far more dangerous than federal prisons which at least have some semblance of regulatory control.

      • fiftyohm says:


        As a complete aside, when I was in university, a friend was a juvenile probation officer. I got involved with a program were I sorta mentored kids in the system. The most remarkable was a 13 year old kid named Tony. He’d been busted for petty theft or some such thing. The first time I picked him up at his house, it was freaking scary. The property was horrific. The inside of the house was dark as pitch, and the windows had blankets hung in front of them. To this day, I remember it smelled like pee. But Tony had these eyes! Good grief, there was something pretty special behind them. At first, he and his family looked on me with suspicion. “What’s this white dude about, anyway?” But over the next few months we did stuff together and got to know each other. We took a trip to a nuke plant that was under construction. We played pool. And I took him flying. Don’t know what ever happened to Tony. I hope he escaped.

      • 1mime says:

        At least this young man had contact with a kind, caring person. It would be good to know how things turned out for him. Sounds like you two really bonded. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Programs but this is a great program for youth who need a safe, positive environment to hang out in. They are most often located in disadvantaged neighborhoods and have made a big difference in the lives of the kids that stayed with them. As both Foss and Stevenson said, get these kids turned around when they are young – prevent the problems from getting past the point of no return. Thanks for sharing that story, Fifty. I’ll bet that plane ride was the first the young man ever took.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a piece on prison reform at the state level. When you read Just Mercy, it will quickly become apparent that this is an area needing lots of attention.

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      The thing is, as long as you have places like Chicago, where white people are 98.5% less likely to be involved in a shooting than black people, you’re not going to fix the problem.

      Drug policy isn’t the issue. Drug policy impacts everyone.

      When 50% of homicides and 55% of robberies are committed by blacks, there’s going to be an imbalance within the prison population.

      Drugs account for less than 20% of prisoners.

      Violent crime accounts for about 50%, and property crime another 25% (last I looked the numbers were 47% and 28% respectively).

      And it is worth noting that the national clearance rate for homicides is like 60%. In Chicago this year, it is 16%.

      And clearance rates for homicide are high relative to other crimes.

      That suggests there are an awful lot of people who aren’t in jail who commit crimes.

      The only solution to black incarceration is to reduce black crime. Cutting back on arrests and daily policing in Chicago has lead to an increase in violent crime there.

  17. 1mime says:

    There are too many contemporary examples of cultural racism. Here’s one that happened just yesterday, and below that, a personal encounter of a similar nature some 30 years ago (some things are harder to forget than others). As long as we model racism, innocent people will be hurt. I don’t care what name you give it, or what system it falls within, it is wrong.

    True story: After losing a highly anticipated high school football team match up with the district’s leading and very diverse public school team, the parochial students in the stands erupted into a loud, repetitive chant directed at the exiting public school team. It went this way: “That’s alright; that’s OK, you’re gonna work for us one day.” It was sickening, and the worst part was that there were parents and parochial school officials in attendance who did nothing to stop it. Those young people likely grew up with their sense of entitlement fully intact. They would also be the people who would never think they were “racist”.

  18. tuttabellamia says:

    Chris wrote: “America, a nation burdened with a long, vexing racial heritage has only one word to describe racism” and “There is truth in the blanket application of the term ‘racist’ to all of these scenarios, but that truth obscures consequential ambiguities.”
    You call for a richer language to account for ambiguity, yet you DO use another word throughout your blog entry that may be more appropriate in some instances: DISCRIMINATORY. Also, when I was growing up in the ’70s, a term often used was PREJUDICED, and seems more appropriate in some cases today.

    The Klansman who drags a Black man is racist. The employer who passes over a job application with a Black-sounding name is most likely simply prejudiced. There are different levels of racist tendencies.

    There is nothing that says we must use the term RACIST in every case. The English language is much richer than that. If we use the term RACIST for every scenario, then it’s out of habit or laziness, or because that’s the term of the moment for it. We are free to dig into our personal thesaurus and find a more appropriate word for each scenario. Or is that too System 2 — too complicated?

    • n1cholas says:

      I’ve always preferred the term “bigot”, rather than “racist”, as not all prejudice involves race.

      All racists are bigots, but not all bigots are racists.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Tut – Sorry, I don’t get the difference between “prejudiced” and “racist”. I too heard the term used when I was growing up. It usually was used like this, ” I’m not prejudiced but … .” and the following rant was both prejudiced and/or racist. I’m with lifer, we need to be able to recognize “small” racially caused actions, in ourselves, as well as in others. And be able to verbalize them without the immediate and horrible stamp of “racist”.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Unarmed, I do remember “prejudiced” sort of being the ’70s word for “racist,” or at least thinking it did at that young age, but I still think there is a difference between the two words, if we want to be precise with our meanings. The words are not interchangeable. And I agree, we should be able to verbalize some of our personal views without immediately being accused of “racism.” And yes, sometimes what we are guilty of is PREJUDICE, which is not exactly the same as racism.

  19. 1mime says:

    “Almost all spiritual practices involve quieting……a direct effort to eliminate the nuisance of doubt, questioning and deliberate reasoning…”

    I’m not totally on board with that thought. I understand the need for “contemplation” and “quieting” of a sort that reduces the intrusion of other thoughts that occupy our conscious minds. But it is my belief that spirituality is a deeply personal, deeply reflective, thoughtful process. This belief confronts directly acceptance of ideas and messages without reasoned analysis. As an example, I would be most uncomfortable in a religious setting if I heard commentary that was contradictory to my own personal moral and spiritual belief system. I suppose it is possible to reach a point in one’s personal spirituality that you have sifted through the extraneous and evolved to a point of simple acceptance, but, for me, it could never be achieved simply by someone telling me it is so. I find too many contradictions in organized religion to trust a single belief system that requires one to abrogate reason.

    In Viking’s link, the quote by MLK ” Sunday morning is still the “most segregated hour” of the week”, rings sadly true. America has much that is good, but until each of us internalizes the belief that all men are equal, and live our lives accordingly, all the religion in the world will simply be another construct for self-protection.

    • goplifer says:

      That statement isn’t about commentary or conscious/theological positions. It’s about practices. Roam the world from religion to religion, even beyond organized religions into tribal spiritual practices, and you’ll find the same practices repeated over and over again. Music, chanting, recitations, altered mental states. It seems that human spirituality in virtually all its forms is an expression of a desire to shed System 2 processing in pursuit of something that lies beyond.

      There is one counter-example that I find very interesting. Jews have a whole range of spiritual practices that cut in the opposite direction. The ways Jews incorporate a deeply intellectualized approach to Torah into spiritual practice is something I haven’t found an example of anywhere else.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        There’s even something clear-cut and satisfying about declaring yourself an atheist, almost as simplistic as saying there is a God.

        The most honest position is that of doubt — to declare you’re an agnostic — to admit that you just don’t know.

      • 1mime says:

        “The most honest position is that of doubt — to declare you’re an agnostic — to admit that you just don’t know.”

        That’s about where I come down, Tutta.

      • n1cholas says:

        I too declare myself as an agnostic.

        I have some ideas, and I could argue that I’m spiritual.

        That said, I don’t know if there is, or isn’t a “God”. And if there is an all-loving “God” out there, I trust that (he? she? it?) God will be OK with me trying my best, and not care all that much that I didn’t pick one of a thousand religions out there.

        The most hilarious part of being an agnostic “fence sitter” is that you wind up catching shit from both theists and atheists.

        If I’m pissing everyone else off who thinks they know the correct answer, then I’m absolutely comfortable in saying that I don’t know and will probably never know.

      • 1mime says:

        No one has the right to criticize another person’s belief system. This PEW survey demonstrates that more people are opting “out” of organized religion. Live and let live.

        “the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78% in 2007 to 71% in 2014. By contrast, the religiously unaffiliated have surged seven percentage points in that time span to make up 23% of U.S. adults last year. This trend has been driven in large part by Millennials, 35% of whom are religious “nones.” The rise of the “nones” is not a story unique to the U.S.: The unaffiliated are now the second-largest religious group in 48% of the world’s nations. Americans are well aware of this shift: 72% say religion’s influence on public life is waning, and most who say this see it as a bad thing.”

      • vikinghou says:

        Although I was raised as an Episcopalian, I don’t subscribe to any particular religion today. But I do think there must be some sort of creator. Otherwise, why does anything exist? What would be the purpose if the universe wasn’t created by some entity? I’ll never know the true answer in this life.

      • Griffin says:

        “There’s even something clear-cut and satisfying about declaring yourself an atheist, almost as simplistic as saying there is a God.

        The most honest position is that of doubt — to declare you’re an agnostic — to admit that you just don’t know.”

        Yes but far and away most atheists are agnostic atheists. Agnostic as in “I don’t KNOW there’s no God” and “atheist” as in “But I BELIEVE there’s no God”.

        You are an atheist for the thousands of Gods you do not believe exists. Zeus, Jupiter, Danu, Bondye, etc. You are probably also an atheist in regards to most mythology that has ever existed (e.g. unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, etc.). Atheism is just the default position.

      • Stephen says:

        @ tuttabellamia;
        I have over my life experience the supernatural many times. To me saying you are an Atheist is not really being intellectually honest. Agnostic is more accurate an assessment than the surety of atheism.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        When growing up, We were sent to the nearest church by mom. It so happened that the last church was Episcopalian. So when I enlisted, the recruiter asked my religion. I said, “Episcopalian”. He says, “How do you spell that?” I said, “I’m a Baptist”.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s cute, unarmed! You were more clever than a talented speller!

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I saw something on television many years ago, where Torah scholars were studying the “footnotes” of the Torah by previous scholars and debating the section of the Torah, the previous footnote and the critique of the footnote by later scholars.

        I was going to add a sentence here about doubt but it sounded a little too certain.

  20. Chris: have you tried out ‘Project Implicit’?

    It tries to measure the ability of type 2 thinking to overcome ingrained type 1 thinking.



    • goplifer says:

      That was kind of a mind-bender. I apparently have “little to no” automatic preference between races. Would have been interesting to see that same result ten years ago. Or in high school.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I’ve used that site several times over the years. Always have the same results: slight preference for black.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What would be a more precise term for “preference?” Trust? Sympathy?

      • 1mime says:

        “inclination” ?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Both terms — Inclination and preference — are too general.

        I am looking for more precise and personal terms, terms that would be personal to each test taker.

        A Black test taker with a preference for Black faces: IDENTIFICATION, LOYALTY

        A White test taker with a preference for Black faces: SYMPATHY, KINDNESS

        A Hispanic test taker with a preference for Black faces: EMPATHY, CAMARADERIE

      • tuttabellamia says:

        A White test taker with a preference for Black faces: SYMPATHY, COMPASSION

    • goplifer says:

      That connection certainly exists, but it’s not entirely clear why. In particular, does it have more to do with heritage or with mental processes?

      Religion is an extension of culture. We use it to transmit whatever concepts are considered core to the wider culture. As such, religion played a particularly key role in transmitting racist ideology in the South. Elsewhere the impact was more mixed. Areas with a heavy Quaker or Congregationalist tradition tend to be markedly less racially biased. So it is just overhang from that heritage?

      On the other hand, almost all spiritual practices involve ‘quieting’ or let’s just say shutting down System 2. Music, meditation, prayer almost any spiritual liturgy you encounter anywhere in the world is a direct effort to eliminate the nuisance of doubt, questioning and deliberate reasoning we get from our expensive System 2 processing. Is the religion/bigotry nexus a product of the inherently counter-rational nature of spirituality?

      Honestly, after some exposure to yoga in the post-Christian suburbs, I’m leaning toward the latter theory. Racism isn’t the bigotry of choice here, but the range of downright batty beliefs and practices you’ll encounter from affluent enthusiasts with high levels of education and income is remarkable. Instead of race it seems to mostly focus on food, but these folks are no more rational or persuadable than the audience at a faith healer’s camp meeting. If they had any investment in racial bigotry, they’d just easily be racial bigots as food bigots.

      • Griffin says:

        Oh man you have no idea. Out here in Southern California I was at a resort with the family and we passed by the more expensive rooms and in the center of this building they had a “Deepak Chopra yoga center” where you could refocus your “chakras”. Those rich fools could’ve used that money for actual good, but instead they’re on a fool’s errand to buy an extra ten years by refocusing their imaginary energies.

        That’s why they believe in the food woo. It’s like hunting for the Holy Grail, or the fountain of Youth. They think they’ll come across just the right diet so they can look twenty forever. It’s a means of coping with aging and death for anti-rational suburbanites who can’t believe in organized religion.

      • goplifer says:

        “food woo” love that

      • formdib says:

        “Food woo”

        Rational wiki is an entertaining site:

      • Griffin says:

        Yes I believe that’s where I first heard the term. I thought is had more prevalance outside of there but I guess not. We should start promoting the term more in that case!

        Fun fact: Rationalwiki has a (slightly outdated) article on Chris Ladd, and he gets an honorary spot in the “right of reason” category.

    • vikinghou says:

      I agree that religion is a way for many people to avoid or at least minimize the System 2 mode. For example, System 1 thinking allows them to ignore or reject compelling scientific evidence that contradicts religious dogma (e.g., evolution and the age of the Earth). Drives me crazy, especially when politicians employ System 1 thinking to make public policy decisions.

      • 1mime says:

        “Drives me crazy…when politicians employ System 1 thinking to make public policy decisions.”

        It doesn’t surprise me at all, Viking. When a party depends upon total compliance in thought, they have abrogated any semblance of ability for System 2 thinking.

      • objv says:

        Isn’t that rather harsh, mime? I am sure that there are a few Democrats who employ System 2 thinking occasionally. 🙂

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