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“What if they did that to your son?”

[ 328 ] March 8, 2013 |

This Ta-Nehisi Coates column is, not surprisingly, great:

I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark. It is worth considering the messaging here. It says to black kids: “Don’t leave home. They don’t want you around.” It is messaging propagated by moral people.

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  1. Data Tutashkhia says:

    I would like to see his definition of ‘racism’. Is it based on the idea of racial superiority? Or does it include racial profiling, based on experience and common stereotypes? Because these are different things, different categories. It would make sense, I believe, to separate them, to use different words.

    Does that deli employee believe that people who look like Forest Whitaker are inherently inferior? Or is it that he knows, perhaps by experience, that they are more likely to be poor and desperate (or raised in a poor and desperate environment)? This seems kind of important. To me, anyway. Commenters on these fora reliably disagree, and they reliably express their disagreement by strong denunciations… Oh, well…

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      If this is your starting point, having read the piece, then you need to fundamentally recalibrate both your moral sense and your understanding of dialectical appropriateness.

      The last point is perhaps a bit subtle. It’s not that you’re being a jerk (though you are). It’s not even that your line of inquiry is inherently outrageous or out of bounds (it isn’t). It’s that to insert that inquiry at this point is to put yourself in a place where it’s overwhelmingly likely that you’ll continue into intellectual and moral failure.

      It’s particularly sharp because this is precisely the act of a self professed “good” (both in the moral and in the intellectual sense) person.

      I encourage you to reread Coates’ piece (or if you haven’t read it, actually read it) and try for the imaginative leap of empathy. Coates is a careful writer, and this is not, per se, an argumentative work.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        He is not careful enough, because he calls this racism. And I don’t think it’s correct, or helpful to call it that. Because an average person (in some neighborhoods) reads it, and thinks: if this is racism, then racism is not entirely irrational, because I know, by experience, that I’m more likely to get troubles from a black person (plus some other characteristics, like gender, age) than from a white person (with the same characteristics).

        I am, very much so, against racism, the irrational belief in racial or ethnic superiority or exceptionalism. But a racial profiling, empirically useful, and practiced by a private individual, that’s a different story. We all do it, once in a while, including blacks themselves.

        As for the rest of you comment, your opinion about me: denounce away, my friend; feel free, I don’t mind.

        • Malaclypse says:

          But a racial profiling, empirically useful, and practiced by a private individual, that’s a different story.

          Now that, boys and girls, is how you beg a question.

        • slightly_peeved says:

          So the person who frisks a perfectly innocent customer gets every benefit of the doubt, but the person accusing them of racism gets none?

          The requirement for perfect precision in accusations of racism is a bit rich (and seems a bit racist) when in doing so, someone is giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who clearly made no attempt to be precise in their accusation of thievery. Or foreign birth. Or burglary.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            Good, good. Sounds like we agree on my main point: there is racism, and there is racial profiling (though the birther thing obviously doesn’t belong here), and they are different things.

            • Snarki, child of Loki says:

              Oh, so RIGHT you are!

              As mentioned above, racism is “the irrational belief in racial or ethnic superiority or exceptionalism.”

              While racial PROFILING is making snap judgments about whether someone is “good” or “bad” based on their race.

              See? Totally different! Because of that wonderful word “profiling” which is a totally different word than “pre-judgement”, and that makes ALL the difference.

              Or not.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Not “whether someone is”, but whether someone is more like to be.

                And yes, it is quite different, provided that the correlation is real.

                Are you disputing that criminality can be, in some places, under certain conditions, correlated with skin color?

                It is correlated with gender: men are more likely to be criminals, especially violent criminals.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  And yet we don’t frisk random white men in delis. Go figure. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re simply trying to throw up smoke to disguise the fact that you see nothing wrong with what happened.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  I sure see no great tragedy in a multimillionaire celebrity being frisked at a deli. Should I?

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Google “school-to-prison pipeline” and “racial disparities in sentencing,” you dishonest, empathy-void fucknut.

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  I sure see no great tragedy in a multimillionaire celebrity being frisked at a deli. Should I?

                  If you believe in a society where people are treated with compassion and dignity, yes. You should.

                  Are your morals subject to means testing?

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  Are your morals subject to means testing?

                  That is not the question of morals, but of empathy. Yes, absolutely. More frisking of multimillionaires, please. The universe needs a balance.

                • sam says:

                  I hate that I can’t reply beyond this level, but this chain of comments should also note that, EVEN IF a shopkeeper has an entirely reasonable non-racist suspicion of shoplifting by a customer, they do not EVER have the legal right to frisk that customer. The ONLY right that they have is to detain the customer for the exact amount of time it takes to call the police and for the police to arrive and take over any investigation. Shopkeeper frisking is not law enforcement. It’s assault.

                • GeoX says:

                  Shorter Data: “Sure, it was racism–but it’s GOOD racism!”

              • timb says:

                Except again, Forest Whitaker is black, but he is not a black teenager. He has more in common with Paul Giammati than he does with Kayne West

            • slightly_peeved says:

              It’d be nice if you actually addressed what I accused you of doing (to whit: caring oh-so-much about the hurt feelings of people who get called racist after frisking someone, over the people who get treated like thieves for walking in a fucking store) rather than making some imaginary common ground I am supposed to occupy.

              • ironic irony says:

                Remember! He/she is against racism.

                Their comments suggest otherwise.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                I don’t care about the hurt feelings of people who get called racist after frisking someone. That is not my concern. What is, as I made clear earlier, is the trivialization of the concept of ‘racism’. Although I admit: it doesn’t really keep me awake at night… Just making a conversation, really…

            • Malaclypse says:

              there is racism, and there is racial profiling (though the birther thing obviously doesn’t belong here), and they are different things.

              Shorter Data: Anything short of the murder of Emmett Till is not racism.

          • ironic irony says:

            Kind of like the way George Zimmerman got the benefit of the doubt, but Trayon Martin did not- despite being unarmed.

          • Lyanna says:

            So the person who frisks a perfectly innocent customer gets every benefit of the doubt, but the person accusing them of racism gets none?

            Precisely. The honor of a white person who commits a possibly-racist act must be defended at all costs, and you cannot impugn it without proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But, as a white male leftist informed me several years ago while discussing the arrest of Professor Gates, it is “intellectual totalitarianism” for women and people of color to express the opinion that something is racist or sexist unless that something actually involves burning crosses and white hoods. Calling their criticisms intellectual totalitarian is totally okay without proof that they’re wrong. Calling a white person’s actions racism is just awful unless you’ve got video evidence of them saying “I’M A RACIST, LOOK AT ME.”

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          He is not careful enough,

          It’s pretty clear that you are not a good judge of such matters.

          because he calls this racism.

          You need to reread.

          then racism is not entirely irrational

          Interestingly, racism doesn’t have to be “irrational” to be wrong. Racism is often prudential (for white people, for example).

          But a racial profiling, empirically useful, and practiced by a private individual, that’s a different story. We all do it, once in a while, including blacks themselves.

          Even granting this extremely dubious bit (and don’t think we don’t all see what you’re doing here; really, you aren’t being slick): It’s perfectly possible for an action to be rational on the isolated individual level and wildly irrational beyond that (cf the tragedy of the commons). Similarly, it’s perfectly possible for an action to be morally unproblematic in the isolated individual case, and pernicious in toto.

          As for the rest of you comment, your opinion about me: denounce away, my friend; feel free, I don’t mind.

          It’s clear that I didn’t denounce you, though I well understand that claiming victimhood is part and parcel of your strategy. But I would really recommend that you think rather harder about the line you’re pursuing and how it fits into the dialectic at hand. At the very least, it would lend more sophistication to your trolling (if that is what you’re doing, which, alas, seems all too likely).

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            I don’t have a strategy, just killing time here.

            My point was that there is racism: irrational belief that some traits are inherently coded in you because of your ‘race’, and then there is profiling: assessment of potential troubles, based on (among other things) statistical race/criminality situation on the ground.

            From that — to the tragedy of the commons and morality, it’s a long stretch.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              I don’t have a strategy, just killing time here.

              Other people’s oppression is your parlor game.

            • Uncle Kvetch says:

              As for the rest of you comment, your opinion about me: denounce away, my friend; feel free, I don’t mind.

              “Mind”? It’s what you’re here for!

              But a racial profiling, empirically useful, and practiced by a private individual, that’s a different story.

              If only the deli owner had been able to apply an empirically useful “WHITES ONLY” sign on the door, this unfortunate incident never would have occurred.

              OK. Done feeding the troll.

            • timb says:

              Then, answer my question, posted on this thread twice: how can one argue that “profiling” Forest Whitaker is not racist, when Forest Whitaker is a middle-aged, obese guy and not some “young buck buying a T-bone steak”?

              The urban high school white kids who hang out with my daughters are WAY more likely to look like gangstas than Forest Whitaker is.

              That wasn’t “profiling;” that was racism

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Well, I don’t think we know enough details of what exactly happened there, in that deli, to make a judgment. How he was dressed, how he behaved, was he tipsy.

                For all we know this particular incident may not have anything to do with his skin color at all. But that is not important, this is a general discussion. The linked piece goes on to generalize, and so do I.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Shorter Data: Nobody can prove it was not the darky’s own damn fault.

                  PS DATA IS NOT A RACIST

                • Malaclypse says:

                  How he was dressed, how he behaved, was he tipsy.

                  The more I think about this, the more I realize I was completely wrong in not adding fuck you, you racist fuck. I sincerely regret the oversight.

                  Fucking racist fuck.

                • sibusisodan says:

                  Isn’t it amazing how little it turns out we actually know, when knowing such things might require us to revise our opinions?

                • Uncle Kvetch says:

                  She may have been wearing a short skirt and slutty makeup. She may have been drunk and come on to the guy. Who are we to judge? We just don’t have all the facts.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  What, are saying Forest Whitaker was raped? A crime was committed against him? That would’ve been a different story.

                  But nothing like that happened. He was suspected of shoplifting. He was frisked, and then the store clerk apologized, after realizing he made a mistake. This is all we know. We don’t know what exactly triggered the suspicion in the the store clerk’s head. We may suspect – notice the irony: he suspected, now we suspect – but we don’t really know.

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  A crime was committed against him? …
                  He was frisked…

                  As a legal matter the frisking was, in fact, a crime against him (unless he consented). It’s called “battery.”

            • spencer says:

              based on (among other things) statistical race/criminality situation on the ground.

              I doubt very highly that any actual statistical correlations enter into the mind of the vast majority of racial profilers – imagined correlations, perhaps. Broad trends they might have heard something about once, perhaps.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                This is a fair comment, and I’m sure there is some of that, cultural stereotyping. But that is still not racist (as far as I’m concerned), unless the person affected also believes that the blacks are genetically inferior.

                On the other hand, from what I read even black NYC cabbies don’t like to pick up black passengers. At this point, you either have to do some metal gymnastic and come up with “self-hating minorities” or something, or you have to accept that there must be rational reasons…

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  Yes, it is completely unpossible that prevalent cultural biases against minorities can infect members of those minorities. Obviously the better explanation is that racism is justified.

                  You really are a living, breathing exercise in confirmation bias, aren’t you?

            • slightly_peeved says:

              Actually – it’s simple then; Ta-Nehisi Coates is just relying on the empirically valid correlation between people who frisk middle-aged black men at delis, and people who are racist assholes. Don’t see what your problem is with the article.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              I don’t have a strategy, just killing time here.

              How are these mutually exclusive?

              You engaged in a discussion and you clearly have intra-discussion goals and moves. Thus, a strategy, however poor. My point is that your strategy in this discussion (and in thinking about these things) is not just likely to lead you into falsehood, but into a morally pernicious place. Whether you care about that is really up to you.

              My point

              This isn’t a point (that’s relevant to understanding the article or situation), it’s a distraction. Unfortunately, it only is successfully distracting you.

              From that — to the tragedy of the commons and morality, it’s a long stretch.

              How so? The parallel is exact. You tried to argue that profiling is in the individual case “rational”. My point is that that is no where near sufficient to support anything against what Coates wrote.

              I’m sincerely sorry you are unable or unwilling to try to actually engage with the text because there’s a really useful way of thinking that you are hiding from. This hiding puts you in a bad moral place.

              Whether you care about that is up to you.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Yeah, this is way too clever for me, sorry.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Really? How so?

                  Do you deny or not understand the tragedy of the commons?

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  I know what it is, but I don’t see the relevance.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Really?

                  Let me make it more explicit.

                  You want to contrast actions based on “racism” (which are morally wrong) with (some forms of) racial profiling which is 1) putatively based on statistical generalizations and 2) universally done (at least sometimes).

                  Let’s put aside the universally done since it’s a different thing you get wrong which is not addressed by the commons move.

                  So, we need something like:

                  1) “Rational” racial profiling is not wrong (since rational?)
                  or is it just that it’s not racist?

                  2) The clerk could have been engaged in “rational racial” profiling.

                  3) Thus, Coates is off base.

                  This is your main argument, afaict. I undermine the first premise. (Note that there are lots of ways to do so. Try the implicit bias literature.)

                  Roughly, what I see is something like racism is wrong because irrational (i.e., involving bonkers beliefs about a group of people), but racial profiling can be ok because rational (experientially grounded, though perhaps false beliefs).

                  My point is that you can’t determine either the rationality or the morality of an act by looking at it in isolation.

                  Rationality: In the tragedy of the commons, “local” rationality leads to global irrationality. (Roughly speaking.)

                  I hope at this point you can fill in the rest of the analogy.

                  Now, I have not established that “rational” racial profiling falls into this structure (it does, however; that’s a separate point). But the burden of proof is on you to construct at least a prima facie case that it does not. Otherwise, you have failed to discharge your proof obligation for 1.

                  And this should give you pause. This was what I was trying to get you to do in my first reply: If you cherry pick the setting you can lose critical information necessary to a correct evaluation. In this case, it leads you into an increasingly racist* position.

                  I hope that clarifies.

                  *In the institutional sense.

        • DrDick says:

          Racial profiling is not, in fact useful for anything than discriminating against certain classes of people. You simply make Bijan’s point for him with this statement.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            Of course it is “discriminating against certain classes of people”. Like I said somewhere in this thread: the only way to resolve this particular conflict is to make sure there is no underclass in the society. Everyone has a job, every job pays a middle-class wage.

            • Malaclypse says:

              And until then, it is rational to be suspicious of non-pale people. They might be tipsy, or badly dressed.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Yes, see, despite what you seem to believe, they are no different from pale people. Even the celebrities. Weird, but some of those are even known to get arrested for stealing stuff. Winona Ryder, for example.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Fascinating that you don’t grasp the rather relevant distinction that Ryder, unlike Whittaker, actually did something illegal.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  You don’t seem to realize that Whittaker could’ve looked like he has done something illegal. Regardless of his skin color. There is that possibility, you know. Like I said, we don’t have the details.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You don’t seem to realize that Whittaker could’ve looked like he has done something illegal.

                  Well, obviously. He’s black, after all.

                  Are you actually this clueless, or are you perhaps drunk?

            • DrDick says:

              Forrest Whitaker is not part of any underclass that I am familiar with, yet he was explicitly targeted. Racial profiling = racism in a white lab coat.

        • Timurid says:

          So when you or a fellow desi gets profiled as a “terrorist” you just take it like a man, right?
          Because shut up, empirically useful!

          • Timurid says:

            Well, I thought “Tutashkhia” was some kind of Sindhi name… but after further investigation it’s apparently the name of a (Turkish?) fictional character. Although from the looks of the pictures on GIS, he would still have some serious issues in airports. So if the handle actually refers to the troll’s ethnic/cultural background, my general point still applies…

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          The wrongness of your reactive strategy (not just your reaction) is more evident if you read the follow up piece:

          If we accept that racism is a creation, then we must then accept that it can be destroyed. And if we accept that it can be destroyed, we must then accept that it can be destroyed by us and that it likely must be destroyed by methods kin to creation. Racism was created by policy. It will likely only be ultimately destroyed by policy.

          That is hard to take. If Forrest Whitaker sticks out in that deli for reasons of individual mortal sin, we can castigate the guy who frisked him and move on. But if he — and others like him — stick out for reasons of policy, for decisions that we, as a state, have made, then we have a problem. Then we have to do something beyond being nice to each other.

          I commend the follow up which expands on some key points. (The classist dodge is one example.)

      • Origami Isopod says:

        and try for the imaginative leap of empathy.

        This exhortation was wasted, but I’m sure you realize that by now.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          I didn’t make it believe that there was a good chance that it would be taken up. But sometimes I feel compelled to try for the long shot.

          • gmack says:

            As usual, it’s a good idea regardless of whether the person accepts the invitation or not. The goal of argumentation is not usually to convince the opponent (my experience is that when arguing with people, the desire to save face will preclude any public acknowledgment of defeat; perhaps afterwards and in private, there can be a reflection, but not usually in the moment); it’s to make vivid the assumptions and implications of a position so that the audience can understand things better and (we might hope) come to more informed conclusions. Your interventions in this thread are exemplary in this regard.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Thanks! That’s very kind of you to say.

              Psychologically, I find I tend to have to think that my interlocutor might be persuaded. Or maybe I just do think that. I don’t find myself thinking about second order effects except outside the flow of the moment.

              (Interestingly, I don’t quite care whether they are persuaded, at least, in blog threads. I.e., I generally don’t get upset whereas in other contexts (e.g., I know the person) I care perhaps too much and can easily get very upset, which doesn’t lead to the best behavior.)

            • sibusisodan says:

              Your interventions in this thread are exemplary in this regard.

              Seconded.

              And a tip of the hat to gmack for an excellent explanation of how to go about this stuff. Better than whatever muddled para I had in my brain, and thus helpful to me.

      • DrDick says:

        Thank you. This is dead on and reflects one of my greater challenges in teaching about race and ethnicity.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          One thing I did when I was teaching oppression theory (esp. racism) was to start with something like Southern pro-slavery arguments. Most students these days really don’t believe those and indeed scorn them. Then you look at Jim Crow. The same. It’s really helpful if you can get some texts which poo poo black claims to being oppressed.

          Then I compare a contemporary claim that there is no racism with a contemporary claim that there is and ask them to do a simple induction: In every past case we’ve examined, the pro- or there’s no-racism claim turned out to be laughably false although at least vehemently held. So when we look at contemporaneous claims, what should be our default position? What should be our standard of evidence?

          It seemed effective in at least some cases.

          • DrDick says:

            My technique has been twofold. Firstly, since the class cover race and ethnicity, to talk about discrimination and prejudice against the Irish and Slavs (western Montana has a substantial proudly ethnic Irish population and a somewhat smaller Slavic population) and talk about the process of becoming white. Then I drown them in the statistical data on race based discrepancies in outcomes and opportunities and the empirical evidence of ongoing discrimination.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              How does the statistical drowning work out?

              In general, I find people really resistent to statistical arguments, esp. in these cases. Their personal (typically imagined) story trumps.

              • DrDick says:

                Overall, it seems to work pretty well. There are always those you cannot reach, but most of the students in the class are at least somewhat receptive to the idea. I also have them reading a lot of material which makes the point (and not just for the US). I think the international perspective in the class helps as well, since they do not feel so singled out (Oh look, the Chinese in Singapore do the same thing to the Tamils!).

      • brandon says:

        WELP SO MUCH FOR DATA CHECKING HIMSELF BEFORE WRECKING HIMSELF

      • Lyanna says:

        I am shamelessly fangirling this comment right now; it is entirely appropriate and perfect, and I may need to save a copy of it so I can simply paste it into future discussions.

    • Jordan says:

      What is the white dude equivalent of (the non-subliterate) MRAs who jump on any discussions of racism (feminism) with really sincere concern trolling? Palebros? Honkeytalkers? …. Racist?

    • McAllen says:

      This seems kind of important. To me, anyway.

      It may seem important to you, but it is not particularly important to Forest Whitaker.

      • Timb says:

        Who is no more the hip hop teen with a grill of gold teeth from Data’s nightmares than Data is, but, gee, golly, that deli worker had some “experience” which told him middle aged African-America commit a disproportionate amount of street crime

    • Lurker says:

      I live in a relatively homogeneous society, and I think I understand what you are driving at, although you are mistaken. You seem to imply that the person being of a certain race correlates so strongly with the person being of underclass or of subcultures prone to criminal behaviour, that such correlation should be justified.

      Your premise is partly correct: Hispanics and blacks are much poorer, on average, than white people. Poor people are more often covicted of crimes. However, discriminating against poor people is wrong, too.

      Even if you wish to discriminate against poor people, you may not use race as a shortcut to socioeconomic status. If you do that, you create a caste, not a social class. You can change your attire and modify your speech to conform to middle class behaviour, but you can’t change your skin colour or other anthropological features. Thus, you end up discriminating even against people who are at the same (or upper) socioeconomic ladder than you are.

      Personally, I would see this mainly as a phenomenon of class conscience. Upper middle class people don’t want other upper middle class people, regardless of colour, to be disturbed by policemen or rude white working class people.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        I completely agree with everything said here. Don’t know where “you are mistaken” comes from.

        • Lurker says:

          It comes from the fact that I think that racial profiling is simply wrong, even more wrong than classist profiling. It should not be used for any purpose.

          Even in positive discrimination, the purposes where you nowadays use racial profiling can be quite as well fulfilled with socio-economic profiling.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            As a government policy it is (arguably) wrong. I believe the actual policy forbids the profiling based exclusively on race. Race, as a part of other characteristics is allowed.

            But individuals are not, and can not be, subjects to this sort of prohibition: they see a group of people who look dangerous to them, they cross to the other side of the street. It would be silly to demand that they ignore their instincts.

            As for the class discrimination, that’s, basically, the law of the land. You can’t afford something, you are not going to get it. No discrimination gets more fundamental than that.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      Commenters on these fora reliably disagree, and they reliably express their disagreement by strong denunciations… Oh, well…

      You poor dear.

    • Lego My Eggo says:

      Before I even opened the comments section, I was thinking, “Some idiot is going to write, ‘It’s okay to do some evil things more often to black people because black people are more likely to _______ [fill in the blank with some stereotypically racist notion of black behavior).’”

      And here it was, the very first comment of the day.

      All racists define racism to conveniently exclude themselves.

    • LeeEsq says:

      There lots of times when you can’t really act based on your experience and be a moral person. Every individual has to be treated as such rather be treated by others based on their past experience with similar people.

    • I think assuming that blacks and latinos you come in contact with are poor and desperate is probably a really really really bad idea and, yes, racist.

    • Sly says:

      Is it based on the idea of racial superiority? Or does it include racial profiling, based on experience and common stereotypes? Because these are different things, different categories. It would make sense, I believe, to separate them, to use different words.

      But you can only separate them so far; notions of racial superiority/inferiority are to a great extent inextricably linked because they are relative classifications upon which stereotypes are based.

      Does that deli employee believe that people who look like Forest Whitaker are inherently inferior? Or is it that he knows, perhaps by experience, that they are more likely to be poor and desperate (or raised in a poor and desperate environment)? This seems kind of important. To me, anyway.

      It’s rather difficult for me to imagine the deli employee believing that people who look like Forest Whitaker are not inherently inferior and that belief leading to the necessity of frisking that person on the suspicion of stealing without evidence. “Hey, guy, I understand people who look like you have had it rough, so please don’t take my assumption of your inherent criminality the wrong way….”

      In what way is that not an assumption of inferiority?

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        In what way is that not an assumption of inferiority?

        In the ‘nature vs nurture’ way.

        You may have a group of people who had grown up and live under such conditions that made them, on average, more dangerous than another group.

        You may realize that this is a result of the conditions.
        Or you may believe that this is a result of genetics.

        The second possibility is racism; the first one, IMO, is not. But yes, the patterns of your interactions with the members of that group may be similar. Hey, what can I say: life is complicated.

        • John Protevi says:

          Hey, what can I say: life is complicated.

          No, not really in this case. Cultural racism is still racism. Though your trying to get all philosophical on us is just adorbs.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            This has nothing to do with cultural racism. You don’t need to consider your culture superior to be afraid to walk in a ghetto at night.

            Which is something I’m sure you don’t do either, despite your righteous anti-racism.

    • spencer says:

      Wow, that didn’t take long at all …

    • JM says:

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    • Jewish Steel says:

      Commenters on these fora reliably disagree, and they reliably express their disagreement by strong denunciations… Oh, well…

      Whatever the deficiencies of this and subsequent claims, this is a chickenshit move.

  2. Bijan Parsia says:

    This sentence haunts me:

    And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take.

    Part of what it portrays to me is how the co-option of antiracism (e.g., racism must be excused as not racism rather than excused as right) is so burdensome on the spirit and one’s sense of morality. When “good” becomes so unmoored from reality to essentially mean “eat shit”, it adds a dimension of destructiveness that I find heart breaking.

    • Jordan says:

      But it isn’t the co-opting of anti-racism. Its the idea that the only people who are racists are people who put silly hoods on their heads. And furthermore, that anyone who doesn’t put a silly hood on is a good person and must be treated as such.

      But I agree that it is a great and heartbreaking line.

      • Origami Isopod says:

        I don’t think you and Bijan are disagreeing all that much.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Yeah.

          The reason I think it’s a co-opting is that underlying the “only thugs are racists” is the idea that being a racist is bad. So, people have absorbed that being racist “isn’t done” but don’t have a commitment to eradicating racism, merely at avoiding the label.

          This is why the worst thing (in their mind) isn’t being racist, but it’s pointing out racism (or accusing someone of racism), particularly a “good” (i.e., socially superior) person. They can’t be racist because they are good and not declassé. (Or, they can’t possible do racist things because they aren’t racist and they aren’t racist because they are good.)

          • Origami Isopod says:

            Right, it’s confusing issues of morality with issues of etiquette and, thus, in-group/out-group marking. It’s become “not-nice” to throw around the N-word and the like, because only “trashy” people do that, but less-overt displays of racism (well, less overt in the eyes of white people) are still okay. Even though actions like not responding to r&#233sumßs from people with names that “sound black” can be argued to be more harmful in the aggregate than actions like putting a Confederate decal on one’s pickup truck.

          • DrDick says:

            It also assumes that racism must be conscious and deliberate. It does not, as it is the racist attitudes and the actions which cause the harm at the heart of the concept (as seen in the examples TNC cites). There is a huge amount of unconscious racism (often called institutional racism) in this country and elsewhere.

            • chaed says:

              I think the unconscious racism often comes on at a personal level, too. And, what can really be important is what one does with this information. Most white people just think “oh, I’m having these thoughts, that must make them okay…”

              A better response would be to analyze why you’re having them and what you can do to change your consciousness.

              • DrDick says:

                In my experience, most people are simply unaware that they are reacting or thinking in a racist manner or else quickly rationalize it as based on something else (the way Data does here).

                • chaed says:

                  That’s true. Most people don’t really question some of their baser urges. I don’t think anyone’s perfect, so, I don’t think you can get angry about, say, a white person having a spike of fear when a black man walks down an empty street next to them at night. If it’s brief, it’s probably involuntary and, more than likely, something that been inculcated by the predominant culture of middle-class white suburbia.

                  But, I think you can blame people in how they handle that feeling. If they go away thinking: “whew, close call” – something is wrong. If they look inward and think “man, I need to get over whatever nonsense was pumped into my brain when I was a kid and treat people with decency.”

                  Well, than, at least their recognizing their privilege and attempting to push back against the societal inequities that they were raised to believe.

                  I say, be an optimist, and recognize progress where it exists.

                • SV says:

                  This reminds me of a survey on attitudes toward sex where participants were asked how many partners they had had. The next question was, how many partners was too many? The answer, nearly always, was just slightly over their number of partners. That’s kind of what I see in white people who don’t think that they’re racist – they’re not that racist! They’re not too racist, not to the point of being really wrong!

      • Manju says:

        And furthermore, that anyone who doesn’t put a silly hood on is a good person and must be treated as such.

        For some Southern politicians, even putting on the silly hood doesn’t mean you’re a racist:

        “I’ll tell you what it [joining the KKK] means. He was a country boy from the hills and hollers of West Virginia, he was trying to get elected,”

        This racist quote is made even more absurd by the fact that the hoodie wearer in question hid his Klan membership when he ran for office. His opponents revealed it.

    • slightly_peeved says:

      When “good” becomes so unmoored from reality to essentially mean “eat shit”, it adds a dimension of destructiveness that I find heart breaking.

      Not disputing that this is a hell of a good sentence, because of the use of the word “good” in this jarring way, but the idea that anyone describing themselves as “good” is a person to watch out for is pretty old. A substantial proportion of the New Testament is devoted to discussing it. That’s how I imagine Coates is using the word in the sentence.

      • Malaclypse says:

        I didn’t take it that way. I read it as, well, I think of my mom as basically a good person, but every now and then she will say something jawdroppingly racist. Now, she’s 77, with Alzheimers, and I can’t bring myself to argue with her. There’s no fucking point. But I can see being sick and tired of hearing people like my mom described as “good.”

        • sparks says:

          My mother is in her 80s and, bless her, she tries. Then again, a few days ago she started to pontificate on South Africa and I stuck a finger in the air and told her, “stop it, what do you know about South Africa’s history?”. She knew nothing, and I told her never to mention SA again until she learned something of what went on there in the past 150 years.

          As far as the US, she’s not “good” but not bad, with close friends of many hues. She just dislikes/distrusts Russians and people from India. I have no clue where her bigotry came from.

        • chaed says:

          I think arguing with the soon-to-be deceased is rather pointless. My grandfather is in his 80′s and he’s quite staunchly catholic (the goes to Mass every day kind). This past Christmas, my father had one of his best friends, a gay man, over to his house, along with his partner. My sister co-habitates with her fiance and I do the same with my girlfriend. Both my girlfriend and I are atheists (although we still like Christmas).

          We felt no reason to explain any of this to him. And, trust me, he never got it.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        I think it’s more direct than that.

        It’s not that “good people” need to be watched, but that people acting badly try to erase the badness. Coates acknowledges the goodness of the deli owner!

        I believe its owners to be good people. I felt ashamed at withholding business for something far beyond the merchant’s reach.

        This is a key point. It’s not just the mobilization of the mantle of goodness, but of actual goodness. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because they do bad things. If the bad things they do fall on your shoulders over and over again, systematically, then it disrupts one’s relationship to goodness and the goodness of (imperfect) people. This is tragic!

        (There’s a related phenomenon in relationships. Most people in loving relationships hurt those they love at some point or another. Part of loving (or being friends; or perhaps, being intimate) is the management of such hurt. It’s unwise to trust one’s lover never to hurt you, thus you need some other trust, e.g., trust that the lover works against the hurt, that your pain gets uptake and regret, that the hurt is not systematic, malicious, exploitative, etc. There can be an erosion of that trust not because any particular action is large or malevolent in itself, but because the pinpricks are not treated right.

        This happens at a societal level which is one reason why the grand symbolic gestures (e.g., apologies) have value. They aren’t substitutes for restitution, but they are part of repairing social bonds. They make space for building trust and respect and the sense of being respected.

        (This is why eroded relationships typically can’t just “be fixed” by the offender turning over a new leaf. The offended often has lost the capacity to absorb proper care from the offender. I’ve seen good people…friends…face that moment when they realise that they’ve lost the relationship not because of being unwilling to do better, or unable to do better, but because they’ve squandered the opportunity to do better.)

      • DocAmazing says:

        …and Brutus is an honorable man…

    • Lego My Eggo says:

      I found myself a bit uncomfortable with TNC’s notion of “good”, not because I don’t understand it, but because all too often it doesn’t jibe with my personal experience.

      One aspect of the racist dynamic that persons of color generally don’t get a lot of exposure to is the “let your hair down in presumably like-minded company” syndrome, where these allegedly “nice” white folk start airing all their racist grievances and resentments because they feel there’s a sympathetic ear in the room.

      There’s no shortage of white people who have learned how to “get along” with persons of color and who are very good at giving the appearance of “meaning well” but who, when you get them in a room full of nothing but white people, let out their inner monsters.

      Furthermore, these “good” people often carry a big bag of other prejudices — sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc etc etc.

      This is not to say that the sort of “good” person TNC describes doesn’t exist, but I think those people are a lot rare than he thinks they are.

      • Origami Isopod says:

        Furthermore, these “good” people often carry a big bag of other prejudices — sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc etc etc.

        The same deficits in reasoning and character underlie all bigotries.

      • SV says:

        I’m guessing that he has a vague idea of the fact that white people in all-white groups will speak up with racism more than they do in the presence of POC, in the same way that women know men say more misogynist shit in male-only groups (without having to witness/overhear such discussion). And TNC, as a man, surely has seen the latter.

        This is not to say that the sort of “good” person TNC describes doesn’t exist, but I think those people are a lot rare than he thinks they are.

        I agree that they are rarer than they seem (in public), but imagine that TNC realises this.

      • drkrick says:

        I think TNC’s position is that worrying about whether people are good in their hearts is impractical and aiming a bit too high anyway. Getting people to stop doing and saying racist stuff (at least in public) is quite a big enough project. In other words, worry less about whether they are racist and focus more on whether they act in racist ways.

      • Lyanna says:

        I agree with this, and I’m not even white–I’m a less-despised minority than black people, and the things white people will say in my presence about black people makes me VERY skeptical of the wide prevalence of the “good” racist.

        In my experience, a lot of the “good” racists are, as you say, actually shamelessly racist behind closed doors.

  3. Manju says:

    In 1957, neighbors in Levittown, Pa., uniting under the flag of segregation, wrote: “As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens, we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community.”

    I like how Coates connects the dots. The idea that you’re not a racist, even as you do something racist, goes back a long way.

    What this should tell us is that White Supremacy died as a genuine ideology long before 1964. This is why civil rights history is so complex. Its a ruse. “Bamboozle”, “hoodwink”, the “ole okey doke”; as Malcolm X would say.

    I’m reminded of Fritz Hollings, who when asked if he now knew he was wrong replied (I paraphrase from memory); “I knew then”.

    That says it all.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      What this should tell us is that White Supremacy died as a genuine ideology long before 1964.

      This is nonsense. Racism in the U.S. is white supremacy, in terms of both its assumptions and its results.

      I don’t agree with your assumption that overtness determines whether an ideology is “alive” or not. Public displays of racism have become more and more stigmatized but have never really gone away, especially in more-conservative parts of the country and in certain social circles. They’ve flared up again since Obama was first elected president, and not only have some of them been particularly virulent but a great many of the racists think nothing of attaching their names to their utterances.

      • What this should tell us is that White Supremacy died as a genuine ideology long before 1964

        That’s funny you should write that Manju, since that denies the last gasp of White Supremacy that took place in Selma, AL in 1965.

        https://www.google.com/search?q=selma+Alabama+march&num=100&hl=en&safe=off&client=seamonkey-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JPk5UcSiE8rN2QXN6YHwCg&ved=0CFoQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=577

      • DrDick says:

        I invite him to visit Kalispell, Montana, where a group of white supremacists (including the mother of Prussian Blue) is trying to establish a community outside of town and actively recruiting others around the country.

      • drkrick says:

        Racism has declined a great deal as a respectable ideology since the ’60′s, not as a genuine one. Jerry Falwell, for example, stopped forthrightly preaching it from his pulpit, but he and his ilk continued to advocate the appropriate polices repackaged as as a regrettable but rational response to experience. See The Bell Curve and the first comment on this thread.

      • Manju says:

        I don’t agree with your assumption that overtness determines whether an ideology is “alive” or not. Public displays of racism have become more and more stigmatized but have never really gone away, especially in more-conservative parts of the country and in certain social circles.

        Coates points out that even back in 1957, overt acts of racism were framed as non-racist. This is not a modern phenomena. In a follow up piece, he connects the dots back to the Civil War. To add to his that, even Robert E. Lee claimed that there were “…few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.”

        This is a significant and reoccurring theme in Civil Rights history. Unlike genuine ideological battles, like say Communism v Liberal Democracy, a good chunk of the Evil side knew they were Evil. Thats what I mean when I say that White Supremacy stopped being a genuine ideology long before most people think.

        Malcolm X obviously know this. And King slowly migrated toward this position, as he came to realize that JFK was a collaborator.

        Fritz Hollings practiced brutal and overt racism. His admission that he knew he was wrong even as he practiced is profoud and honest. I don’t know much about Fritz, but even if this is his entire apology, it is IMO the only genuine one coming from a Southern Senators who tried to stop Civil Rights legislation.

    • What this should tell us is that White Supremacy died as a genuine ideology long before 1964.

      Depends on geography. New York City is not the Long Island suburbs, which are not Atlanta, which is not Possum Gulch County.

      And, as others have mentioned, conscious white-supremacist ideology is only a relatively small part of racism.

  4. bob mcmanus says:

    The promise of America is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of the “middle class,” will be treated as such TNC

    President, prominent Harvard professor, Sean Penn Nick Cage

    …oh why oh why don’t they treat us according to our bank accounts rather than the color of our skin…

    is exactly why I can’t stand Coates. MLK talked about character, not creds and bank credit.

    Adolph Reed I like better

    Insistence on the transhistorical primacy of racism as a source of inequality is a class politics. It’s the politics of a stratum of the professional-managerial class whose material location and interests, and thus whose ideological commitments, are bound up with parsing, interpreting and administering inequality defined in terms of disparities among ascriptively defined populations reified as groups or even cultures. In fact, much of the intellectual life of this stratum is devoted to “shoehorning into the rubric of racism all manner of inequalities that may appear statistically as racial disparities.”

    “This sort of “politics of representation” is no more than an image-management discourse within neoliberalism”

    • Tom says:

      “Only rich people pretend racism is a problem in order to distract from the problems of inequality.”

      I see what you did there. Nice try, but next time try not to be so foolish.

    • Timb says:

      Wow, now it’s like college, where the Marxists were so eager to label everything a class struggle, they missed every forest for the dialectic tree

    • rea says:

      This is your reaction to being told of an instance in which an upper class, famous black is treated (without any apparent reason other than skin color) as a criminal supect? That there is no racisism, only classism?

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        The issue here seems to be that an upper class, famous person was not recognized as such, and treated as common riff raff.

        What a terrible thing that is. However, all things considered, I would’ve traded places with Forest Whitaker any time. He can have my white(-ish) skin, I’ll take his bank account.

        • Uncle Kvetch says:

          The issue here seems to be that an upper class, famous person was not recognized as such, and treated as common riff raff.

          Right. Because white members of the common riff raff are instantly identifiable as such, and commonly get frisked in delis as a result. I mean, just try hailing a cab in NYC as a white male when you’re wearing store-brand jeans.

          Brandon above was right. You couldn’t have supported TNC’s point better if you tried.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            No, they are not instantly identifiable. They are lucky that way. Unless they choose to put tattoos all over their bodies, or something.

            Forest Whitaker is mistaken for the common riff raff; he’s unlucky that way, but he is lucky in many other ways. So, what now?

            The only solution is to not have an underclass in the society; as long as you do, there will always be conflicts and issues like this. And that’s all there is to it. There is no way to patch it up.

          • Ronan says:

            “Right. Because white members of the common riff raff are instantly identifiable as such,”

            Well, outside America yes..accents, dress, postcode etc..Not that that’s relevant to Coates article, but might be where Data is coming from..or maybe not, he might just be trolling

            • Uncle Kvetch says:

              Postcodes are not instantly identifiable, unless there’s a country I’m not aware of where they’re tattooed on people’s foreheads.

              • sibusisodan says:

                Wait, so Jean Valjean didn’t live in Virginia?

              • Ronan says:

                In small towns/cities they are..not only on job applications etc (which arent relevant to the point)..but people *will* know where you’re from..the police will, shopkeepers will, people in general will..I am genuinely not disputing Coates article..I’m just saying I can see why some people become defensive if their privileges have no real relevance to their daily life..I’d imagine that’s true in the US aswell in small poor towns etc

        • sibusisodan says:

          The issue here seems to be that an upper class, famous person was not recognized as such, and treated as common riff raff a criminal, potential or otherwise.

          You won’t help advance your point of view if you can’t describe the original story correctly.

          That is, a person who was not a criminal, was labelled and treated as one, based on no evidence more than the colour of their skin.

          The only reason we’re hearing about this individual example is because the individual concerned is famous. But this isn’t exactly a rare occurrence.

        • nixnutz says:

          And his 70 extra IQ points.

        • rea says:

          You miss the point, which is that Forest Whitaker presents us with sort of a controlled experiment testing which is more important in getting treated badly–race indicators or class indicators? And rather clearly in Whitaker’s case, the race indicators trumped the class indicators.

          Anbd you miss the other point. This is not about poor millionaire Mr. Whitaker. This is about how blacks generally are treated

      • ironic irony says:

        Intersectionality does not exist. It’s too much for tiny brains to understand.

      • DrDick says:

        When Paris Hilton or Tom Cruise are frisked, I will perhaps consider that proposition.

    • Dave says:

      Fuck off, bob, there’s a good moron.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      Oh, joy, manarchists and their insistence that any problem which doesn’t affect straight white d00ds isn’t a “real” problem.

      (“But my black friend Adolph Reed agrees with me!”)

    • Paula says:

      Jesus, bob.

      Stop making me embarrassed about having been taught history by Marxists, because OMG they’d slap me upside the head if I ever said anything this dumb.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Wow, that was an emotional read. I was quite affected by the line about being tired of good people. Practically, though, what’s to be done? Nobody wants to believe themselves racist because we don’t want to see ourselves in a negative light. Even those who admit to being racist try to justify/rationalize their racism.

    So now we have the situation that being accused of racism carries a lot of negative weight. Yet many people still do racist things and the result is time wasted arguing whether it was racist or not rather than how to prevent such things from happening in the future. Should we distinguish between people who are racist and actions that are racist? Is there a difference? I’d say that yes, there are people who don’t have racist ideologies yet commit the occasional racist act. They don’t mean to, but they just don’t think about it. And when that happens, what do we do? There has to be a way to correct such behavior without closing down the discussion by saying someone is a racist.

    Apologies for rambling, this topic has been on my mind lately and I haven’t figured out yet how to articulate it properly.

    • Seth Gordon says:

      My observations have been that even when you try to phrase things carefully, along the lines of “maybe you didn’t do it on purpose, but that statement/action had some racist overtones”, the response is often “OMG HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF BEING A RACIST I AM A GOOD PERSON”.

      • Jeremy says:

        That’s what I mean. There’s gotta be some way to bring this to people’s attention without triggering that reflex.

        • sam says:

          jay smooth has a really really excellent video discussing the idea of how to explain to people that they “did a racist thing” as opposed to “are racist”. I can’t get to it right now because of work firewalls and whatnot, but I highly recommend googling.

          • Lego My Eggo says:

            The only problem is, it almost never works.

            The fatal flaw here is in the assumption that the person you are talking to is capable of some zen-like detachment from his own behavior and won’t take cricitism of racist behavior as criticism of him as a person.

            Having said that, I think it’s still better to say, “That’s racist” rather than “You’re a racist”. Not because the other person is going to receive it any better, but because it just sounds better.

            • sparks says:

              I’m white and if I see someone do something racist, I tell them they’re racist. I don’t think I converted anyone, but some have climbed down and said “maybe I am” more than once. A few did say it with pride, FWIW.

              A couple of girlfriends were like that when they got near a black man, and in those cases I admit I was a bit too gentle with them, but I broke off with them just the same.

            • sam says:

              well, most people don’t like it when you shine a light on their privilege and inadequacies (somehow both present in such a situation), so any attempt to point out their flaws is not going to be received well.

              But the Jay Smooth approach is to at least frame it in a context of constructive criticism rather than “you are a fatally flawed human being at your core”. Best bet? just send them the video. Like I am unable to do here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Great video about that exact topic: “How To Tell People They Sound Racist”

          Main point is to be mindful of the difference between “the what they did conversation” and “the what they are conversation”

        • Jeremy says:

          I recall seeing that a looong time ago. It’s useful.

        • DrDick says:

          Try teaching white privilege sometime, which I do every spring. It is an eye-opening (and highly frustrating) experience.

        • Seth Gordon says:

          “How many psychoanalysts does it take to change a light bulb?”

          “None; the light bulb will change itself when it is ready.”

        • SatanicPanic says:

          If it’s borderline I like to just ask people- “what’re you trying to say?” and let them explain it. Sometimes they’ll realize they said something stupid and will walk it back.

        • Anna in PDX says:

          Sometimes people will think about something later, even if the reaction you see is defensive, which is an engrained first response to criticism, so we should probably not completely despair. It’s still better to to point it out than not, and there’s a chance it will make a difference to that person’s attitude over time.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      I agree with others here that Jay Smooth’s advice is probably the most useful.

      That said, no matter how lightly one treads, many people will “close down the discussion” in high dudgeon. I’m not terribly bothered if someone decides to shame an utterer of a bigoted comment to whatever degree the shamer can get away with it.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        I agree with others here that Jay Smooth’s advice is probably the most useful.

        I love that video, but I don’t agree.

        The thing is that no one strategy works all or even most of the time. No strategy is immune to the “you’re playing the race card”. I like to keep my toolbox full. Sometimes pointing out that some one is racists has the (likely) best effect, even if that effect is that nothing happens. Frankly, when I’m antecedently pretty sure someone isn’t going to modify their behavior, I prefer to be more “you’re racist” instead of “you did a racist thing”. It punches harder.

    • Sly says:

      Practically, though, what’s to be done? Nobody wants to believe themselves racist because we don’t want to see ourselves in a negative light. Even those who admit to being racist try to justify/rationalize their racism.

      Reject the notion that White Supremacy is ideological; that it is a Manichean question of whether someone is or is not a White Supremacist, based on easily identifiable characteristics. Accept the fact that White Supremacy is pathological; that it is akin to a disease that creates a broad spectrum of disorders in behavior that all require treatment.

      You don’t shun cancer until it goes away. You don’t try to make it feel bad about killing you. You find out where it lives and you keep attacking it until you are strong enough, and it is weak enough, for you to beat it back permanently.

      So how do you do that? You approach it as would any pathologist; you trace the symptoms back through a mechanism of development to its root cause, and them mitigate or destroy that cause. The fact that this disease is culturally transmitted should not be seen as something that makes this process harder, but rather easier; we can see how it manifests different attitudes and behaviors and use that as a basis for tracing it back to a set of core cultural assumptions. We know, for instance, that its based on a paranoid sense of entitlement felt by those of an in-group against those of an out-group, so a lot of the work has already been done for us.

      So when someone says or does something racist, try to find out what they believe that made them say or do it. If they’re hostile to the notion that they may be racist don’t start out by mentioning racism, because the point of the exercise is to get them to stop taking for granted something that they take for granted. If done carefully, you will eventually arrive at one of the several core assumptions that serve as the foundation for White Supremacy, which you can then expose as fraudulent.

      Need practice? Start with yourself. That’s the thing about this disease: everyone has it, and everyone is a victim of it. To say you don’t is to claim that you have no cultural connections at all, because White Supremacy is transmitted through every cultural connection we have. At best, you can develop the skill to identify it as it happens and crush whatever its trying to do to you.

      I’m not familiar with all of TNC’s work on the subject, so I could be wrong, but I take his dissatisfaction with “good people” as a reinforcement of this point. There are no good people, or bad people. There are just sick people, most of whom would rather pretend that they aren’t sick because they think its easier that way.

      • rickhavoc says:

        The fact that this disease is culturally transmitted should not be seen as something that makes this process harder, but rather easier

        If cultures are self-perpetuating organisms, as I suspect they are, the process would not be ‘rather easier’ but as tricky to root out as any other disease. Aside from this quibble, you make a strong point here.

    • drkrick says:

      Jeremy, the point you’re making is exactly one TNC has made often – the discussion of whether the person is racist is derailing. Calling out a racist action without that accusation has an at least somewhat higher chance of success. It costs nothing to respond to “I’m not a racist” with “OK, but you sure just said or did something racist” whether you think that’s correct or not. Fixing their heart is too hard, calling them on bs actions isn’t.

  6. politicalfootball says:

    If you’re going to claim, as Data does, that garden variety racism of this sort is simply an accurate reading of the facts, then you at least need to make a commitment to actually be right. Once you start harassing people because they’re black, and they turn out to be demonstrably law-abiding citizens, you’re busted. If you want to be a racist, but also to boo-hoo about being called a racist, then you can’t let yourself be caught in public.

    I mean, subtle racism ain’t subtle to black people, but you can fool plenty of white people right up until you frisk Forest Whitaker.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Racist (adj.): 1. A person that believes one race is superior to another.
    2. (Informal): A person that is winning an argument with a leftist.

    • timb says:

      You should change the “that” to “who” in your cracker dictionary. After all, just ’cause you’re wrong doesn’t mean you should ignore pronoun/antecedent agreement

    • Walt says:

      You’d need to actually win at least one argument in your life to comment on what it was like, my friend.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      Pancakes (pl. n.): 1. A thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan.
      2. Troll food.

    • olexicon says:

      What does that even mean? And your use of the term “Leftist” is a tell

    • DrDick says:

      Actually, racism is the belief (explicit or implicit) that a person’s character and/or abilities are linked to a limited set of superficial, visible biological characteristics (specifically hair, skin, and eye color; hair form; and shape of nose, eyes, cheekbones, and mouth). Alternatively, it is the belief that humans have biological races (they do not) and that these correlate to or pattern behavioral and cognitive abilities.

  8. CoatesBot says:

    *beeeeeep BOOP*

    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE
    RACE RACE RACE

    *beeeeep BOOP*

  9. Bill Clinton says:

    Clearly, the reason I was treated so easily by conservatives and given a free pass is cause I’m a white male. Really.

    • Lego My Eggo says:

      Waiting for evidence that you were ever asked to prove your citizenship, accused of being a secret Muslim, or accused of planning to foment a race war.

      Your turn, Bill.

      • Bill Clinton says:

        No, I was “only” accused of being a murderer, rapist, secret Communist, draft-dodger, traitor, dictator, etc etc.

      • Bill Clinton says:

        Oh yeah, and I was impeached. Gotta be that white privilege that got me impeached and not Obama.

        • olexicon says:

          Boy this some sad ass trolling

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            Yeah, the point seems to be that Clinton was treated as an “other” by virtue of his social class, and Obama by virtue of his race…and that the former matters while the latter doesn’t.

            Or maybe there’s no point at all.

          • politicalfootball says:

            Bill was often openly sympathetic to black people, and that was a big part of why he was the target of rightwing smears. Our troll would have us believe that it’s okay to target non-racists, as long as you target both white and black non-racists.

            • Uncle Kvetch says:

              Bill was often openly sympathetic to black people, and that was a big part of why he was the target of rightwing smears.

              That’s a damn good point. There was a subtle but unmistakable undercurrent of “race traitor” to a lot of the anti-Clinton hysteria.

            • Lyanna says:

              Yes, precisely. Clinton was dubbed the “first black president,” which in conservative circles translates to a very crude term for a white person who is too respectful of black people.

              Racists hate such white people at least as much as they hate black people.

        • Surreal American says:

          Obama’s 2nd term in office is not done yet, Bill. Give the House wingnuts some more time.

        • socraticsilence says:

          Or that committing perjury thing- It was a setup and didn’t rise to the constitutional req for impeachment but you gave them a way- something Obama has the self-discipline to avoid.

          Ironically, pre-Heart surgery I bet Bill Clinton really enjoyed his Pancakes.

    • sharculese says:

      So your argument is that conservatives just can’t behave like adults no matter what the reason they don’t get their way?

      Yeah, I guess I can accept that.

    • UserGoogol says:

      There really isn’t a lot to compare to. We only have a few Presidents per decade, so it’s difficult to separate out the unique attributes of a President from the character of their era. People who attack Obama are very often racist, but it’s hard to tell if they’re attacking Obama because they’re racist, or if they’d attack a Democrat either way and their racism merely gives a new flavor to the kinds of attack they give.

      More than that, the President of the United States is such a tremendously unique position in the world that whether Barack Obama is a victim of racism is kind of irrelevant to how the rest of society is affected by it. Obama is just too unique to extrapolate from.

  10. Steve LaBonne says:

    The difference between our trolls and the guy in the deli is that the trolls aren’t good people.

  11. Tyro says:

    What I like about Coates is that he is unapologetic about African American aspirations to be part of the middle class. Plenty of whites who like to envision themselves advocating for revolution don’t really appreciate that, and why would they? They take middle-classness for granted.

    The sad thing is that the plight of the African Americans in the USA has always been seen as fodder for would-be revolutionaries to take advantage of in order to realize their fantasies rather than an actual problem to be addressed. But these people are in the same category as those who argue that gays shouldn’t be concerned about marriage rights because that just reinforces the bourgeois power structure.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      This, this, this.

      • bob mcmanus says:

        This is bullshit, not looking at the reality of blacks in America, or not caring as long as there are some high-profile successes to ease your conscience.

        You know, if the numbers weren’t so freaking tragic, if there had been more than token progress over the last fifty years, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss.

        But that the top ten per cent are now better off, more accepted and co-opted, while the vast majority are abject and have less hope than two generations ago, is not freaking victory.

        It isn’t really even progress. And it doesn’t trickle down.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Given the current socioeconomic system, for African Americans to fulfill their “aspirations to be part of the middle class” some people from the middle class will have to take their place, to move to the ghettos.

        I take it, you’re volunteering.

    • Karate Bearfighter says:

      The sad thing is that the plight of the African Americans in the USA has always been seen as fodder for would-be revolutionaries to take advantage of in order to realize their fantasies rather than an actual problem to be addressed.

      Just quoting you because this is an outstanding comment that should be repeated over and over.

    • bob mcmanus says:

      Coates would be a great fit for the New York Times. AFAIK, he never brings up the economy, and is very careful in the way he discusses war and foreign policy.

      Bob Herbert was getting discomfiting toward the end. Talking about economics and poor people and inequality.

      “plight of the African Americans” has not improved recently. It has been horrible, the unemployed, the imprisoned, the foreclosed.

      But TNC will do just fine.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        AFAIK, he never brings up the economy, and is very careful in the way he discusses war and foreign policy.

        You mean like:

        But I thought this quote from racists in Levittown really illustrates what I mean. Here you find people in the practice of not just actual racial discrimination, but the kind of actual racial discrimination that gifted us the wealth gap we now struggle with, insisting that they are doing no such thing

        Or this:

        To be honest, in my middle-class youth, I’m sure I engaged in some poor-bashing. It wasn’t until I was older and grew to understand that it’s more expensive to be poor that the prevalence of blaming the poor became clear to me. I had to have it pointed out to me that a poor family with a large TV and cable wasn’t a sign of some moral failing—it was more likely a sign that there probably weren’t many safe out-of-doors pastimes available in the neighborhood. And the idea that poor people don’t deserve pleasure and little luxuries—and as Jamelle points out, cell phones aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity—is pretty sickening.

        Sometimes the fail finds you and sometimes you are the fail. Bob, you are the fail here.

        (Your “AFAIK” doesn’t save you. You had a responsibility to know.)

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Or this:

          Painter argues that what’s actually happening–and what will continue to happen–is that a significant number of blacks are entering into the middle class and the elite. That’s a success and should not be obscured. But you’ll also see a significant, disproportionate number of blacks left behind. Moreover, whereas in the past, segregation forced us into one community, increasingly that won’t be the case. For me, personally, the possibility of two black Americas is the nightmare scenario which disturbs my faith in the entire experiment. It’s humbling to grow up with people who do better than you at school, and then watch them fall back for the most random reasons.

          Or this:

          White liberals generally prefer to talk about a colorless wealth inequality haunting the country. I’m not opposed to that conversation. But it also needs to be said (loudly) that black/white inequality has, for most of American history, been our explicit public policy, and today, is our implicit public policy.

    • gmack says:

      But these people are in the same category as those who argue that gays shouldn’t be concerned about marriage rights because that just reinforces the bourgeois power structure.

      Interesting. The only people I’ve heard really making this argument are those involved in the radical queer movement, and I don’t think it makes sense to accuse such folks of “taking their privileges for granted.”

      In any case, I think it is good and healthy for there to be passionate debates within social movements about what the goal of the movement ought to be. Should we advocate to turn “LGBT” into a recognized and accepted identity, which might imply advocacy for equal marriage rights? Or should we advocate for “queering” gender dynamics and for broader cultural changes, which might imply advocacy for, say, the abolition of the legal recognition of marriage altogether? Personally, I do not have answers to these questions (though I have my sympathies), but I’m pretty uncomfortable with the argument that one side ought simply to be dismissed because of their privilege or whatever.

      Partly this is because there isn’t a binary choice here. I’m a passionate supporter of equal marriage rights for gay people and I unreservedly celebrate the victories of this movement. Yet at the same time, I actually think the radical queer critique of this form of politics is basically right. And so while I celebrate the victories achieved in the gay marriage movement, I also think it’s essential to attend to the costs and the remainders that these victories produce. For instance, advocating for gay marriage tends to lead people to ignore the issues of, say, the queer homeless youth who enter the streets by the thousands every year. The critique of marriage politics, anyway, can help re-sensitize us to these other kinds of issues and problems, so that we don’t forget that the fact that my gay neighbors can’t get married does not exhaust the range of political issues worth addressing.

      • Karate Bearfighter says:

        You’re probably right that there isn’t a perfect parallel between race and gender here. For me the central question remains: who has the right to dictate what strategies for escaping or avoiding oppression are insufficiently radical? Queer rights activists at least have an understanding of what other LGBT people are facing; white pseudo-Marxists who say things like, “I see no great tragedy in a [black] multimillionaire celebrity being frisked at a deli”, less so.

    • The sad thing is that the plight of the African Americans in the USA has always been seen as fodder for would-be revolutionaries to take advantage of in order to realize their fantasies rather than an actual problem to be addressed.

      I finally got my best friend to read “A Confederacy of Dunces.”

      That novel features one of the most hilarious treatments of this theme in the history of American letters.

  12. Just Dropping By says:

    I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark.

    I agree with TNC’s other points, but this one misfires. White celebrities also get harassed and detained too. Off the top of my head, Bob Dylan was detained by police in 2009 when they didn’t recognize him: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jersey-homeowner-calls-cops-bob-dylan/story?id=8331830

  13. S_noe says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to come off as a single-issue crank – but what the fuck kind of store encourages its staff to frisk shoppers suspected of shoplifting? That kind of thing puts your employees at physical risk, and – even if you don’t care about that – is going to be bad for business when, inevitably, someone makes a mistake, racially motivated or not.
    My inner retail worker cries a bit at this aspect of the story. (The rest of me cries about the other parts, natch.)
    Sorry if that’s derailing, but perhaps some deli owner will rethink his or her approach to loss prevention upon seeing this comment. Cost-benefit analysis, deli owners – it’s your friend.

    • Better than Yuengling says:

      This! While the well founded concerns about the racial, if not racist implications are warranted. The reality of a frisk first… ask questions later policy is nuts. The backstory on that aspect is worthy of further inquiry. Does anyone know?

  14. I don’t know about the law in NY and NYC, but in California a suspected shoplifter can’t be stopped until after they leave the store with whatever they’re trying to steal, even a police officer can’t do anything until there is unmistakeable evidence/behavior that the suspect didn’t intend to pay for whatever merchandise they’ve taken for themselves.

    • sam says:

      I posted this upthread a ways, but it’s certainly my understanding (and while I’m a lawyer, I’m not *that* kind of lawyer) that the only thing thing that a shopkeeper can do if they have even a reasonable, non-racist belief that someone is shoplifting is to detain that person only for exactly as long as it takes to call the police and for the police to arrive. being a shopkeeper doesn’t actually imbue you with police powers to conduct stop-and-frisks. Pretty sure that’s assault.

  15. Whitaker is one of the pre-eminent actors of his generation, with a diverse and celebrated catalog ranging from “The Great Debaters” to “The Crying Game” to “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.”

    Lol.

    I love a good smart-ass.

  16. terry buckalew says:

    First they came for Bob Dylan, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t John Prine.

  17. Ronan says:

    This must be the most extensively trolled thread I’ve ever seen..is every comment a reaction to Data?

  18. Data Tutashkhia says:

    Bijan Parsia says:
    March 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Sorry Bijan, I missed your comment.

    Really, you’re being too abstract and convoluted. For me, at least. Too much emphasis on “rational/irrational”. We can replace it with “true/false”, if you wish. And all this talk about morality. I didn’t say anything about morality.

    There are ghettos, “bad areas” in many US cities. Middle-class people (all colors) are afraid of the the ghetto-dwellers, because those do not have a stake in the system, and often refuse to play by the rules. This is all trivial and uncontroversial, I hope. Black people are hugely over-represented in these ghettos. Historical reasons. These are the facts on the ground, objective reality. So, again, middle-class people (all colors), shopkeepers, cab drivers, are suspicious and afraid of the ghetto-dwellers, and a dark skin is a clue to them. That’s a fact of life.

    So, what do you want them to do: to reject their common sense? Let’s forget for a second that it’s not really possible, and ask: for the sake of what? Harmony? But as long as the ghettos are still here, there is no harmony. That’s the source of the whole thing. You can’t fix it by fighting a symptom. In fact, by telling these people that they are racists and insisting that they are the source of the problem, you, I believe, make it worse. This is a malpractice, and you, I’m sorry to say, are a charlatan.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Racist concern troll remains racist, concerned, and unable to complete his DRAMATIC EXIT.

    • MAJeff says:

      Cracker, please.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Sorry for the delayed reply.

      Really, you’re being too abstract and convoluted. For me, at least. Too much emphasis on “rational/irrational”.

      Your term. And I think it must be pretty critical to your views. Obviously, you’ve not fleshed it out, but it’s pretty clear you’re trying for a racism is irrational (i.e., involves false beliefs, roughly) which is what makes it wrong and racial profiling is rational (i.e., doesn’t involve false beliefs) thus is ok. (“Does that deli employee believe that people who look like Forest Whitaker are inherently inferior? Or is it that he knows, perhaps by experience, that they are more likely to be poor and desperate (or raised in a poor and desperate environment)? “)

      Obviously, you didn’t flesh this out per se (and this idea of rationality is seriously impoverished and wrong), but I suspect that’s more due to your intellectual dishonestly and carelessness than any useful nuance.

      We can replace it with “true/false”, if you wish. And all this talk about morality. I didn’t say anything about morality.

      Pretty clearly you did, at least if you think that “racism” is morally negative. I guess I can’t presume that for sure at this point, but it would surprise me if you were to deny the wrongness of racism.

      As for “true/false” that doesn’t help you. For one, if we do go on the merits of these profiling views, it will go much worse for your arguments. Second, we need to connect the views up to particular actions. I can believe, even correctly, that there’s a higher correlation between certain clothing styles and shoplifting without adopting a policy of frisking all people with baggy pants or of denying them entrence or shooting them dead. There’s a lot of work that has to be done to justify the action and even more to justify a practice. This includes considerations such as cost/benefit (to all parties), proportionality, strength of evidence, etc.

      And even then, the commons analogy holds up. What would be reasonable or moral or even prudent in the isolate case might be unreasonable, immoral, or even imprudent as part of an aggregation.

      There are ghettos, “bad areas” in many US cities. Middle-class people (all colors) are afraid of the the ghetto-dwellers, because those do not have a stake in the system, and often refuse to play by the rules. This is all trivial and uncontroversial, I hope.

      Your hope is wildly wrong. I mean, right here, alarum bells should be going off. You appeal to no actual statistics. (Nor, I warrant, do most people forming these beliefs.) The rest of it is exactly the sort of story which leads to massive negative implicit bias.

      Black people are hugely over-represented in these ghettos. Historical reasons. These are the facts on the ground, objective reality.

      This insistence on the “objective factuality” of your vague and unsubstantiated claims which just happen to align with racist cant should be a warning sign.

      So, what do you want them to do: to reject their common sense?

      Sure. Common sense (i.e., a decision mechanism highly swayed by all sorts of cognitive biases, falsehood, etc.) is not a good guide to successful behavior in lots of cases. (Password choice, for example. Preferring flying to driving. Taking antibiotics. Loss aversion. Housing bubbles.) This is one of them. It’s “hugely uncontroversial” that people are bad at (statistically founded) generalization. We learn strong lessons from single cases (and we learn those lessons at many levels when its negative.)

      Given that we know a lot about various sorts of systemic cognitive failures and we also know that race based reasoning is hugely infected with, well, evil, it’s extremely important to be careful about what we accept.

      But as long as the ghettos are still here, there is no harmony. That’s the source of the whole thing. You can’t fix it by fighting a symptom.

      Interestingly, neither Coates nor I have proposed any remedies at this point (although, if you look at Coates’ follow up blog post, you’ll find that he makes precisely the same point.) The point of the essay wasn’t assessment of the deli owner per se, it was an exploration of the effect on Coates’ moral psychology of that event embedded in this society. That certainly was the part I was responding too.

      It’s possible to assess people’s actions as racist without having to presume direct malevolence and while acknowledging that remedies don’t primarily happen at an individual level. (Cf. carbon pollution and global warming.)

      In fact, by telling these people that they are racists and insisting that they are the source of the problem

      Interestingly, I’ve done neither of these things. I’ve certainly never spoken with the deli owner and in our exchange I’ve merely tried to address your persistent misreading and the errors that flow from that. Alas, my predictions of where you would end up were accurate. But really, there’s no reason to stay there.

      This is a malpractice, and you, I’m sorry to say, are a charlatan.

      I’m afraid that I very much misdoubt your sorrow. In fact, I’d guess you are delighted to say this.

      But as you persist in 1) elementary errors in reading and 2) pushing classic racist reasoning, this looks rather more like projection than assessment.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Dear Bijan,
        you can rest assured that there is no dishonesty in anything I write here. Why would I be dishonest, posting a comment under a pseudonym on a god-forsaken website? That’s just silly.

        You just need to accept that there are people in the world (at least one) who think this way.

        Morality seems irrelevant to me. The question is (at least as far as I’m concerned): what should and what shouldn’t be labeled ‘racism’.

        So, I’ll just say it again, in different words: a belief in inherent racial super- or inferiority – that is is what ‘racism’ to me. Acting on a real or perceived race-related correlations, is not.

        Yes, I’m also saying that these correlations are grounded in reality, and the belief in inferiority is not, and that’s a defining difference. You seem to disagree (“You appeal to no actual statistics” – really? You can’t be serious.), fine. At the very least, you must admit that there is a strong correlation between race and socioeconomic status in the US, and I think that’s sufficient. And this still have nothing to do with morality, whatever my feeling are (or yours) about any of this.

        That’s all. And I take absolutely no pleasure in your being, IMO, misguided. None whatsoever.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Acting on a real or perceived race-related correlations, is not.

          Shorter Data: it isn’t racism if I sincerely believe blacks are evil.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            Technically, I don’t see where Data requires the belief to be sincere.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Can one have an insincere (as opposed to wrong, or pig-fuckingly stupid) perception? It has been two decades since I last read any phenomenology, but I want to say one cannot.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                I think so.

                It’s clear that we’re not talking about a literal perception (ie a sense perception), but a sort of judgement. And I think you can have a in insincere intuitive judgements.

                But even if we consider sensation and judgements based on it, it seems we have room for insincerity. For example, suppose you experience and optical illusion. You can honestly belief that you are perceiving moving circles. However, if its explained acting on the belief that they are moving isn’t sincere.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Perhaps. But I sincerely believe that pig-fuckingly stupid is the more reasonable explanation.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Perhaps. However, I think that the stupidity charge lets people off the hook more often.

                  For example, is Data being stupid in this thread? There’s certainly all sorts of incoherence and carelessness easily identifiable in just the comments here. But they all point in the same direction of defence of Good People Racist Anti-Anti-racism. And the incoherence is a feature not a bug. I have no trouble believing that Data “firmly believes” that rational, informed common sense tells you that you should assault the black guy in your shop, but at some point in the conversation (e.g., around mentioning the implicit bias literature, etc.) I think strict liability kicks in. I don’t think he can’t understand, but that he won’t.

                  Thus, I don’t find Data’s belief in racial profiling or his sorrow in calling me a charlatan sincere in any meaningful sense. It might be subconscious or uncalculated, but that isn’t necessarily honest.

                  Implicit biases are tricky.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          you can rest assured that there is no dishonesty in anything I write here. Why would I be dishonest, posting a comment under a pseudonym on a god-forsaken website? That’s just silly.

          Why would someone be dishonest posting a comment under a real name on a god-forsaken website? After all, if caught out, they’d be tarred with the dishonesty! Thus, by your “logic”, no one is dishonest. As they say, “Faulty logic, Mr. Squid!”

          You just need to accept that there are people in the world (at least one) who think this way.

          What, racistly? I accept there are lots! Really, that people as you exist are not difficult to accept.

          Morality seems irrelevant to me.

          I’m not surprised. This perhaps is why you embrace immoral positions.

          The question is (at least as far as I’m concerned): what should and what shouldn’t be labeled ‘racism’.

          But why is that a question of interest? Are you willing to say that “racism” (in your terms) and “racial profiling” (as you’ve described it) are both hugely wrong? If not, then your interest is precisely an interest in morality. Indeed, as you wrote:

          I am, very much so, against racism, the irrational belief in racial or ethnic superiority or exceptionalism. But a racial profiling, empirically useful, and practiced by a private individual, that’s a different story.

          At this point, your denial of the connection is clearly, hugely dishonest. And yet here you are, pseudonymed and commenting on a god-forsaken blog!

          So, I’ll just say it again, in different words: a belief in inherent racial super- or inferiority – that is is what ‘racism’ to me. Acting on a real or perceived race-related correlations, is not.

          As Mal has pointed out, that “perceived” is giving away quite a bit.

          Yes, I’m also saying that these correlations are grounded in reality, and the belief in inferiority is not, and that’s a defining difference. You seem to disagree (“You appeal to no actual statistics” – really? You can’t be serious.), fine.

          I can’t be serious that you appeal to no actual statistics? But, I checked all your comments at not only are there not stats, but there’s no reference to a source for stats. So I am perfectly serious. If you are going to make a stats based argument you need to have to the stats ready to hand. It’s not like they’re hard to find.

          In point of fact, I don’t believe you have the stats at all. As is quite common, you have some intuitions and like “common sense” and thus don’t actually do any research. Which makes you exceedingly vulnerable to bias. Which you exhibit profusely.

          At the very least, you must admit that there is a strong correlation between race and socioeconomic status in the US, and I think that’s sufficient.

          Sigh. How strong a correlation? Blacks could be twice as likely to be poor as whites and if the difference were 1% vs. 2% it’d be largely meaningless for any sort of profiling. These are the differences that make a difference. (Obviously, it’s far more complicated than that.) But hey! Let’s look at some ACTUAL STATS!:

          The UF study, which was published in the December 2004 issue of Justice Quarterly, additionally disputes the image of most shoplifters being female. “The rule of thumb always has been that women shoplift more than men simply because there are more women shoppers, unless it’s a sporting goods store or a hardware store,” he said. “But we were able to determine that men actually stole more often than women.”…

          And although shopkeepers often are quick to blame juveniles for missing items, the UF study found shoplifters were most commonly between the ages of 35 and 54. These middle-aged adults, most of them gainfully employed, were “primary household shoppers” who occasionally stole to acquire goods whose cost stretched beyond their household budgets.

          Overall, blacks and Hispanics were no more likely than whites to steal merchandise. However, when race and gender were examined by subcategory, Hispanic females stole the most, shoplifting at more than seven times the rate of white females, he said.

          Now, this is obviously only one study, but, you know. You still are looking quite bad.

          But wait! What about the (problematic) FBI UCR!??!? Here’s the table for larceny-theft which includes shoplifting (page 55):

          Larceny-theft
          Year | All races | White | All other races
          1993 594.3 452.8 1,298.4
          1994 595.5 461.8 1,253.9
          1995 593.1 456.4 1,258.8
          1996 576.5 452.1 1,175.6
          1997 561.9 435.1 1,165.9
          1998 503.5 395.3 1,014.2
          1999 451.0 357.6 887.0
          2000 418.1 333.2 810.9
          2001 408.5 329.6 741.4

          These are out of 100,000. So let’s see, 2001, all races is 0.4%, out of whites 0.3%, and out of non-whites 0.7%.

          So, knowing nothing else but this, the most you should conclude is that you should be slightly more than twice as suspicious of nonwhites than whites and you shouldn’t be very suspicious of either.

          BUT WAIT!!!! Your racist fantasies are still not justified since this is a record of arrests not of crimes committed or even of convictions. I trust you understand the problems with trusting arrest records in this context? (The paper I cited above was based on direct observation.)

          So, to go back to your point:

          I’m also saying that these correlations are grounded in reality

          This is wrong. I’ll be interested to see if you retract anything or at least try to gin up some evidence.

          And this still have nothing to do with morality, whatever my feeling are (or yours) about any of this.

          See above. You’re clearly wrong.

          And I take absolutely no pleasure in your being, IMO, misguided. None whatsoever.

          Given your general unreliability, forgive me for not taking your bare word on your lack of pleasure in calling me a charlatan or, indeed, of your sorrow in doing so. After all, nothing dialectical compelled you to say that. I’ve been pretty generous in my explanations and responses. In any case, I don’t see why I should attribute more sincerity to you than you do to me. I am confident in my own.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            Living the silly insults and denunciations aside, you don’t give me much to respond to, my righteous friend.

            Nation-wide statistics are, of course, irrelevant to a NYC-specific anecdote. Also, since the person in question is black, you need a column for the blacks; it’s possible that’s there is a significant group of non-whites (who are not blacks) that commits very few of these crimes.

            Nevertheless, more than twice more likely: that definitely proves my point.

            Yes, I did mention that I don’t like racism, but my feelings, of course, are not relevant to the narrow question of whether racism and profiling are the same phenomenon.

            Anything else? I don’t see anything. Would’ve been easier to read, frankly, if you put all the denunciations in a separate paragraph, or italicized them, or something. Considering the amount of it, it’s funny that you’re so upset about ‘charlatan’. That makes you ‘a thin-skinned bully’, I believe.

            Anyway, that’s it for me; you can go ahead now and have the last word.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Living the silly insults and denunciations aside, you don’t give me much to respond to, my righteous friend.

              Not that far aside, I take it. (What are my silly insults?)

              Nation-wide statistics are, of course, irrelevant to a NYC-specific anecdote.

              Yes, your non-statistics are far more valuable than real statistics.

              Also, since the person in question is black, you need a column for the blacks; it’s possible that’s there is a significant group of non-whites (who are not blacks) that commits very few of these crimes.

              So, using the rate per 100,000 of 1700 or so for New York City, which is 1.7% and the percentage of black suspected of petit larceny, “The race/ethnicity of known Petit Larceny suspects are most frequently Black (58.5%) or Hispanic (25.5%).”* Thus, 0.9 out of 100 blacks are, by crime statistics, reasonable suspects.

              In any case, before you were appealing to knowledge of probabilities. Now you are appealing to convenient doubts and speculation. At this point, you are being nakedly and knowingly racist.

              Nevertheless, more than twice more likely: that definitely proves my point.

              No, it really doesn’t. Relative percentage doesn’t tell you how often you should be suspicious. That’s the key point you keep ignoring.

              Yes, I did mention that I don’t like racism, but my feelings, of course, are not relevant to the narrow question of whether racism and profiling are the same phenomenon.

              No one has said that they are the same concept. There’s other racist behavior beside profiling.

              Anything else? I don’t see anything.

              Choose to see. So, in summary, you don’t provide statistics nor do you accept statistics and then you misunderstand statistic all in order to keep saying that assaulting blacks is ok. Sounds racist to, well, most anyone.

              Would’ve been easier to read, frankly, if you put all the denunciations in a separate paragraph, or italicized them, or something.

              Your projection is interesting, esp. as it seems to be increasing.

              Considering the amount of it, it’s funny that you’re so upset about ‘charlatan’.

              I’m not upset at all. I don’t see why I should let you get away with pretending that you aren’t dogwhistling and projecting. Note that I’m far more concerned with your pretension that you are using truths about crime rates. I spend far more time on that, including doing research that you refuse to do in spite of your own framework requiring it of you!

              I’m am not surprised at this point that you would react to actual statistics by rejecting and misreading them so as to preserve your racial animosity instead of being even mildly concerned that you had gotten it wrong. I am genuinely sorry that you turned out to be this crappy. I really hoped you would do better.

              But at this point, even using your narrow definition of racism, you’ve clearly and unequivocally exhibited racism in this thread. Indeed, a rather strong commitment to it.

              Of course, it’s not necessary for you to continue in this manner. I feel confident that we’d all be very delighted if you turned yourself around.

              That makes you ‘a thin-skinned bully’, I believe.

              Interesting non sequitur. Even if I were upset by your calling me a charlatan, it doesn’t follow that I’m either thin skinned or a bully.

              *This isn’t quite the same stat, of course, but different crimes range (in my causal inspection) from the 40s to low 60%, so this isn’t so far off. Again, this is *suspects* which has obvious overreporting problems.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Yes, I did mention that I don’t like racism

              Which is why he supports racial profiling, naturally. Why, Data himself would never have killed Emmett Till. He’d just point out that statistically, it was not unreasonable for the crackers to assume Emmett impugned the virtue of White Southern Womanhood.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                See, you Just Don’t Get It. Data opposes *racism* as any gentil commenter must do. Racism is only that which is done by inferiors like me, you, and Coates and only when we are observing the racism of others. Or, perhaps, “bullying” people by providing evidence and argument that they are confused, wrong, racist, or all of the above.

                I’m having some trouble believe that Data sincerely endorses all this stuff rather that just being a blatant troll. But that’s mostly my sense of charity running away with me.

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