Quick Roundup 447

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Cultural Disease Goes Merrily On

Jim Crow, the political expression of white racism, has, fortunately, been dead for decades. And now, we have a black President: So, in one sense, this story about a small town in the Mississippi Delta electing its first black mayor isn't really news.

But in another unfortunate sense, it is.

Some youngsters ran into [defeated incumbent Robert] Fava's store to taunt him. "They was pulling down their pants, shouting, 'Kiss my black ass, because we got a black mayor', swinging their things around and throwing stuff," said Jennifer Green, 31, a black mother of 10.
There is no excuse for insulting behavior like this: indecent exposure and vandalism, at minimum. Racism is wrong regardless of who is on the receiving end.

And so is crime, for that matter.

How Not to Address Racially-Motivated Acts

And I hope a different electoral result in the town of Alligator would not have looked like this:
Akron police say they aren't ready to call it a hate crime or a gang initiation.

But to Marty Marshall, his wife and two kids, it seems pretty clear.

It came after a family night of celebrating America and freedom with a fireworks show at Firestone Stadium. Marshall, his family and two friends were gathered outside a friend's home in South Akron.

Out of nowhere, the six were attacked by dozens of teenage boys, who shouted ''This is our world'' and ''This is a black world'' as they confronted Marshall and his family.
The solution, as I have written before, to racially-motivated crime is to prosecute actual crime to the fullest extent of the law regardless of its motivation.

The solution to criminal acts is for the government to take the criminals off the streets and punish them for their crimes. The solution to racism is cultural change, which individual citizens must work for through rational persuasion. For the government to fail to do the first, or -- as the agent of force that it is -- to attempt to bypass the second, as it does all the time, is to push our society wholesale towards anarcho-tyranny.

In one sense, a lack of respect for the rights of others such as this should come as no surprise: Our government has been excusing the violation of property rights for a very long time based on the presumption of ignoble sentiments on the parts of owners. Here is the latest example:
The waters were still and the gates locked at the Valley Swim Club Thursday. Board members decided to close the private Huntington Valley, Pa., club for the day as it combats accusations of racism for booting 65 mostly minority day campers from its grounds without explanation late last month.If this incident turns out to have been motivated by racism, the proper response is to ostracize members of this club, and make it known far and wide that it is full of bigots.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that the kids were simply removed from the property, and not physically harmed in any way. There not being a violation of anyone's rights, the government has no business launching an investigation into how this club disposed of its own property.

"Hate crime" laws -- which punish people for their opinions -- and the trampling of property rights do nothing to persuade individuals that racism is wrong, but they do set an intolerable precedent for the government (and, arguably, private citizens) to violate the individual's rights to speech and property.

But just as we protect the innocent from unjust criminal prosecution by insisting on proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so must we protect the freedom of everyone by permitting bigots to behave like fools (but only so long as they are not violating anyone's individual rights).

If the owners of this pool are bigots, make it known far and wide. Ostracize them. Make membership in that club a badge of shame. But do not compound injustice with tyranny by calling for or sanctioning the government's dictating to private citizens how to use their own property.

Well, It Finally Happened

A teenager has walked straight into a manhole while texting. That comes on the heels of a mass transit accident in Boston caused by an operator doing the same.

If The FDA were in charge of telecommunications, I guess it would consider banning all cell phones with texting capability.


Mrs. Van Horn and I watched Disney's Up in 3D this weekend and I found it enjoyable despite my disappointment with its unjust portrayal of businessmen and its ecology-tainted theme. The movie has other weaknesses, too: Most notably, it confounds altruism with goodwill.

On the former complaint, the movie opens with a perfect example of a popular left-wing myth about property rights that Tom Bowden addressed in his recent OCON course, "Property Rights and Wrongs:" Its protagonist is the lone property owner holding out in the midst of a huge development, his house and yard being completely surrounded by active demolition and construction. As Bowden indicated in the course, this is ridiculous. A developer would line up his property purchases before doing anything like that, and if he couldn't get the land he needed, he'd develop elsewhere.

Bowden's refutation has always seemed like common sense to me, but after hearing Bowden make it explicit, I see the value in doing exactly that when appropriate.

Having said that, I found the movie's development of the main character poignant and enjoyed seeing the old man come alive again after rediscovering his youthful sense of adventure.

-- CAV


JG said...

I have read several of your posts on "hate crimes" and found each just fantastic and principled (just finished reading the Undercurrent piece from 2005 that you linked to -was intellectually exhilarating to read!).
Great intellectual work!

Gus Van Horn said...


madmax said...


The Marshall attack is getting alot of commentary on racialist sites and they are, of course, arguing for racial separation and an all white America. They are racists to be sure but I have been noticing that the black community *is* becoming more openly hostile to whites. One racialist commentator has made a point that I have to factually agree with: if you tally up the crime statistics of black on white crime (and especially of rape), there is a low-level *intifada* being perpetrated on whites by blacks.
Further, nearly every big city in North America has a black inner city where whites could lose their *life* if they end up there.

Now the solution is not white nationalism but genuine individualism. But I do think that blacks should be called out on the racism that is an undeniable element of today's "black culture." With the exception of the racialists themselves, the biggest racist demographic in the country are blacks. They get a free pass for it from the Left. I don't know how Objectivism should address racialism/racism on the part of whites and blacks, but I wish it would take notice of the growing anti-white sentiment coming from minorities and acknowledge that it is a *serious* problem.

Lastly, I know this will be an unpopular sentiment but, I believe in an individualist, multi-racial society. However, that would require the country to be guided by an individualist, rational philosophy. In today's leftist world governed by egalitarianism and collectivism I wonder if a multi-racial society will work to further destroy the nation. Take a look at Detroit and New Orleans, both cities where blacks are in the majority and in power (at least in Detroit). These are cities where it is unsafe for whites to live. Can you now imagine if America where only 40-50 percent white nationally? In today's collectivist climate I would not feel safe. I am becoming very fearful of black motivated crime and political unrest and I really don't know how Objectivism should deal with it in terms of advocacy.

Richard said...

"A developer would line up his property purchases before doing anything like that, and if he couldn't get the land he needed, he'd develop elsewhere."

I think that Bowden is correct in saying that a rational developer wouldn't do such a thing. The same standards apparently do not apply to government guided development today however.

That exact scenario did happen where I live with help from local government. The city had been claiming a large area to eventually provide for busing shuttle parking space in addition to other things. One owner refused to sell and they actually wound up simply creating the entire parking lot around his home. I often parked there in college and it was an odd sight to behold.

You can read more about it here:
and there's a picture of the house in this PDF:

Gus Van Horn said...

In terms of advocacy: You have to argue for rule of law, appeal to non-racist blacks, and strive to privatize the education system in the meantime.

A big part of this is, I think, straightening up numerous confusions about the nature of racism. For example, many need to be made clear on the immorality of racism versus the illegality of crimes against individuals (although the one certainly can motivate the other). In addition, the inane notion that only whites can be racists must be refuted, and the difference between racial prejudice and racism should be made clear when appropriate.

The more immediate problem is criminal in nature, but the long-term solution is cultural.

Gus Van Horn said...


Your comment escaped my notice when I replied to madmax.

If I recall correctly, Bowden actually cited the myth as one of the justifications for eminent domain (i.e., of a property owner "going too far" and harming the "public good"), although it is used here to help make the businessman look evil, as it has been used in the past, I am sure.

It is indeed interesting that the government ends up behaving much like our fabled irrational "businessman!"


Andrew Dalton said...

madmax -

I've heard non-racialist but anti-immigration conservatives argue that in an ideal (individualist) culture, we could have a multiracial society with no ill effects -- but that since the Left has made multiculturalist collectivism dominant, we have to restrict immigration in order to save what's left of the culture that we have. It's basically an argument from fear, and one which takes the Left's cultural supremacy for granted.

The problem with this reasoning is that it attempts to impose a political solution on what is at root a philosophical problem. The Left's ideological dominance cannot be taken as a given; if it is not challenged, saving the best of American (or Western) culture is *impossible* regardless of things like our immigration policy.

As Gus said, the proper path of advocacy is to push for unbreached rationality in both morality and politics. We can't fall into the trap of asking questions that amount to, "Given that we're not going to do what we ought to do, what should we do?" This is what the conservatives have done from the beginning, and that is why they have been powerless to stop the march of the Left.

Gus Van Horn said...

Well said, Andrew.

Also, you say, "We can't fall into the trap of asking questions that amount to, 'Given that we're not going to do what we ought to do, what should we do?' This is what the conservatives have done from the beginning, and that is why they have been powerless to stop the march of the Left."

I think it explains the hopelessness so many conservatives seem (at least to me) to project.

madmax said...


Excellent response. And it was very helpful for me. I admit to being simultaneously repulsed by racialism yet nevertheless very aware of the race problems that do exist in the culture. Often times I do give in to a conservative-style fatalism which I need to fight off. Your point that the Left's ideological dominance can't be accepted is a point I need to internalize. Thanks.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hear, hear!

Jim May said...

The premise to check in the idea that the Left is giving blacks "a pass" for their racism, is the idea that the Left is anti-racist.

They are not: rather, they are the *source* of black racism, and the force which put a *stop* to the melting pot of American individualism.

As racism is a species of collectivism, what blacks have been getting from the Left is not a "pass", but more like their version of an "atta boy!"

As for the idea that a multi-racial society could damage or destroy America as it is now, Andrew answers that one: the problem is collectivism, a philosophical issue. If America were all white, the Left would be inducing faction along some other arbitrarily defined collective lines, and in fact are doing so -- class and gender, for example.

JG said...

Enjoying the experience of an interchange of honest differences and errors between rational people among the commentators. Focused, pertinent response from Andrew and yourself to Madmax and a graceful acceptance of his error from Madmax.
Thanks Gus, for affording a chance to experience what it would be like to live among rational people in Galt's Gulch (even a virtual one!) .
To fight for our values for the future truly is experiencing living in that very universe today.

Gus Van Horn said...

"As racism is a species of collectivism, what blacks have been getting from the Left is not a 'pass', but more like their version of an 'atta boy!'"


Gus Van Horn said...


Either my comment queue is goofing up again or we were on at the same time.



JG said...

I realize that this post is a few days old, but I just had to report what I heard on the subject. I was listening today on Fox News that a "hate crime" bill has been tagged to- believe it or not- a defense (appropriations bill? -I'm not sure on that) bill about (additional money? -again I'm not sure on that) F-22s. I thought I would bring that to your attention. The journalist was stating that it is unlikely that the bill would pass the house and senate -however the very fact that they could introduce the bill and that too in such a sneaky way, (and to a defense bill of all things!) is reason for alarm. Also who thought the 'Cap and Kill'(my definition of that monstrosity) bill would pass in such a short time with such ease? therefore, this definitely needs to be watched.

JG said...

Here is a link to a AP story on the legislation:


Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, JG.