Adam Serwer

Conservative Racial Victimhood, Ctd.

This is an exchange between Fox and Friends Co-Hosts Alisyn Camerota and Steve Doocy on Shirley Sherrod , the day before Andrew Breitbart 's truncated video clip was revealed to have shown the opposite of what actually occurred: Camerota: She admits there that because the farmer was white, she doesn't extend her full helping hand to him, and she's touting this in this anecdote "touting this in this anecdote as though this is, you know, a feather in her cap, somehow, for her to be congratulated. I mean it's really a shocking admission. ... Perhaps everyone needs a refresher course on what racism looks like , I mean that is... Doocy: Exhibit A! Camerota: Exhibit A! and to do it so publicly and as though she was proud of her actions. Camerota and Doocy were saying this about a woman who grew up in a county in Georgia where a white sheriff could admit to murdering a black man and get away with it, where the authorities refused to indict her father's murderer because he was white and her...

Potts On Douthat.

Monica Potts sat down and read the study Ross Douthat cited in his New York Times op-ed that led him to the conclusion that "the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America." Potts spoke to one of the authors and ultimately found a somewhat different conclusion: The researchers looked at a broad category of "career oriented" activities, of which those groups could be examples, and found that there was a "statistically significant but small negative correlation," as Espenshade described it in a brief phone interview, with having held leadership positions in those groups or having won an award in them and being admitted to an elite college (just being a member didn't make a difference) . The study says, "These activities include ROTC and co-op work programs. They might also encompass 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America, and other activities that suggest that students are somewhat undecided about...

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery.

A few months ago, I wrote that Andy McCarthy had crafted a "perfect mission statement for the torture wing of the GOP, " in response to his argument against building the Islamic Center near Ground Zero that "in Mecca and Medina, there are not only no Christian churches, no synagogues, there are no non-Muslims, they’re closed cities." I wrote: [T]entatively accepting McCarthy's odious premise that all Muslims can be associated with terrorism, I can't think of a more perfect mission statement for the torture wing of the GOP : Islamic extremists are monsters. We should be more like them. Despite McCarthy's rank Islamophobia and flirtations with birtherism, his brand of culture-war counterterrorism is incredibly influential in GOP national security circles. So it wasn't a surprise to see Newt Gingrich parrot McCarthy's line: Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for "religious toleration" are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in...

Dems Folding On Gitmo.

There are a couple of things to think about in regards to Steny Hoyer 's Gitmo cynicism . The first is that closing Gitmo, like passing health-care reform, is not something the president can do through sheer force of will. The second is that the complete lack of urgency in attempting to close Gitmo, from the administration and Democrats in Congress, cements the notion on the right that the Bush administration was unfairly smeared for lawless and counterproductive national-security policies and that hyperbolic criticisms of said policies from Democrats were nothing more than unprincipled, bare-knuckle politics. At this point, it's hard to disagree with the latter observation. The longer Democrats drag their feet, the longer the idea that Gitmo was ever a national-security liability begins to fade. Which isn't to say that it has ceased to be a national-security liability, because it hasn't.

Marginalizing The Formerly Incarcerated Is Expensive.

The New York Times editorial page is a real bright spot when it comes to criminal-justice issues, and today's editorial on recently passed laws in several states that make it easier to hire the formerly incarcerated is no different: A new law that takes effect in Connecticut in October bars government employers or licensing agencies from looking into a prospective employee’s criminal history in connection with most jobs until the person has been “deemed otherwise qualified for the position.” It also requires the agency to take into account the relationship of the crime to the job, the extent of the applicant’s rehabilitation and the time that has elapsed since the conviction or release. Confining people with criminal convictions to the very margins of society is unfair and self-defeating. These sensible new laws recognize that. Prior to the new administration taking office, there was a growing bipartisan consensus -- reflected in Bush -era legislation like the Second Chance Act --...

Sherrod's Honesty Is Sorely Lacking In Our National Conversation On Race.

The place once known as "Bad" Baker County, Georgia, Historian Taylor Branch explains in the first book of his three-volume history of the civil-rights movement, is where a rather infamous chapter in civil-rights history took place. It involves the establishment of a legal precedent adopted through the kind of pretzel logic typical of attempts at legal reasoning involving black people prior to the 1950s. An all-white federal jury convicted white Sheriff Claude Screws of conspiring to violate Robert Hall 's civil rights when he murdered him. The Supreme Court, while contending the "defense was not pretty," nevertheless overturned the conviction on the grounds that prosecutors hadn't proved Screws had wanted to deprive Hall of his civil rights, as opposed to simply intending to murder him. Retried for murder, Screws and his accomplices were acquitted . Baker County was where Shirley Sherrod , the Georgia USDA official who was forced out yesterday and denounced both by the administration...

Netroots Nation.

I'll be traveling to Netroots Nation today, so there won't be as much blogging. In the meantime, you should check out my story on what happened to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

"Rightly Or Wrongly."

Ed O'Keefe provides some insight into the administration's decision making in the firing of Shirley Sherrod : When this department was established in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln , he referred to it as the people's department," Vilsack told colleague Krissah Thompson in Feburary. "In order to be consistent with that legacy, it's necessary that our programs and our approach reflect an appreciation for everyone's rights. We took a look at [these] prior issues and are in the process of trying to address each of them." The efforts received little national news coverage until this week when a three-minute clip of Sherrod's now-infamous speech surfaced. Her message -- that Americans need to see beyond a person's skin color -- was tainted by an impolitic delivery White House officials consider too damaging . "This controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices," Vilsack said Tuesday, adding later that, "the controversy surrounding [Sherrod's] comments would...

A Summer Of Cowards.

For all the left's mocking of Andrew Breitbart , in the post-ACORN era the Obama administration seems to have taken a reflexive supine position on any selectively edited "bombshell" stories he happens to produce. In this case, Breitbart responded to the NAACP's request that the Tea Party purge the racist elements of its movement by releasing a selectively edited video (Breitbart claims he didn't edit it himself) of Shirley Sherrod , the USDA's development director of Georgia, telling an audience at an NAACP gathering she discriminated against a white farmer because he was white. Sherrod was promptly forced out of the USDA, and the NAACP released a statement last night calling her actions "shameful." Some pundits who supported the NAACP's resolution against the Tea Party fell all over themselves trying to issue condemnations of Sherrod to prove they weren't hypocrites. The larger context of the video, and the story, appears to be Sherrod explaining how she realized she was wrong,...

Fallout.

The administration's handling of the Shirley Sherrod matter is truly embarrassing. The NAACP's response wasn't any better. Didn't we learn anything from the ACORN controversy? Y'all have killed the funniness of the Old Spice guy. Lindsey Graham dramatically casts his vote to move Elena Kagan out of committee. This past week has proved Eric Holder right.

More On Lower-Class Whites And Affirmative Action.

Yesterday I wrote about Ross Douthat 's column implicitly endorsing a calculus that reinforces the sort of racial resentment that benefits Republicans politically and often undermines liberal attempts to expand the social safety net (characterizing attempts to extend health insurance to an uninsured population that is almost half white is "reparations"). Dan Foster purports to respond, only to prove my point: Except Douthat's point is that, when it comes to elite college admissions, it sucks more to be poor and white than it does to be poor and black, and a fortiori, that poor blacks' chances improve as they get poorer, while just the opposite is the case for whites. Either Serwer and Fernholz are okay with this or they aren't. But they won't say, leaving us to assume that they view it as acceptable collateral damage in the battle for diversity. This is what I wrote : Douthat never actually suggests that the admissions process relies too much on factors that favor the wealthy -- he...

Stop-And-Frisk, Worse Than You Thought.

After my post on New York Gov. David Paterson signing a law getting rid of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk database, a reader e-mailed me to say that my statement that 80 percent of those stopped are black and Latino might actually be low. According to The New York Times ' graph, the number is actually 87 percent.

"Segregated" Schools.

John McWhorter , in a recent BloggingHeads episode , talks to Richard Thompson Ford about the "acting white" phenomenon. The joy of a school where nobody can be called white because nobody can be called white, because nobody's white, nobody white is around. And obviously the idea is not the kind of school that Jonathan Kozol doesn't like, but to see say a KIPP Academy in New York, where all the kids are brown of some kind, there will be like Bosnian kid or something, but everybody's black or they might as well be. They're doing everything right, and it's not like they don't have some problems but it's not like anyone's telling them they're white. It seems to me that when someone looks at that and says, "oh dear, i'ts segregated" and they're taking the overlay of that world segregated where we're thinking of Orville Faubus and firehoses, rather than thinking about the fact that those kids may be better poised to take their place in the world as smart, and we might say racially...

More Falsehoods About the Islamic Center Near Ground Zero.

Conservatives have sought to portray the plan to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero as a kind of end-zone dance on the part of Muslims worldwide, a celebration of the deaths caused by the 9/11 attacks. This doesn't really make much sense -- the organization building the center, the Cordoba House, is a moderate organization, and its leader, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf , is known for his attempts to reconcile being a Muslim and being American. The necessary conclusion that one draws from the conservative argument is that there's no distinction between average Muslims and terrorists. A number of false rumors have been spread to reinforce the idea that the center is a symbol of Islamist triumph over the United States, such as the unsubstantiated charge that Rauf has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, or the equally unsubstantiated accusation that the center will be funded by extremists. Media Matters has found another one -- the rumor that the center itself will be unveiled on...

The Breakfast Clubbing.

The Washington Post has undertaken a rather large investigative project in Dana Priest and William Arkin 's "Top Secret America." Yesterday, in a rather unusual step, The New York Times urged their own readers to check out the competition. "We encourage you to take a look at it," read the conclusion of an unsigned blog post at the Times ' At War blog. This is presumably because the Times ' sees its role as a public trust as more important than making money, not that the two are necessarily in conflict. Politico , another Washington Post competitor, decided they'd take the opposite route and try to discredit the story by airing right-wing complaints about one of the authors that aren't at all linked to disputes about the substantive reporting in the piece: But from a media perspective, Arkin’s role as co-author of the series might be the more important. It marks the first time one of the Post’s bloggers -- lately the cause of controversy because they sometimes blur opinion and...

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