≡ Menu

Some Links

Coleman Hughes explains what shouldn’t, but what unfortunately does, need explaining: To ignore individuals’ skin color isn’t racist.

But color-blindness is neither racist nor backwards. Properly understood, it is the belief that we should strive to treat people without regard to race in our personal lives and in our public policy.

Though it has roots in the Enlightenment, the color-blind principle was really developed during the fight against slavery and refined during the fight against segregation. It was not until after the Civil Rights Movement achieved its greatest victories that color-blindness was abandoned by progressives, embraced by conservatives, and memory-holed by activist-scholars.

These activist-scholars have written a false history of color-blindness meant to delegitimize it. According to this story, color-blindness was not the motivating principle behind the anti-racist activism of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was, instead, an idea concocted after the Civil Rights Movement by reactionaries who needed a way to oppose progressive policies without sounding racist.

Kimberlé Crenshaw has criticized the “color-blind view of civil rights” that she alleges “developed in the neoconservative ‘think tanks’ during the seventies.” George Lipsitz, a Black Studies professor at UC Santa Barbara, writes in Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness across the Disciplines, which he co-edited with Crenshaw, that color-blindness is part of a “long-standing historical whiteness protection program” associated with “indigenous dispossession, colonial conquest, slavery, segregation, and immigrant exclusion.”

Although this public-relations campaign has been remarkably successful, it bears no relation to the truth.

The earliest mentions of color-blindness I am aware of come from Wendell Phillips, the President of the American Anti-Slavery Society and the man nicknamed “abolition’s golden trumpet.” In 1865, Phillips called for the creation of “a government color-blind,” by which he meant the total elimination of all laws that mentioned race. (Phillips was white, but it’s hard to see how his advocacy of color-blindness could have been a Trojan Horse for white supremacy, as today’s anti-racist might frame things. Black contemporaries such as George Lewis Ruffin, America’s first black judge, described Phillips as “wholly color-blind and free from race prejudice.”)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Will Swaim rightly ridicules California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans, describing it as a “a sham, meant to divert attention from the failures of today’s state government.” A slice:

Nor does the commission explain that millions of black Americans voluntarily migrated to California. However bad it may have been, California was better for blacks than almost everywhere else. Consider the black Oklahoman who in 1923 drove to Weed, one of Northern California’s flourishing lumber towns. “Boy, I oughta been here for years back,” he told historian James Langford. “You could just almost pick your jobs when I came here. And it was a lotta, lotta black folks here.”

Arnold Kling writes realistically about government. A slice:

Unfortunately, checks and balances run afoul of the human tendency to seek authority without accountability. It is in our nature, or at least in the nature of some of us, to seek power and to evade checks on our power. Just as businessmen love competition in theory but try their best to avoid it in practice, public officials do their best to subvert whatever accountability mechanisms are in place. Humorist Mort Sahl captured the mentality of politicians when he quipped that “Richard Nixon stays up all night studying the Constitution. . .He’s looking for loopholes.” (And did he also say it about Obama?)

Officials rationalize stifling dissent as “preserving order.” They rationalize censorship as “correcting misinformation.” They rationalize expanding government authority as “protecting the public from harm” and “making their lives better.” They rationalize secretive operations as “for your own good.”

People tend to accept such rationalizations. We have legitimate fears, and we encounter social problems that appear to be crises. Political leaders promise to solve problems if they are given sufficient authority. We acquiesce, often eagerly.

Such rationalizations seem especially compelling to those in positions of power. But the end result is that officials have sawed through the cage of Constitutional limits as well as checks and balances.

Conceding power and status to public officials creates a selection problem. Political leadership emerges from a competition among people who are particularly ruthless in their striving for status and power.

David Waugh and Laura Williams decry the fact that “a dreary news cycle might mask the beauty of how markets deliver increasing prosperity for us to enjoy with our loved ones.”

My GMU Econ student Giorgio Castiglia, writing at EconLog, ponders ‘waste’ in market economies. A slice:

Given the inherent uncertainty of our world, producers will often be mistaken in their evaluation of what consumers’ wants and needs will be. The result of such mistakes is leftover product on which they must take a loss. If the firm does not incorporate such losses into future decision making, it may continue to make losses, eventually reaching an untenable financial situation.

In other words, if producers are forced to bear the costs of their own mistaken choices, such losses have a purpose in a market economy. They tell the firm that what it is producing is not of sufficient value to undergo the costs of its production. Thus, “waste” from mistaken production decisions is part of a critical feedback loop in market economies. If producers were protected from bearing the costs of such waste, we would expect more of it to occur.

Here’s Phil Magness on Fauci:

It’s clear that he gathers what he thinks the media wants to hear and then he goes on TV and repeats it back to him. And they’re like ‘oh, Fauci has spoken. This is a matter of fact now.’ But he’s only repeating their own talking points,” Magness said.

Tim Shampling tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

It’s been almost 3 years, yet I still cannot grasp how so many bright students are so willing to accept that the “pandemic” was responsible for everything, rather than feeling anger at the policy choices of their elders or even seeing them as choices that were made at all