Why Waco And Baltimore Are Different

Race Relations

I recently read an op-ed over at CNN.  In it the author, Sally Kohn tries to make the point that one of the reason we are still struggling in America when it comes to race relations is that we  have yet to break the ‘white privilege’ that exists here.

She may be right – I don’t know – but I am pretty sure that the examples of Waco and Baltimore [and Ferguson] aren’t examples of what’s wrong.

Her story and my comments:

(CNN)On Sunday, just after news broke of a shootout in Waco, Texas, involving “rival biker gangs” as The New York Times alert phrased it, the political activist Shaun King wrote on Twitter:

“I’ll wait (and wait and wait and wait) to hear someone on the news call what just happened in Waco ‘white on white’ violence.”

When reporter Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times responded, “do we even know the race of the bikers yet?” activist Deray Mckesson tweeted:

“If they were black gangs, we’d certainly know by now. That’s the point. Waco.”

So, I live in North Carolina, a ‘Confederate’ state, and we have news stories all the time describing rapes, murders, robberies and all manner of crimes and I never hear mention of the race of the suspect. 

Race is rarely reported.

One of the most distinct characteristics of white privilege is the privilege to be unique. When white people commit violent acts, they are treated as aberrations, slips described with adjectives that show they are unusual and in no way representative of the broader racial group to which they belong.

One of the distinct characteristics of being white is that I don’t identify with being white.  Now, and I admit, this might be due to the fact that the world doesn’t SEE me as white, so I get that.  But my point is that I don’t feel any sense of “community” with other white people.  So, to me, a white person committing crimes isn’t an indictment of “my people”.  In fact, the concept of “my people” is foreign to me.

In fact, in much of the coverage of the Waco shootings, the race of the gang members isn’t even mentioned, although pictures of the aftermath show groups of white bikers being held by police. By comparison, the day after Freddie Gray died in the custody of police officers in Baltimore, not only did most coverage mention that Gray was black, but also included a quote from the deputy police commissioner noting Gray was arrested in “a high-crime area known to have high narcotic incidents,” implicitly smearing Gray and the entire community.

I don’t think that this is true.  The actual news coverage of Freddy Gray being arrested and then having died is remarkably void of race mention.  The ensuing RIOTS and their source of anger IS mention repeatedly.

The crime and tragedy of Freddy is not about race – the violence that followed is.

How did press reports quote the police in Waco? “We’ve been made aware in the past few months of rival biker gangs … being here and causing issues,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. Causing issues? Cops were reportedly so worried about the bikers gathering in the Waco strip mall that they had 12 officers as well as officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety stationed outside the restaurant.

I fail to understand her point here.  Yes, local cops had reason to believe that criminal activity was possible and stationed forces accordingly.  Nothing to see here.

Now there’s word that the biker gangs have issued repeated threats against the police in the aftermath of the Waco “melee” as The New York Times headline called it. During the uprisings in Baltimore, I saw a flurry of tweets about black people disrespecting property and throwing rocks at police. Now that these biker gangs have issued actual death threats, why am I not now seeing tons of Twitter posts about white people disrespecting the lives of police?

Again, the author is missing he comparison.  The arrest of Freddy Gray was not the national spectacle – the “uprisings” were.  Now, if white Waco began to riot because the local police department officials were targeting “white gang members” that would be different.

But that’s not happening here.  I suspect that white people in Waco SUPPORT their cops targeting white gang members.

In the comments on one news website, someone — presumably sarcastically — wrote, “More white thuggery. When will whites take responsibility for their decaying culture?”

As it pertains to Freddy Gray, the verdict is still literally out, but the events in Ferguson have been adjudicated.  Michael Brown robbed a store and then assaulted a cop. 

If there were such a feeling among whites as to label us a community, we might say, “We don’t condone the violence or criminal activity of one of our own”.

If the white people of Waco protested that white gang members were arrested not because they were innocent but because they were white, THEN her arguments would make more contextual sense.

“Race literally has nothing to do with this situation,” another commenter replied. Exactly.

So why is it that in cases such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray — and so many others — race is made central to the story, even in instances where the black and brown people involved are victims of police violence?

The answer is that in Brown and Gray race ISN’T an issue UNTIL the protests and riots occur.

Research shows that implicit bias against black and brown people is real, as is white privilege. And studies show that white people greatly overestimate the share of crimes committed by black people. Is it any wonder, given the racialized nature with which we cover crime? According to one study, television stations covered crimes committed by black people in greater proportion than their actual share of criminal acts in the city.

Here the author is confusing pronouns, she was ‘we’ confused with ‘I’.

On some level, the commenter is right: Race has nothing to do with crime. We know that people of all races commit crimes and are victims of crimes in America and the most sensible among us know such cause or effect has nothing to do with skin color. And yet our perceptions and attitudes about criminality have absolutely everything to do with race.

When one Muslim person even threatens violence in the United States, it’s treated as terrorism of crisis-like proportions. As we saw in the case of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, even when black men are the victims of violence, the burden of proof is placed upon them and their families to show that they didn’t deserve it.

When a crime occurs and the suspect is Muslim NO mention of terrorism is mentioned, but when the suspects admit to being members of terrorist organizations and those organizations claim they have ‘soldiers’ in multiple states – yes, they are reported differently.

A counter example might be the murders of the three Muslim students in North Carolina.  The suspect sounds like an equal opportunity asshole to me but he’s immediately made out to be the perp of a hate crime for the only reason that his victims were Muslim.

When was the last time you saw an incident of a white guy going on a shooting rampage produce calls for soul searching and recrimination on the part of the white male community? Maybe it should. But how can that happen when even after nine people are dead and 170 arrested in a shooting rampage by a criminal gang of bikers, we’d rather not mention that they are white?

Because. 

We teach our kids that such activity is bad.  Joining a motorcycle gang is bad, getting tattoos and dropping out of school is bad.  Dressing like an asshole is bad.  We teach our kids that if you do those things bad things will happen

We use the incident as proof positive that mom and dad are right.  We do NOT riot when biker gangs are arrested.

Here We Go Again

Housing Bubble

As if it wasn’t bad enough that we suffered through one government induced housing bubble and then burst – we’re back at it:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) announced an option for qualified first-time homebuyers that will allow for a down payment as low as three percent. Building upon Fannie Mae’s successful lower down payment program offered through state Housing Finance Agencies, the 97 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) option will expand access to credit for qualified first-time homebuyers that may not have the resources for a larger down payment.  These loans will meet Fannie Mae’s usual eligibility requirements, including underwriting, income documentation and risk management standards. These loans will require private mortgage insurance or other risk sharing, as is required on purchase loans acquired by the company with greater than 80 percent LTV.

“Our goal is to help additional qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages,” said Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae Executive Vice President for Single Family Underwriting, Pricing and Capital Markets.  “This option alone will not solve all the challenges around access to credit.  Our new 97 percent LTV offering is simply one way we are working to remove barriers for creditworthy borrowers to get a mortgage.  We are confident that these loans can be good business for lenders, safe and sound for Fannie Mae and an affordable, responsible option for qualified borrowers.”

Just as before, political pressure to move unqualified borrowers into homes is too much to resist.

Boeing Union Vote

Unions

So, the International Association of Machinists wanna unionize the Boeing plant in South Carolina, however, they are running into resistance and have called off the vote:

The union said it was forced to call off its door-to-door canvassing campaign this week after two organizers were greeted with homeowners brandishing guns as they ordered them off their property and “others reported hostile and near-violent confrontations.”

I am absolutely loving the irony that is traditional union thug tactics.

Pertinent Definitions

For review:

Racism – a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Note the difference.

Prejudice – (1) :  preconceived judgment or opinion (2) :  an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.

Discrimination – the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually.

I think that recent events warrant this review.

2015 Hurricane Season

Hurricane

President Obama has said that global warming is a threat:

“No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” said Obama in his State of the Union speech Tuesday.

Indeed.

So what do we have to worry about as the tropical storm season quickly approaches North Carolina?  After all, global warming causes bigger and more powerful storms:

The hard truth is carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades now.  And even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come.  The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe, based on the science.

Well, the predictions are in:

— The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will be significantly less active than average, researchers at North Carolina State University said Monday.

Lian Xie, a professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at N.C. State, forecasts four to six named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The average number of named storms since 1950 has been about 11.

Of the 2015 named storms, one to three may grow strong enough to become hurricanes, and only one may become a major hurricane, Xie said.

Not exactly consistent with the good president’s words.

Ahh, but…Mr. Obama used the phrase ‘based on science’.  What has the science been on the power of storms recently?

ACE.2015.04Down.  Way down.

Where The Right To Freely Associate Ends

Liberty

In light of the recent “Freedom of Religion” laws being passed I have strongly advocated for the fact that we, as free and sovereign individuals, are free to associate, or not, with whomever we want.  And for how ever long we want.

In fact I have largely gone further than these laws and have claimed that we don’t have to invoke some ‘Freedom of Religion’ nonsense, we simply should be allowed to decide with whom we do business.

Where this ends is at [least] two places:

1.  When you are a government

2.  When you are an employee of a firm that extends association

First the second – consider a grocery store selling reasonable and common products hires you to check customers out in line.   You, as an employee, are not at liberty to both KEEP your job and refuse to service pork.

Second the first – As a government, you are not free to restrict access to public goods based on your discretion.

Senate leader Phil Berger filed a bill Wednesday morning that would allow magistrates to opt-out of same-sex weddings and allow assistant and deputy registers of deeds to not issue licenses based on “sincerely held religious objections.”

“I had, in my county, a situation where a magistrate felt like he had to resign in order to honor his religious beliefs,” Berger said, defending the bill. “A lot of folks, including myself, feel that shouldn’t be the case and that extending the rights of some should not infringe on the long held beliefs of others.”

The good Mr. Berger is wrong here; the magistrate is free to withdraw from performing this service, but he then disqualifies from holding office or his job.

 

Social “Presenting”

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III

About two years ago I posted on the ‘hoodie’ controversy as it pertained to the Treyvon Martin case:

In both cases, the individual in question could be the coolest, most intelligent and compassionate guy you would ever wanna meet.  But when first met, in the restroom, or in the bar, on the street or in the elevator, the level of suspicion will be elevated and the level of societal trust will be less than it otherwise would have been had the person signaled or presented in a more mainstream manner.

I don’t think that this is surprising or even controversial.  In fact, I suspect that societies signal mainstream as a means of survival and cohesion.

All of which is a very long way of saying that when people wear a hoodie, in certain and specific contexts, they are presenting or signalling in a more suspicious manner than they otherwise might have.

Well, a similar case occurred in Carolina today:

Goldsboro, N.C. — A 20-year-old man wanted in connection with the Monday morning shooting death of a longtime employee at Wayne Community College was taken into custody early Tuesday in Florida, according to the Goldsboro Police Department.

This guy, pure and simple, presents as an asshole and looks like a criminal.

Atlanta Teacher Cheating Scandal

Teacher

Teachers are people; people are subject to human foibles and failings across the spectrum.  I have no quarrel with teachers here.

What I quarrel with is that subset of people who don’t believe in math:

A gubernatorial investigation found in 2011, after looking closely at erasure marks on test sheets, that more than half of Atlanta’s elementary and middle schools contained classrooms with an average number of wrong-to-right corrections more than three standard deviations above the state average.

We can tell if a kid is cheating.   Or a teacher.  We can tell if a teachers adds to or detracts from a year of instruction.

Pay the best like rock stars – fire the worst.

A Sensible Response To Indiana

NASCAR

People are people.  And as such, will find that they want to associate with people they find … agreeable.

I may find that association unacceptable – think my daughter and ANY boy – or not.  But the truth remains that we are free, it’s a hallmark, to associate with any one we want.

Indiana has sparked controversy, and many liberal groups have responded by “banning” behavior they find disagreeable.  Funny that.  Disagree with a Leftist?  Be banned!

But I like NASCAR’s response:

NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana,” chief communications officer Brett Jewkes said in a statement. “We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.

In short – “we disagree with Indian but will continue doin’ what we do!”

Redneck logic!

Liberty – Indiana – Discrimination

Freedom of Religion

There has been much ado over the recent bill signed into law in Indiana.  It would appear that the good state has legislated that a business may discriminate based on the owner’s religious bias.  The immediate thought comes to mind of the baker unwilling to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

My immediate thought is that the law is silly.  There is no need to spell out and create a special exception for religious freedom.  After all, we are all free people and, as such, are free to associate with whomever we please.

But I must admit to the shock I am seeing from people over this bill.  As if it was news that we discriminate in our individual lives.

We discriminate on where we live, where we send our kids to school, who we hire as a babysitter.  Shit, we discriminate on who we date.  But when it comes to who we sell a cake too….back up!

We are a free people.  Free to do as we like with whom we like; as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.  And no person has a right to a wedding cake.

Period.