Category Archives: Race and race relations

And That’s How You End Up with Donald Trump: Turnstile Jumping Edition

Turnstile jumper. (Image credit: Boston globe.)

The Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority (MWATA) has a big revenue problem. Not only is ridership declining, but it appears that an increasing number of riders aren’t paying their fares. To recapture riders, Metro is asking billions of dollars from member states and localities to patch up everything from rail lines to escalators. And to plug its revenue losses from fare jumpers, the authority is cracking down on fare evasion.

Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald A. Pavlik Jr. estimated that the agency loses up to $25 million a year in unpaid fares, reports the Washington Post. From January to June of this year, the number of fare-evasion citations issued more than doubled from the year before to about 6,000 tickets. About 65 percent of those tickets were issued to rail users; 8 percent of the tickets resulted in an arrest. Metro doesn’t collect any money from the fines, but it will benefit if tougher enforcement reduces turnstile jumping.

Many people applaud the crackdown on cheaters. WMATA desperately needs the money to maintain the rail service, which has been plagued with safety issues and delays. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedenfield has said that people feel a sense of injustice that some riders flout the rules and ride for free while others dig deep to pay their fares. “I think it’s right that everybody pay their fare.”

But not everyone agrees.

Washington City Council is considering legislation that would decriminalize fare evasion, eliminate jail time, and lower the maximum possible fine from $300 to $100. The move, says the Washington Post, “mirrors a trend in cities across the country based on a growing awareness among lawmakers of how issues such as legacy policing practices, unconscious bias and systemic racism, can unfairly target communities based on race or age — even in the seemingly mundane case of fare jumping.”

Some legislators are questioning whether fare evasion should be a crime at all, arguing that targeted enforcement campaigns are bound to ensnare poor and low-income people who don’t have the money to pay their fares — let alone fines.

“Absolutely there’s been a raised consciousness on this that did not exist 20 or 30 years ago,” said Nassim Moshiree, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia. “Activism like the Movement for Black Lives has had a positive impact on raising awareness that policing — and the explicit and implicit bias in policing — means that certain communities are impacted in unfair ways. Even when it comes to something like fare evasion.”

Bacon’s bottom line: The MWATA board already keeps fares artificially low out of concern for the impact on low-income riders, with the difference to be made up by state and local governments. These low fares, incidentally, are a big reason why the system is desperate financial straits today. But apparently, that’s not enough. Now, invoking vague charges of systemic racism — no one has made the case that Metro is systemically racist, just that systemic racism exists — they want to end the crackdown on fare jumping.

It is thinking like this that puts the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, and allied movements in such ill repute. The mere fact that “systemic racism” exists somewhere in the country becomes grounds for engaging in what might be called “systemic reverse racism” in which one group, Metro fare jumpers who are predominantly African-American, get off easy while shifting the cost to taxpayers, a group dominated by whites. (Actually, MWATA does not track the racial identity of fare jumpers. I am simply following the lead of the ACLU’s Mr. Moshiree, whose statements would make no sense if he did not believe that fare jumpers were mainly African-American.)

This is identity politics run amok, and it is becoming all-pervasive in our society. And the most evil, insidious part of it is this: The more that blacks embrace identity politics, the more many whites will as well — particularly lower-income whites whose lives belie the notion that they benefit from “white privilege.” And that’s how you end up with Donald Trump.

Martin Luther King had a dream that one day people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of that skin. Tragically, that dream seems to be dying.

In Defense of Kelly’s Defense of Robert E. Lee

by Bill O’Keefe

When General John F. Kelly recently said that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man and that the Civil War resulted from a failure to compromise, critics denounced him as a “Lost Cause” apologist who was ignorant of history and insensitive to racism and bigotry. His background, education, and accomplishments in the Marine Corps suggest, however, that such character assassination is a classic case of identity politics.

Anyone who has studied the Civil War objectively sees it as one of our greatest tragedies. In 1861 the United States was a fragile union only weakly held together by a Constitution that had only been ratified 73 years earlier. Today we hold that slavery was evil. But, outside of abolitionists here and in Europe, that was not the prevailing view then. It should not be surprising that a system that had existed since 1800 B.C., and still does in some places in the world, would be slow to change, and that the process of change would create deep and difficult tensions.

Critics who point to compromises affecting black slaves — starting with the Constitution — make a legitimate point that patience and slow progress benefited slave owners at the expense of blacks. We cannot know for sure what would have happened if South Carolina, Mississippi and other intransigent slave states had found common ground with the Union through further compromise. We do know that 620,000 deaths would have been avoided. And, we can be fairly confident that evolving economics and culture would have made slavery less viable. Whether those changes would have shortened the bigotry and racism that continued during the post-war period — and which exists to a lesser degree today — is unknowable.

In the attacks on General Kelly, the word “compromise” has been used pejoratively. Writers ignore the fact that our system of government is built on compromise to avoid the tyranny of the minority by the majority. Henry Clay once observed that politics is about governing and that if you can’t compromise, you can’t govern. That fact is very much in evidence today.

 In an attempt to show General Kelly as a “Lost Cause” apologist, critics have created a false narrative about Robert E. Lee. One writer in The New Yorker went so far as to say that Lee attempted to overthrow the United States government. Others have claimed that he was defending slavery.

As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Historical facts more than demonstrate that Robert E. Lee was more than honorable; he was a man of conviction, integrity, deep spirituality, and humility. He did not support secession and believed that slavery was evil.  He was also spiritually naïve in believing that God would emancipate blacks on His schedule. He was respected by Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant.

And Dwight Eisenhower (who had his portrait in the Oval Office) said that Lee was, “in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. . . . selfless almost to a fault . . . noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. From deep conviction I simply say this:  a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities.” Americans, he said, could continue to learn something from the Confederate general because a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be “unconquerable in spirit and soul.”

General Lee’s reputation will withstand the current attempts at revisionist history because, in the end, facts do matter.  And, General Kelly is learning that as Winston Churchill said, “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”

Bill O’Keefe, a resident of New Kent County, is president of Solutions Consulting.

Teenagers and the New Taboos of Race

When a handful of white Short Pump Middle School football players in Henrico County engaged in a racial bullying — simulating anal rape upon black peers in the locker room and posting video on social media — the community understandably erupted in outrage. The behavior was reprehensible. It had to be chastised.

It’s not clear from media reports what punishment, if any, the perpetrators of the acts themselves have suffered. As minors, the boys are entitled to privacy protections. But let’s make one thing clear: The bullies were responsible for the actions, and they are the ones who should be punished for their behavior, not their teammates.

But the Henrico County Public School system was not content to merely punish the offenders. School authorities canceled the rest of the team’s season, thus affecting kids who did not participate in the bullying. Instead of attending practice the team assembled for mandatory discussions on racial tolerance and ethics. Also, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one football coach is said to no longer work for the county. The reason for his departure is unclear, although we are probably safe in assuming that it was related to the bullying incident.

It’s one thing to punish individuals who deserve it. It’s another thing to punish the collective (the football team), sweeping innocents into the net. Now Henrico schools are using the episode as an excuse to bureaucratize the enforcement of the dogma of the day on matters of race.

The T-D reports today that Henrico schools are creating a new office of equity and diversity, and in January will hire a director to oversee it. The goal of the office will be to implement short- and long-term cultural diversity plans. Also, the schools are planning an equity and diversity task force made up of students, parents, community members, and district staff members.

Super. Now the higher-ed practice of creating diversity bureaucracies is spreading to K-12 school systems. That’s worked out so well for colleges — they’re such beacons of ethnic tranquility these days — that I’m sure it will turn out just dandy for Henrico, too. Not.

This is just a suspicion, and I hope I’m proven wrong as Henrico rolls out its new programs. But talk of racial tolerance (a good thing) is all too often accompanied by talk of “white privilege” and guilt-tripping of white students (a bad thing). In the current environment, no one can veer from the party line without being judged a racist, so people shut up. And keep their opinions to themselves. And vote for Donald Trump.

One last thought: The United States is undergoing a redefinition of taboos. For many generations, the use of profanity was banned from the public domain. Beginning in the 1960s, it became hip to transgress against bourgeois norms of propriety. A half century later, the norms against profanity have been obliterated. Vulgar language is ubiquitous in our society today. But the old taboos have been replaced by new taboos, largely based on ethnic, gender and sexual identity. Most famously, the “N word” has replaced the “F word” as something that simply cannot be uttered publicly. (To prevent any misunderstanding, I’m OK with the taboo against the “N word.”)

When I was a teenager, it was cool and edgy to use profanity. Kids used the transgressive language of the day as a form of self-assertion, a way to cultivate an air of rebelliousness. Now, it seems, nobody outside of Sunday school cares much about profanity. So how does a teenage kid, especially a white teenage kid, stay edgy and rebellious? By transgressing the new taboos…. which these days involve racial and sexual identity.

I don’t know what drove those white middle-school football players to bully their black teammates the way they did. But I would caution against jumping to the conclusion that their parents didn’t raise them right. The kids may be acutely aware what mainstream American society considers right and wrong in matters of race — and they may be transgressing the new taboos precisely because they are taboo.

I am not making an academic distinction here. If you want to prevent a behavior (in this case racial bullying), then you need to understand the origins of that behavior. And, until I see evidence that settles the matter, I will continue to ask if Henrico school administrators are enacting initiatives based on a profound misunderstanding.

Ed Gillespie’s Trumpian Appeal to the Alt-Right

by Les Schreiber

The recent events in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue morphed into a shocking display of anti-Semitism.  The pictures of torch-bearing protesters chanting “Jews will not replace us” resembled 1930s marches in Nuremberg, Germany.  The current leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, could not bring himself to decisively separate himself from this outrage.  His comment  that both sides had good and bad people implied support of those who created the greatest horror of the 20th century.

This type of bigotry is on the rise. The so-called Alt-Right now seems to form a significant portion of the base of the Republican Party. One consequence is the resurgence of The Forward, which was originally published in Yiddish in the early 20th Century. The paper was on the verge of disbanding itself in the 1990’s but in recent years resurrected itself in English as a magazine covering the rise in anti-Semitic incidents and tracking bigoted web sites.

In a recent opinion piece Princeton Economics Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman examined the campaign of Trumpian nominee Ed Gillespie. By standing tall against the removal Confederate statues, this Trump surrogate has politicized an issue that will attract the Alt-Right base of his party. Ed has also run ads implying that the Democratic nominee supports immigrant gangs and sanctuary cities for them to hide in. Neither charge appears to be true. But it plays well with the Alt-Right fear of immigrants.

Next Tuesday’s results will reverberate beyond Capitol Square.

Real Racism and Fake Racism

Real racism: The Short Pump Middle School has shut down its football team after circulation of a Snapchat video showing white players pinning down black players and simulating anal rape while making racist slurs. The only saving grace to this reprehensible episode is that members of the school community are universally disgusted by the boys’ behavior. Henrico County Public Schools convened a meeting last night, attended by 400 people, to discuss how the community should respond. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch has the story here.)

Fake racism: Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam stands by his characterization of Republican rival Ed Gillespie as in league with white supremacists. As the Times-Dispatch describes the slander, Northam issued a mail piece that “superimposes images of Trump and Gillespie over a photo of torch-wielding white nationalists marching in Charlottesville in August. The message says Virginia voters have a chance to ‘stand up to hate’ in the Nov. 7 election.” On the back of the mailer, another message urges voters to “stand up to Trump, Gillespie and hate.”

While Northam did not explicitly call Gillespie a racist or white supremacist, the message was clear. But in actuality, Gillespie had denounced the white supremacist rally, even before it turned violent. “Having a right to spew vile hate does not make it right,” said Gillespie at the time. “These displays have no place in our commonwealth, and the mentality on display is rejected by the decent, thoughtful and compassionate fellow Virginians I see every day.”

(It’s only fair to point out that Gillespie is not an innocent when it comes to slanderous campaign ads. His ads have depicted Northam as a sympathizer of the violent Salvadoran street gang MS-13.)

Sadly, when given a chance to distance himself from the Northam campaign’s slander, Governor Terry McAuliffe responded, in effect, that one vile mischaracterization deserves another: “I think the hatred and bigotry that we saw — and I personally saw firsthand — of the hatred, the white supremacists, the KKK, the ‘alt-right,’ is the same divisive Trump politics that Ed Gillespie is doing in his ads today. There is no difference. They are bringing hatred, fear, bigotry to our state.”

Both candidates need to apologize to the other. The fact that neither is willing to do so is what turns people off to politics today. (I would note that one candidate, Libertarian Cliff Hyra, has taken the high road by refraining from such inflamed rhetoric.)

More fake racism: A self-described “peoples tribunal” will assemble this weekend in Charlottesville to address “environmental racism impacts of fracked-gas pipelines.” A panel of three human rights and environmental pollution experts will preside as judges at a daylong tribunal examining the multiple social and racial injustices afflicted by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route will traverse through varied populations: mostly white but also African-American and Native American. Focusing on the impact of African-American and Native American communities, pipeline foes have leveled charges of environmental racism.

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) environmental impact statement, minority communities will be exposed to temporary increases in construction dust and longer-term exposure to combustion emissions from compressor stations, though within permissable air-quality limits. States the EIS: “No disproportionately high and adverse impacts on environmental justice populations as a result of other resources impacts would be expected.”

It’s hard to show that the ACP route as a whole disproportionately impacts one group over another. The trick is to adjust the frame of reference as needed. Thus, critics argue that about 30,000, or 13 percent, of the people who live within one mile of the proposed route of the pipeline in North Carolina are Native American, even though Native Americans represent only 1.2 percent of the state’s total population. In this case, critics have narrowed the frame of reference to the section of the pipeline in North Carolina. In Virginia pipeline foes have narrowed the frame of reference to African-Americans living near a compressor station in Buckingham County.

If living within a mile of construction noise and dust is sufficient to characterize a project as environmentally racist in the case of a pipeline, then every construction project near a minority population is racist because any project that requires clearing land and digging will generate dust. This logic is a recipe for shutting down all construction near minority populations, effectively creating economic no-go zones… which sounds pretty racist itself.

Of course, pipeline critics have no desire to shut down all construction everywhere. They just want to shut down the pipeline. Now, there are respectable reasons for wanting to block the pipeline — you can read them in this blog. But tarring the project as environmentally racist is not a respectable reason.

Bacon’s bottom line: As the Short Pump Middle School episode shows, racist words and behavior are not the exclusive domain of torch-bearing white supremacists. What happened at Short Pump was shocking and the community needs to express its outrage, as in fact it appears to be doing. But communities’ efforts to enforce acceptable codes of behavior is undermined when anyone and everyone is being called a “racist” or a “hater” these days. Ralph Northam loses all moral authority to talk about racism when he ties Ed Gillespie to white supremacists. Social Justice Warriors lose all moral authority to talk about environmental racism when they cherry pick their data to heap onus upon a pipeline project they don’t like.

The public discourse has so debased the meaning of the word “racist” that many people distrust the dominant narrative. I would bet that some Henrico citizens, like the villagers who ignored the boy who cried wolf, don’t trust the media and county authorities to provide a fair and accurate account of what happened at Short Pump. And that’s not a result that any thinking or caring person should desire.

Even Progressives Acknowledge the Failure of Indiscriminate Student Loans

I’ve been making the case for a couple of years now that if you’re looking for a real example of social injustice, take a look at the United States higher education system. For years liberals and progressives argued that everyone deserves a college education, that government should help anyone with a high school degree attend college, and that poor students could borrow huge sums to pay for ever-escalating tuition and fees without ill consequence. Now even the social justice warriors are waking up to the social disaster they have wrought.

Readers of Bacon’s Rebellion know full well that the policy of indiscriminately handing out student loans to everyone has created a new class of debt slaves. Not all high school graduates are academically prepared for college-level work. Not everyone who undertakes to earn a college degree is financially able to complete their degrees, even with financial assistance. As a result, literally millions of Americans have taken on college debt without earning the degree or other workforce credential that would allow them to obtain a job that pays enough to carry that debt.

The members of the new debtor class are disproportionately poor, and they are disproportionately African-American. This is a real social injustice, not an imagined one, and it has arisen from the blind pursuit of good intentions.

Finally, progressives are waking up. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, data from a U.S. Department of Education study provides a “first-ever look at long-term outcomes for student loan borrowers, including results by race and ethnicity.”

The data show that 12 years after entering college, the typical African American student who started in the 2003-04 school year and took on debt for their undergraduate education owed more on their federal student loans than they originally borrowed. This holds true even for students who finished a bachelor’s degree at a public institution. One reason they might not be paying down their loans? Nearly half of African American borrowers defaulted, including 75 percent of those who dropped out of for-profit colleges.

Among the detailed findings:

  • African-Americans borrow more on average than their peers.
  • The typical African-American made no progress over 12 years in paying down his or her loan. African American borrowers who started college in 1995-96 owed 101% of their loans a dozen years later, compared to 60% for whites and 72% for Hispanics.
  • A bachelor’s degree does not insulate African-American borrowers from bad outcomes. College drop-outs are not the only ones who default; college grads do, too.
  • Nearly half of all African-Americans defaulted on their student loans. One reason, suggests the analysis, is that African-Americans take on higher debt on average.
  • Seventy-five percent of African-American dropouts from for-profit colleges defaulted. (No word on how this compares to the percentage of African-American dropouts from public colleges or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.)

A conservative/libertarian reaction to this data is that the system hands out student loans too indiscriminately. Many Americans — of whatever race — would be better off learning a trade in a two-year college than attending a four-year college. Some would be better off not going to college at all and learning on the job. Student loans, like any other kind of loan, should be granted based upon a person’s ability to repay the loan.

The problem is that granting educational loans on the basis of a student’s ability to repay — based upon key predictors like academic preparedness and household resources — would “discriminate” against the poor and, because African-Americans are disproportionately poor, against African-Americans. In today’s political climate, that’s a non-starter.

The Center for American Progress expresses an admirable sentiment when it suggests that policymakers should strive to create a world where African American students don’t start their careers with large loan debts they struggle to repay. But the CAP’s answer is to admit more poor African-Americans into better institutions with more resources to help them succeed. How? By “fixing” admissions practices and funding systems “so that African American students do not end up disproportionately underrepresented at institutions with the greatest resources to educate them.” 

Translation: Get higher-ed institutions to admit more African-Americans in the blind hope that somehow they will do better regardless of whether they are academically prepared. Great idea. That’ll work out well.

For Irish, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Koreans and other Americans, the typical family’s climb from poverty into affluence took place over generations. Parents sacrificed so their children could rise a step higher on the educational and socioeconomic ladder. Today’s social justice warriors are impatient. They want African-Americans to vault from Mosby Court to the University of Virginia and a job in the hedge-fund industry in a single generation. A handful of individuals are so extraordinary that they can succeed. Most aren’t. Instead of reaching for achievable goals for self improvement, millions are pursuing unrealistic dreams and winding up in debt bondage as a result.

Justice for Whom?

The Legal Aid Justice Center, which has released another report decrying differential rates of suspensions and expulsions in Virginia public schools, is described by the Richmond Times-Dispatch as an organization that “works to fight injustice.” I have no doubt that the Legal Aid Justice Center sees itself on the side of the angels, but I’m surprised that the Times-Dispatch accepts the group’s self definition so uncritically. I’ve never heard of an organization anywhere claiming to fight for “injustice.” It’s really a question of whose justice is being fought over.

In this case, the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights for “justice” for black students who commit offenses that get them suspended or expelled. Making an issue out of the fact that blacks were suspended in Virginia about four times as often as Hispanic or white students in 2015-16, the LAJC calls for sweeping changes in school disciplinary policies and, of course, more money to implement them.

The LAJC is not fighting for “justice” for black children whose classrooms are disrupted by trouble makers. While the organization goes to great pains to measure the rates of suspensions and expulsions by race, it makes no effort whatsoever to measure the race of those whose educations are deprived by the ne’er-do-wells. Indeed, its report, “Suspended Progress 2017,” shows no interest in their plight whatsoever.

The front-page Times-Dispatch article quotes extensively and uncritically from the LAJC report. The reporter doesn’t quote anyone else who has studied school disciplinary issues, nor does he quote anyone from the Virginia Department of Education or local school districts. The reporter never informs the reader that parents — including many black parents — are often dismayed by the lack of discipline in many schools.

The report found that Virginia schools issued over 131,500 out-of-school suspensions to over 70,000 individual students in 2015-16, an increase in the overall suspension rate for the second year after several years of declines. Virginia schools use “exclusionary” discipline with very young students at an “astonishing” rate, states the report. And the majority of suspensions were issued for minor offenses — “approximately two-thirds of all suspensions given [were] for behavior offenses, such as possession of cell phones, minor insubordination, disrespect, and using inappropriate language.”

Perhaps most disturbing is that Virginia schools continue to disproportionately suspend African-American students and students with disabilities. The suspension rate for African-American students was 3.8 times larger than for Hispanic and white students. Students with disabilities were suspended at a rate 2.6 times larger than that of their non-disabled peers. When examining the effects of race, sex, and disability, the results are especially troubling: African-American male students with disabilities were almost 20 times more likely to be suspended than white female students without disabilities.

The authors never talk to anyone in the educational front lines — the people meting out the discipline — to get their perspective on what’s happening. The authors assume from the get-go that racial disparities in disciplinary actions are in and of themselves evidence of injustice — no other explanation needed.

The LAJC never pauses to consider that the reason why African-American male students with disabilities are disciplined at a higher rate is that they are committing offenses at a higher rate than white female students without disabilities. Given what we know of the breakdown of the family, the geographic concentration of poverty, and how many poor single mothers lose their children to “the street,” it should not surprise anyone that behavior problems are rampant in poor communities generally and poor African-American communities specifically.

This chart, which appears in the “Suspended Progress” report, shows the school districts where the highest rates of suspensions occur. Every one of these has high percentages, often majorities, of African-American students. Let’s take the City of Richmond, with which I have some familiarity. Most teachers are African-American, most principals are African-American, the superintendent is (or was, before he was canned for political reasons) African-American, and the school board is predominantly African-American. It defies reason to think that anti-African-American bias is permeating Richmond school disciplinary practices.

The real problem is that teachers and administrators in Richmond are grappling with large numbers of students who come from exceedingly challenging environments like housing projects riddled with violence, drugs, crime, and murder where the norms of bourgeois behavior have utterly collapsed. Eighteen percent of the student body was suspended because 18% of the student body committed offenses against school rules.

The LAJC engages in a classic case of defining deviancy down by declaring that cell phone possession, disrespect, and “inappropriate language” as “minor” offenses. We didn’t have cell phones when I was a kid, but I can assure you that being disrespectful to teachers and using profanity assuredly would have warranted disciplinary action at my school. The phrase “inappropriate language” sounds inoffensive, but I question whether students are suspended for using the occasional profanity. As for cell phone possession, the LAJC’s own data shows that the number of students disciplined for that offense is a minor cause of short-term suspensions and a negligible one of long-term suspensions.

The biggest causes of disciplinary action are disruption of classrooms or campus, defiance of authority, disrespecting teachers. Some offenses may seem “minor” if viewed in isolation. But we have no sense from these numbers how often similar offenses are routinely ignored, and we have no sense how often students have been lectured or given second or third chances before finally being slapped with a disciplinary action.

I find especially noteworthy the LAJC’s observation that after two years of supposedly improving statistics that suspensions and expulsions have increased for two years. How do we explain this? Have teachers and administrators become less rigorous in their adherence to the protocols imposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Obama administration justice department? Have they become more biased in their attitudes against African-American (but not Hispanic) students? Or has discipline gotten worse under those protocols? Have the supposedly “proven alternatives” like “restorative practices, multi-tiered systems of support, and emotional learning programs” failed to maintain discipline? Indeed, do misbehaving students, perceiving that they are less likely to suffer adverse consequences from their actions under the new regime, felt freer to act disruptively?

Locked into its mindset that views every racial disparity as evidence of a social injustice, LAJC never asks those questions. But Richmond Times-Dispatch reporters and editors should not accept social justice warrior dogma without question. In fact, if the Times-Dispatch were truly interested in social justice, it would conduct its own inquiry into how LAJC-inspired disciplinary policies are working out.

They Came, They Chanted, They Left

White supremacist losers roll into town for a photo-op. Photo credit: NBC29

The white nationalists were back in Charlottesville over the weekend, bearing torches and rallying around the draped statue of Robert E. Lee. Arriving in a tour bus, about 40 to 50 supremacists bore torches and chanted, “We’ll be back.” After about ten minutes, they boarded their bus and left.

Hopefully, they won’t be back. The best way to ensure that they won’t return is to ignore them. The rally was staged purely for the benefit of the media. Naturally, the media obliged. Among other outlets, the Washington Post and the New York Times assigned reporters to cover the rally. Local TV was there as well. So, the white nationalists got some of what they wanted: attention.

But this time, there were no counter-protesters (at least not enough to warrant mention in the Daily Progress, whose account I have follow here). There was no violence or even a threat of violence, so there was no spectacle, which means there was no video footage worth broadcasting on the national networks. Controversy and publicity are the oxygen that keep the fires of extremism burning.

What if Richard Spencer and his white supremacist buddies threw a rally and nobody came? I doubt they would ever return.

Meanwhile, reports the Daily Progress:

At UVa, about 30 students and faculty stood outside UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan’s residence, Carr’s Hill, and chanted “blood is on your hands” and “all black lives matter.” At the bicentennial celebration on Friday, three students were arrested on trespassing charges after allegedly holding a sign that read “200 years of white supremacy” in front of a screen.

There are ample grounds for criticizing Sullivan’s tenure as university president, but to say that “blood is on her hands” is patently absurd. And while it is true that UVa, like almost every other university in the country, is tainted by racism in its history, it empties the words of any meaning to associate the institution with “white supremacy” today.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to ignore these puerile fools. Unfortunately, unlike the white supremacists, Black Lives Matter protesters won’t board a bus and leave the state. And unlike the white supremacists, whose ideology is almost universally reviled, large swaths of the population — especially in  university communities — are in sympathy with BLM assertions that the United States and its institutions are irredeemably racist. And unlike Richard Spencer and his excoriated band of losers, Black Lives Matter presents demands that university administrations take very seriously indeed.

The Left Consumes Its Own

Conservative scholars and agitators aren’t the only people getting shouted down at college campuses anymore.

Claire Gastanaga is an old-school liberal who, from my observation, reliably supports the old-school liberal position on everything from women’s rights to illegal immigration. But, as an old-school liberal, she also respects the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, such as, oh, to pick a wild and crazy example, the right to freedom of speech. Indeed, as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, she visited her alma mater, the College of William & Mary last week, to speak about freedom of speech.

But she didn’t get to say very much. A multiracial group of students affiliated with Black Lives Matter, enraged that the ACLU had defended the right of white nationalists to hold the August rally in Charlottesville, shouted her down.

According to W&M’s student paper, The Flat Hat:

Protesters took over the stage within five minutes of Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia Claire Guthrie Gastañaga’s entrance. Signs in hand, the protesters shouted chants such as “liberalism is white supremacy” and “the revolution will not uphold the constitution.”

In the statement, BLM criticized the ACLU’s approach to white supremacy in regard to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, suggesting that the organization provides an unnecessary platform for white supremacists.

“When is the free speech of the oppressed protected?” a BLM group representative asked. “We know from personal experience that rights granted to wealthy, white, cis, male, straight bodies do not trickle down to marginalized groups. We face greater barriers and consequences for speaking.”

After reading the statement aloud, the group’s representative took her place back in line, and the protesters continued to chant.

At one point, Gastanaga asked the students: “Is conversation not possible?”

The chanting continued. Thirty minutes into the event, the sponsors canceled the event. Students interested in talking to Gastanaga clustered around her to talk. But the protesters surrounded them and drowned out their conversation by chanting with increased volume. The students then dispersed.

The College’s BLM chapter took credit on its Facebook page through a livestream of the event, as well as a written post: “Tonight, we shut down an event at William & Mary where Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, was speaking. In contrast to the ACLU, we want to reaffirm our position of zero tolerance for white supremacy no matter what form it decides to masquerade in.”

After the incident, W&M President Taylor Reveley issued the following statement:

William & Mary has a powerful commitment to the free play of ideas. We have a campus where respectful dialogue, especially in disagreement, is encouraged so that we can listen and learn from views that differ from our own, so that we can freely express our own views, and so that debate can occur. Unfortunately, that type of exchange was unable to take place Wednesday night when an event to discuss a very important matter – the meaning of the First Amendment — could not be held as planned. …

Silencing certain voices in order to advance the cause of others is not acceptable in our community. This stifles debate and prevents those who’ve come to hear a speaker, our students in particular, from asking questions, often  hard questions, and from engaging in debate where the strength of ideas, not the power of shouting, is the currency. William & Mary must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations, honest debate and civil dialogue

Nice to know that Revely supports free speech. The question is this: What is he willing to do to uphold it? Not much, apparently. The Flat Hat makes no mention of any discipline or sanction against the protesters.

There is a back story to this event, which I will allude to briefly but hope others take the time to research more deeply. Reveley met with student representatives of Black Lives Matter on March 29 for “ongoing conversations about race at William & Mary.” In an April 4 statement following that meeting, he said:

Many items on their list [of demands] are consistent with the recommendations that came last spring from our Task Force on Race and Race Relations. And many have already produced results or are in the planning state.

While we have made progress, there remains much to be done. Racial discrimination at William & Mary is flatly unacceptable. We all have a role to play to ensure that our university is a place where everyone is welcome and respected and where we can and do learn from one another.

On April 19, William & Mary announced plans to commit $1 million to a more diverse faculty, rename two residence halls after African-Americans, and hire a consultant to strengthen diversity in hiring, training and assessment of campus culture. Future priorities include creating a vice president of diversity and inclusion, and investing $35 million to increase diversity among faculty and senior administrators.

Bacon’s bottom line: This will not end well for Revely. None of these developments made much news at the time, and no one outside the university would have known about them had not Black Lives Matter partisans, after demanding respect for their own views, undertaken to deprive others of the right to express theirs. This is a new phenomena for Virginia campuses, and Revely had better get hold of the situation or he will risk a severe backlash. For Virginia’s higher-ed community, which is lobbying for major concessions from the General Assembly, the timing couldn’t be worse. I cannot imagine Republican legislators responding positively to haughty BLM demands and W&M promises to divert $35 million in funds to increase diversity.

A couple of predictions: The demands of Black Live Matters and their ideological cohorts are limitless. No matter what the W&M administration does to placate them, it will never be enough. BLM will always make more demands. The reason is simple: Their demands are largely impossible to fulfill. There is a limited pipeline of African-Americans getting Ph.D.s, and every college in the country is vying for these candidates. Likewise, there is a limited supply of minority high school graduates qualified to attend an elite institution like W&M, and every other elite institution — mostly private schools with lots more money to throw around — are competing to recruit them. Finally, the actions of Black Lives Matter are so militant and offensive, they create the very atmosphere of super-charged racial sensitivity that makes every racial interaction a potentially stressful event and feeds their own feelings of alienation. This cannot possibly contribute to an atmosphere of racial amity.

Emboldened by the administration’s weak response, campus radicals — and the BLM movement at W&M includes many whites — are out of control. I predict that we’ll see more of this kind of behavior. The situation will get worse before it gets better.

New Cause for Alarm: Too Many White Teachers, Not Enough Black

Source: “Report on the Recommendations of the Taskforce to Diversify Virginia’s Educator Pipeline.”

Seeking to close the educational achievement gap between whites on the one hand and African-Americans and Hispanics on the other, the Virginia Department of Education has found a new focus: an insufficient number of “teachers of color.”

Even as the number of minorities in Virginia schools now equal the number of whites, Virginia’s teachers are becoming “less diverse over time,” states a report of the Taskforce to Diversify Virginia’s Educator Pipeline made to the Virginia Board of Education. “Demographically, minority students make up 48.7 percent of Virginia’s student population, but only 21.4 percent of the state’s teachers are minorities. Research indicates that a racially representative mix of teachers and administrators can be directly correlated to positive educational outcomes for minority students.”

In Virginia’s school system, diversity has become an end unto itself. “All Virginia students benefit personally and intellectually when they learn from education professionals with a variety of racial, ethnic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds,” states the report. “We believe there is value in all students learning from teachers with diverse backgrounds; and we simultaneously recognize that research indicates there is a unique role teachers of color play in improving the lives of students of color.”

The task force says Virginia should endeavor reduce the gap between the percentage of minority students and the percentage of minority teachers, now 27%, to 15% by  by 2040.

There are two problems, states the report. First, according to national statistics, teachers of color leave the profession at a higher rate than whites: 18.9% per year turnover in 2012-13 compared to 15% for white teachers. Second, the percentage of minority students enrolled in education schools is declining. “Minority enrollment in Virginia’s teacher preparation programs has fallen from more than 50 percent in the 2010-2011 school year to only 33 percent in 2016-2017.”

The task force’s proposed solution is to remove barriers to minority students seeking to become teachers. The conventional pathway to the teaching profession entails a five-year program for a B.A. and M.A., during the course of which the average Virginia teacher will have accrued $50,879 in debt. States the report: “When combined with low teacher pay, the high cost of training is a powerful deterrent for young people considering a future in the teaching profession.”

The state should revise its criteria so that students can become teachers through development of a four-year undergraduate major. Also, Virginia should provide financial assistance for minority teaching candidates, give student teaching stipends to low-income students, and devise innovative ways to provide compensation to student teachers during their student-teaching experience. Other solutions include encouraging minority high school students to become teachers and making more of provisional licensure.

Bacon’s bottom line: Wow. It’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the bedrock assumption that “diversity” among teachers is a meaningful determinant in the educational outcomes of students. I’d like to evaluate the “research” that stands behind this proposition as well as any that might contradict it. If the ethnic identity of teachers and students is so crucial, I’d especially like to see how the research explains that Asian-American students consistently out-perform whites academically even though the number of Asian-American teachers is a tiny percentage of the whole.

But let’s accept the report on its own terms, including the proposition that the ethnic identity of the teacher matters. One might ask why minority teachers leave the teaching profession at a higher rate than white teachers. Do we know why they are leaving? Has anyone asked the minority teachers why they are leaving? The Task Force does not consider option of reducing teacher turnover, choosing to focus exclusively on the supply of new students.

Interestingly, the Task Force might have a point about the educational pathway for new teachers. Perhaps the requirements are too high — not just for minority teachers but all teachers. After all, as the task force notes, the problem schools have recruiting minority teachers is just a sub-set of the difficulty they have recruiting teachers in general. Who put these barriers into place? Did the Virginia Teachers Association play a role? Assuredly, the justification proffered for instituting more demanding standards was to improve the quality of teachers, but according to public choice theory, the hidden purpose was to restrict the supply of new teachers. Labor shortages give teachers more power to mau-mau state and local government for higher salaries and  benefits. If the Task Force prompts legislators to take a look at the entire system of teacher credentialing, it might have done us all a favor.

The high cost of getting a teaching degree also circles back to a perennial issue of interest to Bacon’s Rebellion — the excessive cost of education. Why is it so expensive to teach students how to teach? What is going on inside Virginia’s schools of education? Should not part of the solution be to bring tuition back to  reasonable levels?

The Task Force addresses none of the broader issues, and that’s a missed opportunity. Among all the factors that influence academic achievement among African-Americans and Hispanics, I would be willing to bet that the ethnic mix of teachers is secondary at best. I would be amazed if closing the ethnicity gap between teachers and students has any measurable effect whatsoever. Indeed, the obsession with racial bean counting strikes me as part of what is wrong with public education today.