overwhelming evidence

Home » overwhelming evidence

Is it about the facts or is it about racial insensitivity?

Is it about the facts or is it about racial insensitivity?

So, today, as I was driving home, I heard a brief snippet of a story on NPR’s Morning Edition. It has something to do with a university president who wrote that the 1787 compromise that black men were 3/5 of a person was an excellent example of congressional compromise. According to the NPR story, Emory University President James Wagner set off a firestorm. In my opinion, this is an excellent example of a real race issue in the United States.

There’s so many ways to look at this controversy. Let’s start with what President James Wagner (let me add, for completeness sake, that I graduated from Emory University way back in 1983 with a bachelor of arts in chemistry) really said. “One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote.” These words are 100% true. From the earliest founding of our country, we have overwhelming evidence that compromise was necessary in order to form the United States and in order to keep the United States together. I applaud President Wagner at trying to point out that in order for our country to run, Congress needs to make compromises. The “my way or the highway” idea works wonderfully in a dictatorship or a monarchy but is an impossibility if you’re trying to run a democracy or, as conservatives like to point out, a constitutional republic.

So what is the controversy? Well, President Wagner, while trying to make an extremely important point about compromise, touched on (or jumped up and down on) the 3rd rail. Race. On one hand, this 3/5 compromise did allow the United States to form and flourish for its first 100 years. On the other hand, this 3/5 compromise allowed over 600,000 Americans to die in the Civil War. This 3/5 compromise allowed millions of blacks to be enslaved for more than 100 years. This 3/5 compromise, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why we still have racial problems in this country today. If, in 1787, truly enlightened men sat down and talked about race, we might not have all the problems that we continue to have today.

I am writing this blog post to neither praise nor denigrate President Wagner. I’m writing this post just to point out that race is it still an incredibly difficult thing to talk about in the United States. In a lot of the conversations that we have today, race is still the elephant in the room. Think about it. When we discuss the minimum wage, don’t you hear echoes of race throughout the discussion? When we discuss education and our failing public schools, don’t you hear echoes of race in that discussion? Just yesterday, Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky, wrote that we need to privatize public education. This is a code. This basically argues that the rich and powerful will be able to educate their kids to the highest standards in the world while the rest of us (think the poor and minorities) are simply out of luck. Oh, don’t think for one minute this isn’t a race-based argument. It is. One of Ronald Reagan’s classic arguments against bloated government had to do with the welfare queen driving her Cadillac to pick up her welfare check. This image was laced with racial overtones. As a matter fact, after receiving the Republican nomination, Reagan’s first political speech was made in Philadelphia, Mississippi and it was on states’ rights. (In the 1840s and 1850s, before the Civil War, Congressman argued that the national government did not have the power to tell states whether they can or cannot have slavery. It was a states rights issue.) Don’t try to tell me that this didn’t have significant racial overtones.

Look, over the last 30-40 years we’ve made a lot of progress on race. We still have a long way to go. Supreme Court is looking over whether the Voting Rights Act is still applicable. The US Court of Appeals recently found that Texas intentionally tried to disenfranchise minorities with redistricting. Trayvon Martin. This case has tons of racial overtones. Remember the police officer arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his own house? Even if you can wrap your mind around the fact that the arrest may or may not have had racial overtones, the discussion surrounding the arrest clearly did have racial overtones. I do not have the answer. I do know that in the year 2013, we still have racial problems in the United States.

The uproar over President Wager’s comments is not about the facts. The facts are not in dispute. Instead, this whole controversy is about race, racial insensitivity and the subsequent response to racial insensitivity. We need to fix this if we are to really grow as a nation.

By |2013-02-24T19:28:19-04:00February 24th, 2013|Race|18 Comments

Critical Race Theory and Derrick Bell

Over the last several days, I have tried to present what I believe is overwhelming evidence of systematic racism or suppression of minorities and the United States. We have looked at a broad number of categories in which minorities fall short of their white counterparts. If you’re going to assume that at birth everyone has approximately the same intelligence and mental capabilities, why is it that blacks and other minorities continue to underachieve? Could it possibly be that somehow the system is rigged? Could it possibly be that somehow there’s a conscious or subconscious effort to promote one race or class of people over another? After looking at all of this data, Derrick Bell has concluded that race does¬†have¬†something to do with this outcome.

So, what is Critical Race Theory? Derrick Bell describes it in his 1995 speech as “a body of legal scholarship, now about a decade old, a majority of members are both existentially people of color and ideology committed to the struggle against racism, primarily as institutionalized in by law. Those critical race theorists who are white are usually cognizant of and committed to the overthrow of their own racial privilege.” He goes on to say, “critical race theory writing and lecturing is characterized by frequent use of the first-person, storytelling, narrative, allegory, interdisciplinary treatment of the law, and the unapologetic use of creativity. The work is often disrupted because its commitment to antiracism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action and other liberal measures.”

All of a sudden, critical race theory does not sound like some wacko liberal craziness. Instead, after we thoughtfully review the data, critical race theory sounds like an attempt to address decades, if not centuries, of racism. It basically recognizes that racism exists in the United States. It also recognizes that liberal attempts at reversing racism has, in many cases, failed. The goal seems to be to find another way to inform, enlighten and otherwise illustrate that we need to do something different if we want a different outcome.

The real tragedy, as I see it, is the trashing of Professor Derick Bell as some sort of racist and the deliberate mischaracterization of his work. Some in the mainstream media have made no attempt to actually explain his theory, but instead have gone out of their way to misrepresent his theory. They have played into white fear and black stereotypes. Their despicable behavior should be condemned with the strongest language.

You can learn more about the critical race theory here.

Thoughts? What have I missed?

By |2012-04-05T20:48:42-04:00March 19th, 2012|Legal|7 Comments

Remember Curveball?

Let’s go back in history. Let’s go back to those dark days of 2001 and 2002. These were days after an airliner crashed in Pennsylvania, an airliner crashed into the Pentagon and, of course, the twin towers fell. America wanted revenge. We wanted blood. Sure, the attacks were launched from Afghanistan but as Donald Rumsfeld said, there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. So, the administration decided to go after a long-time nemesis, Iraq. The administration decided that we needed overwhelming evidence that Iraq was not only a threat to its neighbors but a threat to us, here in America. They need to convince us that Iraq was an immediate threat. The Bush administration went after us in a multiple different ways in a coordinated media blitz. First of all, and most scary, they needed a nuclear threat. Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger. Secondly, and this dovetails into the uranium story, Iraq was buying these high-grade aluminum tubes which “could only be used to centrifuge high-grade uranium.” Thirdly, an Iraqi official met with Al Qaeda in Prague. This was the Al Qaeda connection. This connected Iraq to our source of rage, the attacks on September 11th. Finally, we had the mobile biological labs. These were all lies, but that’s the beauty of the Bush administration. It wasn’t just one lie, but several lies, which took us years to unravel.

This brings us to Curveball. The first time I remember reading about Curveball was in Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies. Richard Clarke described curveball as a pathological liar. He was an Iraqi citizen in German custody. The Germans didn’t trust his information. The Americans did not have the ability to directly question Curveball. Yet, somehow, this guy’s wild fantasies were uttered as fact by the Bush administration. It appears that Curveball has surfaced. He has admitted, his lies but it is too late now. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people have died. We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and have really nothing to show for it. Saddam Hussein is dead. The sons of Saddam Hussein are also dead. Now, all of this destruction isn’t Curveball’s fault. The Bush administration is to blame for ginned up lies. If it hadn’t been Curveball they would have found someone else’s lies to push onto a gullible American public.

From TPM:

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by German and American intelligence officials, now admits he made up tales of mobile biological weapons trucks and clandestine weapons factories in Iraq, information that was used by the Bush White House to press the case for war. He also says he’d do it again.

“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” Janabi told The Guardian. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”

In a series of meetings with the Guardian in Germany where he has been granted asylum, he said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bioweapons trucks throughout 2000. He said the BND had identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and approached him shortly after 13 March of that year, looking for inside information about Saddam’s Iraq.”I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” he said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.”

In his crucial speech to the U.N. in the run-up to the war in 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell quoted intelligence information supplied by Janabi as justification for the Bush administration’s case against Iraq. Years later, reports would show that many within the CIA were expressing serious doubts about Curveball’s credibility at the time.

By |2011-02-18T12:33:35-04:00February 18th, 2011|9-11, Bush Administration, Iraq|Comments Off on Remember Curveball?
Go to Top