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Moral Outrage at Yale Law School:

Seventeen year-old Kiwi Camara uses the word "nigs" to refer to African Americans as an unusually young Harvard law student. He later apologizes, and denies that he harbors ill feelings towards African Americans. Several years later, editors at the Yale Law Journal, unaware of his controversial past, offer to publish an article he wrote in a symposium issue, and later invite him to speak at the relevant symposium. When the "community" discovers Camara's past, all hell breaks loose at Yale, with outraged students arguing that a moral reprobate like Camara should not be allowed to publish in the hallowed Journal, much less speak in Yale's hallowed halls. Camara apologizes again, unequivocally. (See previous VC coverage by Eugene here.) Nevertheless, mass meetings, protests, etc. ensue, culminating last Friday when 1/3 of the symposium audience walked out on Camara's talk.

By contrast, when I was a Yale Law student, the Law Journal accepted an article by convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is, as Stuart Taylor summed it up in 1995, "probably an unrepentant killer who on December 9, 1981, stood over 26-year-old Daniel Faulkner and put a bullet between his eyes while the already wounded officer lay helpless on his back." (For even more certainty on the issue, see here and here, among other sources.] You can find the article at 100 Yale L.J. 993 (1991). As far as I can recall, the only student outrage I witnessed over this publication was some grumbling by a few Federalist Society types. (The Journal, of which I was a member, did receive a fair number of outraged letters from alumni and others who had read about the controversy elsewhere.)

Granted, the law students who currently attend Yale are not the same people as the students who attended Yale in 1991, and are not responsible to the indifference displayed in 1991 to the Journal publishing a convicted murderer's work. It's possible that the students who have been outraged over Camara would have been even more outraged over Abu-Jamal, but given the left-wing orthodoxy [which holds Abu Jamal is an innocent "political prisoner"] that has long pervaded the most activist element of the Yale Law student body, I sincerely doubt it.

Not surprisingly, I don't look to the Yale Law student body as my moral compass.

Mackey:
Thank you for opening the post to comments. I have a close friend who went to Harvard Law when the Camara incident blew up there and they are at least vaguely apologetic for Camara who was, I believe, an extremely young law student at the time. Even without this frame of reference, I think I'd still think it appropriate to permit Camara to publish and speak at the symposium. That said, I was struck by three things when reading your post....

1) Mumia Abu-Jamal was, as you note, tried and convicted and I take it sentenced for his offense. In short, he was punished. Camara was not.

2) Mumia Abu-Jamal's actions were violent nearly to the point of inhumanity. I don't doubt that the friends and family of Officer Faulkner are deeply and justifiably upset. I find his actions horrific. But I think it is understandable that an African American student would be more personally offended by the use of the word "nigs" than by a murder of someone with no apparent relation to themselves.

3) I think the basic premise of your post is that Abu-Jamal is more morally blameworthy than Camara. Even ignoring the two points above in assessing that, I'm not certain it can be readily assumed that moral blameworthiness is the rubric for guiding either the protesters or the ultimate decision.
3.27.2006 11:13pm
e:
In short, he was punished. Camara was not.

1. Public condemnation already served. How many years should someone wear the letter for stupid words he used as a seventeen year old?

2. I don't find it reasonable at all that someone thinks words or cartoons are worth more than an innocent life.
3.27.2006 11:28pm
Mackey:
"2. I don't find it reasonable at all that someone thinks words or cartoons are worth more than an innocent life."

Really? And by "worth more" I take it you mean, as I had said, "more personally offen[sive]"?

How about a third world child starving and someone calling your mother an extremely derogatory name in front of you, your father, her parents and a kindergarten class? Which do you think a typical person finds more offensive?
3.27.2006 11:33pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Well, I happen to think the world benefits little from this kind of thought-criminalization. I think the PC movement, at some level, just escalates anger on all sides. When we've had the kind of rampant racial discrimination in this country that we've had, I don't see how we should ostracize anyone who claims to disown any racist ideals. If past racism is that kind of a crime, we're going to have to ostracize an awful lot of people.

On the other hand, here's, I think, a tough question: Don't you use similar thought-criminalization rhetoric against those you deem anti-semites? Maybe I'm wrong, but it strikes me as not entirely dissimilar.
3.27.2006 11:35pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The position of the Yale students is excessively harsh, I think, but not ridiculous. Certainly not something to harp about.

Southern white male that I am, I'm quite conscious that if I used the term in question, in public, about black people, there are quarters in which I would *never* be forgiven. C'est la vie.

The Yale LJ was right to (implicitly) forgive Camara's conduct. The students who objected certainly had the right to do so, and I'm pleased that they walked out rather than shouting him down, etc. I hope that when they're older &wiser, they have a bit more tolerance for human frailty.
3.27.2006 11:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I think the basic premise of your post is that Abu-Jamal is more morally blameworthy than Camara."

Well yes. Do you doubt that?
3.27.2006 11:39pm
Leland:
I might be wrong, but I think his post is one of many wondering why some people are more outraged by words and pictures than senseless violence. I'm not talking video game violence, but the type of violence where someone's life is horribly destroyed.

When a person kills an officer, it is usually not just the friends and family that are upset, it is the community that officer was protecting when he/she died in the line of duty. If a killer has no problems killing an officer, then a civilian won't mean much either.

As far as Camara being punished, exactly what punishment is justified? If you want to talk relatively, does Camara have to be jailed like Mumia in order to be sufficiently punished? Otherwise, I would think being condemned at two law schools for several years for the use of a word, for which a person has admitted guilt and sorrow, is some form of punishment.

Finally, why is it only understandable for an African American student to be personally offended by the use of the word "nigs"? I realize I'm talking out the comparison to murder, but judging by the responses at both colleges, I think the word was offensive across racial demographics.
3.27.2006 11:40pm
Mackey:
A. Zarkov,

No, I don't doubt that. I don't know it for a fact but, from what I understand, I think it a very good assumption.

But I do doubt "that moral blameworthiness is the rubric for guiding either the protesters or the ultimate decision." If you don't, perhaps you could tell me why you don't?
3.27.2006 11:41pm
Professor Smith:
In my experience, whenever students take notes, they generally find the details of the material boring (certainly the memorization of case law for a young law student would fit here.) They often, therefore, tend to state things--never INTENDING for anyone else to read these things--in rather inflammatory ways, because as a memory device, it helps to shock oneself. That is to say, a lot of students, while in the highly mechanical and unintellectual act of typing up or hand-writing notes, try to spice things up with ill-considered, off-the-cuff remarks.

This whole flap connects back to the biggest problem in today's discourse: people are too lazy to really consider the content of other's people arguments. It's much easier for someone to see the word "nig" and flip the "RACIST!" speech than it is to, say, dissect a lengthy academic paper denouncing Israel and do the same. Aside from this one incident, to my knowledge at least, Camara has done nothing to suggest he is, when actually THINKING (as opposed to just transcribing), a racist. Maybe the Yalies should try to think a little bit more themselves.
3.27.2006 11:47pm
lawprofcommentator (mail):
Mackey, the underlying contrast: massive outrage about Camara (when the YLJ didn't even know about his past when they accepted his article), versus barely a passing thought regarding Mumia (when they knew he was a convicted murderer when they accepted his piece).
3.27.2006 11:49pm
Mackey:
Leland,

I think your post offered more expansive ways in which both actions affected the broader community. I agree both that the broader community is impacted by cop killings and that more than just African Americans are affected by racist remarks at the expense of African Americans. I do think it's safe to say that both African Americans and the family of Officer Faulkner are more directly affected by the two actions, respectively. And, of course, I suppose I was being a bit narrow in my depiction, to prove the point that African American law students are substantially more impacted by one than the other. This may be true of Caucasian students as well. This may also be untrue of African American students with specific connections to the damage done by cop-killing. But I think it's likely defensible as a generalization about individual impact.
3.27.2006 11:50pm
jvarisco:
Are you suggesting that Mumia's article should not have been published for that reason? While I think the guy is a terrible specimen of humanity (killing a cop!), I don't see how that relates to his ability to write an article. Presumably articles should be published because of their content, not who their authors are.
3.28.2006 12:02am
Cabbage:
Isn't the better comparison to that Taliban terrorist Yale has accepted as a student. He goes on a national propaganda tour defending the destruction of the Buddha statues, the crushing of homosexuals under walls (WTF!?!) and the pulling out (not trimming!) of women's fingernails (with pliers!) for the "crime" of wearing nail polish...

We hear in his defense that he was a "very young" for a fascist propaganda minister, so we should cut him some slack...

I was at HLS with Kiwi and don't believe him to be a racist. I do think Mr. Taliban is a monster though - so why are the yalies rallying around him? Oh, that's right, they hate America (sort of just kidding, what possible excuse do they have though?)... =)
3.28.2006 12:03am
Cabbage:
Ugh, the =) was too much. I need to remember to preview.
3.28.2006 12:05am
Kovarsky (mail):
Professor Smith,

Perhaps I'm incorrect in my recollection of the incident, but I believe Camara electively posted his notes on a listserve or a shared website or something like that.

I don't believe Camara had his notes secretly exposed - I think it was more than your average case of vaguely provocative notes vernacular. I think there was some expectation that other people would see them, but I might be remembering incorrectly.

Out of curiousity, is the primary articulated reason for not publishing the Mumia piece - is it an objection about respect for the victim's family, an objection about punishment, a little of both, did the YLJ do it for publicity - I'm not entirely clear.

Thanks.
3.28.2006 12:12am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mackey:

If moral blame blameworthiness is not the guiding principle behind the protestors, then what is? The protestors simply regard Camara as having committed an unforgivable transgression. Young people, particularly those who have attended elite schools, have been subjected to an unremitting barrage of guilt about race over the last 20 years. My daughter has complained to me many times that her high school teachers, college teachers, and even law professors are constantly trying to make her feel guilty for being a white person. This climate has produced a super sensitivity about race.
3.28.2006 12:14am
Kovarsky (mail):
If there is some stratum of moral taint below which one must sink in order to be the subject of a categorical refusal to publish, then that place is several layers closer to hell than Mumia.
3.28.2006 12:16am
davidbernstein (mail):
Just to be clear, I wasn't one of those who objected to publishing Abu Jamal's piece; I thought if he had something interesting enough to say, he should be published. But if one is going to evaluate authors based on their moral character, I think it should be clear which was the more questionable publishing decision.
3.28.2006 12:19am
e:

How about a third world child starving and someone calling your mother an extremely derogatory name in front of you, your father, her parents and a kindergarten class? Which do you think a typical person finds more offensive?

Someone who is aware of both the remote death and the personal insult has serious moral issues and lack of perspective if they call the personal insult more offensive. Perhaps people are ignorant of such remote injuries, but that is not the situation you described. If someone makes racial slurs to my face, I might be offended and not really thinking about starving children in Bangladesh or imprisoned families in North Korea. But when I'm informed of those other events I cannot reasonably say that I'm more offended by words than those miseries of humanity. I do not need to visit North Korea or know the slain police officer to make my moral comparison.
3.28.2006 12:26am
Kovarsky (mail):
Isn't Camara the youngest Harvard grad ever or something like that? And this was six years ago, when he was 16 or 17?

And incidentally, to whatever extent you should be willing to withhold moral judgment on a teenager that did something like Camara did, you should be willing to withhold some judgment for the Yale students who engaged in the protest. Incidentally, that was a "you" addressed to nobody in particular.
3.28.2006 12:33am
Justin (mail):
I think there's a difference between, say, Mumia's article about the death penalty being accepted, and say, an article by Mumia on property law being accepted. If Mr. Camara's article was on racial speech in law school, you might have analogeous issues. Which way that would go in a moral sense is debatable, but the relationship is flawed.
3.28.2006 12:33am
Ray (mail):
I shudder to think that someone out there might have me on video or some other such record at the age of 17.

Abu is a murderer, Camara was just a kid saying something stupid.

Taking the subject out of this context, as so many have, is absurd.

We're comparing cold blooded murder to a 17 year old lacking discretion. C'mon.

And the only worth the writing of someone like Abu might have is in the context of his being the subject of psychoanalytical study. To do otherwise is to somehow grant his actions and views with credibility. The difference being that of reading MeinKampf as view of a madman, or as a credible source for cultural diversity.
3.28.2006 12:36am
Justin (mail):
Also, neither the first nor the third article show anything that approaches "certainty" that Mumia was guilty,and Lopez's LA Times Opinion piece is a hack job, hardly evidence of anything.
3.28.2006 12:42am
Justin (mail):
Ray, not a single person, not even the prosecution, claims that the murder was "cold blooded" - the police were admittedly beating up his brother when Mumia arrived on the scene, whatever happened next.
3.28.2006 12:43am
Kovarsky (mail):
To be honest, I'm not that surprised that people in the age group that Yale students are in have a difficult time stepping back and having some perspective on quite how silly, stupid, and obnoxious a seventeen year old can be. I wouldn't lord morality over either one at this point. I just find the impulse to blame the Yale students odd. I would guess that five years from now, less than 1/3 of those students would walk out again.
3.28.2006 12:44am
Mackey:
A. Zarkov,

Your response to my request to "perhaps... tell me why you don't [doubt moral blameworthiness is the motivating factor]?" appears to have been to simply ask me what else it would be.

Needless to say, that's not a very persuasive answer, if it can even be called an 'answer.' I think I've played fair about answering questions asked of me; I'd like you to do the same.

But, in the words of the immortal Christopher Walkin in 'Suicide Kings', "okay, Brett, have it your way."

1. Moral blameworthiness isn't even the only plausible criminological answer. How about: deterrence. I think it can be safely assumed that denying a legal author publication is a more effective way to ensure that future authors don't say "nigs" or other offensive comments in outlines (or just don't put them on the Student Senate website) than that future authors don't murder police officers or engage in other violent crimes. Isn't Camara's offense, though less morally blameworthy, both more common and probably (from what I know) more deliberate?

2. Criminological certainty. And I know I'm making no friends with this point, but don't we actually know with greater certainty that Camara did what he's accused of? I don't think I need to delve into crime and race here. Isn't it just sufficient to say that Camara admits it and admits its wrongness? This can even make Mumia MORE blameworthy but Camara's offense more certain as well.

Now, some non-criminological explanations...

1. Intellectual elitism. Did it ever occur to any of you Yale-bashers that maybe the Yalies just expect a lot more out of Camara the wunderkind than Mumia the jailbird? Perhaps an odd point to make considering they're both able enough to publish in the YLJ, but still...

2. Recruitment. What if, whatever their moral blameworthiness, students estimated that Camara would more dramatically impact the prestige of Yale Law or even just harm minority recruitment more than Mumia?

These are four, not necessarily wholly plausible, but reasonably amusing possibilities. I can think of more if pressed, I suppose, but would much rather hear from someone else on why the assumption that moral blameworthiness is the motivating factor is a good one.

Lastly, I must confess that, even as a white male from arelatively affluent and loving upbringing, I have little sympathy for the burden placed on your daughter in having to hear ("constantly"? What classes does she take??) about white privilege. Sorry, just how I roll.
3.28.2006 12:48am
Mackey:
E:

"Someone who is aware of both the remote death and the personal insult has serious moral issues and lack of perspective if they call the personal insult more offensive. Perhaps people are ignorant of such remote injuries, but that is not the situation you described. If someone makes racial slurs to my face, I might be offended and not really thinking about starving children in Bangladesh or imprisoned families in North Korea."

Awareness and ignorance are not really the same thing as "not really thinking" about something, is it? I find it a little difficult to swallow that people, anyone, really, is ignorant to problems like starvation, war, etc. Yet they sure act really upset when you call them a bad name, don't they? I suppose when you stub your toe, you say, "but some people don't even have toes...."

Flippant remarks aside, I should just confess my sense of offensiveness and my sense of moral blameworthiness are not so singularly united that I don't get angry at things that upset me personally but are insignificant to the global community. You're a better man than me, I guess.
3.28.2006 12:54am
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
This argument is inane. It's not the duty of the YLS student body to act as a universal moral compass.
3.28.2006 12:59am
dweeb2 (mail):
Am I the only one who is astonished that the DEAN OF THE YALE LAW SCHOOL walked out with the protesters? See the article Bernstein links to.

Has anyone heard of a Dean intentionally walking out on on a speaker who was invited to present an academic paper at his law school? Supporting the right to protest is one thing: Dissing the presentation of an academic paper to score a political point seems like another. But maybe not to Harold Koh.
3.28.2006 1:15am
Kovarsky (mail):
i'm so outraged that the dean was outraged at the outrage camara exhibited!

stella!
3.28.2006 1:20am
Donald Kahn (mail):
I can't believe the number of repulsive self-regarding prigs who post on this site. How can anyone split hairs on whether this child is more blameworthy than a murderer?
It would be enough for me to walk out on any meeting that one of them were to address.
3.28.2006 1:42am
Mackey:
Though I think I've repeatedly disclaimed the moral blameworthiness question (which one's more blameworthy; not why blameworthiness is the determining factor), I can only assume Kahn meant yours truly. So, with one last hypothetical, I will ride into the e-sunset on this thread.

Which is more morally blameworthy? Inviting a recently-exposed racist into your journal pages and onto your campus (when you will not do so for others, such as a discriminatory employer) or protesting that speaker (when you have not done so with others, such as a cop-killer)?

Cheers,
Mackey
3.28.2006 1:54am
Kovarsky (mail):
glen,

i'm not trying to be obnoxious when i say this, but i think it's not inane precisely because some people think it isn't.
3.28.2006 1:57am
Kovarsky (mail):
Mackey,

I think your point is well-taken too. We're not talking about who is more morally blameworthy, we're talking about what was the more journalistically appropriate course of action. That's quite a fair point and its not going unnoticed.
3.28.2006 2:03am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mackey:

Your criminological answer 1 is reasonable. But I think the other answers are a bit of a stretch.

I wasn't asking for sympathy for my daughter. I merely offered it as an example of the climate in our educational system to try to explain the actions of the Yale student protestors.

I don't understand your question: "What classes does she take??" It sounds like you don't take the problem very seriously. When I went to school, my teachers and professors refrained from injecting their politics and opinions into the classroom. When I go to doctor or other expert professional, I don't get subjected to his politics. If I did I would take my business elsewhere. I expect the same from professors. Currently my daughter's law professor for legal ethics (a required course) announced he was not going to lecture about legal ethics. He has chosen to go off topic and inject his politics into the lectures. I consider this unacceptable and a form of consumer fraud. I think the problem is tenure.
3.28.2006 2:12am
Kovarsky (mail):
A. Zarkov,

To be fair, Mackey was making an otherwise fair point about the relatively tangible opportunity that being published in the Yale Law Journal offers for someone like Camara. It is a fairer point and I certainly didn't take him to be equating the two's moral culpability.
3.28.2006 2:26am
SP:
I am curious - did Mumia just "happen" to submit an article? I'm curious as to the actual academic merits of his work.

I'm a little stunned that Mackey thinks that there is anything to Yale's position than just rank politics.
3.28.2006 2:28am
SP:
I am a little amused at the "Disempowered Voices in Legal Academia" seminar. I wonder how actively Yale, and the larger legal community at large, recruits Filipino Americans like Mr. Camara?
3.28.2006 2:38am
Kovarsky (mail):
SP,

would you mind clarifying what "yale's position" is, since the different institutional actors seem to be taking a variety of stances on this particular issue?

what is with the yale hating; it's very odd.
3.28.2006 2:45am
Mackey:
A. Zarkov,

To be honest, I don't take the problem very seriously but that's not what I meant by the question.

I don't take the problem very seriously because I think she, and I, and the rest of us, should feel guilty (read inclined to change, progress) about all of the ways in which we're privileged. I also, to be quite honest, don't think your daughter or others in her shoes really lose sleep over the guilt. It makes for some negative class experiences but I don't think it's really an oppressive emotional burden.

The meat of my question, however, seems to conform basically to your comment. I attended a fairly liberal law school in the Northeast and was not often encountered with these accusations. In Contracts or Torts, for instance, very little of this material came up. In Constitutional Law, some more. And I took classes specifically in these areas because of an interest and because I found a lack of the material in typical law school classes. With legal ethics, I'm not entirely surprised that questions of race come up but would be surprised to know they're constant. But that's really all I meant by asking what classes she took. I'm not overly sympathetic, as I've said, but I didn't intend to harp on her class-selection any more than that.


p.s.- Thanks, Kovarsky.
3.28.2006 2:47am
Grand CRU (mail):
I think Harold Koh did the right thing. He used his position to make an official statement. The official statement he made was the right one.
3.28.2006 2:51am
SP:
I take the actions of Yale's dean to be the "Yale position." As the Dean himself pointed out, the Law Review is an independent entity that Yale had no control over, which is his way of saying that, had such control existed, Camara's invitation would have been retracted.

The Yale hating is because they're more interested in self-congratulation than, you know, this whole "law" thing.
3.28.2006 2:52am
Mackey:
SP:

You wrote, "I'm a little stunned that Mackey thinks that there is anything to Yale's position than just rank politics."

I feel you misunderstand. I'm perfectly content to say that it is just rank politics and not a statement about moral culpability or blameworthiness. [That's kinda precisely why I've kept asking others to chime in in defense of the moralistic perspective.]

OK. Now I'm really riding off (by which I mean leaving the office.)
3.28.2006 2:53am
Mackey:
SP:

You wrote, "I'm a little stunned that Mackey thinks that there is anything to Yale's position than just rank politics."

I feel you misunderstand. I'm perfectly content to say that it is just rank politics and not a statement about moral culpability or blameworthiness. [That's kinda precisely why I've kept asking others to chime in in defense of the moralistic perspective.]

OK. Now I'm really riding off...promise. Happy to start up an e-mail exchange if someone's really chomping at the bit though.
3.28.2006 2:53am
Mackey:
Gr. Just had to get greedy on editing my last post....
3.28.2006 2:56am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Explain to my why I should care about anything that Yale Law Students do? They are children who argue about childish things. In a few years they will be working 24/7 in some document room and wondering why they thought they were so smart.
3.28.2006 2:58am
Kovarsky (mail):
you should care about yale because of the yankee doodle.
3.28.2006 3:33am
Cornellian (mail):
I thought the Yale Law Journal published legal scholarship (something about the name I suppose). I didn't know Abu-Jamal was a lawyer. What could he possibly have written that would be suitable for publication in the YLJ? Perhaps they could change the name to the Yale Journal of Law and Stuff Written by Convicted Murderers Who Have Inexplicably Become Fashionable Among the Idiots of the Left.

As I understand it Camara was 17 at the time he used that word. If saying something objectionable at 17 were grounds for refusing to publish that person's later writings, this country would have nothing to publish. Unfortunately, the typical 22 year old (even the typical 22 year old law student at Yale) just isn't old enough to appreciate fully just how utterly clueless 17 year olds are, even 17 year olds smart enough to get into law school.
3.28.2006 3:55am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Senator Byrd uses the word nigger quite frequently, even on national TV on one occasion, and is celebrated as one of the venerable Beades of the Senate.
3.28.2006 6:53am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I know, its "Bede"..I'm more a fan of the Venerable Mookie Williams myself.
3.28.2006 6:55am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mackey:

No my daughter does not lose sleep, but neither do the Yale protestors lose sleep because a 17 year old used an offensive word in what he probably though were his private note. And I don't think young white people should feel guilty because they have nothing to feel guilty for, unless you believe in collective guilt. If you want to play collective guilt games, then everyone is vulnerable, including Blacks. My whole point is this stuff should be kept out of the classroom.
3.28.2006 7:20am
Stefan (mail):
How about this 'problem', which I've had personally. One of my college roommates turned out to be pretty seriously antisemitic (which took a while to figure out, and which may have changed by now), went on to Yale Law School and is now tenured at a decent 2nd tier (but pretty good) law school. I've never voiced concerns to anybody but maybe two close friends about this (mine and his closest friend at the time), and never did anything to bring this matter to the attention of anybody who would have any influence on his career. Was that a mistake? Should I have made sure his views on Jews were known to law school admissions offices? When he got his clerkship? Tenure committees? What are my obligations here? Do I have to wait for a Senate confirmation hearing?

I'd actually consider coming forward for a Senate confirmation hearing, but for academic work I really don't think it's the right thing to do.
3.28.2006 7:25am
Per Son:
Several points/questions:

1) Isn't Mumia getting a new trial?

2) Kiwi was 17, but a student at Harvard Law School. You can't play the he is just a normal kid card.

3) HIS NOTES WERE NOT PRIVATE, THEY WERE POSTED ON A PUBLIC SITE, WHY CAN'T PEOPLE GET THAT!!!!!!
3.28.2006 7:36am
Walk It:
"My whole point is this stuff should be kept out of the classroom."

Hmm...anything that might be offensive to your 17-year-old girl should be kept out of her earshot? That covers a lot of history, which in my opinion, too many of your 17 to 25 year-olds don't know. This crew was brought up on the Simpsons and heh-heh butthead humor. Let em take their (non-physical) lumps, it's a good intro to "reality". Why doesn't the "but he's only 17" argument fly in other instances; don't baby your children, people. Sounds like this is how the system is supposed to work.

Now jailing Irving, or continually resigning your focus group representatives, because a Nation of Islam member is also in the group, that's ok. Funny how, depending on the content of the speech, we all have different preferences of what the hosting group should or should not do. Obviously, the "n's" remark has not yet blown over in all circles. Would it had been so different if your group had been slurred? I wonder.

If only we could realize how much speech and respect is such a big part of the ugliness out there. Teach your kids a little respect young, and not just respect for the things you find respectable. That's how the world grows. There really are American kids out there who don't know about ugly speech and it's unfortunate repercussions sometimes.
3.28.2006 7:40am
Per Son:
Correction. Mumia is not getting a new trial yet, but his appeal is currently being decided. So before anyone yells at me, I retract that comment.
3.28.2006 7:43am
rhinoman (mail):
Per Son:
1) Mumia isn't getting a new trial, a judge threw out the results of his sentencing hearing. Or something like that. He's still a convicted murderer.
2) Seventeen year-olds do dumbass things. And will say stupid stuff just for effect. If you're going to hold this against him, fine, but I think at Yale Law School you'd expect at least an attempt at moral consistency. If Senator Byrd (a former Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan) came to speak there, he'd get a big wet sloppy kiss from the dean and the student body. If there is any place where you'd expect rationality to overcome short term self righteous posturing, it would be a premier law school. Alas.
Have you ever read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson? The parallels here are distrubing.
3) One of the problems with the internet is that publishing is so damn easy. We've been spared many embarrassing pieces of writing just by the delay of having to send it out tomorrow morning. With a computer, you hit SEND, and away it goes. I've sent emails that I wish I could take back just five minutes later. Judging an adult's work based on a computer posting made when they were seventeen is lazy and stupid.
3.28.2006 8:04am
Pete Freans (mail):
If I may digress from the issue of Yale's choice of publications: Mr. Jamal was not and is not a lawyer. He is neither a scholar nor political prisoner. His bohemian, anti-establishment persona is a fictional creation of his that is legitimized and actively promoted by the celebrity likes of Ed Asner and various left-wing political groups. The hope of this racist cabal is that if enough public outrage generated (on false pretenses, of course), it will obfuscate the well-settled facts at trial, and maybe, just maybe, there will be enough justices to bend obediently to the mob.

As someone who is familiar with this case in its jurisdiction, Yale's gullibility does not surprise this non-Ivy League lawyer. I wonder if Yale's then-editors had the opportunity to review the trial transcripts and appeals before accepting this "sexy" cause celebre in one of the most respected legal journals in world. I appreciate Professor Bernstein pointing out this article.
3.28.2006 8:24am
Laura (mail):
I'm going to chime in on Zarkov's side here. My daughter is a college freshman. When she was in middle school she reacted with indignation to anything that sounded like racism. By the time she finished high school I had to work really hard to keep her from being a racist from blowback at the, yes, constant attempts to make her feel guilty for being white. Which classes? Well, English, U.S. History, Government. All required classes, by the way. The drumbeat (as liberals love to say) continued into her freshman English class last semester. Thank God, as a Biology major she's pretty well done with all that crap.
3.28.2006 8:35am
Angus (mail) (www):
There's a moral distinction to be drawn that I don't think anyone in the thread has identified yet.

First, many of the Yale students presumably believe that Abu-Jamal was wrongly convicted. If they're wrong about that, it's an error in factual judgment, not an error in moral judgment. If they're right, then Abu-Jamal has nothing to repent for.

Second, in each of Camara's apologies he has denied that he harbored any racism when he referred to his fellow students as "nigs," and in each he has failed to provide any explanation for why, in the absence of such racism, he would use such a term. It seems likely, given that context, that many of the students who protested his appearance reasonalby regard his apologies as insincere.

Is an unrepentant murderer worse than someone who uses a racial slur and is subsequently remorseful? Yes, of course. But being wrongly convicted of murder isn't evidence of any moral failing, in and of itself, while unrepentant racism is.

The Yale moral compasses seem, on the evidence Bernstein presents, to be working just fine.
3.28.2006 8:37am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Angus,

Yale students' apparent willingness to embrace the conclusion that Abu-Jamal is innocent is part of the problem. No one who objectively considered the case doubts his guilt, but countless - well - liberals, are all too happy to exonerate someone who tugs at romanticism. Abu-Jamal is no doubt a murderer. Camara, as a 17-yr old kid, said a stupid thing. What makes this even more disingenous, is that I'm willing to bet you dollars to donuts, that the majority of people protesting Camara, have at one point or another told a black joke, or laughed at one. Just as I suspect a lot of people on this thread half. The fact that we are even having this discussion reflects negatively on our society in general, and YLS in particular.
3.28.2006 8:59am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
half - have (sorry)
3.28.2006 9:02am
rhinoman (mail):
Angus,
What irritates me about the behavior of the students at YLS - and, it seems, the dean as well - is that they're willing to hear out a convicted murderer, but won't hear out an adult who used a racial epithet at the age of seventeen and has since apologized. This behavior lacks moral consistency and reeks of shallow self-righteousness.
Also, what reason could he give for using the word "nigs" that you would regard as sufficient? Could you give me an example? Or is he simply guilty for life for his actions as an obnoxious seventeen year old?
3.28.2006 9:26am
B. R. George (mail):
I'm not convinced this comparison is fair. Surely, a murderer is more blameworthy than somebody who has (in a youthful error since apologized for) said something quite hateful, but a convicted murderer also has a unique perspective on the legal system that might be valuable - if hearing about the criminal justice system from that perspective is something you're interested in, you may have no choice but to ask a convicted murderer. Was Camara offering any comparable unique insight that offset his depravities? If not, I'm not sure how your complaints complement each other (which isn't to say that the conduct of Yale Law School and its students was reasonable in either case).

Tangentially, am I the only person who's deeply troubled by the entire discussion of the Mumia business? It's easy enough for me to believe there were some irregularities in his trial, and I'd like to see those addressed in a careful and sober manner, but the only people calling for any closer look at the case seem to be political agitators eager to obscure the truth in any way that will cast Mr. Jamal in a more favorable light, who give every indication that they'd be fighting just as hard to free him if they knew he were guilty, and who won't accept support from anybody who isn't also interested in crush capitalism. I'll accept that the guy is most likely guilty, but I'd like to see a little more certainty, and I have yet to encounter anybody speaking on this issue who's actually concerned with picking through the details to find the truth.
3.28.2006 9:41am
Observer (mail):
1) I concur with Cabbage, supra. How Yale Law students can get all exercised over an intemperate remark somebody made when he was 17, for which he has already groveled in apology, but ignore the fact that a living, breathing, unrepentant facist killer is attending Yale with them, is beyond comprehension (I think it's fair to say that Mr. Taliban is guilty as an aider and abetter and as a co-conspirator, even if he doesn't literally have blood on his hands).

2) As far as Mumia goes, I've heard him speak numerous times on the radio (WBAI in NYC) and I have never, ever heard him deny that he shot that policeman. So far as I can tell, his claims to "innocence" are solely that he was justified in using revolutionary force against the capitalist, racist pigs.
3.28.2006 9:54am
Angus (mail) (www):
MikeBus writes:
No one who objectively considered the case doubts [Abu-Jamal's] guilt.
That may be. I haven't examined the evidence myself. But I've gotten the impression that this is a question on which reasonable people can disagree. And even if not, to conclude that he was innocent would be to make a factual error, not a bad moral judgment.
I'm willing to bet you dollars to donuts, that the majority of people protesting Camara, have at one point or another told a black joke, or laughed at one.
You really think so? In my experience, that kind of racist humor is extremely rare in student liberal/radical circles.


Rhinoman writes:
they're willing to hear out a convicted murderer, but won't hear out an adult who used a racial epithet at the age of seventeen and has since apologized. This behavior lacks moral consistency
I don't think it does. They've heard Camara out, presumably --- his two statements on the matter were both short, and they've each been widely publicized on campus --- but they've found his explanations disingenous or incomplete.
Also, what reason could he give for using the word "nigs" that you would regard as sufficient? Could you give me an example? Or is he simply guilty for life for his actions as an obnoxious seventeen year old?
I find it hard to imagine that a law student would use the word "nigs" in the way that Camara did without there being some racist thinking behind it. Given that, I'd have a hard time crediting his apology unless he acknowledged that racism somehow or offered a convincing alternative explanation for his choice of words. To my knowledge, he's done neither.
3.28.2006 10:00am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It appears the Yale College community knows at least two French terms.
One is "frisson", which can be loosely translated as "cheap thrills", and the other is "epater les bourgeoisie" which is obvious.

Integrity is for later, apparently.
3.28.2006 10:04am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

And even if not, to conclude that he was innocent would be to make a factual error, not a bad moral judgment.

Angus, what I'm trying to say is precisely that it's not just a factual error. It's not as though YLS students, en masse, made a good faith factual error after considering the available evidence. It's that law students, largely, have a knee-jerk reaction to speak truth to power. It was a factual error that they were only too happ to make, and that is a moral failure.
3.28.2006 10:05am
rhinoman (mail):
B.R. George,
Yes, a convicted murderer's perspective is important. And he should be allowed to speak. If you don't want to hear him, don't go. If you don't want to read what he has to say, don't read it. As Howard Stern says, if you don't like what I'm saying, change the channel.
The problem begins when a group decided that someone shouldn't be heard because they're offensive. Who decides this? On what basis? What are the standards being used? It's not asking too much, I hope, for students at YLS to put forth a morally consistent position on this question. I'm curious what moral structure finds is possible to try and silence a speaker for comments he made at the age of seventeen and regrets, but finds it hunky-dory for a convicted murderer to speak freely. Is it asking too much to allow both of them to speak?
Or is it possible that the students (and apparently the dean) are viciously scapegoating this guy to compensate for their own guilt? It sure smells that way.
Also, what does it matter what he's publishing? If it was accepted by the Yale Law Review, perhaps it should be judged on the basis of legal scholarship. Again, judging someone's work and moral fitness as an adult based on comments they made as a youth is lazy and stupid.
As for Mumia, we could discuss that for days. He is, however, a convicted murderer, so it's hardly out of bounds do describe him as such.
3.28.2006 10:06am
Taimyoboi:
I think we should have a celebrity death-match between Eugene Volokh and Kiwi Camara for the title of Supreme Child Prodigy.
3.28.2006 10:27am
Angus (mail) (www):
Mike, Bernstein doesn't suggest that there was any mass pro-Mumia organizing, or even sentiment, on the Yale Law campus in 1991. He merely says that the law journal accepted an article by Abu-Jamal, and that there wasn't much student response.

Now, I don't know what the article was, or why the law journal accepted it, but I don't believe that the acceptance of an article by someone is itself a statement as to that person's guilt or innocence. And the decision not to protest something is even less of a statement. On the basis of Bernstein's description, I see no evidence that the students of Yale Law had any "en masse" opinion on Mumia's guilt or innocence one way or the other. It's not at all clear to me how he thinks they failed.
3.28.2006 10:37am
DHBerger (mail):
For the record, I attended the YLJ Symposium, and though I missed Camara's presentation, he asked some extremely smart questions to other presenters later on.
Also, I noticed that YLS Dean Harold Koh is an arrogant guy who likes to make big grandstanding statements with little to back them up. Unfortunately, John Yoo missed the symposium, but his partner from Northwestern Law, Jide Nzelibe, gave an interesting talk about Congressional authorization for wars. Finally, Cass Sunstein was extremely impressive.
3.28.2006 10:43am
Joe7 (mail):
The most amazing thing is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is really all that offended by the use of the word "nigs". We all pretend to be because we all want to be seen as being sensitive. Moreover, it is very likely Camara used that word because that's exactly how he heard black acquantainces refer to each other.

If the black community were truly offended by the word "nigger" why do they keep using it amongst themselves? Why do they not denounce and walk out on comedians and musicians who use the word excessively?

It's time for people to get over themselves and stop forcing offense at every perceived slight.

(And it's about time we invent the WASP equivalent of "nigger" so some us have an excuse to fein offense more readily.)
3.28.2006 10:50am
hey (mail):
Angus:

You're just superlatively amazing. Comparing the emotional and social maturity of the typical YLS student (who would be 22-24 as a 1L, typically) with that of a 17 year old child prodigy (who, by his nature, is much, much more likely to be emotionally and socially delayed, sorry EV). It's nice to see the inner Stalinism showing in these "Liberals" with their demands for self abasement and self criticism, and then saying that a given apology wasn't grovelling enough.

These disingenous demands for a sufficient explanation are absolutely disgusting. The holier than though stance with regards to the actions of a 17 year old (who promptly apologised at the time) simply undermines the oppositions stance and serves as the bar against which all of their future actions and statements will be judged. One such as yourself should seriously consider if you have never and will never make a mistake, for that is the standard you are demanding.
3.28.2006 10:52am
Perry (mail):
I'd like to know how many of those students that walked out have any records, tapes, cd's or MP3's that they listen to and enjoy that have that word or countless numbers of much 'worse' ones in them. I'd guarantee a significant number.

Hypocrasy anyone?
3.28.2006 10:57am
Christopher C (mail):
Professor

you post assumes that those who published Mumia's piece believed he was guilty, but published it anyway. They likely thought he was wrongfully convicted, an innocent man on death row, and had something interesting to say, so they published it. Maybe he is guilty, but many on the left didn't and do not think so.

So, in condemning someone for racist speech, but publishing a work by an innocent man, Yale is being consistent (if you accept these premises).
3.28.2006 11:23am
FXKLM:
The offensiveness of publishing Mumia's article has nothing to do with moral outrage over his criminal past. The man was completely unqualified to write a legal academic article, and publishing his work in the Yale Law Journal degrades the legal academic profession.

If you're arguing that Mumia's article should have been published without regard to his status as a convicted criminal, I might agree. But no one can argue with a straight face that that's what happened. If anyone else had submitted the very same article, there is absolutely no chance it would have been published. YLJ usually prides itself on evaluating articles on their merits without regard to whether the author is a big-name scholar at a high-ranking school. It's completely outrageous that a person should be given preference for writing from death row, but no preference for writing from Harvard Law School. YLJ might as well publish some ghost-written political rant with George Clooney's name on it.

BTW, when I was an undergrad, I had a brief flirtation with the Left, and I read one of Mumia's books. It was terrible. I remember thinking that if irritating self-important ranting were a capital offense it wouldn't matter if he committed that murder. He's a terribly obnoxious and unpleasant individual, and he isn't half as intelligent or profound as he thinks he is.
3.28.2006 11:27am
Angus (mail) (www):
Joe, Perry —- are you guys really so dense as to be unable to distinguish between the use of a word as a slur and the appropriation of that word by members of the group it's targeted against?

Is there really no word, no description of yourself that you'd be upset to have a random stranger use against you in anger or dismissal but happy to have a friend use in an affectionate way? Really?

And while I'm up, another question. Why, when white guys whine, "But they call each other X! Why can't we?", why is X always "nigger" and never "brother"?
3.28.2006 11:29am
Sydney Carton (www):
"I can't believe the number of repulsive self-regarding prigs who post on this site. How can anyone split hairs on whether this child is more blameworthy than a murderer? "

Welcome to the Volokh conspiracy. Where it's proven daily that only intellectuals can be so stupid.
3.28.2006 11:48am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Walk It:

"Hmm...anything that might be offensive to your 17-year-old girl should be kept out of her earshot?"

I guess I haven't expressed myself clearly, or you have not read me carefully. It's not a matter of protecting my daughter against anything said in the classroom. I'm not particularly concerned about an occasional remark. But it's a waste of class time and beyond the prerogatives of the teachers to engage in bashing white people, and the United States, and constantly trying to lay a guilt trip on the students. I'm not talking about some of the unpleasant facts of human history that are a proper part of a history or literature class. If you don't think black students should have to endure anything offensive, why should that not apply to white students as well?

When you say: 'Let em take their (non-physical) lumps, it's a good intro to "reality".' does that include black students too? If that's the case then the whole "nig" comment can be written off as part of a student's "reality" training.
3.28.2006 11:49am
Christopher M (mail):
Since there's been some speculation here about the subject of Abu-Jamal's article, I'll just say that it's an essay entitled "Teeting on the Brink: Between Death and Life." It's not a conventional legal argument, but a description of the living conditions and psychological situation of a death row inmate, along with some observations about the judicial system's hostility to blacks and unfairness in general.

It would be very interesting if someone who was on the YLJ at the time could comment about the discussion that led to the decision to print the essay.
3.28.2006 11:54am
Christopher M (mail):
That title should be "Teetering on the Brink," not "Teeting." Whatever that is.
3.28.2006 11:55am
Cala:
Odd post. I understand it's a conservative law prof thing to go on about lack of representation in the academy (we're never sure where these conservative law profs came from, since they should have been weeded out, but..), but this report doesn't seem to help the case.

It's interesting to note that of the students attending, 66% stayed and did not protest by leaving. Assuming this generalizes to the student body, a safe assumption since chances are, the protesters are more vehement than the whole, a supermajority either didn't care about Camara's past or forgave him for it.

So a majority agrees with the view Bernstein holds and yet this is taken to be proof of the evils of the liberal academy? I think you need more than 33% for this to be evidence of a liberal orthodoxy.
3.28.2006 12:01pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
As one of the lcomments above notes (here, it is amazing that the law school dean walked out on an academic symposium (see here). Can anyone believe that politics will not affect-- more accurately, determine-- the Dean's treatment of current and prospective students and faculty?
3.28.2006 12:19pm
Vato Loco:
I have been around so many People of Color (actually, I am one of them, just not the "right" color) that excessively used the "n" word at each other, but then they do not want "white" people to use the "n" word in their speech. Either it is a word to be avoided or it isn't. People of Color need to lead in this regard by example and stop using words that they deem offensive if said by "white" people.

And to apply a little common sense, a cold-blooded murder of a person (whether a police officer or not) is simply a much greater evil that the use of the "n" word. It is not about feelings. It is the truth of things. The fact that the victim was a police officer makes it a greater evil for it also is an evil against the common good, which the police officer presumably wotks to preserve. That is why the murder of a police officer has often been considered a capital crime in and of itself.

The whole race thing is old. There are dark-skinned and light-skinned people in my family, through ancestry, marriage and adoption. We are all the same under the skin. The really white people that I knew are albinos, and every race has those.

Vato Loco
3.28.2006 12:23pm
Colin (mail):
"The most amazing thing is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is really all that offended by the use of the word "nigs". We all pretend to be because we all want to be seen as being sensitive."

That might be the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in a thread on this blog. I was an HLS student at the time, and I assure you that, whether you feel that they should have been or not, people were genuinely offended by Camara's terminology. It is ludicrous to suggest that people only pretended to be upset. Nor would it make any more sense to say that no one is upset now, whether or not they were at the time. People were, and are, offended by what he wrote. It's not a conspiracy theory or a facade.

Having said that, I've studied with Camara, and I was struck not only by his intelligence but also his quiet and placid demeanor. I don't believe that he is, or necessarily even was, a racist. I think that he simply made the sort of foolish mistake that teenagers in high-pressure situations make; it was a shame, and he compounded the problem by dealing with it poorly at the time, but he seems to be living it down with professionalism and relative maturity these days.

As for YLJ publishing Jamal's article, I'm not sure the situations are so easily comparable. I think they would be more analogous if Jamal had tried to publish an article on bankruptcy or private international law. One plausible interpretation is that YLJ decided to publish a prisoner's firsthand account of death row, and why not a famous prisoner? But one problem with publishing the writings of condemned felons is that it is--I would imagine--difficult to find a decent and upstanding author.

I skimmed the Jamal article, and he doesn't proclaim his own innocence (although he does complain about the process he received, and the justice system generally) or profane the victim or do anything other than give his perspective from his cell. It's not very well written, but again, that's probably a hazard in publishing the works of condemned felons. There's a very good argument that there is a real value to the journal's readers in seeing the perspective of someone in Jamal's shoes, and that perspective doesn't come without moral baggage. I think the lack of protests could plausibly be explained that way. I think the protest against Camara's presence was a little goofy, but that it was in response to a different sort of situation.
3.28.2006 12:24pm
eeyn524:
This post seems to fall in the general category of "How can you protest X when you failed to protest Y", which is a weak argument because it proves to much: it can always be applied to anybody protesting anything.

For example, apply this to Prof. Bernstein, and let X="a few PC students walking out of a talk they didn't want to hear" and let Y="any murderer in the US that Dr. Bernstein didn't mention in his blog". I think it would be unfair to say that he believes some overreacting students are more morally blameworthy than any of the many hundreds of murderers he failed to individually denounce on this blog.

Also, to restate a point made by some others earlier: the normal thing you do with criminals is put them in prison, which is what was done with Mumia. The normal thing you do with racists is shun them socially, which is what the students were doing, even if it was excessive.
3.28.2006 12:28pm
gramm:
The slur Camara used is an undoubtedly racist and hateful one, and his abbrevition cannot rob it of its virulant poison. There is no good reason for Camara to have used the term in a private law school outline or elsewhere. Camara's decision to post the outline in an online public forum exposed him to the reprobation that racists deserve.

To be sure, it is a mistake to attribute Camara's employment of the most famous codeword for hatred in the American lexicon as harmless, youthful intemperance. Rather, it must be regarded as what it is -- a signal of a young boy's irrational fear and disregard for African-Americans.

That said, Camara may not be a racist today. His past and recent apologies for the incident at Harvard Law School should afford him at least the possibility of redemption. However, neither YLS nor its students have any duty to assume that redemption. Indeed, the protest was fair treatment of Camara, and no less than what he and others with similar past expressions of racism should expect from any community.
3.28.2006 12:29pm
Will:
I'd like to ask a question: Suppose Camara is a racist. Why does that imply that we shouldn't listen seriously to his scholarly work and judge it on its own merits? The same question applies to Mumia, really.

Can you imagine if physicists or chemists refused to publish or listen to the work of certain authors because they had once done something morally objectionable?

If indeed Camara's work amounted to shoddy scholarship influenced by a racist ideology, it ought to be easy enough to find that out by reading his paper. If not--if his work has merit--I fail to see how his personal views are material.

To me, the offensive thing is that not that Yale law students apparently objected to Camaraand not to Mumia's. The offensive thing is that Yale law school students were so juvenile as to stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to take scholarly work seriously because they dislike the author. If your ability to reason dispassionately doesn't extend that far, I wouldn't have guessed that you would make a very good candidate for admission to law school.
3.28.2006 12:31pm
eeyn524:
Can you imagine if physicists or chemists refused to publish or listen to the work of certain authors because they had once done something morally objectionable?


But this has happened, most notably in the case of work published by Nazi scientists. In fact, there was substantial debate w.r.t. a medical article, about whether the need to shun their work outweighed the possibility that it might save some lives.
3.28.2006 12:42pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
But this has happened, most notably in the case of work published by Nazi scientists. In fact, there was substantial debate w.r.t. a medical article, about whether the need to shun their work outweighed the possibility that it might save some lives.
The issue there was not that the Nazi scientists had done bad things in the past, but that the particular work in question was the "bad thing" they had done.

Now, one can still question what to do there, but it's not comparable to what we're talking about here. If Camera had used some form of the n-word in the piece we're discussing, that would present an issue comparable to the Nazi issue, but a different one than the one we're discussing, I think.
3.28.2006 12:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
eeyn

May I presume the potential shunners were not the ones whose lives were at risk?
3.28.2006 12:48pm
eeyn524:
David:

Fair enough point, there is a difference in the cases.
3.28.2006 1:04pm
Derrick Greene (mail):
Richard Aubrey,

Actually, I sure some of the shunners were. This is a relatively straightforward notion that you are complicating. In this country in the present time, I've heard any number of Democrats and Republicans discount the statements, research and writings of others based on the simple fact that they ascribe to a different political philosophy. Look at any number of issues from the Medicare bill, Iraq, the economy, even that research paper about "whiny children and their Republican leanings" and you will see the discounting of information based on pre-judgements of that person.

Camera in his use of racist language has provided strong evidence of the pre-judgment that he could be a racist. So, what is so strange about a group who don't believe that they are racists to discount his writing. As someone stated before, there were many Nazi scientists who on a purely scholarly level were some of the brightest minds in the world. But rightfully so, they were shunned and their research (maybe fortunately, maybe unfortunately) was discounted because not many people would want someone implicated in the mass murder of human beings over for a lively debate about polio.
3.28.2006 1:15pm
Some Guy (mail):
Heh. Actually, I can't say I've ever met a Yale Law alumn who wasn't a complete tool. Usually mommas-trust-fund types who wet the bed when you get them anywhere near a courtroom. I met one who didn't have more money than sense, but the sorry part was, that was just because he didn't have any money. Oh well.

I'm sure you're the exception though...
3.28.2006 1:25pm
Aaron:
Joe7,

If you can find a word to encapsulate the 400+ years of slavery, degradation, broken promises, segregations, lynchings, mass murders, desecration of the family, elimination of history and culture that WASPs have suffered, a word so poisonous that the only way to endure it was to sip, sip, sip, to develop a tolerance to it, finally, owning the word and ensuring that it wouldn't have the same power over you, if you can find a word that encompasses all of that and more for the WASP experience, then by all means, own it, publish it, put it in your academic outlines. Only please, please, let us in on what that word is.
3.28.2006 1:35pm
Cornellian (mail):
Heh. Actually, I can't say I've ever met a Yale Law alumn who wasn't a complete tool

I have heard similar sentiments from a surprisingly large number of people, though usually only with regard to recent grads.
3.28.2006 1:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Derrick. Just for the fun of it, I will state that I went to Mississippi two summers running in the Sixties to do the work now most widely talked about by those who weren't there because they'd piss their pants at the thought of going south of Cincinnati.

So there are my creds.

The Carmara kid showed no indication of racism. I know that many have invested in rampant racism, but that doesn't make it so. He used a word. You have no clue why. He may not have known, at age seventeen, that it was loaded word. It's so loaded that when I e-mailed somebody that I had been called a niggerlover, the high-ranking chin-pullers of AOL had an all-night meeting to see if I was worthy of their business.
It's a gotcha word, along with, say, niggardly.
I say, BS.
My son had a friend who called a teammate a bad word and was absolutely appalled to find it was considered unforgiveable. Gotcha again.

Sometimes some guy's mouth slips, like a DJ lately unemployed.

You want to get involved, see Sheets Byrd, the grand old man of the Senate. But he can fight back so I expect he'll be left alone.
3.28.2006 1:41pm
FXKLM:
Derrick: There is a substantial difference between discounting a person's opinion because you believe he is biased on a particular issue and discounting a person's opinion because you believe he is generally immoral, especially when the allegedly immoral acts have nothing to do with honesty or the specific issue at hand. The former is clearly sensible, the latter is not.

People who doubted the author of the whiny conservative study were skeptical because they suspected that, as a leftist, it was likely that he would conduct the study in a manner that was unflattering to conservatives. I don't think anyone claimed that the author should be ignored either because being a leftist made him generally untrustworthy or because he should be shunned from academia for his political beliefs.
3.28.2006 1:47pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
I'm sometimes curious what the word "racist" currently means.

Most conservatively, I'd assume it means a belief by a person that a particular race of people is somehow better or worse than other races. Is that it? More liberally, it seems some people would apply it to anybody who holds views which have a potential to disadvantage or offend individuals of a certain race.

Another version might be someone who harbors hostility toward a particular race of people.

In Kiwi's case, it seems that the second option is the only one that really fits, or that fit at one time. My experience tells me that the use of racial epithets is hardly proof of either feelings of superiority or of hostility. Friends who are racial minorities have told me that particularly amongst certain minority groups, the use of racial epithets is in fact common. As one friend said, "In Texas, the spics call them niggers, and the niggers call us spics. It's no big deal." I could be wrong, but in fact, my impression is that there is a hip-hop culture, which includes other racial minorities and even whites, who use the term "nigger" freely and without any sort of hostility. Hostility, superiority or inferiority don't seem to play a role.

Personally, I think the label of "racist" should apply mostly to those who meet the first or third definition. Even then, however, I'm not sure how much society benefits from trying to root out closet racists. My feeling is that society becomes more liberal not by humiliating and ostracizing closet racists, but by showing why racist ideas are harmful and do not make sense. Raising a stink over something like the Camara incident strikes me as entirely counter-productive, increasing anger and hostility on all sides.

Indeed, I think the effect now, if anything, is that most people will now feel sorry for Camara.
3.28.2006 2:11pm
Joe7 (mail):
Aaron, "Nigger" is used very frequently in the speech of black people. To suggest that it has this massive history that makes it the worse word of all time is absurd. Surely, you have walked out on movies that use the word and have protested when a musician uses it. If the word were so poisonous, it simply wouldn't be tolerated in the black community. But it isn't, blowing this stupid notion out of the water.

That doesn't mean it's tacky or makes you sound stupid, as do using "Bitch", "Kike", "Spic" and a myriad of other slang terms.

This is political correctness at its worse.
3.28.2006 2:33pm
Donald Kahn (mail):
Thank you to Sidney Carton. I noticed one of our correspondents here used the word "depravity." It's enough to make one blow one's lunch.
3.28.2006 2:53pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Not surprisingly, I don't look to the Yale Law student body as my moral compass.

Well, what law school student body do you look to as your moral compass? Inquiring minds want to know. ;-)
3.28.2006 4:22pm
gramm:
"Aaron, [the "N" word] is used very frequently in the speech of [B]lack people. To suggest that it has this massive history that makes it the worse [sic] word of all time is absurd. Surely, you have walked out on movies that use the word and have protested when a musician uses it. If the word were so poisonous, it simply wouldn't be tolerated in the black community. But it isn't, blowing this stupid notion out of the water.

That doesn't mean it's tacky or makes you sound stupid, as do using "Bitch", "Kike", "Spic" and a myriad of other slang terms.

This is political correctness at its worse."


--------------------------------------------------

Joe7, you couldn't be more wrong.

Nor apparently, more uninformed. That poisonous word, as Aaron explained: "encapsulate[s] 400+ years of slavery, degradation, broken promises, segregation[], lynchings, mass murder[], desecration of the family, [and] elimination of [Black] history and culture...."

The attempts by young Blacks in the 70s and 80s to appropriate and short-circuit the oppressive nature and use of the word -- while successful enough to render its use common among many contemporary Black youth -- has not succeeded in completely sanitizing it of its unique vileness.

Contrary to your assertion, the extent to which the use of the word is "tolerated" in the Black community is not easily generalized. From anecdotal evidence, it seems that most Blacks are disturbed by its prevalence in youth culture, and view its use as unacceptable.

Among those for whom use of the term is viewed as acceptable, there is a strong recognition (whether consistently acknowledged or not) of the vital resistance which appropriation of the term represents. For them, use of the term is tantamount to a political act. One in which the speaker disarms his former oppressor by robbing him of his most vile insult and renders that insult powerless over him. But more often than not, that tranformative act is an individual one, and not a transaction free of residual costs.

An unfortunate irony of the attempt to appropriate the "N" word has been its revitalization and continued presence in American culture. Now, the level of its inflammatory character depends, in some cases, on the speaker and listener. One should not let that peculiarity fool one into believing that the everlasting and permanent true character of the "N" word is not one of deep depravity and near-unspeakable awfulness.
3.28.2006 4:24pm
Perry (mail):
Angus,

Are you REALLY so dense as to miss the whole point - which is that you can't subjectively choose to be morally offended when one person says a word and not when another says the same word. Go and listen to some of the context in which that word is used in popular culture and tell me it isnt as negatively directed towards people of color as whatever this student may have said in context of his usage.

'Its OK when I do it but not when you do it' is practically the frame of mind that justified Jim Crow in the first place. How are people ever supposed to sustain a dialogue about race when they can't even share the same words?
3.28.2006 4:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Who says a dialogue is desireable?

Sounds more like a monlogue and the guilty should shut up and take it. If the guilty are not available, then anybody who looks as if he might be descended from a group whose phenotype included some of the guilty should do the shutting up.

Dialogue my sweet Aunt Fanny.
3.28.2006 4:35pm
Perry (mail):
And as an addendum, I in no way advocate that people can not say what they want to say. People have the right to speak freely and they have the responsibility to be taken accountable for their words as well.

And I wound agree that the usage of that word at all is most often a very negative one - but unless those people who walked out do the same thing each and every time they hear that word in any type of hateful context whether it be spoken by black, white, brown or whomever, then i'm calling them out on their bullshit.

This process of picking and choosing when to be offended is the very worst in what this overly politically correct culture breeds. (Cartoon flap, anyone?)
3.28.2006 4:59pm
nunya (mail):
1) I think there is a big difference between doing and saying typical 17-yr old things, and using a racial slur. I know that when I was 17, I didn't go around "harmlessly" calling white people "crackers" and "honkies" and realized at 25 that I shouldn't do that. Most 17-yr olds will call people names, but they know to stay away from racial terms in speech, writing or elsewhere, even if they truly are racist. Maybe some of you really do think using racial language is something that is correlated with age or maturity, but I don't--I think it's correlated with you being a RACIST. Or maybe some of you seriously believe that Camara truly does not harbor racist feelings/ideas towards blacks.

2) Say he didn't know better, which is possible. I highly doubt it's because of his "black acquaintances." For one thing, the majority of whites in this country don't actually have black acquaintances. Sorry, but what you see on MTV, TV shows and movies, or even what you see in blacks that you go to school with or work with but almost never speak to, don't count as "acquaintances." Whites at top law schools, especially, will have few--if any--black acquaintances (because they don't go to school with many blacks nor grow up around many blacks). And the kind of black acquaintances they will have will, more than likely, be the sort who do not use or approve of that kind of language from ANYONE, including blacks. So if Camara misguidely got "nigs" from anywhere, it was racist whites who referred to blacks as that so much throughout his life that he didn't exactly know what was wrong with writing "nigs" in an outline. If he truly used that term and had no ill feelings towards blacks, that suggests some naivete in using such a term and its meaning.

3) I guess A Zarkov hasn't explained his/her daughter's situation explicitly, but I seriously doubt teachers are in a classroom point-blank, or nearly so, stating that whites should feel guilty for being white...especially if the teachers in question are white. But, as I indicated, I don't have enough information to say that for sure. Any thinking person knows it's not the modern white person's fault that he/she has privileges in this society that are not as readily available to others. It's a system that was put in place long before any of us got here--some do help maintain it, or actually whites in general help maintain it by taking the privileges they receive...but it's quite unrealistic to expect any white person to reject those privileges or have an easy time recognizing what they earned because of what they did vs what they received because of who they are in this society.

4) Honestly, I do question why the Yale students were so up-in-arms about this, or why any non-black person would care. I can tell by comments on this site that most whites don't truly see anything wrong with using a racial slur, since so many of you can equate it to just saying silly things being a 17-yr old. As a black person, I can honestly say I don't know why you should see anything wrong with it. You don't have the context from experience to see why this is a problem or to truly be offended by it. In fact, I have attempted to question white friends about why racism against minorities bothers them, and none of them have ever been able to give me a satisfactory answer. So, in a sense, I agree with the one person who says no one is really bothered by "nig," and that it's more like people are acting when they *are* bothered by it.
3.28.2006 5:09pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The offensiveness of publishing Mumia's article has nothing to do with moral outrage over his criminal past. The man was completely unqualified to write a legal academic article, and publishing his work in the Yale Law Journal degrades the legal academic profession.


I've read the piece written by Mumia Abu-Jamal (Teetering on the Brink: Between Death and Life, 100 Yale L.J. 993 (1991)), and it wasn't a legal academic article, more like an op-ed piece against the death penalty. The thing that struck me was not only did the YLJ publish a non-academic piece (and a poorly written one at that) but that they apparently paid the author for the privilege of doing so.
3.28.2006 5:10pm
Quarterican (mail):
Wow. OK, setting aside the really basic minority-group sociology of appropriating discriminatory terms thing (see also: the gay community), maybe this will give a helpful perspective to some of the people so eager to have the license to speak to black men as some of the black men do.

As some of you might've gleaned from my pseudonym, I'm in part Puerto Rican (the remainder of my ethnic heritage doesn't have any good ehtnic slurs, only lame, obscure, silly ones that I'm aware of, so I'll just call myself P.R. for simplicity's sake). There are (shock!) some people out there who don't like Puerto Ricans on some level or another, and might occasionally desire to express their contempt/hatred/distrust of P.R.s. Now, with enough elucidating context or sufficiently vitriolic tone of voice, it's possible to communicate this sentiment merely through using the words "Puerto Rican," and I will - justifiably - become offended. Why? Because it's clear in this context that this person harbors negative feelings towards my co-P.R.s, towards me for no reason other than being P.R., etc., etc. What he said probably wouldn't/shouldn't fall under some category of proscribed speech, but then I'm very forgiving as far as that goes (well, in a legal sense, not an interpersonal one).

OTOH, I'm a guy who constantly makes jokes, and frequently off-color, mean, even "offensive" ones (both ethnic in nature and not). I don't mean them to cause offense, which is why I only make them around people I have good reason to suspect won't be offended. In turn, my friends know that I welcome similar humor directed at myself. I make jokes hinging on my being P.R., and sometimes use slurs in these jokes - let's go with "spic". If one of my friends makes a similar comment/crack in my presence about me or other "spics", I don't get offended (unless I think they were actually kidding on the square, which is a whole other complicated barrel of worms). But what if a stranger says "spic," in a way that doesn't clearly convey jovial insincerity *or* transparent racism? Hard to judge. If it comes from someone whom I suspect of actually being a "spic", I tend to presume they're not being racist (though you never know). If it comes from someone whom I don't know to be a "spic"...well. Given that the word does get used sincerely with intent to convey contempt/hatred, is it really a surprise that I'm suspicious of its use by someone about whom I don't have any mitigating evidence? Now given that slurs (and racism) against black people have a much more prominent and much nastier history in this country than slurs/racism against people with Latin American ancestry: are you really so surprised that many black people are suspcious/unwelcoming of the "n-word"'s usage by unknown white people?
3.28.2006 5:33pm
Aaron:
Gramm. Thank you.

Joe7; still waiting on that word...

All: It seems quite inconceivable that so many gave Camara a pass because he was 17 when he wrote the slur. It seems to me that a 17 y.o. at HLS should get cut LESS slack--presumably he had to demonstrate more maturity than his cohort to gain admittance in the first place.

At 17, I could walk, chew gum, drive a car, and, oh yeah, refrain from inappropriate racial slurs. I could also REVIEW MY FRIGGIN' NOTES IF I WERE MAKING THEM PUBLIC! It seems to me that Camara wanted them seen as is, and frankly didn't care about the consequences...

Yes he has apologized, albeit to some, insincerely, and of course has the opportunity to make amends. But this post is wrongly directed, and provides nothing more than a cheap shot against This may have been a protest against the idiocy of the YLJ as much as against Camara.

Finally, given DB's leap to castigate the Yale student body--a student body that he acknowledges is different from the one he was once a member of, and his willingness to ascribe to them an ill-favored motive--I would venture to say that Yale doesn't look to him as a moral compass either.
3.28.2006 5:41pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Nunya,

>Any thinking person knows it's not the modern white person's fault that he/she has privileges in this society that are not as readily available to others. It's a system that was put in place long before any of us got here--some do help maintain it, or actually whites in general help maintain it by taking the privileges they receive...but it's quite unrealistic to expect any white person to reject those privileges or have an easy time recognizing what they earned because of what they did vs what they received because of who they are in this society.<

Do you really think all whites are given privileges that are unavailable to blacks, or is it just a generalization? My feeling is that most whites are certainly more privileged than most blacks in America, and that this is indeed troubling, but I have a hard time seeing how one can generalize by calling all whites privileged. Generalizing about races in that way strikes me as problematic, because I think a lot of white people don't feel particularly privileged, and I don't think they are.

As far as the offensiveness of racial slurs, I respect your position. I was thinking earlier that if, alternatively, Camara had made a comment that came accross as anti-semitic or even supportive of the Holocaust, that he would probably have a much greater number of detractors. If one views the use of the n word as endorsing our history of slavery, then I'm not sure the difference. At the same time, I think it's important to recognize that people come from different places. When I was growing up, one song that me and my friends laughed at was the Monty Python song, "Never Be Rude To An Arab." The words:

Never Be Rude To An Arab - Monty Python
Never be rude to an Arab,
An Israeli, or Saudi, or Jew,
Never be rude to an Irishman,
No matter what you do.
Never poke fun at a Nigger,
A Spik, or a Wop, or a Kraut,
And never put down...
(explosion!)

I'm really not sure what I can say about it now, but did we laugh because we hated all those groups? No, we laughed because it was outrageous, and as far as we were concerned, meaningless. Half the words, I didn't even know what they meant. But I knew they were bad, and that made it funny.

Are people familiar with this song? The fact that it even exists, I think, shows that the issue is more complicated than some seem to think.
3.28.2006 5:49pm
Aaron:
Another question--why this post? It seems to me that DB wants to indict the "left-wing othodoxy" of the Yale of 1991. Why then this animosity towards a group of students who are either a)protesting racism, or b) protesting the editorial judgment of the YLJ? Bringing up a 15 year-old controversy, and implying that the two are somehow related seems...contrived. Could it be that DB wanted to strike a blow against the liberal, left-wing, PC academic establishment, and this was the best he could do? Disappointed, DB--you're usually better than this.
3.28.2006 5:51pm
Aaron:
Marcus, I notice that Python waited to use slurs until "Nigger". But then again that's just me...

Also, yes, ALL white people in this country are privileged--note the dearth of DWW traffic stops. It's not their fault, it's a legacy of the society we've inherited.
3.28.2006 5:58pm
Bezuhov (mail):
"And while I'm up, another question. Why, when white guys whine, "But they call each other X! Why can't we?", why is X always "nigger" and never "brother"?"

Um, because we can, and do? Just because you're still stuck in 1953 doesn't mean the rest of us should be consigned to the same eternal hell.

And the only license I need to speak is right here, buddy. Goes for you too.
3.28.2006 6:02pm
Colin (mail):
Perry,

"you can't subjectively choose to be morally offended when one person says a word and not when another says the same word."

Why not? Where does context matter more than the use of language? I think you have a pretty high bar when you announce that somone "can't subjectively choose to be morally offended," but you haven't offered much other than a blanket statement that "you can't."

Winston,

Are you sure that Jamal got paid for the YLJ piece? I'm not quibbling, just wondering if there's information on that out there somewhere. Has anyone found any information on how the piece came to be solicited or published?

Quarterican,

Love your handle.
3.28.2006 6:16pm
cmk011:
gramm,

Your recent post highlights some of the problems with making very broad generalizations. To attempt to project the following,

"... Among those for whom use of the term is viewed as acceptable, there is a strong recognition (whether consistently acknowledged or not) of the vital resistance which appropriation of the term represents. For them, use of the term is tantamount to a political act. One in which the speaker disarms his former oppressor by robbing him of his most vile insult and renders that insult powerless over him. But more often than not, that tranformative act is an individual one, and not a transaction free of residual costs.

An unfortunate irony of the attempt to appropriate the "N" word has been its revitalization and continued presence in American culture. Now, the level of its inflammatory character depends, in some cases, on the speaker and listener. One should not let that peculiarity fool one into believing that the everlasting and permanent true character of the "N" word is not one of deep depravity and near-unspeakable awfulness.

on individuals use of the dreaded 'N word' - is just plain... well, stupid. I find it hard to believe that the above is what is going through the cerebrums of folks every time they utter the word.
3.28.2006 6:18pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Aaron,

>Also, yes, ALL white people in this country are privileged--note the dearth of DWW traffic stops. It's not their fault, it's a legacy of the society we've inherited.<

I'm certain there are many reasons for minorities in America to be aggravated. Nevertheless, I wouldn't reduce all of life into belonging to a particular race. If I'm a poor white kid with a parent who beats me and no money to go to college, maybe I can be grateful that the police don't target me, but I'm still not going to feel particularly privileged. Particularly if I see that many minorities seem actually to be doing better than I am.

Again, I'm not trying to say we don't have race problems in America. I think turning the rhetoric into "white privilege," though, is more inflammatory than helpful, even if there is some truth to it on some level. There's truth to most generalizing on some level, but that doesn't make it a good thing.
3.28.2006 7:06pm
Walk It:
Zarkov said:"But it's a waste of class time and beyond the prerogatives of the teachers to engage in bashing white people, and the United States, and constantly trying to lay a guilt trip on the students. I'm not talking about some of the unpleasant facts of human history that are a proper part of a history or literature class. If you don't think black students should have to endure anything offensive, why should that not apply to white students as well?"

I never said, nor do I think, that black students should not have to endure anything offensive. They still teach Huckleberry Finn, right? Every now and then you might hear complaints and calls for "censorship", but don't put words in my mouth.

You originally wrote: "My daughter has complained to me many times that her high school teachers, college teachers, and even law professors are constantly trying to make her feel guilty for being a white person." If it's happening so much that they "are constantly trying to make her feel guilty", and at all those educational levels, presumably some of which she (or you) chose to enroll in, I would venture to guess that it is your daughter being overly sensitive. Kids pick up on what they learn at home. If mom or pop believes "the liberals in the classroom are teaching the wrong things", again in so many types of classes and at different institutions, is it any wonder that their children are sensitive to charges of "reverse discrimination"? I wish you could see what you're doing to your own kids with such presumptions against the classroom authority and teaching methods. Again, I just can't believe that -- even at the elite schools -- other parents and students would not be bothered if the education was so poor, and that it permeates all levels of her educational process. Bashing "liberal" teachers seems to be a common complaint these days; perhaps it's the first time your child has been told she's not excellent at all subjects and she too still has something to learn?

When you say: 'Let em take their (non-physical) lumps, it's a good intro to "reality".' does that include black students too? If that's the case then the whole "nig" comment can be written off as part of a student's "reality" training. This does not follow. As I mentioned before, any black student reading Huck Finn, or any law student reading case history, does confront the "unpleasant facts" of history, as one commenter put it. To allow student slurs, like "How gay" or referring to a people as "nigs" has no place in the classroom. I suspect, if you tried, you too could make a distinction between teaching law, history and literature, and allowing teenagers to be free verbally, to be "as funny as they want to be." To me, that has absolutely no place in the classroom.
3.28.2006 7:11pm
Bezuhov (mail):
Please. If you think the 1/3 of that symposium audience that walked out is not ridiculously more priveleged
than the vast majority of white people, you're either being played or are a player yourself. Don't even get me started on the people of all ethnicities outside our borders.

This is a power-play, pure and simple, a dehumanization of the other that would never be countenanced by administrators were they not cowering in fear of turning into those they once walked out on themselves.
3.28.2006 7:39pm
Kovarsky (mail):
This is a power-play, pure and simple, a dehumanization of the other that would never be countenanced by administrators were they not cowering in fear of turning into those they once walked out on themselves.

What?
3.28.2006 8:57pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus1,

I dont think the people with whom you've been disagreeing are saying that all white people are privileged. I believe they are saying that you have to be a little naive to think that an average white person born today doesn't hasn't caught a historical break in comparison to the average black person born today. So yes, I believe it is a generalization. But not in the sense you seem to portray it. Again, I'm not sure how you operationalize that observation in terms of a variety of issues, but I think the observation itself is fair.
3.28.2006 9:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Walk It:

'If mom or pop believes "the liberals in the classroom are teaching the wrong things", again in so many types of classes and at different institutions, is it any wonder that their children are sensitive to charges of "reverse discrimination"?'

It's not only about reverse discrimination; it's about political intrusion into many aspects of the educational experience itself. Here is a real example from my daughter's high school chemistry class. Her chem teacher made a number of dogmatic comments about the dramatic effects of acid rain on North American forests. This is of course incorrect, and I provided him with a report from a $500 million study of the problem (which some of my friends worked on). So yes, in this case (and others) the teacher was teaching the wrong things. He was parroting the standard environmentalist misinformation. There are similar problems when we get to the subject of global warming. But perhaps the biggest disaster of all is in the teaching of history.

As for reverse discrimination, yes it does exist. If you don't think so then let's simply stop collecting racial data. Let's stop asking students for their race on college applications, job applications and professional school applications. Now you might think that reverse discrimination is reasonable and proper, but don't try and tell me it doesn't exist.
3.28.2006 9:14pm
sedated:
not to mention the Taliban PR hack that is attending Yale University. I guess he is not controversal.
3.28.2006 9:27pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

Well, I agree with your sentiment. I agree that white people are generally better off in America than black people, and that this is primarily the result of historic racial discrimination. I think it's shameful that we don't do more to address the lingering effects. I don't think racist discrimination is the same thing, though, as "white privilege." If I punch Bob in the face, I don't think that's Joe privilege. I think Joe would be entirely justified in saying, "Yea, thanks for nothing." Especially if Joe happens to have just had the crap beaten out of him in an unrelated incident, and people start telling him how privileged he is.

I recognize that there is anger about racism, and I think much of it is justified. But whenever there's anger, there's a danger of the response going overboard. In fact, it seems almost inevitable. My working theory is that this over-reaction by liberals on race, by throwing aspersions on white males (intentionally or unintentionally), ends up perpetuating the gulf between "racist" and "liberal elitist" America.

My problem with conservatives, incidentally, is that most of them seem to just not care about underlying the problems.
3.28.2006 10:03pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
the underlying problems. How did my brain do that?
3.28.2006 10:06pm
Kovarsky (mail):
marcus1,

well I don't want to speak for any "liberals" with whom i part ways, but i think that the "over-reaction" is the proposition that you would seek to prove, not assume. you are almost certainly correct in that what you characterize as "overreaching" polarizes the two groups, but the second you stop pejoratively describing it as "overreaching" the polarity on the issue doesn't seem quite so unacceptable. i frankly don't care about a gap that exists if it exists solely because of the failure to acknowledge that certain groups are inter-generational beneficiaries of favorable history. guilt isn't the correct word, because that's not what i (again not speaking for liberals) feel. i acknowledge that every man's lot in life is not entirely his own doing and that when something can be done to rectify historical disadvantages, i like to think whether or not that thing is workable. this impulse, by the way, does not translate into what forms of restitution the privileged group should make - that's a really hard question. but it does mean that what some people describe as "reverse racism" may be rational and whether or not it follows logically depends on a careful analysis of the various interests involved. simply because that analysis is difficult to perform does not mean that the sacrifice the privileged group should have to make is always 0.
3.28.2006 10:20pm
Aaron:
Marcus, I spoke in terms of privilege because that was the terminolgy of another poster. If you want to classify it as the background radiation of racism you could do that as well. The point is, even the poorest, most broken-down white child has an advantage over her black social peer. That's reality, even if the poor white kid doesn't subjectively feel privileged. All of this is secondary to the question at hand--in a pluralistic society, where ostensibly we decry racial animus, why does DB feel so exercised that a group of individuals chose to protest YLJ and racism? Why bring up the irrelevancy of Mumia's YLJ article?

Ultimately, if Camara is or isn't a racist, he did use racialist language. It is reasonable for people to be both offended by his choice, and to judge for themselves whether or not to accept his explanation and/or apology. It is also reasonable to judge whether the YLJ used good judgement in choosing Camara's work. Again, I have to ask why DB chose this particular tempest in a teapot to wax judgemental...
3.28.2006 10:31pm
Kovarsky (mail):
does anybody know where i can get a copy of the article? is an earlier version on SSRN or bepress or anything?
3.28.2006 10:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Aaron. The most broken-down white child has an advantage over her black social peer. Almost true, until we find race-normed qualifications for one privilege or another. Now, it's true that most race-normed qualifications don't apply to the broken-down cohort, but the fact remains the race-norming remains and can sometimes even come into play among the poorest.

However, the rich, unbroken-down black kid is presumed to lack a number of privileges as compared to the poor, broken-down white kid. Or the over-achieving scion of boat people who, among other things, wins spelling bees. Their quals have to be really high to get into West Coast universities.

That's nuts.
3.28.2006 11:03pm
Guest2:
I wonder if Dean Koh will also walk out the next time he sees Yale Law School's most famous graduates: Bill &Hillary Clinton, or whether he will gather the information needed for him to determine whether the many charges against them for repeatedly using offensive epithets are true.

I am not saying that the charges are true, but there are a lot of witnesses, most of whom are Democrats (or were at the time).

The MSM had evidence of the use of these racial and religious epithets, and could have fairly easily nailed them down, given the large number of people who claim to have heard these statements, often on the same occasion. Some charges were credible enough to have been published by the New York Post, New York Daily News, AP, Reuters, and FOXNews.com (so I hope you will not be too angry with my suggestion that they deserve serious examination by people who are NOT Clinton-haters).

In addition, that Bill told derogatory jokes about Jews is corroborated by Monica Lewinsky's retelling two of them in the Tripp tapes, one so scathing that it is censored in the transcripts.

For those of you who think that using the N-word once as a teenager would be enough to justify later shunning, you really should be urging the MSM to nail down whether Hillary used such epithets regularly, as only one source has claimed. As near as I can tell, while there are multiple sources for Hillary and Bill's use of anti-Jewish epithets (including Bill's former campaign manager and his wife), and multiple sources for Bill's use of the N-word, I believe there is only one source for Hillary's alleged repeated use of the N-word (a claim thus uncorroborated by anyone).

Here is a review of the charges from an anti-Clinton site, which should be investigated by fair-minded, reliable reporters before being believed:

http://www.sonic.net/maledicta/clintons.html


"[N-word]"

Larry Patterson confirmed that he frequently heard Bill Clinton use "[n-word]" to refer to both Jesse Jackson and local Little Rock black leader Robert "Say" McIntosh. Longtime Clinton paramour Dolly Kyle Browning corroborated Patterson on Clinton's use of "[n-word]." "Not only did he use the 'N' word, he called him a 'GDN' [goddamn [n-word]], if you catch my drift," Browning told Fox News in 1999. [NewsMax, 17 July 2000] Brown also told NewsMax that the president would regularly make derogatory comments about African-Americans in private. "He has used the 'N' word before. Bill would make snide remarks about blacks behind their backs." [Carl Limbacher and NewsMax Staff, 17 July 2000]

Patterson said Hillary was no stranger to the "N" word either. He heard her say "[n-word]" "probably six, eight, ten times. She would be upset with someone in the black community and she would use the 'N' word, like, you heard they've got the president's brother on tape using the 'N' word." [NewsMax, 17 July 2000]

It's all in the family: Captured on videotape when Arkansas state police had Hillary's brother-in-law Roger Clinton under surveillance for dealing cocaine in 1984, Roger stated: . . . . [NewsMax, 17 July 2000]

"You [F**king] Jew Bastard!"

Jerry Oppenheimer's book State of the Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton (2000) quotes former campaign aide Mary Lee Fray, who says that Hillary exploded in a rage after Bill lost his first bid for elective office, a run for Congress in Arkansas's Third Congressional District against John Paul Hammerschmidt. Hillary blamed Fray's husband, Paul, for the campaign's bungled political strategy. The slur was uttered at a heated, finger-pointing session at Bill Clinton's Fayetteville, Ark., campaign headquarters on election night in 1974, following his defeat. "You [f**king] Jew bastard!" Hillary yelled at Paul, Mary Lee confirmed -- even though Paul Fray is not Jewish. [NewsMax, 15 July 2000]

In the room that night were Bill Clinton; his then-girlfriend Hillary Rodham; Paul Fray, Clinton's campaign manager; and Fray's wife, Mary Lee. Another campaign worker, Neill McDonald, was just outside the door and heard everything. [Daily News, 17 July 2000] Paul Fray is a Baptist but his heritage is Jewish; his paternal grandmother was Jewish, and Bill and Hillary knew of his heritage.

Mary Lee Fray said that Hillary not only used an anti-Semitic slur but she shouted it so loudly "it rattled the walls." "It was very clear," she said. "Bill Clinton's face became white as a ghost." [FOXNews.com, AP and New York Post, 18 July 2000]

Former Clinton campaign aide Neill McDonald, who has always been a Clinton supporter [Jewish World Review, 19 July 2000], confirmed the story, according to the New York Daily News. [Reuters, 17 July 2000] He heard the obscenity as he stood outside the room. [FOXNews.com, AP, New York Post, 18 July 2000]

The Usual Media Coverup

Sources in Arkansas told mainstream reporters as early as 1999 about Hillary Clinton's use of anti-Semitic language, but they and their editors decided to withhold the bombshell revelation from the American people. [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy, who has enjoyed special access to Mrs. Clinton over the years, interviewed Mary Lee Fray for her book Hillary's Choice. Sheehy told Newsday that even though Mary Lee's account included Mrs. Clinton's vile slur, her husband made no mention of it in a separate interview. Sheehy does not say that Mr. Fray denied the story -- only that the subject did not come up. Apparently the author herself decided to avoid the topic, thereby ruling out any chance that a second source for Hillary's anti-Semitic shocker would compel publication. [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

Sheehy said that she had heard the story of the alleged anti-Semitic comment several years ago from Fray's wife. But Sheehy said she left it out of her book because it was "off the wall. It was totally without credibility." [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

NBC-TV's Andrea Mitchell admitted that Fray recounted the incident, complete with Hillary's anti-Semitic slur, during an interview for the network's "Dateline NBC" program in 1999. But NBC News editors decided to kill the report on the sensational allegation because the story lacked corroboration, Mitchell said. [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

The folks at NBC must not have tried too hard to substantiate [Paul] Fray's account, since his wife, Mary Lee, was more than willing to corroborate the charge -- as she has for dozens of reporters since the story resurfaced. [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

One-time Clinton consultant Dick Morris gave Gail Sheehy an exclusive account of his now legendary story about Hillary's use of a Jewish stereotype during an argument she had with him. "Money -- that's all you people care about is money," Morris said Hillary yelled after he asked for a pay raise in 1986. In November 1999 Morris went public with the story, noting that he'd told it to Sheehy for her then-upcoming Hillary biography, Hillary's Choice. But when the book hit the stands in December, Morris's explosive report was nowhere to be found. [NewsMax, 18 July 2000]

Here is an excerpt from a story from NewsMax, which is a news service that has been unrelentingly hostile to Bill and Hillary Clinton:


HANNITY: Did you ever hear Bill or Hillary use the "N" word?

PATTERSON: Certainly, certainly. They told jokes using the "N" word. Especially Bill Clinton did. And if one of the black leaders in the community, if Bill Clinton was upset with him, especially Robert "Say" McIntosh, he often used the "N" word to describe or in conversation with Mr. McIntosh. ...


Earlier on Monday, another former Clinton bodyguard, L.D. Brown, told NewsMax.com that the president would regularly make derogatory comments about African-Americans in private.

"He has used the 'N' word before. ... Bill would make snide remarks about blacks behind their backs," Brown said.

Patterson said Hillary was no stranger to the "N" word either.


HANNITY: How many times did you hear Hillary use the "N" word?

PATTERSON: Probably six, eight, ten times. She would be upset with someone in the black community and she would use the "N" word, like, you heard they've got the president's brother on tape using the "N" word. So, yeah it was used.


The former Clinton bodyguard said he knew four or five others once close to the Clintons who would be willing to corroborate claims about Bill and Hillary's bigoted language on the record.

I repeat: I am NOT claiming that these charges are true. I do think that those who walked out on the speaker at Yale and the defenders of that action on this thread should want to determine whether these charges are true before voting for President in 2008.
3.28.2006 11:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest2.

Snork.

Holding your breath, are you?
3.29.2006 12:03am
Aaron:
Sorry, we're too busy trying to find out if Hillary is a lesbian...

As for Bill, even if it's true he gets the "Black people can use the N word" pass...

As for the allegations, NewsMax? Really. Well, I heard on DKos that O'Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh all drink the blood of goats, and that Frist, Hastert and Romney are all members of the same Klan chapter...

sheesh. consider the source people.
3.29.2006 12:06am
Walk It:
"This is of course incorrect, and I provided him with a report from a $500 million study of the problem (which some of my friends worked on)."

Just curious: Who paid the $500 million for the study?

"As for reverse discrimination, yes it does exist. If you don't think so then let's simply stop collecting racial data. Let's stop asking students for their race on college applications, job applications and professional school applications."

I think they've tried this in Europe, particularly in France. Dumb idea, imo. Like hiding from the information really. Before you can analyze statistics (like school performance/ racial diparities), you have to gather them.

Your response, Zarkov, really confirms my original thoughts. Your daughter has no doubt picked up on your "victimization" attitude. Poor kid.

I have no doubt whatsoever that she has seen on occasions unfair treatment due not to merit but based on other things. Guess what? All kids do. It's the job of the parents to help them learn to deal, whether those children are black, white or purple. It's a big part of growing up, learning how to respond to such situations. Try to guide her, like all good parents do.

If all the teachers in all the schools she has attended are failing her, maybe you need to continue shopping around for what you think is the best schooling you can provide her (again a common situation faced by parents of all races who truly want the best for their kids.) Believe it or not, there are no "black and white" sides of such a contentious issue. Perhaps the best you can do at this point is leave her alone and keep your (what seems to me to be) bitterness to yourself. Maybe find an elderly black parent with successful children and grandchildren and try to engage in a dialogue about overcoming the unfairness of society?

Children can transcend their parents' attitudes, and it may just be that the children of the most educated and outraged who continually harp on their own pet points will have the biggest growth adjustment to make. From reading the posts and comments on this blog sometimes, you and she will have company. Aside: are you one of those who fear the growth of "minorities" in American society? Are you strongly insulated in your particular community? Absolutely nothing wrong with that, sincerely, but you have to eventually let go and realize that it will be much harder for your daughter to succeed and remained so "cloistered". If you do, don't fear other "groups". Sometimes we spend so much time preparing for the attacks by the "others", that we really can't see what we are doing to ourselves ... and our children and grandchildren. And that begets a mountain of unfairness in itself. Peace, out.
3.29.2006 12:26am
Walk It:
"Again, I have to ask why DB chose this particular tempest in a teapot to wax judgmental..."

There does seem to be a theme to his posts, I've noticed too. Intelligence and wisdom are not the same words; the latter implies that gained with age and experience, and to his benefit, Mr. Bernstein is still quite young and no doubt as an educator, open to continually learning. I respect that.
3.29.2006 12:38am
Ray (mail):
All of this, and I think I only saw two posts in which someone was able to recognize that a murderer was being compared to a cocky 17 year old kid running off at the (pen) mouth. Instead of recognizing the absurdity, someone pointed out that it wasn't exactly "cold blooded" as I had said.

Sorry, it was heat of the moment, that's totally different.
3.29.2006 12:47am
anomie:
Agree completely with dweeb2. It is pretty amazing that the Dean of the Law School took a position on the controversy and joined the walk-out. He basically makes the same mistake that many at Yale made by jumping to a conclusion without all the facts: that young Camara is a racist based on one note out of several notes he shared online. And the one note was meant to capture a land covenant case at a time when African-Americans were still enslaved. The one word actually captured the whole essence of the case for me.
But I can understand how the Yale community jumped to conclusions based on reports in the Yale Daily News that the nig word was used "repetively" by Camara. The Dean sets a very bad example of faulty thinking in my mind but a very good example of bowing to political sensitivities.
3.29.2006 1:23am
Kovarsky (mail):
anomie.

what is your point about the dean? why does he set a bad example:

(1) because he walked out based on political activism with which you disagree

(2) deans shouldn't participate politically in anything, even in their unofficial capacity as a member of the academic community

unfortunately i think your coming from a place closer to (1) than to (2). and even if you're close to (2) i believe that you are incorrect. deans (and particularly law school deans) make political statements about contentious issues affecting the academic community all the time. and frankly, i don't understand how being politically active sets a bad example for anyone.

that is, of course, unless you're close to (1). if you are, i'm sorry you disagree with the dean having an opinion that seems to be in tension with your own, but i'm not clear why that matters.
3.29.2006 2:03am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Walk It:

"Just curious: Who paid the $500 million for the study?"

The US government.

"Like hiding from the information really ..."

You can always collect statistics by sampling and dealing in aggregates. There is no reason to collect race data on specific individuals unless you want to use it for or against them.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that she has seen on occasions unfair treatment due not to merit ... "

I never said that. I only gave examples of how politics has leaked into the educational system. This is what we see at Yale. I also notice your response is engage in personal attacks. It's easier to do this than deal with the facts.
3.29.2006 2:41am
markm (mail):
"Explain to my why I should care about anything that Yale Law Students do? They are children who argue about childish things." NO. Twenty-two year olds are not children and do not get a free pass for childish behavior.
3.29.2006 7:58am
Walk It:
"It's easier to do this than deal with the facts."

In my mind, your daughter's personal anecdotes have not yet risen to the level of "facts". In her father's mind, sure. You may just have some bias here, no offense intended.
3.29.2006 8:12am
Walk It:
What I find most amazing about this post is all the smart people here willing to give someone a "pass" for using code word racist language. I totally agree with those who state that this usage, and presenting it in public to have his notes widely distributed and shared, is a harbinger for many other attitudes usually kept quiet.

A young man at a top school didn't innocently drop the "n" word. There was something behind it. 17, especially in educated circles, is not 10 -- just trying out words. He did know better about the implications behind the word.

If you want to defend scholarship over personal traits, ok. But those here trying to minimize the history of the word, like it's no big deal, still have a mountain of convincing to do. In some circles, maybe. Overall, no way in hell. There is just too much American history loaded into that derogatory term, and because entertainers or young black people might use it, doesn't diminish it's effective power in the "right" hands -- ie. a young educated man who does not hail from that cultural "world".

The attempts to explain away the usage, and link to "reverse discrimination" and other racial problems, shows just how much you don't get the racial differences here in America. The more you know, the less you can deny that black Americans, African Americans, slave descendants if you will, had a unique history and background of injustice here. Never forget.

Some offenses require a greater time of contrition than others. Playing this off as "a slip of the tongue" denies that anything has been learned or that a portion of the population even accepts the magnitude of the "mistake". Of course a killing is worse than a racial slur, even by someone who is going to make his living in academia, which remains one of the professions that will influence many and whose policies might shape social policies and concerns. But it's cheap to make such a comparison as a way to excuse a possible mindset that others remain "lesser". That's what racist thinking does. That is a huge potential threat in that words have influences -- isn't that what academia is all about? This man is going to have a leadership role, not just produce papers in isolation. Giving him a free pass does a huge disservice to all the minorities who have strived to make it in that world, only to find the racist sting greeting them at the doorway. It's not the word people, it's the entire attitude that encompasses such a word. You'll never be able to minimize that or explain it away. Never forget, and we in America do seem to be doing an awful lot of forgetting of our country's principles and history lately.

Personally, if responsibility were truly accepted and an apology genuinely given, I would be the accepting type. People do change. I don't know if this is true in the young man's case. That said, the Yale students and the Dean too, had absolutely every right to coordinate a non-violent, non-"disruptive" dignified protest, which from what I read was what they did. That too is how disagreement in America works. Perhaps those of you excusing the "youthful mistake" might try, try to understand why such great offense was taken, and why the sting has continued this many years later. Sometimes penalties have longer lifetimes, like it or not (ask Pete Rose). I agree this should be a deterrent to all young people given such opportunity as this man; where you say what you say matters. I do believe he reviewed his notes and submitted them containing that slur for some reason known only to him.

I also believe slavery, discrimination and the treatment of black Americans throughout our country's founding is our country's greatest tragedy, and by no means do I believe the ugly legacy has been totally overcome here today. I hope those of you in academia can keep reading and talking to real people until you understand and come to accept this point. Comparing one group's struggles with another's is ok in some ways, but until people like Zahokov's daughter can see the wisdom of the first sentence in this paragraph, without emotion or guilt, we still have a long way to go, collectively as a united country. God Bless America.
3.29.2006 8:40am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Walk It.

In his Martian Chronicles, Bradbury has a short about southern blacks leaving for Mars--which in his story is considerably more congenial than it was known to be. As they pass, on their way to the ships, some Klansmen watching, one of them yells, "What you going to do, nights? What you going to do?"
I suggest the Klansmen pictured would be better able to get by without blacks to torment of nights than a good many people in this country could get along without racism to point at.
What you going to do, days? What you going to do?

It's clear that many people in this country have a vested interest in continuing the consciousness of racism far beyond the reality.

Otherwise, what would they do?
3.29.2006 9:16am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Walk It,

>The attempts to explain away the usage, and link to "reverse discrimination" and other racial problems, shows just how much you don't get the racial differences here in America. The more you know, the less you can deny that black Americans, African Americans, slave descendants if you will, had a unique history and background of injustice here. Never forget.<

I don't think anyone here has denied that blacks have had a unique history of injustice in America. I'm not sure I've ever encountered anyone who did. If you mean people should be more conscious of the lingering effects, I agree, but I don't think anyone denies it.

The problem here, though, is that the liberal Yalies are the ones drawing dramatic conclusions about people and things they know very little about. As you admit, in some circles, racial epithets are used without hostility. So how do you know Camara didn't grow up in one of those circles?

It's cultural myopia. They're assuming that because a particular word for them would indicate racism, that everywhere in America this is equally true. The simple fact, whether or not we want to admit it, is that it's not true. See the Monty Python song, Never Be Rude To An Arab.

And incidentally, the idea that a 17 year studying for a professional degree is supposed to have enhanced cultural awareness strikes me as... well, unjustified. I would expect such a kid to be excedingly weird.

Now, if they're just objecting to the use of racial epithets, that's great, and I'd be totally supportive. When they try to paint Camara as evil, however, I think their position is no longer reasonable. If Camara is a bad person, I don't know it and you don't know it, and the Yale student body knows it least of all.
3.29.2006 10:02am
Walk It:
It's clear that many people in this country have a vested interest in continuing the consciousness of racism far beyond the reality.

It's also clear that many people have a vested interest in denying that racist attitudes could possible exist amongst the intelligensia or in academic settings. So clear it saddening, really. It's not any pervasive effects of longtime discrimination; it's genetics, man. (see The Bell Curve)


As you admit, in some circles, racial epithets are used without hostility. So how do you know Camara didn't grow up in one of those circles?
If he can't distinguish between the academic behavior and the entertainment world, my faith in the stock of whatever he has written plummets greatly. I'm hoping he can, and despite his apologists, now realizes the time/place distinction.

"They're assuming that because a particular word for them would indicate racism, that everywhere in America this is equally true. The simple fact, whether or not we want to admit it, is that it's not true. See the Monty Python song, Never Be Rude To An Arab."

I'm not in favor of entertainment, Monty Python songs or Eminem even, in the classroom. When logic and rational thinking is at play, there is a difference between entertainment and scholarship. Let the guy become a rap star -- no problems with that. Just keep the cultural crap out of the classroom lest you turn off other strivers, who do not expect racial insults to greet them at the doors of the academy. And that's what the word was in this context -- an insult, not a funny fun way to entertain.

"If Camara is a bad person, I don't know it and you don't know it, and the Yale student body knows it least of all."

In a democracy, 1/3 of the students have every right to hedge their bets and make a peaceful statement.

"I would expect such a kid to be exceedingly weird."
That kind of age discriminates against the bright 17 year olds who can distinguish between settings, and understand the basic protocol that underlies academia and allows the process to flourish. I don't want social weirdo's in leadership positions, no matter how bright they are at tests. It's the full package. see Ted Kazcynski -- bright but socially off. Again, I'm hoping this young fellow at 17 was just in over his head regarding maturity and understanding what is expected in such a setting. But the protestors have every right to hedge their bets, and walk out, not stopping him from speaking but sending a message to the future immature folks who haven't been taught enough history and social decorum. Sounds like we're going to be seeing a lot of them raised in this mold; I'm confident they can break away and learn though.
3.29.2006 10:46am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Walk it.

It's also clear that many people have a vested interest in denying that racist attitudes could possible exist amongst the intelligensia or in academic settings. So clear it saddening, really. It's not any pervasive effects of longtime discrimination; it's genetics, man. (see The Bell Curve)

Silly. Are the racist attitudes the result of longtime discrimination? What are you talking about?

Geez.
3.29.2006 11:19am
Walk It:
Wow. Some of you really are dumber than I thought.

Briefly:
segregation led to concentrations of populations who lived only where they were allowed. Desegregation was not enough to allow free mobility to resettle people, so we do continue in many circles to live in a polarized society. Primary school funding is locally based. There is an unequal distribution of educational resources from the start. Many people (I won't slur conservatives necessarily) choose to label the unequal achievements at the top as due to innate superiority, ambition or drive. The pervasive effects of our collective history of discrimination has contributed to this unequal distribution of talents and resourses, and the legislation passed in the 1960s after Kennedy's death has not yet been able to rectify centuries of discrimination. Some people, and their children, wish to believe that a magic wand has been waved, and the effects of the past have been completely erased. Thus, they can say: "It's not any pervasive effects of longtime discrimination; it's genetics, man."

I do believe many otherwise rational people harbor the belief that "others" are often "lessers". Hth...
3.29.2006 11:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Walk it.

In the paragraph I cited, you referred to "its" not any result of longtime discrimination. The "it" clearly refers to racist attitudes. How are racist attitudes the result of longtime discrimination?

If you want to talk about Historical Inertia, or Historical Accumulation, that's another issue altogether. But they both work without any necessity for racist attitudes on the part of whites. See the city and school system of Detroit, for example.

Or explain McWhorter's experience and Ogbu's study results for the Shaker Heights school system. More time on television is a legacy of discrimination?
Thernstrom and Thernstrom found a study which asked different ethnic groups what the grade level was at which they'd get in trouble at home. Asian kids said, not surprisingly, it was about A-. Kids from other ethnic groups said they could get away with a lot lower grades. A legacy of slavery?
3.29.2006 11:57am
Aaron:
"How are racist attitudes the result of longtime discrimination?"

1. Discrimination holds Blacks back from competing educationally with Whites. As a result, Whites maintain economic advanatages, including better jobs, access to credit, mortgages, other investment opportunities. Wealth creation is retarded in the Black communities.

2. Discrimination prevents Blacks from moving into White neighborhoods. As a result, social interaction between Blacks and Whites is limited. Whites see Blacks in the public sphere mainly in menial or otherwise subservient jobs. Black professionals are confined to the Black community, out of the view of Whites.

3. Whites have a skewed view of Black achievement, or rather, exagerrate the lack of achievement thereof. Most Whites therefore conclude that the lack of achievement in the Black community is the result of Black inferiority, either moral (Blacks are lazy, and hence unsuccessful), or inherent (Blacks are stupid, hence unsuccessful).

4. Whites view the fact that other White immigrant groups manage to prosper after arrving in this country as further evidence of inherent shortcomings of Blacks; after all, if the Irish/Italians/Poles/Russians/Chinese/Japanese, etc can succeed, why not Blacks? Answer, there must be something wrong with them (other than the discrimination in public, social, economic, and political life-- a discrimination not just different in degree but different in kind).

As an example, one way of cementing assimilation is intermarriage. Throughout American history, immigrants went from being discrete, insular communitities, into mixed, pluralist communities, typified by mixed immigrant marriage, and finally, intermarriage with the Anglo/Germanic/Dutch establishment. However, Blacks in this country were not only discouraged from that step (by "discouraged" I mean murdered, or worse), in many jurisdictions the power of the state was invoked to prevent this from happening. Even the government reinforced the inferiority and unsuitability of Blacks.

Thus, this longtime discrimination surely led to racist attitudes among Whites. to mingle with Whites, surely then

"More time on television is a legacy of discrimination?"

Sigh...

Blacks are appearing on television, this is true. However, this is an ameliorative measure, and is still uneven. How many Black characters were there on "Seinfeld", "Friends", "Frasier", "Raymond", etc.?

Speaking of which, how many interracial couples do you see on TV (other than celebrity profiles of athletes)? Take a look at some commercials, and let me know if you ever see any. Even today, some things still reflect the legacy of state-sponsored, long-term, pernicious discrimination.
3.29.2006 1:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
What I meant by "time on television" was, unfortunately, related to the Shaker Heights study which I should have made clearer. It related time WATCHING television to lower classroom performance.

As to interracial couples, I happened to be at a loss for something to do over the weekend and read the Grand Rapids paper. Of the engagements, about two dozen, two were interracial. Not too shabby, especially for a part of the US the libs love to hate.

If blacks' performance is below a norm of some kind, it is not racist to notice the fact.
It is racist to actively or passively disadvantage blacks or other groups from making improvements.
"something wrong". John McWhorter thinks there is, and what he thinks it is is a too-easy retreat to "racism" as an excuse.
3.29.2006 2:46pm
anomie:
By the way, I heard Camara's talk was really good. Are there any audio-visual proceedings of the session which one can view/ borrow?
3.30.2006 12:15pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anomie, check www.orinkerr.com -- I think he had it.
3.30.2006 5:05pm
anomie:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008157

Check out article on Yale admission policy vis a vis the Camara controversy
3.30.2006 8:34pm