Friday, September 22, 2017

Police Violence Against Black Men Is Rare


 
The real problem is black-on-black crime. NCVS data from 2015, the most recent year available, suggest that black men are three times as likely to commit violent crimes as white men.
And the media narrative to the contrary is damaging.
By Philippe Lemoine
A few days ago, former police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, was acquitted of first-degree murder; he had fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in 2011. Protests started in St. Louis, where the shooting took place and Stockley was judged, immediately after the verdict was announced. Although they were initially peaceful, they soon turned violent, and dozens of protesters were arrested while several police officers were injured. Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, just outside St. Louis, in 2014, this has become a familiar pattern.
This article is not about whether Stockley should have been acquitted. Instead, I want to talk about the underlying narrative regarding the prevalence of police brutality against black men in the U.S., which is largely undisputed in the media.
According to this narrative, black men are constantly harassed by the police and routinely brutalized with impunity, even when they have done nothing wrong, and there is an “epidemic of police shootings of unarmed black men.” Even high-profile black celebrities often claim to be afraid of the police because the same thing might happen to them. Police brutality, or at least the possibility that one might become a victim of such violence, is supposed to be part of the experience of a typical black man in the U.S. Events such as the death of Brown in Ferguson are presented as proof that black men are never safe from the police.
This narrative is false. In reality, a randomly selected black man is overwhelmingly unlikely to be victim of police violence — and though white men experience such violence even less often, the disparity is consistent with the racial gap in violent crime, suggesting that the role of racial bias is small. The media’s acceptance of the false narrative poisons the relations between law enforcement and black communities throughout the country and results in violent protests that destroy property and sometimes even claim lives. Perhaps even more importantly, the narrative distracts from far more serious problems that black Americans face.
Let’s start with the question of fatal violence. Last year, according to the Washington Post’s tally, just 16 unarmed black men, out of a population of more than 20 million, were killed by the police. The year before, the number was 36. These figures are likely close to the number of black men struck by lightning in a given year, considering that happens to about 300 Americans annually and black men are 7 percent of the population. And they include cases where the shooting was justified, even if the person killed was unarmed.
Of course, police killings are not the result of a force of nature, and I’m not claiming these are morally equivalent. But the comparison illustrates that these killings are incredibly rare, and that it’s completely misleading to talk about an “epidemic” of them. You don’t hear people talk about an epidemic of lightning strikes and claim they are afraid to go outside because of it. Liberals often make the same comparison when they argue that it’s completely irrational to fear that you might become a victim of terrorism.
One might retort that, while it may be rare for a black man to be killed by the police, black men are still constantly stopped and routinely brutalized by the police, even if they don’t die from it. However, even this weaker claim is false. It just isn’t true that black men are kicked, punched, etc., on a regular basis by the police.
In order to show that, I’m going to use data from the Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), which, as its name suggests, provides detailed information about contacts between the police and the public. It’s conducted on a regular basis by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and is based on a nationally representative sample of more than 70,000 U.S. residents age 16 or older. Respondents are asked whether they had a contact with the police during the past 12 months; if they say they did, they answer a battery of questions about the nature of their last contact, including any use of force. Since the respondents also provide their age, race, gender, etc., we can use this survey to calculate the prevalence of police violence for various demographic groups. The numbers in this piece are from my own analysis of the data, the details and code for which I provide here, but they are consistent with a 2015 report compiled by the BJS itself to the extent the two overlap.
First, despite what the narrative claims, it’s not true that black men are constantly stopped by the police for no reason. Indeed, black men are less likely than white men to have contact with the police in any given year, though this includes situations where the respondent called the cops himself: 17.5 percent versus 20.7 percent. Similarly, a black man has on average only 0.32 contacts with the police in any given year, compared with 0.35 contacts for a white man. It’s true that black men are overrepresented among people who have many contacts with the police, but not by much. Only 1.5 percent of black men have more than three contacts with the police in any given year, whereas 1.2 percent of white men do.
If we look at how often the police use physical force against men of different races, we find that there is indeed a racial disparity, but that this experience is rare across the board. Only 0.6 percent of black men experience physical force by the police in any given year, while approximately 0.2 percent of white men do. To be fair, these are probably slight undercounts, because the survey does not allow us to identify people who did not experience physical force during their most recent contact but did experience such force during a previous contact in the same year.
Further, physical force as defined by the PPCS includes relatively mild forms of violence such as pushing and grabbing. Actual injuries by the police are so rare that one cannot estimate them very precisely even in a survey as big as the PPCS, but the available data suggest that only 0.08 percent of black men are injured by the police each year, approximately the same rate as for white men. A black man is about 44 times as likely to suffer a traffic-related injury, according to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Moreover, keep in mind that these tallies of police violence include violence that is legally justified.
Now, it’s true that there are significant differences in the rates at which men of different races experience police violence — 0.6 percent is triple 0.2 percent. However, although people often equate racial disparities with bias, this inference is fallacious, as can be seen through an analogy with gender: Men are vastly more likely to experience police violence than women are, but while bias may explain part of this disparity, nobody doubts that most of it has to do with the fact that men are on average far more violent than women. Similarly, if black men commit violent crimes at much higher rates than white men, that might have a lot to do with the disparity in the use of force by the police.
This is evident in the National Crime Victimization Survey, another survey of the public conducted by the BJS. Interviewers ask respondents if they have been the victim of a crime in the past 12 months; if they have, respondents provide information about the nature of the incidents, including the race and ethnicity of the offenders. This makes it possible to measure racial differences in crime rates without relying on data from the criminal-justice system, in which racial bias could lead to higher rates of arrest and conviction for black men even if they commit violence at the same rate.
NCVS data from 2015, the most recent year available, suggest that black men are three times as likely to commit violent crimes as white men. To the extent that cops are more likely to use force against people who commit violent crimes, which they surely are, this could easily explain the disparities we have observed in the rates at which the police use force. That’s not to say that bias plays no role; I’m sure it does play one. But it’s unlikely to explain a very large part of the discrepancy.
Some might say that, instead of consulting statistics like these, we should defer to black Americans’ own perceptions of how the police treat them. As various polls have demonstrated, black people are much more likely than white people to think that police violence against minorities is very common. But the issue cannot be settled this way.
Since individuals have direct knowledge of what happened to them personally, you can trust them about that. But when it comes to larger social phenomena, people’s beliefs are influenced by far more than just their personal experience, including the media. The far more compelling fact is that, if you draw a representative sample of the population and ask each black man in that sample whether a police officer has used physical force against him in the past year, you find that it’s extremely rare.
On many issues, liberals have no problem recognizing this problem. For instance, there is a cottage industry of articles deploring the fact that, although crime has fallen spectacularly in the U.S. since the 1990s, most Americans believe it has increased. Liberals are absolutely right to point out this misperception, but if people of any color can be wrong about this, there is no reason to think black people can’t be wrong about the prevalence of police violence against minorities.
— Philippe Lemoine is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Cornell University. He can also be found on Twitter at @phl43 and you can read more from him on his blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

CONFIRMED! Obama Spied On Trump

 
Tucker Carlson: "Patronizing Assurances That No One Was Spying On Political Campaigns Were False, Probably Intentionally So"
 
By Tim Hains

TUCKER CARLSON: According to a new report from CNN, Paul Manafort, who for a time last year was the Trump campaign chairman, was indeed wiretapped by the federal government, both before and after the election.
Manafort, it ought to be noted, had an apartment inside Trump Tower at that time, so it is virtually certain that surveillance of him would have included other members of the Trump campaign staff, maybe even Trump himself.
In other words, it looks like Trump's tweet may have been right.
So why did three top members of Congress from both parties, and the country's top law enforcement officers all assure us that the surveillance didn't happen? That there wasn't a shred of evidence to suggest it had happened? Were they lying or did tey simply not know?
Neither answer is comforting.
Either the intelligence agency has gone rogue, pursuing its own goals without meaningful oversight from elected officials, or, our elected officials are colluding with each other to lie to the public, apparently for political reasons.



All of Obama’s Wiretappers
By George Neumayr



REVEALED: Susan Rice, one of Hillary’s most fervent supporters, spied on a post-election meeting between a prince from the United Arab Emirates and Trump aides.

Behind his political espionage of Trump, which benefited Hillary, lay an enormous sense of entitlement.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign memoir rests on an astonishingly audacious lie: that the very FBI director who made her campaign possible by improperly sparing her from an indictment doomed it. A normal pol who had mishandled classified information as egregiously as Hillary would have felt eternal gratitude to Comey. Only an entitled ingrate like Hillary would have the gall to cast her savior as the chief thorn in her side.
Nor does Hillary acknowledge another in-kind contribution to her campaign from Comey: his willingness to serve as a cog in Obama’s campaign of political espionage against Trump. Obama’s team of Hillary partisans, which included among others John Brennan, Susan Rice, and Loretta Lynch, wanted Comey to snoop on Trumpworld and he duly did.
It was reported this week that the FBI had until as recently as earlier this year been intercepting the communications of Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s campaign chairmen. This means that Comey, contrary to his lawyerly denial of Trump’s wiretapping claim, had the means to eavesdrop on any communications between Manafort and Trump.
Even at this late date, quibbling partisans in the media say that is insufficient proof of Trump’s claim. But could anyone imagine the Maggie Habermans bothering with such pedantry if George Bush’s FBI director had been snooping on David Axelrod?
The same generation of reporters who watched All the President’s Men breathlessly now shill for the propriety of political espionage.
They rush to offer what they consider high-minded reasons for wiretaps of Trump campaign officials. But those reasons, at least as this point, amount to nothing more than the haziest gossip.
One of the supposed reasons for the wiretaps, rich in irony given Hillary’s complaint that foreigners interfered in the election, is that an ex-Brit spy, probably on Comey’s payroll (the FBI still won’t address this matter) and certainly on the payroll of pro-Hillary partisans, told U.S. government officials that Manafort was colluding with the Russians.
Here Hillary benefited from the election-tipping of a foreigner, whose idiotic whisperings entertained by the FBI would turn up on the front pages of the New York Times at crucial moments in the campaign.
This, by the way, throws light on another outrageously dishonest Hillary claim: that Comey never told anyone of his investigation into the Trump campaign.
Of course, he did — through leaks.
That was bad enough but Comey made the leaks worse by not telling reporters that the investigation into the Trump campaign excluded Trump as a target. Comey let reporters think that Trump was one. Again, no gratitude from Hillary.
Another recent revelation is that Susan Rice, one of Hillary’s most fervent supporters, spied on a post-election meeting between a prince from the United Arab Emirates and Trump aides. The media shrugged at the revelation, as if such snooping falls within the bounds of a blameless norm.
An even slightly curious press, were it not in the tank for the Dems, would be agog at the news that one administration was spying on an incoming administration and demand an accounting of such an abuse of power.
Had the George Bush administration, out of post-election spite, spied on pre-inauguration meetings between Obama’s people and officials from a Middle Eastern country, the press would still be talking about it as a historic abuse of power. But in Rice’s case, they hastily inform their audience that “such unmaskings are perfectly legal.”
The media’s customary double standard for Democrats, combined with its treatment of Trump as a singularly monstrous Republican candidate (and then incoming president), served as a safety net beneath such high-wire political espionage. Rice knew that even if she fell in her attempt to nail Trump the media would catch her.
The scandal at the center of the 2016 election was not that Trump colluded with Russians to win but that the media and the Obama administration colluded with Hillary to defeat him.
The loudest cries of “foreign influence over the election” came from Hillary partisans who sought it, whether it was John Brennan running off to England and Estonia to collect dirt on Trump from their spies or deep-state clowns at the FBI who wanted to turn Christopher Steele into an asset.
The villain, in this sorry fable, turned out to be the victim.
_____________



Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say

Sources: Former UN Ambassador Samantha Powers sought Trump team identities

By Bret Baier, Catherine Herridge
Sources tell Fox News that Samantha Power made hundreds of unmasking requesting in the final year of the Obama administration

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.
Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports – but the interest in her actions is particularly high.
OBAMA OFFICIAL MADE 'HUNDREDS OF UNMASKING REQUESTS,' GOP CHAIRMAN SAYS

In a July 27 letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the committee had learned "that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration."
The "official" is widely reported to be Power.
During a public congressional hearing earlier this year, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pressed former CIA director John Brennan on unmasking, without mentioning Power by name.
Gowdy: Do you recall any U.S. ambassadors asking that names be unmasked?
Brennan: I don't know. Maybe it's ringing a vague bell but I'm not -- I could not answer with any confidence.
Gowdy continued, asking: On either January 19 or up till noon on January 20, did you make any unmasking requests?
Brennan: I do not believe I did.
Gowdy: So you did not make any requests on the last day that you were employed?
Brennan: No, I was not in the agency on the last day I was employed.
Brennan later corrected the record, confirming he was at CIA headquarters on January 20. "I went there to collect some final personal materials as well as to pay my last respects to a memorial wall. But I was there for a brief period of time and just to take care of some final -- final things that were important to me," Brennan said.
Three of the nation's intelligence agencies received subpoenas in May explicitly naming three top Obama administration officials: Former national security adviser Susan Rice, Brennan and Power. Records were requested for Ben Rhodes, then-President Barack Obama's adviser, but the documents were not the subject of a subpoena.
A spokesperson for Power had no comment on the number or timing of her requests. But in a previous statement, her lawyer David Pressman emphasized that, "While serving as our Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Power was also a member of the National Security Council responsible for advising the President on the full-range of threats confronting the United States. Any insinuation that Ambassador Power was involved in leaking classified information is absolutely false."
During congressional testimony since the unmasking controversy began, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers has explained that unmasking is handled by the intelligence community in an independent review.
"We [the NSA] apply two criteria in response to their request: number one, you must make the request in writing. Number two, the request must be made on the basis of your official duties, not the fact that you just find this report really interesting and you're just curious,” he said in June. “It has to tie to your job and finally, I said two but there's a third criteria, and is the basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading."
Previous U.N. ambassadors have made unmasking requests, but Fox News was told they number in the low double digits.
Power has agreed to meet with the Senate and House intelligence committees as part of the Russia probe. She is expected before the House committee in a private, classified session in October.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Black Lives Matter group takes the stage at pro-Trump rally — what happens next is amazing

By Sarah Taylor

A Black Lives Matter group takes the stage at a pro-Trump rally — and the leader's message has both sides cheering. "All lives matter, right? ... If we really want to make America great, we do it together," the group leader said, prompting chants of "USA! USA!" (Image source: Twitter video screenshot)

Between competing pro-Trump and anti-Trump protests in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, a silver lining was found with a Black Lives Matter group who unexpectedly took the stage during a boisterous pro-Trump rally.
What happened?
A Black Lives Matter group marched near the rally and passed closely to the stage. As they walked and shouted chants of “Black lives matter,” the group received jeers and boos from many people attending the pro-Trump rally.
At first, the mic-wielding organizer of the Trump rally told pro-Trump congregants, “Don’t give them the spotlight,” and “They don’t exist.”
No one could have predicted what would happen next.
From the stage, another organizer seemed to make a split-second decision and shouted, “I’m going to let Black Lives Matter come up here while I show them what patriotism is all about, all right?”
Another speaker, who handed the microphone over to the group’s leader, said, “[This rally is] about freedom of speech. It’s about celebration. So what we are gonna do is not something you’re used to, and we’re going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out.”
“Now, whether [the crowd disagrees or agrees] with your message is irrelevant — it’s the fact that you have the right to have the message,” he said.
Members of the Black Lives Matter then took the stage and their leader began speaking — to the cheers of the crowd gathered, both supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as Trump supporters.
What did the group say?
“I am an American,” the Black Lives Matter group leader said. “And the beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it.”
He continued, “So you ask why there’s a ‘Black Lives Matter?’ Because you can watch a black man die and be choked to death on television, and nothing happened. We need to address that.”
The man’s comments seemed to turn the crowd against him, and cries of “No!” and protests to have the group removed from the stage began to ramp up.
Though the speaker declared that BLM is “not anti-cop,”  the pro-Trump crowd’s reaction showed they didn’t believe it. But things began to turn around when the man clarified that the group was “anti-bad cop” and shouted that the group didn’t want any handouts, and didn’t want anything that didn’t rightfully belong to them.
“We want our God-given right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!” the group’s leader shouted, and the crowd began to applaud and cheer once more.
The BLM leader added, “All lives matter, right? … If we really want to make America great, we do it together.”
The crowd applauded the group leader’s comments, and began chanting “USA! USA!”
What was the BLM leader’s takeaway?
After the leader’s speech came to an end, he told a nearby cameraman that his experience in speaking to the pro-Trump crowd “restored my faith in some of these people.”
“When I spoke truths, they agreed,” he said. “I feel like we made progress. I feel like two sides that never listen to each other actually made progress today.”
He added, “I expected to come down here with my fist in the air in a very militant way, and to exchange insults … if not on a grander level, and just person-to-person, I think we really made some substantial steps without either side yielding anything.
“I hope that they understand that one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matters movement is a proud American and a Christian who cares deeply about this country,” he said. “We really are here to help this country move toward a better place, not to destroy it.”
Noting that he had been approached by many people after his speech who agreed with him, and even wanted to take photographs with him, he said, “That’s the power of communication.”
“We came out, we were gonna chant, we were gonna do a demonstration, but we didn’t have to — we just spoke,” he said. “It worked. I’m happy about that.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Diversity Can Spell Trouble

By Victor Davis Hanson

Image credit:  Barbara Kelley
America is experiencing a diversity and inclusion conundrum—which, in historical terms, has not necessarily been a good thing.

Communities are tearing themselves apart over the statues of long-dead Confederate generals.

Controversy rages over which slogan—“Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter”—is truly racist.

Antifa street thugs clash with white supremacists in a major American city.

Americans argue over whether the USC equine mascot “Traveler” is racist, given the resemblance of the horse’s name to Robert E. Lee’s mount “Traveller.”

Amid all this turmoil, we forget that diversity was always considered a liability in the history of nations—not an asset.  

Ancient Greece’s numerous enemies eventually overran the 1,500 city-states because the Greeks were never able to sublimate their parochial, tribal, and ethnic differences to unify under a common Hellenism.
The Balkans were always a lethal powder keg due to the region’s vastly different religions and ethnicities where East and West traditionally collided—from Roman and Byzantine times through the Ottoman imperial period to the bloody twentieth century. Such diversity often caused destructive conflicts of ethnic and religious hatred.
Europe for centuries did not celebrate the religiously diverse mosaic of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians, but instead tore itself apart in a half-millennium of killing and warring that continued into the late twentieth century in places like Northern Ireland.
In multiracial, multiethnic, and multi-religious societies—such as contemporary India or the Middle East—violence is the rule in the absence of unity.
Even the common banner of a brutal communism could not force all the diverse religions and races of the Soviet Union to get along.
Japan, meanwhile, does not admit many immigrants, while Germany has welcomed over a million, mostly young Muslim men from the war-torn Middle East. The result is that Japan is in many ways more stable than Germany, which is reeling over terrorist violence and the need for assimilation and integration of diverse newcomers with little desire to become fully German.
History offers only a few success stories when it comes to diversity.
Rome, for one, managed to weld together millions of quite different Mediterranean, European, and African tribes and peoples through the shared ideas of Roman citizenship (civis Romanus sum) and equality under the law. That reality endured for some 500 years.
The original Founders of the Roman Republic were a few hundred thousand Latin-speaking Italians; but the inheritors of their vision of Roman Republican law and constitutionalism were a diverse group of millions of people all over the Mediterranean.
History’s other positive example is the United States, which has proven one of the only truly diverse societies in history to remain fairly stable and unified—at least so far. 
Although the Founders are now caricatured as oppressive European white men, they were not tribal brutes. The natural evolution of their unique belief that all men are created equal is today’s diverse society, where different people have managed, until recently, to live together in relatively harmony and equality under the law.
Unlike present-day Mexico, China, or Japan, America never developed a fixed idea, either culturally or formally in its written constitution, that race or religion de facto defined citizenship. Instead, an imperfect America was always being reinvented in dogged pursuit of the Founders’ promise of equality and the toleration of difference.
Despite a Civil War that took over 600,000 lives, years of oppression and segregation, dozens of major riots, and thousands of court cases and legislative fights, our American exceptionalism held that America alone could pull off the bizarre idea that diverse peoples could eventually live together as a single people in brotherhood.
But the American experiment is not static, nor is it settled. The nation’s racial, ethnic, and religious diversity is by nature volatile, and prone to exploitation by demagogues and opportunists.
A diverse America requires constant reminders of e pluribus unum and the need for assimilation and integration.
The idea of Americanism is an undeniably brutal bargain in which we all give up primary allegiance to our tribes in order to become fellow Americans redefined by shared ideas rather than mere appearance.
Unfortunately, there are increasing signs that our political, religious, ethnic, and racial diversity is overwhelming our shared but fragile notion of national unity.
Growing geographical separation into blue coastal liberal states and red interior conservative counterparts is starting to mimic the North-South regional divide of the Civil War, a split in national geography that is fueling political differences.
Not surprising, there is talk of a Calexit, or a Confederate-like secession of California from the United States—and during the Obama administration, there was news of a secessionist movement in Texas.
There is currently little real free speech on American campuses. A new kind of racial segregation is occurring in college “theme” and “affinity” houses.
Recent street violence in places like Charlottesville between extremists of the left and right resembled the brawling between totalitarian Stalinists and racist brown shirts of 1930s Germany. The successful melting pot is caricatured; the unproven salad bowl is canonized.
Almost everything in America today is politicized and thus polarized, from the fundamental to the trivial: sports events, music, art, Hollywood movies, mute statues, cable television, university curriculums, Silicon Valley corporations, and now even the names of horses.
Fewer people are unified.
The schools and the media do not remind Americans that their country can be quite good without having to be perfect—and is far better than the contemporary alternatives elsewhere.
At the same time, these institutions have convinced Americans that the evils of human kind—racism, sexism, homophobia, slavery, serfdom, and class oppression—are the unique sins of democratic America.
Few today appreciate that only in America has there been a culture of self-critique, introspection, and dissent—and thus remedies for the nation’s shortcomings, a self-correcting culture not known elsewhere.
The fashion today is to identify yourself by your ethnicity, race, or sexual preference—as something that transcends both being American and a unique individual.
In contrast, there are vanishing incentives for people to simply call themselves Americans, allowing the content of their character to trump the color of their skin.
In this regard, we can welcome the recent change in name of the preeminent Latino lobbying group from the racialist National Council of La Raza to Unidos US. (Raza is a Franco-era chauvinistic buzzword meaning “The Race.”)
If America is to survive this fourth century of its existence, it will soon have to recalibrate from “celebrating diversity” to “celebrating unity.”
The bleak alternative is history’s long list of genocides, tribal feuding, ethnic warring, religious conflicts, and pogroms.
In sum, the United States will at some point have to subordinate the fad of multiculturalism to the ideal of multiracialism: many different-looking Americans who are nonetheless one in their shared customs, citizenship, and culture, while holding diverse political and cultural views not predicated on identity politics.
“Difference” is a plus when it is a matter of enjoying diverse foods, music, fashion, art, and literature that enhance a central, shared, and unchanging set of values based on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
We all enjoy Mexican or Chinese food, but not Mexican or Chinese ideas of democracy and human rights.
We all are enriched by Caribbean music but not by Caribbean notions of law and justice.
We all value political and ideological diversity—but only when they rely on collective tribal allegiances.
And we are impressed by Middle Eastern hospitality and family solidarity, but not Middle Eastern treatment of women, minorities, gays, and diverse religions.
What makes millions of immigrants strive to reach and stay in America at all costs is not our racial make-up or our many languages but the racially-blind promise of freedom, liberty, the rule of law, prosperity, and security which are the dividends of Americans abiding by the precepts of the U.S. Constitution.
If America’s set of values becomes a pick-and-choose potpourri, there is no unity.
And then America will certainly become yet another one of history’s casualties of diversity.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why the statue-smashers will never stop

By Karol Markowicz


After last month’s violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead and many others injured, the left has focused not on some sort of national healing but on destruction — specifically, of old statues of long-dead men.

And it doesn’t much matter what those men stood for. America’s culture of idol worship and public defenestration has come for anything set in stone.
Last Tuesday, a statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park had its hands painted red and a sinister message warning “#somethingscoming” was spray-painted on the statue’s base. That same day, protesters covered a Thomas Jefferson statue at the University of Virginia with a black sheet. On Wednesday in Baltimore, a monument to Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star Spangled Banner,” was defaced with the words “Racist Anthem.” On Thursday, Wall Street’s “charging bull” was covered in blue paint.
Conservatives and President Trump warned the vandalism of Confederate monuments was a slippery slope. Liberals scoffed.
Matthew Yglesias had a piece at Vox titled “The huge problem with Trump comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington.” Writing in The Washington Post, David A. Bell decried Trump’s “moral relativism” and an NBC News story by Dartunorro Clark interviewed several historians who confidently declared Washington and Jefferson aren’t in any danger.
The differences were so obvious, we were told, that common sense would prevail. It was the triumph of hope over experience. Anyone who doesn’t line up with current progressive social mores is out. The war isn’t on history; it’s on anything that isn’t specifically leftist — now, today, subject to change tomorrow.
Example: The Cumberland Coun­ty school board in Fayetteville, NC, recently canceled an environmental program that used an image of the Marquis de Lafayette in its promotional materials. Why? Because Lafayette owned slaves.
Never mind that Lafayette had purchased the slaves in order to free them or that he was an avid abolitionist who had influenced George Washington to free his own slaves upon his death.
“It appears that by trying to be sensitive to part of the community, I was insensitive to another part,” said Interim Superintendent Tim Kinlaw, who was responsible for canceling the program. In a city actually named after the Marquis de Lafayette, it wasn’t sensitivity that caused the cancellation of the program, it was pure, industrial-grade ignorance.
 
In New York City the issue reached a fever pitch when Mayor de Blasio suggested that tearing down the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle was a possibility. The mayor has assembled a commission to review “oppressive” monuments and take them down or annotate their plaques with PC-approved Puritanism. The idea that monuments can oppress people by their very existence is a slap in the face to people living under actual oppression.

Not that that’ll stop city pols. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito suggested there should be no statues to Columbus because of “[the] oppression and everything that he brought with him.” But what he brought with him was an opening and connection of the entire world, the discovery of new lands and the beginning of America. To discard Columbus is to discard all of the good that came from his discoveries as well.

Plus, the new commission essentially proves its own uselessness, since it’ll have to go looking for things people might be angry about — in a city full of young leftists who aren’t exactly shy about their grievances. As The Post editorialized, “the panel is a solution in search of a problem: If anything in this town were as offensive as a Confederate memorial, New York would’ve had a tabloid feeding frenzy over it long ago.”
Meanwhile, the mayor has no plans to skip out on the annual Columbus Day Parade down Fifth Avenue next month. Tearing down a statue of Christopher Columbus is one thing, but skipping a campaign event a month before the election is apparently too extreme a step. Let’s not be rash about this, right Mr. Mayor? De Blasio’s spin that the day has turned into an Italian heritage event is pathetic. The day, and the parade, bears Christopher Columbus’s name for a reason.
In a sense, though, we shouldn’t be too surprised it’s come to this. Pop culture is especially heavy on the cult part. We obsess over celebrities. We personalize everything. We build up and tear down our heroes. A healthier response to all this would be resolving to celebrate accomplishments, not personalities. Otherwise, the answer to “Where will it end?” will be: “Never.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America

By Janet Levy


Slavery in America, typically associated with blacks from Africa, was an enterprise that began with the shipping of more than 300,000 white Britons to the colonies.  This little known history is fascinatingly recounted in White Cargo (New York University Press, 2007).  Drawing on letters, diaries, ship manifests, court documents, and government archives, authors Don Jordan and Michael Walsh detail how thousands of whites endured the hardships of tobacco farming and lived and died in bondage in the New World. 

Following the cultivation in 1613 of an acceptable tobacco crop in Virginia, the need for labor accelerated.  Slavery was viewed as the cheapest and most expedient way of providing the necessary work force.  Due to harsh working conditions, beatings, starvation, and disease, survival rates for slaves rarely exceeded two years.  Thus, the high level of demand was sustained by a continuous flow of white slaves from England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1618 to 1775, who were imported to serve America's colonial masters.
These white slaves in the New World consisted of street children plucked from London's back alleys, prostitutes, and impoverished migrants searching for a brighter future and willing to sign up for indentured servitude.  Convicts were also persuaded to avoid lengthy sentences and executions on their home soil by enslavement in the British colonies.  The much maligned Irish, viewed as savages worthy of ethnic cleansing and despised for their rejection of Protestantism, also made up a portion of America's first slave population, as did Quakers, Cavaliers, Puritans, Jesuits, and others.
Around 1618 at the start of their colonial slave trade, the English began by seizing and shipping to Virginia impoverished children, even toddlers, from London slums.  Some impoverished parents sought a better life for their offspring and agreed to send them, but most often, the children were sent despite their own protests and those of their families.  At the time, the London authorities represented their actions as an act of charity, a chance for a poor youth to apprentice in America, learn a trade, and avoid starvation at home.  Tragically, once these unfortunate youngsters arrived, 50% of them were dead within a year after being sold to farmers to work the fields.
A few months after the first shipment of children, the first African slaves were shipped to Virginia.  Interestingly, no American market existed for African slaves until late in the 17th century.  Until then, black slave traders typically took their cargo to Bermuda.  England's poor were the colonies' preferred source of slave labor, even though Europeans were more likely than Africans to die an early death in the fields.  Slave owners had a greater interest in keeping African slaves alive because they represented a more significant investment.  Black slaves received better treatment than Europeans on plantations, as they were viewed as valuable, lifelong property rather than indentured servants with a specific term of service.
These indentured servants represented the next wave of laborers.  They were promised land after a period of servitude, but most worked unpaid for up to15 years with few ever owning any land.  Mortality rates were high.  Of the 1,200 who arrived in 1619, more than two thirds perished in the first year from disease, working to death, or Indian raid killings.  In Maryland, out of 5,000 indentured servants who entered the colony between 1670 and 1680, 1,250 died in bondage, 1,300 gained their right to freedom, and only 241 ever became landowners.
Early in the 17th century, the headright system, a land allocation program to attract new colonists, began in Jamestown, Virginia as an attempt to solve labor shortages.  The program provided acreage to heads of households that funded travel to the colony for destitute individuals to work the land.  It led to the sharp growth of indentured servitude and slavery because the more slaves imported by a colonist, the larger the tracts of land received.  Promises of prosperity and land were used to lure the poor, who were typically enslaved for three to 15 years.  All the while, agents profited handsomely by augmenting their land holdings.  Corruption was rampant in the headright system and included double-counting of individual slaves, land allocations for servants who were dead upon arrival, and per head fees given for those kidnapped off English streets.
Purveyors of slaves often worked in teams of spirits, captains, and office-keepers to kidnap people from English ports for sale in the American labor market.  Spirits lured or kidnapped potential servants and arranged for their transport with ship captains.  Office-keepers maintained a base to run the operation.  They would entertain their prey and get them to sign papers until an awaiting ship became available.  Spirits and their accomplices were occasionally put on trial, but court records show that they got off easily and that the practice was tolerated because it was so profitable.
The indentured servant system of people who voluntarily mortgaged their freedom evolved into slavery.  England essentially dumped its unwanted in the American colonies, where they were treated no better than livestock.  Servants were regularly battered, whipped, and humiliated.  Disease was rampant, food was in short supply, and working and living conditions were grim.  War with local native Indian tribes was common.  Severe punishment made escape unrealistic.  Initially, running away was considered a capital crime, with clemency granted in exchange for an agreement to increase the period of servitude.
In the 1640s, the transportation of the Irish began.  Britain's goal was to obliterate Ireland's Catholics to make room for English planters.  Catholics who refused to attend a Protestant church could be fined.  If they were unable to pay, they could be sold as slaves.  Following the end of the English Civil Wars in 1651, English military and political leader Oliver Cromwell focused his attention on Ireland, where the people had allied with the defeated royalists during the conflict.  Famine was created by the intentional destruction of food stocks.  Those implicated in the rebellion had their land confiscated and were sold into slavery.  Anyone refusing to relocate was threatened with death, including children.
Scots were also subjected to transportation to the British colonies for religious differences, as England imposed Anglican disciplines on the Church of Scotland as well.  The English army was deployed to break up illegal church assemblies and imprison or deport religious protesters.
Cruelty to servants was rampant.  Beatings were common, and the perpetrators, buttressed by juries made up of fellow landowners, were rarely punished for abuse or even murder.  In time, efforts were made to improve the lot of servants.  Legislation in 1662 provided for a "competent diet, clothing and lodging" and disciplinary measures not to "exceed the bounds of moderation."  Servants were granted the right to complain, but the cruelty continued.
Infanticide by unmarried women was common, as they could be severely punished for "fornication."  The mother faced a whipping, fines, and extra years added to her servitude.  Her offspring faced time in bondage as well.  If the mother was the victim of a rape by the master, he faced a fine and the loss of a servant but wasn't subjected to whipping.
Several uprisings in the American colonies awakened slave owners to problems, exposing their vulnerability within the caste-like master-servant social system they had created.  In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon, an aristocrat from England who became a Virginia colonist, instigated an insurrection, referred to as Bacon's Rebellion, that changed the course of white slavery.
Prior to Bacon's Rebellion, much discontentment existed among servants over seemingly empty promises of land following their periods of indenture.  When they were finally freed of their obligations, many found that they couldn't afford the required land surveying fees and the exorbitant poll taxes.
In 1675, when war broke out with some of the native tribes, Bacon joined the side of the warring settlers and offered freedom to every slave and servant who deserted his master and joined Bacon in battle.  Hundreds enthusiastically joined him in the insurgency.  When Bacon died suddenly, his supporters fled or surrendered; some were recaptured, put in chains, and beaten or hanged.  However, because of the revolt, whites gained rights.  Whippings were forbidden without a formal judicial order.
By the early 1770s, the convict trade was big business, more profitable than the black slave trade because criminals were cheap.  They could be sold for one third the price of indentured servants.  England's jails were being emptied into America on a significant scale.  Additionally, merchants who traded in convicts from England and Ireland received a subsidy for every miscreant transported to America.  Up to a third of incoming convicts died from dysentery, smallpox, typhoid, and freezing temperatures.  Upon arrival, they were advertised for sale, inspected, and taken away in chains by new masters.
Following the Revolutionary War, the British continued to ship convict labor as "indentured servants" to America.  During that time, seven ships filled with prisoners made the journey, and two successfully landed.  In 1789, convict importation was legally banned across the U.S.  America would no longer be the dumping ground for British criminals.  It took another 30 years before the indentured servant trade ended completely.
A well written and well researched historical narrative, White Cargo does an excellent job of elucidating a forgotten part of our colonial past by telling the story of thousands of Britons who lived and died in bondage before African slaves were transported to the New World.