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Daily Archives: August 10th, 2018


Culture
By Prajwal Kulkarni
August 10, 2018
No other group—not Hispanics, Muslims, or anyone else—have faced what black Americans have. Race in America is not about people of color. It’s about black people.
David Marcus recently criticized the New York Times for promoting a racial double standard when they decided to stand by Sarah Jeong despite her history of racist tweets. According to Marcus, the Times has “no problem denigrating white people in a way they would not any other group” because they have implicitly embraced “privilege theory and its hierarchies of oppression.” Marcus rightly worries that this double standard does more harm than good and “is a dangerous road to a dark place.”
While Marcus’s analysis is largely correct, there is an even bigger problem with Jeong, white privilege theory (WPT), and leftist racial discourse in general: It is profoundly, deeply unfair, and not just to white Americans. The Left’s inordinate focus on whites is especially unfair to African-Americans.

The crux of race in America isn’t that white people have “hidden advantages.” It’s that African-Americans have, and always have had, obvious disadvantages. Rather than white privilege, we should be focusing on black suffering. If there is a racial double standard, it shouldn’t be about whites at all. It should be about black people, and only black people.
African-Americans Have a Unique History in America
Especially as America has transformed into a multi-racial rather than bi-racial democracy, it doesn’t make sense to continually harp on white people. It makes even less sense to lump the African-American experience along with that of other minorities.
Take the term “people of color” (POC). It implies that we can view race relations as white people on one side and all racial minorities on the other. But that framing is nonsense. POC didn’t experience 250 years of slavery. Black people did. POC didn’t get lynched almost 4,000 times. Black people did. And POC did not put up with decades of Jim Crow and formal housing discrimination. Black people did.
WPT glosses over these horrors that were perpetrated only on African-Americans. But this glossing over, this equating of blacks with all POC, is inevitable if you fixate on white people.

Ultimately the problem with white privilege theory isn’t its focus on privilege or white people. It’s that it minimizes what African-Americans endured. Yes, it’s true that some people might be treated with “more respect and dignity based on skin color.” But as far as race is concerned, only African-Americans have been uniquely harmed by such disrespect.
The Obsession with Whites Sidelines Blacks
So rather than WPT, it would be better to adopt a black-centered framework when discussing race. In this framework, the Jeong controversy would not exist—not because white people aren’t sometimes privileged, or white supremacy didn’t exist, but because any racial discussion would be viewed entirely through the lens of blacks. In this world, it would be bizarre for anyone to be so obsessed with whites. The common liberal trope that “America is based on white supremacy” would disappear from our vocabulary, and instead become something like: “America was built on black slavery.”
While the difference between those phrases may seem small, the second does something that our current discourse tragically does not: place African-Americans at the center of our racial narrative and treat their journey with the solemn reverence it deserves. However many races there are in America today, black and non-black are still the only two racial categories that matter. Privilege theory and the Left’s approach to race gets it completely backwards.
To meaningfully engage with race, conservatives should thus do a couple things. In terms of our public rhetoric, we should acknowledge, as I’ve argued previously, that racial identity is a meaningful concept. But we should simultaneously insist that African-Americans are special, and strongly denounce anyone who suggests otherwise.

In policies, we should as much as possible treat all groups equally, something Marcus has also called for. But we should also be open to making exceptions on a case by case basis. Only two groups should qualify for exceptions: African-Americans and Native Americans. Although discussing Native Americans is beyond the scope of this essay, they too have suffered uniquely. All Americans should place the experiences of these two groups on a pedestal and never compare them to anything else.
All Immigrants Are Closer to Whites than to Blacks
Placing black Americans in a racial category by themselves and reducing the salience of “white” could also build national cohesion because it would be easier to highlight the commonalities among all immigrant groups. Muslim-Americans could appreciate that while they surely face bigotry and are “people of color,” they have much in common with the Irish and Italians. Minority immigrants must logically be compared to other immigrant groups, not African-Americans. In America’s racial hierarchy, all immigrants are much closer to whites than we are to blacks.
This approach may also help the Sarah Jeongs of the world see that whites do not automatically have privilege over non-whites: it is lunacy to assert that their race alone makes white Appalachians privileged over many second-generation Asian-Americans, whose parents were given visas because they were among the most talented doctors, engineers, and scientists in their countries of origin.
I have been called racial slurs many times since I moved to the United States. I was once even punched in the face because I am a “f-cking foreigner.” But as traumatizing as such incidents may be to non-black racial minorities, it is grotesque to compare them to what happened to black people. Black people had—and have—it much, much worse. A black-centric approach would continually remind us of this fact.

It would also help us to make sense of the overwhelming data that economic immobility afflicts African-Americans, and especially African-American men, over every other group. Given our history, why would we expect anything else? Even though others face hardship, black people stand alone in this regard.
In a 1967 interview, Martin Luther King Jr. was asked why black Americans couldn’t progress like other immigrants. King’s response, said at a time when blacks were effectively our only minority group, is still relevant today: “No other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face.”
No other group—not Hispanics, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people, or anyone else—have faced what black Americans have. Race in America is not about whites or people of color. It’s about black people. White privilege theory trivializes this crucial fact.
How You Look Doesn’t Tell Us Your History
How did such a wrong-headed theory gain so much prominence? I suspect it’s because WPT is the only theory that could succeed in a multi-racial America. America never really wanted to view African-Americans as special. For a while we had no choice. But the second Hispanics and we Asians started coming over in significant numbers, WPT came along to save the day.
After all, here’s an academic theory that effectively says to black people: “Don’t view your experience as special. Sure you’re the only ones who were enslaved and lynched. And sure some minorities are significantly better off than the average American, much less black people. But you really should just lump yourself in with all people of color.”
We’ve accepted this fraudulent reasoning without realizing how ahistorical and morally bankrupt it is. Simply because they both generally happen to have darker skin than some other people, WPT has made it okay to analogize any brown-skinned immigrant, regardless of wealth or education, with an African-American whose ancestors experienced slavery and lynching.
How is okay to make that comparison? What kind of country will we be if we continue doing so? Sadly, the country we have always been.
Prajwal Kulkarni works at a software company and lives in Denver, Colorado. He writes on his personal website and is on Twitter.

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Trump’s trade war is already leading to layoffs and pain for American businesses
Bob Bryan 6 hrs ago

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports of steel, aluminum, and some Chinese products have started pushing up prices for many US companies that rely on those items to create final products, forcing many firms to make tough decisions about where to cut costs.
Many large companies have for now decided to pass on those costs to consumers or absorb the losses into their profit margins. But some smaller US businesses have been forced to cut labor costs to offset the higher amounts they’re paying for parts.
From Wisconsin to South Carolina, small businesses are starting to lay off employees, and they’re citing Trump’s tariffs. Many firms have warned that the worst is yet to come.
Some examples:
Mid-Continental Nail, the largest US nail producer, laid off 130 workers after steel prices jumped. One of its plant managers said the entire business could shut down over the next few months.
Element Electronics, a TV manufacturer, plans to lay off 127 workers from its South Carolina factory as “a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China.”
Brinly-Hardy, an Indiana-based maker of lawn-care equipment, laid off 75 workers. “We are collateral damage in this effort,” Jane Hardy, the company’s CEO, told The Washington Post.
The Tampa Bay Times said in April that it was forced to lay off 50 people because of a tariff on Canadian newsprint. Other newspapers in small communities, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown paper in Janesville, Wisconsin, have also been forced to lay off staff.
Some businesses, such as Moog Music, which manufactures electronic musical instruments, have not taken action but have warned that the tariffs could eventually lead to layoffs. Other small businesses have furloughed workers or paused expansion plans while they wait and see how the trade fights play out. Small operators in industries from lobster fishing to metal shapers have curtailed workers’ hours.

While the tariffs are causing acute pain for some companies, more widespread labor-market issues have not yet appeared. Trump’s tariffs apply only to a concentrated number of industrial goods, and the total number of US imports hit with tariffs remains low.
The July jobs report showed a steady increase in employment and a strong labor market, but economists have warned that business concerns about tariffs could start to weigh on hiring growth if the trade battles continue to escalate.
According to a study by the Trade Partnership, a free-trade industry group, Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs will result in a net loss of more than 400,000 US jobs. Other estimates of the job losses are somewhat smaller.
Even more effects on jobs could come if Trump follows through on his threat to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts:
Volvo warned the administration that it could scrap 4,000 planned jobs in South Carolina if the tariff goes into place.
Other foreign manufacturers with plants in South Carolina, such as BMW, say they could also be forced to make layoffs.
A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that a 25% auto tariff would lead to the loss of 195,000 US jobs over a three-year period.

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AUGUST 9, 2018
Meyerson on TAP
$2 Trillion Here, $2 Trillion There, and Soon We’re Talking Real Money: I know you know that Republicans throw money at the rich. Doctrines may shift, Russia may go from bad guy to BFF, NATO may defend the free world one day and dilute our sovereignty the next, but tax cuts for the rich are the one True North of Republican cosmology. Without it, the party perishes, not only from diminished campaign contributions but from lack of raison d’être.
As to just how much money Republicans throw at the rich, the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economy Policy (ITEP) released a report last month that’s gone largely unremarked in the media but that makes starkly clear just how faithful a friend and lapdog the GOP has been to our wealthiest friends and neighbors. What ITEP did was to total up all the tax reductions to the rich enacted since George W. Bush became president in 2001, subtracting from that total the restoration of higher tax rates on the rich that went through under President Barack Obama.
Here are the numbers: Since 2001, the income tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent come to $1,366 billion. The estate tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent come to $838 billion. Subtract from these cuts the hikes on the wealthiest 1 percent enacted during the Obama intermission, and we have a grand total of $1,924 billion that the wealthiest have been able to pocket for their rainy day funds.
I think that’s close enough that we can round it up a bit to an even $2,000 billion—which, for those of you who’ve been counting the zeros, is actually $2 trillion.
And that doesn’t count, of course, the additional $100 billion in cuts to capital gains taxes that the administration now says it plans to implement administratively by changing how it calculates the initial value of investments. That $100 billion, too, would flow chiefly to that same 1 percent.
But back to that $2 trillion: By a curious coincidence, that was also the amount that the administration proposed to save in its (mercifully, not very enactable) 2019 budget by reducing spending on Medicaid ($1.4 trillion), Medicare ($530 billion) and Social Security ($25 billion)—which comes in at a cool $1.955 trillion. As with the tax cut to the 1 percent, let’s just round that to $2 trillion, too.
So: Republican presidents and congresses have cut the taxes of the 1 percent by $2 trillion over the past 17 years, and Trump has now proposed to cut spending on Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security by the same $2 trillion.
Democratic campaign consultants, do with this what you will. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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