Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I wasn't going to do it, but why not.

Rauchway answering Clinton on Reconstruction. He links to Coates.
The simplest response all of them is here.

All of them such fucking idiots.

Serendipity, "The ghost of Panofsky"

James Gray Pope at Balkinization, as part of a symposium on the constitution and economic inequality.
The great critical race scholar Derrick Bell, for example, argued that African Americans can advance on issues of race only when whites also benefit. One way to secure this “interest convergence,” he observed, is to ally with lower-class whites "who, except for the disadvantages imposed on blacks because of color, are in the same economic and political boat." Unfortunately, however, white workers have rarely acted on these shared interests. They stood with white planters against slave revolts, for example, "even though the existence of slavery condemned white workers to a life of economic privation," and they excluded black workers from their unions, thereby "allowing plant owners to break strikes with black scab labor." To Bell, such choices reflect a form of racism so virulent and deeply rooted that it overrides economic rationality and blocks any hope of genuine racial equality or class solidarity. In apparent despair, he warns that black Americans face permanent and irrevocable subordination because of “the unstated understanding by the mass of whites that they will accept large disparities in economic opportunity in respect to other whites as long as they have a priority over blacks and other people of color for access to the few opportunities available.”

...When the situational force of law is considered, we may dissent from Bell’s conclusion that poor whites were "easily detoured into protecting their sense of entitlement vis-a-vis blacks for all things of value."

The story begins with a prequel. In colonial Virginia, black and white bound laborers routinely cooperated in escapes and resistance. During Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676, an army composed mostly of freed servants and slaves captured and burned Jamestown, the capital of Virginia. The planters’ solution to this threat, according to historian Edmund Morgan, "was racism, to separate dangerous free whites from dangerous slave blacks by a screen of racial contempt." The Virginia Assembly, elected not by poor whites but by landed gentry, constructed a legal order in which the poorest white laborer occupied a more exalted position than the most prosperous black planter. Poor whites were rewarded economically and psychologically for assisting in the control of black slaves. In this legal environment, black-white cooperation largely ceased.

By the time that the American working class began to form in the early 1800s, the Constitution and laws of the United States left no doubt that labor freedom, civil rights, and citizenship hinged crucially on being white.


Bell, "Dissent", in What Brown v Board of Education Should have Said, ed. Jack Balkin, NYU Press, 2001

Bell, Silent Covenants, Oxford, 2004

When the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down in 1954, many civil rights advocates believed that the decision, which declared public school segregation unconstitutional, would become the Holy Grail of racial justice. Fifty years later, despite its legal irrelevance and the racially separate and educationally ineffective state of public schooling for most black children, Brown is still viewed by many as the perfect precedent.

Here, Derrick Bell shatters the shining image of this celebrated ruling. He notes that, despite the onerous burdens of segregation, many black schools functioned well and racial bigotry had not rendered blacks a damaged race. He maintains that, given what we now know about the pervasive nature of racism, the Court should have determined instead to rigorously enforce the "equal" component of the "separate but equal" standard. Racial policy, Bell maintains, is made through silent covenants--unspoken convergences of interest and involuntary sacrifices of rights--that ensure that policies conform to priorities set by policy-makers. Blacks and whites are the fortuitous winners or losers in these unspoken agreements. The experience with Brown, Bell urges, should teach us that meaningful progress in the quest for racial justice requires more than the assertion of harms. Strategies must recognize and utilize the interest-convergence factors that strongly influence racial policy decisions.

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