Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Why Rachel Dolezal’s race deception matters

Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015

If you’re an American and you haven’t been living under a rock, you are surely aware of the recent controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal, who until recently was the president of the Spokane, WA chapter of the NAACP. Dolezal resigned after her parents revealed to the media that while she has frequently claimed to be black, she is in fact white. It also emerged that while a student at predominantly black Howard University, Dolezal sued the university alleging racial discrimination against her because she was white. Dolezal continues to maintain that she considers herself to be black.

Some questioned why the racial identity of a person should matter so much. If Dolezal, or anyone else, wants to identify herself as black, why should that be anything other than a personal matter? The NAACP has pointed out that you don’t have to be black to head one of their chapters.

Indeed, in an ideal world, I would agree that it shouldn’t make any difference.  The reason that it matters is that in the USA, African-Americans have been declared to be a protected class by virtue of the long history of racial discrimination against them, and can therefore be the recipients of various accommodations through “affirmative action” programs, particularly in hiring and academic admissions. When a person chooses to list their racial status on an application, hoping to qualify for affirmative action, it is no longer simply a personal matter. It is a public one.

Dolezal has made her racial identity a public matter on multiple occasions. Ironically, the first time was her lawsuit against Howard, in which she publicly identified as white. More recently, she has reported herself as the target of multiple hate crimes for being black, most of which authorities now believe were fabricated. Why on earth would anyone do this?

As the Daily Mail’s Dominic Lawson writes:

Rachel Dolezal is merely the most spectacular example of the growing phenomenon of people posing as victims — itself the consequence of a culture which portrays victimhood as a form of moral superiority…It is what comes of putting ‘victims’ on a pedestal once accorded to genuine heroes.

People like Dolezal seek to be viewed as victims because it gives them – among certain segments of society, particularly in academia and the media – a measure of respect and attention that would normally have to be earned by actual accomplishments, which is much harder to do. She clearly learned from her failed lawsuit against Howard that she could never be truly viewed as a victim as long as she was white. So she began attempting to be perceived as black – not least by moving to Northern Idaho, where there aren’t that many actual black people around for comparison. Like Walter Mitty, she worked so hard at this goal that she not only persuaded other people, she ended up persuading herself as well.

As a society, we can remove the incentive for frauds like Dolezal by ceasing to provide special advantages to anyone based on their status as a minority – racial, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever. Giving a minority individual preference in any situation does nothing to undo previous discrimination, but in fact constitutes a new act of discrimination. Would we provide the victim of a robbery restitution by committing a robbery against someone else and giving the stolen goods to the first victim? Without affirmative action and the societal celebration of the cult of victimhood, there will be no more Rachel Dolezals.

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Saudi Arabia: Not even the pretense of “separate but equal”

Posted by sanityinjection on January 20, 2010

OK, get ready, because this is going to be the most feminist column I have ever, or probably will ever write 🙂

The catalyst is the recent decision of Saudi authorities to shut down a fitness center for women in the city of Jeddah. Readers will recall that in the extremely conservative Saudi society, strict segregation of the genders (except for family members) is seriously enforced. However, that alone is not even the problem. Most Saudi women would be happy with “separate but equal” accommodations, as both men and women believe this to be part of their Muslim faith (though millions of Muslims worldwide would disagree.)

In fact, however, segregation is used as an excuse to severely circumscribe women’s lives to an extent far beyond what blacks in America’s Jim Crow South ever experienced. Women are legally forbidden from driving, for example, because doing so would inevitably cause them to have to interact with men (at gas stations, for example.) Now the closure of the Jeddah fitness center and others in the conservative kingdom – despite warnings from health officials about the level of fitness among Saudi women – proves that the discrimination against women goes far beyond the desire for Islamic segregation. Since the gym in question was for women only, with no co-ed facilities, what could have motivated its closing?

The answer is simple: The gym would have been a place where Saudi women from different families could meet and talk with one another outside of male supervision. This is a frightening prospect to the Saudi patriarchy, which believes that every aspect of women’s lives needs to be controlled by men. The Saudi men – encouraged by their male imams – believe that their women are fundamentally immoral and will descend rapidly into sin if not kept in check by men. This idea is rooted not so much in Islam but in a much older tribal culture. As such, it is indefensible in the 21st century.

There is little that we in the West can do other than to speak up and consistently promote the idea of women as full citizens with equal rights in every area. And not to tolerate any suggestion of “different cultural standards” as an excuse for the Saudi brand of discrimination. Cultural values should be respected in matters such as standards of dress and public behavior, but not where the fundamental rights of speech, faith, and assembly are concerned.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sotomayor: The Ricci case

Posted by sanityinjection on June 10, 2009

One of the aspects of Judge Sotomayor’s record that has drawn a great deal of scrutiny is her ruling in the Ricci v. DeStefano case. In that case, Sotomayor and two colleagues rejected the appeal of white firefighter Frank Ricci, who sued the city of New Haven for denying him a promotion after he scored well on the city’s promotion test for firefighters. The city refused to grant promotions to Ricci and other white firefighters who scored well upon realizing that black firefighters had scored disproportionately poorly on the test, claiming they feared they would be sued by the black firefighters for discrimination if they did.

Sotomayor has been criticized both for the subtance of her ruling against Ricci (which was upheld by the full appeals court in a 7-6 split and is now headed for the Supreme Court) and for the terse, one-paragraph opinion with which it was given.

I commend to your attention this excellent analysis of the legal issues involved by the WashPost’s Ruth Marcus. While differing somewhat with Sotomayor’s ruling, Marcus points out that under the law New Haven found itself in a position where it could reasonably expect to be sued by one side or the other no matter what it did. The “disparate impact” precedent holds that the city can be found guilty of discrimination even if no intent to discriminate can be shown, if its test results in a disparate impact on a minority group (in this case, blacks) which it clearly seems to.

The Supreme Court may choose to reverse its own previous ruling on “disparate impact”, but arguably Sotomayor’s panel lacked that authority. Still, Judge Sotomayor should be asked to explain why she thought a case this important didn’t deserve an opinion that delved more thoroughly into the legal issues involved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

When will we have a Voting Rights Act for the military?

Posted by sanityinjection on January 7, 2009

In 1965, Congress passed the landmark Voting Rights Act, which ended various measures used in the South to prevent African-Americans from voting. The legislation is widely viewed as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the civil rights movement.

And yet today there is a group of people who are still systematically discriminated against and repeatedly prevented from voting in election after election. That group consists of the men and women of our armed forces serving overseas.

I first wrote about this back in July in response to a column by Bob Novak. Novak explained that there was a bipartisan effort in the House to remedy the persisting logistical problems that prevent many military members from casting their votes.

That effort seems to have failed to bear fruit, but a new study by the Pew Center details how bad the problem has become. According to the study, in 2006 only one-third of military ballots requested were actually cast and counted. Even worse, they found that “the voting rules in 25 states and the District of Columbia made it nearly impossible for service members stationed abroad to cast ballots in the 2008 election.”

This is the 21st century – surely modern technology should be able to solve this problem. And indeed, the Pew Center concludes its report with four simple recommendations that it feels would be effective in doing so. But what is appalling is that if these numbers applied to any other group in America – Hispanics, say, or African-Americans – there would be massive pressure in the media and from activist groups to end what they would call an outrage. Sadly, however, our military members enjoy no such concern for their civil rights.

This is especially appalling because it is precisely those who are risking their lives in defense of America who most deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Author Robert Heinlein once controversially wrote about a future society in which military veterans were the only citizens allowed to vote, and people joined the military precisely in order to earn that privilege.

You can go here to find out whether your state is doing enough to allow military members to cast their votes. If not, consider e-mailing your state’s Secretary of State and legislative leaders with a link to the Pew Center’s report. Change has to come from somewhere.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Interesting discrimination case

Posted by sanityinjection on January 6, 2009

The ACLU has announced that the federal TSA and JetBlue Airways have agreed to settle a lawsuit by Raed Jarrar for $240,000. Mr. Jarrar sued after he was asked to cover a T-shirt with Arabic writing in order to board the plane:

There are some interesting aspects to this case. First, Jarrar complied with the request and was allowed to fly. He therefore has no proof that the authorities intended to refuse to allow him to fly if he had declined. If he had wanted to sue, he should have refused, then he would have grounds.

Second, Jarrar had to know that as a Middle Eastern-appearing person with a goatee beard and an Arabic  name, wearing a T-shirt with Arabic writing to an airport is a little like waving a toy gun around. I do agree that the Arabic writing alone should not be grounds for being banned from a plane, but Jarrar should well have expected to be the absolute center of attention throughout his flying experience, including being moved to a seat where the flight crew could keep an eye on him (Airlines can move your seat at any time for any reason.)

So I think Jarrar probably would have lost the case had it gone to trial, but obviously the defendants had an interest in avoiding bad publicity. Now he can afford to fly all over the place on JetBlue’s and the taxpayers’ dimes.

What if Jarrar’s T-shirt had featured a photo of Osama Bin Laden? At what point does the airline’s concern about a possible disruption on board the flight outweigh an individual’s right to freedom of expression? I think there is a gray area here. Certainly we do not want to get to a point where “Flying while Arab” constitutes a crime, yet I also do not believe it is inherently discriminatory that people of obvious Arab origins be scrutinized.

There are some interesting comments on this story here:

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »