Sunday, May 20, 2012

BJ's Polarized Politics 3/3

Enough philosophy. The Civil Rights Act is an excellent example of this tension. Jeffrey Bell asserts that “Rousseau was the true founder of the left and that the ultimate aim of the left is to deliver humanity to the ‘state of nature’ liberated from corrupt institutions and free of laws and binding obligations.” This doesn’t make sense in light of the passage of the CRA—if the left wanted the destruction of institutions they would pass laws that forbade the establishment, strengthening, or continuation of institutions. Jiffy Bell acknowledges this and asserts that the CRA caused a crisis of identity on the left; that the subsequent race rioting between 1963 and 1968 was the result of the left coming into crisis with its philosophy. That’s a stretch, it probably has a lot more to do with the continued disenfranchisement of minorities despite the laws that had been put in place to guarantee those rights; rights to equality that were being denied primarily by social conservatives and their precursors (which is obviously a direct contradiction to the whole “all men are created equal” thing).

J-Bell disregards this argument, alluding to the Left’s “tip toward society’s harshest critics, toward the darker view of America these critics held.” He disregards the Kerner Commission’s assessment that urban rioting from minority voter disenfranchisement was a result of institutional racism. Yet he fails to offer a counter-theory or explanation for civil unrest clearly caused by institutionalized factors that kept (and continue to keep) minorities from fully realizing their rights. His explanation would be at least minutely plausible if he offered up a logical counter to a bipartisan commission’s report. His assertions are ideological and for lack of a better word—ignorant. That this commission’s findings were not in line with his philosophy is not reason enough to disregard it. Basically, there is ample evidence—well-researched, peer-reviewed, and comprehensively tested—to show that racism exists in formal and informal institutions; Jeffrey Bell is wrong.

Perhaps controversy is his currency though. He speaks in terms of victories and defeats, election cycles, and absolutes. But the world is rarely absolute, election cycles are filled with legislative sessions, and sometimes everyone/no one wins. His world view—and his book—are limited by half-truths, fabrications, and oversimplifications. If one would like to see into the mind of a high-powered social conservative forming policy, then this is the book. This book, and its author, are ample-reason to see why politics in the US has become polarized—people like this profit off this kind of divisive politics.

Read this, like I did, by getting it from the library. And don’t think too hard, because it’s obvious he didn’t.

Final note: I am sorry for being so condescending about this but I am obviously too frustrated with his inept portrayal of my philosophy and my motives to be fair. All I can say is that thus far (I’m only half-way through the book) he has failed to show any scientific rigor in his writing and I am disappointed by the lack of evidence to his inflammatory and often hurtful claims.