The Futility of “Colorblindness”: GOP Representative Robert Pittenger’s Comments On BBC Program Expressed True Belief of Republicans Against Black People and the Vulnerable Members of U.S. Society

The Republican party (GOP) has an authoritarian backbone: The party worships the rich, like GOP nominee for U.S. President, Donald J. Trump (who received $885 million in real estate-related tax breaks), and disparages the vulnerable (otherwise known as the 99%).

The focus of GOP action is the removal of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s programs to assist the vulnerable (and give all support to the 1% (who provide “campaign contributions”). In addition, the government bailed out the financial industry after the 2008 financial crisis. One result of that is that the Federal Reserve Board has a balance sheet of $4.5 trillion (as of the date of this post).

Representative Paul Ryan delivered his belief in blaming the poor. Given his Irish ancestry, a New York Times columnist, Timothy Egan, reminded Ryan that the English had the same idea toward his ancestors in Ireland.

In North Carolina, there has been another police-involved shooting, which has left a citizen dead. While the officer is black, the situation is the same all previous police-involved shootings where the officer involved claims his life was in danger and the authorities sanction the resultant killing as justified (under Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor).

With this situation as background, a North Carolina GOP member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Pittenger (under investigation by the FBI and the IRS), had an interview of BBC’s Newsnight program, with the BBC’s James O’Brien. During the interview, Mr. Pittenger saw fit to disparage the protestors as

  • not following the example of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King (who was assassinated) and
  • haters of white people because of their presumed success.

His critique was framed by the GOP’s continued disparagement of the vulnerable members of society, just like Ryan and the rest of the GOP. Mr. Pittenger simply ignored all of the history and ill effects of policies based on “colorblind” white hegemony.

His subsequent explanations do not alter his (or the GOP’s) beliefs that he expressed openly during the BBC interview.

Unsurprisingly, also in the BBC interview, Mr. Pittenger refused to apply the example of Rev. King’s actions (which he applied to protestors) to the present-day campaign of Donald J. Trump who has insulted many groups in his statements.

Federal Reserve Board: Paper by Jordan Haedtler, Andrew Levin, and Valerie Wilson Propose Reform to Fed Structure; Diversity Important to Foster Well-Considered Monetary Policy

Haedtler, Jordan; Levin, Andrew; and Wilson, Valerie (2016), “Making the Federal Reserve Fully Public: Why and How,” paper, August.

This paper outlined current issues presented by the current operations of the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks (collectively, the Fed). The authors present several ideas for thinking about reforms (that would not affect the Fed’s political independence (a long-used diversionary tactic against any reform, see Auerbach, Robert D. (2008), Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan’s Bank, Austin: University of Texas Press.”).


The graphic (below) shows the potential obstinacy the authors are up against with the Fed; persistence is key and absolutely necessary in this case. The Fed is a public agency; it is way past time for the organization to accept it.

2014-03-04-auerbach
Sheila Clark’s letter to the EEOC (printed in the Aurebach book, page 123).

 

I will review topics in the paper that caught my attention in this post. (Again, the full paper is located here.)


Related blog posts–

https://alexwdc.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/federal-reserve-board-democratic-members-of-congress-write-letter-to-board-lack-of-diversity-adversely-affects-policymaking/

https://alexwdc.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/federal-reserve-board-andrew-levin-and-fed-up-propose-recommendations-to-ensure-that-the-board-consider-the-views-of-all-people-in-the-united-states/


 

While the paper is necessarily technical (especially, the composition of the boards of the Federal Reserve Banks), the observation of the ill effects of the current structure of the Fed is extremely important. The ultimate goal of the Fed must be to work for the entire population of the United States of America.

First, the authors noted that the lack of diversity, in terms of race, gender, and profession, as well as sectoral diversity leads to perspectives of many segments of the population being left out in monetary policy discussion. For example, the paper explained that the effect of monetary policy was not discussed in the following areas:

  • African Americans suffer disproportionately from labor market downturns and benefit markedly from economic recoveries. However, this issue was little mentioned in the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, meetings.
  • A focus on inflation, the authors continued, rather than on full employment reflected the make-up of the people in the room–multimillionaire chief executive officers and other major corporate figures. People with this wealth or income have different perspectives than small business owners, debtors, students, middle- and low-income workers, and those seeking credit.

Second, the paper makes note of the need of an independent office of the inspector general. While the Board has an Inspector General, the office is not independent because the office depends on the Board for his or her position as well as for the budget to operate the office. As noted in a previous post

The Board’s [Inspector General] IG is not truly independent, rather it is an arm of the Board’s Chair. The Board’s Chair appoints the IG. (See Auerbach, Robert D. (2008), Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan’s Bank, Austin: University of Texas Press, pages 113-115 (esp. first full paragraph on page 114).) In addition, the Board funds the operations of the IG (see, for example, Board Annual Report, 2013, page 314 (paragraph 3)).

In addition, that authors mention a recommendation of an audit by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO. It is unclear what type of audit the authors are seeking–financial or performance. It seems to be a mixture of the two. But performance audits must be carefully monitored and examined. I have discussed the weakness of the performance audit previously in the blog.

Third, the authors briefly discuss the Board’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report. Presently, the MPR is mostly historical (previous six-month period) at the time it is distributed to members of Congress. The MPR tends to be wordy, filled with distracting graphical material, and difficult to discern the points the Board is seeking to present. I think a more focused and clear report is necessary for the Board to fulfill its obligations to the public.

The authors’ proposal should be included with proposals from former Board Vice Chair Donald Kohn (presented previously in the blog).

It will be interesting to see which reforms occur as a result of this well-written paper.

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Ryan Lochte: When Wealth, Athletic Ability, Nationality, Race, and Gender Blurs Accountability–His Story of Armed Robbery Collapsed; Teammates Held in Brazil to Provide Statements, while Lochte Is in the United States

Ryan Lochte, 32, competed as a swimmer in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After completing his events, however, he became involved in an incident outside of the Olympic Village.

On Sunday August 14, 2016, Lochte stated that he had property taken at gunpoint in an interview with NBC’s Billy Bush. Present with Lochte were U.S. Olympic teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and James Feigen. Lochte continued his account, with some changed details, in an interview with Matt Lauer on August 18 (http://www.today.com/news/ryan-lochte-defends-rio-robbery-account-matt-lauer-we-wouldn-t101973).

Lochte also posted a statement on his Instagram account.

Brazilian authorities conducted an investigation and found that the facts did not accord with Lochte’s version of events. (In addition, Brazilian police recommended that the prosecutor file charges against Lochte and Feigen (the elder men of the four) for filing a false police report of a crime.)


[Update (August 19, 2016): Ryan Lochte offers a so-called apology second explanation for the incident in Brazil. (Media in the United States are far too lenient (yet also way too inclusive) with the word “apology.” It’s shameful. Lochte said he was robbed of his property at gunpoint with NBC’s Billy Bush on Sunday August 14, 2016. This so-called statement is unacceptable.)

Separately, as reported in the Washington Post, James Feigen will make a payment of $10,800 to a Brazilian charity, Instituto Reação (in Portuguese), and will then be free to leave Brazil.]


Seeming to want to refocus attention on the Olympic Games, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, Mario Andrada, asked for people to consider the event an occurrence of error.

“These kids tried to have fun, they tried to represent their country to the best of their abilities,” Andrada said. “They competed under gigantic pressure. Let’s give these kids a break. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”

Kids? It is necessary to mention the ages of the adult athletes involved:

Name Age Net Worth
Ryan Lochte 32 (3-Aug-84) (estimated net worth of $3 million)
Gunnar Bentz 20 (3-Jan-96)
Jack Conger 21 (26-Sept-94)
James Feigen 26 (26-Sept-89)

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The swimmers involved are young adults, not children. In addition, the statement gives a broad latitude to excuse  misbehavior by athletes. That Lochte left his teammates to carry the weight of this situation shows his unwillingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions and failure to support his friends/fellow teammates. (Also, one must consider whether an equivalent light hand would be offered to nonwhite athletes (or athletes from non-wealthy nations).)

All is not lost if Lochte sorts out and repairs this unfortunate event, including paying for damages to the gasoline station and making amends with the authorities of the Olympic host city of Rio de Janeiro. If not, then Lochte has lost my respect.

[Author’s Note: The other three seem to have been caught up in this cover-up situation and left to fend for themselves. I do believe that a second chance is merited (for these 3). If only this mercy were universally provided to all human beings who make mistakes, the world would be a much better place.)]

Of note: Amini Fonua, swimmer and Olympic athlete from Tonga, posted a tweet in support of Feigen.

Futility of “Colorblindness”: David Clarke and the Absurdity of Using Black Skin as Cover for the “American Way”

David Clarke, a sheriff for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, wrote an inflammatory op-ed for the Hill newspaper. In the column, Clarke attempts the impossible to–

  • offload police responsibility for killings of citizens (black, brown, and white) onto the group Black Lives Matter (BLM);
  • ignore the suffering of the deceased’s families, friends, and communities; and
  • discredit and condemn BLM (and Occupy Wall Street) as responsible for the war veterans that preyed upon police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
david clarke and spouse
David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisc., and spouse

In short, the column was a masterpiece of deflection of the broken image of police officers–“Officer Friendly“; the social media video of the killings of Alton Sterling and the aftermath video of the shooting of Philando Castile (and the many instances of killings before them) put an end to that image for good. Image-conscious people do not like to be unmasked, and thus the response will be fierce.

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Most disturbing of all was Clarke’s attempt to deflect criticism by using his black skin color as cover for his apology for white supremacy and white superiority. It is the reason why white supremacists use Clarke and Larry Elder to continue the abuse of black people–to state it’s not white people doing it but a black (white) person. It’s quite unseemly and perverse for people who say they are black to turn around and attack black people (while simultaneously asking for exemption from the debasement that they argue for others). I have no respect for abusive and hate-filled people like Clarke and Elder.

The essence of the column is that the so-called American way is the status quo, including white supremacy, absolute respect for authority figures, and police killings of unarmed people. People who question this status quo are threats that must be quashed. The column is quite irresponsible for a law enforcement official to make, as it encourages ignoring the First Amendment of the Constitution, accepts white supremacy (and black exclusion) as a legitimate part of the culture of the United States, and encourages authoritarianism. All three are unacceptable.

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Virginia Slave Law, 1705

Part of the solution is clear:  The police departments must remove predatory police officers from their ranks immediately. For background information, read Babiak, Paul and Robert D. Hare (2006). “Snakes in Suits:  When Psychopaths Go to Work.”

Futility of “Colorblindness”: Red Cross Poster Associated Negative Connotations to Nonwhite Characters; Mere “Apology” Insufficient

The Washington Post reported on the following story. A user of a pool looked at an American Red Cross poster and felt uncomfortable because the characters that displayed the so-called uncool pool behaviors were generally nonwhite. The posters were created by the American Red Cross and distributed. Seemingly, throughout the process, no one noticed this particular issue.

American Red Cross former pool safety poster; photo of poster taken by Margaret Sawyer

The response from the Red Cross was unsurprising, denying racial “intent” and promising to correct the situation. However, the situation is not overt discrimination but the formation of mental negative connotations and then representing those negative ideas with nonwhite characters or people.

A quote from Reverend Thomas Merton’s book, “Seeds of Destruction” (Letters to a White Liberal), page 19-20, demonstrates the weakness of reliance on claims of lack of “intent”:

We have been willing to grant the Negro rights on paper, even in the South. But the laws have been framed in such a way that in every case their execution has depended on the good will of white society, and the white man has not failed, when left to himself, to block, obstruct, or simply forget the necessary action without which the rights of the Negro cannot be enjoyed in fact. Hence, when laws have been passed, then contested, dragged through all of the courts, and finally upheld, the Negro is still in no position to benefit by them without, in each case, entering into further interminable lawsuits every time he wants to exercise a right guaranteed to him by law.

(Note: Emphasis, above (in bold), the blog author’s.)

A mere “apology” is insufficient to address this issue. The negative associations in the poster (and elsewhere in the culture of the United States) will have to be unearthed, raised to the sunlight, examined, and dealt with totally. As seen with Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), the United States’ cultural practices need much attention and correction in order to be truly inclusive of all people.

The work of Jane Elliott is a good start to begin the inquiry.

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Futility of “Colorblindness” and Fareed Zakaria: In His Program “Why They Hate Us?” Zakaria Defends Muslims at the Expense of Black People; Zakaria, Thus, Is a Dangerous Hypocrite

I distrust percentages stated alone, especially those drawn from the malleable area of statistics, unless those percentages are surrounded by the raw numeric data from which they are derived. The abstract nature of percentages by themselves without solid context leads to problems.

Such problems are magnified when they involve racial issues in the United States. The acceptability of ruining black people for just being black has long been present in the culture of the United States of America. So, the sloppiness of Fareed Zakaria’s reporting in this area cannot be accepted. In defending his Muslim people, he casually and brutally attacked black people, a practice that is well established in the practice of white supremacy.

Only in his case, Zakaria delivered the punch and then cynically tried to apply a soothing balm of explanation that one cannot rabidly hate the entire group of which he accused 50% of the members of being murderers. This is simply beneath dignity, and I cannot accept Zakaria’s work as being valid ever again.

Here is Zakaria’s quotation from his program “Why They Hate Us?”:

But here’s another way to think about this. In America, African-Americans make up about 13% of the population, yet they comprise about 50% of homicide offenders, according to a Justice Department study. Now we understand — I hope we understand — that when we see a black man on the street, we cannot and must not treat him as a likely criminal. It would be dehumanizing, unfair and racist. In America, of all places, people should be treated as individuals and not as stereotypes from a racial, ethnic or religious group. And remember, the Bangladeshi cabdriver who drives you to the airport has nothing, nothing to do with ISIS, even though he is also a Muslim.

 

United States (population: 308,745,538) (2010 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 72.4% 223,553,265
Black 12.6 38,929,319
Native American 0.7 540,013
Asian 4.8 14,674,252

The issue I have is the casual implication that Zakaria presents as fact and then attempts to explain and defend–in so many words, even though I implied that 19 million black people commit murder, you the viewer cannot therefore hate all black people. This quotation is simply sloppy reporting, factually incorrect, cowardly, and categorically unacceptable.

For an example, here are the number for murders in 2013 from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Murder
Race, Ethnicity, and Sex of Victim by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex of Offender, 2013
[Single victim/single offender]
Race of victim      Total Race of offender Sex of offender Ethnicity of offender1
White Black or

African

American

Other1 Unknown Male Female Unknown Hispanic

or Latino

Not

Hispanic

or Latino

Unknown
White 3,005 2,509 409 49 38 2,661 306 38 532 945 1,528
Black or African American 2,491 189 2,245 20 37 2,217 237 37 76 807 1,608
Other race2 159 32 27 96 4 142 13 4 10 63 86
Unknown race 68 25 17 3 23 38 7 23 3 14 51

The truth is only a minuscule subset of the total black population commit homicide (2,491/38,929,319=0.0001 ). Whites commit homicide also (something that Zakaria does not even state for context–the number is similarly small based on population); moreover, when Dylann Roof killed (note: as of the date of this post, Roof is still awaiting trial) 9 people in Charleston, South Carolina, no one painted the entire white population of the United States as a homicidal, bloodthirsty group of people.

Zakaria’s failure in the midst of defending his own people from broad-brush attacks has not gone unnoticed; I am extremely disappointed in his sloppy work product in failing to carefully craft every element of his reporting. He has recklessly left black people exposed to further unfair discrimination; it is disgustingly unacceptable.

Federal Reserve Board: Democratic Members of Congress Write Letter to Board–Lack of Diversity Adversely Affects Policymaking

This blog has covered several posts about the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), specifically about its unjust and myopic policymaking as well as its mistreatment of African American employees. The topic of this post is a recent Congressional letter to the Board (May 12, 2016).

Some Democratic Members of Congress–Senators and Representatives– wrote to the Chair of the Board, Janet Yellen, to inform Yellen and the Board of their concerns. Chief among them is the concern that the lack of diversity ill affects policymaking of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The congressional letter writers noted that the membership of the FOMC is 100% white.

A former member of the FOMC, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Narayana Kocherlakota, stated the following observation in his blog–that the effect of race on economic policy was never discussed–particularly the high rate of unemployment among African Americans.

“Reflecting on his experience on the FOMC in a recent blog post, former Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota wrote: “There is one key source of economic difference in American life that is likely underemphasized in FOMC deliberations: race.”6   He reviewed the most recent full year of FOMC meeting transcripts available (2010), and found that “there was no reference in the meetings to labor market conditions among African-Americans,” although the unemployment rate for African-Americans never dropped below 15.5 percent during that year.7 It is unacceptable that discussion of the job market for these populations would be an afterthought, or worse, ignored entirely, and we are concerned that the lack of balanced representation may be a significant cause of this oversight.”

6 Narayana Kocherlakota , “MLK Day Reflection s on the FOMC,” (blog post) Narayna Kocherlakota’s Website, January 18, 2016, https://sites.google.com/site/kocherlakota009/home/policy/thoughts-on-policy/1-18-16.

7 Id.

I now summarize the remainder of the congressional letter writers concerns–

  • The Board’s failure to ensure its leadership reflects the composition of the nation, including occupational diversity.
  • When the Board reappointed the presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks, it was done without public consultation and limited transparency regarding the metrics and criteria used to evaluate the presidents’ performance or the decision to reappoint them.
  • The letter writers also request that the FOMC consider the interests and priorities of those who have not benefitted from the economic recovery. [Author’s note: It should be mentioned that Congress can act to address concerns about unemployment through fiscal policy.]