Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

RACISM! (Bundy's In This Post Somewhere)

Disclaimer: This post analyzes Bundy's ENTIRE statement, a transcript of which can be found here. It's still highly controversial, and I welcome disagreement. However, attempts to mock the analysis based on the highly selective reporting of his statement by the mainstream media will be exposed and brutally thrashed. People's ignorance of the facts when they comment on my work is not my responsibility, and condescension constitutes a personal attack that waives any claim to civility. I refuse to let anyone highjack the debate with speculation and bullying, and I will shatter as many egos as that requires.

Racism (noun)

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


Based on these definitions, is Cliven Bundy a racist? Absolutely. He clearly believes that differences between races account for cultural and individual achievement, and not only when he speaks to the negative outcomes for African-Americans, but the mostly positive stereotypes about Hispanics as well.

However, does this mean I'm retracting my support for his standing up to the Federal government and resurrecting the tactic of nullification? Not a chance.

The reasons for this boil down to the fact that I'm a policy professional focused on outcomes rather than intentions. The purpose of policy is to provide tangible optimize quality of life for all people, not to make them feel warm and fuzzy by countenancing objectionable opinions and motives. Cliven Bundy's actions still did more overall good than harm, his racist views notwithstanding. Let's discuss this in some detail.

Reason 1: Racism's Undeserved Pedestal

Race isn't real. There does not exist anything resembling an empirical framework for determining race. There were frameworks created by the pseudo-science of Eugenicism in the 19th century, but they have all long been debunked as arbitrary and ignoring a slew of variables. There were legal frameworks in much of the world well into the 20th century and they still exist in some places in Africa, South America, and the Carribean; but these all derive from Eugenicism and are just as unscientific. We can safely observe that people have different skin pigmentation and a slew of other physical characteristics, but I'm not aware of any study successfully quantifying or organizing these into effective race categories. Just because most people believe in race doesn't make race real; collectively held beliefs that are not backed by anything in observable reality are epidemic to humanity.

Like most collectively held beliefs with no objective foundation, the belief in race produces very ignorant derivatives. While Bundy is racist in that he attributes outcomes to race as opposed to just believing in race; there is 0 indication he believes in racial intolerance or discriminatory policies. The uneducated rancher sees the well-documented correlation between race/ethnicity and poor economic outcomes, and being unfamiliar with a slew of mitigating factors simply assumes correlation implies causation. This is the most common logical fallacy in the world, and it is by no means limited to racism. It is committed by every gun control advocate that cites the number guns in the US, by every drug prohibition advocate referring to marijuana as a "gateway" drug, and don't even get me started on homophobes that think Hellfire and Brimstone will rain from the sky. I refer to racism based on this fallacy as "casual racism", and based on sociology studies I've seen - it accounts for the grand majority of racists. Idiots like Frazier Glenn Cross who commit mass-murder in the name of racism are anomalies; and usually have a number of their own mitigating factors such as mental illness.

I'm in no way saying casual racism is harmless! On the contrary, the US suffers from an epidemic of racially biased views and most Americans aren't even aware of how widespread these are. The stereotypes translate into lenders refusing to lend, employers refusing to hire, and other diminished opportunities that keep historically oppressed groups underprivileged and blamed for their own plight by public opinion. But this does not set racism apart from the myriad of other types of destructive derivatives from collective ignorance, and as I illustrated above - said derivatives span the political spectrum. Our culture's taboo approach to sex, hysteria about firearms and drugs, and volumes of folk wisdom about economics all diminish our quality of life on a daily basis; selective acknowledgement based on political ideology notwithstanding.

Bundy's casual racism does not make him a bad person, it makes him an unsuspecting victim of popular farce like millions of other Americans. Every political ideology has its share of such victims with equally destructive views, and trying to marginalize Bundy's supporters because his views are racist constitutes is a colossal double standard. I don't care who THINKS gun control advocacy or homophobia are admirable whereas racism is despicable. Empirically speaking - all 3 are well-intentioned but destructive, and don't have an objective leg to stand on.

Reason 2: Objectionable Characteristics Don't Make One Inherently Wrong

If Charles Manson points at the sky and says it's blue, an hour-long tantrum that he is a psychotic racist murderer will not change the fact that he is right about the color of the sky. Similarly, "Cliven Bundy is a racist" is a convenient emotion-baiting distraction used by his detractors, but unless they can prove he is motivated by racism - it's hardly relevant to the issue. His stance that Federal agencies are becoming dangerously unaccountable is quite valid, based on their documented consolidation of power, militarization, and widespread abuses in recent decades. Further, despite poor grammar and articulation, even his speech regarding the counter-productive effects of handouts on recipients is not without merit. Of course it's oversimplified, erroneously focuses on race, and makes a hyperbolic comparison to slavery. But professionals who study social assistance programs agree that they invariably carry elements of enablement, free-loading, and perpetuation of dependence; and also that Federal programs carry higher risks of these due to more standardization and less accountability; meaning that mouthy liberals who emphatically declare that free-loading and welfare state abuse don't exist or don't matter are more out of touch with reality than Bundy! He is racist and they are not, but on THIS issue his views are closer to reality than theirs. Don't bother attacking me with your discomfort with that statement unless you can objectively counter it.

Reason 3: I Mostly Support Bundy's Impact, As Opposed To His Actions

Many of the speculative bullies I had to brutalize in discussion groups over their comments to my previous post glossed over this as they had 0 counter-argument to it, but I made it very clear that my support for Bundy is for the overall national precedent he set. The Federal government is an equal opportunity abuser. From Muslim citizens that agree with Al Qaeda, to Christian cultists hoarding firearms, to protesters of the Keystone Pipeline, to owners and renters of homes in public parks; with every passing year it has less respect for Constitutional limitations on its own authority and our autonomy from it as citizens. This trend is far more dangerous than casual racism or any of the other feats of collective ignorance I referenced above.

Bundy and his affiliates demonstrated that with the right organization and support, Federal agencies can be forced to back down and Federal laws nullified. I have always known this to be the case as a professional, but now it is known to the average American which alters the civil liberty equation colossally. Regardless of which of the Federal government's victims you may support or oppose, they all have now witnessed tactics they can replicate to put the Federal government in check. Racist or not, Bundy and his associates deserve credit for this, and for setting in motion a long-overdue wave of nullification. THIS is why I continue to support them, despite conceding that his personal views on race are those of an ignoramus stuck in the 1950s.


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