NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: The answer seems to be Irvine, CA!

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019

Where the Racists Are:
Maurice Sendak wanted to know "where the wild things are."

In 1963, he wrote a book which bore that title. According to the leading authority on the subject, the book "was voted the number one picture book in a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers, not for the first time."

According to Sendak's book, the "wild things" largely seemed to exist in a young boy's mind. An array of credentialed anthropologists say this finding had salience for the state of "liberal" discourse in the disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.

These disconsolate scholars report to us from the future through a type of nocturnal submission which the haters regard as mere "dreams." They have a lot of time on their hands—and deep regrets about the way they may have contributed to the pre-war academic culture they have mournfully come to describe as Professoriate Down.

With respect to Where the Wild Things Were, these future experts now say this:

They say the "human" mind had always been wired to imagine, and to stress, the widespread existence of "wild things" and monsters.

This was once a survival skill, they now glumly explain. In prehistory, this impulse produced an instinctive avoidance of rival tribes who might be inclined to violence.

But alas! By the century preceding the war, this hard-wired human instinct had become a liability, our future sources now tell us.

Within the pre-war "liberal" world, this instinct had devolved into a frequently untethered search for racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes and viewers of Fox News—in effect, for monsters of every known type. By this time, the instinctive flight from the Other had produced a largely unhelpful quest to say Where the Racists Are.

To judge from one recent blog post, we can now say with some confidence where the racists are. According to this recent blog post, they're in Irvine, California.

The blog post was written by Kevin Drum, who has long been our favorite blogger. In our view, Drum's work on lead exposure and lead abatement has been one of the major jewels of the Internet's pitiful history.

Inadvertently, his work on this topic has also helped establish one of the leading discoveries of this era. His work has helped establish the fact that it was impossible to introduce information into the American discourse during the largely disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.

According to recent work by Drum, "where the racists are" is Irvine, California. We say that based on data from the last four U.S. census reports:
Black population of Irvine, CA
1980: 1.5 percent
1990: 1.8 percent
2000: 1.5 percent
2010: 1.8 percent
Our analysts connected these data to Drum's recent exposé, in which he discusses What The Racists Did.

According to Drum, the racists—indeed, the hot-blooded racists—all moved out of Los Angeles. This explains why there are so few white kids left in L.A.'s public schools:
DRUM (5/18/19): I don’t mean to pick on anyone here. I just want to make it clear that what happened wasn’t really due to cold-blooded forces of either demographics or housing policy. Rather, it was due to the very deliberate, very conscious choice of whites to abandon big city school districts when they became too black and too Hispanic. The middle class did it mostly by moving away, while the affluent did it by moving their kids into private schools.

A lot of things in American life are driven by institutional racism, but this isn’t one of them. This was driven by racism that’s as hot-blooded and as individual as you can get. Over the course of 30 years, millions of whites all over the country made a personal decision that they didn’t want their kids in the same schools as blacks and Hispanics. That’s why big city school districts today are more segregated than they were half a century ago.
When Drum says he doesn't want to pick on anyone, he seems to mean both us and Jonathan Chait. In his post, he cites our own recent report about racial imbalance in public schools—a report which has won many prestigious awards in the future, or at least so we've been told.

For ourselves, we would have thought it was obvious that big urban systems like the three we cited have a paucity of white kids because 1) white families have moved away; 2) white families have stopped moving in; and 3) white families have sent their kids to private and parochial schools.

Drum advanced the analysis by letting us know that the parents who made these decisions are racists—indeed, are "hot-blooded" racists. When we stumbled upon the data for Irvine, we suddenly thought we had an answer to the topic which swamps the liberal mind: Where the Racists Are!

We thought we finally had the answer! "But hold on," future anthropologists have said. "It may not be quite so simple!"

These future scholars note the fact that many middle-class black families have moved away from these urban school districts too.

This happened here in Baltimore, with many black families moving to suburban Baltimore County, whose large school system—the nation's 25th largest—is now 39.4% black, 37.4% white.

As Nikole Hannah-Jones described in a widely-praised report for The Atlantic, it also happened in Tuscaloosa, with black families moving to suburban Tuscaloosa County.

Based upon our own observations, there are reasons to stay in big urban systems, but there are also possible reasons to leave. In a lengthy report in the New York Times magazine, Hannah-Jones described the different ways she and her husband were inclined to assess this matter when it came time to decide where their own daughter would be going to school:
HANNAH-JONES (6/9/16): When the New York City Public Schools catalog arrived in the mail one day that spring, with information about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new universal prekindergarten program, I told Faraji that I wanted to enroll Najya in a segregated, low-income school. Faraji’s eyes widened as I explained that if we removed Najya, whose name we chose because it means “liberated” and “free” in Swahili, from the experience of most black and Latino children, we would be part of the problem...I was determined not to do what I’d seen so many others do when their values about integration collided with the reality of where to send their own children to school.

[...]

As I told Faraji my plan, he slowly shook his head no. He wanted to look into parochial schools, or one of the “good” public schools, or even private schools. So we argued, pleading our cases from the living room, up the steps to our office lined with books on slavery and civil rights, and back down, before we came to an impasse and retreated to our respective corners. There is nothing harder than navigating our nation’s racial legacy in this country, and the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time. Faraji couldn’t believe that I was asking him to expose our child to the type of education that the two of us had managed to avoid. He worried that we would be hurting Najya if we put her in a high-poverty, all-black school. “Are we experimenting with our child based on our idealism about public schools?” he asked. “Are we putting her at a disadvantage?”
According to Hannah-Jones, "the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time." Even in a New York City home which contained an "office lined with books on slavery and civil rights," the answer to this question didn't seem totally obvious.

Two good people had different reactions to a question debated by many families. Was one of them a racist? Meanwhile, Ta-Nehisi Coates and his wife sent their son to the Manhattan County School (28 percent black). Must they be racists too?

We were struck by Drum's somewhat cold-blooded approach to the topic of hot-blooded racism. We asked our anthropological experts to help us understand why we liberals are now so strongly inclined to reason and speak in the way Drum did.

"The impulse to invent The Other is deeply bred in the bone," these disconsolate future scholars glumly and gloomily told us. They then called our attention to Jay Newton-Small's recent ardent attempt to explain Where the Sexists Are!

We humans! We were always wired this way, these future experts have said. From prehistory forward, our war-inclined species was always wired to see one of the Others under every bed.

This was once a survival skill; in the end, it helped bring on Trump's War. Or at least, so we've been told, in a series of strangely moving nocturnal submissions.

We liberals! Our impulse to say Where the Others Are helped create the pre-war world in which conversation has ceased to exist between two rival, war-inclined tribal groups. The moral certainty crept, but then it spread, eventually taking wide hold.

According to Drum, we now knew Where the Racists Were. They had bought homes in Irvine, CA, seeking relief from the populations Drum himself warmly embraced.

"The instinct seized control," two of our future experts said. They then returned to the hunting, but mostly the gathering, which now consumes their post-conflagration lives.

Tomorrow: Narrative grievance wherever you look! It's time for Siri to go!

29 comments:

  1. Here, Bob, a real takedown of your goebbelsian "paper of record", and the "narrative of grievances" (aka "identity politics" bullshit).

    And it's not your whining and trivialities, it's a real political analysis.

    Read and weep, and learn, Bob. Please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well that's interesting - Mark Crispin Miller! I've read (and own) a couple of his books, Boxed In (explains TV) and The Bush Dyslexicon. In the article he lambasts a Liberian émigré Times Reporter, and the Times, and the Obama/Clinton administration, for being pro-military. But, but , but if you like this type of analysis by Miller, how can you stomach (never mind adulate) our present POTUS, with his huge boost in military spending, possibly impending pardon of war criminals, attempt to overthrow Venezuela and start a war with Iran, jingoism to the max idolization of the military, persecution of Manning and Assange, etc.?

      Delete
    2. 'Attempt'? After what happened in Libya, Syria, Honduras, Ukraine, etc. during the administration led by the nobel peace laureate, I should now get all excited about the alleged 'attempts'?

      Delete
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  2. "Within the pre-war "liberal" world, this instinct had devolved into a frequently untethered search for racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes and viewers of Fox News—in effect, for monsters of every known type."

    If you are going to talk about something like this in evolutionary terms, you need to hypothesize a mechanism for selection of that trait. What would it be in prehistoric times?

    First, throughout most of this time, people lived in extended family groups of about 30 people. They depended on contact with other groups to find mates, since it isn't genetically a good idea to marry one's sister. People also traded with other groups and may have depended on each other during times of shortage or difficulty. So, the other were not exactly part of one's group but they weren't hated enemies either. It depended on their intentions toward you. To determine those intentions, people used communication. It is no accident that the facial expression most visible from a distance is the smile. Darwin has a theory about the evolution of nonverbal communication in humans and animals. Smiles have a special place in that theory that belies Somerby's notion that people hated the other groups they might have encountered in their nomadic hunting and gathering activities.

    Then Somerby proposes that the other were very different from ourselves and thus we developed a hatred of those who were different. This isn't exactly consistent with history. People have been traveling in canoes to other continents since way before Columbus and the Spanish explorers. They traded with the people they encountered in those other places. Even the explorers brought back people from exotic places, just as Marco Polo resided for a time in China before returning to Italy. Trade, not hatred, was the main result of human contact with others, including those who were very different from each other. Was there also conquest and pillaging? Of course, but it wasn't automatic and it wasn't sufficient to justify evolution of a hatred of others. Even pilgrims tended to trade with Indians more often than they fought them. It was the conflict over resources that resulted in warfare, not otherness or difference.

    But Somerby insists on making up pseudo-evolutionary theories that fit his preferred explanation for why we call some people bigots and sexists today. It cannot be because of their behavior, so he has to make up shit about evolution and instincts to name-call.

    My grandmother used to divide people up into good Christians and not so good people. She said she liked Jews as long as they were good Christians, so clearly she didn't mean that as a religious distinction but was referring to their behavior. Similarly, liberals call out people based on their behavior -- whether they engage in behaviors that make them tolerant and respectful of the needs of others, or whether they are selfish, intolerant, and gratuitously harm others with their behavior. The latter are called racist or sexist or homophobic, depending on who they are targeting their bad behavior. Somerby ignores that this is behavior-based and reverses the paradigm by implying that liberals are using hate-speech against bigots when they apply their labels, simply because conservatives are different, not because they are doing anything wrong as they discriminate in various ways.

    Somerby is an ass. He isn't fooling anyone with this shit (except maybe deadrat, whose excess literalness and narrow focus prevents him from seeing what Somerby is doing).

    "Puppet, no puppet, you're the puppet" remember that?

    Somerby's version is "Bigot, no bigot, you're the bigot because you call the other bad names when they do bad things."

    ReplyDelete
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    1. 12:18

      “To determine those intentions, people used communication. It is no accident that the facial expression most visible from a distance is the smile.”

      It’s also no coincidence that bearing of the teeth normally has a much more threatening posture in primates, an of order of which we’re a member. At the same time, primates like chimps grin to ingratiate themselves with dominant members of the group, where internecine conflict is common. Smiles today have that same function.

      “Of course, but it wasn't automatic and it wasn't sufficient to justify evolution of a hatred of others.”

      That, I believe, has it backwards. Hatred of others is an evolutionary carryover from our ancestors, and it most certainly had (has?) a survival function. And as many media critics have pointed out, including Bob, the msm is doing a smashing job of keeping us divided. Fear of the “others” is all too real, and undoubtedly always lurking in our psyches, but it’s aggravated by a constant flow of bullshit coming from the most widely viewed programs on TV, creating tribal narratives, as Bob says. Alternative media has its place, but the msm seems to have a lock on what most are allowed to see and hear.

      Anyways, we’re slowly evolving away from our instinctual hatred, due to shared dialogue. But don’t forget what Peter Gabriel wrote:

      “Fear, she’s the mother of violence.”

      Doesn’t seem anytime soon that we’ll get away from that fact. Lastly, it seems you’re the ass, since you seem to post here (no way to tell, of course) all the time. Your signature seems to be “Somerby is an ass.”

      Maybe. But you can’t say he doesn’t stimulate thought. That is, I suppose, “What Somerby is doing.”

      Leroy

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    2. Leroy,
      Carrying water for Right-wing bigots is "What Somerby is doing."

      Delete
  3. “For ourselves, we would have thought it was obvious that big urban systems like the three we cited have a paucity of white kids because 1) white families have moved away; “

    This doesn’t address the reasons *why* white families moved away. Drum, rightly or wrongly, provides an answer. Somerby refuses to ask why. And it is unclear what the recent decisions of two black people (Hannah-Jones and Coates) regarding their childrens’ educations has to do with historical white flight.

    On the other hand, Somerby is quite eager to ascribe motives to Kevin Drum.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The reasons are obvious. Anyone who's ever lived in an area that was inundated with blacks knows why. People tend to not want to live in run-down, crime-ridden neighborhoods, and they leave if that's an option.

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    2. How many such neighborhoods did you live in? Did you engage in crime and let your place run down? Why?

      Delete
  4. “why we liberals are now so strongly inclined to reason and speak in the way Drum did.”

    It was undoubtedly a shock when Somerby discovered that some liberals think and act tribally. In other words, they are human.

    We would say that Kevin Drum has shown over the years that he is not one of those types of liberals.

    But the larger fallacy in Somerby’s reasoning is to pretend that those liberals who truly care about ending racism limit themselves to finding and calling out racism only on the other side of the political spectrum. In reality, though, it is not merely “virtue-signaling.” These people know that racism exists across party lines. They call out racism wherever it exists, regardless of the political affiliation of any individual. In other words, they are concerned with ending racism per se, not merely scoring political points. Somerby seems never to want to acknowledge this distinction.

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    1. Except racism against whites, which they indulge in with great vigor. As a demonstration, read some articles from a liberal rag, and when you see the word "diversity" replace it with "fewer whites," and when you see "diverse" replace it with "non-white."

      Delete
    2. I don't see the words diversity or diverse in the above comment. If you replace enough words in other people's sentences, you can make them say all kinds of things they didn't mean.

      Delete
  5. “These future scholars note the fact that many middle-class black families have moved away from these urban school districts too.”

    This does nothing to disprove Drum’s claim, which dealt with the reasons why *white* families moved away en masse, a phenomenon which *preceded* the events that Somerby describes here.

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    1. Whatever you may think of Howard Stern, it's instructive to listen to his testimony of his school days. His ideological jewish parents insisted on sending him to the inner city schools much the way Hannah-Jones intended. When he arrived at home after his daily beatings, his mother instructed him that it was all for the greater good.

      I mean, c'mon. It'd be racist AF not want to have your child pummeled daily by blacks, right?

      Delete
    2. C'mon, isn't there something about Howard Stern that makes you want to pummel him just because of his personality? Do you have to be black to do that? I'll bet he would be a target whatever school he was sent to. I also think his mother's side of things would be very different than what he has described.

      Delete
  6. "Rather, it was due to the very deliberate, very conscious choice of whites to abandon big city school districts when they became too black and too Hispanic."

    Your friend Kevin is a dembot, Bob.

    What middle-class people (of all 'races') consciously choose to abandon is the environment that begins to resemble a ghetto. With all its usual attributes: ghetto drugs, ghetto violence, and general ghetto attitudes, including ghetto attitudes towards education. And that's all there is to it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. “This happened here in Baltimore, with many black families moving to suburban Baltimore County, whose large school system—the nation's 25th largest—is now 39.4% black, 37.4% white.”

    This would be a perfect example to drill down into to see what patterns of segregation, if any, exist, given a near equality of black/white, which differentiates it from, say, Laredo, Texas.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Irvine is not as lacking in diversity as Somerby implies. It is 50% White, but that includes 10% Hispanic and a much larger proportion of Persian (Iranian) people. Farsi is the 2nd language spoken, besides English, in the Irvine schools. And it is 45% Asian. The black % is the same as the county as a whole.

    No one in Irvine is poor. If they were, they couldn't afford to live there, even in the apartments and condos. Orange County generally is outrageously expensive. That may explain the small number of African Americans as much as anything else. Poor Hispanic and Asian people live there in houses bought before the prices increased or by having far more people in a house or apartment than was intended by the builder. Similarly, students and young people live there with parents or by renting out rooms because nothing is affordable anywhere in the county. Black, white and Hispanic people seeking an affordable place to live have moved to various communities in the Inland Empire.

    Drum's point that white flight spread to OC is correct. But that happened back in the 60s & 70s. By the 80s, the OC was home to refugees from Vietnam in Garden Grove and to increasing numbers of Hispanics spreading from Santa Ana to neighboring cities. After 2000, the housing prices increased dramatically. If you didn't already own a house that you could use to trade up, you were out of luck. So people are not fleeing to OC any more and haven't since before 2000.

    It would be hard to be a bigot in Orange County. You will constantly encounter people who are diverse, but they will not be black people. Bigots these days seem to be targeting anyone brown. Such a bigot won't be happy in the OC due to the large number of "immigrants."

    It is unfair for Somerby to imply that Drum himself is bigoted because he doesn't live in Baltimore. I doubt Somerby would feel at home in Woodbridge either.

    Somerby's analysts suck. They assume that white people cannot be diverse. What asses they are. Don't they know how reviled the Irish once were, despite their whiteness, back when Irish were immigrants, didn't speak English, were poor and huddled in tenements and voted Democratic? Now they are white, since Somerby assumes white means WASP and wealthy ("we're not rich, we're just comfortable").

    ReplyDelete
  9. Who thinks racism no longer exists? Conservatives do.
    Who thinks sexism no longer exists? Conservatives do.
    Who thinks affirmative action and school integration are unnecessary? Conservatives do.
    Who thinks there are laws against wage discrimination, so that problem is solved already? Conservatives do.
    Who thinks calling out sexism and racism is PC and just hypocritical politically motivated name-calling? Conservatives do.

    ...and Somerby does.

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    Replies
    1. There's a difference between believing that racism, sexism etc. exist (also murderers, arsonists, pederasts, people who think the earth is flat etc) and going off the rails exaggerating it.

      Delete
    2. The number of people who believe the earth is flat is negligible, as is their effect on society. Racism and sexism are, by contrast, far more widespread and pernicious. It seems to me that liberals in general do not exaggerate these giant “isms”, certainly not in a period where they are re-asserting themselves with encouragement from our “president.” I would argue conversely that it is Somerby who consistently dismisses well-warranted liberal concerns about such things, especially by adopting right-wing slurs against liberals, whereby any concern with racism or sexism is written off as mere “virtue signaling.”

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  10. Given the obvious human nature of tribalism, it doesn't seem to make a good deal of sense to organize under a one-world government of "diverse" peoples, as the current neoliberal paradigm seems intent on doing. In fact, it seems somewhat doomed.

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    1. Somerby asserts tribalism but hasn't proved it. It is very difficult to prove evolutionary arguments, but Somerby doesn't even seriously attempt to provide evidence. It is just his rhetorical conceit.

      You could as easily assert that it is geographical isolation that produces tribes, as say it is due to human nature.

      Delete
  11. A cynic might say that Somerby deliberately encourages Anons such as 2:33, 2:31, 2:28, and 2:24 by his approach to this topic. He, a self-described “liberal”, provides no historical context for the movement of whites known as “white flight”. He effectively denies racism was any factor when he says there is a paucity of whites “because white families moved away.” This stance effectively ignores the important historical context which helps understand how conditions in urban areas came to be. He thereby allows the interpretations of the aforementioned anons to go unchecked and unexamined. And worse, he shuts off an important avenue to understanding the problems of urban areas, which include the large achievement gaps which he constantly stews over, and thereby limits the possibility of identifying a solution.

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    1. There is a great Martin Ritt film called No Down Payment that illustrates white flight and suburban life in the late 1950s.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Down_Payment

      Delete
    2. Good post, 2:56. It would be good for him to speak of solutions, but that would result in abandoning his schtick. Of all things, that probably is the greatest of his shortcomings. I would like to see him post repeatedly on the issues affecting actual solutions, rather than discouraging statistics relating to bad reporting.

      It might make for some good reading.

      Leroy

      Delete
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