You know what’s ruining this country? Talking about racism.

Maxine Waters has been getting praise the last couple of days for her actions in standing against a bill designed to erode consumer protections. The protections in question are designed to make it harder for auto-loan companies to discriminate against people of color in lending terms.

The auto-loan business is unlike, say, the mortgage business where it’s relatively rare for the seller of a home to negotiate the terms of a mortgage taken out by the buyer. In the car business, negotiating the terms of a potential loan is part of the wheeling and dealing that goes into the process of selling the car. It turns out that there’s a lot of data that discrimination in loan terms has been happening even very recently. (This, unfortunately, is actually quite like mortgages where we know from the information that came out after the 2008 housing crash that people of color had been systematically pressed into taking unfavorable loan terms.) Because of this, these regulations have a direct impact on car dealerships themselves who are implicated in creating unfair terms – indeed the closely-connected, but frequently legally-separate loan companies don’t always know anything about the race of the buyer, but the car seller interacting with a buyer face-to-face certainly does. And it’s that seller negotiating the terms. So, of course, car sellers were a primary target of the regulations.

This has not gone down well with car sellers who take great exception to the idea that people of color being routinely charged more interest than white folks should in any way reflect badly on them … or justify intrusive government regulations. Trump, of course, is here to help out those beleaguered racists who desperately want the freedom to change people different interest rates based on race. Thus entered Maxine Waters and her praiseworthy defense of reasonable regulations on the floor of the House.

Not everyone found Waters’ defense praiseworthy, however. Mike Kelly, coincidentally the owner of several car dealerships, did not like Waters’ floor speech one bit. Not that he wanted to disagree with her, of course. He hated being put in a position where he was forced to disagree with her. The truly terrible thing about repealing anti-discrimination protections is that when repealing law whose entire purpose is to prevent discrimination based on race, the repeal’s opponents mention race at all!

“We have seen the economy take off,” Kelly, who also owns three auto dealerships, exclaimed. “I just think that if you come to the floor and there are 60 minutes to debate. 30 minutes on each side. But as I was sitting there, I had 30 minutes of Democrats coming down and talking about how bad automobile people are because they discriminate against nonwhite buyers. I said that’s not America. We don’t talk about those things.”

There’s so much to address. I’d love to leave the Jordan Peterson post up longer. I need to follow up on what happened in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank yesterday. And yet, here I am quoting some asshat white man who thinks the biggest tragedy in repealing a requirement that we not discriminate based on race is that we violate the sacred dictum that in REAL AMERIKKKA we shouldn’t ever talk about race.

Fuck Trump’s America.

 

My Optimal Test Taking Approach

All this talk about Murray and IQ has reminded me of a great time I had one day in fourth grade taking a standardized test. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are institutional uses to which those test scores are put. I think there are good critiques we could make about the uses of those scores, but the critiques are already out there in the field where people actually study this stuff. If policy makers haven’t yet listened to those critiques to come up with better policies that does suck, but we have to take responsibility for our actions in the world we live in now, not the world we might like to occupy.

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Destabilizing The Genetics Of g

There is yet another discussion of intelligence raging across the internet just now, sparked by Sam Harris’ interview of Charles Murray and a Vox article critical of that interview. (h/t to PZ) I have been critical of the uses of IQ testing for quite some time now, dating back to 8th grade or so. There is nothing per se wrong with intelligence testing. Nor is it inherently bad to make use of intelligence testing. As part of a job application where one is being asked to perform particular tasks in a particular environment, it’s entirely conceivable that a particular intelligence test or set of such tests might well predict success in that job. However, for many if not the vast majority of public policy purposes, IQ and other intelligence testing will function badly, misleadingly, or both. This is even more true if we make assumptions about how much of a particular test result is due to intraracial genetic factors (factors shared within one race, but not between people of different races).

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Ken Ham: Just Another Homeboy from the Hood

Ken Ham has frightening ideas of what it means to be anti-racist. Yesterday he declared himself to be “not a white person” adding “there are no black people. Using terms like ‘white’ & ‘black’ promotes division … all are brown”.

While I got this from RawStory where they highlighted a couple of tweets mocking Ham, I think the most interesting and on point criticism that they reported (From AMcBay_NSS: “And using terms like Christian, Muslim, Catholic, Mormon promotes division & prejudice, but that is the intent, isn’t it?”) still came across as missing important nuances of an obviously white person denying the racial system that white people created. It reminds me of the white genocide campaign against the peoples indigenous to (in this case) North America: in the US that consisted in no small part of killing those people who resisted kidnapping, forced placement on “reservations,” and institutional robbery and neglect under a treaty system designed and exploited by white US citizens. But when the terms of those treaties were eventually successfully asserted in court by indigenous persons and tribes and nations, the self-governance provisions that white people used to justify neglect and widespread malnourishment – if not outright starvation – turned out to not specifically exclude autonomy with respect to state anti-gambling laws. Joy! Even though forced onto (frequently valueless and always insufficient in area to support the population) land, and even though white people had told starving members of First Nations across the US that if they wanted to eat, they ought to leave their homes and sovereignty behind, many peoples found a way to use their sovereignty to their advantage and stay in their homes at the same time by building casinos. What did the white folks do? The very same white folks that couldn’t cross the road to feed Indian children because, hey, sovereignty means they get to make their own government and support themselves by themselves? Campaigned against sovereignty.

Of course.

In many places now many more white folks – including me for a time many years ago, though fortunately that was just a stage in learning – feel compelled to assert there is no such thing as race. Though, of course, you didn’t catch very many white people saying that before “Black Power” became a recognizable phrase, before

The Olympic Games were rocked by Black Power – but unfortunately not by Public Enemy.

It is the same phenomenon that leads certain white folks to oppose equal rights protections while screaming in fear that white people might become a minority in their neck of the woods in some dystopian near-future if white women don’t give up this silly notion that they have the right to deny sexual consent to white men.

Ken Ham is a creationist, not an MGTOW internet troll, but Ham and those trolls do have certain things in common, not least how racism has gotten under their skins.

Where Are You From?

They say the US is a nation of immigrants, but I find the number of people born outside Canada who currently live in Canada and who make their way into my social circle to be much higher than the persons born outside the US who made it into my social circle while I was in the US. It’s anecdotal, of course, but “Where are you from?” seems to be somewhat less stigmatizing, somewhat less othering than in the US.

Not that it’s not stigmatizing. Not that it’s not othering. Just… 21% less. Like the Canadian dollar, eh?

On the other hand, because so many people are immigrants, the question seems to get asked even more up here. So I wonder if this cartoon from the Nib illustrates a problem that is less hurtful overall. I’m not sure it’s even answerable, but if anyone can stop the racist villains who persistently other the people I like and love and just kinda know, it’s for damn sure the Yellow Power Ranger. Don’t believe me? Then take it from Shing Yin Khor:

 

Go read the rest of Shing Yin Khor’s cartoon at the Nib. It’s sooooo worth it.

The One Drop Rule

Shermer has had an abomination of a tweet called out by PZ Myers over on Pharyngula, and I’m sure most of you have read that. There are many good points to make about it and a number have been made there, but here I’d like to say something that hasn’t been mentioned yet over there. The tweet, if you haven’t read it, attempts to draw an equivalence between white pride and Black pride. This is actually a common tactic on the right, with many going as far as insisting that Black pride is worse as Black folk in the US should know better from their experiences suffering under white supremacy. And although I’m sure some truly believe this rhetoric, at its core it is dishonest. It is dishonest because it attempts to reframe behavior from one context, a Black context, in a white context. This leads to many problems, but it is particularly related to and relevant to the problematic historicization of the One Drop Rule in the US. Many people think they know the One Drop Rule. Many people think that they can categorically condemn it. I think this is too easy. I think it’s wrong, not least because most white people never even register awareness that there were always two, very different, One Drop Rules. Here, I’d like to offer some praise for one of them.

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When do we take them at their word?

 

Sean Spicer:

I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Ashad [sic] is doing … there was not in the — he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that, but I’m saying in that the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought, the use of it,

Steve King:

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

Emphasis mine.

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