A Moral Panic. A Year Later

The CDC’s new advisory recommending school children wear masks moved me to revisit the CDC data on COVID-19, deaths and demographics. I found some interesting things. Governments have been thinking about this thing all wrong.

So far, throughout the entire period of COVID-19, 287 people aged 0-17 have died where COVID-19 was listed on the death certificate. For those aged 18-29, 2,162 have died officially from COVID-19. Those deaths are tragic. But there were other conditions associated with many of these cases. The question is always whether a person dies from SARS-CoV-2 versus with SARS-CoV-2.

For example, for those aged 0-24, 36 of them were hypertensive, 108 were diabetic and 222 were obese. Add another 326, 512, and 913 respectively for those aged 25-34. For these two age categories combined, 309 died of injury, poisoning, or other adverse event. They also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. That means, all combined, half of those who died from COVID-19 also had contributing conditions not caused by COVID-19, conditions that put them at greater risk of death when infected by COVID-19. There is good news here: It is rare for children and younger adults who do not also suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or obesity to die from COVID-19.

There’s more. Of the 4,902 persons whose death certificate listed COVID-19 as a cause for those aged 0-34, 2,153 also listed influenza and pneumonia on the death certificate. That’s and not or. Has the CDC recommended people wear masks to avoid influenza and pneumonia in the past? I thought there was little or no influenza this year. Something about viruses take turns.

To be sure, there is some overlap in these statistics. A person could die COVID-19 while also suffering from influenza, pneumonia, diabetes, and obesity. But when you start adding up the numbers, excluding the myriad other conditions associated with COVID-19, it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 is playing a very large role in the deaths of younger Americans.

Yet the CDC tells those in public schools to continue wearing masks until they get vaccinated. “Get vaxxed or stay masked” is the slogan. But why hasn’t this been the case for influenza all these years? Moreover, how do we know it wasn’t influenza that killed hundreds of people and not COVID-19? All those people whose deaths were attributed to influenza or pneumonia in past years—tens if not hundreds of thousands over the last decade or so—were they tested for SARS-CoV-2? No? How do we know they didn’t have a coronavirus? As I reported here last year at the beginning for the pandemic, coronaviruses aren’t new. They circulate every year.

There’s more, of the 566,114 persons whose death certificate listed COVID-19 as a cause, for 259,793 of them, were other conditions listed as contributing to death? Yes. Influenza and pneumonia. In other words, 45 percent of those reported to have died from COVID-19 also died from influenza and pneumonia. Why aren’t those classified as such? Add hypertension, diabetes, and obesity and you begin to see that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t kill a lot of healthy people.

Consider those 55+ years of age: 238,878 who died with COVID-19 also had influenza and pneumonia, and 105,372 were hypertensive, 82,385 were diabetic, and 15,621 were obese. Again, there is overlap, but comorbidities were present nonetheless, and, in most of these cases, these conditions are avoidable. People live unhealthy lifestyles and the state believes this justifies limiting the freedom of healthy individuals, shuttering business, undermining education, and damaging emotions and psyches.

Children rarely get sick and die from COVID-19 and the state compels those in public school buildings to wear masks. Influenza kills more children than COVID-19 every year, but children and teachers are never required to wear masks during flu season. We watch scores of people die from viruses over the years and yet governments have not required masks, lockdowns, and social distancing.

Yea, I know, don’t give them any ideas. But where in the hell did they get the ones they’re working with now?

What the Flag Officers 4 America Letter Get Very Wrong

Coming on the heels of an April 21 letter addressed to French president Emmanuel Macron, signed by round a 1,000 servicemen, including some 20 retired generals, blaming “fanatic partisans” for creating divisions between communities, warning that Islamists are taking over whole parts of the nation’s territory, and that civil war is brewing, is a similar-in-spirit “Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals,”penned by prominent US military leaders. During the 2020 election an “Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders,” signed by more than three hundred retired US Generals and Admirals, warned: “With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.” Their new letter laments: “Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself.”

There is a lot in the letter to applaud, especially the call for patriots to get engaged in local politics and run for local office, including their school boards. This is the spirit of democratic-republicanism, civic nationalism, and populist politics, the norms and values that made the United States the greatest nation in world history, a nation that abolished the millennia-long abomination of slavery, emancipated women from patriarchal controls, and defeated attempts by fascists and communists to enslave the world. Americans have to stand up against the elitism and technocracy that robs our citizens of our individual freedom and degrades the ethics of republican democracy, the integrity of the nation-state, and the primacy of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights or we will lose this country. We stand at the edge of a precipice.

However, there is a monumental, and frankly embarrassing error in the letter in identifying the character of the moment that might make it more difficulty to reclaim our country from the technocratic elite. The United States is not facing a socialist or Marxist threat. That’s not what progressivism, the Democratic Party, Black Lives Matters, Antifa, and the lot of them, this menagerie of neoliberal centrists and New Left hacks and ideologues, represent. Critical race theory, the cause célèbre, is not Marxist. Quite the contrary.

A true Marxist would never put race at the center of any analysis. For a Marxist, racism, like religion, is a psychological wage, an alienating ideology consoling some while marginalizing others, a strategy to divide the proletarian, to set worker against worker by teaching him to focus on what is superficially different—skin color, hair styles, etc.—instead of what is essentially common: his location relative to the means of production, i.e., his social class, and his intrinsic comradeship with humanity, i.e., his species-being. A true Marxist would never advocate restructuring society along racial lines, for this would only intensity man’s estrangement from man and from the historic mission of the working class: the win the world for the people. Indeed, Marxists could be described as “antiracist” except that we all know what the antiracism of the moment really represents: anti-white prejudice. The same is true for the New Left’s embrace of Islam. Anybody who knows anything about Marx knows that such an embrace immediate marks the embracer as reactionary. Clerical fascism is a species of fascism.

No, the threat America, the Westphalian system (the interstate system), and Western civilization—with all its Enlightenment values of civil rights, equal treatment, human rights (humanism), individualism, liberalism, and secularism—is facing today is the totalitarian menace of transnational corporatism, the thugs of world finance, and the specter of global neofeudalism.

The admirals and generals’ confusion comes from two sources. The first, which I sketched above, is the false belief, present on much of the left and the right, that the aping of neo-Marxish-sounding rhetoric by Antifa and Black Lives Matters is an admission of the Marxist character and socialist intent of its advocates. Neo-Marxism of the critical theory/postmodernist synthesis variety, from which all of this nihilistic and reactionary sentiment and philosophical hocus-pocus hails, moves too far from the materialist conception of history to properly be classified as a species of Marxist thinking. Whatever is camouflage, it’s a different animal.

But ideas aside, think about the concrete situation: Antifa and BLM enjoy the financial and moral support of corporate power, progressive ideologues, and the Democratic Party. These elites are institutionalizing critical race theory logic and norms across American institutions. This is happening across the trans-Atlantic system. This is not a socialist tendency but an aggressive all-levels movement of a capitalist class fraction, namely the transnationalist fraction of corporate power. So you can spot it, the characteristics of this fraction are corporate governance, state monopoly capitalism, and progressive policymakers emphasizing deference to selected elites, and regulatory and technocratic control. This is no conspiracy. I am merely describing the situation.

The second is the erroneous characterization of the People’s Republic of China as a communist or socialist entity. Thinkers on the political right, loath to criticize capitalism, and not grasping the myriad forms the capitalist mode of production takes, see the Chinese Communist Party as embodying the socialist threat to the capitalist world system and its bourgeoisie values. To be sure, the CCP is a threat to both, but not in the way the political right thinks.

The CCP, working in tandem with the transnational corporate powers of the West, a fact since the 1970s, means to dismantle liberal capitalism with its captains of industry and stand in its stead a new aristocracy that will transition the capitalist world system from one founded in competitive markets in interstate commerce to one based on managed denationalized populations, transforming citizens of nations into serfs of global estates. An instance of bureaucratic collectivism rooted in the superexploitation of human labor, the PRC is not communist but state monopoly capitalist. The PRC model is authoritarian and illiberal—indeed, totalitarian—representing more than any system in history the nightmare world Orwell presents in his haunting Nineteen Eighty-Four—with techniques of Huxley’s Brave New World tacked on for better management. This is the model the transnationalists wish to impose upon the world.

In the end, this intervention by US admirals and generals may serve some positive function in the sense that, even if those who oppose antidemocratic and illiberal developments on the imaginary ground of mistaken notions, nonetheless manifest resistance on the concrete grounds of effective action. But there is a risk here: the anticommunist right itself possesses reactionary tendencies. There are among their ranks, however much their presence is exaggerated by centrists and leftists as a delegitimizing function, white nationalists. But much more troubling than racists are those Christianists who do not have the finer points of Christianity in mind—the finer points of the sanctity of the individual, his right to personal sovereignty, and respect for his born independence from any particular religion or any particular religion at all. These finer points are not cosmetic. They are the reason Western civilization is worth saving.

The Impact of Immigration on Labor and a Nagging Question

Articles like this Vox piece, “The census shows the US needs to increase immigration—by a lot,” are corporatist propaganda. This is the line peddled by “libertarians” like the Koch brothers (see “The Koch Brothers and the Building of a Grassroots Coalition to Advance Open Borders,” as well as “Bernie Sanders Gets it on Open Borders Rhetoric—At Least He Did in 2015” and my podcast Freedom and Reason Podcast #5: Bernie Sanders, Immigration, and Progressivism). That progressives fall in line with corporate interests supports my argument that progressivism is the political-ideological and technocratic extension of corporate governance. What is more, it puts the lie to public concerns over the circumstances of black and brown Americans.

For decades, the left rightly promoted family planning in order to not overrun land and resources with people. As confirmed by the 2000 census, this is a nation of at least 331 million people. There are likely tens of millions more here illegally who escaped the attention of the census taker. Vox says we are not full. We are, indeed, full. The United States is the third largest country in the world. Massive numbers of of our species stress public infrastructure, exhaust public services, disorganize communities, and endanger the myriad other animal species who live in North America. This is a quality of life issue. This is an equality of opportunity issue. This is an ecological issue. (See “The Urgency of Population Control and Appreciating the Accomplishments of the Developed World”; “The Good News: Millennials and Fertility”; “PBS and Immigration Apologetics,” particularly apologetic #4

Suppose we did need more people. Why, then, are we told, instead of “Have more babies, America,” let’s open the borders and let in foreigners from Third World countries? Why, if you object to immigration, are you then smeared as “nativist,” “racist,” or “xenophobe” (sometimes all three). Why would the encouragement be in such an aggressive way in the direction of promoting immigration to meet the alleged population need (always ask: Who needs it?) and not in the direction of having more black, brown, and white American babies? But we don’t need more babies. As I will discuss in a moment, we have millions of Americans who need jobs.

There’s a reason why capitalists want more people. They know that falling fertility means fewer workers, now and in the future—and fewer workers translates to rising wages, as labor becomes scarce and therefore more valuable. Supply and demand is a well known dynamic and is particularly consequential for labor markets. The elite promote immigration for, among other things, cheapening labor across the wage system by increasing the supply of labor. They seek to expand the supply of cheap labor to drive down wages for low-skilled labor-intensive and high-skilled capital-intensive workers.

Keeping the focus on labor markets, then, the motivation to promote open borders is twofold: (1) foreign labor is cheap and drives down the wages of native workers through competition; (2) immigration drives down wages for all workers by expanding labor supply. Today, the official number of unemployed Americas exceeds ten million, and that is certainly a severe undercount. Why import labor when millions of Americans need work?

The response that, while there is a surplus of unskilled domestic labor, skilled foreign labor is needed because of domestic shortages for capitalist-intensive sectors, is not a serious argument for an obvious reason: low skilled labor is not discouraged to migrate to the United States, but aggressively courted by a range of organizations, public and private. The message has been: “You’re welcome in Biden’s America!” There’s another reason. Why are investments in raising the skill level of native workers so impoverished if there’s a known domestic shortage of skilled labor? I have heard this argument for years, so it’s not like the powers-that-be didn’t know. Powerful forces can work to import skilled labor but not to raise the skills of domestic workers?

To return to the question of population, over which the Vox piece frets, what is especially disturbing about the advocacy of family planning at home is the fact that its most aggressive when it comes to poor and disproportionately native black and brown demographics. Whereas, since the late 1970s, white fertility has stabilized (and even increased—and is projected to grow in the coming decades), nonwhite fertility has declined rather drastically. This is why the accusation of racism behind the concern expressed by the replacement thesis misses the mark (it’s propaganda)—to wit, those being replaced are black and brown workers. (See “The ‘Great Replacement’ as Antiracist Propaganda.”)

Have the readers of the blog noticed that all the jobs blacks used to do foreigners now do? I don’t mean blacks have been replaced by brown native workers. These are brown foreigners. Before mass immigration, the unemployment rates for whites and blacks, while still apart, wasn’t nearly as apart as they would become after the borders were opened in the mid 1960s.

It didn’t take long to devastate the opportunities for black workers. By 1980, black unemployment exceeded 20 percent of that demographic. To be sure, that was in a recession period, but it wasn’t much better during periods of economic expansion. This period coincides with unprecedented levels of criminal violence and the concomitant expansion of policing and mass incarceration, as well as the fracturing of the black family (see The FAR Podcast: Explaining the Overrepresentation of Blacks in Crime).

When Trump restricted immigration, wages rose faster and unemployment fell more rapidly for blacks than any time since we’ve been keeping records. Why? Again, supply and demand (see “The Rate Of Exploitation Under Trump”). And the result was criminal justice reform across the United States. All this has been reversed in short order. Who led the way? Ponder that question.

And ponder this nagging and related question: Why are progressives, given the intensity of their “black lives matter” enthusiasm, and in the face of the black economic disparities and social strife, so aggressive in pushing open borders? For me, immigration has nothing to do with race. Immigration is a question for labor. But for progressives, immigration seems to have everything do with race. Perhaps we should start asking why.

Again, The Myth of the Racist Criminal Justice System

My dissertation, Caste, Class, and Justice: Segregation, Accumulation, and Criminalization in the United States, was a two-volume 800-plus-page, that I intended to turn into a book after securing tenure. In that work, I was very critical of the criminal justice system. However, since then, a wealth of research has accumulated that shows that many of the things that criminologists believed in the 1990s about this system, especially with respect to race (beliefs that have become commonplace today), are false or undetermined. As this evidence began to accumulate, It became necessary to put that book project on hold. It has been over two decades now. An entirely new picture of the facts has emerged, so the subject matter must be reassessed. I review those facts on Freedom and Reason in numerous entries (I include a few of them in this entry).

It often the case that popular understandings always lag behind science, which is especially unfortunate in today’s climate, since false and misleading claims are influencing tens of millions of well-meaning people to believe and act in ways that are divisive and destructive. Black Lives Matter is the paradigm. As a criminologist, as an intellectual matter, it is distressing for me to see the amount of misinformation there is out there about this topic and the resistance to facts I routinely encounter. The purpose of this particular entry is to review those facts while avoiding the thickets of detailed empirical analysis. Again, there is plenty of detailed analysis on Freedom and Reason. I will deal with two areas here: (1) prison demographics and (2) lethal civilian-officer encounters.

Prison Demographics and Demographics of Criminality

In presenting facts about the demographic profile of US prisons, one might get the impression that the criminal justice system is racist in who it convicts and sends to prison. The outstanding fact is that black males, who comprise around six percent of the general population, make up between 36-38 percent of the prison population.

It is a shocking statistic that critical racist theorists take this as prima facia evidence of systemic racism. But that obscures the causal force behind the statistic. More than 50 percent of all homicides and robberies, and a third of aggravated assaults, are perpetrated by black males. Taking all violence crimes together, roughly 36-38 percent of them are committed by black males. Consider that more than half of all those in prison are there for violent offenses. What is more is that around a third of burglaries are committed by black males. Roughly half of nonviolent prisoners were convicted of serious property crimes, of which burglary is the most serious. (Only around 15 percent of prisoners are drug offenders.) Therefore, when one accounts for demographic overrepresentation in serious criminality, the demographic overrepresentation of black men in prison is explained. (See Mapping the Junctures of Social Class and Racial Caste: An Analytical Model for Theorizing Crime and Punishment in US History.) 

I want to emphasize to readers that overrepresentation of black men in serious crimes does not mean that most black men engage in criminal activity. Most black men, in fact, do not engage in serious crime. The same is true for poverty and many other statistics where blacks are overrepresented. Most blacks are not poor. Most blacks are not jobless. Overrepresentation means that, in relation to demographic groupings, there is a higher rate of crime, poverty, and joblessness. It is important to always remember this when consuming statistical claims. Moreover, even though a majority of murders and a majority of robberies are perpetrated by black men, only a minority of black men are murderers and robbers.

Lethal Civilian-Officer Encounters and Unarmed Black Men

To take another example, when controlling for demographic overrepresentation in serious criminality, as well as contextual factors, the only studies that find racial disparities in lethal civilian-officer encounters, of which there are approximately one thousand annually, find white police officers are more reluctant to use deadly force when the suspect is black compared to when the suspect is white. In other words, the scientific literature on these encounters, which is extensive and deep, does not support the claim of systemic racism in police shootings. The media does not tell its audience that twice as many white men are killed by the police every year than black men. Or that the overrepresentation of blacks in police shootings is explained by crime and context. (See Manufacturing the Illusion of White Supremacy. See also The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police-Civilian Encounters. Here’s the FAR Podcast version with notes.)

The perception that large numbers of unarmed black men die at the hands of the police every year is also false. The misperception is not merely substantial, but astonishing. A recent study found that a plurality of those who watch mainstream media believe the police shoot around a thousand unarmed black men—and a quarter of those polled believe that around 10,000 or more unarmed blacks are killed by the police annually. The number is actually around a dozen unarmed black men shot by the police in 2019, as typical year. It is worth noting that just because somebody is unarmed does not mean they do not present a danger to civilians or officers. Hands, feet, and automobiles are also deadly weapons. (See More on the Remarkable Ignorance of Progressive Democrats.)

To give you a sense of how far off the facts are those who describe themselves as very liberal or progressive, around 5,000 blacks, mostly men, were killed during the entire period of lynching in the United States—half as many as very liberal or progressive respondents suppose police kill every year in the United States. The misperception works out to about 27 unarmed black men killed every day in America. Is it any wonder why so many people are frightened of the police?

I argue that the reason why it is so easy to believe that the police are more likely to kill black people is because there is faith in the proposition that the United States is systemically racist. This faith belief sets up an expectation that makes the receiver of information more likely to uncritically accept that information and its biased frame.

Let’s suppose I tell you that well over 95 percent of those killed by the cops are men. Since you do not believe that there is systemic sexism against men in US society, you do not accept this statistic as evidence that police are targeting men. You believe instead (correctly, it turns out) that men are overrepresented in the types of serious criminal offending that increase the likelihood that they will encounter police officers in deadly interactions. (See: The Police are Sexist, too.)

Ideology and Propaganda

One of the frustrations I experience as a criminologist who studies and lectures on the criminal justice system is the way the establishment media, whose journalists surely know better, are more interested in promoting propaganda of a particular political persuasion (corporatist and progressive) that ramps up division and discontent in our society instead of reporting the good news that the US criminal justice system, as the rest of America’s institutions, have never been less racist. To be sure, they seem bent on changing that. The corporate media system is a public relations apparatus serving the interests of the rich and powerful.

Is it possible that the power elite ask us to focus on race in order to distract us from the problem of social class? Just imagine how much a threat the working masses would represent to the ruling corporate class if they came together across the objective lines of class rather than dwelling in imaginary communities of racial division. Is there not an interest in the rich and powerful preventing that from happening? Have they not used racial division all these centuries to this effect? A lot of the activism out there in the streets sounds radical. But how radical can it really be when corporations back it, the mainstream media push it, and the government schools teach it?

Epistemic Commitments and Fallacious Reasoning

For the record, scientifically-speaking, I am Marxian in orientation. I tell my audiences about my epistemic commitments because my comments often strike them as conservative and rightwing. I assure you, I am neither conservative nor rightwing. I am pretty certain that I am to the left of most of the population. I tell readers this, because I want them to know that there are not only two sides to an argument. There are many sides. The operative question going forward is this: which argument has the facts on its side? Always stay true to the facts and the scientific requirement to adjudicate them independent of any given political ideology.

Critical race theory sets up people to ignore and misinterpret facts and to draw wrong conclusions because of the illogic of social justice. With respect to questions of individual versus social justice, we differentiate individual or liberal style justice, with its norms and values of civil rights, equality before the law, presumption of innocence, and rational adjudication of fact, from the style supposed by critical race theory, which emphasizes group rights organized around race, equity in outcome (members of different groups should be held to different standards), presumption of guilt (members of one group are by definition “perpetrators,” while another are by definition “victims”), and treating disparities in outcomes as prima facia evidence of injustice (dispensing with cause and effect). As one can see, the latter commits numerous fallacies—ecological, reification, and self-confirming.

Avoiding Civil War in Europe

First the people in the streets (des gilets jaunes—the French deplorables), then generals and officers in a letter to Macron demanding he get shit clear in his head, and now the organized populous in a second letter to Macron. Populism is on the rise in the trans-Atlantic realm. Breaking news: Trumpism isn’t a cult of personality.

What’s driving the populist-nationalist spirit of our time? Nothing could be more obvious in the experience of history that cultural pluralism is a disastrous attitude and policy, not only for the host countries, but for the new arrivals who suffer in ethic ghettos maintained by those who wish to control them (the clerics and the patriarchs) and, ultimately, the host society. Cultural pluralism promotes the retribalization of nations on all sides. Islamization will in the end ruin Europe. It is ruining Europe as I write this.

Islamization of Europe

It is not up to the French or the Swedish or the English to accommodate Islamic culture. It is for Muslims integrate with the values of modernity. To be sure, the great barrier is the refusal of Islam to accept secularism as a condition of modern existence. Irrationalist postmodernist sensibilities support such tyrannical notions. But there is no compromise on this point. It simply cannot be tolerated the establishment of a theocracy within the nations of the West. This is no more acceptable than allowing Christians to do the same (thankfully, Christianity comes with the ethic of secularism).

This is not a call to abolish religion or even multiculturalism. People must be free to believe in whatever illusion makes them happy. But they cannot be free to force the rest of us into their illusion. And, while music and food and literature from others cultures may enrich the West, the state and law and the language cannot be plural. All must exist under the overarching national culture. No, this is a call to recommit the West to the values that liberated the individual from destructive tribalism of the ancient world.

Three steps must immediately be taken: (1) end or sharply restrict immigration from Islamic countries (slow the flow sufficient to facilitate successful integration with the norms and values of the West); (2) institute a policy of assimilation that at its core compels the integration of new arrivals with national culture and language with the explicit raison d’état to save western civilization from barbarism; (3) end or sharply limit the transnationalization of capital—which means ending corporate governance, open borders, globalization, and regionalization.

The only hope for a peaceful and just future for all human beings is to bring a halt to the denationalization of Europe while pursuing the aggressive implementation of policies that detribalize civil society through the reinstitution of a civic nationalization that insists on borders and human rights. What’s true for Europe is true for America. The United States liberated the West from fascism once before. The United States can lead the way in liberating the West from clerical fascism. We cannot do this with the Democratic Party at the helm and corporatists and progressives commanding our institutions. Reform must be sought here, as well.

Human rights comes from the realization of our species-being and the establishment of structures that foster the self-actualization of each individual in a culture of tolerance. This can only happen in nation-states embedded in an international system of law that respects national sovereignty based on democratic-republican, humanist, liberal, and secular values.

Free states of existence can only be realized by liberating individuals from imagined communities or at least guaranteeing the conditions that allow people to confront false consciousness and give them the freedom to decide whether their personalities shall remain limited by backwards culture-ideology or whether they will escape from their cultural cage and enter the greater freedom of modernity and reason. This requires the modern, rational nation-state.

For those who refuse to come out of the darkness, perhaps they would be happier back home with their fellow fanatics. France and Sweden and England should actively encourage the recalcitrant to escape from freedom. The focus should be on the men. I do not wish this fate on women and children.

Systemic Classism: An Actual System of Privilege

The loose use of the word “privilege” is creating a lot of confusion out there in our societies. To clarify, a privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

In medieval Europe, feudal lords enjoyed a privilege called droit du seigneur (or jus primae noctis, as a specific form of the general right), which gave the lord the right to have sexual relations with the serfs living on his estate. This is likely a myth, but, if true, it would constitute an example of a privilege.

Francesco Parisi, Le Droit Du Seigneur, 1872

Here’s a real example: During Jim Crow, only people could drink from certain water fountains or sit at certain lunch counters. Under the doctrine “separate but equal,” whites has access to facilities from which blacks were barred. This constituted a race privilege.

Segregated bus

Today, and this has been true for decades, there are no white-only spaces. Indeed, such a space, if it existed, would be illegal and dismantled. In fact, there is not a single institution or system in the United States that bars black people from entering on account of their race. In other words, there is no institutional or systemic racism in America. (At least to that benefits whites.)

However, there is a form of privilege that does persist. If I do not own and control the means of production to produce for myself, and if I am not allowed free access to these means, then I must sell my labor (rent my body) to those who do for survival (or maybe the government will provide me with assistance). This situation is the consequence of the right by law of individuals or groups to privately own and control productive capital. Albeit difficult, it is possible to acquire this privilege and, in doing so, change one’s class position. One can lose this privilege, too (just ask all the small business men and women who lost the privilege thanks to lockdowns).

Workers at a Tennessee Volkswagen factory

In other words, while there is no race-based system in America, there is a class-based system. We’d call is “systemic classism” except that materiality in law and objective fact makes it a system by definition (we can, of course, differentiate “capitalist institutions” from other institutions.) Isn’t it interesting that those who are pushing the rhetoric of white privilege are financed and promoted by those who enjoy class privilege? It’s almost as if there were an effort to distract the people from something. You know, change the conversation.

About My “Whiteness”

On this business of my whiteness. You want me to be less white. Great. I don’t try to be less white because I don’t care about my whiteness in the first place. My skin color has no value to me, subjectively or objectively. It’s just skin. I don’t walk around asserting my whiteness or taking pride in it. I have never benefitted from it.

I went from hungry and homeless in Miami to tenured professor at a public university and it had nothing to do with my skin color. it was because I worked hard. Did I get some help from my mother? Sure. But not because she is white. But because she is a good mother. I sacrificed a lot of time—time with family and friends—to get to where I am. I literally made myself sick getting here. It’s others who make a big deal out of my existence as a white man, who want to diminish me on account of my skin color.

No white person speaks for the “white community.” If any white man presumes to speak for white people, know that he does no speak for me. There is no such the “white community.” I am insulted by the very idea that you think I am automatically part of a community because of my skin color. My being white tells you nothing about me. I could be a capitalist or a worker. I could be a gay man or a straight man. I could be a Christian or an atheist.

I will be happy when you decide to stop seeing me as a white man and instead see me as a human being, as an individual, as a man who earned what he has. Maybe you can start this whole “less-white” business by you seeing me as less white. Don’t ask me to stop “acting white” or “being white,” whatever those are supposed to mean. Stop treating me as if I am white. It’s not a real thing. You have the power to make this happen without involving me at all. Just change your thinking and your behavior. Work on yourself.

Yes, I know that all that is not what’s driving the obsession with whiteness. You want me to be white so you can berate me for it because that gives your life meaning and purpose and maybe some else—appropriating the value I do have, perhaps? Making me an enemy of something to build solidarity for project? So you can virtue signal to your woke friends? I regret folks taught you that this was important and useful. It’s not. It’s divisive and hateful.

Meanwhile, race politics are used by our common corporate masters to control us. So, while your obsession with my skin color is your problem, it turns out that it’s my problem, too. But don’t stop seeing me as a white man just to do me a favor. Stop seeing me as a white man to disrupt the racecraft that’s screwing you, that’s keeping you down. Stop being a tool of the ruling class.

And if you’re in the professional-managerial class like me and don’t see yourself as a member of the working class, why not become an ally of the working class like me? The working class needs allies.

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Update! I publish this blog, open Facebook, and see that Adam Carolla dropped a video on privilege on PragerU. Check it out: Who Has Privilege? Neither the downs nor the ups in my life have been on account of my race. I wouldn’t say that’s a form of privilege, but it’s nice not to burdened with a false belief that somehow race explains all the bad shit that I’ve experienced in my life. I know what explains it. But I’m not going to whine about it on social media. All you need to know is that I didn’t sit around blaming society for my situation. I reckoned my faults and did something about it. I’m still working on it. Nobody’s perfect. Even if race had something to do with it, what would I get out of dwelling on that?

More on the Remarkable Ignorance of Progressive Democrats

In yesterday’s blog, “‘Whatever that number is’: Vaccine Hesitancy, Common Sense, and Stigmatizing Christians,” I noted a relationship between watching establishment media and misperception of basic facts, with progressive Democrats most likely to consume and believe establishment media being most misinformed on key issues, which strongly suggests establishment media is a propaganda operation disseminating misinformation and, really, disinformation.

Today, I am sharing a study, “How Informed are Americans about Race and Policing?” carried by the website Skeptic, that shows how misinformed progressive Americans are about the number of unarmed black men killed by police every year. Progressives are so badly misinformed, in fact, that it would be comical if not tragic, since their ignorance feeds popular support for a regressive political movement. The irony appears lost on those who run around telling everybody to “listen to the science.” Progressives actually believe things that, if one knows even a little about policing in America, are impossible.

How many unarmed blacks were killed by the police in 2019? As few as around a dozen (most sources I have seen). Around two dozen at the top end estimate (according to this source, but this is an extreme outside estimate). However, over half (53.5 percent) of those reporting “very liberal” political views (i.e. progressive) estimated that 1,000 or more unarmed Black men were killed in the year. Nearly a quarter said it was about or more than 10,000. That’s translates to more than two dozen unarmed blacks a day. That’s twice as many blacks killed annually than during entire period of lynching!

How off are these perceptions? Police annually kill around 1,000 suspects in total, 96 percent of them armed, and around a quarter of them black. In other words, three quarters of progressives are wildly wrong about all the relevant facts. Liberals aren’t much better at estimating police shootings of unarmed civilians. Who was most accurate in their perceptions on the matter? Conservatives (with very conservative not far behind). But they’re supposedly mouth breathing white supremacists, rubes, and snake handlers.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s blog, this is also the case with estimates of hospitalizations from COVID-19, with 41 percent of progressives Democrats believing half or more of those infected with COVID-19 wind up in the hospital. This is astounding. How is it even possible to be this ignorant? For those of us on Facebook and Instagram, we are daily inundated with posts virtue signaling masks, vaccine cards, and calls for mandatory vaccination. Who makes these posts? We know the answer. And they presume to tell us about science and policy?

There are a lot of folks upset with me because I keep repeating facts, such as: police kill twice as many whites than blacks every year; controlling for crime and circumstances, racial disproportionately in lethal civilian-officer encounters is explicable and therefore does not suggest systemic racism; controlling for crime and circumstances, police are more reluctant to shoot black suspects than white suspects; the number of unarmed suspects killed by the police every year is very small. I keep repeating these facts because I know the establishment media, which knows these facts, too, is misleading their audience. They are lying.

I’m a teacher, and it is my role to not only correct my students’ misunderstandings, but also the public’s misunderstandings. I can’t allow lies and myths to stand. So you’ll have to hate me, progressives. Scientists don’t like to talk in terms of truth, but there are at least three as-close-to-the-truth-as-it-comes-in-science truths: (1) the earth is not flat; (2) the earth is not at the center of the solar system; (3) the police are not systemically racist.

Finally, a note: Being unarmed doesn’t mean a person is not a threat. It just means they were not threatening the police or somebody else with a weapon. Hands and feet are deadly enough without a weapon. People are beaten to death or permanently injured by hands and feet used as weapons. Don’t assume because a person killed by the police was unarmed that he (or she, although this is extremely rare since females are underrepresented in the most serious violent crimes) was not a threat or that he did not cause his own death by decisions he made in interacting with law enforcement.

“Whatever that number is”: Vaccine Hesitancy, Common Sense, and Stigmatizing Christians

CNN has an analysis out today by Stephen Collinson that quotes Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as saying, “This is a pretty dangerous time to be unvaccinated, but what CDC is signaling is if you are fully vaccinated, freedoms are just becoming safer and safer for people.”

First, it isn’t a particularly dangerous time to be unvaccinated. New cases have fallen to levels last seen nearly a year ago when the Democrats were encouraging people to mass gather and promote the project to depolice America’s most dangerous communities. Moreover, half the population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine. If the vaccines are as efficacious as health officials are asserting, combined with the more than thirty million of those who have already been confirmed to have been or are currently infected, an undercount given an unreckoned but no doubt large number unconfirmed infections, we are at or around typical levels of herd immunity.

But, second, consider the disturbing rhetoric of “freedoms becoming safer.” What a bizarre way of putting the matter. Authoritarian, actually. We can’t have our freedoms until they are safe—as judged by unelected technocrats? Put Jha’s statement alongside what Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University, and you see clearly what the thinking is here: “It’s time for the CDC to start embracing this kind of bifurcated strategy [allowing the vaccinated to move about unmasked, while continuing to restrict the freedom of the unvaccinated] and perhaps giving the unvaccinated a hint of what life can be like if they become vaccinated.”

In other words, either you participate in a massive corporate experiment using a novel technology or you will not be allowed to move freely about your own country—a democratic-republic in which you are a citizen with guaranteed constitutional rights. See my blog concerning the ethics of this: The Immorality of Vaccine Passports and the Demands of Nuremberg. In sum, this is a profound violation of basic human rights and personal sovereignty and liberty.

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a lengthy essay “Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics” on vaccine hesitancy that represented skepticism of vaccines as backwards mouth breathing politically rightwing Christianity. The name of URL itself is revealing, identifying “white Republicans” as the collective culprit. Check it out: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/30/health/covid-vaccine-hesitancy-white-republican.html.

The story, by Jan Hoffman, makes crucial admissions that the Times nonetheless tries to pin on vaccine skepticism and political and religious ideology. First, widely circulating coronavirus variants are damaging to alleged vaccine efficacy. Second, Hoffman lets slip an effective point made by an interviewee that, if these rubes are, as they are depicted, devoted Trump followers, the fact that the vaccines were developed under and pushed by Trump has had no measurable impact on their willing to receive an experiment vaccine is rather revealing. Disconfirming, actually. Far from slavish followers of the former president, the skeptics are independent minded. Most importantly, which goes to independent-mindedness, Hoffman reveals what really lies at the core of vaccine hesitancy: common sense. Many feel the vaccine was rushed, its long-term effects unknown. They recognize that the vaccine—all of them—enjoy emergency use authorization only.

What explains their skepticism? Consider that the hospitalization rate for COVID-19 is between 1-5% depending on state and region. A study by the Brookings Institute asked representative samples of Democrats and Republicans to estimate COVID-19 hospitalizations. More than quarter (25.6 percent) of Republicans articulated the accurate statistic, whereas fewer than one-in-ten (only 9.8 percent) of Democrats did. Astonishingly, 41 percent of Democrats believed that half or more of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 would be hospitalized. Taken together, well more than two-thirds of Democrats believed hospitalizations per infection were 20 percent or more, a wildly accurate estimate. Given the nonstop fear campaign by mainstream media, with a viewership drastically skewed towards Democrats, the fact that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be outside the propaganda bubble contributes to a more accurate grasp of the relative risks of this virus, a virus that has killed fewer than two-in-ten of those 65 years of age and younger and fewer than one-in-ten of those 55 and younger.

(Similarly, studies show that Democrats wildly exaggerate the number of underarmed black men shot by the police. Annually, that number if around a dozen. However, large percentages of Democrats believe the number is in the thousands and tens of thousands. Comparatively, Republicans perception is more aligned with the actual facts. Again, this is a measure of propaganda effect. Put another way, the more mainstream media one watches the more ignorant a person is.)

Today, The New York Times ran a story carrying the title “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe.” The story cites experts who portray the virus as an ineradicable yet manageable threat, stigmatizing the unvaccinated as disease vectors. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Covid-19, after moving the herd immunity goal posts several times (he did the same with masks), and working from an apparently (and conveniently) changed definition of herd immunity that excludes those already infected, told the Times that the shift in rhetoric was due to a “confused” public “thinking you’re never going to get the infections down until you reach this mystical level of herd immunity, whatever that number is.”

Whatever that number is.

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Update (same day):

USA Today fact checkers. Some wisely pointed out that, according to the CDC, the case fatality rare for the vaccinated who contract COVID-19 is approximately the same as among the unvaccinated who contract COVID-19. “As of April 20, the CDC has indeed reported a total of 7,157 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated people and 88 deaths.” I calculated the rate and, at 1.22 percent, it is indeed roughly the same as the rate for the unvaccinated.

“But public health experts say calculating a death rate from those numbers and comparing it to the general population is misleading.” Really, how so? “To calculate an accurate death rate, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals must be known. But that number isn’t, said Lisa Miller, an epidemiologist and clinical professor at the Colorado School of Public Health.” Oh really? You mean like I have been saying all along on my blog. “We don’t know that [the infection fatality rate] because we’re not out there testing everyone (vaccinated),” she told USA Today. Exactly. Like I have been saying all along.

But—on no—there’s a snag here. USA Today accidentally told the truth. If you apply the same metric, guess what? That’s right, you lower both fatality rates and find that, in the end, vaccination doesn’t provide any greater protection from death. Try it for yourself. Take either case fatality rate and apply any multiple you wish—as long as it’s the same metric. You would have to engage in dishonesty and apply different metrics to show a disparity in infection fatality rates.

Now we understand that the 95+ percent reduction in hospitalizations = 95+ percent of cases do not result in hospitalizations in the first place. You draw the logical conclusion.

One more thing: “It’s important to note that the CDC has said 11 of the 88 deaths among COVID-19 infected, fully vaccinated people were ‘asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.’” Oh, so not everybody who dies with COVID-19 dies from COVID-19. Where have I heard that before?