Democrats & Liberals Archives

Who Lost Chicago?

Conservatives in Washington and in the press erupted with gleeful criticism of President Obama because he did not win the Olympics for Chicago despite his grandiose pitch to the Olympics Committee. He should not have gone. Chicago is not worthy. Rio de Janeiro is more worthy. He’s not the great orator he is cracked up to be. If he can’t convince the Olympics Committe, how will he convince Iran. Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum. But who actually lost Chicago?

True, conservatives are having a field day. We hear that when the announcement was made that Chicago lost, the great patriots at the National Review erupted in cheers. They were cheering a loss for the U.S. As everyone but conservatives knows, Chicago is a city in the U.S. If it had gotten the Olympic nod it would have increased business opportunities and produced over 300,000 jobs. It also would have boosted the prestige of America.

This conservative explosion of glee shows that they care more about destroying Obama than they do about boosting America. And they call themselves patriots? Read what a super-conservative says:

"Hahahahaha," wrote Red State's Erick Erickson. "So Obama's pimped us to every two bit thug and dictator in the world, made promises to half the Olympic committee, and they did not even kiss him. So much for improving America's standing in the world, Barry O."

I think Erickson has something here. He's worried about "improving America's standing in the world." President Barack Obama has done a terrific job of improving America's standing in the world. But evidently, the Bush Administration did such a terrific job of destroying our standing that there is a hell of a lot more for Obama to do. Evidently, people in other countries are worried about coming to the U.S. to attend an Olympic or any other Event:

However, the triumphant Chicago presentation--the culmination of a $48 million package--had cold water thrown onto it when Pakistani IOC member Syed Shahid Ali correctly noted the significant difficulties facing foreigners seeking entry into the United States. Obama failed to address Ali's concerns, saying only that hosting the Games in Chicago would be "a reminder that America at its best is open to the world."

America's visa processing issues have been well-publicized throughout much of the world, with some tourists waiting six months or more to have a 10 minute appointment with a visa examiner in an embassy or consulate to visit America on a vacation. Business visas or those for cultural ambassadors, like artists and athletes, are similarly problematic. Many applicants complain that the system is opaque at best and a crap shoot at worst, with few guidelines provided for applicants and rejections issued pro forma.

Why is the system of obtaining a visa "opaque at best and a crap shoot at worst?" Bush and Cheney made it so. They did it in order to make us "safe" and "secure." Keep the riff raff out, was their motto. So we make it a nightmare for businesspeople, artists scientists and just plain tourists to visit.

The IOC made a rational conclusion: If it is hard to visit U.S., the country - again, Chicago is part of the U.S. - it does not deserve to run Olympic Games.

Who lost Chicago? Bush/Cheney and the Republicans now knocking Obama!

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 2, 2009 6:59 PM
Comment #288834

Rio was always the most likely venue for 2016 since the Olympics have never been held in South America. Chicago was the strongest bid, causing the delegates, especially from Asia, to try to make sure that Chicago was eliminated first. Also, the mess that occured with SLC, and the exposure that members of the olympic committee received from our press, hasn’t been forgotten.

Obama went to CPH because the heads of state of the other countries were also going there.

Posted by: ohrealy at October 2, 2009 7:13 PM
Comment #288835

South America has not yet hosted the Olympics and the IOC has expressed in the past its desire for geographic diversity amongst host cities. Rio de Janeiro would have been the first South American host city; I think that is the real reason Chicago lost.

The US has a good shot at hosting the 2020 games, by then it will have been a quarter century from the last North American Summer Olympics (Atlanta 1996).

Posted by: Warped Reality at October 2, 2009 7:18 PM
Comment #288836

The smart move would have been to send Bill Clinton. He has a lot of international prestige and while I don’t believe he would have carried the day either, it would have saved the president the embarrassment.

Posted by: Royal Flush at October 2, 2009 7:27 PM
Comment #288839

I’m happy for the people of Rio, and they had the best chances of landing the games.

It beggars description that conservatives would actually cheer the US losing the games to another country. To be happy about it? Who are these people? Are these conservatives just a bunch of weird xenophones, or what? Are they crazed by hatred? It is really a disgraceful moment for the country when conservatives actively root against it even on relatively minor issues such as this.

Posted by: phx8 at October 2, 2009 7:37 PM
Comment #288841

I am disappointed Paul. It’s Bush’s fault? Really?

Posted by: eric at October 2, 2009 8:09 PM
Comment #288844

phx8, maybe they are all Bostonians?

Posted by: Warped Reality at October 2, 2009 8:53 PM
Comment #288850

It is not Obama’s fault Chicago lost. This just goes to show that popularity and charm do not make much difference in these sorts of things. Obama embarrassed himself by putting his personal prestige on the line w/o knowing in advance that it would work. This shows his youth and inexperience.

I don’t take any pleasure in our president being made a fool. But I don’t believe it is necessarily a good thing for Chicago to win the Olympics anyway. These things are usually money-losers for the venue. So I don’t really mind the outcome, but I wish Obama had been a little more mature. He made all of us look stupid.

As for blaming Bush, that is just silly. I would think it was a joke except I know some people really believe such things.

Posted by: Christine at October 2, 2009 9:29 PM
Comment #288854

This is just too rich. It is Bush who got Obama on a plane and flew him to Europe to make a mess of things?

There are two issues here. Why did Chicago loose, and why in the world did Obama go to Europe to make the case personally?

Chicago lost because they were not the best choice. Rio was a better choice.

Why did Obama go? It was a stupid decision to go, and I would very much doubt another President will repeat the error.

I liked whoever suggested it should have been Bill Clinton who went. Or Bill Clinton and George Bush I. They seem to be buddies.

Wow what a political blunder. At least it’s the Olympics and not Iran. New Presidents!!

Just for fun here is the commercial called “the One” from McCain campaign.

Today it really fits.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 2, 2009 9:57 PM
Comment #288856

Why would putting our best foot forward in lobbying for an Olympics in Chicago mean a lost of prestige? We were competing. Another city pulled it off. Good on ‘em.

It also occurs to me that a trip like that would be an excellent cover for other meetings that we did not want publicized. I have absolutely nothing to back that up. It’s just an observation.

Posted by: phx8 at October 2, 2009 10:15 PM
Comment #288860


The president probably did meet other leaders. They always do.

Just imagine if President Bush had made a last minute - unsuccessful - trip overseas to pimp for Austin. How would you have seen that?

Did you also notice that Obama takes more time off than Bush did. And everybody made fun of him for taking too many vacations.

Obama is a showman. He lives by the script. He likes to play the role for the fawning fans and the friendly media. But even the president doesn’t get to stage manage everything. His inexperience is showing.

I think he enjoys that idea of playing a president, but doesn’t care for actually being president. Let’s see how he stands up for the health care proposals he said he wanted. Or how he fights the war he said was good and necessary in Afghanistan. That economic stimulus is really working out. Didn’t he promise that unemployment would not be 8%? Well, it isn’t.

Obama is a smart guy who has never had a real challenge. Let’s hope that he can wise up fast. I am not optimistic.

Posted by: Christine at October 2, 2009 10:30 PM
Comment #288862


Actually, Obama used the trip as an opportunity to meet with General McChrystal to discuss Afghanistan. Because he is wrapped up with his responsibilities in Afghanistan, General McCrystal has not been able to travel back to Washington very often, so when he was presented with the opportunity, Obama took advantage of it and tried to kill two birds with one stone.

To the rightists: I don’t understand how Obama’s trip could be construed as a “blunder”. As I stated in the other thread, all three of the other potential host cities brought the sitting heads of state from their respective countries to Copenhagen, so I don’t know why the US shouldn’t do the same thing.

Your Austin doesn’t make any sense because it is a too small of a city, and Chicago started its bid in June 2007, only a few months after Obama started his campaign and when Clinton was considered the inevitable runaway winner. In any case, New York was the US candidate for the 2012 Olympics, but it was a very weak and half-hearted bid, so Bush sent a videotaped presentation in lieu of visiting.

Posted by: Warped Reality at October 2, 2009 10:54 PM
Comment #288863
However, the triumphant Chicago presentation—the culmination of a $48 million package—had cold water thrown onto it when Pakistani IOC member Syed Shahid Ali correctly noted the significant difficulties facing foreigners seeking entry into the United States. Obama failed to address Ali’s concerns, saying only that hosting the Games in Chicago would be “a reminder that America at its best is open to the world.”

This sounds like a perfectly good reason not to even want the games in Chicago, if it would mean that we’d be easing up on the screening of those coming here on tourist visas from places like Pakistan. The Pakistani IOC member ought to look around his country, think about all the political assassinations and violence going on his own back yard, and then ask himself why citizens of his country might be getting a little extra screening before they come to the United States.

In any case, the result is more than satisfactory. Who in their right mind would want to take a vacation to Chicago in the summer instead of Rio de Janeiro anyway?

Posted by: Paul at October 2, 2009 11:18 PM
Comment #288865
In any case, the result is more than satisfactory. Who in their right mind would want to take a vacation to Chicago in the summer instead of Rio de Janeiro anyway?

Maybe because June, July and August are winter in Rio de Janeiro?

Posted by: Warped Reality at October 2, 2009 11:27 PM
Comment #288866

Winter in Rio is the best time of the year. It will be sunny with highs in the low 80s, with low humidity. Rio is one of the world’s magical places.

Posted by: Christine at October 2, 2009 11:37 PM
Comment #288869

Warped Reality, any place where they’re wearing bikinis in winter is all right with me. No offense to the deep-dish pizza and sausage-eating population of Chicago, but I’ll take Brazilian girls in bikinis over them every time.

Posted by: Paul at October 2, 2009 11:55 PM
Comment #288870

To be honest, the Olympics get great press, but the Olympic Comittee is a sweltering mess of corruption and creeps. I’m not impressed by catering to them.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 12:17 AM
Comment #288876

What’s the point to winter if you can’t go skiing?

Posted by: Warped Reality at October 3, 2009 2:36 AM
Comment #288879

Obama made an appearance for the home team as did the leaders of each of the competing cities’ countries. The home team lost. Conservatives cheer. So be it.

I, for one, give him credit for getting into the game. The prospects were never that good. The USOC is in disarray and in conflict with the IOC. South America had never held an Olympic event.

The politically smart thing would have been for Obama to sit this one out. But, if you are going to be a competitor, you have to be prepared to lose. At least Obama showed some competitive spirit. I like our leadership on the field, not sitting on the bench.

Posted by: Rich at October 3, 2009 7:01 AM
Comment #288884

Make sure you work your way through the Obama Criticism Flowchart before you post anything negative about our president! You want to make sure your negativity is valid and not just repressed racism…

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 3, 2009 10:20 AM
Comment #288888


That is soooo funny!!

Do you think it is because the left believes the hype? It is sorta like a cult to me. If you simply say the man is human and makes mistakes the left seems to come unhinged.

Wow, when the obvious becomes absolutely irrefutable, (that obama is a young inexperienced, elloquent liberal who steps in it once in a while), many on the left are going to need therapy!!

Remember the people in robes in airports? I wonder what happened to them? How did they get back to reality?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 3, 2009 12:44 PM
Comment #288890

The left wants to make this about the right delighting in the failure of Obama, of Chicago, or even (gasp—are you doing what during 2000-2008 was the unpardonable sin of questioning anyone’s patriotism?) a failure of the red, white, and blue.

While there’s certainly an element of schadenfreude here, considering that people like Rahn Emanuel, Jesse Jackson, Obama himself, and the entire cut-throat Chicago Democratic scene put themselves on the line over the issue, there is really something quite a lot deeper.

But evidently, the Bush Administration did such a terrific job of destroying our standing that there is a hell of a lot more for Obama to do.

A lot of us conservatives and centrists have long felt that the left and far left have fundamentally misunderstood the phenomenon of anti-Americanism for a long time, and have pinned far too much on explanations which have to do with individuals, especially Republican individuals. I’m not saying that the Olympic decision necessarily had to do with anti-Americanism (Rio seems like a good choice for many reasons), but emotional anti-Americanism across the globe has roots that go far deeper than Bush, Bush’s policies, and in fact can be traced back decades if not centuries.

The idea that Bush “destroyed our standing” in the world is nothing but a convenient and self-serving myth. The same people who were out there on the streets burning effigies of Bush also burnt effigies of Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Hence it was always a myth that Obama, by being Obama, was going to somehow “restore” something that didn’t exist in the first place.

This isn’t to deflect or minimize valid resentments about various US policies, but the envy, wounded vanity, snobbery, and etc which is at the base of a great deal of emotional anti-Americanism around the world wasn’t created by Bush and can’t be undone by Barack Obama. Some of us are just glad to see developments that may contribute to the left finally coming around to that realization, though there’s still a very long way to go.

Posted by: Paul at October 3, 2009 2:36 PM
Comment #288892

Chicago Democratic scene put themselves on the line over the issue???

Are you really talking about the Olympics? It was such a terrible defeat Obama ought to just resign like Sarah did.

We tried, Rio won, I’m happy for Brazil. So what?

As for the “anti-American” sentiments in the world, they go a lot further back than Cater. It’s our corporations and military they resent. Way back in the 50’s when the fruit pickers in Central America wanted a raise, we sent the military in to defend the National Fruit Companies’ profits.

Until we get campaign funding right, our government will always be for sale!

Rhinehold the flow chart was funny thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at October 3, 2009 4:07 PM
Comment #288893

Mike, you can go back much further than the 50s even. From Europe, there is an extremely long tradition of looking down their noses at America and Americans that goes back even before the founding of the nation. European nativist belief in their own superior culture became a cause of deep resentment as upstart America became a world military and economic power at the same time Europe saw the collapse of their empires. These resentments have never really gone away and are always percolating just below the surface.

Our relationships with Asian countries/cultures are a lot more complicated, and our relationships with Latin America are more complicated still, in large part because of our close proximity and the vast disparity of wealth which is further exacerbated by the obvious differences in the racial make up of our population. The resentment is very understandable, even if sometimes it doesn’t have a rational basis.

Posted by: Paul at October 3, 2009 5:21 PM
Comment #288894


Way back in the 1780, the French philosophers said everything was degenerate in America. Most of the Romantic poets hated us. Academics in Europe predicted our imminent demise from 1783 until… now. Otto Von Bismarck talked about a special providence that protected drunks, children and the United States. It was not a compliment. Clemenceau said that American had managed to move from Barbarism to decadence w/o stopping at civilization. DH Lawrence wrote a whole essay trashing us. Hitler thought Americans so decadent that it didn’t matter if he declared was on US after Pearl Harbor. America has the characteristic of being both revolutionary and conservative in world politics. It makes others uncomfortable.

When you think about it, most of the world is ruled by dictators and despots of various kinds. Most of the world’s population does not have access to a free press.

Think about our enemies. I would be insulted if we were popular among dictators like Castro, Hugo Chavez, Amandinejad, Kim jung Il and their ilk.

A powerful country will not be popular universally. It depends on what they are going to do about it. Some of those most trying to kill us are probably not amendable to concessions. Others might say they hate us, but don’t do anything about it. Some say the like us, but don’t help.

Since Obama has become president, our image has improved. And we still get the same treatment. The Olympics is a good example. How stupid would the people of the world have to be to make decisions based on whether or not they like us.

Sometimes it is just people talking. Watch what they do, not what they say. The bottom line is that the Olympics are not coming to Chicago. Europeans are not giving more troops to Afghanistan. We are not getting better trade deals. The N. Koreans are not giving up their nukes. The Iranians talk, but they have made no changes. On the other hand, people all over the world are still buying our products and still trying to get into our country. Talk is talk.

Posted by: Christine at October 3, 2009 5:45 PM
Comment #288895

“Clemenceau said that American had managed to move from Barbarism to decadence w/o stopping at civilization.”

I think Oscar Wilde said it before Clemenceau.

R. R. Palmer of Princeton once said that Edinburgh, Barcelona, Venice and Stockholm were the corners of the square which represented the core of our civilization.

It would have been a good thing to have the Olympics in Chicago. The President was shown on tv bragging that the Olympics would be held in Chicago in 2016, several blocks from his home, when he would be finishing up his second term as POTUS.

“You have stained yourself with the sin of pride. The old Greek tragedy is rising among us. It is the chastisement of hubris.” G.B. Shaw

“Public opinion..was a dumb phantom which every statesman could identify with his own conscience and dread as the Nemesis of unscrupulous ambition.” G.B. Shaw

Posted by: ohrealy at October 3, 2009 6:33 PM
Comment #288896

I’m curious as to what the right wing would say if the Olympics were going to Chicago. I know they have it written down somewhere and I know it wouldn’t be favorable to Obama. R.N.C? Fox News office? Anyone?

Posted by: Stephen Hines at October 3, 2009 7:02 PM
Comment #288897

Why did the Auschwitz shower heads have 12 holes? Because Jews have 10 fingers!!


Man is that ever funny!

Nope, no joviality here. Me? I loved Slavery and lynchings.

I mean how does one not go about being called a holocaust denier?

Poor Ahmadinejad sure has got lot’s of supporters here.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 7:11 PM
Comment #288898

Stephen Hines

Most Americans thought that Obama would win the Olympics for Chicago. The “right wing” pundits thought it was a done deal. Nobody could believe the president would take the time out of his busy schedule to go over there if he didn’t figure his presence would be decisive.

That is why it was so surprising that Chicago didn’t even make it into the final round. That was why it was such as surprise when the magic man himself couldn’t close the deal.

IMO - it is not a good deal to have the Olympics anyway and fewer than half of the people of Chicago wanted the Olympics to come to their city anyway. It was always an elite enterprise.


The point is that foreign elites have been saying bad things about us since the founding of our republic. They dislike the common (as in the common people) aspect of our culture, which they contrast with their more refined and aristocratic ways. It is a matter of taste and it is nothing new.


Please tell us what you think you are responding to with your tasteless joke? Are you trying to imply that not supporting the president is not patriotic?

No matter what your point, isn’t it troubling how quickly such a quip leaps to mind?

Posted by: Christine at October 3, 2009 7:54 PM
Comment #288899

From Reason about an article on Talking Points Memo about the glee some Republicans displayed after Chicago was not awarded the olympics.

In the article below that title you’ll find another reference to right-wingers “reveling in America’s defeat.” In the comments beneath the story , the words bandied about include “unpatriotic,” “un-American,” “Anti-American,” “traitors,” and even — let’s hope this last one was meant ironically — “Why do they hate America?” You have to scroll halfway down the page before anyone brings up the costs the games would have imposed on the average Chicagoan.

Apparently a lot of Democrats are discovering their inner jingos. Give ‘em another year in power and they’ll start burning Dixie Chicks CDs.

I’m reminded of Harry Chapin’s poignant anthem, “All My Life’s a Circle”

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 3, 2009 8:20 PM
Comment #288900

What I am responding to is the injection of racist reference when there is none being made.

By pretending that any criticism of Obama is something liberals will attribute to racism is absurd. That some have pointed out the association of certain factions of Obama critics with racist rhetoric is hardly a broad paint brush. It’s a statement of fact. Pretending that certain facts don’t exist is denying fact.

The same logic in denying racism is used by Iran’s leader in denying the holocaust. If you want to argue that case, be my guest.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 8:30 PM
Comment #288901

BTW, the quip didn’t leap to mind, I had to google one.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 8:33 PM
Comment #288902
The same logic in denying racism

Is the same logic some use when calling others racist. You’ll forgive me if my heart doesn’t bleed for your perceived injustice.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 3, 2009 8:43 PM
Comment #288903
By pretending that any criticism of Obama is something liberals will attribute to racism is absurd

It is absurd. Not that it won’t happen, but that when it does, the left will defend the person making the claim and carry on.

I don’t remember seeing a lot of people on the left calling out Carter (other than Obama) and the tactic was highly defended when I wrote about it…

Since the line was already crossed by the left in the fight over healthcare over and over again as I and others have documented, it is going to take some time before you can assure those of us who aren’t beholden to Obama that it won’t happen again.

I wonder how long before it happens again…?

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 3, 2009 8:50 PM
Comment #288904


Excuse me if I correct you chart. If someone disagrees with Obama it is racism. However, is something does not go right for Obama it’s Bush’s fault.

For instance the reason Chicago did not get the Olympics is because of George Bush, if you disagree with that, you are racist.

Get my point?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 3, 2009 9:31 PM
Comment #288905


Both racism and the Holocaust are historical facts. No reasonable person denies either. I don’t know of anybody who contents that the Holocaust is a continuing phenomenon, so the comparison is weak in that respect.

The question we address is how much racism continues to be a major factor today. No reasonable person can argue that racism has NOT declined significantly in the last 40 years, although there are still racists of all sorts.

The only test for racism is whether or not race significantly affects an outcome. In other words, if Obama were completely white, would the reaction to his policies be different?

When the white Hilary Clinton tried to push through health care, she ran into steep opposition. When the white George Bush tried to remake entitlements, he got squashed. When the white Jimmy Carter practiced a diplomacy of dialogue, he was castigated.

There is no reason to believe that Hilary Clinton or John Edwards would have faced less opposition if they tried to make the radical changes that Obama is proposing.

In other words, nothing in the opposition to Obama indicates racism as the primary motivation. Some racism is involved in th is administration. Van Jones, for example, said racist things. Some people voter for/against Obama with some racist overtones.

So the test is whether or not things would be different if we changed nothing but race. We cannot actually do such an experiment, but we can make a good estimate that race is not the big issue.

BTW - I will stay away from the race issue as long as other do. I do NOT think it is an important issue in connection with Obama. Obama’s unique background (son of an immigrant, being raised by white grandparents, privileged educational background)make it even less an issue.

Posted by: Christine at October 3, 2009 9:46 PM
Comment #288906
Way back in the 1780, the French philosophers said everything was degenerate in America. Most of the Romantic poets hated us.

Well, I don’t quite agree about the Romantic poets hating us—to the extent that they took notice of America at all, if anything, they tended to romanticize the idea of America as an unspoiled wilderness, and most of them were sympathetic to the “revolutionary spirit” of the times that led to the French and the American revolutions. They were pretty much the first hippies and seemed to be against institutions in general. I don’t think of them as being very representative of mainstream European thought.

As for the French philosophers, Rousseau’s commentaries on the social contract would seem to suggest a greater sympathy with America than the aristocracies of Europe, and I know he was very influential on Thomas Jefferson’s political thinking in particular. De Tocqueville wrote the most extensively about America, and while he certainly demonstrates a degree of befuddlement as he puts his old world values up against American values, he was actually pretty precient about some things and pretty much predicted our Civil War.

Posted by: Paul at October 3, 2009 10:03 PM
Comment #288908


While I agree with most of what you said, the reason I chose a tasteless “quip” about the holocaust was I knew it’s ugly and immediate impact would be offensive to all. That was my point.

What offends me is the double speak of people who claim no racism, who then proceed with racist undertones.

nothing in the opposition to Obama indicates racism as the primary motivation. Some racism is involved in this administration.

There is plenty of evidence of racism being a primary motivation to Obama. Is it in the mainstream politico’s? Probably not. You cited racism in the Obama administration with a single reference to what appears more a conspiracy theory whacko belief than racist rant. Some paranoia among blacks in this country IS justified.

When you engage in this kind of non-sequiter denial within a non-denial post, and then add to that with the mythology of reverse racism being equal to racism, one has to question the foundation of reality you speak from.

The main difference between calling out racism where it exists and the fomenting of reverse racism and passive aggressive attacks that allude to racist ideas is the reality of America in 2009.
Has racism receded since 1950? Is it rare or only in small pockets? No.

Facts are stubborn, as David is wont to say.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 10:36 PM
Comment #288909

oops! I meant to answer the question regarding 1950 with a yes.

Posted by: gergle at October 3, 2009 10:38 PM
Comment #288911


They indeed romanticized the American wilderness, but not so much the people that were moving into it. While we all love our American wilderness, it is the American people that make America what it is/was. Our friend Rousseau favored the “noble savage” (never having come into close contact with any) and his intellectual descendants have not been welcoming to the extension of settlement, which is what America was all about.

What happened with the Euro-intellectuals is that as they moved from the enlightenment to the romantic period, they also rejected lots of what America was becoming. It always annoyed many of them that the French revolution degenerated into severe terror, bloodshed and despotism, whereas we Americans managed to pull it off more-or-less successfully.

We all love Tocqueville. He became a convert to our ways in many cases, but if you read him carefully you find significant discomfort with democracy and the will of the people.
I am not saying, BTW, that we were always unpopular. On the contrary, our country has been a promised land for people around the world. But the development of our institutions has not usually been welcomed by self-styled intellectuals. We tend toward the practical. Even America’s philosophy – pragmatism – is much more a scientific process that never produces a final result and doesn’t postulate an overriding system. This drives some people nuts.


“racist attitudes” broadly defined will never disappear. People tend to trust those they understand, people more like them. This is true for all cultures and even among the more advanced animal, who tend to exhibit hostility toward strangers. What counts is what people do.

MSNBC can do its study of racist attitudes. You can design methodology to find almost anything. The facts are stubborn things. What have we done? We have elected a black president. Republicans have appointed two black Secretaries of State. Many of the highest paid entertainers are black.

The only test of racism is whether someone gets different treatment because of his/her race. Do you really think that Obama’s proposals would get a better reception if he was white? Would he have won a larger majority if he were white? Look at Obama’s resume before he became president. Would a white first term senator have sailed through so much easier?

Re “reverse racism” - I recognize only racism. If people treat others differently only because of their race, they are behaving in a racist manner. It is a very simple test. If we choose to apply it differently depending on the race of the individuals involved we are … racists.

Posted by: Christine at October 3, 2009 11:30 PM
Comment #288912

“Reverse racism” is a term that tries to create a separate and less serious category for bigots who don’t happen to be white. It’s also an extremely stupid idea, if you parse the logic of it.

If you “reverse” a moral failure (and racism is certainly a moral failure), then you’d be doing something morally upright. Perhaps uncritically loving everyone of a specific race would be “reverse racism,” but in the end that too would essentially be racism because it means judging according to separate racial categories. That such a silly phrase has come into being says a lot of ugly things about the willingness of people to take responsibility for their actions and ideas. Do we have reverse sexism? What would that look like? How about reverse rape and murder? The idea is nonsensical.

Posted by: Paul at October 3, 2009 11:46 PM
Comment #288913

MSNBC? Wow… yeah, that’s a step up from DailyKOS. Actually, I think that KOS has more journalistic integrity than MSNBC does atm…

But gergle, seriously, your constant insinuations of racism for anyone who is tired of being called a racist is getting tired. Even worse is the ‘but I never called you racist’ defense. As I said before, just be a man an own it if you are going to keep doing it.

For example, you said you brought out the holocaust ‘quip’ because of MY insertion of racism into the discussion. Then, when called upon it you say you did it because “What offends me is the double speak of people who claim no racism, who then proceed with racist undertones.”

Logically, by that exchange, you are insinuating that I am one who claims no racism but then proceed with racist undertones. Either me or someone else, so if not me who were you referring to?

Are you going to back out of it now? Are you going to play they ‘but I never said you were a racist’ defense again?

Do you really think I’m that stupid?

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 3, 2009 11:56 PM
Comment #288916
Our friend Rousseau favored the “noble savage” (never having come into close contact with any) and his intellectual descendants have not been welcoming to the extension of settlement, which is what America was all about.

The crazy thing (to me) about his writings about the Native American “savages” was his claim that they lived “within themselves” while social man lives “outside himself,” having given up individuality and liberty as the price of civilization. In truth, there is nothing so rigid in its rules, social structure, and communal demands as a native tribe always living an inch from death in a wilderness.

Gergle: I’m not sure what point you think that MSNBC poll about the large number of racist Democrats proves. Did the Democrats not choose Obama as their nominee? Or do you suppose that racism was somehow responsible for his nomination? If so, I pity the Democratic party, but I’m not sure that poll is the best evidence for whatever it is you’re trying to say.

Posted by: Paul at October 4, 2009 11:57 AM
Comment #288917

Christine, Rhinehold, and Paul,

As I’ve stated before, I don’t think anyone here is a racist. If you choose to think I am lying about this, that is your prerogative.

I have attacked no one here as being racist. However, if the shoe fits, wear it.

What I call into question is pursuit of racist themes in a discussion that up to that point had nothing at all to do with racism.

Rhinehold, Yes you did insert an offensive joke about liberals and racism. Own it. It has no basis in fact, but is an ad hominem on liberals. It has nothing to do with this discussion. If you’d like to explain that to me, I’m all ears.

I neither think you are stupid or racist. I, in fact, have made a point of engaging you in debate because I respect your logic, knowledge, and intellect.

I do not attack posters on this site, even when bated into doing so. I was banned once by engaging someone posting obviously racist references. He hasn’t been on this site in a while and suspect he may be banned. I enjoy the vigorous debates and discussions on this site, and often find myself learning even from those I oppose. I do listen to the counters to my issues. Sometimes they are sound, often they seem rather defensive of an indefensible position.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to give it a pass.
Don’t like MSNBC? Google it yourself. I simply selected the first link. Is anyone here making the idiotic argument that racism is something small and rare, and equaled by reverse racism in this country?

Posted by: gergle at October 4, 2009 12:30 PM
Comment #288920


I didn’t think you were calling anyone here a racist. I just think you may see racism where it doesn’t exist and attribute to racism actions that are more easily explained by other motivations. Presidents always get criticized. Obama is not getting any more than others, nor is the tone significantly different.

Accusations of racism are becoming a bit of a joke, which is exactly the right interpretation. I recall the movie “Anne Hall” where the paranoid Woody Allen character read antisemitism into every comment. If you look hard enough, you often you find what you are looking for, at least you think you do.

I am not saying that racism doesn’t exist. As I wrote above, people favor those that they think are like them. Although this doesn’t NEED to be race based. When I have traveled in Europe, I found black Americans much more “like me” than the Europeans that are my genetic cousins. I have spoken to black Americans who have had a similar experience when visiting Africa.

Of course, we are all mixed race anyway. As those new genetic tests are revealing, many “African Americans” are really as much Euro-American. People like Malcolm X and Alex Haley could trace half their ancestry to England and Ireland.

As for “reverse racism” there is only racism. If you are treated differently or you treat anyone else differently because of race, that is racism. A person of color may have more trouble getting a taxi. A person of white will probably have to hump a higher hurdle to get a job on an urban police or fire department. As we saw with the New Haven case, a person of white faces a real challenge of getting promoted on the New Haven Fire Dept. That is racism.

Posted by: Christine at October 4, 2009 2:11 PM
Comment #288921


A) my comment here was limited to the injection of race based “humor”, or more specifically, racism denial “humor”.

Let’s not lose sight of the reason for my post.

I didn’t imagine something.

Accusations of racism are becoming a bit of a joke, which is exactly the right interpretation. I recall the movie “Anne Hall” where the paranoid Woody Allen character read antisemitism into every comment. If you look hard enough, you often you find what you are looking for, at least you think you do.

Life isn’t a movie, nor is racism a bit of a joke to targets of it. You and I clearly live in different worlds. Frankly, your posts here indicate you live in a world where elitist folks either pretend that racism isn’t around them or simply lie about it.

I encounter racist slurs and bigoted views about blacks and Obama almost daily. You wish to deny my reality. Carter spoke to this reality, and despite Rhinehold’s claim, Obama only stated through his spokesman, that he disagreed that the majority of the attacks inside Washington weren’t race based. That wasn’t what Carter was limiting his observations to, nor was it a refutation of Carter’s statement.

Christine, with all due respect, affirmative action isn’t racism. Yes, it is race based, because the injustice is race based. Punishing someone for a sexual crime, and then rewarding the victim through a victim compensation program isn’t reverse rape. That is a completely silly argument.

Again, the facts don’t lie. You may wish to redifine racism as some sort of provable action rather than the poision, and even mental illness it is, but any realistic survey will still find pervasive racism in this country.

I want to add, I disagree that racism will always exist in this country. I think over time (assuming we remain a nation long enough) assimilation will occur. Stupidity will endure, but eventually the old hippie culture of the 60’s, and MLK may have had some positive effects with regards to civil rights. Very few people believe any longer in a flat earth.

Posted by: gergle at October 4, 2009 3:09 PM
Comment #288922

Chris Rock being politically incorrect:

The Onion on the Obamas being out of touch with Americans:

Posted by: ohrealy at October 4, 2009 4:07 PM
Comment #288923
I encounter racist slurs and bigoted views about blacks and Obama almost daily. You wish to deny my reality.

Gergle, “your reality” is your business, but there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing when you want to claim that your reality is also everybody else’s. If you’re encountering racist slurs and bigotry on a daily basis, then you may be hanging around with the wrong set of people. If, however, you’re scouring the internet for jokes and viewpoints like the one you posted, you’ll find them very easily. On the internet you will also find that alien abductions have become a serious problem in this country, and that is another reality that many will get extremely upset to hear you questioning.

If Barack Obama, who was elected President of the United State, is a victim of racism or anything else, we can all hope to be so unlucky. That fact that he was elected does not mean that racism no longer exists, and I’ve never heard anyone claim otherwise, but it’s proof positive that racism is not an overriding influence on our politics,

Posted by: Paul at October 4, 2009 4:54 PM
Comment #288924


Nobody really thinks of affirmative action as compensation anymore. That went out in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton said he wanted his cabinet to “look like America” thereby admitting it was about as justice-based as choosing colors of paint or furniture.

When race is the only factor in affirmative action, it sure is racism. If the Obama girls get affirmative action over some poor white kid, it sure is racism, since what are you compensating the privileged little rich girls for? Even Obama himself recognizes this.

People come to us as individuals. Individuals have rights. Individuals suffer or benefit from preferences. Groups are just arbitrary and mistaking individuals for groups is the basis of racism.

Answer a simple question. Has Obama suffered MORE attacks than Bush, Clinton or Reagan? In similar economic circumstances, with an inherited recession, we heard about how Reagan was cruel and almost criminal. Obama is getting off lightly. If racism means you get away with more, maybe we should all try to be victims.

Re racism in America - IMO it is already mostly gone as an institution as the success of so many individual blacks indicates.

We suffer the legacy or racism. But the solutions are not so easy. A significant %, although certainly not the majority, of black population still suffers from some of those attitudes. The solution involves changing those attitudes.

As someone who grew up poor, I know something of these things. Poor people often feel that life is stacked against them, so they don’t try to accumulate wealth or take risks. It becomes a self-fulfilling idea.

The white community benefited from waves of immigration that reminded the native poor that they could rise above what they had. We are now seeing the same with black immigration. Jamaican black immigrants have family incomes higher than native-born whites, for example.

Anyway, the solution to racism is not to revel in it or make it more powerful than it is. We have to both give opportunity and remove the excuses for not taking it. We have done well on the first part; not so good at the second. Blaming racism for everything doesn’t help. We have a black president, a black attorney general. We have had two black secstate. Many of the most popular and richest entertainers in America are black. Black owned businesses are growing fast. These are the facts and indeed they don’t lie. This is not the kind of repression you read about in the textbooks.

Posted by: Christine at October 4, 2009 5:06 PM
Comment #288925
The white community benefited from waves of immigration that reminded the native poor that they could rise above what they had. We are now seeing the same with black immigration. Jamaican black immigrants have family incomes higher than native-born whites, for example.

And do you happen to know which group in the United States has the highest median income? Asian American households, and by a substantial margin. If racism among whites is the determining factor in who achieves success in our society, then whites must like Asians even better than themselves.

We are probably moving toward a situation in this country, actually, in which Asian Americans consitute a kind of “overclass.” If you’ve spent any time around any of our elite universities lately, you’ll know what I mean. The same is true on Wall Street and in high tech fields, where Asian-Americans are represented in hugely greater proportions than their population. To account for this, you either have to hold the racist belief that Asians are superior to all other races or acknowledge that they’re simply not waiting around for permission from white people to live the American dream, or assuming that they can’t get ahead because they’re not part of the majority ethnic group.

Posted by: Paul at October 4, 2009 7:52 PM
Comment #288926


Racism isn’t about Obama’s unitary success. I frankly find your response odd. Because one black man is successful, that leads you to believe that enough has been done to right a wrong? Get real.

Your argument is so disconnected from reality, that I hardly know what to say.

As to Paul’s claim that Asian’s are superior…which asians? Paks? Tibetans? I guess they all look alike, so they get lumped together? Huh? In general, recent immigrants do better than historical immigrants. They tend to be a select lot. We don’t take too many tired, huddled masses these days. We look for educated immigrants.

There are plenty of failing Asians. Ask an Asian. The myth of Asian superiority is just that. While certainly Chinese were abused in the West during the 19th century, the historical Slavery of blacks is by far a more pervasive abuse. Perhaps the only worse scenario was the annihilation of the native Americans.

A disconnect from history and reality is needed to buy into these two arguments. I think they are rather sad in the way they expose the false front of reason being applied.

I do think often affirmative action is misapplied and can even become a hindrance to achievement, but nothing in life is perfect, is it?

Posted by: gergle at October 4, 2009 10:43 PM
Comment #288927


You make a good point. Affirmative action is now much more aimed at Asians than at native-born white Americans. And most elite colleges are already majority minority.

That old idea of black-white is just overtaken by events.

IMO - the history of civil rights went something like this. The civil rights legislation of the 1960s was necessary and good. Affirmative action was supposed to help jump-start integration and it was starting to help. But then the civil rights establishment overreached and started to establish a racial spoils system. Two groups benefited from this group identification. Rich and upcoming blacks and rich and established whites. They squeezed out aspiring poorer whites, who may have competed with the rich whites, and they ignored the poor blacks who were in no position to compete for the generous programs.

You can see the result. Many of the blacks who benefited most from affirmative action are from well-off or well connected families, like Mrs Obama, or are mixed race or immigrants, like Barrack Obama. Meanwhile the best schools are full of rich white kids and the poorer ones are not to be seen. All the privileged can keep the poor around to justify their positions.

Posted by: Christine at October 4, 2009 10:51 PM
Comment #288928


Thanks for the personal advice, but it really doesn’t address the fact that racism, is part and parcel of American culture. Your sad excuse that one Black man won an election for President to justify your belief that racism no longer exists is testament to your determination to keep yourself in the dark, so to speak. I was actually thinking of a more colorful term of darkness to describe where your head may be, but let’s not go there.

Granted I live in Texas and work in construction, but trust me, I’ve been a lot of places in the US and never have found an area without white neighborhoods that contain people fearful of a black family moving in next door. It’ll reduce their property values, they say. Why is that?

Posted by: gergle at October 4, 2009 10:53 PM
Comment #288929


But I thought capitalism lifted all boats, you now argue that it’s a zero sum game?

Posted by: gergle at October 4, 2009 10:56 PM
Comment #288931


Affirmative action is not capitalism. In fact, the system as I describe it is set up to thwart the normal working of the free market.

BTW - there is no way to minimize a black president. Only one American can be president at any time. Of the 300 million Americans alive today, our ONE president is black. That is significant.

You also need to address Paul’s argument about Asians. Are they now declared officially white? If you look at income and success figures, evidently Asians are “white” and so are Jamaican immigrants and many others. If race were the issue, this could not be possible.

It is clear that our experience with race is different. You must live around some interesting people. I don’t think we can come an agreement and we are doomed to repeat our arguments into eternity.

IMO - electing a president, having some of the richest entertainers, two secretaries of state, various Miss Americas etc indicates that racism is no longer a determining factor.

But that is the larger question. On the more precise question Obama has not suffered BECAUSE of his race. I think that is beyond dispute.

Posted by: Christine at October 4, 2009 11:27 PM
Comment #288932

Gergle, “your reality,” as you call it, is beginning to intrude on reality itself. It must be very easy to see racism under every rock if you don’t listen to what people are saying or hear something completely different from what was actually said.

As to Paul’s claim that Asian’s are superior…which asians? Paks? Tibetans? I guess they all look alike, so they get lumped together?

First of all, when did I say that Asians are superior? Never happened. Secondly, the fact I cited (and linked to) is based on US Census Bureau statistics. Presumably the respondents identified their ethnicity themselves, as is customary with such surveys. But I see that you prefer to think that this was all my doing when I personally lumped a bunch of people together who I can’t tell apart because I am a racist, and then determined their incomes. I only wish I had that much free time. If this is the kind of stuff you base your claim of being surrounded by racism on, I’m beginning to doubt that you’re surrounded by any racism at all.

Your sad excuse that one Black man won an election for President to justify your belief that racism no longer exists is testament to your determination to keep yourself in the dark, so to speak.

Again, when did I say that racism no longer exists? In fact, I don’t know how I could have been any clearer in what I said, which was:

That fact that he was elected does not mean that racism no longer exists…

What part of that don’t you understand? You can google another racist joke and post it if you feel that’s the best answer you can come up with, but you still won’t be responding to what was actually said. Unfortunately these kinds of responses seem to be fairly typical among those who seem to WANT to see racism where none exists. Instead of taking that approach, we should really be joining together and celebrating the fact that we’ve put the worst of America’s racist past behind us. What is gained by not doing so? The only thing I can think of is that always crying racism enables one to avoid taking seriously the merits of opposing views or seriously dealing with the flaws of one’s own world view.

Posted by: Paul at October 5, 2009 12:28 AM
Comment #288934

Keep minimizing and backtracking and pretending it doesn’t exist and I’m sure it will go away. Or didn’t you do that either? I see. You actually were in complete agreement with me. My bad.

We are probably moving toward a situation in this country, actually, in which Asian Americans consitute a kind of “overclass.” If you’ve spent any time around any of our elite universities lately, you’ll know what I mean. The same is true on Wall Street and in high tech fields, where Asian-Americans are represented in hugely greater proportions than their population. To account for this, you either have to hold the racist belief that Asians are superior to all other races or acknowledge that they’re simply not waiting around for permission from white people to live the American dream, or assuming that they can’t get ahead because they’re not part of the majority ethnic group.

Which part of the census was this from?

I mean that WAS the point of your post wasn’t it, or was it just pointless? Perhaps I’m just that stupid, what exactly were you trying to say?

Maybe your personal advice didn’t happen either, but thanks for the love. BTW, I didn’t say anyone crawled from under a rock.:)

I guess I just have this stubbornness that when something is staring me in the face and people go about minimizing and discounting it, I find it offensive, and kind of stupid. Reality, unfortunately, doesn’t belong to me. Gravity is there whether I am or not. So is racism.

I’m sure there are those in certain elite enclaves that never have to sully their eyes with the ugliness of the world. Unfortunately, I don’t live there.


Aah, but you said the rich and minorities benefited. That raises boats. Then you said they did that at the loss of the poor whites. That, my friend, is a zero sum game. So when capitalism benefits the rich, who loses? Or is your argument now different? You can’t have it both ways. I guess you use one argument for things you like and another for things you don’t.

BTW, there is a way to minimize racism, by using the success of one man to say racism is no longer significant, but nice try at worming out of what you actually said.

Posted by: gergle at October 5, 2009 11:18 AM
Comment #288935


You may be correct that the worst of our racist history is behind us. However, racism still exists. I know. I hear it everyday where I live in the South. It is a deep and pervasive factor.

You may also be correct that “always crying racism” is a poor substitute for addressing opposing views on their merits. However, it should also be recognized that racism does, in many issues, play a motivating role and should be called for what it is. Unfortunately, I see too many instances where the opposition leaderhip has failed to rein in the crazies and racists. In fact, they have at times encouraged the promotion of bizarre allegations (birthers, etc.).

Posted by: Rich at October 5, 2009 11:19 AM
Comment #288936

I want to add, that I do respect everyone’s opinion here. I give back what is thrown at me, in kind, when I sense a false argument. It’s a great thing, I believe, that our founder’s valued. Freedom of speech. It’s makes us all better for hashing it out.
Thanks to all for your feedback. Sorry, if I hijacked this thread.

Posted by: gergle at October 5, 2009 11:27 AM
Comment #288940

Gergle, if you look directly above the quote you extracted from my post, you’ll see my link to the article with Census Bureau data. If you’re not paying attention to what’s said and why, I don’t know what else to tell you.

The fact is that Asian-Americans have the highest median incomes, and I very clearly said that it is not because they are somehow racially “superior.” Facts have to be explained somehow, however, and it’s really no mystery why Asian-Americans are so successful in our society. It’s not because white people are advancing their interests or because Asian-Americans are waiting around for the permission of white people to succeed.

Posted by: Paul at October 5, 2009 12:02 PM
Comment #288944

This entire conversation has become a silly one. Nobody “lost” the Olympic venue, Rio simply won And what most people are failing to remember is the Olympic committee selects its venus for reasons often unaddressed. Personally, I believe the decision of RIo was made in an effort to open the worlds eyes to alternative energy (Rio is the worlds largest exporter of Sugar Cane Ethanol). Check out my blog @

Posted by: Drew Hall at October 5, 2009 4:23 PM
Comment #288945


The opinions you expressed were not from the census bureau. I didn’t argue with the facts you provided, just the conclusions you drew. As I stated before, it IS a myth that all Asians (particularly Chinese or Japanese) are good in math or well educated. We have in Houston a large Vietnamese population, many of whom struggle to get by. Perhaps if you spoke to a few non doctorate Asians you would know that. It is also true that it is unlikely these days for one to legally enter this country without some skill set to sell. It is a criteria of immigration
(particularly H1 visas).

All immigrants today, out perform previous immigrants. They are a select group. Not many “untouchable” Indians immigrating to the US.

Data can be deceptive,in particular, “medians” if you don’t understand the populations you are sampling.

Who exactly is waiting for “permission” to move ahead? And where does this “fact” come from?

Posted by: gergle at October 5, 2009 4:44 PM
Comment #288946

“the Olympic committee selects its venus for reasons often unaddressed.”

Proving the unreliability of secret ballots. Maybe they wanted to promote cane ethanol, or maybe they just cashed in some bribes.

On alternative energy, every Saturday I go by a bank in Wheeling IL that has six of this company’s products spinning away even when there’s very little wind:

Posted by: ohrealy at October 5, 2009 6:15 PM
Comment #288948


It is preventing the most qualified from getting positions and it is stifling innovation. Just giving out money and positions by political mechanisms doesn’t create wealth. The market doesn’t work when you don’t let the market work. Government fiat is indeed zero sum. That is the fundamental problem with government decision making. Affirmative action is a species of government allocation. It is not a free market activity. The government may take $1 from one person and give it to another. It has benefited the second guy, but not raised the general welfare. In fact, when you factor in transaction cost, it has diminished the size of the wealth.

In the case of affirmative action (BTW – I don’t want to make a blanket condemnation. AA is good when it “casts a wider net” and creates opportunities. That is the AA we all love. Unfortunately what we get in the bait and switch is de-facto quotas and timelines.) fair competition would produce a different result. If we assume that the best qualified people for the appropriate jobs will produce the most, we have lost general wealth when we misallocate human resources.

BTW - the misallocation of human resources is the free market argument against any form of racism or discrimination.

Posted by: Christine at October 5, 2009 9:43 PM
Comment #288951


Sorry, your new stance doesn’t quite wash. You said something that you now obviously regret. Putting money into the hands of the “wealthy” creates jobs in a “free market”, but putting money into the hands of the “wealthy” doesn’t when the check is written because of AA? Nonsense. Money doesn’t know where it came from.

I work for an African American engineering firm. There are set asides for historically underutilized businesses(HUB). The owner of this company grosses more than $10 million a year. It creates wealth. AA works. period. Is it always 100% productive and well spent? Nope. Is private business always 100% efficient and well run? Nope.
More importantly, key personnel in this company are black. This is different from most of the other local engineering firms. That is what AA was supposed to accomplish and still does, in spite of your predetermined attitude that it doesn’t.

Posted by: gergle at October 5, 2009 10:18 PM
Comment #288952


You aren’t listening or maybe you are just projecting what you think a free market advocate would say, but what you are describing is clearly not a free market. I never said that GIVING money to the wealthy or anybody else is useful. I advocate helping people earn wealth and letting them keep more of what they earn.

The set aside you describe may help the recipient. I can accept such discrimination as a temporary expedient, but recognize it for what it is. Sometimes you have to go with expedients, but we don’t want to make a habit of cutting corners.

Of course the recipient is happy. It is like giving him a head start.

I was on the swim team when I was in HS. I worked really hard.I wanted to be in the Olympics, but wasn’t good enough. It was only a matter of a few seconds. If I could have been given maybe a five second head start, I could have been a winner. I grew up in a family w/o a pool. What a disadvantage. Affirmative action would have helped. The same number of people would have won gold medals, no problem.

Posted by: Christine at October 5, 2009 10:53 PM
Comment #288954

BTW - let’s take your specific example into the future. Your boss is getting rich from his legitimate business and hard work. Good. If he has children, they will benefit from his wealth and maybe inherit a fortune. Should they still be eligible for affirmative action? Should they get preference over some child of a Vietnamese refugee or a kid from a hollow in West Virginia? When does it end?

Posted by: Christine at October 5, 2009 11:02 PM
Comment #288968


I guess you only read what you wish to. AA doesn’t give anyone money. They still have to earn it and qualify for earning it. I am referring to other discussions we’ve had in which you extol the prudence of a system that rewards the rich, yet you chose to criticize it when it didn’t provide for the outcome you wanted it to have. Reality is a bitch.

Apparently you still can’t read the part of my example that demonstrates that my boss’s company is rare in Houston. It promotes and puts black people in key positions. There are also white and Asians in key spots. Why is that different from other engineering companies in Houston?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but my bet is equity won’t occur in 10 years. His child (that I’ve met) is in college. Will it occur in 20 or 40 years? Don’t know. Do you have magic powers?

Engineering is still largely a white male dominated business. I once met a woman structural P.E. on a project site and commented that it was unusual to see a woman in her position. She regaled me with tales of her experiences in a male dominated world. She had been an engineer since the 60’s.

I remember my physics classes were all white males. There was one white woman in them. (This was the mid seventies). Some say it has to do with the analytic thinking and abstract reasoning that is required for this discipline. I’m not convinced that is true. Yes, there are more Asian men in these fields today. Universities have sought out foreign students, for additional revenue, and diversity. I remember it bothering me the plethora of grants available to them, as I watched the campuses flood with foreign students in the eighties.

That doesn’t bother so much these days as I’ve seen many of these students choose to stay in the US. I’d still like to see more blacks and women in our field though.

Posted by: gergle at October 6, 2009 10:55 AM
Comment #288982

Re not enough black or female engineers, we agree that everybody should pull their weight. It would be good if more people took the hard classes, instead of being shunted off into those self-referent classes where they talk so much about gender and race.

I think we are confusing racism with the legacy of racism with culture with preferences.

Racism has only one test - if someone is treated differently ONLY because of his race. If you hate all rappers or all polka singers, it doesn’t indicate racism even if most of those you dislike belong to a particular racial group.

In the white community, it was more common to find engineers of German descent than of Irish descent. The two are the same race and look pretty much alike, but they have different traditions. Meanwhile, in politics there are lots of Irish names and lots fewer German, even though both make up similar % of the population. (Germans, BTW, are the nation’s biggest ethnic group with 58 million people claiming German ancestry).

I don’t know how the government can or should address the “problems” of black culture that leads to choices different from some others. Most universities have affirmative action programs so that it is likely that a black applicant can more easily get into an engineering program than a similarly qualified white one. Firms have affirmative action programs, so that a qualified black engineer can more easily find a job than a similarly qualified white one. In your experience, are there lots of highly qualified black engineers out of work? More than similarly qualified white ones? One of my colleagues works at the Dept of Labor where they hire mining engineer inspectors. They have having trouble meeting their diversity goals. If you know of well unemployed qualified black engineers with mining experience, you might suggest they look into employment there.

My son just started a program in computer engineering. According to the statistics, almost everyone who graduates this program easily finds a good paying job. The problem is that it is a very hard course of study. Not everybody can or wants to work hard enough to get through it. As an engineer, you understand that there are some real-world constraints. You cannot just demand someone get an engineering degree. You wouldn’t want to fly on an airplane designed by such a student.

If you would like to see more blacks or women in your field, maybe you should encourage more blacks and women to take those harder math courses and difficult operations research classes. Opportunities are clearly available and some people are letting the team down if they don’t live up to their potential. How do you suggest we get them moving?

Posted by: Christine at October 6, 2009 7:17 PM
Comment #288991

No disagreement about women, etc. I wasn’t positing that as discrimination.

There are, I believe, cultural biases which preclude women and even blacks to be predisposed to eschew engineering. I think it is sad that so many people think of engineering/math as too hard. I don’t actually believe it is. Some people will learn slower than those with natural talent, but they can be taught. I think this is one of the biggest hindrances to human growth.

I suck as a musician, but have continued to pursue it over the years. I can now play a guitar with some respectability, but I know I’ll never be Clapton.

AA will not address those issues directly.

Racism has only one test - if someone is treated differently ONLY because of his race. If you hate all rappers or all polka singers, it doesn’t indicate racism even if most of those you dislike belong to a particular racial group.

What you fail to seem to understand with this naive syllogism is that people are honest about racism. They aren’t. Your test is pretty much useless. You have to look beyond the obvious.

What AA does is make it more profitable to not be racist when hiring. Sometimes you have to lead people to change behavior rather than stand over them with a big stick.

Posted by: gergle at October 6, 2009 9:05 PM
Comment #288995


You don’t have to ask people anything. If you treat people with exactly the same backgrounds, except race, differently it is racism. You can observe it.

We used to see that kind of racism. We don’t see it much anymore, except with affirmative action.

You know engineering. Can you think of any recent cases where the best qualified engineer was denied a job because of race? A black student applying to university will have an easier time getting in than a similarly qualified white one. We can glory in the achievement of affirmative action, but we can also see that it has done its work and should be phased out.

Posted by: Christine at October 6, 2009 9:25 PM
Comment #289002


Racism is not always visible. The KKK makes a point of secrecy. One never knows why someone does one thing or another. I have no idea what motivates you, nor do you have any idea what motivates me. Over time we can discern patterns that may lead us to likely conclusions.

“Driving while black” was only revealed after studying statistics of arrests. If I deny your application to rent my house, how can you possibly know my reasons? Unless you run a sting to catch me, you won’t.

I know for fact that one employer would not hire blacks in the mid eighties because he felt contractors would not like black inspectors on their projects. I know about more recently hearing contractors not wanting to do business with Indian engineers, because he “couldn’t understand them”.

I think you see dead people!:) AA’s work is not done. You see what you want to see. Come south, come see the masses, come see the real world.

BTW, I do not believe this is restricted to the South. I grew up in Ohio, and racism was rampant there as well. No, not everyone everywhere is racist, but if 40% is a real number as MSNBC suggested, there is a long way to go.

Posted by: gergle at October 7, 2009 2:40 AM
Comment #290115

Whoever wrote this diatribe not only does not reside in Chicago, never did, and certainly has not spent a lifetime in the land of clout. Had the author a background Daley-Land, he would indeed cheer that the current-day crooks in charge, who have none of the subtlety of the crooks of days of yore, cannot scam the citizenry of Chicago for more money. The jobs would never have been doled out fairly. The plan they proposed would have displaced close to 400,000 of the poor, leaving them in the long run with new housing towers in which to live. We just spent a decade tearing down and rebuilding the areas where Richard J. housed his southern immigrants like cattle, and that is all that would have come of the Olympic construction in the long run. The Stadia would have been placed in areas even less accessible than existent venues. The working citizenry would have suffered 6 years of even worse traffic snarls, trying to do their daily commutes. No, the right wing is not wrong to cheer. Anyone who enjoys the world slapping the Chicago Machine in the chops is still gloating.

Posted by: Ted at November 1, 2009 10:21 AM
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