Monday, March 2, 2015

Reverend Gil Caldwell on Vincent Harding and tomorrow's visit of Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress


       Gil Caldwell, a wonderful, eloquent minister and civil rights activist partly from Park Hill in Denver, thinks below, with Vincent Harding, our friend, about what Netanyahu's corrupt visit means.  Vincent's words are with us...

***

      He calls to mind the great Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who marched with Gil in Selma, and said "When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying."

***

       He recalls traveling on a ship to a work camp in Denmark and being snubbed by Jewish "Whites."

***

       And of Netanyahu's violation of protocol towards the President, he recalls: "if you are black, stay back..."

***

        It is time to stop Israeli imperialism - its violence toward the Palestinians, its incredible warmongering and the vast US military aid to Israel.  It is time for the people of the world to force Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, to end the Occupation.  

***

       Even now, Barack - "my younger brother," as Vincent sometimes wrote to him - is not moving strongly in this direction, though his goals against ISIS in the Middle East require some cooperation of/with Iran and Syria and he has stood up against the Netanyahu/Romney/Adelson war-mongering even in an election (the opposite of what ordinary American Presidents and Presidential candidates do; see my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?, ch. 1).

***

       As among blacks, passing for White, despite near extermination under Hitler, is for Jews a choice.  Though it is nearly a  vocation among the would-be "kings" in Israel, it is way murderous and self-destructive.

***

      I choose to be non-White and act up to that thought, as do many Jews who stand up against the "color line"  as in the South Africa anti-apartheid movement (and by the way, many anti-racist, that is self-aware and human Northern and Southern Europeans...). 

***

       Black folks at Yorktown during the Revolution (see my Black Patriots and Loyalists), in the abolitionist movement and the civil war, in the multiracial struggles of farmers and working people in the South (the Southern Tenants Alliance, the early Populist Party) and in the North (the CIO), and in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s have been great leaders in shaping the cause and meaning of democracy for all of us, as they have shaped - spirituals and jazz - the greatness of American culture.

***

      Netanyahu's corrupt visit has fractured reactionary elite support of the worst in Israel (a cartoon in the Times suggests Netanyahu is planting an immoral settlement in Congress - see here...).  

***

    The Israel Lobby, a real enough force, nonetheless does not command the allegiance of most American Jews, who were the second most enthusiastic group in voting for Obama after blacks, about 77%, and are 80% opposed to bombing Iran, that is, to Netanyahu's and AIPAC's theme song.

***

     Furthermore, every helicopter the US provides for the Occupied Palestine is an Apache.  As Gil suggests, the basic cause of indigenous Americans and all people is a democratic one, opposed to settler colonialism and racism.

***

      Rabbi Heschel rightly believed that King's words on a mass, nonviolent poor people's movement are the future of America.  That movement makes us all brothers and sisters in this vital, still young experiment in democracy, as Brother Vincent would say.

***

    May we fight, with Black Lives Matter!, for a decent future here...

***

     But despite the election of Obama, America has temporarily taken the opposite path, resulting in its decline as a decent place and threatening destruction of the world.  Israel is a nuclear power and Netanyahu and the corrupt bombing chorus in the US against Iran moves us and the Middle East closer to a wider regional war; a threatened Israel might use such bombs...

    Radiation travels....

***

"Dear Alan,

This morning I awakened as I have done before since his death, thinking of Vincent Harding, and wondering what Vincent would say about something that is taking place in our nation and our world. This morning, I am wondering what would the late, Dr. Vincent Harding say about the visit of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to the Congress; a visit in response not to an invitation from our nation's first black President, Barack Obama, but from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. An invitation extended without the consent of President Obama.

I remember well your writings about Vincent Harding and your sharing his insights with your readers. Therefore I am writing this to you in a "thinking out loud" way as I used to write our late colleague, Vincent Harding. You should know this about me; I am an 81 year old retired African American United Methodist Minister who from 1997 to 2001 was the first African American Pastor of the multi-racial Park Hill United Methodist Church. And, in my life and ministry, I became influenced by the book of HenriNouwen, Wounded Healers. I have sought to allow the wounds that I and my black colleagues, past and present, have experienced because of the anti-black racism that has and still exists in the USA to shape my writings and my wish to heal the deep-seated anti-black racism that not only harms those of us who are black, but also harms the well being of the nation.

The visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the USA while he is in a political campaign in Israel, that does not have the sanction of President Obama, has reminded me of another manifestation of a street corner bit of analysis that I first heard as I was growing up in North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina; "If you are white, you are alright, if you are brown stick around, if you are black, stand back." The whiteness of Prime Minister Netanyahu trumps the blackness of President Obama, and the assumption of those who invited the Prime Minister is that President Obama must stand back, because he is black.

Some thoughts;

1. This week my heart is in Selma as persons gather to remember the Selma to Montgomery March. I was at that March on the Tuesday following "Bloody Sunday" and then returned to the March as it ended in Montgomery. I mention this because Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said of his marching with Martin Luther King in the March; "When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying." It is this kind of Jewish solidarity with the black struggle, expressed by Rabbi Heschel, that has made me hope that the realities of anti-blackness and anti-Semitism, past and present, would forge a continuing bond between Jews and Blacks. But, as one of my colleagues has said over and over again, even as I have disagreed, "The 'whiteness' of Jewishness separates Jews and Israel from the struggles of people of color." I still disagree with him. but his words are present with me as Prime Minister Netanyahu visits the Congress. {Many Jews are opposing this visit and war; see, for instance, Tikkun here from the New York Times today and The Hill, tomorrow; I, too, am one of the more than 2400 signatories].

2. I have never forgotten that 59 years ago as a Seminary Student, I signed up to participate in an American Friends Service Committee-related workcamp in Denmark. I was one of a very few black students on the ship that took us from Quebec City to Le Havre, France. I found out there were some Jewish students on the ship, and I sought to be in conversation with them, thinking that theirs would be some identification with me because of the racism I had known in the south. I thought that their being in limited communication with me, would not jeopardize their relationships with their white, non-Jewish friends. But, they chose their whiteness and avoided being in communication with me, because of my blackness.
.
3. Later, as the black struggle for independence was being waged in South Africa and other places in black Africa, I remembered that shipboard experience as Israel was less-than supportive of the boycotts, and disinvestment efforts that were essential to challenging South Africa's racist apartheid. And, I know that some were fearful that Israel would allow its sophisticated weaponry to be used by the South African military.[the apartheid party in  South Africa was pro-Nazi; many of the non-black emancipation movement  were Jews;  the next statement is not quite on target, referring only to the state of Israel and not to  ordinary Jews].  The visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu to the USA compels us to ask again,  "Why does South Africa with its rightful articulations of the historic oppression of  Jews, seem to be insensitive to the oppression that people of color experience in the USA and the world?" Is Mr. Netanyahu blind, deaf and dumb in response to some  of the race-based criticisms that President Obama and his family have experienced and still experience? His visit this week represents another one of those race-based insults our nation's first black President has experienced.

4. Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to the anti-Semitism that is tragically taking place in Europe, has urged Jews to come and settle in Israel [one might underline how instead of  praising the French government for upholding civil liberties, Mr. Netanyahu, being anti-civil liberties and base, said that jews could only find safety in domineering little Israel - a remarkably unsafe place].

       Where in the world do blacks find solace and safety in the world, as Jews do in Israel? Sunday's NY Times, (March 1) has an op-ed titled; "The Next Great Migration" The writer, Thomas Chatterton Williams writes this; "A powerful way to sidestep America's reluctance to become postracial would be for more black Americans to become postnational." Jews have Israel, where in the world can blacks find what Jews find in Israel? Africa with its obvious residuals of its colonial past, despite black governance, seems not to be the place to go. And, the presence this week of Mr. Netanyahu in Washington, coupled with the treatment of black and brown people in Israel and the middle east, means Israel is not the place to go.

Alan, W.E.B. DuBois, you and I, know spoke of the 20th century as  "The century of the color line". The calendar convergence of the anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and the visit of Israel's Prime Minister to Washington this week, in different ways, illustrates what we all knew, the problem that DuBois identified as a 20th century problem is a problem for the 21st century as well.

I have been pleased as I have read of the efforts of the United Methodist Bishop and United Methodists in the Denver Area to respond to the tragic mistreatment of Native Americans by the Church and State. It is time that we in the USA and the world acknowledge and admit that people of color, despite our numerical majority in the world, with some exceptions, are still rendered less-than-equal and without comparable economic power and influence in the world to that of those who are white.

May the visit of Israel's Prime Minister to Washington this week reveal for to all to see that on matters of justice, freedom, equality, power and influence, in the USA and the world, "If you are white...."

Gilbert H. Caldwell

Asbury Park, New Jersey

***
New York Times, March 2, 2015
No, Mr.
Netanyahu—
you do not speak for
American Jews

• Most polls indicate that a majority of American Jews (and most non-Jews) support President Obama’s attempt to negotiate a settlement that would prohibit Iranian development of nuclear weapons rather than the Netanyahu approach of undermining those negotiations.

• Most polls indicate that a majority of American Jews oppose the expansion of West Bank settlements that Netanyahu favors and support the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.

And...
The American People
Do Not Want a
War with Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempt to shape American foreign policy toward Iran bombings, torture, and coercion has been tried for the past five thousand years and it is unwelcome. A poll in February showed 62% of Americans opposed the way that the Republican leadership had invited Netanyahu to speak. Choosing to make his American visit a few days ahead of Israeli elections lead some to suspect that his visit is a tactic to help build support for his political party. Misleadingly, much of the media quotes “American Jewish leaders” who support Netanyahu—but those leaders are not elected by American Jews and the media should be quoting leaders who represent the majority sentiments of American Jews who have long been committed to peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian people. While many of us hope to see the people of Iran non-violently work to transform Iranian society to foster democracy and human rights, we know that war with Iran will only strengthen the repressive hold of the Islamic fundamentalists and decrease the security of Americans and of Jews around the world. So we oppose the efforts of some in Congress and the Netanyahu faction in Israel who together seek to derail negotiations with Iran.

We who sign this ad (the full list can be read at www.tikkun.org/AdSignatories) are American Jews and our non-Jewish allies who oppose any attempt to drag the American people into another war. We remember the way that the Bush Administration lied us into a war with Iraq by providing false information about a non-existent threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons. We do not need a repeat of that scenario as militarists in Israel and the U.S. once again use the fear of non-existent nuclear weapons to manipulate us into another war. It is not in the interests of the U.S., Israel or the people of the world.

The strategy of domination over those identified as “evil others” and used by the U.S. and Israel as the path to homeland security has not worked. Using force, violence, wars,not produced a world of peace or security.
It is time to switch from full spectrum dominance to a Strategy of Generosity. The U.S. spent over a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The outcome was a greatly weakened Iraq and ISIL (the “Islamic State”) armed with weapons brought to the region by the U.S. That same trillion dollars could have been used to create a Global Marshall Plan that could have wiped out global and domestic poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate health care—thereby demonstrating to the world a U.S. that cares for the well-being of others (see for example www.tikkun.org/gmp, a resolution in support of which was introduced into the Congress by Rep. Ellison and endorsed by two dozen other Congressional reps).
The Islamic extremists and others who resort to violence would have a much harder time recruiting fighters and supporters to struggles against the West if we were known to the world through our generosity, humility and respect for indigenous cultures rather than through our military and economic power. Similarly Israel would achieve far greater security were it acting in a spirit of generosity toward the Palestinian people. The “realists” scoff at such thinking—yet their strategies have continually failed for thousands of years.

So even while some of the signatories to this letter do not oppose the use of force in extreme circumstances like WWII or stopping ISIS/Islamic State, we do believe it is time to give generosity and caring for others a real chance. The capitalist ethos of materialism and winning though intimidation is destructive to us, our families, and to people around the world. Instead of more wars and domination, it is time for what Jews call “tikkun”— healing and transformation. Lets start now with a Global Marshall Plan!

Signatories For a full list of the 2400+ signatories visit tikkun.org/AdSignatories (all institutions listed below for identification purposes only)
Sponsors
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor Tikkun Magazine
Cat J. Zavis, Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives
“Humanity may be divided between...those to whom the sword is the symbol of honor and those to whom seeking to convert swords into ploughshares is the only way to keep our civilization from disaster.” —Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Inner Editorial Board, Tikkun
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Prof. Rabbinic Literature at American Jewish University, L.A.
Jill Goldberg, Langara College
Peter Gabel, Editor at Large
Dr. Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, Director Jewish Studies, USF Dr. Deborah Kory, Psychologist

Prof. Mark Levine, Political Science, UC Irvine
Ana Levy-Lyons
Prof. Cynthia Moe Lobeda, author of
Resisting Structural Evil Prof. Shaul Magid, Chair, Jewish Studies, Indiana University Dr. Phillip Wolfson, Psychiatrist
Prof. Stephen Zunes, Politics and International Studies, USF

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat Rabbi Haim Beliak Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels Rabbi Nilton Bonder Rabbi Joseph Edelheit Rabbi Edward Nydle Rabbi Tirzah Firestone Rabbi Gershon, Steinberg-Caudill Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb Rabbi Shaya Isenberg Rabbi Burt Jacobson Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum Rabbi Deb Kolodny Rabbi Brant Rosen Rabbi David Shneyer Rabbi Brian Walt Rabbi Arthur Waskow Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg Rabbi Joseph Wolf

Other signatories include:
Rae Abileah Prof. Charles F. Altieri, UC Berkeley Siamak Arassi Stanley Aronowitz Prof. Paul Atwood, U Massachusetts Roberta and Leonard Badger-Cain/Cain Peter Barglow Raymond Barglow Prof. Wendy Barker, U Texas Prof. Aliki Barnstone U Missouri Thomas Bender, NYU Prof. Nathaniel Berman, Brown U Ed Berne Joel Bleifuss, In These Times Robert Blauner, UC Berkeley Prof. Ned Block NYU Nathan Board MoveOn.org Rena Bransten Mal Burnstein Co-Chair, Rules Committee, California Democratic Party David Burrell, U Notre Dame Prof. Claude Calame, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Tony Campolo Prof. Hugo Cardenas Universidad de Santiago Nachshon Carmi Prof. Ira Chernus, U Colorado Prof. Peter Child, MIT Joan Chittister, Benetvision Martha Christian Prof. Robert Cohen, NYU Prof. James Cohen, Sorbonne Prof. Bruce Cohen, Worcester State Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Prof. Fred Dallmayr, U Notre Dame Victoria de Grazia Noel Dennis Charles Derber, Boston College Prof. Hasia R. Diner, NYU Michael Dowd Prof. Ian Duncan, UC Berkeley Stan Duncan Stefan Edlis Prof. Gregory Elliott, Brown U Frederick Enman, Boston College Harold Erdman Seth Farber, Ph.D. Institute of Mind and Behavior Alissa Flores Prof. Carol Fontaine, Andover Newton Theological School Dr. Helen Fox, U Michigan Estelle Frankel, Author of Sacred Therapy Prof. Linda Gordon, NYU Prof. Emily Gottreich, UC Berkeley Prof. William Graham, Harvard Barbara Green Prof. Ramon Greenberg, Harvard and Princeton U Margaret Gullette, Brandeis Prof. Janet Gyatso, Harvard Prof. Sally Haslanger, MIT Josh Healey Raymond Helmick, Boston College Bonnee Henry, UCC Prof. Olivier Herrenschmidt, U. Paris Prof. Laurence Horn, Yale Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College Dr. Bruce Hirsch Jane and Richard Hirschmann/Levy Prof. Douglas Hofstadter, Cognitive Scientist Prof. Tera Hunter, Princeton Prof. Harold Jacobs, SUNY Prof. Glenn Jacobs, U Massachusetts Prof. Irene Jillson, Georgetown Prof. Steven Jonas, Stony Brook Prof. Catherine Keller, Drew U Prof. Marie Kennedy, UCLA Mimi Kennedy, Progressive Democrats of America Prof. Amber Kerr, UC Davis Prof. Ben Kiernan, Yale Nancy Kim Irena Klepfisz, author Prof. Thomas Kleven, Thurgood Marshall Law School Prof. David Kronenfeld, UC Riverside Prof. Lauren Langman, Loyola U Chicago Larry Lerner, Partners for Progressive Israel Prof. Donald Levine, U Chicago Prof. Daniel Levine, U Texas David Loy, Buddhist Social Theorist Milton Masur M.D. Patricia McDonald Ray McGovern Prof. Everett Mendelsohn, Harvard Douglas Mirell Don Moon Prof. Leslie Morris, U Minnesota Susannah Nachenberg, Jewish Voices for Peace Prof. Stuart Newman, N.Y. Medical College Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton U and Stanford U Prof. Peter Ochs, U Virginia Wendy Orange Prof. Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth Richard Page Dr. John Paggioli Bob Petit National Institute of Health Prof. Laurin Raikin NYU James Reddington Prof. Judith Richman, U Illinois UC Berkeley Joel Rosenberg, Tufts Penny Rosenwasser David Rothfield Herbert Rothschild, Peace House Richard Platkin, LA Jews for Peace Letty Cottin Pogrebin William Pollak Prof. Jeffery Prager, UCLA James Prescott, Robert Roach Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation Wade Clark Roof, UCSB Prof. Stephen Rosenbaum, Prof. Saskia Sassen, Columbia U Donna Schaper Prof. Raquel Scherr, UC Davis Bev Schwartz Prof. David Schweikart,
Loyola U Prof. Peter Dale Scott, UC Berkeley Dr. Maynard Seider Prof. Svi Shapiro, UNC Ramin Shojai Prof. Arthur Shostak, Drexel U Robert Silverstein Steve Smale Syeda Siddiqi Prof. David Smiley, Columbia U J. Alfred Smith Sr. Prof. Robert Snyder, Rutgers Prof. Michael Steinlauf, Gratz College Heng Sure, Institute for World Religions Pat Thomas Prof. Paul Thomas, UC Berkeley Gail and Robert Thomas Wread/Rosin Barbara Tillman Prof. Abraham Udovith, Princeton Willis Unke Erik van Praag Joan Vogel, Vermont Law School Prof. Beverly Voloshin, SF State Prof. Harry Vreeswijk Bertrand, Russell College Robin and Nancy Wainwright Prof. Deborah Ruth Wallen, Goddard College Prof. Thomas Weisskopf, U Michigan Maureen Wesolowski Prof. David Wetherell, Deakin U Prof. Bruce Wexler, Yale Prof. Frank Wicks, Union College Prof. William Wilson, Harvard Prof. David Wunsch, U Massachusetts
Mary Wilson Prof. Susan Winnett Jamie Wolf Tony Wolfe Prof. Donald Wood, U Wisconsin-Platteville Medora Woods Peter Yarrow of “Peter, Paul, and Mary” Prof. Marilyn Young, NYU Prof. Lee Zimmerman, Hofstra Heidi Feldman Prof. Gordon Fellman, Brandeis George Finley III Nancy Fleischer Marty Garbus Prof. Laura Ginsparg-Jones, Cornell U Prof. Peter Golden, Rutgers
Lester Grinspoon M.D., Harvard Medical School Prof. Charles G. Gross, UC Berkeley
page1image86144 page1image86304 page1image86464 page1image86624 page1image86784 page1image86952 page1image87112 page1image89888 page1image90312 page1image90736 page1image91160 page1image91584
The prophetic voice of liberal and progressive Jews and our non-Jewish allies. www.tikkun.org
Network of Spiritual Progressives
The interfaith (and secular-humanist-welcoming) Network of Spiritual Progressives is the education-outreach arm of Tikkun.
q Yes, I want to help you place this message in other U.S. and Israeli media. I will donate to support your work for peace and generosity.
q Charge my credit card $___________________ q MC q Visa q Amex Credit Card No._______________________________ Exp. date ___________
Security Code (required)_____________ (Last 3 digits on reverse of MasterCard or Visa; last 4 digits on front right side of American Express)
Name on card ____________________________________________________ Billing Address ___________________________________________________ City, State, Zip, Country ____________________________________________ Email___________________________________ Phone _________________
Return this coupon or send a check to Tikkun, 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200, Berkeley, CA 94704 Or donate and sign on as a signatory to this ad online at www.tikkun.org/peaceproject magazine@tikkun.org 

Friday, February 27, 2015

The doll experiments, "American Denial," Black Lives Matter!


       The powerful PBS film, "American Denial" - watch here -  captures the ferocious racism which is the other side of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.  America has since its inception been built out of slavery and genocide against indigenous peoples.  But there have been huge movements, including whites as well as blacks, which have fought against and significantly abated racism, even to the extent of electing Barack Obama President twice (see here).

***

     "American Denial" focuses on Gunnar and Alva Myrdal.  He was chartered by the Carnegie Corporation in 1938 to do a 5 years study of the racism toward blacks  which he called the American Dilemma.  That dilemma is the attractive aspiration of the Bill of Rights accompanied by the slavery of black people and the continuing - he went around boldly, asking questions as a Dane to whites in the South, who answered disgracefully about Jim Crow - abjection of extreme racisms.  It was the era of Nazism - the attempt to impose such theories (eugenics) throughout Europe.  So the contrast was particularly heartbreaking.

***

    In Georgia, he asked the head of a racist women's association whether she had considered Freud's point - that one hates most the thing that most attracts one.  She chased him out of the house, called the local authorities, and he and his companion Ralph Bunche had to leave the state.

***

     As the film says, that Corporation (out of racism)  never considered asking an American black to do the report.  One has but to think of W.E.B. Dubois (see  Souls of Black Folks and here) or Kenneth and Mamie Clark (see below)...

***

      Much social science is built on a false philosophical picture of the sciences - logical positivism, a modestly leftist view in philosophy on the part of Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach, Moritz Schlick - translated into IQ testing which was integral in the support for eugenics and racism, and spreading gradually to other social "sciences."

***

       Sciences have their own theories and methods (philosophy of science is external, an accessory concerned with fraud and not vital to their functioning).

***

       Social "science" has very limited, if any theories (arbitrarily excludes serious theories like Marx's or Aristotle's) and relies heavily on statistics.  Philosophy of science, in this case, a bad philosophical picture, is integral to the research and at the extremes, legitimizes,  in IQ testing and eugenics, errors and sometimes monstrous harms.

***

       Kenneth and Mamie Clark, the first and at the time only two black Ph.D.s in psychology, however, initiated the doll studies which are emphasized in this film.  They showed black and white children a black doll and a white doll and asked which is prettier?

    The results, updated in "American Denial," are heartbreaking.  At the end of their study, they noted some actual remarks by the children, when asked which doll looks like you, replied,  "I burned my face and made it spoil"...

***

      The exact quote in the Clarks' 1941 pathbreaking article, "Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children," is:

     “Rationalization of the rejection of the brown doll was found among both northern and southern children…A northern medium [in color - these distinctions in the United States were like those of the Nazis, and now mercifully forgotten...] six-year-old justified his rejection of the brown doll by stating that ‘he looks bad ‘cause he hasn’t got a eyelash.’ A seven-year-old medium northern child justified his choice of the white doll as the doll with a ‘nice color’ because ‘his feet, hands, ears, elbows, knees and hair are clean.’    A northern five-year-old dark child felt compelled to explain his identification with the brown doll by making the following unsolicited statement: ‘I burned my face and made it spoil.’  A seven-year-old northern light child went to great pains to explain that he is actually white but ‘I look brown because I got a suntan in the summer.’”

***

   Myrdal is shown, both as brilliant (he made discoveries about government policy in a depression which preceded Keynes) and as awful to his wife and children.  The film suggests an analogy between Myrdal's dilemma and the American dilemma.  In terms of fighting the latter, one would not know from this film of John Brown and militant whites who fought for emancipation or poor whites who took part in Reconstruction governments in the South or the IWW-led Southern lumber workers strike in the first decade of the 20th century or the Southern Tenants Alliance in the CIO...

***

         Black Lives Matter! protests the degrading and ordinary (as American Denial emphasizes) police harassment,  hunting and murder of young black and latino people.  But as Michelle Alexander (in the film) has demonstrated in the New Jim Crow, what is worst for blacks and latinos also attacks many whites: a  prison system for 2.3 million people, 25% of the world's prisoners as well as casual police brutality.  See Police Killings: US 459 England and Japan 0" here.

***

      That the United States is the world's biggest police state as well as (sort of) a free regime - the contrast drawn by Myrdal in 1941 - is obvious from this fact alone or from going around any American city.

***

      Black Lives Matter! represents the hope of democracy,

***

      Below I include a piece from July 17, 2009 on Leo Strauss's and the neocons' fierce opposition to Brown v. Board, especially its reliance on the Clarks' doll studies, advocacy of America's imperial wars and enforcing of increased oppression at home.  See also "What Leo Strauss set in motion" here.

    The Clarks did the doll studies - something straightforward, decent and true in the social sciences, without pretending to be "value-free" - the experiment is morally objective and represented the truth about unequal liberty in the United States.  Much denounced by those possessed by racism in psychology at the time, their work still shows, as American Denial now recapitulates 74 years later, something vitally important about the dishonorable and criminal American degradation of human beings.    The enduring importance of this study underlines the need, incorporated by Black Lives Matter!, to fight for equal liberty, in real, not formal terms, for all.

***

July 17, 2009

Sotomayor, Brown v. Board of Education, the social science of Kenneth and Mamie Clark, and Leo Strauss


        In the hearings about Sonia Sotomayor this week, each senator made a political, at times quasi-legal speech about his views of the matter.  It is a committee largely of white men.  Except for Lindsay Graham, the Republicans often made fools of themselves.  Graham cagily announced that he might vote for Sotomayor – actually, concurring with Obama – but that he disagrees with the criteria on which he thinks Obama voted as a Senator.   But the most significant moment, for me, came in an account by Benjamin Cardin of Maryland of the significance of Brown v. Board of Education for his life, growing up as a jew, in Maryland. Maryland was the South (I once went on a freedom ride to Chestertown, Maryland).   Private clubs and perhaps some restaurants had signs: No negroes or jews allowed.  For a long time, there was an alliance of blacks and jews, of those oppressed, against American racism.  Cardin’s story brought it again to life.  What is the meaning of Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor?  She is a serious, moderate judge.  But she was also an activist against discrimination against Puerto Ricans (and others).  Obama and others rightly speak of the importance of  empathy.  Having grown up with a devoted mother in a slum in the Bronx, Sotomayor knows something about life which Justice Roberts – calling “balls and strikes,” as Jeffrey Toobin recently pointed out entirely for the corporations and the government, an “umpire” self-programmed to render verdicts only on behalf of money and power – does not.  Year by year, the Roberts court erodes the voting rights act, strikes again against Brown v. Board of Education (it may leave this great precedent intact, but, through every particular decision, it will render its spirit increasingly a shell).  But even Sotomayor’s  existence in a white male elite challenges its bigotry.  For all those who sacrificed, for instance my friend Andy Goodman who met his death in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the nomination and likely appointment of Sonia Sotomayor is a triumph of the great democratic wave which created and extended Brown, of democracy in America.
         The neoconservatives, stemming from Leo Strauss (even Irving Kristol, who wrote Neoconservatism: the Autobiograpy of an Idea is an enthusiast for Strauss), are bipartisan in the sense that they have worked for Democrats like Moynihan and Scoop Jackson as well as Republicans. Though they have damaged America fundamentally through aggressions waged ineffectually and at immense cost, wanton brutality and torture, and a fantasy reliance on weapons, they will, continue, as  critics with high positions (the Washington Post op-ed page, for example), to shape moves in foreign policy in the complex two-step of the two corporate-dominated mainstream parties.  Obama is setting a new direction, for instance with the Sotomayor appointment (see here),  But the dangers in his policies, in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in retaining state secrets, trying to, at least on the surface, protect the war criminals of the previous administration, are real enough.  Still among former Trotskyists like Kristol, neoconservatism  emerged in opposing the entry of blacks into college, of fearing blacks.  Today one might neglect the underlying racism which is a core feature of the neoconservatism as an intellectual movement, shaping it before the emergence of its more recent international belligerence (of course, even the latter is racist; Iraqis are empty slates who may be molded by American brutality into preferring whatever Bush, Wolfowitz et al  think of as "democracy").
       A startling sign of this, one quite hard to place for many who admire Leo Strauss as a  conservative is that Leo Strauss was, on arcane grounds, an enemy of Brown v. Board of Education.  In researching in the Regenstein Library at Chicago last September, I studied letters between Strauss and Robert Goldwin, his most political student who rose high in the Ford administration and as an advisor to Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney.  In these letters, Strauss advises Goldwin in setting up the  Public Affairs Conference at the University of Chicago. Officially, Strauss's title is “executive consultant.”  But he makes clear that the Public Affairs Commission, of which his student Goldwin is the head, is “my business.”
      The Public Affairs conferences  involved prominent political, economic and media figures – Senator Charles Percy, the candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination, Henry Jackson, Henry Kissinger, Eric Sevareid, Hans Speier, head of the Rand Corporation,  and students of Strauss – though perhaps, to represent the position Strauss seeks to oppose an occasional liberal. On June 21, 1961, Goldwin listed the nonacademics at one conference:
        “On the non-academic side, we have acceptances already from Mr. Percy, Thomas Watson (chairman of the Board of IBM), Emmet Hughes (Eisenhower’s former speech writer and now chief advisor and writer for Gov. Rockefeller) and Senator Muskie of Maine.  We will invite, in addition, Congressman Ford of Michigan ( who attended the first conference and who is a member of the Appropriations Committee and of the subcommittee on defense appropriations), Senator Henry Jackson of Washington (a member of the Armed Services Committee), George McGhee (head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff), Eric Sevareid, and Crawford Greenewalt, president of Dupont Co. We also want to invite a Republican member of the Armed Services committee, but I am awaiting Muskie’s advice on the best one for our purpose.  For a military man, Osgood suggested Maxwell Taylor; I objected that he would be busy with his study of the CIA; Osgood replied that it is now finished and that he would have time; but yesterday’s Times reported that he will be appointed Kennedy’s military aide; we will thus probably have to reconsider.  I will ask Osgood what he thinks of Rickover for this kind of meeting.
    I have mentioned all these names as a preface to asking you about Hans Speier…”
       Goldwin would evolve to sponsor conferences which while, on balance Straussian, nonetheless included academics who differed with them.  If one may judge from his many edited publications of these meetings, he became quite a good organizer of such events.  For Strauss, the point was to make American foreign policy more belligerent, to take out Cuba, as I indicated in a previous post here.  Emulating the Athenian Stranger in Plato’s Laws, Strauss and his students acted to make American foreign policy more brutal and reactionary, as brutal as the USSR had been in suppressing Hungary in 1956.   In this, Strauss created a pattern which has since been embodied in the sect (the sect is mainly those Straussians who have gone into politics plus some academics like Mansfield, Cropsey, Jaffa, et al). 
          On the extreme right in American politics or more exactly, aiming to move tyrannical politics toward blacks of the one-Party South – Democrats by day, the KKK by night - in a reactionary direction, Strauss also used these meetings to attack Brown v. Board of Education.  The brief Brown decision focuses famously in footnote 11 on social science, particularly the doll studies of Mamie and Kenneth Clarke as well as the works of  Gunnar Myrdal and Ashley Montagu.   A common cliché about Strauss is that he was simply interested in great thinkers or as he put it “philosophers” and had little time for politics.  Among philosophers, he opposed racism, taking Arabs like Al-Farabi as masters as much as Maimonides, and training lively students – Muhsin Mahdi, Charles Butterworth, Ralph Lerner – in Arab political thought.  But he could forget his seemingly most famous point in scholarship, his critique of value-freedom, to argue against Brown v. Board as a leading practical example of the despised “SS.”   Rightly and self-awaredly, none of the studies cited in footnote 11 claim to be "value-free," (it is particularly sad and ironic that a German Jew would use this symbol of the Schutzstaffel, the dreaded Nazi secret police, as an acronym for social science).  Strauss speaks to Goldwin directly as a student and addresses Strauss’s own role as the driving force in creating and furthering the subtle (not entirely even to invitees), political  aims of the Public Affairs Center.  To Goldwin on February 13, 1961, Strauss wrote:
“Dear Mr. Goldwin,
     I thank you for your informative letter of February 7.  In a way the most important piece of news it contained was the promise of your return to Locke. But I turn immediately to my business.  I am especially interested in a plan of having a debate on SS and its political consequences in the last generation.…I shall illustrate what I have in mind by two examples.  1) Economics and its limitations regarding economic policy, i.e. at what typical points ‘prudence’ or ‘common sense’ has to supplement the hand –outs of economic science.  Milton Friedman ought to be in on this. You can get ample clarification regarding both subject matter and personnel from Mr. Cropsey.  2) Desegregation and the findings of SS which allegedly demand desegregation.  Here I would think we should have a guy from the deep south, say Dean H[W]iggins, a sociologist at Emory. Such a conference could be educative for the non-academicians by making clear to them what they cannot expect from the academicians.”
          Against welfare state or Keynsian intervention (he hates the Democrats, incarnated by John F. Kennedy), Strauss seeks to further laissez-faire in economics.  He wants to involve Milton Friedman (as I mentioned to Robert Howse in the video here, Strauss  aimed to cooperate with Friedman and the “Chicago” boys; his interests prefigure Reagan and what has followed).  More importantly, however, he opposes the “SS” – which appears in the Supreme Court decision.  With Strauss’s counsel, Goldwin had invited the segregationist Virginia newspaper editor James Kilpatrick to present one of four papers at their first conference.  Goldwin regarded Kilpatrick as providing the leavening force, the lively or brilliant paper that would make the conference.   On December 17, 1960, he wrote to Strauss, 
            “Here is the paper by Mr. Kilpatrick, just received.  His assignment was to make the case that a reassertion of States’ rights would add to the essential strength of the United States in its present situation.  His response in the light of the assignment speaks volumes  Everything proceeds smoothly now, though in a great rush.” 
        Here is a strain of argument – what contributes to “the essential strength of the United States” – which is vital to Strauss’s understanding; hence, Strauss cooperated with the crude and murderous racism – sad for a Jew who had lived with this in Germany and saw its height in Nazism - of the segregationists   Following Max Weber whom he had admired before being mesmerized by Heidegger – two intense German nationalists -  he set his orientation in political theory, as Weber had in sociology, by great power politics (see my Democratic Individuality, ch. 11). But as a fan of empire (the Prussian empire, the Anglo-Saxon empire in his speeches during World War II, the American empire against the Soviet empire), he recommended the fiercest brutality to scare the USSR, a conquest of Cuba as brutal as the Soviet repression of Hungary.   As an authoritarian (see the 1933 letter to Loewith and my article “Do Philosophers Counsel Tyrants?.”Constellations, March 2009 here,  Strauss was to the right of Weber politically.   Given the primacy of inter-imperial rivalry, Strauss and Goldwin thought that affirming states rights would strengthen white American unity and purpose in its rivalry with the Soviet Union. The politics excluded the majority in many Southern states and was profoundly anti-democratic.  
        In addition, this practical judgment ignored the role of blacks, central to the American army – compelled to be disproportionally on the front lines - in Vietnam.  He was dramatically wrong even as an imperialist.  As Mary Dudziak, a professor of law,  has emphasized in Cold War Civil Rights the Soviet Union invoked the segregation and racism in the United States to point out the regime’s decadence to the new nations of Africa and Asia.  Ironically, the fight against racism by the NAACP went hand in hand with anti-communist or more aptly anti-radical ideology (differing from the plethora of reasonable objections to Soviet tyranny, this ideology interprets union or civil rights movements as stirred up among otherwise contented folk by “outside agitators” or foreigners speaking a distant language or rhetoric). Dudziak has creatively studied the paradoxical connection between McCarthyism – for instance, the application of loyalty oaths for public school teachers upheld by the Supreme Court [i]– and desegregation.  But in fact,  Brown v. Board and desegregation would make America stronger versus the Soviet Union or, in military terms,  in waging aggression in Vietnam.  Thus, anti-communist blacklisting and McCarthyism proceeded apace, often with the license of the courts, at the very time that the Supreme Court made its most famous, and anti-racist ruling.
        On  Dec 24, 1960, however, Strauss responded to Goldwin with an additional  emphasis – here a more standard segregationist one against centralism or judicial overreaching or for state’s rights - and a desire, once again, to oppose social science (the “SS”):
     “I have read the four articles and can hardly say more than that you ought to be congratulated on the good judgment you have shown in selecting the four writers.  It is not your fault that the States’ Rights position is presented in only one paper but in the future it might be wise to think well in advance of a possible substitute for a senator.  The advantage of Kilpatrick’s paper is that its main argument (local diversity) is not met in any of the three other papers, and so there is room for discussion.  All papers are well and interestingly written.  Jaffa’s statement is especially brilliant.  The only objection I have is to the word ‘freedom’ at the end of the paragraph on page 14; this is surely too much to hope for…Grodzins’ paper is clear, very well written and lucidly argued; but it does not go into the political reasons of the anti-centralists (especially the desegregation issue and the whole question of whether these kinds of matters can legitimately be settled by the Supreme Court).    It makes very much sense to me that Grodzins speaks on page 14, line 3 of ‘the most important services” but this qualification raises a well known ‘methodological’ difficulty which might be brought out on a proper occasion in order to bring in a plug for the anti-SS.”
         Whether Strauss himself agrees fully with the state’s rights argument – as a political scientist, Grodzins is sometimes a foil for his positions -  is less clear than with Goldwin’s remark about national unity.  Strauss was an admirer of a philosopher-tyrant who rules wisely but without laws. Churchill’s wartime “executive power” is a near, "statesmanlike" approximation.    More centralized than this, there is not in politics.  But one can be for executive or commander in chief power and still invoke anti-centralism or state’s rights to oppose judicial decisions that sustain the Bill of Rights.  This is a common reactionary thought – one aims to produce tyranny and grind ordinary people down, to fight democracy. Where centralized means do it, tyranny; where local tyrannies prevail, “state’s rights.”  Segregation has been wrongly or contingently connected to conservatives (since one may easily defend habeas corpus and the rights of each person, whereas segregation is brutal rule of others, denying habeas corpus in the most murderous ways).   In contrast, the purpose of a Court system is to uphold the equal liberties of each individual, particularly when under public attack. This is the point of John Rawls’ first principle of justice, and a broad array of modern democratic theories; it is Rousseau’s distinction between a general will and a will of all.  Strauss’s position is, fundamentally, anti-democratic.
           Goldwin also reports on the reception of Strauss’s students, Jaffa, Cropsey and Diamond at the conference.  On February 7, 1961, he speaks of them – as did Strauss - as “boys” to mirror their political and philosophical accomplishment of Strauss’s aims (“my business”).  The most revealing line about the political purposes of the Public Affairs Conference center in this letter is “Seated in the midst of the famous and powerful.”  The Center had one aim: to influence the famous and powerful in a particular political (“philosophical”) direction: to be the Athenian Stranger, the "reasonable" man, as in Plato’s Laws who advises the Cretan legislator.  Plato does not refer to his school or to the young whom Socrates spoke to (again, Socrates seems to me a radical democrat, and thus, perhaps different from Plato) as “boys” though Goldwin and Strauss seem to have this connotation (those who revered Socrates and were baffled by him often differed from him; admirably Strauss tolerated differences among his students, for instance, George Anastaplo who opposed the Vietnam war, and worked politically only with certain students, academic or policy-oriented; still, his closest student, Mr. Cropsey enunciated the basic character of the sect the first time he met Michael Goldfield who came to Chicago as a graduate of Williams and had studied with one of Strauss’s best students – “I cannot believe that a student of political philosophy opposes the Vietnam war.”   Goldwin also conveys in words (a philosophical eros) the ancient Athenian sense – an old man and the beautiful young – of homoeroticism: 
       “I will add only that you would have been very proud of your ‘boys.’Seated in the midst of the famous and the powerful, they conducted themselves admirably and displayed powers of the mind which earned the attention and respect of all.  Mr. Grodzins commented especially to me and to others, on the brilliance of some of Mr. Cropsey’s formulations in the discussion.  Mr. Diamond and Mr. Jaffa were the other most luminous ‘stars.’”
      Strauss aimed to nurture racism, but did not attend the conference.  It is worth emphasizing again: for an elite or in philosophy, Strauss was no racist.  What would have been most helpful in politics, particularly in Israel, would have been to support Israel settling in the Middle East not as a Western, dominating power, but as one among others.  Sadly, Strauss did not make that translation from philosophy to politics.  Strauss also once likened the situation of blacks and Jews in a talk on “Why We Remain Jews.”   But he overrode this decent opinion to move racist American politics  to the right, to harm blacks.
      James Kilpatrick’s speech at the Public Affairs Conference is reprinted in Goldwin’s edited collection A Nation of States.[ii] The title advances the state’s rights message of several important pieces (a late addition by Walter Berns, another of Strauss's close students, however, points out the limits of the tenth amendment to the Constitution).  To a political but also a Straussian audience, Kilpatrick suddenly becomes a fan of political philosophy, in particular Aristotle and Tocqueville, speaking as it were a la Straussian (he did not employ such allusions as an editor of a Richmond newspaper or in his books, The Southern Case for Segregation and The Southern States.    Grandiloquently attacking judicial “centralizers” i.e. an authority or executive alleged to be dictatorial, Kilpatrick notes for his own purposes the advice of the tyrant Periander to the tyrant Thrasybulus in book 3 of Aristotle’s Politics:
        “It was to this sort of immoderate greatness that Gibbon attributed the decline of Rome. It is to this sort of faceless nationalizing, to these idiot yells for equality, that our own Republic may yet succumb. Long ago a petty despot, troubled by insurrection in his realm, sent an envoy to Periander for advice.  The Ambracian tyrant did not reply directly.  He took the envoy to a corn field, and with a sharp blade lopped off the tallest ears until all the stalks were standing level.  The despot’s solution, he meant to say, lay in chopping down the strong to equality, with the weak, for when all men are equal none can excel.”
         Kilpatrick uses the murderous counsel of the tyrant Periander to inspire white Mississippians:
       “The hard counsel of Periander is lost upon some of the more naïve envoys of today’s zealous centralizers, but we may be sure it is not wasted on their masters.  Their god is the brutal bulldozer, squat as a pagan idol, whose function is to bring down the mountains and to fill up the valleys. They fear excellence as they abhor ineptitude.  The diversity of the States offends their pretty sense of order, and from the comfortable living rooms of Scarsdale they weep tears for Mississippi.”[1]
       Tyranny is only worrisome for Kilpatrick, however, if it works toward the equality of the rule of law; paradoxically, his example makes one think of Southern mobs, egged on by the police and the Democrats (they have now been reincarnated as some Southern Republicans) who hung innocents to preserve “their superiority.”  His sarcasm avoids the horror at racism which gripped many in the North.   Hundreds of white students, some perhaps from Scarsdale, would go South in 1964 to register votes. Some would be murdered…
      Kilpatrick adds more modestly and in the abstract, say about the Northern states, rightly: 
      “The Plan of our Fathers and it was a good plan, was simply to assure people of the best of both worlds – a central government strong enough to act boldly and powerfully in the preservation of national security and in the promotion of truly national interests, yet not so strong that it would swallow up the administration of those local and domestic responsibilities which the people wanted kept close at hand. 
           Tocqueville put it simply.  The federal system was created, he observed, ‘with the intention of combining the different advantages which result from the magnitude and the littleness of nations…”[1] 
         The Straussians and others sat through this talk about the horrible leveling central government – the evil Court and Kennedy – with its lack of mention of what the issue was.  Lynching – Kilpatrick is silent.  Preserving shacks for schools – Kilpatrick doesn’t mention it.  No admission of blacks to the main colleges or law schools – Kilpatick says nothing. Failure of the mortally injured to get care at local hospitals – Kilpatrick is silent. Beatings of teenagers white and black who demonstrate for civil rights and the occasional murder – Kilpatrick doesn’t know about that. 
       One wonders how even the Straussians and public officials sat through this  performance.  But one must remember that in a racist society, as in Nazi Germany, such performances are the norms for governments, editors, and of course academics.  It is perhaps unsurprising that Strauss organized this  conference but did not manage to attend (Strauss also refrained as a foreigner from direct involvement; he feared that American bigotry, enshrined in McCarthyism, could also focus on him).  Walter Murphy, the conservative specialist in law and co-author with Struass’s colleague and friend C. Herman Pritchett, has a Straussian review in the Yale Law Review for 1958, based on Persecution and the Art of Writing,  of one of Kilpatrick’s books.  Murphy believes that Kilpatrick is an esoteric writer, trying to hint to the cognoscenti, that he is really against segregation.  A decent man, Murphy could not take in what Kilpatrick was for.  No whiff of esotericism – except perhaps that Kilpatrick doesn’t engage in Southern politician-like racism for the audience at Chicago – arises from his talk. Though he does not mention segregation, however, the Periander example is chilling enough.   As is clear in the Strauss-Goldwin correspondance, however, no thought about an alleged Kilpatrick’s hidden opposition to segregation crossed their minds. 
          Turning to the "anti-SS" theme of Strauss’s exchanges with Goldwin, Strauss refers to Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clark’s “doll studies” cited in footnote 11 of Brown v Board.  The Clarks – I think Mamie did the initial work but Kenneth famously wrote and testified about the findings – purchased brown and white dolls at a store.  They gave them to black children, divided by status into groups according to darkness of skin (an interesting point since among the oppressed, such distinctions are common: “German Jews” like Strauss and Loewith looked down on, as Loewith implies in his response to Strauss’s 1933 letter, Eastern or Sephardic jews) in selected schools in the segregated South and in the North.  In answer to a series of questions leading to which doll would you rather play with and which is nicer or prettier, the children from the South chose more often to play with the white doll, not with the  black one.  The Clarks rightly took this as a sign of lack of self-respect on the part of the black children, already absorbing what Martin Luther King would eloquently call “little clouds of inferiority” when his 6 year old daughter learned that she could not go to the Funland amusement park, advertised on television, because of the color of her skin (see “Letter from the Birmingham jail”).  Kenneth Clark was the first black psychologist; Mamie Clark his student and the second black Ph.D.  This was initially her thesis research.   With great professional care as social scientists, the Clarks state their qualitative results which, in allowing the children to speak, are as striking and painful as King’s towering speech:
        “Rationalization of the rejection of the brown doll was found among both northern and southern children…A northern medium six-year-old justified his rejection of the brown doll by stating that ‘he looks bad ‘cause he hasn’t got a eyelash.’ A seven-year-old medium northern child justified his choice of the white doll as the doll with a ‘nice color’ because ‘his feet, hands, ears, elbows, knees and hair are clean.’ 
         A northern five-year-old dark child felt compelled to explain his identification with the brown doll by making the following unsolicited statement: ‘I burned my face and made it spoil.’  A seven-year-old northern light child went to great pains to explain that he is actually white but ‘I look brown because I got a suntan in the summer.’”[iii]
              Strauss’s argument against value-free social science was in the abstract the best argument he ever gave (I cite it favorably in Democratic Individuality, a long book on how a limited moral objectivity is the basis for any decent reflection on social life, for instance, that slavery and segregation are bad for human beings, which one can give almost obvious arguments for and are sound or true judgments, if any judgments of social thinking or social “science” are.  But Strauss’s criticism of the social science of Brown v. Board is wrong in two ways.  First, the Clarks made their study and spoke of it as anti-racists.  Despite the social science template which their articles mirror, they never thought their findings were neutral.  They were right.  So Strauss’s critique of “SS” does not apply to their article.  Strauss had, however, a political animus toward their findings.  He affirmed Kilpatrick and not the Clarks.   But their finding was right and Kilpatrck – too cowardly to mention the facts that his version of “state’s rights” licensed, was wrong  (monstrous might be a better word at least in terms of consequences).  In this case, Strauss was mistaken both about his leading argument which did not apply to the Clarks’ articles and, more importantly, about the substance.  The kindest thing one can say on Strauss’s behalf is that there is no evidence that he read the Clarks’ article or had the foggiest idea of what they said.  Instead, he displayed a knee-jerk antipathy toward social science – “SS” – and its use in a political context by the Supreme Court.  But his animus, in organizing for segregation is intensely political.
      Some reviewers, including a Dartmouth political scientist Herbert Garfinkel, a Columbia law review article, and even some of the NAACP lawyers looked down on the Clarks’ studies or thought them “flimsy.”  In retrospect, however, the Clarks’ articles go down as the most influential policy studies ever done by a social scientist, as well as the most straightforward and interesting, and of course – it must particularly be said of the psychology of “IQ testing” which has produced endless justifications of eugenics and public crimes down to Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve – decent.  The idea was not complicated, but given the scientism characteristic of American life – an ideology about science, not a scientific argument or fact – the Supreme Court would take it up.  The Warren court had just come about; at Chief Justice Vinson’s death in 1953, the vote would have been 5 to 4 in favor ofBrown.  But the new court managed the stunning and decent margin of 9 to 0.  They needed science to stand for a n honorable cause, anti-Nazism (segregation and eugenics were the American varieties) and the equality of the rule of law.
        Turning the coin to the present once again,  in the Sotomayor hearings this week,  Senator Jeff Sessions, a  racist from Alabama who was denied a judgeship by the Senate for telling a black colleague he must watch himself not to offend whites and calling the NAACP a foreign organization, asked vehement questions about Sotomayor’s impartiality. She answered him calmly.  A white man’s impartiality is not in question.  The impartiality especially of the important white men who asked her questions – Democrat and Republican – is not in question. No editorials mentioned it.   No one said this view of impartiality is the racism, even in the Obama era, of the status quo.  This vision of impartiality once prized segregation and the Klan. (comically, Sessions became upset with the Klan because some Klansmen smoked pot; he did not disagree with the organization’s principles). The racism of the South was broken by the sacrifices of Andrew Goodman, James Cheney and Michael Schwerner one summer night in blossoming, the air heavy with scent Philadelphia, Misssissippi, and by the efforts for civil rights of millions of ordinary people.  That movement mainly from below – though inspiring and inspired by Brown v. Board of Education and Lyndon Johnson’s speeches and actions in favor of the Civil Rights Bills - stood for democracy and the equality of the rule of law. Law is always, in embryo  democratic law, one that does not differentiate between persons, does not single out groups for special oppression.
        The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and her courage and the fact that her nomination will almost certainly go through is a great thing for America.  Sotomayor is a moderate like the so-called liberal justices on the Supreme Court.  Most of the other "liberals" have been appointed by Republicans or by Clinton, fearing outcry, and shading the politics of acceptable nominees to the center.  4 members of the Court are reactionaries in the vein of Leo Strauss.  Clarence Thomas had Straussians trained at Claremont like John Marini and Ken Masugi as assistants at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, helping to subvert an institution to support equality into its opposite; the others just breathe the air of emergency and authoritarianism.  In a state of emergency, they know that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus – though always with his eye on the restoration of law – and Roosevelt jailed Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. The origins of the reactionary animus to the civil rights act, enshrined by Chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito in memos to abolish it in the Reagan administration, echo the grandiloquent words of Kilpatrick and the hatred of the “commie” Warren Court in the words of Georgia governor Herman Talmadge.  The four seek to weaken the voting rights act, to enhance the “free speech” of corporations – corporations with big money are “individuals”; the poor and the homeless, lacking money, count, as individuals in the flesh, for less. To vary Anatole France, the the megacorporations like AIG or Goldman Sachs, (perhaps one should say Geithner, Bush and in this case, even Obama) dressed up as “individuals” have the same right to sleep under a bridge as a homeless person.
         The hope of the law in the United States is that judges will continue to stand up (as they did in the Boumidienne case by a 5 to 4 margin) forhabeas corpus, the right of each prisoner to a day in court and not to be tortured.  Some of the hope of democracy rests there but bridling the power of corporations in American politics will take a resurgence of democracy beyond the rule of current law. 
      Obama who appointed Sotomayor, has stopped (most) of the torture and seeks to close Guantanamo.  Yet he has also, in difficult circumstances, endorsed the Bush adminisration’s corrupt state secrets doctrine, floats indefinite detention, extends the war in Afghanistan and the murder by CIA drones, coordinated from Langley, West Virginia, of civilians in Pakistan. This illegal and immoral use of collective punishment is tragically also Obama’s; though he tries to be careful about it, such a policy threatens to produce a terrible response in Pakistan.  Still like Lincoln in whose spirit he seeks to walk, Obama, unlike Leo Strauss, has his eye on the rule of law.  May Sonia Sotomayor help all of us to preserve it.

[i]  For a New York law, see the 1952 Adler v. Board of Education.  For a list, see Dudziak, “Desegregation,” p. 177, n. 3.
[ii] New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1976.
[iii] Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie P. Clark, “Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children” (written 1941, first published 1947) in Jonathan Scott Holloway and Ben Keppel eds., Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science and American Thought in the Twentieth Century (South Bend, IN: Notre Dame, 1997), pp. 427-28.