I got a call from a hedge fund manager in New York this morning. I knew him in California and for the purposes of this post I should mention that he is a Negro. That’s what he calls himself. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he is a Negro. Good enough for Martin Luther King. Good enough for him. He wants me to sue the United States Department of Commerce about the decision the census is making that the term “Negro” will no longer be used. As this gentleman points out, he’s not an African American, he’s an American whose family has been here for nearly 200 years. He’s not black, he’ll tell you, “more like a latte.” Scotch Irish, slave background, Cherokee. But he says, he has negroid features, so that’s what people see. What he wants to know is, who the hell is the Department of the Commerce to pick labels, and he may be willing to pay me to ask that question in federal court. What’s wrong, he wants to know, with letting people self identify, and if the Department of Commerce wants to make up statistics later, that’s fine too. While we’re add it, his wife is from San Francisco and her family was there for 140 years, so she’ll be damned if she’s going to be called an Asian American or Chinese, considering that she has a Mexican grandfather, a white grandmother and a hoard of inuit cousins, and what do you do with there three kids that are a mix of all this?According to the Commerce Department guidelines, they are African American. Over my dead body, says my client. One drop of blood? So says the United States government.
The call from him was coming as I was fuming about something else–two books that explain that since Jews are all rich and svelte and beautiful, the best way to be rich and svelte and beautiful is to do what the Jews do. One book is called, I think, the Money Code, and it explains why Jews are all bankers and all rich and how you be the same, and the other is a book that is essentially a Hassidic Diet–better living through keeping kosher. You see, since Jews can’t eat dairy products within six hours of eating meat, and since most fattening foods are often dairy based, if you eat like Jew you’ll avoid high calorie food. Both books, by the way, are published by major publishers, and I guess neither of these books would want to address the fact that many Orthodox Jews are obese because they are poor and don’t eat well. Maybe they aren’t really Jewish!
Last week, several students at a college basketball game were disciplined for wearing hoods to a game that looked like KKK costumes. Offended people.
It seems like we are constantly raising this issue on this blog, but this keeps coming up. Racism is, fundamentally, a thought crime-thinking that people are different because they look different or act differently, and a belief that those differences create a superiority/inferiority relationship. The problem, as with most things, is when the idea comes out of the head and ends up on the law books. I don’t think that anyone would seriously argue that equal protection under the law is a good basis for fighting racist laws. But then we keep coming to the idea that increasingly it is right for the courts to protect us not from bad laws, but to allow low level administrators to protect us from hurt feelings. So the government gets to define your color, and if someone does something that offends your racial sensibilities the government will put an end to it immediately. Wearing a white hood to a basketball game is not racist. Writing books that discuss how jews are all rich and beautiful is racist. Defining a person by the color of his skin is racist.
I’m offended by all three stories. Publishers can print racists books, but it is up to us as people to reject the racism. We need to accept what people wear, and if it offends you, examine your own feelings. But when the government tells my client and his wife and their children what color they are, then we’ll see if the Court agrees that government has gone too far.