When Blacks Were Exemplars of Moral Courage

During the Civil Rights Movement black were exemplars of moral courage.  With both extraordinary determination and equally extraordinary self-command, blacks of the South engaged in non-violent marches and sit-ins against racial discrimination.

It would have been very easy for those blacks to come up with excuses for not participating in the Civil Rights demonstrations.  And it would have been perfectly understandable if violence on their part had characterized the marches.  Of course, in either case, there would have been little, if any, admiration and appreciation for blacks.  Indeed, such behavior would have been in keeping with the racist view of blacks as an unruly and uncouth people.  Most fortunately, black majestically gained the respect of whites who never imagined themselves respecting blacks.  No other living creature on the face of the earth is capable of exhibiting genuine self-command except human beings.  And a most profound truth is that the Civil Rights Movements mightily underwrote the humanity of black people.

A most poignant reality is that there has never been another instance of courage on the part of blacks as a people that comes even remotely close to the courage that was displayed during the Civil Rights Movement.

As, of course, everyone knows: Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of blacks during the Civil Rights Movement.  And to this day, I am in awe of his insight with respect to how blacks must present themselves during the Civil Rights Movement.  He brilliantly grasped that even members of the KKK would be primarily kept at bay if blacks engaged in non-violent protests.

Looking back and reflecting upon the Civil Rights Movement, it was clearly aimed at touching the very fabric of moral decency.  For it was next to impossible not to see the majesty, dignity, and courage of blacks who engaged in such marches.  In the language of the great philosopher and economist Adam Smith (1723-1790: The extraordinary self-command of blacks was so manifestly evident.  And only human beings are capable of such breathtaking self-command.

So there is a very straightforward sense in which the very behavior of blacks during the Civil Rights Movement mightily underwrote the humanity of blacks.  For racist whites would never have supposed that blacks were capable of such masterful self-command.  Even those who routinely referred to blacks as “niggers” had to concede that blacks displayed during Civil Rights marches a strength of character that can only be attributed to human beings.

I am the beneficiary of the Civil Rights Movement.  And that is why I place so very much importance to self-command.  For the exercise of self-command is a most profound affirmation of an agent’s humanity.  My own view is that owing to the Civil Rights Movement, being superb with regard to having self-command ought to have become one of the most defining and marvelous features of blacks.

Ironically, the recent rioting in Baltimore serves to very much support the view that I am advancing.  For the truth be told is that blacks did an enormous amount of damage to their very own community.  But what a difference, the blacks of Baltimore would have made if they had marched with grace and majesty.  They would have commanded the respect of countless many people—and not just white liberals who trip over themselves either approving or excusing whatever blacks do.  Indeed, just as it is clear that one does not take a person seriously if one disapproves of whatever she does, no matter how excellent her behavior might be, it is equally the case that one does not take a person seriously if one approves of whatever the person might do, no matter how inappropriate and unsuitable the person’s behavior might be.

To conclude on a personal note: I am where I am in life because I am the beneficiary of truly marvelous constructive criticism.  The reason why my white professors corrected me is not that they took me to be an intellectually inferior black person.  Rather, they did so because very much believed in me.  And it is preciously because it was manifestly clear that they believed in me that I came to be the unmistakable author of my own life.

There is a profound difference between obsequious respect, as I shall say, and morally admirable respect.  Morally admirable respect is what the participants of the Civil Rights marches majestically gained.  Are blacks gaining morally admirable respect nowadays when they protest and destroy parts of their very own community?  I will let you, the reader, decide what the answer to that question might be.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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Fruit in a Jar: Too Good to be True

I love fruit.  So when I came across this all-natural fruit in a jar, where a given jar of fruit could last as many as long as 7 months, it was as if I entered some kind of gastronomical paradise, since the taste is of the fruit is phenomenal.  A serving has a mere 70 calories; and each jar has 5 servings.  So an entire jar has only 350 calories.  Well, I can easily burn up that many calories during an hour of lecturing to one of my classes.  So I was ordering an 8-jar box of this all-natural fruit on a regular basis.  If it is possible to be addicted to fruit: Well, I was clearly on my way.

Now, I must confess that I often wondered just how it was possible for the fruit to be in a jar an entire 7-months in a jar and not go bad.  But hey: The fruit was being sold by a very reputable company.  So I merely set my wonderment aside and enjoyed one serving after another of the fruit.

But then a quite unexpected thing began to happen.  I noticed that I was developing a little pop-belly.  True, I was nowhere near becoming fat.  And there is no reason to believe that anyone but me even noticed that I seemed to have acquired a little pop-belly.  Of course, my first thought was not that the little pop-belly had anything to do with the huge amount of all-natural fruit I was consuming from those jar.  After all, it is surely the cases that all-natural fruit is healthy and not at all a factor in gaining weight.  Indeed, when it comes to gaining weight, there is clearly no comparison between consuming all-natural fruit as opposed to consuming chocolate cake or candy bars or whatever.

So my initial thought was the slight stomach flab was owing to none other than age.  But then I asked myself the following question:  How on earth is it possible to keep fruit in a jar in entirely flawless state for an entire 7 months without using sort of chemical that is not in any way occasioned by the fruit itself?  Well, there is a very simple answer to that question: It is not possible to do that.

There is the following saying: If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is not true.  I stopped eating the fruit in the jar.  And within 2-weeks, the slight flab on my stomach had seriously shrunk.  The little bit of flab is now entirely gone.  And the explanation here has nothing to do with me going to the gym or working out.  I am not at all disposed so to behave.  Just so, I am constantly moving about.  And I have always had a measure of physical exertion built into my day-to-day living.  For example, if I have a choice, then I do not take an elevator unless I am going pass the 6th floor.  Instead, I walk up the steps and down the steps.  In general, taking an extended walk is one of the things that I take great delight in doing.  And that way of behaving is built into the very life that I live on a daily bases.

Perhaps in the future, it will be possible to keep fruit in jars for months without using any harmful chemicals at all.  But we are not there yet.  I learnt that reality the hard way.  But in the meantime I learned something quite important about myself, namely that I will not deny or ignore the reality of even a slight change for the worse.  No thin person becomes fat overnight.  Instead, there is a little weight gain here and a little weight gain there.  And so on.  Alas, one of the keys to living well is inextricably tied to not overlooking the message delivered by the small changes—neither a message that delivers good news nor a message that delivers bad news.  One way of understanding the role of self-deception in human life is none other than the proclivity that human beings have to overlook the small messages that provide them with insight about their life, especially when something is having a negative impact upon them.

Being the author of my very own life is of the utmost importance to me.  And an incontrovertible truth is that no human being can achieve that end without having a deep measure of honesty with respect to how she or he lives as well as with respect to the impact that choices made have upon her or his life.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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Sex, Voluntary Consent, and False Accusations

Rape is wrong.  Only a moral monster could think otherwise.  Sex between two individuals should occur if and only if there is voluntary consent on the part of both individuals.  Back-in the-day, voluntary consent was often non-verbal.  If a touch here or there by one person was met with a warm touch by the other person, then that was taken as a something of a greenlight that some erotic behavior was acceptable and, therefore, that more intimate touching was alright.  Then if that more intimate touching was greeted with a warm touch, then one could proceed even further.  And so things would unfold until eventually the two individuals were engaging in sex.  Indeed, back-in-the-day explicitly talking about having sex was typically thought to cast a rather cold spell upon the very possibility of having sex.

Of course, people can be quite mistaken about the non-verbal behavior of the other.  But the reality is that by-and-large we correctly grasp the non-verbal behavior of the other—especially the behavior of those with whom we have a close bond.  The case of companion friendship mightily brings this out.  Two people know that they are companion friends without ne’er a formal document to that effect being exchanged between them—indeed, without ne’er a word to that effect being uttered between them.  Companion friendships are amazing; and I cannot think of a single case where I have regretted forming a companion friendship with someone.

Returning to the romantic and sexual bond, my very profound worry is that Title IX is mightily exploiting a sexual asymmetry between women and men.  The quite fundamental biological difference between women and men—namely that only women can become pregnant—makes it the case that women are far more susceptible to regretting a sexual experience with a man than men are to regretting a sexual experience with a woman.  This reality is not going to change just so long as women and only women can become pregnant.

I do not doubt for a moment that there are sufficiently many instances when a woman has regretted the voluntary sex that she had with a man.  What troubles me enormously is that Title IX has made it far too convenient for a woman to transpose her regret into an instance of rape.  For a very disturbing example, see the discussion of the Columbia University student, Emma Sulkowicz, whose charge of rape against a male student was dismissed: A Voice for Male Students.

Most significantly, even after the charge was dismissed by Columbia University, Emma Sulkkowicz was allowed to carry a mattress during the graduate exercise as a reminder to all that she had been raped.  It is as if it was entirely irrelevant that her charge of rape against the student Paul Nungesser was deemed by Columbia University to be entirely inadequate.  Thus, allowing Sulkowicz to carry the mattress during graduation as if somehow her charge against Nungesser was valid, notwithstanding the official decision to the contrary, was tantamount to none other than a horrendous mistreatment of Nungesser during the graduation ceremony—nay, a most callous measure of indifference towards him.

The site Community of the Wrongfully Accused has numerous cases of men being falsely accused of rape, with one of the most famous of these being the case of Brian Banks who falsely was accused by a female student of having raped her.  The Brian Banks case should stand as an everlasting reminder of both the reality and the evil, as well as the horrendous psychological damage, of false rape accusations.  Yet, that does not appear to be the case at all.  And the question that mightily presents is “Why not?”

The answer, I believe, lies in what we may characterize as a warped conception of making-up for the inequality of the past with respect to women.  In effect, the inequality that women suffered in the past is seen as major excusing condition for taking women seriously in the present no matter how implausible their story might be.  Alas, there is the adage that will never lose its relevance, namely that two wrongs do not make a right.  There is nothing in the world that can take the place of genuine trust.  And a society that destroys such trust in the name of advancing the standing of this or that group commits an evil that will have a most devastating impact upon the society at-large.  For the richness of basic trust in a society is rather like the wings of an airplane in terms underwriting goodwill among individuals.  The greater the trust there is, the more substantial the goodwill there will be.  And the more substantial the goodwill there is generally among the members of a society, the greater the heights of moral and intellectual excellence that society will achieve.  It does not take a genius to see that America is declining.  And guess what?  So is goodwill in America.  The abuse and misuse of Title IX is proving to be a major factor in that regard.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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Joshua C. Strange: The Evil of False Rape Charges

A false rape charge against a male is surely one of the most horrendous evils that a person can suffer.  Indeed, there is a most poignant respect in which such a charge is worse than wrongful death.  To be sure, wrongful death deprives a person of a future.  However, a false rape charge effectively eviscerates the life of the male so charged even as he endeavors to live a meaningful life.  Owing to the deep, deep concern to take women seriously, the “natural” response nowadays is to take it is as a given that any man accused of rape by a woman in fact committed the rape and therefore is a morally horrendous human being who absolutely deserves the denial of virtually every good that society has to offer.

Indeed, what is true nowadays is that taking women seriously seems to entail taking seriously a woman’s charge that she has been raped simply in virtue of the fact that she made the charge.  The woman needs no evidence at all.  It seems to suffice that tears stream down her face and she gives the impression of having been tremendously traumatized.  This stance has essentially become the norm at colleges and universities.  The case of Joshua C. Strange, a former student at Auburn University, stands as a most vivid example of that reality.  Auburn University banned him from the institution owing to the charge made by his former girlfriend that he had raped her, although the evidence gave little, if any, credence to her charge.

In effect, what we have is one evil replacing another.  Let me explain.

An unexpurgated truth is that throughout the course of humanity women have been treated as inferior to men.  And the institution of marriage was none other than the embodiment of the inferiority of women.  And to a considerable degree, the same holds for institutions of higher learning.  The “real” intellectual stars—be they students or professors—were males.  And as the saying goes: The exceptions proved the rule.  Institutions of higher learning have thus made it a defining feature of their raison d’être to eliminate this conception of women; accordingly, institutions of higher learning are doing all that they can to take women as seriously as they take men.  And one form that this stance on the part of institutions of higher learning is none other than to accord women complete credibility with respect to the charge of rape—so much so that demanding evidence in support of that charge is effectively deemed to be tantamount to not taking a woman seriously.

So in the case of Joshua C. Strange, Auburn University effectively ignored the reality that the woman who accused him of rape essentially offered no evidence in support of her charge.  The parallel to the charge of racism is mind-boggling.  Nowadays, a white professor is very, very, very unlikely to give black students the constructive criticism that the students need precisely because the professor worries about being accused of racism.  I recall teaching a college senior who is black whose command of English was barely equal to that of a successful 10th grade student.  The student remarked to me that I am the first professor who had ever drawn attention to how impoverished his English was.  Well, taking college female students seriously these days is thought to entail automatically according them nearly 100% credibility with regard to the charge of rape.  Alas, while I am not authority on history, what seems to mightily distinguish the present from the past, is none other than the fact that false accusations have become far more commonplace.  Regarding the claim just made, I invite individuals to look at the site Community of the Wrongfully Accused.

I am profoundly committed to the view that all human beings should be taken morally seriously with the proviso being that the individuals live a life that genuinely merit a positive moral assessment.  In that regard, I would rather die than change.  However, the reality is that we live in a world in which people make utterly indefensible claims, as in the case of the black female Saida Grundy, of Boston University, who expressed her disdain for white males.  Does she think that black males are models of moral excellence for white males?  Grundy’s implausible claim, and other such implausible claims, is why work on self-deception has come to have such enormous interest for me.

An indisputable fact about modernity is that increasingly people feel comfortable lying, and tremendously damaging a person’s life, in order to get even or to get back at someone or to obtain an advantage.  And in turn, it is deemed to be a form of morally upright behavior simply to take seriously the complaints of oppression expressed by individuals who belong to groups that have been traditionally discriminated against.  Thus, we have something akin to self-deception from two different directions.

There is the indisputable truth that two wrongs do not make a right.  When we support lying in order to benefit those who have been socially disadvantaged, the profound reality is that trust in society is being torn asunder.  And that reality is none other than the gateway to hell.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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The Resurrection of Hitler

Of course, Adolf Hitler is still dead.  But there is a very profound sense in which his spirit has been resurrected.  Indeed, Hitler’s spirit has been resurrected in the United States.

I am not about to argue that Jews are perfect.  Indeed, I am not about to claim that the Jews of Israel are all morally righteous individuals.  But I see imperfection all across the globe.  More significantly, I see horrendous moral behavior all across the globe.  Innocent people are routinely being killed by Muslims in the name of Islam.  Indeed, some of those innocent people are being killed by Muslims in the name of Islam merely because they are Christians.  Yet, barely a whisper on the part people who claim to so vehemently opposed to wrongdoing.

Cornell West spoke at Princeton University and lambasted Israel.  However, there was deafening silence on his part with respect to the evil that is being done by Muslims in the name of Islam to entirely innocent people.  Whilst I have mention West’s name, it has become common place across college campuses to criticism of Israel but complete silence with respect to the wrong that is being done by Muslims in the name of Islam.

Quite simply, it is morally and conceptually impossible to be so worked up over the wrong that Israel is said to be doing and yet be absolutely silent regarding the very clear and indisputable wrong that is being done by Muslims in the name of Islam.

There is no better proof that what we are seeing is a deep, deep, deep form of hostility towards Israel than the deafening silence we are experience in the face of the evil that is unquestionably being mentioned by Muslims against non-Muslims.

There is the saying “Call a spade a spade’.  And Israel is one horrendously evil nation, then what has to follow by parity of reasoning is that we also have an enormous measure of evil among Muslims.  Indeed, it is stunning how many folks will convert to Islam and then set out to kill otherwise innocent people.  I do not keep tabs on what converts to Judaism do.  Just I have heard of no case where a person has converted to Judaism and then aimed to kill others.  That would be absolutely unthinkable among Jews.  But not so with Islam.

Yet, quite intellectually capable people fail to acknowledge that quite morally significant difference, in Judaism’s favor, between Islam and Judaism.

Hitler would be so proud of what is going on.  If talk about causing a person to rise from the dead has any plausibility at all, then surely Adolf Hitler will be moved to rise from his grave by the horrendous moral callousness that is being displayed towards Jews by quite intellectually capable people who surely know better.

Indeed from where I stand it is as if Hitler has been resurrected.  Clearly, it can be said that Hitler’s spirit has been resurrected.

I conclude with the point with which I began, namely that I do not claim for a moment that Jews are perfect and thus are morally flawless.  But if the mistreatment of other human beings is the motivation for calling the Jews of Israel evil, then what surely has to follow is that there is an ever so formidable reason for regarding many Muslims as evil.  I wonder how some of the ever so loud critics of Israel would character the killing of some 20 Christians by cutting off the head of each one while the individual was yet alive.  The “wherewithal” to see every flaw that Israel makes all the while ignoring the horrendous behavior committed by Muslims in the name of Islam is ever so parallel to the moral stance of Hitler towards the Jews.  In effect, Hitler has been resurrected.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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Technology and the “Art” of Indifference

It is arguable that technology has mightily cultivated an air of indifference on the part of so very many of its users.  For the fundamental attractiveness of technology is not the good that one person can do for another, but the considerable amount of self-satisfaction that a person receives in using the technology.  And let me be clear, I absolutely love technology; and have spent an ample share of money getting this and that device.  I shall say more about that shortly.

Of course, there is no denying that technology can play a most significant role in making a better world for individuals.  But that is not characteristic of the technology that the average person goes out and buys.  That very point of the technology typically purchased is not so much to make the world a better place in some marvelous respect.  Rather, the point of it is to occasion a considerable amount of self-satisfaction on the part of the user.

In my 400-person ethics class, there is rarely as many as a dozen individuals who are using their command of technology to make the world a better place in some respect or the other.  Indeed, rarely does a student use her or his command of technology to underwrite in a more powerful way a line of thought that she or he has.  In fact, the typical student does not even site an unusual source that would marvelously enrich a point that she or he is making.  So, although technology now gives us more access to information than was barely imaginable a mere two decades ago, it is simply not the case students typically use technology to have an ever so extraordinary command of ideas or to underwrite with great force and majesty their point of view.

In fact, I can show that with the rise of technology, the arguments that students are presenting are increasingly lacking in depth of insight and creativity of thought.  Moreover, their ability to articulate their ideas with precision and depth of insight has dropped ever so precipitously.

Alas, upon reflection, I am not surprised at all.  Why?  Because the very point of much of the personally owned technology is essentially self-satisfaction.  Like mighty gusts of wind against a feather, technology has become an ever so gusty force that has folks moving in this and that direction in order to obtain personal satisfaction.

As I have said, I love technology.  And I have quite a few devices.  But in each case, there is an excellence that I have been able to achieve that I would not have been able to achieve otherwise.  For instance, I have a devices for editing videos.  This enables me to embed the relevant parts of a video in a PDF file that I am sending to my students.  Or, I have a quite excellent device that enables me to work on the articulation of 4-different letters that I am writing.  And I can do this while taking a walk.  The scanning printer that I purchased has made it possible for me to be extremely creative in responding to various professional demands.  And I have an excellent keyboard that enables me to type with great speed at considerable distance from my actual computer.  And then there is the superb device that I have for editing music.  And speed matters.  So I want a 3.0 USB port—and not a 2.0 USB port.  You surely get the picture, though I have hardly covered all the gadgets that I have.

But how often have I heard a student say something like the following?  “Thanks to such-and-such gadget, I am now able to accomplish a truly marvelous kind of excellence.  As someone who essentially teaches 1000 students a year, only 2 at most have communicated such a delight to me.  So, we are talking about fewer than 0●5% of the students whom I teach during any given academic year.

So why exactly are folks so besotted with technology?  Well, a most poignant truth is that the “love” affair that most folks have with technology is hardly owing to the desire to make some small part of the world a better place or to make some small difference for the better in the world.  Rather, that love affair is essentially owing to none other than sheer personal satisfaction.

I do not know just how much egoism is a defining feature of human nature.  But this much is clear: technology is mightily tapping the egoistic tendencies that human beings have.  There are not many advantages to being an older person.  But one of t them is perspective.  And I have seen moral callous on the part of young people nowadays that would have been unthinkable a mere decade ago.  There is the story of a professor who was talking to her class about the death of one of her family members and a student sitting who sitting a mere four rows from the podium took out his I-phone and started texting.

From the standpoint of what is known as mathematical induction, the most poignant reality is that for more people act like that student than not.  And that is an ever so ominous sign of that it is not we human beings who are in command of technology.  Rather, technology is in command of us—a reality that does not bode well for the future.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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Liberalism as the Anchor of Black Self-Deception

The inspiration for this blog-entry is the life of Frederick Douglass, a former slave.  Of course, there can be no justification for trivializing the racism of yesteryear against blacks.  None at all.  Alas, we have a horrendous problem when the racism of yesteryear is used by blacks as the fundamental excuse for blacks not being the author of their very own lives at this point in time.  How can it be that in 2015 blacks are more content with being destructive than living a life that is ever so constructive?  My view is that white liberalism is a major part of the explanation for the present psychological formation of so many blacks throughout America.

Why?  Because white liberalism has maintained the view that the existence of racism is automatically an excuse for blacks not being successful even if the success simply requires that we who are black cooperate among ourselves and so pool our own resources in order to achieve an outcome that would be beneficial to blacks generally.

The eminent philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) made the following observation: “The minds of human beings are rather like mirrors to one another’s soul”.  That truth holds as much today as it did centuries ago.  White liberalism has been an extremely poor mirror for blacks.  And the proof of that is none other than the rioting that we see blacks do when it is held that a black was harmed by a white police offer.  There is nothing at all inappropriate with protesting a wrong.  But what on earth would justify such horrendous destruction—as we have seen in Baltimore—on the part of blacks as a form of protest?  There is a simple answer: Nothing at all.  The CVS store that had been recently built in the black community as a way of providing blacks with needed service was looted and essentially destroyed by blacks.  There is nothing that could possibly have justified or excused such behavior on the part of blacks.  Indeed, it was manifestly contrary to their self-interest to so behave.  But why let reason and commonsense get in the way of ” being black”?

Whatever else true, it is true that Frederick Douglass mightily grasped that in order to succeed in life given the physically visible black person that he was, the reality was that he could not go around rioting and throwing fits about racist whites.  And guess what?  He is a former slave who went on to exhibit far more excellence than the vast majority of whites of his time.  He never used the fact that he was born a slave as an excuse not to be excellent.  Needless, that is a moral and social lesson that all should embrace.  And that is especially so for American blacks.

What is more, white liberals of the present era must stop embracing the view that racism is an excusing condition for horrific black behavior and, in general, the lack of success on the part of blacks.  As an aside, I am convinced that there is considerable self-deception on the part of white liberals in this regard.  This is because there are very few things that command the respect of another more than success.  This is how respected non-whites are judge such as Asians and Indians.  Indeed, this is how white people are judged.  And so on.  It is simply not plausible to hold that with respect to blacks, racism is automatically and necessarily an excuse for blacks not being successful—indeed, an excuse for blacks rioting and engaging in destructive behavior whenever something goes wrong with respect to a black.

As I have said over and over and over again in conversation to folks: Racism is not the explanation nowadays for why blacks do not own many of the “Mom & Pop” stores in their own neighborhood.  No doubt racism was in 1950.  But that is surely not the case nowadays, some 65 years later; for it is blacks who are keeping the stores afloat—stores owned, for instance, by Arabs and Asians.

In the end, I am actually arguing that there is a kind of paternalistic racism on the part of white liberals that has contributed mightily to blacks lacking the record of success that they should have at this point in time.  This is because as a kind of social mirror in Hume’s sense of the term, white liberals have been far too eager to excuse blacks than to hold blacks to the standard of excellence which blacks are capable of achieving—a reality that does not at all require denying racism.

In this regard, Jew stand as a very formidable example.  There has been a deep, deep measure of antisemitism in the United States.  Indeed, there was a time when Jews were not accepted to Ivy League schools.  Just so, Jews went to live ever so meaningful lives.  There is a perfectly analogous sense in which blacks should have done the exact thing from the Civil Rights Movement onward.  My own view is that misguided sympathy on the part of so many white liberals played a major in blacks not doing so.  This is because the sympathy automatically became an excuse not to have any high expectations of blacks.  And that has proven to be far more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than not.

For if, after the Civil Rights Movement, it had happened that American blacks had united in the way that I have described, they would have marvelously commanded the respect of folks.

Of course, anger and outrage can be ever so appropriate.  But clearly something has gone terribly wrong if owing to anger and outrage I essentially and clearly harm myself as a result of the wrong that I suffered rather than pursue a course of action that renders far more immune to such wrongdoing than I was before.  This is so obvious that the mere fact that an Al Sharpton or a Jesse Jackson has not suggested such thing is a deep, deep sign that we who are black have become so comfortable with doing ourselves more harm than good that we take such behavior to be a sign of self-respect.  If that isn’t self-deception than I do not know what is.  And I can pretty much show that supposedly well-meaning white liberals have a played a major role in blacks so viewing themselves and thus to the considerable self-deception that is constitutive of so many blacks in America.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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From Moral Indignation to Moral Despicableness

Blacks in Baltimore started with a moral excellence and ended-up exhibiting morally despicable behavior.  Protesting the killing of Freddie Gray was an ever so admirable form of behavior on the part of blacks in Baltimore.  But there is nothing—absolutely nothing‑‑‑that will either excuse or justify the move on the part of blacks from protesting Gray’s death to the burning of buildings and the looting of stores.  This was utterly horrific behavior on the part of blacks in Baltimore.  And in so behaving, the blacks in Baltimore revealed themselves to be morally despicable individuals.

Indeed, I will go so far as to say that in so behaving the blacks of Baltimore simply reinforced the view that black people are intellectually deficient human beings who are given to morally deformed behavior.

There are certainly excusable moments of moral outrage.  If Jacques has just killed my mother, it would be perfectly understandable if I threw something at him or broke something of value to him.  Indeed, it would not be difficult to understand my desire to kill him in return.  But it would be utterly absurd and quite morally inexcusable for me to attempt to harm yet a third party.

Alas, precisely what we get in Baltimore is exactly that kind of morally inexcusable behavior on the part many blacks in Baltimore.  Buildings were destroyed and innocent businesses were robbed.  And the very idea of using the unwarranted death of Gray as an excuse for burning buildings and looting stores is so indefensible that it is simply absurd.

Now, one does not have to be a genius to grasp the point of the preceding paragraph.  So, we have two possibilities: (a) sufficiently many blacks are morally deficient or (b) sufficiently many blacks are intellectually inept.  There is nothing desirable about either (a) or (b).  Indeed, there is a very real sense in which blacks have made themselves worse-off on account of their horrific behavior.

Of course, there are folks who will insist that I am Uncle Tom for making such a claim.  But not so.  An Uncle Tom believes that he (or she) is either morally or intellectually inferior to whites to a fundamental degree.  I hold no such view of myself.  And the argument simply cannot be that, by definition, an Uncle Tom is a black who criticizes the manifestly inappropriate behavior of blacks.

At this point in the history of the United States, there are many constructive things that blacks could be doing on the behalf of one another—things that (a) would make an ever so positive difference in the lives of blacks and that (b) would radically change the way in which non-blacks view blacks.  And this is possible without in anyway diminishing the significance of being black.

While the death of Freddie Gray may be an ever so poignant reminder of the extent to racist attitudes still exist, an equally painful reality is that looting and burning of buildings on the part of blacks is an equally poignant reminder that many blacks lack the wherewithal to take themselves seriously.  Of course, if a white were to say this, then the white is automatically deemed a racist by blacks.  And black who says this is automatically deemed an Uncle Tom by blacks.  Alas, there is the ever so profound reality that a black or white who says this may be deeply committed to racial equality; and the name calling is none other than a very significant indication that there way too many blacks who do not know how to take themselves seriously.

In philosophy, there is the idea of inference to the best explanation.  There is the simple reality that by their looting and burning of building, blacks have made things worse-off for themselves.  Well, call me crazy.  But surely in protesting injustice, no one should deliberately do that which will make herself or himself worse off, especially when there countless many other things that blacks could that would have a much greater impact.  For example, blacks could act in unity and boycott a different a series of stores until those stores made substantial changes with respect racial equality.  Talk about commanding respect.  Blacks could indeed become the object and beneficiary of deep-seated admiration by every ethnic group in the country.  What an extraordinary difference for the better that would make in the lives of black people.  Only a fool would think that looting and rioting are the only appropriate and efficacious responses to despicable behavior by a white police office against a black person.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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White Liberals and Black Equality

If I believe you, then I do not just go on and on and on about the ways you have been wronged.  But I also provide you with the constructive criticism that enables to rise above circumstances that you are in owing to the wrong that you have suffered.  To be sure, there is much to be said for having sympathy over the horrendous plight that the wrongdoing has caused you to be in.  But there is no amount of sympathy that can equal the majesty of enabling you to rise above those circumstances and be the author of your own life.

If I am right about that, then white liberals are not nearly as supportive of blacks as white liberals make themselves out to be.  For I cannot think of a single instance of truly constructive criticism that white liberals have offered blacks.  I cannot think of a single positive thing that whites have urged blacks to do for themselves other than complain racial inequality.  Some 8 or 10 decades ago, that approach might have been warranted.  But not now.

My favorite example in this regard is what I refer to as the “Mom & Pop” grocery store.  Virtually all of the “Mom & Pop” grocery stores in black neighborhoods are owned by Arabs.  And the question that mightily presents is: Why is that blacks do not own such stores in their very own neighborhood?  Indeed, why is it that white liberals who claim to be so very committed to black equality have not suggested this to blacks?  For there is no better sign that Person A truly believes in Person B than that person A suggests to B ways in which B can ever so independently successful.

I have the career that I have precisely because I am the beneficiary of ever so constructive criticism from my white professors.  I shall never forget the time when I handed in the first chapter of my dissertation to my Ph.D. advisor Kurt Baier, only to receive 7-pages of comments from him.  At first, I think that I was just about ready to shed a few tears.  But when I read his comments, I saw just how much intellectual talent he took me to have.  And that was a gift like none other.

I am utterly stupefied by the reality that white liberal essentially offer no constructive criticism to blacks.  Indeed, all that white liberals seem to do is insist that racism remains an ever present burden for blacks.  And that is simply not true.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, nothing I have said entails that racism no longer exists.  However, the configuration of racism in 2015 is an enormous distance from the configuration of racism some 8 to 10 decades ago.  Blacks today have a standing in society that was virtually inconceivable that many decades ago.  And that truth brings me back to the stance of white liberals.

As I have indicated with the example of my Ph.D. advisor Kurt Baier, high expectations is an ever so clear indication that a person has a positive attitude.  And since white liberals seem to have few such expectations, then a very disconcerting conclusion would seem to be that we have nothing like that positive evolution on the part of what liberals that one might have thought was none other than a natural occurrence.  More disconcertingly, if there has not been a positive attitude on the part of white liberals, then precisely what we have is none other than despicable paternalism on their part.  And that, in turn, might serve to explain how it can be that blacks have done so very little to be the author of their very own lives.  The fact my Ph.D. advisor mightily believed in me was a deep, deep motivating factor anchored in an immeasurable degree of affirmation.  That line of thought holds across the board.

The most that white liberals seem to allow is that black folks are an authority on racism with respect to blacks.  And so all a black has to do is yell “racism” and white liberals are tripping over themselves with sympathy and pity.  However, I see not a shred of evidence at all that in general white liberals take blacks to be their intellectual equal.  Not even on college campuses is that the case.  And the proof of the deep insincerity on college campuses is that the very constructive criticism that is needed blacks by who have been admitted under the rubric of affirmative action is deemed as racist.  And that is rather like me hiring someone to teach me Russian and then insisting that the person only speaks to me in English.  Hmm.  How much Russian am I really going to learn?  How much respect am I going receive from the utter lack of progress that I have made?

The charge of racism aside, how much respect do white liberal really have for blacks?

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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The False Accusation of Rape: Sabrina Rubin Erdely

Sabrina ErdelyWhen I think of evil that does not involve physical violence, nothing strikes me as more horrific than the false accusation of rape.  A false accusation of rape reveals a truly horrendous level of moral callousness.  And there is no respect all in which a false accusation of rape can be motivated by a desire to do a good deed.  No, anyone who makes a false accusation of rape is unequivocally the very incarnation of evil. In her article for the Rolling Stone Magazine entitled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” Sabrina Rubin Erdely makes up a story regarding a rape on the University of Virginia campus that simply did not occur.  And I have asked myself over and over and over again: What could have motivated Sabrina Rubin Erdely to do such a horrific thing?

I understand the desire that a writer may have for fame.  Likewise, I fully grasp the desire to write a riveting story that no one would ever forget.  But what I cannot even begin to fathom is why anyone would make up such a horrific accusation.  There is no amount of ratiocination on my part that makes it even remotely possible to grasp why a person would so behave.

Yet, I must confess that there a real respect in which I am not surprised.  For it seems to me that we are living in a world in which people’s moral sensibilities have become more and more numb.  And there is a respect in which I blame part of this on technology. As everyone knows technology has mightily facilitated the ease with which people lie.  And surely part of the primary explanation for why technology has had this effect is that technology has mightily increased extent to which there can be communication that is not face-to-face.  We send text messages and we post our thoughts on this or that social networking sight such as Facebook or Twitter.  In either case, there is no one in place who is witnessing our behavior as we send false text messages or put up postings in which say is so very false. So guess what?  There is a perfectly straightforward sense in which human beings have become or are becoming ever so comfortable with saying that which they know is obviously a lie.  And once we have become ever so comfortable with lying on the sites mentioned, it does not take much effort to move from there to making a horrific lie in order to advance our standing at work or whatever.

For a woman, there are few charges that are taken to warrant immediate acceptance on the part of all like the charge of rape.  One could be in the middle of nursing a child or helping one’s parents with taking the groceries into the house or paying a bill or boarding an airplane.  Or just about whatever.  And if a female friend should say “I was raped last night”, one is pretty much expected to stop whatever it is that one was doing or about to do and attend to the horrific horror that the female friend has just reported.  One no more asks for evidence than one asks if chickens have wings.  Or put another way, either one takes the woman seriously or one is a horrific moral scumbag.

Well, Sabrina Rubin Erdely unequivocally exploited the reality just articulated in the preceding paragraph by fully making up a rape story in the article that she wrote for the Rolling Stones Magazine entitled “A Rape on Campus: A Burtal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”. Whatever else is true, Sabrina Rubin Erdely is a horrifically evil person.  I have just heard that everyone at Rolling Stone Magazine will keep her or his job.  Well, my thought is that surely Sabrina Rubin Ederly should be dismissed.  I can easily enough make sense of why no one thought to challenge her story, precisely because we understandably assumes that no woman would make up a story regarding the horrific horror of rape.  Indeed, that is part of what it means to take women seriously. Quite simply, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has forgone her right to be taken seriously.  She is not owed the decency of being kept on as a writer for the Rolling Stone Magazine.  And the Phi Psi Fraternity, some of whose members were falsely said to have committed the rape, should sue the living daylights out of her.  From where I stand, although Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not killed a single person, she deserves the death penalty.  For there is a respect in which what she did is more horrific than killing an innocent person.  It is easy enough to imagine a scenario where the killing of an innocent person is absolutely excusable.  But I have enormous difficulty imagining a scenario where the false accusation of rape is even remotely excusable.  If there is hell in which human beings can rot, Sabrina Rubin Ederly deserves to rot there.

© 2015 Laurence Thomas

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