Should America's founding legacy be racism or liberty?
This week on our Substack, Johnny Davis examines the competing narratives surrounding America’s founding—whether it is based in liberty and progress, or racism and oppression—and notes that where we land on the question will be consequential to our republic.
Whereas some of us believe that the Republic was founded on liberty and the principles of the full equality of mankind (despite never fully living up to them), many believe that the very foundations of the American Republic are racist and that racism is the central theme of American History. Where we land on this question is incredibly consequential. At stake is whether the whole system needs to be torn down, or if the solution is to fully live up to those founding principles and apply them to today’s problems.
I'm half Brazilian, half American. Am I LatinX?
Also on our Substack, Richard Bosshardt outlines his upbringing as a product of two distinct cultures, Brazilian and American, and the ways the current American climate’s hyperfocus on identity leads him to ask where he belongs.
Due to my appearance and immutable traits, I have been described as a “cis-gendered, heteronormative white male”—arguably the most privileged and simultaneously the most demonized group in America. As a result of this, I am considered implicitly and irredeemably racist. I am both a beneficiary and an abettor of white privilege. I am at the very top of the oppressor to oppressed scale.
But by birth, culture, and upbringing, I am at least 50% Brazilian. Where does that place me now? Considering the fact that Brazil is the only Portuguese speaking country in Central and South America, is “Brazilian” an identity category all its own? Am I Hispanic? Latino?
Or, am I “LatinX”?
The collapse of the ‘diversity’ industry can’t come soon enough
For the The Telegraph, FAIR Advisor Inaya Folarin Iman writes about diversity programs and officers which “perversely [rehabilitate] racial thinking – arguing that seeing race and judging by race is not unjust but a virtue so long as it is done by the right sort of person.” Iman notes that these are often little more than another “form of racism in the workplace.”
Even the savviest of corporate executives have been blind to this. Out of a combination of fear and PR opportunism, they have fallen over themselves to jump on the bandwagon, forking out millions of pounds on diversity “tsars”, “fellows” and “officers”.
In boardrooms, only the bravest souls have been willing to state the obvious: that stereotyping should be rejected no matter who it comes from; that making negative assumptions about people because of their race is racism; and that ethnic minorities are not all the same, but indeed have a wide range of experiences and political views.
Youth employment programs show reduction in crime
For NewsNation, FAIR Advisor Zaid Jilani writes that “the skills students learn during summer jobs are not just helpful for their future careers, they also help reduce crime. It’s one reason communities across the country are formalizing programming aimed at summer youth employment.” Jilani outlines the ways summer youth employment programs (SYEP) have been helping young people throughout the United States.
Across the country, cities use SYEPs to employ teenagers and young adults in meaningful work over the summer. Research has shown that SYEPs significantly reduce youth involvement in crime during the summer of the program, and sometimes that benefit carries over up to a year afterward. For example, in New York City, SYEPs decreased the likelihood of arrest by more than 12%.
SYEPs also often serve low-income young people who would have had difficulty in obtaining a summer job otherwise. Research looking at these programs in New York City, Chicago and Boston found that between 80 and 90 percent of people offered slots in an SYEP program were offered paid employment during the summer of the program, compared to somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of those who weren’t offered a slot.
Coleman Hughes' New Blasphemies
For Free Black Thought and Root Quarterly, FAIR in the Arts Fellow Heather Shayne Blakeslee interviews and profiles FAIR Advisor Coleman Hughes regarding his views on philosophy, music, reparations, police, and the phenomenon of “acting white.”
For the progressive left, Hughes’ blasphemies are many. He has testified in front of Congress against reparations for his generation of black Americans, and can patiently explain why he’s not afraid of being shot by cops. He has roundly criticized the work of other black intellectuals such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the seminal essay “The Case for Reparations” and the bestselling book Between the World and Me (which I have gifted to at least one girlfriend and to my parents). Hughes has also thrown down the gauntlet to How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi in an open letter challenging him to a public debate, but the glove has been laying on the ground unanswered.1 Hughes’ satisfaction will have to come in the form of an audience that continues to grow and through amassing other accolades, such as being named a 30-under-30 of Americans to watch by Forbes magazine.
Forgiveness is Worth the Risk
For The Atlantic, David French discusses his wife Nancy’s Washington Post story about surviving sexual abuse, as well as the couple’s experiences being “Never Trump conservatives” who “rejected Donald Trump early in the presidential campaign cycle.” French goes on to note the importance of forgiveness, and the fact that “we can give second chances, and when we do, we can sometimes see that an enemy isn’t an enemy at all.”
The Beginning of the End of 'Gender-Affirming Care'?
For FAIR Advisor Bari Weiss’ Substack Common Sense, Lisa Selin Davis writes that “Britain’s National Health Service announced that it was closing down [the Gender and Identity Development Service at the Tavistock Clinic in London] for good—and, in effect, rebuking the common American medical approach known as ‘gender-affirming care’ for treating children with gender dysphoria.” Davis goes on to wonder how America, along with the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) will respond given these recent changes elsewhere in the West.
WPATH’s position is in keeping with an array of U.S. medical associations and activist groups across the country that insist gender-affirming care is “life-saving.” Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who is herself a transgender woman, recently asserted that there is a medical consensus as to its benefits. Some activists and gender clinicians in the U.S. feel that WPATH doesn’t go far enough, asserting that any child who wants puberty blockers should get them, for instance, or claiming that a teenager who later regrets having her breasts removed can just get new ones.
In Sweden and Finland, this issue has been primarily a question of health and medicine. Here in the U.S. it is a political football.
The Corruption of Apology
For Persuasion, Stephanos Bibas writes about how “apology was once a cornerstone of our everyday moral practice, helping us to make amends and reconcile with those whom we have wronged. Its value lay in its sincerity, not in any precise formulation.” However, Bibas writes, “today’s public practice of scripted apologies looks very different. These days, universities and corporations compel robotic confessions from students and employees who give offense just to avoid a lawsuit or bad PR. They want to save their skins by stifling scandal. But Twitter mobs are not sated by performative groveling or even sincere apologies.”
We all depend on apologies and forgiveness to go on living with one another. Husbands and wives admit their faults and patch up their differences. Kids on playgrounds say they’re sorry and then get back to recess. Coworkers talk through misunderstandings. As Hannah Arendt argued in The Human Condition, we wrong one another every day, and we learn to forgive constantly so that we can start afresh. The alternative is trapping ourselves in endless cycles of vengeance.