4 Items, One Post, I Crave French Toast

1) Jamelle tries to explain why libertarians care about state imposed constraints on freedom, but don’t care much about cultural constraints on freedom:

It seems that insofar that libertarians experience oppression or constraints on their liberty, it is through the actions of the state rather than through culture, which makes sense. Libertarians are overwhelmingly white and male, and in a culture which highly values whiteness and maleness, they will face relatively fewer overt cultural constraints on their behavior than their more marginalized fellow-travelers. Or in other words, a fair number of libertarians are operating with a good deal of unexamined privilege, and it’s this, along with the extremely small number of women and minorities who operate within the libertarian framework, which makes grappling with cultural sources of oppression really hard for libertarians. After all – socially speaking – being a white guy in the United States isn’t exactly hard and that’s doubly true if you are well off.

That seems unpersuasive to me. In the United States, black people faced constraints on liberty imposed by the state that were orders of magnitude worse than any constraint on liberty that the state imposed on whites. If being robbed of liberty by some entity resulted in libertarian views about it — which I think is the argument offered above — African Americans would be far more anti-state libertarian than whites, wouldn’t they? There must be another dynamic at play.

2) Over at True/Slant I continue my conversation with The League of Ordinary Gentlemen about dissident conservatives. (Rod Dreher has been party to it as well.) It took longer for me to write that it would take you to read!

3) Strange how folks responded to Ross Douthat’s latest. His argument is obviously that Islam and Christianity are pitted against one another in an effort to win believers and converts — and that Catholicism is now participating in that contest more aggressively. His critics imagine that he is calling on Christian denominations to unite and wage holy war on Islam. Having just articulated his views in The New York Times, Mr. Douthat is obviously unashamed about stating them publicly. Does anyone want to make a large wager on whether or not he in fact advocates a holy war against Islam? I’ve got everything in my wallet on the “he does not think that” position.

4) Perhaps the solution to the situation Freddie writes about is to describe the racial problems that exist in America with more specific terms than “that’s racist.” Being labeled a racist is getting to be like being labeled a sex offender. Did you rape a 5 year old or go skinny dipping with your 17 year old girlfriend as an 18 year old? The sex offender list won’t tell you! When Freddie calls for more accusations of racism but less opprobrium aimed at the guilty, he presumably means the term should be applied to lesser racial sins. Well how about instead we reserve racism for actually hating people of other races, or thinking they’re inferior, or using racial slurs, or committing hate crimes, preserving the well deserved stigma against these acts, and then, for example, when a manager implements hiring practices that are shown over time to disadvantage minority applicants, one could say to him, “Hey, I’m not saying you’re a racist who hates blacks and Hispanics or anything, but look at how this mechanism you’ve set up to filter the resumes you receive systematically disadvantages people of color! It’s very possible you didn’t do this intentionally, but shouldn’t you fix it?”

UPDATE: In comments and elsewhere I am seeing the argument that the real problem with Ross Douthat’s column is his assertion that Islam is incompatible with reason. The problem with that line is that he never argued it! Here is the relevant excerpt:

Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world.

He is reporting on what the Pope said as an illustration of his confrontational approach, not himself asserting that Islam and Western reason are incompatible, a question on which he takes no position.

ALSO SEE this thoughtful critique.