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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:02 am 
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As per his usual, John McWhorter has an interesting, thoughtful, and balanced piece in The New Republic: Is the CBC Uniquely Unethical?. And, obviously it is timely, because the issue is getting some traction in the media.

Here is an excerpt. I commend the entire article.

Quote:
Not so long ago, all eight of the members of Congress being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics were black. Now, two powerful black members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on the griddle. There are two entirely appropriate responses.

One of them is to wonder if there is something racial going on. Yes, that is reasonable. Dismissals of this line of reasoning as mere “crying racism” are, in this case, hasty. Bloggers blithely listing white people who have fallen into the OCE’s line of sight as disproof of the racism charge are missing the point. The issue—so often missed in discussions of race but usually by those crying wolf, not their detractors—is proportion. All eight? Two leading black legislators in two weeks? One is not a race-baiter to ask questions.

Then, the other entirely appropriate response is to ask another question: is there some trait local to the Congressional Black Caucus that makes its members especially likely to commit improprieties of the kind under concern?

The typical understanding is that there is not. As Ronald Walters of U. Maryland’s African American Leadership Center said yesterday, “the swamp is largely white,” referring to the proverbial swamp House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced was to be cleared by efforts such as the OCE’s. And none of us are under any illusion that white legislators haven’t been requiring corporations to “pay to play” since, well, the dawn of the republic.

But is it this simple?...


That there could be "racism" -- actually more precisely a racial double-standard--- is an accusation with some plausibility on its face, but if no hard evidence comes, then there may be a more likely explanation.

I thought up this theory while I was driving around today, and McWhorter touches upon pieces of it in the article. But, I'd like to take a stab at making it more pointed.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have a number of higher risk factors for ethics troubles:

(1) Most members are from "majority black districts".

This means that once "in" many (most?) tend to not have challenging elections. When they first run for the seats there may often be a multi-candidate field, but once established the primary challenges either cease, or become increasingly marginal.

Then, in the general election because the districts are so heavily gerrymandered, then the Republican candidate is either absent altogether, or is also a marginal candidate who garners a small percentage of the vote.

And so, many of these CBC candidates face very little scrutiny at election time when candidates are supposed to be scrutinized the most.

(2) Most of the CBC candidates are from urban districts (though some southern candidates are not) this probably means that many of them in order to win the seat initially had to curry favor from the big city political machines. Once a candidate begins moving in such circles it is likely they continue that relationship, and begin to immitate some of that way of doing the business of mutual back-scratching.

(3) Members of the CBC are politicians. This isn't meant to state the obvious. Rather, its to point out that politicians use whatever means and circumstances are available to them in order to enhance their political power. The thing which is available to each member of the CBC, and to it collectively, is race.

Now, whether it is in some sense a hindrance to be black in America, I'll leave to a sociological discussion. But, if a politician can use something for political leverage they usually will. So, if black politicians can use race to enhance their power, no doubt they will.

Thus, if unchallenged urban politicians can use race to both insulate themselves from scrutiny from a nervous liberal press, and therefore remain largely unscrutinized by the public, then they can move freely within the circles of the urban political machines trading favors for favors, and also practice racial cronyism in order to keep scrutiny down within the black community.

Moreover, whenever questions arise, if it becomes necessary the politician can claim the criticism is racially motivated. Now, I don't believe the average black person will pull out the race card everytime they experience criticism. But, it isn't unreasonable to suspect policians will use race when it gets them favors, and when it protects them from criticism, just like (more or less) the way politicians use earmarks.

I don't know how the actual facts would bear out in each specific case, but I thought this might be a plausible theory.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:30 am 
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I don't claim to have the answers, but I think this recent Gallup poll is relevant to your question/theory:

Blacks and Whites Continue to Differ Sharply on Obama
http://www.gallup.com/poll/141725/Blacks-Whites-Continue-Differ-Sharply-Obama.aspx

I can't help but believe that a significant part of this is defensiveness, but that doesn't explain Clinton's popularity way back when. Even going with TVV's explanation about voting for the party that's perceived to be the least threatening to your race, that doesn't mean that the "black" party candidate is worthy of approval or popularity.

But then given bmk2307's post regarding the poll showing that blacks predominantly watch the liberal MSM rather than Fox, that slanted information would certainly positively skew their opinions of O's job performance (as well as the other Democrats in question, including the CBC).


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:32 am 
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QuoVadisAnima wrote:
I don't claim to have the answers, but I think this recent Gallup poll is relevant to your question/theory:

Blacks and Whites Continue to Differ Sharply on Obama
http://www.gallup.com/poll/141725/Blacks-Whites-Continue-Differ-Sharply-Obama.aspx

I can't help but believe that a significant part of this is defensiveness, but that doesn't explain Clinton's popularity way back when. Even going with TVV's explanation about voting for the party that's perceived to be the least threatening to your race, that doesn't mean that the "black" party candidate is worthy of approval or popularity.

But then given bmk2307's post regarding the poll showing that blacks predominantly watch the liberal MSM rather than Fox, that slanted information would certainly positively skew their opinions of O's job performance (as well as the other Democrats in question, including the CBC).


I agree that perspectives by blacks and whites differ for a variety of reasons.

But, my point in this thread was to suggest that many black members of congress have a cluster of factors which in-the-aggregate may make them more vulnerable to corruption than their white counterparts.

White politicians have some of these factors, or something like them, and so we see plenty of corruption from all sorts of politicians. I only mean to say these corrupting factors seem to be disproportionately concentrated around black pols., or more precisely urban black pols.

By illustration lets suppose that there are male pastors who frequently counsel women alone. And there are pastors who have another woman present during counseling. If statistics came to show that those who counseled women alone more often fell into adultery than those who had a third party female present, we wouldn't be surprised because we would see that those male pastors who counseled women alone were enaging in higher risk behavior.

The fact that some pastors who counsel alone don't fall into adultery, and the fact that some who use a third party asst. do fall into adultery wouldn't change our general opinion that male pastors counseling women alone is a higher risk behavior.

Like I said, I don't know what the actual statistics would show. I'm just assembling what I think is a plausible explanatory theory.

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