Saturday, April 10, 2021

Light in the Dark Belt

A few years ago, our family switched from using the Our Daily Bread devotion guide to the Lutheran Portals of Prayer devotion guide for our evening family devotions. Long-time readers may remember at least one post where I expressed disappointment with ODB; that was surely not the only time. We have generally found PoP to be more scripture-focused, with fewer tortured metaphors.

So it was with some initial consternation that I discovered that PoP seemed to go all-in on black history month last February. Haven't we been celebrating blackness non-stop for the last nine months!?! The devotions drew substantial inspiration from from the life of Rosa J. Young, a teacher and school-founder from the "Black Belt" of Alabama who, on the advice of Booker T. Washington, sought Lutheran assistance for her school when the boll weevil devastated Southern sharecropping in the 1910s. She eventually became an evangelist for the Lutheran mission work in Alabama. The devotion guide got around to mentioning that she had written an autobiography, Light in the Dark Belt, originally published in 1930 and revised in 1950. I obtained the 1950 edition.

I was pleasantly surprised. Rosa Young's writing opens a window to an entirely different era of race relations. In an era when all manner of black social dysfunction is blamed on the phantom of "white supremacy", it is gratifying to hear a black person, writing when white supremacy was actually A Thing, not waste a moment blaming it for the misfortuntes of her people, but rather recognizing that the responsibility for their lives lay principally with themselves. When Rosa began her school, she humbly sought the assistance of the southern white people of her community, and found almost all of them eager to support her.

You can read the introductory chapters to her book here; however, I have reproduced a later chapter to give you a sense of Young's understanding of the problems that beset Southern blacks of that time.

Chapter 7

Why I Wanted to Build a School

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people..” -- Is 60:2

It was not the thought of money that convinced me that I ought to start a school. From the time I received my diploma and went forth from the university into the battle of life, it had ever been my desire to serve. I was ready to serve under any and all conditions. My highest ambition is still to serve, to be a faithful servant of God and my people. I would rather serve than be served. I have never desired a high position. I would rather do the humble work among the despised and outcast. As I saw the great need of my people, my desire to do something for their education grew. And so I might state my reasons for wanting to start a school as follows:

1. I saw the grievous condition of my race, of my brothers and sisters. It was a pathetic sight. The ignorance and superstition in all matters were amazing. I hope that my school would help to overcome some of this ignorance and superstition.

2. Morals and manners were at a low ebb. It was a rare thing to see a man who did not have two or more wives or to see a woman who had only one husband. It was a common thing to see a young girl approaching the age of 20, who was a mother and drifting about with no husband. Both young and old had lost all regard for the holy estate of matrimony. There were hundreds of people who had been married, but were separated. It was a common thing to see girls or women living by themselves in little huts doted over the plantations. Young girls would often bundle their clothes, move out from their father’s home, away from the care and protection of a loving mother, and start keeping house by themselves. The reputation of some of these people was shameful. Their manners in all places, at home, in church, on the roadsides, in public places, such as stores and railroad stations, were rough, uncouth, boisterous. Even their word of honor was of no account. I hope that my school would help to improve morals and manners.

3. The homes in which these poor people lived were horrible. In every community there were two classes of people, the Big Dogs and the Little Dogs. Of course, in the homes of the so-called Big Dogs conditions were a little more decent. In the homes of the so-called Little Dogs, conditions, up on the whole, were indecent. There were no arrangements made for bathing or ventilation in the houses. In most of them there was too much ventilation. While sitting in the house behind closed doors, one could look up and see this sky, the moon, and the stars through the holes in the roof; one could look down and through the holes in the floor see the ground -- chickens, hogs, little pigs, and dogs. One could seldom find a decent pair of steps at a door. The chimneys, made of sticks daubed with red mud reached only halfway up the houses. On a cold day it might happen that the wind would blow down the chimney and that the smoke would prevent the family from having a fire.

In many cases the whole family, half-grown young men and women, smaller children, and father and mother, had to sleep and cook in the same room. The bed clothes were filthy; most of the members of the family would sleep in the clothes they had worn during the day. Dishes and cooking utensils remained unwashed from meal to meal, day after day. The bed clothes, dishes, and cooking utensils were covered with swarms of flies. Scarcely any lamps could be found in the homes, and in most cases where there were lamps they had no chimneys.

There were no dinner tables on which to serve when the dinner was prepared. The mother gave each member of the family his or her dinner on a plate, or in a pan, bucket, or skillet. Some would sit in the doorway, some on the steps, others put out in the yard, and the little children on the floor. All ate with their hands and fingers.

Lunch at school.

They used gourds for dippers, broom sage and pine tops for brooms. A few chairs, boxes, blocks or wagon-body seats on the floor were used for seats. The floors were seldom, if ever, scrubbed and not often swept. About the yard lay all kinds of filthy rags, inviting disease. Through my school I hoped to improve these conditions by inspiring children and young people to improve also their material surroundings.

4. The children, the dear little children of the rural districts whom I love so well and in whom I am so interested, where in a sad condition. Some of them had to come to school partly dressed in adults’ clothing. In the dead of winter some of them would have to come to my school with only one or two pieces of clothing on as a protection against the stings and howls of the winter winds, half-hungry, half-naked, barefooted, toes and heels cracked open from the rain, ice, and frost. The little girls' hair was combed only once in a while. It was knotty, kinky, dirty, matted and full of cockleburs. The boys, poor things, their hair was never combed. Once in a while some member of the family would take a pair of scissors and cut the boys' hair, which was so gummy and matted that it would come off in a caplike form. In many cases there were hog lice in the little boys' hair. On their hands, wrists, forearms, in the back of their necks, on their kneecaps, on the front part of their legs, on their ankles, heels, feet, and toes grew banks of dirt until it formed a scaly crust, so thick that you could take a pin and stick deep or scrape hard, and they would not feel it. The finger and toe nails were long and dirty. Their teeth were yellow with stain. The best they knew to do was to steal, lie, curse, swear, and fight like cats and dogs. My heart went out to these children, and I desired to do for them whatever lay in my power to do.

5. The educational advantages offered these children by the State were entirely inadequate. The school terms lasted only three or four months a year. Before the children could get a good start in school, the term would be over. During the long vacation of eight or nine months the children would forget most, if not all, of what they had learned during the previous term. I planned a school that would provide an adequate school term.

6. Among these poor children there were some bright boys and girls, filled with high ambitions, with the marks of leadership on their dusky brows, which shone like diamonds in a coal bed in the bright sun. Their poor parents were unable to send them to school. They had nothing with which to pay their board; they were just barely existing themselves.

However, most of the children were dull and backward. There were large boys and girls said to be in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades who could not read through a paragraph correctly. If they were asked to spell a simple word, for instance, the word "smooth," they might begin to spell it with a P or a Q. There were large children who could not write the letters of the alphabet or do primary work in arithmetic. They would not have the slightest idea of how to solve the simplest problem. Some ten- and fifteen-year-old boys and girls could not read the first lesson on the chart or in the primer.

I wanted to help all children, but especially to give the brighter and more ambitious ones a better chance in life.

7. As a general thing, there were no schoolhouses; for the most part the public schools were taught in the churches. Most of the churches were dilapidated and so exposed to the elements that one might as well teach outdoors under an oak tree. There were big holes in the roofs and in the floors. Many a time during a heavy shower of rain the large children would have to hold an umbrella over me while I heard a class recite.

In some of those churches there were small heaters, but no flues; so we had to take out a window pane and run the stovepipe out through the side of the wall. When the wind was high on a cold day, the smoke would turn us all away from the fire. In churches where there were no heaters we were obliged to build big fires outdoors. Then I would have to watch the little fellows to prevent their clothes from catching fire.

I hoped to provide a good school in a decent building.

8. The poor people were lacking in leadership. It is one of the great needs of the colored race even to this day to have sufficient and efficient leaders. The number of able, prepared leaders is so small that real work is difficult.

The public school teachers were inefficient. Not more than one third of them could pass a third-grade state examination fairly well. Some of them did not have the least idea of how to grade a school. They would permit children to enter the sixth and seventh grades that should have been in the third. Discipline in the school was unknown. Before one reached the school building or church where the school was being held, one could hear the children giggling, murmuring, and shuffling their feet. There was a continual commotion during the school hours. The teachers would ask the children questions about their lessons and have to look in the book to see if the child answered correctly.

These teachers would permit the children to sing all kinds of songs and give some of the most ridiculous recitations. The public school teachers would sometimes have Christmas trees and present Christmas programs for the benefit of the community. The following are some of the recitations the children would recite. A little ashy-faced country lad comes forward, so happy he has a chance to speak that his face is wreathed in smiles. He recites as follows:

Black gum bits and bullet rains,
White oak saddle and hickory horse,
Um gwine to ride all up and down the line.

At this all the people would whoop, shout, and laugh. Then another child would come forward and give his Christmas selection:

Milk in the picture and butter in the bowl;
I cannot get a sweetheart to save my soul.

Then another would step forward and recite:

With a jug of molasses and a pan of biscuits in my hand,
I'll sop my way to the Promised Land.

Now, such recitations were given on the solemn occasion of the commemoration of the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. "Gross darkness covered the people.”

The so-called preachers often were worse than those to whom they preached. Some were both ignorant and immoral. The better class of laymen would not trust them in their homes during their absence. These so-called preachers where the downfall of many poor, ignorant, young girls. They destroyed the peace and harmony many humble country home.

It was a common thing to see a preacher at one of those annual meetings just out of the pulpit staggering down some dark alley, drunk with wine, beer, "shinny," or whisky, heaving like a dog, while the other preachers looked upon it as a joke. Besides this, many preachers were greedy for money. They would rove the rural districts, holding out false inducements to the poor, ignorant people, enticing them to join all kinds of fraternal societies. They would offer the people sick, accident, and death benefits, and every other kind of benefit, just to get their money. Most people could not resist the temptation. Those who had credit would go to their landlords and borrow the money to join. Others would sell their corn, eggs, pigs, chickens, the very food out of the mounts of their little children, to obtain money with which to join these societies. After they had stripped the people of all the money they could get, these scoundrels would escape and no more would be heard from them, while the people were left in need as before.

They would impose heavy taxation, or assessment, upon the church people; and if those who were thus taxed failed to pay, they were excommunicated, or their names were put on the dead list. A person whose name was on the dead list was not permitted to partake of the Lord's Supper. If he became sick, no pastor visited him; and if he died, no pastor would bury him or preach the funeral sermon. Some of these preachers would hire out to the people to preach so many sermons a year or month for so much money. Visiting the sick and burying the dead was not included. A Baptism was performed for twenty-five cents and up per head. When a member died, the funeral was used as an occasion to draw a large crowd in order to get a lot of money.

These preachers would not humble themselves, or feel enough interest in the people, to live in the parsonages the people had provided for them. The homes these poor people had strained themselves to build for them they allowed to ruin. The preachers went to the cities, hanging around the streets in the towns during the week. On Saturdays they would go out to their country churches, do their kind of preaching, get all the money, chickens, and eggs they could get from the people and on Monday mornings board the train for the city with these gifts, joking about the people, calling them "n______"* and saying: "I told them n______ so and so." Instead of trying to enlighten the people, they were calling them fools.

My school was intended to contribute its part in developing intelligent and unselfish leaders for my people.

9. I always believed in the education of the heart; for a bright head with a wicked heart stands for naught. It only tends to breed trouble. I knew something was wrong with the kind of religion my people had, but I did not know what was wrong about it. I desired a better Christian training for myself and my people, but I did not know where to find it. The religion of my people was a mere pretense, a kind of manufactured religion. Those who belonged to church were no better than those who did not. In most of the homes the so-called Christian families as well as the unbelievers lived in envy, strife, malice, prejudice, bitter hatred, yea, hellish riot; in covetousness; in adultery and fornication; in theft and lying.

In hundreds of homes the Bible was never read, a prayer was never spoken, and a Christian hymn was never sung. The whole family lay down at night and rose the next morning, and each went out to do his work without saying a word of thanks to God. Sin was looked upon by most people as a small thing. They held divine services in their churches twelve times a year, on the average once a month. No one took the time to teach them Christian hymns; they sang old plantation songs during their services.

Both men and women would get down on their knees and pray just as loud as they could hollo, often using all kinds of profane language and blasphemy. They would call on God as if He were asleep or dead. The preachers would read a text and then branch off and preach all kinds of man-made doctrines, telling the people that these things are in the Bible. Many a time the name of Jesus was not mentioned during a whole sermon. The preachers would whoop, hollo, pat, and stamp, snort, and blow until the people were in an uproar, shouting and hollowing, too. Then the preachers would just say anything. I once heard a preacher laughing and telling how he curses when he gets "n______" to shouting and holloing.

The people were obliged to carry on most of the church work without the preachers; they just came and preached. The people would have Sunday school about three months out of the year, beginning a few Sundays before Easter each year and continuing until July or August. They had the wrong conception of Christmas and other Christian festivals. I hoped to be of some help in improving the sad religious conditions, though I did not know just how that might be accomplished.

10. Though the teaching of the Bible and of the Six Chief Parts of the Christian religion was neglected, I cannot say that this was one of my reasons for wanting to build a school for my race, for in this respect I was in the dark myself. Sad! Sad! We were all blind and leaders of the blind. We did not know the Bible, neither did the preachers know it. We did not know what we must do to be saved, neither did the preachers. They were preaching false doctrine, and we did not know it. We did not know that Jesus has done all that is necessary for our salvation, and the preachers did not know it. We did not know what Jesus, the Savior, meant to us. We did not know that we were sinners. We wanted to go to heaven; but we did not know the way, and the preachers did not know it. We were trying to work our way to heaven, and the preachers were doing the same. We were not following our Bibles, neither were the preachers.

Now, what was to be done? Our white people had given us our schools and churches. We sent calls and had our leaders; and I presume the white people thought we were getting along fine.

The Lord, our Savior, who loved us saw all this and had compassion on us. He saw that the sad plight of our immortal souls was far worse than our physical condition. The Lord looked down from heaven upon us. He saw darkness had covered our land. Our eyes were blind to the knowledge contained in His blessed Gospel. The Lord saw that we were all on the wrong road, regardless of how well we meant, and could never reach heaven that way.

God saw that I was concerned, that I was worried, about many things pertaining to the temporal welfare of my people. God saw my eager desires and longings to do something for Him and my race. I did not have the least idea of what was to be done. I could not preach, for women are not allowed to preach. But the Lord instilled in me the thought of building a school, gave me strength to begin this work, and sustained me.

At that time I knew nothing about the Lutheran Church and its pure Gospel preaching; but God knew all about it and was pleased with it. God was going to use my school as an instrument to put the true Church in this dark land. The Lord did send us the light through the Lutheran Church, of which you will read later.

* Rosa Young spells out the word, although I do not.

Monday, March 01, 2021

The Dark Night of Fascism, USAF Edition

Remember "Samizdat"? It was impermissible literature in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Remember how we were proud of being an open society back then? Those were good days.

Now look at this graphic:

This graphic is taken from page G5 of the Department of the Air Force's "Extremism Stand-Down Day Playbook", dated 24 Feb 2021, although the pdf copy in my posession may have been created on 15 February. It is not currently available on the open internet that I can find, but those with access to the Air Force Portal can find it at go dot usa dot gov slash xs9YR. It was prepared in accordance with SecDef Lloyd Austin's directive that all the Armed Services conduct an Extremism Stand-down Day within 60 days of the order.

Strap in, everyone. This is going to be a long post.

Under the heading of "Identifying Impermissible Behavior", we read, starting from the left:

  • Interest

    • Watching impermissible videos
    • Reading impermissible literature
    • Visiting websites promoting impermissible ideology
    • Membership in an impermissible group
  • Language

    • Making statements sympathizing with impermissible ideologies
    • Making social media posts that mention impermissible causes

And so forth. The graphic cites DoDI 1325.06, "Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces" (22 Feb 2012), and AFI 51-508, "Political Activities, Free Speech and Freedom of Assembly of Air Force Personnel" (12 Oct 2018).

From 51-508, Chapter 3, "Dissident and Protest Activities": On the one hand, we have

3.1.1. AF commanders must preserve the service member’s constitutional right of expression to the maximum extent possible, consistent with good order, discipline, and national security.

But what the AFI gives, the AFI takes away:

3.4. Prohibited Activities. Military personnel must not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.

3.4.2. Active participation in such gangs or organizations is prohibited . . . .

3.4.2.1. Active participation includes, but is not limited to:

  • 3.4.2.1.1. Fundraising for, or donating money to, the organization;
  • 3.4.2.1.2. Demonstrating or rallying;
  • 3.4.2.1.3. Recruiting, training, organizing, or leading members;
  • 3.4.2.1.4. Distributing material (including posting on-line);
  • 3.4.2.1.5. Knowingly wearing gang colors or clothing;
  • 3.4.2.1.6. Having tattoos or body markings associated with such gangs or organizations; or
  • 3.4.2.1.7. Otherwise engaging in activities in furtherance of the objective of such gangs organizations that are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service.

3.4.2.2. Mere membership in the type of organization listed above is not prohibited. However, membership must be considered in evaluating or assigning members, both military and civilian, as addressed in AFI 36-2406, Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems, and, AFI 36-2706, Equal Opportunity Program, Military and Civilian..

3.4.2.3. A supremacist doctrine, ideology, or cause is characterized by, but is not limited to, having a fundamental tenet of its nature that particular members of one race, color, gender, national origin, or ethnic group are genetically superior to others. Membership in such organizations is usually restricted to those belonging to that particular race, color, gender, national origin, or ethnic group.

3.4.2.4. An extremist doctrine, ideology, or cause is characterized by, but is not limited to, a common belief which might otherwise be politically or socially acceptable, but that espouse the use or threat of force or violence to obtain their goals.

DoDI 1325.06 has pretty much the same thing. It's specific enough to steer clear of, right? But then . . .

3.4.4. It is a function of command to be vigilant about the existence of the type of activities enumerated above. Commanders should intervene early, primarily through counseling, when observing such signs even though the signs may not rise to active advocacy or active participation or may not threaten good order and discipline, but only suggest such potential. Active use of investigative authority to include a prompt and fair complaint process, and the use of administrative powers, such as non-punitive counseling, and performance evaluations should be used to deter such activities. The goal of early intervention is to minimize the risk of future prohibited activities.

  • 3.4.4.1. Examples of such signs, which, in the absence of the active advocacy or active participation, could include mere membership in criminal gangs and other organizations covered under paragraph 3.4.

  • 3.4.4.2. Signs could also include possession of literature, or visiting websites, associated with such gangs or organizations, or with related ideology, doctrine, or causes.

  • 3.4.4.3. While mere membership, possession of literature or visiting such websites on a non-Government computer normally is not prohibited, it may merit further investigation and possibly counseling to emphasize the importance of adherence to the AF values and to ensure that the Service member understands what activities are prohibited.

Regarding the two references above to AFI 36-2406, the performance evaluation system, it's important to understand what it does. Service members with so much as tepid evaluations, let alone actual negative evaluations, are typically blackballed for promotion, and members who are passed over for promotion are usually not permitted to remain in the service. DOD Civil Servants ("Civilians") do not generally have expectation of promotion once they reach journeyman grade. Otherwise, it varies by agency, but generally a sufficiently negative performance evaluation is usually one step towards dismissal. Civilians have a lot of protections that military don't have, but a sufficiently motivated and corrupt leadership can leave one fighting for his job.

So what does AFI 36-2406, "Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems" (14 Nov 2019) have to say? From section 1.8, "Evaluator’s Mandatory Considerations":

1.8.4. Prohibited Activities. Airmen are prohibited from actively advocating supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination or deprive others of their civil rights. Such behavior is incompatible with military service. Evaluators must consider a ratee’s membership in these types of groups and document prohibited activity by the ratee as prescribed in AFI 51-508, Political Activities, Free Speech and Freedom of Assembly of Air Force Personnel.

I suppose one could point out that "mere membership" should only be "considered", and only "prohibited activity" should be documented. But that would assume a good-faith interpretation of the language as written. The point of the Playbook is that, sure, you may technically have the right to freedom of association, but that won't stop the military from drubbing you out of the service anyway.

But, okay, so you don't join an organization that advocates violence. You're okay then, right? Don't be so sure. I had this very question about Oathkeepers, whose members pledge not to obey unconstitutional orders, of which they list ten specifically, including an order to disarm the populace. Does this count as "threatening violence"?

The Playbook has several QandA at the beginning. On p.C2:

Q6: I thought Service members retained their Constitutional rights when they joined the military. Are you telling me I no longer have the right to Free Speech or Peaceful Assembly?

A6: Remember that military members and DoD civilian employees have access to classified information and occupy sensitive positions with access to lethal equipment, training, and tactics. Everyone with access to classified information or in a sensitive position is evaluated continuously, using government-wide guidelines to assess their strength of character, honesty, discretion, sound judgment, reliability to protect classified or sensitive information, and trustworthiness. Any doubt is resolved in favor of the national security.

Potentially disqualifying conditions include:

  • involvement in, support of, or association/sympathy with persons attempting to or training to commit, or advocacy of any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, or sedition against the United States;
  • association or sympathy with persons or organizations that advocate, threaten, or use force or violence, or use any other illegal or unconstitutional means, in an effort to:
    • attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government or any state government;
    • prevent federal, state, or local government personnel from performing their official duties;
    • gain retribution for perceived wrongs caused by the Federal, state, or local government; or prevent others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or any state.

We'll see more references to the security clearance process, but be aware that all servicemen carry a SECRET clearance, normally granted after a favorable "National Agency Check", which as I understand it is looking for criminal records. The clearance in itself doesn't automatically grant a servicemen access to classified information; he must also have a "need to know", meaning his duties require the access. I can't claim to know how much burden not having such access would impose on most servicemen. I can say that people working in the IC, and who carry TOP SECRET clearances, would basically be unemployable without a clearance.

The characterization in answer A6, above, isn't what the current version of the SF-86, "Standard Questionnaire for National Security Positions" says. From Section 29, "Association Record":

For the purpose of this question, terrorism is defined as any criminal acts that involve violence or are dangerous to human life and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

  • 29.1: Are you now or have you EVER been a member of an organization dedicated to terrorism, either with an awareness of the organization's dedication to that end, or with the specific intent to further such activities?

  • 29.2: Have you EVER knowingly engaged in any acts of terrorism?

  • 29.3: Have you EVER advocated any acts of terrorism or activities designed to overthrow the U.S. Government by force?

  • 29.4: Have you EVER been a member of an organization dedicated to the use of violence or force to overthrow the United States Government, and which engaged in activities to that end with an awareness of the organization's dedication to that end or with the specific intent to further such activities?

  • 29.5: Have you EVER been a member of an organization that advocates or practices commission of acts of force or violence to discourage others from exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution or any state of the United States with the specific intent to further such action?

  • 29.6: Have you EVER knowingly engaged in activities designed to overthrow the U.S. Government by force?

  • 29.7: Have you EVER associated with anyone involved in activities to further terrorism?

Those are very different questions (and a big improvement over the 2010 versions in effect when I first wrote on this topic). I could point out that they say nothing at all about "preventing government personnel from performing their duties". I could also point out that the formal purpose of the clearance process is to protect classified information, and nothing in the Playbook even pretends to establish a connection between "association or sympathy" with such organizations and its compromise. But again, these assume a good-faith interpretation of the regulations as written, and the Playbook clearly signals the intention to do the opposite. I would not expect the same standard would be applied to Oathkeepers and, say, BlackLivesMatter, which killed 18 people and caused $2B worth of damage on behalf of a fentanyl addict resisting arrest.

Well, okay, you'll play it safe and not join Oathkeepers. I'll be safe then, right?

The Playbook (p.C1) says "at this time we are not aware of an official, comprehensive U.S. government approved list of domestic extremist organizations." But some organizations are listed anyway.

This graphic is taken from an un-numbered page in Appendix G, "Impermissible Behaviors". Let's start with the easiest organization, Identity Evropa:

Who we are: We are a group of patriotic American Identitarians who have realized that we are descended from the great traditions, history, and people that flowed from Europe. We embrace the idea that our identities are central to who we are, and take pride in our history and rich cultural heritage. At a time when every other group is free to stand behind its identity, we choose to assert ours as well.

Identity Evropa is mentioned on p.22 of "Report to Armed Services Committees on Screening Individuals Who Seek To Enlist in the Armed Forces", Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, delivered to Congress on 14 October 2020. This, too, I could not find on the open internet, but it appears to be the subject of this article. The report, citing not the IE website but the Anti-Defamation League, calls the above statement "White Supremacy":

IE/AIM described their objectives as "an American Identitarian organization. As such, our main objective is to create a better world for people of European heritage particularly in America--by peacefully effecting cultural change. Identity Evropa is thus an explicitly non-violent organization (ADL, n.d.)." IE/AIM summarizes its views into "five principles: nationalism, identitarianism, protectionism, non-interventionism, and populism" (ADL, n.d.). Their goals include seeking political positions for its members and promoting several political candidates to run in the 2020 U.S. elections to shift the power structure in the United States and influence U.S. immigration policies.

The linked reference is to the archive page of the ADL on the day prior to when it was retrieved for the purposes of the Report (15 May 2020). I want to call attention to the fact that nothing cited claims superiority, let alone genetic superiority, on behalf of anyone. Yet apparently, the ADL asserts this to be true, and everything else -- the Report, the Playbook -- is downstream from that assertion. Thus an NCO, doxxed by the Huffington Post, was "discharged for misconduct" for his association.

Next up is Proud Boys. They don't have a website that I can find, so I can't give an account of them in their own words, but they are either stalwart defenders of the right to peaceably assemble (Ann Coulter) or an FBI honeypot (New York Times). (BTW, I'm going to try to use archive.org for links to MSM sources going forward.) Now, this person also was recorded making lose talk about getting into fistfights, "overthrowing the government", and "civil war", so it's hard to pin down what exactly got him barred from (I assume) Wright-Patterson AFB (AFMC HQ). My point here is that even the NYT is content to call them "far-right nationalist" rather than "supremacist", and their use of violence is by all accounts strictly defensive. So how does this meet the impermissibility criteria?

Finally*, we have the Patriot Front. I'm not even going to pretend I understand their manifesto, but I looked in vain for claims of "genetic superiority" or "threat of force to obtain goals". The graphic says, "SUBJECT engaged in white supremacist messaging over 2 years to include posting a slogan associated with the white nationalist group “Patriot Front” that read, “not stolen, conquered” over a map of the United States." So apparently, "Stolen, Not Conquered" joins "All Lives Matter" and "It's Okay to be White" on the list of trivially true statements that become "white supremacist messaging" because white supremacists are not allergic to trivially true statements. So, SUBJECT was "issued nonjudicial punishment, demoted 2 ranks, [and] administratively separated."

It's pretty clear from this graphic that the DoD isn't declaring war on "supremacy" or "extremism" but on nationalism generally. But okay, so you aren't going to join some obscure right-wing group. So what do you have to worry about?

This is the scenario description from Appendix G, "Impermissible Behavior" in the "Discussion Guide" section.

SCENARIO 6: A civilian employee routinely eats lunch in the unit breakroom. She sits alone and reads books that vilify a specific ethnic group.

Considerations: If the employee is sitting in the breakroom reading magazines that vilify another ethnic group; this behavior alone is not necessarily actionable. Supervision should contact the servicing SJA [Staff Judge Advocate] and CPS [Civilian Personnel Services] to discuss the situation and options available. However, if another employee or employees see this and complains, then it is incumbent upon the commander or management official to counsel the employee that such reading material in the public areas are offensive to others and instruct them to cease from reading such material in the open and in the workplace. Any verbal instruction should be documented in some manner, such as in either the employee’s 971 file or a Memorandum for Record. If the employee refuses to do so and continues the behavior, then progressive discipline may be in order; however, it is recommended that the commander or management official instruct the employee to cease and desist reading such material in the public workspace and contact their servicing CPS for next steps. If the employee uses her government computer to access websites that vilify another ethnic group, the employee should be instructed to cease and desist the behavior, remove their access to the computer and contact CPS. A search of the computer is likely the reasonable next steps, however, again the commander should contact their servicing CPS before taking this step or others. Depending on the egregiousness of the offense, a range of charges may be possible, to include misuse of government resources, inappropriate conduct, or conduct unbecoming a federal employee. The CPS will likely include Employee Assistance Program (EAP) information for the employee’s use. The Agency could also report the incident to the security manager/IP office as a potential security violation. If access to classified/secret information is removed, then possible “indefinite suspension” may be possible as well.

This scenario goes well beyond "violence", "supremacy". It goes beyond "advocacy" or "participation". It's not even about race. It's about a little old lady sitting by herself reading about the history of Islam or the crime rates of immigrants, and thus is considered guilty until proven innocent, and then still guilty. Again, we read the transparent abuse of the security clearance process to allege a security violation (in other words, breaking rules designed to protect classified information) to punish someone for something that doesn't involved classified information at all.

There is oh-so-much more in this Playbook, but I will have to save it for subsequent posts.

* Finally, as in I'm not even going to bother with criminal no-hopers like Atomwaffen.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

I Hate the Cable Company II: Final Farewell.

I fired my cable company. Not just the television portion, mind you; I cut that back in 2015. No, this time I cancelled the whole smack: phone and internet both.

It wasn't exactly what I had intended. Over the last three years, Time Warner, a.k.a. Spectrum, had again ratcheted up my rates, until the last bill (for only two services) was $95/month. Thinking I knew the drill for getting another discounted rate, I took the modem down to their offices and dropped it on the desk. To which the underpaid customer service rep said: okay.

The first problem I had to solve was getting back on the internet. Spectrum bought AT&T, so there aren't really any bargains on DSL anymore. Fortunately, we have unlimited data through our cell phone provider. Unfortunately, this plan does not include tethering, which costs an additional $10/15GB/phone. I initially avoided this fee and cap with PdaNet, a program that, once installed on a PC and phone, allows tethering over USB. The free tier of PdaNet has its own data limit, but I went ahead and bought the $8 "full version" without a limit. I wasn't sure how much this tethering aggravates the cell phone provider, so I also acquired a VPN service to mask my usage.

PdaNet has its own set of limitations:

  • USB tethering requires the "developer options" and "USB debugging" to both be active on the phone. This worked on my daughter's and my Samsung phones, but not on my wife's LG phone. Not sure why.

  • The paid version is supports "WiFi Direct Hotspot" from the phone to one or more PCs. Note, however, that the wifi connection must be established to the phones from within the PCs' PdaNet application (Settings-->WiFi Pairing), not as you would connect to a standard hotspot.

  • The desktop app is supposed to support "WiFi Share (beta)" from the desktop's wifi as an ad hoc network; however, this apparently only works from computers running Windows 7, not from Windows 10. I guess this is consistent with the ad hoc capability being generally disabled on Windows 10. Supposedly this can be overcome by changing the wifi card driver, but I couldn't make that work either.

  • I was able to connect every PC I own, and an old Nokia phone without cell service, but I failed to connect a Samsung tablet. I didn't have a C2C USB cable, but none of the "WiFi Direct Hotspot", "WiFi Share (beta)", and "legacy bluetooth mode" would allow me to access the internet through the connections. Also not sure why, but connecting to ad hoc networks is generally a problem for tablets, unless one is willing to perform some serious hacks on the OS, and I was not. I may update this post when/if I get a C2C.

So I wound up having to buy the cell company mobile hotspot anyway to run our tablet collection, but I anticipate keeping this below the 15GB monthly, and even if we don't, our plan let's us to exceed the limits at throttled speeds.

The next problem I had to solve was replacing my wife's email account, which had been provided by the cable company, and to which she unceremoniously lost access. For my non-blogging life, I've been happy with Microsoft, but in the interest of giving the finger to Big Tech, she chose Protonmail. Protonmail offers end-to-end encryption within it subscriber base, but not outside of it. The free tier get you very basic webmail, the paid tier ($4/month if you buy a year's worth) gets you MS Outlook integration (and other programs) and the ability to create additional online mail folders. Unfortunately, Protonmail does NOT allow contact synchronization, nor does it offer any calendar support at all.

A couple of interesting experiences with our VPN:

  • My ability to access a website can depend on the server to which I connect. Last evening, I suddenly stopped connecting to a number of sites, one of which was DuckDuckGo. (Facebook was not affected.) Changing servers fixed the problem, but I'll be disappointed if this gets to be typical.

  • The VPN interferes with my voicemail reception. Voicemail recordings would normally download directly to my phone automatically, but the VPN prevents this, probably by cell company policy to prevent voicemail hacking. I can still access voicemails on the cell carrier's server (*86), but I don't have much confidence that I haven't lost any of them.

It's mildly inconvenient not receiving internet service through our home router, to which we have ethernet connections to a printer and a shared drive, plus a couple of "smart" home devices. This doesn't matter much when we are USB tethering, but my a computer can only connect to one hotspot at a time; if we're tethering to the phone's "direct hotspot", we have to disconnect to connect to the home router to access files or run the printer. Likewise, I have to unplug the ethernet cable from a computer to connect it to the direct hotspot.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Crime Victimization Survey, 2019

Last September, Steve Sailer examined the 2018 Crime Victimization Survey published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Department of Justice. In November, the 2019 CVS was published, so I'm going to duplicate his results for interracial violent crime.

Here is the original data from table 15:

The "Asian" category has been eliminated entirely as a victim category; according to the notes, the "Other" victim category "includes Asians, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, persons of two or more races, and multiple offenders of various races". I see from the "Highlights" section that Asians were 1% of perpetrators and 2.3% of victims; according to the text next to Table 9, the rate of Asian victimization fell by 50% from 2018 to 2019.

Here I multiplied out the percentages to get the raw numbers in each category, summed them by offender, and calculated the percent of the total for each offender category. Note that the percentage of violent crimes committed by blacks and Hispanics rose substantially. Blacks, at 12% of the population, committed 20% of the violent crimes in 2018 and 26% in 2019. Hispanics at 17% of the population, committed 15% of violent crimes in 2018 and 20% in 2019. The white rate declined slightly and the "Other" rate declined dramatically.

In this table, I have calculated the percentages by offender. For instance, 86.8% of the victims of white criminals are fellow whites, 4.5% are black, and 8.6% are Hispanic. Meanwhile, 44.2% of the victims of black criminals are white, 32.4% are fellow blacks, and 23.3% are Hispanic.

It's important to understand that the greater percentage of white victims of blacks offenders compared to black victims of white offenders does not mean that blacks are targeting whites. In a world where offenders were selecting their victims without regard to race, the percentage of victims for all perpetrators would be exactly that victim's percentage of the population. In other words, 62% of the victims of white offenders would be white, 12% would be black, etc. Likewise, 62% of the victims of black offenders would also be white, and 12% would be black, because that's who makes up the population of victims. And these percentages would apply irrespective of differential rates of crimality.

As it happens, the data show the preference* of all offenders for committing violence against members of their own race. As Steve has pointed out, this is good for social peace. But it's not the end of the story.

I obtained these ratios by conditioning the interracial crime raw numbers on the offenders percentage of the population, and then taking the ratio. For instance, I divided the number of black-on-white crimes from two slides ago (472,644) by the percentage of blacks in the population (12%). Likewise, I divided the number of white-on-black crimes (90,019) by the percentage of whites in the population (62%). I then divided the first ratio by the second to get what I will call an Individual Danger Ratio of 27.13. This is basically saying that a randomly selected black person is 27 times more likely to commit a crime against a randomly selected white person than that white person is to commit the same crime against the black person.

* Preference, that is, in a model of crime where criminals had criminal access to all races equally. Of course, that's not true: our communities are highly segregated by race, and this data mainly show the criminal preference for committing crimes close to home. To show actual racial preferences in victims, we would need to restrict the interracial crime numbers to people living in the same community, but I'm not sure that data exist.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

On Multiracial Whiteness

Via iSteve, a WaPo op-ed on "Multiracial Whiteness".

Of course, it's easy to make fun of the obvious oxymoron, but let's admit this is a step up for us from the usual accusation of "racist" or "white supremacist". It's still terrible branding, which is why Cristina Beltrán uses it, given her intent to impugn. I prefer the name "American" without hyphens or qualification. But I'm not here to quibble over naming.

Rather, I want to counter her accusations of "agression, domination, and exclusion" with a definition of my own. What I call American and what Cristina calls "Whiteness" lies at the intersection of:

  • Identity. Who are you? Whither lie your loyalties? Do you look upon the faces of Mount Rushmore and say, "that's my heritage"? Do you read the stories of Jamestown and Plymouth Rock and say, "these are my people"?

  • Values. What do you uphold? Do you believe in limited government? Self-reliance? RKBA? Do you respect the principles, both in law and in practice, contained in the Bill of Rights?

  • Social Competence. Do you, on balance, generate positive rather than negative externalities? Do you earn your own living and pay your own way? Do you adhere to Commandments VI - X?

Not all of us sit perfectly at this intersection, and not all the time. But the further we stray from it, the further we stray from being American.

This is not to be naive about the correlation between this intersection and being racially white. It is not to deny that the process by which non-whites are assimilated into this intersection has broken down under the weight of the rapidly rising percentage of non-whites. And it is not to pretend that the official culture is not now actively hostile to that assimilation and doesn't disincentivize it in various ways.

It is only to say that the intersection itself doesn't require one to be "White" in its strict biological sense of having the majority of one's recent ancestors descend from the European peoples, but only requires something like what Ruth, the Moabite immigrant and ancestor to King David and Jesus, said to her mother-in-law Naomi:

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God."

Likewise, as God through Christ can graft we Gentiles onto the Tree of Life*, so have we gun-toting**, MAGA cap-wearing***, Republican-voting**** Americans grafted non-whites into the tree of Multiracial Whiteness.

* The metaphor is made stronger by my observation that the most of the graftees come to the American intersection by way of Evangelical Christianity.

** Only metaphorically. I lost all my guns in a boating accident last Tuesday in the Gulf, never to be seen again.

*** Also metaphorical. I've never actually worn one of those.

**** Since it looks like such voting is on its way to being a firing offense, I should probably abjure on this one as well.

Scott Alexander is Back!

In a new substack blog and under his real name. Welcome, and best wishes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Whither Singles Ministries?

In my last post, I wrote:

the social space in which a non-college-educated woman (for instance) can be courted by a college-educated professional man is much smaller than it perhaps once was.

I started to add that one such social space remaining would be church singles ministries. These usually take the form of age-bracketed Sunday school classes, often specifically advertised as catering to unmarried people. I met my own wife in one such class at a large mainline church in a city Out West and have no regrets.

But I noted some time ago that this church no longer offers such classes. I did a quick check among the larger local Protestant Evangelical churches I knew about (at least one of which is famous enough that you, too, have heard of it), yet found only one that advertised a singles ministry (for 30- and 40-somethings). My RC friends have reported a similar decline in single's ministries for Roman Catholics. What's going on?

Has online dating really sucked dry the market for IRL social spaces? Perhaps all single people today believe the advantages of online dating (large pool of participants, limited personal exposure prior to date commitment) outweigh the costs (Tinder screening factors, date commitment necessary to meet and interact).

Perhaps it reflects the desires of women, or at least of those with the loudest voices. Putting single men and women together inevitably means the former will approach the latter. No doubt some women want to be approached, but it may be difficult for those women to express this against women who do not want to be approached, or for whom being approached by the wrong men or in the wrong way is an intolerable social cost. I expect their complaints would find a receptive ear among the church leaders, older men who met and married their wives in a different age, men who accpet uncritically the claim that today's low marriage rates are wholly the fault of men for their failure to meet women's expectations.