URLs du Jour


Well, after disposing of Aunt Jemima, the tumbrels have come for … Uncle Ben's is canceled: Now is the right time to "evolve" our brand, says company. Hot Air's Jazz Shaw reports and comments:

Mars has long been aware that “Uncle Ben” isn’t a progressive mascot, shall we say, to the point where they gave him an image makeover around 15 years ago. The character originally was based on a waiter at the restaurant where the two (white) founders of the company came up with the product in the 1940s; the name “Uncle Ben” came from a Texas farmer whose rice was well-regarded at the time. NBC notes that the term “Uncle” was often used by whites during Jim Crow to refer to older blacks so as to deny them the respect of addressing them as “Mister.” Thus, while Uncle Ben isn’t a house slave, he’s not a fully dignified character either.

Mars tried to change that in 2007 by refashioning him as the symbolic chairman of the company. Why, that’s not the bowtie of a servant that he’s wearing in the logo, it’s the bowtie of a business tycoon! But his Jim Crow origins remained, and having a “symbolic” black chairman isn’t a great look for a company that’s actually run by whites. He’s never even been given a surname, just plain ol’ Ben despite his supposed esteemed status.

Fine. Maybe Ben and Jemima will find a nice little retirement-community condo in Boca Raton.

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson analyzes the recent work of the Supremes and finds it wanting. Bostock v. Clayton County: Magical Thinking Replaces Jurisprudence at Supreme Court.

    If some conservative critic had said in 1964 that the civil-rights bill then under consideration would outlaw discrimination against men who wish to undergo voluntary genital amputation in service of a persistent fantasy that they are in some transcendent sense female, Lyndon Johnson would have looked at him a little funny. Even Barry Goldwater did not think such a thing. There is not a word about sexuality, homosexuality, or the contemporary phenomenon politely known as transgenderism in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    The law does forbid discrimination based on “sex.” From that modest material, a Supreme Court majority, led by Justice Gorsuch, has constructed a vast new edifice of civil-rights law under which a man’s desire to wear a dress (I am not being snarky — the issue in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC was an employer’s maintenance of separate dress codes for male and female employees) is protected by the same law, to the same extent, and under the same principles as African Americans seeking to maintain their political and economic rights after centuries of chattel slavery and ruthless official repression.

    KDW observes that, way back when, Phyllis Schlafly might have had a point about the Equal Rights Amendment. Given the new "discovered" interpretation of a 56-year-old law, who knows what the activists could have done with a Constitutional amendment in their legal toolkit?

  • We've tended to pooh-pooh the various statistics trotted out on this subject, but Jacob Sullum claims that careful analysis shows… Racially Skewed Policing Is Not a Statistical Mirage

    Many conservatives condemn the excessive force that killed George Floyd but reject the notion that such abuses reflect a broader problem of racial bias. "I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist," says Attorney General William Barr, whose boss argues that the crimes of a few "bad apples" do not justify "falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist."

    Fair enough. But it is a serious mistake to dismiss stark, widely documented racial disparities in policing as a statistical mirage with no implications for equality under the law.

    It's a complex issue, but I'm open to the argument that police may be acting under a dysfunctional incentive structure. How about we try:

    1. Giving up on drug prohibition;
    2. Ending qualified immunity;
    3. Getting rid of unions for public safety employees.

    This wouldn't be an overnight fix. But it makes a lot more sense than sending Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima to the re-education camps.

  • Speaking of being sent to the re-education camps, I continue to be fascinated by the story out of Mount Ascutney, Vermont, where ex-Principal Tiffany Riley was a recent unhappy and involuntary camper. Jonathan Turley is too: Vermont Principal Put On Leave For Not Agreeing With Black Lives Matters. His bottom line:

    Teachers in Chicago can go to Venezuela to support a dictator who has arrested and murdered scores of people, including suppressing free speech and the free press. They were not punished or declared “tone deaf.” Boards like Mount Ascutney School Board engage in open content-based regulation of speech of teachers in the private lives of teachers.  They will be applauded for such action against free speech as people ignore the implications of such punitive measures.

    This is not about BLM. It is about free speech. Of course, the Board is not being “tone deaf.” Mount Ascutney School Board has guaranteed that there will be no sound at all, at least no dissenting voices heard among its teachers.

    I also read through the VTDigger article that I think originally broke this story: Windsor principal on leave after Black Lives Matter comments stir controversy. I was struck by the language Tiffany Riley's detractors used:

    • "…embarrassed and appalled at such an expression of ignorance and hate…"
    • "…parents said they didn’t feel safe with their children [at the school]…"
    • "…showed no assurances to African American families … that they are cherished and loved…"
    • "…so insensitive…"
    • "… ignorance, prejudice, and lack of judgement …"

    I call bullshit. Ex-Principal Riley's real crime was daring to express minor dissent from the BLM sloganeering. That cannot be tolerated.

  • The LFOD Google News Alert has been returning a bumper crop of late. In the Cape May (NJ) County Herald, one Collin Hall has diagnosed it as the source of the country's problems: Individualistic Freedom Is Tearing Us Apart

    Phrases like “Live free or die” are deeply woven into the American ethos; Americans so often see themselves as residents of, perhaps above all else, a land of freedom. Even if they have been taken out of context, there is a reason that quotes like Franklin’s, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” sit heavy on the American soul. 

    It's pretty hard to claim that LFOD has been "taken out of context". But people have claimed that about the Franklin quote for years. Example: Ben Wittes at Lawfare back in 2011: What Ben Franklin Really Said.

    Franklin said this more than once. Apparently originally in a 1755 letter to the Pennsylvania Assembly concerning funding for defense of settlers in the French and Indian War. Wittes argues that the Franklin quote "does not mean what it seems to say." "Liberty", argues Wittes, referred to the "liberty" of the legislature to tax the land holdings of the Penn family, which would have preferred to donate cash for such defense "voluntarily", in exchange for their lands remaining untaxed.

    Well, that's the argument, anyway. When I read the letter itself, I find the "context" to be far from clear,

    But a subsequent use (from 1775) is documented here, part of the discussions between Britain and the American colonists leading up to the Revolution. There, it seems to more clearly reflect the more common reading: yeah, sure, Americans could give up on some negotiating points with Britain, and get some "safety". But at the cost of their liberty.