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E-Pluribus | July 28, 2023
The wrong kind of diversity; a government accountability dodge; and the struggles of the right to get it right on race.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Shadi Hamid: Muslims vs. Democrats: A Story of Betrayal
Writing at The Wall Street Journal, Shadi Hamid says the Democrats’ message to Muslims is, Diversity for thee, but not for me. When their interests aligned, Democrats were more than happy to cry “Islamophobia!” in defense of Muslims, but now that gender-identity’s star has risen, Muslims, at least in certain school districts, are on the outs.
The Democratic Party’s cultural turn has intensified. In March the Montgomery County Board of Education—the largest school district in Maryland, in a Democratic stronghold with a significant Muslim population—informed parents that they would no longer be notified when their children were reading from the school’s approved “selection of over 22 LGBTQ+-inclusive texts,” and that no opt-outs would be tolerated. Hundreds of Muslim parents have since sounded out in protest, some of them joining Christians in filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the mandate.
The kind of Islamophobia not so long ago associated with the GOP is now making an appearance among Democrats. Montgomery County Council member Kristin Mink said that this issue casts “some Muslim families on the same side of an issue as white supremacists and outright bigots.” In Hamtramck, Ms. Majewski, who lost her re-election bid in 2021, sounded a similar tune: “We supported you when you were threatened—and now our rights are threatened, and you’re the one doing the threatening.”
The left’s dismissal of Muslims as bigots echoes old right-wing insinuations that Muslims were more loyal to Shariah than to their country. Yet when Hamtramck’s City Council passed its ordinance, it did so by appealing to love of country and liberal neutrality, letting only national, state, city and prisoner-of-war flags to be flown. Mayor Amer Ghalib argued that the city government should maintain neutrality on contentious religious, racial and political questions.
Read it all here.
Billy Binion: A SWAT Team Destroyed an Innocent Man's Shop. Then the City Left Him With the Bill.
In May, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman robbed (in effect) by the local government to cover a small tax debt. At Reason, Billy Binion details another all-to-common government abuse that is ripe for correcting.
In early August of last year, after a fugitive violently thrust Pena from his shop and barricaded himself inside, a SWAT team from the City of Los Angeles fired more than 30 rounds of tear gas canisters over the course of 13 hours. When the government entered the building, the officers found their target had escaped. Left inside was a shop that was a shell of itself, with Pena's inventory ruined and the bulk of his equipment unusable.
Pena didn't fault the city for attempting to subdue an allegedly dangerous person. But he objected to what came next: The government refused his requests for compensation, strapping him with expenses that exceed $60,000 and a situation that has cost him tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, as he has been resigned to working at a much-reduced capacity out of his garage, according to a lawsuit he filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
"Apprehending a dangerous fugitive is in the public interest," the suit notes. "The cost of apprehending such fugitives should be borne by the public, and not by an unlucky and entirely innocent property owner."
Pena is not the first such property owner to see his life destroyed and be left picking up the pieces. Insurance policies often have disclaimers that they do not cover damage caused by the government. But governments sometimes refuse to pay for such repairs, buttressed by jurisprudence from various federal courts which have ruled that actions taken under "police powers" are not subject to the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
[. . .]
The police-power shield invoked by some courts is a historical "misunderstanding," says Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm representing Pena in his suit. Judges have recently held that so long as the overall action taken by the government was justifiable—trying to capture a fugitive, for example—then the victim is not entitled to compensation under the Fifth Amendment. "Takings are not supposed to be at all about whether or not the government was acting wrongfully," he says. "It can be acting for the absolute best reasons in the world. It's just about who should bear these public burdens. Is it some unlucky individual, or is it society as a whole?"
Read the whole thing.
Robert Tracinski: Does the Right Have a Racism Problem?
In response to the country singer Jason Aldean controversy, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently wrote on Twitter, “When the media attacks you, you’re doing something right.” Without getting into the specifics of that case, Robert Tracinski points out at Discourse Magazine the corner some conservatives have painted themselves into with that reflex. Sometimes people accused of racism or prejudice really are guilty of it, and conservatives need to learn how to better distinguish those from the truly innocent.
For many on the left, this [Does conservatism have a racism problem?] would not even be a question. Of course those right-wingers are all a bunch of racists. This has been their favorite accusation against anyone they don’t like for half a century. Such was the moral authority won by the civil rights movement that there was an irresistible temptation to try to harness that authority for every cause of the left. So if you are on the right, you have probably at some point been called a racist for expressing reasonable mainstream views. I have a vivid memory of the first time I was called a Nazi for advocating free markets. (The actual program of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party was, not surprisingly, economic dictatorship.)
You don’t even need to be on the right any more. Lin-Manuel Miranda, beloved creator of the musical “Hamilton,” is now denounced as a racist. So is Eva Longoria, for making a movie about a Hispanic man who becomes successful in the capitalist system. (At least, that’s the most sense I can make out of this claim.) Let’s just say that Godwin’s Law exists for a reason.
All of this has had a “boy who cried wolf” effect, leading many on the right to reflexively reject any accusation of racism.
But the emerging pattern on the right is not about false accusations or borderline cases. Senator Tuberville wasn’t being asked about the Rotary Club. He was being asked about white nationalists. Similarly, when Donald Trump made his notorious “very fine people” comments after the Charlottesville riot in 2017, he was talking about the guys with torches shouting epithets against Jews.
There is a steady stream of other examples. Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, has headlined a conference organized by Nick Fuentes, the leader of an online faction of white nationalists who call themselves Groypers. Gosar also employed one of Fuentes’ followers as an aide. Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers has gone much farther. Speaking at one of Fuentes’ conferences, she declared the need to “build more gallows” for “traitors.” And of course, Fuentes was also a guest of former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Read it all.
Via the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s Angel Eduardo, a defense of (**squints**) not imprisoning one’s political or cultural opponents:
From Leighton Woodhouse, file this under “I did not see that coming!” The local NAACP in Oakland, California goes counter-narrative on crime, race and policing:
And finally, a reminder from Douglas Murray about the danger of trying individuals in the court of the media: