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E-Pluribus | October 26, 2022
Apologizing for the truth, what are parents' rights anyway, and stop blaming tech and look in the mirror.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Leighton Woodhouse: San Francisco’s Mayor Apologizes for Telling the Truth
San Francisco Mayor London Breed made a Kinsley gaffe during a recent press appearance, inadvertently revealing an uncomfortable truth (at least uncomfortable for some.) Leighton Woodhouse, writing for Bari Weiss’s Common Sense, says that no one, politicians included, should have to apologize for the truth, which Breed, of course, did.
Earlier this month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was asked in an interview about her pledge to crack down on the crime, drugs and lawlessness that have plagued her city for the last several years. . .
[T]he mayor said this:
“Let’s talk about the reality of this situation. There are, unfortunately, a lot of people who come from a particular country—come from Honduras—and a lot of the people who are dealing drugs happen to be of that ethnicity. And when a lot of the arrests have been made, for people breaking the law, you have the Public Defender’s office and staff from the Public Defender’s office, who are basically accusing and using the law to say, ‘You’re racially—you’re racial profiling. You’re racial profiling.’ Right? And it’s nothing ‘racial profile’ about this. We all know it. It’s the reality. It’s what you see. It’s what’s out there.”
Breed’s comments did not go unnoticed. Soon after, the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club put out a statement condemning her “racist and xenophobic comments.” The club described her remarks as “appalling” and demanded an apology.
That apology was, unfortunately, forthcoming.
“In trying to explain what is happening in the Tenderloin,” Mayor Breed wrote last week, “I failed to accurately and comprehensively discuss what is an incredibly complex situation in our City and in Central America.” Breed described San Francisco’s drug dealers as “people of all races, ethnicities, and genders.”
The mayor shouldn’t have said anything of the sort. She said nothing offensive or inaccurate in her original comments. In fact, it’s her critics who are being dishonest about what’s happening in the open-air drug market of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District and who are doing a disservice to the poor, immigrant communities on whose behalf they claim to speak. And by conflating professional drug dealers with regular immigrant families, it is they who are being xenophobic and racist.
Read it all here.
Mark Walsh: What Do ‘Parents’ Rights’ Mean Legally for Schools, Anyway?
In the context of the age-appropriateness of certain books in school libraries and teaching in classrooms on matters related to gender and sexuality, the term “parental rights” often pops up. Mark Walsh writing at Education Week examines the term from a legal standpoint to try to clarify what parents can and can’t expect when dealing with these and other issues.
“People who invoke the term ‘parental rights’ have different things in mind and different aspirations,” said Neal McCluskey, the director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. “My general impression when I see people invoking ‘parental rights,’ it’s been connected to a general idea that parents have been cut out of decisions made by schools.”
Jeffrey Shulman, a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center and the author of several law journal articles on parental rights, said he agrees the term “is thrown about loosely” and could refer to rights under the U.S. Constitution, under federal statutes, under state constitutions or state statutes, or even school board regulations.
“Generally speaking, when parents use the term in the heat of battle, they are pretty much calling upon some amorphous, free-floating right,” Shulman said.
[. . .]
“These arguments should not be dismissed out of hand,” Shulman added. “But much of what we’re seeing in the news is outright hostility to any form of common education.”
That’s certainly not how some parental-rights advocates on the conservative side view things.
Tiffany Justice, a co-founder of the group Moms for Liberty, which has grown quickly as a major voice for parental rights since being founded last year, is quick to point out that she served on her local school board, in Florida’s Indian River County. The mother of four school-aged children worked on such mundane issues as school start times. (She tried to make them later.)
“We support public education,” said Justice. “But we have an education system that is failing parents.”
Read it all.
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Chris Stirewalt: The Problem Is Us, Not Our Technologies
It is a common human tendency to look elsewhere for the source of our problems. Chris Stirewalt of The Dispatch says that whatever responsibility technology bears for some of our current social and cultural problems, the root of those problems lies with the users, not the tech itself.
In his 1987 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote: “We do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.” In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, America saw some very significant accomplishments—the defeat of Soviet communism and the development of the internet among them. But if you looked at where we spent our time, we were most deeply devoted to what Postman called being “narcotized” by television.
I don’t pretend that there aren’t serious disruptions attendant to Americans carrying their narcotizing devices in their pockets with them instead of having to go home and supplicate themselves before the glowing screen. Nor do I mean to suggest that there aren’t consequences from entertainment that can be tailored to every individual’s preferences. Media that concentrates interests and turns us inward necessarily turns us away from each other. Network television, for all its vacuousness, was a shared national experience and sometimes exposed us to ways of life other than our own, even if in caricature.
But I do mean to remind us that we had already been conquered by electronic media before we started carrying little computers in our pockets. But the devices did not create the desire for entertainment as anesthesia. We have always wanted all we could get, and we were already getting more than we needed before Steve Jobs stepped out on stage in October 2007.
Read the whole thing.
The Foundation for Individuals Rights & Expression on Penn State’s cancellation of an appearance by a Proud Boys founder: safety issue, or heckler’s veto?
Via Shadi Hamid with comment by Oliver Traldi, an article from Murtaza Hussain on respecting democratic outcomes:
And finally, not all “diversity” is created equal: