Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cleaning Up The Kitchen: Responsibility for the Non-Responsible

After reading Mark's rejoinder to my reply to his critique of how Blacks and Jews (among others) remember certain tragedies, I realized that it was futile to keep running around in this circle of critique/refute/critique like I've been doing so far. Not because Mark is a disingenuous writer, or because either of us are stupid, or anything like that. What I've realized is that there are a few core premises that need to be clarified, or else we will perpetually continue talking past each other and make no progress. So this post will only indirectly respond to Mark's, but I hope it will serve to illuminate some of the issues that we've been batting around for some time now.

To begin with, I'd like to offer up a premise, which I think is rather intuitive but which I am open to hearing a critique of:

Human beings have a moral obligation to try and remedy unjust systems of which they are the beneficiary

I'm have warrants to support why this is true, but for brevity's sake (Lord knows I have that problem) I'll hold off on providing them unless the obligation is challenged.

So, for example, if I'm a monarch, heir to a throne established long ago, I have a particular responsibility to try and democratize my country, because I'm a key beneficiary of the current autocratic rule. If I'm a White southerner in 1900, I have a particular obligation to resist Jim Crow because I reap benefits from the current state of injustice.

This is actually a weaker claim than I could be making: I could simply say that human beings have a moral obligation to try and remedy unjust systems whenever they can. And perhaps I believe that, but I don't need to go that far in order to make my argument here.

There is an important clarification to be made. Saying "you have a responsibility to resist racism" is not the same thing as saying "you were responsible for creating racism" or even "you are an active participant in maintaining racism." If I'm told: "you're responsible for cleaning up the kitchen," that statement is entirely agnostic to what degree, if any, I'm responsible for causing the kitchen to have become dirty. There are all sorts of reasons why I might be responsible for cleaning up the kitchen even though I did not make it dirty. For my purpose here, I'm forwarding the argument that you have an obligation to assist in "cleaning the kitchen" (dismantle racial hierarchy, for my pet issue) if one reaps benefits from the kitchen being dirty (if one reaps benefits from the preservation of a racial caste system).

I cannot stress how important this is. In his post, Mark uses the rhetoric of "guilt" and "innocence", and says that I am tagging all White people as "guilty" of perpetuating the slave system. I am not. No living White person today is responsible for creating the slave system. They are "guilty" of nothing. They should face no moral opprobrium for the sins of their parents. There should be no Dickinson-style beheadings. Mark's ancestors could not avoid the "crime" because they did not commit one. However, the crucial point is that my argument depends not a whit on ascribing guilt to White people. The link to an obligation stems out of benefits one accrues from the oppressive regime, regardless of whether one helped create it or not. The divorce of responsibility for causing and responsibility for ending is critical--without it the argument makes no sense. I think a lot of people mistakenly equate the two and oppose it for that reason. I could, to be sure, condemn a White person for failing to actively oppose racism. But I'd be condemning him for failing to fulfill a moral obligation, not because he's a slaveholders grandson.

In the previous post, I made the following syllogism of how Whites benefit from past wrongs against Blacks, even if they or their ancestors had no role in establishing the harms:
A) We still live in a de facto racial caste system. This is supported by the fact that nearly every social indicator--controlled for class--has White people at a tremendous advantage over Blacks in virtually every aspect of life. David Roediger (American Studies/U. Minnesota) has documented "the wages of whiteness" that even post-civil war white people glean from the racial divide.

B) This caste system is supported, in part, by the immense network of images, stereotypes, economic deprivations, and other wrongs that flowed out of the slave system and reinforced the social hierarchy of white over color. This I think is obvious: if there is, in fact, a racial caste system, I don't think it's controversial that slavery has helped build it.

C) All White people today--regardless of ancestry--gain some benefits that flow out from the slave system.

Mark doesn't really dispute the premise that Whites are at an advantage in American life (which he can't, because the data is so overwhelmingly in my favor). He offers up a half-hearted response that since I believe that Whites benefit from a diverse social sphere, I can't then turn around and say that they also benefit from preserving a racial caste system. But that's clearly untrue: If I get $50 by beating someone up and taking their money, or $100 by working with him to build a new business, I'm benefiting either way (although I incur an opportunity cost for my injustice). He also questions my link to how slavery and Jim Crow have influenced modern racial stereotypes--but it's fairly easy to trace the development of both the Black sambo and the Black brute images to the slave era (see, e.g., George Fredrickson, "White Images of Black Slaves: (Is What We See in Others Sometimes a Reflection of What We Find in Ourselves?)", in Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror, Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1997): 38-45). His main attack is that I'm ascribing group guilt to people who had no role in creating the original harm, but that's what my original moral premise is designed to address.

This is not supposed to be the last word, but the beginning. I hope that I've established my burden in subsequent conversations: if I can show that Whites are benefiting from an illegitimate racial schema, then I've proven that they have an obligation to end it.

Postscript: I apologize to Mark for consistently spelling his name wrong--with a name like Schraub, I sympathize. I also found interesting the story behind it--that "Olsen" became "Olson" to avoid anti-Norwegian prejudice and to sound more Swedish. Ironically, this may prove my point about modern import of injustices. Past prejudice against Norwegians was of course a very bad thing. But today, I'm sure Mark would agree it's played little to no role in his life. In fact, I could not even tell you the difference between a Norwegian and a Swedish name (it's all Scandinavian to me). By contrast, having a Black-sounding name does continue to have a major effect on one's life chances--not for the good. Sometimes society manages to move past it's wrongs. But sometimes the wrong remains ongoing. It's important to distinguish the two.

Friday, June 16, 2006

When Tragedies Still Matter

Mark Olsen thinks certain groups--namely Jews and Blacks--remember their historical tragedies the wrong way. Specifically, he thinks that they falsely claim uniqueness, and that they take an overly hostile stance rather than using past tragedies for ethnic bonding. For example, for Jews, Olsen thinks that the proper model is Passover and Egyptian slavery, which is used for ethnic bonding and solidarity, rather than the Holocaust, with its confrontational "never again" slogan which denies reconciliation.

It's an interesting post, marred only by the fact that it's wildly wrong on nearly every account. Not only does Mark misstate how both Jews and Blacks view their historical tragedies, he glosses over important differences that make certain types of historical catastrophes different than others in a vain effort to say "every ethnic group has had problems."

I'm not going to do a point-by-point, because that would take to long, but a few quickie corrections:
1) Jews do not ignore the deaths of others in the Holocaust (I always write of the 11-12 million total death toll unless I'm specifically writing a post about anti-semitism)--although I'd sometimes like them to be a bit more forward about it. But at the same time, Jews are somewhat justified in focusing on their own plight, again because of its particularism: Unlike, say, Poles or Catholics, many of whom also died from slave labor, Jews were one of the only groups to be singled out specifically for extermination (as opposed to just being sent to slave labor camps).
2) "Nazis" aren't the guilty party, the German people are. Pope Benedict tried to pull this slight of hand, but the Holocaust could not have happened without the widespread consent and support of the populace. Every major Holocaust theorist supports this view. And I'd add that the vast majority of the world, by turning its back on the atrocities and by refusing to accept Jewish refugees, were in effect collaborators to the extermination.
3) The ratification of the 13th/14th/15th amendment matters much more than the end date of the civil war to Blacks. And it's an understatement to the extreme to call July 4th "not such an unalloyed declaration of Freedom" for Blacks. If I were Black, I'd consider "all men are created equal" to be an outright mockery at the time. And I'd hold off on popping the champagne corks on the reconstruction amendments until they actually start being enforced as they were originally intended, which won't happen until the Slaughterhouse Cases are overruled.

But to the main. I want to offer my own counter-standard about when its appropriate to "hold on" to a tragedy for more than just social solidarity, but to still demand reform on behalf of the aggrieved party.

With regards to slavery, Mark writes:
The first error which seems universal regarding such memories is that they are very selective. In our two examples, the American Black ascribes fault to the American/European whites for their bondage. And yes, the white men at the time where the slave holders, transporters, and local enablers. However, in the current drug trafficking trade, we hold the seller accountable at least if not moreso than they buyer. In the African slave triangle, it was African indigenous Black tribes preying on others that sold the Black man to the white. However, in my casual acquaintance with the American Black memories of their time in slavery, blame is never assigned to the African Blacks remaining in Africa. If this event is to be remembered, why is not that complicity of the African Black remembered? Or the sacrifice of the Union (mostly white) soldiers remembered just as well?

Geez, where to start? First, if Mark really cannot find a qualitative difference in a drug use buyer/seller dynamic, and slavery buyer/seller dynamic, then we might as well stop the conversation now. I'll just throw out a few important distinctions:

1) One does not get physically addicted to slaveholding (and while slavery was important to the Southern economy, anyone who tries to argue that they were "dependent" the same way a junkie is dependent on heroin is going to get smacked. Seriously).

2) There is no common consensus that drug users behaving immorally, given that there is no inherent direct harm to another. We view addicts as being stupid, sure, but not immoral. And the flip side is that we see sellers as predatory and thus immoral. This dynamic is non-sensical applied to the slave trade ("look at the poor plantation owner, being preyed upon by that lowly slave trader")

3) The power dynamic is inverted: dealers have it drugs, slave holders have it in the slave trade. Drugs are a seller-created market, slaves are a buyer-created market In fact, the whole antebellum slave economy was a product of White and European forces--African kingdoms knew the only way they stood a chance of resisting European imperialism was to get guns via the slave trade. That doesn't justify it, but it's simply ridiculous to assert that Black slave trade was something that operated independently of White imperialism and immorality.

Mark wants to universalize experiences so that each instance of oppression can be reduced to another, with the only difference being which ethnic group gets to form solidarity from which event. But history is particular, and each instance of tragedy plays out in different ways--it's wrong to try and group each one into some meta-category and treat them all the same. Each tragedy is unique and should be dealt with contextually, based on the particular contours of the event itself and its post hoc impacts.

What Mark seems upset about is that Blacks and Jews hold on to their tragedy for more than just a Passover style communal bonding experience. Jews have used "never again" as a rallying cry against anti-semitism, at least partially to justify the creation of Israel and to become one of the world's most consistent and vociferous advocates for genocide intervention (Mark is simply wrong to imply that Jews have not used "never again" in this manner--Jewish groups were among the earliest to call for Darfur a intervention and pushed hard for Rwanda too). Blacks want reparations for slavery and have used America's slave-holding past as part of their narrative of American racist history. So if Mark's project was to try and box all forms of tragedy-remembrance into a happy holiday of solidarity by way of reconciliation, my project is to articulate when its justified to break out of said box.

Several factors come into play in justifying this:
1) How recent was the tragedy? The Holocaust ended in 1945, Egyptian slavery ended in 3000 B.C.E.. That matters.

2) How egregious was the tragedy? Being called "paddy" when you move to America sucks. Being brought to America in chains, separated from your family, beaten bloody every day, and having your son sold to a known brute and your daughter raped by your master sucks more.

3) Has the power hierarchy changed? Has the majority group apologized? Does it no longer hold a meaningfully higher proportion of political power? Is it genuinely committed to rectifying the wrong both procedurally and substantively? American Blacks, I suspect, would be far more willing to put the legacy of slavery behind them if a) they got an official apology (which we refuse to do), b) racism stopped being a meaningful social force in American life, and c) there were not still rampant social inequalities that make a mockery of the 14th amendment.

4) Does the tragedy have modern import? Slavery still matters because White supremacists still use slavery as part of an overall narrative of Black inferiority. Jews still look at the Holocaust because you still see folks trying to marginalize us by saying things like "Hitler was right" (if someone said to me "the Egyptians were right!", by contrast, I'd look at him blankly).

Three and Four are particularly important for three reasons. First, they show how people living today, even if not direct descendents of direct oppressors, can still be implicated in past oppression. The syllogism for slavery runs as follows:
A) We still live in a de facto racial caste system. This is supported by the fact that nearly every social indicator--controlled for class--has White people at a tremendous advantage over Blacks in virtually every aspect of life. David Roediger (American Studies/U. Minnesota) has documented "the wages of whiteness" that even post-civil war white people glean from the racial divide.

B) This caste system is supported, in part, by the immense network of images, stereotypes, economic deprivations, and other wrongs that flowed out of the slave system and reinforced the social hierarchy of white over color. This I think is obvious: if there is, in fact, a racial caste system, I don't think it's controversial that slavery has helped build it.

C) All White people today--regardless of ancestry--gain some benefits that flow out from the slave system.

Second, it distinguishes these cases from the many other historical tragedies which have befallen many other ethnic groups. Yes, the Irish faced significant prejudice when they first came to America, but it has virtually no contemporary potency or impact on their life's chances.

Third, they provide better explanatory power for why this sort of radicalization occurs. I call this "broken promise syndrome." To be blunt, America has continually broken its promise to rectify its wrongs when it comes to Black people. 80 years after "all men are created equal," we still had slavery. The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, 60 years later Strauder v. West Virginia was probably the only major case where Blacks had their rights vindicated in court. Brown v. Board was sent down in 1954, today we still have a largely segregated school system. Slavery matters because its harms are ongoing--it is part of the narrative of American racism which continued through Jim Crow and continues to exist today. As Richard Delgado notes, a celebratory remembrance which emphasizes reconciliation is not only ridiculous idealistically, its foolish pragmatically, because it lets the White majority tell itself that "the problem has been solved" and give itself self-congratulatory pats on the back instead of dealing with the continued presence and effect of racism in society. Blacks shouldn't "get past" slavery until Whites do--that is, until Whites agree to dismantle the racial hierarchy that slavery helped nourish and support today.

Moreover, I think that this model is closer to how Blacks actually view their case. Take W.E.B. Du Bois. In his first major work, The Souls of Black Folks(1903), Du Bois was in many ways a model for what Mark wants out of Black leaders--he continually emphasized reconciliation with the south, and argued against the type of general attacks Mark dislikes. Du Bois wrote then that "The present generation of Southerners are not responsible for the past, and they should not be blindly hated or blamed for it," and "if the representatives of the best white Southern public opinion were the ruling and guiding powers in the South to-day the conditions indicated would be fairly well fulfilled." Seventeen years later, Du Bois wrote Darkwater, and this conciliatory tone was gone from his voice--calling the atrocities committed during African colonization "the real soul of White culture." As Du Bois life progressed, he grew ever more radical until one of the greatest advocates for democratic pluralism the world has ever seen joined the Communist party and exiled himself to Ghana for the last few years of his life. Du Bois had the faith in White people that Mark wishes to see, he was willing to put slavery and southern atrocities behind him, and found that hope dashed by the cruel reality and persistence of white racism. We'd expect the reverse pattern if, as Mark puts it (in different words), this view of the past was a pathology with little relation to current realities: Black leaders would grow more optimistic about the state of America as they see that their lives are not being constrained by these structures of prejudice. But instead, the classic pattern is one of disenchantment: they start off believing the hype that America is willing to get past racism, and they slowly lose faith as they discover that the story does not match the reality. Mark needs to come up with an alternate explanation of this disenchantment phenomena.

Ultimately, the question is is the tragedy still relevant? For Jews, we won't forget the Holocaust until the underlying harm is gone: that people wish to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth (notably, few anti-semites advocate Jewish enslavement, which makes it easier to forget about Egypt). Blacks will not and should not get past slavery until the underlying problem is eliminated--the underlying problem being White racism. Until then, I applaud their advocacy for change, and I stand in solidarity with their call.

Part of the 38%

Bush gets applause from a radical Muslim cleric for his homophobic stances.
Qaradawi said that gays deserved "the same punishment as any sexual pervert - the same as the fornicator. The schools of thought disagree about the punishment. Some say they should be punished like fornicators... Some say we should throw them from a high place, like God did with the people of Sodom. Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement."

The leading Muslim scholar also claimed that former Democratic contender for the US presidency, John Kerry, was "supported by homosexuals and nudists."

"But it was Bush who won (the elections), because he is Christian, right-wing, tenacious, and unyielding. In other words, the religious overcame the perverted. So we cannot blame all Americans and Westerners," Qaradawi added.

See, we are making inroads with the Muslim world after all.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Evolving The 4th Amendment

The Supreme Court just issued a 5-4 decision (along the normal lines) in Hudson v. Michigan. The opinion looks to dramatically restrict the potency of the exclusionary rule, which has served as a check against police excesses since the 1960s. What the exclusionary rule says is that any evidence obtained via illegal police action is inadmissable in court. This case refused to apply the exclusionary rule in a case where the police did not (as legally required), knock to announce themselves before carrying out a search.

I haven't read the opinions, so I'm in no position to comment. But there is a fair amount of blogger chatter about the structural aspects of the case. Orin Kerr, for example, notes how Justice Scalia, normally so quick to extoll the virtues of originalism, rested his argument here on how new social circumstances have changed the meaning of the 4th amendment from prior understandings. Specifically, he noted the rise of both attorneys willing to file complaints against illegal police action, and the increased "professionalism" of the police force which now can be expected to discipline internal infractions, as reasons why civil remedies are sufficient deterrence for police misconduct.

(Quick digression: Is it just me, or is that justification essentially eliminating the rule because it has been effective? I'd say that the zero-tolerance approach embodied by the exclusionary rule has a lot to do with the change in environment which makes both outsiders and insiders more vigilent in policing the police. There is no reason to think that their behavior will not lapse if this tool is taken out of the tool box)

Anyway, whatever merits this argument might have from a public policy perspective, it is quite far from originalism. As Justin Gardner points out, this case was effectively dismissive of the past regime of police abuses--a sterling example of what the boys and girls at Southern Appeal would applaud as "Stare Decisis is fo' suckas" opinion-making. I concur with Kevin Drum: it is cases like this which make me decline to take originalism seriously as a judicial doctrine. And this isn't an outlier for Scalia: his opinions have come under serious originalist fire in both Affirmative Action and Free Exercise cases.

In any event, the point is that Scalia really has to come up with some compelling explanation why recent evolutions alternatively start and stop mattering from case to case.

Now I'm Two!

This blog turns two years old today! I can't decide whether the time has flown by or crawled. Of course, two years old is quite a run in the blog world--I consider myself quite the veteran. I would link to my first week of posts, but I'm embarrassed--I don't think they were very good. You can check them out in my archives if you truly desire.

I need to thank Belle Lettre, for posting a happy blog-birthday message on her blog before I did. Also, of course, my indulgent host, Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice, and all my lovely co-bloggers there. All of the bloggers on my blogroll deserve mention--I don't believe in link-trading, so anyone who is there is someone I geniunely have gotten something out of--but especially my readers from the opposing side of the aisle who keep me honest and (on the flip side) give me potential converts.

As with all bloggers, I have my moments where I am "up" on blogging and moments where I'm "down" on blogging, and right now I'm recovering from a downswing. It's sometimes a lot of pressure to have something up and ready each and every day (this is why I'll never do journalism), and I always feel guilty when I think I'm not producing enough. But the opportunities I've found through blogging and the people I've met (or, more accurately, "met") have always made it worth it. I'm looking forward to many more posts, and I hope that you will continue to patronize this fine institution of commentary now and in the future.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Expert Sleuthing

Headline from CNN: UN Hears of Mass Darfur Killings.

Excellent work, investigators. Maybe now they'll do something about it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Post-Work Roundup

My first day of work was today. The law firm I'm interning at has a very large practice in Civil Rights and Anti-discrimination law. But they put me in securities. Securities! And I could just taste the Wal-Mart case too.

Anyway, I came home really drained for no good reason. So no post (maybe later tonight), just a roundup of other stuff.

A great look by the New York Times on how legalizing gay marriages would impact religious liberty (Heads up: The VC). I argued here and the article concedes that the prospect of judges forcing churches to perform gay marriages is minimal at best. But there is real potential for clash in terms of how churches with traditional opposition to homosexuality are treated via the new anti-discrimination regime.

Spencer Overton shows a perfect example of politicians picking their voters (and here I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?). The culprit is Florida.

A pair of good posts by Will Baude at Crescat Sententia. The first inquires into the relationship between stare decisis and cert decisions, within the specific context of a case called Almendarez-Torres, which apparently a majority of justices now believe is wrong. Justice Thomas wishes to go the traditional route and simply overrule it. But Justice Stevens argues that state courts can effectively nullify Supreme Court rulings which give too little protection to rights. I don't find Baude's 10th amendment attack on this principle convincing, but I admit the argument troubling (although to be fair, it is uncontroversial that state courts can interpret their state constitutions to give heightened protection over the federal constitution, even where they use similar or identical language. So this is kind of a pedantic debate, it seems).

The second post features a good response to the obnoxious fact that the 1st amendment states "Congress shall make no law" abridging all of its prohibitions. Theoretically, that means that the President can, right? But as Baude (quoting the ever-incredible Michael W. McConnell) notes, there are other amendments which protect "liberties" from being abridged without "due process of law." Only Congress can pass laws, and it can't pass a law that abridges (say) free speech. So if the executive decides to violate one's free speech rights, ipso facto they are exceeding their legally delegated powers (unless it acts within a few parameters narrowly defined [or if your the Bush administration, infinitely broadly defined] by Article II).

Michelle Adams gives an intriguing account of CRT-father Derrick Bell's student-centric teaching pedagogy, and follows up with her own defense of the Socratic method.

With Tester and Webb both winning their senate primaries, the netroots is starting to get some momentum (at least in Democratic primaries).

Tony Karon makes the case to root for Angola in this year's World Cup. I was already rooting for them to beat their former colonial overlord, Portugal (but they lost 1-0). Fellow cup fan Bitch Ph.D also comments and gets the pointer credit.

Rachel Sullivan makes an important point about the Duke Rape case. It seems like they're getting crushed in the court of public opinion recently, and I'd begun wondering about how strong the case really was. But Rachel reminds us that virtually all the new info has been leaked by the defense, which (of course) is leaking selectively. So it's too soon to jump to conclusions without the prosecution getting to state its case.

A solid post by J. David Velleman on the Guantanamo Bay suicides, from a moral (Kantian) perspective.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Legal Legitimacy and Abortion Politics

I didn't get a chance to blog on this before I left, but I want to now plug this post by Leon H. Wolf on how law gains legitimacy in the public eye, and what the implications of having it (or not having it) are. Wolf specifically examines the question of abortion.

One of the crucial problems with the abortion debate is that both sides consider themselves to be fighting for sacred principles. Pro-lifers think that abortion is murder (in which case allowing it is tantamount to consent to murder). Pro-choicers think that being able to have an abortion is crucial to women being full members of the social community--without it they are second-class citizens, slaves to their ovaries. I've always thought that the normative case for overruling Roe v. Wade and then "letting the states decide" made little normative sense: the only way abortion is not clearly a woman's right is if it's murder, and I think a few constitutional clauses would pose a barrier to a state deciding to simply legalize the slaughter of innocents.

But Wolf articulates a pragmatic reason for sending abortion back to the states:
Whatever one might say about the process which gave us the rules encapsulated in decisions like Loving or Lawrence, it can hardly be doubted that the American public, almost as a unified whole, accepts the principles contained therein as legitimate. In the thirty-three years since Roe, no such mellowing has occurred - no legitimacy has been obtained - the debate is as rancorous as it ever was, and more so. Ugliness lies on the horizon.
[quoting Paul H. Robinson and John M. Darley] [A] number of studies... suggest that the level of commitment to obey the law is proportional to what Tyler calls the law's perceived "legitimacy," by which he means a community's perceptions that, first, the law instantiates their moral beliefs, and, second, that the law came into being via fair procedures conducted by the appropriate authorities. [end quote]

Presently, this feeling is lacking on the part of pro-lifers - who don't feel yet that this is an issue they have lost by legitimate means. The legacy of the current abortion law has been bequeathed not by democratic processes, but rather by fiat from a majority vote on a panel of 9 individuals far removed from democratic accountability. Adding to the furor, over the past decade and a half, 7 of those individuals (at any given time) were appointed by Presidents who professed similar beliefs on the abortion issue.

Wolf argues that if pro-choicers managed to get democratic ratification for their views, it would finally take the wind out of the sails of the pro-life movement. I'm still not swayed of the pragmatic attack on Roe generally. Specifically responding Wolf's points, I'd argue that on this particular issue democratic procedures can't or won't provide the legitimacy he wants because both sides think of themselves as representing groups marginalized in the democratic polity (pro-lifers representing unborn children who cannot vote, pro-choicers representing women [especially low-income women] who face rampant sexism and misogyny in America). Jim Crow, too, was enacted in an era of formal constitutional equality between the races. Democratic legitimacy is a boon when a group that is on the losing side of a dilemma still accepts that the procedures are neutral and they had their fair shot. When groups do not from the baseline trust that the polity will fairly consider their interests (a feeling which is, of course, ratified when they lose--which one side has to), then democracy will not confer legitimacy.

But the general claim about legitimacy being conferred from the perception of fair (often democratic) procedures is a solid one, and one that pops up again in issues such as the Iraqi elections and the immigration debates. I'd note with regards to immigration that the immigrants themselves have no reason to think that their interests are being duly considered when congress adopts immigration laws, so there will always be a significant gap between the black letter law and the respect that it is given by its target class. I'd also note that this does not translate effectively to disregard for other laws--as John Hart Ely notes, laws are looked upon with particular suspicion by a insular minority when they specifically target that group. So immigrants will be suspicious of immigration laws, but not, say, murder laws. That helps explain why immigrants have lower rates of violent crime than your average third generation American. The myth that allowing illegal immigration breeds disrespect for the law has its premise wrong: illegal immigrants will disrespect laws it feels are illegitimate--but that's the same as any other group and certainly does not include every law. The way to stem crime in the illegal community is to make it so that they do not fear the authorities, who can deport them. In other words, make them legal.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Just so you know my route this weekend:

1) Drive from Bethesda, MD to Baltimore, MD (BWI airport)

2) Fly to Providence, RI

3) Drive to Newport, RI

4) Drive to Woodbridge, CT

5) Drive to New York City, NY (Penn Station)

6) Take train to Union Station, Washington DC

7) Take metro to Bethesda station

8) Take bus from metro station to house.

I'm back, baby.