I understand that libertarians are supposed to be on the right side of the political spectrum. And I understand that what defines the right side of the political spectrum is an abject hatred of everything on the left side of the spectrum. But sometimes when the left side of the spectrum makes a point it doesn’t have to be immediately shouted down.
Case in point, the police who terrorized of Ahmed Muhamed. Here we have a child with a very Middle Eastern name and a very Middle Eastern appearance who was accused of building a bomb, which is an activity very much associated with terrorism, which is very much associated with Middle Easterners in this country. The officer even said “Yup. That’s who I thought it was,” when Ahmed was brought to him, which suspiciously sounds like the officer was expecting a Middle Easterner when he received a report that a student had possibly built a bomb.
The political left, at least left as far as this country is concerned, quickly raised the issue of racism. So, naturally, the political right had to flip its shit and say that Ahmed’s situation couldn’t possibly be racism (or if racism was involved it was a minor point that really played no important part in the matter at all):
I bring up his race for one reason, and one reason only: Some are suggesting that Ahmed’s race is the only reason he was treated so badly. This is the obvious, inescapable conclusion, according to many left-leaning pundits: school officials identified a kid with an Islamic-sounding name, saw him carting around a device he had built, and cried terrorist!
I’m really fucking tied of the political right, especially self-proclaimed libertarian rags, jumping on any situation that appears to be fueled, at least in part, by racism and screaming “But it happened to a white person that one time so it’s obviously not racism!” Guess what? If it walks like racism, quacks like racism, and looks like racism it very well could be racism.
The political right, libertarians especially, need to get over this knee-jerk reaction of immediately disagreeing with anything the political left says. Sometimes you intellectual opposites make valid points.
In this case the author attempts to downplay racism so he can make a bigger issue of his pet peeve: zero tolerance policies. It doesn’t have to be either racism or zero tolerance policies; it can’t be both. In its zeal to shout down everything the political left says, the political right is missing some prime opportunities to make cases both sides should be able to acknowledge.
Zero tolerance policies and the war on unpatentable drug are two prime examples of seemingly fair, at least as far as race is concerned, laws can be used to target a particular group. If you read any school’s zero tolerance policies or any law related to the war on unpatentable drugs you will find no languages whatsoever that could be construed as racist. To many people that means these laws are fair and cannot be used for racist purposes. That’s an assumption that needs to be corrected.
There are two parts to every law: the law itself and the enforcement of the law. A broad law that appears to apply equally to everybody can be enforced selectively against targeted groups. Laws related to the war on unpatentable drugs are enforced more often against minorities than whites. The political right will argue that this simply means that minorities commit more drug offenses but a whole lot of evidence points to the contrary. Zero tolerance policies are no different. They can be written to apply equally to all students but may only be enforced against a targeted group.
A great deal of evidence supports claims that Ahmed was only treated the way he was because of his race. So immediately shouting, “It can’t be about racism because zero tolerance policies were used against this white kid,” makes you sound like a putz. Instead of immediately refusing to believe anything the political left says it would be much more productive for the political right, especially libertarians, to consider the evidence that supports the charges before responding. Who knows, both of you may be seeing the same problem from different angles and might stand a chance of addressing it if you worked together even if it was for a very brief period.