Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Facts and Race, and the MN GOP chair aspirant Donald Allen

cross-posted from MN PP:

Reality versus Ideology, and aspirant MN GOP chair Donald WR Allen II

I find Donald RW Allen an interesting individual, although I have never met him, and only know him through media, both mainstream and social media like facebook.  He is a very flamboyant person who makes statements that are frequently provocative, apparently intentionally so.  While I sometimes find myself in agreement with Mr. Allen, I often find myself with disagreements that relate to differences over issues of fact, versus an ideological and very subjective perception of ideology at the expense of facts.

Donald WR Allen II
For example, on his facebook page, Mr. Allen posted a link to his site, claiming the tragic death by hanging of a 9 or 10 year old boy in North Minneapolis was a lynching.  The reality is that there is no indication that this death WAS a lynching, rather than something else, including the possibility of an accident caused by children playing, or some other cause than a lynching.

Lynching has a very specific meaning, referring to the definition and origins of the term from; this does not appear to be a vigilante act, there is no indication anyone was acting because of some allegation of criminal activity by this boy, or animus of any kind:
1835, from earlier Lynch law (1811), likely named after William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Va., who c.1780 led a vigilance committee to keep order there during the Revolution. Other sources trace the name to Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a Virginia magistrate who fined and imprisoned Tories in his district c.1782, but the connection to him is less likely. Originally any sort of summary justice, especially by flogging; narrowing of focus to “extralegal execution by hanging” is 20c. Lynch mob is attested from 1838. The surname is either from O.E. hlinc “hill” or Ir. Loingseach “sailor.” Cf. earlier Lydford law, from a place in Dartmoor, England, “where was held a Stannaries Court of summary jurisdiction” [Weekley], hence:  “Lydford law: is to hang men first, and indite them afterwards.” [Thomas Blount, "Glossographia," 1656]

This tragedy  was NOT by any evidence so far identified, or even claimed to exist, a lynching.  Allen wrote on his Independent Business News site:
It’s our fault. We don’t care about each other – the most important item is having a full belly and a pocket full of cash – at the expense of the community. I found it very hard to post a story about out-of-town family needing money to burySee More
Family of youth found dead – lynched in north Minneapolis needs money to bury him
In Minnesota, the dead are young; the investigations short – usually no suspect and no push to find one. Now let someone lighter than khaki get hit by a car and killed, a suspect is arrested in

Family of youth found dead – lynched in north Minneapolis needs money to bury him

Our condolences to the family and friends of the 9-year-old boy killed in the formative years of his young life. Where can we find the agencies that assist ALL people who lose love ones? In the Twin Cities, most “paid” black organizations only show up when people get killed in the street. When it’s time to follow up, these folks are on to the next “funded opportunity.”  What happened to teaching black families about insurance, financial literacy and saving for the future? “Crickets.”
On the one hand, I applaud the effort to solicit community support for the burial costs of this child.  Good on Allen for helping in this time of need. Bt on the other hand, given the history of lynching – a fortunately very limited history in Minnesota compared to other places – using the word lynching in this context strikes me as more than a little irresponsible use of a highly emotional term in what appears to be a factually inaccurate way.

There WAS a mock lynching this year with racist overtones that deserves more notice than it received, back in March, so it is not as if this should not be a legitimate concern of our communities in Minnesota.  Even a mock lynching, a hanging in effigy in a sense, should offend us if it represents racial animosity of some kind.  But this instance  might not reflect that.  I can recall in school a teacher who had multiple small bust sculptures of historic figures like Shakespeare that used to be hung by cords from time to time, around his classroom, for no particular reason other than students blowing off steam being funny.  The same statutes were occasionally decorated with eye patches, prom garters, bandanas, etc., as context to being hung around the room.  This kind of thing should be handled appropriately, not sensationalized, and the students who did this should be penalized appropriately as well, and any further racial tensions addressed pro-actively.

Then there was this, which I notice is different from when I first saw the post, where it included references to clubbing and spending money on clothing and entertainment by black students, and where a comment of mine appears to have gone missing, and on other posts, I see no option for making a critical comment OR a complimentary one.  That is too bad, and I can only hope it does not reflect a rejection of some points of view.

On July 3rd, on facebook, in a comment on this piece in the Root, Allen wrote:
This is a one-sided story. Black college students don’t have it any worse off then white students. Rather than preparing for a rainy day, some of them are out at the club trying to impress friends and get laid. Another serious problem for black college students is identity. I attend a college now that has a black student group – or should be a black student group and it’s only concern is GLBT issues,which outrank being black. I mean come on, some of us have worked hard to get where we are at skipping the “special interest” label and pulling ourselves up by the boot straps. Don’t expect Congress to do anything for black college students – just like the first black president: Absent on all black American issues, but vocal on other group issues. A 3.4 percent interest rate will become 6.8 percent because the Democratic party knows you “black college students” will vote the “D” every time, no matter how they screw with your future. ‪#‎dontbeanasshat‬
This is again a problem of factual accuracy.  Not only the source cited in the Root piece correct, there is ample additional statistical data to support that student loan interest rates will disproportionately affect black students even more than white students and other groups.  As just one example, in researching the previous piece I wrote on the recent Affirmative Action SCOTUS decision, I came across this information from the National Center for Education Statistics branch of Institute of Educational Sciences, in their report Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities:
In 2007–08, some 80 percent of full-time, full-year undergraduate students received some financial aid. A higher percentage of Black undergraduate students received financial aid than did White, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander undergraduates. Black students also received higher average amounts of aid ($13,500) in 2007–08 than White, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native students. Hispanics had a lower average amount of aid than White and Asian/Pacific Islander students (indicator 25).

I don’t think there is any basis to doubt that those Republican members of Congress, including our own delegation from Minnesota, know EXACTLY who is being most affected by this increase in interest rates on student loans.  If there is a Republican condemning this disparity, or the unfairness of this increase, I haven’t found him or her, and they would appear to be a very rare exception.  In stark contrast, President Obama, whom Allen takes a swipe at here, HAS opposed this increase,  repeatedly, as have many Democrats in and out of Congress.

Just one example, of many, here:

I sincerely applaud Allen’s efforts to help address real issues in his community, but that involves more responsible use of language than what is at best inflammatory and factually inaccurate, and in correctly identifying problems and issues.  Blaming black students for the difficulties of very real inequities, telling them to just bootstrap themselves out of it, or that the disparities are not real doesn’t help.  Promoting the party that is creating this particular disparity is a disservice to that community, and to all of us.  Inaccurately trying to shift responsibility where it does not factually belong is an equal disservice.  To be a leader, of anyone, of any organization, including the MN GOP chair, requires more factual accuracy and honesty than this; that is something both the national and especially the MN GOP are badly lacking.

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