Jonathan Bean Archive

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of History at Southern Illinois University.
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Serpent in the Supreme Court: The Folly of “Strict Scrutiny,” from Japanese Internment to Affirmative Action



The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week in The Fisher II case involving the use of race in admissions to the University of Texas at Austin. This case, like other college admission decisions dating to Bakke (1978), hinges on how the Supreme Court applies a “strict scrutiny” standard that originated with a decision upholding Japanese...
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Rosa Parks Day: The Triumph of Colorblindness and Capitalism



Sixty years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a white man and was arrested for disobeying Montgomery, Alabama’s segregation ordinance. The story is well-known, even today, as we celebrate “Rosa Parks Day” (December 1). Following her arrest, African Americans organized a boycott of the city’s privately-owned bus company. Martin Luther King, Jr. became spokesman for street protests and, ever since, the civil rights movement is remembered as a militant expression of civil disobedience and “taking it to the streets.” Within a year, the city ended desegregation, but not for the reasons you might think. The real heroes behind Rosa Parks were the NAACP lawyers who battered down the walls of institutional racism with the force of the constitution, color-blind law, and capitalist forces that worked against racism—hallmarks of the classic liberal tradition of civil rights.

Small Business Suffers: The Riots, Past and Present



Several years ago, I wrote an article for The Independent Review on the urban riots of the 1960s (and the Rodney King riot of 1992). Watching the events unfold in Ferguson, it seems those in charge of riot control learned nothing. Once again, the victims were small business owners—many of them African Americans (as...
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Classifying America: Government’s Power to Define Is the Power to Discriminate



In one of the most famous phrases uttered by a Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart defended his ruling in an obscenity case (1964) by refusing to offer a clear definition. Instead, he stated: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could...
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50 Years of Mischief: The Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act



The Civil Rights Act was not a perfect law—no law is perfect–but it did embody two principles of the long civil rights movement: First, the individual (not the group) is the measure of justice. Secondly, nondiscrimination is mandatory for the government and worth pursuing in our private lives. If policymakers had enforced the Civil Rights Act in good faith, time might have eroded the tendency to view others as members of a group, rather than as individuals.

Supreme Court Rules: Social Security is NOT a Binding Contract



This post was prompted by all-too-common opinions expressed in Randall Holcombe’s recent “Federal Government Debt Undermines the Programs It Finances” blog. The respondents passionately insist that Social Security is a contract, whatever you do to the budget, do not touch Social Security. “I paid in and it is a contract. They owe me.” The...
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Don’t Know Much About History: Colleges Teach U.S. History with Politics Left Out (Is that Good or Bad?)



The good news from the NAS study of American history survey courses: if Hayek was right, then American college graduates–the next generation–will learn a lot about racial oppression, class, and gender (all from a left-wing perspective) but precious little about State Power. Forget what you think of State Power (force for good or source of evil). Americans will know NOTHING. I’ll venture they know nothing already. . .

What do readers think? Is it better that Americans know little about history? Is it better than having them learn Zinn-style history on issues unrelated to race, class, gender?

Reproduce or Pay a Tax: The Next ObamaCare



ObamaCare is about correcting for the “problem” that some people are not buying insurance. Rather than identify needy individuals and pay for their insurance, the bill mandates that everyone buy insurance that meets the prescription of government health czars (not too much, not too little, but “just right”). The government argues the following: by...
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XX-: Safe-Porn Dreaming USA



To think as a young man I longed to live in southern California. Today, the state is one big caricature of Political Correctness. News item: The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms. Presumably, they can perform their on-air sex acts outside Los Angeles. What is the point?...
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The Temptation of Bernanke: How Historical Memory Feeds Fed Power



[*UPDATE: Fed Joked About Housing Crash in 2006! Here is a good interview from PBS] “Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right.” “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” —John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government “The historian is . . . one step nearer to direct power over public opinion than is the theorist.” —Friedrich A. von...
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