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50 Years Ago Today: The Detroit Riot and the Decline of Civil Rights Liberalism (II) »

Throughout American history, government at all levels has used race to categorize, enslave, segregate, regulate human behavior, and limit immigration with “nationality” quotas that served as substitutes for race. Categorizing by race was essential to racist agendas.

In response, classical liberal civil rights activists struggled to eliminate government-mandated racial categories. They were anything but naive: racism was real, categories or no categories, but the government stamp of approval made things worse–and caused constant mischief in the ever increasing addition of group categories in the census or in immigration statutes. The only feasible solution was the most radical one: the complete elimination of government racial categories. Individuals might discriminate but would no longer have the support of the State. With time, classical liberals felt, the irrationality of racism and xenophobia would give way to better human relations.

50 Years Ago Today: The Detroit Riot and the Decline of Civil Rights Liberalism (I) »

Fifty years ago today (July 23, 1967), the largest urban riot of the 1960s rocked Detroit for five days (July 23-28). An encounter with the police (shutting down an illegal after-hours bar), sparked looting and arson on a scale far surpassing the riots that had burned in other American cities. While such riots often started with incidents involving law enforcement, the police were ordered—again and again—to stand down and let a small minority of African Americans loot property of small business owners (both black and white).

The Detroit Riot marked a turning point in how American policymakers dealt with race. The classical liberal tradition of civil rights, with its emphasis on rule of law and equal protection (regardless of race) gave way to policies that purposely treated minorities as “protected categories” deserving of treatment not accorded other citizens.

Employers Do Not Systematically and Persistently Pay Women Less than Men for Equally Valuable Work »

The quality of economic journalism in the United States is terrible. Day after day, journalists write about the causes and consequences of economic conditions and events without understanding the underlying economics of the situation, and their articles are, as a rule, simply bunk. Here is an example. I have not examined the actual report...
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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.

Same-Sex Marriage and Individual Rights »

The United States government was founded on the principle of protecting individual rights. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...” People have rights as individuals, and do not derive their rights from...
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New York Times Admits I’m Right about Government Failure, but . . . . A Cautionary Tale for Classical Liberals »

Over at the New York Times Robb Mandelbaum notes how the Small Business Administration has caved to political pressures and once again made the definition of “small” business so broad as to include virtually every firm in the economy. This was a key theme of two books I wrote in 1996 and 2001, including...
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Classical Liberalism Is All in Our Heads? Responding to Paul Harvey on Race »

In the current issue of Books & Culture, Professor Paul Harvey (not to be confused with the late radio icon) takes aim at my “imagined” (read: invented) tradition of classical liberalism on race. You can read his full review here. Harvey concedes that Race and Liberty in America rediscovers “understudied authors.” Then he quickly...
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Classical Liberalism and the Fight for Civil Rights »

Over at Reason.com, Damon Root has a review of my new book Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (University Press of Kentucky, in association with the Independent Institute). It is available here and here (Amazon is currently discounting). The softcover is priced for classroom adoption and general readership, and as blurb-writer Juan...
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The Bugaboo of Race: Does Skin Color Put Out Fires? »

Fires don’t discriminate but fire departments do. While the flames of a house fire may not discriminate on the basis of skin color, New Haven, Connecticut’s fire department is making sure that those who risk their lives are dark or light-skinned in the “right” proportion, regardless of merit. After throwing out professional exam results...
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NAACP 100th Anniversary: Exploiting Color Instead of Erasing It »

A brief opening from my piece at the web site for U.S. News & World Report: George Orwell famously wrote “who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” As the NAACP celebrates its 100th anniversary, its leaders present a past that squares with its present positions on racial...
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