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Review: Detroit Shows How Violence Opens Door to Injustice »

The opening lines in the chyron running with the black and white still photos did not bode well for Kathryn Bigelow’s new film Detroit. The overly simplistic, politically hyped, narrative ran, in effect, like this: During the Great Migration, African Americans moved north to jobs, whites moved out to better jobs in the suburbs,...
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50 Years Ago Today: The Detroit Riot and the Decline of Civil Rights Liberalism (III) »

(continued from Part II) After the Watts riot of 1965, bureaucrats in the administrative state (e.g., EEOC, Small Business Administration) created racial preferences in employment and lending programs based on their own administrative authority, not any explicit authorization from the Congress. Indeed, the Democratic majority (and the Republican minority) were adamantly opposed to racial discrimination...
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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.

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