Posts by Jonathan Bean
Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Should We Let People Die to Achieve “Race Equity”?


During this terrible pandemic, politicians have used experts to justify their policies. “Science,” we are told, instructs us to take certain steps: wear masks, quarantine the infected, wash our hands, and so on. Most Americans have complied because the goal has been to save lives, particularly the lives of older people. The inconvenience of...
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Riots Redux: Whither Portland . . . and the U.S.A?


Here we go again: another riot in Portland, this time purportedly stoked by President Trump’s legal challenge to vote counting. Riots and voting have a history dating back to the Watts Riot of 1965, which occurred one month after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The Watts riot was one of many...
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My Country, Wrong and Right


On this Fourth of July, Americans are polarized even on the merits of the nation’s Independence.
Frederick Douglass: Lion of Individualist Liberalism


Blight, the Yale historian, is hardly unique in his misrepresentation of the classical liberal tradition.
Tax Reform Is a Scam: Tell Us What We Really Pay!


In another post, Randall Holcombe rightly notes the pressing need for tax reform. Holcombe argues that Trump’s proposed tax reform is “an improvement over the current system.” That may be true; time will tell. Yet, today my news feed reports nonchalantly that the Republican Congress passed a budget in excess of $4 trillion. That...
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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.
Big Government, Racial Violence, and the Police


In August 1965, the streets of Los Angeles erupted in fire, as black rioters burned hundreds of stores and ill-equipped police withdrew from the violent scene. Initiated by a minor altercation with a police officer, Watts was followed by worse riots, often sparked by encounters with police, turning cities like Detroit into burnt-over districts....
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Say No to Reparations: Remembering Slavery, Forgetting the Classical-Liberal Values that Abolished It


Advocates of reparations for the descendants of African American slaves recently challenged socialist Bernie Sanders to embrace their cause, which he refused to do. A leading advocate of reparations, Atlantic contributor Ta-Nehisi Coates, criticizes Sanders for placing class-based politics before race. Lost in the unending debate over reparations is a key point: group reparations ignore the...
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