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Eugene Volokh Correctly Identifies How the Race 'Conversation' is Supposed to Go —and Why We Can't Have a Real One
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December 22, 2014, 07:54 AM
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The Washington Post might want to reconsider having picked up Eugene Volokh's always-interesting Volokh Conspiracy, after Volokh imagines the legal ramifications of this fictitious scenario:
Alan says around the water cooler that the underrepresentation of blacks in some job category stems from white racism. Betty responds — perhaps thoughtfully, or perhaps out of anger at what she sees as Alan’s exaggerations or overgeneralizations — that the real reasons might be failings in black American culture, or even genetic differences.[Let’s have a national conversation about race — so we can figure out whom to fire, December 18, 2014]
Wait—did Volokh just allow that noting genetic differences in race might be a "thoughtful" response to an accusation that white racism is solely responsible for keeping blacks out of jobs? Never mind "Betty" getting fired from the water cooler job—I'm now worried about Volokh getting fired from his job! Seriously, it is a great piece. Other writers have made this point—usually within the race-realist/white advocacy sphere—but Volokh lines it up nicely, as only a child math genius-turned law professor can. He correctly homes in on exactly why we can't have a "national conversation on race", as Obama urges. In short, it's Betty's response. That's the place you can't go. Even if you might be able to hit "cultural failings", you can never hit "genetic differences." They'll pull the Hitler Alarm. I can tell you exactly how race conversations in all the workplaces I've ever been in go: they don't. Nobody says anything, for fear of the consequences. He ends with this:
UPDATE: Commenter MDJ23 writes:

I think you are taking the national conversation or water cooler suggestion too literally. The point is that those who have suffered racial discrimination should speak out, not that those who have not should speak out — the latter’s role should mostly be to listen. Some might call that a lecture; I’d call it an education.

Oh, that’s the “conversation” that people are contemplating — this helps explain things.