Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

September 21, 2011

That’s Kocherlakota to you!

Filed under: Celebs,NARAYANA KOCHERLAKOTA — Razib Khan @ 3:39 pm

Fed Moves on Long-Term Interest Rates to Spur Growth:

Three members of the Fed’s 10-member policy-making committee dissented from the decision: Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; and Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The members were the same who opposed the Fed plan announced in August to hold short-term interest rates near zero until at least 2013.

I know that Naryana Kocherlakota was against an fiscal policy of the majority on the Fed Board. But I don’t know much about him. Here’s some stuff from his online biography: Narayana Kocherlakota was born Oct. 12, 1963, in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1987 and an A.B. in mathematics from Princeton in 1983. The number of Americans of Indian background who were born before 1965 in the USA is small indeed. In case you care, apparently his name suggests Telugu Brahmin background to some. No idea if this is correct, and even I have spotted errors in Wikipedia in relation to this. I think the funniest aspect of his background is that of course his Fed website has to have a sound file as to how to pronounce his name.

March 13, 2011

Hierarchies of racism

Filed under: Celebs,Culture,Prejudice,Racism — Razib Khan @ 12:02 pm

Recently I had an online discussion with the blogger Eurasian Sensation. Our conversation began with the different sorts of immigrants which nations attract, and how that impacts the broader society. For example, I think the fact that the USA doesn’t have a “Muslim problem,” but Britain clearly does, has a lot to do with the type and mix of Muslims which the two Anglophone nations are host to, much more than their specific public policies (i.e., Britain seems more proactively multiculturalist than the USA). The Muslims of Britain are more deviated from national norms in educational and skills qualifications, and, they are broken into several large socio-cultural blocks. For example, the working class Muslim Mirpuri Pakistani identity in the north of England is substantial enough that individuals could make their own lives within the community. This is almost impossible in the United States, where there is a great deal of ethnic balance, and Muslims are geographically and occupationally diverse.

But that’s not what I want to talk about in this post. Eurasian Nation asked “is discriminating against the less intelligent (or more pertinently, those who don’t perform well on IQ tests) really that much better than discriminating against someone because of their race?” First, like diversity, discrimination has taken on too much of a uniform moral valence in polite society. I don’t think diversity is always good, and discrimination always bad. But setting that aside, not all forms of discrimination are considered equally bad. This is clear in how we reacted to the way South Africa treated its non-white, and in particular black, population, and the way that Saudi Arabia treats its women and Shia, today (let alone non-Muslims). We here being the West. Racial discrimination is considered to be particularly objectionable, for whatever reason.

To this Eurasian nation responded that:

…but it’s worth remembering that Sudan oppressed it’s black population for many years and the world didn’t care until it turned into a major conflict. The world sadly only really cares when there is a material interest at stake, or the atrocities reach a level at which they can no longer be ignored.

I’d also add that in Sudan, as in your hypothetical Saudi example, it would slip under the radar because Arabs are not really “white” in the way that Rhodesians and Afrikaners are. Sad, really.

President of Sudan

The first point is that Sudanese Arabs are referred to as abd, an insulting Arab term for black, when they go and work in the Gulf. So Sudanese Arab racism against the blacks of that nation is really more that of mixed-bloods against people of full Sub-Saharan African heritage. Additionally, the bigger variable is probably religion. I would be curious if a pure-blooded Nubian Muslim would be excluded from the elite simply on account of the lack of Arab ancestry?

The second issue, related to the first, is that no one considers Sudanese Arabs white (in fact, most people probably simply code them as black mentally). Racism of non-European peoples against non-European peoples presents moral and cognitive difficulties for Westerners. Consider the confused reporting of racially motivated attacks against black Africans in Libya. Many colored people know from experience that other “people of color” can be as racist, or more so, than white people, in large part because there has never been a proactive attempt to inculcate racial sensitivity in colored people.

In the USA there is a common saying which is manifestly stupid, but captures the spirit of the age. Race + power = racism. The implication is that since only white people have power, only white people can be racist. I think this is a remnant of 1950, which is shadowing us into the 21st century.

Finally, the photo at the top left is from a blogger who created composites based on available images. All four shots above are Indian, two of movie stars and two of average people on the street. I suspect you can infer which pair are which….

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