Originally Posted by eric
When an issue involving allegations of racism are at issue, the details do not matter to most people, which is why this issue is so frustrating to many who learn the details. People like Sewer are so eager to compensate victims, to demonstrate the moral bona fides, that to try to do an accounting where you measure costs and benefits is considered sinister.
The evidence behind this travesty consists of a few anecdotes but mainly statistical disparities, something that could be used to assert TNR is racist via the demographics of their legal council or IT department I am guessing. Any lender tries to secure as many assets as possible from borrowers, especially if they can see the collateral. In the Sherrod case the court took that since FmHA's treated one borrower differently in securing collateral, it was like feudalism. Loan officers and their situations aren't identical, people invariably are treated differently, but asking for collateral is not a 'racist' action, just prudent lending. If you think all borrowers are treated the same even among white people, you don't understand how large organizations implement lending, disparities are unavoidable because it involves people and relations are multidimensional, plus, the worse the credit the greater the incentive to gather collateral, and clearly Sherrod's operation was a high credit risk as evidenced by its failure (it probably had below average income at the time of its loan application). This anecdote seems the basis for Sherrod's $13M, which as by far the biggest payout, is probably their most tangible evidence.
Because FmHA didn't save all their documentation from the 70's and 80's the court ruled that all a plaintiff needs is a voucher, because it presumes damning evidence was destroyed. Further, there have been no penalties for false claims, so gathering such vouchers is pretty costless. With no downside and a $50k upside, the 30% dismissal rate is not evidence of careful evaluation, but merely how totally frivolous many of these claims are, which is predictable when you have such an incentive structure.
Pigford is a travesty of justice because it plays on the familiar nonfalsifiable trope about institutional racism. People don't like racism, and many people agree when John Robert's said the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race', though many also think exactly the opposite. That's what makes this case interesting.
Alas, as Dan will find out the media nor the population at large want to discuss this lest they be called out for 'genteel white populism'. The last thing most people want to explain is why their view on some issue, which like a broken clock agrees with your average KKK member, is not racist--as JournoLister and Bloggingheader Spencer Ackerman noted, the race card is an effective and debilitating red herring.
Just to not, the last thing people who tend to have larger levels of unconscious racism (which is a mechanism very well established and not at all as random as a broken clock) want to do, is A) admit it and B) critically self-examine themselves. Furthermore, the assumptions that drive such folks to unconscious bias, are then sustained by that bias, creating a sort of feedback-loop of delusion.
Breaking through this defensive ego barricade is very difficult, and like mosquitos, because accusations of racism are so incredibly inflammatory (as both Dan and Adam attest), they generally trigger intensively defensive responses.
To those of us more comfortable with this psychodynamic process, likely because we have at some point in our lives investigated the historical patterns of racism and how it often manifests itself unconsciously and then came to terms with the fact that racism is likely going to forever haunt our thought patterns, we tend to be more careful and critical of the assumptions we might be making.
Of course, this is where the whole PC things gets going, and in terms of reactionary politics, much harm has been done to this process of social reform. Because as political correctness has sometimes gone too far, a reaction to it has also gone to far, with the effect of turning off the introspection and self-honesty that must be a part of reforming our more "hateful" natures in general.