The Other McCain

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Have You Heard of ‘The CROWN Act’?

Posted on | February 6, 2022 | Comments Off on Have You Heard of ‘The CROWN Act’?

Friday, I wrote about the “Is Professionalism a Racist Construct?” seminar that Washington University in St. Louis did last week, but I hadn’t watched the full hour-long video and — oh, boy! — is it chock full of craziness. After a half-hour, they begin talking about The CROWN Act, and go on about it for 10 minutes. What is The CROWN Act?

In June 2019, California made headlines for becoming the first state to outlaw the racial discrimination of individuals based on their natural hairstyles. The bill, SB 188, passed the state Senate in April and passed in a unanimous vote by California’s state assembly on June 27, 2019. The law, also known as the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), states, “In a society in which hair has historically been one of many determining factors of a person’s race, and whether they were a second class citizen, hair today remains a proxy for race. Therefore, hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.”

Now, on the one hand, everybody agrees that racial discrimination is bad and wrong — except when you’re discriminating against Asians in the Ivy League, and then Democrats are perfectly OK with it. But on the other hand, is this specific legislation necessary? Is it wise? Does this need to be enforced by the federal government?

At the federal level, the Crown Act passed in the House of Representatives last September, but it stalled in the Senate. State-specific legislation has been quite successful, though. So far, twelve states have passed the Crown Act or variations on it, including California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, Delaware, Nebraska, and Nevada. More than ten cities have passed the Crown Act in states where it has not yet become law, and at least 17 states have completed the filing or pre-filing steps that could soon lead to official legislation.

This is just pure 100% craziness, and the fact that it started in California — land of legalized larceny and homeless junkies defecating on the sidewalk — ought to be sufficient argument against it. There is an unfortunate tendency, among a certain type of bien-pensant white person, to condescend to black people in a patronizing way, like an indulgent parent attempting to placate a spoiled child. As bad as this approach is when dealing with actual children, it’s utter madness when dealing with adults, and a formula for disaster.

What is going on with The CROWN Act seems to be a largely symbolic gesture, giving white Democrats a chance to vote for something that they can point to as evidence of their anti-racist bona fides, but in the process creating a law that is likely to be mischievous in its effects. Can someone point me to an example of how this law is being enforced? Is this just another way to create business for tort lawyers filing flimsy lawsuits?

The fact that four university deans would spend 10 minutes of a video seminar talking about this law only deepens my suspicion that it’s a bad idea, and that the states which have enacted it will have cause to regret it. I mean, whenever California Democrats and elite academia agree on anything, it’s invariably a bad idea. There is a difference between disapproval and legal prohibition; not everything we dislike, or which we believe to be socially harmful, needs to be prohibited by law. And novelty is scarcely a recommendation for legislative action. The fact that it is impossible to find any precedent for The CROWN Act — really, who ever heard of any law like this? — is the strongest argument against it.

The rush to ram this crazy thing through state legislatures, and even to make it a federal statute, should be resisted long enough to see what effect it will have in those states that have already enacted it. Perhaps I’m wrong, and The CROWN Act will be harmless or even beneficial, but I don’t think so. If this is a good idea, it would be the first good idea California Democrats have had in recent memory.



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