On the morning of February 19, Fox 2 Detroit ran a story on its website reporting that a black nurse at a Flint hospital is suing said hospital for racial discrimination. The incident happened in October 2012, when a white father requested that his white baby not be looked after by black nurses. The Hurley Medical Center acquiesced by transferring Tonya Battle, the black nurse filing the law suit, to a different patient.
In other words, there was a white patient who didn’t want a specific type of doctor, the Hurley Medical Center listened to the patient, and now an angry nurse is suing the hospital over the whole thing because, well, her feelings were hurt. She wasn’t fired, she wasn’t harassed, and she wasn’t in any way physically or financially harmed. Yet, that might not stop her from winning the equivalent of the lottery.
You see, this is an example of “racism,” and as everyone knows, a “racist” like the white father at the Hurley Medical Center is no different than a Nazi or a Klansmen. In this case, the white father allegedly even had a tattoo of a Swastika! For all we know, it might soon be revealed that his garage is full of pointy white hats and crosses drenched in kerosene. And he’ll undoubtedly have a giant poster of Rush Limbaugh’s face with a cigar in his mouth on his bedroom wall. (If this sounds insane, then you haven’t been paying attention to liberal websites).
In any case, this incident deserves scrutiny, for it highlights a fundamental divide within the American population that goes well beyond commonly debated issues like the economy and health care. Even though it’s 2013, and even though the dynamics of racial politics undeniably moved in a liberal direction over the last 50 years, the fundamental divide is still there. As Walter Williams explained on September 6, 2006:
Common sense suggests that not all discrimination should be eliminated, so the question is, what kind of discrimination should be permitted? I'm guessing the answer depends on one's values for freedom of association, keeping in mind freedom of association implies freedom not to associate.
The fundamental divide is between Americans who believe that we as individuals have the Constitutional right to not associate with those we don’t want to associate with, and Americans who believe that we must be forced to associate with those we don’t want to associate with. The former believes in freedom of association, the later does not. The later insists that freedom of association is invalid when it violates a subjective moral principle.
The argument usually made by “anti-racist” and “anti-discrimination” zealots is that a white person doesn’t have the right to not associate with non-whites if it objectively hinders a non-white person, or even if it simply contradicts his/her will, which is exactly what happened to Tonya Battle. For example, it is illegal for a private business like Chuck E. Cheese to not associate with non-white customers. Chuck E. Cheese may not kick out customers until after they’ve committed violence. Preventive measures are effectively outlawed.
Many Americans think that the denial of the right to not associate is “progress.” The way they see it, non-whites shouldn’t be objectively hindered or have their will contradicted by the decisions of whites. On the surface, this sounds tremendously humane and compassionate, but when subject to scrutiny, it falls apart:
Let’s say there is a rich man who is considering two different women. One woman is from his same class – rich and prosperous just like him. She works at the same business he does. The other is a dirt poor lady he got to know when he spent a week on a mission trip in her town. They hit it off and stayed in touch through letters (she’s too poor to even afford her own computer, and she doesn’t have a cell phone unless Barack Obama gave her one). She eventually moved into a poor neighborhood within reasonable driving distance of his gated community thanks to a Section 8 housing loan.
If he decides to pursue the poor woman, and if after dating her he asks for her hand in marriage, than she will be saved from poverty and destitution. If, on the other hand, he decides to pursue the woman at his job, than the poor woman will be stuck where she is. She loves this man, and she wants to marry him if nothing else to escape from poverty. She is being objectively hindered, and her will is being grossly violated, if the rich man chooses not to pursue her and marry her.
So then, should the rich man be forced to marry her? Should rich men in general be forced to marry poor women in order to save those poor women from poverty? If a poor woman wants to marry a rich man, does the rich man have the right to say no? Conversely, if a poor man wants to marry a rich woman, does the rich woman have the right to say no?
These are all rhetorical questions. Americans commonly understand that it takes two to tango. A relationship between two human beings requires the consent of both parties. If one party says no, the other party has no right to force him to say yes. This effectively means that the party saying no has veto power. After all, if one party says yes and the other says no, than it is unavoidable that one of the parties will have their will violated. One of them will be objectively hindered.
In every other case involving two parties, we accept that the party saying no has veto power. It is only in race relations that we deny the veto power to the party saying no. This effectively means that one party in a two party relationship has absolute control over the other. The party saying no is simply telling the other to walk away, whereas the party saying yes forces the other to associate with him. Only after damage is caused can the relationship be severed, and even then it often takes perilous jumps through the fire hoops of the DOJ and/or the EEOC in order to be severed.
Furthermore, the “one party is hindering the other” argument is a zero sum game. It is impossible for both parties to benefit when one says yes and the other says no. Therefore, we are left with no choice but to give veto power to one of the two parties. Traditionally, the veto power goes to the no party, as it damn well should. Just like Chuck E. Cheese should have the right to say no to whatever customers they want, the white father at the Hurley Medical Center should have the right to say no to Tonya Battle.
Whether the father’s motivations are rational or not is irrelevant. Sometimes the reasons for saying no are rational (like in the case of Chuck E. Cheese), sometimes they aren’t. It doesn’t matter either way, because no one has the right to force themselves upon another, nor does anyone have the right to force one party to associate with the other party.
Judging by the comments section of that Fox 2 article, Americans are evenly divided on this issue. There is an ongoing battle between those who believe in freedom of association and those who believe in coercion. And although the side that believes in coercion garners a lot of moral persuasion, their morality is bogus when it is put under the microscope.
Increasingly, they have to scream not just the r-word, but a series of other buzzwords designed to evoke a pavlovian reaction out of Americans who believe in freedom of association. All of these buzzwords, most notably the r-word, invariably mean the same thing: Witch! Witchcraft! Witchery!
America survived the 1692 Salem witch trial. Whether it survives the modern witch trial remains to be seen.