Saturday, May 30, 2009

Men and Their Wars

A cousin of mine, when asked what kind of museum she wanted to go to, said "Not one about men and their wars". We're in DC right now - museums are what one does, and so this was rather nontrivial. I am, as you may have guessed, rather interested in War. That said, it's perfectly reasonable to defer to something we all like, like the Natural History Museum, for our DC time. That can be done if one dislikes war, is upset by it, is made uncomfortable or angered or has a hostile reaction. Valid reasons all for not going to a war museum. They are not, in my mind, reasons to skip a history museum. This wasn't about not liking history; this was about 1) treating the whole of history as a series of wars, and 2) treating war as an exclusively male phenomenon.

1. The vast majority of history is the developments, changes, and evolutions in human society, as well as interactions between separate human societies, during peace time. Or times of relative stability - in ages of small-scale and irregular war, it is challenging to classify everything as peace; neighborhoods post-Katrina New Orleans, for example, could be labeled war zones, but that doesn't remove the story of New Orleans from the complicated period of domestic US policy we classify not as an actual war but as the War on Drugs. In order to address the social problems/challenges of such a city, we can't write the violent nature of it's present state off as a discontinuity from the whole prior history of the city; yes, Katrina is a delineating point, but one chaotic force of natural violence isn't the be-all end-all of violence in the area. It is far, far more complicated then that. We don't write the history of New Orleans as a series of unfortunate events beyond human control with no interlude - we write it as catastrophe-survival-adaptation-relaxation-catastrophe. Hurricanes, plagues, and, yes, wars, all serve to mark and identify the end-periods of eras, but the history isn't "this crisis made all this happen". It is "this historic tension, altered by this violence, led to this future, thanks to the actions of these folk". Writing it as a series of crises cheapens the history of the crises and of the city. More than that, though, it is inaccurate - they are both parts of the coherent whole of human experience. To treat history as nothing but war would be to do chemistry with exactly one element - not just dull and useless, but rather impossible. Treating history as a full range of experiences means that yes, it gets more challenging and complicated, but it also means that you are actually treating the subject as though it has worth.

2. War is not an exclusively male phenomenon. It is a predominately male phenomenon, but exceptions at all levels abound: espionage at all times in history, at the command of warring nations in the form of Hatshepsut, Zenobia and Boudica in antiquity, as well as Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, and Margret Thatcher in the past century, as well as countless others throughout history. On the field of battle itself, women fought in defense of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, and in many specific instances wonderfully compiled here. History is not devoid of women in military roles. What is interesting, then, is how exceptional all these cases are - war is an incredibly gendered phenomenon. Perpetrating and fighting in war has for so long been an overwhelmingly male phenomenon (and, as corollary, women have been especially victimized by war). But that shouldn't make war an irrelevant area of concern for feminists - the gendered nature of conflict should be especially interesting for that reason, not less so.

My point is this: if one objects to studying history because war is unpleasant and history means covering wars, then one should say so. But don't object to the study of history because war is a gendered phenomenon, because that is exactly why it is relevant to gender studies. And more broadly why it is relevant to people as a collective whole.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I really dislike George Will

In my own field, George Will gets the very concept of State Capitalism wrong to hate on Obama.

In the field of climate change, George Will gets the very facts wrong, claiming a past global cooling consensus from a paper whose very point is that there was never a global cooling consensus.

And just today, George Will is upset over the very idea of changing transportation within this country, singling out my birth city of Portland, Oregon as this dreaded, unattainable dystopia where people bike to work. Most notably, he hyperbolizes that we will never reach a point where 0.01% of Americans bike to work. However, 0.4% already do, a number "forty times larger than a percentage that Will deems unrealistically utopian." (Edit: wonkette has a nice angry take on the transportation issue as well)

So, dear readers: can you find another example of George Will deliberately getting facts wrong in a field that isn't Keynesian economic policy, global warming, or transportation? Comment with any and every example you can find, hopefully in a "new field, new error" format. It'd be nice to have a comprehensive list of this online.

George Will: Wrong Again

Editor's Note: This was originally sent in to the Albuquerque Journal as a letter to the editor. They didn't print it, and it is still almost-timely, so I'm posting it here. Relevant links: George Will's article ad-gated at the Journal or free-membership-gated at the Washington Post or in its entirety and with handy visual aids online here . Ian Bremmer's article in Foreign Affairs is paid-subscription-gated, but you can listen to the whole of it as a podcast.

Edit #2: Thanks to commentor ThingsBreak, here's a .pdf of Bremmer's piece. It is really, really good.

On Monday, the Journal published an article by George Will entitled "Too Many 'Free Markets' Belong to the State - Really". Will spends his time misinterpreting Ian Bremmer's article "State Capitalism Comes of Age." Substituting bias for an understanding of the material, Will disputes Bremmer's premise that "the state must eventually retreat" from long-term state control of capital. Will says, instead, that Bremmer is "probably wrong, because he underestimates the pleasure politicians derive from using their nation's wealth as a slush fund for purchasing political advantage." Nowhere in Bremmer's article does Bremmer exhibit an underestimation of political greed - instead, he refers often to the close ties between economic and political leadership in both Russia and China. Will also implies that the new states that have taken ownership of their free markets (Brazil, India, Turkey, and Mexico) have done so out of greed; Bremmer instead explains that they did so because these countries had "a much weaker rule of law than was the case in established free-market democracies".

The country that Bremmer does not feel is at risk for permanent state control is the one that Will writes the most about - the United States. Nowhere in Bremmer's article is there a basis for government in the US becoming "the only agent and the sole arbiter" of American happiness. Instead, Bremmer states correctly that "in the United States and in Europe, the power of the invisible hand remains an article of faith. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic know that to maintain popular support, they must keep their promises to return the banking sector and large enterprises to private hands once they have been restored to health." This is a far cry from the authoritarian USA Will reads into Bremmer's article. Once again, Will cherry-picks the his quotes, and misses the truth.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Fine Line Between Black Helicopters and Ambulances

Earlier today (minutes ago, in fact) I wrote a post discussing the challenge posed to the Left by the civil-liberties-affirming Right. In short: when out of power, it was very, very easy for the Democrats to get the votes of those against the police state. When in power, they have to not only stop expanding but actively dismantle police state apparatus (Patriot Act, I'm looking at you) in order to not be the police state party.

There are inherent political challenges in this at any given time: alienating security conservatives, tarnishing the records of prominent Democrats complicit during the Bush years, potentially finding ones hands tied in acting on new information. There are new and exciting challenges that one can add on to this: trying to end it while aiming for National Reconciliation, the very identity of the President making him more prone to crazy domestic violence, and trying to extinguish state power in one arena while expanding it, in, say, the area of healthcare.

The key to expanding the state in one area while retracting it in another is, as I see it, about the framing of rights. The police state violates very clearly defined freedoms: it takes away privacy, autonomy, and presumed innocence. Ending the police state means guaranteeing those freedoms.

Healthcare has to be framed the same. Currently, healthcare means uncertainty, high costs, employment-dependence, and inefficiency. It does not mean, as the most adamant free marketeers will tell you, than procuring health services is a matter of choice and desire. When you need healthcare, you absolutely need it. No amount of bargaining or negotiating or price-comparison will help. Healthcare is a terrible good to have rationed exclusively by the market - it creates a surplus of cosmetic surgeries in the same nation that has 1 in 6 uninsured. So framing the current system as the free market is an impossibility.

Instead, Obama's healthcare plan, and all other universalistic healthcare programs, need to frame the very program as a freedom: freedom from risk, freedom from uncertainty, freedom from impossible costs, freedom to transition between jobs while still being insured. This isn't the state stepping in and forcing a program on people; this is the state removing unfair burdens and affirming the inherent freedom to life.

If people see healthcare as a freedom and not as a government program, and if police state programs are repealed, I think the Obama coalition can last for at least another decade. More importantly, it will both fulfil campaign promises, and give the Left an opportunity to stop being the "big government" party and instead become a political party about freedoms.

How to Dissassemble an Obamic Bomb

I've mentioned several times on this blog that I think Ron Paul is the new face of the Republican party, and I've also said that I favor a libertarian-minded opposition. I think that an emphasis on checking power and maintaining civil liberties is vital in this nation; it's why I prefer libertarian opposition to, say, religious right opposition. That doesn't mean I actually want libertarian rule; it is my intended least-bad alternative.

I think the libertarians will be competitive in the Mountain West. Former New Mexico Gary Johnson has considered a 2012 presidential run, as a "antiwar, anti-Fed, pro-personal liberties, slash-government-spending candidate"; this is a far cry from the big-government, freedom-restrictionist era of Bush, and it will still satisfy fiscal conservatives the nation over. The challenge for candidates like this nationally is incorporating the religious right/social conservatives, and the general category of security conservatives. Nationally, it may not work in 2012.

The Mountain West plays differently, and New Mexico piles on peculiarities. With it's large catholic and Hispanic voting blocks, NM democrats skew statist center-left. Progressive economically much more so than socially. And the right in New Mexico, while having the standard components of the religious right, economic conservatives, and the very security-minded, has a very, very, very strong libertarian component. (Or at least it can - Jim Scarantino played the paranoid libertarian to Bush, but now plays the generic Rightist to Obama).

It is this climate that produced Gary Johnson. And it is this climate that may allow a bit of national spotlight for Adam Kokesh. Running in NM's 1st congressional (bluest of the blue) districts, Kokesh is anti-statist in the most profound way. He cites the founders, the Bill of Rights, and moral obligations in his call against the current "march towards fascism". His goal is an end to both American imperialism and the police state; 12 months ago, on this alone, he'd be casually grouped with the Democratic left. But now, parties in power have changed, and his tune is consistent.

Much will be made of him in the local media soon. My collegue FBIHOP is already casually dismissing him. I'm hesitant to be so straightforward with that dimissal - support from Ron Paul and viable anti-war cred makes him, this far from the actual campaign, seem competitive. He could well be the local face of the new Libertarian right that I'm anticipating. That's less important than the lesson his very existence has for the Democratic Party:

If the Democrats become the police state party, we have lost the coalition that swept Obama into power. And we've probably lost the Mountain West

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Violence is Silence

“From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though, despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any US soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice." -- David Faherty
There are few things to me more disturbing then that above sentence. It's a sentiment wholly alien to my being. I like social order. Alienated though my views can be from the general electorate, I think that social order is at least a worthy aim, an understood and accepting thing. For all the fears people built around "Change", change is an incredibly modest, statist word. It isn't arguing for an overthrow. It isn't calling for a sweeping realignment of social organs. It isn't challenging the very notions of statehood. It is, really, a slight adjusting of the rudder. It's not transforming the boat into a helicopter. "Change" likes the general contours f the system, and just hates a lot of the specifics. It's really surprising that people could must up such fervor for as modest a concept, and perhaps the fervor is what was reacted to. And hopefully, once the presidency is well under way, we'll see people calm down and accept it as the modest, statist thing it is.

And hopefully comments like this will stop happening. I mean, fine, private conversation, or choir-preachy websites. Free speech is well and good; I'm not opposed to that, and don't seek to stop it.

But what I would like to see wane, if not disappear, is this notion that the response to something moderately disagreeable is implied murder, or justified violent agrny outbursts. As harmless as that may be intended, it's terrifying. The implication - that members of the US armed forces are universally assumed to prefer the death of a domestic politician they dislike than the death of a man responsible for killing 3,000+ innocents boggles.

And I get that this is an attention-grabbing statement. And that, by acknowledging it, I'm only feeding the problem, giving the guy a larger audience for his soapbox. And this post is probably unnecessary - there will be better and more numerous deconstructions online, and in most media outlets. The statement deserves to be deconstructed, if there is any real sentiment behind it. Because that sentiment is profoundly opposed to social order, and seeks a world of platonic absolutes instead of this messy land of disagreement and compromise. It's the same motivation that fuels international jihadist violence - if the center is undesireable, the center is untenable. And if the center (broadly speaking, functioning democracy) is untenable (say, Pelosi dead), then extremists (the hypothetical US soldier, or bin Laden) get to just go at it, in a violent world of conflicting absolutes. And to get to that point you have to stifle dissent, alienate all those on your side who disagree. You have to not only call for the death of elected leaders, who are inherently moderate beings, having accepted the social order and the system in which they exist, but you have to make it impossible for such moderate leaders to speak against the excessed of their friends and allies. Once that happens, civilization becomes an angry little suicide pact.

The statement itself is only half the reason I'm upset. What bothers me more is that a friend of mine from college, a moderate Republican from Colorado, who was the most diehard supporter of McCain I've ever met, loves this quote. He gives reasons - the detachment of Pelosi's ideals from that of the rest of the US, say, but reasons don't matter. We can't, as a nation, have our ongoing experiment (one of a democracy that doesn't kill itself) if we think calling for the death of elected leaders we disagree with is acceptable. It just doesn't work that way.

There are few things, ever, that chip away at my faith in humanity. My friend's endorsement of this statement was one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sustainable vs Winnable Wars

Recently, I watched the roadshow version of Steven Soderbergh's Che. It is amazing, and I recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity and 5 hours to spend watching a film. The film follows two periods in Che's life in some depth - the Guerrilla campaign in Cuba until Batista flees, and the Bolivian campaign from Che's arrival to his execution. It's a deliberate contrast, and one that serves the story well. It also poses one of the most enduring challenges for students of insurgency: why did Bolivia fail so spectacularly when Cuba had worked so well?

The answer, or at least part of it, is found in Malcolm Gladwell's brilliant piece on underdog strategy. In order for an underdog to win against a superior opponent (a la David v Goliath), they almost always have to play the game differently. The Cuban Revolution is perhaps the textbook example of this; unsurprising, since Che wrote the book. There is a lot that enabled the Davidian triumph in Cuba - a climate that allowed for tenacity and endurance, a public polarized, the aggressive repression of the General Strike making revolution the only viable alternative, and the relative newness of oppression all helped mobilize people against a "goliath". So the traits the Davids in conflicts value (tenacity, moral, and mobility) were all possible, while the goliathian nature of Batista's Cuban Army was rather minimal. That the revolutionaries chose to fight a guerrilla war matters little - victory was impossible without it, and was all but guaranteed fighting that way.

Bolivia, on the other hand, lent itself less well to this style of warfare. Che's best soldiers were Cuban and inexperienced with the region. Che set up far from the politicized masses, and instead operated amongst xenophobic peasants (this limited mobility needed to offset a larger military). US support was offered early and often to Bolivia, making Bolivia's army far better at beign a Goliath than Batista's army was. And it was very, very hard for the kind of tenacity that had enabled success in Cuba to prevail in Bolivia without popular support and mobility. Not that Che didn't try, but whereas in Cuba momentum built and the army was able to both sustain and expand its efforts, in Bolivia the revolutionaries became more and more hindered, forced on the defensive, and unable to ever get momentum going their way. When the final confrontation came, it was between US-trained Rangers, who are as close as goliathian powers get to matched tenacity and mobility against an irregular force. Combined with, in this case, superior weaponry, numbers, and control of the field, Che didn't really have a chance.

The case can be made that because Che was unable to get a guerrilla movement going in Bolivia, he was fighting more conventionally, but with a grossly mismatched force. While that claim holds merit, I think it overlooks the additional hardships forced upon his warband by trying to fight a guerrila war. It's exhausting, and it changes engagements from those forced upon you in defensive positions or actively sought out with superior strength, to the possibility of being engaged at any time. Armies fight conventionally, even when they are grossly mismatched, because it is easier to do. Forts, stable supply lines, brief high-intensity engagements all are less draining on an individual soldier, and on an army, than being active all the time. Fighting battles like that means you have to fight fewer of them. Washington and Vo Nguyen Giap, both noted practioners of Guerilla warfare from their respective eras, were both eager to transition their army from guerilla tactics to conventional - early on, that transition often led itself to a series of defeats (outmatched when playing Goliath's game, after all). But why did they consistently choose it?

Gladwell, using sports as one of his main examples, lets social pressure be what undermines the usage of the David-esque full court press. Well, that, and the sheer difficulty in sustaining the kind of pressure that kind of gameplay requires. Social pressure is a hard factor to argue for war - war, being rather existential, is not the arena where general's care about what the opposing commanders must think of them. So the second explanation must be the one that allows us to understand Washington and Giap. While both could win a guerilla war indefinitely, they had a hard time sustaining it. Fighting conventionally meant putting ones soldiers through a few big battles, rather than existing in a state of constant warfare. Fighting big meant battles with clear-cut results, and the temptation of immediate and significant victories is potent. More meaningful than trophy victories, however, is the nature of what soldiers have to fight. If you are fighting all the time, you need lots of soldiers willing to be immediately ready to press every advantage. Skill is less relevant, as tenacity and endurance are the meaningful quantities. But that's exhausting when it's a 48 minute basketball game, and moreso when it's an actual war. Skill, on the other hand, can be improved at a less breakneck pace, and enable one to win the few engagements one fights in. When Goliath armies beat David armies, it's because they've gone ahead and adapted to Davidian war. But Goliath armies will always, always prefer the Goliath-on-Goliath combat.

The relevance of this (besides the sheer awesomeness that is the Malcolm Gladwell article and the Steven Soderbergh film) is that the US military is, and has been for at least two decades now, the impossible-to-defeat Goliath. In Gulf War I, Iraq had the world's 4th largest military. The war was grossly one-sided, and the United States lost 113 soldiers. When everyone plays by the winners rules, the winner will be incredibly hard to stop.

The wars the US is fighting today do not favor Goliaths. The tenacity of forces in Afghanistan has been demonstrated - the Taliban are back, when by all accounts they were ruled dead by 2002. In order to win, as the US did by aiding Bolivia, they have to make overwhelming force applicable to this kind of combat. There are generals currently doing just that - perhaps most famous is David Petraeus, while the most interesting developments are coming from "The Accidental Guerilla" author David Kilcullen. They are the ones formulating the tactics that will win this.

The challenge, as has often been leveled agaisnt the US, is a willingness to fight the kind of sustained warfare needed. For the Taliban, they don't have a choice - the war is existential. For many factions in Iraq, their survival depends on mastering guerilla conflicts. For the US, we have to be willingly to commit to a war with no set-piece battles. And this calls into question the whole role of war with humanitarian ambitions, or of international police action. Iraq is abhorred by the left because it was unnessecary. It is very much a victim of attention fatigue, and perhaps a worthy victim. Afghanistan, however, is a conflict that the US seems more committed to, without an immediate existential threat. The Taliban are as much foreignners in the country as the Cubans were in Bolivia, and the public longs for stability. The possibility of an eventual US victory is real. The challenge, of course, is sustaining the effort needed. The Taliban have to do it. We don't.

Editor's Note: Since writing this post, a few other examples of the attitude needed towards Afghanistan have come to mind. Over at doubleX, Vanessa M. Gezari has a comprehensive and concise post up about the change in generals for the Afghanistan conflict. From later in the Salon review of Kilcullen's book comes these amazing quotes, which more or less sum up all that is needed, and all that is difficult about the US operating in Afghanistan.
Security is the single overriding need of people living in weak states, and Kilcullen points out that rule of law doesn't fall too far behind that. (It's especially difficult for Westerners who have no cultural memory of living under chaotic conditions with no viable civil authority to grasp just how scary this can be. We tend to fixate on the menace posed by authoritarian tyrants like Saddam Hussein, forgetting that a person killed in a civil war is just as dead as someone killed by a dictator.) One service the Taliban has excelled in providing to Afghans in isolated regions, for example, is dispute resolution. When you're quarreling with your neighbor about who owns those goats, if there isn't some authority, however merciless, to appeal to, things can degenerate into a Hobbesian state pretty quickly. The Taliban first gained power in the 1990s by offering just this sort of adjudication, and they haven't forgotten how well it worked. Unless the West helps the Afghans set up better civil institutions, they'll use it again.

Kilcullen makes it clear that efforts to set up viable governance in places like Iraq and Afghanistan must involve established local power structures (like Iraq's tribes) and customs (like the elaborate Iraq blood-debt resolution ritual known as the "suhl"). The neoconservative pipe dream of making over Iraq and Afghanistan as Western-style democracies has to be set aside. Most difficult of all, homegrown police, politicians, judges and other officials who aren't either corrupt or pursuing a purely sectarian agenda have to be put in place. Kilcullen thinks this can be done, but it will be really difficult and really expensive. And it will take a while. And the result is unlikely to be the sort of government Americans admire.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Privilege in Action

The subtitle of my blog lists the power dynamics I find most interesting, and it has been far, far to long since I've talked about the third item on that list: Race.

This isn't because I haven't had a lot to say - watching the rise to prominence of Glenn Beck's paranoia, the subtle tones of the Tea Party protests, and my own involvement in a class on Whiteness in US History have all been fertile ground for ideas. And once upon a time I promised a Whiteness Sermon, because I was upset with FUUNO's anti-racist inauguration sermon. It was an unpleasant mediocrity. So I've been thinking about race, spinning it around in my head for months. But neither my visceral reactions to Glenn Beck nor the abstractions of academia have been able to crystallize my thoughts in any meaningful way. With news and school not valid sources of inspiration, it was more or less inevitable that the internet would jump in and save the day.

Today BoingBoing linked to a very interesting presentation about the behavioral economics of cheating. Behavioral economics are, in my mind, the most valuable field in which research is being done, and almost every new development I hear about it convinces me of the flaws inherent in political science. This is to say that the post is good. The post is very, very good, and I'm going to recommend you watch the whole thing. (Yes, it is 18 minutes long. It's worth it, and what I say next won't make any sense unless you've seen it.)

Towards the end of the presentation, the speaker describes a scenario where it is shown that cheating is okay. However, knowing that cheating is okay doesn't change the subjects action. What does change the students reaction, however, is the idenity of the cheater. If the cheater is a student from the same school, then students feel safer about getting away with cheating, and so cheat more. If, however, the cheater is from a rival school, students ignore him, and cheat at the same or reduced levels. The lesson: ingroup/outgroup status determines behavior identification. Seeing that cheating is okay is not enough on it's own; seeing that cheating within one's ingroup is okay is what matters.

This leads me to the second piece, the one about race. It's a post that comes from "Stuff White People Do", which is the appropriate anti-racist corrolary to blogs that just poke fun at whiteness. In it, it describes the murder of a hispanic man by white teenagers, in a predominantly (96%) white community. There was an altercation, punches were thrown all around, sure. But here's the fun trick - the hispanic man died, and the all-white jury sentenced the youths to, at most, 2 years in jail. For killing a man in a fight they provoked him into. For murder. 2 years.

I am not saying that the all-white jury was overtly racist. I'm not saying that the all-white jury was even knowingly racist. After all, the man killed was an illegal, and being against illegal immigration is not the same as being racist (though the venn diagram begins to resemble a circle at that point). But. The youths on trial, teenage white males, were judged by a jury of their peers. The man killed wasn't. And the jury, identifying with the in-group of race, protected the youths.

And this is what is so incredibly challenging about institutionalized racism - it is very, very hard to come up with a law that accounts for jury compostion. And in a town that's 96% white, how can someone argue for reform? And as much faith as I have in the ability of governments to reform themselves to better serve the public good, this issue seems beyond the scope of legislation.

Still, I'm optimistic. Nate Silver, in a presentation (given at TED, like the first link) examines overt racism in determing voting habits. He takes polling data, comparing the number of people who said that race was the msot important factor in deciding their vote, and overlapping that data with neighborhood dynamics. The greater the racial homogeneity of the neighborhood, the more willing a person was to let race be the determining factor for their vote. A myriad of reasons for this exist, like, say race being seen as a useful heuristic, but they all boil down to ingroup identification. However, in neighborhoods less homogenous, race was important for deciding a persons vote. Nate Silver's proposed solution is more walkable, grid neighborhoods (to emphasize diversity always), and he just assumes that a demographic shift will generally lessen these problems.

That said, the problems still exist, and what happened to Luis Ramirez, while perhaps understandable from a behavioral economist perspective, is wholly unjust and a failing of the system. And thats because privilege is allowed to operate. But privilege doesn't always have to operate or get to operate - a more diverse jury would have probably viewed the case differently, and been just as keen on preventing future murders as it was on minimizing the harm caused to the youths involved. And that is the kind of change that will happen with time; over the age of 65, 75% of Americans are white. Under the age of 10, 25% of Americans are. Privilege itself will weaken with the passage of time. And that, that's pretty dang exciting.

Update: here in one shot is another article showcasing privilege. Describing crimes identical except for their victims, we can see how justice is served for the young white woman, and how little effort is put into doing the same for a 55 year old Hispanic man. The problem is not that they went out of their way to solve the first case faster, the problem is that such a discrepancy itself can exist within the same system, and that there is an ability to make such a conscious choice about the extra effort. If all cases required that diligence, there would be no privilege. If such additional efforts weren't possible/legal ever, there would be no privilege. But when such efforts are possible and optional, privilege allows the white victim to matter more. (And this is in Los Angeles, which is no homogeneous white suburb.) Far as I'm concerned, that difference is a failure of the rule of law