I always tell my clients who want to disinherit a child just to say “Being not unmindful of [Unworthy Wretch], I nevertheless leave him nothing.”
I do so because there is more than enough cruelty and trash talk in the world, and it seems unfair to stick it in and twist it at precisely the time when you are the “dearly departed” and beyond getting a good ear full for your spite. In the back of my mind, I always thought that a reason invited a Will challenge on the basis that the rationale was factually mistaken, too, or even that the wrongness was so extreme as to be evidence that Testator lacked Testamentary Capacity.
But I never thought I’d see the day when a kid had the chutzpah to challenge disinheritance on the ground that it was somehow “discriminatory.” That day now has arrived, but I’m glad to report that the New Jersey courts said, basically, “are you kidding?”
On Friday, a New Jersey appellate court in In re Jameson offered a helpful reminder of the limits of antidiscrimination law — whatever its scope may be as to employment, public accommodations and the like, people remain free to decide whom to bequeath their property to, even if they do so for bigoted reasons. The Jamesons expressly provided in their wills that none of their property should go to their only surviving daughter, Stacy Wolin; their wills said that this was because Wolin treated them badly, but Wolin alleged that the real reason was their disapproval of dating (and eventually marrying) a Jew, disapproval that (allegedly) led them to kick her out of the house when she was a college student, and cut her out of their lives afterward.
But the New Jersey court held — correctly, I think — that antidiscrimination principles don’t apply to people’s decisions about whether to leave property to their children (or to others). People remain free to choose whom to select as heirs (subject, of course, to the obligations that people have to their spouses and minor children). One state — Louisiana — has a French-law-derived tradition of “forced heirship,” under which some adult children have a right to inherit part of their parents’ property without regard to their parents’ wishes; but that is very much an exception, and even that is a substantive entitlement, not an antidiscrimination rule.
I wish the realm of freedom (a/k/a civil society) were widened a bit. I’ve implied that many times, and pretty clearly intended it here and here. Letting A crush B with a claim of “discrimination” too often vindicates the dignitary interests of A at the expense on much graver dignitary harm to B, or so it seems to me.
I tend to be suspicious of any term that turns into a mantra, displacing actual thought, as “discrimination” has. I hope that if nothing else, this will illustrate to everyone of good will that “discrimination” isn’t always high trump — and shouldn’t be.
It’s getting to the point where — Ooh! Ooh! Insight! — we need a version of Godwin’s Law for “discrimination:”
If an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will say the other side’s values are just an “excuse for discrimination” (and walk away with a triumphal smirk).
Let’s call it Tipsy’s Law
Another existential threat, if Western man still sees himself as the custodian of the world’s greatest civilization, and one yet worth preserving, is the Third-Worldization of the West. The threat emanates from two factors: The demographic death of the native-born of all Western nations by century’s end, given their fertility rates, and the seemingly endless invasion of the West from Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Concerning the demographic decline and displacement of Western man by peoples of other creeds, cultures, countries, continents and civilizations, there is an ideological clash within the West. Some among our elites are rhapsodic at the change. Worshiping at the altars of diversity and equality, they see acquiescing in the invasion of their own countries as a mark of moral superiority.
Angela Merkel speaks for them, or did, up to a while ago. To those who believe diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, cultural—is to be cherished and embraced, resistance to demographic change in the West is seen as a mark of moral retardation. Opponents of immigration are hence subjects of abuse—labeled “racists,” “xenophobes,” “fascists,” “Nazis” and other terms of odium in the rich vocabulary of Progressive hatred. Yet, opposition to the invasion from across the Med and the Rio Grande is not only propelling the Trump movement but generating rightist parties and movements across the Old Continent.
It is hard to see how this crisis resolves itself peacefully.
Normally, when liberals talk about racism, they use “racist” as an end point. “Trump is racist” is, by itself, a reason not to vote for him, and “being racist” is an indicator of a person who is morally deficient.
But, if you don’t take this as an end point — if you instead ask “what do people get out of being racist?” — you’ll start to unravel the emotional motivations behind it. One of the best unpacking of this I have read is Matt Bruenig’s piece Last Place Avoidance and Poor White Racism. To summarize, no one wants to occupy the “last” place in society. No one wants to be the most despised. As long as racism remains intact, poor white people are guaranteed not to be “the worst.” If racism is ever truly dismantled, then poor white people will occupy the lowest rung of society, and the shame of occupying this position is very painful. This shame is so painful, that the people at risk of feeling it will vote on it above all other issues.
Liberals, especially white liberals, like to believe in the moral superiority of the “not racist” (which presumably includes them.) And, I agree we need to aspire to a “less racist” America, but I disagree that it is useful to think of racism as a personal moral failure. It can be, but thinking of it this way blocks progress.
The main difference between a white racist and a white “race ally” is usually social group. Marc Zuckerberg recently reprimanded some of his employees for crossing out “Black Lives Matter” and replacing it with “All Lives Matter” but of course he did. The internet went wild congratulating him, but this was not a courageous act for him. It may have been a morally correct act, but it was not a brave one. His social group rewards overt “anti-racist” behavior so being overtly “anti-racist” will only enhance his social standing.
On the other hand, for some poor white communities, solidifying racism seems like a quicker path to enhancing their social status than activism. Ironically, many white racists and white allies have the same motivation in their hearts — to look good to their peers. Yet, white allies tend to get blocked around this because it is painful to admit they have similar motivations to white racists. At least, it is painful for me to admit.
Yet, the fact that we are similarly motivated — white racists, white allies, and people of color alike — is the key to fixing this whole mess ….
Prophesy wankers (I’m sorry if the metaphor offends anyone; substitute “fanatic” if that helps, but I’m sticking with wanker since I’ve known so many) may have spent Tuesday night tossing and turning. NPR’s All Things Considered covered building momentum toward erection of a Third Temple on Temple Mount (Jewish nomenclature) a/k/a the Noble Sanctuary (Muslim nomenclature) — to the exclusion of the current structure, a Mosque.
This is a movement is fraught, to be sure, but isn’t exactly unexpected even if you’ve never cracked a Bible in your life. Two previous Jewish Temples stood there, and Jews yearly mourn their destruction. With enough Jews who aren’t syncretistic toward Islam, the either/or view of what belongs on Temple Mount was bound to arise.
But millions or tens of millions of Evangelicals have been tutored for decades in an elaboration of Biblical prophesy that treats this particular issue as an important prophetic benchmark. (Here’s an example; I don’t know if it’s mainstream, as I’ve lost the pulse of this theory.) They are feeling powerfully vindicated tonite if they snuck a guilty listen to “liberal” NPR.
I started getting that sort of teaching with a change of scenery around age 14 and I didn’t repudiate it until I was almost 30. It was presented as what the Bible taught, period, full stop. Disbelieve it and you disbelieve the Bible.
To disbeleive the Bible is an Evangelical/Fundamentalist version of self-excommunication, and the Bible is held to be perspicacious and univocal. That the Bible should be subject to multiple interpretations, just like any other book of such length and variety, is nearly unthinkable, let alone that some other interpretations are way better than Hal Lindsey and the late Tim LaHaye.
Until the coin drops, that is, and then it becomes one of the things you can never un-see.
This book, then hot off the press, helped me see it in one of my life’s little, but very important, epiphanies. But it will now be harder than ever to dissuade Dispensational Premillenialists from their error, even if I cannot imagine ever again entertaining it.
* * * * *
“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)