Muslims, and women in tech, face real discrimination. But a Trump fan is suing a bar over his ‘Make America Great Again’ hat…. (More)
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service
You’ve probably seen that sign in a place of business. And if you’re a squirrel, or a human with an odd sense of humor, you’ve probably wondered if the business would serve someone who walked in wearing only a shirt and shoes. My guess is they wouldn’t …
… and if they refused that would not be illegal discrimination. Neither was this:
Bartenders at a West Village hot spot served up discrimination – with a liberal twist – refusing to serve a customer because he was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, according to a lawsuit.
Greg Piatek, 30, an accountant from Philadelphia, claims he was snubbed and eventually 86’d by workers at The Happiest Hour on West 10th Street over his conservative fashion statement, popularized by Donald Trump on the campaign trail, he told The Post.
“Anyone who supports Trump – or believes what you believe – is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!” Piatek claims he was told as he was shown the door by a manager.
These are the same people who insist on their God-given “religious freedom” to discriminate against LGBTs. Indeed many still insist that private businesses should be able to discriminate against women and people of color.
And there’s a big difference. Piatek can take that hat off.
Thing is, most state laws allow businesses to expel “disruptive” customers, including customers who wear “offensive clothing.” And most state laws give business owners broad discretion in deciding what is “disruptive” or “offensive,” so long as those decisions don’t target a protected class. The protected classes are defined by federal, state, and local laws. The Civil Rights Act doesn’t include political affiliation as a protected class, and neither do most state and local discrimination statutes. Washington, D.C. is an exception, but private sector discrimination based on political affiliation is usually legal in New York State and New York City.
Simply, Piatek is in “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” territory … and the bar owner was legally allowed to forbid that hat.
On March 6, the zoning board in Bayonne, New Jersey, turned down a request to convert an old warehouse into a mosque. Such denials are happening with increasing frequency in the United States. In the 10 years between 2000 and 2010, the Justice Department intervened seven times against local communities that prevented Muslims from building mosques or other religious institutions. In the six years between 2010 and 2016, that number jumped to 17.
At the zoning board meeting, one woman called Islam a “so-called religion.” Residents claimed the Muslim Brotherhood would control the mosque. The Facebook page of the group “Stop the Mosque in Bayonne” features a man holding a sign that says “Democracy or Sharia Law.”
This is the language of Frank Gaffney. For a decade and a half, Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who heads a small Washington think tank called the Center for Security Policy, has been making two interrelated arguments. First, that the Muslim Brotherhood – which he claims seeks to replace the United States Constitution with a Caliphate based upon Sharia law – secretly controls most American mosques and Muslim organizations. Second, that Islam is not actually a religion. It is a totalitarian political ideology. Thus, its adherents should be treated not like Christians or Jews, but like American Nazis during World War II.
In crucial ways, what Gaffney believes about American Muslims is not new. His theory resembles conspiracy theories about vulnerable minority groups in the past. “You take people who are your neighbors and you define them not primarily as your neighbors and fellow citizens but primarily with some larger world community, all of whose members hold the same views, which are expressed in some secret document,” explains the Yale Historian Timothy Snyder. “And there’s always some element of truth. Because everyone belong to groups that have transnational linkages.” Snyder has a word for this process: denationalization.
That is, Gaffney and others in the God-King’s circle of advisors are looking for ways to define Muslims as “not American.” That, not national security, is the motivation for the God-King’s Muslim Ban. But they want more than a mere travel ban:
Treating Islam as a hostile ideology means treating Muslim political participation the way the U.S. treated political activity by Nazis during World War II or communists during the cold war. That starts with designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, which Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel have said should be at the top of Trump’s agenda. Legally, the designation can come from the State Department, in consultation with Treasury and Justice. Or Treasury, in consultation with the other two. And there’s reason to believe that at least State is inclined in that direction. In his confirmation testimony, in a sharp break with the Bush and Obama administrations, Rex Tillerson described “the Muslim Brotherhood” as among the “agents of radical Islam.”
And various news reports have suggested that Trump is considering signing an executive order to begin the review process that such a designation would require.
Declaring the Brotherhood a terrorist organization would complicate American foreign policy. Although Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have outlawed the Brotherhood themselves, Morocco’s Prime Minister hails from a Brotherhood-associated party, a Brotherhood-spinoff serves in the coalition government in Tunisia, and Brotherhood-affiliated parties serve in parliament in Jordan, Kuwait, and Iraq.
But it is domestic, not foreign, policy that would truly motivate such a designation. Labeling the Brotherhood a terrorist organization would give the Trump administration greater authority to go after groups like CAIR, which Flynn and Bannon have both dubbed a Brotherhood front group. A series of legal changes implemented after September 11 gives the federal government extraordinary powers to target groups it accuses of being linked to terrorism. According to a 2009 ACLU report, a Bush administration executive order “effectively allows the government to shut down an organization without notice or hearing and on the basis of classified evidence, and without any judicial review,” if officials suspect it of being “associated with” a terrorist group. Muslim charities subjected to this procedure have successfully challenged it in court, but it’s unclear whether those rulings would deter the people working for President Trump.
That bothers me just a smidgeon more than a bar owner who doesn’t want “Make America Great Again” hats in his bar.
“The extent to which practitioners of a discipline believe that success depends on sheer brilliance is a strong predictor of women’s and African Americans’ representation”
And then there’s The Atlantic’s April cover story, headlined Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful for Women?:
One weekday morning in 2007, Bethanye Blount came into work early to interview a job applicant. A veteran software engineer then in her 30s, Blount held a senior position at the company that runs Second Life, the online virtual world. Good-natured and self-confident, she typically wore the kind of outfit—jeans, hoodie, sneakers—that signals coding gravitas. That day, she might even have been wearing what’s known as the “full-in start-up twin set”: a Second Life T-shirt paired with a Second Life hoodie.
In short, everything about her indicated that she was a serious technical person. So she was taken aback when the job applicant barely gave her the time of day. He knew her job title. He knew she would play a key role in deciding whether he got hired. Yet every time Blount asked him a question about his skills or tried to steer the conversation to the scope of the job, he blew her off with a flippant comment. Afterward, Blount spoke to another top woman—a vice president—who said he’d treated her the same way.
Liza Mundy describes Blount’s experience, and that of several other women, all of whom have struggled with the tech industry’s pervasive sexism, from “handsy” colleagues in elevators, bosses who dismiss their work, clients who ignore their presentations, and venture capitalists who favor male-run startups.
But this passage especially interested me:
Such bias may be particularly rife in Silicon Valley because of another of its foundational beliefs: that success in tech depends almost entirely on innate genius. Nobody thinks that of lawyers or accountants or even brain surgeons; while some people clearly have more aptitude than others, it’s accepted that law school is where you learn law and that preparing for and passing the CPA exam is how you become a certified accountant. Surgeons are trained, not born. In contrast, a 2015 study published in Science confirmed that computer science and certain other fields, including physics, math, and philosophy, fetishize “brilliance,” cultivating the idea that potential is inborn. The report concluded that these fields tend to be problematic for women, owing to a stubborn assumption that genius is a male trait.
The study authors considered several alternative explanations for the low numbers of women in those fields – including that women might not want to work long hours and that there might be more men at the high end of the aptitude spectrum, an idea notoriously put forward in 2005 by then-Harvard President Larry Summers.
But the data did not support these other theories.
“The more a field valued giftedness, the fewer the female PhDs,” the study found, pointing out that the same pattern held for African Americans. Because both groups still tend to be “stereotyped as lacking innate intellectual talent,” the study concluded, “the extent to which practitioners of a discipline believe that success depends on sheer brilliance is a strong predictor of women’s and African Americans’ representation.”
In other words, because society conditions Americans to associate “sheer brilliance” with whiteness and maleness, fields that value “sheer brilliance” tend to harbor more discrimination against women and people of color.
Worse, Mundy reports, many of the corrective strategies that firms have tried – sensitivity training, teaching about implicit bias, etc. – have backfired due to resentment (“Why do white men have to be sensitive to everyone else?”) or perverse normalization (“If everyone has implicit bias, then it must be okay!”).
But hey, let’s all worry about the plight of guys who wear “Make America Great Hats” in New York City. That’s the real discrimination, right?
Photo Credit: S&H Law
Good day and good nuts