Police Abuse

Glenn Loury: 'We're Being Swept Along by Hysteria' About Racism in America

The Brown University economist and outspoken critic of Black Lives Matter discusses George Floyd, social progress, and the state of political discourse.


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In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests have erupted around the country, calling attention to racial disparities in the way that black people are treated by the criminal justice system and by American society more generally.

Brown University's Glenn Loury has emerged as one of the most vocal and outspoken critics of Black Lives Matter and other groups arguing that systemic racism is at the center of the African American experience in the United States today. Loury worries that our institutions are failing "to affirm the primacy of reason over violence in calibrating our reactions to the supposed 'oppression,'" as he wrote in response to an open letter from his school's administrators that highlighted "anger" at what they called an "ongoing epidemic of racism."

The 72-year-old professor—the first African American to be granted tenure in Harvard's economics department back in the 1970s—talked with Reason via Zoom about how the U.S. has changed for the better over his lifetime, why understanding history is vital to social change, and whether rational discourse has any purchase in social and political debates.

Edited by John Osterhoudt.

Photo credit: Loury at Harvard, Associated Press

NEXT: Citizen vs. Government (Vol. 2)

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  1. Glen is correct!

    As evidence for “racism” claims gone too far, I give you this:


    ‘Tear Them Down’: BLM Activist Shaun King Calls for Destruction of Jesus Christ Statues, Churches: ‘White Supremacy,’ ‘Oppression,’ ‘Racist Propaganda’

    I’m not sure if predominantly black churches and their statues of Jesus will be permitted, or not…

    1. I’d say they could keep their statues of Barack “Black Jesus” Obama, but he’s too far to the right for the new generation.

        1. That you told us you eat shit?

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    3. The funny part being that Talcum X is whiter than any European Jesus image I’ve ever seen.

      1. “Talcum X” wearing white-face! LOL, WuzYoungOnceToo, that’s pretty damned funny! Kudos!

        (Mighty white of you! Lemme tell ya somethin’ that few white people know!)

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      2. If someone decided to F up Talcum X, I’d cheer.

    4. He humbly offers his own services as the new white Jesus…any takers? Anyone? Bueller?

  2. Self-hating and taken by internalized racism.

  3. I’ve benefited from https://qweetly.com/ . This platform contains many templates of essays, research papers, and other assignments. One can use them for free.

    1. I have no idea why cops are standing between Lightfoot and her peeps. Stand aside cops.

    2. “I dunno if all y’all noticed but there’s a whole world wide web full of all y’alls dirty secrets”

      I can only hope the black hole of stupidity destroys Lightfoot’s house.

  4. a. systemic racism!

    b. um, the Left runs the system.

    a. systemic racism!

    1. By the time this is all over you idiots will be trying to convince us that AOC was president all along.

      1. If the left doesn’t currently have enough power, then honestly, what’s the endgame when it does? When is that happy day that BLM and leftists activists no longer need to engage in manipulative, coercive and destructive behavior anymore? What would that look like specifically (not generally)?

        1. I’m gonna need you to be more specific than “Leftists want to kill us all!!! AHHHH!!”


          1. OK: Leftist thugs like you would kill us if you had a chance.
            How’s that, shitbag?

      2. When was the last time a Republican served as mayor or the republican party have a majority in the city councils of Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle etc? You’re obviously deflecting here, because it is obvious that these acts are the result of leftist policies (including the 1994 Federal Crime Bill, passed in a Democratically Controlled House and Senate and signed by a Democratic President).

        1. Oh great more of this tedious horseshit.

          If you look at a graph of population density in the US relative to political affiliation, you’ll see that the more dense an area gets (say, like a city), the more likely it is to contain, and be governed by, Democrats. It is not a conspiracy or a fluke that large cities are controlled by Democrats. The people are electing who they want to elect.

          This lame stupidity is meant to imply that urban police forces are also filled with progressives. That is not true. The police are the most Republican public-sector agency that exists, even in cities.

          You also imply that life is better for black people in rural Alabama. Does that seem plausible to you?

          You also imply that black people vote for Democrats despite being their constant victim. Why do you think black people are so stupid?

          1. People have a long history of voting for leaders that screw them over. The blacks in big cities are no different. They’ll keep on voting for the democrat party even though white liberals who run that party and big business never does a thing for black community.

            You ever wonder why the 1% doesn’t just build factories here, hiring as many blacks as they want, giving them a living wage, full time health benefits, pension, maternity leave, unionization, etc? Yeah.

            The big cities are a near death trap for blacks, given high level of crimes and chronic poverty. Most immigrants would simply carve out their own little community in big cities or “gentrify” virgin territories. Blacks can’t do that as much. Whereas many non whites are quick to move up or adapt to a changing economy, blacks are slow to catch up. They’ve been stuck in a quagmire of their own creation for a while now.

            You ever heard of anyone asking blacks to maybe learn a second language, or take up skilled work? They say those things to everyone else. Just about every single technician, plumber, computer repair man and Asian stationary stores employees I dealt with here were either white and Latinos. I go to Korea town and the workforce is 99% non black.

          2. The point is it’s kinda plausible to draw patterns and conclusions to what’s happening in those cities (ie gun violence, no school choice, heavy corruption) with the fact they keep voting Democrat.

            Democrats have held power the majority of the time in many major cities.

            What adds to this is the fact people then claim somehow it’s the fault of Republicans for what ails those cities but give credit to Democrats for successes.

            In 2020, it’s Democrat states that were the most authoritarian during the lockdowns and it was cities run by D Mayors that saw the worst part of the riots.

          3. Tony:

            Why don’t you and yours along with the BLM people move to say Africa where things are so much more egalitarian?

            I never thought I’d say that but this childish “life is unfair” horse shit gets so tedious at times that after six decades of hearing it, I can.

      3. Secretary of Bikinis.

      4. By the time this is all over you idiots will be trying to convince us that AOC was president all along.

        Speaking of idiocy…you’re under the impression that the PDs of metropolitan U.S. cities report to POTUS?

        1. I’m under the correct impression that right-wing media has you all frothed up over the scary boogieman “the Left” and “Democrats who run cities,” and you’re too fucking dumb to realize that it’s a partisan game and you’re the mute, stupid pawn.

          1. Shrieking Tony doesn’t answer the question, of course.

          2. I’m under the correct impression that right-wing media has you all frothed up

            I’d ask if you read this to yourself before posting it, but I’m pretty sure I already know the answer is ‘No.’

            1. Not being a Republican is like the easiest fucking choice in the world.

              1. Fat. drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

  5. I usually don’t listen to these things, but I skipped in an immediately heard him say that George Floyd and Eric Garner were resisting and attacking cops. Ok, Micheal Brown was probably attacking the cop that killed him, but we have no evidence for that. What happened with both Floyd and Garner was completely unacceptable. They were both choked for a completely unnecessary amount of time (if any time is “necessary”). So now that he said that pretty close to the beginning, I don’t think I need to listen to anything else he says for the rest of the hour long (!) interview.

    1. There is definitely evidence of Michael Brown attacking the cop who killed him.

      1. Yeah, it’s been a while since that happened but I seem to vaguely recall some witnesses saying that he did charge the cop after initially trying to run away or something like that.

        1. There is also significant physical evidence. IIRC, MB had gun powder residue on his hand, received when he reached into the cop car trying to take the cop’s gun.

          MB is a poster boy for justifiable homicide.

          1. Brown’s DNA or fingerprints were on the barrel, too, right? As in, he was wrestling for control of the gun when it went off, which created the bullet hole in Darren Wilson’s squadcar.

            If you don’t want to get shot, don’t attack an officer and fight for his sidearm.

        1. You could read the FBI report.
          Wilson and other witnesses stated that Brown then reached into the SUV through the open driver’s window and punched and grabbed Wilson. This is corroborated by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm. While there are other individuals who stated that Wilson reached out of the SUV and grabbed Brown by the neck, prosecutors could not credit their accounts because they were inconsistent with physical and forensic evidence, as detailed throughout this report.

    2. Ok, Micheal Brown was probably attacking the cop that killed him, but we have no evidence for that.
      Except for the witnesses and DNA evidence.

      1. Some people are really blinded by their bigotry

        1. Lumping Brown in with Garner and Floyd is disingenuous at best.

          1. Garner clearly resisted being arrested, as did Brooks.
            Floyd we don’t know about but there is the whole unresearched personal relationship Chauvin and he had.
            How would it look if the death of Floyd was Chauvin settling a personal score and had nothing to do with random police brutality or racism?
            A lot of rioting and destruction over a cause that wasn’t.

            1. Also the coroner’s and toxicology report on Floyd’s death gives an indication that he may have taken a lethal dose of fentanyl. https://www.unz.com/article/or-did-george-floyd-die-of-a-drug-overdose/

            2. None of this really matters when you look at the bigger picture. There is this unquestionable assumption that the murder of Floyd was racially motivated when in fact there is mo evidence of such. And this led to all sorts of violence and destruction and pandering to criminals for something that isn’t in evidence.

              Plenty of evidence of cops out of control. But that same evidence points to race not being a significant factor.

              This while episode has been the most libertarian in my lifetime and it is being coopted by a race war.

      2. Eye witness accounts are horribly unreliable. I don’t consider them to be evidence.

        1. When multiple witnesses support forensic evidence, I consider them to be evidence.

        2. Eye witness accounts are horribly unreliable. I don’t consider them to be evidence.

          As said, eyewitness accounts that corroborate not only one another, but also the physical evidence are pretty reliable.

          In any event, if you actually cared about any of this you’d have read the FBI’s report on their investigation when it was released, or just Google it now and read it.

        3. Blood spatter evidence clearly showed where Brown was, each time that he was shot, and it indicated that he was advancing on Wilson.
          The evidence was there for those who want to see it.

        4. We’ll take that into account next time you tell us something you saw.

    3. I haven’t listened to the interview (I will when I get the chance) but I agree that defending the cops’ actions in these cases is *usually* not necessary to no support BLM. BLM can be criticized on their own lack of merit.

    4. Really? Eric Garner and George Floyd were resisting and attacking cops?

      That’s an incredibly poor take.

      Hell, even most cops have agreed that Floyd didn’t deserve that.

    5. There’s also the fact that Michael Brown was no-shit guilty of assault and theft, that is, both violent and property crimes against private individuals. The officers, bumbling around and using excessive force or not, apprehended the criminal. Whereas Garner and Floyd were supposedly guilty of non-violent and arguably victimless or procedural crimes (arguably after the fact).

  6. Glenn Loury: ‘We’re Being Swept Along by Hysteria’ About Racism in America

    Hsst! Glenn! “Hysteria” is a politically incorrect word, as it is demeaning to what goes as females.

    1. Hersteria! Better?

      1. I’ll run it up the flagpole….

  7. In the past we have found that burning at the stake always seems to take care of the problem. Same sort of evidence for this need for panic.

  8. That dude is 72? He looks about 50.

    1. Black don’t crack

  9. Real solutions don’t come from pretending issues don’t exist.

    All people are different by race, sex, age, genetics and personal choices. It is NORMAL to recognize and explore our differences.

    Racism is bigotry. Presenting any argument isn’t bigotry. Refusing to consider one is.

    How can people be so stupid and cowardly to allow themselves to be shamed and coerced into bigotry?

    Search your own soul. Are you free of all bigotry? Do you consider all arguments? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    1. Real solutions don’t come from pretending issues don’t exist.

      Do they come from pretending that they’re far worse than they actually are, and crying “Wolf!” at every available opportunity?

      1. Solutions come from people openly expressing their perceptions and knowledge without being coerced or shamed into bigotry.

        When science and logic prevail, so do real solutions.

        1. “Solutions come from people openly expressing their perceptions and knowledge without being coerced or shamed into bigotry.”

          So you came to your bigotry how?

        2. Ah…the “We choose truth over facts” approach to solutions.

    2. Real solutions don’t come from pretending issues don’t exist.

      Prove it. Go joust with every Cervantes statue and harpoon every Herman Melville statue and don’t come back until you’re done. Or reject my solution out of hand, you stupid cowardly bigot.

      You’re idiotic false dichotomy assumes that every issue or solution is always well-reasoned (superficially and in-depth) and/or presented in good faith.

      1. Every issue can be well reasoned and done in good faith. This is the basis of civilization. It isn’t idiotic.

        Logic and science exposes bigots and liars to be the idiots they are.

        1. “Logic and science exposes bigots and liars to be the idiots they are.”

          This from a scumbag bigot.

  10. Via Zoom? Hell, no. Not that I don’t like Gillespie’s oversize microphone, but I want one of those slickly produced ReasonTV interview videos with their over-the-shoulder shots in the same well-lit-but-somehow-also-darkened, brick-walled studio.

    Good convo, though. Even where I disagree with him I can listen to Loury spout off all day.

    1. “I’m motherfucking Glenn Loury.”

      Caught the Unregistered interview with him, and it was probably the most evenhanded treatment of how personal foibles of both blacks and whites contributed to the unease of today. Even his own personal failings; there are no saints to be found anywhere in this.

      And even as deeply flawed beings, we carry on.

  11. Don’t have time for a video right now… when does he say racism and the social consequences thereof stopped being real?

    1. Nowhere. If you go to youtube you can watch the many discussions between him and John McWhorter where they discuss the real problems of police abuse and racism.
      Both also believe that black people have moral agency – they’re not simply pawns in a white supremacist society – and that some of the problems among black people is self-inflicted.
      But viewing this issue as morally complex is not allowed; not now. It’s either blacks as complete victims – the Coates view – or you’re a racist who doesn’t care.

  12. I guess no one wants to take the black community at its word that it is tired and finished living in a country where a black man can’t go out for a walk without attracting policemen questioning his right to be there.

    1. I’ll consider any argument you make demonstrating why the predominantly black on black violence should be ignored or how whites have stolen YOUR agency.

      Im not responsible for what you fear.

      1. What the fuck kinda weird ass strawman is this?

        1. Blacks can’t blame whites for what blacks do AND have agency.

          So which is it?

    2. 5400 whites were murdered by blacks in the last national statistical survey. We’ll take the black community at its word when crime stats across all violent crimes don’t disproportionately come from their demographic. Heck, even other blacks in their communities recognize this by the ubiquitous iron bars on the windows of their homes. It ain’t the Klan they are hiding from.

    3. As Loury points out, African Americans are THE most successful Africans in the world, in the history of mankind. They are among the leading artists and athletes and writers and academics around. If you combined black wealth into one country, it would be among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world.
      A group of people who achieve this, who make these contributions to the world are simply not complete pawns of a racist society. Yes, these accomplishments are because of their hard work and intelligence and talent and skills; but they are also fortunate (there I said it) to live in a country that, despite all of its faults, provides opportunities for them to be full human beings.

  13. Absolutely right! For all of these reports and conflict the person’s color is totally irrelevant! Why can’t we judge by facts instead of false doctrine?

  14. Real solutions don’t come from pretending issues don’t exist.

    Do they come from pretending that they’re far worse than they actually are, and crying “Wolf!” at every available opportunity?

    1. Who gets to decide how bad the problem is?

        1. Well, at least black people can vote now. To a degree.

        2. This may be the last election year in the US where whites comprise the majority.

          1. Again?!?

            A generation from now, when 1/3 caucasian, 1/3 hispanic, 1/3 asian people are part of the white majority who are voting for the wrong party, this trope wil be trotted out… again.

          2. And what happened in South Africa after apartheid fell?

    2. Ditto

      Solutions come from people openly expressing their perceptions and knowledge without being coerced or shamed into bigotry.

      When science and logic prevail, so do real solutions.

      1. When science and logic prevail, so do real solutions.

        Unless it’s a question of morals or existentialism. Then you get Nazis. Or any one of the dozen other scientifically-backed genocidal/eugenic movements perpetuated across continents and throughout history.

        1. Logic and science also address morals and existentialism.

          Bigots don’t consider counter arguments.

  15. He’s 72? He looks 62.

    Good interview.

  16. Hey Nick:

    You really showed your chops here as a good interviewer. Prof Laury seems to be one of those really intelligent eccentrics and you gave him just enough space at times to get around to his point and brought him back at others when he went too far afield. Most importantly, you were really well prepared.

    Thank you!

    1. What scientific evidence did the Nazis have for their cause?

      Only in their own minds.

      Reason will always prevail.

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  18. Great podcast, a refreshing and honest take. Thanks Nick.

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