The Rights of Racist Basketball Players Are The Rights of Orthodox Jews

"Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play"

A new all-white basketball league is forming, and the commissioner of it (the "All-American Basketball League") is insisting this is not out of racism, but "to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of 'street-ball' played by 'people of color.'...'Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?' he said. 'That's the culture today, and *in a free country* we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.'"

My old friend and former roommate (when we were both attending Yeshiva) Yitz Jordan aka Y-Love had this to say, responding to a recent Reason blog post about a proposed racist whites-only basketball league:

In a "free country" we have the "right" to set up whites-only leagues? I hope the answer to that is a resounding "no"...since when is blatant racism and discrimination an "inalienable right" in America?

Yitz happens to be a black Orthodox Jew, a rarity among the culture. He is politically progressive and significantly more statist than me (a low benchmark for an anarchist, I know). Here is how I responded:

This guy is a racist slimebag, but in a free country he should have the right to try to set up his own exclusive little basketball league for whites only, just as wealthy WASPs should have the right to set up their own exclusive country clubs, just as Orthodox Jews should have the right to set up their own Jewish-only dating websites and mixers.

I think some Rabbi from times of yore had something to say about motes and beams in people's eyes and conditions under which one may cast the first stone. Orthodox Judaism is in no place to question ethnic and racial exclusivity, as it itself is an exclusive religion defined primarily by ethnicity. Not that that's a good thing, mind you, but I fully support the right of Orthodox Jews to have their own exclusive clubs, even if I find it distasteful and offensive.

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Here's a video about Yitz

Here's a video about Yitz posted (and also produced?) by my old internet frenemy Mobius aka Daniel Sieradski.

You can't convert to white

First of all, Jews-only is much different from whites-only. You can convert to Judaism and be granted access, but you can't convert to white (unless you're Michael Jackson, RIP).

Secondly, it is not a black or white question (ha, no pun intended) whether it is acceptable to have exclusive access clubs. It all depends on why you are excluding the ones you're excluding. If you can prove that the included members would suffer in any material way by opening access to those currently excluded, then it is OK to exclude them. Otherwise, there is no reason.

A Jewish-only orthodox dating site is allowed to be that way because you would be doing a disservice the Jews on the site by allowing non-Jews. Religious Jews on Frumster clearly do not want to marry a non-Jew, so it would be making the site less effective for them if non-Jews started joining.

I could argue that a whites-only team is acceptable because black people in general are taller, bigger, stronger than white people, and if they want a team where scrawny white guys can play and have fun because they are good relative to all the other guys on their team and the other, then excluding blacks is an effective way to do that. However, I think that a more politically-correct way to do this would be to exclude those over a certain weight, height, or ability.

Moshe, As you rightly note,

Moshe,

As you rightly note, the counterargument to what I am saying is to point to the the conversion option as an exception to the rule of defining Judaism solely through ethnicity and genetics. And this is true. But recall that Judaism explicitly discourages converts. Judaism--Orthodox Judaism especially--propagates itself through genetics, not conversion.

For those who find the conversion counterargument convincing, consider two cases. First, suppose that a group of Gadolai Hador whom you respected all got together and poskened that new converts to Judaism would no longer be accepted. Perhaps too many people were converting for what they considered inappropriate reasons - marriage, for example - and weren't truly serious about remaining observant. Not saying this is likely to happen, but suppose that it did. Would this psak halakha fundamentally change your view of Jewish theology from non-racist to racist?

Second, consider an exclusive, WASPy country club that excluded Jews, blacks, the poor, etc., as many of them did (and perhaps some still do?). You would consider this organization pretty racist, right? I certainly would. But further suppose that this country club decided to allow in a few token minorities: a few Jews, blacks, and poor folk just so they can claim to not be racist if people start to complain. Would this new policy of a small but insignificant trickle of exceptions to the general WASP rule fundamentally change your view of the country club from racist to not-racist?

It all depends on why you are excluding the ones you're excluding. If you can prove that the included members would suffer in any material way by opening access to those currently excluded, then it is OK to exclude them. Otherwise, there is no reason.

This is a pretty subjective standard, isn't it? Couldn't a white supremacist - or white separatist or white pride advocate - make exactly the same argument that religious Jews make to justify something like Frumster? "No, no, we have nothing against blacks, we just want to marry our own kind and keep our heritage in tact. Therefore, blacks are excluded not for the purpose of racism, but for the purpose of ethnic pride and internal unity." Same argument, no?

Definition of suffering

OK, let me clarify. If an organization is providing services that specifically pertain to a certain ethnic group (e.g. places of worship, religious dating sites, religious or ethnic singles activity clubs), then it is OK to exclude people who do not contribute to the organization's goal.
I do not believe that a whites-only basketball league is acceptable. Any legitimate reason for excluding blacks (i.e., not simply "skin color") can be articulated in a non-racist way. There may be black people who conform to the new set of standards, and they should be allowed entrance because there is really no reason not to allow them in.

I don't think I understand

I don't think I understand your argument. You say that it's okay for an organization to provide services for certain ethnic groups while excluding other ethnic groups. But you also don't think this reasoning could be used to justify a whites-only basketball league. But why not? If the whites-only basketball league claims that its reason for excluding blacks is not bigotry, but ethnic pride and unity, how is this any different from, say, a Jewish community center with a Jews-only basketball league, created for the purposes of promoting Jewish pride and unity? Is pride and unity a legitimate reason for excluding ethnic groups, or isn't it?

Clarification

I do not believe that a whites-only basketball league is acceptable.

To clarify: You disapprove of this practice; it violates your values? Or you believe the practice should be discouraged via state-imposed sanction?

If you can prove that the included members would suffer in any material way by opening access to those currently excluded, then it is OK to exclude them. Otherwise, there is no reason.

I start from a premise that people may associate/refuse to associate on any terms they like, and the burden is on people who object to show how the association/refusal inappropriately burdens some third party. A bunch of bigots want to play ball with each other; who specifically would be harmed by being excluded from playing with these guys? If they don't want to play with me, there's a very substantial likelihood that the feeling is mutual. So what harm?

I may not share the worldview/values system of the people on this ballteam. And I may not share the worldview/values system of Jews. But why should any ballplayer, or any Jew, give a rat’s ass what I think?

As a side note, the irony is that the National Pastime is dying for lack of interest by younger Americans -- a demographic that is disproportionately people of color. But people of color are drawn to football, basketball, etc. Heck, as college budgets tighten, various sports have to go – and you know those sports won’t be football or basketball. So guess what’s on the chopping block? Thus, anyone who cares about preserving baseball should get on their knees and beg young people – of whatever race – to play the game. It’s hard to imagine a better way to kill the sport than to persuade people that it’s really a White Thang, and you people just can’t understand it.

Sexist slimebags?

Are the promoters of women's-only sports leagues, tournaments and events sexist slimebags?

If, in their attempt to

If, in their attempt to justify these women's-only leagues, they proceeded to insult all men and "male culture", whatever that may be, then the answer to your question is yes.

Why would a computer block my thoughtful posts? A mystery....

Are the promoters of women's-only sports leagues, tournaments and events sexist slimebags?

Yes, although it has nothing to do with their promotional activities. It’s largely coincidence.

Similarly, you know those PGA guys who object to permitting a mobility-impaired golf player use a golf cart during a tournament? THEY’re sexist slimebags, too. As was that mobility-impaired player, whatshisname. Lots of sexism in professional sports, apparently.

But I’m sorry, were you trying to make a point here?