Patterico's Pontifications


Sometimes the Crocodile Eats the Appeaser First

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:04 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Those of you who take the Churchillian admonition seriously will find yourselves shaking your heads sadly at this story:

Patrick Harrington spent nearly two decades building up his series of yoga studios in the Denver area which operate under the name Kindness Yoga. When the COVID-19 shutdown went into effect, Kindness Yoga received $300,000 in emergency aid from the government, which it used to pay its employees for eight weeks. With Colorado businesses beginning to reemerge, Mr. Harrington had hoped the worst was behind them and that business could gradually return to normal with a July 1 reopening date planned.

But not in these banal and cruel days. Instead of reopening, Kindness Yoga has announced its permanent closure, a victim of the hyper-sensitivity around race and gender issues. A detailed article, which appeared in a journalist-owned publication called the Colorado Sun, is a fascinating read — detailed, perplexing, depressing, infuriating — so if you have ten or fifteen minutes I recommend reading it all, but here is a taste:

Harrington, a straight, white guy who expanded Kindness to nine studios and 160 employees across metro Denver, announced last week that he was closing them all after a handful of yoga teachers, including a Black woman and a transgender man, called out Kindness on social media for “performative activism” and “tokenization of Black and brown bodies.” The teachers’ public comments, following a Black Lives Matter post on Kindness’ Instagram page that they termed too little, too late, evoked a backlash that was fierce and immediate.

Within 48 hours, as the nightly protests over police violence unfolded around the Capitol in Denver, just three blocks from Kindness’ Capitol Hill studio, the yoga company received nearly 400 emails from students who were upset, including many wanting to cancel their memberships. A week later, the emails had reached 800 and counting. Harrington has yet to read all of them, but with each one he opened, the direction his already precarious business was heading grew ever more clear.

The owner of Kindness Yoga, and one of the most well-known yogis in Denver, is struggling to piece together the words to explain what happened — in the span of a week — to his once-stellar reputation and his 19-year-old business. He is stunned, though remorseful. He is eager to speak up, yet on edge for fear of saying anything that could make all of this any worse.

”My goal is to represent our attempts at being a diverse, inclusive place where people felt like they belonged,” he begins, slowly. “I may not say things perfectly … I’m practicing learning how to speak in a way that is more inclusive and caring of diversity.”

Already operating in the red, Kindness was struggling to make it through the three-month pandemic shutdown. The membership cancellations were more than the business could withstand. Harrington and his wife, Cameron, are now putting their Denver home on the market to dig out of the financial hole.

Lest you think that Mr. Harrington is just another troglodyte right-winger like — well — like I am, know that from the very beginning Kindness Yoga has hosted “people of color” exclusive yoga sessions in which “white allies” were asked not to attend. From the very beginning the studios used gender-neutral bathrooms, long before they were a progressive fad, and they held LGBTQ yoga workshops to earn their rainbow merit badge. Though the business did run on a membership model, they also accepted drop-ins who were asked to pay a session fee of whatever they could afford, with some struggling yoga adherents paying as little as one dollar to participate.

But nothing is ever really entirely ducky in the world of grievances, is it? Even as Mr. Harrington and crew thought they were building a progressive yoga studio, beneath the placid surface there were rumblings of discontent:

But outside the public space of yoga class, some teachers who identify as gay or trans or as BIPOC (Black or Indigenous people of color) were asking for change and said they got no meaningful response from management.

The grievances aired on social media in the last several days described — with few specifics — a culture where the voices of minorities and LGBTQ teachers were not heard. In interviews with The Colorado Sun, yoga teachers Jordan Smiley, who is Indigenous and transgender, and Davidia Turner, who is Black, said the white management team at Kindness was not willing to put in the work to make change.

For example, Turner said, the board of directors declined to hire an outside diversity expert as she suggested, instead “cherry-picking” certain diverse members of the staff that they felt comfortable talking to about race and inclusivity. After hearing that Kindness’ website was too white-centric, management then invited people of color and other minorities to an hours-long yoga photoshoot. They were accused of “tokenism.”

And of course social media plays a starring role too. Kindness Yoga, like I suppose most companies whose customers are active consumers of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and the like, employs an outside firm to help with social media, and it would appear that the firm oftentimes schedules social media posts for weeks in advance. Thus, in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd killing and the subsequent mass protests the company’s Instagram page featured a banal post asking the company’s followers to divulge their favorite game. Unsurprisingly, this frivolity didn’t go over well with the activist crowd.

As you read the article, it becomes clear that it was Ms. Turner and Mr. Smiley (ironic name alert) who were beating the drums the loudest to punish Kindness Yoga for its transgressions (pun unintended). Both instructors are of an age where they almost assuredly grew up surrounded by participation trophies, and neither one strikes me as a good candidate for empathetic understanding of life experiences outside of their own. Indeed, both of them now plan to open their own yoga businesses, so we can only wish them well as they navigate the world of studio leases, licensing, incorporation, insurance, and taxes. Naturally Ms. Turner wants to have a yoga studio geared towards people of color and Mr. Smiley wants his clientele to heavily include the LGBTQ community, so three cheers for woke segregation. And in the perfect capstone to the entitlement mentality, let’s not let this paragraph escape notice:

Neither Smiley nor Turner talked directly to Harrington about their complaints before the Instagram posts. Turner said she followed the “chain of command” and talked to other managers instead. Smiley said talking to Harrington “would be a danger to my mental health.”

It would be a lot easier to be fully sympathetic of the situation in which that Mr. Harrington finds himself, were it not for the fact that he seems to be far too obtuse to internalize any real lessons from the loss of his business. Though the article quotes other minority and LGBTQ employees of Kindness Yoga lamenting the closure and questioning the motives of the two disgruntled instructors, Mr. Harrington appears to be intent on marinating in white guilt:

Harrington, who filled up the room when he taught a yoga class, says now that he didn’t understand the depth of Kindness’ role on racial issues.

“I didn’t realize the responsibility that our organization had to be a voice for matters of race,” Harrington said. “And it happened so fast that when we tried to speak … it showed up as performative, or too little, too late.”

No, Mr. Harrington, your responsibility was to provide a competent and productive yoga experience for your customers, not to be crusaders on matters of social justice. Maybe if more companies understood this simple fact they wouldn’t be torn asunder by the predictable drama from the snowflake crowd. I suspect that deep down Mr. Harrington actually gets it, but he’s far too committed to the plot to go off-script:

“Did our community in Denver gain something by Kindness Yoga closing its doors?” Harrington said. “I struggle to understand the benefit of this outcome for white people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people. I don’t see the benefit of taking us down this way.”

After a beat, he added: “My privilege could have me blind to that. I’m trying to learn.”

Sometimes the crocodile eats the appeaser first.



Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

My guess is that, in the midst of civil unrest, a pandemic that won’t end, and a stalled economy, he wants to make sure that we don’t forget who he is…in his own eyes. While one’s work and accomplishments usually reflect the individual’s efforts on behalf of others, Trump is compelled to remind us in bold letters that he is TRUMP, The LONE WARRIOR!:

I don’t care about the tweet, per se. But I do think it reflects Trump’s sense of desperation. He knows his poll numbers are slipping, he is ensnared in new scandal with the Russian bounties and officials claiming that he was briefed about it in 2019, he made a serious misstep in retweeting one of his supporters yelling “white power” during a time of racial strife, and he continues to be unable to effectively lead the nation during a pandemic. In fact, he seems to believe that if he wishes the pandemic away and acts like it’s over with, everyone else will believe it’s over with too. Given all of this, he is obviously having trouble finding a working strategy for re-election. And with in-person rallies now delayed or on hold, and given his low-energy rally in Tulsa and the ruckus surrounding it, he is desperate to find something that gets his campaign off the ground. And amusingly, all Joe Biden has to do is to continue sitting in his basement and wait for the next inevitable misstep by the president. Trump is literally writing Biden’s campaign ads, and possibly providing him with an election win.

Anyway, is there any winning election strategy for a president so beset by difficulties, both of his own making, and difficulties not of his making but made worse by his decisions?

P.S. According to the Urban Dictionary, a lone warrior is an individual who makes sacrafices for a spiritual or moral reason. An idividual who is not selfish, greedy, or disrespectful. A survivor or hero in some eyes.


Follow-up On St. Louis Couple Protecting Their Home From Protesters

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:18 am

[guest post by Dana]

I wanted post the interview the husband, Mark McCloskey gave to KSDK News in St. Louis:

A couple of things to note:

1) McClosekey says that he initially told protesters that they were on private property, which enraged protesters.

2) Protesters broke the locked gate in half to enter the neighborhood.

3) Some protesters were wearing body armor.

4) They were threatened with their lives. Per McCloskey: “One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said, ‘You’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night”.

5) They were told that their house would be burned down, his office building would be burned down, and even the family dog’s life was threatened.

6) McCloskey says that everything inside the gates in Portland Place is private property, nothing is public property. He equated it to being inside one’s living room.

7) McCloskey says that he was worked on a number of civil rights cases in his decades-long career as a lawyer. He is currently representing a “man seen on video being kicked by a now-former Woodson Terrace, Missouri officer after a carjjacking in May 2019”.

8) McCloskey also confirmed that his wife does not know how to shoot a gun.

Also, State representative Rasheen Aldridge, who helped lead the protest, claims that the “protesters were peaceful and no threats were ever made”.

When asked why the group marched on private property, Aldridge said, “Just like in many disobedient protests, even in the ’60s, you break laws, make people feel uncomfortable. We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger.”

“As a leader, [Mayor Krewson] you don’t do stuff like that. … It’s only right that we visit her at her home,” said state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, a St. Louis Democrat, speaking into a megaphone at the march.

Estimates put the crowd size anywhere from 300-500 people.


The National Security Law Podcast on Flynn, Berman, and the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation Act

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

I wanted to pass along to my readers my love of the National Security Law podcast. It is a podcast hosted by two University of Texas at Austin School of Law professors, Bobby Chesney and Steve Vledeck.

They are a fun mix and they each remind me of myself (if smarter) in different ways. Chesney is more of a center-right guy who shares my longstanding political views. Unlike me, however, he is amiable and easygoing and likes to give political actors the benefit of the doubt when possible. He’s less active on Twitter and is perhaps a little less neurotic. Vladeck is excitable and can’t stand Trump (like me) and tends to view Trump administration actions with a little more skepticism (as I do) but his overall politics appear to be center-left and reasonably to the left of mine.

They’re professors in the same areas of law, they’re clearly friends (and even neighbors) and it’s just a fun listen. The latest episode addresses several topics of interest to me, and is worth your time. Especially if you’re a legal nerd, whether a lawyer or not.

Beginning at about 8:23,* they discuss the D.C. Circuit panel decision in the Flynn case. Vladeck says many of the same things I have been saying here for weeks, but more effectively, and with more detail about why the panel decision’s blithe discarding of usual mandamus standards is such a serious breach. Pro-Flynn people should really listen. To them, I say: I’ll put up Vladeck’s expertise and knowledge against that of literally anyone you’ve been following online who has tried to convince you this panel decision makes sense.

They also discuss Bill Barr’s recent fumbling attempt to install a political appointee as the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY. Again, you’ll hear echoes of what you’ve read here, but with more detail and legal discussion.

Finally, in news ripped from today’s headlines (although they recorded the podcast on Friday, I believe), Chesney and Vladeck discuss the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation Act, which was invoked by President Trump in this tweet:

What the statute addresses is “attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States.” Does the George Washington statue referenced by Trump count? Well, according to the New York Post, there are two:

The early 20th-century statues — one of Washington as the nation’s first president and another depicting him as general of the country’s Revolutionary War forces — bled red as they dripped with the still-fresh paint just before 8 a.m.

Sounds like one might be covered by the statute and one might not!

(By the way, no way this statute protects statues of Confederate Army generals.)

Enjoy the podcast. It’s great.

*One thing you’ll either find charming (as I do) or annoying is that these guys get along so well that they sort of chat it up as they introduce what they’re going to talk about, and it can take them a while to get to the substance.

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