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Most reactions to the news of Ziad Ahmed getting into Stanford with an application where he answered the question What matters to you (100 word limit) with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag repeated 100 times have fallen into two camps: admiration from the MSM and charges that Ziad must be stupid or lazy or Marxist from conservatives.

For example, from National Review:

Stanford Accepts Student Who Just Wrote ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ 100 Times as His Answer to an Application Question

by KATHERINE TIMPF April 4, 2017 4:07 PM @KATTIMPF

Success in activism is not measured by how strongly you believe that you are right, it’s measured by how effectively you can convince others of your views. … Now, Ahmed may call his refusal to explain his answer “unapologetic activism,” but here’s the thing: The entire purpose of “activism” is to enact change. … Success in activism is not measured by how strongly you believe that you are right, it’s measured by how effectively you can convince others of your views. Bringing other people to your side is, after all, the only way to achieve the change that is activism’s goal. Ahmed believes that he is so obviously correct that no explanation should be necessary, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is necessary. A huge segment of the population doesn’t even understand what the goals of #BlackLivesMatter even are; the fact that explanation is necessary is an objective fact. His answer was not a victory for his movement, but a missed opportunity.

Oh, and then there’s this: Not only is Ahmed a lazy activist, but he’s also a lazy question-answerer.

Uh, no, one thing you can definitely say for Ziad Ahmed is the kid is not lazy. Ziad’s goal in this case was to get Ziad into Stanford, not to persuade the Stanford admissions committee of the holiness of the BLM cause, which, he rightly assumed, required no argument from him.

Another thing you can say is that, contrary to some conservative commenters’ assumptions, he’s not stupid.

Nor is he some kind of Marxist anti-capitalist. He started a marketing consultancy as a teenager to help businesses sell more crap to teenagers.

We live in age less beset by collectivism than by elitist ideologies that encourage the most grasping individuals to screw over the poor dumb trusting masses and feel righteous about doing so because those saps had it coming, those racist homophobic haters.

The reason you read iSteve rather than National Review is because you get the joke. The Ziad Ahmed story tells us a hilarious amount about America in 2017, it just happens to be things that few on the left or right want to hear.

From NBC News, more on Ziad Ahmed of Princeton Day School, who is the scion of Shakil Ahmed, founder of the Princeton Alpha Management hedge fund. (In case you are wondering, this kid is not a parody made up by me or anybody else. I checked.)

NEWS APR 5 2017, 5:51 PM ET
Teen Accepted to Stanford After Writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 Times on Application

After completing his Stanford application, high school senior Ziad Ahmed looked at his answers and realized an important component was missing amid a flurry of standardized test scores and extracurricular activities: his voice and passion.

So Ahmed took a risk. In response to a question asking “What matters to you, and why?” the teen wrote “#BlackLivesMatter” exactly 100 times. …

“It was important to me that the admissions officers literally hear my impatience for justice and the significance of this issue,” Ahmed told NBC News. “The hashtag conveys my frustration with the failure of judicial system to protect the black community from violence, systemic inequity, and political disenfranchisement.”

At only 18-years-old, Ahmed has amassed an impressive resume.

He got his start in activism as a high school freshman, when he launched an anti-discrimination organization called Redefy, a group composed of 250 students internationally that aimed to break stereotypes using the power of social media.

He also interned for 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, volunteered with the Hilary Clinton campaign and attended and was recognized by Barack Obama at a 2015 White House dinner.

While standardized test scores do speak to his hard work, Ahmed said his unconventional essay answer was an attempt to express his passion for spurring change.

“I wanted to demonstrate that the essence of what motivates me as a learner, a member of a faith community, and a global citizen is my passion to be a part of change-making,” he said.

They should sign this kid up to deliver the keynote address at the next Davos Conference. His mastery of Master of the Universe buzzphrases is off the charts.

As a Muslim-American, Ahmed described himself as “an unapologetic progressive activist” and ally to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Islamophobia has certainly been a priority of mine in my advocacy, but it is connected to the legacy of racism and oppression that the black community continues to face,” he said.

Ahmed said he received an outpouring of support after posting a photo of his application, which has garnered more than 3,000 retweets, but he has also been receiving personal attacks. Some have targeted his Muslim faith.

“The power of social media has also provoked significant trolling and personal attacks. It’s certainly been a hard to navigate and the vitriol is sobering,” he said.

Politicians and activists, including O’Malley and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, took to Twitter to congratulate Ahmed on his acceptance to the California school.

Moving forward, the teen said that he plans to channel the recent attention he is receiving into the Black Lives Matter movement and to donate to Stanford’s Black Community Services Center.

“It is my hope that this attention encourages and motivates people to confront the inequity that we see today,” he said. “It is my hope that students, adults and people all around the world will learn about the organizations that will give them a way to be an ally and support the policy changes we need today.”

Family friend Amber Khan described the teen as “extremely passionate about confronting injustice.”

“He’s willing to use his voice and explore the uncomfortable to create the kind of change that needs to happen,” she said.

Stanford University confirmed Ahmed’s acceptance to NBC News but declined to further discuss the student’s application. Notably, 2016 marks the lowest number of people offered admission to the University in its history. …

And from MTV News two years ago:


You say you want a revolution? Well, one teen is proving that with peace, love and the Internet, you can have one.

Ziad Ahmed is a 16-year-old sophomore at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey. In the summer before his freshman year, he created Redefy — a multi-platform organization, whose mission is “to boldly defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community.”

My eyes glazed over halfway through Ziad’s mission statement …

Ziad recently explained in a chat with MTV News that his experience as a Bangladeshi-American, practicing Muslim and self-described “non-conformist” largely informed his decision to create Redefy.

“Many people had prejudice and misconceptions about my faith, even when I was little. The media paints a picture of Islam, and many minorities, in a way that’s detrimental to the public’s perception of them,” he told MTV News.

Ziad further described his first-hand experience with bias.

“I deal with prejudice every day and have my entire life,” he said, “from being put on the TSA watch list as a child because of my name and having to go to a separate counter to get my tickets … to being constantly told I am ‘cute for a brown kid.’

“I started Redefy to initiate a positive change in the world and to fight the ignorance which I have been victim to,” Ziad said. “And more importantly, to fight the ignorance which people will fall victim to who may not have the opportunity to properly defend themselves or understand that there are people who accept them and love them for exactly who they are.

Redefy primarily operates as a website where people can share their experiences with prejudice and post reflections about different current events stories where stereotyping and acceptance are part of a national and/or personal conversation. Redefy also shares various stories about social justice issues on its Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr accounts. Ziad hopes this interconnected network of experiences will unite people through their shared experiences.

“It’s so hard to hate someone when you understand what they’re going through,” the teen explained.

Personally, over the last 24 hourse, I’ve come to understand a lot about what Ziad Ahmed is going through …

Within communities, Redefy holds workshops for younger students to gain insight into what stereotypes are and how to combat them. Ziad described working with people as young as fifth grade as a moving experience. “They don’t necessarily know the terms stereotypes or prejudice,” he told us, “But when you hear them articulate their experiences, they know it all too much.”

In addition to Ziad’s role as founder, he works with a leadership team of four friends and 20 representatives in schools around the world advocating for the organization’s various campaigns. As far as the future of Redefy, Ziad hopes to hold larger conferences and wider-scale programs to educate young people on bias and creating accepting spaces in their communities and ultimately, the world. He hopes the organization will continue to spur teen activism too.

“What a lot of young people don’t realize is that this is our fight. Injustice is our fight,” Ziad added. “Until we all unite in our injustices, ignorance will continue to exist.” …

I bet you are just dying to read Ziad’s Huffington Post endorsement of Hillary from last October:

Me with our next President.

by Ziad Ahmed, Contributor

Teen Activist, Founder of Redefy, CVO of JÜV Consulting, TEDx Speaker, Kid Tryna Change the World

The Battle Hymns Of An American-Muslim Teen In The Era Of Trump

I won’t be at the polls, but my future is on the ballot.
10/28/2016 04:15 pm ET | Updated Oct 30, 2016

This is not an endorsement; this is a reality.

When I think about my experience as an American-Muslim teen, it is characterized by the feeling of constantly being on the defense.

I’m not somebody who is remotely athletic, but I like to think about it in terms of sports. Imagine the American-Muslim community as a sports team ― we are always on the defense. Whether it is the Trump Effect manifesting in classrooms, the increase in Islamophobic hate crimes by 89 percent, or seven-year-old Abdul Aziz who was beaten up for being Muslim, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how our community must constantly be on guard. I might not be a sports expert, but I understand enough to realize what happens when a team is only on defense. It’s not fun. It’s exhausting. It’s nearly impossible to score.

Don’t get me wrong, we are scoring. Whether it be Ibtihaj Muhammad winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, Huma Abedin campaigning across this country, Rabia Chaudry making a New York Times bestseller list, or the countless Muslim role models that I have in their many forms, we are certainly achieving. Linda Sarsour, Omid Safi, and Sarah Harvard are using their voices for justice. Zaki Barzinji, Rumana Ahmed, and Arsalan Suleman are using public office to advance progress. Haroon Ullah, Laila Alawa, and Donya Nasser are my mentors, and they have showed me time after time through their brilliance what it means to be a proud American-Muslim.

But not Clock Boy Ahmed Mohamed, That little bastard’s Victimization Narrative got him in to meet Obama 18 months younger than mind did. The Other Ahmed is my archrival. It’s not enough that I triumph, but for me to be happy, Clock Boy must also fail.

We are scoring. But, it’s that much harder.

We have to wait for the moment where there is a slight opening in the field. We have to pray for a breakaway. We are not given the space to run freely, and frankly, I’m tired of running against a barrage that doesn’t value my existence enough to let me just be me.

In the era of Trump though, it isn’t so much that we are on the defense ― it is that we are being attacked so acutely that we aren’t even given the space to formulate a defense. And I, for one, will not stand for it. …

That isn’t news though. That isn’t my battle hymn, and that’s the case because I remember reading The Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom

See … (To be pedantic, Amy Chua’s comic bestseller is Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother not Mom)

and being shocked at the calculated rigor of her life.

I could never have imagined that I would live under a similar rigor ― the difference though is that the stringency expected of Muslims is not out of choice, but rather, it has been done to us.

Trump has created a United States that asks of me to prove my American identity. The norm for each Muslim student in this country has become being accused of being a “terrorist” at some point in his/her/their life. But more problematically, it has become the assumption that one can somehow not be both authentically Muslim and American simultaneously, and that is what gets me more than anything else.

It’s the moment on the train when new passengers board, and I feel the need to turn my backpack the other way in order to hide my “#MyMuslimVote” pin courtesy of MPower Change. It’s the constant conversations where people ask leading questions to evaluate my patriotism ― “Do you even celebrate Fourth of July?” It’s the flurry of haters that conjure bizarre insults every time one of my tweets gets more than five retweets. It’s the multiple pairs of American-flag socks that I wear often as a statement that say ― I am American, as if it is somehow defiant.

Just last weekend, I was in a video/photoshoot for David Yi’s Very Good Light. It was a project featuring American-Muslims, and I was posed the question,“what does it mean to you to be American?” And, it occurred to me ― being American, to me, simply just means being me.

I do not need to qualify, evaluate, or prove myself to anyone ― ever. My American-ness exists within my freedom to exist freely as myself, and I need not any more proof than that of my identity.

My existence is now constantly measured in terms of my reaction to you, Mr. Trump, and I have a simple response; I do not exist for you or in terms of you, and I never will.

To beg of me to prove my American-ness is to negate the very fundamental core of this country. We were never meant to be a sea of sameness, but rather, we were always an amalgamation of individuals believing in the promise that we can be great, not that we have been great or somehow inevitably will be, but that we can be. We can be great when we allow each individual to exist freely, when we give our children the space to grow and to trailblaze their own future paths of brilliance.

So, I echo the notions of Khizr Khan in his brilliant Hillary Clinton advertisement that Dean Obeidallah noted has given our community the humanity we deserve. And, my question is ― Mr. Trump, will there be a space for me in your America?

From where I’m sitting, there won’t be.

I was born and raised in this country, and I’ve sought to make this country, my home, as beautiful as it can be. Throughout my high school career, I have advocated tirelessly for equality. I founded an international teen organization for social justice, redefy, when I was in eighth grade. I’ve been fortunate to have had exposure to outstanding American-Muslim role models that have made me proud to be me. I’ve even had the honor to meet leaders including the President to speak my truth, and I am still tired.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson.

My existence is now constantly measured in terms of my reaction to you, Mr. Trump, and I have a simple response; I do not exist for you or in terms of you, and I never will.

I don’t write this for me though. I write this for a world that expects American-Muslim children to be on the defense constantly, to be able to learn as fully when constantly under attack, and to be lesser. I write this for a world that has created a gross dichotomy between “Good Muslims” and “Bad Muslims,” and the ensuing expectation that all American-Muslims must complete a never-ending arbitrary checklist to achieve the coveted title of “Good Muslim.”

I write this because I believe in a future that is great. I write this because I imagine a world where the children I hope to one day have can be proud American-Muslims ― proud in however they identify. I write this because that tomorrow is possible, under the leadership of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’m seventeen, and I cannot vote, so I write this to implore every person who reads this to vote for me.

I won’t be at the polls, but my future is on the ballot ― my ability to score is on the ballot.

Okaaaaay …

Seriously, an awful lot of Social Justice Jihadism is an outlet for anger over not being at the top of the sexual attractiveness pyramid. Everybody feels the world is unfair to them in the looks department. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie probably both feel deeply that they were unjustly shortchanged by our society’s socially constructed standards of beauty. All they want out of life is to be the fairest of them all. Is that too much to ask?

It’s that bitch, Charlize, isn’t it?

Charlize is insecure too? Good! … But … that just makes her seem more human and appealing …

Well, at least we can all be sure it’s not Kristen Stewart.


Anyway, these kids like Ziad talk about Social Justice but what they actually want is Sexual Justice, by which they would mean Sexual Supremacy. They want to be thought the fairest of them all, not just “cute for a brown kid.”

Michelle Obama gave a breathtaking speech in New Hampshire a few weeks back where she stated, “We cannot afford to be tired.” And, as always, she is right. I’m tired ― physically, emotionally, in every capacity.

I’m exhausted just contemplating this kid’s Energizer Bunny-like relentless self-promotion.

For example, I work pretty hard on this blog, but I only included a handful of the links that this tireless prodigy of networking included in his post.

But out of fear for the future of our country, I find strength.

I find strength because “Hillary knows that Muslim Americans contribute to our country every day, and believes that America is stronger together – when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down, and when we work together to solve our biggest challenges.” Hillary Clinton has a vision for my future, and it’s one I believe in. She’s investing in my future, and whether it’s through her Muslim Outreach Director or her standing by our community, she has a plan to stand up for my tomorrow.

So, I’m asking you now. I need you to vote ― not because this is some endorsement, but because my reality is at stake.

No matter what happens, Trump can have carved on his tombstone:


Here’s a 2014 article about Little Ziad from Mercer Space:

Princeton teens work to change perceptions and prejudice
By Mercerspace – August 22, 2014178

Redefy leaders Lara Strassberg, Ziad Ahmed and Ziyad Khan during a program the group held at the Princeton Public Library on April 5, 2014.

Local teens start Redefy to alter thinking about stereotypes

By Scott Morgan

All too often, some people make assumptions about others based on what they see — on mannerisms, physical characteristics or spiritual beliefs that they use as markers to decide who or what someone really is.

Those kinds of assumptions are often not valid, said Ziad Ahmed, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at Princeton Day School who has made it his mission to try and change those perceptions.

For example, just because a young man cries at movies doesn’t mean he’s effeminate, Ahmed said.

You know, this particular topic sure seems to come up a lot in Ziad’s pronouncements …

More importantly, even if an assumption is correct and he really is effeminate, that word itself is an outdated social construct; one tiny aspect of a much more complex human being.

Maybe Ziad’s dad has been hinting that unless his son butches up his act a little, he won’t leave the family hedge fund to him?

A big part of running a hedge fund is insinuating into billionaires’ heads the worry that if they don’t risk a hundred million with you, they aren’t real men like you are.

Here’s the masculinity level you want in a hedge fund salesman:

But here’s what the Ahmed family has to work with in their scion:

I can imagine Ziad making a lot of money in life off various scams, but running a hedge fund is the most lucrative one of all. And his dad may be worried that his otherwise energetic, articulate, and ambitious son may not quite have what it takes in the masculinity department to pull off convincing billionaires that they are wimps unless they pay him 2/20 to take their money off their hands.

Ahmed said he believes he has figured out what matters and what doesn’t about people, and may have found the roots of why so many problems exist between people. In no uncertain terms, Ahmed wants to erase as much of the intolerance, stereotypes and assumptions as he can.

To that end, Ahmed founded an organization called Redefy in 2013, the mission of which is to “boldly defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community.”

On the surface, Redefy may look like a simple online repository of personal stories about overcoming ignorance, hate and insensitivity, but the stories collected at are not idealistic musings, they are stunningly philosophical essays about the meaning of identity and how people see themselves and others.

The difference between Redefy and many of the other anti-stereotype organizations out there is that this one is operated by and for kids. …

Most people can understand overt slurs and epithets, but Redefy’s mission isn’t about bullying, it’s about fixing the way people perceive others, Ahmed said. Particularly the perceptions they don’t even realize they have.

Consider, for example, what the word equality means, he said. Until a few decades ago, the connotation had to do with civil and legal rights that would make everyone equal in all ways to straight white men.

But are straight white males really equal to other people, Ahmed asks. For example, women can wear skirts, slacks, jeans, blouses, jewelry, or pretty much anything else and it’s seen as OK, but men don’t get the same leeway.

The point, Ahmed said, is that males often fear expressing their individuality because the perception of a guy who wears, say, something pink or who doesn’t like football or who doesn’t feel the need to prove manliness by putting himself in harm’s way is usually derogatory.

Boys, he said, are afraid of standing out among other boys, and as they age, they turn into men who feel they can’t express themselves without someone mocking them or drawing conclusions about aspects of their personalities that don’t really matter. Ultimately, it’s the boys themselves who perpetuate these issues because they have bought into some social construct of gender roles and identity.

Last year I asked:

Is #BlackLivesMatter Just a Jobs for the Gays Racket?

But will black people put up with nonblacks horning in on the benefits, such as getting into Stanford, just because they claim membership in the Coalition of Fringes? Or is that a little too much cultural appropriation?

Things aren’t much better for the girls. Ahmed said he recently spoke to a girl at his school who said she wanted a boyfriend who was at least six feet tall.

He asked her why, and she said she wanted to be able to look up into his eyes. Which sounds sweet on the surface, but the conversation led Ahmed to believe that the girl basically wanted to be looked down on. Made smaller. Made the one to be protected, not be herself. In other words, she willingly is looking to be, in some measure, less than her (eventual) boyfriend, said Ahmed.

He added that the overall point he is trying to make is that males and females buy into prescribed roles that make it hard for anyone who doesn’t fit into them to feel comfortable about who they are. And that we’re defining ourselves in all the wrong ways.

“People are so much more multi-dimensional than one thing,” he said. “It’s OK to be whoever you are.” …

Ahmed’s urge to help and break through preconceived notions is the most fundamental part of him. Being Muslim, he has had to deal with the knee-jerk sentiments Americans have about “Arabs,” although he isn’t Arab, but of Bangladeshi descent.

Ahmed’s father, Shikil, is a former investment banker and now runs his own hedge fund called Princeton Alpha, and his mother, Faria, studied electrical engineering but left her job to be a stay at home mom. She is active in the community, including volunteering as a docent at Princeton University Art Museum.

Ziad’s mother goes by the name Faria Abedin. She’s an energetic housewife who is co-president of an organization called Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom that describes itself as:

The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom builds strong relationships between Muslim and Jewish women based on developing trust and respect and ending anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment.

Her bio reads:

Screenshot 2017-04-05 20.19.59Faria Abedin, Co-President

Faria Abedin (Executive Committee-Co-President) earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Most recently, Faria has started a property management business. She currently serves on the board of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Princeton Girlchoir, Stuart Parent Association, Advisory board of Muslim Advocates and as a docent at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Faria is very interested in engaging in efforts that promote an American Muslim identity for our youth, which for her includes interfaith dialogue.

Screenshot 2017-04-05 20.29.04That got me wondering whether Ziad might be related through his mother Faria Abedin to Hillary’s right hand gal Huma Abedin.

But Faria Abedin is not the name of any of Huma’s siblings, so a familial relationship (if any) wouldn’t be all that close. But Huma is said to have 54 first cousins, so I wouldn’t rule out Faria Abedin being related to Huma in some fashion. But there’s no evidence for it beyond surname, and Islamic surnames tend to be repetitious.

Or no evidence other than this picture of Ziad and Huma that Ziad tweeted.

But like I said, there aren’t a lot of unique names in Islamic cultures, so this could just be a coincidence.

… Ahmed said that being Bangladeshi, even though he was born in Princeton, people sometimes assume that he either doesn’t speak English or pelt him with perceptions that his familial homeland is a gaping slum. He visits Bangladesh every few years and assures people that the whole country isn’t mired in abject destitution.

Of course, if any familial homeland could be described as a Gaping Slum, it’s Bangladesh. But as T.S. Eliot would ask, “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”

One person who assumed he would not speak English was a young lady he met on a July trip to Costa Rica, where he helped build a recreation center in a poor area. The girl’s surprise gave him the opportunity to convert one more young mind to his lesson that making assumptions of any kind is not a good approach.

As for the future, Ahmed said that whatever his major in college, he’ll minor in social justice. From third grade he wanted to be an architect and even went to Oxford University in eighth grade to do an architecture program. Part of his reason for going to Costa Rica was to get some practical building knowledge. But lately Ahmed is thinking other thoughts than architecture. Maybe business.

“After I get my business degree, the world’s mine,” he said. But he also knows he’ll change his mind again before he gets to college.

Whatever he becomes as an adult, he’s sure of two things — he wants a better world for his children so that they can grow up comfortable and safe in who they are, and he is going to do something great.

“I don’t want to be mediocre,” he said.

As for the rest of you peons …

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With Jeb Bush and Donald Trump arguing over whether George W. Bush failed to stop 9/11, it’s worth going to the videotape (47:28) of the second Presidential debate of 2000. On 10/11/2000, the Texas governor denounced heightened scrutiny of Arab airline passengers by airport security. Bush said on national TV:

Secondly, there is other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America. Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what is called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. My friend, Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan, is pushing a law to make sure that Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more. I believe, though — I believe, as sure as I’m sitting here, that most Americans really care. They’re tolerant people. They’re good, tolerant people. It’s the very few that create most of the crises, and we just have to find them and deal with them.

Note that when the future President said “we just have to find them and deal with them,” the “them” he was referring to as having to be dealt with were not Arab skyjackers but airline and airport employees worried about stopping Arab skyjackers.

In accordance with this statement, Bush appointed Democrat Norman Mineta Secretary of Transportation and directed him to root out profiling of Arabs at the airport.

In 2005, airport counter clerk Michael Tuohey told Oprah Winfrey of his encounter early on 9/11/2001 with the leader of the terrorists:

“I got an instant chill when I looked at [Atta]. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a political correct slap…I thought, ‘My God, Michael, these are just a couple of Arab businessmen.’”

By the way, on a personal note, this may have been when I started to realize I was the world’s least viral journalist. I’m not sure if the word “viral” had that meaning on 9/11/2001, but if it did, I was sure that the President’s 11-month-old denunciation of anti-terrorism efforts would soon go viral. I vividly recalled watching Bush say this to a huge television audience less than a year before. Back then you couldn’t post video, but it was easy to find a transcript. So I stayed up late that night writing up “Bush had called for laxer airport security” so I wouldn’t get scooped too badly by all the other pundits.

In all the rush, it didn’t get published for about a week. Yet by then, nobody else had brought it up. When my piece didn’t get any attention, well, lots of stuff was happening.

Every few years since then, I’ve brought up Bush’s statement, but it never seems to register on anybody other than my core readers. It’s an interesting example of the Sapir-Whorf effect in action. We are given categories to file facts away in: e.g., Republicans Are Racist; Bush Protected Us from Terrorism, etc. It’s very hard to remember anything that doesn’t fit in the right slots.

This is the first time I’ve posted video of Bush saying this. We’ll see if this makes any difference in the impact, although by now, after 14 years, I doubt it.

Similarly, the big Bush Push of 2002-2004 to ease traditional credit standards, such as down payments and documentation, that have disparate impact on black and Hispanic mortgage-seekers is practically impossible for most people to remember because it doesn’t fit in the categories: Republicans Are Racist; Bush Protected Us from Liberalism, etc.

Here’s a video of Bush telling his federal regulators that down payment requirements are keeping minorities from achieving the American Dream:

But I’ve posted this before with negligible impact.

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In education reform circles, it’s an article of faith that America needs higher quality people as public school teachers. (I like to point out that it would also help for America to have higher quality people as parents and students, but never mind for now.) One hurdle to getting people with options in life and a sense of self-respect to be public school teachers is the political indoctrination sessions they are forced to sit through, like Winston Smith at a Two-Minutes Hate. 

Verenice Gutierrez picks up on the subtle language of racism every day. 

Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year. 

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood. 

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.” 

Guitierrez, along with all of Portland Public Schools’ principals, will start the new school year off this week by drilling in on the language of “Courageous Conversations,” the district-wide equity training being implemented in every building in phases during the past few years. 

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance. 

Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.

Theodore Dalrymple has famously noted:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Disraeli had a character exclaim in one of his novels, “Race is everything.” Increasingly, it appears that for liberals, all other values, such as gender equality, are subordinate to the prime directive of Nobody Notice Nuthin’.

For example, Dana Milbank opines in the Washington Post:

Republican’s abortion bill risks alienating Asian Americans 

Republicans long ago lost African American voters. They are well on their way to losing Latinos. And if Trent Franks prevails, they may lose Asian Americans, too.
The Arizona Republican’s latest antiabortion salvo to be taken up by the House had a benign name — the Prenatal Non­discrimination Act — and a premise with which just about everybody agrees: that a woman shouldn’t abort a fetus simply because she wants to have a boy rather than a girl. 

The problem with Franks’s proposal is that it’s not entirely clear there is a problem. Sex-selection abortion is a huge tragedy in parts of Asia, but to the extent it’s happening in this country, it’s mostly among Asian immigrants.  

For Franks, who previously tried to pass legislation limiting abortions among African Americans and residents of the District of Columbia, it was the latest attempt to protect racial minorities from themselves.  

“The practice of sex selection is demonstrably increasing here in the United States, especially but not exclusively in the Asian immigrant community,” he announced on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. He quoted a study finding that male births “for Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans clearly exceeded biological variation.” 

Democrats found Franks’s ­paternalism toward minority groups to be suspect. Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.), identifying herself as a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the bill would “lead to further stigmatization of women, especially Asian Pacific American women.” Various Asian American legal and women’s groups opposed the bill.  

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Franks didn’t dispute that Asian Americans would be targeted. “The real target in the Asian community here is the Asian women who are being coerced into aborting little girls,” he told me, adding: “When the left doesn’t want to make abortion the issue, they say you’re being against minorities.”  

Franks is a principled and consistent opponent of abortion, but his strategy has raised eyebrows before because of its racial component.

One aspect of Milbank’s complaint is the sacredness of abortion, but the bigger part is that some hick from the sticks has dared to notice something ungood about a minority group. Granted, the protected group is only Asians and what he’s noticed — aborting girl fetuses — is pretty bad, but still … This Republican white guy noticed. What can be worse than that? We must shame him into not noticing anything.

Here’s a great topic for Milbank to take on next:

Koreans Busted for Stamina Pills Made from Dead Babies

If any white Republicans object, they’re racist! And thus they deserve to lose the crucial East Asian-American vote, both eaters of dead babies and their co-ethnic non-eaters of dead babies who must stand shoulder to shoulder in racial solidarity with the dead baby eaters. Now, you Republican racists might say that most Asian voters object to eating dead babies on principle, and thus most Asian voters wouldn’t allow Democratic demands for Asian racial solidarity to trump their aversion to eating dead babies. But that just shows what a white Republican racist you are to even hope that there won’t be complete racial solidarity among Asian voters on the eating-dead-babies thing. As we enlightened white Democrats know, race is everything! Or, at least it ought to be when it comes to how nonwhites vote. So, if legislation against eating dead babies would have disparate impact on any minority, then it’s racist to even imagine there should be a law against eating dead babies. What can’t you understand about that? I, Dana Milbank, would personally eat a dead baby to prove Republicans are racist.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Thilo Sarrazin, the former Social Democratic central banker with a doctorate in economics whose previous book on immigration policy has sold 1,100,000 copies in Germany, has a written a new book, Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro. In the Atlantic, Miss Heather Horn finds herself disturbed by Sarrazin’s sinister reasonableness:

The Controversial German Book Linking the Euro to Holocaust Guilt 

It’s hard to think of a good American equivalent to Germany’s Thilo Sarrazin, the politician turned best-selling author. The closest one could be Pat Buchanan: in some circles, he and his writings are considered entirely legitimate. In others, they’re considered shocking and revolting to the point of scandal. … 

Now, Sarrazin is addressing the euro crisis. Tuesday, his new book Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro, hit the shelves. If you’re just paging through idly, it doesn’t seem to be as provocative, and, on balance, it really isn’t: you’d expect as seasoned a provocateur as Sarrazin, especially with his leanings towards ideas of ethnic and educational superiority, at least to say some obnoxious and offensive things about Greek people or their ability with a balance sheet. He doesn’t do that. The book, nevertheless, has immediately drawn fire — and with good reason.  

I can tell how old I am because I can remember a day long ago when journalists would describe a book as “provocative” and “controversial” to whet readers’ interest in the book. Today, the words “provocative” and “controversial” have become code for Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

… Many of the paragraphs are entirely reasonable … Nevertheless, this is a little bit, like an American treading awfully close to a racial stereotype while prefacing his statement with “now, I don’t want to be called a racist.” Why? Because what Sarrazin is really saying is that Germans are hostage to their sense of not wanting to be responsible for Europe’s failure. Germans are hostage to their sense of historical guilt. To use Der Spiegel’s translation for one of the pre-publication excerpts, pro-euro Germans “are driven by that very German reflex, that we can only finally atone for the Holocaust and World War II when we have put all our interests and money into European hands.” …

What we’re left with is a book that has some superficial similarities to Günter Grass’s controversial poem about Israel and Iran back in April, though Sarrazin’s economic credentials are significantly better than the poet’s foreign policy credentials. It’s not that the arguments themselves don’t have merit. It’s that the author doesn’t seem all that concerned with complexity. Toss in a casual suggestion that Germans are suppressing their natural reactions due to Holocaust guilt, and the whole thing starts to look offensive … 

The really provocative and revealing part of Sarrazin’s book isn’t the oft-repeated quote about Holocaust guilt, it’s sentences like, “It’s certainly very complicated, but on the other hand not as complicated as many want to make it!” or “Everyone who has an opinion on the euro also has either consciously or unconsciously an opinion on Europe.” …

… Outside of Sarrazin’s head, it is possible to have an opinion on the euro and have no idea whether Greeks are fundamentally culturally and ethnically similar to Frenchmen. …

To “have an opinion” on policy while simultaneously to “have no idea” about the facts the policy confronts appears to be the perfect summation of the kind of intellectual discourse that is considered appropriate in the 21st Century. The role model for contemporary thinkers is Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes: “I know nuffink!”

And it’s possible for uneducated immigrants to produce the next generation’s engineers and poets — and, even if they don’t, to be no more or less morally deserving than ethnic Germans with a university degree. Thilo Sarrazin’s two books, when you get down to mechanics, aren’t all that different.

I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear that one of the world’s most experienced technocrats has written an extremely well-documented book arguing that the Euro is not a good idea. Well, I never …  If Germans don’t pile all copies of Sarrazin’s new book up in their town squares and burn them tonight, somebody might get the idea to translate his 2010 bestseller on immigration into English and publish it in America. And we can’t have that, now can we?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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From the New York Times, an op-ed by Jacqueline Stevens, a professor of political science at Northwestern who is the author of States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals. Professor Stevens argues that we should “open the borders” and “abolish inheritance” because “the entire body of laws around families and inheritance, embody societies’ collective flight from death.” Okay ... My first thought, by the way, was that this op-ed was an elaborate hoax perpetrated upon the NYT by that commenter on my site who is always going on and on about how everybody he disagrees with is a death-loving Nihilist. But, a little research suggests this essay is not a parody, although my diligent Googling has also revealed that there may be more than one Jacqueline Stevens on the Internet at present. Either that, or there’s only one Jacqueline Stevens and she is definitely one of the most well-rounded of contemporary intellectuals.

Citizenship to Go 


CITIZENSHIP laws are in the news again. … 

The real problem with citizenship laws is not their manipulation by lawmakers or entrepreneurs, much less by mythical “anchor babies.” The problem is more fundamental: the age-old, irrational linkage between citizenship and birthplace. 

From ancient Athens to South Sudan, birth to certain parents, or in a certain territory, has been the primary criterion for citizenship. The word “nationality” comes from the Latin nasci, or birth. America is no exception, notwithstanding the enlargement of citizenship to encompass non-Europeans and women. 

Archaic membership rules have made life miserable not only for Mexican migrants in the United States, but also for people who cannot persuade their governments to accept their claims of citizenship … 

… The problem is not bad science, poorly trained officials or even ethnic hatred. The problem is the dubious reliance on birth for assigning citizenship. 

Why does the practice endure? …

Citizens are created by politicians, the citizen-makers. And they are created because the nation, and hence birthright citizenship, exists to alleviate anxieties about death. 

Belonging to the nation or any other community by birth, including one’s family, sustains fantasies of immortality, as these groups persist after one’s own life has ended. Birthright citizenship, and indeed, the entire body of laws around families and inheritance, embody societies’ collective flight from death.

Libertarians and economists have long questioned the usefulness of national boundaries. In 1984, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page proposed adding a constitutional amendment: “There shall be open borders.” 

For some on the left, the abolition of birthright citizenship evokes the nightmarish prospect of a labor glut in wealthy countries, the global lowering of wages, and capitalism run amok. But greed and corruption have challenged good governance in all ages, not just in the modern capitalist era. Moreover, too many on the left overlook how inheritance laws perpetuate inequality, as well as the disparity in wealth among countries because of restrictions on migration. 

Karl Marx predicted that the demise of feudalism would mean that wealth would be created anew in each generation. Instead, intergenerational transmission of money and property remains the main culprit for inequality in wealth. Abolishing inheritance would help end inequality within countries; abolishing birthright citizenship would help end inequality among countries, by letting people move for greater opportunity. 

Impossible? Utopian? That was the response to those who proposed the elimination of slavery, a persistent feature for most of the world’s history and, like nativism, defended by some because its abolition would benefit Northern capitalists and increase factory exploitation. 

Instead of using birth for assigning citizenship, why not keep the boundaries of current countries, open the borders, and use residence to define citizenship, as the 50 states do? … People should be free to move across borders; they should be citizens of the states where they happen to reside—period.

Back in 2005, I pointed out that about five billion people live in countries with lower per capita GDP’s than Mexico’s. Since almost a quarter of all Mexicans in the world now live in the United States, the implication from that example is that Open Borders would bring hundreds of millions of poor foreigners to the U.S., as was confirmed by a subsequent Gallup Poll in over 100 countries.

But, who cares about numbers? Anyway, crunching numbers to refute Open Borders enthusiasts is like breaking a butterfly upon the wheel.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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When Rich Lowry fired John Derbyshire, that of course excited the witchburner sort of pundits to hunt down more crimethinkers suspected of not taking the reigning racial pieties with full somberness. Attention has thus shifted to an obscure young comedy writer named Lesley Arfin, a staff writer for “Girls.”

That’s the new HBO show that everybody is tweeting about but (virtually) nobody is actually watching. It’s a half-hour downbeat comedy about four not-quite-affluent enough young ladies trying to make it in New York City. It was created by 25-year-old Lena Dunham, writer of the 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture.

I don’t have cable TV, so I haven’t seen Girls. (Here is a rave about the show by Slate’s quite reliable TV critic Troy Patterson, who is just about the best black writer in America whom nobody notices is black.)

Unsurprisingly, there were the usual complaints that all four of the girls on “Girls” are white. 

Arfin, one of Dunham’s staff writers, cheekily tweeted in response: 

“What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” 

This is in the same vein as Sara Silverman worked: the Evil Ingenue (“I don’t care if you think I’m racist; I just want you to think I’m thin”), the young woman too narcissistic to notice the rules about what you are allowed to say about race. 

Silverman’s best joke went:

I got in trouble for saying the word “Ch*nk” on a talk show, a network talk show. It was in the context of a joke. Obviously. That’d be weird. That’d be a really bad career choice if it wasn’t. But, nevertheless, the president of an Asian-American watchdog group out here in Los Angeles, his name is Guy Aoki, and he was up in arms about it and he put my name in the papers calling me a racist, and it hurt. As a Jew—as a member of the Jewish community—I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media.

But Arfin’s tweet is still still pretty good for 140 characters. 

This enraged various moral watchdogs. It’s fascinating how in this Age of Point ‘n’ Sputter, this Era of Not Getting the Joke, how much pride some of these people take in being humorless buffoons. 

On CNN, Soledad O’Brien, the networks go-to gal for all things African-American, and Sharon Waxman were confused and outraged by Arfin’s joke:

“Wow!” Waxman responded. “Wow.” 

The CNN panel momentarily tried to figure out if Arfin’s racially-inflammatory tweet was a joke. 

“Do you think so?” O’Brien asked. “I guess it seems like she’s not necessarily taking the question of representation seriously to me.”

The New Yorker called Arfin’s joke “breathtakingly dismissive and intellectually dishonest.”

ThinkProgress whined:

Lesley Arfin, John Derbyshire, Vice, Taki Magazine, and the Lingering Cultural Capital of Racism

Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic, who had piled on Derbyshire, entitled her angry piece:

‘Girls’ Writer Responds to Critique of ‘Girls’ with Horrible Joke

and followed up with:

‘Girls’ Writer Is Learning There’s No Such Thing as Ironic Racism

Another notoriously butt-hurt site, Gawker, complained:

A Girls Writer’s Ironic Racism And Other ‘White People Problems’

You might think that the best way to complain about a comedy writer’s joke is by making a joke back, especially if your complaints are really intended to get you an affirmative action job writing an HBO show. I mean, there are a lot of complainers in this world, so if HBO is going to have to hire some to write a People of Color sit-com, they might as well hire funny ones. But that kind of thinking is so pre-Trayvon.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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A decade ago, Annika Sorenstam was doing a lot of weightlifting*, and pulled away from other women golfers, becoming probably the best woman golfer ever for a few years. So, she entered the men’s PGA tournament at Colonial in 2003 to a din of publicity. In the weeks leading up to that event, I collected a ton of data on the difficulty ratings of the courses that the PGA and LPGA play to provide an objective metric, and I announced:

So, I predict that if Sorenstam plays this week the way she’s played in the rest of 2003, she’ll miss the cut by four strokes.

And that’s exactly what happened: she missed the cut to play on the weekend by four strokes. Out of 113 entrants, she outperformed 13 men, tied four, and finished behind 93. A highly respectable performance, but not up to Phil Mickelson’s prediction (that she’d finish 20th — although I’m guessing that was gamesmanship on the part of Phil, who is a sly devil) or Thomas Boswell’s assertion that if she played the PGA regularly, she’d make the cut half the time and win a couple of events during her career. But, she beat the Vegas over-under line by eight strokes over two rounds. 

Of course, I was very lucky that she played in those two rounds about as well as she had been playing all year. Still, it was a pretty level-headed prediction. Sorenstam seems to have felt she’d given it a good shot, and didn’t try it again.

I wanted to bring this up because prediction is widely recognized as crucial to science. On the other hand, one of my two or three most important contributions to the philosophy science is the idea that people tend to be more interested in those future events that are hardest to predict: e.g., will this stock outperform the market?  When thinking about the kind of things that people get most fascinated by, such as which NFL teams will beat the point spread on Sunday, the phrase “dart-throwing monkey” comes to mind. In contrast, most of the things that are pretty predictable, like test scores for large groups, bring to mind the phrase “boring and depressing.”

In contrast, Sorenstam’s entrance in that PGA tournament was the kind of novel event that is interesting to predict as a test of one’s model of the world and struck the public, briefly, as not boring and depressing.

* By the way, I was attacked by the SPLC for noticing that Sorenstam, at her peak, had bulked up from weightlifting:

Sailer’s website is rife with primitive stereotypes. On it, Sailer mocks professional golfer Annika Sorenstam for having well-developed muscles …

What I actually said in my prediction article was, in the course of comparing her scoring proficiency to that of Corey Pavin:

Pavin is listed at 5′-9″ and 155 pounds. The 32-year-old Sorenstam is 5′-6″. She used to be listed at 130 pounds, but has clearly added a lot of muscle mass over the last two years. Now, she has that distinctive characteristic of a bodybuilder: her forearms no longer hang down along her sides because her upper arms are so muscular. Think of how Saturday Night Live’s Dana Carvey and Kevin Nelon held their arms away from their sides while playing Hans and Franz, their Schwarzenegger-type “Ve vill pump you up!” muscle heads. (No doubt some male pros think she’s been augmenting her weightlifting with steroids or human growth hormone, but there’s no specific evidence for that at all.)

Noticing things is evil.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Somebody named Josh Barro declaims in Forbes after reading the Derb’s Taki latest column, “The Talk: Nonblack Version:”

Why National Review Must Fire John Derbyshire

by Josh Barro 

… In the wake of the Trayvon Martin’s shooting, many black parents have discussed the advice they give to their male children about not getting themselves shot in a misunderstanding with a white authority figure. Derbyshire’s talk, on the other hand, is about how to avoid being harmed by a black person. He gives such advice as “If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date,” and “If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.” 

Derbyshire also recommends befriending some “intelligent and well-socialized blacks” (IWSBs, for short) so that you can deflect charges of racism by noting that some of your best friends are black. Alas, he adds “the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class whites and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous.”

And that’s about it for Barro’s analysis. Just point ‘n’ sputter.

Somebody at The Atlantic points ‘n’ sputters at a whole collection of Derb quotes.

I like where Derbyshire goes on to say: 

To be an IWSB in present-day US society is a height of felicity rarely before attained by any group of human beings in history.

Do follow Derb’s “height of felicity” link. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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With the press rehashing everything they can think of about 9/11, allow me to once again recount something that has very much not become part of The Narrative because it is close to unthinkable. Here’s an article I wrote for UPI on the evening of 9/11:

Bush had called for laxer airport security
by Steve Sailer
UPI, September 11, 2001

LOS ANGELES, Sep. 11 — Ironically, in an attempt to appeal to the growing number of Arab-American and Muslim voters, exactly eleven months ago George W. Bush called for weakening airport security procedures aimed at deterring hijackers. 

On Oct. 11, 2000, during the second presidential debate, the Republican candidate attacked two anti-terrorist policies that had long irritated Arab citizens of the U.S. 

At present [i.e., the evening of 9/11], of course, there is no definite evidence that Arabs or Muslims were involved in today’s terrorist assaults. Many incorrectly assumed after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that Middle Easterners were involved. Nor is there direct evidence that Bush’s attack on airline safety procedures made the four simultaneous hijackings easier to pull off. 

Bush said during the nationally televised debate, “Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what’s called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something about that.” Then-Governor Bush went on, “My friend, Sen. Spence Abraham [the Arab-American Republic Senator from Michigan], is pushing a law to make sure that, you know, Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at the local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more.” 

Bush’s plug for Senator Abraham was intended to help Abraham in close re-election battle, which he ultimately lost. (Abraham is now the Bush Administration’s Secretary of Energy.) More important personally to Bush was the swing state of Michigan’s 18 electoral votes, which Al Gore eventually won narrowly. Arab-Americans, centered in Dearborn and Flint, make up about four percent of the population of Michigan, the most of any state. 

In the debate, Bush conflated two separate policies that Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans felt discriminate against them: the heightened suspicions faced by Middle Eastern-looking travelers at airport security checkpoints and the government’s use of “secret evidence” in immigration hearings of suspected terrorists. Yet, despite Bush’s confusion, Arab-Americans appreciated his gesture. Four days after the debate, the Arab-American Political Action Committee endorsed Bush. 

The day after Bush’s remarks, 17 American sailors died in a terrorist attack in the Arab nation of Yemen. The bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, however, did not stop Vice President Al Gore from echoing Bush’s calls to end these two anti-terrorist techniques in a meeting with Arab-American leaders on October 14, 2000. 

According to a spokesperson for a leading Arab-American organization, people of Arab descent are stopped and searched at airports more often than many other ethnic groups. Some refer to this as Flying While Arab or Flying While Muslim. These terms are intended as plays on the popular phrase “Driving While Black,” which is widely used to criticize police departments for stopping more black than white motorists. 

This year, both Bush and his Attorney General John Ashcroft have called for an end to racial profiling. 

The Federal Aviation Administration provides airline and airport personnel with the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening system to help them identify suspicious travelers. It relies on a secret profile of the characteristics of typical hijackers and terrorists. 

Bush’s Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has said that “the security procedures are not based on the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of passengers” Yet, the system is widely believed to use other information – such as whether the traveler is going to or coming from the Middle East – that tends to “disparately impact” Arab and Muslims. 

None of the ethnic rights groups, however, has offered any data to dispute the widespread assumption that in the three decades since the Palestine Liberation Organization invented skyjacking, a disproportionate number of hijackers and plane bombers have had Middle Eastern ties. 

Nonetheless, the Bush Administration publicly agrees with the civil rights organizations that even a nonracial airport profiling system that had merely a disparate impact on Arabs and Muslims would be objectionable. Secretary Mineta said, “We also want to assure that in practice, the system does not disproportionately select members of any particular minority group.” Of course, if Arabs and Muslims are disproportionately more likely to hijack airliners, and the profiling system does not end up disproportionately targeting them, then system wouldn’t work very well at preventing hijackings. 

To ensure that no disparate impact is occurring, the Bush Administration carried out in June a three-week study, first planned by the Clinton Administration, of whether or not profiling at the Detroit airport disparately impacts Arabs. 

The results of the study have not been released. Nor is it known whether the secret profiles have been relaxed – they are kept secret in order to keep hijackers guessing. 

However, on June 6th Attorney General Ashcroft told Congress, “We want the right training, we want the right kind of discipline, we want the right kind of detection measures and the right kind of remediation measures, because racial profiling doesn’t belong in the federal government’s operational arsenal.” 

Besides airport profiling, Arab-American activists long demanded the repeal of the “secret evidence” section of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act. To prevent terrorist gangs from murdering U.S. government secret informants, this law allows the government to provide evidence from unidentified moles in the immigration hearings of foreigners suspected of terrorist links. The government has deported or detained a number of Arabs hoping to immigrate to the U.S. due to testimony by witnesses they were never allowed to confront. 

Although Abraham’s bill repealing the use of secret evidence died in 2000, during his confirmation hearing, Ashcroft endorsed the ban on secret evidence. He told Congress in June that the Bush Administration has not used secret evidence. 

As the practice has come under increasing attack, the number of Arab immigrants detained on secret evidence has dropped sharply. Hussein Ibish of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee told UPI in June, “Two years ago there were 25 in prison,” he said. “Now we’re down to only one.”

Four years later, we found out how this had played out:

It was not until 2005 that Michael Tuohey surfaced. He was the veteran U.S. Air ticket agent in Portland, ME who checked in Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 19 9/11 terrorists, and a companion on the first leg of their trip that ended in the World Trade Center. Tuohey was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey: 

Michael Tuohey was going to work like he had for 37 years, but little did he kn
ow that this day would change his life forever. On September 11, 2001, Tuohey, a ticket agent for U.S. Airways, checked in terrorist Mohammed Atta for a flight that started a chain of events that would change history. 

Tuohey was working the U.S. Airways first-class check-in desk when two men, Atta and his companion Abdul Azziz-Alomari, approached his counter. From all outward appearances, the men seemed to be normal businessmen, but Tuohey felt something was wrong. 

“I got an instant chill when I looked at [Atta]. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a political correct slap…I thought, ‘My God, Michael, these are just a couple of Arab businessmen.’” 

Tuohey also told David Hench of the Portland Press Herald: 

Then his eyes locked on Atta.  

“It just sent chills through you. You see his picture in the paper (now). You see more life in that picture than there is in flesh and blood,” Tuohey said. 

Then Tuohey went through an internal debate that still haunts him.”I said to myself, ‘If this guy doesn’t look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.’ Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it’s not nice to say things like this,” he said. 

“You’ve checked in hundreds of Arabs and Hindus and Sikhs, and you’ve never done that. I felt kind of embarrassed.” 

It wasn’t just Atta’s demeanor that caught Tuohey’s attention.”When I looked at their tickets, they had first-class, one-way tickets – $2,500 tickets. Very unusual,” he said. “I guess they’re not coming back. Maybe this is the end of their trip.”

Indeed, they weren’t coming back.

It’s fascinating how all of this has disappeared down the Memory Hole. If you search in Google News for

“Arab-Americans are racially profiled” Bush

you find nada, zip, zilch articles quoting what George W. Bush said about air travel security in front of tens of millions of viewers during a Presidential debate eleven months before 9/11. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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The New York Times editorializes:

The Military and the Death Penalty 

Racism in the application of capital punishment has been well documented in the civilian justice system since the Supreme Court reinstated the penalty in 1976. Now comes evidence that racial disparity is even greater in death penalty cases in the military system. 

Minority service members are more than twice as likely as whites — after accounting for the crimes’ circumstances and the victims’ race — to be sentenced to death, according to a forthcoming study co-written by David Baldus, an eminent death-penalty scholar, who died in June. 

The analysis is so disturbing because the military has made sustained, often successful efforts to rid its ranks of discrimination. But even with this record, its failure to apply the death penalty fairly is more proof that capital punishment cannot be free of racism’s taint.

You know, if you do a study of star football running backs, after accounting for the circumstances, such as honors earned at that level, the whites will go on to be victims of racism in college, and then again in the pros. How do we know that? Because of disparate impact.

Alternatively, if one group has a bell curve shifted versus another group, the shift tends becomes more extreme the more extreme the selection critieria, whether for starring as running backs or committing heinous crimes. But, who could expect the New York Times editorial board to be familiar with and grasp the logic of normal probability distributions, as explained by La Griffe du Lion. Why should they? He’s some pseudonymous academic.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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One of my favorite genres in the prestige press is the Self-Refuting Article. These are articles that contain all the facts necessary to undermine the premise of the piece, but reporters, editors, and readers all conspire together in an act of collective stupidity to Not Get the Joke.
For example, from the New York Times:


At Two-Year Colleges, Less Athletic Equality 


Community colleges are routinely failing to provide enough athletic opportunities to women.

The details are pretty funny. I’l inject a few wisecracks, but, really, it’s hardly necessary. This kind of article exists as a test of whether you are well trained enough to not guffaw.

(For my puzzled foreign readers, I’ll point out that nobody in America cares about community college [2-year or junior college] sports. Americans are crazy about high school, college [4-year university], and pro sports, but nobody cares about JuCo sports, except the guys playing them and a few recruiters looking for  superstars who were too much trouble (Cam Newton) or too young (Bryce Harper) to be playing college sports.)

Los Angeles Southwest College has a new athletic field house and football stadium, but almost no female athletes. 

Women make up more than two-thirds of students at this community college in the city’s South Central neighborhood, but less than a quarter of its athletes. The college’s decision to suspend the track team this year left women who wanted to play a sport with a single option: basketball. 

I’m shocked to hear that a bunch of Latino and black ladies in their 20s and 30s, many with kids and/or jobs, who are interested in, say, learning how to draw blood for a living, aren’t really into women’s polevaulting. (For an example of the type of young woman who is into women’s polevaulting, think back to the rich, athletic family in the Sandra Bullock movie The Blind Side who adopts the homeless left tackle so he can play for their alma mater, the U. of Mississippi. Remember, dad was point guard for Ole Miss and mom was head cheerleader. Well, their daughter went on to be Mississippi state high school girl’s pole vault champion and won a polevaulting scholarship to a four year college.)

Perhaps the NYT can shed light on this mystery:

Henry Washington, the college’s athletic director and head football coach, acknowledges that his program is most likely violating federal law by failing to offer enough roster spots to women. But he said many of the female students are also juggling jobs and child care, and do not have time to play sports. Then there is the question of money. “I just keep my fingers crossed that we can keep what we have,” he said. 

Pensacola State College in Florida has suffered through its share of budget cuts, and athletic officials have long faced the thorny question of how much interest there is at a college that devotes an entire campus to health sciences programs, where students tend to be older, overwhelmingly female and, supposedly, less eager to play sports. 

But there is no shortage of women playing sports at Pensacola. The college invests about $1 million a year in the athletics program, and coaches scour the state and beyond for talented female players. The women’s basketball team won the state championship this year. … 

No one disputes that community colleges face distinct challenges, with a lack of money paramount. But Pensacola, one of the rare exceptions among community colleges, offers evidence that the demands of the law can be met. 

… In many ways, Los Angeles Southwest’s struggles — and Pensacola’s success — echo the conversations that took place decades ago at elite four-year colleges and major public universities. 

“People who say they can’t find students who are interested or they can’t recruit, it sounds very much like what I heard 30 years ago, 40 years ago in the 1970s,” said Carol Kashow, the athletic director at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. “That’s the reason for Title IX, so there can’t be an excuse to not give opportunities.” 

But community colleges have rarely been scrutinized. That may change as an influx of recent high school graduates have entered community colleges, seeing them as an affordable alternative to four-year universities. This shift in the student body — already majority female — could lead to heightened demands from students who could well expect and even legally demand the opportunity to participate in sports.

 “Could lead” — in other words, decades of millions of women in JuCos hasn’t yet led. But, it still could lead …

Or, more likely, the demands will come from a handful of lesbian gym coaches looking for sinecures.

“While some of our states and regions have seen the handwriting on the wall, many are still sitting in the dark,” Karen Sykes, a former president of the National Junior College Athletic Association, warned officials at a meeting several years ago. Sykes said “it was only a matter of time” before community colleges would come under scrutiny for their shortcomings. 

Because community colleges have a mandate to educate all comers, they have a special obligation to offer women a legitimate shot at playing sports, said Jaime Lester, an assistant professor at George Mason University who has studied gender issues at community colleges. “It’s crucial to hold these democratic institutions — these bastions of people’s colleges — up to that level of scrutiny,” Lester said. “If we don’t hold them up, why should we hold anyone else up?” 

Henry Washington has served as athletic director at Los Angeles Southwest College for 27 years, and each year, he said, women’s basketball faces the same challenge: the team starts out with a roster of 12 players only to dwindle to five or six by the end of the season. 

“Sometimes they’re not motivated, they may have a child,” he said. “There are all kinds of obstacles that are getting in the way of trying to even keep teams.” 

It is a common refrain among athletic directors at community colleges: women, they say, do not sign up for sports. While the economic recession has expanded the pool of traditional-age students, men and women who attend community colleges do not fit the typical mold of  student-athletes. They tend to be older, and almost half of all community college students work more than 25 hours a week, according to federal education statistics. 

But federal statistics show few differences between the men and women who attend these colleges: the men work, too, and tend not to be any younger. 

And yet the men, despite similar hardships or responsibilities, still manage to play sports in significant numbers.

Why? Why? Why?

[Please note: No answers to this question other than Sexism / Discrimination are allowed.]

Even Washington, the Los Angeles Southwest athletic director, said he did not accept the excuse that women at his college and others like it were not interested in sports. “One thing I did learn is that if you hire a woman full time to recruit women,” he said, “then the outcome would probably be a little different.” 

But because of his college’s financial situation, he said, all of his coaches work part time. 

Washington said surveys of local high schools have shown that potential students are interested in playing women’s soccer and softball, but that his plan to add softball had been delayed by budget troubles. California has cut nearly $400 million in aid to community colleges over the past two years, and recently cut another $400 million in financing for the next academic year. The reductions led Los Angeles Southwest to cancel 200 classes over the past two years. 

Jack E. Daniels III, the president of Los Angeles Southwest, said he was aware of the need to add women’s teams.  But the college’s financial situation is so dire, he is considering eliminating the entire athletic program, which currently costs about $300,000 a year. 

“Right now, it’s probably a 50-50 proposition,” Daniels said. The new field house and football stadium were built using bonds approved by voters several years ago, when the economy was flush and “there was no indication of any financial downturn,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a six part series on all the corruption and incompetence in spending that $5.7 billion in bonds for remodeling of LA’s JuCo campuses.

In many ways, Pensacola fits the profile of a typical community college. …Still, Pensacola has found a way to preserve sports programs, and women at the moment make up some 56 percent of the college’s athletes. 

The athletic budget of $1 million, for example, pays for men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as baseball, softball and women’s volleyball. Many athletes receive scholarships for tuition and books. Some are given housing and stipends for meals. 

Hamilton’s coaches visit tournaments across the country, attend camps at four-year colleges and pore over scouting reports. Filling female rosters “isn’t something we do by luck, it’s by design,” Hamilton said. 

Brenda Pena, the softball coach, sent her assistant to Colorado in June to recruit at a tournament that drew more than 100 teams nationwide. Although her team finished last in its conference this year, she said, Pensacola has a reputation for fielding strong teams and for helping its students transfer to four-year colleges. As a result, Pena said, she is able to avoid the obstacle of attracting players from an older, less engaged student body by instead recruiting students straight from high school.

Okay, so Pensacola’s secret is that they go to Colorado and recruit a bunch of middle class white girls who aren’t quite good enough to get softball scholarships to four-year scholarships as freshmen, but still hope they can get them as juniors, and Pensacola pays for their room and board.

And this is helping Florida citizens how?

UPDATE: A reader from Pensacola writes into point out that Pensacola makes its athletic department budget go a long way by putting on a lot of sports, except for football, and using old sports facilities, not building new ones like LA Southwest. Football is expensive, and it’s hard to sell many tickets at the juco level to defray costs, so why not skip football and sponsor a bunch of cheaper sports?

As to the recruiting trips to Colorado, I imagine they are more of a networking opportunity more than anything else – 15 of the 17 members of the 2011 softball team are from Florida or surrounding states. …  Finally, it should be mentioned that Pensacola is essentially a small Southern town, with the expected small town obsession with team sports.  The area’s only four-year school, the University of West Florida, recently claimed the Division II national championship in baseball, and the area can lay claim to many great athletes, most notably NFL legend Emmit Smith.  So a certain amount of civic pride is behind the emphasis on athletics, even at the relatively obscure juco level.

That makes sense: juco women’s sports is a relatively cheap way to bring some distinction to your juco.

Of course, the NYT’s perspective is that if one juco invests in good women athletes, then that proves that every juco should do it. And that’s missing the point entirely, as the diversity mindset so often tends to do because it doesn’t think in terms of systems effects. If juco women’s athletics was hugely competitive, then it would be hugely expensive to earn some distinction for your juco in women’s athletics, so then few could afford to do it.

That’s an interesting critique of Kant’s categorical imperative: In looking for some way to distinguish itself, organizations should not behave as if what they specialize in should become a universal law.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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In the New York Times, Michael Slackman delivers yet another deeply researched, tremendously well-informed, empirical-minded news article on the complex subjects being currently discussed by one million book buyers in Germany:
The debate started off boring and slow with Thilo Sarrazin trying to bullshit everyone with a bunch of smart talk: ‘Blah blah blah. You gotta believe me!’ That part of the controversy sucked! But then the Chief J. just went off. He said, ‘Man, whatever! The guy’s guilty of being a Nazi! We all know that.’ And he sentenced his ass to one night of rehabilitation

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I’d like to thank everybody who sent me this late-breaking news from the New York Times:

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From VDARE, here’s the opening of my speech last weekend to the H.L. Mencken Club in Baltimore, in which I try to do a quick summing up of my epistemological approach:
I’m glad to be back addressing the H.L. Mencken Club.

Richard Spencer has asked me to speak on the topic “Can HBD Trump PC?” So let me begin by explaining what those acronyms mean.

PC stands for “Political Correctness”. HBD is short for “Human Biodiversity”.

In an intellectually healthy world, of course, the study of “human biodiversity” wouldn’t be imperiled by the reign of Political Correctness. Instead, HBD would be recognized as a necessary complement to the study of human cultural diversity. To a student of the social world, human biodiversity and human cultural diversity ought to be complementary tools, like a straight right and a left jab are to a boxer, or like words and numbers are to a thinker.

In 21st Century America, however, noticing reality is often, by unfortunate necessity, a political act. As George Orwell pointed out, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”.

Should HBD be a field of study … or a political movement … or both?

Let’s consider the term “Political Correctness” first. This is an old New Left phrase. I first recall hearing it about 30 years ago in an interview with Joe Strummer of The Clash, in which the punk rock star lamented how stultifying the demands of Political Correctness were even for a lifelong leftist like himself. (Despite Joe’s Old Left proletarian façade, Strummer’s father, a British diplomat and secret agent, had been a close friend of Kim Philby.)

We’re often told that Political Correctness is a trivial matter of using the latest name for minority groups, but I always do that. That’s less Political Correctness than politeness.

No, PC is vastly more far-reaching. It enervates American intellectual discourse on many levels.

As John Derbyshire noted last night [in a speech on "Men Versus the Man, 100 Years On"], the best depiction of how Political Correctness functions is from the appendix to George Orwell’s 1984:

“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments …, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”

What Orwell got wrong, though, is that inculcating crimestop doesn’t require an army of men watching you from your TV.

Instead, you watch your TV—and learn from it what kind of thoughts raise your status and what kind lower your status.

It’s a system of Status Climbing through Stupidity.

Every so often, a celebrity is fired to encourage the others: NPR dumped Juan Williams this week for admitting that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous. Earlier this month blowhard Rick Sanchez was sacked by CNN for responding sarcastically to his interviewer’s suggestion that Jews are an oppressed minority in the media. (As one wag commented, Sanchez got fired for the first story he ever got right.) 

Read the whole thing here and comment upon it below.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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In Slate, Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post informs us how Science explains why Juan Williams is made nervous by Muslims on flights:

We Are All Juan Williams
Associating minorities with crime is irrational, unjust, and completely normal.

Juan Williams told Bill O’Reilly that he gets nervous at airports when he sees Muslims. For this, Williams has been roundly denounced as a bigot. But Williams’ association between innocent Muslims and the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks was less about bigotry—at least, bigotry conventionally defined—than about his mind working normally. To live in America in the post-9/11 age and not have at least some associations between Muslims and terrorism means something is wrong with you. 

I am not suggesting that associating ordinary Muslims with terrorists is either rational or right. It’s neither. But the association arises via a normal aspect of brain functioning, which is precisely why so many people entertain such beliefs—and why those beliefs have proved so resistant to challenge.

The left is wrong to wish the association away only by pointing out how unfair it is, because that denies the reality of how our minds work. The right is wrong to believe the association must be accurate merely because it is widespread. 

See, it’s all the fault of evolution:

Our ancestors constantly drew conclusions about their environment based on limited evidence. Waiting for causative evidence could have proved costly, whereas extrapolating causation from correlation was less costly.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were unusual. (Even if you take all the terrorist attacks in the world, they are still unusual.) In seeking explanations for those events, our minds are drawn to other unusual things linked to them—especially at the group level. …

Muslims are only the latest victim of illusory correlations in the United States. African-Americans have long suffered the same bias when it comes to crime. In every country on earth, you can find minority groups that get tagged with various pathologies for no better reason than that the pathologies are unusual and the minorities are minorities.

Whenever people who strongly believe in illusory correlations are challenged about their beliefs, they invariably find ways to make their behavior seem conscious and rational. Those who would explicitly link all Muslims with terrorism might point to evidence showing that some Muslims say they want to wage a war against the West, that a large preponderance of terrorist attacks today are carried out by Muslims, and so on. This is similar to our longstanding national narrative about blacks and crime. 

But even if blacks and whites do not commit crimes at the same rate, and even if Muslims are overrepresented among today’s terrorists, our mental associations between these groups and heinous events are made disproportionately large by the unconscious bias that causes us to form links between unusual events and minorities. …

People in Thailand will associate white American tourists with pedophilia even though many more acts of pedophilia are committed by Thais. But white Americans are a minority in Thailand, as are acts of pedophilia. So you will hear Thai people shout until they are blue in the face about individual anecdotes showing white Americans who are pedophiles. (The same is true of gay men and pedophilia in the United States.)

There’s this obscure Thai cultural concept that might be helpful in understanding the irrational bigotry of Thais’ views of single white male tourists in Thailand: it’s called “on average.” The Thais think that single white guys who have spent thousands of dollars to visit, out of all the places in the world, Bangkok, might, on average, be different from the average Thai who happened to be born in Bangkok.

See, they get the joke.

What we really need is an in-depth analysis of the systematic causes of anti-empirical bias in elite discourse.

The first is the professional deformation that journalists and fictional storytellers experience in their hunt for non-boring Man Bites Dog stories.You make more money coming up with interesting stories about anomalies than for pointing out the same old same old.

The second is the Platonic Temptation among intellectuals to think only in terms of absolute categories: e.g., Vedantam projects his own bias against thinking probabilistically when he claims, without citing any evidence, that there are “Those who would explicitly link all Muslims with terrorism…”

The third is The Smartest Guy in the Room Syndrome: the presumption that the more moving parts and unlikely assumptions in your theory, the smarter you must be to hold it all together in your head, so, therefore, you win.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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From 97 years ago:

G.K Chesterton, 1913

Why do people think it intelligent to say, “I can see no difference!” It is nowadays quite a mark of culture to say that one can see no difference between a man and a woman, or a man and an angel, or a man and an animal. If a man cannot see the difference between a horse and a cow across a large field, we do not call him cultured; we call him short-sighted. Now, there are really interesting differences between angels and women; nay, even between men and beasts, and all such things. They are differences which most people know instinctively, as most people know a cow is not a horse without looking for its mane; or most people know a horse is not a cow without looking for horns. Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter, but it ought not really to be so difficult simply to see the difference.

… modern thought means modern thoughtlessness.

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From the American Prospect on how it’s practically impossible to profile homegrown terrorists:
Another study found only broad trends among domestic jihadist terrorists, specifically that they are overwhelmingly male and about two-thirds of them are younger than 30 years old. As the above discussion may suggest, generalizing about the individuals involved is problematic. Indeed, there does not appear to be a common thread connecting the U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan with the Caucasian convert, Daniel Patrick Boyd; the Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi with Carlos Bledsoe, an African American of a happy childhood who converted to Islam and renamed himself Abdulhakim Muhammed; David Headley, who was born Daood Gilani to a successful Pakistani immigrant father and American mother, with Talib Islam, who was born Michael Finton and raised in multiple foster homes; or the educated pharmacist Tarek Mehanna, with the Somali American from Minneapolis Shirwa Ahmed, who traveled to the land of his birth and became the first U.S. citizen suicide bomber. 
Yup, not much in common there … So, let’s keep on giving the third degree at the airport to the 86-year-old retired general who tried to sneak his Medal of Honor on his trip to address cadets at West Point.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Valerie Jarrett, longtime consigliera to Barack Obama since she hired Michelle Obama a couple of decades ago to work for Mayor Daley, op-edizes in the WaPo:
Closing the wage gap: It’s a matter of survival for working families

America first put an equal-pay law on the books in 1963, when women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. While this legislation was landmark at the time, its core provisions require updating if it is to fulfill its promise.

Nearly 50 years later, the wage gap has narrowed by only 18 cents. …

In this harsh economic environment, the consequences of the pay disparity put women and their families, as well as our economy, at a significant disadvantage. We are still emerging from the deepest recession since the Great Depression. And while we have added private-sector jobs for eight straight months, we remain short of our goal of putting every American who wants a job back to work. Today, too many struggling families are still waiting to feel the benefits of economic progress.

That’s why women’s wages have perhaps never been more important. Women are the sole or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families. For them and their families, equal pay is not only a matter of principle; it’s a matter of survival.

It is for this reason that President Obama applauds the work of the House of Representatives and strongly supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate. It is common-sense legislation that will give women the tools they need to obtain equal pay for equal work. The House passed this legislation 256 to 163 in January 2009. The bill is on the Senate calendar and should come up for a vote this month. …

It will also eliminate a loophole that some employers use to avoid paying women equal wages. Under the act, while employees will still have to prove that discrimination has taken place, employers will be required to prove in court that any wage differences were based on factors other than sex — such as education, training or experience — and were consistent with business necessity. The act will provide victims of sex-based pay discrimination the same remedies under the law that victims of other forms of discrimination have. …

The Paycheck Fairness Act will also improve federal agency access to wage-related data, while protecting confidentiality. When it becomes law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will have access to important information from employers that, with time and analysis, will strengthen our ability to ensure compliance. The Labor Department will also be able to begin education and outreach efforts that will increase both employer and employee knowledge of their respective responsibilities and rights regarding equal pay.

For these reasons and more, the Paycheck Fairness Act merits swift passage. America cannot move forward, prosperous and faithful to its ideals, if the pay gap is allowed to persist for another 50 years. This act is not only good for women, it’s good for working families, for business and for the American economy. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Unlike Austan Goolsbee (see next post), who has gone from being an NYT columnist to being Chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Peter Orszag has gone from being Chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers to being an NYT columnist. Orszag writes in the NYT:

The most important book I’ve read over the past six months is Matthew Syed’s “Bounce.” Teddy Roosevelt once said that “in this life we get nothing save by effort.” Syed shows how trenchant Roosevelt was.

Syed is a two-time Olympian in table tennis. His book is impressive for two reasons. First, he takes empirical evidence on the science of success seriously (and in the areas where I know the literature to some degree, his depiction is quite accurate). Second, he shows how that evidence shatters widespread myths about what leads to better performance in any complex undertaking (including, for example, chess, tennis and math).

Basically, we’ve bought into several misconceptions about excellence, which are not only wrong but affirmatively counterproductive.

Let me focus today on the core one. Too many of us believe in the “talent” myth — that top performers are born, rather than built. But Syed shows that in almost every arena in which tasks are complex, top performers excel not because of innate ability but because of dedicated practice. …

Success in most arenas of life is thus not a reflection of innate skill but rather devoted effort. And Syed demonstrates why it is not just effort, but purposeful effort that is key — if you’re going to get better at chunking, you can’t just go through the motions and punch time on the clock. You need to put your heart into it. 

Is it really too much to ask that people at the top of the pyramid in the U.S. talk to the rest of us like we are adults? Isn’t it obvious that the answer to the question of what does it take to get to the top, nature or nurture, is: both?

P.S. Orszag is back in the NYT with more Gladwellian conventional wisdom, having been roughed up pretty badly by commenters the first time:

“Or to phrase it differently, it seems plausible that many more people than commonly believed (but perhaps not all people!) have sufficient innate skill to perform at world-class levels in complex fields with sufficient practice; the problem is that they do not undertake the necessary practice. Indeed, the examples we have of individuals who put in 10,000 or more hours of dedicated practice and fail to achieve stunning levels of performance is quite limited — because most people are not willing to put in that time and effort.”

I guess Orszag has never heard the term “career minor leaguer.” Think of Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham.

Or how about future Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda’s failure to make it as major leaguer despite an excellent minor league record? Lasorda pitched only 58 innings with a terrible 6.48 ERA in the Show during a playing career lasting from 1945-1960. I guess he just didn’t bleed Dodger Blue enough or he would have made it in the big leagues. His failure to make it in the big leagues couldn’t have had anything to do with his lack of innate physical talent.

The trick these people play is in their term of art “dedicated practice,” which is used to make their argument unfalsifiable. Sure, from age 5 to 33, Tommy Lasorda spent tens of thousands of hours practicing baseball, but, by definition, he wasn’t practicing baseball the right way or he wouldn’t have failed.

In summary, the point is not that Orszag shows a Malcolm Gladwell-level ability to perform reality checks on his favorite ideas. Orszag isn’t particularly important in and of himself, other than that he represents roughly the political median of elite opinion in 21st Century America. He shows that there exist such systematic impediments to clear thought among elites today that somebody as smart and well connected as Orszag can make a fool of himself in his first week as a NYT columnist because he doesn’t know any better.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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