Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Professor measures surprising bias in academia

original article: Professor makes shocking discovery while measuring anti-Christian and political bias in academia
March 22, 2017 by Billy Hallowell

Perhaps the greatest irony of our age is that colleges and universities — the very institutions that are intended to educate and intellectually challenge the masses — oft-times foster environments that are routinely accused of being patently one-sided and biased.

After all, college is intended to be an intensive time of self-exploration — one in which young people are theoretically opened up to the world around them, with diverse perspectives and experiences helping to shape their contextual understandings. Yet, in contrast, higher education today is often a breeding ground for exclusively progressive ideals and values that are masqueraded, paraded, and marketed to young minds as definitive, unadulterated truth, as I extensively document in my new book, “Fault Line: How a Seismic Shift in Culture Is Threatening Free Speech and Shaping the Next Generation.”

Unfortunately, young people are all too often fed this information from left-of-center professors who are injecting their worldview into the classroom with little regard for the need for divergent beliefs in the educational marketplace. Their ideals, presented as truth and many times so filtered that opposing views are either denigrated into silence or ignored entirely, are often pervasive and treated as gospel when in fact they’re nothing more than mere personal opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liberal professors being employed by colleges and universities; what is improper, however, is an environment in which young people are given an imbalanced perspective on key social, political, and international issues or one in which conservative professors are too afraid to share their views with colleagues for fear of reprisal.

Such imbalances create unaccommodating and uncomfortable environments for those who do not share left-of-center perspectives, though the more pervasive and concerning issue is the notion that young, impressionable minds are potentially robbed of the ability to make decisions for themselves, especially when they aren’t presented with a fair assessment of all the available and pertinent information.

Measuring bias

The problem with measuring bias in the classroom, of course, is the fact that so much of what is claimed to have happened is based on anecdotal examples, though such incidents certainly warrant attention and analysis. That said — in addition to statistics that prove that liberal professors far outpace conservative ones — there have been some successful methods used to measure academic bias.

In fact, University of North Texas professor George Yancey has been more than vocal about the overt bias that he sees inherent in university environments, diving deep into that paradigm in an interview for “Fault Line.”

On a broader level, Yancey rejected the claims of some in society who argue that, as a nominal majority, Christians can’t possibly be the victims of discrimination, saying that he has conducted research that proves that these individuals are flat wrong in advancing such contentions.

“I always preface this by saying, ‘I’m not saying that Christians are black. We’re not talking about Jim Crow,’” he told me. “There’s something to the fact that, at least in the past, Christians have been the majority — and maybe they still are in many ways today — but my research shows that if you are a conservative Protestant, you have a distinctive disadvantage going for a job in academia.”

Yancey’s research involved a survey based on a national sample in which he presented professors with 26 potential characteristics and asked how they would react if they found out that a job candidate possessed each descriptor or characteristic. His question essentially asked, “If you found this out about a person, would it make you more or less likely to hire them?”2

In the end, the professor said it became more than clear that the academics surveyed were “definitely less likely” to hire Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals — characteristics that garnered the most negative reactions, even outpacing conservative political persuasions.

“They were less willing to hire Republicans, for example, but that measure was at a much lower rate,” Yancey explained. “That’s why I say conservative Protestants are the ones that academics themselves will tell you, ‘Yes, I’m less likely to hire you if I find out that you’re a conservative Protestant.’” Half of them share this sentiment, as Yancey said. “About half. Obviously not all of them, but about half of them.”

Dire situation

It is those findings that lead Yancey to see roadblocks in academia for those who embrace conservatism and Protestantism, with the professor saying that other research conducted on the matter backs his theories. While some might scoff, Yancey offered up a powerful comparison to showcase the dire nature of the situation.

“If we had that sort of data on any other group—if we had that sort of data on Jews, that almost half of all academics are less likely to hire you if you’re Jewish, no one would argue that anti-Semitism is not costing Jews in the academic world,” he continued. “Really, there’s no real argument that anti-Christian bias is not costing at least conservative Protestants in the academia world.”

In the end, Yancey said that he was surprised by the results. He went into the survey assuming that he would uncover bias, though he initially predicted that it would be more prevalent on political indicators rather than religious. Clearly he was wrong.

With the aforementioned information in mind, it’s easy to see how Christianity, God, and conservative values have been marginalized — and hold the potential to continue to be marginalized — in today’s university system.

What kind of citizens do we want?

At the core of the discussion is an important question, though: If we truly want to raise freethinking citizens who are able to discern and make important life decisions, isn’t it essential that they have all of the available options before them so that they can make the most appropriate and reasonable choices?

This shouldn’t be a radical idea; in fact, it is one that many individuals — both liberal and conservative — have cited. Consider what progressive New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about this very issue in a May 2016 op-ed. To summarize, Kristof concluded that universities disregard “ideological and religious” diversity. Speaking of the ramifications for such a dynamic, he wrote, “The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians … but also the quality of education itself.”

Kristof pointed to a number of other important values, including the need for liberals to remain open and, thus, “true to their own values.” Additionally, he said a dearth in representation of conservatives and evangelicals negatively impacts the quality of education. With some perspectives not being present at the table, he warned classrooms can become echo chambers and that, in the end, everyone loses as a result.

The columnist went on to cite studies that he said showed clear disparities in professors’ ideological viewpoints, saying that some inquiries have found that just 6-11 percent of humanities professors self-identify as Republican, with just 7-9 percent saying the same in the social sciences. In that latter group, around 18 percent have called themselves Marxists — a fact that led Kristof to conclude that “it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.”

He also offered up a challenge to his fellow liberals: “Maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.”

The only question now is: Will they heed that advice?

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Government worship and deferred compassion

original article: Meals On Wheels Desperately Needs To Get Cut, And We Shouldn’t Stop There
March 23, 2017 by Robert Tracinski

Hey, everybody, the Trump budget guts everything!

Except, of course, that it doesn’t. It cuts about $54 billion from next year’s budget out of a total of $4 trillion in spending—a reduction of a little over 1 percent. It’s kind of a drop in the bucket.

But as part of their program to grow all spending for everything all the time, Democrats have had to find something that makes Trump’s budget cuts look totally radical and draconian, so they have seized on Meals on Wheels, a program that uses volunteers to deliver food to the elderly.

Not only is this factually wrong, but the really radical and dangerous position is the idea that programs like Meals on Wheels have to be part of the federal budget and must never be cut in any way.

First, the facts. Meals on Wheels is supported by volunteers and overwhelmingly funded by private charity. The national organization Meals on Wheels America gets only 3.3 percent of its budget, less than $250,000, from government grants.

Moreover, the money that is supposedly going to be cut doesn’t even come directly from the federal budget, and Trump’s budget doesn’t even mention Meals on Wheels. Instead, it eliminates Community Development Block Grants, some tiny fraction of which—nobody can say for sure exactly how much—is used by state and local governments to support local Meals on Wheels organizations. Apparently, nothing else done with these block grants is particularly defensible, so Democrats have focused all of their attention on Meals on Wheels.

In the meantime, all of the press attention has led to a surge of donations and volunteers. Did you know citizens could do that—take what they think is a worthy program and support it with their own time and money? Apparently, this is a surprise to everyone on the Left.

So the whole “Trump wants to cut Meals on Wheels” story line smacks of—what’s the phrase I’m looking for here?—oh yes, “fake news.”

Yet here’s why it’s important. The outrage over cutting Meals on Wheels from the federal budget implies that it ought to be part of the federal budget and that it ought to be getting more money. That’s the really radical idea here, and it explains why this country is in the deadly budget predicament we are.

Notice that the supposedly devastating Trump budget proposal says nothing about the largest and fastest-growing part of the budget, the big middle-class entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. If we have to fund Meals on Wheels, we definitely can’t make even the slightest changes to any of those programs. In fact, by this reasoning—if a small fraction of indirect support for a charitable venture is sacrosanct—then the assumption here is that anything good has to be funded by the federal government.

By that reasoning, we aren’t just forced to keep spending money for things the government already does. We will have to keep increasing our spending indefinitely, bring into the federal fold more and more programs and ventures. Anything that benefits anybody has to get government money. Not to support it would be monstrous.

If we can’t even say to any program, “You know that last 3 percent of your budget? We think you’ll be okay on that without the federal government,” then the result is going to be exactly what we have seen: vast, ever-increasing, unsustainable increases in government spending and government debt.

Do you know what happens if we carry this all the way to the end of the road? Take a look at Venezuela, which specifically focused its socialist programs on food banks for the poor, with government taking on an increasingly dominant role in the nation’s food supply. The result? People are starving and reduced to rummaging through trash bins to survive. But no matter how cruel that system ends up being in practice, nobody could ever advocate rolling it back, because that would make you reactionary and cruel and heartless and prove that you hate the poor.

The idea that the government must fund everything, that nothing can happen without it, that it must be the source and impetus behind every initiative, and that it must always expand relentlessly—that is the truly radical notion being pushed in this Meals on Wheels hysteria.

That’s why we have to take an axe to federal funds for Meals on Wheels. We have to do it just to establish that there is some limit, any limit to the scope and fiscal appetite of the federal government—before it yawns its throat open and swallows us whole.

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What does a progressive consider “righteous anger”?

Allison Stranger, the Middlebury College professor injured by protesters opposing Charles Murray’s appearance on campus, has something to say. The New York Times published her comments on the incident in an article titled Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion.

Stranger has some straightforward and well justified criticism of the protesters, the extremely illiberal liberals supposedly fighting against hate (by using hate). And yet she also has an odd attitude about the whole thing. Stranger construes the hateful speech and hateful actions of the progressive protests as “righteous anger” and curiously proceeds to build a case showing the exact opposite.

Nearly half way into her article Stranger admits this “righteous anger” was in fact hate: “Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray…” She proceeds to describe what is unavoidably understood as intimidation and terrorism as she states “I feared for my life.”

The problems only continue to mount. Strange proceeds to describe how the well was poisoned long before Murray even showed up on campus.

Part of the problem was the furor that preceded the talk. This past month, as the campus uproar about Dr. Murray’s visit built, I was genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgment on Dr. Murray’s work and character without ever having read anything he has written.

Once the propaganda began, college progressives were simply uninterested in intellectual (or any other kind of) honesty.

Intelligent members of the Middlebury community — including some of my own students and advisees — concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another, and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. Never mind that Dr. Murray supports same-sex marriage and is a member of the courageous “never Trump” wing of the Republican Party.

There is no excusing what happened at Middlebury, and those who prevented Charles Murray from speaking must be punished for violating college rules. But what the events at Middlebury made clear is that, regardless of political persuasion, Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason and celebration of ignorance. They know what they know without reading, discussing or engaging those who might disagree with them.

It’s true, as Stranger says, “People from both sides of the aisle reject calm logic, eager to embrace the alternative news that supports their prejudices” but we should note it is not the political right who is engaging in and celebrating violent protests: that is the hallmark of the modern political left.

Stranger honorably recommends “We must all be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger, or this pattern of miscommunication will continue on other college campuses.” But it would be good for her to take her own advice. Notice how she seems to have blindly embraced the anti-Trump narrative of the left.

Throughout an ugly campaign and into his presidency, President Trump has demonized Muslims as terrorists and dehumanized many groups of marginalized people. He declared the free press an enemy of the people…, and seems bent on dismantling the separation of powers and 230 years of progress this country has made toward a more perfect union. Much of the free speech he has inspired — or has refused to disavow — is ugly, and has already had ugly real-world consequences.

In an effort to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger” let’s take a closer look at Stranger’s allegations.

No one is claiming all Muslims are terrorists, while the vast majority of terrorist actions in the world today are in fact committed by Islamic extremists (or American progressives). To even acknowledge this plain fact garners the label “Islamophobic”. Why? Because over generalizing and making blanket accusations are fine if the target is Christianity or conservatism, but Islam is to be protected at all costs, even the cost of one’s own intellectual credibility.

Ignoring the influx of violent immigrants and imported gang violence (especially among states bordering Mexico) does no good for the American people despite the gains it provides to the political left vilifying those who acknowledge this. No one is claiming all immigrants are a danger. But pretending there is no danger is downright idiotic especially considering ISIS has bragged about infiltrating other countries with operatives posing as refugees (something that has actually happened).

The American “free press” has chosen sides in political conflict and it is absurd to deny this: it has been the case for decades. With very few exceptions they are an enemy of Trump and were nauseatingly fond (and protective) of Obama and Clinton (either of them). As a single piece of evidence: Stranger accuses Trump of being bent on dismantling the separation of powers and over two centuries of progress in the United States when that dishonor could easily be placed on Obama’s shoulders.

Also, it is common place for politicians to portray their agendas as the will of “the American people” so there no point in denying this when Trump brands the press as the enemy. It would be easier to reject his claims if the press weren’t so hell bent on pumping any and all criticisms and accusations Democrats throw at Trump when they worked so hard to refute or dismiss Obama’s critics.

And so what if a lot of the free speech of late has been ugly? Falsely accusing the political right of various forms of bigotry (something that has been done for decades) is also ugly, but that doesn’t stop the political left doing so. Stranger is doing that very thing even here in unquestioningly regurgitating the left’s narrative on Trump. Did you notice how Nazi comparisons were treated as distasteful when Obama was president but were perfectly fine when Bush was president, and are once again in vogue with president Trump?

Intentionally misconstruing the political right’s comments provides an excellent example for Stranger and the rest of the political left to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger”. With very few exceptions Stranger’s criticism of hate is an apt description of the common progressive, and even more apt of left wing activists. It looks like Jonathan Haidt is proven right once again.

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Middlebury showed us how colleges today punish blasphemy

original article: The Dangerous Safety of College
March 11, 2017 by Frank Bruni

The moral of the recent melee at Middlebury College, where students shouted down and chased away a controversial social scientist, isn’t just about free speech, though that’s the rubric under which the ugly incident has been tucked. It’s about emotional coddling. It’s about intellectual impoverishment.

Somewhere along the way, those young men and women — our future leaders, perhaps — got the idea that they should be able to purge their world of perspectives offensive to them. They came to believe that it’s morally dignified and politically constructive to scream rather than to reason, to hurl slurs in place of arguments.

They have been done a terrible disservice. All of us have, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with what education really means and what colleges do and don’t owe their charges.

Physical safety? Absolutely. A smooth, validating passage across the ocean of ideas? No. If anything, colleges owe students turbulence, because it’s from a contest of perspectives and an assault on presumptions that truth emerges — and, with it, true confidence.

What happened at Middlebury was this: A group of conservative students invited Charles Murray to speak, and administrators rightly consented to it. Although his latest writings about class divisions in America have been perceptive, even prescient, his 1994 book “The Bell Curve” trafficked in race-based theories of intelligence and was broadly (and, in my opinion, correctly) denounced. The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled him a white nationalist.

He arrived on campus wearing that tag, to encounter hundreds of protesters intent on registering their disgust. Many jammed the auditorium where he was supposed to be interviewed — by, mind you, a liberal professor — and stood with their backs to him. That much was fine, even commendable, but the protest didn’t stop there.

Chanting that Murray was “racist, sexist, anti-gay,” the students wouldn’t let him talk. And when he and the professor moved their planned interchange to a private room where it could be recorded on camera, protesters disrupted that, too, by pulling fire alarms and banging on windows. A subsequent confrontation between some of them and Murray grew physical enough that the professor with him sought medical treatment for a wrenched neck.

Middlebury isn’t every school, and only a small fraction of Middlebury students were involved. But we’d be foolish not to treat this as a wake-up call, because it’s of a piece with some of the extraordinary demands that students at other campuses have made, and it’s the fruit of a dangerous ideological conformity in too much of higher education.

It put me in mind of important remarks that the commentator Van Jones, a prominent Democrat, made just six days beforehand at the University of Chicago, where he upbraided students for insisting on being swaddled in Bubble Wrap.

“I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically,” he told them. “I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity.”

“You are creating a kind of liberalism that the minute it crosses the street into the real world is not just useless, but obnoxious and dangerous,” he added. “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back. Because that is what we need from you.”

The liberalism that Jones was bemoaning is really illiberalism, inasmuch as it issues repressive rules about what people should be able to say and hear. It’s part of what some angry voters in 2016 were reacting to and rebelling against. And colleges promote it by failing to summon a rich spectrum of voices.

“Certain things are not to be discussed,” said John McWhorter, a Columbia University professor who teaches linguistics and philosophy, speaking of a rigid political correctness that transcends college campuses but that he is especially disturbed to see there. Campuses are supposed to be realms of bold inquiry and fearless debate.

Reflecting on Middlebury, he told me, “Anybody whose approach to ideas that they don’t like is just to scream bloody murder has been failed in their education.” It hasn’t taught them that history is messy, society complicated and truth elusive.

Protests aren’t the problem, not in and of themselves. They’re vital, and so is work to end racism, sexism, homophobia and other bigotry. But much of the policing of imperfect language, silencing of dissent and shaming of dissenters runs counter to that goal, alienating the very onlookers who need illumination.

It’s an approach less practical than passionate, less strategic than cathartic, and partly for that reason, both McWhorter and the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt have likened it to a religion.

“When something becomes a religion, we don’t choose the actions that are most likely to solve the problem,” said Haidt, the author of the 2012 best seller “The Righteous Mind” and a professor at New York University. “We do the things that are the most ritually satisfying.”

He added that what he saw in footage of the confrontation at Middlebury “was a modern-day auto-da-fé: the celebration of a religious rite by burning the blasphemer.”

The protesters didn’t use Murray’s presence as an occasion to hone the most eloquent, irrefutable retort to him. They swarmed and swore.

McWhorter recalled that back when “The Bell Curve” was published, there was disagreement about whether journalists should give it currency by paying it heed. But he said that it was because they engaged the material in detail, rather than just branding it sacrilegious, that he learned enough to conclude on his own that its assertions were wrong — and why.

Both he and Haidt belong to Heterodox Academy, a group of hundreds of professors who, in joining, have pledged to support a diversity of viewpoints at colleges and universities. It was founded in 2015. It’s distressing that there was — and is — even a need for it.

But according to an essay in Bloomberg View last week by Stephen Carter, a professor of law at Yale, the impulse to squelch upsetting words with “odious behavior” is so common “that it’s tempting to greet it with a shrug.”

“The downshouters will go on behaving deplorably,” Carter wrote, “and reminding the rest of us that the true harbinger of an authoritarian future lives not in the White House but in the groves of academe.”

I wouldn’t go that far. But I worry that in too many instances, the groves of academe are better at pumping their denizens full of an easy, intoxicating fervor than at preparing them for constructive engagement in a society that won’t echo their convictions the way their campuses do.

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White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority

original article: The Exhaustion of American Liberalism
March 5, 2017 by SHELBY STEELE

The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos. Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”

For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.

Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks—Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.

This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.

This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.

Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.

This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.

Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.

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Democrats defend pathetic status quo in education in anti-choice fashion

original article: On Education, the Left Protects a Miserable Status Quo
March 1, 2017 by Walter E. Williams

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, “The president’s decision to ask Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education should offend every single American man, woman, and child who has benefitted from the public education system in this country.”

Expressing similar sentiments, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond said, “I expect that Mrs. DeVos will have an incredibly harmful impact on public education and on black communities nationwide.”

Those and many other criticisms of DeVos, the Department of Education secretary, could be dismissed as simply political posturing if we did not have an educational system that is mostly mediocre and is in advanced decay for most black students.

According to the Nation’s Report Card, only 37 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading in 2015, and just 25 percent were proficient in math.

For black students, achievement levels were a disgrace. Nationally, 17 percent of black students scored proficient in reading, and 7 percent scored proficient in math. In some cities, such as Detroit, black academic proficiency is worse; among eighth-graders, only 4 percent were proficient in math, and only 7 percent were proficient in reading.

The nation’s high school graduation rate rose again in the 2014-2015 school year, reaching a record high as more than 83 percent of students earned a diploma on time.

Educators see this as some kind of achievement and congratulate themselves. The tragedy is that high school graduation has little relevance to achievement.

In 2014-2015, graduation rates at District of Columbia Public Schools, just as they did nationally, climbed to an all-time high. At H.D. Woodson High School, 76 percent of students graduated on time; however, just 1 percent met math standards on national standardized tests linked to the Common Core academic standards. Just 4 percent met the reading standards.

The low black academic achievement is not restricted to high school graduates of D.C. schools. The average black high school graduate has the academic achievement level of a white seventh- or eighth-grader.

As such, it stands as unambiguous evidence that high schools confer diplomas attesting that students can read, write, and compute at a 12th-grade level when in fact they cannot. That means they have received fraudulent high school diplomas.

There are many factors that affect education that educators cannot control. But they have total control over the issuance of a diploma.

Educators often complain that there’s not enough money. Census Bureau data show that as early as 2009-2010, Washington, D.C., spent $29,409 per pupil.

Starker proof that there’s little relationship between spending and academic proficiency is in the case of Detroit’s public schools. In 2009-2010, the nation’s elementary and secondary public school systems spent an average of $10,615 per pupil. According to the Census Bureau, Detroit schools spent $12,801 per pupil. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy claims that Detroit actually spent $15,570 per pupil that year.

There’s not much payoff for education dollars. The National Institute for Literacy found that 47 percent of the city’s adults are “functionally illiterate.” The Nation’s Report Card reports that Detroit students score the lowest among the nation’s big-city schools, and Washington is not far behind.

I’d ask Schumer how it would be possible for DeVos to make education any worse than it is for many Americans. I’d suggest to Richmond that if the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan were the secretary of education and wanted to sabotage black academic achievement, he couldn’t find a better method for doing so than keeping our public school system as it is.

Many black politicians and educators would never have their own children attend the rotten, dangerous schools that are so much a part of our big cities. Many black parents, captured by these schools, would like to get their children out.

But that’s not in the interest of the education establishment, which wants a monopoly on education. Black politicians and academics are the establishment’s facilitators.

That explains their hostility to DeVos. She would like to give more parents a choice.

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Media personality accidentally admits the purpose of news is to control what people think

original article: Mika Brzezinski — The Media’s Job Is To ‘Actually Control Exactly What People Think’
February 22, 2017 by Christian Datoc

Mika Brzezinski criticized President Trump for undermining the media’s role in controlling “what people think” on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

The “Morning Joe” host explained to the panel that Trump’s behavior is “dangerous.”

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts,” she continued. “He could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think.”

“That is our job.”

watch the video

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A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

original article: A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
May 7, 2016 by Nicholas Kristof

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.

Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).

In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.

George Yancey, a sociology professor, says he has faced many problems in life because he is black, “but inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” CreditNancy Newberry for The New York Times

The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.

Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

A study published in The American Journal of Political Science underscored how powerful political bias can be. In an experiment, Democrats and Republicans were asked to choose a scholarship winner from among (fictitious) finalists, with the experiment tweaked so that applicants sometimes included the president of the Democratic or Republican club, while varying the credentials and race of each. Four-fifths of Democrats and Republicans alike chose a student of their own party to win a scholarship, and discrimination against people of the other party was much greater than discrimination based on race.

“I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a conservative professor is quoted as saying in “Passing on the Right,” a new book about right-wing faculty members by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. That’s a metaphor that conservative scholars often use, with talk of remaining in the closet early in one’s career and then “coming out” after receiving tenure.

This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege. A friend is studying for the Law School Admission Test, and the test preparation company she is using offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answer.

Some liberals think that right-wingers self-select away from academic paths in part because they are money-grubbers who prefer more lucrative professions. But that doesn’t explain why there are conservative math professors but not many right-wing anthropologists.

It’s also liberal poppycock that there aren’t smart conservatives or evangelicals. Richard Posner is a more-or-less conservative who is the most cited legal scholar of all time. With her experience and intellect, Condoleezza Rice would enhance any political science department. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and famed geneticist who has led the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health. And if you’re saying that conservatives may be tolerable, but evangelical Christians aren’t — well, are you really saying you would have discriminated against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Jonathan Haidt, a centrist social psychologist at New York University, cites data suggesting that the share of conservatives in academia has plunged, and he has started a website, Heterodox Academy, to champion ideological diversity on campuses.

“Universities are unlike other institutions in that they absolutely require that people challenge each other so that the truth can emerge from limited, biased, flawed individuals,” he says. “If they lose intellectual diversity, or if they develop norms of ‘safety’ that trump challenge, they die. And this is what has been happening since the 1990s.”

Should universities offer affirmative action for conservatives and evangelicals? I don’t think so, partly because surveys find that conservative scholars themselves oppose the idea. But it’s important to have a frank discussion on campuses about ideological diversity. To me, this seems a liberal blind spot.

Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z. So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.

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Higher ed’s prejudice problem

original article: Higher ed’s prejudice problem: Glenn Reynolds
February 27, 2017 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Higher education has a problem with prejudice. It’s not the usual racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia that colleges are always denouncing. It’s prejudice — sometimes expressed in an ugly and open fashion — against Republicans, conservatives and libertarians. And people are starting to notice.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told conservative students to keep talking, even if faculty and administrators insult them, or treat the expression of politically incorrect views as some sort of “threat.” Her advice: “Don’t shut up. Keep talking. Keep making your arguments. You can do so respectfully and with civility, but I think you need to do so with confidence.”

She’s certainly right that many campuses have pretty openly taken sides in American politics, marginalizing campus Trump supporters and treating Trump’s election more like a terrorist attack — with safe spaces, therapy dogs, and canceled exams — than like the exercise of democracy that it was. And even some professors are noticing the problem.

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, George Washington University professor Nikki Usher cautions her fellow academics not to ignore their Republican students.

Usher writes:  “I worry quite a bit for students who I know feel passionately about Republican politics. They, too, deserve to come to class feeling as though they are welcome to share their opinions, that what they have to say matters, and that the classroom is indeed a space for debate and conversation about differing viewpoints. . . . I fear that Republican students will not only self-censor in my course, but also feel even more marginalized on the college campus than they have in the past.”

She’s right to worry. At campuses across America, faculty and administrators act almost as if there are no Trump supporters at their institutions, when in fact, of course, there are plenty of them almost everywhere. They’re usually just, as Usher notes, afraid to speak out.

Maybe DeVos’s encouragement will change things. And, I suppose, that encouragement is an implicit promise that students who are punished or mistreated for expressing the “wrong” views can count on some backup from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. A little bit of that sort of attention can probably do a lot to change behavior at universities, which are hugely dependent on federal funding.

Meanwhile, some states are going much farther. Noticing that higher education has a huge political diversity problem — faculties and administrators are far to the left of America generally, and the problem has gotten much worse in recent years — at least two states are pushing legislation to require “partisan balance.”

Universities offer excuses for their leftward skew: Conservatives just aren’t that interested, or aren’t smart enough to be professors, or something. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle writes, these excuses aren’t very persuasive: “Politically, academia is about as unbalanced as Norman Bates. Attempts to justify it contain eerie echoes of a 1950s CEO explaining why blacks and women simply weren’t qualified to ever do anything more taxing than make coffee and sweep floors.”

McArdle also says — and I agree — that political or ideological hiring quotas are probably a bad idea. Quotas in general are a bad idea. We got them in the early days of racial integration because we didn’t trust schools to hire fairly. Will today’s academic administrators stand in the schoolhouse door to keep out Republicans?

But just because quotas are a bad idea doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, and academia should take it seriously. One argument for racial diversity has been that taxpayers won’t support a higher education system that doesn’t look like them. That’s an argument for ideological diversity, too. As McArdle writes: “The impregnability of the ivory tower is an illusion, because it depends more than ever on a steady flow of government money. If academia defines itself too explicitly as the enemy of the folks controlling that money, the spigot will turn, and the garden inside will rapidly begin to dry up.”

I hope that our higher education leaders will overcome their fear of people who don’t think like them. All of America will be better off if they do.

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Did the Obama admin discriminate for job positions based on race or religion?

original article: LEAKED: Obama Team Kept List of Muslims For Top Jobs, Excluded Non-Muslims
October 24, 2016 by Justin Caruso

The newest batch of John Podesta’s hacked emails released by Wikileaks shows Obama’s transition team kept lists of Muslim and Asian candidates for jobs in the administration.

According to an email chain from 2008, John Podesta received lists of exclusively Muslims and Asians to be considered for jobs in the Obama administration. The email chain revealed that in this process, Middle Eastern Christians were purposefully excluded, or set aside in a separate list, with an aide writing,

In the candidates for top jobs, I excluded those with some Arab American background but who are not Muslim (e.g., George Mitchell). Many Lebanese Americans, for example, are Christian. In the last list (of outside boards/commissions), most who are listed appear to be Muslim American, except that a handful (where noted) may be Arab American but of uncertain religion (esp. Christian).

Also notable, there was concern that some of the Muslims suggested would not survive media scrutiny, with one aide writing, “High-profile Muslim Americans tend to be the subject of a fair amount of blogger criticism, and so the individuals on this list would need to be ESPECIALLY carefully vetted.”

She continues, “I suspect some of the people I list would not survive such a vet — but I do personally know, at least in part, virtually all of the candidates in the 1st two categories (but I know very few of those listed for outside boards/commissions).”

Within the lists themselves, candidates were further broken down, with every candidate labeled by their nationality and sometimes race.

This follows a pattern of the Obama Administration using race and religion to determine hiring, with other leaked emails showing potential political appointees being labeled with an F for female, B for black, H for Hispanic, and M for Muslim.

Another Wikileaks release showed the Obama transition team keeping extensive lists of non-white candidates for administration posts.

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