Monday, October 31, 2005

Heresy Alert! Black Backs Run Better

From Denver Post columist Reggie Rivers:
Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry merely stated a fact, but his comments about black athletes were nonetheless controversial. Sometimes the truth hurts.

While discussing his team’s 48-10 loss to Texas Christian University last weekend, he said: “It’s very obvious that they had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to me to be that way, that Afro-American players can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me that they run extremely well.”

Anyone who watches Division I or NFL football knows that this is true. The fastest players on the field are almost always black. On the defense, which requires more athletic ability than offense, NFL rosters are almost entirely black. For example, John Lynch is the only white starter on the Denver defense, which means the Broncos have one more white defensive starter than most NFL franchises.
Then the question has to be: why is telling the truth so controversial? Rivers then goes on to explain why he thinks it is.
There are a couple of reasons. First, although it seems clear that DeBerry was not trying to insult the TCU players, making a comment about their natural athletic ability tends to discount their work ethic, discipline, teamwork, intellect and other characteristics.
This, of course, is nonsense. The simple fact is that any athlete playing at a top collegiate level has plenty of “work ethic, discipline, teamwork [and] intellect.” For every successful Division I college player and NFL player there are probably an easy half dozen with the same native ability, but not the other virtues necessary to really make it in a tough league. And this doubtless applies to both the white and the black players.

Given the record of DeBerry’s Air Force teams, there is no reason to doubt their “work ethic, discipline, teamwork [and] intellect.” The sensible view is that TCU had all these virtues, plus more raw athleticism.

Rivers goes on to claim:
Second, even though everyone in football knows that DeBerry is right about black players being generally faster that white players, talking about it in public rips the scab off of old racial wounds. Black people know that from slave days until now, they have been valued primarily for their athleticism.
This is pure tripe. Rivers’ argument seems to be that we need some sort of wacky intellectual affirmative action program such that, to make up for past sins, we pretend that blacks aren’t any great shakes athletically.

Why this unwillingness to frankly discuss race? The reason is simple enough. If people actually entertain the idea that blacks may be superior in terms of athletic ability, people might also entertain the notion that black people are inferior intellectually.

Somehow, if we shut up discussion of racial differences in physical endowment, that is supposed to prevent people from thinking there may be racial differences in intellectual endowment.

But of course it doesn’t.

Bill Bennett, for example was attacked (after his critics had to face the full context of his comments) for “associating race and crime.”

Of course he did that. He clearly implied that blacks are more likely to commit crimes than whites. And guess what? That’s absolutely true.

So who “associates race and crime?” Everybody. Literally every person in the country old enough to think about the issue. It’s often possible to shut up discussion, but it’s not possible to stop people from thinking about it.

Indeed, suppressing discussion of racial differences probably encourages racism. The notion of black racial inferiority becomes society’s dirty little secret, something that’s terribly dangerous and can’t be talked about. So it must be true. After all, if it were not true, people would not be so scared of it.

An intellectually honest approach would say, “yes, there are some racial differences, but there is no persuasive evidence that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites.”

An intellectually honest approach would say “yes, blacks are much more likely to commit crimes than whites, but if there is some sort of black ‘crime gene’ it can only account for the (minuscule) rate of crime among blacks in small towns in the 1950s and not for the level of crime among blacks in the central cities of Detroit and Newark in the 1970s.” Where crime rates vary radically among populations with the same genetic endowment, it must be environment, not genetics, that accounts for that difference.

Paul Campos observed, in the context of DeBerry’s statement:
Michael Kinsley once defined a “gaffe” as the act of a politician accidentally telling the truth. This definition applies to almost everyone when the subject is race in America.
Indeed. And until people refuse to apologize for telling the truth, honesty isn’t going to be the norm.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Racial Preferences At Marquette — and Elsewhere

On the History News Network, a discussion of Robert KC Johnson’s article titled “Marquette’s ‘Diversity’ Initiative.”
Inside Higher Ed this morning has a troubling article on a new “diversity” initiative launched at Marquette. Provost Madeline Wake has announced that no new hires will be approved unless one “diverse” candidate is in the final pool.

“I’m not looking for less qualified candidates, but I want a good faith effort to get people in the pool,” said Wake. But for all practical purposes, the policy will set up a two-track search process, one in which quality is subordinated to the applicant’s race or ethnicity.
Of course, these kinds of affirmative action preferences are common in academia.

Oscar Chamberlain posted the following message:
University of Wisconsin system used — and perhaps still uses — a variation on that system that strikes me as better.

There was no separate search; they simply went down the list for the first minority (however defined) who was qualified and put them in the final three.

In practice it actually went pretty well. Given the oversubscribed job market going to down the list a ways for one member of the pool generally did not reduce quality. And any such favored minority still had to compete with the other two people in the final pool. . . .
Jim Williams chimed in with a message about the SUNY system:
SUNY Geneseo’s provost required the History Department in our current search for a U.S. historian to eliminate any specializations so as to attract as diverse a pool of applicants as possible. This of course sacrifices the department’s need for breadth of coverage to the institution’s need for diverse faculty.

If we have an acceptable “diverse” applicant, we will probably have to interview that person/those people — but at the provost’s expense. The provost also has the right to choose the person to be hired from our ranked list of the top 5 applicants — or even from outside the list; if the provost doesn’t select our #1 or #2 candidate, she will be looking for a new History Department chair.
Robert KC Johnson replied:
Both the Geneseo and UW news is depressing-although, I suppose, not surprising.

To take the UW approach as described by Oscar, I can see where that would work fine for some topics in History. But what about, say, German history, or Medieval Europe, where it’s quite possible to imagine an applicant pool that’s nearly all-white. A minority candidate could be the best — but if there are only 3 or 4 minority applicants in a pool of 80, the top minority candidate could also be the 40th best. And so wouldn’t a subtle pressure exist in a UW-like situation not to craft lines that are not sure to yield a sufficient number of minority applicants?

And the Geneseo provost’s action is almost as bad — it seems to imply that diversity should be a more important goal than curricular or pedagogical integrity of a discipline.
John H. Lederer replied:
If racism consists of the belief that one’s skin color determines one’s character, ability, or professional competence, is there any large institution in the US that is as determinedly racist as higher education?
The answer is an obvious “no.” The reasons are a combination of liberal ideological hegemony and administrative careerism, but the fruits of the policy are as poisonous as was the old-style racism.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Death Penalty Debate

From Milwaukee Public Television’s 4th Street Forum, a debate on the death penalty, in which we are one of the debaters.

3:00 p.m. Sunday, October 30, on Channel 36.

Iraqi Election Cartoons

One of the things the Office of Homeland Security does best is editorial cartoons, and here is a dandy selection about the Iraqi election.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. and Harriet Miers: Actually a Good Week for Bush

The withdrawal of the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, and the indictment of Scooter Libby make this, superficially, a bad week for Bush.

But in fact appearances are misleading.

The Miers nomination was a hemorrhaging wound. But the bleeding has now been stanched. A huge blunder on Bush’s part, the longer the crippled nomination remained on the table, the more Bush would have seen his support ebb away.

Bush now seems poised to appoint a solid conservative who has strong legal credentials.

He may face a fight, but if so he will face a fight with his base intact, and if he wins the fight his status will be much enhanced.

The Libby indictment is likewise, in a sense, a relief. In the first place, it was a glancing blow. The left was hoping for Karl Rove to be indicted, and that didn’t happen. And the prosecutor didn’t even claim that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 was violated by anybody in the White House. That won’t stop the moonbat left from calling people in the White House “traitors,” but when they do so they will have no indictment to point to.

The media feeding frenzy surrounding the whole affair will die down, at least until the Libby trial commences, probably in nine to twelve months.

It could have been much worse. And now Bush has some time and space to recoup.

Another Evil Ism: Heightism

This is not a joke or parody site. They are serious.

If you are tired of being called “Shorty” or “Pee-Wee,” you might want to go to their “get active” page and become politically involved. If your nickname is “Shrimp,” you definitely do!

Indeed, in some jurisdictions you can sue if you think you have been discriminated against. The site informs its readers that:
The State of Michigan and Cities of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California have laws in place prohibiting height discrimination. The District of Columbia prohibits appearance-based discrimination.
We wonder whether the law in DC protects ugly people who want to be news anchors.

Media and Iraq: Suppressing the Good News

From the Media Research Center:

. . . how the broadcast networks downplayed a very successful Iraqi election that ratified the new constitution, a major step to a stable democracy in that nation:
An overwhelming 79 percent of Iraqis, who risked their lives just over a week ago to cast their ballot, voted in favor of the nation’s new constitution, but you’d have missed it if you sneezed during Tuesday’s CBS Evening News or ABC’s World News Tonight. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer delivered only this single sentence — “Iraq’s government announced today that voters did approve the country’s new constitution in this month’s referendum” — before moving on to a full story about the 2,000th death of U.S. servicemen in Iraq, a piece he could not resist introducing without adding this snide aside: “More than 90 percent of the 2,000 who died in the war have died since the President declared major combat was at an end in May 2003.”
One can always debate news judgment, but the 2,000 death “milestone” is an entirely contrived news “event.” The 2,000th death isn’t more significant than the 1,999th death, nor the 2,001st death.

But the overwhelming victory for a new constitution, in an election with higher turnout than U.S. presidential elections, is very important news indeed. The “news judgment” that passes lightly over the latter and obsesses over the former has to be affected by the ideological biases of the journalists.

It’s not that they, as they did in the Vietnam War, have decided that they want an American defeat. It’s that they naturally gravitate to stories that are bad news for President Bush.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Diversity Follies at Marquette

Early last week, Provost Madeline Wake released her official policy on “diversity.” It begins by lamenting that Marquette has a “current 10.6 percent diversity” which is “out of step with local and national demographics.”

The missive, right up front, admits that the spirit of quotas pervades this effort. The explicit assumption is that if X percent of the population is black, Marquette’s faculty should be X% black.

It also claims “our students miss out on the richness of a more diverse faculty. We will not increase faculty diversity if our hiring pools remain most white Americans [sic].”

It then continues:
Effective October 1, 2005, new full-time faculty hires will not be approved unless there is a diverse candidate in the pool. “Diversity candidates” is defined as different from White Americans and includes those from under-represented groups, such as, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans as well as foreign born individuals, such as those from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.
In short, no department at Marquette will be allowed to hire anybody unless there is “a diverse candidate in the pool.”

In an e-mail to us, Wake explained that the groups listed are just examples, and that (say) Asian Americans, and people from Western Europe and Latin America also count.

In an explicit admission that it won’t always be possible to have a “diverse candidate in the pool,” the memo adds:
In view of the difficulties of recruiting for some disciplines and the prohibition of requiring a candidate to disclose race or nationality, there is a process for rare exceptions. Dr. Keenan Grenell, Associate Provost for Diversity, will assist in seeking diverse candidates for any pool. If the search coordinator requests an exception to the directive, the request must be accompanied by letters from the dean and from Dr. Grenell attesting to the effort to develop a diverse pool and recommending the exception.
How will this play out in practice?

The “increase the pool” mandate is highly questionable. At least in Political Science, virtually all entry level jobs (and literally all at institutions of any standing) are advertised through a service run by the American Political Science Association. Anybody who is looking for a job will be watching those listings.

Of course, this varies by discipline. Peter Jones, Chair of the Math Department notes:
. . . we are actually hiring in Math Ed this year. It will be difficult, as the pool is small. Last year, the median number of applicants for all such positions was 16, I believe. There is no central clearing house in math ed, so “widening the pool” is not at all a waste of time. Any help that Dr Grenell can give us to identify qualified candidates will be valuable, since the pool is so small.
Of course, the fact that the pool is so sparse suggests a very high probability that it might contain no “diversity candidate” at all. In a narrow subfield, with only a few qualified candidates in the entire nation, Grenell is likely to find the same thing the Math Department found: black, Hispanic or otherwise “diverse” candidates are rare.

Trying to “Increase the Pool”

For one hire in the 1980s, the Political Science Department tried the “increase the pool” tactic, writing to predominantly black colleges that have Ph.D. programs in Political Science, and encouraging applications. Reading some of the candidates credentials, we felt sorry for the applicants. But we ended up making an offer to a black candidate who was getting a doctorate at the University of Michigan (one of the top programs in the country). He, however, accepted an offer from Washington University in St. Louis.

Which brings us to the most fundamental problem.

The inclusion of a “minority candidate” in the “pool” can, of course, often be achieved. In job searches that draw over a 100 applications (quite common, at least in Political Science) there will certainly be some “minority” candidates – especially when foreign nationals count.

But the question is: will there be one that is really competitive?

The reality of racial preferences (for which“diversity” is a euphemism) is that any blacks and Hispanics with decent credentials are very much in demand — and are in demand at schools that have more money and more prestige than Marquette. Thus, anybody who makes it to a “short list” or even to the interview stage is overwhelmingly likely to be overpriced and under qualified.

Consider, again, the field of political science. In the 2002 “placement class” (those looking for jobs in 2002) there were exactly 32 blacks (or 4% of the group). There were 729 whites (88% of the group). The rest were Hispanics, Asian Americans and American Indians. (Linda Lopez, “Placement Report: Political Science Ph.D.s and ABDs on the Job Market in 2001-2002,” PS, October 2003.)

Yet since blacks are about 12.3% of the population, Wake’s logic is that they ought to be 12.3% of all academics, and indeed 12.3% of all academics at Marquette.

Of course, Marquette might, via a Herculean effort, induce a large proportion of the available black Ph.D.s to come here, and actually fulfill the Wake quota. But this can only be done by luring those people away from other universities. In other words, we can become more diverse at the expense of making other schools less diverse.

Given this reality, might an overpriced and underqualified minority get hired anyway?

This is where the disingenuousness comes in. Marquette won’t admit that they want white Americans (especially white American males) discriminated against. After it was first issued, the Wake memo was modified to say that “We will continue to hire the most qualified candidate from the applicant pools. . .” Here is the first version that was sent out, and here is the second with the extra sentence.

But in fact they do want whites to be discriminated against. Wake’s constant carping about how we have “too few” minorities (based on some percentages) sends the unmistakable message: “hire a minority, and never mind if he or she isn’t as good as the white candidates.”

Of course, it’s not hard to increase the “diversity” numbers if you don’t care too much about quality. When Princeton hires a black faculty member who is about as well qualified as the average white Marquette hire, Marquette can hire a black faculty member who is about as well qualified as the average white hire at Lower Slobovian Junior College.

Of course, that person will have to live with the stigma that comes with being a “diversity” hire. We have found that even politically correct white liberal faculty view affirmative action hires with something little better than contempt. They will say the hire was “necessary” to promote “diversity” but they can’t seriously pretend that the person is a real professional peer. Minority faculty seem to sense this.

Of course, a black or Hispanic hire who is an affirmative action hustler richly deserves this stigma. But what if some very good minority candidate, perhaps for family reasons or because of Catholic beliefs, especially wants to be in Milwaukee and teach at Marquette? Suppose they really are as good as the average white hire and aren’t demanding special treatment. They will be very much the victim.

Is This Really About Diversity?

In spite of the pious rhetoric of the “diversity” crowd, this campaign really has nothing to do with real diversity. If it did, there would be an effort to hire more conservatives in most departments in most universities. In Marquette’s Political Science Department, for example, everybody who teaches International Relations or Comparative Politics is left of center – some moderately so, and some extremely so.

In places such as the English Department and the School of Education the ideology is uniformly left of center, in the latter case so much so as to be oppressive to conservative students.

Our sources tell us that there is one, and only one Republican in the Philosophy Department.

Given that slightly over half of Americans voted for George Bush in 2004, the most radically under represented group on college faculties is Republicans.

Of course, liberal academics will say that conservative Ph.Ds are hard to find. This is doubtless true, but qualified minority Ph.D.s are hard to find too. That is considered a problem to be overcome.

The truth is that the “diversity” crowd cares nothing about real intellectual diversity. They don’t see it as a problem if everybody in the Education School opposes school choice, or if the entire English faculty is feminist and analyzes every text they come across in terms of “patriarchy.”

At best, the “diversity” crowd simply wants to be politically correct and be able to say they have their quota of minority colleagues. At worst, they want to use “diversity” as an excuse to solidify the hold of the left in academic departments.

How Will it Work in Practice

This whole business could be relatively benign. In a search were there are 100+ candidates, and a typical “short list” (candidates who receive intense consideration) is eight candidates, why not just make the “short list” nine people, and add a “diversity” candidate — thereby fulfilling the requirement? Nobody has to take the “diversity” candidate very seriously beyond that point.

Of course, blacks and Hispanics are not only rare among people with Ph.D.s, they are unequally distributed across disciplines and across subfields within disciplines. And not all job searches get 100+ applicants. Thus in a lot of cases there might not be even one black or Hispanic. Marquette’s History department, for example faces this problem. According to Inside Higher Ed
For example, [History Chair James] Marten said that his department is currently conducting a search for a historian of Germany. That particularly field, he said, attracts “very, very few” minority scholars. “I’m very supportive of the policy, but we need to be realistic,” he said.
One “wild card” in all this is the inclusion of foreign academics. This might actually have something to do with real diversity. The truth is that the average black Ph.D. who grew up in the United States isn’t really very diverse. He or she likely will have virtually the same political views as white liberal and leftist professors, but will prate about being a victim of oppression and perhaps intimidate recalcitrant students more effectively than white leftists can. Foreign candidates, especially if they are from places like East Europe, are probably more likely to be conservative, pro-American and Christian than the average American Ph.D.

Another “wild card” is the issue of gender. Wake explained to the Academic Senate that, in departments in which women are “under represented,” a woman may qualify as the “diversity” candidate. As Wake put it in an e-mail to us: “I did say at Senate that gender will not be an automatic ‘diverse’ category, but that in departments in which there is a severe under-representation, a case may be made.”

The phrase “a case may be made” is a bit chilling, because it implies that for many, and probably most hires no department can just go about recruiting the best available candidates. Rather, there will be a constant hassle where the department has to placate Keenan Grenell with regard to the inclusion of a “diversity” candidate in the pool, negotiate with the Provost with regard to whether a woman qualifies as a “diverse” candidate, and just generally deal with a big distraction when they should be trying to hire the best person available.

How will departments react? According to Inside Higher Ed, Martin described what Marquette’s History Department did:
In another search, he said, the department was able to tweak the job description in a way that may attract more minority candidates. The job is for teaching U.S. foreign policy, which is another field in which there are relatively few minority candidates. Marten said that the department added immigration and ethnicity as areas on which the faculty member might teach (and he noted that “doubling up” on areas of teaching expertise is common).
In an e-mail to us, Martin explained that the word “tweak” was the reporter’s, not his. And he defended the changed line definition.
We had always hoped to combine a position with someone who could do immigration and ethnicity (we actually had someone teaching immigration history years ago); I merely meant that we took the opportunity of an open position in 20th century US — a position that will demand that the candidate be able to teach foreign policy — to suggest a second — or equal — field in immigration and ethnicity. . . . And it’s a quite traditional field in US history.

I do think — and this is what my comments were aiming at — that combining the foreign policy field with immigration/ethnicty will offer a chance to attract African American, Latino, or Asian American scholars working in immigration issues as they relate to foreign policy.
Martin, in other words, is arguing that it was possible to redefine the line to attract more minorities without sacrificing intellectual integrity.

His argument seems reasonable enough, but one wonders how often this will happen, and how often it will involve departments not hiring people to teach the courses they need taught, but rather offering the courses they need to offer to attract “diverse” job candidates.

Conclusion

At best, Wake’s “diversity initiative” will simply require departments to jump through the right bureaucratic hoops before they end up hiring the best candidate. Or, with the more liberal departments, discriminating against while males in the way they have been doing since long before Wake became Provost.

At worst, though, it risks distorting the whole hiring process.

This particular initiative, like such things as “assessment” and “strategic planning” projects an image of an administration out of touch with the core mission and Catholic identity of Marquette, running after every fad and fashion that afflicts academia. Jesuit higher education did not become great that way, and it’s a lot less great in recent years, for just this kind of reason.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Media Coverage Parodied on South Park

We’ve been blogging about the grossly irresponsible media coverage of New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as the media reported absurd figures about the number of deaths and portrayed the city as a hell-hole.

Now “South Park,” the vulgar, politically incorrect and frequently hilarious animated show has run a delicious parody of the media coverage.

Al Franken: Beat Up Conservatives

A promotional video from Amazon.com.

Al Franken, facing a self-described “right wing jerk” (doesn’t Franken believe that all conservatives are “right wing jerks”) kicks the man in the groin, breaks a stool over his back, and stands grinning as another liberal (from Wisconsin, supposedly) breaks a bottle over the man’s head.

The message shows about the same level of tolerance as the notion that wives who aren’t sufficiently submissive should be beaten by their husbands, or that gays need a good roughing up from straight guys.

Another dandy demonstration of liberal tolerance.

Harriet Miers Supported Liberal Judicial Activism

We have registered our unease with Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, based on her support for a feminist lecture series at Southern Methodist University, and on her judgment that a White House Christmas message was “too Christian.”

Now comes what should be the last straw. Via Sykes Writes: An article in the Washington Post detailing some speeches she made in the 1990s.
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that “self-determination” should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, “government should not act.”

In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women’s group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. “The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination,” she said. “And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense.”
She went further:
“The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion,” Miers said.

Those seeking to resolve such disputes would do well to remember that “we gave up” a long time ago on “legislating religion or morality,” she said. And “when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act.”
Such language shows a stunning willingness to accept liberal rhetoric. The notion that science can determine when life begins (or, at least, when it deserves legal protection) is naïve. And when liberals say that government should not “legislate morality” they mean that government should not legislate moral values that they happen to disagree with. When one outlaws racial discrimination one is “legislating morality,” and when one protects women from abusive husbands and boyfriends, one is doing the same thing.

When she explicitly turns to judicial activism, she is even worse. What she says, basically, is that legislators have only themselves to blame if they fail to do what liberal judges want, forcing the judges to step in and order their favored policies.
At the time, Texas was embroiled in an education funding dispute. The Texas Supreme Court had threatened to shut off most school funding if the legislature could not quickly devise a plan for fair funding. Some lawmakers pushed to remove school funding from the court’s jurisdiction.

But Miers blamed the legislators for what she called an “unacceptable” school funding plan and for ducking tough issues such as imposing a state income tax.

“My basic message here is that when you hear the courts blamed for activism or intrusion where they do not belong, stop and examine what the elected leadership has done to solve the problem at issue,” she said.

At a speech later that summer titled “Women and Courage,” Miers went further. Citing statistics that showed Texas’s relatively high poverty rates, Miers said the public should not blame judges when courts step in to solve such problems.

“Allowing conditions to exist so long and get so bad that resort to the courts is the only answer has not served our state well,” she said. “Politicians who would cry ‘The courts made me do it’ or ‘I did not do that — the courts did’ should not be tolerated.”
Her position, quite simply, is that courts are all-purpose problem solvers. If the politicians fail to “solve the problem,” the courts need to step in to do so.

To state the obvious, not everybody agrees about what is the “problem” (is the “problem” failure to tax enough for education, or is it failure to confront the teacher’s union?), and not everybody agrees that the liberal definition of a solution is the correct one.

If everybody agreed about the “problem” and the proper solution, legislatures would quickly pass the appropriate legislation.

And even if one thinks the liberal solution is the correct one, not everybody agrees that unelected judges should impose it on the citizenry.

But these are all issues that Harriet Miers doesn’t seem to have thought about. She has just accepted liberal shibboleths.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Liberal Media Pushed the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Idea

The hate-Bush crowd keeps repeating like a mantra that “Bush lied” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

When faced with the fact that lots of people, including especially the New York Times, fully accepted that Saddam had such weapons, they respond that the media were the victim of a brilliant campaign of disinformation from the Bush White House. But that notion has now been throughly debunked, and debunked by a liberal paper.

From the Washington Post, an article by Robert Kagan:
The Judith Miller-Valerie Plame-Scooter Libby imbroglio is being reduced to a simple narrative about the origins of the Iraq war. Miller, the story goes, was an anti-Saddam Hussein, weapons-of-mass-destruction-hunting zealot and was either an eager participant or an unwitting dupe in a campaign by Bush administration officials and Iraqi exiles to justify the invasion. The New York Times now characterizes the affair as “just one skirmish in the continuing battle over the Bush administration’s justification for the war in Iraq.” Miller may be “best known for her role in a series of Times articles in 2002 and 2003 that strongly suggested Saddam Hussein already had or was acquiring an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.” According to the Times’s critique, she credulously reported information passed on by “a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on ‘regime change’ in Iraq,” which was then “eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq.” Many critics outside the Times suggest that Miller’s eagerness to publish the Bush administration’s line was the primary reason Americans went to war. The Times itself is edging closer to this version of events.

There is a big problem with this simple narrative. It is that the Times, along with The Post and other news organizations, ran many alarming stories about Iraq’s weapons programs before the election of George W. Bush. A quick search through the Times archives before 2001 produces such headlines as “Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say” (November 1998), “U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan” (August 1998), “Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort” (February 2000), “Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration” (February 2000), “Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program” (July 2000). (A somewhat shorter list can be compiled from The Post’s archives, including a September 1998 headline: “Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported.”) The Times stories were written by Barbara Crossette, Tim Weiner and Steven Lee Myers; Miller shared a byline on one.
Kagan then piles on example after example of the mainstream media touting Saddam’s supposedly dangerous and extensive weapons programs, all in the years before Bush came to power. He concludes:
This was the consensus before Bush took office, before Scooter Libby assumed his post and before Judith Miller did most of the reporting for which she is now, uniquely, criticized. It was based on reporting by a large of number of journalists who in turn based their stories on the judgments of international intelligence analysts, Clinton officials and weapons inspectors. As we wage what the Times now calls “the continuing battle over the Bush administration’s justification for the war in Iraq,” we will have to grapple with the stubborn fact that the underlying rationale for the war was already in place when this administration arrived.
The “Bush lied” people are showing an almost pathological disregard for the truth. The best evidence that Bush believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction is the fact that virtually everybody believed that. Thus to believe that Bush lied we have to believe Bush had a level of brilliance that far exceeded the mainstream media, all the world’s intelligence agencies and virtually every American politician.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wanting More Dead American Soldiers in Iraq

From the Washington Post:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cindy Sheehan, the military mother who made her son’s death in Iraq a rallying point for the anti-war movement, plans to tie herself to the White House fence to protest the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq.

“I’m going to go to Washington, D.C. and I’m going to give a speech at the White House, and after I do, I’m going to tie myself to the fence and refuse to leave until they agree to bring our troops home,” Sheehan said in a telephone interview last week as the milestone approached.

[...]

The death toll among U.S. military forces since the March 2003 invasion stood at 1,996 on Sunday.

[...]

Beyond Sheehan’s plans, a candlelight vigil is planned at the White House to mourn the 2,000-death milestone. Hundreds of other demonstrations are scheduled for the day after the milestone number is reached.

[...]

The American Friends Service Committee was helping coordinate activists to protest the Iraq war.

“On the day after the 2,000th reported U.S. military death in Iraq, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to say that the countries pro-peace majority wants Congress to stop the deaths by stopping the dollars that are funding the war,” a coalition of anti-war groups said online at www.afsc.org.

“The clock has stopped ticking for 2,000 Americans in Iraq, and once again there is a media craze, another reason for people to pay closer attention to the human cost of a lie, but for how long this time?” said Camilo Mejia, an Iraq combat veteran who served a year in prison for refusing to return to the war in Iraq.
Yes, these folks are wanting more Americans to be killed, so that they can ramp up their demonstrations. Indeed, from their standpoint, but more American deaths the better. It would be dandy, in their view, if 3,000 deaths came soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Documentary: Health Care in Canada

Via the Badger Blog Alliance:

You may think that all documentary film makers are lefties, but that’s not true. Check out a short film about the failings of Canada’s system of socialized medicine.

“But,” you may be saying, “if leftist film makers can convey any impression they want by careful selection of material, can’t righty film makers do the same thing?”

Probably. But consider that the system is so bad that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that “. . . the public system fails to deliver reasonable services. . . .” And further, in Alberta, there are proposals to open the system up to private insurance companies.

Teaching Students to “Become Muslims”

From the Thomas More Law Center:
ANN ARBOR, MI — On Wednesday, October 19, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California, will hear oral arguments in Eklund v. Byron Union School District. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represents several parents and children who challenged the Byron Union School District’s practice of teaching twelve-year-old students “to become Muslims.”

For three weeks, impressionable twelve-year-old students were, among other things, placed into Islamic city groups, took Islamic names, wore identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Star and Crescent Moon, which is the symbol of Muslims, were handed materials that instructed them to “Remember Allah always so that you may prosper,” completed the Islamic Five Pillars of Faith, including fasting, and memorized and recited the “Bismillah” or “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls.

A federal district court judge in San Francisco had previously determined that the school district had not violated the constitution.

According to Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “There is a double-standard at play in this case. If the students had done similar activities in a class on Christianity, a constitutional violation would surely have been found.”
As in the case of an English school which has outlawed reading stories which mention pigs to Muslim children, we see nothing wrong with schools respecting religious sensibilities and teaching children about religion in a sympathetic way.

But the same policies that apply to Islam should apply to Christianity. And teaching appreciation of and respect for Christianity is especially needed in “blue state” America where hostility and intolerance prospers.

If anybody doubts that hostility and intolerance prospers they should check this animation, which was recently featured on the 1832 Blog, a Democratic student blog at Marquette.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Anti-Christian Democrats Plagiarize Nietzsche

Just yesterday, we noted that the Democratic blog 1832 linked to a liberal animated cartoon that ridiculed Jesus and his crucifixion.

Kevin Miller, Marquette graduate and Assistant Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, points out that this is merely a vulgarized rendering of Nietzsche.

We don’t think (and Miller probably doesn’t think) that the people who made the cartoon literally plagiarized Nietzsche. They aren’t that well educated.

It’s just that when people start hating Christianity — when they start obsessing on the idea “why can’t I do what I want and ignore religious teaching?” — they naturally start thinking like the German philosopher.

But, as Miller points out: “. . . as usual, the warmed-over appropriation isn’t nearly as good as Nietzsche himself.”

Spanish Court Tries to Have U.S. Soldiers Arrested

From Reuters via ABC News:
A Spanish High Court judge has issued international arrest warrants for three US soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish cameraman during the Iraq war.

The soldiers allegedly killed Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and seriously injured three Reuters staff when a shell was fired from their tank into the Palestine Hotel in April 2003.

High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz said an investigation had shown the soldiers could be responsible for murder and crimes against the international community.

But a US investigation has found the men were justified in opening fire.

Judge Pedraz says the warrants are “the only effective measure to ensure the accused are made available to Spanish judicial authorities” because US authorities have refused to cooperate.

He says American officials have not answered two court requests for help, which included offers to send a legal team to the US to take statements from the soldiers.

The charges carry jail sentences of 15 to 20 years and 10 to 15 years respectively.

US officials have said it is very unlikely their soldiers will be allowed to be questioned by a foreign court.

“I just cannot imagine how any US soldier can be subject to some kind of foreign proceeding for criminal liability when he is in a tank in a war zone as part of an international coalition,” a US State Department official, who asked not to be named, said in June.

The Palestine Hotel was the base for almost all foreign journalists in the city at the time.

It was shelled the day before US troops captured Baghdad.
This provides an obvious object lesson to people who wanted the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court. When America subjects its soldiers to the jurisdiction of foreign judges, the potential for mischief on the part of activist judges who are hostile to America and its interests is huge.

Even in Madison: Limits to Political Correctness

Hat tip to Mark Kapocius for this:

An editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal complains about how the school board, wanting to give a contract to a minority bus company, risked the safety of school children:
Political correctness is costing the Madison School Board dearly.

The School Board wanted so badly to award a contract to a small, local, minority-owned bus company last year that it rejected the advice of staff, who had painstakingly analyzed a handful of prospective vendors.

Instead of awarding bus contracts to the companies with the best overall proposals, the School Board directed staff to reconsider smaller companies — including minority-owned Mr. Mom’s — using narrower criteria.

In the process, School Board members downplayed safety and other concerns, which have come back to haunt them.
The editorial goes on to recite a long list of problems affecting this particular company, including “failing to check drivers for criminal records or drug use” and “operating a bus with brakes that failed while driving students on a field trip.”

Kapocius notes: “ostensibly, diversity and set-asides are okay when dealing with innocuous issues such as faculty hiring and admissions practices, but not when driving kids to school.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

1832 Blog: Ridiculing Jesus

The “Become a Republican” parody cartoon offered on the 1832 Blog actually starts out mildly amusing, as it suggests to newly converted Republicans “Stash Your Trash” (60s hippie artifacts) and “Build a Republi-Kit” (with stuff from Wal-Mart).

Then it turns turgid, just repeating the standard liberal cant about how conservatives are morally and culturally inferior.

But then soon enough it becomes utterly offensive, with a cartoon figure of Jesus on the cross saying:
“Hey, ha jerks! I’m dying for your sins here! The least you could do is put a bumper sticker on your car!

“Oh, and also please feel guilty for the rest of your life, or I’ll mess you up after you die.

“Seriously.”
Since the 2004 election, we’ve been treated to the spectacle of Democrats both demonizing Christians, and at the same time claiming that Christians are ignorant and misguided to flee the Democratic Party! Stuff like this isn’t going to attract any of them back.

U.K. School Bans Pig Stories: Might Offend Muslims

From the BBC, via the Lost Budgie Blog:
A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children.
The literature has been removed from classes for under-sevens at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley.

Head Barbara Harris said the books would remain in the school library for children to read.

Sixty per cent of the school’s pupils are of Pakistani or Indian origin and 99% of these pupils are Muslims.

School library

Mrs Harris said in a statement: “Recently I have been aware of an occasion where young Muslim children in class were read stories about pigs.

“We try to be sensitive to the fact that for Muslims talk of pigs is offensive.”

The head teacher sent a memo to staff saying fiction books containing stories about pigs should be removed from early years and key stage one classrooms.

Mrs Harris added: “The books remain in the school library and there is nothing to stop our younger children having stories such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ in small groups.”
We see nothing particularly wrong with respecting the cultural sensitivities of Muslims, but why not be equally respectful of the views of conservative Christians?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Democrats: Republicans Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is a bit disturbed about ethics charges levelled by Democrats against Republicans. He points out a rather obvious fact: none of them have been proved.
There are times when I sorely miss boilerplate — those entirely predictable statements made by politicians that often begin with the word “frankly,” then proceed to the phrase “I don’t think the American people want,” and conclude with a thundering banality that a drowsy dog could see coming. That was especially the case last week when I started reading what Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, had to say about Tom DeLay, her Republican opposite. I fully expected boilerplate, something about innocent until proved guilty. But Pelosi crossed me up. DeLay, as it turned out, was guilty until proved innocent.

“The criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom DeLay is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people,” Pelosi said — apparently forgetting to add the boilerplate about the American system of justice. If she had those thoughts, they’re not on her Web site and not mentioned anywhere. Instead, the reference to a Republican “culture of corruption” shows that when it comes to a punctilious regard for the legal process, in this instance the Democrats ain’t got no culture at all.

Canada: Letting Convicts Vote by Judicial Fiat

We recently blogged about the fact that activist judges on the European Court of Human Rights have ruled that convicts can vote.

A Canadian friend of ours informs us that this is true in Canada too. In Canada, as in the European Union, this came about by judicial fiat.

There is a huge irony here. The United States pioneered judicial activism. Until the last decade or two one could say that courts in other democracies played a more restrained role, deferring to the elected branches of government.

But the ethos of judicial activism really is more suited to Europe and Canada than the U.S. America has a more democratic, populist and egalitarian political culture, and the excesses of the Supreme Court have met a lot of resistence here — although few if any have been reversed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Diversity Ingrates

From Inside Higher Ed:

. . . an article on a book titled Exposing the “Culture of Arrogance” in the Academy: A Blueprint for Increasing Black Faculty Satisfaction in Higher Education.
The book is based on surveys of and interviews with black faculty members and the experiences of the two authors: Gail L. Thompson, an associate professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, and Angela C. Louque, a professor of education at California State University at San Bernardino.
Inside Higher Ed goes on to interview Thompson:
Q: Can you define the “culture of arrogance” in the title of your book?

A: In the book, we describe the “culture of arrogance” as a mindset that is based on four beliefs: (1) whites are smarter than blacks; (2) blacks do not have the aptitude to do outstanding work; (3) whites know what’s best for black students; and (4) the research of black scholars is inferior to the work of whites. As we state in the book, this mindset, which “is based on negative beliefs that equate African Americans and black culture with pathology and inferiority is rooted in racism and deficit theories,” has “created a culture of arrogance in American society, especially among educators.”

[...]

Q: How pervasive is racism in academe today?

A: Eighty-four percent of the questionnaire respondents in our study said that cultural insensitivity is common at their institution and 84 percent said that racism is common. Seventy percent had experienced racism from one or more colleagues, 51 percent had experienced racism from an immediate supervisor, 57 percent had experienced racism from other administrators on campus, and 74 percent had experienced it from students. Nearly 70 percent said the racial climate at work affected their job satisfaction, and nearly 70 percent said it had caused stress for them.
Given that college faculty members are overwhelmingly liberal, voted for John Kerry and (in most institutions) a majority probably favor affirmative action quotas and preferences, why are they being described as Klansmen or some such?

Indeed, many (if not most) of black faculty in the survey were the beneficiaries of affirmative action preferences. Why aren’t they grateful to their white liberal and leftist patrons?

We, of course, have several theories about this.

1. Maybe they don’t know how their own rhetoric plays to people who aren’t politically correct — which includes most students and a considerable number of faculty. For example, what about “negative beliefs that equate African Americans and black culture with pathology?” In reality, your standard victim studies course in academia (of the sort that Education majors at Marquette have to take) equates black people with pathology. Of course, one is supposed to take a liberal view of the pathology. One is supposed to infer from the large number of black males in prison that the criminal justice system is racist. One is supposed to infer from the large number of black students who drop out of high school that we need to pour more billions of dollars into the system of public education. One is supposed to infer from the amount of black poverty that there need to be more affirmative action preferences.

But students and some faculty may not draw the desired inferences. They may accept the equation of blackness with pathology, but not see that as requiring the standard liberal policy agenda. If this is so, what we have here is black faculty — hired by liberal and leftist whites precisely to talk about pathology in the black community — facing the fact that the indoctrination doesn’t work the way they (or their white patrons) would prefer.

2. Next we have the “grievance collectors” theory. Perhaps blacks in academia are socialized to be grievance collectors, keen to find examples of racism, discrimination or even mere “insensitivity.” They are supposed to be finding these things in white society at large, in the media and among their students (especially Republican students). But perhaps they can’t switch grievance collection mode off. Perhaps they turn it on their white liberal and leftist colleagues, and the administrations of the universities where they work.

There is, of course, poetic justice here, since it’s white professors who played a large part in socializing black faculty to be grievance collectors, and who created the demand for grievance collectors in places like “diversity” courses.

3. Finally, we have the possibility that black faculty really are being treated shabbily. Consider, for example, the claim that white faculty believe that “blacks do not have the aptitude to do outstanding work,” or “the research of black scholars is inferior to the work of whites.” When black faculty have been hired on the basis of affirmative action preferences, and hired not because they are doing cutting edge research but to teach victim studies courses or add “diversity” to the faculty, it’s all too easy for other professors to be condescending, good intentions notwithstanding.

Are black faculty victims here? Yes, but several layers of ideology prevent many (and maybe most) understanding the real nature of the victimization. And their willingness to play the race card when convenient leaves us without much sympathy.

Foreign Born Faculty: Danger to “Diversity?”

It’s interesting that Provost Madeline Wake’s new policy on hiring includes foreign born persons (even the dreaded evil European white males) as “diversity” job candidates. The politically correct diversity crowd doesn’t agree.

From Inside Higher Ed, some observations from a bunch of diversity hustlers who got to gether for a meeting in New York. The article quoted one JoAnn Moody, described as a “diversity consultant,” as follows:
Moody added that having faculty members from many different nations is not always a safe road to more diversity. “Immigrant professors ... often figure, ‘I came here without even the language,’” Moody said, explaining why some faculty members on search committees play down the educational benefits of diversity.
Translation: having overcome substantial (sometimes massive) disadvantages to make it to the U.S. and into higher education, they are not cowed by the claim that they are somehow privileged and need to adopt a submissive attitude toward the claims of more fashionable minorities.

Provost Wake’s Missive on “Diversity”

The following is from Madeline Wake, the Provost of Marquette outlining her “diversity” policy.
Directive on Faculty Hiring


Our current 10.6 percent diversity among full-time faculty is out of step with local and national demographics. Also, our students miss out on the richness of a more diverse faculty. We will not increase faculty diversity if our hiring pools remain most white Americans.

As announced at the September 18th Deans Council meeting, a faculty diversity promotion directive will be in place for faculty hired during this academic year. Effective October 1, 2005, new full-time faculty hires will not be approved unless there is a diverse candidate in the pool. “Diversity candidates” is defined as different from White Americans and includes those from under-represented groups, such as, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans as well as foreign born individuals, such as those from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Formal offers and contracts require my approval through Suzanne Abler.

In view of the difficulties of recruiting for some disciplines and the prohibition of requiring a candidate to disclose race or nationality, there is a process for rare exceptions. Dr. Keenan Grenell, Associate Provost for Diversity, will assist in seeking diverse candidates for any pool. If the search coordinator requests an exception to the directive, the request must be accompanied by letters from the dean and from Dr. Grenell attesting to the effort to develop a diverse pool and recommending the exception.

Please contact me if you have any questions.
We’ll have a more complete analysis of this soon, but a few things are to be noted:
  • It’s not defined here whether the pool is everybody who applies, or a “short list” of people who get intense consideration, or those interviewed. But Wake told Inside Higher Ed (in the words of the reporter) “in a department that receives hundreds of applications and then interviews a dozen to pick a few finalists, she said that she would want to see a minority candidate in the dozen. . . .”
  • The real “wild card” here is the inclusion of foreign born candidates who may not be members of any politically correct victim group. Keenan Grenell actually told the Marquette Tribune that those folks don’t really count.
  • It’s clear that departments are expected to discriminate against white American candidates if necessary to get a “diversity candidate” on the list.
  • No thought or analysis has gone into the claim that 10.6% “diversity” is too low. The assumption appears to be that minorities should constitute the same percentage of university faculty as they do the population, notwithstanding that they may be more likely to drop out of high school and never go to college, or to go into (say) business or government rather than into academia.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Columbia Journalism Review: Media Bias Charges Just a Conservative Fantasy

The Columbia Journalism Review is the house journal of the mainstream media. Their job, of course, it go be a “watchdog” over the media, reporting on incompetence and abuses.

In reality, they virtually never criticize the media from the right, but only from the left. They will, for example, criticize the burgeoning religious media, or attack newspapers for not having enough female op-ed columnists. But confessions of liberal bias are few and far between.

One example of this, chosen almost at random from CJRDaily (the magazine’s blog) is a review of a book by Craig Crawford titled Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn you Against the Media. Crawford, as the title suggests, seems to believe that any time the media attacks a politician the attack must be well founded, and that when the politician charges bias that is a sinister tactic that has the effect of lowering peoples’ confidence in the press.

And lowering peoples’ confidence in the press, Crawford believes, is an evil thing.

But Paul McLeary, reviewing the book, on CJRDaily faults Crawford for not being partisan enough:
Crawford uses examples from both the Clinton and the Bush presidencies to bolster his case -- but without the partisan media itself shilling for these politicians, the pols wouldn’t have so easily succeeded in saddling the media with the stigma of bias. Consider Tom DeLay’s recent charge that the scandals that have followed him these past months are "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me." Where do you think he got that? Without years of conservative pundits hammering home the idea that the press is carrying out a liberal agenda, the charge likely wouldn’t have even surfaced.

In other words, a Limbaugh creates the argument, and a DeLay comes along to exploit it.
That’s right. This fellow believes that nobody could possibly see liberal bias in the media unless Rush Limbaugh told them it is there.
Which brings us to another failing in Crawford’s epistle. He never defines his terms in a way that would allow the reader to distinguish just which politicians are most adept at playing the bias game. Truth be told — and Crawford undoubtedly knows this full well — it is primarily conservative politicians who wield the media bias cudgel, though he seems loathe to ever admit as much.
In other words, if criticisms of media bias come primarily from conservatives, that’s not because the media are biased against conservatives, that’s because conservatives are evil and engaged in an insidious plot to discredit the media.

In fact, when McLeary makes such arguments, he is showing a liberal bias. He is, in fact, criticizing Crawford for being even handed!

McLeary has shown the obtuseness and arrogance of the mainstream media better than Rush Limbaugh ever could. Those folks are so immersed in their own little parochial world that they can’t see their own biases, and can only demonize those who criticize them.

Jessica McBride: Former Journal-Sentinel Reporter Vilified at the Paper

Jessica McBride used to be a reporter on the Journal-Sentinel, in spite of being a conservative. Her politics weren’t known among her colleagues at the paper, and indeed were largely irrelevant, since she functioned in a professional way as a journalist.

But she quit the paper to teach, and then recently started her own blog. When she started criticizing the paper on her blog, her former colleagues freaked. She recounts what has happened:
  • Friends of mine at the paper are being asked by co-workers how they can still be my friend when I am expressing such conservative views, and when I dare to be friends with Charlie Sykes, their Prince of Darkness. And there is no liberal media, right?
  • I often receive emails from reporters, who expose their liberal views by attacking conservative postings.
  • Editors are going to other editors to complain about my blog. What are they going to do? Send me to the copy desk? I don’t work there anymore, remember?
  • Twice in the three months since I started my blog, reporters with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have filed, or have threatened to file, open records requests against me at work.
  • It’s demanded that I apologize. For what?
McBride doesn’t claim there is an intentional liberal bias, but rather states:
I believe the bias that exists springs from the well of a reporter’s own philosophical beliefs. Bias derives from the things a reporter sees as norms. Often, liberal principles are believed to be the “correct and human norm” and thus they emerge as the norm in news coverage. I believe a lot of reporters are liberal. I know this because I know them and I’ve heard things they’ve said or they emailed me since I had the blog. So inmates’ rights get covered more than cops’ rights — and things like that. And some politicians are always given the benefit of the doubt because they are good people with a moral compass and others are always called to task.
Not only does the paper, in classic “mainstream media” form, fail to see its own biases, the people there are extremely hostile to any criticism. They seem to believe they are some sort of secular priesthood, free to criticize others, but immune to criticism themselves. According to McBride:
I don’t understand why an organization that is so quick to turn a microscope on others freaks out so much when a microscope is turned on it.

[...]

Reporters have the thinnest skins of anyone I have ever met. This is hardly unique to Milwaukee. . . . Some of it is arrogance. They are not used to people having any mechanism to answer back. With the blogosphere and talk radio, that media paradigm has cracked. No, it’s long gone.
When Luther criticized corruption in the Catholic Church, and started the Reformation, the Catholic Church was able to respond with a Counter Reformation — a period of revival and renewal. Indeed, the reform movement began even before Luther (who was hardly the only person to see corruption in the Church). Had there been no Counter Reformation, it’s quite an open question whether the Roman Church would exist today.

Is the mainstream media capable of a Counter Reformation? At the moment, it seems more inclined to burn heretics at the stake. McBride observes:
Why do I think they would not be shocked if I had started a liberal blog that blasted Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling? . . . I have conservative beliefs. Why that would make people not be my friend is beyond me. I have never faced more intolerance than I’ve faced from the left. It’s disappointing.
Will there indeed be a mainstream media in 30 years? At the moment, it looks doubtful that they have the ability to reform themselves.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Harriet Miers: Christmas Message “Too Christian”

From Lakeshore Laments:

. . . a report from John Fund in yesterday’s OpinionJournal Political Diary.
In 2001, Ms. Miers held the post of White House staff secretary, the person who sees every piece of paper before it goes to the president. Her exacting standards for punctuation and format often drove presidential aides crazy, with some calling her “the school marm” behind her back. But Ned Ryun, a writer in the presidential correspondence shop, had a different run-in with Ms. Miers.

After he had prepared the text of the annual White House Christmas message, as he tells the story, the director of correspondence and the deputy director edited and approved the message. Then it was sent to Ms. Miers for final vetting. She promptly e-mailed Mr. Ryun demanding changes, telling him the message might offend people of other faiths because it had too much of a Christian orientation. Mr. Ryun, son of Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun, prides himself on having good political antennae. He didn’t think the message at all offensive. The correspondence staff backed him up. Mr. Ryun also consulted Ken Mehlman, then the White House’s political director (and now Republican National Committee chairman). Mr. Mehlman, who is Jewish, saw nothing wrong. But Ms. Miers insisted the message be changed. Mr. Ryun refused and the assignment was eventually taken out of his hands.

“Miers purposefully sought to dilute the Christianity of the message, thus revealing to me at least a willingness to compromise unnecessarily without outside pressure,” says Mr. Ryun. Apart from Christmas cards, Mr. Ryun wonders why “no one know really knows what a 60-year-old person, who has been in the public eye for some time, really believes?”
As we have already observed, the problem is not that Miers is actually a closet liberal (although we don’t know she’s not). It’s that she simply doesn’t look like the kind of conservative who is willing to take tough stands that the media, the law school professors and the Georgetown cocktail circuit won’t like.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Michael McCanles: Former Marquette English Professor Now Blogger

We never knew Michael McCanles very well when he was teaching in Marquette’s English Department. We sat on one committee with him, and had another short exchange or two.

Since his retirement in 2001, he has gotten quite active on the Internet, posting on several blogs, particularly one called Belmont Club.

McCanles isn’t at all impressed with academics. Indeed, he views them (or at least the politically correct among them) with considerable contempt. And he has the gift of invective that an English professor ought to have.

For example, in a post dealing with the fact that the Marquette administration shut down a College Republican fundraiser for American snipers in combat in Iraq and Afganistan, he observes:
I taught at Marquette between 1964 and 2001 (English Dept. among all the obnoxious academic feminists), at which point I retired. It’s not a place that’s used to dealing with the kind of fast-burn fuse that the student Republican org lit under it.

[...]

What I detect among the student Republicans was a kind of political theater aimed precisely at the AgitProp result they got. Its origin is more probably the Republican orgs on other campuses in the U.S. where they sold cookies at different prices to people of different skin colors: lower prices to minorities, higher prices to white males, all in the interest of demostrating the discrimination manifest in anti-discrimination entrance and hiring practices on U. S. campuses as mandated by federal anti-discrimination regs. As in those cases, likewise, they generated some very outraged and in a few examples violent responses.

What this incident produced was an outing of the fundamentally anti-war attitude of a campuse like Marquette, which has been going — quite belatedly — more “liberal” in the past decade. Witness the fact that at the opening of a major library addition they had as a main speaker Martin Sheen, who plays the American President on the liberal-slanted TV series “The West Wing.” Mr. Sheen, who is just another liberal activist Hollywood actor, delivered a speech that criticized the Bush administration’s foreign policy in the middle-east.

Actors who shill for the Democratic party, yes; arrogant American soldiers who actually shoot to kill decapitators, no.
If he’s unimpressed with the current Marquette Administration, he’s equally unimpressed with academics who hate George Bush:
After having spent nearly a half-century in the academic biz (English literary studies, where the academic feminists first hatched) I have a quicky on the subject of why academics hate G. Bush. Academics can be vain, arrogant, narcissistic, and infantile beyond belief. What particularly annoys them is when someone whom they view as stupid, ignorant, inferior gets the start of them and succeeds. Whether this happens when someone else publishes a higly-praised piece of scholarship, or gets elected to the U. S. Presidency while still being a Republican from Texas who cuts brush for a pastime: they are a darkly envious lot, full of spleen and anger. They hate Geo. Bush because he’s Geo. Bush and also has All That Power. You’d hate him too if your whole sense of personal worth was bound up in the notion that intellectual prowess is what makes you superior to everyone else.
Touché!

Finally, his trenchant critique of the “social justice” crowd — at Marquette and elsewhere:
As I suggested in a comment earlier on one of the Ward Churchill posts, utopian visions of social justice for the masses have never been the real goal of marxist-inspired revolution. Saying such is merely cover (and as cover tells something about what these people tacitly know about themselves, else why the cover?) for hatred directed at others motivated by envy.

Redistribution likewise is not the goal, but striking at those who “have” is. Max Scheler in his book “Ressentiment,” and the early 20th-century anthropologist Svend Ranulf in his studies of “moral indignation” and its relation to envy say essentially the same thing from their different perspectives: commitment to social justice has precious little to do with social justice and much to do with malice, envy, spite, and revenge.

You have to have lived day-to-day for the last quarter of the 20th century in academe with all the “do-gooders” — marxoid as well as feminist (little difference) — to get a feel for the fundamentally infantile rage that drives them. “Power,” which is their obsession doesn’t in fact mean “strength,” “control,” “discipline” but simply sadism. This is why they abuse their students in the classroom where they have a bully’s control over them.

The frightening thing here is how many there are of them: academe is simply crawling with them in the social sciences and humanities departments, showing that the universities and colleges, run now by “administrators” who have no professional intellectual commitments of any sort, have made themselves havens for just this sort of people. Because the administrators must perforce take the recommendations of these types already ensconced in these departments, and because they have no intellectual knowledge or insight whatsoever, the hiring of Ward Churchills is absolutely inevitable.
This, folks, is polemic the way polemic ought to be done.

More Evidence of Bad Reporting from New Orleans

Here is yet another thing the media hyped during the vastly overwrought coverage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The media were claiming that the flood waters in the streets of the city were a lethal toxic stew. The scientific reality is now clear.
The floodwaters that inundated New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina were similar in content to the city’s normal storm water and were not as toxic as previously thought, according to a study by researchers at Louisiana State University. Their study, the first peer-reviewed scientific assessment of the water quality of the Katrina floodwaters, is good news for those who’ve been exposed directly to the floodwaters, the scientists say.

[...]

“What we had in New Orleans was basically a year’s worth of storm water flowing through the city in only a few days,” says study leader John Pardue, Ph.D., an environmental engineer and director of the Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute at LSU in Baton Rouge. “We still don’t think the floodwaters were safe, but it could have been a lot worse. It was not the chemical catastrophe some had expected.”

Thursday, October 13, 2005

William Bennett: The Right Strategy for Dealing With Charges of Racism

William Bennett is refusing to apologize for or retreat from his controversial comments about how, if you wanted to reduce crime (and that was all you cared about) aborting black babies would be a good way to do it. The media and Democratic politicians, who were either ignorant of the context of the statement or who willfully chose to ignore it, went ballistic. When corrected on the context, they retreated to the claim that Bennett had “linked race and politics,” which is somehow not supposed to be done, regardless of the reality on the ground in the inner city.

In a speech delivered October 8 in Bakersfield, California, Bennett said:
I am called upon to answer charges that should never have come up in the first place. But such are the times in which we live, and sometimes their level of dialogue.

I have been slandered, defamed, misrepresented and libeled. I will not stand for it. I will not go away, or go meekly and quietly into that good night. Nor will I withdraw from the discussion. My entire career has been one of taking on serious issues, I have taken brickbats for that. I will continue to. Those who do not engage in serious conversations about serious matters can lob their shots at me. I can take them.

[...]

Could I have said it better? Maybe. But my position, one of moral condemnation, could not have been clearer. “Morally reprehensible” are the words I used immediately, in the same breath and thought as this ugly hypothetical. What do my critics not understand about the meaning of the words “morally reprehensible”? Do they think it means approval?

[...]

My critics have told me to shut up about race, crime, abortion, and black America – that I cannot go there. But that’s impossible. I have been there for forty years, and I am not leaving now.
This is precisely how one should deal with reckless charges of “racism” from liberals. Running for cover gives the race hustlers on the left a huge tactical advantage.

The reason the left doesn’t want race discussed openly and honestly is that, deep down, they know they would lose. People would refuse to accept that white people are somehow to blame for black crime. People would ask why there are still social problems in the face of 40 years of massive social welfare spending. People would question the fairness of affirmative action preferences and quotas.

It’s probably also the case that Republicans in places like academia and the Washington community have no idea how badly charges of racism play in the broader American polity. The average American knows he or she isn’t racist and that few Americans are, and immediately associates with word “racism” with sleazy race hustlers.

Thus, when faced with irresponsible charges of racism such as those made by Brent Bray against the Marquette College Republicans, the proper response is not to cower and retreat, it’s to loudly say that such charges are out of bounds, are typical of people with a corrupt agenda, and that issues that embarrass the left most certainly will be discussed.

Tolerant Diversity Advocates

When a University of Illinois alumnus wrote to us with his thoughts on the school’s stance toward its Indian mascot (Chief Illinwek) we wrote him to ask whether we should use his name when we posted his letter. We got the following response:
You can post the narrative, but I don’t want my name used. The Anti-Chief crowd has been known to be a bit violent. A few years back, many merchants in our Campustown decorated their windows for Homecoming (much like a high school in a small town, with tempra paint on windows and that sort of thing). All of the stores who dared to have a representation of Chief Illinwek had their windows broken on Friday night/Saturday morning before the football game.

That’s the mentality of the people who don’t like Chief. No, I don’t want my name out there in any form. I wish it was different.
Yes, it’s the tolerance crowd. The believers in diversity.

University of Illinois: Brave on the Mascot Issue?

In a post on the silly vendetta that the NCAA has agains Indian mascots, we stated that “the administration at Illinois has been much more willing to stand up the the politically correct crowd than the Marquette administration.” That drew a response from an alumnus of the University of Illinois who isn’t at all impressed with his school’s administration.
As an alumnus of the University of Illinois and an unabashed Chief Illiniwek supporter, allow me to give a differing opinion. Our Board of Trustees has been spineless in the face of any attack on Chief. Our Adminstration building was literally occupied by an anti-Chief group (yes, think 1960’s occupation) and our former Chancellor (Dr. Nancy Cantor, currently at Syracuse) did nothing to sanction these people. A lot of time has passed since the NCAA came out with their ruling, yet we have heard virtually nothing from the board-however, the did adopt a resolution stating that Chief’s appearances must be balanced against providing our teams an opportunity to “compete at the highest level.” This resolution leads many to believe that the Board may abandon Chief as he will prevent women’s basketball team (among others) from hosting NCAA events. Interestingly, no information was ever given about the sponsor of the resolution nor who seconded the motion. Our board’s most recent appointee (by Governor Rod Blagovich) was a woman who’s entire experience in education seems to be as a developer of “The Diversity Game.” The majority leader of the Illinois State Senate, Emil Jones, has publicly called for a review of the University’s budget if they do not discontinue use of Chief Illiniwek. All of this leads me to believe that our administration is merely looking for a convenient excuse to drop Chief and blame others in an attempt to avoid public backlash.

While I am not a lawyer, I agree that a lawsuit would seem like a slam dunk. IMHO, the NCAA cannot find Chief Illiniwek “hostile and abusive” yet grant a pass to Chief Osceola of Florida State (who uses a flaming spear). To the general public, no difference can be discerned. And this does not even consider the Aztec symbol of San Diego State University, who was not sanctioned as the Aztecs are not originally from the United States. But I don’t believe the Illinois administration has the gumption to file a lawsuit. Our hopes for judicial relief mostly rest with the people of Florida and North Dakota.
In our own defense, we didn’t say the University of Illinois was a model of bravery in standing up to the politically correct crowd. We only said it was better than Marquette. Faint praise for Illinois.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sexually Obsessed in Madison

From a column by Rachel Eliasek in the Mendota Beacon, the alternative campus paper at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Sex, much like television, is no longer a part of our culture. It has become our culture. The half-naked dancers in music videos, Abercrombie’s “magalog” displaying everything but clothing, random volunteers handing out free condoms, and the girl I saw walking to class with an “I Love Vaginas” pin.

To further submerge our generation in a pool of sex-obsession, we have wonderful campus programs like Sex Out Loud. Two of Sex Out Loud’s exciting programs include the “Pleasure Program” which discusses “sexual anatomy, communication, sex toys, and pleasing yourself and your partner(s)”, and the brand new “Advanced Pleasure Program” which “[delves] deeper into the world of sexuality, such as porn, erotica, S&M, role-playing, and stirring up sexual imagination.”

And guess what? You’re paying for it! Just a small chunk of change (cough),$57,000, of our student fees go towards this program per year. Recently, Sex Out Loud proposed an increased annual budget in the neighborhood of $70,000. It is absurd that such a large amount of our money is being spent educating college students about “porn, erotica and S&M.” This huge amount of money could be spent elsewhere. If the money must stay with Sex Out Loud, how about more money towards relationships and responsible sex if the organization is so concerned about that? It is not the students’ monetary obligation to teach peers how to get kinky in the bedroom.
Note the “(s)” at the end of “partner.” Apparently not only is chastity considered a hopelessly archaic concept by these folks, so is monogamy!

But one would think that learning to have sexual pleasure is something that people would cheerfully spend their own money on – without asking handouts from fees which are really a tax on students.

Indeed, is it really necessary to have training on “sexual anatomy, communication, and pleasing yourself and your partner?” OK, if you want to throw in “sex toys” and multiple partners, doesn’t the same question hold? Don’t some things come naturally? Even for kinky people?

Is “stirring up sexual imagination” something that Madison students can’t achieve without an expensive training session?

By the way, the money allocated for these events came from the same committee that refused to fund student activities sponsored by the UW Roman Catholic Foundation.

The New Greatest Generation

Via Sykes writes:

The generation that fought World War II has been dubbed “The Greatest Generation” (a term popularized in a book with that title authored by Tom Brokaw).

But is the generation of Americans now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in any way inferior to the one that beat Fascism, Nazism and Japanese militarism?

The cool-headed historical assessment has be “no, American troops are as brave, heroic and humane as they have ever been.”

But that’s not the image the media present.

Bing West, a former Marine writing in the Washington Post points to the problem with the media.
Over the next nine months, Fallujah grew into the stronghold of the insurgency and the vipers’ nest for jihadists infiltrating from Syria. The fighting escalated in ferocity. Among the Marines, acts of courage became common. 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal, for instance, threw his body over a wounded Marine and shot jihadists two feet away. Cpl. Tim Connors, 20, battled inside two adjoining concrete rooms for four hours before killing five jihadists and recovering the body of a fallen squad member. So it went, day after day.

Hundreds of gripping stories of valor emerged that would have been publicized in World War II. Although there are far more heroes than louts in the ranks, stories of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and now at Fallujah vastly outnumber stories of heroism and sacrifice.

Not to take anything away from The Greatest Generation, but the behavior of our soldiers today will stand scrutiny when compared to the performance of those in any past war. The focus of the press on abuse is not due to any relaxation in military discipline or social mores. Why was valor considered front-page news in 1945 and abuse considered front-page news in 2005?

[...]

To subdue hostile cities such as Fallujah, our country needs stout infantrymen such as the Marines and the paratroopers. Fed a steady diet of stories about bad conduct and deprived of models of valor, the youth of America will eventually decline to serve. As the poet Pindar wrote: “Unsung, the noblest deed will die.”
Unlike the hard anti-war left, the media are not rooting for the enemy, and they don’t hate America’s soldiers. But there is still a residue of the cultural attitudes of the 60s among this generation of reporters.

While they like military people well enough, they don’t really identify with them. Unlike the reporters who covered World War II, they think of them as some other kind of people. People who shop at Wal-Mart. People who go to church. People who never go to Starbucks.

And while they may not be actually rooting for the enemy, they can’t help knowing that bad news for America in Iraq is also bad news for George Bush.

The result is biased coverage. They aren’t happy when suicide bombers kill many Iraqis and a few Americans, but neither will they go out and dig out stories of a nation recovering from a brutal regime. Likewise, the heroism of American soldiers, ordinary Iraqis and (especially) democratic Iraqi political figures just isn’t reported.

It’s not quite like Vietnam, but it’s not much better either.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Look at Religious Colleges

Author Naomi Schaefer Riley recently published a book titled God on the Quad which surveys religiously affiliated universities in the United States. She was interviewed by National Public Radio.
Q: What do you think is driving the growth of this missionary generation?

I think there are a couple of factors. First, I don’t think you can discount the fact that strongly religious students are often not treated very well at secular universities. From the Orthodox Jews who sued Yale a few years ago because they didn’t want to have to live with half-naked members of the opposite sex running around the dorm, to Christian groups that are censured for not allowing homosexuals to lead their organizations, secular campus life is often not conducive to leading a religious life. And then there are the professors who regularly mock religious views in the classroom.

But I think there are some positive factors at work here as well. First, a lot of evangelical colleges have become much more intellectually rigorous in recent years.

Second, I think a lot of students are really longing for a greater discussion of religious and spiritual issues in college. A recent UCLA survey on spirituality in higher education found 75 percent of undergraduates were “searching for meaning or purpose in life,” while 78 percent discuss religion and spirituality with their friends. But only 8 percent of the students in the same survey reported that their professors frequently encourage classroom discussion of religious or spiritual matters or provide opportunities to discuss the purpose or meaning of life.

Third, of course, the greatest religious growth in this country has been from the faiths that demand the most of their members, and religious colleges are catering to that group.

Q: How different are these schools from the secular ones?

I think the whole understanding of the purpose of higher education is different at religious colleges. Our culture enforces the idea that college is a time for rebellion, and that students are supposed to spend their time protesting or experimenting in behaviors their parents wouldn’t approve of. At religious colleges, students by and large seem to think their parents brought them up pretty well, and they’re in college because God wants them to develop their intellect.

I also wondered about the intellectual rigor of these schools. If religion comes into the classroom, doesn’t it water down the curriculum? I actually found that between the added motivation that religion provided these kids (God wants me to do my chemistry homework) and the richness that talk of faith and the meaning of life added to discussions of, say, literature, I thought these students were getting the kind of holistic education that most schools (religious and secular) say they’re aiming for.
Those who want Marquette to become even more secular (and it’s become very secular already) need to be reminded that schools with a genuine religious mission not only succeed intellectually, they also succeed in the competition for students. As Schaefer observes:
I noticed was that the students at these schools were very bright and they were turning down good, well-known — sometimes Ivy League — schools to attend these instead. . . . Evangelical college enrollment grew 60 percent between 1990 and 2002, while enrollment at other private and public schools remained stagnant.
Unfortunately, quite a large contingent of faculty and administrators doesn’t in fact want the University to be religious.

Indian Team Names in Oklahoma

From The New Warriors:

Political correctness about Indian sports team names isn’t too prevalent in Oklahoma, in spite of the fact (or more likely because of the fact) that there are a lot of Indians in the state. From the The Enid News and Eagle:
Several high schools in northwest Oklahoma, including the Enid Plainsmen, Wakita Warriors, Shattuck Indians, Waukomis Chiefs, Okarche Warriors and Cherokee Chiefs, feature Native American mascots or nicknames, but administrators said those nicknames honor the area’s native people.

“A warrior or a chief is a person held in high regard,” said Wakita principal Kelly Childress. “I don’t think people of Native American cultures have a problem with it.”

“I think it’s a compliment we would use that (Chiefs) nickname,” said Waukomis football coach Mike Felder, who is one-third Cherokee Indian. “Like at Wakita, a warrior is like a solider for that tribe. (Using a warrior for the school’s nickname) is not a disgrace at all. It’s an honor.”

“We would never do anything that’s offensive to any culture,” said Waukomis principal Janet Blocker. “We have been the Waukomis Chiefs for years and years. I don’t see us changing. . . . We have Native American students here in school, and they have never expressed any concerns about it.”

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, the governing body for high school sports in Oklahoma, has no policy about nicknames.

“It’s a local decision with the schools what they call themselves,” said OSSAA executive Ed Robinson.

[. . .]

“As long as you don’t do something improper or insulting, I don’t have a problem with (American Indian nicknames),” said Donnie Childs, a former Enid track and cross country standout who is a member of the Otoe Missouria tribe.

“I love the Enid mascot. I would fight for Enid to keep that mascot.

“I don’t see anybody wanting to get rid of the Fighting Irish (of Notre Dame) or the (West Virginia) Mountaineers. Instead of fighting about the Florida State Seminoles or the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, if people would direct all that energy into presenting the Native American culture, people would change their minds on their own and see that these are proud people and we should honor them even more.”