PC insanity of the day

Victor Davis Hanson has some interesting (as always) observations on the Morgan Hill fracas (see Zombie’s report, and our earlier posts here and here).

From the comments, this gem deserves an award for PC insanity:

Purple Victory

I’m currently pursuing a degree in Music Education at the University of Montevallo (PV!) in Shelby County, Alabama. I can tell you that the educational establishment is all about these neat little categories based on color. As part of my “education bloc” classes I had to take a course in classroom diversity that required learning racial stereotypes and writing lesson plans for each color of student. We quite literally had assignments that said “You have a classroom full of black students. Write a lesson plan.” When I decried this as racist the teacher told me I was being a white supremacist; when I told her I’m Hispanic and just light skinned she said I was a traitor to my race for not falling in line with this garbage.

“Racially appropriate” lesson plans. Hmm, where have we heard this idea before?
And as for being a “traitor”, welcome to the club.

Thomas Sowell: Race and resentment

Thomas Sowell has a “read the whole thing” article on race and resentment. The salient grafs:

Recent stories out of both Philadelphia and San Francisco tell of black students beating up Asian American students. This is especially painful for those who expected that the election of Barack Obama would mark the beginning of a post-racial America.[…]

Those who explain racial antagonisms on some rationalistic basis will have a hard time demonstrating how Asian Americans have made blacks worse off. Certainly none of the historic wrongs done to blacks was done by the small Asian American population who, for most of their history in this country, have not had enough clout to prevent themselves from being discriminated against.[…]

Resentments and hostility toward people with higher achievements are one of the most widespread of human failings. Resentments of achievements are more deadly than envy of wealth.

The hatred of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up has far exceeded any hostility toward those who were simply born into wealth. None of the sultans who inherited extraordinary fortunes in Malaysia has been hated like the Chinese, who arrived there destitute and rose by their own efforts.

Inheritors of the Rockefeller fortune have been elected as popular governors in three states, attracting nothing like the hostility toward the Jewish immigrants who rose from poverty on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to prosperity in a variety of fields.

Others who started at the bottom and rose to prosperity– the Lebanese in West Africa, the Indians in Fiji, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, for example– have likewise been hated for their achievements. Being born a sultan or a Rockefeller is not an achievement.

Achievements are a reflection on others who may have had similar, and sometimes better, chances but who did not make the most of their chances. Achievements are like a slap across the face to those who are not achieving, and many people react with the same kind of anger that such an insult would provoke.

In our own times, especially, this is not just a spontaneous reaction. Many of our educators, our intelligentsia and our media — not to mention our politicians– promote an attitude that other people’s achievements are grievances, rather than examples.

When black school children who are working hard in school and succeeding academically are attacked and beaten up by black classmates for “acting white,” why is it surprising that similar hostility is turned against Asian Americans, who are often achieving academically more so than whites?

This attitude is not peculiar to some in the black community or to the United States. The same phenomenon is found among lower-class whites in Britain, where academically achieving white students have been beaten up badly enough by their white classmates to require hospital treatment.

These are poisonous and self-destructive consequences of a steady drumbeat of ideological hype about differences that are translated into “disparities” and “inequities,” provoking envy and resentments under their more prettied-up name of “social justice.”

Asian American school children who are beaten up are just some of the victims of these resentments that are whipped up. Young people who are seething with resentments, instead of seizing educational and other opportunities around them, are bigger victims in the long run, whether they are blacks in the US or lower-class whites in the UK. […]

People who call differences “inequities” and achievements “privilege” leave social havoc in their wake, while feeling noble about siding with the less fortunate. It would never occur to them that they have any responsibility for the harm done to both blacks and Asian Americans.

I have for a long time wondered why the Tenth Commandment is “thou shalt not covet” (לא תחמוד), as “coveting” something is not an act but an intent. However, it is covetousness that will lead to violating all of the others.

Morgan Hill flag insanity continued (video)

“I never thought I’d be on national TV for wearing the American flag.” Indeed. Only in a nation that has lost the will to live would somebody who wears the national emblem on a minor holiday of a minority group — not even observed in most of the home country of said minority — be punished for “hurting the feelings” of the minority. (It’s not like they bowdlerized “Cinco de Mayo” as “Cinco de Quattro”, as a certain POTUS [payaso of the United States] has been known to do.)

Amusingly, the two “thought criminals” being interviewed both have last names (Carvalho and Maciel) that would seem to hail from the Iberian peninsula, which suggests they might qualify as Hispanics themselves.

See earlier coverage by Zombie as well as our own earlier coverage.

Also, while I shall not dwell on the place I once called home, those otherwise inclined will find some interesting material related to this controversy at Diary of Daedalus.

PC insanities of the day

I wish I could write “of the week”, because there’s just… so much insanity to report. Via Insty, one of today’s “winners” is from Morgan Hill, CA, near the garlic capital of the world (Gilroy):

CHANGE: Five Morgan Hill students sent home for wearing American flag T-shirts. School officials called the flag shirts “incendiary” because it was Cinco De Mayo.

Read and weep. The article notes that Mexican flag T-shirts and even face paint were much in evidence. These are supposedly not “incendiary” 😉

Another PC anocephaly: an Ann Arbor, MI organizes an elementary school enrichment trip (meet a rocket scientist) where… only black children were allowed. The principal defends this as “an attempt to close the achievement gap between black and white children”.

If this is “post-racial America”, I am a ball-bearing, on which Martin Luther King (a lifelong Republican, BTW) is spinning 6,000 rpm in his grave.

UPDATE: try being an illegal immigrant in… Mexico.

UPDATE 2: Zombie takes on the  Morgan Hill story. According to the commenters, the school district has meanwhile distanced itself from the actions of the principal. Others note that Cinco de Mayo is actually not a big deal in Mexico itself. Yet another notes that United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1, Paragraph 8b actually states wearing the US flag as apparel is an act of disrespect. Live and learn. Of course, we all know that this particular ordinance is observed more in the breach than in the observance.

UPDATE 3: Apparently there are still some voices of sanity in the CA public school establishment and/or  grassroots action gets results. Response from the school district to a commenter at WeaselZippers (h/t: Pi Guy):

Master Sergeant V–

First, thank you for your service to our country, and for your email. Yesterday, the District issued a statement immediately after the incident stating that it did not agree with the actions taken at the Live Oak High School site. Here is an additional statement released today:

“The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing. The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken.”

I’m afraid with the volume of emails I am receiving, I may not be able to reply personally to any additional comments, but I will endeavor to read everything that comes in my inbox.

Regards,

Bart Fisher

Reflections on the Harvard “Emailgate” controversy

The Volokh Conspiracy has been covering at length [link leads to subject tag] an “emailgate” at Harvard that is really getting my goat.

Executive summary: a Harvard law student sends a private Email (relevant passages reproduced here) in which she basically says she is “not 100% sure” that the intellectual achievement gap between ethnic groups might not contain a genetic component somewhere. Months later, without her permission, somebody forwards her email to the discussion list of the Black Law Students Association, where it (as expected) unleashes a firestorm. The student has been censored by the Dean of the Law School, has abjectly apologized in public, and is subject to calls for her expulsion.

Eugene Volokh (himself a law prof at UCLA), while not sympathetic to the content of what she said, says the whole incident reminds him of the former Soviet Union where he was born. He goes at great length into what he terms “the practical costs of condemning openness to distressing answers on factual questions“. David Bernstein gives a catalog of outrageous public statements that apparently are not taboo at elite universities, but happen to fit the prevailing PC, post-Marxist, Third-Worldist orthodoxy.

Personally, I think we understand as little about the mechanisms of heredity of intelligence as we understand about global climate, possibly even less. Thomas Sowell — whom I admire greatly — makes a strong case for an “all-nurture” origin of differences between groups. If this were a lecturer or professor having made a statement in public, this would be one thing: “Scholars, heed your words, lest you lead your students to a place of evil waters, and they drink from it and die” (Pirkei Avot 1:11).

But the idea that a student could be expelled for expressing in private even openness to an answer that runs counter to the politically correct orthodoxy — even on such a “third-rail” subject, but where we don’t really know what’s going on  — is truly chilling. Squatch at C2 quotes:

Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.

And indeed, the whole incident reminds me more of George Orwell’s “1984” than of the principle of academic free inquiry as I’ve always understood it, and as best expressed by the Poincaré Declaration:

La pensée ne doit jamais se soumettre, ni à un dogme, ni à un parti, ni à une passion, ni à un intérêt, ni à une idée préconçue, ni à quoi que ce soit, si ce n’est aux faits eux-mêmes, parce que, pour elle, se soumettre, ce serait cesser d’être. (Henri Poincaré, Fêtes du LXXVe anniversaire, 21 novembre 1909).

[My free translation:] “Thought must never submit, neither to dogma, nor to partisanship, nor to passion, nor to interests, nor to preconceptions — nor to anything but the facts themselves — since for thought, submission would mean ceasing to exist.” (Henri Poincaré, remarks at the 75th anniversary celebration of Brussels Free University, November 21, 1909)

UPDATE: Taxprof has a roundup.

UPDATE 2: Some good verbal ju-jitsu from Ann Althouse. See also Neo-Neocon.

Bloat in the NJ school system: an eye-opener

Just one example of the reverse Midas touch of the US government can be found here: Yes, there’s bloat in New Jersey public schools. Since 2001, the NJ school system added 3/4 of an employee for every additional student, with basically less than nothing to show for it.

[T]he real budget-buster has been health and pension costs. Between 2001 and 2006 (the latest year data are available), total benefit costs rose by a whopping 115 percent, adding several billion dollars to school costs.

After this runup, outlays are now a whopping $16,000 per student, nearly 60 percent above the national average. Jersey already was a leader in this spending category back in 2001; the spending spree has widened the gap, at great taxpayer cost.

There’s been little educational payoff. Performance on national education-assessment tests has been a mixed bag. On crucial eighth-grade reading tests, for instance, the percentage of Jersey students scoring at or above proficient in 2009 was just 42 percent, up slightly from 38 percent in 2005.

Let me get this straight. $16K/pupil and where 3 out of 5 kids can’t even read at grade level?!

FAIL.