Sotomayor reminds us that affirmative action is terribly unfair

Justice Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor came to San Francisco and inadvertently made the case that affirmative action terribly unfair — and, moreover, that people are right if they believe, not that it gives qualified minorities a chance, but that it handicaps non-minorities at the expense of any minorities, qualified or not.

Let me unpack that first sentence.  All of us would like to see bright, hard-working kids succeed.  We have an innate sense that it is “fair” that those who work hardest get opportunities.  We approve of scholarships that reach out to poor children, enabling them to get the benefit of their own hard work and intelligence.

What we don’t like is a system that says to completely ordinary kids who make no specific effort:  “You!  Yeah, you.  Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because of your race.”  In the old days, that sentence, more fully written, read “Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because you’re white.”  Looking back now, we realize how heinous it was to spread opportunities unevenly simply because of race.

Yet that’s precisely what affirmative action does — spread opportunities unevenly because of race.  The government, rather than being magisterially even-handed, has taken sides.  Instead of funding scholarships for accomplished young people, it funds scholarships for racially appropriate people (emphasis mine):

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in town Monday to promote her newly released memoir, said she couldn’t talk about affirmative action because of a pending court case. In the next breath, she talked about what it had meant to her – admission to Princeton and Yale Law School and the launching of a legal career.

“I was given the chance to get to the start of the race and it changed my life,” the 58-year-old justice told a sold-out Commonwealth Club audience at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

When she entered Princeton on a scholarship in 1972 despite unspectacular test scores, she recalled, the school was in only its third year of admitting women and had barely a handful of minority students.

Isn’t that nice for Sotomayor?  She got into Princeton despite the fact that she didn’t qualify.  And doesn’t it just suck for the hard-working white or Asian kid who, in that same year, had spectacular test scores (not to mention good grades), but was nevertheless barred from Princeton because Sotomayor took her place?  If Sotomayor had been a brilliant student, it’s probable that none of us would have cared that she, a kid from a dodgy New York neighborhood, was granted admission over a kid from somewhere suburbia.  What grates is that Sotomayor hadn’t earned her place academically.

I recognize that Sotomayor’s opportunity came about in 1972, when affirmative action was meant to be a quick fix — a head start — to make up for the decades of discrimination that immediately preceded those first few years of affirmative action.  What rankles is that, two generations later, we’re still giving a hand up to mediocre people in the name of race.  In other words, we’ve institutionalized racism just as certainly as those Jim Crow people did.  We now frame it affirmatively, in that we boast that we’re pulling some people up, as opposed to pushing other people down, but it’s the same thing:  too often race, not merit, determines who gets to grab the educational and employment gold ring.

Sotomayor seems like a nice, hard-working woman, although I couldn’t disagree more with her approach to the law.  She also seems like someone who benefited from an inequitable program at a time that at least gave some credibility to the program, but who now seeks to use the extraordinary power granted to her to make Leftist Jim Crow laws a permanent part of America’s racist landscape.

________________________

*I’d originally written “economically disadvantaged children,” and then thought, “Why am I cluttering my writing with this lardy PC jargon?”  So I changed it to “poor children,” which makes the point just fine.

Everything you needed to know about the Dems, run through the Kagan filter

Kim Priestap, who blogs at Up North Mommy, got an impassioned email from the Democratic Party, raving about Elena Kagan.  Does it rave about her brains?  No (although it mentions as an aside that she’s “among the best legal minds this country has to offer,” which is a depressing comment about legal minds in America).  Her legal expertise?  No.  Her judicial experience?  No (because there is none, no matter how one puffs up her limited management experience and some government work).  Her looks?  No, no and no.

Instead, the email is very clear about Kagan’s single most important virtue, along with a little subsidiary fillip to add to the Progressive excitement:  She’s a woman and, even better, she’s almost black because she once worked for a black man.

Read the following and tell me if the whole point of the Democratic euphoria isn’t that, after being the first female Harvard Law School dean, and the first female Solicitor General, she’s poised to become the third female Supreme Court justice sitting on the court, and one who is black by association, thereby raising both the female and black liberal quota on the Supreme Court:

Have you been watching the hearings? The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is a special time in Washington, DC. The air tastes different — it buzzes with an electricity even the humidity can’t conquer — and even more so this time.

Elena Kagan’s nomination is special. It took us almost 200 years as a country to get the first woman on the Supreme Court, but now we’re on a roll! If Elena Kagan is confirmed, for the first time, we’ll have three women serving together. We’re still a far cry from parity, but we cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We’re making progress, and Elena Kagan is great progress.

Over the past three days of hearings, she has conducted herself with poise, grace, rigor, and humor. She has won praise from liberals and conservatives — prior to her nomination and since. It’s no easy feat to become the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female to serve as solicitor general. Her illustrious resume also includes periods as associate White House counsel and deputy policy director under President Bill Clinton, as a teacher at the University of Chicago Law School, and as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Lend your name to help us show that the American people back Elena Kagan’s nomination.

Let there be no doubt: She earned this nomination. It’s not simply because she’s a woman, or because she’s among the best legal minds this country has to offer. I know firsthand the strength of Elena’s character and am certain she is the best choice.

The Supreme Court nomination process, like almost any political contest, is like a food fight where the nominee does his or her best to stay clean and dry while everyone else in the room slings Sloppy Joes. I’ve watched this before (recently) and there’s nothing the Republicans won’t do to take down a nominee chosen by a president they’ve vowed to obstruct at all costs.

Republicans are attacking her credibility, her credentials, and her character. They’ve become particularly focused on her work as a clerk for Justice Marshall, seemingly maligning his long and respected service to our country. As chief counsel to the NAACP, Justice Marshall argued the case of Brown v Board of Education. Later he would become the first African American to serve as solicitor general and the first African American to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. We would be better off with more justices like Marshall, and Kagan’s work for him should be a feather in her cap, not a thorn in her side right now.

The other side is grabbing at straws, with nothing to support their groundless accusations, but it doesn’t stop the attacks. The Democratic Party is pushing back to ensure that this incredible woman gets a fair hearing, but we must also show that public support for Kagan is overwhelming.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are rolling in their graves.  I think Martin Luther King is also starting to wiggle around in there.  This is not what they envisioned when they campaigned for equal rights for women, or demanded that people be measured, not by the color of their skin or bra size, but by the content of their character.  These trailblazers wanted women and blacks to enjoy full inalienable, constitutional, and legal rights in America.  For women and minorities to be valued just as numbers on some quota list is heartbreaking and as dehumanizing in its own way as the ancient status quo.

I have nothing more to say.

Color me stupid, but I don’t know why legal immigrants support illegal immigration

Turns out that Hispanics, who are probably as misinformed as Eric Holder about the actual contents of the Arizona immigration law, are opposed to it in vast numbers.  I don’t get it.  When the illegal immigrants pour into American communities, bringing with them all their pathologies (gangs, drugs, alcoholism, violence, and poverty), they’re not coming to my neighborhood.  Nope.  Instead, these nightmare neighbors are moving into established Hispanic neighborhoods.

If American could control the flow of immigrants, she would be able to say no to gang bangers and drug runners.  But since political correctness disallows our nation a voice into the immigration process, which has become completely self-selecting, every Hispanic community in America gets as its new residents a whole bunch of bad guys.

This, of course, is the insanity of identity politics.  It’s the same insanity that sees gays saying, “Because I’m gay, I must be politically Left, and if I’m politically Left, it must mean I support the beleaguered Palestinians, and I do so despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays are trying to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.”  (An alternative version of this identity politics line of thinking goes, “Because I’m gay, I must be politically Left, and that means I complain about America bullying poor Iran, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.”)

This same identity politics insanity shows up in the black community.  There, you get blacks saying that, “Because I’m black, I have to hate cops, who are all racist pigs, including all the black cops in my community — who, incidentally, are putting their lives on the line to protect me against the number one risk I face:  fellow blacks.”

I’ve also blogged here about the fact that pro-illegal immigration groups, including the same Hispanics who are welcoming predators to their own community, are doing a profound disservice to those Hispanics (the vast majority, really) who remain behind in Latin America, especially in Mexico.  As long as these governments have America as a safety valve to which they can send their criminals and poorest people, and from which they can get vast sums of money that illegal immigrants (who are not emotionally invested in America) send home, these governments, especially Mexico, have no interest in changing their feckless and corrupt ways.  And as long as they continue to be feckless and corrupt, their citizens continue to suffer.

So color me stupid, or perplexed, or maybe just unfettered by identity politics, but it makes absolutely no sense to me that American Hispanics oppose a law that will improve the quality of their own lives, as well as the lives of Hispanics remaining behind in their countries of origin.

Lowering the bar on incitements to violence *UPDATED*

Unless you’ve been visiting some other planet somewhere in the universe, you already know about Comedy Central’s South Park debacle.  That’s the one, of course, that saw Comedy Central, the oh-so-hip-and-edgy (meaning often offensive) television station brutally censoring a South Park episode that implied that Mohamed was walking around wearing a bear suit — when it turned out to have been Santa in the suit all along.

Comedy Central made this censorship decision when a New York Muslim suggested that airing the show as written might result in a Theo Van Gogh moment.  That would mean that someone associated with the show would soon be appearing on the streets of New York with multiple stab wounds, a partially severed head, and a wildly hostile-to-Western-culture letter impaled on his chest.

There are a couple of points I want to make about this whole embarrassing debacle — embarrassing for Comedy Central, which shows that it’s offensive only when it’s safe; and a debacle, because it’s one more nail in the coffin of the free speech that has always been an integral part of America’s political and social culture.

My first point riffs off something David Hazony said in a Commentary blog post about the South Park episode (emphasis mine):

The core of liberal society is the belief that every new thought, every iconoclasm, every “dangerous” idea, can be uttered somewhere, by someone, as long as it doesn’t openly incite violence — and that every sacred cow is ultimately just a cow.

(I urge you to read the whole post, but the above sentence is the one that intrigued me.)

In the old days, the notion of incitement to violence examined whether the speaker literally incited violence.  For example, the speaker might say to the crowd “Kill the President” or “Kill the Congress person” or “Kill all the meter maids” or something equally incendiary.  The threat of violence wasn’t implicit in the speech; it was explicit.  No civilized society could countenance speech that simply and directly inflamed blood lust.  We in America have always been willing to trade in the world of ideas, but the civil contract demands that we stop short of demanding someone’s head on a pike.

We’ve now entered a brave new world that redefines “incitement to violence” away from its traditional meaning of explicit demands for blood, death or revolution.  Now, “incitement to violence” includes speech or images that hurt someone’s feelings or offend their sensibilities.  As a society, we used to say that it was just tough if someone’s sensitivities were roughed up by speech that falls far short of calling for that person’s (or someone else’s) blood.  We recognized that our civil contract — our constitutional contract — requires for its health resilient people who can deal with hurt feelings.

Now, however, we see our media and political outlets repeatedly defining as incitement speech that lacks any calls for violence but that merely makes the crazy man angry.  Where we would once police the crazy man, we now police ourselves.  Everything we say must be run through the filter of “will it make the crazy man angry?”

Except of course, we’re not talking about any random crazy man.  We’re talking about the sharia-obsessed Muslim crazy man.  And by making that man — that sharia man — the standard by which incitement must be judged, we’re veering sharply away from a constitutional standard of free speech, and placing ourselves squarely within that man’s sharia code.  Which really means that the second American Revolution, the one that sees us forever part ways with our current system of government, will begin, and end, not with flaring muskets and brave midnight battles, but with a whimper and a bowed head.

What’s even worse (I’m at my second point, now), is that we’re out-sharia-ing sharia, and caving, not to the demands of the moderates, but to the extremists.  (Frankly, we’ve become such a PC, identity-politics obsessed culture that we’d cave to moderates too if we felt it would spare the feelings of someone defined as a victim in the PC lexicon.)  The wholesale ban on any Mohamed images whatsoever is an extremist ban.  Take for example this truly beautiful medieval painting, which I got from a pre-911 book:

babymohammed0002

Isn’t that exquisite (despite the scanning flaws arising from the picture’s spread across two pages)?

Not only is it beautiful, it’s also a picture of Mohamed.  The swaddled little baby in the far left corner, with his face fully revealed, cradled in the arms of two loving angels, is Mohamed himself.  Some medieval Muslim, inspired by Christian iconography surrounding the birth of Christ, painted this reverential scene of Mohamed’s birth.

Admittedly, the above painting seems to be a rarity.  Other medieval Muslims painted Mohamed too, but they carefully veiled his face, to avoid something that could be considered a blasphemous or inaccurate image.  (Considering that there are no contemporary images of Mohamed, just as there are no contemporary images of Jesus Christ, the fact is that all images are inaccurate, reflecting the artist’s faith and skill, rather than a carefully limned image of known features.)  The medieval era, therefore, produced myriad pictures, such as this one, portraying Mohamed’s marriage to one of his wives:

bridegroommohammed0001

Mohamed, on the left, has a veil neatly drawn across his face.  The artist has reverentially drawn a scene without exposing himself to the inevitable risk of erroneously portraying the prophet’s face.  Incidentally, if you’re really thinking this through, as the radicals seem not to have done, you might conclude that, although a bear costume isn’t a neat, curtain-like little veil, the effect is identical:  Mohamed is hidden from view.

All of the above, of course, is art historian persnickety-ness.  The real issue is that fact that we, a free society that has never let government dictate to us the terms of our religious worship, are meekly allowing a religion to which we do not subscribe to dictate the terms of our social, political, artistic, ideological and intellectual behavior.  The proscription against potentially blasphemous images of Mohamed should apply only to Muslims.  The fact that Muslims wish to apply it to all of us tells us volumes about their jihad mentality (a world at war, with a winning Islam and a losing everyone else) and our self-abasing victim approach to those chest-thumpers in the Islamist camp who want to make now the time, and this the place, for their world conquest.

Sadly, Comedy Central isn’t an anomaly.  Instead, it seems to be a harbinger of things to come.  It’s conduct is the thin of edge of the wedge when it comes to a cultural decision to give in and, by giving in, give away the constitutional freedoms that generations of our forebearers fought bravely to defend.

UPDATE:  A friend reminded me that Zombie created a full post with exquisite Islamic iconography showing Mohamed’s face.  Please check it out, as the images are better than anything I’ve included here.

The problem with identity politics is that humans defy simple classifications

I wrote yesterday about the softball players who were accused of being “not gay enough.”  I appreciate that the league in question has its rules — you must be gay — but the story still got me thinking about what constitutes being gay.  From there, of course, I started thinking about identity politics.  Let me walk you through my train of thought.

The day before this news story broke, a woman with whom I was speaking told me she believes her grandson is gay.  He’s only eight but, according to her, his movements are effeminate.  I know what she means.  I’ve known children like that.  I stumped her with a question, though:  “What if, when he grows up, he still likes girls?  Does that mean he’s gay because of his decidedly effeminate body language or straight because he wants to sleep with women?”  She was stumped.  Her labeling didn’t extent that far.

Humans like labels.  Without our innate ability to organize and categorize, because of the overwhelming amount of data we receive from the world around us, we would be dysfunctional.  You can imagine some distant hunter/gatherer ancestor standing paralyzed before a brown thing, unable to classify it as plant or animal, safe or dangerous, edible or poisonous.  That perplexed hunter/gatherer did not survive to pass down his genes.  The one who was able to classify the object correctly as a bush waving in the wind, a sleeping bear, or the entrance to a cave was the one who was able to be fruitful and multiply.  We are that well-organized person’s descendants.

Having an inherent ability, however, doesn’t mean that we have to let that ability control.  We are all capable of killing but, if we’re moral, we don’t unless we have to.  We’re hardwired for sex, but the vast majority of us can control our libidos.  We tamp down on our fight and flight instincts, too, insofar as we’ve figured out that a stressful meeting with the boss isn’t license to hit him or run away.

In the same way, I do believe we can control the rampant categorization that constitutes identity politics.  People are not labels.  They are the giant sum of their parts, their interests, and their values.  I have good friends who are gay conservatives, and I even know some Jewish conservatives.  I know Asians who are slackers.  These people are who they are, not what they are.

For a generation that was raised to shake off all the old stereotypes (and I still came into the world on the tail-end of the “Poles are stupid,” “Jews are greedy,” “Scots are frugal,” “Irish are shiftless,” “Asians are sneaky” tropes that were endemic in American society for so many decades), we seem awfully anxious to embrace stereotypes all over again.  It’s just that we’re embracing entirely new stereotypes that still manage to lock people into straight jackets just as tightly as the old ones did.

I’ll close this post with a story — a true story — just to remind us that humans, in their beautiful variety, regularly deny even their own attempts to lock themselves into neatly labeled boxes.

One of my friends was estranged from his father.  After many years, he made an effort to visit Dad, who was still living in the same old apartment.  What was new was the label over the buzzer.  Instead of saying “John Doe,” it read “Jane Doe.”  That was peculiar.  What was even more peculiar was the fact that Dad answered the door decked out in his deceased wife’s old clothes.  It turned out that Dad had spent his entire married (and parenting) life hiding the fact that he was a transvestite.  With his wife gone, he had come to terms with that fact, as well as with the fact that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  He was about to begin the long road of hormonal treatments for a sex change operation.  My friend, who is an open-minded man, was glad that his father was finally going to find some peace, and they had a friendly parting.

The long estrangement, though, made it so that it was some time before my friend again visited his father.  To his surprise, the label over the buzzer now read “John Doe.”  And even more surprising was the fact that his Dad answered the door attired in ordinary guy wear — jeans and a t-shirt.  You see, Dad had had another epiphany.  He was not a woman trapped in a man’s body; he was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.  He’d also figured out that he had infinitely more success romancing the women he craved when he looked like man, than he did when he looked like a woman.

Clearly, John/Jane Doe was a person who suffered profoundly from a mind-body disconnect.  I’m grateful that he lives in a society that allows him (her?) to try to find some happiness.  It can’t be easy living that way.

Aside from it’s comedy-tragedy elements, though, this story reminds us that, when it comes to trying to slot human behavior into neat little boxes, it just can’t be done.  And to try to create vast social policies based upon those impossible and unreasonable boxes is an even sillier idea. That’s the beauty of a libertarian/capitalist system.  Subject to some government policing against fraud and abuse, and within the framework of a government fulfilling its basic health, safety, transportation, etc., functions, people are free, whether this means they’re free to live in City A as opposed to City B, to be a plumber or a professor, or to figure out whether someone else is trying to share their body with them.

Identity politics once again runs amok, this time with athletes who aren’t “gay enough”

In my previous post, I talked about the way in which the Left desperately tries to cubby-hole people, events and ideas, without any real understanding of what lies beneath those labels.  Seconds after I finished writing that post, I read this newspaper article, which sounds like a parody, but isn’t:

All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.

Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their “private sexual attractions and desires,” and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be “non-gay,” they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.

The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, pits the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco group backing the men, against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, which prides itself on barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

At issue is whether the gay sports alliance violated Washington state’s public accommodations laws by enforcing a rule limiting to two the number of heterosexuals who can play on a team.

Apilado, Charles and Russ were members of D2, a team that was part of the San Francisco Gay Softball League. The squad made it to the championship game at the August 2008 tournament in Kent, Wash.

But another team, the Atlanta Mudcats, which had lost to D2 in a semifinal game, complained that the San Francisco team had too many straights.

Read the rest here.  This is the kind of article that has you giggling madly at the insanity of it all, even though the saner part of your brain is wondering how our society got to the point where people are being denied athletic opportunities because they not “gay enough.”

Identity politics is the antithesis of the individualism that was always the bedrock of the American identity.  I am the sum of my many, many parts, large numbers of which are, and should be, invisible to the public eye.  I refuse to have one of those parts be held as so overwhelmingly important that society forces me into certain belief systems and behaviors antithetical to the whole me.

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely tuned in to the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is completely tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists starting submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the Administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt but that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

Neither Five Nor Three Cover

Just a quick thought about the UC tuition hike

The UC regents voted for a steep increase in tuition.   Some have pointed to the unedifying spectacle of whining middle class students taking to the streets to protest the tuition increase, since they prefer to have California’s working class, most of whom will not attend the school, bear the financial burden.  Although I agree in principle about California’s spoiled brats, I’m not sure that’s the right argument for the UC problem.  The point of public education is that everyone pays so that some may benefit — on the theory that those who benefit will contribute to society for the benefit of all.  Of course, what we actually have in California is a punitive tax system that means that those who actually benefit, if they’re smart, promptly leave the state, taking their skills, education and tax dollars with them.  But still, the theory is that the tax payers get a secondary benefit from having an educated class within their midst.

The real problem, I think, is the UC system itself.  I’ll freely admit that I last attended a UC college more than two decades ago, but I’m assuming the situation then has gotten worse, not better.  With the exception of three hugely talented teachers who brought their subjects alive, my Berkeley professors could easily be lumped into a single descriptive class:  Except for the three mentioned, none could teach worth a damn — that is, those who bothered teaching at all, as opposed to handing the task off to grossly underpaid graduate students, many of whom had only a limited grasp of the English language.  The professors would read from yellowed notes, or waffle on in monotones, sucking the life out of everything.  Despite their manifest limitations, because they published (remember:  publish or perish), they were tenured, and their pathetic inability to teach was irrelevant.

The beauty of tenure was that they were paid sooooo well.  Professors didn’t live middle class lives — they lived upper middle class lives.  They had houses in the Berkeley hills with expansive views of the San Francisco Bay.  Their kitchens were cleaned by the Hispanic help and their gardens groomed by the Japanese.  The fact that so many of these professors were Marxists was irrelevant to these delightful living arrangements.

If one queried the lavish way in which these state employees lived, one was told that Berkeley, to keep its world standing, needed to compete with such private facilities as Harvard or Yale.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that many professors at City College in San Francisco were doing a much better job teaching.  At the same time I took a mind-numbing art history class at Berkeley, my mom took the identical class (at least in terms of subject matter) at City College.  My teacher was a mumbling, boring drag.  Her teacher was a dynamo, who brought the class to life.  Whenever I had time, I’d go to his class, not my own.  He wasn’t at a world class institution, but he was a world class teacher — and there were so many like him.  Unburdened by the cachet of Berkeley, and the “publish or perish” imperative, these people simply got down to the job of actually teaching.

Another problem with Berkeley and tuition is the absolute garbage being taught.  Should anybody be paid to teach, on the taxpayer’s dime, the politically correct effluvia that flows from the Gender Women’s Studies department:

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the formation of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, race, class, nationality, religion, and age. Questions are addressed within the context of a transnational world and from perspectives as diverse as history, sociology, literary and cultural studies, postcolonial theory, science, new technology, and art.

The undergraduate program is designed to introduce students to women’s studies, focusing on gender as a category of analysis and on the workings of power in social and historical life. The department offers an introduction to feminist theory as well as more advanced courses that seek to expand capacities for critical reflection and analysis and to engage students with varied approaches to feminist scholarship. The curriculum draws students into interdisciplinary analysis of specific gender practices in areas such as feminism in a transnational world, the politics of representation, feminist science studies, women and work, women and film, gender and health, and the politics of childhood.

The department offers an undergraduate major and minor. It also houses an undergraduate minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, a program whose courses overlap productively with feminist and gender studies. Faculty in the department collaborate with an extensive group of extended faculty through the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, which provides graduate students across campus with a site for transdisciplinary learning and teaching. The department is now in the process of developing a Ph.D. Program in Transnational Studies of Women and Gender, which will involve faculty from a range of departments. The department fosters connections with scholars in feminist and sexuality studies throughout the campus by cross-listing courses, collaborating in research, and participating in the Gender Consortium, which links research and teaching units that focus on gender.

African Studies is equally bogus, functioning, not as a way for African-Americans to learn about their culture, but as an umbrella for Marxist theory. You don’t have to believe me.  You can convince yourself with a visit to the UC Berkeley African-Studies Events link.  Scroll down and click on “Robert Allen Celebrated: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to Black Awakening in Capitalist America.” I optimistically thought this would be a program about the benefits of capitalism for African-Americans (because I believe capitalism benefits all people, just as a rising tide lifts all boats). Silly me. At that link, you can hear audio files from the celebration. I know you’re hungering to hear about:

“Malcolm X and Robert Allen on Domestic (Neo-)Colonialism and Revolutionary Nationalism, and Black Awakenings as a seminal bridge between the ‘organic’ and ‘traditional’ intellectual traditions of activist-scholarship.”

or perhaps

“Colony Over-the-Rhine: Gentrification and Econocide.”

or even

“Social Justice and state crisis: Lessons for the future from the 1960s Black Liberation movement.”

This scholarship isn’t about enabling blacks, at taxpayer’s expense I might add, to advance in American society. Instead, it’s firmly intended s to keep blacks locked in the perpetual victim servitude of identity politics.

This kind of “academic material,” if I can dignify it with that title, is for hobbyists and obsessives, not for people nominally being educated for the benefit of (and at the expense of) the people of the State of California.  It’s equally easy to attack the other “politically correct” departments that populate the school, all providing the “mick” classes (i.e., Mickey Mouse or easy classes) that people with a high tolerance for BS will take, and that have absolutely nothing to do with a classical education of great thought, science, languages, history and, perhaps, world culture.

Students and taxpayers alike would benefit substantially if the UC system, rather than repeatedly imposing an ever greater burden on students and taxpayers alike, would actually examine its own flaws.  It should purge those who can’t teach (or at least stop pretending they’re teachers), and it should peel away the politically correct classes that weigh down the curriculum (at great expense) and focus on core education that benefits, not just the students, but the long-suffering people of California.

Here’s the way I would do it:  I would create a two tier UC system.  The bottom tier, primarily funded by taxpayers, would offer the same core curriculum that existed before the free speech movement, before Marxism and before political correctness ate away like a canker at the heart of the system.  This tier would focus on science, mathematics, history, languages, etc.  It would pretty much resurrect the 1958 (or thereabouts) catalog.  In this way, the state would still get the benefit of an educated class that, in theory, would then raise the whole tone of the state.

All other classes at UC would be a la carte, with students interested in them paying extra for the privilege of learning something outside of the core curriculum.  Those who want a basic education would get it.  Those who want more, would pay, either out of their parents pockets or, if they approached college as I did, by getting a job.  This approach would bring the marketplace into the mix, and allow the Regents, the state and the taxpayers see just how many people are actually willing to dig into their own pocket for “womyn’s studies” and Afro-centric Marxist victim classes.

Somehow, though, I think both taxpayers and students are going to be gouged in perpetuity in order to fund a significantly large group of Marxist professors intent on teaching identity politics papulum to our poor, vulnerable youth.

Even the Muslims are mad at Britain’s most recent attack of dhimmitude

We’re getting near the tail-end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that requires dawn to dusk fasting.  Now, I’m a gal who enjoys noshing during the day, so I’m not thrilled about abstaining from food and drink for 10 hours.  I’d be especially unhappy if it was a hot day, ’cause any type of drink would look awfully enticing.  Nevertheless, it is not the end of the world to hold off on eating for a few hours, especially with the promise of a nice meal to come at the end of the day.  Also, assuming I’m a devout Muslim, I’m not fasting as a punishment, but as as a religious obligation.  It is my gift to God and my faith.

The British Home Office, however, was terribly, terribly worried about those Muslims amongst it who might have rumbly tummies and dry mouths.  It therefore sent around a 5 page document informing all the bone-headed ordinary Brits in its employ about all the sensitivity steps they’d need to talk to make their hungry colleagues happy until night fell:

Home Office staff were officially warned not to eat in front of their fasting Muslim colleagues during Ramadan – in case it made them feel hungry.

The advice came in a taxpayer-funded internal document listing do’s and don’ts during the Muslim holy month, which ends this weekend.

[snip]

The Home Office Islamic Network produced the five-page information sheet which says: ‘In practical terms, please be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim colleague who is fasting.

This can make an individual feel hungrier and make it more challenging to observe the fast.’

[snip]

It says: ‘The most likely need Muslim staff may present to managers during this period is for flexibility around working hours and break times as those fasting will have a slightly different routine from usual. Managers and Muslim staff should discuss what their needs are and be responsive and sensitive.’

Managers were also told: ‘Muslim staff who are fasting and whose environment allows it may wish to set out for work earlier than usual and finish their working day correspondingly early…in line with flexi-time arrangements.’

[snip]

The spokeswoman added that the Islamic Network was one of a number of staff faith and equality groups within the Home Office and was paid for by the taxpayer.

What’s so incredibly funny about all this is that the British, who have completely accepted that there home culture must always be subordinate to another culture, have not protested.  Instead, the protests came from Muslim groups, who felt as if they’d had a big target painted on them:

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which claims to be fighting a ‘political jihad against Islamophobia’, attacked the document.

It said: ‘It is designed to create more hatred in the hearts of non-Muslims.

‘We don’t care how much non-Muslims eat in front of us.

‘It’s never been an issue and never will be and we have never asked for any special treatment or sensitivity from non-Muslims whilst fasting.’

What’s sad is that we no longer live in a society where the bottom line is simply a party of human decency:  If possible, as a good human being and a member of a pluralist society, be nice to people and make reasonable accommodations to their needs — something that should be true irrespective of your or their race, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual preferences, etc.

Identity politics devolves into a joke

Here’s a bad, almost cruel, joke, but nevertheless a pointed and important one:

Two men met on the street.  One looked very angry.

“What’s the problem?” asked the first man of his friend.

“I’m r-r-really a-a-ngry,” he stuttered.  “I app-ap-applied for a j-j-job as an an-an-announcer at the-the-the r-r-r-radio s-s-station and they t-t-turned me-me-me d-d-d-own.”

This statement was followed by a long pause, after which the stutter reached his own conclusions about what had happened:

“D-d-d-damned an-an-antisemites!”

With this joke in mind, please read Dennis Prager’s column today.  He talks about the racial identity politics that led to Biden’s presence at the WH beerfest.  Contrary to what you and I might have thought (I thought that the ever congenial Joe wasn’t going to be left out of a party), his presence there was a deliberate effort to ensure that the white guy (Crowley) was not unbalanced photographically by two black guys.  Joe was a prop.  (As an aside, that’s probably Joe’s best role.)

From there, Prager riffs into the liberal obsession with prejudice that it believes permeates every aspect of American.  He then relates an anecdote he tells black callers who assure him that chronic racism exists, yet are unable to provide examples of its appearance in their own lives.  Prager’s true story uncannily tracks my 50 year old joke:

Years ago driving home from synagogue, both my sons and I were wearing yarmulkes, or skull caps. A convertible car filled with young boys sped past me and yelled into the car “F— you” and called my wife a “b—ch.”

I then said to my family, “I have finally experienced anti-Semitism in America.”

I decided to follow the car and, to my shock, they screamed the same obscenities at other cars, none of whose occupants were discernibly Jewish.

It turned out that the event was not what I was certain, and had every reason to believe, was an example of anti-Semitism, but just an example of young thugs acting thuggish.

So here’s the teachable moment: Harvard historian Louis Gates talked back to a police officer because he was treated as a suspect when he felt he should not be, given his fame as a Harvard professor. The professor was certain that the only possible explanation for such treatment was that he, Gates, was a black and the officer just another racist white policeman. The professor was wrong. The president was wrong. The press is wrong. Liberals are wrong. Even most blacks are wrong.

Willie Brown on the Gates kerfuffle

Willie Brown is one of the smartest politicians out there.  He’s been in the business since the 1960s and, not coincidentally, has broken a whole lot of color barriers.  While he is a die-hard Democrat, he’s also nobody’s fool.  Here’s his take on the Gates kerfuffle.

America got a good look at the Chicago side of Barack Obama last week, and boy did it set off fireworks.

I don’t want to second-guess Obama, and Lord knows I’m not one to criticize someone for shooting from the lip. But I think saying that the white cop in Cambridge, Mass., who arrested Harvard black studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. “acted stupidly” was a bit over the top.

Normally, the president is far more diplomatic than that. But in this case, Obama was outraged that Gates was treated as a suspected criminal at his own home, and diplomacy went right out the window.

I know Skip Gates well. He’s a small person physically, less than 150 pounds wet, but he is very big when it comes to militancy.

For many years, Gates has been one of the strongest academic voices on the black experience in this country. But, like many academics, Skip may not have had a lot of personal experience when it comes to dealing with cops.

Now he can write about the subject forever, having met up with them full force in his own living room.

I have no doubt that he used his intellect to humiliate the hell out of that cop.

The only thing that surprised me about the incident was that he didn’t have a video camera going.

I agree completely with the way in which Brown characterizes Gates’ response as a combination of ingrained identity politics militancy and academic arrogance. The same is true, of course, of Obama’s response, although Brown is too tactful (deferential?) to say so.

The easy attack on the 32 words

You can’t read a blog, attend a press conference, read a paper, or even think about Sotomayor without those 32 words popping into your head:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Because the remark makes statements about people based on their race and sex, many have reached the obvious conclusion that Sotomayor was being racist and sexist.  Democratic partisans have rushed to her defense by contending that only racists and sexists would find a remark defining people by race and attribute to be, in fact, racist and sexist.  (Clearly, these people have been studying at the Humpty Dumpty school of English:  `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’)

But isn’t there a much more obvious, less racially and sexually charged way to read that language, and one that reflects equally poorly on Sotomayor?  Let’s look at the context of her 32 words, as Jake Tapper did:

The larger context of the sentence is Sotomayor addressing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s famous quote that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”

“I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor says. “First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

“Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said. “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

“However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give,” she continued. “For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

She went on to say that “each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”

As you can see, the starting point for this discussion was O’Connor’s race and sex blind statement that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”  (One could argue that this is ageist but, considering that we all hope to attain some degree of age, it’s hard to put a lot of weight behind that argument.)

Sotomayor’s approach to challenging this argument was to wander a little bit through selective judicial  history, and then to launch into discussion about her own race and sex, and her own life and experiences.  Her reference to that incredibly wise Latina woman must be seen in that context.  I’m therefore willing to bet that Sotomayor had not a thought in her head for the Latina saleswoman working in Macys, scrubbing someone’s floors, or doing duty as middle level management in a major American corporation.  This is all about Sotomayor.  In her estimation, she is that wise Latina woman.

In other words, Sotomayor has stumbled across the ultimate in identity politics:  she’s put herself into a victim class of ONE — herself.

As for me, the thought of having someone so self-centered sit in judgment on my case, or on legal issues that will affect me, is terrifying — almost more terrifying than if she was the racist and sexist her detractors claim her to be.