|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 22, No. 8||August 2011|
When Whites Lie to Blacks
Mendacity as a way of life.
Whites, usually but not always liberals, tell blacks brazen lies. This is not conventional deceit in which liars try to profit from cleverly hoodwinking listeners. Nor are whites cloaking harsh reality with kind euphemisms. Rather, the mendacity is so bold and so unconcealed that the usual deterrent to lying — being exposed and punished as a fabricator — does not deter. All this open spewing of falsehoods is all the more remarkable because it occurs in a culture that, at least in principle, cherishes truth.
Consider the following examples:
In a well-publicized 2007 conference called to address lagging black academic achievement, Jack O’Connell, California’s chief of public schools, announced the gap’s true cause: Black youngsters attend churches that encourage the congregation to clap, speak loudly, and be a bit raucous — behavior deemed inappropriate in schools. According to Mr. O’Connell, if teachers take more sensitivity training to “appreciate” this learning style, African-American scores will improve. He offered no evidence linking church attendance to school performance nor, for that matter, did he have any information on how whites who attend similarly boisterous churches perform academically.
In an April 2007 National Public Radio discussion with Melinda Gates, an interviewer mentioned a Gates website statement claiming that all American youngsters possess college-relevant skills and could earn a high school diploma, and that all could then attend college. When Mrs. Gates was asked if this were really possible, she emphatically said “yes.” To emphasize the point, she told the interviewer she had recently visited a largely black and Hispanic Chicago school, and asserted that with the right teachers and expectations, 95 percent to 98 percent of the students would be going to college.
In a 2007 speech before the National Urban League, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the then-presidential candidates for offering empty platitudes about fixing the white/black achievement gap. He then offered his own solution for improving black schools: more Advanced Placement courses and programs for intellectually gifted students.
That same year, at a conference on the low academic achievement of blacks attended by many black educators, George Bush’s Secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling, blithely announced that black students who were years behind in reading and math simply need more AP courses in order to catch up with whites.
Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, the former “education governor” of Florida, was honored in a gilded hall in an exclusive Park Avenue club, where he told an appreciative audience that Florida’s education would improve if all high school graduates attended college. That many of those already enrolled cannot do college work, except by taking dumbed-down courses or after extensive remedial work, was irrelevant. Nor did he mention that when huge numbers of black students failed Florida’s high school exit exam, “civil rights” leaders threatened to boycott the state’s lottery and its citrus industry unless standards were substantially lowered.
In 2006, when Michigan voters approved Proposition 2 banning racial preferences in higher education, the University of Michigan’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, warned that the ban would undermine the university’s intellectual excellence. She insisted that diversity makes the university a world-class institution, that affirmative action made the university fair and equal, and that abolishing preferences for blacks would lead Michigan down the path of mediocrity. In fact, the public record showed that blacks admitted under racial preferences rarely met minimal academic standards.
Less visible than public speech-making are falsehoods offered by academics or think tank scholars. Though they initially target smaller audiences, in the long run they are probably more dangerous because they put the academy’s authoritative stamp on what passes for “truth.” Even worse, these lies frequently find their way into college textbooks and thus may influence generations of impressionable college students. Professorial misrepresentation is also important, as courts increasingly rely on expert testimony when adjudicating lawsuits claiming racial discrimination in employment and education. Recall how the 1954 US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education struck down school segregation by using fraudulent “research” about children’s preferences for black and white dolls (see “How Judges Wreck Schools,” AR, June 2009).
Examples of such mendacity abound, but only a few must suffice. Michael Holzman, in a Schott Foundation-sponsored study of African-American students in Chicago, blamed insufficient access to tough high-school courses to explain a 63 percent dropout rate. According to the report, black students were unable to achieve proficiency in math because they were denied access to advanced algebra and other AP math subjects, so naturally they left school prematurely. It never seemed to occur to Mr. Holzman that if students who were struggling with arithmetic were required to take advanced algebra, let alone AP algebra, the dropout rate might be even higher.
Linking black academic failure to inadequate educational resources has evolved into a bogus yet almost universally embraced Scientific Truth. If there were a Mendacity Hall of Fame, this “how can they learn when the toilets are broken” argument would have its own wing. Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, “everybody knows” that blacks do poorly on standardized tests, fail to graduate, and must take remedial courses if they get into college only because wealthy white suburban schools outspend inner city schools. This assertion is easily disproven with readily available statistics, and it has been repeatedly shown that dramatically increased spending has virtually no effect on test scores. None of this has undermined this counterfeit Scientific Truth. In fact, in a bizarre twisting of logic, it is sometimes argued that no matter how much money is spent on blacks, they will perform inadequately if some whites somewhere get more. According to this thinking, if white schools are defunded black scores will soar.
Just as popular is the totally false assertion that there is a zero connection between race and cognitive ability. Forget about hundreds of studies demonstrating lower average black IQ. The Bell Curve and similar carefully documented books never existed. Just like children who conflate “ought” with “is,” it is alleged that since a difference in mental capacity is bad, it cannot exist. Mary Frasier, an expert in “gifted” education is blunt: “There is no logical reason to expect that the number of minority students would not be proportional to their representation in the general population.” Our friend, California schools chief Jack O’Connell, is even blunter. The race gap in performance, he says, is “absolutely, positively not genetic.”
Elsewhere, lies about equal intelligence are covered with iffy, convoluted explanations that convince only true believers. Stanley Pogrow, a well-published professor of educational leadership (yes, that is the name of his discipline) tells us that “at-risk students [i.e., blacks and Hispanics] have tremendous levels of intellectual and academic potential,” and that “disadvantaged students are as capable of abstract thought as anyone.” What holds them back is that “the adults in their lives simply do not model thinking processes for them.” The culprit is child-rearing styles. White parents have discussions with their children and use lots of words, while blacks just issue orders and use few words. Black children therefore arrive at school at an intellectual disadvantage.
Professor Pogrow ignores the fact that poor whites often have higher IQs than black children from professional families where, we might assume, parents use a richer vocabulary. The professor similarly seems oblivious to the possibility that limited vocabulary just reflects low IQ, and that attempts to expand vocabulary are therefore doomed. Nor does he seem worried by the evidence that blacks do especially poorly on IQ test items that require abstract reasoning. And why do Head Start and Sesame Street vocabulary-building programs fail to uplift blacks?
To be fair, Professor Pogrow should not be singled out. He is just part of an industry whose purpose is to concoct spurious, often ad hoc explanations for black/white academic differences, all swathed in academic jargon. Favorite excuses include poor diet and nutrition, exposure to lead paint and car exhaust, inadequate health care, culturally incompetent white teachers, overcrowded classrooms, racially discriminatory school discipline, black disdain for fellow blacks who “act white,” Eurocentric textbooks, low teacher expectations, parental indifference, insufficient pre-school, an anti-intellectual culture, family instability, the absence of black role models, too many inexperienced teachers and, of course, the pervasive white racism that mysteriously debilitates young blacks well before kindergarten. None of these has withstood scientific scrutiny but all survive as if they were Scientific Laws.
One of the most devious (and seldom recognized) academically instigated lies is based on a purposely misleading research design “to demonstrate” that with proper schooling blacks can perform at the white level. Here’s how the charade works. First, a largely black school is showered with resources: a longer school day, exceptionally dedicated teachers, incentives such as trips to theme parks, a “white” curriculum stressing basics, along with other advantages not found in typical minority schools.
The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools are the favorite example. They typically run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with instruction every other Saturday and classes in the summer, with the result that KIPP students spend about 60 percent more time in class than other students. They are subject to strict classroom discipline, and KIPP requires a formal commitment from families. When test scores approach white levels, it’s Eureka: “See, if we just try hard enough the achievement gaps disappears.”
This claim is false over and above the well-known problems of self-selection and retention bias (students who sign up for the rigors of KIPP are not typical minorities from typical minority families, and the ones that make it through are even less typical). Nor, given the huge pressures to raise black and Hispanic performance, can one entirely rule out the possibility of inflated grading or outright cheating.
The technically correct approach to a comparison of this kind would be to give a white school identical resources and then compare outcomes, while doing nothing extra for typical black and white schools that would serve as controls. It is entirely possible that after 60 percent more instruction the racial test scores gaps at the two experimental schools would be even greater than at the controls. However, one thing is certain: Unless a white school gets the same treatment, the bump in performance among black students says nothing about closing the racial gap. Any decently trained researcher will recognize the methodological flaws here, but America’s yearning to close gaps encourages blindness.
There is another variation on this lie-by-faulty-design. It is to take small gains among blacks and statistically project them into the future so as to “predict” the eventual disappearance of the race-related gap in learning.
Why all the lying?
What can possibly explain this parade of deliberate falsehoods, deceits that crumble upon even cursory inspection? I am not a psychic but let me broach some possibilities.
First, by contradicting plain-to-see reality, the liar publicly embraces a black political agenda that overflows with self-esteem-boosting misinformation. Indeed, the bolder the racial untruth uttered by a white, the higher the moral ground he gains. When Melinda Gates insisted that 98 percent of all blacks should attend college, she achieved instant civil-rights sainthood. This honor would not be forthcoming if she had been more reasonable and said that every intellectually talented African American — perhaps the smartest 25 percent — should give college a try.
Jeb Bush’s promise to get every black into college is tantamount to saying to them: “Trust me. I will, by hook or crook, bestow college diplomas on those who can barely crawl onto a college campus.” Mr. Bush’s tactic is actually rational. After all, what does it take to follow a fast-changing, often befuddled racial party line? Who can best sniff out the zigs and zags of ever-shifting politically correct realities? A pathological liar, obviously. Perhaps next year Mr. Bush will announce a program to guarantee every black a high-paying executive job.
This strategy works equally well whether the aim is to please black voters or to elect the next president of the American Sociology Association. The habitual truth-teller is the uncontrollable Wild Man in today’s racial politics. When a choice must be made, always elect the cravenly dishonest; he is always the most dutiful ally in today’s politically correct times.
There is even a Darwinian benefit to open lying; it promotes group solidarity. If 2 + 2 = 5 is the official orthodoxy, then standing before a crowd and enthusiastically proclaiming 2 + 2 = 5 is the rite de passage to separate the faithful from non-believers.
Self-debasement is probably a mechanism hard-wired into human evolution as a way to submit to the group. In outlaw motorcycle gangs, for example, some initiation rituals require prospective members to lie on the floor in full regalia while members urinate on them. In some gangbanger initiations the members surround new recruits and beat them bloody. In politics, candidates for public office seeking black votes must solemnly tell civil rights groups that closing the racial gap is not just possible; it is America’s highest educational priority. With a few dishonest utterances, the candidate “joins the program,” and if he repeats them often enough, he may actually come to believe them.
Deliberate lying is also useful for softening unwelcome news — armor for the bad news messenger, so to speak. It is impossible to dwell honestly on current black realities in today’s intellectual climate, so falsehoods can sugarcoat bitter pills. This is hardly new. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s infamous 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” about soaring illegitimacy among blacks, gratuitously claimed that “there is absolutely no question of any genetic differential: intelligence potential is distributed among Negro infants in the same proportion and pattern as among Icelanders or Chinese or any other group.” He provided no evidence for this false claim, which he no doubt hoped would be his “Get Out of Jail Free” card to keep him from being pilloried for mentioning black pathology.
A cynic might add that flagrant, flattering lies help manage black unruliness; they are just one more item in the keep-them-mollified package of public jobs, affirmative action, set asides, gerrymandered minority-majority election districts, and school textbooks portraying Timbuktu as a center of great scholarship. When Mayor Bloomberg announces that struggling African Americans trailing their white classmates in arithmetic could excel if only their schools offered AP math, he is assuring blacks that they are smart enough to master calculus. The same is true for the endlessly repeated dishonest calls to pour yet more science-education money into schools with large black enrollments because America’s future depends on mobilizing every ounce of our scientific talent, especially African Americans. In other words, blacks are potential rocket scientists but just lack the opportunity to display this talent.
Outrageous fabrications could even be socially acceptable expressions of contempt. Imagine a candidate for office who privately believes blacks are stupid but is nevertheless required to grovel before the NAACP. Angry at being forced into this demeaning act, he offers up one barefaced lie after another. In effect, he insults the group’s intelligence by telling them that “everyone knows” tests like the SAT are culturally biased and that redneck cops love to arrest innocent blacks. The more the audience laps this up, the better the speaker feels. Later that night he can tell his wife that blacks are so stupid they actually believed all the nonsense he told them! What appears to be self-debasement is transformed into an ego-saving expression of contempt via mountains of dishonest baloney. Conning the audience sustains the speaker’s self-respect.
Finally, lying about blacks can be a cheap ticket to media attention, given the mainstream’s hunger for “good news” on race — or even just repackaged statements of orthodoxy. Academics hankering for their 15 minutes of fame may be particularly vulnerable. Years ago, one reasonably accomplished but still obscure Ivy League professor of my acquaintance suddenly embraced the “white racism is the mother of all evil” doctrine and, voilà, he rose from obscurity.
I personally know a distinguished historian long famous for her “conservative” views on education. She recently did a total about-face, asserting, among other dubious claims, that racial differences in academic achievement were entirely the result of poverty. This new-found “liberal” view brought immense favorable media attention and countless speaking engagements.
You may recall Richard Nisbett’s book, Intelligence and How to Get It. In an instant, a once unheard-of University of Michigan psychology professor became the darling of the New York Times and its op-ed columnists by boldly asserting that “genes account for none of the difference in IQ between blacks and whites.” Not only is this statement empirically false (and Prof. Nisbett probably knows it) but the Times refused to print a detailed rejoinder from Philippe Ruston and Arthur Jensen, two of the world’s most eminent experts on genes and IQ.
Ambitious academics quickly grasp that lying about race is usually the best strategy for getting public and private research grants. Fundraising and the publications that result from it are greatly rewarded in academia, and the notorious liberal bias in grant awards is an open invitation to dishonesty. Race realism usually means pessimism and unkind words. This all too easily becomes “racism,” and few government agencies or private foundations would risk funding a “racist” project. A savvy professor interested in, say, early childhood intervention, is well advised to cherry pick past successes and minimize arguments that suggest hereditary factors in intelligence. No government bureaucrat wants to be interrogated by a Congressional Black Caucus member on why his agency approved a study showing that low black IQ limited academic performance. It is best to remain silent on racial unpleasantness, take the money, and run.
Illustrations and explanations can surely be multiplied but several things are clear. First, as far as I can tell, no white, particularly no prominent figure or distinguished academic, has ever been criticized publicly for race-related lies that flatter blacks. Liars of the correct ideological stripe enjoy diplomatic immunity. Moreover, I suspect that nearly all white voters understand this lying game and grudgingly accept it. I cannot recollect a single white office-seeker being defeated because he kowtowed to blacks by misrepresenting reality.
Jack O’Connell’s call for boosting test scores by requiring teachers to appreciate boisterous black church behavior probably drew endless private laughs, but nobody demanded a recall election on the grounds that his “analysis” demonstrated gross incompetence. No University of Michigan professor in his right mind would openly dispute Mary Sue Coleman’s ridiculous claim that black academic deficiencies were an institutional asset. Her falsehood no doubt solidified her campus position.
One also suspects that this lying by whites is consistent with a widespread, but almost never publicly acknowledged view that blacks are particularly gullible on the subject of race. We can imagine Mayor Bloomberg’s speech writers almost subconsciously gravitated to a pleasing fantasy: “These people will believe anything, so let’s pull out all the stops.” His speech writers would be far more careful if Mayor Bloomberg were to address a convention of largely white media executives. Can you imagine him extolling racial diversity as a way to boost corporate profits?
The idea that whites and blacks differ in their appreciation of truth may be so deeply ingrained in our culture that many whites believe that hoodwinking African Americans is a snap. Given the risks of speaking the truth, deception becomes an irresistible lure. Of course, blacks are not the only ones who are easily duped. Whitney Tilson, who is white, is a director of an influential pressure group within the Democratic Party called Democrats for Education Reform. He heaped praise on Mayor Bloomberg’s speech and said he hoped some Democrat would have “the guts — and the wisdom — to give a speech on education like this one!”
An interesting question is whether blacks believe the lies whites tell them. My guess is that that most blacks don’t, but they enjoy hearing them anyhow. Pleasing, white-supplied dissimulation is a form of cheap therapy. But if you judge blacks by their behavior — their preference for white lawyers and doctors in high-stakes situations, a steadfast belief in the benefits of racial integration, the black male penchant for marrying lighter-skinned black women — many blacks must have private doubts about current orthodoxy.
Even so, they doubtless enjoy the spectacle of whites, especially prominent whites, lying to please them. It’s a power trip. A black audience may know perfectly well that offering AP calculus will not reverse high drop-out rates, but it must bring great pleasure to witness the high and mighty Secretary of Education make this sham claim. At least at that moment, black power becomes a reality.
The bottom line is that the obstacles against frankness about race are nearly insurmountable. For whites, lying has no costs, and has the benefit of keeping blacks happy. Telling the truth offers no benefits but has great risks. The debate is also rigged — blatant falsehoods favorable to blacks go unchallenged while negative assessments almost always require impossible-to-satisfy scientific proof. The truth is supposed to set you free, but at least in this case, it sets you free from your job. Just ask Trent Lott, James Watson, and many others. Distinguished academics who care about the truth receive death threats, have their lectures disrupted, and are investigated for hate speech.
The real losers when whites lie are, of course, blacks who are shielded from an awkward reality. This is classic killing with kindness. Imagine if Mayor Bloomberg spoke honestly to the Urban League and implored black leaders to insist upon school discipline, tough standards, and inculcating a strong work ethic among black students instead of blaming failure on the lack of AP courses. This is sound advice and perhaps his listeners would privately recognize its wisdom, but such frankness would have been a PR catastrophe. Black listeners would feel obligated to denounce the mayor as a racist. Mr. Bloomberg may be a liar but he is not a fool.
In a nutshell, whites lie about race because it is rational, and craven rationality will nearly always trump idealistic truth seeking. It is a matter of incentives: liars are rewarded, truth-tellers punished. Both whites and blacks are equally guilty in this infatuation with mendacity, though for different reasons. When all is said and done, dishonesty makes perfect sense in a society where keeping the racial peace is paramount, and no one cares about really curing anybody’s pathologies or scoring points as a truth teller.
Diogenes of Sinope, the man who went about with a lantern looking for an honest man, was loathed by his fellow Greeks. He lived in poverty and was eventually captured by pirates and sold into slavery.
Dr. Greenberg is a retired academic. This article is adapted from a talk he gave at the 2011 AR conference.
Reply to Dr. Greenberg
Dr. Greenberg has written a witty and insightful essay, which I read with admiration. At the same time, it left me wondering: Are all these people whom Dr. Greenberg quotes deliberately, consciously lying? If everyone from Jeb Bush to Melinda Gates to Mary Sue Coleman to Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling is cynically lying about black ability, it means that just about nobody in America believes the liberal nonsense anymore.
Is the whole country really engaged in a fantastic game of make believe? I don’t think so — for several reasons. First, except for psychopaths like Bill Clinton, people are not comfortable telling deliberate, sustained lies, year in year out. They may be wrong — comically wrong — but normal people need to believe what they say. And normal people are good at believing things that are not true. Plenty of louts think they are charming, and plenty of people who have never traveled abroad think their own country is the best in the world. As Voltaire liked to point out, man is a most deceptive creature, but the person he most frequently deceives is himself.
Given the prevailing structure of taboos, and for all the reasons Dr. Greenberg gives, it is clearly in Melinda Gates’ interests to deceive herself on the subject of blacks. Therefore, when she burbles about 98 percent of them being capable of college work, she is certainly not fooling Dr. Greenberg, but she probably is fooling herself.
I don’t think American orthodoxy has reached the Brezhnev stage. In the waning days of the Soviet Union, its citizens used to joke that they pretended to work and the state pretended to pay them. No one believed in scientific socialism or the classless society, but everyone mouthed Marxist platitudes because he had to. Dr. Greenberg is, in effect, arguing that we have reached the Brezhnev stage, and that Americans are just as cynical as the Soviets, and for the same reason: survival requires it.
We may be headed that way, but we are not there yet. I know too many people, for whom the costs of telling me what they really think would be zero, who defend the official line. They still believe, despite the evidence.
I also think that if Americans were as undeceived about race as Dr. Greenberg suggests, many would be edging towards a confession. Even criminals yearn to confess to someone, for heaven’s sake. If the entire power structure really knew the score, it would have breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief when The Bell Curve was published or when James Watson blurted out the truth. Who wants to be the last chump trying to prop up a clapped out orthodoxy? At the first crack in the monolith, governors and university presidents would be elbowing each other out of the way to get to the microphones and say they never believed that rubbish.
Dr. Greenberg would no doubt argue that the shrieking about The Bell Curve and Dr. Watson was so frantic precisely because everyone knew the facts, but I don’t think people are so harshly cynical. They will not destroy the career of the world’s most famous scientist in order to defend what they know is a lie. If that really is the way Americans think and behave, the country is not just a mess; it doesn’t deserve to be salvaged.
Dr. Greenberg might argue that the country is willing to destroy Dr. Watson’s reputation in the name of a lie because our rulers believe it to be a noble lie. We must all pretend blacks and Hispanics are as smart as whites because if the truth came out there would be riots, and whites would avoid non-whites even more diligently than they do already, and maybe even start mistreating them.
Some people probably believe that but, first of all, they are wrong, and second, I don’t think there are many of them. I have written elsewhere about why they are wrong (see “The Hollow Debate on Race Preferences,” AR, June 2003), and there cannot be that many of them because if there were a broad, cynical, ruling-class-wide agreement to lie about the abilities of blacks and Hispanics, someone would have defected and told us about it. You cannot have tens of thousands of people pledged to a collective lie without someone spilling the beans.
There is a third and decisive reason why I think the vast majority of whites still believe: orthodoxy has a terrible cost to their country and to their children. If there is no such thing as race, and if diversity is an unalloyed joy, and if blacks are little geniuses waiting to blossom, and if Mexicans are going to rejuvenate our society and save Social Security, then everything our rulers say they want makes sense. But if not, Third-Worlders will drag the country into degeneracy and squalor, and they will despise the whites who have let them do it — including the children and grandchildren of our rulers.
If Jeb Bush is as clear-headed as Dr. Greenberg thinks he is, he knows that the increasingly mish-mash population of Florida is not going to erect a bronze statue in his memory as a champion of affirmative action and amnesty for illegals. He knows that mish-mash Florida will write him off as yet another no-account white man who was the last gasp of a pathetic gringo power structure that deserved to die long ago. People may do all manner of contemptible things to save or advance their careers, but they do not knowingly condemn their children to life as members of a despised minority in an increasingly unlivable country.
Even if our rulers were utterly clear-headed about race but thought they must defend the “noble lie” about IQ to keep blacks from rioting, it would not follow that they would pretend to be pleased at the prospect of the country filling up with Mexicans. If they were one quarter as savvy as Dr. Greenberg thinks, they would reduce the price the country pays for this lie by supporting any not-explicitly-racial policy that reduced the influx of low IQ non-whites. They would demand a sane immigration policy and ensure that it was enforced. They would not be howling about “racial profiling” when Arizona and Alabama pass laws to keep out illegal immigrants.
Our cynical but farsighted rulers would discover all the excellent, non-racial reasons to reduce immigration. “Of course, Haitians and Guatemalans and Somali Bantus are just as smart as we are,” they would say, but they would patiently explain why they had to be kept out: More manual laborers compete with their beloved blacks for jobs, our infrastructure is overburdened, a rising population harms our quest for energy independence, children who do not speak English are a burden on schools, immigrants are more likely than natives to go on the dole, federal law must be obeyed, etc., etc. Their favorite argument would be the environment: Curbing population growth will preserve wetlands, improve air quality, stop sprawl, keep America green, and save the whales. Imagine how self-righteous Mary Sue Coleman could sound.
In other words, if the elites were as undeceived as Dr. Greenberg says, they would promote the ignoble lie and destroy Dr. Watson but still keep low-g Third-Worlders out. They don’t keep them out because they really do believe.
I suspect Dr. Greenberg’s difficulty is this: The truth is blindingly — hideously — obvious to him. He cannot imagine how anyone with the brains of a kumquat could fail to see the truth. Most of our rulers are not mentally retarded. Therefore, when they babble about black potential rocket scientists going to waste, they must be lying. On this assumption, Dr. Greenberg has built his charming article.
If only he were right. If suicidal white elites at least accepted facts, they might be willing to think about implications. But equality is religion to them. They spout foolishness because they believe foolishness. And that is why they are willing to destroy the country their own children will inherit.
Into the Cannibal’s Pot
A former South African on the new South Africa.
Ilana Mercer, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, Stairway Press, 2011, 332 pp., $24.95.
South African-born Ilana Mercer is the daughter of a rabbi who was active in the fight against apartheid. Within a year of the establishment of black rule, however, she saw what was coming and decided to move out. Now a columnist based in the US, she writes regularly for World Net Daily, VDare, and her own weblog (barelyablog.com), and has published one previous book, a collection of libertarian essays called Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash with a Corrupt Culture. She had considerable difficulty getting this new book published because of its unfashionable criticism of majority rule and insufficient praise for leftist icon Nelson Mandela.
The bad old days
Mrs. Mercer is no apologist for the apartheid system, which she calls “reprehensible” and “contemptible,” but she clears up some misconceptions about it. Apartheid was never based on a theory of racial supremacy; rather, it was a survival strategy for the badly outnumbered Boers. She notes that the Afrikaner nationalist intelligentsia “almost without exception defended apartheid not as an expression of white superiority but on the grounds of its assumed capacity to reduce conflict by curtailing points of interracial contact.” The system was anything but lawless; the Afrikaner government “was characterized by an obsession with imposing restrictions through proper legislation and with due process in executing these laws.”
On the eve of Afrikaner rule in 1946, the black population of South Africa was 8.6 million; by 1991 it had grown to 28.3 million. At the same time, life expectancy soared from 38 to 61 years. This period saw the economy grow by an average 3.5 percent every year. White industrialists, especially in the mining industry, put constant pressure on the government to allow them to use more black labor, and it was during these years that blacks came to dominate many semi-skilled trades such as construction, sheet metal, furniture, clothing, and baking.
Under apartheid, the white share of total personal income steadily declined as the black share rose. According to the International Monetary Fund, by 1987 South African whites were paying 32 percent of their incomes in taxes but receiving only 9 percent in benefits. The excess was consumed mostly by blacks in the form of welfare, housing, health, and education, amounting to one-and-a-half times what they paid in. South Africa was a Mecca for black immigrants from across the continent. Indeed, were it not for the international boycotts and embargoes, South Africa would probably have continued to experience steady economic growth, producing a sizeable black middle class with an interest in political stability.
Crime was already a problem in the black townships in those days, but a tough and competent white police force kept it within bounds. A Western system of Roman-Dutch law and a relatively independent judiciary dished out prompt and harsh justice, including the death penalty for necklacing, muti-murder (aimed at obtaining body parts for witchcraft) and baby-rape (believed to cure AIDS). However much they resented the race laws, ordinary blacks had no desire to do without the physical protection offered by the white police force.
Much of the apartheid system was gradually scrapped by the white government itself, beginning in the early 1980s. Coloreds and Indians were admitted to Parliament, influx control laws were dismantled, public facilities desegregated, and anti-miscegenation laws repealed. Blacks enjoyed full property rights and were accepted at historically white universities.
The problem with democracy
As the old system approached its end, the major obstacle to negotiating a new constitutional order was the question of whether South Africa would become a unified, centralized democracy, as demanded by the ANC, or a cooperative federation of the various racial and tribal groups. One cannot understand South African politics without grasping this issue.
A prerequisite for parliamentary democracy is that majority and minority status should be fluid — that the ruling majority party should, at each election, be almost as likely to become a minority as to retain its majority. In a multiracial polity this does not happen. Parties represent racial groups rather than different philosophies of government, and elections become racial headcounts.
The majority race has a lock on power; government ceases to have a mediating function and becomes an instrument in the hands of the majority for oppressing minorities. For this reason, many theorists of democracy have urged that the principle of majority rule be severely curtailed in countries with mutually mistrustful peoples with different languages, races, or religions. Some form of structured power-sharing that protects minority rights is likely to be more successful than winner-take-all majority rule.
In surveys conducted between 1986 and 1989, two-thirds of South Africa’s whites preferred some sort of power-sharing accommodation with blacks rather than majority rule. Most whites asked only that, in Mrs. Mercer’s words, “the new, multi-racial order guarantee security, predictable politicians, competent civil servants, a strong economy and secure property rights.”
Many blacks felt the same way. One survey taken in Soweto in 1978 found that 57 percent of blacks preferred equal numbers of blacks and whites in the cabinet. Only 35 percent favored pure majority rule. “Perhaps most blacks realized that being disenfranchised in a functioning state was preferable to being masters in a failed one,” suggests Mrs. Mercer.
President F. W. de Klerk promised to push for power-sharing; he even campaigned on the slogan, “Oppose majority rule.” He had a powerful ally in Zulu chief Buthelezi, who had his own reasons for distrusting the Xhosa-dominated ANC. Mr. Buthelezi espoused a multi-racial, decentralized federation, in which the representatives of various groups would agree to share power and abide by a system of mutual vetoes and spheres of autonomy.
This was not to be. The ANC insisted on unlimited power for the “majority,” meaning itself. Its demands were fully supported by the United States. Under-Secretary of State for Africa Herman Cohen warned: “Minorities cannot expect a veto. All sides [have] to recognize the right of the majority to govern. No side [can] insist on overly complex arrangements intended to guarantee a share of power to particular groups, which will frustrate effective governance.” Pres. George Bush, Sr. even told Pres. de Klerk he thought black South Africans should enjoy not merely “equal opportunity” but “equality of outcomes.”
In the 1994 elections, the ANC received over 62 percent of the vote. Large-scale intimidation had made it nearly impossible for rival parties to campaign in the African townships.
Black Economic Empowerment
Mrs. Mercer explains that the main ANC policy is a program called Black Economic Empowerment, or BEE. This requires that a percentage of all white-owned companies be taken over by blacks, on pain of being shut down. By 2014, the employees of all enterprises are supposed to be “demographically representative,” i.e., at least 75 percent black and not more than 10 percent white. This transfer is known, ironically, as “deracializing the economy.”
Plum positions with white companies are not, of course, given out to just any blacks. Almost all go to a small elite with connections to the ANC. Many go to ANC officials, who do a brisk business renting themselves out as front men to white companies looking for government contracts.
Similar racial quotas apply to the civil service and police. ANC parliamentarian Mario Rantho has declared it “imperative to get rid of merit as the overriding principle in the appointment of public servants.” As a result, municipal budgets in the billions are now often under the control of illiterate blacks. The black editor of South Africa’s largest circulation weekly, the Sunday Times, has acknowledged: “My African colleagues who manage large companies or government departments tell me that to get a job done, you usually have to employ a white.”
Needless to say, the job is often not done. The average black household saw its income shrink by 19 percent during the first six years of ANC rule, and the total number of persons of all races living in “absolute poverty” has doubled since the ANC came to power. Most blacks therefore do not benefit from BEE at all but they still enthusiastically support it for reasons of racial solidarity.
Whites have also suffered. One tenth now live in poverty, many in huts without sanitation or electricity. Around a million whites are thought to have left South Africa; the exact number is uncertain, because the government stopped keeping records. Nelson Mandela describes fleeing whites as “traitors” and “cowards.”
South Africa jostles with Iraq and Colombia for the title of most violent country in the world. Over 300,000 people of all races have been murdered since the establishment of majority rule. More people are killed in a typical week under ANC rule than died in detention during 40 years of Afrikaner rule.
In the European Union, the murder rate is about 1.6 per 100,000 people per year; in American it is 6 (whites: 3.5; blacks: 26.5). The South African rate depends upon whom you ask. The police claim it is 60, but outside observers note what Mrs. Mercer calls a “pervasive pattern of police manipulation of statistics.” The South Africa Medical Research Council says the true number is closer to 89; Interpol estimates it at 114.8. Among South Africa’s white farmers, the figure is thought to reach 313. That is nearly 200 times the murder rate of Europe.
Only about 8 percent of murders result in a conviction. The police are ill-trained, illiterate, and corrupt. Under Afrikaner rule, a crack anticorruption unit known as the Scorpions monitored police behavior, and the police in general were subject to judicial review that often resulted in criticism and reform. The ANC has done away with both kinds of restraint on abuse and corruption. Mrs. Mercer attempted to contact some of the few white “old hands” who remain in the police system, but all were afraid to speak to her. Four hundred thousand private security officers struggle to make up for the shortcomings of the official police; some are hired by the police to provide security for the police station.
Defending oneself can be risky. A Firearms Control Act outlawed most guns in private hands. Victims are also prohibited from retaliating against “non-threatening” home invaders — as if breaking and entering were not threatening. One 26-year-old Afrikaner found two intruders in his home at two o’clock in the morning. He fired a single shot, killing one man and injuring the other. He now faces murder and attempted murder charges, and a local ANC official called the shooting “racist murders.” Mrs. Mercer provides several similar examples.
White farmers are a special category of victim. As Chris van Zyl of the Transvaal Agricultural Union explains, “Rather than simply reflecting South Africa’s overall high crime rate, murders against farmers are part of an orchestrated strategy to drive white farmers from their land.” Attackers often pounce on Sunday morning, when many family members are away at church. The attackers torture the elderly and infirm and then ambush the rest of the family when they return. Women are normally raped before being killed. Dr. Gregory H. Stanton of Genocide Watch says that “the rates at which the farmers are being eliminated, the torture and dehumanization involved — all point to systematic extermination.”
The ANC is notoriously unconcerned about these murders, which fit nicely into its own plans for “land reform.” The government wants 30 percent of all agricultural land in black hands by 2015, and it has tried to push through legislation that would allow it to seize land “simply by giving notice to the expropriated owner.” Unsuccessful in this effort, in March 2010 it proposed a plan in Parliament to nationalize all productive land at once. The government also intends to put a ceiling on how much land individual farmers can own; the effect would be to make large-scale commercial farming impossible.
Fifteen million acres of productive farmland have already been transferred to black ownership, and much of this now lies fallow. A London Times journalist writes:
Once-productive maize fields now grow only weeds. Citrus orchards are dying, their valuable fruit rotting on the branches. Machinery lies about rusting. Irrigation pipes have been looted and farm sheds are derelict and stripped of roofing. Windbreak trees have been hacked down and roads are potholed.
Mrs. Mercer describes a case in which blacks actually burned a farm to the ground in frustration at their own inability to manage it. Meanwhile, as she explains, the law requires that white farmers “battle their ubiquitous assailants with only a shotgun, a handgun and a legally limited number of rounds at their disposal.” The only effective defense they have is a private Afrikaner militia known since the 1770s as the Commandos, when they first began patrolling the frontier area near the Fish River. Needless to say, the ANC now plans to dismantle this.
One little-known trend Mrs. Mercer reports on is the growth of Islam, previously restricted to a tiny community of Cape Malays. Islamic militants began agitating in South Africa within a year of the ANC takeover. Islam today is the largest religion of conversion, with over a million followers, or 2 percent of the population.
The innocent-sounding People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) is a Muslim front involved in extortion, racketeering, and intimidation of witnesses and political opponents. In 1999 and 2000, the group carried out no less than 80 fire bombings of such targets as restaurants, homosexual nightclubs, and Jewish establishments. PAGAD appears to have gone dormant after the arrest of most of its leaders.
For the time being, therefore, the ANC seems to have been able to curb the worst Islamic excesses. One expert argues that the “tacit alliance between mainstream Muslim leaders and the ruling party has successfully managed to sideline more radical voices.” The future balance of power remains to be seen, however. The ANC already has a Muslim wing known as the Call of Islam, and recently elected a Muslim as its Western Cape provincial leader.
Mrs. Mercer holds out little hope for her native land. Her message is mainly directed to us; the book’s subtitle is “Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” and the cover features an American flag. “South Africa’s gutted institutions serve as a harbinger of things to come in the US,” she notes, “where affirmative action is still dismissed as a ‘minor irritant,’ but ought not to be.” As our government continues to transfer wealth from the productive to the unproductive, all the while importing more unproductive people, America is increasingly coming to resemble what she calls the “dying Christian civilization at the foot of Africa.”
Dr. Devlin is a contributing editor to The Occidental Quarterly and the author of Alexandre Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought.
The Galton Report
Race differences in school discipline.
During the last 40 years, many studies have reported that in the United States there are race differences in the rates at which disruptive students are suspended and expelled from school. The rate is highest for blacks, followed by American Indians, Hispanics, and whites, and lowest for East Asians. Although the popular understanding of expulsions is that they are permanent, researchers generally categorize any suspension of more than 10 days as an expulsion.
In 1970, Dr. J. G. Backman found that blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be suspended and expelled than whites. In 2000, Dr. R. Gordon and his colleagues reported similar results from data collected in 1999 for 1.8 million school children drawn from public schools in a variety of cities and states. The highest suspension and expulsion rate was for blacks (12.8%), followed by Indians (11.0%), Hispanics (9.5%), whites (8.4%), and East Asians (3.2%). Asians were the model minority.
Researchers invariably consider the high rates of discipline for blacks, Indians, and Hispanics to be a serious problem that must be solved. One entirely typical study published in the Negro Educational Review in 2008 worried that “among girls, experiencing school discipline (e.g., suspension or expulsion) during middle school is the strongest predictor of being arrested later in adolescence.” The study noted that “suspension does not appear to work as a deterrent to future misbehavior,” and suggested that school discipline seems to cause later misbehavior, and should therefore be reduced as much as possible, especially for blacks.
In 2004, the American Psychological Association (APA) set up a task force to examine race differences in school discipline and determine the reason for them. The task force reported its findings in December 2008, and calculated suspension and expulsion rates as a multiple of the white rate, which it set at 1.0. For suspensions, the rates were Hispanics 1.23, Indians 1.52, and blacks 2.84. For expulsions the figures were Hispanics 1.50, Indians 1.98, and blacks 2.47. Curiously, the report gave no data for suspension and expulsion rates for Asians.
The task force then considered the reasons for these race differences. Many studies of this kind look into the correlation of rates of discipline with such things as poverty, divorce, family breakup, socio-economic status, etc., and find that they explain some but not all of the racial differences. What accounts for the rest? Could there be race differences in disruptive or violent behavior?
Not at all, the task force concluded. It stated that “there are no data supporting the assumption that African American students exhibit higher rates of disruption or violence that would warrant higher rates of discipline. Rather, African American students may be disciplined more severely for less serious or more subjective reasons … the disproportionate discipline of students of color may be due to lack of teacher preparation in classroom management, lack of training in culturally competent practices, or racial stereotypes.” (p. 854)
This is a remarkable assertion because the most common reason for school suspension and expulsion is conduct disorder (also termed behavior problems or “oppositional defiance disorder”), consisting of excessive aggressiveness, violence, disobedience, and criminal offenses such as drug dealing. Many studies have reported that racial differences in this kind of behavior are similar to those in suspensions and exclusions.
For example, Drs. H. Feng & G. Cartledge reported that conduct disorder was .49 standard deviation units higher in blacks than in whites, while it was 1.12 lower in East Asians.
Similar differences have been reported in Britain. Professor Michael Rutter and his colleagues reported that behavior problems assessed by teachers of 3- to 5-year-old boys and girls at inner-city schools in London showed that black boys had 3.9 times the scores of white boys, and black girls had 2.3 times the scores of white girls. Professor Barbara Tizard and her colleagues reported that the prevalence of conduct disorders was 3.9 times greater in black boys than in white boys, and 2.3 times greater in black girls than in white girls.
The same race differences are also present in juvenile crime. In the 1960s, Dr. M. Gold reported that the ratio of blacks to whites for criminal convictions for boys was 8.1:1, while for girls the ratio was 14.1:1. Similar race differences are found in the case of adult crime. A 2005 report by the New Century Foundation found that blacks are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, and that Hispanics are three times more likely. The report also found that for virtually all crimes, Asians are incarcerated at about one third the white rate. The report also looked closely at the possibility of police and justice system bias, and concluded that race differences in incarceration reflect race differences in criminality, not bias.
It will be noted that in all of these studies the black-white differences in the rates of conduct disorders and in criminal convictions are considerably greater than the differences in school expulsions and suspensions. This suggests that the task force’s conclusion that teacher bias explains racial difference in expulsions and suspensions is unlikely to be correct. In fact, the greater race differences in the prevalence of conduct disorders and in criminal convictions than in school discipline suggests that far from disciplining blacks more harshly, school principals are reluctant to suspend and expel them for fear of being accused of racism, and are therefore more tolerant of anti-social behavior by blacks.
Ever since the 1960s, when studies of race differences in school discipline became common, researchers have stressed the importance of keeping careful race statistics. This means school administrators know their patterns of discipline will be scrutinized, and that they will be criticized for any departure from proportionality.
The most reasonable interpretation of all these studies is that there are racial differences in anti-social behavior, and these explain the differences in suspension and expulsion rates. The task force was composed of experienced social scientists who cannot have been unaware of the many studies of conduct disorders and crime. One can only conclude that they simply ignored them and blamed high rates of suspension and expulsion on the inadequacies of white teachers.
Entirely aside from the fact that race differences in behavior are well established, there are ways to check the task force’s conclusions about white incompetence. There are now many non-white school administrators who have disciplinary authority. Why did the task force not research black and Hispanic principals? If their patterns of discipline were the same as those of whites — or even showed sharper race differences — it would undercut the theory of white incompetence and bias.
Furthermore, why do race differences in discipline rates always seem to show the same pattern, with the black rate highest and the Asian rate the lowest? If these differences are due to white ignorance and prejudice, it is remarkable that throughout the country, year after year, the irrational behavior of whites produces exactly the same pattern. Who would have imagined that something so inherently unstable as subjective bias should produce such consistent results?
Finally, why are high rates of discipline for blacks, Hispanics, and Indians a problem but low rates of discipline for Asians are not? Are Asians beneficiaries of favorable but false “stereotypes,” or are they less disruptive? If they are less disruptive, then even the most doggedly egalitarian researchers must accept the possibility that there are race differences in behavior. No doubt this is why no one looks seriously into the question of Asians.
As for the concern expressed by the research reported in the Negro Educational Review, it is unlikely that school discipline causes later misbehavior or crime. Students who are already unusually rebellious and aggressive by the time they are in middle school are probably likely to be criminals later in life no matter what their teachers do. Schools have no choice but to punish intolerable behavior, and it is in the best interests of well-behaving students of all races to expel incorrigibles, who make it difficult for others to learn.
Whenever social science touches on the question of race differences, the temptation to twist the facts appears to be overwhelming (see cover story). The question of race differences in discipline rates is no exception.
American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? American Psychologist, 63, 852-862.
Backman, J. G. (1970). Youth in transition. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.
Feng, H., & Cartledge, G. (1996). Social skill assessment of inner city Asian, African and European American students. School Psychology Review, 25, 228–239.
Gold, M. (1966) Undetected criminal behavior. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinqency, 3, 27-46.
Gordon, R., Piana, L. D., & Keleher, T. (2000). Facing the consequences: an examination of racial discrimination in US public schools. Oakland, CA: Applied Research Center.
New Century Foundation, The Color of Crime, 2005.
Rutter, M., Yule, et al., (1974). Children of West Indian Immigrants.
Rates of behavioural deviance and of psychiatric disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 15, 241–262.
Tizard, B., Blntchford, P., Burke, J., Farquhar, C., & Plewis, J. (1988). Young children at school in the inner city. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Wallace, J., Goodkind, S., et al., Negro Educational Review, 2008; 59 (1-2): 47–62.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
On June 25, the US soccer team hosted the Mexican team in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for the final game of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). The stadium was filled with 93,000 fans, mostly American-born and naturalized Mexicans, who made it a home game for the Mexicans. They started roaring for Mexico hours before the game started and roared into the night for hours afterwards. They blew air horns and jeered during the national anthem. They chanted obscenities at the goalkeeper, Tim Howard. They were ecstatic when Mexico won 4 to 2, and booed one final time, during the trophy ceremony, when the American team was announced as the runner up.
The entire awards ceremony was conducted in Spanish, which annoyed Mr. Howard. “CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “I think it was a [expletive] disgrace that the entire post-match ceremony was in Spanish … You can bet your ass that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn’t be all in English … It never ceases to amaze me, all that stuff.” The head coach of the US team, Bob Bradley, said he expected a hostile crowd.
Mexican fans told reporters they were not booing America, just the American team. As Victor Sanchez explained. “I love this country. It has given me everything that I have, and I’m proud to be part of it … But yet, I didn’t have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.” [US Soccer Team Booed in their own Country as Mexican Fans Turn LA into “Away” Game, Daily Mail (London), June 27, 2011. Bill Plaschke, In Gold Cup Final, It’s Red, White and Boo Again, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2011]
Youthful High Jinks
Some young blacks have celebrated the beginning of summer with a series of “flash mob” attacks — unprovoked assaults by groups that form spontaneously after events let out or that gather in responses to cell-phone messages or social media postings. A recent example was 40 to 50 black teenagers who went on a rampage in Philadelphia that caught up Emily Guendelsberger, an editor for the satirical newspaper Onion, and a group of her friends. According to police, Miss Guendelsberger was “jumped” by “30 to 40 men who punched and kicked her numerous times,” breaking her leg badly and leaving her face cut and bruised. [Stephanie Farr, Woman’s Leg Broken, Others Hurt in Spring Garden Mob Attack, Philly News, June 27, 2011.] Her attackers were part of a band of roughly 100 young people who left the 19th annual Susquehanna Community Festival that evening, and went on to rob and beat many people.
Miss Guendelsberger admitted that the mob was all black, but rejected the idea that race played a role because in her group, a Hispanic, two Muslim women, and her East Indian boyfriend were attacked. She seems not to have noticed that no blacks were attacked. [Emily Guendelsberger, “Flash Mob” Fall-Out, A.V. Club, July 1, 2011.]
Part of the same mob arrived at Philadelphia’s Center City, where two women identified only as Maria and Cecilia were eating at a window seat in a restaurant. One black reached through the window and snatched Cecilia’s cell phone. When Maria ran out of the restaurant hoping to get help, someone punched her from behind. Maria turned around and saw her attacker, a girl, flanked by five other teenagers. “What are you going to do?” the girl asked defiantly, before calling Maria “a slut” and running away. When police arrived, they found the attackers only a few blocks away, laughing and acting as if nothing had happened. One had Cecilia’s phone and had already sent a text message: “Hangin in the da hood.” [Mike Newall, Teens in a Mob Assault and Rob Center City Patrons, The Inquirer (Philadelphia), June 29, 2011.]
Two weeks before the Susquehanna Festival, black State Representative Jewell Williams announced that it would be “a community celebration of peace, prosperity and health,” and that the event would be headlined by gospel and praise dance teams. [Jewell Williams, Williams Announces 19th Susquehanna Festival Celebration, Panhouse, June 11, 2011.]
An Accuser’s Hypocrisy
The legacy of the much-celebrated “anti-racist” evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould came under fire when a study published June 7 in the Public Library of Science Biology accused him of shoddy if not dishonest research.
In his famous 1981 book The Mismeasure of Man, Gould argued that cultural biases and prejudices inevitably influence research. One of his prime examples of bias was 19th-century anatomy professor and physician Samuel George Morton, who measured the cranial capacity of 1,000 skulls and concluded that whites, on average, have larger brains than blacks. Morton’s method was to measure how much buckshot or mustard seed could be packed into a skull, and Gould argued that Morton had — consciously or unconsciously — overstuffed the Caucasian skulls to get higher measures for them.
A team led by Stanford University’s Jason Lewis remeasured Morton’s skulls and found that, although Morton had made mistakes in measuring seven of the 1,000 skulls, his mistakes were random, and that the cranial capacity of the white skulls was greater than that of the black ones. The researchers hastened to insist that brain size is a function of climate, not intelligence, but concluded that “overall, we find that Morton’s initial reputation as the objectivist of his era was well-deserved.” As for Gould, it found most of his criticisms “poorly supported or falsified.” [Dan Vergano, Stephen Jay Gould Mismeasured Skulls in Racial Records Dispute, USA Today, June 9, 2011.]
It was therefore Gould, who — consciously or unconsciously — cooked the data. As Ralph Holloway, one of the study’s co-authors and a human evolution expert at Columbia, noted, “I just didn’t trust Gould. I had the feeling that his ideological stance was supreme.” [Nicholas Wade, Scientists Measure the Accuracy of a Racism Claim, New York Times, June 13, 2011.]
When Congress set up the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, it included something called the Office of Citizenship. Its job is to help people learn English, give money and help to groups that prepare foreigners for naturalization, and, in its own words, to “demystify the naturalization process for aspiring citizens.”
The process is not mystifying. Anyone who has had a green card (permanent residency) for five years, who has no criminal record, and who passes a simple English and civics test, can become as American as George Washington. Last year, 700,000 people applied for citizenship, up 25 percent from the year before, but the Office of Citizenship wants more. It says there are nearly 8 million foreigners who qualify for citizenship but — horrors — they haven’t taken the plunge.
How to tempt them? Federal deficits be damned, the office is going to spend $3.5 million on an ad campaign. It will run print, radio, and Internet ads with heart-warming stories about immigrants from China, Mexico, Vietnam, and other places who became happy, loyal citizens. The ads will be in Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese — a few will even be in English — and will run mostly in New York, Florida, California, and Texas. This will be the first time that the US government has spent tax dollars on an ad campaign to try to persuade foreigners to become Americans. [$3.5 Million Ad Campaign Launched by the Government to Promote Citizenship to Immigrants, Daily Mail (London), May 25, 2011.]
Scheduled for the Ax
The New York City Department of Education has tried twice in the past year to close MS 344, which is the worst performing middle school in New York City. The authorities think students would be better off if they were all assigned elsewhere. The city spends $15,742 per student each year at the Harlem school, but only two of 88 eighth-graders passed math or reading exams last year.
“It was literally war,” says one teacher of working at the school of fewer than 200 students, which is 75 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent Asian. “I was pushed, shoved, scratched, thrown against the wall, spit on, and pick pocketed.” She once found a used condom in her purse. Another teacher was transferred after a student threatened to rape his wife.
A reporter who visited the school said it was bedlam: Students “hoot and yammer so loudly that their ruckus drowns out the teacher.” Sunflower-seed shells litter the floor, and there are mouse droppings everywhere, even on the computers. One undersized schoolmate was robbed every day for a month.
Principal Rashaunda Shaw is part of the problem, and staff have begged that she be removed. She hired a friend, Odufuyi Jackson, as assistant principal, even though he was arrested in 2009 for conspiring to steal over $100,000 in Social Security benefits. When he recently pled guilty to trying to fabricate business records, school authorities demoted him to mere teacher, but Miss Shaw has him doubling as a dean.
The NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers are suing to block the closure of MS 344 and 21 other failing schools. They say the city’s Department of Education had not done enough to improve them. [Susan Edelman, The School from Hell, New York Post, June 26, 2011.]
Common Sense at Last
A University of Pennsylvania law professor is sure to come under fire for a paper that will appear in the Winter 2011 issue of the William and Mary Law Review titled “Disparate Impact Realism.” A draft of the paper is available online.
Professor Amy L. Wax attacks the doctrine of disparate impact, according to which employers can be found guilty of racial discrimination if they use employee selection standards that weed out more blacks and Hispanics than whites — that is, have a “disparate impact.” Virtually all realistic job standards have a “disparate impact,” so employers must use race preferences to avoid an underrepresentation of protected minorities. Prof. Wax argues that disparate impact thinking must be junked or radically rethought in light of “well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability and the consistent link between ability and job performance.” In other words, if an employer uses a race-neutral selection criterion and gets an overrepresentation of whites and Asians, it is not because of prejudice but because blacks and Hispanics are not as smart. [Amy L. Wax, Disparate Impact Realism, NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository, April 26, 2011.]
Professor Wax has been edging towards race realism for some time. She is the author of the 2008 book Race, Wrongs, and Remedies, in which she argued that society has done all it reasonably can to make up for slavery and Jim Crow, and that blacks must now take responsibility for their own circumstances. Last year, Prof. Wax suggested to the Black Law Students Association of the University of Pennsylvania that it invite National Review columnist John Derbyshire to attend a panel discussion they were organizing to critique her book. Mr. Derbyshire reports that he proceeded to give “five minutes of unfiltered race realism, right between the eyes,” followed by “a plea to turn to good old American individualism and stop obsessing about group outcomes.” [John Derbyshire, U. Penn. Panel Report, National Review Online, April 8, 2010.]
Diversity and its Discontents
Mass immigration is changing the face of British schools. The Department of Education reports in its annual schools census that more than one quarter of primary-school children are now from an ethnic minority, and that nearly one million students aged 5 to 16 speak English as a second language.
When Labour took power in 1997, there were 380,954 ethnic minority children in primary schools. Today, that number has more than doubled to 862,735. At the secondary level, there are 723,605 — 22.5 percent of all students — up from 17.7 percent just five years ago.
The largest ethnic minority is Asians (in Britain this usually means Indians, Pakistanis, or Bangladeshis), who make up 10 percent of primary-school students and 8.3 percent of secondary-school students. However, some “ethnic minorities” are white. Immigration, mostly from Eastern Europe, has nearly doubled the number of students from “other white backgrounds” from 74,500 in 2004 to 136,880.
In Manchester, Bradford, Leicester, and Nottinghamshire, fewer than half of primary-school students are white Britons. In some London boroughs, such as Newham, only 8 percent are British.
Parents do not seem to like this wave of foreigners. They can file appeals if they cannot get a spot for their children at the school of their choice, and appeals have soared: from 21,995 in 2005/2006 to 42,070 in 2009/2010. [Kate Loveys, One in Four Primary School Pupils are From an Ethnic Minority and Almost a Million Schoolchildren do not Speak English as Their First Language, Daily Mail (London), June 22, 2011.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — I enjoyed “Therapeutic Incarceration” in the July issue.
It seems to me that the treatment of prisoners in Western societies has parallels in the treatment of all defectives, deviants, or outsiders: immigrants, homosexuals, non-whites, AIDS carriers, cripples, dimwits, bums, etc. First, we change their names: Bums become the “homeless,” homosexuals become “gay,” dimwits are “challenged,” Negroes are “African-Americans.” Then we fuss over them as if they were more valuable and important than the rest of us.
Of course, many defects are genetic or the result of bad luck, and I’m not suggesting that cripples do not deserve help or dignified treatment. However, there is a kind of glorification of the marginal that is typical only of the contemporary West. We have lost the ability to say that homosexuality is abnormal, that bums are lazy, or that we prefer white-majority societies. Treating prisoners like wayward children who just need a little “empowerment” and “self esteem” is part of the same inability to make obvious distinctions.
As Mr. Forrest writes, prison should be unpleasant. No one should ever want to go back. Some kinds of behavior should be condemned and punished, not coddled. White people used to understand this; they started to lose that understanding about the time they started pretending that race did not matter.
James Carmody, Miami Beach, Fla.
Sir — Many thanks to Mr. Forrest for his July article about the waste of tax dollars on what he calls “therapeutic incarceration.”
Here in California, the prison population has increased by 73 percent since 1990 — nearly three times faster than the adult population. The state has spent $5.7 billion since 1977 on new prisons, but we still have one of the most overcrowded systems in the country.
There may be some justification for the building budget — I want felons off the street — but some expenditures are crazy. In 2010, there were 10 California state employees who made more than $500,000, and seven were prison medical personnel. The highest paid guy — a chief psychiatrist — made $838,706 that year. His base pay was reportedly in the range of $261,408 to $308,640, and he got the rest in bonuses or from cashing out unused sick and vacation time. As Mr. Forrest pointed out, “therapeutic incarceration” means fat checks for the therapists.
Timothy Graves, Sacramento, Cal.
Sir — While I do not deny the likelihood of a causal relation between intelligence and quarterback performance as suggested by Professor Hart in the July issue, there may be other factors involved: impulsiveness, for instance. The quarterback rating takes into account the percentage of pass completions and interceptions, so the rating would be low if a quarterback had poor impulse control and often passed when he should have kept the ball. Blacks are known to have poorer impulse control than whites — though impulse control is correlated with IQ — and this may account in part for differences in performance.
I think it is also likely that fast, agile black quarterbacks leave the pocket more often than whites, either to run or to buy more time for a pass. If, in order to avoid a sack, this means that they throw the ball away more often, it would bring down their pass completion rate, which is a big part of the quarterback rating. At the same time, the rating may not fully reflect the gains blacks are able to achieve by leaving the pocket.
As with any analysis of this kind, many factors could be involved that would complicate a simple intelligenceperformance relationship. Still, I am grateful to Dr. Hart for this thoughtprovoking article and for the interesting data he presented.
Joseph Moore, Little Rock, Ark.
Sir — Last issue’s Galton Report came at the right time, just as a group of scientists were debunking that old fraud Stephen Jay Gould yet again. It is now definitive: Gould cooked the data when he tried to discredit Samuel Morton [see p. 15 of this issue], thus discrediting himself.
This is good, but not good enough. The Gould critics concede that the average white has a bigger brain than the average black, but still say this has nothing to do with intelligence. However, as Hippocrates points out, brain size is clearly related to intelligence, in everything from birds to wild boars. Domestic animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins and are not as smart.
When serious scientists tell us that a relationship that holds true throughout the animal kingdom does not apply to human beings, the old fraud gets the last laugh. Gould is the one who popularized the idea that even though the different races evolved different bodies over the last 50 or 60 thousand years, their brains have not changed at all and are therefore identical. Brains are obviously not all identical if some races grew bigger ones than others, and it is sad to see researchers who saw through one Gould hoax falling for another.
Name Withheld, Los Angeles, Cal.
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