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American Students Are Taught to Want Inclusion and Tolerate Exclusion

Jonathan Haidt made an interesting discovery while giving a talk at a private West Coast high school:

So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid.

Sounds sort of like Providence.

Such is the scam that progressives have pulled on the West.  They’re all for freedom of speech, they say, and even a healthy dose of intellectual diversity.  It’s just that the folks on the right want to say things that are so bad that they transcend mere language into the realm of physical harm.  Anybody can speak, so long as their words are within a certain range and that their errors aren’t of the sort that are frustratingly difficult to disprove, even though uncomfortable.

The quotation above comes from a smaller session that Haidt conducted after he’d given a talk to the whole school.  When he’d opened the larger session for Q&A, he says, “it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had.”  The second question, for example, was “So you think rape is OK?”… followed by creepy finger snapping that intimidated Haidt like no other experience during his 25-year career of teaching and public speaking.

Note, also, the bifurcated society that the school has fostered, as Haidt describes the event.  He could find only one male student raising his hand to ask a question, and when he did, it was in concert with the hostile girls.  Yet, at the conclusion, other boys stood while they clapped, and a male-only line formed to personally thank him.

In the smaller session, Haidt discovered that boys, whites, and conservatives at the school feel uncomfortable voicing opinions that differ from the tolerated view.  The only conservative who said he felt free to talk about his views during class acknowledged that “everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up.”

This asphyxiating cloud was already beginning to descend on education when I was in college almost twenty years ago (being that one who spoke up against conformity).  I can only imagine how bad it’s become since then.


Learning from the Real Question Among Reasonable Black Professors

In his Saturday column, Ted Nesi links to a straight-shooting Facebook essay by Brown University economist Glenn Loury, who in addition to being on sabbatical at Stanford is black:

The notion that Brown needs a revolutionary reshaping in order to become hospitable to “students of color”, that idea that “anti-black pedagogy” at Brown needs to be countered with some mandatory indoctrination of faculty, the proposal that external student committees should review purportedly “racist” departmental appointment processes, the initiative of creating “specialty positions” in academic departments to ensure their openness to hiring “faculty of color” — these are all mischievous intrusions on the academic prerogatives of a distinguished faculty which no self-respecting scholar of any color should welcome. They are a step onto a slippery slope that slides down into intellectual mediocrity, and I will have nothing to do with them.

I’d recommend also setting aside an hour of audio time to listen to a conversation between Professor Loury and John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at Columbia University, who also is black.  Both men are relatively conservative (hedged mainly for lack of thorough familiarity with their work), and their central disagreement appears to be in how to address the actual students who are being swept up in the identity-politics fascism currently sweeping American campuses (my terminology, not theirs).

McWhorter repeatedly insists that these kids don’t know any better, citing his own experience as an undergraduate, when he believed all Republicans must be evil because that’s what everybody around him told him to be the case.  Loury agrees, but takes a more I-don’t-have-patience-for-your-prolonged-adolescence-inanities approach.

It struck me, listening to them, that the disagreement is not unlike differences in parenting styles.  McWhorter wants to have a reasoned conversation with his kids, and Loury’s more like one of those fathers who laughs at his teenager’s silly proclamations and says (lovingly), “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”  As a blanket rule, neither is probably any better than the other, and when it comes to individual relationships or specific instances, parents ought to have both in their repertoire.

Both responses, though, are especially telling in light of their thoughts on college administrators and sympathy for the professional need to appease the mania, to some extent, in order to keep administrative jobs and maintain fundraising.  (Indeed, Nesi notes that Brown had just kicked off a fundraising campaign before campus racial activism become the trending activity of autumn.)

To be fair, obviously, professors’ role on campus is different from administrators’, but when it comes to handling inappropriate impulses on campus, we’d do well to look to those who respond to students more as family than as clients.

It’s quite a puzzle that’s now in pieces on the table in front of America’s institutions of higher education.  The general public, I’d say, should take the approach of parents, whichever method one chooses.  Unfortunately, the fact that so many parents failed to prepare their children to behave appropriately at Ivy League colleges suggests a larger cultural problem.


This Racism Brought to You by Liberals

Writing about one of the latest allegedly racist incidents on an American college campus, John Hinderaker may very well put his finger on the entire operating dilemma of the Left:

The Dean of the law school, Martha Minow, said that racism is a “serious problem” there. Really? Minow has been the Dean since 2009. Why has she allowed racism to flourish? Where has this “serious problem” been manifested, and what has she done about it? Who, exactly, are the “racists” who have created this serious problem? Frankly, I don’t believe a word she says.

Hinderaker, who attended Harvard Law, thinks such lies are just the sorts of things that administrators of higher education say to maintain a sort of peace with some groups, while expecting that nobody responsible will really believe them.  But isn’t that a summary of the Left?  They overtook the culture and most of its institutions by proclaiming a problem that only they would solve.  Obviously, for example, racists wouldn’t solve the problem of “institutional racism,” but neither would those who are skeptical about the problem or those who, believing in it, think the best resolution is gradual and cultural.

The Leftists, in other words, are The People Who Care — The People Who Will Bring Change.  Well, they’ve been running things for quite a while, now, in large areas of society, both institutionally (e.g., universities and the news and entertainment media) and geographically (e.g., urban areas), and what do we have?  Suddenly, at the tail end of the second term of America’s first black president, we suddenly have a resurgence of racism in the cities and on college campuses?  Come on, now.

If that’s true, why have the liberals/progressives allowed it to fester for so long?  It’s possible, of course, that there really is some degree of racism extant on the campus of Harvard, but more important to the Leftist narrative and sales pitch is that there be a belief in the existence full colonnade of boogeyman -isms.  Otherwise, our society might distribute power on the basis of (oh, I don’t know) experience, competence, and a willingness to leave people alone wherever possible.


About That High American Poverty

Poverty rates are another of those areas in which progressives push for dramatic changes and massive spending on the basis of statistical claims that the public isn’t expected to consider in depth.  Michael Petrilli and Brandon Wright give a good quick dip into the subject in the process of defending their research from the attack of a Vox writer:

The same patterns still hold: The United Kingdom has the largest proportion of poor children, by far, followed by the United States, with a higher child poverty rate (but not much higher) than Germany’s and Finland’s.  …

It’s true that, whether you use the 100 percent or 125 percent level, the United States had more children in poverty than Finland did. But at 100 percent, our child poverty rate was almost three times as high as Finland’s (12.4 percent versus 4.6 percent). At the 125 percent level, it was only 12 percent higher (19.5 percent versus 17.4 percent).

Adjust the income line of poverty up just a bit, and suddenly the United States doesn’t look as bad.  The more important point, though, is that progressives like to look at poverty as a relative measure, like “half of the median income of their own country.”  That’s arguably not a measure of poverty so much as it’s an inverted measure of wealth.  If a significant number of Americans with income above Finland’s median were to move there, that country’s relative poverty level would skyrocket.  Again, that’s a measure of wealth, not poverty.

Dylan Matthews’s explanation on Vox is telling:

In rich countries it doesn’t make much sense to define poverty as “not having enough to meet basic material needs.” Almost no one is that poor in America — not even those earning less than $2 a day. What rich countries mean by poverty is something more like “having enough to have the bare minimum life necessary to be a part of your society.”

So, that “bare minimum” could mean a cell phone, cable, and two cars, if the country is wealthy enough that such things are common.  The importance of subsidizing luxuries in a luxurious society is a discussion we should have, but it seems like the direction of the discussion is backwards.  “Almost no one is that poor in America” should be the overarching point, not that it’s more difficult to provide luxuries to those at the lower end of a country’s population than it is for other countries to provide basics.


Government and the Right Way of Life

Ask a progressive whether government by, for, and of the people ought to allow them to implement local policies reflecting a conservative understanding of a well-lived life and be sure to duck from the impact of the glare that you’ll receive.  Change the impetus from religious faith and the long-standing traditions on which our civilization was built, however, and they’ll be much more amenable to the notion that government should set policies in order to tell people how to live.

Two items down from a note about the lack of diversity among the race scolds at the Providence Journal and the Boston Globe, Ian Donnis’s Friday column includes this:

ProJo op-ed columnist Steven Frias recently outlined the deficits that chronically plague RIPTA. Yet mass transit advocates point to far more extravagant public subsidies for cars and the highways upon which they travel, resulting in runaway development, environmental degradation, and other adverse effects. “We know that every year we ‘invest’ $25 billion of federal taxes in auto-dominated transportation,” the late Jane Holtz Kay wrote in her 1997 book, Asphalt Nation. “Add to this the amount from state and local agencies. We have seen the direct costs and indirect ones, the incalculable sums spent in the wrong way, in the wrong place, for the wrong way of life. It is time to price them correctly — to right the imbalance toward sustainable transportation.”

We can have a conversation about what government ought to fund, but note how casually Kay passes judgment on “the wrong way of life.”  It’s not just a “less fulfilling way of life,” or “a way of life that people would eschew if they were well informed,” it’s “the wrong way of life.”  And government, Kay seems to be saying, should push people toward the right way of life, even if they don’t want it.

As for the subsidies, a recent post from Ed Driscoll comes to mind, in which he recalls a 2009 anecdote from the early years of Obama’s spending orgy:

“He came in to do his talk and opened his talk with, ‘I’m Matt Rogers I am the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy and I have $134 billion that I have to disperse between now and the end of December,’” Holland told the audience. “So upon hearing that I sent an email to my partners that said Matt Rogers is about to get treated like a hooker dropped into a prison exercise yard.”

One suspects that, at the end of the day, the germane consideration isn’t whether government spending supports the right or wrong way of life, but whether it benefits progressive politicians, groups, and supporters and pushes the population into a box that helps progressives maintain their power.


Responding to a Holy War Isn’t a Holy War

Some of the difficulty that leads the West into what I termed, earlier, as an autoimmune disorder may derive from a sense that acknowledging that somebody is fighting a holy war against us means that our response amounts to a holy war against them.  That sense arises because we misunderstand one of the central dynamics that has made our culture unique.

I’m reading an excellent book by my friend and fellow Catholic Andrew McNabb, and among his insights is that, even as we can become entangled in the natural things of this world (our biology, our human nature, and our social tendencies), identifying and understanding how those things work doesn’t negate God, nor does it make them antithetical to Him. This part of the book is in poetic form:

We are, ourselves, truly, when we are among others, living in, society. …

… Society, because when in this world, it is through our social constructs that we live, daily, and it is through our social constructs, so often imperfect, that we can become ensnared.

The imagery of being “ensnared” is apt, because the way not to become ensnared is to understand and straighten the snares.  In that way, we can see when social constructs are leading us toward destructive ends and fulfill our responsibility to develop social constructs that point toward right, moral ends.  In the case of multiple threads of current events, we have a responsibility to ensure a society of free inquiry in which (in religious terms) all people are free to pursue God and meaning as their spirits move them.

A Christian — in his capacity as such — should not judge others and should not engage in anything resembling a “holy war,” but we’re also members of a society with responsibilities quite apart from religion.  Those responsibilities entail ensuring safety and fostering an environment of freedom.  Failing to protect our neighbors from a clear threat is tantamount to hurting them because, being human, we have the capacity to assess threats one step removed.

The Catholic Catechism, for one, explicitly recognizes this framework, which is intrinsic to thoughts about just war and just punishment.  It acknowledges a legitimate civic authority that has roles apart from the Church and religion.  Indeed, progressives pick up this sort of thinking when they want to argue for a governmental role in asserting morality through welfare and social justice and even environmentalism.

Not as Christian believers, but as citizens, we have a responsibility to protect and preserve the civilization that we’ve set up.  Our beliefs inform our actions and provided some underlying principles for our civilization, but protecting our society is not the same as protecting a given belief system.  When Islamic radicals come at us with their holy war, we don’t respond with holy war, but neither do we use our theological pacifism to undermine a just response as citizens.


Acknowledging Multiple Perspectives on Immigration

Early yesterday, I bookmarked a few things to consider posting, and last night’s atrocity in Paris only made the connections more relevant.  Start with Mark Steyn’s take on the latest GOP presidential debate:

Ted Cruz had a strong night without any breakout moments, unless you count his venture into the immigration debate. It is striking that no moderators want to bring it up. For many Trump supporters, it’s the issue – because, if you don’t have borders, it doesn’t matter having a president or a tax code or a school system or a health-care plan, because they’ll all be overwhelmed. It’s a timelier subject than ever, given the Great Migrations across the Atlantic. Since Chancellor Merkel announced she was abolishing Germany’s borders and embracing all these “Syrian” “refugees”, for example, the country has run out of …diapers? blankets? No, pepper spray. Hmm. …

It is striking that, even in a conservative debate, mass, remorseless, illegal immigration is discussed almost entirely from the illegals’ point of view: as Kasich advises, think of the families, think of the children. Their families, their children. The families of those they’ve supplanted are of less consequence. The argument made by Bush and Kasich against enforcing the immigration laws is an appeal to moral preening: this is “not who we are”. But using mass immigration to destroy the lives of your own citizens? That’s exactly who we are.

This is part of a thread that I’ve been following more closely, lately, with evidence that Rhode Island policies are literally switching out native Rhode Islanders with immigrants, perhaps as part of a push to bring in more clients for the inside interests that make Rhode Island a “company state.”  But to put a sharp point on it, turn to a chilling viral video, running about twenty minutes, that pieces together clips of the massive migration (some say, “invasion”) persisting throughout Europe.

To be sure, 20 minutes of footage from months of activity allows for a slanted view, but the points can’t be ignored.  Toward the beginning of the video, for example, a European woman exclaims, “We are the victims, here, not them.  We have to live like we did before.  We have to live our lives; they took it from us.”  The commentary running throughout the video addresses increasing incidents of rape and violence (including among school children) as well as the cultural displacement of Europeans from their ancestral home: “The Great Replacement.”

We’ve been trained to avoid any hint of xenophobia or racism, and that inclination is right and just, but we — all of us, Americans of every race and ethnicity — have a right to our homes and our heritage.  When those marching across Europe are quite explicit in their aims, when our political leaders speak of changing demographics as marking an unavoidable, often a preferable, future, we have a duty to consider the ramifications.  We have a right to worry about our families, our children.


The PC Monster Was Entirely Predictable

Two items in the news remind me of a short story I wrote a long time ago, proving that the politically correct cry-bully monster currently rampaging on American college campuses could be seen a long way off, even by the likes of me.  Consider:

  • Tim Wolfe, the president of Missouri University, resigned his position potentially over fabricated incidents, but certainly over protests that no rational person could consider reasonable.
  • Nicholas Christakis, the Yale resident master whom a student berated with tearful swears over an only slightly un-PC email that his wife had sent offered a pitiful apology for his not-sufficiently-abject capitulation to the extended-adolescence masters attending his university.

In a short story I wrote in December 2001, titled “Guest of Honor,” a monster is slithering around a dinner party for representatives of our cultural elite. With the attendees nearly all devoured:

The nearest man, a much applauded professor of English, with patches on his elbows, knelt and, with arms outstretched, said, “Though I personally railed against the imperialist oppressions, perpetrated by fascistic elitist capitalists, that incentivized the agitated reprisals for which we all now answer, I comprehend the perceptivities of the Other and, in cognitionation of the acts wherewith Mother Nature will only benefit by the extirpation of all humanity…” But he managed to say no more before the blunt maw of death left only the echo of his voice and the jingle of the keys to his Volvo as they fell.

Then a famous opinion writer, to whom the professor had recently been talking, shrugged his shoulders and said, “What’s to be done? His appetite is of our creation, after all.”

The safe money, at this time, would bet that higher education in the United States will not respond to the monster’s younger siblings as it would to a threat to its credibility, its mission, and its existence, but rather will continue to deteriorate, at least to the point that people with more sense than flavor realize it’s not worth the expense of tuition or taxpayer dollars.


HealthSource “Inadvertently” Doesn’t Maximize Abortion Coverage

With HealthSource RI — Rhode Island’s health benefits exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act — currently in its open enrollment period, I’ve been looking at changes in premiums, deductibles, and such.  Although I still have to look more deeply, it’s reasonably safe to say that, in most cases, premiums went up (sometimes by double-digit percentages) and, in many cases, deductibles also went up.  That is, those who were automatically re-enrolled may soon discover that their monthly costs are going up while their total benefits decrease.

It is within that context, along with my belief that (in most cases) abortion is tantamount to infanticide, that I read Kristin Gourlay’s Rhode Island Public Radio article about “9000 Inadvertently Re-Enrolled In Plans With No Abortion Coverage,” which the International Business Times has picked up for a larger story.  I’m sure the plans in which those 9,000 people were re-enrolled included other changes, with additions and reductions in coverage, and while I understand that this is a controversial issue of substantial public debate, it bothers me that killing unborn children is treated as a major component of basic healthcare.

Based on the current enrollment demographics for HealthSource, 46% of enrollees are men and 51% are over 45 years old.  It’s not this simple, of course, but roughly speaking that means only around 8,118 enrollees are likely to be in the demographic range that would be interested in abortion coverage in the first place.  We could reasonably reduce that number by a couple thousand (at least) to account for those who are pro-life.*

Applying these percentages to the 9,000 “inadvertent” re-enrollments, only around 2,381 are likely to be applicable to abortion, anyway, reduced to fewer than 1,700 if only those who think abortion should be legal are included.  That’s around 5% of all enrollees.  It’s not inconceivable that a similar or larger number of HealthSource customers would be interested to know that they were “inadvertently” re-enrolled in plans that do cover abortion even though plans that do not are now available.


* I grabbed poll results from a post on RI Future, but I hesitate to apply them, here, for two reasons.  First of all, the poll was conducted on behalf of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s leading aborter, and the skew is obvious in the way the question is phrased.  Second, the actual opinion that produced a 71% support rate was whether the law should leave decisions up to individuals, which leaves a great deal of room for people to oppose being made to subsidize abortion through an insurance pool, much less desiring the coverage for themselves.


RI Population: Starting Saturday on a Worrying Note

Over my habitual Saturday morning coffee and pancakes, I perused Ted Nesi’s weekly column and came across this intriguing item:

Moody’s latest Rhode Island economic outlook, presented this week at the twice-annual revenue conference, is a mixed bag. … Other pluses: the job market and personal income both appear to be improving, and net migration (residents moving in versus moving out) turned positive in 2014 for the first time in a decade.

The downsides are middle-income jobs and home sales (and I continue to believe the overall employment numbers are greatly overstated).  But what about that net migration?  Slide 23 of the Moody’s presentation does indeed show positive migration, although it isn’t clear what scale the numbers are on or why they don’t match up with numbers directly from the U.S. Census.

Population is a limited measure, though.  A more critical question, for a struggling state, is: Who is coming and who is going?  Unfortunately, the IRS taxpayer migration data for 2014 isn’t online, for the moment, and detailed state-level data from the Census isn’t out for that year, yet.  Still, the Census does have the population estimates broken out by “components of change,” with some high-level detail about why people came and went.

From 2013 to 2014, the Census estimates that 1,375 more children were born in the state than people died, but that’s not the detail we’re interested in.  Under “net migration,” the data does show 903 more people coming here from elsewhere than the reverse, but the “where” is important.  When it comes to domestic migration — that is, people moving from one state to another — Rhode Island lost 3,387 residents.  International migration that makes up the difference, with 4,290 more people coming to Rhode Island from other countries than emigrating.

Obviously, the world is full of varied people, so any assumptions made at this level are just that: assumptions.  Still, recalling my observation, in August, that the increase of students in Providence schools came almost entirely from Hispanics who need extra help with English, the picture comes into focus pretty well.  The Census’s FactFinder tool can fill in some of the details.  From 2009 to 2013 — over the course of just four years — the percentage of children living in households receiving cash assistance increased by more than 50%.


To deepen the picture a little, consider that the percentage of all families receiving public assistance increased by just 17%.  That’s still a big increase, but it suggests that Rhode Island’s population growth is in large part attributable to migration of poor, young families from countries to the south of the United States.

One needn’t be xenophobic to worry about the consequences of this demographic shift on the well-being of Rhode Islanders overall.  If Rhode Island’s economy were healthy and was therefore able to accommodate foreign families and empower them to lift themselves up, that would be wonderful.  More likely, though, like Lawrence, MA, we’ll continue to see government bring in new clients to turn RI into a company state, and somebody’s got to pay the bill.


In Rhode Island, It’s Not Stupidity, but Ignorance

Noting my recent article on the topic, Arlene Violet wonders if Rhode Islanders are dumb enough to keep falling for the scam of unconstitutional debt laundered through “quasi-public” agencies:

The Rhode Island Supreme Court years ago ruled that the quasi-public agencies can do this debt since they are not “state agencies,” but it is time to revisit that ruling. Rhode Islanders have been abused over and over again by these quasi’s like the PBA (Public Building Authority) and RIHMFC (Rhode Island Housing Mortgage and Finance Corporation) etc., which became the favor factory for the politically connected people.

A tangential question comes to mind, and it’s one that has been nagging at me since Anchor Rising wandered onto a largely empty political field back in 2004: Why, by the turn of the millennium, had it fallen to outsiders and unknowns to expose the scams embedded within Rhode Island government?  Why was there nothing like Anchor Rising in the pre-Internet print world, prepped to grab the Internet space the moment it became viable?  Why did it take Don Hawthorne’s volunteering to run for school committee to expose the lie behind teacher steps?  Why is it so easy to uncover scams in every area of RI government activity when it occurs to somebody to investigate it?  Shouldn’t such things have long been the bread and butter of some legacy organization?

This would be a great topic for a Steve Frias research project.  It just seems so obviously something that the American system of governance and society was built to foster; why did that break down in the Ocean State?

An obvious piece of the puzzle is that new media, mainly the Internet, but also talk radio, finally created a tunnel through the mountain of insider connections that made activist groups and the news media part of the establishment in our small, everybody-knows-everybody state.  Still, with groups like the “business-backed” Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) and the RIGOP, not to mention news media, there had to be a breakdown of the incentive structures to create an opposition with more reason to expose the scams than to play along.

Maybe the Democrat-union-progressive alliance simply moved too quickly and maybe the state’s size just made it too easy for the opposition to up and leave.  Perhaps the Internet came too late to counteract the sense of hopelessness that people whom the DUP alliance (read: “dupe”) targeted for gaslighting felt before they decided it wasn’t worthwhile to stay and fight, and all who remain are those of us who either have ties too strong to leave or a missionary zeal to help Rhode Island’s vulnerable and misled residents.


Giving the Game Away on Diversity Talk and “Health Equity Zones”

It’s hard not to agree with Rhode Island Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott when she phrases her point of view like this:

“Like the governor, I also fully support diversity across the board in leadership levels … I love to say diversity brings strength. You have a variety of backgrounds, a variety of ideas, experiences that add new ways of accomplishing things. We’re in an age where we have to be creative, we have to be innovative, and the more diverse perspectives we have, the better we are at being able to achieve that effectively …”

Unfortunately, the context suggests that, like most liberals and progressives, she takes an extremely superficial, arguably racist view of diversity.  Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza lays it out with stunning clarity in his contribution to the Providence Journal’s “Race in RI” series.  With the paradoxical imperatives that we have to “focus on what brings us together” and declaring that people who disagree with him about the existence of “white privilege” should be written off, Elorza says he chooses to “focus on like-minded people.”

Apparently, having his biases confirmed is more important to the mayor than “a variety of backgrounds… ideas… and experiences” that brings “diverse perspectives” to the necessity of solving problems creatively.  The way to achieve diversity is apparently to make people who are substantively different disappear.

That point of clarity dovetails nicely with another, hidden within Alexander-Scott’s interview:

Using $2.7 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Rhode Island has created 11 “health equity zones” to target the root causes of poor health, including poverty, inadequate housing and lack of nutritious food and safe recreational opportunities.

Thus money confiscated from taxpayers for the purpose of disease control somehow becomes diverted to “safe recreational opportunities,” and this is just the edge of the crowbar under the bedrock of our freedoms.  “Diversity” and “equity” are wonderful principles in the abstract and defined honestly.  In the current practice, they’re manipulative buzzwords for “like-minded people” to confiscate money and consolidate power in order to buy votes and make people dependent on government.

Far from wanting healing, the people promoting these ideas need divisions and disparities to remain.


Gone, Gone, the Rule of Law

In his latest “Afterburner” video, Bill Whittle gets it exactly right, at least in describing the sense that a sizable portion of the American public gets about how our system of government really works after seven years of Barack Obama as president, noting that one of the penalties for Hillary Clinton’s withholding official records from her time as Secretary of State would be a lifetime bar on her holding political office:

So, let’s just come out and state what we all know to be true: Hillary Clinton will either walk Scott free for treasonous graft or criminal incompetence or she will be indicted and lose the nomination solely on the personal whim of Barack Hussein Obama and the merits of the deal that the Clintons can cut with his majesty in order to save her skin.  Everybody knows this is true.  Everybody knows that justice in the absence of a press corp is now at the whim of this president, and the only reason she’s being prosecuted in the first place is because it pleases Barack Obama to do so.

Whittle refers to the report that Hillary Clinton went to Obama and told him to call off his attack dogs, emphasizing the erstwhile truism that federal agents aren’t supposed to be the president’s attack dogs at all, but rather objective enforcers of the law.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer sounded a similar note on a Fox News panel, talking about the story that the American people are going to be handed from Clinton’s Benghazi-related testimony, yesterday:

We’re not going to get the contradictions, we’re not going to get the facts, we’re not going to get the real story underlying it. We’re living in an age where what you say and its relation with the facts is completely irrelevant as we see in the presidential campaign. And it’s carrying over into the hearings.

The system of society and governance that defined the United States is dead.  It can be revived, but until that happens, it’s gone.  An ideologically homogenized academia, superficial and silly arts and cultural institutions, and a partisan news media have all decided that the American people can’t be trusted with the sharp object of reality, so their fantasy is what we get… at least until reality snarls so meanly that even Hollywood special effects can’t cover it up.


A Role for Men and Women

When St. Paul’s text about the roles of husbands and wives came up in the lectionary late this summer, the priest offering Mass turned things around in his homily. He juxtaposed news of the first two women to graduate from Army Ranger School with a court case concerning the alleged rape of a young teen at St. Paul’s preparatory school in New Hampshire, where some say deflowering young girls is a senior tradition. The message of the homily was that women can do anything men can do and are deserving of respect.

That’s not exactly a radical message, these days. In fact, we’re several generations into the repeated narrative that men are the boorish sources of division and violence in the world. Methods of education have arguably switched from favoring the learning style of boys to favoring that of girls, with the proliferation of behavior-altering drugs like Ritalin to bring the boys in line.

It would be fair to wonder whether things have gone too far. In Ephesians, St. Paul instructs husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies.” He continues, “No one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it.” But what if boys and men stop loving their own bodies? It’s one thing to insist that men should respect women to the point of sacrificing themselves because they are the head of the body, as Paul puts it. It’s quite another thing to demand such respect when the overriding sense that men get from their community is that they have no excuse for respecting themselves.

Continue reading on Rhode Island Catholic.


Reasoning Needed in Race Discussion

In its Sunday edition, the Providence Journal continued its destructive and divisive vanity project stoking racial unrest.  This time, the subject is the different proportion of “people of color” in law enforcement and the courts as opposed to the population.  Once again, the ostensible act of journalism doesn’t deign to present anything that might be considered an opposing — or even skeptical — voice.  This is activism, pure and simple, and reporter Katie Mulvaney offers a helpfully concise example of the utter lack of reasoning that the activism requires:

While the makeup of the state’s population continues to change, the complexion of its power structure, including those who enforce, dictate and argue the laws, remains largely the same. It is predominantly white, even as children of color now make up nearly 40 percent of the state’s youth population.

If the absurdity of those two sentences doesn’t hit you in the eye like social-justice-warrior spittle, think about it for a moment.  The “makeup of the state’s population” is changing — meaning that people with darker skin tend to be recent arrivals or very young.  The racial proportions of people in higher positions within law enforcement and the courts is not comparable to “the state’s youth population.”  To match the population at large with a pool of older people within a limited range of personal accomplishment in a specific professional field, the hiring process would have to be so skewed as to constitute overt racism.  That’s what the activists want.

Also consider the age of folks who would be entering that range of their careers.  When they were young adults, choosing a course in life a quarter-century ago, two of the iconic songs in rap/hip-hop were N.W.A.’s “F*** Tha Police” and Body Count’s “Cop Killer.”  Those songs may (or may not) have been authentic voices of the black experience in America, but shouldn’t they be considered, a generation on, while navel gazing about the skin color of police and judges?

“When you go in anywhere, you would like to come in and see yourself,” said [barber and activist Dewayne “Boo”] Hackney, 42. That means at City Hall, the State House, courtrooms, police departments. “You tend to relax more when you see yourself on the surface.”

That sort of thinking is what needs to change.  If cops were cops and judges were judges, then young black men and women interested in those careers would be cops and judges, not black cops and black judges.  We would see ourselves in each other, even on the surface. Unless the activists want apartheid, even in a perfectly balanced justice system, some people will draw an arresting officer or a judge of another race.

Activist journalists continue to focus on race as if it is not just on the surface.  Suggest that we should move toward an understanding that race is, in fact, superficial, and the likes of WPRO reporter Steve Klamkin will insinuate that you’re advocating for genocide.


Young Men Might Want to Have Their College Experience Somewhere Else

When the press release about Mia Ackerman’s legislative commission “to study the issue of sexual assault on college campuses” arrived in my inbox, I put it aside with a mental note to keep an eye on whether the committee spent any time at all actually challenging the assumption that there’s some sort of sexual assault crisis on U.S. campuses.  My expectation is that the question won’t be asked, and that this is an issue only because the preacher-dad from Footloose has re-imagined himself as a progressive and because divisive identity politics will help Democrats during the upcoming election year.

But the last paragraph of a quick Providence Journal write-up of the commission’s first meeting by Lynn Arditi truly merits some consideration:

Ackerman introduced legislation to form the study commission after victims advocates opposed a bill she introduced last January to require colleges report sexual assault to law enforcement. Day One, a nonprofit that advocates for victims of sexual violence, opposed the mandatory reporting bill saying it could discourage victims from coming forward. Ackerman withdrew the mandatory reporting bill.

The advocacy group doesn’t want colleges and universities to report allegations of crimes, because the victims might not make the allegations if they expect that to happen.  Here’s the question: What are the colleges and universities supposed to do differently than the legal system that alleged victims will find less threatening?  Worry more about their feelings than the facts?  Remove the alleged perpetrator without due process?  National news on the issue suggests that’s exactly the intention.

The whole discussion has something of a surreal quality.  One would think, for instance, that people obsessed with equity and identity groups would notice how much female undergrads already outnumber male undergrads.  If is accurate, URI has a male:female ratio of 46:54.  At RIC, it’s 33:67.  The private institutions vary as well, although Brown is pretty close to even and Bryant has more men.

This commission’s report is do by May, and there might be some legislation to come out of it.  Then the advocacy may continue.  All of this goes to suggest that if you’re in the process of helping your son figure out a path to college, just now, you might want to leave open some options that are outside of the reach of Rhode Island’s legislature — somewhere that left-wing activists and special interests don’t have elected officials on quite so short of a leash.


Crime in Tiverton

This week’s gem from the Sakonnet Times “Police Report” section:

At 8:11 a.m., a Grinnell Avenue caller reported that a neighbor, with whom he had been having a dispute, had been leaving notes and Bible verses for him.

No word on whether either neighbor turned the other cheek.


A Familiar Strategy for Manipulating the Public

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This massive effort is laid out in a new report — “Private Interests and Public Office” — by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. For the past year, E&E Legal used state and federal public-records requests to uncover whom the White House worked with to promote its environmental agenda, especially its newly unveiled “Clean Power Plan.”…

This sort of political advocacy requires money, so the governors’ offices reached out to Michael Bloomberg, the Rockefeller family and other wealthy liberal benefactors. They especially focused on Steyer, who was preparing to spend $100 million promoting environmental issues in the 2014 election.

I’m thinking, specifically, of the Raimondo backers who are funding the forthcoming Brookings Institution study.  When they say they’re trying to get everybody “on the same page,” what they mean is that they’re using their resources and access co-opt the missions of the public and private sectors to further their ideological (and/or self-interested) agenda.  By definition, it’s a conspiracy.

Yet, if anybody attempts to organize an opposition, they are put forward as the greedy schemers, through the news and entertainment media that are cooperating with the government-driven ideologues.  As they say, control the language and the narrative, and you win the social war, even if most of what you say is false and utter intellectual nonsense.

P.S. — If you’re wondering, yes, the EELI report does mention Rhode Island, albeit only once.  Of course, it would probably go without saying that Rhode Island’s two most recent governors would be on board with a scheme to boost green-energy special interests and give government greater control over society.