Friday, April 24, 2009

"People like Du Bois did not dedicate their lives to paving the way for black people to be exempt from tests. "

John McWhorter, on the issues at stake in Ricci v. DiStefano, the case now before the Supreme Court:

Thus if the black firefighters aren't at home with the format of the promotion test (reading passages and answering questions on what they mean), it is understandable and has nothing to do with their innate ability. After all, placing 16th in a pool of several dozen candidates is not too shabby in itself. The job, it would seem--say, to old-time Civil Rights leaders with a black pride that deserved the name--would be to enhance the innate ability. The black candidates need practice.

Plaintiff Frank Ricci understood this. He's dyslexic. Instead of doing poorly on the test and charging discrimination, he had textbooks read onto tape, worked with a study group, and practiced hard. He placed sixth out of 77. Any notion that this is too much to ask of someone with more melanin--or even with a different "racial history"--is nonsensical at best and gruesome at worst.

Still, we justify the rhetorical contortions that excuse black people from challenging examinations; in the end, it is based on a tacit sense that such things are antithetical to black authenticity, that it is somehow untoward to require this kind of concentrated scholarly exertion on black people. It is the grown-up version of what Barack Obama termed in his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention "the slander that says that if a black youth walks around with a book in his hand he's acting white."

Yeah. He continues:

This will not do: People like Du Bois did not dedicate their lives to paving the way for black people to be exempt from tests. Sure, the tests may not correlate perfectly with firefighters' duties. But which falls more into the spirit of black uplift that you could explain to a foreigner in less than three minutes: teaching black candidates how to show what they are made of despite obstacles, or banning a test of mental agility as inappropriate to impose on black candidates?

Zora Neale Hurston had some apt words in her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road: "It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it."

Agreed. It seems to me, that if you're going to decide to throw out a test because black candidates didn't perform, as opposed to trying to find ways to figure out why black candidates didn't perform, not only do you hurt people like FRank Ricci, but you send a very disturbing message--that black people should not be subjected to testing based on mental agility, because judging us based on our brainpower is racist?

Surely this is not what we want, right?

HT: Althouse

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Do You Know You've Gone Too Far?

When Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs thinks you've gone too far:

Johnson supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, but he spent some of the campaign attacking anti-Obama conspiracy theorists, and he rejected the idea designs were malicious, rather than merely naive. Johnson worries, in conversation and on his blog, that his old allies have been duped by far-right European political parties and have bought into wild attacks on the president that discredit their own causes.

“I don’t think there is an anti-jihadist movement anymore,” Johnson said. “It’s all a bunch of kooks. I’ve watch some people who I thought were reputable, and who I trusted, hook up with racists and Nazis. I see a lot of them promoting stories and causes that I think are completely nuts.”

You've got to read this article. I applaud Charles Johnson for having his eyes opened, and speaking out on this. His former allies, many whom he helped bring into the limelight, have turned on him:

“Some people at that summit in Belgium were not people we should have been associated with,” Johnson said, pointing out that since 2007 the terrorism-focused conservative bloggers have become supporters of Dutch politician Geert Wilders , who wants to outlaw Islam in his country. “Some of these people outright want to ban Islam from the United States, which I think is crazy, completely nuts. That’s not something we do in this country. These people will outright defend banning the Koran or deporting Muslims. That’s popular with the Geller/Spencer crowd.”

When they talk about Johnson today, the rest of the terrorism-focused bloggers alternate between anger and regret. He has smeared them, they say, and according to Dymphna he’s “destroyed a lot of networking that was beginning to emerge” between American and European critics of Islamic extremism. “He’s really gone off the deep end,” Geller said, pointing to Johnson’s more and more frequent criticisms of creationists, such as the attack on the anti-evolution, Glenn Beck-inspired event, which made the host angry enough to lash out at LGF on his show. “He’s a leftist blogger now.”

It's amazing what happens when you dissent from the party line, huh? Make no mistake, I don't expect Johnson to become anything approaching an Obama supporter, but one needn't be, to see that many on the rightosphere have gone John Birch.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Pirates Have Been Beaten,

and Captain Richard Phillips has been rescued by the Navy. Huzzah.

Just after dark on Sunday, snipers on the U.S.S. Bainbridge saw that one of the pirates was pointing an automatic rifle at Captain Phillips, and that the captors’ heads and shoulders were exposed from the capsule-like lifeboat. President Obama had previously authorized the use of force if the commander on the scene believed the captain’s life was in danger, so they fired, Admiral Gortney said. The lifeboat was about 100 feet from the Bainbridge when the shots were fired, a little after 7 p.m. Somalia time (seven hours ahead of Eastern time). The vice admiral said he did not know Captain Phillips’s location at the time the shots were fired, but given the length of the lifeboat, he was less than 18 feet from the snipers’ targets.

Awesome work, to our brave Navy men, and good show by the President, who deserves full props for making the right call. Even his critics are saying so.

According to John Reinhart, the Maersk Line president and chief executive, Mr. Phillips told him by telephone: “I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.” President Obama, making his first comments on the situation, praised Mr. Phillips’s “selfless concern for his crew,” who had been freed when the captain let pirates take him off his cargo ship. “His courage is a model for all Americans,” Mr. Obama said.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

"It increasingly struck me that these protests served primarily as form of group therapy via self expression."

A spot-on analysis of the current "tea party protest" phenomenon on the Right, from a reader over at Andrew Sullivan's joint, who has experience with the protest Left:

It increasingly struck me that these protests served primarily as form of group therapy via self expression. When ones movement is, quite literally, powerless, there's a sense of despair that can take over. In a demonstration, one can commiserate with ones fellow travelers, and instead of powerlessness, there's a feeling of righteous indignation. Also, there's the added advantage of getting a forum where it's socially acceptable to shout your beliefs at other people, which regardless of its utility and efficacy (or lack thereof), is a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, it leads to a deep intellectual rot, as good ideas commingle with ridiculous ones without vetting, and protests obsessed with self-interest leave vital political action undone.

Yep. A lot of noise, but unless converted into sensible debate and discussion, it amounts to not that much.

Take a word of advice from the Left, guys -- until you engage the country where it is, instead of scolding it about where you'd like it to be, you're going to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Until then, enjoy the shouting -- it's about all you'll get out of the teabags other than tea.

Again, true dat. Sullivan himself, in his original post on the tea party protests, goes deeper into the problem:

But again, if this is a protest in favor of slashing Medicare, Medicaid and social security, great. Where do I sign up? But those rallies do not exist.

Which leads to an inescapable conclusion:

These people are unserious. But we knew that already.

I've pointed out elsewhere that it seems that the a number of the primary voices on the Right these days are the voices of knee-jerk opposition, paranoia, and outrage, much like the far-Left was after 2000. It might make you feel better for a while to vent, and whip yourselves into an anti-Obama frenzy, but eventually, there comes the business of solving problems.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"His shtick is really more of a “question authority” pose taken to its limits of paranoia and nihilism"

Via Hot Air (and Althouse), on this clip of Mos Def, Hitch, and Salman Rushdie on Bill Maher last Friday:

I watched the whole show, and I didn't find it that excruciating to watch, at least not quite in the same way others did. It was vexing no doubt, to see a performer I always thought was cool expose himself as being neck-deep in naivete, ignorance, and "the government-can't-be-trusted-on-anything style paranoia, but as Allahpundit points out, Hitch saves the day:

Consider this yet another reason to like Hitchens, though. Is there anyone else on the chat-show circuit who would have kept after Def as persistently as he does? You keep waiting for him to relent in the name of “cultural differences,” but he never does. No sacred cows for Hitch.

Hitch is fearless. He's proved that. You can call Hitchens a lot of things, but cowardly is not one of them.