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Affirmative Action: Does Diversity Offer a Sporting Chance?

I received a letter yesterday from Harvard’s outgoing president Drew Gilpin Faust, asking me to close ranks against an oncoming political attack from a student-rights group that is demanding—brace yourself—that college acceptance standards be tied to scholarly excellence instead of accidents of birth. This “divisive” attack (the president’s word, not mine) from Students for Fair Admissions is attempting to advance a meritocratic agenda that will, it is feared, destroy the sacred idol of big-D Diversity.

Divisiveness and Diversity

I looked up this shadowy, reactionary group of agitators. Their mission is to “… support and participate in litigation that will restore the original principles of our nation’s civil rights movement: A student’s race and ethnicity should not be factors that either harm or help that student to gain admission to a competitive university.” The group has ties to the Republican right, which is the kiss of death in today’s toxic stew of identity politics. This is odd, because frankly Republicans have a much better track record of real commitment to egalitarian principles than the Democratic Party (which, for instance, voted overwhelmingly against the Civil Rights Act). In today’s Orwellian world, however, treating people differently based on the color of their skin is the hallmark of woke progressive thinking. Meanwhile, placing the content of someone’s character before the color of his or her skin is, well, racist.

Harvard says it will “react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence … [a] diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another.” In the abstract sense, I couldn’t agree more. Diversity is a good thing. But diversity of what, exactly? While Harvard is attempting (somewhat credibly, and probably with the best of intentions) to cobble together a variegated group of students with all the appropriate hues and gender affiliations, it is less clear they are doing an adequate job of welcoming students with a diversity of the most important trait: thought. As if student bodies were some kind of exotic menagerie, Harvard has done a fine job carefully selecting crops of students who look diverse based on superficialities, but have been notoriously poor at selecting groups of students with a diversity of intellectual persuasion.

Sporting Odds

A process that selects academic winners and losers on the basis of “background” is considered not only acceptable, but eminently desirable today. I discussed this with a friend who vigorously defended the sensibility of affirmative action programs for giving students from a less privileged background a “fighting chance” in the great race that is life.

By that logic, I asked this friend (a former college athlete), if it wouldn’t make sense to require that sports, which have remained largely clear of such social manipulations (Title IX notwithstanding) to toe the same line? Would it not be just to establish a protocol for sporting awards that manages for a diverse winner’s group that accounts for the vagaries of upbringing and relative advantages of the contestants? After all, admission to a coveted university is an “award” every bit as much as admission to an elite sporting team or gold medal. My friend found the suggestion ridiculous, even bordering on offensive.

Perhaps. As I watch Russia pummel Saudi Arabia in the World Cup, oughtn’t the Saudis who have, shall we say, a mixed history of sport, be given a sanctioned handicap against the clearly better-prepared Russians? Shouldn’t the results of the Olympic 100-meter dash account for “life experience” in ways that ensure a representative sampling?

Shouldn’t college athletic teams (let alone the NBA and NFL) hew to the same standards of ethnic diversity that drive college entrance protocols? On closer thought, my friend is right—it is indeed ridiculous and offensive.

The problem, of course, is that “commitment to diversity” is not a meaningful goal. No person, committee, or policy is wise enough to be able to judiciously micromanage the complicated set of characteristics that define “diversity.” Inevitably, in pursuit of one form of diversity, another is lost because the pursuit of diversity involves choosing winners and losers for the coveted slots in each freshman class. And next thing you know, you have Asian Americans bitterly and righteously complaining of unjustly being discriminated against at Harvard.

Commitment to excellence, and a commensurate pledge to helping others achieve it is far much more credible. If there are systematic issues with underrepresented groups (such as poor or conservative kids) effectively being locked out of the halls of wealth and privilege, then we must apply efforts toward diligently aiding those kids in the communities where they are from. Help them to write better essays, learn calculus, or play the violin, not to guess (and hope) that the accidents of their birth may happen to favor them this particular year. Help them meet and exceed entrance exam standards, rather than by playing schoolmarm wicket-keeper.  In short, make academic excellence as pure as sporting excellence.

Harvard’s president tells me that,

…as a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.

Agreed. And to that end, I’d like to question the truth of Diversity as an end unto itself, to revisit the assumption that discrimination, when done by the “right people” and for the “right reasons” is okay.

Reader Discussion

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on July 09, 2018 at 08:57:05 am

Everybody knows that "diversity' is code for "race-based" decision-making in college admissions and employment by public and private institutions. It's Leftist bureaucrats and elitist, self-serving Leftist professors intent on controlling economic, political and social outcomes by bestowing gross racial preferences and the myriad economic advantages of special privilege on members of favored minorities (African_American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non- White females) by inflicting direct economic costs, social harm, and real psychological pain and life-long personal suffering on INDIVIDUALS (and their families) who are not members of the favored groups, but rather were born into the politically-disfavored cates (Caucasians, especially white males, Appalachian Whites, and Orientals.)

"Diversification" is an elitist bureaucracy's term for implementing what, by any other name, would be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and "invidious" racial and sexual discrimination. It's akin to racial and sexual discrimination and to crony capitalism. But it's not mere "reverse discrimination" or bureaucrats doling out benefits to their friends. Rather, "diversification'' is intentionally and actively HARMING disfavored millions of individuals because they are not members of the politically-favored racial and sexual groups. "Diversity," itself, is the artful illusion of an educational and social goal, an illusion sustained through the punitive, harsh, imposition of the cruel tools of forced diversification. Together, they are nothing more than using the water-color of euphemism to mask the ugliness of a cruel practice that is undertaken in pursuit of the illusions of meddlesome social-engineers who would put lipstick on an a pig in order to deceive the public and console (dupe) the losers.

Among the toxic consequences of diversification is an Inquisition of Educational Terror and the sanctification of the weapon of diversity, allSupreme Court-blessed, thank you Justices Powell, O’Connor and (who else) Kennedy; all concocted and enforced by educational bureaucrats and crony-socialist politicians who have hoodwinked the Congress, the Department of Education and, most importantly, the paying public (taxpayers, the payers of exorbitant tuitions, students, rejected disfavored applicants, student debtors and the colleges and universities) into accepting the ridiculous notion that “diversity” is both an intrinsic educational value and an instrumentally-invaluable societal tool.

Diversity” is neither of those things. It should be legally banned or voluntarily eliminated as a goal and a tool from public and private education (and from public and private employment.) The word “diversity” should be stricken from the lexicon of educators (and employers.) It is but a mask for crypto- racial discrimination (not so disguised anymore) and compulsory group-think among administrators, faculty and students, all to the detriment of students, higher (sic) education, the rule of law and society.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 11:29:24 am

The story to which you link doesn't show that Democrats "voted overwhelmingly against the Civil Rights Act," though it does show they voted less overwhelmingly for it than Republicans.

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Kevin Gutzman
on July 09, 2018 at 12:38:58 pm

[M]ake academic excellence as pure as sporting excellence.

Hear, hear! Affirmative action in sports—that’s a laugh riot! Yuk yuk. I mean…

• Imagine if sport had separate leagues teams for, oh, I don’t know, men and women?

• Imagine if wrestles and boxers had separate weight classes, so that flyweights never had to fight flyweights?

• Imagine if combat sports were separated into different styles of combat, so that boxers never had to compete with fencers?

• Imagine if racers were put into separate races, so that swimmers never had to compete against people on foot, or on bicycles, or in cars, or in aircraft?

• Imagine if we added weights to the saddle bags of jockeys so that their horses all had to bear the same weight?

• Imagine if there was an entirely separate Olympics so that people with various forms of disabilities didn’t have to compete against people who lacked those disabilities?

• Imagine if we established multiple layers of sports, such that junior varsity high school teams never had to play against professionals?

• Imagine if pansy-assed liberals started changing the rules of sports to accommodate people who are fragile or chicken? Imagine if they induced the sport of baseball, boxing, fencing, football, and hockey to change equipment design (especially helmets), or race drivers to include more safety harnesses and safer tracks, or induced baseball or induced football and hockey to penalize certain kinds of hits, or banned the use of various performance-enhancing but dangerous drugs, or banned certain sports (dog fighting) entirely?

• Hell, imagine that the SCOTUS ruled that players who had a medical need to ride a golf cart during a professional golf tournament should be entitled to do so, even if the sporting authority’s rules ban the use of carts?

Oh, wait--we already do all of these things, and more. The rules of sports are arbitrary. People design these rules—and change these rules—to achieve whatever outcomes they find desirable. And often, the outcome they find desirable is to facilitate participation by a broad range of people, not just a few elites. Sports is arguably the most Affirmatively Acted forum you could name.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 12:42:35 pm

If there are systematic issues with underrepresented groups (such as poor or conservative kids) effectively being locked out of the halls of wealth and privilege, then we must apply efforts toward diligently aiding those kids in the communities where they are from. Help them to write better essays, learn calculus, or play the violin, not to guess (and hope) that the accidents of their birth may happen to favor them this particular year. Help them meet and exceed entrance exam standards, rather than by playing schoolmarm wicket-keeper.

What justice is there in lavishing help upon members of underrepresented groups, as opposed to other people? If you believe in meritocracy, then you believe in letting people sink or swim on their own, right?

Bottom line for meritocracy: We identify what merit we care about, and we evaluate people based on that merit. In a just world, we believe that “race” does not correlate with merit. Yet all evidence indicates that it does. This leads us to two possible conclusions.

1. We relax the assumption that we live in a just world. Instead, we conclude that the world contains systematic biases against members of certain groups, and thus we are justified in making some kind of accommodation. Yes, helping some members of those groups will inevitably LOOK unfair to members of other groups, who believe that they live in a perfectly just world. But as between the two forms of injustice, we must strive for some optimal balance.

2. We relax the assumption that race does not correlate with merit. We conclude that certain groups fail to demonstrate merit because, well, they just intrinsically lack merit. In other words, they’re inferior, and so deserve their status.

Schwennesen hints at which view he holds, but I wish he’d be clearer.

Since Schwennesen has such reverence for sports, I imagine him as a marksman. He lines up his shot and fires—and each time, he hits 1 inch to the right of the bullseye. Now, some people in his circumstance might be tempted to make an adjustment, aiming for one inch to the left of the bullseye in the hope of compensating for his error. But good ol’ Schwennesen would never stoop to such a practice. He knowns that adjusting his aim merely to achieve a better outcome would sully the purity of the sport—and purity, not outcome, is what matters.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 13:29:12 pm

Leftist bureaucrats and elitist, self-serving Leftist professors intent on controlling economic, political and social outcomes by bestowing gross racial preferences and the myriad economic advantages of special privilege on members of favored minorities (African_American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non- White females) by inflicting direct economic costs, social harm, and real psychological pain and life-long personal suffering on INDIVIDUALS (and their families) who are not members of the favored groups, but rather were born into the politically-disfavored cates (Caucasians, especially white males, Appalachian Whites, and Orientals.)

Ah, yes, the cabal of Leftist bureaucrats and elitist, self-serving Leftist professors! And the Trilateral Commission! And the Jews! This explains why African-American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non-White females dominate the world!

Oh, wait—they don’t. In fact, they seem to be grossly under-repented in pretty much any category you might name other than prison. Would you care to dispute this assertion? And if not, would you care to offer an explanation for this disparity? And what we should do about it?

Well, obviously whatever we do about it should not hurt INDIVIDUALS (and their families). And clearly, any system that leads to the under-representation of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non-White females never hurts INDIVIDUALS (and their families). After all, we identify with INDIVIDUALS (and their families). And we know that African-American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non-White females aren’t INDIVIDUALS (with families); they’re just manifestations of some faceless hoard come to steal things from worthy, meritorious INDIVIDUALS (and their families).

(By the way, does the category “Caucasians” not include Appalachian Whites?)

Look, let’s get real: The world is not dominated by African-American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBQT, and non-White females; it’s dominated by white people, mostly men. When that is no longer true, I’ll take such concerns seriously. Until then, my views are rather constrained by reality.

That said, I note the “mostly men” part in the context of this discussion: If you Google “Affirmative Action for men,” you’ll find a lot of literature indicating that undergraduate institutions are already engaging in this practice, although they don’t want to acknowledge it. Now, why would “Leftist bureaucrats and elitist, self-serving Leftist professors” engage in such a practice? Could it possibly be that they sincerely value having a diverse student body (or, that they sincerely believe that their other students would value having students with diverse bodies)?

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 13:37:30 pm

Well, what should one expect from a[no]body that rejects the notion of human agency (see earlier posts from nobody), denies the appropriateness of merit based recognitions / awards / rewards.

He also argues that race correlates with merit. either he believes this to be an intrinsic factor or he asserts that evil european types ACT as if it is.

Clearly, the "correlative race" argument follows from the initial denial of meritorious achievement as a function of varying levels of human agency.

Could it be that it is not "race" that correlates with merit, in either of nobody's contentious assertions BUT rather that it is *culture* that correlates with merit.
An urban legend from my youth had it that Jewish parents would place a drop or two of honey on the pages of a book and encourage their young children to consume it. A myth, perhaps - but instructive nonetheless. In any event, it did reflect the urban Jewish community's high regard for education. Is this the sole explanation for the rise of what in the 1950's was known as the Jewish Mafia throughout the New York City university system? NO! - BUT, it does tell us something about their cultural valuations.

Now were one to examine other cultures, would we find the same traits or practices (heck, would these other cultures even be susceptible to such sill urban legends?). Surprisingly, for someone who reduces individual human
agency to the status of an urban legend (again, see numerous earlier posts by nobody) and prefers to view human behavior / striving (or lack thereof) as solely a function of a collective inputs, how is that in select discussions, nobody conveniently forgets or foregoes his earlier assertions denying human agency and elevating *cultural* influences above all.

Perhaps, nobody is correct, although he will deny it in this instance: It is culture that more closely correlates with merit - or more precisely, it may be said that certain cultural anomalies / deficiencies closely correlate with the LACK OF MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT.

Nobody will admit that - BUT nobody really cannot say it!

In short, it may be that cultural influences / behavioral expressions are what hold one back and not simply one's ethnicity or race.

Nobody's faulty sports analogues above failt to consider one other demand made by the present "un-meritorious. That demand would be comparable to asking the umpires in a baseball game to allow me to have five strikes - well, because I can't hit a g-damn curveball. It is the rules that are being challenged.

And hey nobody, when was the last time you saw a 122 pound, 5 foot two inch offensive lineman with polio in the NFL. Your *clever* little examples once again are designed to MISLEAD rather than illuminate.

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 13:43:47 pm

To state that Democrats voted "overwhelmingly" for the Civil rights Act but "...less overwhelmingly for it than Republicans" is misleading, in my opinion.

Democrats strongly opposed the law despite its strong support by President LBJ, their strongest leader since FDR and their most skilled political leader ever. Overall about 20% of Republicans and one-third of Democrats in Congress opposed it, including Senators Al Gore, Sr., J. William Fulbright and Sam Ervin, all three important, widely-admired political leaders in the Democrat Party, and ex- KKK'er Robert C. Byrd (later to become the Democrat's Senate Majority Leader and to be lavishly eulogized by Democrat Presidents Clinton and Obama.)

I would not give the Democrats a pass by saying they voted "less overwhelmingly (than Republicans) for" the Civil rights Act.

Democrat opposition was fierce and nearly killed the bill. Democrats filibustered the bill for 57 days, a concerted effort to kill it that was condemned by the Senate Republican Leader, Everett Dirksen, whose important public shaming helped weaken support for the filibuster. Only six Senate Republicans out of 33 voted against the bill; 21 Senate Democrats out of 67 opposed it. It passed the Senate by an overall vote of 73-27; take away 8 of the 27 Republican votes and the Democrat filibuster would have succeeded; take away most of the Republican votes and the bill would have failed in the Senate.

In the House, 91 out of 244 Democrats voted against and 35 Republicans out of 171 voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The vote in the House was 153 Democrats for and 91 against (about 1.7 to 1) and 136 Republicans for and 35 against (almost 4 to 1.) In the Senate, Democrats voted 46 to 21 in favor, little better than two to one, and the Republicans voted 27 to 6 in favor, over four to one.

Bottom line: But for strong Republican Party support in the face of strong, aggressive opposition from the Democrat Party, including from several of its most prominent leaders, the Democrats would have killed in its prenatal state the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Perhaps, 9 years later we might have referred to that premature death as the Democrats' first act of organized abortion.)

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 14:14:18 pm

Per usual, there's so much non-sequitur, distinction without a difference, factual error, and nit-picking contention that I'll forego the tiresome effort of responding (and let Nobody proclaim a much-needed victory.) Yet, one does get tired of Nobody's schtick.

But just on the one point, his question, "(By the way, does the category “Caucasians” not include Appalachian Whites?)" the answer is that for purposes of the special legal, economic and political privileges of what I would call "diversity jurisdiction" (aka race-based decision-making in education) Appalachian Whites, while Caucasian, are doubly-punished because they are in the generally-punished category of Caucasians they are ALSO the ONLY "discrete and insular minority" (per Justice Stone's infamous footnote four in Carolene Products) in the United States that is politically ignored, for the most part, and while in truly special need of affirmative action does not receive the special benefits and goodies, the crony-socialist largesse of affirmative action (ahem! excuse me, I mean "diversity" treatment) favoritism. The hillbillies aren't considered important enough by the Democrats to be considered even residents of fly-over country, although Hillary did consider them among the "deplorables" and lecture them on the necessity (as the Democrat elites see it) of getting on without the coal industry. As I recall, Hillary told the hillbillies, more or less, "Y'all (she tends to take on the dialect of her audience as she hears and imagines it from inside her bubble) will just have to suck it up."

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 14:18:54 pm

Finally, one aside:

“Diversification” is an elitist bureaucracy’s term for implementing what, by any other name, would be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and “invidious” racial and sexual discrimination. It’s akin to racial and sexual discrimination and to crony capitalism. But it’s not mere “reverse discrimination” or bureaucrats doling out benefits to their friends. Rather, “diversification” is intentionally and actively HARMING disfavored millions of individuals because they are not members of the politically-favored racial and sexual groups.

Let’s stipulate that you’re more virtuous than I am. Should that entitle you to claim my parents’ estate rather than me? Likewise, should that entitle you to claim admission to Harvard rather than me?

Last I checked, my parents are private citizens, and thus are entitled to discriminate on pretty much any basis they choose. And, last I checked, Harvard is a private institution. Recall that SCOTUS upheld the rights of the Boy Scouts of America, a private organization, to discriminate against gays—which is unremarkable, given that the scouts had long overtly discriminated against girls.

Thus, I am unaware of any requirement that Harvard embrace YOUR concept of meritocracy—or any concept of meritocracy at all. As far as I know, Harvard is entitled to pursue HARVARD’s goals. And if Harvard chooses to pursue a given type of student body—for example, a leftist student body—it is entitled to do so, just as Brigham Young University is entitled to pursue a Mormon student body if its wants to.

True, Harvard’s discriminatory conduct might imperil its tax exempt status, or its eligibility for guaranteed student loans or certain government-related grants, or its eligibility for other kinds of government and private assistance. (See Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)). But I don’t know that it would violate the constitution. (Admittedly, the case law is ambiguous; see Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 622 (1984)).

The remedy for people who didn’t share the Boy Scout’s values was to disassociate from the Boy Scouts. Likewise, the remedy for people who don’t share Harvard’s values is to disassociate from Harvard. In short, even though certain private organizations have developed a popular reputation as the authorities in a given area (Boy Scouts, Harvard, Southern Poverty Law Center, ABA, NRA, etc.), people are feel free to disagree with their pronouncements, and to act accordingly.

Arguably many of the arguments raised here would be better raised in the context of state schools; members of the public have a stronger claim in how their own governmental exercises its discretion.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 14:26:38 pm

" Imagine if sport had separate leagues teams for, oh, I don’t know, men and women?

• Imagine if wrestles and boxers had separate weight classes, so that flyweights never had to fight flyweights? [you mean heavyweights, don;t you?]

Gee, is nobody advocating segregation?

No wait - that is what universities are doing. Separate safe spaces for minorities, separate graduation ceremonies, and wait a minute, some professors have actually admitted that they not only grade on a curve based upon race BUT also provide extra points for - well - for the hazard of being a racial, ethnic or gender minority.

But the real issue and one that nobody assiduously avoids (denies) is that we observe demands being made to have lightweights in the same class as heavyweight in the academy and elsewhere. Indeed, it would appear that nobody would have us attend a boxing match in which the referee walks up to one of the heavyweight contenders and orders him out of the ring. "We need to be more diverse, says he"

RE: SCOTUS and Casey Martin, PGA golfer: Recall Scalia's conclusion that SCOTUS was now reduced to decide such a *silly* matter. But taking that further, should Major League Baseball have been required to provide a motorized wheelchair so that Casey could not only "come to bat" but also navigate the basepaths.? That is the example that nobody should illustrate because that, in fact, is what more closely represents what we observe in the endless demands for equal treatment / outcomes.

"Sports is arguably the most Affirmatively Acted forum you could name."

Only in the mind of a madman can this assertion be deemed correct.
Sport is the most discriminatory, the most MERITOCRATIC of all HUMAN endeavors. If you can't cut it - off you go to sell insurance or used cars.
But sport is also open to all and makes ACCOMODATIONS intended to growing the sport - not necessarily social justice. It is to the sports advantage to encourage non-athletes, or those not sufficiently athletic to make a major league team. to participate in the sport. In some instances this means helping fund "junior" leagues, minor leagues or just public leagues such as YMCA, CYO and in particular, in golf, such things as First Tee, WEB.COM and most recently partial funding / support of the Ladies PGA tour. In the end, these sub-leagues and the interest they engender PROMOTE interest in the BIG Leagues / Big Tours.

so accommodation _ Yes!
Affirmative Action - NO!

On a more serious note:

I suspect that nobody really is well aware of the great success of the Historically Black college system had.
By chance, is nobody proposing a return to this with all his talk of separate leagues and weight classes. If, according to nobody, it is good for sport then, sport and academics being equivalents, it must be good for academia?

Precisely what is nobody advocating?

BTW: There was and IS some good data attesting to the success of the HBC system. I do not mean to diminish or slight that great history.

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gabeg
on July 09, 2018 at 14:34:27 pm

"rue, Harvard’s discriminatory conduct might imperil its tax exempt status, or its eligibility for guaranteed student loans or certain government-related grants, or its eligibility for other kinds of government and private assistance. "

I have an even better "reward" for Harvard.

Refuse to recognize any Law degree from Harvard and prohibit Harvard trained litigators from practicing in Federal courts.

Hey, now that would increase diversity, wouldn't it? Let's provide an opportunity for a lawyer from Sam Houston Institute of Technology Law school to practice. Surely the level of legal fecundity would rise, would it not!

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 14:43:24 pm

With the exception (possibly) of Hillsdale College which takes no government money, I suspect that almost every other private college and university (certainly to include Harvard) is legally and contractually, though not constitutionally , prohibited from engaging in racial discrimination in admissions.
The federal constitutional arguments (not federal/state statutory, regulatory or contractual arguments and without considering the wording of charters of private schools and discounting moral and pragmatic objections) against diversity and cronyism as constituting unlawful racial discrimination/favoritism that deny Equal Protection are strongest against public schools and non-existent against private schools.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 14:47:21 pm

"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one."

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 15:10:56 pm

I think Trump should declare that Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch were serendipitous appointments, outstanding only by chance, that these few appointments are outweighed historically by the myriad poor Ivy League appointments and, not wanting to push his luck, that he will henceforth nominate no Ivy League lawyers for any judgeship.

Besides, as Senator Roman Hruska said of G. Harold Carswell, "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 15:14:39 pm

nobody.really: “In a just world, we believe that “race” does not correlate with merit. Yet all evidence indicates that it does.”

gabe: “Well, what should one expect from a[no]body that rejects the notion of human agency (see earlier posts from nobody), denies the appropriateness of merit based recognitions / awards / rewards.

He also argues that race correlates with merit. either he believes this to be an intrinsic factor or he asserts that evil european types ACT as if it is.

Clearly, the “correlative race” argument follows from the initial denial of meritorious achievement as a function of varying levels of human agency.”

Uh … ok, maybe I’ve made this too complicated. Let’s start with an easy one: Race correlates with SAT scores. Does anyone wish to dispute that?

If we can acknowledge that, then we can acknowledge that race correlates with at least SOME MEASURES of merit. Have I lost anybody yet?

gabe: "Could it be that it is not 'race' that correlates with merit, in either of nobody’s contentious assertions BUT rather that it is *culture* that correlates with merit?"

Culture may well correlate with merit; I suspect it does.

But that does not conflict with the idea that race correlates with merit; to the contrary, gabe’s claim bolsters mine. Let’s say that people raised in a Jewish household are enculturated in a manner that helps them perform better in school. Query: What did those students do to EARN their place in a Jewish household? And conversely, what did all the other students do to disqualify themselves from that nurturing environment? Answer: NOTHING. Each child grows up in the environment into which he or she was born; their individual merit and agency had NOTHING to do with it.

Or so it seems to me. But doubtless gabe will be happy to explain to us all how a child uses his own agency to influence his selection of parents.

gabe: "And hey nobody, when was the last time you saw a 122 pound, 5 foot two inch offensive lineman with polio in the NFL?"

Uh … can’t say that I’ve ever observed that.

Not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that, if only a player had exercised more AGENCY, he would have grown taller than 5 foot two inches and avoided contracting polio? As far as I can tell, you’re pointing to variables over which individuals exercise very little control—rather like the variable of picking your own parents.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 15:31:17 pm
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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 15:45:33 pm

HaHa.

Great scene; Chevy Chase-like deliveries by Rudd and Carrel.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 16:07:03 pm

• Imagine if wrestles and boxers had separate weight classes, so that flyweights never had to fight flyweights? [you mean heavyweights, don;t you?]

Oops—good catch, thanks.

[I]s nobody advocating segregation?

Well, yes and no. Or rather, no and yes.

For purposes of this discussion, I was not advocating segregation; I was acknowledging the segregation that already exists—and, indeed, that pervades sports. So people who talk about sports as a meritocracy—while ignoring how much we segregate players such that they never compete against each other—are missing the forest in the trees.

But beyond this discussion, yes, I do advocate segregation in sports—but I believe we need to be more intentional about it. And this concern becomes apparent in the context of gender segregation, given that people now transition their genders.

So why do we segregate sports by gender? I suspect there are multiple reasons. We might want to explore those reasons and design criteria to achieve those goals that do not rely on gender as a criterion. For example, we might have concern that male players, who tend to be larger/heavier, would hurt female players. We might achieve that goal by simply segregating players by size, much as we currently do in boxing/wresting. Etc. After all, it doesn’t make a lot of difference to me if my daughter is killed by being hit by a 400-lb male hockey player or a 400-lb female hockey player; if weight is the issue, let’s segregate by weight.

RE: SCOTUS and Casey Martin, PGA golfer: Recall Scalia’s conclusion that SCOTUS was now reduced to decide such a *silly* matter.

For what it’s worth, I also have qualms about that decision—but my reasoning is far different than Scalia’s. Far from regarding this as a silly matter, I regard it as impinging upon the Free Exercise of Religion. To me, religion is a code that tells us what to value—what to love and what to hate. Sports are a collection of arbitrary rules about what to value; that is, it’s a religion. In a business or governmental setting, we generally can evaluate whether the ability to travel without the aid of a golf cart is a bona fide occupational qualification. But when a golf rulebook says that we value players walking the entire course, by what criteria could a judge say whether that value was “central” or tangential to the sport? There is no criteria, because there is no criteria for judging another person’s religion.

Thus, I agree with gabe: SCOTUS seems to have established a standard that, if applied uniformly, would lead to baseball players riding golf carts between bases. The clearer standard would have been to declare that, where sports are concerned, courts cannot overrule the rules. Not because the rules are MERITOCRATIC; if that were true, the court would have a basis for evaluate them. To the contrary, the court should defer to the rulebook precisely because the rules are ARBITRARY, and thus are beyond judgment.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 16:25:33 pm

Stifle yourself, nobody.

No the point is that sports, contra nobody is ENTIRELY meritocratic - and not as some madmen would like us to believe - an Affirmative Action sport.

As to agency - again, you employ a spurious argument - one intended to deceive or distract from the point and not at all dissimilar from your previous *astute* observation garnered from a book, "moneyball" that not everyone who works hard gets paid well. No Shit, sherlock. And you employ such an unremarkable commonplace in an effort to dispute that "hard work" is necessary for success. Hard work being a byproduct of human agency, it is understandable that you would advance such a ludicrous proposition as you do not believe in agency.

"But doubtless gabe will be happy to explain to us all how a child uses his own agency to influence his selection of parents. "

How very clever of you! No doubt that settles all.

It may be something appropriate on a late night talk show as an exemplar of silly leftist humor BUT again it is intended to sidetrack, not engage an argument.

GET USED TO IT - One plays the hand that they are dealt. Not everyone gets a royal flush, indeed, an incredibly small number do. But life can be a winning proposition even with a pair of Jacks. It is what YOU make of it - and yes, whether the fellow across the table plays his cards well does factor in. And yes, one can convert a pair of Jacks into a full house. It is called good decision making.

One can embrace despondency and throw themselves upon the tender mercies of their peers. Fair enough - but DO NOT DEMAND that you will be treated as if you are equal to who accepted fortuna, made a sustained effort to improve themselves and others or that you OUGHT to share in the rewards garnered by those who did make the effort.

Not all who strive succeed - but almost all attain some measure of success.
Not all who do not strive fail. fortuna is fickle. But overwhelmingly those who make no effort receive no rewards.

All that is due any one is an equal chance to make the best of their PARTICULAR circumstances.

Or would nobody have us determine who shall be deemed to be of "Jewish" parentage (or Sicilian, Vietnamese, African).
Nobody laments that which is not susceptible to change - the circumstances of birth once it has occured.
Far better if he would lament the peculiar circumstances of birth of far too many young Americans born to single parents, teenagers and the unemployed.

Perhaps, one could help promote a culture that dictates that you should be married, employed and have at a minimum a high school diploma. Now that is cultural - but to achieve it, it requires AGENCY and Will.

So Stifle it, Edith! or would THAT imply agency? i.e., the decision / ability to refrain from making vacuos comments.

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 16:33:20 pm

Schwennesen: “[T]he Democratic Party (which, for instance, voted overwhelmingly against the Civil Rights Act)….”
Pukka Luftmensch: “To state that Democrats voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for the Civil rights Act but ‘…less overwhelmingly for it than Republicans’ is misleading, in my opinion.”

1. Whatever you may think of that statement, it is surely less misleading than Schwennesen’s, which was misleading in the sense of being FALSE. The Democrats voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—albeit in smaller percentages than the Republicans.

2. But this is part of Schwennesen’s larger point which was ALSO misleading—that the GOP is the home of meritocracy. To the contrary, the opposition to the Civil Rights Act came from southern Democrats—seats that are now occupied by southern Republicans. The party affiliation has changed; the attitude has not. As Luftmensch observes, Robert Byrd was affiliated with the KKK; today, which party offers candidates affiliated with the KKK?

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 17:10:06 pm

And finally one more for nobody:

In all seriousness, nobody, do you believe that when countering arguments / assertions made by commenters here at LLB that you "talking" with folks who are *monolithic" in their beliefs, that they are incapable or unwilling to recognize the subtleties of human interchange? that they are rigid in their belief systems.

I find that, at times, i cannot make sense of some of your comments unless a) I take them as pure sarcasm (true, no doubt much of the time (same with me)) or b) you believe that you are speaking with someone who believes vigorously and without any measure of doubt that their assertion, let us take one of mine for example on agency, is the "whole truth and nothing but the truth and that no other explanation is permissible.

Why else would you employ the "child's agency in selecting his own parents" schtick?
While this little bon mot may work wonders with a sophomore high school (or nowadays university) class, which no doubt needs a little confrontation of their belief systems, I think it is an indication that your perception of your fellow commenters is mistaken. I doubt that many of us here are unaware or incapable of recognizing that the realities of human intercourse are not quite so simple as to be reducible to ONE simple formula.
Further, I believe that you yourself are too intelligent to actually believe that some of the witticisms that you offer would serve to fully alter a fellow commenters beliefs or perceptions or even minimally address the validity of their claims. Offered to the cited high school class, it may be instructive; offered to LLB readers, it may appear condescending.

Or is it simply your purpose to reinforce the unremarkable commonplace that "Things jus' ain't that simple, brudda"

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 17:43:48 pm

1. On “deplorables: To be clear, Hillary Clinton distinguished between two types of Trump supporters. One type included—

people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with….

And the other were in the “basket of deplorables”:

The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And [Trump] has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

Just to clarify, what part of Clinton’s remarks do you disagree with?

2. Regarding Appalachian Whites: Evidence suggests that standardized test scores in Appalachia—especially West Virginia—are rock-bottom. So how, exactly, would an embrace of ruthless meritocracy help Appalachian Whites?

It wouldn’t. What might help them is getting them identified as a class warranting Affirmative Action.

But as a means of re-directing their frustrations away from this constructive approach, it’s attractive to scapegoat Others. Hence the rise of the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamaphobic.

Some of us even call these attitudes deplorable. But not everyone, apparently.

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 18:03:33 pm

Duh, I'm not arguing that Appalachian whites should be exempt from a merit-driven admissions policy. (And you know that, nobody, so don't be so apparent in your disingenuousness.)

I AM pointing out that SOLELY BECAUSE they are Caucasian Appalachian Whites are denied the special racial benefits and crony favoritism afforded other ''discrete and insular minorities" even though they otherwise qualify to receive them and would benefit from them according to the very principles by which the Left argues these affirmative action privileges are economically necessary, morally justified and socially effective (assertions which I dispute.)

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 18:11:24 pm

"which party offers candidates affiliated with the KKK?"

None willingly - to my knowledge.

But if anecdotal evidence is of any import, I can attest to the fact that a far greater number of Democrat voters, the real "deplorables" if you will, have retrograde attitudes towards race, etc. One need only walk around my tailgate area to observe this. Union members in particular who view primarily their own economic privileges as being under the protection of the Democrat party are particularly, shall we say, "insensitive".
In the same breath that they applaud the Democrat party for "protecting the workingman" (actually a dubious proposition) they then rant against gays, minorities and knuckleheads such as I for my somewhat right of center stance.

This may be changing as a number of working class folks are moving to the GOP BUT from my own personal experience (between high school and university I worked the building trades) it has been a staple belief of many working class folks. Sad but true.

Yet, nobody may yet prove to be correct - at least with respect to a party's voters. recall that the GOP was not at all pleased with some local / State level candidates. It was local voters in local primaries that accomplished that feat. Then again, we may ask nobody, "Which Party now nominates Socialists / statists or even communists. Then again, which Party placed a eugenicist on SCOTUS (that dear little munchkin, RBG)

Frankly, I think we should have some additional Parties. In this way, the racists can have their own; the commies can have their own and even RBG's eugenicists will not be slighted (Oops, perhaps that is redundant with the Racist Party.)
One must ask, however, if a Party consistently demonizes one race, e.g., Caucasians by the Democrats, may that Party be said to be racist?
Just asking!

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 18:18:01 pm

I would note the timeliness of this spirited discussion, since tonight's SCOTUS nomination by President Trump, WHOEVER it is, will undoubtedly correct at least one of Justice Kennedy's numerous, significant, imprudent, dubious, dispositive votes, his (typically) constitutionally-inscrutable vote in support of race-preference admissions policies that are artfully cloaked in the politically-correct garb of diversity.

Diversitiy's days are very numbered!
Somebody other than nobody say Amen.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 18:38:47 pm

So far as I know in the 20th century only the Democrat Party elevated three overt racists to the highest offices in the land, two of them members of the Klan: 1) President Woodrow Wilson, an open racist and still an icon of the Democrat Party despite playing the Klan-heroics film, "Birth of a Nation," in the White House, 2) Alabama Senator Hugo Black, former Klan member elected to the Senate with full Klan support and despite open hostility to the Catholic Church, whom FDR thereafter appointed to the Supreme Court knowing of his Klan proclivities and from whence he became one of the Democrat Party's great heroes, and 3) Senator Robert C. Byrd, who while in the Senate referred to DC's "Resurrection City" (begun by Dr. King and carried forth by Rev. Ralph Abernathy, head of SCLC) as "an incestuous carbuncle of infectious disease" and was duly rewarded by the Democrats when they later chose Byrd as their Senate Majority Leader and whom Presidents Clinton and Obama eulogized.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 19:57:06 pm

Pukka:

Thank you for the reminder.

I had forgotten about Byrd, who, as I recall, was a Grand Kleagle - whatever the heck that was - probably means a very effective Democrat Party fund raiser. _Ha!

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gabe
on July 09, 2018 at 20:01:34 pm

Well, since you asked....

1. I make few generalized assumption about the readers/commenters here. Each commentor has his/her own personalities. Or, in your case, multiple personalities. :-) Seriously, I often find it difficult to believe that all gabe comments come from the same author.

2. When I post, I generally post in response to a specific comment. Let’s take the “child’s agency in selecting his own parents” example: As a matter of rhetoric, it was not I, but you, who introduced the idea of agency into the discussion. I find no fault with your introducing the topic. But it then fell to me to illustrate how weak the concept of agency is to explain the variety of people’s circumstances. You discussed a child’s upbringing as evidence of agency—specifically, the PARENT’s agency (or, perhaps to illustrate factors other than genetic/racial factors that influence a child’s success?). But you seemed oblivious that this was not an example of the CHILD’s agency; quite the opposite. So I wrote in a manner to illustrate the distinction.

3. As a matter of substance: I have enjoyed various discussions with you, and you often exhibit good will and good humor. Moreover, I suspect you and I might agree on a number of facts and on some generalities. But I sense it ends there—and no amount of facts will change that.

Why do people hold demonstrably false beliefs? One theory is that these beliefs are rewarding to the belief-holder; thus, people who hold these beliefs RESIST subjecting the beliefs to tests, because they simply want to hold those beliefs. As Upton Sinclair remarked, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

White guilt is a real phenomenon—and a real problem, because it creates a barrier to people acknowledging facts that they might otherwise see. I suspect we’ve all observed conversations (especially on the internet) wherein people bridle at discussions of unpleasant aspects of US history, e.g., regarding Native Americans or slaves. Now, pretty much nobody alive is personally responsible for any of that conduct. So why the defensiveness? Clearly, in some people’s minds, these are not just discussions of the past; they are proxies for something else. Something that triggers strong emotions such as guilt.

You (and others) embrace the idea that Agency explains most/all of a person’s circumstances. You cite no evidence in support of this proposition; you just believe it. And nothing I say will every shake your belief. For example, I regularly cite the example comparing the circumstances of J.S. Bach and Justin Bieber. The evidence is overwhelming that Bieber had earned more that Bach not because of any superior talent of Bieber’s, but because of the peculiar circumstances in which they lived—circumstances they did NOTHING to create.

Or consider Wikipedia’s maps of nations, noting each nation's median income. The nations sort pretty clearly by geography, with the poorest nations in Africa and Asia, and the richest in Australia/New Zealand, Europe, and North America. Now, perhaps it just happens to be that all the hard-working, virtuous people of the world just by chance grew up in certain continents and all the lazy people grew up on others. Or perhaps we observe that a person’s income is heavily influenced by the NATION OF THEIR BIRTH, a fact over which a person exercises NO CONTROL.

Or we could look at data regarding median incomes over time, generally showing an increase over time. Now, perhaps this graph demonstrates that people are becoming more hard-working and virtuous, and thus wealthier. Or perhaps the graph illustrates that a person’s wealth is heavily influenced by the era into which the person in born—a fact over which a person exercises NO CONTROL.

I don’t mean to suggest that effort and hard work play no role in a person’s circumstances. But I do mean this:

• The extent to which people can alter their circumstances via hard work is dwarfed by the influence imposed by circumstance. A girl born with a missing leg in lawless areas of Afghanistan faces limited prospects, no matter how hard-working she is. A guy who is five feet tall is unlikely to join the NBA, no matter how hard-working he is.

• The willingness to exert effort is not only a function of moral virtue, but of temperament. Yup, Bach and Bieber each worked hard at music. But both Bach and Bieber LOVED working at music; they derived pleasure from doing so. Perhaps other people had similar talent and work-ethic, but just didn’t like the work as much and so invested less time in it.

• The willingness to exert effort is also a function of socialization. J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy documented how people in rural parts of Kentucky and Ohio learned terrible work ethic because that’s what they observed in others, and because they lived under circumstances when hard work rarely generated rewards. In short, even virtues that people associate with individuals can be a function of circumstances and societies.

• It’s easy to focus on exceptional individuals and ignore larger social dynamics. Even if, by hard work, a person can become the fastest runner in the world, what has he accomplished from a social perspective? He has merely displaced someone else who would have been the fastest runner. The fact that somebody has won the lottery does not mean that society has grown richer; it just means that the existing pot of resources has been reallocated. Yes, Justin Bieber is hard-working and talented—but if he died tomorrow, his place be taken by any of the line of other performers. Thus, we can regard Justin Bieber as akin to the fastest runner or the lottery winner: He currently occupies a space that would go so SOMEBODY; SOMEBODY will occupy that space when he’s gone; and from a societal perspective it really doesn’t matter which individual occupies that spot.

Given these dynamics, why do we focus so much on agency?

A. We want to flatter ourselves on our own success. (“Gosh, if I could master English as a child, I don’t see why these darned foreigners can’t manage it….”)

B. We want to feel like we have control over an arbitrary world. (“No, rather than fly, I’ll drive; I just feel safer when I’m at the wheel….”)

C. As a normal human heuristic, we don’t focus on REALITY; we focus on the aspects of reality that might be rewarding to us. If we lose something on a dark street, we look under the streetlamp—not because the object is especially likely to be there, but because that’s where any search effort is most likely to prove successful. Thus, even if it’s true that most of our circumstances are the result of forces beyond our control, we rationally focus on the few things we CAN control because there’s little reward in focusing on the other stuff. Or, as Churchill remarked, “I’m an optimist—because there’s precious little point in being anything else.” This is reasoning from the conclusion to the premise.

I humbly suggest that you may be in the grip of these dynamics, and these dynamics drive you to conclude that personal agency accounts for vastly more circumstances than it does.

Watching the game on the couch, my friend is always saying, “Dammit, why didn’t that receiver catch the ball? If only he were more motivated and had more gumption, he would have caught it! Why isn’t giving 110%?” Everything is a morality play; every outcome is a function of personal vice or virtue. When I suggest that chance and circumstance may play a role, he acknowledges those factors in the abstract—but it seems that in any specific circumstance, he’s convinced that the receiver could have caught the pass if only he had wanted it more.

And I imagine another guy on another couch, miles away, watching the Seahawks game, and wonder if he’s thinking the same things….

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 21:29:53 pm

You’re still obsessing over Robert Byrd? If anything, this strengthens my argument: People are influenced by their environments. Byrd was a white man born in North Carolina, before WW1. Byrd says that he joined the KKK in the 1940s because of its stance against communism, which was not uncommon for a white man in his time and place.

But Byrd was publicly disavowing the organization by 1952. That’s 66 years ago, guys.

So, has anything happened in the meantime? Well, let’s see: There was Nixon's Southern Strategy, designed to pander to white resentment over the Brown v. Board of Education decision and civil rights laws. Yes, I know, gabe is persuaded that the Southern Strategy never existed. He’s persuaded that Republican political operative Lee Atwater never actually said—

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

But since the recording was published in 2012 and remains available on the web, it’s getting harder to dispute. But to ignore the fact that the Republicans courted the KKK members away from the Democrats seems like sticking your head in the stand.

If you can’t see the racism there, you might want to Google David Duke, John Fitzgerald, Arthur Jones, Paul Nehlen, Corey Stewart, and Russell Walker. The last five still have their names on the ballot.

Finally, there was a candidate that claimed characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, who argued that an American-born judge with a Mexican surname could not demonstrate impartiality, who falsely claimed that the TV showed people of Mideast dissent in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers, who repeatedly called for banning Muslims from coming to the US, who claimed without cause that five people of color who had been exonerated of a brutal attack were in fact guilty, who claimed that the Charlottesville protest (wherein a white supremacist killed a counter-protester) had “very fine people on both sides," and who claimed that President Obama lacked a US birth certificate as recently as last year. Gosh, which party does he belong to…?

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 21:51:24 pm

Pukka Luftmensch: “Appalachian Whites, while Caucasian, are doubly-punished because they are in the generally-punished category of Caucasians they are ALSO the ONLY “discrete and insular minority” (per Justice Stone’s infamous footnote four in Carolene Products) in the United States that is politically ignored, for the most part, and while in truly special need of affirmative action does not receive the special benefits….”

nobody.really: “What might help them is getting them identified as a class warranting Affirmative Action.”

Luftmensch: “I’m not arguing that Appalachian whites should [benefit from Affirmative Action.](And you know that, nobody, so don’t be so apparent in your disingenuousness.)”

In fact, I didn’t know that. But neither do I care. I’m less interested in your opinion than your reason.

To review: You say that Appalachian Whites are in truly special need of affirmative action; I agree. I note that subjecting Appalachian Whites (with their generally substandard educational systems and low SAT scores) would not benefit from meritocracy, but MIGHT benefit from Affirmative Action. You don’t deny it; you just deny that you proposed it. And I didn’t assert that you did.

It appears that you’re using Appalachian Whites as a pawn to make a political point. You correctly identify their plight, but then recoil at the idea of doing anything that might actually help them. Have I misunderstood your position?

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nobody.really
on July 09, 2018 at 22:26:12 pm

Not misunderstood it,
just misstated it.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 09, 2018 at 23:08:18 pm

You’re still obsessing over Robert Byrd? If anything, this strengthens my argument: People are influenced by their environments. Byrd was a white man born in North Carolina, before WW1. Byrd says that he joined the KKK in the 1940s because of its stance against communism, which was not uncommon for a white man in his time and place.

But Byrd was publicly disavowing the organization by 1952. That’s 66 years ago, guys.

So, has anything happened in the meantime? Well, let’s see: There was Nixon's Southern Strategy, designed to pander to white resentment over the Brown v. Board of Education decision and civil rights laws. Yes, I know, gabe is persuaded that the Southern Strategy never existed. He’s persuaded that Republican political operative Lee Atwater never actually said—

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N....r, n...r, n....r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n....r”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N....r, n....r.”

But since the recording was published in 2012 and remains available on the web, it’s getting harder to dispute. But to ignore the fact that the Republicans courted the KKK members away from the Democrats seems like sticking your head in the stand.

If you can’t see the racism there, you might want to Google David Duke, John Fitzgerald, Arthur Jones, Paul Nehlen, Corey Stewart, and Russell Walker. The last five still have their names on the ballot.

Finally, there was a candidate that claimed characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, who argued that an American-born judge with a Mexican surname could not demonstrate impartiality, who falsely claimed that the TV showed people of Mideast dissent in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers, who repeatedly called for banning Muslims from coming to the US, who claimed without cause that five people of color who had been exonerated of a brutal attack were in fact guilty, who claimed that the Charlottesville protest (wherein a white supremacist killed a counter-protester) had “very fine people on both sides," and who claimed that President Obama lacked a US birth certificate as recently as last year. Gosh, which party does he belong to…?

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nobody.really
on July 10, 2018 at 09:53:19 am

nobody:

Yep, there actually is much that we agree on - but not all.
I suspect that the difference really comes down to "points of emphasis." You emphasize the exigencies of human intercourse (excessively, I think) and I may tend to emphasize agency / will (no I ain't no Hobbesean) while recognizing the due import of circumstance.

But it seems to me that you also may be arguing from the conclusion to the premise. The conclusion being that all is fate, thus "Why try" (an exaggeration, of course). I argue, "Try, because you may be able to affect your fate."

Again, emphasis.

Yet, it still appears that you DO believe that too many LLB readers, myself included, possess and express an "all-or-nothing' view. Not so. Nor do we believe that outcomes, of whatever level of success, are the result of personal virtue. Like me, I suspect that others have concluded that personal virtue DOES play a role in success (similarly for vice in the opposite condition). And that role is simply this: Virtuous behavior / intent may serve to FURTHER ones objectives, the attainment of one's goal, whatever those goals may be; and that vice may very well prevent one from attaining those goals.

As for watching the Hawks receivers flub another catch (or more precisely a run opportunity), I have never bought the 110% lunacy - nor do I buy it in more mundane spheres. Sport is an athletic competition, not a morality play. success depends upon preparation, aka hard work, dedication - Hey, not unlike the real world. You know what they say about luck - it is three parts "perspiration" (preparation).
I think perhaps we have grown too fond of deodorants, my friend and have developed a tendency to avoid perspiration. We then blame others for wishing to avoid our aromatic selves.

And finally, I am who I say I am; and only I am me. (Much depends upon whether the little rugrats are around and interrupting my "top of the head" compositions).
take care
gabe

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gabe
on July 11, 2018 at 12:34:03 pm

I like “under-repented”! . Freudian typo??

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Paul Schwennesen
on July 11, 2018 at 19:16:33 pm

Ha! It's just part of data each priest must report to the diocese after confession....

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nobody.really
on July 11, 2018 at 21:03:21 pm

The education debate regarding diversity centers on the notion that racial diversity is vital to a proper education, a notion embodied in official propositions which were sanctified by Obama's DOJ and Dept. of Ed but which the Trump Administration just rescinded, that racial diversity raises the “level of academic and social discourse both inside and outside the classroom” and helps students “sharpen their critical thinking and analytical skills.”

Where are the systematic, unbiased long-term studies and the substantial data which show, to a high degree of statistical significance, that any of those propositions is true? There are no such studies, and that is why the trope of diversity's importance should be dismissed by serious educators and those who pay their bills.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 12, 2018 at 00:57:04 am

First, Affirmative Action was sanctified long before Obama; it dates back to the Kennedy Administration.

Second, while the Trump Administration has rescinded some Obama Executive Orders, Trump’s Secretary of Education remarked, “The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue. Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law.” She also said to the Associated Press, “I think this has been a question before the courts and the courts have opined.”

When did the courts opine? In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), and Fisher v. University of Texas (2013) SCOTUS upheld a school’s discretion to consider race among other factors in making admissions decisions. I am not aware of any SCOTUS decision to the contrary.

Third, do studies show the effects of racial segregation in schools? Uh … yeah; people study the crap out this. Consider:

• Peer effects—the idea that, by getting low-achieving students into peer relationship with higher-achieving students, the low-achieving students begin performing better. Has this been studied? Sure: Here's a list of 92 peer-reviewed, published studies on that topic.

• Social effects—the idea that students in racially diverse school tend to end up in less segregated neighborhoods, college, and workplaces; have higher levels of social cohesion and a reduced likelihood for racial prejudice. Here's a review of those studies.

• The effects of segregation in performance in math and science: Here's a review of those studies.

• The effect of racial and socioeconomic composition of schools and classrooms on literacy, behavioral climate, and high school graduation rates: Here's a review of those studies.

• The effects of K-12 school integration on college attendance, college graduation, and intergenerational poverty: Here's a review of those studies.

• The effects of K-12 school segregation on teacher quality, teacher experience, course offerings (including access to advance placement courses), and facilities: In 2014 the Department of Education documented all of these problems.

So, what do these studies show? Lots of stuff, but in sum it shows benefits from school integration:

• Students attending integrated schools have higher achievement in mathematics, science, language, and reading.
• The benefits accrue to every demographic group—but are most pronounced for low-income minority students, and for students in the middle- and high-school years.
• The evidence of academic benefits is weakest for immigrant Asian and Latino English learners; studies conflict about whether English learners benefit from having a critical mass of people who share their ethnicity, or from total immersion in an all-English environment.
• There is no evidence that integrated schooling harms any demographic group at any age in any subject.
• The benefits of attending desegregated schools endure even to the student’s grandchildren

Students who attend racially diverse K-12 school are likely to—
• Graduate from high school.
• Enter and graduate from college.
• Enter a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field.
• Have higher occupational and income attainment.
• Possess workplace readiness and interpersonal skills.

Integrated K-12 education positively correlates with non-academic outcomes, too, including—
• A reduction in individual levels of racial and ethnic prejudice
• A break in the intergenerational perpetuation of stereotypes and fears of the “other.”
• An increase in cross-racial trust and friendships among youths and adults.
• An enhanced capacity for navigating multicultural settings.
• An increased likelihood of choosing to live in integrated neighborhoods.
• Better health and wellness among graduates of diverse schools.
• Less juvenile and adult involvement with the criminal justice system.

Finally, racially integrated schools themselves tend to be more stable, robust institutions, in that—
• Teachers and school leaders tend to be more experienced and highly qualified.
• Highly qualified teachers and leaders are less likely to transfer to other schools.
• Student populations tend to be more stable.
• School climates tend to be more supportive of learning and studying.
• Parent involvement tends to be greater.

Or consider this: Bussing. In 1971, black 13-year-olds tested 39 points worse than white kids on standardized tests. But at the height of bussing in 1988, the gap dropped to 18 points (although math improvements weren’t quite as large as reading improvements). Since bussing stopped, segregation throughout US schools has resumed the levels comparable to Brown v. Board of Education--and the achievement gap has returned as well. But in Boston, where bussing remained, nearly 90% of black and Latino students graduate from high school on time, and they score higher on state achievement tests than their peers in Boston Public Schools.

St. Louis recently had their own experiment in bussing: Each school district has to receive accreditation to operate. But the Ferguson school district, called Normandy (where Michael Brown graduated shortly before being gunned down by a police officer), had been put on provisional accreditation—for 15 years. An entire generation of students never attended a functional school. Finally the state had enough and withdrew Normandy’s accreditation. This triggered the right of Normandy students to opt to get bussed to a neighboring school district. And the kids that went to the new (predominantly white) district saw their test scores soar. Then the state canceled the policy, the black students returned to their old, black school, and test scores returned to their prior levels. To hear (or read) the two-hour This American Life account of this story, click here and here.

Is this enough documentation? Need anything more?

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nobody.really
on July 12, 2018 at 09:15:51 am

Interesting BUT it seems as if you are applying statistical data more relevant to a discussion of segregation than to Affirmative Action / diversity.
Additionally, from pre-K through K-12, NO ONE is denied admission to a school, good or otherwise as a consequence of busing (well, yeah - but all are REQUIRED to attend school).
What is missing from the studies you cite, BTW is the downward trend, noticed in some studies, in academic standards. while it may be that nominal test scores remain "equivalent', the content those scores are measuring may be slightly less robust / refined than previously.

Just a thought! and an observation.

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gabe
on July 12, 2018 at 09:45:45 am

Without reading them it would appear on their face that your "studies" (sic) fail en masse to meet the criteria which I enunciated, which are, in turn, requisite to having socio-scientific objectivity and decision-making validity. Further, for the most part, you are proffering what you call "studies'' that purport to assert the positive effects of desegregating African American children (liberating them from their neighborhoods) and opening the doors to them of better, safer neighborhoods with schools of much higher quality, environments and instruction, a matter which is tangentially related to the question of whether compulsory racial diversity, qua diversity, is an instrumental value or of benefit to ALL students, to students in general.

If it were educationally beneficial for ALL students simply because of the racial diversity of the student bodies that minority students of low to middling intellectual ability, social stability and family support attend the SAME schools as students who are at much higher levels in those matters of educational aptitude, then compulsory attendance of the bad schools by kids from the good schools would solve every family's K-16 problems and society's needs for a well-educated population. Diversity, itself, would make the kids from the bad schools better students and the kids from the good schools even better students. And in that case, speaking only of my locale, Al Gore, the Clintons, the Obamas (primus inter pares) and all the lesser elitists who populate the Democrat Party, run the federal government, control the academy and man the Left's intellectual storm-troops, seeking the most educational bang for the buck, would have sent their children to DC public schools (rather than to the most elite private schools in the DC Metro area.) Similarly, Harvard could make every state-supported university its equal by simply off-loading most of its applicants to them or opening its doors to their applicants and junior colleges would be the educational equivalent of St. John's College, simply by admitting inner-city children en masse, based on what you assert is the superior educational benefits FOR ALL of racial diversity.

But they don't because what you say 'taint so.

And studies ( not politically-motivated, interest-group funded and group-think charged pseudo-studies that massage numbers to achieve results, BUT RATHER, REAL STUDIES, long-term studies, with large study groups and large control groups, and statistically-based sampling methods and procedures to control extraneous variables and statistically-rigorous analysis of results) demonstrating what you say do not exist.

Yet, on the other hand, ALL of the testimonial evidence of well-to-do Democrats and others (who think like you on this matter,) all those non-deplorables who live in the cities (but not in inner-city neighborhoods) and who voted at the polling booth for Hillary and Barack and Bill and Al and who invariably vote with their feet and their wallet to send their kids K-16 to expensive private schools (that lack real diversity) and who (at worst) send their kids to ANY school BUT an inner-city school or a predominantly African -American university, ALL that testimonial evidence is compelling testimony that what you say is wrong about the instrumental value (you and most of the Left might say, indispensability) of diversity in the endeavor to educate so as to produce better educated graduates.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 12, 2018 at 11:06:13 am

And if we can "be empirical, just look" at the matter, by just looking at the contemporary US university scene, now with greater diversity than at any other time anywhere in world history, one can readily observe that the predicted outcome (per the false promise of the "guidance" of Obama's DOJ/Dept of Ed, which Trump just rescinded) is patently NOT THE CASE. Contrary to the Left's self- assured confidence in its miracle-cure of diversity and despite (I would say because of) 8 years of Obama chasing rainbows of diversity and after a decades-long pursuit of the illusion of diversity as solution, our universities have NOT shown (as his Guidance documents falsely assert) that racial diversity raises the “level of academic and social discourse both inside and outside the classroom” and helps students “sharpen their critical thinking and analytical skills.”

Empirically-speaking, the exact opposite is now the case: both "inside and outside the classroom" it is obvious (empirically-speaking, just watch the news) that "academic and social discourse" is nearly impossible and often dangerous and by all appearances "critical thinking and analytical skills" have sunk to levels truly deplorable, a word and a subject on which Democrats profess expertise.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 12, 2018 at 12:14:16 pm

What is missing from the studies you cite, BTW is the downward trend, noticed in some studies, in academic standards.

Why should we focus on academic STANDARDS rather than academic RESULTS?
Academic results, as measured by standardized tests, show no such trend
(at least based on data up through 2012).

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nobody.really
on July 12, 2018 at 13:59:54 pm

Somebody other than nobody....

Isn't that kind of redundant?
(And also redundant?)

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nobody.really
on July 12, 2018 at 14:33:47 pm

Here, you may have a valid point—although I’d quibble about the details.

I see no evidence that critical thinking and analytical skills have declined. Rather, in an era that esteems intellect, people feel the need to conceal their lack of critical thinking and analytical skills. In an era where intellect is regarded as elitist and a threat to the tribe, people feel freer to express themselves in terms that exhibit no deference to critical thinking and analytical skills.

This doesn’t strike me as exclusively the province of any one political party. Perhaps it’s the province of the extreme wings of each party. But it’s most emphatically the province of the White House.

What causes these surges of tribalism? Dunno, but they’re sweeping the globe, so it would be hard to pin it on US education policies.

Arguably these trends get triggered when an existing regime feels an existential threat from a new regime. When the Washington bureaucrats wanted to enter into treaties with Native Americans that might have limited the rights of whites to encroach upon Native lands, people rebelled and elected Jackson. When the bureaucrats in Washington freed the slaves, people opposed to the practice rebelled and started a war—and when that failed, they started the KKK. So it has been suggested that the election of Obama triggered a kind of existential fear on the part of aging whites, and we’re still experiencing the after-effects. The fact that Trump (and Luftmensch) promote their policies by emphasizing how they contradict Obama’s policies is consistent with this thesis.

Over time, I expect that this populist wave will peter out—perhaps as the trade war heats up; perhaps when deficit-fueled inflation picks up; perhaps as climate effects worsen; perhaps when one of Trump’s scandals grows too much for Evangelicals to stomach—and we’ll return to an era of critical thinking and analysis. But it’ll be a while. Many Republican intellectuals will be loath to associate themselves with the Republican brand, so it’s hard to anticipate how the party would extract itself from the control of the tribalists. My California Republican friends have been trying this for years, and got some headway with Schwarzenegger; maybe we just need a new figurehead?

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nobody.really
on July 12, 2018 at 17:29:54 pm

Dude, dude….

Look, we all bloviate on topics we don’t know anything about. It’s the internet! I do it too—at least until I encounter someone who might actually know something about the topic. And then I slink back into lurker status, or I educate myself.

I’ve cited 3.6 metric buttloads of studies on integration and education. You’ve cited squat. This would not seem to be a topic about which you have a lot of expertise.

Hey, no shame in that. We all start that way, right? That’s what links are for. And Google.

But you don’t seem to be especially inclined to click those links. Instead, you decry “politically-motivated, interest-group funded and group-think charged pseudo-studies that massage numbers to achieve results….” Yet you haven’t actually found fault with even a single study I cited—other than the fault that you don’t like the results.

And hey, I get it: I can’t know the funding source of every study, either. Hell, they might all be biased for all I know. But I can’t reach that conclusion simply because I do or don’t like the results. I need someone to identify some actual errors—ideally, to identify systemic errors that result in a consistent skewing of the results of multiple studies.

I think we can agree on this much: Someone in this discussion is simply trying to rationalize a pre-existing conclusion. Yes, there’s always a chance that some of the studies “message numbers to achieve results.” But given a choice between believing those studies, or believing arguments designed solely to achieve results that cite no supporting numbers whatsoever—which seem more persuasive to you? Which argument better reflects critical thinking and analytical skills?

The good news is that we no longer have slavery, so no one is obligated to engage in this discussion if they don’t wanna. But if you don’t wanna, it would be nice if you’d just say so.

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nobody.really
on July 12, 2018 at 17:49:00 pm

Some finer points.

…compulsory racial diversity….

What are we talking about here? While schools have the discretion to adopt Affirmative Action policies, I don’t know that any are required per se. Some might be required as a condition of getting some forms of government support; see the discussion about the distinctions between positive rights, negative rights, and entitlements. But some states (California and Michigan?) have legally banned consideration of race for purposes of evaluating applicants for admission to state schools; that suggests to me that there is no obligation.

[F]or the most part, you are proffering what you call “studies” that purport to assert the positive effects of desegregating African American children (liberating them from their neighborhoods) and opening the doors to them of better, safer neighborhoods with schools of much higher quality, environments and instruction, a matter which is tangentially related to

the question of whether compulsory racial diversity, qua diversity, is an instrumental value or of benefit to ALL students, to students in general.

Thanks for asking; here's a review of some of the literature on that question. But in summary:

There is no evidence of impaired academic performance by white kids. To the contrary, white academic performance generally improved—and most especially in classes with group projects, provoking interactions with other students. Specifically in math and science, white kids in racially diverse schools outperform white kids in white schools. An analysis of 59 articles on math education found that students of ALL races, at ALL grade levels, in ALL socio-economic classes, performed better in racially-diverse schools.

Yes, studies show that integration leads to heightened dialogue and debate (Chang, The Educational
Benefits of Sustaining Cross-Racial Interaction among Undergraduates. Journal of Higher Education, 430. (2006). Gurin, P., Nagda, B.A., Zúñiga, X. Engaging Race and Gender: Intergroup Dialogues in Higher Education. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation). And when it comes to problem-solving, diverse groups outperform groups made up of experts. The best predictor of achieving a breakthrough is having people with diverse perspectives working on a project. In one study, 75% of white students reported that their “understanding of different points of view” had been influenced by attending class with students of other races.

All of this might become especially relevant, given that today most kids born in the US aren’t white. (If you live in the South or the West, you’re probably more aware of this than in you live in the Midwest or Northeast.) An analysis of 515 studies over 6 decades showed (surprise!) that contact between different racial groups—for example, in classrooms and sports teams—lowered intergroup prejudice. Studying in an integrated environment enhances a white student’s feelings of confidence about working in a racially-diverse environment in the future. Exposure to students of other racial and ethnic backgrounds produces more knowledge and awareness of those backgrounds, which in turn lowers anxiety and heightened empathy.

Kids in racially integrated schools are more likely to regard racial exclusion as immoral—for example, to reject opposition to interracial dating. They’re more likely to have friends of different races, and to regard people of different races as potential friends. The different is especially large for white students. And these kids end up more civically engaged. Whether you regard any of this as beneficial—that’s up to you.

Add to all of this the idea that minority kids in integrated schools are less likely to become criminals or to engage in violence, tend to earn higher incomes, are less likely to require expensive medical assistance, etc. and any white citizen and taxpayer will find ample reason to see the personal benefits of integrated education--regardless of the test scores of black or white students.

If it were educationally beneficial for ALL students simply because of the racial diversity of the student bodies that minority students of low to middling intellectual ability, social stability and family support attend the SAME schools as students who are at much higher levels in those matters of educational aptitude, then compulsory attendance of the bad schools by kids from the good schools would solve every family’s K-16 problems and society’s needs for a well-educated population. Diversity, itself, would make the kids from the bad schools better students and the kids from the good schools even better students

There’s a lot to unpack there.

1. Yes, low-performing kids often do better in the company of higher-performing kids; that’s called the peer effect, and I gave you a link to 92 articles on that topic.

2. Would having kids from “good” schools attend “bad” schools produce benefits? It might—depending on what you mean by “good” and “bad.” Affluent, powerful parents are likely to insist that their kids attend functional schools. So whatever school those kids attend would likely become more functional by virtue of the political pressure brought to bear by the parents. Conversely, poor, powerless parents lack the ability to achieve similar outcomes.

But if that’s not your point, then I’m baffled. Obviously, all else being equal, safe. lavishly-appointed schools with good teachers are likely to perform better than dangerous, dilapidated schools with bad teachers—regardless of the race of the students. Why would you think otherwise?

3. People of all races face challenges of “low to middling intellectual ability, social stability, and family support,” so I’m not sure what this has to do with racial integration specifically. Are you suggesting that these are problems unique to racial minorities? Or that race is a marker/proxy for these attributes?

4. Yes, the studies seem to show that diversity itself would make the kids from the bad schools better students and the kids from the good schools even better students--all else being equal. No, the studies do not show that integration cures EVERY social ill; again, they tend to show that all students--including students confronting social ills--perform better in integrated schools.

[I]n that case, speaking only of my locale, Al Gore, the Clintons, the Obamas (primus inter pares) and all the lesser elitists who populate the Democrat Party, run the federal government, control the academy and man the Left’s intellectual storm-troops, seeking the most educational bang for the buck, would have sent their children to DC public schools (rather than to the most elite private schools in the DC Metro area.)

I don’t know much about the educational choices of former presidents, but I would be reluctant to generalize much from them. First, they’re all rich. If I told you that Bill Gates drives a Lamborghini, what relevance would that have for, say, transit policy? Second, they have atypical security issues; Secret Service never tried to influence where my kids went to school. And third, DC schools face the same challenges of urban schools everywhere, plus the added challenge that they’re governed by an organization—Congress—that doesn’t give a crap. Once upon a time, Congressmen moved to DC with their families and developed social relationships with their neighbors (and other Congressmen) and schools. No longer; now Congress simply seeks to avoid spending money on people who can’t vote for them, or seek to use DC as their sandbox for whatever their pet projects are. This extends well beyond the issue of schools.

That said, I'd guess that presidents send their kids to racially-integrated schools. If you find contrary info, please share.

Similarly, Harvard could make every state-supported university its equal by simply off-loading most of its applicants to them or opening its doors to their applicants….

Just as I'd be reluctant to generalize from the behavior of presidents, I’d be reluctant to generalize from the behavior of Harvard. That said … doesn’t Harvard already do these things?

Harvard’s acceptance rate hovers around 5%. Doesn’t that mean that they’re “offloading” 95% of its applicants to other schools? And I suspect that roughly 100% of students who apply to Harvard also apply to other schools. Doesn’t that mean that Harvard is “opening its doors to [other schools’] applicants,” regardless of which students it ultimately admits? Again, if you find contrary info, please share.

But moreover: What’s your point? This entire discussion was triggered by the fact that Harvard DOES engage in Affirmative Action in an effort to promote racial diversity on campus. So the argument that meritocratic elites such as Harvard would never stoop to engaging in Affirmative Action—that’s just false, right? Or are you arguing that Harvard is merely pretended to engage in Affirmative Action, but really just admits people solely based on standardized test scores? Or what?

ALL of the testimonial evidence of well-to-do Democrats and others (who think like you on this matter,)….

Please cite these testimonials; I don’t know them.

And while we’re on the topic of testimonials, do *I* count as someone who thinks like I do? ‘Cuz I grew up in a former slave state. I attended Frederick Douglass Grade School as part of a desegregation program. I went to college at one of the Underground Railroad schools. All my kids attended public schools. Roughly 33% of their classmates were people of color, and about 20% qualified for free/reduce price lunch. One kid has three non-white roommates.

Alas, my blighted childhood has left be unable to speak from experience about the enriching environment provided by all-white schools, or the benefits of providing such an environment to my kids. But I can at least attest that it’s possible to survive integrated schools, and even learn some standard English. (Ok, I still say “’cuz”….)

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nobody.really

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