American Elephants


Celebrate Diversity of Thought; Not Race, Not Sex. by The Elephant's Child
December 4, 2012, 6:21 pm
Filed under: Education, Freedom, Politics, Progressivism, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Few bad ideas are more devastating, and conversely more celebrated than “diversity.” There are few, if any, places where “diversity” is more important and more needed than in America’s colleges and universities. Every picture taken for the college catalogue will be a careful array of skin colors and ethnic heritages. If they could get some Indian (excuse me Native American) headdresses and Sikh turbans in the pictures they would be in seventh heaven. Yet conservative thought, conservative speakers and heaven forbid, conservative faculty members are simply not allowed. Diversity of thought is unwelcome.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has some wonderful examples today:
“A construction crew working on the campus of Ohio’s Sinclair Community College was forced to halt work until it removed a ‘Men Working’ sign that was deemed ‘sexist’ by a college administrator,” reports National Review’s Eliana Johnson:

A spokesman for the college told National Review Online that the incident, which occurred on November 21, stemmed from the school’s “deep commitment to diversity,” and that it takes that commitment “very seriously.”

One laughs, but then one reads stuff like this, from a Lafayette College (Easton, Pa.) press release:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $100,000 grant to Mary Armstrong, associate professor of English and chair of women’s and gender studies, and Jasna Jovanovic, professor of psychology and child development at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, for their study of how colleges and universities can more effectively support the success of underrepresented minority women faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic fields. . . .

“Our approach is based on the idea that institutions tend to structure supportive initiatives that address only one aspect of a potentially marginalized group, such as gender, or race, or sexual orientation,” explains Armstrong. “But an underrepresented minority woman will, by definition, have several such identities; hence, lesbians or women of color experience being a woman in STEM with complex, compound disadvantages.”

Armstrong and Jovanovic are conducting the first comprehensive study of how initiatives funded through the NSF ADVANCE program are enhancing the success of underrepresented women in STEM. The research team believes that successful institutional programs have to be creatively reshaped to accommodate the complications experienced by women who identify within multiple underrepresented identities.

One wonders how much money and talent are being poured into this sort of thing instead of producing scientists and engineers. It reminds us of that scene in “Star Trek” when Captain Kirk asks (we quote from memory), “Scotty, can you get us warp drive?” and Scotty replies: “I’m doin’ my best, Cap’n, but I’m strugglin’ with multiple underrepresented identities!”

We really have to do better than just holding up examples to laugh at. Ridicule, disparage, mock, sneer and taunt. They deserve every bit of it. I think it’s a kind of mind rot.



Is Chris Matthews a Racist? by The Elephant's Child

Chris Matthews has managed to make news in the last few days, by being grateful for Hurricane Sandy because it would help Obama’s election chances. He did apologize partly, by insisting that he wasn’t talking about all the damage, just about the opportunity it gave to Obama to appear presidential. That improves anything?

Mr. Matthews is a prime exemplar of one who has slipped over from politics as the search for good government, to politics as religion, or politics as a belief system. We also found him on Tuesday night during MSNBC’s election coverage, predicting that President Obama would lose the South because of Mitt Romney’s racially charged campaign, and he wasn’t sure that Virginia was Southern enough to swing Romney’s way:

I’ve watched the appeals made by people on the Republican side –- the right-wing side, in some cases -– people like, sort of, screwball people making comments about race. I really think you’re going to see at the end of the night, when we look at the popular vote, when we look at how it’s broken out by region, the president will do well in the Northeast, the Midwest and the West. He’s going to do very poorly in the South among white voters.

According to Matthews, white voters in the South aren’t voting against Obama because of the bad job he has done over the last four years, but because they, like all Republicans — are racists.

May I say that I’m getting a little tired of this. If a racist is defined as someone who is obsessed by race, then Chris Matthews is the biggest racist around. Democrats have such a dreadful history with race, that they have a lot to overcome, and thus have considered race to be the greatest problem in the country. Mr. Matthews apparently believes that race is the sole reason to vote for Barack Obama to be  president and the only reason he should be reelected.

I believe that Barack Obama has been an extremely bad president, and that he didn’t deserve to be reelected because of his record of spending, his failures with the economy, his excessive regulation, his record on foreign policy, his record on ObamaCare, his record on energy, and his record on promoting useless “alternative energy.  As far as I can determine, his race has had nothing to do with any of these policies. To the contrary, his policies have been far more harmful to blacks and Hispanics than to anyone else.

The end point of racism is not minority dominance, it is not reparations.  It is, and can be only indifference. That’s what Martin Luther King was talking about, except that he referred to “the content of their character.” Exactly. But to their race, the color of their skin, their ethnic heritage — indifference. Don’t care.

Because Democrats care so much about race, they gerrymander voting districts to be sure that black candidates have majority-black districts. Why is that necessary? It was a whole bunch of white people that elected Barack Obama in the first place.

In the South of the slavery days, white women wore bonnets, long sleeves and gloves in 100° weather, and carried parasols to protect themselves from the sun and keep their skin white and unfreckled. Today, they toast in the sun, go to tanning salons, and buy tons of tanning cremes to darken their skin. When is the last time you heard someone get a compliment on their beautiful white skin?

“Hispanic” is not a race, nor is “Latina”, both terms refer to the use of the Spanish language, except for Brazilians who speak Portuguese. People from the Caribbean islands may be black, but speak French. Far more African slaves were transported to the Sugar Islands than to America, and far more went to South America.

“Asian” is not a race either. There are lots of countries of vastly different ethnicities that compose the Asian designation that have nothing in common with each other, and in many cases detest each other.

I am troubled each year by the political division of people into voting blocks. An enormous amount of trouble flows from those divisions, much of it from the media. We will all continue to notice obvious physical racial designations, but I have quit filling out government forms asking me to designate my race. I’m apparently not alone, as there is now a blank for “refuses to designate.”

I find it fascinating that Democrats are so deeply involved in issues of race, but refuse to recognize that our most essential rights are derived from the simple fact that we are human beings endowed with the only rights that can be guaranteed, by our Creator.

 



There’s a Lot of Misguided Thinking Going On Here! by The Elephant's Child
July 18, 2011, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, History, Humor, Liberalism, Literature | Tags: , ,

There is a disturbing tendency among many towards straight-line thinking.  If the stock market is down today, it will only be down more tomorrow and we’re all doomed.  I just saw an article claiming that a house is no longer a good investment now or in the foreseeable future.

A bad food crop means world starvation and a slight warming trend means catastrophic global warming. Peak oil falls into the same category. This only seems to work with negative events. Nobody seizes upon a wonderful day and writes about it’s being the harbinger of constant wonderful days. Is it just a gloomy disposition?

President Obama has been insistent upon comparing his recession to the Great Depression.  Whether that’s because he wants to be compared to FDR, or wants people to understand the terrors he faces, I don’t know. The actual recession is far less serious than the Great Depression, and has only been made worse by administration ineptness, and adherence to discredited economic policies.

Then there is the problem of confusing cause and effect. The New York Times’ David Leonhardt goes off on the real culprit — consumer spending.  Discretionary spending on restaurant meals, entertainment, education and insurance is down in this slump almost 7 percent, when it’s never fallen before more than 3 percent per capita. It’s all the consumers’ fault.

I have been rereading a wonderful essay by Tom Wolfe from the 1970s — Radical Chic which describes the courting of romantic radicals like the Black Panthers, striking grapeworkers and the Young Lords by New York’s socially elite.  He focuses particularly on one symbolic event: the gathering of the radically chic at Leonard Bernstein’s Park Avenue apartment to meet spokesmen of the Black Panther Party, to hear them out and talk over ways of aiding their cause.  The players and the event have changed, but the strange phenomenon continues.

You had Jane Fonda celebrating the brave Viet Cong peasants, and heroin chic in which fashion decreed that the in look was that of an addict on the street.   Everybody is wearing Sadat’s keffiyeh, We have torn jeans, worn-out jeans, clothes that look that they came from your grandmother’s ragbag.

Destroyed cotton t-shirt , Balmain, $1,624, collection at Jeffrey, NYC.  Canvas shorts, Bottega Veneta $590.  Shell earrings, Celestina, $780.  Webbing Belt, Burberry $325.  Ribbon ID bracelets, Mianstal $120 each. The Look : total cost $3,559 (plus tax).     (Photo and prices from American Digest)
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Diversity reigns on the nation’s campuses, which oddly seems to mean only color of skin and ethnicity — which are only the most diverse things about a person according to those who are deeply fixated on race.  The rest of us think that two people of whatever color and ethnicity who are both Army brats probably have a lot more in common than two people who happen to come from different parts of Africa.  A couple of young moms who had their babies on the same day in the same hospital probably care more about that fact that about the difference in the color of their babies.

I don’t venture to connect all the dots, nor to pose some philosophic truth. I’m just noticing that there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking going on.



In the Defense Dept. Final Report on the Fort Hood Massacre, There Was No Mention of Radical Islam. None. by The Elephant's Child
February 18, 2011, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Liberalism, Religion, Statism, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

It was only eight days ago that I was writing about U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s public denunciation of multiculturalism, along with the leaders of France and Germany, and his declaration that it was a proven disaster and a threat to society. Multicultural values had led to segregated communities and Mr. Cameron said, imposed policies of  blind toleration that had helped to nurture radical Islam’s terrorist cells.

This was a major, major event.  Multiculturalism and it’s accompanying religious tenet diversity have been “the unofficial established religion of the universities, the faith whose requirements have shaped every aspect of cultural, economic and political life in Western democracies for the last 50 years.”

This happened just when a report was released, reported Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal, titled “A Ticking Time Bomb” that provided the most complete disclosures about the multiculturalist zeal that had caused  the Army and medical school superiors to smooth Nidal Malik Hassan’s way through training, promote him, and in spite of plain clear evidence of his unfitness, raise not one single concern.  Major Hassan, now a U.S. Army psychiatrist, was assigned to Fort Hood where he opened fire on his fellow soldiers in November of 2009, killing 12 plus a civilian employee and wounding 32 others.

The report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) concerns the Department of Defense’s official report on the Fort Hood bloodbath.  It made no mention , none, of Hasan’s well documented jihadist sympathies.

During his medical training at Walter Reed, and his two years at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, multicultural taboos reigned.  Walter Reed required a presentation on a psychiatric theme, Hasan produced a draft largely from the Quran “arguing for the painful punishment and liquidation of non-Muslims.” When he was told that the presentation was “not scholarly”, he revised slightly and was allowed to graduate. In his medical fellowship, he delivered a class lecture on the theme that the West in general and the U.S. Military specifically had mounted a war on Islam and continued with themes sympathetic to Osama bin Laden. His classmates were outraged.

Hasan’s contacts with terrorist suspect came to the notice of the FBI, but the agents were lulled by the impressive evaluation reports that described Hasan as an authority on Islam, whose work had “extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.” He was commended as “a star officer” who was focused on “illuminating the role of culture and Islamic faith within the Global War on Terrorism.”  Rabinowitz adds “No single word of criticism or doubt about Hasan ever made its way into any of his evaluations.”

His superiors noticed all right, but as Ms. Rabinowitz says:

Some of those enthusiastic testaments strongly suggested that the writers were themselves at least partly persuaded of their reasoning. In magical thinking, safety and good come to those who obey taboos, and in the multiculturalist world, there is no taboo more powerful than the one that forbids acknowledgment of realities not in keeping with the progressive vision. In the world of the politically correct—which can apparently include places where psychiatrists are taught—magical thinking reigns.

He was a star not simply because he was a Muslim, but because he was a special kind—the sort who posed, in his flaunting of jihadist sympathies, the most extreme test of liberal toleration. Exactly the kind the progressive heart finds irresistible.

A decision should be made soon about whether Major Hasan will go to trial before a military court-martial.  He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.  The trial will probably go forward. But the Department of Defense still has not specifically named the threat which is represented by the Fort Hood bloodbath.

Multiculturalism and Diversity live on in the nation’s colleges and universities and in the human resources departments of most major corporations, always concentrating on exactly the wrong thing.

In his book Plagues of the Mind, Bruce Thornton described the problem:

Despite what we are led to believe by its apologists, Multiculturalism is not about respecting cultural difference or the diversity of ethnic groups in America.  Multiculturalism is instead a melodramatic tale of the wickedness of the West and its role in destroying the peaceful paradises in which other peoples (usually “of color”) lived before Europeans and then Americans came along to inflict on them racism, sexism, slavery, colonialism, imperialism, homophobia, technology and environmental degradation.

If it was intended to make sure we were all nice to people of different colors and ethnicities, multiculturalism and diversity have evolved into a sort of required tolerance that does not distinguish.  Required equality. Differences in behavior will not be noticed, because it might mean that you are noticing ethnicity or skin color.

Oddly, differences in skin color or country of origin are seldom problems, but bad behavior, which is  to go unnoticed can cause all sorts of problems.  Honor killings, female circumcision, forced marriages are to be tolerated, and major attempts to blow up Americans are simply “man-caused disasters.” Terrorism and Islamic jihad  are preferably not mentioned. Tolerance in all things.



The End of Multiculturalism? by The Elephant's Child

Perhaps it began in the European Union.  The continent of Europe has been the site of one bloody war after another for centuries.  The nations of Europe, exhausted after the Second World War, wanted to stop.  Anti war rallies were very much in vogue while the Cold War left an aggressive Soviet Union threatening from the East.

The European Union’s birthrate has dropped below replacement rate. Which means, if nothing else, that the young workers to support Europe’s aging welfare state simply would not be there.  The EU encouraged immigration, particularly from their former colonies. Immigration did not necessarily mean assimilation, immigrants were not always welcomed, and belonging wasn’t necessarily a part of the multicultural vision.

All the differences people brought with them were theoretically to be melded into the colorful tapestry of the modern multicultural state.  Differences in language, custom, religion and  race were to make the  tapestry richer and more interesting, and anyone who publicly disagreed could be investigated by the thought police and charged with the sin of racism.  Careers could be destroyed by incorrect thought by anyone indigenous, white and male.  Freedom of thought was officially out of fashion and official language was closely controlled.  Keeping your head down became a way of life.

Overnight, all has changed.  Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where political correctness is carefully nurtured, has just told us that multiculturalism “has failed utterly.”  France’s  President Sarkozy has been saying the same thing for some time.  Prospect, Britain’s leading left-wing intellectual monthly carried a headline “re-thinking race; has multiculturalism had its day? And now Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a reasoned demolition of “state multiculturalism” and made a start at rooting it out of official British policy. In Switzerland a referendum about minarets revealed the population’s concerns about Islamism. In Canada a leader of the country’s Muslim community, Tarek Fatah, has spoken out to say that just like Britain, Canada’s multiculturalism will fail.

Cameron delivered the analysis at the annual conference on international security in Munich. It removed multiculturalism from the categories of welfare and anti-discrimination policy to that of national security and anti-terrorism, where conservatives have an advantage over the left.

His argument is that terrorism is threatening the West, not only in Afghanistan, but also at home. It has its roots in the underlying “extremist ideology” of Islamism. Young Muslim men in Britain begin their road to jihad by picking up this ideology from institutions, leaders and organizations subsidized by government money and official favors. It is further promoted by multiculturalism which encourages different cultures to live separate lives, and delivers impressionable young men into the hands of state-funded extremists. It would have to be confronted by denying funds to bodies that preach hatred and separatism, and ideologically as well.

Both Mark Steyn and John O’Sullivan have insisted that one reason for the success of extremist Islamism is the absence of British patriotism. Multiculturalism has refused to offer its new citizens the real opportunity to become British.  To offer real assimilation and pride in their country’s national identity.  Multiculturalism and political correctness have created a vacuum where British patriotism ought to be.

America has been a melting pot from the beginning.  And when we wrote a Constitution, we wrote that into it.  American was already a blend of immigrants from many countries with many languages and many religions.  Our national identity became a country of immigrants united by ideas of freedom and opportunity, protected by a Constitution in which the people gave the government some few limited powers, with lots of checks and balances.

That has not made us immune to the liberal elite’s embrace of multiculturalism and diversity to enhance their push for radical equality and insistence that racism is the greatest problem in American life. Our history and deep national patriotism have made multiculturalism and diversity more often the subject of jokes, but it is there and needs to be rooted out.

Americans who made multicultural jokes, and laughed at diversity and got kicked out of college by the faculty language police were in the right. Our elites should take notice of what is happening across the water.



Completely Unprepared to Consider Using Common Sense. by The Elephant's Child

Mark Steyn is always brilliant, sometimes he’s just more brilliant than usual. Today he pointed out the specific arrangements we have put in place to make sure that terrorist attacks were unlikely, because an alert citizenry was on the case.  And yet, there was evidence that Major Nidal Hasan deserved attention:

You didn’t have to be “alert” to spot Maj. Nidal Hasan. He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying “JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK.” But we (that is to say, almost all of us — and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

“The truth is we’re not prepared to draw a line even after he’s gone ahead and committed mass murder,” Steyn said.  “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy,” said Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, “but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a tragedy here.”

“Diversity” is more important than 14 dead, dozens wounded?  That is undoubtedly not what he meant, but “diversity” is the ultimate meaningless politically correct notion.

If you have an African-American who immigrated 5 years ago from Ethiopia, and an African-American whose family has lived in America for 150 years, the important thing to them is the color of their skin?  The latter person may have far more in common with someone whose origins were in Mexico, but who was also raised as an army brat. Mothers of toddlers care a lot more about playmates of the same age than their ethnicity.

The differences within ordinary people are far larger than ethnicity.  Political, disinterested, scholarly, cannot read, abused as a child, handicapped, twin, mountain climber, pianist. hunter, animal trainer,potter, vegetarian, homeless, chemist. artist — but only their ethnicity matters?  Please.

The notion that what is important about a person is their race or ethnicity may result in checking off the right little boxes on a census questionnaire but has little to do with the lives of real people. Are those diversity numbers so important?  When it comes to lawsuits, or publicity or promotions the checked-off boxes may matter.  When counting boxes becomes more important than real people,  political correctness does more damage than it is worth.

And shame on you, General Casey.




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