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January 20, 2003

Our Martin Luther King quote for the day:
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
(Thanks to Body and Soul.) [09:10 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Our Martin Luther King quote for the day::

Kent Roller ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 07:20 AM:

Then why do I take flak for criticizing the welfare-state of the union and the liberal political motives that created it?

I also heard it argued on conservative radio Monday that Dr. King's America would have few tax funded social programs and no affirmative action laws.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 07:57 AM:

Kent, it might be true that Dr. King felt that way (I don't know that much about his social ideas other than eliminating racism). The fact that you've heard it argued on conservative radio is zero evidence of that, however. I've heard some of those people "argue" things that I know from personal experience are patently untrue; moreover, that I would reasonably expect any moderately-educated person (say, a highschool graduate) to know are untrue.

What evidence did they cite, if any? Do you know of any yourself?

Just one more thing: my vision of America would have no affirmative action laws, either. That's because a colorblind society is the GOAL. Unfortunately it's not the process. IOW, I believe that affirmative action programs (mandated by law or not) are part of the process needed to get to a society that no longer needs them. We're not there yet. King was a man of vision too.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 09:48 AM:

Google quickly found this article debunks the notion, going back to a Washington Post article in 1991, that Dr King would have opposed affirmative action.

Although Dr King's goal, like Xopher's, was a society where skin colour did not matter, he was also quite aware that this society did not exist yet. As noted in the article I linked to above, Dr King wrote, "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 09:54 AM:

My other favorite King quote is "peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice." Did I get that right?

What I can't understand about affirmative action is, if your goal is to get away from making decisions based solely on race, how is this accomplished making decisions based solely on race?

I think it was your favorite president who called it the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 10:21 AM:

Myke: That low expectations are seen as a concomitant of affirmative action is simply evidence that bigotry isn't dead. The entire structure of our society denies people of color anything approaching equal opportunities. Affirmative action is aimed at changing that by giving people chances they wouldn't have otherwise. After all, Colin Powell got his chance from affirmative action. And while I don't necessarily agree with his political views, no one can argue he hasn't made the most of his chances. As have many many other beneficiaries of affirmative action.

MKK

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 10:33 AM:

Mary, I fully agree with everything you've said (well, maybe not the intensity, "anything approaching equal opportunity" strikes me as hyeprbole). However, I do believe that affirmative action goes about achieving the stated goals in the wrong fashion.

As the U of Michigan debacle illustrates, you do not end discrimination by merely switching targets.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 10:46 AM:

Myke, I would love to read some constructive suggestions for how else to compensate for the lack of equality of opportunity for African American citizens.

I'd also love to read how you can agree with Mary Kay that affirmative action has worked (e.g. Colin Powell's career, Dr Condoleeezza Rice's career) and reach the conclusion you do. Except maybe if you mean that Affirmative Action is working, but you don't like the way it work. If that's the case, then you had better be able to make a really, really strong case for your alternative approach to achieving equality.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 11:02 AM:

We (David, Peter, Elizabeth & I) spent our MLK day attending Virginia Kidd's funeral in Milford, PA, as did Michael Swanwick & Marianne Porter, Tom Disch & Charlie Naylor, John Berry & Eileen Gunn, and various past & current VK agents, plus Beth Blish Genley, Virginia's faughter, and Stephen Ramsdell, Virginia's grandson.

We're told that Virginia's last words were, "This is the best glass of water I've ever tasted." So that's my quote for the day.

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 12:00 PM:

I never said that AA worked. The fact that it assisted Powell is anecdotal. AA's goal is racial parity and a color blind society. I do not think that you achieve colorblindness by actively discriminating, and then switching-over to race-neutral decision making once you feel the imbalance has been repaired.

What I agree with is Mary's statement that bigotry still exists and the implied statement that racial parity is worth striving for. I believe in AA's end goal, but I believe that the means are . . .well. . .bent. Ends do not always justify means.

I have plenty of constructive ideas of how to reform the system. The first of which would be practicing actual color-blindness in decision making, while overhauling our educational system so it actually creates opporunities for minorities instead of holding them to lower standards (yes, I am actually a Bush voting conservative who FAVORS increased funding for education, I used to teach 8th and 10th grade social studies). We should strive to put minorities in a place where their test scores are competative with whites and asians, not simply hand them the keys to U of M's gates at a lower standard. again, the goal is right on, the means are misdirected.

Remember, the solution here is to create OPPORTUNITY, NOT to give freebies. People aren't stupid, they can tell when they've been handed a victory versus when they've achieved one.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 12:44 PM:

Myke:

I recommend you read CalPundit on the U of M thing. What being a minority got you was not preferential admission per se, but a certain number of points in a scoring system which determined admission. There were also points allowed for atheletic prowess, legacies and so on. I think it's an excellent way to go about giving minorities a leg up.

Powell is anecdotal certainly, but also representative of a huge number of others given a leg up by AA who have also made good on their opportunities. Funny how you don't hear so much about them.

Must run now or I'll be late for class.

MKK (by the way, I prefer Mary Kay, thanks)

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 12:55 PM:

I do not think that you achieve colorblindness by actively discriminating

And would you argue that you do not achieve a smoother and straighter highway by building a bumpy temporary detour?

(I am quite aware of the limitations of this metaphor. But you are attacking the whole concept.)

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 01:24 PM:

Yes, Simon, I do agree with that metaphor (you don't have to apologize for its limitations, your point is clear). But I don't think it applies here, because in this case, the detour will never result in the fixing of the highway. We need a better way to do this.

If it appears that "I'm attacking the whole concept", then I am being unclear somehow. This is not my intention.

Mary Kay, I apologize for misusing your name. I thought "Kay" was the last name.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 01:52 PM:

Mary Kay is quite correct. In fact, from what I hear UM's system gave a higher number of points for being an athlete than it gave for either being African-American OR having perfect SATs.

Myke, I wonder if you oppose systems that let athletes get in with lower standards than non-athletes? I do, in principle; as a practical matter I know that schools depend on athletic funding to keep going, and that athletic funding depends on being among the top in whatever sport, and that that in turn depends on having good players...who usually aren't at the top of their classes academically (pace the anecdotal cases of super-brilliant superjocks).

See where I'm going with this? I oppose making race a factor in principle, but as a practical matter I can't see any other way of fixing the racial bias which pervades society.

If anyone can come up with anything better, I'm willing to listen. And UM's system is better than the classic AA programs, which just set lower standards outright. The slope will continue upward, I hope.

Michael Rawdon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 01:56 PM:

Myke: I have plenty of constructive ideas of how to reform the system. The first of which would be practicing actual color-blindness in decision making, while overhauling our educational system so it actually creates opporunities for minorities instead of holding them to lower standards (yes, I am actually a Bush voting conservative who FAVORS increased funding for education, I used to teach 8th and 10th grade social studies). We should strive to put minorities in a place where their test scores are competative with whites and asians, not simply hand them the keys to U of M's gates at a lower standard. again, the goal is right on, the means are misdirected.

IMO these are not "ideas to reform the system". These are goals to attain, but which entirely ignore the approach to attain those goals.

How do we make people (people other than ourselves) practice color-blind decision-making?

How do we overhaul our education system? what mechanisms to we put in place to create opportunities for minorities? Affirmative action is such a mechanism. What alternatives are there?

How do we put blacks in a place where they can compete fairly with whites and asians?

AA is not an ideal solution, but over the last ten years the only alternative to AA which seems to have much in the way of political legs is to simply get rid of AA. That doesn't strike me as an improvement.

Isn't admission to university itself an opportunity, not a goal? The standard for admission to a university should be, "Who will most benefit from an education at this institution?", not "Who's accumulated the most impressive resume in their life before university?"

But then, we all knew that the college admission system in the US measures nothing meaningful.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 04:20 PM:

Xopher: No, they give the same points for "scholarship athlete" as for "underrepresented racial-ethnic minority"--20 points. "Socio-economic disadvantage" is also worth 20 points, so being a poor black is worth twice as many points as being accepted for the football team. A full list is at Tapped, which got it from Kevin Drum's Calpundit site.

(The maximum possible would be 193, I think, but very few students are going to qualify for everything needed for that.)

Chip Hitchcock ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 04:24 PM:

Myke says "I don't think [the metaphor] applies here, because in this case, the detour will never result in the fixing of the highway."

This is questionable. One of the major feeders of bigotry is ignorance. Not simple ignorance, but the ignorance noted by Will Rogers: -"It ain't what you don't know that hurts you, but you do know that ain't so."- I suggest that diversity -- directly exposing people to the falsehood of their beliefs -- is one of the better ways of reducing this kind of ignorance. (Is the experience of military desegregation inapplicable here?)

I also see a drain-the-swamp effect: people who face discrimination (cf the resume study recently cited here) can better leverage themselves and their children out of difficulties with better credentials.

Are these absolutes? No. Are there better ways? Suggest something. (No, I'm not impressed with Bush's "education initiative"; given the warped implementation, it looks like a process designed more to enrich his patrons and put down his opponents than to help the customers (rather like proposals to privatize Social Security?))

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 04:26 PM:

Bob Webber wrote: "Myke, I would love to read some constructive suggestions for how else to compensate for the lack of equality of opportunity for African American citizens."

Well, first you have to agree that there is in fact a lack of equality of opportunity, and that battle hasn't been won yet. See John McWhorter's _Losing the Race_, for example, in which he argues against affirmative action on racial lines, in part because he believes that racism is effectively dead in America. (I happen to disagree with most of McWhorter's conclusions and the methodology he uses to reach them, but his writing's still interesting.)

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 05:04 PM:

Myke wrote, "in this case, the detour will never result in the fixing of the highway. We need a better way to do this."

Myke, that's what I meant by "attacking the whole concept." You don't think it will work at all.

But why not? I've seen road constructions that never looked as if they would fix the highway either.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 05:12 PM:

I have to think that anyone who believes racism is effectively dead in America doesn't know many Black people, or doesn't know them very well.

Regarding the University of Michigan lawsuits, their home page has a couple of links to their sides of the story, including responses to the White House announcement. These include "Why Michigan's Admissions Systems Comply with Bakke and Are Not Quotas", which notes that 110 points of the 150 point undergrad admission scoring scale are based on purely academic factors, and that non-minority-group students are sometimes admitted while minority-group students who have higher test scores and GPAs are not, due to other parts of the admissions process.

That page talks a lot about why this manifestation of Affirmative Actions is not a "quota" system, and notes that, "...the alternatives suggested by the Bush administration (such as the percentage plans in California and Texas) operate more like set-asides for highly segregated school districts, and fail to guarantee that all admitted students are qualified to do the work," as opposed to the existing University of Michigan system which, "accepts only students who are academically qualified to do the work."

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 05:15 PM:

Bob wrote: "I have to think that anyone who believes racism is effectively dead in America doesn't know many Black people, or doesn't know them very well."

Well, McWhorter's black...

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 06:02 PM:

I don't know McWhorter personally. Some of the blacks I do know personally have told me, unambiguously and with considerable emphasis, that racism is very much alive in America. None of them have told me that racism has gone away.

Naturally, I believe the people I know. Nobody paid them an advance against royalties for their opinions. They were just talking, and it sounded like truth.

I've also seen racism in action at a company where I used to work. It was pervasive, continual, and oddly impersonal. It was demonstrably unrelated to the quality of the work the employees-of-color were doing, and the way they were treated had both short-term and long-term negative effects on their professional careers.

It wasn't all that long ago.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 06:30 PM:

Josh, could you direct me to someplace where McWhorter states that "racism is effectively dead in America?" Because it appears that he doesn't think so, but that this is an idea assigned to him in the process of lumping him in with other neo-conservatives. So I don't feel that I have to back away from my statement that anybody who thinks racism is dead in America doesn't know many African Americans, or doesn't know them well.

I have been reading McWhorter's essay about discontinuing Affirmative Action as practiced at UC Berkeley, not his book. Okay, he thinks Affirmative Action in this instance is no longer called for, and has several arguments against it, some of which seem more solidly grounded than others to me. His most convincing arguments are based on his observations of the Berkeley Affirmative Action not succeeding in fulfilling its goals of uplift for lower-class Blacks, and not on the concept that we live in a colorblind society.

McWhorter wrote, "Racism is surely not dead, but it vastly underestimates a person to declare that the extremely occasional and abstract nature of the racism the typical black child encounters in today's California makes it inappropriate to expect them to turn in an SAT score above 1000." So he argues that racism is not dead, merely resting just not a serious obstacle to an African-American child getting a decent education.

In an interview published in January of 2002, McWhorter said, "Racism is not dead in America, and the main evidence that we have a way to go is black people and racial profiling. I think ... we have made a lot more progress than people will acknowledge. But racial profiling is serious. Housing and linguistic profiling are an outgrowth of this. It is an issue." Note that this statement was made long after the publication of Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.

According to the introduction to that interview, McWhorter considers his thoughts to be complex than those who cast him as a neo-conservative to either praise or chastize him. As a start on treating him with whatever respect his arguments are due, I think we have to take him at his word that he doesn't believe that racism is dead in America, so I think you have imputed an opinion to Prof McWhorter with which he would not agree.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 07:43 PM:

Okay, but if he thinks the rest of America is like California with regards the extremely occasional and abstract nature of racism black children encounter, I have some very bad news for him.

MKK

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 09:47 PM:

Michael, you're right. I haven't provided much in the way of concrete solutions here. I do have some ideas, but I want to take some time to think out how I want to put them before I shoot from the hip in such intelligent company. Despite at least one comment above taking the Bush education plan to task, I think Sec. Paige is on the right track with the standards/accountability initiative and the Leave No Child Behind program. But more on that later.

I do want to point out that even if I couldn't suggest a better solution, that doesn't mean that the existing system isn't flawed. You think that doing away with AA wouldn't be an improvement, but if AA is actively discriminating against whites and asians, as is the case in the U of M issue, then we are certainly better off without it. I am firmly commited (sheesh, I sound like I'm running for office), to Dr. King's belief in a society where "we are judged not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character." That *has* to apply to EVERYONE, Michael, not just minorities.

Simon, OK, I understand you now. One of the reasons why I don't think it will work is that whites and asians will always resent and second guess minority achievement if they feel it has been bought at a lesser standard. For example: Let's say you have a critical illness and you need major surgery. You go under the knife, and the doctor happens to be black. You do *not* want to be thinking, even slightly in your subconscious: "is this the best qualified doctor there is? Or did he just get into his med. school on an AA program and graduate with lesser grades?" Such doubts plant the seeds of rancor and racial disharmony. A colorblind society must be an equal society, and those standards must be applied *now*.

I agree with Teresa and others. Racism is *not* dead in this country. However, racism goes *both* ways, and while the lion's share of it is certainly suffered by minorities, that does not excuse it when it is directed at white people.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 01:46 AM:

Myke, have you read the University of Michigan web page on this subject? And if so, why aren't you equally worried about a White kid from a housing project in the U.P. getting to be a doctor?

Are you aware that Dr King was in favour of compensatory treatment for Negroes? That he wrote, "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic." Please do not ring in Dr King's name in as if he would decide that everything is fine and dandy, racism-wise, here in America in 2003.

You have not established any real basis for your assertion that a colorblind society can only achieved by pretending we have already achieved it. I absolutely agree that racism is bad regardless of the colour of the skin of the racist. But Affirmative Action is, if it is indeed racist, racism by White people against White people. Which makes me wonder why you emphasise that "racism goes both ways" in which you imply that Affirmative Action is racism "directed at white people." I for one hope that when African Americans achieve enough political power and will to control their own destinies as a group in this country, they will retire Affirmative Action as being no longer required.

I have had to think this next bit through carefully so that I don't call you a racist and have my vowels voided for the trouble. Your hypothetical situation is vilely and viciously racist, and my subconscious is not. If you gave that scenario half the attention you ever gave to understanding the improbability of an urban myth being true, you would see that it is an egregious red herring.

Doctors don't go straight from medical school admission to surgery on patients with major illnesses. In between the last time academic Affirmative Action had any influence on your doctor's life and the day your doctor cuts you open for a major illness there are any number of exams, interviews, competitions, reviews, paper authorships, boards, and department heads. Given that racism is not dead, there would probably have been quite a few instances when any given African American would-be surgeon could be dismissed by a racist who chose not to offer the benefit of the doubt.

In fact, if I saw that my surgeon for a major operation was an African American, I would thank my lucky stars that I'd drawn someone who'd had a much tougher row to hoe to get to me than the White doctor next to him.

If my subconscious were racist, I might wonder if his father was an Ivy League doctor and got his son through Yale and Harvard Business School medical school on threats and favours, or maybe if he was one of those Irish American types and either drunk or high on pills.

And having worked with "Asian" (specifically, significantly large subgroups of classes who were either from China, Hong Kong, or Viet Nam) students, if I gave it any Subconscious Racist thought I'd probably wonder about how that doctor might have cheated his way through most of his exams and gotten special favours from any Han superiors he was fortunate enough to work for.

"...whites and asians will always resent and second guess minority achievement if they feel it has been bought at a lesser standard." I've also heard that Protestants will never trust Catholics as long as they're slaves of the Pope. I'm sorry Myke, but I think you can only speak for yourself, same as me or anybody else.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 02:00 AM:

Mary Kay, I suspect that you have some very bad news for Prof McWhorter if he thinks that the rest of California is like Berkeley. I'm sure that getting rousted by cops doesn't help the study skills of kids in South Central Los Angeles, though of course he'd be right in saying that the continued participation of African Americans in gang culture and getting kicks from scaring White people doesn't help.

But I believe Prof McWhorter grew up in an all-Black city, though possibly that's just the late hour causing me to make shit up. Anyway, if it's true, then he probably didn't have the usual child's-eye-view introduction to the pervasiveness of racism in American culture.

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 07:38 AM:

Bob,

Thanks for your comments, and double thanks for being careful not to fling accusations (though I would hope that fear of disemvowelment wouldn't be your *only* motive for doing so). Such care is rare in debates on contentious issues, and appreciated.

Thread is getting long, but I wanted to address a couple of points.

You ask: "have you read the University of Michigan web page on this subject?"

Yes, I have.

"And if so, why aren't you equally worried about a White kid from a housing project in the U.P. getting to be a doctor?"

Because I consider financial hardship to be a valid reason to give someone a leg up, I do not consider race to be an equally valid reason. There are plenty of middle class and even wealthy black families out there, but I think everyone living in a housing project is on an equal financial level regardless of skin color. I simply do not consider skin color to be a valid factor for consideration in any official capacity, no matter what. That's colorblindness.

You say that "Affirmative Action is, if it is indeed racist, racism by White people against White people". Yes, you're right. And that makes it no less noxious than any other kind. Black on black crime is no better than black on white crime. I fail to see how this strengthens your argument. Just becuase the person who holds me back from college admission because of the color of my skin happens to be the same skin color as I do, doesn't mean that it is all suddenly acceptable.

You then go on to say: "I for one hope that when African Americans achieve enough political power and will to control their own destinies as a group in this country, they will retire Affirmative Action as being no longer required." I would hope so too, but I wouldn't bet on it. I don't think this has anything to do with race, merely human nature. Once they have power, people *never* give it up willingly. This is another reason why I feel that equality needs to be established now, rather than trying to fix an unbalanced system further down the road. Think of the physics of a swinging pendulum, momentum carries it from one side to the other. If you want it to stay in the middle, you have to reach your hand out and stop it.

You also say: "Your hypothetical situation is vilely and viciously racist". You are absolutely right, and that's why I brought it up. It is precisely the sort of vile and vicious racism, that AA accidentally perpetuates. This is why I feel it must be amended, and why I am "attacking the whole concept", as Simon states. Remember, Bob, that I am in complete agreement with the goal here, I just don't think AA is achieving it. In fact, I think it is moving us in the opposite direction. And you are absolutely right that I can only speak for myself, but you don't have to take my word for it, you can read the abundance of press on U of M case, there is a tremendous amount of resentment among whites and asians over AA and the preferential treatment that minorities are granted.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 08:02 AM:

Myke says, "I consider financial hardship to be a valid reason to give someone a leg up."

Good to hear, since Myke's favorite President regularly rejects such sentiments as "class warfare." I'm just noting.

As Maureen Dowd (who seems to have rediscovered her soul, or something) pointed out in this morning's Times:

The Bushes seem to believe that the divisive thing in American society is dwelling on social and economic inequities, rather than the inequities themselves.

Myke ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 09:53 AM:

Oh, Bush is far from my favorite president. He's just the best choice I was given in the last election, and I agree with some of what his administration is doing now.

I'm actually with you on the class warfare thing (though I certainly understand, as Teresa says, that just because I'm on your side, doesn't mean that you're on my side).

My favorite president is probably Millard Fillmore, but only because he was the first one to have a bust on Letterman.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 12:35 PM:

Myke, I remain convinced that it's one's own racism that leads one to be concerned that one's surgeon is more likely to be incompetent if he is African American than if he is of some other skin colour. And by that I mean one's own pre-existing racism, not some racism that's somehow generated by affirmative action. I maintain that if racism were not present in one's attitude to start with, one would see a highly qualified doctor who happens to be Black, not start looking for reasons to question a Black doctor's qualifications.

Catering to racists is the worst reason for eliminating affirmative action.

Kip ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 01:32 PM:

Disemvowelment is a means to an end. Perhaps at first, people will use more restrained, relevant arguments in order to avoid being rendered well-nigh unreadable. Eventually, the habit of sticking to issues and not trying to stick it to each other would take hold and discourse could flourish.

Reminds me of something...

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 04:39 PM:

Myke wrote, "And you are absolutely right that I can only speak for myself, but you don't have to take my word for it, you can read the abundance of press on U of M case, there is a tremendous amount of resentment among whites and asians over AA and the preferential treatment that minorities are granted."

I find myself wondering about his last bit. "asians" are in the minority in this country, so "minorities" is presumably a code word for African Americans. And thinking about that made me wonder if "AA" could function that way as well, an easy way to discuss race under colour of discussing policy related to race.

And after 35 years or so of reading newspapers, watching TV, and listening to the radio, I don't consider the existence of a lot of negative press exposure to be all that meaningful. I bet I could find lots of press coverage favouring Strom Thurmond's Presidential candidacy, or any amount of press opposing racial integration and voting rights for Negroes, or complaining how unfair it was to have one's slaves freed without one's consent.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 04:56 PM:

Re Bob Webber's last paragraph - I've seen some of the rhetoric objecting to the racial integration of the US armed forces in the 1940s. It's uncannily similar in tone, line of argument, and everything else to the rhetoric objecting to the sexual-preference integration of the same armed services proposed in the 1990s. Often only the change of a few key words would convert the one into the other without anything noticeable.

Just noting, as they say.

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 05:42 PM:

Bob: You're right, I was wrong to say that McWhorter thinks that racism is dead in America. I think that he plays down the extent to which racism still exists (his Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Trent Lott affair being one example), but you're right, we should take him at his word.

Ironically, it's *because* I respect McWhorter that I even read _Losing the Race_ in the first place; I knew about him through his linguistic work long before I found out that he was writing about AA.

Speaking of his childhood, though, he talks about his upbringing in _Losing the Race_; he grew up in Philly (in West Mount Airy, which he describes as an integrated neighborhood).

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 06:45 PM:

Josh, thanks for the correction on McWhorter's childhood in West Mount Airy -- I must have been reading too fast, again.

I definitely think he makes some good points in the material of his which I have read, and plan to read some of his books at a slower pace. Might even check the library for the WSJ issue with his Op-Ed piece.

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 12:20 AM:

Bob: No need to go to the library; it's online.

The specific part of the piece that bothered me was this: "Of course really, whether Mr. Lott is a "racist" is beside the point. Even if he were, he would have to be brain-dead to stand up and say that the U.S. would be better off segregated. I cannot believe that as experienced a public figure as Mr. Lott would be capable of such a thing, even as a gaffe; even in his dotage, Mr. Thurmond would toe the line here. So let's take Mr. Lott at his word that he was referring to Mr. Thurmond's positions on defense, law enforcement, and economic development."

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 07:29 AM:

Kip, are you referring to something in this thread? I couldn't find any disemvowelments, or even posts I thought were worthy of disemvowelment.