Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Let’s Be Clear on ‘Legacy’ Preferences

Part of the Left’s grouchy reaction to the Supreme Court’s recent blow to race-based college admission practices has been to ask why “legacy” points for the kids of alumnae aren’t discriminatory as well.

As restated by Mark Rosenbaum, one of the ACLU lawyers who argued the case before the Supreme Court, the ban “unfairly keeps students from asking universities to consider race as one factor in admissions, but allows consideration of factors like legacy status, athletic achievement and geography.”

And high school marks and SAT scores, too. Rosenbaum apparently thinks the Supreme Court can only prohibit universities from considering race as a factor in admissions if they also prohibit all factors used to distinguish one applicant from another. Colleges must apply some criteria, and any criterion is by definition a standard by which something is to be judged, and judgment means discriminating between one thing and another.

But not discrimination based on race.

Leaving aside what Rosenbaum knows perfectly well, that the contestants in Schuette vs. BAMN never asked the court to rule on the “fairness” of legacy admissions or factors like athletics, liberals like Rosenbaum, Justice Sotomayor, and others are deliberately pretending America never crossed a legal and historic Rubicon expressly on the subject of discrimination based on race. Prohibiting the granting or denying of public accommodations based upon skin color was the entire focus of the Civil Rights era. America collectively adopted the proposition that race must not be a factor in anyone’s standing in society or before the law. It’s what we all agreed to, including the Left, who like to believe racial equality was all their idea.

At least the Left agreed until last week, when the new dogma was promulgated that we have to apply a racial standard to everything.

As Justice Sotomayor’s dissent was summarized in the Washington Post,

by passing a constitutional amendment forbidding consideration of race, [Sotomayor] wrote, Michigan had made it harder for minorities to reach their goals. Her example:

“A white graduate of a public Michigan university who wishes to pass his historical privilege on to his children may freely lobby the board of that university in favor of an expanded legacy admissions policy.”* But “a black Michigander who was denied the opportunity to attend that very university cannot lobby the board in favor of a policy that might give his children a chance that he never had and that they might never have absent that policy.”

But what Sotomayor ignores, is that every black Michigan university graduate “who wishes to pass his historical privilege on to his children” has the identical opportunity to lobby the university as the hypothetical “white graduate.” That’s because race doesn’t matter in legacy admissions policies.

And any university graduate might take issue with Sotomayor’s labeling alumni status as an “historical privilege,” as if alumni status is conferred on white kids as a door prize just for having white parents. Even in white families, like mine, there was no historical privilege: someone had to be the first one in the family to compete with the legacy kids and earn admittance to U of M (in our case, my brother), and then earn a degree to gain the status to pass on to his children.

To detour around this washed-out logical bridge, liberal megaphones like Media Matters are arguing that legacy admissions must be racial preferences, too.

According to The New York Times, "among legacy applicants for Princeton's class of 2015, 33 percent of those offered a spot were the children of alumni." And it wasn't just Princeton -- Harvard admitted about 30 percent of its legacy applicants, and Yale admitted between 20 and 25 percent. These "legacy preferences" can and should be considered a form of "racial preference," since those students are "overwhelmingly white and wealthy."

Except legacy preferences can’t be racial preferences, for the simple reason that they offer precisely the same advantages to black legacy applicants as to white ones. Obviously, the black Michigander -- or any other person of any race or sex who never attended that public university for whatever reason – isn’t going to be able to lobby that university for a legacy admission. On the other hand, President Barack Obama, to take one instance, can, and almost certainly will, use his status as a Harvard graduate to get his daughters admitted if that’s where they want to go.

The circumstantial test for discrimination (where there’s no direct evidence of it) means showing the disparate treatment of two persons otherwise so similarly situated that it’s reasonable to infer the disparity is explained by discriminatory animus. Because Justice Sotomayor’s hypothetical unfairly poses two dissimilar people – a white graduate of a public university versus a “a black Michigander who was denied the opportunity to attend that very university,” the comparison is misleading, and the resulting logic circular. The insinuation that blacks are being “denied” university admission because of race isn’t even an allegation before the court in this case: even worse, the suggestion is monumentally unfair to Michigan public universities, including the University of Michigan, which admitted its first black student in 1853. Justice Sotomayor then builds on that insinuation to explain the failure of her hypothetical Michigander to be admitted as “a chance that he never had and that [his children] might never have absent” the policy of race-based preferences. She ends up begging the whole question of the case to justify her own dissent.

Because no one’s offered a scintilla of evidence that legacy policies are being applied unequally based on race, liberals will object that the fact that the pool of graduates of elite universities is disproportionately white and wealthy, legacy admissions must represent a policy of “racial preference.” They may as well say that the overwhelming proportion of white children born to white couples shows a policy of racial preference. Clearly, as more and more qualified black applicants get into elite universities and graduate, it’s inevitable that the proportion of their children availing themselves of legacy admissions goes up, too.

This theory of discrimination is known as “disparate impact.” It presumes that, wherever facially neutral policies have a greater negative effect on minorities, a claim of discrimination can be made even without any evidence of any intention to discriminate. Liberals love the disparate impact theory because it can be used to attack virtually any unfair outcome in the life of a minority as the result of racism. Consider Brooke Kimbrough, the Detroit high-schooler who didn’t get into U of M because her grades and test scores weren’t good enough, and now figures that makes her Harriet Tubman: “I will make it my civic duty to document every noose of a rejection letter that the university produces to our black, brown and red bodies!” (Rally produced and directed by BAMN, of course).

What others have documented is that in the states that have gotten rid of racial preferences, the percentage of minorities who earn admission to elite schools and then graduate – and consequently make their own kids eligible for legacy advantages – goes up. Under the old race-based regime unprepared minorities were getting into top schools through preferences, and then flunking out in disproportionately high numbers.

Frank Beckmann cited The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education for the demonstrated improvement in outcomes for black students at University of Michigan as a result of ditching affirmative action:

In 2006, the year Michigan voters passed the ban on affirmative action for college admissions, the research revealed black students had a 67 percent graduation rate under the old rules of racial preferences, a finding that the journal called “poor” and “disturbing.”

Seven years after passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan, that number of African-American graduates had increased to 78 percent.

That’s a 16 percent increase after the school stopped using race preferences. (“Michigan must let affirmative action die”).

Research has shown that “the mismatch of students to their college academic requirements is responsible for blacks dropping out of fields like science and engineering at a rate twice that of white students.”

But the liberal scheme is to simply correct the disproportion by forcing equality of numbers through quota systems and race-based preferences. Writes Beckmann,

“The new scheme to impose racial preferences is to convince colleges, starting with the University of Michigan, to stop considering ACT and SAT test scores in determining the qualifications of applicants for college.”  Or better yet, go back the old quota system.  Putative victim Brooke Kimbrough boils it down: “U-M needed to ‘represent the state. Blacks are about 14% of the population, so [enrollment] should be 14% roughly.’”

Is that really the best thing for Michigan’s black students?


Monday, May 05, 2014

While America Slept

Caroline Glick sheds light on Obama’s foreign policy at RealClearPolitics:

During his joint press conference in Manila on Monday with Aquino, Ed Henry from Fox News asked Obama to explain his foreign policy doctrine.

“What do you think the Obama Doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness.”

Obama responded with his signature peevishness.

Before launching into a 900-word assault on a series of straw men to whom he attributed positions that at best distorted and at worst willfully misrepresented the positions of his critics, Obama muttered, “Well, Ed, I doubt that I’m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine.”

One thing that Obama did have the time do was signal to the Philippines that the US is no longer a reliable ally. After touting the new defense pact in one sentence, Obama proceeded to explain in the next that his administration cannot be expected to honor any commitment to defend the Philippines militarily.

Obama’s bloviations demonstrated why Henry’s question was so important.

For five-and-a-half years, Obama has not given a straightforward presentation of his foreign policy. Instead, he has tailored his foreign policy statements to what he thinks the public wishes to hear.

So for instance, in responding to Henry, Obama sounded an isolationist note, attacking imaginary critics for their automatic rush to arms in all circumstances.

Beyond being a gross mischaracterization of his critics, Obama’s remarks ignored the inconvenient fact that he sent US forces on a NATO mission to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya without congressional authorization.

No Republicans forced his hand. Since 2004, Gaddafi had posed no threat to US interests.

And in the aftermath of Obama’s unauthorized war in Libya, the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi. Al-Qaida and other jihadist groups that benefited from NATO’s operation have taken over large swathes of the country and sunk it into ungovernable chaos. And the chaos and jihad in Libya has spread out to much of northern Africa, bringing death, forcible conversion, torture, arms proliferation and terror in its wake.

Although Obama’s 900-word rant obscured rather than explained his foreign policy doctrine, the Obama Doctrine is easily understood from his actual policies – including his military adventure in Libya.

Please read the rest of “Life Under the Obama Doctrine.”

‘We Are Offended, We Are Offended, We Are Most Grievously Offended’

Oh my!, Oh my!, Oh my!

Sarah Palin has the Left, including the Left’s religulous wing, angry at her again for something she said about jihadists at the NRA convention: “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

The reference to baptism is irreverent to the Christian religion, you see.  And if there’s one thing the Left never wearies of, that’s defending Christianity.

Okay, maybe not so much.

Like most of these little eruptions, the faux outrage doesn’t really reflect authentic grief at mistreatment of the sacred; it only reflects the next promising opportunity to slay the unslayable dragon who is Sarah Palin. And because the Left considers Palin’s unfeigned faith in God her most noxious trait, any opportunity to disfigure her image as a Christian woman will be exploited four ways from Sunday. That explains how out of proportion have been reactions to what was -- yes, I’ll say it – a harmless joke.

One outlandish response came from Andrew Sullivan. He describes the remark as invoking “torture in the context of a Christian sacrament. Not since the Nazis’ Deutsche Christen have we seen something so disgusting and blasphemous in the morphing of Christianity into its polar opposite.”

Oh, poo and pshaw. The Deutsche Christen were Nazified protestants malevolently adulterating the faith with the Third Reich’s crackpot racialism. Sarah’s not morphing Christianity into anything. She was giving a political speech at a secular organization, not evangelizing from a mountaintop about a new version of the gospel. To put it plainer than that, she wasn’t discoursing on the meaning of baptism, but talking about enhanced interrogation in response to the Islamist threat. She reiterated this in her response to the criticism, saying “Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children, whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I'd be stopping ‘em.”

Then, in “Sarah Palin’s Heresy”, Rabbi Menachem Creditor at HuffPo explains why he’s voting for Sarah’s excommunication.

When Sarah Palin commented, at this last week's national National Rifle Association convention, "...waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists," she did worse than offend, worse than degrade human beings, worse than stir up a group of weapon-advocates. She did so in the Name of God. The fact that the NRA would allow someone to promote fundamentalism at their convention is a violation of their civic responsibility and a threat to human rights on a national scale.

The Rabbi then proceeds to itemize all the world religions that hold water rituals in high esteem, beginning, (why doesn’t this surprise me?) with the “Muslim ritual ablution of Wudu” – the same ritual Major Nidal Hassan engaged in before traveling to Ft. Hood to slaughter as many infidels as Allah allowed as his personal act of worship.  Oblivious, the Rabbi instead condemns the NRA for tolerating “hatred garbed in religious symbolism.”

What’s really got the Rabbi worked up isn’t Sarah’s mention of baptism as such as that she endorses waterboarding, and worse, she’d doing it in order to “stir up a group of weapon-advocates.” But that scornful description aside, the Rabbi still believes this group of weapon-advocates have a civic responsibility to ban “fundamentalists” from its list of approved speakers. Does the Rabbi really believe that the NRA is subject to the Left’s draconian enforcement of a separation of church and state? Or even more puzzling, does he really believe that “baptizing” terrorists by waterboarding them is an actual example of Christian fundamentalism?

It’s the vanity of vanities to try explaining a humorous remark to the humorless, but I would like to say this about the Palin Blasphemy: first, it wasn’t “hatred garbed in religious symbolism,” it was a genuine metaphor.   For us lifelong English speakers, Sarah wasn’t really talking about baptizing terrorists. She was talking about waterboarding them.  What she said is no more a presumption upon the sacrament of baptism than it’s a presumption upon the Last Judgment when one Wild West gunfighter warns another he’d better prepare to meet his Maker. Second, simply using baptism in a metaphor is hardly holding oneself forth as speaking in the Name of God. Third, Sarah’s comment wasn’t an endorsement of torture. Like me and lots of others, we recognize a clear distinction between torture and what happens during waterboarding. It’s the Left that keeps calling it torture, and then accusing us of calling for more of it.

The Rabbi’s umbrage at the NRA’s allowing Sarah to speak – for which he holds them responsible for “a threat to human rights on a national scale” -- is notably outlandish. Does he really believe any of this?

I think I may be excused for doubting the Rabbi’s sincerity as he protests how obedience to the Jewish tradition compels him to speak out against this grave evil of Sarah Palin’s one-liner:

“All who can protest against something wrong that one of their family is doing and does not protest, is held accountable for their family. All who can protest against something wrong that a citizen of their city is doing and does not protest, is held accountable for all citizens of the city. All who can protest against something wrong that is being done in the whole world, is accountable together with all citizens of the world. (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b)”

Even conceding that comparing waterboarding to baptism actually qualifies as “something wrong,” doesn’t “something wrong” take in a whole lot more ground than just what Sarah Palin says in a speech to the NRA? Except for the Rabbi’s ecumenical bow to Muslim ritual, he manages to mention demagogues, torture, hatred, and killing “in the whole world” without ever mentioning the ugly religious aggressions of Islam. We do know that in spite of the Rabbi’s alarm at all the dying going on, no one dies during waterboarding. No one even bleeds from it, though the Rabbi somehow manages to blame Palin and the NRA for the way “blood saturates our streets.” If it does saturate out streets, it’s not being shed by enhanced interrogation techniques.

But speaking of real blood, not metaphorical – and LOTS of it -- I wasn’t able to find any protests from the Rabbi when Nancy Pelosi actually did trample what is holy last year:

Asked what the moral difference is between what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did to babies born alive and aborting those same infants moments before birth, Pelosi refused to answer.

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," Pelosi said. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics."

Nor did the Rabbi weigh in when fellow member of the cloth Anglican Rev Katherine Hancock Ragsdale actually did impute abortion with a sacramental quality:

Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.  Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You're engaged in holy work.

Rabbi, are you bothered at all with the formulary: “I abort thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”? 

I do understand that some critics not from the Left, like Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, have sincere reasons for disliking what Sarah said. But the Left has no business – none – pretending that they’re the defenders of the Christian faith, or that being good liberals makes them guiltless of the bloody crimes of their own ideologies.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Al Sharpton, In Heels

Now that a single federal judge has decided Michigan will have same-sex marriage, it’s time for the next step. Under the guise of a coalition of concerned business leaders, the gay lobby is pressing forward to write special status for homosexuals into Michigan law.  As reported in the Detroit News,

Some of Michigan’s top business leaders are launching a campaign to expand the state’s workforce discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Job providers from across the state have formed the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, a partnership of business leaders and their companies, with the intention of working with lawmakers to update Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). (“Execs want Michigan anti-bias laws for gay”).

No identity politics here, folks – it’s just all about the economy.

Who knows what subtle persuasions were brought to bear behind the scenes that has led us to this? What we do know is that, listed amongst the coalition’s “top business leaders” is Kerry Moss, executive director of ACLU Michigan, which is already an active player on behalf of homosexual activism.

Conspicuously missing from Thursday’s article are any examples illustrating that Michigan even has an invidious problem with workplace discrimination against homosexuals.  Oh, sure it happens sometimes, just like it happens more and more (and more) to encounter employees in virtually every conceivable context who are openly – often ostentatiously – gay. 

Yet the message in the Detroit News’s headline is that Michigan’s scaring away prospective gay talent (and let’s not forget prospective transvestite talent, too!) You might wonder why, if Michigan’s coalition of enlightened employers means to entice the nation’s gay talent to their companies, they’d start by pushing through a law meant  to expose themselves and every other Michigan employer to endless lawsuits for discriminating against them once they get here.

The truth is, re-writing ELCRA would be a drastic remedy for a problem that either doesn’t – or hardly – exists, not that it matters to whoever’s behind the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition.  This is only a gambit to sell  “discrimination protections” as the wedge that gets protected status for homosexuals under ELCRA. For all the hoopla about “equality” on the subject of homosexual rights, the News is correct in reporting that, “It is currently legal in Michigan to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay or lesbian.”  If you’re surprised to hear that, you can thank years of horrible coverage of this topic by a media 90% gay-friendly already, and 100% scared to death of their gay friends.

Homosexuals have never been defined as a “suspect class” under Michigan’s civil-rights statute. “Suspect class” is the term used in civil-rights law to define a minority group that has historically faced discrimination). By way of comparison, the granddaddy of all American anti-discrimination laws, the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act making race-, sex-, or national-origin discrimination unlawful, also has never defined homosexuality as a suspect class.  Among the reasons for this is that alternative sexual orientations are not immutable the way being male or female, black or white, are immutable.  Years of homosexuals comparing their plight with what  blacks endured in America has only accentuated the triviality of homosexuals’ demands.  

Some of these employers may have authentic business reasons for wanting to be perceived as gay-friendly, like wanting to target that market for their products.  But there are alternative ways to do that that don’t require fooling around with the state’s fundamental civil-rights statute.  They could advertise positions in any of the myriad media catering to homosexual audiences, or adopt company policies as unctuously celebratory of personal sexual deviance as any homosexual lobbyist could imagine.  I’m much more inclined to believe that they’re only coalescing now because there’s a rainbow-and-rhinestone gun being held to their heads.

Gay activists aren’t scheming to change ELCRA because they actually believe gays are too scared to move here and work. Winning protected status for homosexuality has been the holy[sic] grail of the gay lobby since forever. It’s certainly far more important than same-sex marriage, which was always only a freakshow that somehow (oh, yay!) turned out to be a thousand times more useful for capturing the sympathy of distracted Americans than a third decade of guilt-tripping everyone about AIDS and Matthew Shepard. Once your sexual preference wins protection as a suspect category, you (and any activist group you happen to be working with) have access to all of the wonderful legal weapons available to punish, or threaten punishment, for anything you can characterize as “discrimination” against you as an individual. 

It also means if you thinks it’s boring to work for the gay-friendly hipsters at Google or Blue Cross, you can pretty much look for work anywhere in Michigan knowing that if any employer dares dislike you for showing up at a business meeting in drag, you can sue his bigoted ass from now till Mardi Gras 2018. Every schoolroom, restroom, church sanctuary, voting site, rental property, workplace, government bureau, doghouse, outhouse, henhouse, or any other imaginable setting will be a hard target for anti-discrimination litigation from the highly sophisticated and lavishly funded gay lobby.  If you enjoyed Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and BAMN handling the nation’s race relations, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Because we all know that the gay community never, ever, goes overboard when it comes to pressuring straight society to be more tolerant.