Quotulatiousness

January 16, 2018

QotD: Intersectionality

Filed under: Education, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The term and concept were presented in a 1989 essay by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA, who made the very reasonable point that a black woman’s experience in America is not captured by the summation of the black experience and the female experience. She analyzed a legal case in which black women were victims of discrimination at General Motors, even when the company could show that it hired plenty of blacks (in factory jobs dominated by men), and it hired plenty of women (in clerical jobs dominated by whites). So even though GM was found not guilty of discriminating against blacks or women, it ended up hiring hardly any black women. This is an excellent argument. What academic could oppose the claim that when analyzing a complex system, we must look at interaction effects, not just main effects?

But what happens when young people study intersectionality? In some majors, it’s woven into many courses. Students memorize diagrams showing matrices of privilege and oppression. It’s not just white privilege causing black oppression, and male privilege causing female oppression; its heterosexual vs. LGBTQ, able-bodied vs. disabled; young vs. old, attractive vs. unattractive, even fertile vs. infertile. Anything that a group has that is good or valued is seen as a kind of privilege, which causes a kind of oppression in those who don’t have it. A funny thing happens when you take young human beings, whose minds evolved for tribal warfare and us/them thinking, and you fill those minds full of binary dimensions. You tell them that one side of each binary is good and the other is bad. You turn on their ancient tribal circuits, preparing them for battle. Many students find it thrilling; it floods them with a sense of meaning and purpose.

And here’s the strategically brilliant move made by intersectionality: all of the binary dimensions of oppression are said to be interlocking and overlapping. America is said to be one giant matrix of oppression, and its victims cannot fight their battles separately. They must all come together to fight their common enemy, the group that sits at the top of the pyramid of oppression: the straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied Christian or Jewish or possibly atheist male. This is why a perceived slight against one victim group calls forth protest from all victim groups. This is why so many campus groups now align against Israel. Intersectionality is like NATO for social-justice activists.

This means that on any campus where intersectionality thrives, conflict will be eternal, because no campus can eliminate all offense, all microaggressions, and all misunderstandings. This is why the use of shout-downs, intimidation, and even violence in response to words and ideas is most common at our most progressive universities, in the most progressive regions of the country. It’s schools such as Yale, Brown, and Middlebury in New England, and U.C. Berkeley, Evergreen, and Reed on the West Coast. Are those the places where oppression is worst, or are they the places where this new way of thinking is most widespread?

Jonathan Haidt, “The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities”, City Journal, 2017-12-17.

December 15, 2017

Josephine Baker

Filed under: France, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I think I first heard of Josephine Baker in the Al Stewart song from his Last Days of the Century album:

At Open Culture, Josh Jones has a brief biography of Josephine Baker that touches on most of the salient points of her career and life:

There has maybe never been a better time to critically examine the granting of special privileges to people for their talent, personality, or wealth. Yet, for all the harm wrought by fame, there have always been celebrities who use the power for good. The twentieth century is full of such figures, men and women of conscience like Muhammad Ali, Nina Simone, and Paul Robeson — extraordinary people who lived extraordinary lives. Yet no celebrity activist, past or present, has lived a life as extraordinary as Josephine Baker’s.

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906 to parents who worked as entertainers in St. Louis, Baker’s early years were marked by extreme poverty. “By the time young Freda was a teenager,” writes Joanne Griffith at the BBC, “she was living on the streets and surviving on food scraps from bins.” Like every rags-to-riches story, Baker’s turns on a chance discovery. While performing on the streets at 15, she attracted the attention of a touring St. Louis vaudeville company, and soon found enormous success in New York, in the chorus lines of a string of Broadway hits.

Baker became professionally known, her adopted son Jean-Claude Baker writes in his biography, as “the highest-paid chorus girl in vaudeville.” A great achievement in and of itself, but then she was discovered again at age 19 by a Parisian recruiter who offered her a lucrative spot in a French all-black revue. “Baker headed to France and never looked back,” parlaying her nearly-nude danse sauvage into international fame and fortune. Topless, or nearly so, and wearing a skirt made from fake bananas, Baker used stereotypes to her advantage — by giving audiences what they wanted, she achieved what few other black women of the time ever could: personal autonomy and independent wealth, which she consistently used to aid and empower others.

Throughout the 20s, she remained an archetypal symbol of jazz-age art and entertainment for her Folies Bergère performances (see her dance the Charleston and make comic faces in 1926 in the looped video above). In 1934, Baker made her second film Zouzou (top), and became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. But her sly performance of a very European idea of African-ness did not go over well in the U.S., and the country she had left to escape racial animus bared its teeth in hostile receptions and nasty reviews of her star Broadway performance in the 1936 Ziegfeld Follies (a critic at Time referred to her as a “Negro wench”). Baker turned away from America and became a French citizen in 1937.

November 2, 2017

QotD: Free trade versus modern “Free Trade” agreements

Filed under: Economics, Environment, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Once upon a time, free-trade agreements were about just that: free trade. You abolish your tariffs and import restrictions, I’ll abolish mine. Trade increases, countries specialize in what they’re best equipped to do, efficiency increases, price levels drop, everybody wins.

Then environmentalists began honking about exporting pollution and demanded what amounted to imposing First World regulation on Third World countries who – in general – wanted the jobs and the economic stimulus from trade more than they wanted to make environmentalists happy. But the priorities of poor brown people didn’t matter to rich white environmentalists who already had theirs, and the environmentalists had political clout in the First World, so they won. Free-trade agreements started to include “environmental safeguards”.

Next, the labor unions, frightened because foreign workers might compete down domestic wages, began honking about abusive Third World labor conditions about which they didn’t really give a damn. They won, and “free trade” agreements began to include yet more impositions of First World pet causes on Third World countries. The precedent firmed up: free trade agreements were no longer to be about “free” trade, but rather about managing trade in the interests of wealthy First Worlders.

Eric S. Raymond, “TPP and the Law of Unintended Consequences”, Armed and Dangerous, 2016-04-12.

October 25, 2017

Climb aboard the invective treadmill!

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle tries to point out the urge to call everyone you don’t like a “racist” or “white supremacist” runs you the same trust risk that the boy who cried wolf did:

It’s the inverse of what Steven Pinker has dubbed “the euphemism treadmill,” where we try to find nicer words for something we don’t think is very nice, and find that the new words quickly take on all the old connotations. So “toilet,” turns into “bathroom,” then migrates onward to “rest room.” Only we still know there’s a toilet behind that door, and whatever words we use about it, our feelings don’t change.

This is why attempting to change how Americans feel about illegal migrants by changing the terms we use to describe them is a project doomed to failure; whether they are “illegal aliens” or “undocumented immigrants,” the political realities remain the same. People who feel negatively toward “illegals” feel just as negatively toward “undocumented immigrants.”

The invective treadmill works in a similar fashion, only in reverse.

[…]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, I found myself confronted by a curious problem: Many of my readers simply didn’t take it seriously when I pointed out that Donald Trump was, if not an outright racist himself, at least happily pandering to people who were.

“The media calls every Republican racist,” my conservative readers replied. “They said it about Mitt Romney, they said it about George Bush, so what’s different about Trump?”

They were right. Other columnists had accused Romney and Bush of being racist and pandering to racists. I pointed out that Trump’s racist appeals were different, and much worse, than anything that earlier Republican presidential candidates had been accused of. But it didn’t do any good. The media had cried wolf to condemn garden-variety Republicans; labels like “racist” had been rendered useless when a true threat emerged. We shouted to no avail as Trump coyly flirted with hardcore white supremacists, something no mainstream party had done for decades.

Indeed, it seems to me that critical race theorists have gone to “white supremacy” precisely because the increasingly broad uses of the word “racism” have made it less effective than it used to be at rallying moral outrage. The term still packs some wallop, but less than it once did, because it is now defined so broadly that a Broadway musical could sing “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” White supremacy, on the other hand, is still clearly understood as beyond the pale.

But if we indiscriminately apply the term to everything from the alt-right white nationalist Richard Spencer, to anyone who thinks that football players should stand for the national anthem … for how long will white supremacy still be considered beyond the pale? What happens if people accused of racism start shrugging off the epithet — or worse, embracing it? And when another Richard Spencer comes along, how will we convey how dangerous he is?

October 23, 2017

Today I learned a new word: Pigmentocracy

Filed under: Africa, Business, Health, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In the Guardian, Afua Hirsch writes about the recent Nivea skin cream video to explain why the ad is so controversial:

“Now I have visibly fairer skin, making me feel younger,” declares the Nigerian actor Omowunmi Akinnifesi in an advert for a new face cream. The ad, for the global skincare brand Nivea, was only ever intended to reach a west African audience, but predictably – has Nivea heard of the internet? – it has been watched and shared millions of times around the world including in the UK, where most of us live in blissful ignorance of the fact that some of our most popular brands openly promote the idea in other markets that white is right.

Nivea says the ad was not intended to offend, but offence is not the point. The global market for skin lightening products, of which west Africa is a significant part, is worth $10bn (£7.6bn). Advertising has a long and unbroken history of promoting and normalising white beauty standards, and if Britain built its empire as a geopolitical and ideological project, the advertising industry commodified it. Soap brands such as Pears built a narrative that cast Africa as dark and its people as dirty, the solution to which – conveniently – was soap. Cleansing, lightening and civilising in one handy bar.

These days the marketing has become much more sophisticated. Ads speak of “toning” as code for whitening. Lancôme, which a few years ago got in trouble for using Emma Watson’s image to market its Blanc Expert line in Asia, emphasised that it does not lighten, but rather “evens skin tone, and provides a healthy-looking complexion … an essential part of Asian women’s beauty routines”.

[…]

Shadism, pigmentocracy – the idea of privilege accruing to lighter-skinned black people – and other hierarchies of beauty are a complex picture in which ads such as Nivea’s are only the obvious tip of an insidious iceberg. Celebrities with darker complexions, such as the Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech – nicknamed Queen of the Dark – and actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, are so often discussed in the context of having achieved the seemingly impossible by being both dark and beautiful, that they become the exceptions that prove the rule.

It is often observed that light-skinned black women are more likely to become global superstars, the Beyoncé-Rihanna effect. They are, however, still black women and therefore not immune from the pressure to lighten – most recently by fans following a new Photoshopping trend of posting pictures of whitened versions of their faces and remarking upon the improvement.

In countries such as Ghana, the intended audience for the Nivea ad, and Nigeria – where an estimated 77% of women use skin-lightening products – the debate has so far, understandably, focused on health. The most toxic skin-lightening ingredients, still freely available, include ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroid. It’s not unusual for these to be mixed with caustic agents ranging from automotive battery acid, washing power, toothpaste and cloth bleaching agents, with serious and irreversible health consequences.

October 6, 2017

A modest proposal for introducing true equality into the NFL

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ESR linked to this proposal from Scott Swett that would revolutionize the NFL in terms of true equality:

Football players who call for equality are throwing rocks from a glass stadium. The NFL’s high-paying jobs are only given to men with specific physical skills, while the rest of the people are pushed aside.

It’s time for the league to start leading by example. The time is right for the NFL Equality Plan.

The first step in the plan is to guarantee everyone’s right to participate in the games.

Every player in today’s NFL is male, which is obviously unfair. The new balance will be 51% women, 47% men, and 2% transgenders. This means the 53-player roster of every team will have 27 women, 25 men, and one transgender person. Each team shall have 32 Caucasians, seven African-Americans, 10 Hispanics, three Asians, and one person of Native American heritage. At least three players will be gay.

Nor can we ignore age discrimination. Each NFL roster shall include seven players between ages 19 and 25, eight from ages 26-34, seventeen from 35-54, nine from 55-64, and ten players who are 65 or older.

The disabled will be fully represented in the new, inclusive league. Every team shall have no fewer than ten players with physical or mental impairments that significantly affect their major life activities.

The Office of Player Equality will monitor the composition of each team and assess penalties for non-compliance. Temporary, minor variations may be allowed – requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The demographic ratios will be regularly adjusted to stay current with population trends.

Next summer, the NFL will host gala events in every stadium to celebrate and welcome the newcomers, who will be called “rainbow players” to honor the complimentary aspects of humanity they represent.

To make room for the rainbow players, many current NFL players will be released from their contracts. This should not be a source of regret, since all these men have benefited unfairly from their physical privilege. The former players will be provided with job-placement services and exit counselling.

September 23, 2017

Statuoclasm

Filed under: History, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

ESR has some thoughts on what is really driving the “tear down the statues” mob:

It is 2017 and the wounds of the Civil War have not entirely healed. “Damnyankee” is still a single word in much of the South. Failing to understand the great settlement creates the risk that those wounds could re-open into divisive regionalism and eventual conflict.

This is especially so since Southerners already feel like victims in the red/blue conflict that now divides coastal urban elites from Middle America. Many Blue tribesmen talk as though they think everybody living more than 60 miles inland and outside a university town is a closet neo-Confederate. This is fantasy, but there is a possible future in which Southern resentment becomes the dominant symbology of the Red tribe in a way it is not today.

Some people are going to want to interject at this point “What about the insult to black people? Aren’t those statues symbols of white supremacy that should be smashed on that account alone?”

Brother, if I believed that I would be swinging a hammer myself. But the mission of the statue builders was to redeem the honor of the South in part by editing white supremacism and slavery out of our cultural memory of the war. They largely deceived themselves with Lost Cause romanticism. Making those statues into symbols of black subjugation would have undercut their whole project.

I do not want to see the post-Civil-War settlement undone. Thus, I’m in favor of letting Southerners keep their statues and their myths. We should let Southern heroes remain American heroes because that is what worked to pull the country back together – and because after the war so many of them really did argue for reconciliation.

There’s another reason I’m opposed to the statue-smashing that has nothing to do with the great settlement. That is: I believe the statue-smashers have a larger aim unrelated to any kind of justice.

Many of these people are, in effect, Red Guards. They don’t just want to erase icons of Confederate pride, they want to smash American pride. Statues of Columbus have already been defaced; I am pretty sure Washington and Jefferson will be next. The actual agenda is that Americans must be made to feel their nation was born in sin and cannot be redeemed – patriotism must be replaced with obsessive self-criticism and eternal guilt. Anything positive in our national mythos must be razed and replaced with Marxist cant.

If there were no other good reason for it, I’d defend our statuary just to oppose the Red Guards.

September 19, 2017

How Millennials Worship The Establishment

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 3 Sep 2017

Brendan O’Neill http://brendanoneill.co.uk/

September 18, 2017

QotD: …of (some of) the people, by (some of) the people…

Filed under: History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… it IS possible to have a Res Publica – by the people – government, but only as long as it is by the ‘deserving’ few. The worst excesses of these proto-democracies can be undercut by an extreme limiting of the franchise – preferably to an effective oligarchy of voters narrow enough to be more self-interested in keeping control against the uneducated and undisciplined rule of the genuine majority, but this is hard to achieve. The Serene Republic of Venice achieved it for almost a thousand years by limiting the franchise to the great and the good families, and the early United States managed to hold it together for about 90 years by limiting it by racial profiling as well as property franchise… but note that both were, like all the Greek and Roman republics, slave based societies: so their claims to be genuine democracies are hopelessly confused to anyone with a consistent or comprehensible ideological viewpoint. In their case ‘the people’ simply meant, the deserving few that we will allow to vote.

This limiting of the franchise to the deserving actually continues in very successful – one could even say the ONLY successful – republics of the modern world. The ancient Greek and Roman franchises were honestly based on ‘those who contribute get a say’. Contribution a that time being buying the expensive armour yourself, putting in the training time, and taking the risk in the front lines of battle: to prove you put the good of the state and your fellow citizens above your own interests. (Though it is notable that their Republics almost instantly graduated to imperialistic and aggressive expansion, which pretty quickly made republican government unworkable, and inevitably led to such champions of democracy as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.)

The only long term successful modern Republic – Switzerland – still has compulsory military service; as does Israel, the only successful democracy ever established in the Middle East.

The other ways to limit the franchise – Like the first (1770’s), second (1860’s) and third (1880’s) American attempts of a franchise limited by race/property; or the first (1790’s), second (1820’s) or third (1860’s) French attempts at a property based franchise (which often saw as few as 20% of people with a vote): were actually much less successful than the equivalent slow Westminster style expansions of the franchise under a developing constitutional monarchy. (No Western Westminster system state has ever had a coup, let alone a civil war.) France has had 5 republics, 3 monarchies and 2 emperors in less than 200 years; and the United States has similarly run through several major reformations of their race/property franchise system since their – 600,000 dead – little debate about their system.

(The American comparison with France is amusing. The first American republic was smashed by the Confederate Defection; the second was an anti-democratic imposition on the South – with no voting rights for Confederate ‘activists’ – after the Confederacy War of Independence was crushed; the third ‘republic’ was when the white southerners were re-enfranchised and promptly disenfranchised the blacks who had been the only voters in the south for the previous 20 years – and whose elected black representatives had not been allowed in the front door or the dining rooms of Congress; the fourth republic… well you get the idea. The US system, with all its defections, jumps and retreats, simply can’t be called a continuously expanding development the way Westminster systems are.)

Nigel Davies, “The ‘Arab Spring’, 1848, and the 30 Years War/s”, Rethinking History, 2015-09-19.

August 28, 2017

“Convicting Arpaio of contempt of court was like busting Al Capone on tax evasion”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jon Gabriel on Il Donalduce‘s pardon of the world-class authoritarian scumbag and all-around thug, ex-Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio:

President Trump asked the crowd last week at his Phoenix rally, “Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Had the hall been filled with an accurate cross-section of Arpaio’s former constituents, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”

Nevertheless, Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff on Friday, though he had not yet been sentenced and had shown zero remorse for his crime.

America’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” was convicted of criminal contempt of court last month after refusing to obey court orders. This most recent legal battle involved numerous federal attempts to get Arpaio to stop racially profiling residents of Maricopa County.

Not only did Arpaio refuse, he bragged about it. “Nobody is higher than me,” he said. “I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

Many conservatives outside of Arizona celebrated his headline-grabbing antics, but they don’t know the real story. I’m a conservative Maricopa County resident who has lived under Arpaio throughout his decades-long reign. Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV.

I saw his love of racial profiling firsthand, especially on my daily commutes through the tiny Hispanic community of Guadalupe, Ariz. When conducting these “sweeps,” helicopters buzzed houses, an 18-wheeler marked “Mobile Command Center” was planted in the center of town, and countless sheriff’s deputies stood on the roadsides, peering into the cars rolling by. Being Caucasian, I was always waved through. The drivers ahead and behind me weren’t so lucky.

Washington’s laxity in border enforcement led many right-of-center Americans to appreciate more robust enforcement, even when it regularly included authoritarian scenes like the one in Guadalupe. But even if you turn a blind eye to the human cost of such race-based enforcement, Arpaio’s other misdeeds are legion.

August 18, 2017

“Rebel Commander Ezra Levant” calls retreat

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In the National Post, Chris Selley recounts the sudden changes in staffing and editorial policy at Ezra Levant’s mini media empire:

If Rebel Media’s uppance was coming, if some event was finally going to wipe the smirk off its face, it could hardly have been more hideously appropriate than what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Live on the internet, Rebel personality Faith Goldy was blathering on about how intolerant the left is, and about left-right double standards in the media and in policing, and about all the other things that gladden the hearts of the Rebel’s grievance-based nihilist-conservative fans.

And then, right there in the frame, someone rammed his car into the crowd of counter-protesters she was mocking, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many others. That guy, allegedly, was 20-year-old James Alex Fields, whose high school teachers said he was obsessed with Adolf Hitler in all the wrong ways.

Fun time was over. This was, apparently, a real live neo-Nazi committing, certainly, real live murder.

At this point, Rebel Commander Ezra Levant could have steered his vessel in one of several directions. “Nothing to do with us,” he could have said, plausibly enough.

[…]

Levant could have gone there; instead, he blinked.

“When I first heard of the alt-right a year ago, I thought it simply meant the insurgent right, the politically incorrect right … the right that backed Trump and his ‘Make America Great Again’ style over Jeb Bush and the swamp,” he wrote in a purported “staff memo.”

“But the alt-right has changed into something new, especially since Trump’s election,” Levant lamented. “Now the leading figure … is Richard Spencer, and other white nationalists.” There were actual Nazi flags in Charlottesville, Levant noted, waxing appalled (while allowing they might have been carried by “agents provocateurs”). That’s “racist,” he averred, rather than “conservative,” and he would have none of it.

It is, in a word, pathetic. Spencer coined the term “alt-right,” for heaven’s sake. He has never, ever been shy about his white nationalist views. A manifesto he released before the march in Charlottesville talks of “a shared civilization” that “sprang” from the “Aryan” race, and dismisses the idea of “Judeo-Christian values” as “a distortion of the historical and metaphysical reality of both Jews and Europeans.”

I haven’t closely followed the adventures of Ezra and his Rebel Media organization, so the sudden rash of departures (Brian Lilley and Barbara Kay, in particular) caught me somewhat by surprise. I don’t use Rebel Media as a source, but I have linked to non-Rebel Media articles by Lilley and Kay, and probably other contributors outside that affiliation. I had noted the organization’s dedication to “afflicting the comfortable” — almost always those on the political left — without much corresponding “comforting the afflicted” to balance it out. Explicitly abandoning the Richard Spencer wing of the alt-right is probably a good move, but it may have come too late to prevent the alt-right taint from permanently damaging their brand.

August 15, 2017

Cathy Young talks to James Damore

Filed under: Business, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At Reason Cathy Young interviews former Google employee James Damore, who was fired after an internal memo he wrote criticizing the company’s diversity policies “went viral”:

James Damore, a former software engineer at Google, was suddenly propelled to fame after an internal memo he wrote criticizing diversity policies at the company leaked to the media. The document, sometimes labeled a “manifesto” (and, less kindly, a “screed” and a “rant”), asserted that the gender disparities in tech jobs are at least partly the result of innate differences between the sexes (primarily of women being more people-oriented and less attracted to such work) and that the diversity programs intended to boost the number of women at Google are counterproductive and possibly illegal.

While the document proposed alternative ways to make the workplace at Google more female-friendly, it was widely labeled “anti-diversity” and “anti-woman.” After 28-year-old Damore was identified as the author of the memo, he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Since then, the controversy has raged unabated — perhaps unsurprisingly, since it touches on many hot-button, polarizing issues from gender equity in the workplace to freedom of speech. A few days ago, I wrote about the debate for USA Today. I interviewed Damore via Google Hangouts text chat on Friday. The transcript has been lightly edited for style, flow and clarity.

Cathy Young: All this must be a little overwhelming?

James Damore: Yes, especially since I tend to be pretty introverted.

CY: Did you think when you wrote the memo, that it could become public at all, let alone as such a huge story?

JD: No, definitely not, I was just trying to clarify my thoughts on Google’s culture and use it to slowly change some of our internal practices.

CY: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you decided to write this memo after attending a staff meeting on diversity at Google.

JD: Yes, I decided to write my thoughts down after attending a particular “Diversity and Inclusion Summit,” although I had seen many of the problems in our culture for a while.

CY: Who was this summit for? All employees, or employees at a certain level?

JD: It was generally for high level employees in my organization that were interested in diversity efforts.

CY: Does Google have a lot of diversity events? Do any of them have mandatory attendance, or is it primarily for those interested in the issue?

JD: Google has many diversity events, including many during our weekly company-wide meeting (TGIF). They’ve also recently made “Unconscious Bias” training, which is ideologically similar, mandatory for those that want to evaluate promotions, all managers, and all new hires.

CY: You’ve mentioned that the summit that prompted the memo had some material that you found disturbing and offensive. I don’t know how specific you can be, but any examples?

JD: They outlined some of the practices where employees were being treated differently based on their gender or ethnicity at Google and during the hiring process. For example, there’s special treatment during the interviews (like more being given) and there are high priority queues for team matching after an employee gets hired. Also, there were calls to holding individual managers accountable for the “diversity” of their team, which would inevitably lead to managers using someone’s protected status (e.g. gender or ethnicity) during critical employment situations.

Brendan O’Neill on the similarities of the Alt-Right and the Ctrl-Left

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Posting to Facebook on Monday, he wrote:

It’s becoming so clear now why the war of words between SJWs and the new white nationalists is so intense. It isn’t because they have huge ideological differences — it’s because they have so much in common. Both are obsessed with race, SJWs demanding white shame, the alt-right responding with white pride. Both view everyday life and culture through a highly racialised filter. SJWs can’t even watch a movie without counting how many lines the black actor has in comparison with the white actor so that they can rush home and tumblr about the injustice of it all. Both have a seemingly boundless capacity for self-pity. Both are convinced they’re under siege, whether by patriarchy, transphobia and the Daily Mail (SJWs) or by pinkos and blacks (white nationalists). Both have a deep censorious strain. And both crave recognition of their victimhood and flattery of their feelings. This is really what they’re fighting over — not principles or visions but who should get the coveted title of the most hard-done-by identity. They’re auditioning for social pity. “My life matters! My pain matters! I matter!” The increasing bitterness and even violence of their feud is not evidence of its substance, but the opposite: it’s the narcissism of small differences.

July 30, 2017

“… sooner or later, and usually sooner, the British will be blamed”

Filed under: Books, Britain, History, India — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

In Pragati, Alex Tabarrok reviews Shashi Tharoor’s 2016 book history of the British Raj, An Era Of Darkness:

“Political Map of the Indian Empire” from Constable’s Hand Atlas of India, 1893.
(via Wikimedia)

At sophisticated dinner parties in Delhi, Calcutta, or Chennai, whenever the discussion turns to politics, one can be sure that sooner or later, and usually sooner, the British will be blamed. It’s a fine parlor game, and clever players can usually find a way to cast blame for whichever side of the debate they favor. Is India’s traditional family falling apart due to internet porn? Blame the British! Are the laws against homosexuality too strong? Blame the British! The British are an easy target because much of what they did was reprehensible. But blaming British imperialism for contemporary Indian problems is also an easy way to let India’s political class off the hook.

An excellent case against the British comes from Shashi Tharoor, bestselling author, former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations, and current member of the Indian parliament, in his 2016 book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India (also published this year under the title Inglorious Empire[UK title]).

Tharoor makes three claims:

  1. The British empire in India, from the seizure of Bengal by the East India Company in 1757 until the end of British government rule in 1947, was cruel, rapacious, and racist.
  2. India would be much better off today had it not been for British rule.
  3. Britain’s success and the Industrial Revolution were due to British depredation of India.

The first claim is true, the second uncertain, the third false.

The first claim is the heart of Tharoor’s book: the British empire in India was cruel, rapacious and racist. All true. But who would expect otherwise? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The theft, the famines, the massacres, the formal and casual racism, the utter hypocrisy of suppressing independence while using hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers to fight for democracy and freedom in two World Wars — on all this Tharoor stands on solid ground. The ground is solid in part because it has been well-trod. Tharoor brings the case against the East India Company and Britain, initiated by Edmund Burke (1774-1785) and continued by the likes of Indian nationalist Dadabhai Naoroji [PDF] (1901) and American historian Will Durant (1930), to its conclusion and climax with the Indian independence movement. In this, Tharoor is entirely successful and his work deserves to be widely read.

In his eagerness to blame Britain, however, Tharoor reaches for every possible argument in ways that are sometimes misleading and sometimes absurd.

July 19, 2017

Devising a constitutional role for aboriginal groups in Australia

Filed under: Australia, History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Peter O’Brien outlines the proposal to incorporate a permanent formal role for Australian aborigines in the federal government:

It started out as a limited initiative to ‘recognise’ indigenous Australians as the first occupiers of this land in the Constitution. At least that’s what Tony Abbott, an enthusiastic supporter even before he became Prime Minister, thought. And initially, it was thought that a majority of Australians could support such an initiative.

But since that time it has morphed into something much more sinister as revealed by the final report of the Referendum Council.

[…]

Since all government policy specifically relating to indigenes is intended to eliminate discrimination and disadvantage so that they may take their place, as equal in material and aspirational aspects, as they already are in citizenship, then, presumably, one of the aims of the advisory body should be to work towards its own demise. If it is embedded in the Constitution, that will never happen. It will linger on, a cancerous sinecure rather like the HRC, manufacturing reasons to justify its own existence.

Liebler gives the game away before the starting gun has even gone off:

    “The option of inserting a new provision into the Constitution prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race was determined by delegates to be a “shield”, vulnerable to interpretation by the High Court, whereas a voice to parliament was viewed as a “sword”.”

Since when has a Constitution been envisaged as a mechanism to provide to some of its citizens a “sword” to use against others of its citizens. Yet Leibler disparages the idea of a ‘shield’ in the Constitution since it is vulnerable to interpretation by the High Court. By using the term ‘vulnerable’ he tacitly acknowledges that activist judges can distort the original good intent of legislation.

If that is true for the ‘shield’ of a Constitutional anti-discrimination provision, why would it not be equally true of the ‘sword’ of an advisory body. Here is one example of logic that might be employed thus:

    “If the intent of the framers of this provision was that the Indigenous Council should have no powers other than advisory, why was it put into the Constitution rather than just left to legislation?”

If this sounds simplistic, it is, but it wouldn’t take a legal mind much more sophisticated than mine to turn it into the kind specious nonsense with which we are constantly bombarded by members of the Legal Left.

There is no doubt that the ultimate aim of the activists is sovereignty, because they have repeatedly told us so. This advisory body, this sword’, is the mechanism by which they hope to progress their aim. Some, on the Left, will argue that the activists only represent a hard core and that, if the indigenous population get their way on this, the majority will be happy, that will be an end to the matter and the remaining activists will become irrelevant. Yeah, sure! Pretty much the same way that jihadis have become irrelevant.

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