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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." - Charles Lamb


"It is difficult to understand exactly what people mean when they intone that word “diversity,” though the assumption that seems to lie behind those statements is that different groups have different cultures and thus “mainstream culture” has to accommodate these differences. It is assumed that multiculturalism follows as the night the day the alteration (sic) of the population itself, which is due in large part to a new wave of immigration and to the higher birthrates of the nonwhite portions of the population. This is, of course, true, just as it is that newspapers ought to have reporters that reflect the communities they are trying to serve. They will be much better newspapers if they do. Yet nobody at American newspapers advocates finding some way to appeal more to, say, religious readers, and especially not to fundamentalist readers, even though such people make up a far greater proportion of the population than, say, Asian-Americans. That would be the kind of diversity that multiculturalism abhors. In any case, is not at all clear that demographic change today is all that different from demographic change in the past, except that more races and ethnicities are involved in it.

To listen to the multiculturalist discourse, you would think that population change is something new, when, of course, it is as old as American history. The United States has had proportionately larger waves of immigration before. In the first decade of this century, 8.8 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. In the decade of the 1980s, 8.5 million people arrived at Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, Miami International, and other airports...

In the mid-seventeenth century, twenty or so years after New York was founded, there were already righteen languages being spoken in the city. In 1890, around the time the country was celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of the Columbian voyages, fully 80 percent of the population of New York City were foreign-born or were the children of foreign-born parents. The 1990 census showed New York with just over two million foreign-born residents, or about 29 percent of the total...

Because the new immigrants are “brown” rather than white, they supposedly represent a cultural challenge far vaster than earlier waves... There is a good-hearted but fallacious inclination to make exotic anthropological specimens of the newest Americans... A very large number of earlier immigrants were illiterate peasants and workers who had never left their fields and villages before, which is the case for a far smaller percentage of today’s immigrants, most of whom have, figuratively, already voyaged far from home, if only by watching American television and the movies"

"The underlying belief here, based on the anodyne view of diversity presented by, say, those Copeland Griggs videotapes, is that all cultures are of at least equal value. How else, for example, to explain the fervent advocacy in schools of education that teachers must adapt their lessons to the different learning styles of culturally different pupils—some of whom, as Annette Kolodny, the dean of students at the University of Arizona, put it, “reason by analogy” rather than using “linear logic.”

This is a warm and fuzzy concept that gains support because of its closeness to the American reflex toward toleration and the Western belief in cultural relativism. Of course, it is true that all cultures have value and are worthy of respect. But the idea that all cultures are equal in all respects, and particularly in their ability to propser in a modern industrial economy, ignores most of the serious thinking about the correlation between culture and results done over the last century—ever since Max Weber adduced the intimate connection between the Protestant ethic and the development of capitalism.

If I was hoping that my daughter could have the same access to a career in physics as my son, I had better hope she learns some linear logic, even if Kolodny thinks that some other culturally formed mode, such as “reason by analogy” (whatever that is), is to be equally valued. Clearly, those people who learn “linear logic,” who do well in school, who learn English, and who function in the common culture of the public arena are the ones who will do well in the America of the future. That is assimilation. The misty-eyed belief that all cultures are equal in all things is just nonsense, an encouragement of cultures of failure, an abdication of the responsibility to think clearly about what immigrant and nonwhite children need to know in order to succeed."

"Yet the idea that the country is mired in racist iniquity lies behind more than efforts to legislate against prejudice. What the writer Heather MacDonald has called the “promiscuous” use of the word "racism," the easy recourse to that term to describe the essential and most important qualities of American life, is a major, explicit element in the broad multiculturalist initiative. It is commonly offered as an explanation for why multiculturalism is happening just now. It spurs sensitivity training and university speech codes, changes in the curriculum of elementary and high schools, demands for the mandatory study of the "excluded groups." It determines, perhaps most important, a great deal of the tone and style of the multicultural initiatives, giving moral urgency that cannot stem from mere advocacy but must be connected with the fight against the most powerful and insidious forces of darkness...

My own feeling is that the reckless, heedless, and glib use of certain words, “racism” above all, but "sexism" and “homophobia” closely following, is a major flaw in standard multicultural discourse. It is one of the reasons that there is more striking of poses than honestly discussing and grappling with problems in the United States of America today. The easy multicultural distribution of vile accusations is the main reason that we don't talk to one another as much as we hurl insults.

Is it really true that racism and other evils are on the rise?... The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s 1991 compilation of bias crimes, the ones that, according to the district attorney, Tom Foley, marked a “massive increase,” are broken down into 17 categories. In 1991, for example, there was one cross burning (compared with 7 the year before); there were 4 episodes of what is called "swastika," 77 of “oral abuse,” and 118 instances of “simple assault,” as an attack causing no broken bones or wounds requiring stitches. There were “hanging in effigy” (one incident in 1991), “criminal sexual conduct” (one case), and “arson” (no cases reported in 1991, 2 reported in 1990). The most serious offense associated with bias that takes place with some frequency is “aggravated assault,” of which there were 44 reports in 1990 and 33 in 1991.

Do these cases represent a “massive increase” in bigotry?... Overall the 425 cases reported in 1991 represent a fragment of a fraction of the total number of crimes reported each year in Minnesota - roughly 0.002 percent of the total of 203,107 reported crimes, or about one in every 500. Put another way, that is about one bias crime committed for every 8,800 Minnesota residents, and, if the less serious categories “simple assault” and “oral abuse” are taken out, it would be roughly one bias crime per 16,000 residents. In 1991, by contrast, there was one rape per 2,440 state residents and one robbery for roughly every 1,000 people, so the figures on bias crimes themselves do not seem to indicate a state that is rife with racism and bigotry... In the two years covered by the latest Minnesota report there were no murders related to bias, this in a state that had 245 murders during that period. So the "massive increase in hate crimes" is really a phrase out of the handbook of the well-intentioned hyperbole. To stress bias crimes as the most alarming problem shows the way the ideologically correct position can dramatically distort priorities. I am not against enhanced penalties for bias crime, but I would like to see enhanced penalties for unbiased murder also, including the black-on-black murder, the brothers killing brothers, which seems to have a vastly more devastating effect on minority communities than bias.

“The whole business of bias reporting is an attempt to get hard data, but it’s built on sand,” I was told by Bruce Mead, a sergeant in the Department of Public Safety who, until 1992, compiled the reports of incidents that came from beat officers.

“There’s so much subjectivity involved. What happens is that a police officer takes the report of an incident, and he has to make a judgment, based on the victim’s impression or his impression, whether bias is involved. Sometimes it’s obvious. If you have somebody painting graffiti on a black person’s home that says 'Kill niggers,' then it’s pretty easy to see that bias was the motivation. We have a lot of Hmong in the state, and they have problems where their homes are damaged, and they think it’s because of their ethnic origins, and I’ll report that as bias because that’s the way they feel about it."...

There is a sizable industry of exaggeration that combines with a fear of appearing complacent about racism to create a misleading impression of Anerican life. It is misleading, not because it describes the existence of the ancient evils of bigotry and discrimination, but because it holds those evils to be endemic and intensifying, not as disapproved and diminishing. And it is misleading because it confuses the genuine article, the actual bigotry and intolerance that exist, with almost anything that rubs against the moralistic grain...

The theory of symbolic racism holds that certain generally conservative beliefs, especially opposition to more social programs, are a disguised racism, flourishing precisely because undisguised racism has become socially unacceptable. Racism, in other words, has been driven into the zone of ambiguous expression, double entendre, covert meanings. Or, as one group of scholars has characterized the theory: "Persons who dislike blacks need only declare that they oppose government assistance to blacks not because they dislike them but because they believe in self-reliance." The point is that conservatism in general, and especially the belief in what have come to be called traditional values—work, family, individualism, self-reliance—are dismissed, with a dazzling flourish of political-science jargon, not just as wrong, but as subtly and therefore insidiously racist."

"As long ago as 1973, the National Education Association, the twenty-five-thousand-member teachers’ union that did so much to advance the cause of multicultural education during the Columbian quincentennial, grandly proclaimed: "All whites are racists." The NEA said: “Even if whites are totally free from all conscious racial prejudice, they remain racist, for they receive benefits distributed by a racist society through racist institutions.”

In Pennsylvania at a conference of the United Ministries in Higher Education, definitions of “racism,” along with examples of it, were distributed to each participant. There is, the conferees learned, both "personal racism" and “organizational racism.” In the former category: “Discouraging inter-racial dating and marriage” and “Reluctance or refusal to discuss racism when an ethnic minority labels an incident racist.” In the latter: “Premature negotiation to avoid conflict" and “The absence of a definitive and effective affirmative action plan with specific steps regarding implementation and evaluation.” So it is that the ugly word, “racism,” is applied to an omission, a failure to accept a controversial social program...

To think that American society is more racist than ever before - or even that the status of nonwhites, nonmales, nonheterosexuals, and others has not improved at all—is to forget where we have come from. Can John Slaughter of Occidental College really believe kids attending a university these days face hostility anything like that represented by the aforementioned Maddox, Faubus, and Connor, figures who emblematized a day when black kids could hardly go to mainstream, predominantly white universities at all and who, as John Leo of U.S. News and World Report has put it, “used police, axes, clubs, dogs and water hoses to abuse or exclude blacks”? Is anybody, Leo asked, doing any of that to black students today?"

"Early in 1992 most of the major newspapers across the country, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, put on their front pages a dramatic report issued by the American Association of University Women, which concluded that girls were "shortchanged" by discrimination and bias in the school system. The study, How Schools Shortchange Girls, issued in the name of the AAUW, was carried out by the Wellesley Center for Research on Women...

The actual content of the study on girls, for example, showed some elements about the situation of girls difficult to square with the systematic “shortchanging” claimed on their behalf. It said, for example, that “girls generally receive better grades than boys, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”... It revealed that far more girls go on to college these days than boys and that girls of all racial and economic groups were less likely to drop out of school than boys. How, the newspapers might have asked, if “gender bias” were as serious as the press reports indicate, do so many girls manage to do so well? But very few of the newspapers asked that question.

... Among its findings, for example, was that boys traditionally score about 50 points higher in math than girls do on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The report accounts for this difference by adducing an old argument—that the tests are biased in favor of boys, and that nothing has been done in our sexist society to correct this bias. In fact, this issue of alleged bias in testing has been intensely scrutinized for decades, though you would not know that reading the AAUW report. For years, the Educational Testing Service has tried to formulate a mathematics test in which the scores of boys and girls would come out roughly the same - and this, presumably, would then be a test free of bias—but persistently failed to achieve the desired result. Given the attempts to equalize matters, a bias against girls does not seem to be a factor, or to prove that it is a factor, the report would at least have had to examine the contrary evidence.

To some extent, the newspaper coverage of the AAUW merely shows what might be called press-release journalism. Reporters, who suffer more from deadline pressure than from ideological predisposition, often simply do not have time to digest a long text...

Still, the absence of skepticism shown toward the report on girls was remarkable even for journalists operating under deadline pressure. The organization that actually carried out the study was not some neutral institution with an unimpeachable record of disinterested scholarship on the status of women. The Wellesley Center for Research on Women, while not perhaps widely known to reporters, might by its very name and location have suggested a certain partisan attitude on subjects central to feminists’ concerns. And, indeed, it is a group, operating out of a lovely old Victorian mansion just across the street from the Wellesley campus, that takes very clear, pro-feminist, pro-multicultural positions.

To put this another way, if the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., known as a serious, conservative research organization, had put out a report saying that there were no remaining inequalities between boys and girls, the conclusions would have provoked the critical distance usual in journalism. The institute would have been identified as a conservative group. Feminists likely to oppose its conclusions would have been contacted for comment."

"The Wellesley study also provides a few conspicuous examples of the idea, also peculiar to the boilerplate of a certain branch of feminism, that girls and boys have different cultures, that they learn differently, that gender bias lurks in the very vocabulary used by school systems and textbooks. "In the upper grades especially," the report asserts, "the cirriculum narrows and definitions of knowing take on gender-specific and culture specific qualities associated with Anglo-European male values.” What is offered as an example of these Anglo-European male values? "Current events and civics curricula," the report explains, "which take up topics from the news media, tend to focus, like their sources, on news as controversy and conflict. Much of the daily texture of life is ignored in most current events classes."...

One writer, Cathy Young, noted in Newsday that the feminism of the Wellesley center is not "a feminism of equal opportunity and freedom of choice but an ideology that views relations between the sexes solely in terms of power and oppression." The study How Schools Shortchange Girls is thus an excellent illustration of the necessary connection between a hyperbolic racism or sexism and the multiculturalist demand for redress and special attention in a society of relentless oppression...

At age thirteen, according to studies of twenty countries by the National Center for Education Statistics, Americans were thirteenth in science and fifteenth in math... What is needed is not more feminist ideology in the schools telling girls that they are victims of violence and oppression and have different ways of knowwing. What is needed is better, more rigorous education for everybody."

"A common complaint, supposedly proving the racism of society, has to do with the frequent failure of taxi drivers to stop for black people. A "Primetime Live" report on television once gave a dramatic demonstration of this, showing on the air a taxi passing a black man and stopping just ahead for a white one. The scene was Washington, D.C. The documentary failed to inform its viewers that 85 percent of the crime against taxi drivers is committed by blacks. It also failed to say that the vast majority of the drivers who fail to stop for black passengers are also black.)"

"“Ethnoviolence,” with its implications of physical menace, is not exactly a neutral word. It is a word chosen for emotional impact. It suggests something more than “name-calling and other forms of verbal abuse even though that, Ehrlich says, is what ethnoviolence usually is. But as used in the publications of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, “ethnoviolence” covers everything from bodily assault accompanied by racial epithets to an article in the campus newspaper raising questions about affirmative action. If some crank, perhaps from outside the university, paints a swastika on the wall or scrawls the word "nigger" on a mirror in the bathroom, does that mean that every minority group member who sees it has "been the victim of ethnoviolence?"...

Some of the institute's own research belies its usual suggestion that ethnoviolence stems from racism and other forms of classical prejudice... Among the findings: "White respondents reported ethnoviolent victimization at approximately the same frequency as Black respondents.""

"At California State University in Northridge a student editor was suspended from the school newspaper for printing a cartoon critical of affirmative action. Suspended! The National Institute’s summary of this incident makes no mention of protests at the administration’s apparently overzealous response to an expression of political opinion that on the face of it should be protected by the First Amendment. It did, however, report on one other student who wrote an opinion criticizing the university for suspending the first student. He too was suspended! So much for free speech on the subject of affirmative action, criticism of which, apparently, is viewed as ethnoviolence by the administration of Cal State."

"And so why is progress in racial matters inevitably left out of the vocabulary of ideological multiculturalism? Why is it that the rhetoric has become far angrier now that matters are better than it was when matters were far worse? The answer is that the exaggeration of the national fault and an encouragement of the culture of victimization are necessary components of ideological multiculturalism, indispensable to its self-justification. The National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence and the Wellesley Center for Research on Women do not really aim at neutral and scientific tabulations of ethnoviolence or sexism. They want to add their doses of Miracle-Gro to the trendy allegedly oppressed and the guilt of the alleged oppressors. Under Comrade Stalin, the evils of capitalism were relentlessly exaggerated (or invented) so that those with doubts about collectivization or the rewriting of history could be convicted of complicity in the stragegies of capitalist exploitation and of being out of the flow of history. In somewhat the same fashion, the promiscuous use of the word “racism” helps sustain the righteous fury that is the chief pose of the multiculturalist enforcers, and it disarms everybody else."

"There does not seem to be a great yearning to hire onto women’s studies faculties women who believe that life begins at conception and thus think that abortion is an ending of that life—even though these women would add a dose of diversity to the debate."

"There has been great inventiveness in the production of registered, official forms of crimes of the mind, all of them more or less equal in moral gravity and all of them deriving from the domination of society by white men, who are given no credit for having created the sensibility and values that see these things as evils in the first place. This cranky quest for iniquity makes no distinctions. Racism, which would seem to have a certain unique status as an evil in American history, is made equal to sexism as a thought crime, even though in the West have typically “oppressed” women, in part, by putting them on pedestals, while they have oppressed blacks by hanging them from ropes. This is not to say that sexism has never existed in American life. Of course it has, and it still does. Still, for white women to claim, as a matter of history, a kind of victim status equal to blacks' is to have lost all sense of perspective. Or for homosexuals, who are one most affluent and politically powerful groups in American society, to claim an oppression equivalent to that of blacks is a similar misjudgment, motivated, it would seem, by the overall advantages of claiming victim status. All sins are major ones; all are part of the same qualud pattern."

--- Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives / Richard Bernstein (1995)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Despite being transformed from an undeveloped to an affluent society in a relatively short period of 30 years, Singapore continues to practice the provident-fund strategy for providing social security, a strategy that is only used by the Third World countries (Dixon, 1986; Asher, 1991; Ramesh, 1992)...

CPF does not protect those with little or no income who are in the greatest need for social protection (Ramesh, 1992)"

--- The Poor in Singapore: Issues and Options, Lee, William KM, in Journal of Contemporary Asia
"Man forgives woman anything save the wit to outwit him." - Minna Thomas Antrim


Someone: all girls are psychotic....
just whether they show it or not

my little bit of experience told me
that the more innocent the girl is
the more likely she's goingto be psychotic

so beware


did i tell u

some ang moh was making out with some chinese chick outside the hons room
at around 11p.m.
one day when i was working late

i was so fcking demoralised
i never had such a chance to do such things in my 4 years in fucking NUS

Someone else: seah shuqi
why have you been so quiet about the whole 377a debacle
i don't understand the furore

Me: basically the pro-repeal people get hysterical over a law that's not enforced and claims it persecutes them
it's like conservatives claiming legalising gay marriage will lead to the downfall of society

then anti-repeal people get hysterical over a useless law and claim that removing it will lead to the downfall of society

Someone else: hmm
well summed up
i never thought about it in so much detail

the way i see it
gay people should be happy about the law

think about it

what is key to a gay man's lifestyle, that he treasures so much and is angry that the law is trying to take away from him?

butt sex.

and should he get caught trying to fudge pack some other dude, what will happen? they'll throw his sorry ass in jail where he'll receive endless amounts of?

my logic is infallible.

Me: ...

Someone else: i am sad that you disagree.

Me: what about tops

Someone: from my experience, don't know if it's generalisation, but the level of 'niceness' expected from within a less educated society is less

like my mum... the people she works with are actually not what she'd consider friends

Me: yah
poor people not friendly one
so much for romanticisation

Someone: actually, they're sorry jerks

of course there's exceptions. idealistic people like to think everybody's nice, and they just grab on to those examples of nice poor people they see

Me: not just idealistic people
academics haha

Someone: when i went CIP to help paint studio flats in clementi, there were nice people, but i think 70% of them were those type to slam the door in your face after opening a small crack to peer through

in some ways poor people are even more proud than comfortable ones

when we went to paint flats, the social workers did introduce
the pple were hostile towards us still tho =X

Someone else: my house doorbelldeosnt work

Me: are you poor? :P

Someone else: yes

but my parents arent
we stay in semi d at ***

Me: lol


eh rich girl
be my sugar mummy

Someone else: no thank you
i need one myself

Me: you like girls ah

Someone else: haha no
i like money

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My ISM report:

"Suggestions for future research

One suggestion is that future interviews should be done by girls, or at least with a girl in the group. Ms XXX suggested that I bring a girl along when doing interviews, and from personal experience in doing other interviews, groups composed of girls seem to get better results, with more people being willing to talk to them."

"Men like women
Women like women
Nobody likes men"
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