Monday, February 28, 2005

Hyberbole and Jihad in Scottsdale

Have you heard about the inflationary new job titles for Scottsdale, Arizona public school employees? For example, the district’s receptionist is now known as “Director of First Impressions” and bus drivers have become “Transporters of Learners.”

Even though it could double the printing cost of business cards for the newly minted "Executive Director for Elementary Schools and Excelling Teaching and Learning," (formerly Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools), this seems harmless enough - if silly and straight out of a Dilbert cartoon.

Scottsdale Superintendent John Baracy, who created the new titles for about a half-dozen employees, doesn't think [it’s silly].

"This is to make a statement about what we value in the district. We value learning," said Baracy, who pledges to back up the new titles with better customer service.

… As for [Barbara] Levine, Scottsdale's Director of First Impressions, she loves her new title.

"I think it's classy," she recently said while answering the telephone and directing a visitor to the right office. "It sounds so important. Everyone wants to be important."


That doesn’t sound like it’s about customer service, exactly - more like self-indulgent puffery.

Maybe the students are the ones who need new titles. I’d suggest “Offspring of a Taxpayer” or, “One Whose Presence Here Enables Your Continued Employment” or, for the more poetic, “Rider of the Purple Wage Learner Transporting Device.”

Still, if it actually increased customer service (even talking about students as customers is an improvement) it might be worthwhile.

Superintendent Baracy, however, has larger issues he probably should be looking at.

There is at least one important learning service sadly lacking in Scottsdale; accuracy in the history curriculum. When combined with a violation of the “separation-of-church-and-state” mantra, you might expect the school district would be nervous about being sued.

Fortunately for Scottsdale, the ACLU has not found that classroom Islamic instruction, or directed prayer to Allah, merits their attention.

It seems that
Scottsdale is using a new textbook that misrepresents certain historical aspects of Islam. The textbook was reviewed, along with several others, by the non-partisan American Textbook Council.

It found that these widely adopted world history textbooks generally:

… make no distinction between sharia and Western law, and they pretend that women are making great strides in the Islamic world, when all evidence indicates otherwise. Social studies textbooks ignore the global ambitions of militant Islam. They fail to explain that Muslim terrorists seek to destroy the United States and Israel. They omit geopolitical goals that include theocracy and world domination by religion.


The Council found an especially egregious example, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, of which it says:

The student edition is an ill-written product printed on the cheap. Accompanying instructional materials are simply amateurish. By comparison, the Council on Islamic Education-inspired and often criticized Houghton Mifflin textbook for seventh graders, Across the Centuries, is an elegant tome with superior content, lessons, and instructional activities, on Islam and other subjects in medieval and world history.

History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond's lessons titled "Jihad" and "Shari'ah: Islamic Law" are extracted [here]. … At the very least, the passages are incomplete. More precisely, they are dishonest. Neither passage explains the essentially religious nature of the subject. It ignores any challenge to international security and western-style law. The treatment is lyrical and loaded, echoing and copying the language of domestic Islamist tracts."


History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond is the textbook being offered to
Scottsdale 7th graders as “better customer service.”

One wonders how students were treated before they were considered to be the customers and before "learning was valued."

The textbook is, of course, only part of the curriculum. More of it is revealed in a concerned
Scottsdale parent’s letter to Daniel Pipes website:

The school has spent approximately 5 weeks of the third quarter grading period teaching Islam to 12 and 13 year olds. The children had to write a full biography on the life of Muhammad, using the information from the textbook - an extremely indoctrinating exercise. This biography will be a large portion of their grade for the 8 week period. Michael H. Hart's top 100 list of the most influential people in the history of the world was presented to teach that Muhammad was #1, Sir Isaac Newton was #2 and Jesus was #3. The school hosted two professional Muslim speakers, from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, to speak to all 7th grade social studies classes. This took one whole day. The Muslim speakers brought prayer rugs and taught the children to pray the Muslim way. I also believe that there were recitations from the Koran and possibly an Islamic "fashion show".


The writer notes the textbook is not allowed to be taken home.

My questions are many, but a few of them are:

  • Why isn’t the ACLU raving about a breach of “church-and-state”?
  • Since the preponderant influence on such text books is the opinion of ‘scholars’* in our Universities, does anybody see now why our University faculties' makeup is a matter of importance?
  • Why is California considering this textbook for adoption (that’s rhetorical)?
  • Does Superintendent Baracy know what’s being taught on his watch, or is he too busy inventing new titles for bus drivers?
  • Is it legal in Arizona to say a blessing prior to a football game or commencement?
  • Wouldn’t it be better if there was no government money whatever used for schools at any level?
  • Finally, what is your 7th grader learning?

*For example Ward Churchill, who denies he is paid by the taxpayers of
Colorado? (If that’s true, what’s the problem with stopping payment? Let him teach all the student-customers he can attract independently.)

Or the anti-American Juan Cole, right here at the
University of Michigan.

Oh Canada!

Worth a thousand words.

Cox and Forkum editorial cartoon on Canada's refusal to participate in missle defense.

;)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Reinforcing Sharansky


Victor Davis Hanson.

Should read.

"Much of the recent domestic critique of American efforts in the Middle East has long roots in our own past — and little to do with the historic developments on the ground in Iraq." ...

Freshman places third in Virginia wrestling tournament


And, oh yeah, the wrestler is a 103 pound female.

From the Washington Times:
Nobles: High-school wrestler Firen Gassman, for doing a man's job better than the men.
At 103 pounds, Gassman is quite normal for a 15-year-old girl. The Herndon High freshman, however, is not what many would consider normal. At least, making history isn't what occupies most girls at her age. "It was never a specific goal of mine when I was really young [to become a wrestler], more like a dream," she said to The Examiner. Well, now that dream has led her to being the first female wrestler to compete at the Virginia AAA state tournament.

In fact, Gassman is getting rather accustomed to making history. She was the first female to win the Concorde District Tournament and has posted a 43-8 record. Said one opponent who has managed to beat Gassman: "Even though she isn't as strong as a lot of the guys, technique-wise she's as good as anybody." With a record like that, no kidding.

She even has a sense of humor about it, too. Posing in a picture for The Examiner, she's sporting a t-shirt that reads "Man's oldest sport."

The best of luck to this week's Noble, Firen Gassman.
"Be less impressed about her being a girl, and be more impressed about her being a freshman," said Bill Hildbold, Herndon director of student activities.

Hear, hear!

From the Washington Post:
Vikings' Dynamic Duo
Every takedown by Herndon's Firen Gassman these days is a lunge at history. She may not even realize it, however -- and she may not even care all that much.

In winning the Virginia AAA Concorde District 103-pound title last weekend, the freshman became the first female district champion in the history of the Virginia High School League. If she places in the top four at the Northern Region tournament at Hayfield this weekend, she'll become the first female to reach a VHSL state meet.

"I would say that she's vaguely aware of what everything means, but she's not done yet," Herndon Coach Tyler Andersen said. "She's just not satisfied with being the first girl to win districts. She wants to be the first girl to win the region, the first girl to make states and the first girl to place at states."

For Gassman, a state champion last summer in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman boys' divisions, a district title was practically expected. At 39-7 this year, she has pinned 19 of her opponents and scored eight major decisions.

And the best from The Washington Examiner:
Pint-sized pioneer

"It was never an issue because our team already knew Firen and to them she's not just a girl, she's a wrestler," said Herndon coach Tyler Andersen.
...
Gassman, for one, understands the pressure her opponents face.

"That's why I really appreciate the boys who will wrestle me because it's a lose-lose situation for them," Gassman said. "If they win they were supposed to and if they lose they get made fun of. So they either come out really timid and back off or they come out aggressive and prove they can handle it. I like that aggressiveness because it makes me a better wrestler."
When Firen Gassman (picture) grows up, she won't be like Nancy Hopkins or Susan Estrich, both of whom are less interested in winning than they are in males losing.

When will NOW declare Firen Gassman day? Oh... right, Nancy Hopkins and Susan Estrich typify NOW.

Feminism's self-inflicted wounds

Perhaps the very idea of George Bush as president so eats at the psyche of Liberals that it is presently decreasing their already tenuous hold on common sense, or maybe it’s just the silly-season. Either way, it doesn’t much decrease the entertainment value.

Recent stories about University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill and Harvard president Larry Summers offer an insider’s view of what free speech means to Liberal academics. This can be summed up as: “I can say whatever I want to. You shut up.”

But even beyond this salutary illustration, we are being treated to ever more insight into the mental processes of gender-Feminists (as distinct from equity-feminists, who simply and reasonably believe in equality of the sexes before the law).

Just as Ward Churchill has illustrated what is wrong with modern academia (and why we can hope his story continues), so the Larry Summers story is providing a good look into the inner workings of radical feminism. Summers’ recent remarks have unleashed the Feminist equivalent of a major friendly-fire incident. Here are two examples Powerline brought to my attention:

Fear and Intimidation at Harvard – by Harvey Mansfield, in The Weekly Standard:

It takes one's breath away to watch feminist women at work. At the same time that they denounce traditional stereotypes they conform to them. If at the back of your sexist mind you think that women are emotional, you listen agape as professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT comes out with the threat that she will be sick if she has to hear too much of what she doesn't agree with. If you think women are suggestible, you hear it said that the mere suggestion of an innate inequality in women will keep them from stirring themselves to excel. While denouncing the feminine mystique, feminists behave as if they were devoted to it.

Feminists Get Hysterical - by Heather Mac Donald, in City Journal:

[Fox News commentator, Dukakis campaign chairman and professor of law, Susan] Estrich’s insane ravings against the [Los Angeles] Times cap a month that left one wondering whether the entry of women into the intellectual and political arena has been an unqualified boon.

It is curious how feminists, when crossed, turn into shrill, hysterical harpies—or, in the case of MIT’s Nancy Hopkins, delicate flowers who collapse at the slightest provocation—precisely the images of women that they claim patriarchal sexists have fabricated to keep them down.

OpinionJournal points out a wonderful bit on The Women's Network titled “Give Nerds a Chance” – by Cathryn Michon, about the value of male nerds:

…I have advised my friend and fellow Grrl Genius club member Renata [a “successful college math professor”] to do what I have done and find herself a "hot nerd."


"Look," I whisper to Renata, "the thing about nerds is, they can't really talk to you on their own, but if you can just get them talking about some gizmo, well, that primes the pump, so to speak."

I think if Ms. Michon’s attitude was prevalent in high school, brilliant, if socially challenged, young men would have been “socially constructed” to want more females in the sciences. (Note: this is not necessarily the same as wanting more science in the females, though the practical result for female opportunity in science would probably be equivalent.) However, as I remember it, high school females don’t have much use for nerds, and the nerds know they are not going to get a date with the head cheerleader.

Could it be that gender-Feminists are right about socialization as the problem? Can females themselves can fix this by an aggressive “adopt-a-nerd” program early in their academic careers? Is it actually biology, operating though the dating preferences of nubile young women, which results in female under-representation in the Harvard physics department?

Is it possible that males with high IQ's do not want women around the lab because their gizmos have been insufficiently pumped in the past?

I’ll leave research on this speculation to Susan Estrich, most of Harvard's Feminist faculty (of whatever sex) and those intrepid Harvard undergrads organizing female-only ice cream socials for Chemistry 5 students.

In any case, thank you all. You’ve made a wonderful point.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Canadensis Canadenser


OK, here’s the deal.

Kim Jong Il goes off his meds and the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (that’s North Korea for you political-geography majors at UC Berkeley) launches a Viagra enhanced version of the No-Dong missile at Kennebunkport
because Dubya is there for a family weekend.

The Chinese have sold the DPRK faulty clones of
Loral guidance systems in order to reduce the threat that Beijing could ever be targeted, so it veers off course.

It appears ground-zero is now approximately the intersection of Rue Rene Levesque and Rue St Laurent in downtown Montreal
; where sits the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Mosque.

Canada
has
refused to participate in the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Canadian Premier Paul Martin has been sovereignly adamant:

"We are certainly intending to defend our sovereignty and our air space and if anything develops in our air space, we expect, as a sovereign state, to be notified and have influence on any decisions," he said. "Canada's a sovereign nation and we would expect and insist on being consulted on any intrusion into our air space."


The wind is out of the north-east so the fallout will be contained in a plume nicely covering Ottawa.

You are George Bush. You have two minutes to decide whether to ding the Dong.

What do you do?

  1. Call Premier Martin and ask if he can say “nucular”?
  2. Call Premier Martin and point out that the sovereign air space is between his ears?
  3. Call the American Ambassador to Canada and ask him to make an appointment with Premier Martin (preferably in someplace remote, like Moose Factory)?
  4. Call the Premier of Alberta and ask if he’d like to be Governor of the 51st state?
  5. Reduce tariffs on softwood lumber?
  6. Finally learn how to pronounce “nuclear”, but in French?
  7. Knock the No-Dong down (there’s a song title there) without permission and send Ottawa an invoice for $100 million US dollars? (Be prepared to take them to small claims court.)
  8. Join Canada in the Kyoto treaty so they can afford missile defense?
  9. None of the above?

You now have a minute and thirty seconds. The answer is blowing in the wind, which has not shifted.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"The Arab Street" is filled with critics of Islamofascism - aka voters and demonstrators

Some follow-up to yesterday’s post on free societies. There is a lot of noise about some of the events I listed. The only thing that’s making me nervous here is that Thomas Friedman can see the same point.

I do not disagree with Friedman about the importance of the elections in
Iraq, but I cannot help but think he has dismissed all the other items on the list I gave yesterday. Would he still see the Iraqi elections as a seminal moment without the other successes? More importantly, could those elections have been successful if the rest had not occurred?

I doubt it.

I think the thousands of people demonstrating in
Lebanon and Egypt do agree with his point of departure for a “tipping point”, but it was clear even without those elections. How fickle, then, are these demonstrators?

We hold the key to that.

The German concession that Bush may be right is a far greater encouragement, even if it is stolidly (what else?) qualified.

In any case these are all examples that the weight of the list is tipping the balance.

Tipping Point?
New York Times columnist
Tom Friedman on Nightline:

Now, this [Iraqi voters] majority's going to have to fight or negotiate to see that its will is sustained for Iraq to really have that outcome we want. And so, in that sense, I always had my own criteria for a tipping point. And the reason I jumped on it in my own column, these elections, is because I started to see it play out in the real world.

Free at Last?
Some Arabs welcome American democratic browbeating
Michael Young, Reason

On the same day as the demonstration in Beirut, George W. Bush delivered a speech in Brussels where he again demanded that the Syrians remove their army and intelligence agents from Lebanon. He also, more broadly, declared: "A status quo of tyranny and hopelessness in the Middle East—the false stability of dictatorship and stagnation—can only lead to deeper resentment in a troubled region, and further tragedy in free nations. The future of our nations, and the future of the Middle East, are linked—and our peace depends on their hope and development and freedom."

Could George W. Bush Be Right?
Claus Christian Malzahn, Der Spiegel

And the Germany Reagan was traveling in, much like today's Germany, was very skeptical of the American president and his foreign policy. When Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate -- and the Berlin Wall -- and demanded that Gorbachev "tear down this Wall," he was lampooned the next day on the editorial pages. He is a dreamer, wrote commentators. Realpolitik looks different.

Europeans today -- just like the Europeans of 1987 -- cannot imagine that the world might change.

I think the world has changed and, if we can summon the moral clarity to stay the course, it can be made to continue to change.

The question becomes; how much extreme-left propagandizing portraying success as failure, more often than not moral failure, can the American public be depended upon to ignore?

We were told this would be a long war as early as September of 2001. We can win it only if we have not become as decadent, or complacent, as our home-grown anti-Americans would desire.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Freedom making its case

I’m reading Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. He makes a powerful case for the idea that spreading freedom, if not necessarily democracy as we see it, is not only the most effective defense for Western democracies, but is necessary for their long term survival.

Libertarians who oppose the Iraq invasion should read this book because it well describes why the invasion is necessary to the defense of the United States, defense being one of the generally acknowledged reasons we should have a government at all.

The President has said he was influenced by this book. That was apparent in his State of the Union Address. The Case for Democracy is worth reading if for no other reason.

Sharansky’s case is powerful, in part because he was a friend and supporter of Andrei Sakharov and because he was imprisoned for 8 years in the Siberian Gulag as a political prisoner of the Soviet Union.

His experiences bring more than a little credibility to what happens inside a “fear-state” as contrasted with a “free-state.” Sharansky’s “crimes” were treason and espionage – treason; for teaching a handful of other Russian dissidents English, and espionage; for meeting with Western human rights activists.

Even Jimmy Carter summoned the backbone to deny that Sharansky was a CIA spy.

Sharansky was nonetheless convicted and sentenced in 1978 to 13 years imprisonment. He was released on February 11, 1986 as part of an East-West spy exchange.

In The Case for Democracy he relates a time when his Gulag guards gave him a copy of Pravda wherein the Kremlin called President Reagan a stupid, warmongering cowboy (“running-dog
capitalist” being passé) because Reagan had said that the Soviet Union was an evil empire:
Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's 'provocation' quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth - a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.
That turned out well.

And it reinforced Sharansky’s conviction that the Soviet Union was rotting from the inside because it was a society based on fear and repression.

George Bush has taken a Reagan tack with terrorism and those who harbor terrorists. He continues to be vilified even more than was Reagan.

Here is a list of things that arguably, in most cases incontrovertibly, would not have happened but for George Bush’s mettle:
  • The Taliban are overthrown.
  • Muhammed Atef, Al-Qaeda military chief, is killed in a U.S. bombing raid.
  • Abu Zubaydah, bin Laden's chief of operations, is captured.
  • Saddam is deposed.
  • Elections are held in Afghanistan.
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, planner of 9/11, is captured.
  • The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1559 which called on all "foreign forces" to withdraw their troops from Lebanon.
  • Muhammar Ghaddafi abandons his nuclear program.
  • US troops leave Saudi Arabia.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for the first time to an Iranian Muslim woman, Shirin Ebadi, who champions human rights, democracy and peace.
  • The Ukraine holds a second election, in part due to pressure from the United States, because of fraud in the first.
  • 8.5 million Iraqis vote despite death threats from:
    • Osama Bin Laden, who is hiding out somewhere making obtuse videos quoting Michael Moore.
  • UN complicity in oil-for-food bribery and UN aid delivery by “peacekeepers” perpetrating food-for-sex with 10 year-olds, has been exposed; showing the UN for the venal and corrupt organization that it is.
  • Palestinians vote.
  • Hillary Clinton declares the Iraqi insurgency is failing.
  • The Israeli parliament votes to leave Gaza.
  • France, that bears repeating -France- and the US announce a co-operative effort to persuade Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon.
  • Now, when the “Arab street” erupts it is:
    • In Lebanon, where Druze, Shiites and Christians all turn out to call for Syria to end its occupation;
    • And in Cairo, where hundreds take to the streets to oppose their current despotic leader.
  • Vladimir Putin acknowledges that Ukraine and Georgia are no longer part of the Russian orbit.
  • Saudis hold municipal elections.
  • Japan and the US agree that Taiwan's security is a common interest.
  • Qatar is reforming education to give more choices to parents.
  • Jordan is accelerating market economic reforms.
  • Saddam is about to go on trial.
Sharansky tells us these events are all predictable when Western democracies summon the will to put pressure on the governments of “fear-societies” to improve the treatment of their people.

Finally, in today’s Washington Post, David Ignatius
reports from Lebanon:
…"It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."

…"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt [Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community]. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Sharansky has a point, it seems. As does the President.

Update: 26-Feb, 10:25AM
  • Talib Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, key aid to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is captured by Iraqi forces.
Update: 27-Feb, 9:33AM
  • Sunni Arab politicians admit they made a big boo-boo in boycotting the Jan. 30 election, and plead to be included in the political process.
  • Nearly 10,000 men show up at a southern Iraqi military base Feb. 14 to volunteer for 5,000 openings. Only 6,000 had been expected.
  • Iraqi security forces capture Saddam Hussein's half brother, No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.
  • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak proposes direct, multiparty presidential elections in a country with a 50-year history of autocratic governments.
Update: 1-Mar, 6:39AM

  • The Lebanese Syrian-puppet government resigns.
  • It turns out that Syria turned in Saddam's half-brother and 3-odd dozen other Iraqi Baathist thugs. Syria previously has denied such "persons of interest" were even in Syia.
  • The New York Times (registration required) gives credit to George Bush. An excerpt:
    • "Still, this has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power. Washington's challenge now lies in finding ways to nurture and encourage these still fragile trends without smothering them in a triumphalist embrace."
  • Thousands of Iraqis demonstrate shouting "No to terrorism!"
  • From his cave, bin-Laden phones Al-Zarqawi pleading for an attack on the US in preference to targeting Shiia in Iraq. Using known compromised communication methods to ask your commander in Iraq, most of whose top lieutenants have been captured in the last 2 weeks, to do your job for you seems a sign of weakness to me.
  • Condi postpones trip to Canada after Prime Minister Martin refuses anti-missile protection (I know this is only tenuously related, but it is good news.)
Update: 4-Mar, 7:42PM
  • Saudi Arabia demands end to Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Smoking Wead?

By surreptitiously taping private conversations with George Bush, while Bush is governor of Texas, Douglas Wead performs a public service by demonstrating that Bush is pretty much the same guy in private as he is in public, and that he comes off far better than most of his constituents would in similar circumstances.

Bush says he would not answer “the marijuana question” because he would not want to set a bad example for American youth.

Democrats can’t believe he just didn’t say he hadn’t inhaled.

In further news, Wead’s upcoming book is nominated for an “Et Tu?” award in the “Best Sleazebag” category.

Congressional privilege

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) thinks Karl Rove planted those fake documents on CBS - “Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House.”

Taking a page from John Kerry, Hinchey said he had evidence of this before saying he did not.

He also is confident that making unsubstantiated and bizarre allegations is not only not irresponsible, but important.

Hinchey has previously written to his constituents that "we are engaging in what will come to be seen as a massacre in Iraq on the basis of the `Bush Doctrine' of pre-emption."

Hinchey was not seen to be wearing his tinfoil hat at the time of either of these allegations, which may explain a great deal.

My guess? Howard Dean put him up to it.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Larry Summers in the fall

John Hennessey, Susan Hockfield and Shirley Tilghman (hereafter ‘HHT’) are, respectively, a computer scientist and president of Stanford University; a neuroscientist and president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and a molecular geneticist and president of Princeton University.

In the spirit of repressing scientific inquiry they recently gave some advice to Harvard president Larry Summers after he had the temerity to ask a question about “under-representation” of female scientists at elite universities. He asked, based on a significant body of supportive scientific research, whether the phenomenon could be due partly to “innate” differences between men and women. He also discussed several other factors that might contribute. He made these comments in a forum the purpose of which was to confront controversial questions.

In other words, he screwed up big time. He has the National Organization for Women calling for his resignation and he is contending with university presidents who check their credentials in academic freedom at the door of feminist dogma. If only he’d had the wisdom to merely fondle an intern.

Hennessey, Hockfield and Tilghman deplore "Speculation that "innate differences" may be a significant cause for the under-representation of women in science and engineering [because that speculation] may rejuvenate old myths and reinforce negative stereotypes and biases."

Never mind the facts, asking reasonable questions reinforces old 'myths'.

In their veiled attack on Summers, HHT invoke anecdote, misdirection, a “straw-person” and, insofar as they give us any guidance at all about what they propose, promote statism as the answer.

Anecdote - Marie Curie “exploded” the myth that women cannot succeed in science and math a century ago.

Is there no more recent example? Why not? What about Susan Hockfield and Shirley Tilghman? Is the argument that women have had less opportunity since Marie Curie’s time? Then make it. If Curie didn’t need federally subsidized day care, why not?

Misdirection -“Our nation faces increasing competition from abroad in technological innovation, the most powerful driver of our economy, while the academic performance of our school-age students in math and science lags behind many countries.”

Could there just possibly be causes, other than orders from the patriarchy, for US children lagging behind other countries? Could it be government schools just aren’t interested in their customers? Does this say anything at all about the relative performance of males and females in other countries? I.e., the actual topic?

Straw-man -“…it is imperative that we tap the talent and perspectives of both males and females.”

And who is it that is proposing otherwise? The question is; how can we best do it? The authors are silent aside from proposing greater government intervention in an area where it already has a sorry track record.

Statism -“As a society we must develop methods for assessing present and future productivity that take into account the long-term potential of an individual and encourage greater harmony between the cycles of work and life…”

Women who wish to be mothers and have high powered careers should not face a choice, but should be supported by the government. Remember the crèches in Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World?

Whether some form of increased "encouragement of greater harmony" is the best use of resources to solve the problems they portray is left to the imagination of the reader.

They argue that we can fix this if we change the rules; The rules of language: The rules of biology: The rules of logic. I will ask where in the world these rules have been tried, and where they have worked? The answers are everywhere and nowhere.

*QUOTE
The variety of physical and social circumstances in which women have found themselves is, surely, just about as great as the variety which is possible for any class of persons. Women have been pirates and poets, princes and paupers, priests and prostitutes: you name it, some women have been it, if it is logically and biologically possible for a woman to be it.

Almost every conceivable factor, therefore, which might have been thought to constitute an impediment to the intellectual performance of some women, has been removed in the case of some other women. Yet their intellectual performance, or at least the comparison of it with the intellectual performance of men, has not varied.

This is true of the variety in women's circumstances which occurs spontaneously between or within societies; but the same is true of that variety in women's circumstances which has been introduced by human contrivance.

Wherever some defect has been found or imagined in existing arrangements for the education of females, energetic and ingenious people have always been busy setting up a form of education free from that real or supposed defect. Novel schemes of education, intended among other things to remove obstacles to the exercise of the intellectual capacity of women, are at least as old as Plato, and hundreds of them have been put into more or less widespread practice.

Yet despite all this variety in the supposed causes of female intellectual performance, the effects have been singularly invariant. I do not mean that these schemes of education have never had any effect at all on female intellectual performance.

I do not know, but it is in any case indifferent to my thesis, whether they have or not. My thesis only requires, what is the case, that educational innovations have never shown any significant tendency to bridge the gap between male and female intellectual performance.
*ENDQUOTE
-Australian philosopher David Stove, The Intellectual Capacity of Women.

HHT are right about one thing, there is a negative stereotype being reinforced here. However, it is more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition or a Stalinist show-trial than of the free inquiry supposedly a feature of academic excellence. One wonders how telling Larry Summers to “shut up” can be squared with the academic freedom defense mounted on behalf of, say, a Ward Churchill.

Hennessey, Hockfield and Tilghman have circled the wagons - with Larry Summers in the center. When he’s fallen, the targets they’ll find in their sights will be each other.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Flags of our Fathers

John Bradley, Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and Mike Strank are the Navy corpsman and Marines who, on 23-February-1945, raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi. It’s a famous picture.

Still, Suribachi’s island wasn’t declared secure until 26-March, and it was 7-April before American fighter planes took off from the refurbished runway so many had died to secure.

Describing the Americans who fought this battle, Admiral Nimitz uttered the words that appear on the Arlington Cemetery monument to that flag raising: "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue".

Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal said that “the raising of that flag on Suribachi means there will be a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.”

Thank you Marines. Semper Fi. 440 years to go; though I expect you’ve extended that a bit in the interim.

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the death-struggle for Iwo Jima, in which over 2,000 Marines died in the first 18 hours of fighting.

In the next 36 days Marines had a casualty every 2 minutes. 6,821 Americans and over 20,000 Japanese died. Of 353 Medals of Honor awarded during WWII, 27 were given for heroism on Iwo Jima; 13 posthumously.

And this was not the end of the Pacific war. In fact, it was just the first battle on Japanese soil.

My appreciation of this battle, and my gratitude to those who fought it, grew immensely when I read a book given to me by a former Marine. That book is Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley.

Bradley discovered that his father, a Navy corpsman who survived the battle of Iwo Jima
, had not only been awarded a Navy Cross for his efforts there, but was one of the men in the famous picture of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi. He discovered this only after his father had died, as he sorted through his father’s papers.

Danielle Girdano is another person belatedly aware of her father’s contribution on Iwo Jima.

18 year old private first class Daniel Girdano, 4th Marine Division, 24th Regiment, 1st Battalion A Company, first saw Iwo Jima's beaches on 19-February-1945. His daughter learned what really happened there almost by accident. She bought a vial of Iwo Jima ash for her father as a Christmas present in 2003, and he could not speak of his experiences still. “He saw this vial of ash, and this man who I’ve known my entire life as the Rock of Gibraltar, broke down,” she said. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/westmoreland/s_303180.html

What she learned from her small gift resulted in the Legend of Heroes Memorial. A monument in glass, metal and wood; it has the faces of 10 Iwo Jima vets engraved on it. Her father is one of them. It is beginning a 49 state tour this weekend.

It is inscribed, "Boys became men, men became heroes, heroes became legends."

I am cowed by the modesty, even self-effacement, of men like Bradley’s and Girdano’s fathers; though it is typical of those WWII vets who saw soul-wrenching combat. Part of it is certainly the modesty becoming of a different era, but I think most of it arises from the pain their experiences brought. (Note to John Kerry – your eagerness, sustained for 30 years, to capitalize on your experiences of "atrocities" in Viet Nam
is one of the reasons you were not credible.)

I recommend Flags of our Fathers, but for a brief tour you should read Arthur Herman’s piece at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006317

Herman also invokes contemporary issues via a perspective on the doubt and debate surrounding WWII strategies that most of us now think of as uncontroversial.

National Peoples Radio

In “Best of the Web Today”, 16-Feb,
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110006300

James Taranto notes the following:

The Whine Spectator
Car-bumper exhortations to support the troops have NPR commentator Bob Sommer bent out of shape:

 *** QUOTE *** 
That curious phrase, "support our troops," on those yellow ribbon magnets seems to
accuse me of not doing my part. Then I realized that "support our troops" is a code!
It requires parsing.
Here's what I think it means: Those who presumably need to be admonished to
support the troops are those who oppose the decisions of the administration.
"Support our troops" means, then, that we should be supporting the war. I believe
that most yellow-magnet bearers want support not just for the troops, but for the
mission, the presence, the president.

Maybe the magnets should say: "Shut up and support our troops."
 *** END QUOTE ***


I would suggest the following response to Mr. Sommer:

The curious phrase "support NPR and PBS" that appears on state funded broadcast media seems to accuse me of intolerance for the posturing of leftist pseudo-intellectual bigots. It exhorts me to pay (as if I'm not already) for views with which I thoroughly disagree.

Then I realized it is a code. The phrase requires parsing.

It means: "Those who presumably must be admonished to pay my salary are those same redneck moralists who can't recognize superior intellect when they're exposed to it. The same ones who think Christo's "The Gates" in Central Park look like a bunch of traffic cones with rags attached, that Eason Jordan has loose lips and that Bill Moyers didn't deserve an entire career on the public teat."

"Support Public Broadcasting", then, means that we should be supporting left-wing ideologues even as they grow fat on our money and call us ignoramuses. I believe that most voluntary Public Broadcast supporters want not just forced monetary support from the rest of us, but support for calling us idiots, for their moonbat ideas, for Michael Moore and Teddy Kennedy.

How about a PBS ad saying: "Shut up and give me back my tax dollars!", or "Send us enough to retire and we'll shut this stinking thing down."?