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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can You Speak the Truth without Punishment?

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” — John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770.

In today’s climate of political correctness people are being punished for speaking the truth — even when they have the facts on their side.

Before I continue let me once again explain the theory of cognitive dissonance that often explains apparent irrational behavior. In a nutshell, this theory holds that people are uncomfortable when holding two opposing ideas or beliefs (this is called dissonance). To reduce discomfort, people will achieve consistence by such tactics as denying one view or avoiding situations that expose contradictions. The classic study is Leon Festinger's When Prophecy Fails, where the day of an end-of-the world UFO cult's exact prediction of the world's demise came and passed, but they nevertheless reinvigorated their prediction rather than admit foolishness.

By all accounts, today's college campuses grow more intolerant by the day. We move closer to the old Soviet Empire, where political dissidents risked the gulag for even joking about Marxism. In the U.S., however, the hate crimes concern anything that touches on race, ethnicity, gender differences, diversity, and sexuality (see here). Even an old-fashioned ethnic joke almost guarantees mandatory counseling.

According to Greg Lukianoff writing in the Wall Street Journal — The Justice and Education departments issue a dangerous new speech code for colleges:

“The scandals roiling Washington over the past two weeks involve troubling government behavior that had been hidden—the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department's surveillance of the Associated Press, among others. Largely overlooked amid the histrionics has been a shocker hiding in plain sight. Last week, the Obama administration moved to dramatically undermine students' and faculty rights at colleges across the country.

The new policy was announced in a joint letter from the Education Department and Justice Department to the University of Montana. The May 9 letter addressed the results of a year-long joint investigation by the departments into the school's mishandling of several serious sexual-assault cases. The investigation determined that the university's policies addressing sexual assault failed to comply with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

But the joint letter, which announced a "resolution agreement" with the university, didn't stop there. It then proceeded to rewrite the federal government's rules about sexual harassment and free speech on campus.

If that sounds hyperbolic, consider the letter itself. The first paragraph declares that the Montana findings should serve as a "blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country." After outlining the specifics of the case, the letter states that only a stunningly broad definition of sexual harassment—"unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature"—will now satisfy federal statutory requirements. This explicitly includes "verbal conduct," otherwise known as speech.”

Skeptics need only look at the pervasiveness of campus speech codes, coerced sensitivity training, the mandatory injection of multicultural propaganda into courses, and other top-down censorship. Even an exposed hate crime hoax has become a "teachable moment." None of this existed in the 1950s and 1960s

Nevertheless, just when you thought that imposing the PC orthodoxy could not get any worse, it does. The latest example concerns the firing of Jason Richwine from the Heritage Foundation. Richwine's heresies can be found in his 2009 Harvard dissertation, not anything he said or did while employed at Heritage. He asserted that racial/ethnic groups differed in genetic-based IQ and then suggested that U.S. immigration policy might recognize these differences when dealing with immigration from Mexico.

Here is part of what Patrick Buchanan wrote in regarding Richwine’s firing from Heritage:

“Jason Richwine, the young conservative scholar who co-authored the Heritage Foundation report on the long-term costs of the amnesty bill backed by the "Gang of Eight," is gone from Heritage.

He was purged after The Washington Post unearthed his doctoral dissertation at the JFK School of Government.

Richwine's thesis:

IQ tests fairly measure mental ability. The average IQ of immigrants is well below that of white Americans. This difference in IQ is likely to persist through several generations.

And the potential consequences of this?

"A lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market."

Richwine defended his 166-page thesis before Harvard's George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser and Christopher Jencks, who once edited The New Republic. But while his thesis was acceptable at Harvard -- it earned Richwine a Ph.D. -- it has scandalized the Potomac priesthood.

Our elites appear unanimous: Richwine's view that intelligence is not equally distributed among ethnic and racial groups, and is partly inherited, is rankest heresy. Yet no one seems to want to prove him wrong.

Consider Richwine's contention that differences in mental ability exist and seem to persist among racial and ethnic groups.

In The Wall Street Journal last month, Warren Kozak noted that 28,000 students in America's citadel of diversity, New York City, took the eighth-grade exam to enter Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, the city's most elite high schools. Students are admitted solely on their entrance test scores.

Of the 830 students who will be entering Stuyvesant as freshmen this fall, 1 percent are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are white -- and 75 percent are Asian.

Now, blacks and Hispanics far outnumber Asians in New York. But at Stuyvesant, Asians will outnumber blacks and Hispanics together 19-to-1.

Is this the result of racially biased tests at Stuyvesant?

At Berkeley, crown jewel of the California university system, Hispanics, 40 percent of California's population and an even larger share of California's young, are 12 percent of the freshman class. Asians, outnumbered almost 3-to-1 by Hispanics in California, have almost four times as many slots as Hispanics in the freshman class. Another example of racial bias?

The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which measures the academic ability of 15-year-olds worldwide, found the U.S.A. falling to 17th in reading, 23rd in science, 31st in math.

Yet, Spain aside, not one Hispanic nation, from which a plurality of our immigrants come, was among the top 40 in reading, science or math.

But these folks are going to come here and make us No. 1 again?

Is there greater "underclass behavior" among Hispanics?

The crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans, while the Asian crime rate is about a third that of whites.

Among white folks, the recent illegitimacy rate was 28 percent; among Hispanics, 53 percent. According to one study a few years back, Hispanics were 19 times as likely as whites to join gangs.

What about Richwine's point regarding "social trust"?

Six years ago, in "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century," Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," wrote that after 30,000 interviews he found that ethnic and racial diversity can be devastating to communities and destructive of community values.

In racially mixed communities, Putnam wrote, not only do people not trust strangers, they do not even trust their own kind.

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down,' that is, to pull in like a turtle ... (to) withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

With the immigration bill granting amnesty to 12 million illegals, an open door to their dependents and a million new immigrants each year, almost all from the Third World, America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today. Yet, it was in L.A. that Putnam found social capital at its most depleted and exhausted.

If Richwine is right, America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor.

The issues Richwine raises go to the question of whether we shall survive as one nation and one people.

If our huge bloc of Hispanics, already America's largest minority at 53 million, is fed by constant new immigration, but fails for a couple of generations to reach the middle-class status that Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians and Poles attained after two generations, what becomes of our "indivisible" nation?

Rather than face this question, better to purge and silence the Harvard extremist who dared to raise it.”

It's pointless to debate this issue here, but let's just say the scientific evidence for this assertion satisfied his dissertation committee (which included the well-known liberal Christopher Jencks). Clearly, Richwine is not a crackpot, and the IQ/immigration nexus might warrant academic study.

Richwine's heresy has been widely (though often unfairly) condemned, but one such attack demands extra-special scrutiny, for it shines light into just how far campuses now go to burn witches. Here is part of a statement issued by 23 Harvard student organizations regarding Richwine's dissertation:

“Central to his claim is the idea that certain groups are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent than others. We condemn in unequivocal terms these racist claims as unfit for Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard University as a whole. Granting permission for such a dissertation to be published debases all of our degrees and hurts the University's reputation. Even if such claims had merit, the Kennedy School cannot ethically stand by this dissertation whose end result can only be furthering discrimination under the guise of academic discourse.”

In other words, though Richwine might be factually correct, his research should be condemned, since it tarnishes the Harvard degree and reputation and will only promote discrimination by giving it an academic veneer. Being offended now trumps intellectual freedom. Note well, the dissertation is already online, and there is zero chance of it being removed from the Harvard archives, so all of this denunciation is just speech-making, taking "a stand" against "hate." This is tantamount to Pope Urban VIII refusing to believe Galileo Galilei’s theories of heliocentrism because they believed that the planets revolved about the earth (geocentrism) because this what the Pope and Church always had believed and preached and the thought of people losing confidence in their dictum drove them to discredit Galileo. This is why he was punished. This is a perfect example of cognitive dissonance!

Ironically, absent this publicity, the dissertation would have remained obscure. Moreover, what harm will occur as a result of Richwine's assertions, regardless of veracity? Will the finally uncovered facts instigate violence? Will Hispanic workers be denied employment (or even fired) since employers now finally recognize their below-average. In short, other than getting a Harvard Ph.D. fired, this outrage accomplishes nothing.

How did this happen? Surely the 23 organizations are aware of academic freedom and the First Amendment. And surely they could read Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve and the rejoinders before condemning Richwine. Obviously, something is very wrong when Harvard students are so easily roused to stamp out Orwell’s 1984 thought crimes.

Here's how cognitive dissonance applies to these book-burning Harvard students. From kindergarten onward, every one of them undoubtedly encountered firsthand some minority students who performed less well academically (including in classes at Harvard). Most also read about the academic problems of these minorities, including the billions spent on failed programs like Head Start. They likely also encountered the disproportionate achievements of Asian and Jewish classmates, an inescapable firsthand reality that closely matches Richwine's data.

Simultaneously, their teachers often told them the very opposite: all groups — blacks, Asians, Hispanics, men, and women — possess equal intellectual abilities, and "diversity makes us strong." In effect, youngsters are told to disregard a plain-to-see reality — trust only what your teachers and textbooks tell you. Yes, test scores and professional attainment are unequal, but these just reflect environmental advantages. Better yet, race really doesn't exist; it is just a social construct.

How is this conflict between an unavoidable reality and school learning to be reconciled? The solution, as we suggest, is to fervently denounce any evidence contradicting the political orthodoxy. Recall the Soviet Union circa the 1980s — don't fall for the capitalist propaganda about life being better in the West.

There is even an older example of this cognitive dissidence in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. In Plato’s allegory he presented with a group of men chained to a wall in a cave facing a large, blank wall. Behind them a fire burns. People and animals pass in front of the fire casting distorted shadows on the wall. When one of the men is released and goes out of the cave and witnesses the real world he is astonished. When he returns to tell the men in the cave what he has seen they refuse to believe him. They are more comfortable with their environment and the whole of their society depends on the shadows on the wall.

This allegory, another example of cognitive dissidence, is what our public education and university system is fostering on the students of today.

Such cognitive gymnastics are not easy, so every contradictory fact has to be hounded down and destroyed. Constant vigilance is necessary, and as tension grows, the greater the necessary exertion. It is insufficient to just opine, "Well, I disagree." Obliterating infuriating evidence demands public approbation and hyperbole lest anyone doubt one's commitment to the PC orthodoxy. Condemnation is not about Richwine per se; it is about sustaining a belief that plainly differs from reality. Recall the infamous Two Minutes Hate of Orwell's 1984. Anything less fervent might permit a bit of doubt to survive, and who knows? Like a cancerous cell, it might metastasize and lead to Klan membership.

Thus understood, the condemnation of Richwine by Harvard undergraduates and his dismissal from the Heritage Foundation cannot be softened, let alone reversed, by lecturing them on academic freedom or the value of intellectual honesty. It is equally pointless to explain that vulnerable Hispanics are safe from a heretofore obscure Harvard dissertation (or that the federal government is better-suited to protecting them). Rather, outrage reflects a crisis of faith, an ever-widening chasm between the PC orthodoxy and an indisputable reality. The parallel might be a Harvard undergraduate who believes in Socialism taking a course on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. This would be tantamount to the prisoner in the cave.

This indignation suggests that such assaults will only worsen, and, correspondingly, fewer and fewer researchers will venture into career-ending territory. After all, there seems no end to futile budget-busting efforts to bring about an egalitarian fantasy while educators continue the propaganda. Millions of youngsters will continue to hear about the joys of racial/ethnic differences while personally witnessing a world of ethnic strife. Stamping out heresies to solidify the faith will also intensify as universities hire yet more "anti-hate" specialists who discover yet more heresies.

I recall one seeing university president in a TV interview who, when asked if he had read The Bell Curve, said that not only had he not read the book, but he would not even think about reading it. Such is today's life of the mind. What's next? Requiring all college freshmen to sign a loyalty oath promising to expunge all bad thoughts? In this sense they will all be prisoners in Plato’s cave.

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