Elizabeth Warren wants to know where the family lore blank is on the presidential application form?

Writing in the May 17 Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan defended Elizabeth Warren against Donald Trump’s calling her Pocahontas by arguing that Warren was “merely repeating family lore.”

That is b.s. to put it mildly. You can’t tell me that Warren didn’t know that attaching “Native American” to her applications for graduate school, professorships and grant applications didn’t give her a step up over other candidates. “Female and Native American. Wow. We want one of those,” said the law school dean who hired her at Harvard.

She can’t say she didn’t know she was benefitting from that claim without appearing out of it. Identity has become a primary qualifier for academic positions for decades. She had to know that, which is why she referred to herself as Native American.

And for Sullivan to accept Warren’s excuse as legitimate and also to say “She does have some such ancestry, but not very much” is also disingenuous. The results of the DNA test she took “cannot show that she or any other person is ‘NativeAmerican’” according to Jennifer Raff writing in Forbes Magazine.

In other words, Trump is entirely justified for his calling Warren Pocahontas because that’s what you do to people who cheat. You call them out. Thank goodness that name is sticking because it reminds people that when she had an opportunity to cheat to advance her career Warren didn’t hesitate. Is that the kind of person we want as president?

Elizabeth Warren Is Barking Up the Wrong Trees

Given her academic credentials and past political successes––having won her Senate seat twice––you’d think Elizabeth Warren would run a smart campaign for the Democrat Presidential nomination, but you’d be wrong. Polls show her below the top male contenders and she’s far behind in fund raising. Lately, her policy pronouncements sound desperate rather than calculated.

Tax the Richest

Warren began her campaign calling for an “ultra-millionaire tax.” She claims America needs to tax household net worth, not just income, on the basis of statistics that show the richest Americans are richer today than they were forty years ago. She claims that is due to government policies that facilitate wealth accumulation at workers’ expense.

(Workers is her word. It’s a term used by Communists and Socialists and goes back to Karl Marx and the 19th century. It’s not only slanted, but it’s intentionally imprecise. In socialist jargon everyone is a worker except capitalists.)

There is a false assumption underlying her calculation, which is that the same families who were super rich forty years ago are superrich today. If that were true, then we could consider her argument that government tax policy is a factor in keeping the rich rich, but it’s not true. Just as many of the top 25 corporations of 1975 have been replaced by new corporations today, many of today’s wealthiest families gained their wealth recently. They didn’t inherit their wealth. They earned it.

Her wealth tax also ignores that fact that the top wage earners in America already pay a hefty percentage of income taxes, which is why Warren wants to tax household net worth including assets held in trust, retirement assets (401k plan monies) and even assets held by minor children. This is a soak the rich scheme the consequences of which can only be bad for the economy. Why? The tax would force people to withdraw billions out of the stock and bond markets, which would slow economic growth and result in layoffs. Further, a significant portion of the collected money would have to pay the thousands of new IRS employees who would be necessary to assess the household wealth of millions of Americans. It could take one fulltime employee weeks per millionaire.

Warren Boards the Runaway Electoral College Wagon

Not satisfied to ride the tax the rich train, Warren joined the crowd clamoring to get rid of the Electoral College. “Everyone’s vote should count equally,” she argues. That would make sense if we were a country like Israel, whose population is around 10 million, but we are a federal republic made up of 50 states. To nationalize our electoral system taking political power away from the states would represent a dangerous step towards nationalizing the entire country, making the federal government all powerful and reducing state and local governments to puppet shows. That is exactly what the founders feared when they designed our constitution.

The Electoral College gives power to small states like Rhode Island, Utah and Mississippi. Abolishing the Electoral College would lead to candidates spending all their time in the five or six most populace states. It’s a terrible idea and even worse that a law professor who should know better endorses it.

Chasing Bernie: A Bad Plan

Off to a slow start Warren seemingly saw Bernie Sanders leading the early polls and decided to compete with Bernie by coming out with her “universal free college and cancellation of student loan debt” plan. Some of her analysis of the problem makes sense––in particular the fact that public college tuitions have escalated faster than inflation disadvantaging lower income families.

There two major problems with her plan, however––her analysis of the source of the problem is skewed and her solution introduces a measure of unfairness and false hope.

Warren claims it’s “virtually impossible” for a young person to achieve what she achieved––rising from a poor small town family to become a teacher, law professor and U.S. Senator. The basis for this unsubstantiated and rather absurd claim is the high cost of higher education. Costs have increased faster than inflation and many students are forced to borrow money, but what’s to stop someone from following a similar career path once they graduate? To make that claim, Warren makes assertions that are patently false.

Why has college become unaffordable? Warren says it’s become the state and federal government would “rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families.” This is a backhand slap at the Trump tax cut, but Warren admits elsewhere the high tuition problem is not recent in the making. It’s been building for decades, under both Democrat and Republican presidents and governors.

She can’t resist taking a whack at capitalism claiming government has “stood by as employers demanded higher credentials while offloading the cost of getting those credentials onto workers.” What? Job credentials reflect the skills and knowledge required to do the job. Government has no role in determining what skills an employer feels an applicant should possess for any particular job title. I don’t even think the Soviet Union went that far.

Then she claims employers have not passed along in the form of wage increases the profits they’ve earned as a result of the skills workers bring to the job. That must come from some academic statistician who decided to find figures that matched his or her bias because the fact of the matter is that employers today are paying high wages for skilled workers. Ask any computer programmer if s/he is compensated fairly in relation to the cost of his/her education!

How Much Will It All Cost?

Warren admits her debt cancellation plan would cost $640 billion and universal free college would double the cost of the total program. Where will $1.25 TRILLION dollars to pay for this come from? The ultra-millionaire tax program, of course.

Fine, except Bernie Sanders wants that money to pay for universal health care, Beto O’Rourke wants it to battle climate change, and Warren herself needs some of that money for her universal child care program.

Warren should know that chasing Bernie’s socialist student crowd is political suicide. Students don’t register to vote at the same rate as older adults and their turnout rate is poor. Young adults 21 to 30 may be attracted to all these give-aways, but retired people and those who are in the middle of a career, whether married and raising a family or not, have gained enough life experience to understand these politicians are playing a zero sum game. Here’s why: if you start taking money out of the pockets of the 75,000 richest families, they will not only fight back with tax accountants and lawyers challenging the IRS’ every move, but her program will reduce their wealth resulting in revenue shortfalls. Then what happens when all those giveaway programs can’t pay their bills?

Warren has not separated herself from the crowd because she’s playing the same game as Bernie, Beto and the rest––promising what can’t be delivered with full knowledge that she’ll have to have someone to blame from preventing nirvana. Guess who that would be? That’s right: Republicans and corporations. The next step would be a call for outright socialism. Before that could arrive, however, hopefully Americans would take a look at the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela and decide if that’s the future they want for themselves and their off-spring.

Masculinity Under Attack

Gillette, the makers of shaving products, is trying to win over millennial and younger males by attacking masculinity. A recent video advertisement disparages the notion that boys should be boys, and Gillette is not alone. Much of the entertainment and news industry follow the same formula: white men, business owners (capitalists), and the United States are the source of the world’s problems. All women, all non-whites, and all people whose sexual preferences are not heterosexual are victims.

Beyond the stupidity of alienating millions of existing customers, Gillette’s throwing in with the victimized political movement should serve as a warning sign. The price of overthrowing nature with regard to gender can only lead to the decay of the overall society, to the undermining of natural human attributes––the desire to compete, the desire to achieve, the desire for comfort, and the desire for shared progress.

There is a necessary biological difference between males and females, and I’m not referring solely to the reproductive function.

The vast majority of male children approach life differently. They interact with the physical world differently. They learn differently. That is not to say there are not males who, for biological reasons, have feminine tendencies, which society should accept and not ridicule, but they are the exception.

One danger of a feminized culture is that normal males will believe themselves the source of pain to women and minorities and try to become what they are not. That is what Gillette is preaching and it must be challenged.

Victimology is being taught at all levels of our educational system. Why is it so prevalent even in elementary school? One reason is the power that is gained by women and racial minorities. Today minorities and women receive favored treatment in admissions and hiring throughout American society. Today to be a woman means you are automatically favored to win an election if your opponent is a male. Yet women and minorities continue to claim they are disadvantaged, treated unfairly and damaged by their status.

Sadly, those practicing victimology are hypocrites for affiliating themselves with real victims. Real victims, such as women and gays in Muslim countries, are ignored while phony victims use their victim status to gain unfair advantage in our society. Black Africans are also ignored victims of Islam––in the Sudan and Nigeria for example, but Muslims in the U.S. and Europe see the benefit of claiming victim status and attempt to join the pity party under the label of “intersectionality” the notion that all victims have in common the same oppressors.

Parents must challenge teachers who make boys feel their natural boyish behavior is bad. They must not allow their children to attend colleges where victimology is the underlying educational philosophy. The Ivies are among the major offenders in that regard. We must stop making donations to such institutions.

Companies like Gillette and its parent Proctor and Gamble must be boycotted to show the majority of Americans oppose the victim ideology that makes natural maleness an evil, and candidates who run on victim platforms must be defeated at the polls.

There are bad men in the world, but there are also bad women. There are bad whites, but there are also bad Blacks, bad Hispanics, bad Asians, and bad Christians, bad Jews, etc. Bad actors are not confined to one group and membership in any group should not automatically consign someone to possessing certain characteristics. That is the kind of thinking we fought against 50 years ago when we attacked segregation and opened the doors to women and blacks as equals.

The United States is still the land of opportunity––a beacon and a model to the rest of the world. That status, however, is under attack by practitioners of victimology, by those who would repress masculinity, and by those who would replace free speech and free enterprise with constrained speech and socialism. The war is escalating. Who will win will be determined by each of us.

What Cost Diversity? A Review of Heather Mac Donald’s The Diversity Delusion

Heather Mac Donald, The Diversity Delusion; How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin’s Press, 2018

What are we to make of today’s university culture where students may not be subjected to spoken or written words that make them feel uncomfortable, where diversity is achieved by abolishing objective standards, not just in the social sciences but in the STEM fields as well, and where the diversity bureaucracy is actively undermining the centuries-old mission of higher education. That is a big subject, but in The Diversity Delusion Heather Mac Donald breaks it down into its constituent parts and exposes the naked underbelly of the attack on Western Civilization that is taking place in our most esteemed universities and colleges.

Citing example after example, statistic after statistic, Mac Donald explains the origins of race and gender pandering and details its destructive impact, both on the production of knowledge and the preparation of young people for adulthood.

One is hard-pressed to select the most egregious example of this destructive environment. Is it preventing conservatives like Mac Donald from speaking to student groups? Is the destroying the reputations and careers of faculty who deviate from the new norm? Is the absurdity of rewarding claims of microaggression by privileged students at Yale, Brown, and Princeton with safe spaces, non-objective grading, and high-paying jobs as diversity counselors and administrators? Is it turning colleges into re-education centers for anyone who might honor color blindness, merit or hard work?

Not Just the Ivies

Mac Donald tells us the problem doesn’t just exist at the Ivies and on California campuses. It has spread to places like Evergreen State College in the state of Washington where a professor was physically attacked when he failed to obey students’ demand that white faculty cancel their classes at the bequest of minority students, and at Middlebury College in Vermont, where students physically assaulted a professor, giving her a concussion. Her “crime?” Having supported the invitation of a conservative to speak on campus.

Mac Donald tackles race and gender diversity pandering separately, then focuses on the bureaucratization of victimhood followed by an overview on the subversion of the mission of higher education.

Enforcing Equality

Affirmative action seemed necessary and logical when it first instituted fifty years ago, but today it has grown into an industry that suppresses evidence of its failures and punishes businesses as well as colleges if they cannot find a sufficient number of qualified minority applicants for enrollment and faculty positions. The worst example of this might be the University of California system, which ignores the 1996 initiative passed by the state’s voters that bans race and gender preferences in government and education. California not only insists minorities (and women) be hired but refuses to accept objective measurements of candidates’ qualifications, all but asserting that minority status alone means the candidate is qualified for the job.

That is bad, but what makes matters worse is that minority students can ruin careers simply by claiming an instructor has used words or taught concepts that make them feel victimized. When any such accusation is levied, university administrators automatically treat the accused as guilty. Due process is flawed if practiced and when the accusations border on absurdity, as in the case of the professor who was censured for issuing t-shirts with his picture for a class softball game, the administration typically thanks the students for calling out the offender. The source of the professor’s aggression? His picture reminded someone that he was the author of a study that challenged the effectiveness of affirmative action. The idea of challenging a politically protected policy has become unacceptable in today’s university.

The damage being done by the fiction that American universities are dangerous places for minority students who must be protected even if it means certain authors cannot be read, certain subjects cannot be taught, and objective grading must be dispensed with, is uncalculable. Advocates for minority advancement ought to be challenging these excesses for they are damaging to minority students and to society as a whole.

Sex Toys and Victimhood

While minorities clamor for more representation, Mac Donald reports that a majority population in our colleges continues to claim victimhood at the expense of fact and reason. That group is women.

Spurred by an under reported problem of sexual misconduct on some campuses thirty years ago, universities responded by manufacturing a campus rape crisis where the definition of rape is whatever each campus perceives it to be. In response to this “crisis,” bureaucracies have mushroomed resulting in dozens of high-paid positions with heavily-staffed rape crisis centers designed to serve an artificially-created population of victims.

Undermining the rape crisis claim is another bureaucrat-enriched activity on college campuses: support for unbridled sex. While “freshman counselors organize games of Sex Jeopardy and pass out tips for condom and dental dam use,” (p. 117) rape crisis counselors encourage women to report attempted and actual rapes even when the victims had been having consensual sex with the accused for months. While one part of the academic bureaucracy promotes a promiscuous hookup culture, another claims one in five women are subjected to rape or attempted rape during their college years.

Oddly, the proponents of doing more to protect women do not want rape cases to be handled by America’s criminal justice system. The reason for this might have something to do with the fact that few such cases gain convictions and many turn out to be frauds, such as the infamous Duke lacrosse gang rape case, the University of Virginia Rolling Stone case, or Columbia University’s ‘mattress girl.’

Mac Donald reports that the campus rape crisis has spread into the work place where ‘overly broad definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct are now being legitimized,’ in the words of a female attorney who has dealt with these cases. Ironically, as Mac Donald points out “[w]estern culture is in fact the least patriarchal society in human history.” (p. 159) Echoing the bureaucratization on campus, the #MeToo movement has spawned a campaign to fill businesses with counseling staffs and to guarantee woman are given priority in hiring decisions without regard for qualifications.

The Ideology of Victimhood

The transformation of academia into centers for political indoctrination has been advanced by an ideology that justifies the institutionalization of their claims. Intersectionality is the theory that everything wrong in the world comes from an interconnected historical enemy headquartered in the U.S.––namely, white males and capitalism. This is the source of slavery and racism, of patriarchy and misogyny, and of climate change and exploitation of minorities and women.

That teaching young adults to think of themselves as victims is the opposite of what they need to learn seems lost to the bureaucrats whose jobs depend on their finding more and more examples of oppression. At institution after institution, diversity offices and counselors mushroom as salaries out-pace those paid tenured professors. Administrators join the chorus, advancing the thesis that their institutions have done much harm to women and minorities in the past and must make amends. Many, like Yale’s Peter Salovey, give in to any outrage outbreak with more money for diversity programs and mandatory diversity indoctrination.

As Mac Donald stresses, the mission of every academic institution ought to be the “transmission of knowledge, pure and simple.” There’s plenty of evidence that students arrive on college campuses ignorant of the fields of knowledge that underlay our civilization. Unfortunately, many leave in worse shape than when they entered, having been indoctrinated by faculty steeped in the “hermeneutics of suspicion”––the assumption that all language carries hidden meanings that either subvert or reinforce power structures.

Mac Donald challenges the assumption that transmitting knowledge once featured in Western Civilization courses is dangerous to minorities and women by quoting Frederick Douglas and W.E.B. Du Bois––two of the heroes of black liberation, who pay tribute to men like Aristotle and Shakespeare whose ideas inspired them and gave them the intellectual courage to state their piece.

Heather MacDonald’s study is so thorough and irrefutable that it cannot get fair treatment by the mainstream media. Don’t look for her book to be listed under the Washington Post’s 50 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year or to be reviewed by the New York Times. Yet, it should be required reading for members of Congress, the bureaucrats at all state and federal education departments, and students studying to become school administrators. It’s time to go back to doing what colleges and universities were created to do, which ironically will benefit minorities and women much more than coddling, indoctrination, and unmerited advancement.

The Crisis at Oberlin: The Case of Joy Karega-Mason and the larger issues it raises

As an Oberlin College graduate (class of 1965), I was dismayed to learn of blatant anti-Semitic and anti-American Facebook shares and posts by a member of the Oberlin faculty. The things Joy Karega-Mason put up on Facebook should disqualify her from any teaching job at any high school or university in the country, but I believe this is the tip of the iceberg and that a deeper problem exists that cannot be ignored.

What did Karega-Mason post that would lead me to the conclude that she ought not remain a teacher? Shortly after the massacre at the offices of the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo, she shared a graphic of an ISIS terrorist pulling off a mask portraying Benjamin Netanyahu, suggesting Netanyahu is some kind of front for or ally of ISIS. She went on to claim that Netanyahu came to Paris not to mourn the victims but to make sure French President Hollande knew the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, was behind the attacks.

In another post she indicated her support for Louis Farrakan’s allegation that Jews were behind 9/11. On another occasion, she repeated slanderous accusations about the Rothschild banking family. In her words, “the Rothschild-led banksters exposed and hated and out of economic options to stave off the coming global deflationary depression, are implementing the World War III option.”

Further, she criticized the Obama administration for a grant given to Holocaust survivors, suggesting Obama was nothing but a tool, accused Jews of being behind the shooting down of the Malaysian airline over the Ukraine, and she repeated the notion that ISIS is run by Mossad AND the CIA.

Academic Freedom and the First Amendment

Doesn’t the first amendment protect posting these types of views on Facebook? The first amendment only protects her from governmental attempts to silence her, but that’s not what’s at stake. We’re talking about whether the things she posted disqualify her from her job as a college instructor.

What about the concept of academic freedom? Does academic freedom protect her right to post or share documents that lack any factual basis and that are hurtful to a group of people?

Some argue academic freedom protects her right to have unpopular opinions, but again that’s not what’s at issue. Having unpopular opinions is one thing, posting them on a public social media site is another. Some believe academic freedom protects those posts if she keeps her views out of the classroom. I disagree on both counts.

Facebook posts are public, and as such they are available to students at the college as well as to those considering applying to Oberlin. To see such beliefs expressed by a faculty member is clearly deleterious to the college’s reputation. Further, they might intimidate all but the boldest Jewish student from speaking up in class on virtually any subject for fear of being attacked while other students might feel the need to convey to Karega-Mason that they agree with her in order to obtain a passing grade. Finally, what does it say about someone who believes such calumnies that Israel/Jews (she conflates the one with the other) were behind 9/11? How can Oberlin trust Karega-Mason, whose position is in the department of rhetoric and composition, to distinguish for students what is propaganda and what is reasoned argument when she fails that test herself?

If a janitor or cook had posted such materials, s/he would certainly be disciplined and probably fired. Why? The college must protect students and faculty from a person who might take such beliefs to the next level and engage in violent acts against Jewish students or faculty. Does not the college have an equal obligation to protect the minds of its students from someone who cannot distinguish the mad ravings of Louis Farrakhan from rational, fact-based analysis of an issue?

While I am dismayed by Karega-Mason’s anti-Semitism and by her willful refusal to accept that label as a legitimate criticism of her posts, what concerns me to a greater degree is what this situation says about American higher education in general and Oberlin in particular.

The Big Picture

When I was an undergraduate, faculty didn’t express their personal political beliefs in the classroom. I didn’t know whether my teachers were Democrats or Republicans, or even how they felt about the civil rights movement, which was prominently in the news. They kept their beliefs to themselves for a reason. College faculty are in a position of power vis-à-vis their students. They can exert undue influence on their students, influence that could damage the students’ career prospects as well as their relationships with other students and their family. An instructor’s mission is not to indoctrinate students into whatever political or social principles they hold to be true, but to give students the tools to make their own reasoned decisions.

To demonstrate that the problem at Oberlin is not just one assistant professor’s being beyond the pale, what can be said about a course that’s being offered under the title, “Ideal vs Practice of US Democracy: Gender, Race, and the War on Terror?” Here’s the first part of the course description: “This course examines the fundamental sociopolitical tension resulting from the discrepancy between democratic ideals and democratic practice in the U.S.”

Let me clear, I do NOT object to studying the tension resulting from our failure to achieve our ideals. I do, however, have a problem with the word “fundamental” because it suggests a fact that ought to be one of the questions up for discussion. I also find the lack of any time frame to be problematic. An open-ended time frame for the topic invites the danger of imposing today’s morality on the past. In fact, I suspect that’s intentional on the part of the instructor who designed the course. S/he wants to condemn American democracy by judging past events by today’s standards.

Here’s the rest of the description, “Through an in-depth study of three themes – gender, race, and the War on Terror – we will analyze the gaps between the democratic system of government we imagine ourselves to have, and the reality of historical and contemporary discrimination, exclusion, and curtailment of rights.”

Do you see the problem? The description states very clearly that the instructor has already reached a conclusion about the subject matter, which is what the students who take the course will “learn.” The instructor might as well have included the following statement in the description: “Students will not be allowed to form their own opinions. Anyone disagreeing with the thesis that our democratic system of government is imaginary and that the reality is discrimination, exclusion and curtailment of rights, will fail the course.”

 The Proper and Improper Way to Teach

This is not education. It is indoctrination.

Need I remind readers that the social sciences are built around theories? It’s the theories not the facts that college students need to be exposed to, and they need to learn the tools of analysis pertinent to each field they study. Even when interpretations of events are supported by data––demographic or financial, for example––competing theories are always possible. The goal of instruction should be to help students learn how to use various techniques of investigation to support their own explanatory theories.

In the case of discrepancy versus reality of American democracy, the instructor might offer readings from authors offering a variety of opinions and then ask students to marshal facts in support of or against one of the competing positions. The instructor should focus on what makes a good argument, and not tell the class her/his position on the topic.

The class description of the Ideal vs Practice of American Democracy suggests the instructor plans on teaching her conclusions to the class as fact. That is a fundamental violation of the mission of college instruction. I don’t know the name of the instructor, but I assume this is not the only course taught at Oberlin that violates this basic principle

My intuition on this point is supported by Ms. Karega-Mason’s having been hired in the first instance and by Oberlin President Krislov’s initial response to learning of her Facebook posts. Admitting the posts were hurtful to him personally, Krislov wrote Oberlin “respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff and alumni to express their personal views.” By that statement, Krislov abdicated his role as a college administrator, which in part is to assure that a member of the faculty is not violating the college’s mission!

Oberlin and American higher education are in deep trouble. The social sciences, history, philosophy and other disciplines are being taken over by commissars, by ideologues, by educational activists who have little regard for the notion that students need to learn skills and knowledge, not be taught opinions as if they were facts. It will be interesting to see whether these events lead Oberlin to address the deeper problem or try to resolve the Karega matter as if it is an anomaly.