Monday, April 29, 2013

Gun and Knife Fights

The sad case of Kiet Thanh Ly’s stabbing spree provides a lot of material to work with.  My thoughts thus far:

  • Ly is described in the mainstream press as a “South Vietnamese national”.  Since “South Vietnam” isn’t an actual country anymore, this implies refugee status, although at least one report claims he is here illegally.  But Ly is also described as a career criminal with a rap sheet going back to 1997.  Law enforcement thus had ample cause and opportunity to return him to his country of origin, even under Napolitano’s “enforcement priorities”.  Yet, somehow, this didn’t happen.  Will it happen now that he has attracted national attention?  The World Wonders.
  • Ly reportedly yelled at his victims, “You racist [expletive] ... you killed my people ... you should all die!”  If Ly is really a South Vietnamese refugee, this would be somewhat ironic, considering that U.S. policy in Vietnam, however misbegotten it may have been, was to prevent North Vietnam from killing Ly’s “people”.
  • Yet I think it unlikely that Ly learned to talk this way on his own.  I’m guessing that he’s at least a partial product of America’s public education system, and it never seems to occur to the Leftists that run it that its program, designed (I assume) to inculcate guilt and self-loathing among Whites, has a far different effect on our increasingly non-White student populace.
  • The events themselves could have been written by the NRA’s PR department.  A knife-wielding career criminal goes on a rampage (See?  Gun control would have made no difference) but was brought down by an armed CCW holder.  Perfect.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Familiar Story

I saw the movie Les Misérables on DVD, which in due course led to reading about the June Rebellion:
The republicans made their move at the public funeral of the popular General Lamarque on June 5. Groups of demonstrators took charge of the cortege and directed it to the Place de la Bastille. They were reinforced by Polish, Italian, and German refugees, who had fled to Paris in the aftermath of crackdowns on republican and nationalist activities in their homelands, as well as by workers and local youth. [Emphasis added.]
Which reminded me of Steve’s bon mot:
It's funny how the refugee system works. It's almost as if foreigners who are really good at getting their neighbors to hate them seem to wind up as refugees in America more than foreigners who are good at getting along with their neighbors.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Moving Along . . .

There are two separate narratives taking shape in the MSM. The first is typified by this J. Krishnamurti-attributed saying making the rounds on Facebook:

So you see, any particularist attachment (especially, it goes without saying, among you American Christians) is itself a manifestation of violence, preceding any, um, actual violence that may proceed from it. Likewise, UC-San Bernadino professor Brian Levin, head of the Orwellian-sounding director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, had this to say:

This line of reasoning – all religious nationalism is equally bad – is so empirically and morally false that even as ardent a Liberal as Bill Maher is calling bullsh!t.  But more problematically, its policy implications are tricky:  even if, like Prof Levin, you pretend to believe that Christians are just as bad as Muslims, it doesn’t follow that you should want more Muslims immigrating to the U.S.

A fully mainstream, although somewhat more subtle, expression can be found in the NYT:

On Monday, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Boston, a Cambridge mosque, said Mr. Tsarnaev disrupted a talk there in January, insulting the speaker and accusing him of deviating from Islam by comparing the Prophet Muhammad to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was the second time he had disrupted an event at the mosque because he felt that its religious message was too liberal, said the spokesman, Yusufi Vali, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

See! Just like all those nasty TEA-partiers, hating on MLK!

The second line of attack is the dominant one:  nothing to see here, move along.  This is the reasoning that suffuses the MSM, so much so that it is hard to pick the best example.  But this Atlantic article will suffice (H.T.:  Steve, who has done a Yoeman’s service accumulating these articles):

That the brothers Tsarnaev are more than the labels we would hastily apply to them is obvious, I know. Then again, labels are especially tempting amidst the twin confusions of breaking news and municipal lockdown. Stories like the one that has now been shorthanded as the "Boston Bombing," or the "Marathon Bombing" -- among them "Aurora," "Newtown," "Columbine" -- have their cycles. And we have entered the time in the cycle when, alleged culprits identified, our need for answers tends to merge with our need for justice. We seek patterns, so that we may find in them explanations. We confuse categories -- "male," "Muslim" -- with cause. We focus on contradictions: He had a girlfriend, and killed people. She was a mother, and a murderer. And we finally take refuge in comforting binaries -- "dark-skinned" or "light-skinned," "popular" or "loner," "international" or "homegrown," "good" or "evil" -- because their neat lines and tidy boxes would seem to offer us a way to do the thing we most crave right now: to put things in their place.

The problem is that there is no real place for the Boston bombings and their aftermath, just as there was no real place for Aurora or Columbine or Newtown. Their events were, in a very literal sense, outliers: They are (in the U.S., at least) out of the ordinary.

Steve observes:

Now this is the kind of intelligent-sounding boilerplate that gets churned out whenever anybody from a vibrant demographic does anything stereotypical. To extrude this kind of text, you don't have to actually know anything. In fact, the implicit message is fundamentally anti-knowledge: do not notice patterns, do not see what is in front of one's nose because one should be stabbing oneself in the eyeballs with Occam's Butterknife.

Exactly.  But I’m not sure this is going to work much better than all-religions-are-equal.  A lot of people are learning a lot about Chechnya, and Chechens, and Beslan, and the organized crime.  And I hopeful that they aren’t going to buy the story that there’s nothing to see here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Perils of Globalization

So.  Chechen Muslim immigrants, then.

Here’s a reminder (H.T.:  Steve) that the U.S. helped the Russians take out Dzhokhar’s namesake.  But I’ve also read reports that Islam weighs more heavily on the lad’s mind.

Although I’m too lazy to Google the link, Jonah Goldberg once referred to Islam (or “radical Islam”, whatever) as “Globalization for Losers”.  Pithy, but its too bad Goldberg, and the people he represents, can’t think more critically about the implications of that phrase beyond name-calling.

In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, we see the familiar pattern emerging.  Young Muslim men come to the West from a backwater.  Strangers in a strange land, they find themselves unable to assimilate into a country that doesn’t even know what that means anymore.  But if not Americans, who should they be?  Chechen nationalists?  Personally, I cheered the Chechens back in the early ‘90s during the initial success of their independence movement.  But, that ship sailed, and would probably earn them dumb looks in America today anyway.  But, Islam!  Now that’s the ticket to respect from all quarters.  It has an international network striking blows against the West, and the West itself fawns over Islam to show its Respect for Diversity.  How better to demonstrate their allegiance than to blow something up?

Once America offered real incentives to immigrants to identify with its founding stock.  This path was denied to the descendants of Black slaves, obviously, but it was more or less open to everyone else.  But then came the Civil Rights laws and Diversity™.  Now the incentives are completely reversed.

The Civil Rights laws are set in stone, and Diversity™ is, if anything, even more entrenched, having permeated our entire public ecosystem.  So, really, reducing immigration is the strongest ground on which we can fight.  By strongest, I mean we have a maybe 10% chance of success as opposed to, what, 0.1%?

Let’s face it: the Marathon bombers, in the grand scheme of things, are mainly a dramatic nuisance. Again, I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would guess that run-of-the-mill street crime caused more death and injuries across Massachusetts, let alone America, than these two.  Reading between the lines, this attack may have struck a blow against, if anything, “comprehensive immigration reform,” a.k.a., amnesty.  Which is ironic.  If immigrants could just avoid . . . being themselves for just long enough, the national media could continue to ignore their primary weapons:  culture, and demography.  But now, alas for our elites, everyone is starting to ask why, exactly, these two were even allowed into America in the first place.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fact-checking Sirota

From Salon (H.T.: Steve):

Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American

There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats


Every word of this is a lie.

As we now move into the official Political Aftermath period of the Boston bombing — the period that will determine the long-term legislative fallout of the atrocity — the dynamics of privilege will undoubtedly influence the nation’s collective reaction to the attacks. That’s because privilege tends to determine: 1) which groups are — and are not — collectively denigrated or targeted for the unlawful actions of individuals; and 2) how big and politically game-changing the overall reaction ends up being.

This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.

In fact, although whites are no more likely to be mass shooters than their bare percentage of the population would predict, they are routinely and collectively blamed for all of them.

Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters.

In fact, the bodies of terror victims are barely cold before liberal politicians, usually in the teeth of the evidence, being blaming conservatives.

Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.

In fact, Al Qaeda is, or was, a “larger conspiracy”, awash in Saudi money and ensconced in Islamic safe harbors, when they perpetrated the attacks on 9/11.  And all these “law enforcement actions, military operations, civil liberties legislations and foreign policy shifts” have served as a mainly temporary distraction from what our policy should have actually been:  the repatriation of all Muslims.

“White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation,” writes author Tim Wise.

In fact, this sentence would literally be true if the the word “white” was replaced by “non-white”.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Econ 11/23/12

I don’t understand the economics of “Black Friday”, so named (apparently) because it’s the day of the year that retailers start turning a profit.  Doesn’t the discounting undermine this objective?

Some possibilities:

  • The discounts are only offered to the most price sensitive buyers, screened by their willingness to stand in line outdoors in the cold for a couple of hours waiting for a chance to buy that television for which they would never pay full-sticker.  This is known in economics as “price discrimination”, the same process behind, for instance, coupons.  But it still requires the retailer to sell the television at a profit, even if it is a much reduced profit.  Does the retailer still have a margin after the discounting?
  • I would be inclined to think that competition in the age of online shopping would have brought retail profit margins in general down to the “indifference curve” (another econ concept).  Yet the discounts offered on Black Friday are below even the internet pricing, sometimes a lot below.  This means that the retailers are taking a loss or the economy-wide retail markup is huge for the rest of the year.  Neither seems likely.
  • Retailers might be counting on shoppers to buy non-discounted items on their visit.  Best Buy, for instance, could sell you a TV at a loss and then charge you $80 for the Rocketfish HDMI cable you need to connect it.  Wal-Mart might count on shoppers with money burning holes in their pockets to buy full-priced items when they learn that the discounted items were sold to the first four people through the door.  If true, it shakes my faith in the financial probity of Black Friday shoppers.

But I don’t actually know the answer.  Any ideas?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Φ is a bad upper-class parent . . .

Returning again to the Education Next article from last post, there were a number of things that jumped out at me.  For instance, this description of parenting styles:

The cultural differences between the newcomers and the old-timers in gentrifying neighborhoods can be easily, though inadequately, summarized: white, upper-middle-class families prefer a progressive and discursive style of interaction with their children, both at home and in school, and lower-income, nonwhite families prefer a traditional or authoritarian style of interaction with their children in these same venues. Annette Lareau’s book, Unequal Childhoods, delves deeply into these contrasting styles and how they play out over a lifetime. In my research on school choice, one cultural disparity came up repeatedly as a reason for why white parents leave the schools they are trying to integrate. They were put off by near-constant yelling—from principals, teachers, school aides, and nonwhite parents who come to drop off and pick up their kids. The white parents were surprised to discover that not only is the authoritarian end of the schooling spectrum alive, which would be tolerable if not ideal, but also that their gentrifying neighborhood schools exhibit what these parents perceive to be an extreme and outdated education environment, characterized by strict discipline with yelling adults.

Avery (pseudonyms are used for all of my interviewees), a white mom who was clearly resigned to the pervasiveness of this norm at her newly integrating school, explained that she was leaving “primarily because of the discipline issues. I figured the older, the higher up you got, the more effect there would be on him. I didn’t know enough about the upper-grade teachers to automatically be comfortable, because I know there were some yellers in the bunch. And I didn’t want him to get a yeller. It’s a crapshoot every year who you’re going to get.”

Amber was “appalled” by what she “saw in the hallways and in the cafeteria with the way some of the teachers would speak to students.” She remembers many teachers “screaming at the students,” and quickly concluded that “the pre-K was fine, but there was no way she was going to see the kindergarten year of that school.”

Erich used the word “insanity” to express his disdain for the yelling and strictness norm, which he attributed primarily to the administration: “There was just a lot of yelling in the halls, a lot of screaming at the kids. If the kids were acting up they would be punished by not allowing them to go to recess. You need to give them more recess time if they are acting up! Punishing the whole class if one kid is acting up is insanity to me.”

Cindy’s son “hated” school, and she attributed it to a classroom that “was kind of disorganized. There was a lot of yelling and there was no standard of discipline in place.” Clearly trained in diplomatic speak, Cindy expanded on how the yelling drove her out of the school: “I do think it is a little strange when you’re walking down the halls of the school and you hear teachers shouting and screaming ‘shut up’ at the kids. That is not a good thing. Our kids get yelled at enough at home, but to have to go to school and get yelled at too, it is not a good thing. So, I just wanted out of the school at that point.”

Meredith was not just concerned about “the policing of kids” and the impact this was having on her own children, she was especially aggrieved by the way the yelling seemed to target the young black boys in the school. She described a scene in which the black boys were “being treated like prisoners, lined up against the wall, like they’re being incarcerated already!” She was clearly pained recalling this story: “It was so tragic, so, so tragic. You know I was so aware of my own privilege in the situation, knowing I could pull my kids out at any time. And there are some parents for whom this is their chance!”

Lisbeth was equally horrified by the way the school aides’ yelling always seemed to hone in on the black boys, and she told her principal, “They would never dare speak that way to my children. They speak that way to the black boys. So not only is it horrible for everybody, but they’re reinforcing a stereotype that black boys can be spoken to in a way that white boys and white girls are not spoken to.”

A couple of things here.  First, it does not seem to occur to any of these parents (although it occurs to the writer; more on this in a bit) that perhaps the authoritarian style might be necessary given the characteristics of the population the school serves.

But second . . . really, none of these people ever yell at their kids?  I mean, I attended a variety of public schools in my youth, urban, suburban, and rural.  And yelling was a regular feature, particularly, though not exclusively, from the male teachers.  I suspect I would be disconcerted to witness yelling at my children’s lily-white little school, but if I did, I would make a point of warning my children, “it better not be you upsetting your teacher like that!”

I’m a yeller.  I would characterize it as “speaking forcefully,” but my children call it yelling.  I don’t start off yelling.  But when the “discursive style of interaction” fails, as it often does, I escalate as necessary.  My prejudice is that parents who claim to “never yell” have naturally better behaved children than we do . . . at least so far.  But I will also allow that “naturally better behaved” is disproportionately likely to occur among upper middle class Whites than poor Blacks.

In Other People’s Children, Lisa Delpit explores the dissimilar styles of communication exhibited by people from different racial and class backgrounds, and how these differences might have a negative impact on learning. For example, Delpit sees a problem when a typical white, middle-class teacher uses a passive communication style with her low-income black students, such as asking them to take their seats instead of telling them to take their seats. She argues that this passive communication style is confusing because of low-income black children’s expectations of how authority figures should act, and this mismatch hinders their academic progress. She asserts that white, liberal educators who value student-centered pedagogy and soft, conversant, negotiated power end up alienating and confusing children who are used to explicit instructions and assertive, strong authority figures, a parenting style more common in the black community. My research suggests that this cultural mismatch also appears to work the other way. The teachers in predominantly poor, minority schools, who are reportedly mostly black and have adopted the more teacher-centered, authoritarian style of instruction that they view as appropriate for their students, are turning off white, upper-middle-class parents who want school climates similar to their own progressive homes, where problems are discussed. The “yelling” described by my interviewees could simply be a misperception of Delpit’s described assertiveness. What they think of as “yelling” might just be a firmness and directness that these parents are not used to, that is not part of their culture. Regardless, it hampers integration, because the white, upper-middle-class parents who send their children to schools in their gentrifying neighborhood do not want them spoken to in that way, whatever its label, and they often reconsider their schooling decision.

Okay, but the fact is that I remember being annoyed, as my own children now claim to be annoyed, when my parents ask them to do things in a manner that falsely indicates to them that they have a choice as to whether they must do the thing or not.  I remember distinctly telling my mother, when I was home from boarding school on break, “Look, if I must go to the Wednesday night prayer meeting, then tell me to go to the Wednesday night prayer meeting!  Because if you’re asking me to go, then my answer is that the Tuesday night Bible study is enough mid-week religiosity to get me through to Sunday.  So don’t lecture me about it anymore!”

And now, my older daughter calls me out on my own lecturing, to often humorous effect.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Neighborhood Defense, Ghetto Style

There are apparently strategies a neighborhood can follow, other than by being really expensive (although affluence plays a roll), to defend itself against, for want of a better word, “diversification”.  I live in such a neighborhood, yet still have only a weak idea how this actually works.

Much more obvious, however, is how minority neighborhoods defend themselves from gentrification.  Crime and “bad schools” are usually sufficient to keep White people away.  But this excellent article from Education Next, discussing the “cultural differences” between minority and White parents, inadvertently reveals a more direct method:  overt racial hostility:

The reaction of the principal in a gentrifying neighborhood’s school to the arrival of more-demanding parents largely determined whether the white, upper-middle-class families stayed at the school in spite of the yelling and other incidents, or left. Those school leaders skilled at bridging gentrification’s cultural divide were able to retain the newcomers. They assured the white parents that they were welcomed and valued members of the school community, even as they continued to hold the respect of the families who had long been part of the school. This took political savvy, and perhaps a special talent for code switching. It was easier to do in schools with a diverse nonwhite population, and in neighborhoods that were further along in the gentrification process, where the battle over who it belongs to isn’t as raw. Interviewees described those school leaders who were unable to meet the needs and expectations of both groups of parents quite negatively and identified the principals as the ultimate reason for their departure.

At Timothy’s school, for example, all of the white families I interviewed rated the teachers “very good,” “great,” or “excellent,” so the principal, Dr. Fox, had a solid starting point for retaining the new families. But the parents described Dr. Fox as exacerbating the cultural tensions, tensions stemming mostly from different expectations about lunch and recess, with his “race baiting” and by “bad-mouthing some parents in the neighborhood to other parents.” He reportedly said things like, “Oh these nouveau riche parents want to come in and take over, remember how our neighborhood used to be before all these nouveau riche people showed up?’” One parent described him as “acting like Al Sharpton.” Another said he fostered an “us-against-them environment,” and he allegedly sent “horrible, stupid, hostile, mean, petty, threatening” e-mails to two of the white parents at the school, accusing them of “trying to bring down a strong black man.”

Parents complained that Dr. Fox tried to turn any criticism about the school into a racial issue. Shawn described him as “thwarting every attack by saying, ‘It’s these white people, they’re racist, they want private school, they want this, they want that, they want to make this school into a cooperative,’ things that make no sense at all.” But if his goal was to drive away the white families, his tactics were effective. As Shawn concludes, “If you say enough of it, and people want to believe you, they’ll believe you. So, eventually, we all just sort of left, in fear and in shame. Having to take my daughter out of the school, it hugely undermines what I’m trying to teach her about race relations. It’s really weird; it’s a weird situation.”

Ask yourselves, if a majority White school were to greet incoming Black families like this, how fast do you think the USDOJ would be on them like a ton of bricks?  My bet:  pretty fast.

Furlough News

The details of the DoD’s sequester-driven civilian furlough continues to evolve.  Somehow the number of possible furlough days has been reduced from 22 to 14, beginning in July (if we have furloughs).  I’m not sure where the offsetting savings came from.

Commissaries will be closed on Mondays.

The base athletic center started charging admission.

On a positive note, word is that the “Child Development Centers” (a.k.a., day care) are exempt from the furlough.  So Choice Mommies will still get the full support of the government.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Rich Pay Taxes Too

Following Education Realist (whom I admire but nonetheless disagree with), I found the account of Bullis Elementary School:

In Silicon Valley, Bullis elementary school accepts one in six kindergarten applicants, offers Chinese and asks families to donate $5,000 per child each year. Parents include Ken Moore, son of Intel Corp.’s co-founder, and Steven Kirsch, inventor of the optical mouse.

Bullis isn’t a high-end private school. It’s a taxpayer- funded, privately run public school, part of the charter-school movement that educates 1.8 million U.S. children. While charters are heralded for offering underprivileged kids an alternative to failing U.S. districts, Bullis gives an admissions edge to residents of parts of Los Altos Hills, where the median home is worth $1 million and household income is $219,000, four times the state average.

Which pretty much sets the tone of the article:  rich white people are actually using tax dollars to educate their children!  The horrors!

Not all their tax dollars, mind you.  They are paying disproportionately more in taxes, and taking less than their per-student share of education dollars, which they must supplement with their own money:

Bullis has achieved this success while receiving about 60 percent of the conventional system’s public funding.

Parents in Los Altos Hills created Bullis in 2003 because they were angry after the district closed their neighborhood school, said Mark Breier, a founder of the school and former chief executive of

. . .

A foundation set up to help fund the school asks Bullis parents to donate at least $5,000 for each child they enroll. Those who can’t afford to pay should discuss the reason with a foundation member, “recognizing that other school families will need to make up the difference,” the foundation said on its website.

Donations are “purely voluntary,” Moore said. They are necessary because Bullis receives less public money than the district, which has a foundation that asks for $1,000 per child, Moore said. The Los Altos School District last year spent about $10,000 per student, according to state data. Bullis receives about $6,000 in public funding, primarily because it doesn’t qualify for money from a local tax that the school district receives. On average U.S. charter schools get 19 percent less local, state and federal money than traditional districts, according to a 2010 Ball State University study.

But none of this eases the recriminations:

“Bullis is a boutique charter school,” said Nancy Gill, a Los Altos education consultant who helps parents choose schools. “It could bring a whole new level of inequality to public education.”

The growing ranks of U.S. charter schools in affluent suburbs are pitting neighbor against neighbor and, critics say, undercutting the original goals of the charter movement. Families who benefit cherish extensive academic offerings and small classes. Those who don’t say their children are being shortchanged because the schools are siphoning off money and the strongest students, leaving school districts with higher expenses and fewer resources for poor, immigrant and special- needs kids.

. . .

A quarter of U.S. charter schools don’t participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, compared with 2 percent at conventional public schools, according to a 2010 study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

That means they aren’t serving a significant low-income population, Erica Frankenberg, co-author of the report and an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, said in an interview.

California’s 1992 charter law -- the second in the U.S., after Minnesota’s -- says schools should place “special emphasis” on “academically low-achieving” students and make an effort to reflect the “racial and ethnic balance” of the population in its district.

Last year, about 2 percent of Bullis students spoke English as a second language, compared with 11 percent in the district, county data show. Bullis had about half the percentage of Hispanic students or those with disabilities.

The charter school makes it tough for non English-speaking students to attend because it doesn’t have materials in Spanish, Doug Smith, a trustee on the Los Altos school board, said in an interview. Lower-income families aren’t even aware that the school is an alternative, he said.

. . .

“Bullis doesn’t fit with the spirit of the law,” said Gary Rummelhoff, a former president of the Santa Clara County Board of Education who sits on the board of a charter school in nearby San Jose. “It only existed to serve a very wealthy area.”

. . .

Along with leaving the district with the hardest-to-serve students, Bullis-related expenses have hurt the Los Altos school system in other ways, said Randy Kenyon, the assistant superintendent.

For each district student who attends Bullis, the system loses about $5,000 in per-pupil funding, Kenyon said. Los Altos pays about $300,000 a year for the school’s facilities, he said.

I will concede this much:  federal law requires a specific level of service for “special needs” children (a category that has expanded beyond Down’s children to include much more marginal cases like ADHD) irrespective of any other consideration.  Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t doubt the difficulties faced by handicapped children and their families, I would happily support any appropriation, consistent with a balanced budget, in their aid.  But like all other unfunded mandates, this one is wrong, and ought to be abolished.  Yet, for reasons I don’t understand (but for which I will take Education Realist at his word), the only way to escape these mandates is through a charter school.

But otherwise, the reasoning on display here is nothing less than public school clericalism:  ALL YOUR TAX ARE BELONG TO US!  And if you’re rich, then you deserve whatever we dish out to you, including closing your neighborhood school.

I dissent.  No family has a presumptive right to dictate to another family what their educational options should be, and this doesn’t become less true for the White and affluent citizens of Los Altos.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Rosas Are Red; Violence Ensues . . .

My daughter brought this home from school the other day.  It’s from a February 2013 edition of Scholastic News (a.k.a., Weekly Reader).

Remembering Rosa Parks - Scholastic News Feb 201302152013_0000

Let’s . . . unpack this a bit.

Imagine being told to give up your seat on a bus because of your skin color.

Because race = “skin color”.

Before the 1960s, that’s how life was for may African-Americans in parts of the United States.  Rosa Parks helped change that.  Parks, who died in 2005, would have been 100 years old on February 4.  The impact of her brave actions can still be seen today.


Parks, who lived in Montgomery, Alabama, thought that was unfair – and decided to do something about it.

This, I will allow, is a more accurate portrait of events than I received from the textbooks of my own youth:  Rosa Parks was an innocent old lady who sat at the front of the bus because she was tired.  But still nothing about her longstanding activism with the NAACP, nothing about its search for a compelling test case, nothing about Claudette Colvin.  And no, none of this makes a difference if your prior is that segregation was The Worst Thing In The World.  So why not tell the whole story.

In researching this post, I learned (or rather, confirmed one of several different accounts that I had heard but hadn't bothered to check) the details of Montgomery's bus segregation policy. There wasn't actually a "Black section" and a "White section". Whites filled up the bus from the front working back. Blacks had to pay their fares at the front, then exit the bus to go the rear entrance (running the non-zero probability that the low-status, troglodytic driver would simply leave them -- this actually happened to Parks some years before her protest), and fill the bus towards the front. When the bus filled, the forward most Black row had to leave their seats for the benefit of White passengers.

Now, this might not be as bad as it sounds, since in this scenario there could be vacant seats in the back as Blacks had got off. But in none of the accounts did I read that White passengers extended the same courtesy to Blacks by moving forward for empty seats. The (all-white) bus drivers had full discretion on how to reseat passengers to enforce segregation, and there isn't much evidence that they did this fairly. Even an unreconstructed segregationist should admit that this violates the spirit of Plessy. And in fact, at least initially, the Montgomery Bus Boycott only asked for a fixed demarcation.

Segregated public busses were declared unconstitutional by a Federal District Court in Browder vs. Gayle (ironically, a case to which Rosa Parks was not herself a party). The decision was (apparently) upheld on appeal with no further opinions issued (that I can find). The reason I mention this is that the District Court's majority opinion included these paragraphs:

The ultimate question is whether the statutes and ordinances requiring the segregation of the white and colored races on the common carrier motor buses in the City of Montgomery and its police jurisdiction are unconstitutional and invalid. Unless prohibited by the Constitution of the United States, the power to require such segregation is reserved to the States or to the people. -- See Tenth Amendment.

In their private affairs, in the conduct of their private businesses, it is clear that the people themselves have the liberty to select their own associates and the persons with whom they will do business, unimpaired by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 3 S.Ct. 18, 27 L.Ed. 835. Indeed, we think that such liberty is guaranteed by the due process clause of that Amendment.

There is, however, a difference, a constitutional difference, between voluntary adherence to custom and the perpetuation and enforcement of that custom by law. Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 13, 68 S.Ct. 836, 92 L.Ed. 1161. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that 'No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

I'd like to poll those judges as to their opinions of what "Civil Rights" has now become.

But back to the Weekly Reader. It was the picture that . . . set me off:

Remembering Rosa Parks - SchoolBus

This picture is mendacious in every possible respect. Never mind segregation for a second.  For whom among my readers is this photograph representative of your public school bus experience?  In what respect? Demographically?  (Two white boys, two café au lait girls, one Asian girl, on white girl.) The smiling faces? The ample space? Or was it, like mine, an overcrowded dystopian hell?*

And using a yellow school bus, that symbol of judicial imposition of racial quotas, to illustrate the desegregation of public city buses? If school buses were even much in use prior to Swann vs Mecklenberg, I can't find a record of it.

The Black Riots of the 1960s were explained (back when I was studying them in college) as a product of “disappointed expectations”.  But what about the expectations of Whites?  What about the promise of racial peace implicit in the Civil Rights Vision** that we thought we were getting in exchange for dismantling the apparatus of segregation and discrimination?  But of course, we aren’t permitted to complain about the lies and propaganda.  All we can do is remonstrate some more at BJU.

* Honestly, given the vastly higher safety standards for vehicles since the 70’s, I can’t believe these deathtraps are still on the road.

** In contrast to present-day hagiographies, a look at the contemporaneous reporting shows that there was a lot of diversity among Civil Rights leaders as to what their ends and means should actually be, and that not only was King’s “Content of our Character” vision especially representative of the movement, it wasn’t even consistently advocated by King himself.  But that was the vision that White America bought.