Pause—With a few simple starter questions: As announced yesterday, we've decided to pause the report we'd planned to pursue this week. Charlottesville has overtaken it, in several ways.
That said, we thought we'd leave you with a few simple starter questions. Imagine that someone—a person you knew, or perhaps an academician—approached you with questions like these:
Question 1: Do unauthorized immigrants commit fewer crimes, on average, than native-born Americans? Than native-born white Americans? Than native-born black Americans?If someone asked us those questions, our own award-winning answers would be these:
Question 2: Would it be racist to say that they do?
Answer 1: As far as we know, they do commit fewer crimes, on average.Those would be our answers, based on things we've read.
Answer 2: Please. Could we possibly start to grow up?
Moving right along, let's consider two more questions. Suppose a researcher jumped you with these questions:
Question 1: Do Asian-American kids work harder in school, on average, than American kids of other ethnicities?Incomparably, our answers might go something like this:
Question 2: Is it racist to say that they do?
Answer 1: We have no way of knowing. It's certainly possible.Why do we imagine such questions? Here's why:
Answer 2: Same as Answer 2 above.
As we've noted in the past few days, the Washington Post has produced a mini-orgy of eye-catching headlines about the "racism" of These Millennials Today, or perhaps about the racism of These White Millennials Today.
One such headline appeared earlier this week. The op-ed column it topped linked to an earlier analysis piece—a piece which appeared in June 2015, under this eye-catching headline:
"Millennials are just about as racist as their parents"That's an unpleasant-sounding headline. It seems to reflect on tens of millions of people—on These Millennials Today.
We think that's an unwise headline. In fairness, the headline basically captured the judgment expressed in that earlier analysis piece—a piece which was written by the Post's polling director.
In part, the polling director was basing his judgment on a set of survey questions—questions which aren't gigantically different from the ones we've imagined above. Let's consider one of those sets of questions:
In fairness to These White Millennials Today, 70 percent of These White Millennials answered the questions in a way which freed them from the claim of being "racist."
That said, thirty percent of These White Millennials answered the questions wrongly, in way which were judged in-correct. On this basis, the polling director judged them to have displayed "racial prejudice," which was instantly turned into "racism" by the gods of These Headlines Today.
In this and a thousand other presentations, These Professors and Journalists Today have tossed their favorite bombs around in rather dull-witted ways. Within our liberal tribe, this can create real problems:
For many liberals, it's hard to consider the possibility that our ranking academics may not be especially sharp, especially when their deathless research results in the types of judgment which fire our tribal narratives.
For ourselves, we've long found that our academics aren't always especially sharp. Back in the day, Albert Einstein drew the exact same conclusion!
We have decided that Einstein was right. These Academics Today aren't always especially sharp. And once they mate with These Journalists Today, we can be in for a rather dumb ride.
Work of this type, with R-bombs attached, tends to fire us liberals. It also tends to leave us weaker apart.
More than anything else, such work just isn't especially bright. As we've often said to imaginary inquisitors:
Academics and researchers, please! Could we possibly start to grow up?
What Athene said: We think Athene, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, had it just about right when Odysseus returned from the fighting around Troy. Her deathless words of wisdom were recorded by sacred Homer, right at the end of The Odyssey:
And now they would have killed them all, and given none of them homecoming, had not Athene, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, cried out in a great voice and held back all the company: "Hold back, men of Ithaka, from the wearisome fighting, so that most soon, and without blood, you can settle everything."We think Athene had it right. In fairness, we're just saying.