Black Education (doesn’t happen)

I forget whether it was Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell who pointed out that whites have magic powers. They know which black homes have books in them, and oppress only those blacks whose homes lacked them.

Or maybe there’s another explanation that fits the data…

Black Self-Sabotage

Walter E. Williams
Nov 29, 2017

The educational achievement of white youngsters is nothing to write home about, but that achieved by blacks is nothing less than disgraceful. Let’s look at a recent example of an educational outcome all too common. In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore’s 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state’s mathematics exam. In six other high schools, only one percent tested proficient in math. In raw numbers, 3,804 Baltimore students took the state’s math test, and 14 tested proficient. Citywide, only 15 percent of Baltimore students passed the state’s English test.

Last spring, graduation exercises were held at one Baltimore high school, 90 percent of whose students received the lowest possible math score. Just one student came even close to being proficient. Parents and family members applauded the conferring of diplomas. Some of the students won achievement awards and college scholarships. Baltimore is by no means unique. It’s a small part of the ongoing education disaster for black students across the nation. Baltimore schools are not underfunded. Of the nation’s 100 largest school systems, Baltimore schools rank third in spending per pupil.

Baltimore’s black students receive diplomas that attest that they can function at a 12th-grade level when in fact they may not be able to do so at a seventh- or eighth-grade level. These students and their families have little reason to suspect that their diplomas are fraudulent. Thus, if they cannot land a good job, cannot pass a civil service exam, get poor grades in college and flunk out of college, they will attribute their plight to racism. After all, they have a high school diploma, just as a white person has a high school diploma. In their minds, the only explanation for being treated differently is racism.

Let’s look at math. If one graduates from high school without a minimum proficiency in algebra and geometry, he is likely to find whole fields and professions hermetically sealed off to him for life. In many fields and professions, a minimum level of math proficiency is taken for granted.

Let’s look at just one endeavor — being a fighter jet pilot. There are relatively few black fighter jet pilots. There are stringent physical, character and mental requirements that many blacks can meet. But fighter pilots must also have a strong knowledge of air navigation, aircraft operating procedures, flight theory, fluid mechanics and meteorology. The college majors that help prepare undergraduates for a career as a fighter pilot include mathematics, physical science and engineering.

What’s the NAACP response to educational fraud? At a 2016 meeting, the NAACP’s board of directors ratified a resolution that called for a moratorium on charter schools. Among the NAACP’s reasons for this were that it wanted charter schools to refrain from “expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate” and “cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.” Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys is a charter school. In 2016, 9 percent of its students scored proficient on the state’s math test. This year, over 14 percent did so. It’s in the interest of black people for more of our youngsters to attend better schools. However, it’s in the interest of the education establishment — and its handmaidens at the NAACP — to keep black youngsters in failing public schools.

Few people bother to ask whether there’s a connection between what goes on at predominantly black high schools and observed outcomes. Violence at many predominantly black schools is so routine that security guards are hired to patrol the hallways. The violence includes assaults on teachers. Some have been knocked out, had their jaws broken and required treatment by psychologists for post-traumatic stress disorder. On top of the violence is gross disorder and disrespect for authority.

The puzzling question for me is: How long will black people accept the educational destruction of black youngsters — something that only benefits the education establishment?

While I’m at it, here’s something from Larry Elder.

Black-on-Black Racism at Cornell

Larry Elder
Nov 09, 2017

A Rasmussen poll taken in 2013 asked American adults, “Are most white Americans racist?” “Are most Hispanic Americans racist?” and “Are most black Americans racist?” Of the three groups, the winner was blacks.

Thirty-seven percent said most blacks were racist; 18 percent felt most Hispanics were racist, and 15 percent said most whites were racist.

Thirty-eight percent of whites felt most blacks were racist. Even blacks agreed, with 31 percent saying most blacks were racist, while 24 percent of blacks thought most whites racist and 15 percent believed most Hispanics were racist.

This brings us to the Cornell University’s Black Students United and whether the organization is engaging in racism — against blacks. The BSU complains that the prestigious Ivy League school admits too many blacks — from Africa and the Caribbean. “We demand that Cornell Admissions to come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus,” the BSU student group said in its demands. “We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.”

Hold the phone. Isn’t the mantra of modern higher education “diversity,” “inclusion” and “overcoming disadvantage”? If so, the black African and Caribbean students would seem to nail all three.

Maybe the problem is that it is tough to explain why so many black foreign applicants outperform America-born blacks on what some call “culturally biased” standardized tests. A 2007 study by Princeton and University of Pennsylvania sociologists examined the standardized test scores of black students enrolled at 28 selective universities. As to the SAT, the test most colleges use as an important factor in offering admission, the study found that foreign-born black college-bound students earned a statistically significant advantage on SAT scores, averaging a score of 1250 (out of 1600) compared to 1193 average points for their American black counterparts. This explains, in large part, why first- or second-generation black immigrants made up 27 percent of the black student bodies at colleges nationwide. In the Ivy League, black immigrants comprised 41 percent of black students.

What is the basis for the black students’ protest? Don’t black foreigners face even more obstacles? After all, America spends more on education, K through 12, than the top 34 industrialized countries save Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Luxembourg. New York City and Washington, D.C., annually spend approximately $21,000 and $15,000 per student, respectively.

BSU might want to consider the letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal written by a man from Congo:

“I grew up in the Congo and have numerous friends in the U.S. from the Congo and other African countries who are here for an education or a better life. Every one of them is grateful for the opportunity to secure an excellent education. … Most come here from different cultures with minimal money and limited English language skills. Interestingly, I’ve never heard one complain about discrimination, obstacles or being a victim. Rather, they are grateful. Juxtapose this with Cornell’s Black Students United (BSU) whose members feel they should be treated better than every other color or race if they have ancestors who’ve been here for more than two generations.

“The counterintuitive posturing of American blacks denying other blacks from Africa or the Caribbean is appalling. First-generation African or Caribbean students have more obstacles to overcome to get into any university, much less a prestigious one like Cornell. Furthermore, the liberal American blacks who worship at the altar of ‘diversity’ and ‘victimhood’ should welcome real Africans or Caribbeans versus seeking preferences for those American blacks who truly have the superior advantage of having grown up in the U.S.

“If my Congolese friends are grateful for their opportunities here and have more challenges to overcome, why should American blacks get special treatment? Call this action what it is: racism. And it’s being pushed and protected under the guise of alleged victimization and preferential treatment at the expense of others of all colors and walks of life. So I challenge the BSU folks to start focusing on the concept of succeeding in life instead of always dwelling on the idea that the system is rigged against them.”

The black immigrant culture rejects the victicrat mentality embraced by so many American blacks. In “The Triple Package,” a 2014 book about immigrants’ children, a son of Nigerian-born parents says, “If you start thinking about or becoming absorbed in the mentality that the whole system is against us, then you cannot succeed.”

Rather than complain about the success of foreign-born blacks, why not give failing urban schools some competition through vouchers to give parents greater choice in where to educate their children, a policy currently pushed by the Trump administration? In the Detroit public school district, for example, just seven percent of eighth-graders are proficient or better in reading and just four percent are sufficient or better in math, despite total expenditures per student of over $18,000, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests.

Isn’t this the real problem?

Ecological Creationism

A lot of the environmentalist agenda looks like it stems from a belief that the world was created in a perfect, ideal form, and any change we make represents a fall from this pristine state.

We don’t need to save endangered species. Extinction is part of evolution.

The only creatures we should go out of our way to protect are Homo sapiens.

By R. Alexander Pyron
November 22
R. Alexander Pyron is the Robert F. Griggs Associate Professor of Biology at the George Washington University.

Near midnight, during an expedition to southwestern Ecuador in December 2013, I spotted a small green frog asleep on a leaf, near a stream by the side of the road. It was Atelopus balios , the Rio Pescado stubfoot toad. Although a lone male had been spotted in 2011, no populations had been found since 1995, and it was thought to be extinct. But here it was, raised from the dead like Lazarus. My colleagues and I found several more that night, males and females, and shipped them to an amphibian ark in Quito, where they are now breeding safely in captivity. But they will go extinct one day, and the world will be none the poorer for it. Eventually, they will be replaced by a dozen or a hundred new species that evolve later.

Mass extinctions periodically wipe out up to 95 percent of all species in one fell swoop; these come every 50 million to 100 million years, and scientists agree that we are now in the middle of the sixth such extinction, this one caused primarily by humans and our effects on animal habitats. It is an “immense and hidden” tragedy to see creatures pushed out of existence by humans, lamented the Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson, who coined the term “biodiversity” in 1985. A joint paper by several prominent researchers published by the National Academy of Sciences called it a “biological annihilation.” Pope Francis imbues the biodiversity crisis with a moral imperative (“Each creature has its own purpose,” he said in 2015), and biologists often cite an ecological one (we must avert “a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services,” several wrote in a paper for Science Advances). “What is Conservation Biology?,” a foundational text for the field, written by Michael Soulé of the University of California at Santa Cruz, says, “Diversity of organisms is good . . . the untimely extinction of populations and species is bad . . . [and] biotic diversity has intrinsic value.” In her book “The Sixth Extinction ,” journalist Elizabeth Kolbert captures the panic all this has induced: “Such is the pain the loss of a single species causes that we’re willing to perform ultrasounds on rhinos and handjobs on crows.”

But the impulse to conserve for conservation’s sake has taken on an unthinking, unsupported, unnecessary urgency. Extinction is the engine of evolution, the mechanism by which natural selection prunes the poorly adapted and allows the hardiest to flourish. Species constantly go extinct, and every species that is alive today will one day follow suit. There is no such thing as an “endangered species,” except for all species. The only reason we should conserve biodiversity is for ourselves, to create a stable future for human beings. Yes, we have altered the environment and, in doing so, hurt other species. This seems artificial because we, unlike other life forms, use sentience and agriculture and industry. But we are a part of the biosphere just like every other creature, and our actions are just as volitional, their consequences just as natural. Conserving a species we have helped to kill off, but on which we are not directly dependent, serves to discharge our own guilt, but little else.

Climate scientists worry about how we’ve altered our planet, and they have good reasons for apprehension: Will we be able to feed ourselves? Will our water supplies dry up? Will our homes wash away? But unlike those concerns, extinction does not carry moral significance, even when we have caused it. And unless we somehow destroy every living cell on Earth, the sixth extinction will be followed by a recovery, and later a seventh extinction, and so on.

Yet we are obsessed with reviving the status quo ante. The Paris Accords aim to hold the temperature to under two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, even though the temperature has been at least eight degrees Celsius warmer within the past 65 million years. Twenty-one thousand years ago, Boston was under an ice sheet a kilometer thick. We are near all-time lows for temperature and sea level ; whatever effort we make to maintain the current climate will eventually be overrun by the inexorable forces of space and geology. Our concern, in other words, should not be protecting the animal kingdom, which will be just fine. Within a few million years of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, the post-apocalyptic void had been filled by an explosion of diversity — modern mammals, birds and amphibians of all shapes and sizes.

This is how evolution proceeds: through extinction. The inevitability of death is the only constant in life, and 99.9 percent of all species that have ever lived, as many as 50 billion, have already gone extinct. In 50 million years, Europe will collide with Africa and form a new supercontinent, destroying species (think of birds, fish and anything vulnerable to invasive life forms from another landmass) by irrevocably altering their habitats. Extinctions of individual species, entire lineages and even complete ecosystems are common occurrences in the history of life. The world is no better or worse for the absence of saber-toothed tigers and dodo birds and our Neanderthal cousins, who died off as Homo sapiens evolved. (According to some studies, it’s not even clear that biodiversity is suffering. The authors of another recent National Academy of Sciences paper point out that species richness has shown no net decline among plants over 100 years across 16,000 sites examined around the world.)

Conserving biodiversity should not be an end in itself; diversity can even be hazardous to human health. Infectious diseases are most prevalent and virulent in the most diverse tropical areas. Nobody donates to campaigns to save HIV, Ebola, malaria, dengue and yellow fever, but these are key components of microbial biodiversity, as unique as pandas, elephants and orangutans, all of which are ostensibly endangered thanks to human interference.

Humans should feel less shame about molding their environment to suit their survival needs. When beavers make a dam, they cause the local extinction of numerous riverine species that cannot survive in the new lake. But that new lake supports a set of species that is just as diverse. Studies have shown that when humans introduce invasive plant species, native diversity sometimes suffers, but productivity — the cycling of nutrients through the ecosystem — frequently increases. Invasives can bring other benefits, too: Plants such as the Phragmites reed have been shown to perform better at reducing coastal erosion and storing carbon than native vegetation in some areas, like the Chesapeake.

And if biodiversity is the goal of extinction fearmongers, how do they regard South Florida, where about 140 new reptile species accidentally introduced by the wildlife trade are now breeding successfully? No extinctions of native species have been recorded, and, at least anecdotally, most natives are still thriving. The ones that are endangered, such as gopher tortoises and indigo snakes , are threatened mostly by habitat destruction. Even if all the native reptiles in the Everglades, about 50, went extinct, the region would still be gaining 90 new species — a biodiversity bounty. If they can adapt and flourish there, then evolution is promoting their success. If they outcompete the natives, extinction is doing its job.

There is no return to a pre-human Eden; the goals of species conservation have to be aligned with the acceptance that large numbers of animals will go extinct. Thirty to 40 percent of species may be threatened with extinction in the near future, and their loss may be inevitable. But both the planet and humanity can probably survive or even thrive in a world with fewer species. We don’t depend on polar bears for our survival, and even if their eradication has a domino effect that eventually affects us, we will find a way to adapt. The species that we rely on for food and shelter are a tiny proportion of total biodiversity, and most humans live in — and rely on — areas of only moderate biodiversity, not the Amazon or the Congo Basin.

Developed human societies can exist and function in harmony with diverse natural communities, even if those communities are less diverse than they were before humanity. For instance, there is almost no original forest in the eastern United States. Nearly every square inch was clear-cut for timber by the turn of the 20th century. The verdant wilderness we see now in the Catskills, Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains has all grown back in the past 100 years or so, with very few extinctions or permanent losses of biodiversity (14 total east of the Mississippi River, counting species recorded in history that are now apparently extinct), even as the population of our country has quadrupled. Japan is one of the most densely populated and densely forested nations in the world. A model like that can serve a large portion of the planet, while letting humanity grow and shape its own future.

If climate change and extinction present problems, the problems stem from the drastic effects they will have on us. A billion climate refugees, widespread famines, collapsed global industries, and the pain and suffering of our kin demand attention to ecology and imbue conservation with a moral imperative. A global temperature increase of two degrees Celsius will supposedly raise seas by 0.2 to 0.4 meters, with no effect on vast segments of the continents and most terrestrial biodiversity. But this is enough to flood most coastal cities, and that matters.

The solution is simple: moderation. While we should feel no remorse about altering our environment, there is no need to clear-cut forests for McMansions on 15-acre plots of crabgrass-blanketed land. We should save whatever species and habitats can be easily rescued (once-endangered creatures such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons now flourish), refrain from polluting waterways, limit consumption of fossil fuels and rely more on low-impact renewable-energy sources.

We should do this to create a stable, equitable future for the coming billions of people, not for the vanishing northern river shark. Conservation is needed for ourselves and only ourselves. All those future people deserve a happy, safe life on an ecologically robust planet, regardless of the state of the natural world compared with its pre-human condition. We cannot thrive without crops or pollinators, or along coastlines as sea levels rise and as storms and flooding intensify.

Yet that robust planet will still erase huge swaths of animal and plant life. Even if we live as sustainably as we can, many creatures will die off, and alien species will disrupt formerly “pristine” native ecosystems. The sixth extinction is ongoing and inevitable — and Earth’s long-term recovery is guaranteed by history (though the process will be slow). Invasion and extinction are the regenerative and rejuvenating mechanisms of evolution, the engines of biodiversity.

If this means fewer dazzling species, fewer unspoiled forests, less untamed wilderness, so be it. They will return in time. The Tree of Life will continue branching, even if we prune it back. The question is: How will we live in the meantime?

Minnesota: Rule or exception?

A meme, and a notion, floating around the Internet:

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So do these changes really kick-start an economy? Here’s an analysis from the “Being Classically Liberal” Facebook page:

1. Minnesota had ALREADY been experiencing a decent economy prior to the tax increases. As USA today explains, “Minnesota had one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates in 2012 …and one of its highest GDP growth rates, at 3.5%.” [a] The tax increases came the following year, in 2013. [b] Minnesota continued to maintain its rank of having one of the best unemployment rates, and any further decrease in its unemployment rate simply mirrored national trends. One cannot reasonably conclude, then, that the 2013 tax increases had “caused” the good economy which was already in place before said tax increases even existed.

2. Understand that this controversy is over TWO tax increases; One which increased income taxes on individuals earning above $150,000 a year or couples earning above $250,000. [b] [c] The other which increased the state’s excise tax on cigarette sales by 130%. [d] It’s rather disingenuous for progressives to point to the these two tax increases and declare ideological victory since jobs hadn’t vanished. For one, they’re conflating conerns. Concerns over businesses fleeing to neighboring states are not based on income taxes but more so on a state’s business environment. And in that regard, it’s relevant to point out two key facts:
a. Business taxes have actually been CUT since 2013. [e] This is something progressives don’t seem to be acknowledging.
b. Once analyzed in a 2014 study, the cigarette tax increase has, as predicted, been quite detrimental to sales. [d] We will list the pertinent details below.

THE CIGARETTE TAX:

“In 2013 the Minnesota Legislature passed a 130% increase in the cigarette excise tax and also increased the tax on other tobacco products from 70% of the wholesale price to 95% of the wholesale price.” In 2014, when a study was conducted to measure the effects of this new policy, the following conclusions were found: [d]

• 1,100 jobs were estimated to have been lost or eliminated by 2014 as a result.

• Tobacco sales declined 50% in Minnesota stores along the border.

• Dramatic sales increases of tobacco products occurred in all four bordering states, indicating consumers had merely shifted to out of state purchases.

• By 2014, $38 million of lost sales in non-tobacco products also occurred as an indirect result.

• Nearly a quarter of all cigarettes consumed in Minnesota are now estimated to be purchased in other states.

As you can see, Minnesota may in fact be doing well, but this is due to other variables and not due to an increase in income taxes or cigarette taxes. One must consider the many other relevant variables at play. For instance, Minnesota borders water which automatically benefits ANY region, as it makes it part of a commercial trade route. This alters the conditions that might otherwise push businesses to conduct commerce elsewhere. Consider this. Part of Minnesota’s border is water (beneficial to business), another part is Canada (not appealing to most companies seeking to stay in the US), and the rest of its border are 4 neighboring states, where 3 of which are landlocked. This gives Minnesota an upper hand relative to other states, which is entirely relevant when one’s concern is commerce. Furthermore, Minnesota is home to a major natural resource and produces 75% of the country’s iron ore. [f] The iron-ore industry can’t just pick up and leave. Lastly, there has emerged a rather extensive list of tax CUTS, credits, or simplifications, all potentially offsetting the detriments of the aforementioned two tax increases. [e] They are as follows:

• $230 million in reduced taxes, as well as a simplification of the tax code, for Middle Class Minnesotans.

• The elimination of the “marriage penalty” tax, saving more than 650,000 married couples an average of $115 per year.

• Over 16,000 additional middle class families will qualify for the Working Family Tax Credit.

• Tax Cuts for Parents. More than 25,000 families who qualify for child care tax credits will see an average increase in their tax credit of $74 per year.

• Tax Cuts for Students. More than 285,000 recent college graduates could save up to $190 per year by deducting their student loan interest. Another 40,000 current college students and parents will receive a tuition deduction of $140 per year, on average.

• Tax Cuts and simplification of the tax code for Small Employers as well as an elimination of a requirement to maintain separate records for federal taxes.

• Tax cuts for seniors, teachers, and homeowners.

• A reduction in business sales taxes by $232 million.

• All three business-to-business taxes were repealed.

• The sales tax on repair and maintenance of electronic, farm, and commercial equipment has been repealed.

• The warehousing sales tax was repealed.

• Sales tax on telecommunications equipment has been repealed.

• $3 million in tax CREDITS for “Innovation and Jobs” and specifically “fuel innovation” has been set aside.

• Another $3 million in Tax Credits for startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

• Simplification of the Estate Tax, raising the exemption from $1 million to $2 million.

• Elimination of the Gift Tax; a reduction of $43 million.

• Furthermore, in May of 2014, an additional $103 million in tax cuts for homeowners, renters and farmers was agreed to. [g]

CONCLUSION:
To point to all of this and declare, “Tax increases created jobs!” is MORE than a bit questionable. When you already have a decent economy, and firms see tax cuts for businesses and consumers on the horizon, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’d likely remain in the state. Minnesota is doing well for many reasons, but their 2013 income tax increase on the top 2% of earners and their 2013 cigarette tax increase are NOT why. Add to all of the Minnesota tax cuts the fact that their government has begun shrinking in size per recent jobs numbers showing the government shed 4,200 jobs in December of 2014 alone [h] and it’s a wonder why Progressives keep proudly waiving this example around.
—————————-
Sources:
[a]  http://www.usatoday.com/…/states-with-the-fastest-…/2416239/

[b] http://www.albertleatribune.com/…/minnesotas-higher-taxes-…/

[c] http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/…/Minnesota_Income_Tax_Rates…

[d] http://www.cspnet.com/…/mn-tobacco-tax-crippling-retailers-…

[e] http://mn.gov/…/the-office-of-the-governor-blog-entry-detai…

[f] http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/…/engli…/minnesota

[g] http://www.twincities.com/…/minnesota-tax-cuts-worth-100m-f…

[h] http://bringmethenews.com/…/minnesotas-unemployment-rate-f…/

The problem is, there are a multitude of variables in any economy. In order to claim that any given outcome is due only to one or two changes, you’d really need to have two Minnesotas, one where the changes happened, and one where they didn’t, but are otherwise identical.

This doesn’t exist anywhere in the world.

I guess Democrats aren’t democrats

“I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .

The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

― C.S. Lewis, Present Concerns

The Pence Rule — Not the law, just a good idea

 

Put me with Pence and Coates. I also have rules. I’ll have lunch alone with female colleagues, but in more than 20 years of marriage, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve had dinner alone with a woman not my wife. And I’ve managed that without ever disadvantaging or discriminating against any woman I worked for or with. I have other rules as well. For example, I travel quite a bit, but when I’m traveling alone I don’t eat or sit at bars — especially hotel bars — unless there is no other place to sit.

I have those rules not because I think that without guardrails I’m going to assault someone, but because I understand human nature and because I respect women. I don’t want any woman to feel like I’m putting her in an uncomfortable or compromising position. This may come as a surprise to critics of the Pence rule, but there are quite a few women who don’t want to dine alone with male bosses. There are quite a few women who believe that dinner (especially with drinks) is unnecessarily intimate and that business can be conducted in the office or with other colleagues present.

But don’t tell that to Pence’s critics. This week Christianity Today’s Katelyn Beatty took to the pages of the New York Times to write “The Christian Case Against the Pence Rule.” Given her intelligence and theological knowledge, I was surprised to see this paragraph:

The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, “I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.” If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

No, no, no. Let’s break this down in the simplest terms possible. The Pence rule (or its variations) arises from an accurate view of man’s fallen nature. In this context, it means three things.

First, when men and women are alone — especially at night, especially with drinks — there is a far greater chance of mutual or one-sided attraction (not assault) than when they’re in groups or in professional settings. Even if they don’t intend the attraction. Even if they’re happily married. If you doubt this reality then, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Spend any time in professional settings, and you’ll understand that workplace attraction happens, and when it happens it tends to happen not in the midst of conference calls but rather in those settings that get far more personal and less professional.

Second, variations of the Pence rule protect both sides from reputational harm. It’s a simple fact that observing a married man alone at dinner with a woman other than his wife can start tongues wagging, and it’s also a fact that leaders of Christian ministries have often had to take extreme measures to protect against intentional sabotage of their reputations. I know leaders who never travel alone in part because of actual past hostile attempts to place them in compromising positions (with photographic evidence). If we should understand anything in 2017 it’s that our politics is vicious and poisonous. The more high-profile you become, the more careful you should be.

Third, surprise, surprise but there are actual predators out there, and women who operate under some version of the Pence rule gain an additional layer of protection. Moreover, corporate implementation of the rule is like a flashing sign that says, “This workplace aims to be safe and professional.”

Beatty says, “All the people I know who keep the rule are men.” This is yet another puzzling statement. Every Christian ministry I know that imposes the rule on its employees does so without regard to gender, and these are ministries that employ multiple powerful women. In fact, almost every powerful Christian woman I know keeps a version of the Pence rule.

But here’s where critics of the Pence rule have a point. If you’re in a position of authority, you should endeavor to create a workplace where equal opportunity is evident and gender-based favoritism is absent. It is unfair to take Luke out for dinner and never take out Laura. The better approach is to keep business matters in business settings, and that includes when it’s late and folks need to eat.

Sacred Cattle and Bias

 

People Are Questioning Your Sacred Cows? Listen Up

There’s good reason to scrutinize claims like the Roy Moore mall story. It’s certainly not to protect a pedophile.

I’m skeptical about the mall story. No one in the New Yorker story seems to have been directly involved with the alleged mall ban; every source who was willing (even eager) to talk seems to have heard the story from someone else. It seems probable that there was a rumor floating around that Moore was banned from the mall; it seems possible that this rumor was even true. But it’s also possible it’s false. Those of us over a certain age will remember how many compelling, yet false, urban legends we believed before Snopes.com was invented. And who was the source for every one of those legends? That stalwart figure, “a friend of a friend.”

So without better confirmation than “35 years ago, I heard from a guy that Roy Moore got banned from the mall,” I will withhold judgment on whether Moore was actually banned. I tweeted as much after I read the New Yorker story. And was immediately inundated with aggressive accusations of covering up for a child molester and general partisan hackery.

I am not generally identified as a member of Team Trump, much less Team Roy Moore. Indeed, prior to my tweet about the mall story, I’d been saying some fairly astringent things about the people who were attacking Moore’s accusers — or worse, saying “But Democrats covered for Bill Clinton!” I just didn’t happen to think this particular story was very strong.

I also didn’t think it particularly mattered. If Moore did everything he has been credibly accused of, would we be inclined to give him a pass because that supreme judicial authority, the mall of Gadsden, Alabama, never got around to banning him?

But as I attempted to explain why this story looks weak to a lot of journalists (I was not the only one who noticed the thin sourcing), I began to understand why I’d triggered such outrage. Because several people asked me some version of the same question: “Why would you even question this story?” In their minds, it was clear that there could be only one reason: because I was trying to somehow salvage Moore’s candidacy.

I get asked this question a lot these days. Why would you even argue about rape statistics, when we know that rape is a problem? Why would you give even a moment’s consideration to those who theorize that global warming could be moderate rather than catastrophic? Why would you raise questions about that terrible gang rape at UVA?

My interlocutors have a point: We all make choices about which assertions we interrogate, and which we accept on easy faith. And because we are biased, we tend to interrogate most ruthlessly the inconvenient claims that stand in the way of something we’d very much like to believe. When someone casts doubt on a politically charged story, it’s not crazy to infer an ulterior ideological motive (even though in this particular case involving my qualms about that Roy Moore mall story, this inference was dead wrong).

But if we are committed to believing only things that are likely to be true, then how much does the motive of a questioner really matter? I’d argue “not much.” Knowing someone’s political commitments tells you that they are likely to accept evidence for some propositions more easily than for others. But it does not tell you that their analysis is wrong.

To the contrary, partisans with an axe to grind are often the people who see what others don’t. The faked Second Amendment scholarship of Michael Bellesiles, the forgeries that suggested Bush had gone AWOL during Vietnam, the imaginary gang rape at a UVA fraternity — in all cases, the people who raised questions were dismissed as cranks and partisans, and often this was actually true. And yet, they were the ones seeing clearly, while the people questioning their motives were not.

Truth is powerful stuff; it can be bottled up for just so long before it bursts its container and splatters all over the place. And when that happens, the revelation of the lie hurts the credibility of everyone who embraced it — and harms the very cause they thought they were helping.

So instead of labeling folks as partisan and dismissing their questions, we should embrace a tough critique regardless of its source. You have your blind spots, just like they have theirs. By overlaying their world view onto yours, you may be able to get a fuller picture. You’ll get closer to the truth by listening to people who see the world very differently from you, especially the ones who ask questions that make you uncomfortable. If what you believe is true, their objections can only refine your ideas into something stronger. And if what you believe is false — well, it’s better to find out quick.

Judeo-Christian Values

Dennis Prager has written a great deal on Judeo-Christian values, which he considers one of the underpinnings of American civilization. Many people have an almost reflexive aversion to the term “Judeo-Christian” and will leap to oppose the term. Judaism and Christianity are different religions, they will point out, which means there can be no such thing as Judeo-Christian anything.

Dennis Prager wrote a set of 22 essays on the subject, including what values he identifies as particularly Judeo-Christian. There’s one website I’ve found that has the essays conveniently in one place.

The Case for Judeo-Christian Values

One thing I think doesn’t get enough attention is the meta-law in Judaism. The Torah could have been interpreted in ways to make Judaism just as oppressive as Jihadist Islam. Instead, the rabbis have a history of interpreting laws so that the harshest penalties are literally impossible to invoke. One example is the ongoing arguments between Hillel and Shammai, and how much more restrictive Judaism would have been had Shammai carried the day.

One could make the case for this as an underlying current that drives the course of religious doctrine and practice. Because it’s not written down anywhere, it can be ignored. Individuals and institutions can swim against the current, at least for a while, but the current eventually overcomes all.