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High-Tuition Tribalism

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By Walter Donway

September 15, 2018

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Part I of a three-part book review.

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

 

“The diverseocrats who have commandeered the American university invite students to a cultural reeducation camp where they can confess their political sins or perfect their sense of victimhood.”—Heather Mac Donald

 

In April 2017, Heather Mac Donald arrived at the campus of Claremont College, in California, to meet with students and give an invited talk. She was quickly shuttled to a kind of safe house. The blinds were drawn, but she could hear crowds outside chanting and drumming.

The day before she arrived, the organizers of the talk told her they wanted to move her talk to a venue with fewer glass windows and easier ways to exit. When her talk had been announced, the campus had sprung to life. There were Facebook posts calling to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist, Heather Mac Donald.” A post said that “we, students of color at Claremont College … CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform.”

Mac Donald is a scholar at a New York City think tank, the Manhattan Institute. Educated at Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and Stanford University School of Law, she had planned an academic career “with roots in deconstructionism and postmodernism.” Instead, she had a kind of revelation (another story) and has dedicated her career to scholarship and writing to combating the effects of those ideologies in American culture. Her deeply researched and explosively honest books have become best-sellers.

She had come to the College to talk about her new book, The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. You cannot write about that topic without commenting on the role of the movement, Black Lives Matter. Mac Donald’s book demonstrated that violent crimes in the United States, including homicide, are committed overwhelmingly, as a proportion of population, by African-American men. Equally overwhelmingly, their victims are other African-Americans. The only hope of those victims, and their constant plea, is for police protection. Where criticism of the police has forced a pullback in law enforcement (prime example: Chicago), murders of African-Americans have soared.

Black students on the campus and the community around it had a problem with that. Not a problem with the murders—a problem with Mac Donald writing about it. Hundreds of protestors, most of whom wore all black, swarmed the area of the scheduled talk, chanting, “We are here to shut down the fucking fascist.” They locked arms, black students in the rear to bar doors to the hall, whites in front of them to protect them from police. No one got into the hall. A science professor who tried to push his way in was shoved back. Police, at the behest of the administration, did nothing.

Oh, well, Mac Donald could speak in the empty hall and her talk be streamed outside. Never let it be said she could not speak. Organizers, however, moved the lectern away from the windows. Mac Donald immediately addressed the audience outside about the most recent brutal murders of black boys and girls by black gangs. She quoted statistics. Outside, reporters were stormed and kept from reporting live. The chants were “black lives matter” and “C.M.C. [Claremont McKenna College] is racist.” (Mac Donald comments: “CMC is so eager for ‘diverse’ students that it has historically admitted black and Hispanic students with an average 200-points-lower SAT scores than white and Asian students.”)

By the end of the talk, the chants outside were deafening. There was ever louder banging on the windows. The talk over, police snuck Mac Donald down a one-way elevator. She was kept behind a closed door until an unmarked police van pulled up to the entrance, then rushed into it. They sped off to the police station.

The administration was decent enough to regret the campus scene. The president announced that he took responsibility for forbidding police intervention against the protestors in order to protect “students, faculty, staff, and guests.” He said the students who had been disruptive would be held accountable. Eventually, fewer than half-a-dozen were briefly suspended. Faculty members posted on Facebook that they empathized with the pain and sense of threat experienced by the students.

This is the woman who keeps writing the books, elicits the opinions of hundreds of individuals hostile to her ideas, and returns again and again to speak under conditions like those described above. Now, she has published a new book that is going to cause administrative, faculty, and student heads at campuses around the country to explode.

Actually, this was the second night in a row for Mac Donald. The evening before, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), invited by the college Republicans, she had managed to speak. When she finished her talk, “Blue Lives Matter” (which pertains to those in African-American neighborhoods being slaughtered by gangs of young black men), protestors stormed her, demanding control of the mic.

After 10 minutes of shouting, the organizers convinced people to line up to ask questions. At one point, Mac Donald pointed out that “There is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.”

“Bullshit!  Bullshit!” came the cries.

“You have no right to speak!”

This is the woman who keeps writing the books, elicits the opinions of hundreds of individuals hostile to her ideas, and returns again and again to speak under conditions like those described above. Now, she has published a new book that is going to cause administrative, faculty, and student heads at campuses around the country to explode.

“…any Princeton student who thinks of himself as downtrodden is in the grip of a terrible delusion. That delusion, however, is actively encouraged, not only by Princeton faculty and administrators, but on campuses nationwide. What is more, it is the faculty and administrators who have inculcated students with the “victimology” that now obsesses them and fuels violence to shut down speech that challenges their dogma.

 

Universities lead the way … but to where?

“For decades, universities have drifted further and further from their true purpose. Now they are taking the rest of the world with them.”—Heather Mac Donald

Students have been indoctrinated, writes Mac Donald, in a perspective that equates “nonconforming ideas with ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate speech’ with life-threatening conduct that should be punished, censored, and repelled with force if necessary.”

Brown University students occupied the office of the provost. They demanded exemption from requirements such as class attendance. They were too focused, they insisted, on just staying alive at Brown. Mac Donald writes: “Fact check: No Brown student is at risk of his life going to classes and trying to learn.”

Do you know that “identity politics,” pressuring academic fields toward obsession with victim groups, and driving out the mission of conveying knowledge, is besieging the American university? If you do, you are as out of touch as I was before I read The Diversity Delusion. The university’s bastions have already fallen, like Rome; the enemy is slaughtering and ravishing all remaining defenders; and the new regime is enforcing a “soft totalitarianism” (Mac Donald’s apt term) of political correctness. Except, of course, that the “enemy”—ideas and ideologies—is within.

Do you know that “identity politics,” pressuring academic fields toward obsession with victim groups, and driving out the mission of conveying knowledge, is besieging the American university? If you do, you are as out of touch as I was before I read The Diversity Delusion. The university’s bastions have already fallen, like Rome; the enemy is slaughtering and ravishing all remaining defenders; and the new regime is enforcing a “soft totalitarianism” (Mac Donald’s apt term) of political correctness. Except, of course, that the “enemy”—ideas and ideologies—is within.

True, Mac Donald focuses much attention on the California public university and college system, historically lauded as a triumph of government higher education, which is now a catastrophe in the humanities and social sciences and a rapidly encroaching disaster in the physical sciences for which campuses like Berkeley had been legendary. But there is plenty of evidence that the collapse is national (though I am uncertain about the “Deep South,” from which Mac Donald takes few examples, and religious sectarian institutions).

Mac Donald documents with statistics, hundreds of examples, quotations galore, interviews, and extended cases—and analyzes with compelling logic—themes such as these:

  • In medical schools, higher education from freshman year through post-MD training is in the grip of something even beyond race and gender preferences (which a proposition passed in California in 1996 made unconstitutional in government and education). It is shot through with a distortion of standards, and the very definition of standards, intended to make possible “diversity” by admitting African-American applicants (and, to some extent, Hispanic applicants), a preponderance of whom have objective academic qualifications that would gain admission for no Asian-American and a trivial percentage of whites.

At least in California, with the new constitutional amendment in place, the entire public education system went into covert opposition to the public’s vote. Admissions policies and standards were turned inside out, reformulated, junked and replaced to protect ever-increasing racial diversity. A lone dissenting regent of UC Berkeley discovered and published in Forbes that in 2002 the University admitted 374 applicants with SATs under 1000—almost all “students of color”—while rejecting 3,218 applicants with scores above 1400.

The enraged administration responded by engineering a censure resolution against him by his fellow regents. A grand coalition of professors, civil rights groups, and others backed censure, arguing that students admitted with extremely low scores had unique leadership skills or character and their scores had nothing to do with whether or not they would succeed at the university.

  • The ranks of the university’s “diversity industry”—in offices, services units, departments, committees, programs, and task forces—now number in the dozens in large universities, their top ranks (e.g., vice chancellors for diversity) commanding salaries of $250,000 or more. In times of budget stringency, hundreds of millions of dollars annually go to fund “diversity” efforts.

The occupying diversity troops keep their jobs, and grow their forces, by perpetually repeating and acting upon the premise that minorities on their campuses (not including Asians, but now including dozens of special “gender” categories as well as blacks and Hispanics) are under almost unbearable threat and pressure because of their “identity.” As campuses turn themselves inside out to welcome and cater to such “victimized” students, the students are stirred to growing self-pity, resentment, anger, and ultimately, violence.

Ironically, the misery of many students is real. Admitted with preparation and qualifications greatly inferior to their peers, students struggle from the outset. For example, high percentages of black males who enter colleges intending to major in the sciences quickly switch to easier courses. That does not mean the humanities or social sciences or the arts as we think of them. Catalogues are now full of courses in black, Hispanic, gender, queer, and other “studies” that in effect have no facts or subject matter to master, no ideas or truths to comprehend, and consist of bull sessions.

The problem exists at all levels. Exactly contrary to what the “test scores don’t predict success” chorus keeps repeating, Mac Donald shows that objective academic criteria are highly predictive of success. Taking but one of many extensive studies, she writes: “The correlation between black law students’ rock-bottom LSATs and their performance in law school and on the bar exam was overwhelming.”

After a chapter reporting such examples, the attempts by universities to disregard them, and the instances of authors of the studies being driven off campus, Mac Donald writes: “As such findings mount, the conclusion will become inescapable. College leaders who continue to embrace affirmative action do so simply to flatter their own egos, so that they can gaze upon their ‘diverse” realm and bask in their noblesse oblige.”

Bitter words, but bitter, too, is the fate of students who enter the great adventure of higher education intending to be scientists, economists, computer technologists, or doctors but find out that they lack the minimum preparation in mathematics. Soon, they are counseled into easier courses and majors. There are law school graduates who take the bar exam five times and still cannot pass it. And there are medical students who graduate at the bottom of their class and are advised to practice among their own “people.”

  • Given the omnipresence of the diversity forces, and the investment in diversity, it becomes increasingly strained (absurd?) to claim that bigotry and discrimination threaten students daily and they fail in courses because of biases of white professors.

 

Micro-aggression: A Novel Non-concept

To this paradox, there are now two answers: microaggression and unconscious bias. Both have spawned thriving new industries on and off campus. Mac Donald writes that racial microaggression is “the hottest concept on campuses today, used to call out racism otherwise invisible to the naked eye.”

Professors with decades of teaching experience, teaching excellence awards, and generations of students who remember them with gratitude have been mobbed and rudely insulted by gangs of students charging them with heretofore unrevealed racism.

Professors with decades of teaching experience, teaching excellence awards, and generations of students who remember them with gratitude have been mobbed and rudely insulted by gangs of students charging them with heretofore unrevealed racism. Correcting the spelling and grammar of students, for example, can be dangerous. The use of any number of politically incorrect terms—or “aggressions” such as saying that America is a land of opportunity or that individuals succeed by hard work—can bring swift retaliation. Experience shows that the administration and fellow faculty members will back away from the “racist” slur—at best, say nothing, but reliably expressing their apologies and sympathy to the accusers. Commitments will be made to require faculty members to attend sessions to sensitize them to their prejudice.

Mac Donald’s response: “It is ludicrous to suggest that UCLA’s white and Asian students need ‘cross-cultural competency’ training in how to talk to blacks and Hispanics.”

And “The entire law school environment is a paragon of racial tolerance, as any fair-minded administrator should recognize.”

And: “Colleges today are determined to preserve in many of their students the thin skin and solipsism of adolescence. … By now, of course, many of the adults running colleges are indistinguishable from their eggshell … students.”

 

Unconscious Bias: A Pandemic

  • In the logic of today’s campus, the glaringly missing premise of actual racism was supplied, and a new industry created, thanks to a National Science Foundation’s grant to two sociology researchers. They discovered a virtual pandemic called “unconscious bias.”

Their “breakthrough” is at once funny and as frightening as anything out of Brave New World or 1984. It is a computer-based test resting on a theory that microsecond differences in reaction times can reveal hidden attitudes. The test claims to identify an individual’s level of unconscious racial prejudice and claims that such prejudice drives discriminatory behavior. All without anyone, including the individual himself, being aware of it. And this bias is the otherwise invisible hand that is dragging down ‘select-minority’ men and women on and off campus. It explains why the decades of efforts to eliminate disparities in education, job opportunities, and social services have not had the expected results in educational achievement, workplace advancement, and reduction of crime rates.

Mac Donald: “The need to plumb the unconscious to explain ongoing racial gaps arises for one reason: It is taboo in universities and mainstream society to acknowledge intergroup differences in interests, abilities, cultural values, or family structure that might produce socio-economic disparities.”

The year was 1998, the instrument is called the “Implicit Association Test” (IAT), and the announcement of its rollout began “The pervasiveness of prejudice, affecting 90 to 95 percent of people, was demonstrated today …”

If I tried to explain how the test is conducted, by measuring microsecond differences in the speed of hitting various letter keys in reaction to flashes of white and black faces (related tests now probe other biases) on the screen, and then switching the order of faces and requiring instant reaction by hitting the opposite keys … well, you can read all about it in The Diversity Delusion.

Administering this test and applying its results (by assigning people to various programs to reduce their bias) rapidly became omnipresent on campuses and in government offices. It spread through the workplace. Hundreds, then thousands, of highly paid consultants traveled around the country to administer the tests and interpret them. Other “experts” took on dealing with the newly exposed racists. President Barack Obama, candidate Hillary Clinton, and former FBI director James Comey all grimly affirmed the problem exposed by IAT. George Soros’s Open Society Foundation is funding additional research for the “science” needed for employment-discrimination litigation.

Well, the problem is that the unconscious bias purportedly identified by the test is not shown to translate into discriminatory behavior.

But time has passed. Every aspect of the IAT methodology has been analyzed, tested, and challenged—repeatedly. It has been shown to lack two elements indispensable to a test’s usefulness: reliability and validity. When administered to the same individuals over a short space of time, the tests routinely spit out disparate results—a high level of bias, a medium level of bias, a low level of bias. And validity? Well, the problem is that the unconscious bias purportedly identified by the test is not shown to translate into discriminatory behavior. One extensive test by scientists, some of whom had been involved in developing the original test, found that (at best) correlation between “bias” scores and discriminatory behavior amounts only to 5.5 percent. The two scientists who developed the test now admit it does not predict discriminatory behavior.

Heather Mac Donald
Source: Manhattan Institute

But such “science” only matters when it confirms your bias. The initial reports of the test so excited the diversity industry that the test, and, far more, the concept of unconscious bias, became rooted in universities and the workplace. Mac Donald has asked executives in institutions of all kinds to answer this question: Do you know of any candidates interviewed by your company who were qualified for a job but rejected because of bias—unconscious or otherwise?

Invariably the answer is that one just can’t know, for sure, but unconscious bias is so pervasive that we constantly must be on guard against it.

Mac Donald returns again and again to the real reason for the racial disparities in hiring and promotion that still exist despite overwhelming pressure on every selection committee anywhere to promote diversity. But that reason cannot be mentioned or acknowledged: “You can read through hundreds of implicit-bias studies and never come across the primary reason: the academic skills gap.”

 

Taking Tuition Fees for Instilling Tribalism

I experience it as disturbing and depressing to read again and again statistics that demonstrate the gap between the races at every level of academic achievement. But if that explanation is denied and suppressed, and the years and financial resources of higher education are squandered on a “total war” against racial bias, then educational outcomes for all students—but in particular African Americans—will not improve but worsen.

Meanwhile, as Mac Donald shows, higher education is driven by the postmodernist pervasive ideology of identity politics (groupism), oppression (white male dominance of minorities), and pervasive bias (“dead white male” culture). Universities are preparing American generations who are and will be less educated, increasingly rent by tribal divisions, and accustomed to resorting to violence to settle disagreements.

 

This is the first of a three-part review of The Diversity Delusion. Part II will address gender and Part III will address multiculturalism.

 

 

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