Thursday, April 02, 2009

A biting comparison from Taranto

Government schools in San Francisco are trying to boost their students' aspirations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
"Remember the first time you heard Jimi Hendrix?" reads the cover of the district's new 51-page education guide. "Our plan is as transformational now as his music was then!" The manifesto is aimed at transforming the educational "experiences for every child in each of our schools." To drive home the point, a portrait of the '60s rocker--looking somewhat pensive, somber and perhaps stoned--graces the cover and every page of the manual. The book also comes with a Hendrix poster and Hendrix-emblazoned canvas bag, which were handed out to a couple hundred administrators at Superintendent Carlos Garcia's back-to-school confab in September.
An editorial in the same day's Chronicle faults the San Francisco school board for defying the will of the voters and refusing to preserve the city's Junior ROTC program:
The program will come to a halt in June unless board members vote to reverse a November 2006 decision to end it. Last November, San Francisco voters endorsed an advisory measure, Proposition V, in support of keeping JROTC.
The usual complaint--opposition to the federal law barring open homosexuals from serving in the military--doesn't apply here: "Young people of all sexual orientations are welcome in the San Francisco program." But ultraliberal school board members still object to JROTC as, in the Chronicle's words, "an indoctrinating recruiting tool."

So in San Francisco, if you're willing to risk your life for your country, you must be brainwashed. If you choke to death on your own vomit, you're a role model.


There are none so blind...

The article by a female writer below expresses contempt for women who have boob jobs. She seems genuinely unable to see why they do it. That men like bigger breasts and that women want to attract the widest possible choice in men seems quite beyond her. I guess she is a feminist who fails to understand normal human urges. On the other hand, maybe she likes men and resents the competition for them. I see no sign of that though. I think her juices are lacking

NOT all boobs are made the same. Some are made of soft squishy breast tissue, and others are fake. And the man-made ones look and act differently on their host bodies to the natural ones - tauter, rounder, perkier.

A friend recently commented to me that she noticed at the beach that a significant proportion of the young women she saw there had had boob jobs. Her observation is a sign that there has been a big change in attitude to, and uptake of, boob jobs. It is no longer the domain of stars and celebrities. Cleavage is now the right of every girl.

What to make of this trend? Is having your body cut into and stuff inserted to look hot a good thing? Is it simply a sign of young women making choices that please them, and therefore a symptom of the increasing confidence of young women to get what they want? Is it empowerment via the surgeon's blade? Or is it a more sinister co-opting of the minds and bodies of young women by patriarchy?

Growing up in the '70s, the sisterhood told young women that they did not have to conform to a particular stereotype of femininity. Susan Faludi in the '90s argued that preoccupation with looks took women's time and energy away from things that were more important in their lives. Are these ideas now outmoded? When I am disturbed about the trend towards plastic surgery among young women, am I a victim of frumpy moralising who needs to get hip to the funky new feminist agenda of individual choice?

Even if I just accept that women are free to choose to spend their money however they want, I still struggle with what the economists call the opportunity cost. A boob job costs about as much as a new small car, so what else could those young women have bought with their money? Take your pick from the very long list of social goods that money can buy: microcredit loans for developing countries, vaccinations, education resources. Or, closer to home, you could buy many funky threads, or even that new car.

Maybe those pneumatically enhanced young women on the beach have invested both in their bouncing bazumbas and in projects that develop social capital. Or maybe spending such an amount on their boobs is a symptom of a myopic focus on appearance at the expense of attention and concern for less cosmetic social goods.


Blue-Eyed, Brown-Eyed Bunkum

Corina Knoll is a young Korean-American journalist at the Los Angeles Times who recently interviewed and wrote a revealing appreciation of Jane Elliott, an Iowa teacher who made, first, headlines and then, fame and at least some fortune, with a controversial method she developed of teaching whites how racist they are.
Elliott ... created a now-famous exercise for her classroom of white third-graders. It was the day after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and she was struggling to explain the concept of racism.

She hit upon an idea: For an entire day, she conducted her class as if the brown-eyed children were superior to those with blue eyes. Elliott eventually made headlines, appeared on “The Tonight Show” and became the subject of multiple documentaries.

Three decades later, my high school sociology teacher played us snippets of a news program about the “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. For a 16-year-old Korean adoptee growing up in Iowa, the most fascinating aspect was this: Elliott had made history in Riceville, two hours from my hometown.

The daughter of white parents, I grew up in a predominantly white city, attended an overwhelmingly white school and interacted mostly with white friends. The subject of race in my community was hidden, buried under rhetoric that insisted we remain “colorblind.”

Elliott was the first white person I ever heard who admitted to the privileges of whites, acknowledging that visible differences affect how the world perceives us. Her words sparked a hunger in me for more.
She found it and, in the words of Richard Palmer, a reader who pointed me to her column, “went on to become yet another race obsessed journalist.”

Jane Elliott, however, is another story, a fascinating case, perhaps the founding mother of race-obsessed white guilt in America. According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, her work
is sometimes cited as a landmark of social science. The textbook publisher McGraw-Hill has listed her on a timeline of key educators, along with Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Horace Mann, Booker T. Washington, Maria Montessori and 23 others.
As Jane Elliott herself is only too happy to tell you,
Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you. . . you are in for a rude awakening.

In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott’s work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it.
“Rude” does seem to be the word for Elliott’s method. Alan Charles Kors, a distinguished historian at the University of Pennsylvania who has written a thorough and perceptive analysis of the movement Elliott embodies, describes her as the “Torquemada of thought reform.” And he’s not alone. Linda Seebach, a former columnist for the former Rocky Mountain News (perhaps it couldn’t survive her retirement) wrote in 2004, quoted in the Smithsonian article linked above,
that Elliott was a “disgrace” and described her exercise as “sadistic,” adding, “You would think that any normal person would realize that she had done an evil thing. But not Elliott. She repeated the abuse with subsequent classes, and finally turned it into a fully commercial enterprise.”
According to another discussion of Elliott’s work,
The BBC opines that her training style is “uncompromising, brusque and authoritative. She tells her captive audience, she is their “resident BITCH for the day – Being In Total Control Honey.” Strong critics of Elliott, such as Carl F. Horowitz call her the “Dominatrix of Diversity” who wages “…psychological warfare against employees – more specifically, white employees….” [Citations omitted]
More from Kors on Elliott’s Iowa beginning:
Blue Eyed arose from Elliott’s elementary school class in Riceville, Iowa, where, starting in 1968, she inflicted upon her dyslexic students an experience in which they were loathed or praised based upon their eye color. According to Elliott, she was ostracized for this experiment, her own children were beaten and abused, and her parents (who were racists, she informed a Dutch interviewer) were driven into isolation, bankruptcy, and despair because they had raised “a nigger lover” (one of her favorite terms).

In her modest explanation, once news of her exercise with the children made it onto national television, the people of Riceville feared that blacks across America would assume that everyone there was like Elliott and would move to their town. To punish her for that, they stopped buying from her father. Elliott also revealed to her Dutch interviewer that she abandoned teaching school in 1984 to devote herself full time to diversity education, for which she receives $6,000 per day from “companies and governmental institutions.”
The Los Angeles Times’s Knoll reports her income more recently (Kors was writing in 2000) as “about $7000 a day,” but she tells essentially the same story:
Customers stopped patronizing the hotel her parents managed. Passersby called her names and shouted insults. The bowling team that she had long played for replaced her, and she was no longer invited to play bridge. Her children were spat on and knocked down, their belongings defaced.

When Darald got a job managing a supermarket in nearby Osage, the family was happy to move, although Elliott stayed on as a teacher in Riceville and continued to conduct the exercise. She still marvels that she wasn’t fired, believing it was because four generations of her family had lived in the community.

“And I’m white, so I have credibility,” she adds....
Despite Elliott’s financial success, there is something worse than sad here, more like pathos. Knoll writes that “Elliott's outspoken personality clearly continues to chafe on many.”
She says friends her age are hard to make, and over the years her relationships with her family deteriorated. Her mother and siblings asked her not to come around because she made them uncomfortable. Elliott's mother died seven months ago; she did not attend the funeral.
It is a measure of Knoll’s “race obsession,” I think, that leads her to attribute Elliott’s difficulties with friends and family merely to her “outspoken personality” that makes them “feel uncomfortable.” Nevertheless, both Knoll and Elliott believe that Elliott’s sacrifices were “worth it” because of, well, Knoll herself. At the end of the interview, Elliott asked Knoll:
“Did it make a difference to you when you heard about it?”

I think about a Midwestern girl who wasted years yearning to be white, who believed life would be easier, happier, better, if her brown eyes were not almond-shaped, who wavered between feeling insecure and invisible, and whose heart leaped upon learning of the blue-eyed woman who spoke of white privilege and institutionalized racism.

Did Jane Elliott’s work make a difference to me? Yes, so much so that I felt the need to seek her out just to let her know. Elliott listens, then turns away and sighs. “Yeah,” she says softly. “It was worth it.”
This is a variation on the theme that we’ve seen many times (such as here, here, and here) from many defenders that affirmation action must be worth it because it helped ... them.

Here’s a bit more on Elliott’s method and message, from Kors:
In Blue Eyed [a training film based on one of her workshops], masochistic adults accept Elliott’s two-and-a-half-hour exercise in sadism (reduced to 90 minutes of film), designed to make white people understand what it is to be “a person of color” in America. To achieve this, she divides her group into stupid, lazy, shiftless, incompetent, and psychologically brutalized “blue eyes,” on the one hand, and clever and empowered “brown eyes,” on the other. Some of the sadism is central to the “game,” but much is gratuitous, and it continues after the exercise has ended.

Elliott is unbearably tendentious and ignorant. To teach what an IQ test truly is, she gives the brown eyes half of the answers to an impossible test before the blue eyes enter the room, explaining that, for people of color, the IQ exam is “a test about which you know absolutely nothing.” IQ tests only measure “white culture.” They are a means of “reinforcing our position of power,” and “we do this all the time in public, private, and parochial schools,” using “culturally biased tests, textbooks, and pictures on the wall...for white people.”...

... [I]n her view, nothing has changed in America since the collapse of Reconstruction. Every day in the United States, she explains, white power keeps black males in their place by calling them “boy” (two syllables, hissed), “and we do it to accomplished black males over 70, and we get away with it.” We tell blacks to assimilate, which means merely to “act white,” but when they try that, we put them in their place and change the rules. For example (this in 1995), whites now are building up Colin Powell, but as soon as they build “this boy” up, they will kick him down. For Elliott, the Powell boom was a conscious conspiracy to humiliate and disorient blacks.

She teaches her “blueys” with relish that protest accomplishes nothing, because if blacks protest, “we kill them.” It is not smart to speak up or act clever, which is why blacks appear passive and stupid. The lesson: “You have no power, absolutely no power. ...Quit trying.” Blacks might try to “win” on the inside, but it is almost impossible to validate oneself when white society puts you down “all day, every day.” ....

In short, this is America, and there truly is no hope. Nothing ever changes. No one can succeed by effort. Culture, society, and politics all are static. “White privilege” controls all agencies of power, influence, and image, and uses all the means that arise from these to render “people of color” psychologically impotent, confused, passive, and helpless. So either vent your hatred or assume your guilt.
Based on Knoll’s interview just before last fall’s election, the rise of Obama did not seem to have much of an impact on Elliott’s views.
It is late October, five days before the United States elects its first black president, and Elliott is in a dither. Her Iowa absentee ballot in favor of Barack Obama was mailed in weeks ago, although she worries about what he’s up against.

“Whatever a black person does, he has to do twice as good as a white person to be thought of as half as good,” she says, her sharp voice rising.

Dressed in a pink cotton shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes, Elliott is the picture of a grandmotherly retiree, but her voice remains that of a stern teacher. Obama “mustn’t look angry because we have demonized black men,” she says. “He knows exactly how to get accepted. He’s a bargainer . . . and that’s OK if that’s what it takes to get white people to listen.”
Finally, even leaving aside Elliott’s dismal, deterministic view of the inoperable rot of racism at the core of American society, it seems to me that there is a fundamental inconsistency at the core of the blue eyed/brown eyed exercise. First, note that Jane Elliott herself tells us that the meaning, the significance, of her blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise is that it “exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors.” Race, in other words, is not real, is only a matter of pigmentation (in her exercise, of the iris; in real life, of the skin), and thus there are no differences between the groups arbitrarily assigned to the two different classes.

But if there are no real differences between the “classes,” then how do the brown-eyed or blue-eyed provide “diversity” to the those assigned to the other class? If any of those large corporations or government agencies who have paid Ms. Elliott $6000 or $7000 a day (or universities that have used her exercise in their freshman indoctrinations orientations) really believe in her view of racial reality, then they all should move immediately to dismantle all their “diversity” programs.

That’s the first inconsistency, but there’s another, different one. “Yes,” the defenders of Elliott’s bunkum could retort, “there are no underlying, real differences between the two socially created classes [races], but prejudice and bigotry have made them different!”

Not only could they say that, but they actually do. Here’s Knoll in the Los Angeles Times:
Within 15 minutes, Elliott says, she observed her brown-eyed students morph into youthful supremacists and blue-eyed children become uncertain and intimidated.

Brown-eyed children “became domineering and arrogant and judgmental and cool,” she says. “And smart! Smart! All of a sudden, disabled readers were reading. I thought, ‘This is not possible, this is my imagination.’ And I watched bright, blue-eyed kids become stupid and frightened and frustrated and angry and resentful and distrustful. It was absolutely the strangest thing I’d ever experienced.”
Perhaps Elliott should be credited with discovering what would later be called “stereotype threat.” In any event, according to one analyst of her work, Elliott believes that her exercise provides
proof that black underachievement was purely a product of white-dominated constructions of reality. Turn the tables on whites, and they, too, will perform poorly. “We had one (brown-eyed) girl with a mind like a steel trap who never misspelled a word until we told her that brown eyes were bad,” she proudly recalled to a campus audience many years later.
And just think: if such profound differences can be produced during the short span of an Elliott-orchestrated exercise, imagine the results of centuries of oppression! “I'm only doing this for one day to little white children,” as Kors quotes her. “Society does this to children of color every day.”

But wait. Doesn’t it prove too much to say that prejudice and bigotry can make the privileged class smart and assertive and the victimized class dumb and passive? If the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise amounts to more than just children (and adults put in the role of children) playing games, it suggests that discrimination-induced differences are real and lasting, and that suggestion in turn calls to mind a phenomenon I’ve discussed before, such as in “Victims ... Of Victimization Theory”:
... the degree to which those who vigorously criticize oppression often portray the subjects whose interests they mean to support as helpless victims.

Perhaps the most influential example of this phenomenom was the publication in 1959 of Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, by the influential American historian Stanley Elkins. Influenced by the research of psychoanalyst Bruno Bettleheim, who had argued that Nazi concentration camps had “infantalized” their inmates, Elkins argued that the institution of slavery, like the concentration camps, was so oppressive and so all-encompassing that it broke the wills and psyches of slaves, making the “Sambo personality” real, not a figment of the imagination of deluded slaveowners. Elkins himself, by the way, was a liberal, and his analysis influenced many policy initiatives in the 1960s, not least of which was his friend Daniel Moynihan’s call for efforts to shore up the black family.

Elkins’s influence can also possibly be seen in the reference to the “comfortable concentration camp” by his Northampton neighbor, Betty Friedan, in her Feminine Mystique (1963). For a later generation of much more radical feminists, the “concentration camp” was not so comfortable. Andrea Dworkin, for example, was widely known for arguing that “all sex is rape,” i.e., that women have been so oppressed, so victimized, by male hierarchy that they are incapable of giving consent. [As I noted here in discussing EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., Prof. Alice Kessler Harris, the EEOC’s expert witness, argued much the same thing. “In fact,” I pointed out, “she was so hostile to the idea that the system leaves women any room at all to choose that she insisted on placing the terms “choice” and “women’s interests” in quotes, and even went so far as to deny that women themselves choose their own major subjects in college or that women business owners choose the types of businesses they own. ]
My own view, however, is that Ms. Elliott’s entire edifice is bunkum and thus that we should not waste time trying to determine whether the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise proves that a) racial differences are superficial, arbitrarily assigned, and irrelevant or b) that race is real, a visible reflection of the deep-seated and long-lasting damage that a bigoted and prejudiced white society has imposed on (and in) its racial victims.

Her exercise, in short, is fit for neither man nor beast. In fact, if it had been conducted on animals she would have been reported to the SPCA.


I wonder how the hate-filled Jane Elliott explains the outstanding success in America of all those brown-eyed Indians and Chinese?

Careless British abortionists kill healthy black girl

A girl of 15 died five days after an abortion because of a blunder at her clinic, an inquest heard yesterday. Alesha Thomas was supposed to have been given antibiotics to combat infection after the procedure. But she never received the medication and was struck down by a heart attack caused by a bacterial toxin.

The sexual health organisation Marie Stopes International, which ran the clinic, was strongly criticised by the coroner for procedural failings. He warned it could face legal action. Due to inefficient practices at the clinic it was not uncommon for patients to leave without being given their prescribed medication, the inquest heard.

Alesha was a 'healthy and fit adolescent' who confided in her mother Rose Bent that she was pregnant in June 2007, Huddersfield Coroner's Court heard. After discussing her options, they chose an abortion at the Marie Stopes International clinic in Leeds. Two weeks later, when Alesha was just over 15 weeks into the pregnancy, the 25-minute procedure was performed successfully by gynaecologist Dr Peter Paku.

An hour and 20 minutes after the operation the doctor issued an electronic prescription for Alesha to be given the antibiotic Doxycycline to prevent infection. But the doctor did not realise Alesha had been discharged 45 minutes after the operation and was no longer at the clinic. The inquest heard there was no system which meant nurses would re-check a patient's notes when they were being discharged to make sure instructions had been followed.

Dr Paku said patients leaving without their medication was a regular problem at the family planning clinic. 'It has happened many times. Prescriptions would be forgotten many times and we would have to make arrangements,' he said.

Three days after the operation, Alesha's concerned mother called the clinic's helpline, a call centre based in Manchester, and told a nurse that her daughter was suffering stomach cramps and heavy bleeding. The nurse advised she give her daughter Ibuprofen. She spoke to a nurse at the clinic again, who said her daughter's tests for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia had come back positive. The nurse advised her to ring her GP for antibiotics. It does not appear that any of the nurses ever referred to Alesha's online notes - which would have highlighted the earlier failure to take antibiotics.

Five days after the abortion Alesha, from Huddersfield, became extremely ill. She could not move her legs, had glazed eyes and was unresponsive. She was taken to hospital but had a heart attack on the way to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on July 11. The bacterial infection toxic shock syndrome was responsible for the heart attack, the inquest was told.

Recording a narrative verdict Coroner Roger Whittaker said if she had taken the drugs prescribed to her 'the balance of probability suggests she would have been more able to survive than die'. The coroner told the court he would be writing to Marie Stopes International in the hope it might develop better systems to prevent patients leaving without their medication.

A spokesman for Marie Stopes International said its staff were 'deeply saddened' by Alesha's death. 'We will look closely at the coroner's comments and take further steps, as appropriate, to address any areas of concern that have been identified,' the spokesman added.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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