Category Archives: Muddled Thinking

Response to a Summary of Michelle Obama’s thesis

The Politico’s Jeffrey Ressner has her thesis, (titled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” written under her maiden name, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson) [Part 1, 2, 3, & 4] and summarizes it in an article about the recent Michelle Obama controversies. I have a response to the summary of her thesis. I haven’t read the whole thesis, and am thus trusting that Mr. Ressner got it right. With that caveat, hoping that I am now protected from embarrassment, let’s carry on with it.

Some of the characteristic sections of the paper follow

“I based my definition on the premise that there is a distinctive black culture very different from white culture.”

and

“Predominately white universities like Princeton are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the white students comprising the bulk of their enrollments.”To illustrate the latter statement, she pointed out that Princeton (at the time) had only five black tenured professors on its faculty, and its “Afro-American studies” program “is one of the smallest and most understaffed departments in the university.” In addition, she said only one major university-recognized group on campus was “designed specifically for the intellectual and social interests of blacks and other third world students.” (Her findings also stressed that Princeton was “infamous for being racially the most conservative of the Ivy League universities.”)

and

She quotes the work of sociologists James Conyers and Walter Wallace, who discussed “integration of black official(s) into various aspects of politics” and notes “problems which face these black officials who must persuade the white community that they are above issues of race and that they are representing all people and not just black people,” as opposed to creating “two separate social structures.”

The paper included a research aspect.

To research her thesis, the future Mrs. Obama sent an 18-question survey to a sampling of 400 black Princeton graduates, requesting the respondents define the amount of time and “comfort” level spent interacting with blacks and whites before they attended the school, as well as during and after their University years. Other questions dealt with their individual religious beliefs, living arrangements, careers, role models, economic status, and thoughts about lower class blacks. In addition, those surveyed were asked to choose whether they were more in line with a “separationist and/or pluralist” viewpoint or an “integrationist and/or assimilationist” ideology.Just under 90 alums responded to the questionnaires (for a response rate of approximately 22 percent) and the conclusions were not what she expected. “I hoped that these findings would help me conclude that despite the high degree of identification with whites as a result of the educational and occupational path that black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility.”

Response

The idea of academic writing is to let the research determine the conclusions and allow it to support or disprove the hypothesis. The researcher may start with a hypothesis, but has to be ready to abandon the hypothesis if it is disproved.

Now the language gets tricky here because the paper is called a thesis, but I’m going to be using the other meaning of thesis. Let’s start with a few definitions.

the·sis
a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, esp. one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections: He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war.
Hegelian dialectic
an interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition (thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis), the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis).

Michelle Obama’s thesis is that there are two distinct black and white cultures that are very different from each other. The antithesis, apparently unstated in her paper, is that there are not two distinctly different black and white cultures in the US. Her research measured whether black graduates of Princeton perceived themselves in a black culture that was different from white culture. Their majority answer was that they did not. In other words, they saw no evidence in the progression of their lives that the thesis was true. To them, other black graduates of Princeton, there was no meaningful or distinctive difference between black and white culture. If Michelle Obama had been open to her own research findings she would have rewritten the paper to state that she had disproved her original thesis and supported its antithesis instead. Then she would have gone on to describe how this happened. Finally she would have expressed her synthesis, her informed understanding of how things work.

Judging from the summary, what happened instead is that she clung stubbornly to her thesis without ever acknowledging the existence of an antithesis or coming to a synthesis. Unfortunately this is symptomatic of the racial divide in this country, which seems to be an intellectual and perceptual divide between those who think there is no systemic racial divide and those who cling religiously to the belief there is one, rather than a divide based on empirical results. Can an intellectual habit or mis-perception be repaired by changing systems, by changing governments, or does it need to be repaired in the hearts and minds of those who believe in a bogeyman who does not exist?

h/t: Ace of Spades. Also on it, memeorandum, Captain’s Quarters, The Corner, Pat Dollard, Atlas Shrugs, Eunomia, Wonkette and JammieWearingFool

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The Picture of Antioch College: A Tragedy of Manners

The Picture of Dorian Gray

It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for. But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him. [link]

Of a morning in Yellow Springs, Ohio:

It is 9:30 on a sunny Monday morning in October, a time, day, and month when most college campuses bustle with activity: students hurrying to class or relaxing between classes on library steps or tree-covered lawns. Here, on the 200-acre campus of Antioch College, a 155-year-old liberal-arts institution best known nowadays for a campus culture that long ago drifted from the progressively liberal to the alarmingly radical (people still talk about the anti-date-rape policy that required a separate verbal consent for each step of an amorous encounter, famously parodied on Saturday Night Live in 1993), the phrase “bustling with activity” is not what comes to mind. […]

There are plenty of trees on Antioch’s historic campus in Yellow Springs, a town of 4,600 about 20 miles east of Dayton in rural southwestern Ohio–soaring oaks, walnuts, maples, and firs, many likely more than a century old. And there are plenty of buildings–dozens of residence halls and classroom facilities, along with a library that has seen better days and a turreted Victorian-era main building designed by James Renwick Jr., architect of the Smithsonian Institution’s landmark castle in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. As for Antioch students, however, there are none to be seen this morning, except for an occasional shadowy figure moving silently among distant trees like one of Ohio’s long-vanished Miami Indians on a solitary hunt.

The beautiful campus and stately trees of Antioch College are the face of Dorian Gray, while the managerial, financial and educational disaster detailed in Charlotte Allen’s Death by Political Correctness, are the horrifying portrait hidden under a sheet in the attic.

On June 9, 2007, the trustees of Antioch University, an adult-education offshoot of Antioch College that now dominates the college administratively, financially, and in terms of overall student population, announced that Antioch College would suspend operations on July 1, 2008, with a possibility of reopening in much-altered form in 2012, and that its entire faculty, including tenured professors, would be laid off. The reasons for the shutdown given by the trustees and by Tulisse Murdock, Antioch University’s chancellor since 2005, were many: years and years of incurable deficits, this year totaling $2.6 million on an annual college budget of $18 million; an extraordinarily low endowment of just $36 million (neighboring Ohio liberal arts colleges Oberlin and Kenyon boast endowments of $700 million and $167 million respectively); and a chronically low student enrollment that topped 600 only once during the preceding 25 years (compare that with Oberlin’s enrollment of nearly 2,900) and has declined precipitously since 2003. During the 2006-07 academic year, for example, only 330 full-time students were enrolled in Antioch’s bachelor-of-arts and bachelor-of-science programs–once so highly regarded that Antioch could boast that it had more graduates who went on to obtain Ph.D.’s than any other college in the country. This fall, after news of the pending shutdown decimated the incoming freshman class, there are just 220 Antioch College undergraduates left. That represents a decline of almost 90 percent from the 2,000 or so young people who attended Antioch during its peak enrollment years of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Read the whole tragic tale of the long, slow suicide of Antioch College here.

Inside, in the servants’ part of the house, the half-clad domestics were talking in low whispers to each other. Old Mrs. Leaf was crying and wringing her hands. Francis was as pale as death.

After about a quarter of an hour, he got the coachman and one of the footmen and crept upstairs. They knocked, but there was no reply. They called out. Everything was still. Finally, after vainly trying to force the door, they got on the roof and dropped down on to the balcony. The windows yielded easily–their bolts were old.

When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was. [Ch. 20]

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Hollywood Celebretards

I just started in PJ O’Rourke’s On the Wealth of Nations and there is an apropos quote from Adam Smith concerning overvalued celebs.
   

There are some very agreeable and beautiful talents of which the possession commands a certain sort of admiration; but of which the exercise for the sake of gain is considered … as a sort of public prostitution. … The exorbitant rewards of players, opera-singers, opera-dancers &c are founded upon .. the rarity and beauty of the talents, and the discredit of employing them.

Why exactly we treat these “public prostitutes” as royalty whose every word should be valued as much as precious jewels I do not know.

h/t: Woman Honor Thyself

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Non-existent details of Gitmo abuse

IHT, Mauritanian Guantanamo detainee details abuse, says Americans desecrated Quran

Though never tortured himself, Mohamed Lemine Ould Sidi Mohamed compared his detention to torture, telling The Associated Press in an interview: “Humiliating words against religion and against Muslims were a kind of currency they used every day.”

When a writer uses a verb like “details” for a prisoner’s description of his treatment, the reader expects to find some personal experience and details among the descriptions. But not this time. Mohammed squared (M2) is different.

“We respect and support the detainees’ right to worship,” a Guantanamo spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, said Friday, adding that the military provides the men there with prayer rugs and prayer along with Qurans in multiple languages.

“Allegations from detainees is common behavior and in keeping with tactics taught to al-Qaida members through their training guide,” he said.

See the Manchester Document for an early example of this.

M2 doesn’t know why he was arrested. “I’s innocent I tells you. Innocent! Innocent!”

“I spent five years in Guantanamo, but I don’t know anyone in al-Qaida and I have no relations with those people,” Mohamed said.

He doesn’t know anyone in Al Qaeda who was at the prison, but he knows what he believes.

Mohamed said he was not abused himself at Guantanamo, but he believed others were. “Each time people were interrogated, we heard the screams caused by torture,” he said.

M2 wasn’t tortured. People talked mean to him and stepped on a book that he thought was the Koran. But he’s sure that people were tortured when they were interrogated, even though it didn’t happen to him.

What is wrong with the media who published this non-story? Why is this even in the IHT? Who believes this stuff?

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JFK’s Assassination from the Texas Schoolbook Depository to the Mitrokhin Archive

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc, states:

In the 1990s, retired KGB officer Vasily Mitrokhin, helped by the British MI6, smuggled ca 25,000 pages of highly confidential KGB documents out of Moscow. They represent a minuscule part of the KGB archive, estimated to be some 27 billion pages (the East German Stasi archive had 3 billion). Nevertheless, the FBI described the Mitrokhin Archive as “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.” According to this archive, the first American book on the assassination, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, which blames the CIA and the FBI for the crime, was masterminded by the KGB. The book’s author, Joachim Joesten, a German-born American communist, spent five days in Dallas after the assassination, then went to Europe and disappeared from sight. A few months later Joesten’s book was published by American communist Carlo Aldo Marzani (New York), who received $80,000 from the KGB to produce pro-Soviet books, plus an annual $10,000 to advertise them aggressively. Other documents in the Mitrokhin Archive identify the first American reviewer of this book, Victor Perlo, as an undercover KGB operative.

Joesten’s book was dedicated to American Mark Lane, described in the Mitrokhin Archive as a leftist who anonymously received money from the KGB. In 1966 Lane published the bestseller Rush to Judgment, alleging that Kennedy was killed by a right-wing American group. These two books encouraged people with any remotely related background expertise to join the fray. Each viewed events from his own perspective, but all accused elements in the U.S. of that crime. New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison looked around his home district and in 1967 arrested a local man, whom he accused of conspiring with elements of U.S. intelligence to murder Kennedy in order to stop the latter’s efforts to end the Cold War. The accused was acquitted in 1969, but Garrison clung to his story, first writing A Heritage of Stone (Putnam, 1970) and eventually publishing On the Trail of the Assassins (Sheriden Square, 1988), one of the books that inspired Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.

The Kennedy assassination conspiracy was born—and it never died. According to another document, in April 1977 KGB chairman Yury Andropov informed the Politburo that the KGB was launching a new desinformatsiya campaign to further implicate “American special services” in the Kennedy assassination. Unfortunately, the Mitrokhin Archive is silent on the subject after that.

As I said a few months ago, “the answer that resulted from the process of investigation and trial was correct, but not politically correct according to the Marxist paradigm of the hippie left.” Now we have an ex-Soviet intelligence officer who states that the reason for the conspiracy theorizing is a Soviet disinformation operation.

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Question their Patriotism: Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats Say World Will Be Better Off if U.S. Loses War

Dana Blanton lays the ugly truth of rampant anti-Americanism out in plain sight.

NEW YORK — Nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq, according to the FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll released Thursday.

The percentage of Democrats (19 percent) who believe that is nearly four times the number of Republicans (5 percent) who gave the same answer. Seven percent of independents said the world would be better off if the U.S. lost the war.

Overall, 11 percent of Americans think the world would be “better off” if the U.S. lost the war, and 73 percent disagree.

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Sept. 25 to Sept. 26. The poll has a 3-point margin of error. [Fox News]

The time to question their patriotism is over. Wishing for their own country to lose a war has got to be the dictionary antonym of patriotism.

* * *

To carry the anti-Patriotism theme a little further, in an interview released today Barack Obama stated he decided to take his American flag lapel pin off in order to make an anti-Iraq-war statement. He is running for President of the United States. If he wins he will be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The other day he refused to state that he would pull US forces out of Iraq before 2013. And he has decided to make a statement against the war by removing his American flag lapel pin.

“The truth is that right after 9-11 I had a pin,” Obama said. “Shortly after 9-11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. [AP]

Symbols are important. They are not meaningless. Does Obama take off
his wedding ring when he has a fight with his wife? Does he remove his
wedding ring as a protest against the empty symbolism of the ring,
instead explaining to every Obama girl how he loves his wife and is
committed to his marriage? Wouldn’t that explanation work better if he
kept a ring on his finger?

If he is making a statement, it’s fair to explore its meaning. The surface meaning is that he no longer approves of the American nation. After removing his lapel pin, how does he respond to communists and other people who hate America and think that because he took off his lapel pin, that he must hate America too? Wouldn’t that explanation go better with a flag on his lapel? Only a naif would take off the pin and think that act has no meaning. It has a meaning, an obvious meaning, and no lengthy explanation can obscure its meaning.

Maybe he didn’t think about it very much.

Maybe he should.

Obama wants to be America’s president. How will he keep the respect of the military? How will he keep the respect of the people? How will he stand up for America’s values and needs in the face of hostile foreign powers? If he is too embarrassed about America to wear a symbolic lapel pin, then exactly how patriotic can he be?

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Reasons to be Cynical

One was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 for being the leader of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. One was nominated in 1945 and 1948 for being the most prolific mass murderer of the 20th Century. One won the prize after being the worst American President of the 20th Century. One won the prize for negligence while watching over North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons development. One won the prize for presiding over the UN during the Oil for Food scandal, in which his own son was a major player. One won the prize for appeasing the totalitarian regime in North Korea. One won the prize for masterminding terrorist attacks against Israel for fifty years. One won the prize for creating a nation of militant refugees and helping them double in size. One won the prize for leading the North Vietnamese Communist Party and rejected it as he hadn’t yet unleashed half a million boat people to dare the high seas in small boats in order to escape his workers’ paradise.

There are plenty more examples of Progressive thought where that came from.

And another reason… Have you heard the one about Columbia University inviting the Jew-hating dictator of a terror-sponsoring state to campus for a talk in 2007, and 1933?

H/T: LGF 1, 2

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