Tuesday, July 10, 2012

linkfest: race, class, gender, censorship... you know my obsessions

The Reproduction of Privilege - NYTimes.com: "Instead of serving as a springboard to social mobility as it did for the first decades after World War II, college education today is reinforcing class stratification, with a huge majority of the 24 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 currently holding a bachelor’s degree coming from families with earnings above the median income."

RACE - The Power of an Illusion . Background Readings | PBS:
Many things that we associate with race on the surface, like differences in savings rates or differences in education and performance, are really class differences when you get the data and compare individuals coming from similar economic circumstances. 
But the complicating factor is that those very economic circumstances are determined by race, through historical inequalities; through contemporary dynamics where whites get jobs disproportionately more than blacks do and other minority groups. So race matters, but it often matters indirectly through the class position, the economic situation of a family.
The Origins of the Underclass - 86.06: "The flight of middle-class blacks from ghettos has left a disastrously isolated underclass -- one formed less by welfare or a lack of jobs than by its rural-South heritage"

Mark Ames: Failing Up With Citigroup’s Dick Parsons « naked capitalism

The End of Men - Magazine - The Atlantic: "Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences"

Lakota Spirituality in American Gods is a mighty fine answer to this particular bit of identitarian misreading.

Purity leftism | MattBruenig | Politics: "In theory, allyship refers to those with privileged identities being deferential to and supportive of those with oppressed identities without telling them what to do. In these privileged student circles however, allyship is a competitive social justice sport where people try to rack up what I would call ally points. Allies buzz around learning how to be the best ally, chiming in about this or that privilege, this or that erasure, this or that marginalization. Self-appointed allies do this stuff never, it seems, to actually push things forward in meaningful ways, but generally just to salve their own discomfort, and purify themselves of badness."

from the comments on A problem with one facet of identity politics | MattBruenig | Politics: "Being totally deferential about subjectivity means that we spend more time attending to the needs of the most sensitive. But I suspect -- and this is just a hunch -- that sensitivity levels are inversely correlated with how much hardship someone has experienced. The better off someone is, the less it takes to get them fuming or what have you. If that is true, a total deference to subjectivity then (i.e. not being allowed to say that someone's feelings are kind of uncalled for and do not have an origin in political oppression) actually skews power in the favor of those who have the least problems."

Identitarianism’s class problem | MattBruenig | Politics: "The fundamental problem with cramming poor people into the identitarian framework is that, unlike every other identity treated in that framework, justice for poor people requires their elimination."

Racist Babies? Nine-Month-Olds Show Bias When Looking At Faces, Study Shows: "While 5-month-olds were equally able to distinguish faces from different races, 9-month-olds fared better with their own race. Likewise, brain-activity measurements showed the 9-month-olds processed emotional expressions among Caucasian faces differently than those of African-American faces, while the 5-month-olds did not."

silencing critics

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a conservative white woman married to a conservative black man, both writers for conservative papers including the Wall Street Journal, was fired from her gig at the Chronicle of Higher Institution for criticizing black studies. The paper published Black Studies: 'Swaggering Into the Future', then invited Riley to respond. She did: The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations. When that resulted in flames, she was fired: A Note to Readers. She wrote about it for the Wall Street Journal: Naomi Schaefer Riley: The Academic Mob Rules.

It's a sad day for academia. The proper response to conservative capitalists is to refute them, not silence them.


  1. Will:

    Have you actually read Naomi Riley's screed against black studies? It's ridiculous. She makes fun of dissertations she hasn't read based on their titles and a few words from their abstracts. Not exactly a persausive argument.

    I think it's more accurate to say that Naomi Riley was properly fired for providing zero value-added to any legitimate intellectual debate over the issues she discusses. The right to free speech does not mean that the Chronicle of Higher Education has to publish what she writes.

    I don't think you advance your causes by defending Naomi Riley.


    Tim Bartik

    1. Oh, as far as I can tell, she's as wrong as wrong can be. But she wasn't fired for job performance. She was fired for upsetting readers. Perhaps I'm sympathetic to her because of the parallels to Wiscon's censorship of Elizabeth Moon, who I also disagree with, and also think should not have been censored. I'm just a big fan of something Voltaire didn't say, but believed: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

      Okay, I won't defend anyone's right to speech to the death, 'cause I'm not so idealistic as to let liberty trump life. But I will defend to the point of ridicule the right of wrong people to speak wrongly.