Sunday, October 22, 2006
"I am actually offended."
So said Nancy Hill, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Duke, to a suggestion by another professor that maybe "negative peer effects" imposed on black youth -- like the so-called "acting white" scenario -- make it difficult to prepare minority candidates for college and beyond. Kenneth Knoerr, professor emeritus of environmental meteorology and hydrology, also said
"Unless we do something to improve the preparation of students at the high school level, we're never going to achieve our [diversity] goals."
Hill responded to Knoerr by saying such negative peer effects "are not supported empirically" -- and then added her "I am actually offended" statement. The Duke Chronicle not only made this their most recent headline story, but ended the article (about how a diverse faculty "remains an issue") with Hill's "offended" quip. You know, to make "a statement" that "offensive" comments like Knoerr's really should not be tolerated at such an enlightened institution like Duke.
But we would pose the question to Ms. Hill: Just how "supported empirically" is the notion of "diversity" in terms of assisting college student academic achievement? Exactly how does having more "professors of color" abet that coveted higher student GPA? The very premise of this Duke Chronicle front page offering is the great efforts by the august institution in recruiting -- and retaining -- minority instructors. We remain mystified as to why great universities like Duke care more about a cosmetic postulation like "diversity" instead of recruiting and retaining simply the choicest instructors out there -- hue and ethnicity be damned.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Diversity doesn't really matter
Tendai Musakwa, writing in Vassar's Miscellany News, highlights perfectly the college oxymoronic obsession with "diversity" -- except for the sort of diversity that really matters on a campus, that of intellectual and viewpoint diversity. Check out some of the responses he discovered about "viewpoint" diversity at Vassar:
Alex Tanskey ’07, one of the few conservatives at the College who identifies himself as such, said, “I have a conservative freshman friend who identifies himself as moderate because he wants to be able to have friends. In class, I can’t really express an opinion without having 10 people on my throat. For this reason, I don’t really speak up in class.”
We wonder what would happen if Tanskey's friend were, say, black? Sure, the analogy isn't perfect, but what if "10 people were on his throat" when he expressed a viewpoint? It is a safe assumption that Vassar would organize a "Stop the Hate" rally. Make that rallies.
Abby Laufer ’10, who identifies herself as liberal, said, “People who apply to Vassar are liberal because Vassar is well known for being a very liberal campus.”
Similarly, Alison Burke ’10, another liberal, said, “I think Vassar doesn’t attract a lot of conservatives and I don’t really have a problem with that.”
Well well well. Imagine that. First, a contemporary college student admits that people may want to attend a college because there are "people like them" there; second, we have an admission that real diversity does not matter -- at least to liberals.
Ms. Laufer confirms why there still exist HBCs -- Historically Black Colleges. People who attend these colleges are comfortable there, mainly because there are "people like them" attending. After all, if "diversity" (the college definition, not true diversity i.e. "viewpoint" diversity) was of such real import, HBCs would be dismantled, or at least these institutions would have a much greater magnitude push for "diversity" than they currently do. If other ethnicities' "viewpoints" were of such import (as we're constantly told, as if an ethnicity was some monolith with a collective ideology) HBCs would be working extremely hard to diversify their student body, wouldn't they? This is always an inconvenient fact to query of the "diversophiles." One to which you'll never receive an adequate response, mind you.
Ms. Burke exemplifies what liberal "tolerance" is all about. In other words, true diversity -- that is, viewpoint diversity -- is of no import to liberals. Only superificial "diversity" (race, ethnicity) is valued so at least they can appear as if they value the notion. Could you imagine the response of Ms. Burke had said "I think Vassar doesn’t attract a lot of minorities and I don’t really have a problem with that"? The Vassar administration would probably haul Ms. Burke from her stereotypically miniscule dorm room and drag her in for "sensitivity" training, followed by a "tolerance" seminar, followed by "diversity" classes.
Bravo to Tendai for bucking Vassar's groupthink and publishing this op-ed.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Colleges hate Fox News
Brandon Nadeau of the University of Connecticut's Daily Campus enlightens us to the travails of Fox News Channel's declining viewership. He writes :
This summer I was visiting my grandfather when my cousin's husband came by with his kids. While I had turned on CNN earlier, he switched it to FOX News. I questioned this change and I was told, "I watch it because it's funny." I guess less people are laughing these days at the right-wing clowns that populate the 24-hour news network. Ratings are in sharp decline for FOX's 10-year anniversary. In August, FOX's daytime programming lost 7 percent from a year earlier and the primetime ratings, Bill O'Reilly's turf, lost 28 percent.
Ah. "Right-wing clowns." What incisive terminology from a college newspaper writer! How acute! How penetrating! If we were running a large news operation, we venture to say we'd want to hire Nadeau right on the spot. No, not really.
We admit we're really curious as to who these "right-wing clowns" are at FNC. There's Sean Hannity, of course, who we could see may qualify. And ... who else, exactly? Many probably say Bill O'Reilly, but anyone who's actually watched him knows he's more a "populist," or a "traditionalist" than anything else. He's firmly in the global warming believers' camp, and thinks the Big Oil companies are essentially a bunch of hoodlums.
At the same time, CNN is seeing an increase of 35 percent overall and 21 percent daytime. Nine years ago, FOX surpassed the world's first 24-hour news network in the ratings, a year ahead of the expectations of the network's founder, former Republican think-tanker Roger Ailes. "Fair and Balanced" isn't as attractive as "The Most Trusted Name in News" these days. While FOX is still beating both MSNBC (whose Keith Olberman has seen an increase in ratings of 55 percent in the last year) and CNN, the gap is quickly narrowing and for the first time ever, FOX is declining in viewership.
Actually, Keith spells his last name "Olbermann," Brandon. And, we wonder -- would Olbermann qualify as a "left-wing clown"? Especially since he spends much of his show each night devoted to ripping anything conservative he can get his hands on? The same Olbermann who devoted numerous hours following the 2004 election on the subject of whether said election was "stolen"? The same Olbermann who just recently apologized to Bill Clinton for Fox News's Chris Wallace's quite ordinary -- and quite fair -- question?
As for the ratings question, it is indeed true that FNC's viewership has declined over the last few years or so. But we like this analysis from the bloggers over at The Colossus of Rhodey. They say:
Fox's Bill O'Reilly continues to dominate -- by a prodigious margin -- that most valuable of time periods, although if it's any consolation to poor Keith, the ratings for CNN and MSNBC have been gaining over the past year while Fox's have dropped off a bit. But that's like bowling games of about 280+ for a long time while your competitors are notching around 120 or so. They can only improve while you maintaining such a maximum level of performance can only help but drop off a little.
Colossus offers this link which shows the difference in viewship from 2005 and 2006 for the major cable players, as well as the overall current ratings. Regarding the latter, Fox still not only wins each time slot, they win decisively.
Most critics point out these differences as why FOX is in decline. CNN tends to report much better, usually from where the story is, whereas FOX usually commentates on the news. Also important is the obvious bias presented by FOX and its newsmen. Tony Snow spent years on FOX News doing the news before President George W. Bush pulled him back into politics as his press secretary - (he was a speech writer for Bush's father.) After 10 years of a hard right slant, people have gotten tired of such a bias and a blind following to the Republican right.
"Obvious bias." Do Nadeau and all the other big Fox critics ever stop and wonder just WHY Fox came to so dominate the cable news market ... and so quickly? Do they ever consider that it may be the "obvious bias" of the other cable networks, as well as the biggies (ABC, NBC, CBS)? That these news outlets had an "obvious bias" to the left, and that Fox News filled a much-needed niche that actually presented the conservative point-of-view on various topics?
And, oh golly -- Fox had Tony Snow at one time! Therefore, Fox has "a hard right slant." Nadeau's "logic" then dictates that since ABC has George Stephanopoulis heading a Sunday pundit show, that network has a "hard left slant." For, as you may be aware, George was a high-level advisor in the Bill Clinton administration.
What other Fox competitors feature pundits who worked for partisan public officials? Let's see: There's Chris Matthews at MSNBC who worked for President Jimmy Carter, longtime [Democrat] Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill as well as [Democrat] Senators Frank Moss and Edmund Muskie. Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" worked for [Democrat] Mario Cuomo and [Democrat] Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
We often wonder why it's "biased" for Fox to have people like Tony Snow working for them, but people like Stephanopoulis, Matthews and Russert can somehow "maintain objectivity." It would be quite depressing if it wasn't such a humdinger.
Nadeau goes on to yammer about stories Fox covered that he deemed weren't worthy, like naming an "energy drink" "Cocaine." He says
I'm sure that right now FOX is getting calls over Cocaine energy drink and how it's reprehensible to market a drink named after a drug to children. I think it's reprehensible to act like it matters, I think it's reprehensible to ignore the actual news in favor of human interest stories and miniature horses.
In our opinion (which actually matters as much as Nadeau's, although he reaches a lot more people), naming any sort of product which may be consumed by minors "Cocaine" is quite newsworthy, especially to, say, parents. We think it's reprehensible that Nadeau belittles such a story. We concur that this story does not equal the importance of, say, the genocide in Darfur, but why does this mean a news network shouldn't report about an addictive drug's moniker being used on a soft drink? In addition, we're privy to the general notion that the public would actually like to see some good news reported every once in a while. Perhaps this is why "human interest" stories get telecast here and there?
What's truly puzzling is the worriment that Fox News causes those on the left. The ONE news outlet with a conservative slant really sends them into a paroxysm of woe. We'd tend to use the analogy of the 1994 Republican Revolution in Congress -- the Democrats, who had enjoyed a monopoly on power for over 40 years, were overwrought at their political ouster. Likewise, the Big Media, who fancied a monopoly on news until FNC came along, are now acting similarly.
It's the inevitable sensation of realizing your power -- and ideology -- are no longer paramount. Or, to put it in blue collar terms, it's "sour grapes."
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Yeah! Why can't we invite more ... leftists?
Eastern University's Waltonian wonders that if Cabrini College can get someone with the stature of Elie Wiesel to speak at convocation, why can't they? (For those unfamiliar, Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work against the oppression of all peoples. His novel Night details his Holocaust experiences.) What gets us is the list of folk the aggregate hive mind at the Waltonian came up with that would be ... "acceptable" alternatives to someone like Wiesel.
They first bring up Anne Lamont. We've heard of Anne, but not very often. So, we did some checking. Anne is a columnist at the left-leaning Salon magazine website. Oh-hoh! It should come as no surprise as to why the cumulative cerebral effort at the Waltonian digs Anne -- just take a gander at these column titles: "The Rights of the Born" (where she describes how she "lost her mind" when someone asked her about abortion at a discussion session); "God doesn't take sides" (where she dubs herself a "left-wing" Christian and states "Bush and his people have gotten it so wrong"); and "Teddy and Me" where she writes "At a fundraiser in Oakland, I thanked Sen. Kennedy for all of his good work. Then he looked into my eyes and promised we were going to win." Gosh.
Next, the name of Spike Lee is offered. This one really left us scratching our craniums. Why in the world would an institution of higher learning want to invite a so-so film director who holds some rather quirky -- some would say conspiratorial -- views of the world? Oh, silly us -- this is a university! Maybe Spike could enlighten the Eastern disciples about how the levees were deliberately annihilated during the approach of Hurricane Katrina.
U2 frontman Bono is brought up next. We admit to liking Bono; however, our admiration is mostly limited to his musical efforts. That, and his ability to keep a modern rock group together for over twenty years. Our favorite U2 album happens to be "The Unforgettable Fire" which we're aware puts us in a distinct minority among U2 fans. We don't mind, because we're Brian Eno aficionados. (He produced the album.)
Donald Miller's moniker then pops up. Boy, the unified mentality of the Waltonian staff sure has a limited world view. Miller is a big fan of Anne Lamont -- he admires her ability to drop the "F bomb" every so often, and be a Christian to boot! Isn't that admirable!
Lastly, Ralph Nader is suggested to -- get this -- "force [students] to think more deeply about crossing political boundaries." Our emphasis. Yes indeed -- colleges should force their minions to "think more deeply" about their politics. And who better than 'ol Ralph? Or Elizabeth Elliot, an Anne Lamott clone?
The closing paragraph:
Thus, we should ask the Noam Chompskys and Nelson Mandelas to share their views with us. If a Catholic university can have a high-profile Jewish Holocaust survivor come lecture, then so can we. We need only ask.
We're not exactly certain who Noam "Chompsky" is, although we have occasionally read a not-so-subtle reference to him as Noam "Chumpsky." Not getting this "icon's" appellation correct means one of two things to us: Either the Waltonian's editor was asleep at the wheel, or the communal faculty that is the Waltonian editorial board really has no idea who Noam Chomsky is. If the latter is true, this then causes us to doubt how "well" the board knows all their other "choices" as well.
For the record, we have little quarrel with two choices offered by the Waltonian: Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We may not approve of their politics, nor some of their more outlandish statements (especially with regards to the latter), but their life experiences certainly merit recognition in the vein of Elie Wiesel. Which then begs the most obvious inquest: How in the freakin' world can someone in their right mind compare people like Wiesel, Mandela and Tutu with partisan lightweights like Lamott and co.?