Given the litany of enslavement, Jim Crow, exclusion from good jobs and neighborhoods and prosperity that followed, a core black population doesnt like anything "white." One can hardly blame them, even as they cut off their own chances. At the same time, a subculture perpetuates certain behaviors. Thirdly, some have internalized the blanket response that nothing is their fault. The resultant cocktail is toxic.

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"Those are the facts" regarding black boys being more violent than other students in school. But if we accept this as fact, it does not mean we should not be asking the all important question of "why black boys are more violent in school?" Could that have something to do with structural racism? I think so, but I am open to other view points.

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"The nut of the issue has always been that if we don't trace the problems to racism, then the only other possibility must be that black people are inherently deficient somehow." What are "the problems" though? For example, the NBA is 74% black and 17% white, The NFL is 69% black and 29% white. Presumably that inequality is NOT a result of discrimination. If we can live with the seeming fact that black people are better at basketball and football (on average) why is it such a huge deal if white people are better at math?

"only ticket to lifetime success". In the words of the Frinkazoid, that depends on how you define success. Do you have to be in the top quintile to be a success? Above the median income? Mathematically about 80% of the population will fail in the first metric and 50% will fail by the second.

My question would be what about the failures? Why can't they also have a good life? We can't all work high status, high paying jobs, and as more and more people get college degrees, that will be true of more college graduates too. It is not "career success" or jail any more than it is Yale or jail. There is, however, a lack of a safety net, but also a worry that too much of a safety net will become a hammock for many.

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So much of what is preached by the Elect completely ignores American history in the context of contemporary world history. Everytime I'm accused of bearing responsibility for what ocurred in 1619 and beyond I am left to wonder exactly what my "ancestors" in Sicily were doing at that point in time. There's a good chance that we were being brutalized and subjegated by invaders and barbaric rulers. I'm also left wondering what life was like in other places in the world at that time. What common customs prevailed that one today might consider barbaric (child sacrifice, genital mutilation, etc.) ? What sort of economic and political systems ruled the day? What was daily life like for the surf, slave, woman, child , etc. outside of what is now America? I'd love to see someone....John perhaps...do a short encapsulation of world history from 1619 to the present day. It think it would paint a picture of common human suffering that is hidden by Elect ideology and highlight the enormous contributions made by Western Civilization to the betterment of the world. It's a perspective that needs to be understood.

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It's a religion, all right. Notes from last week's faculty meeting: The population of our university preparation program is mostly Chinese nationals. So the concern was how to make them feel "safe" given all of this Anti-Asian Hate. This on the tail end of emails that denounced the shooting in Atlanta (which ought to go without saying) along with testimony to how the US has been anti-Asian for centuries, listing various crimes and laws against Asians dating back over a hundred years. How this could seem "welcoming" and "safe" is beyond me. One Asian faculty member claimed that she is afraid to leave her apartment because of all the "hate" out there. Even though our program is advertised as preparing students for art and design fields, we were asked how we teach anti-racism in our classes. One faculty member said she has them read a story about being discriminated against, as she had been when she first came to the US because she is 'brown,' which was hilarious to me because I have been working with her for over fifteen years and never noticed that she is "brown." Her writing assignment -- for young Chinese nationals -- requires them to provide a personal narrative on their experience with racism in the United States (this is NYC), which for all intents and purposes forces them to find it in order to get points for doing their homework. But the real kicker came when someone posited that our students need to "see themselves" in the materials we assign. One woman "realized" that she was assigning too many white men, so she replaced an essay on the same subject but written by a black man, and this was "better." I am still scratching my chin trying to figure out how a room full of wealthy 18-year-old Chinese women would "see themselves" in an essay written by a black man, but not in an essay written by a white man. This was followed by several testimonies to "realizing the harms their whiteness had caused." I could see my tortured expression in my zoom box. How to respond to that -- I wanted to say -- You go on ahead and suck up that narcissistic abuse. But I had already risked my position by insisting that we not impose ideological perspectives on students -- it's one thing to introduce them to the ideas, quite another to say: I think it is very important for them to understand that there is systemic racism.

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First, the assertion that prior to 1863 black people were slaves is not exactly true. While most black people in the South were slaves, and continued to be until 1865, not all were and blacks in the North most definitely were not. Furthermore, thousands of blacks owned slaves. Second, I have my doubts about the claims that white teachers in the 60s and 70s were "racist." No doubt some were but remember that the civil rights movement was a product of the 50s, not the 70s. As for "Jim Crow," segregation - which primarily consisted of segregated schools - existed only in the South and Midwest. The facts are that whites and blacks have coexisted and worked together all along, even during slavery although slaves were owned and provided food and shelter while poor whites worked for it. I suspect "the Elites" are more a product of politics than anything else.

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Along the lines of the-Elect-as-religion, Ed West at UnHerd has a new piece on how diversity training represents American Calvinism, (re-)imported now into the UK: https://unherd.com/2021/03/the-tyranny-of-diversity-training/?tl_inbound=1&tl_groups[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=242a49a77c&mc_eid=e2abfdf2a4

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"But in reality, cultural traits often persist beyond their original stimulus, having become subconsciously transmitted habit."

I often think -- but would never say out loud -- that the legacy of slavery has badly damaged black people in the US, but not in ways that would get me feted as the Wokest White Lady At The Charity Mixer.

Think about it. When you are working as a slave for someone else's enrichment and not your own, isn't refusal to work as hard as you can a form of rebellion? To slack off, to get away with shoddy work, is a form of self-esteem or righteous rebellion against injustice. To a slave, slacking off is a noble act, a small blow against injustice since your hard work would only put money in the pocket of your oppressor. That's the true poison of slavery: deeply engrained learned helplessness that persists long past when it was relevant.

The thing is, the rules have changed now. Most of us do work to put money in the pockets of others (Jeff Bezos has just WAY THE F*CK TOO MUCH MONEY, seriously -- no one needs that much money, people do not grasp how much 100 billion of anything is), but we also can work to better ourselves. We get paychecks, and we can earn more through learning and working well, even if we can't get to Zuckerf*cker status purely through virtuous hard work.

But that attitude that slacking off is a blow against the oppressor remains in the minds of those who have a legacy of slavery in their culture. I think that's that's the most destructive thing about the legacy of slavery: now that we can actually benefit from our own hard work (and we can, no matter what the brocialists would have us think), some of us are still living in a culture that thinks that shooting themselves in the foot by slacking off is an blow against injustice.

But I dare not say that out loud. No one dares to say it out loud, that the most destructive legacy of slavery is to have programmed a whole group of Americans that they can never, ever get ahead by dint of their own hard work in the 21st century because their hard work and ambition benefitted only their oppressors in the 19th century.

But how have we arrived at the point where saying out loud the precise way that the legacy of slavery has crippled Black Americans would get my dark white ass cancelled? How the hell can we solve this problem that continues to dog Black Americans if we can't even describe it out loud?!

I also felt I should address what you said about disadvantaged students who can't take in ideas quickly. I don't think that's the problem, the inability to think or learn quickly. In my experience as a disadvantaged kid who was also a math prodigy, the biggest problems I had were caused by the absence of cultural capital, little things that had nothing to do with how fast I could think. I ran rings around pretty much everyone else, including a lot of rich kids who were freaked out by it. But what I lacked was:

1. Parents who knew professors who could get me jobs in their labs over the summer,

2. People who could tell me that while "Who's Who In American High School Students" was a book-seller scam, Phi Beta Kappa was something I should have put on my resume,

3. People who could tell me that the opportunity grants I got were not the same as the Teas Scholar status I won by my utterly insane grades,

4. People who could tell me not to listen to the high school counselor who had no damned clue what to do with someone like me and could fob me off on someone who could give better advice,

5. People who could tell me proper lab etiquette, and the difference between a counselor and a mentor ...

and on and on the list goes. This is what I was missing, and there is no easy way to address these problems. The only way they can be addressed is for parents to get better educated themselves before they have kids. If your parents have a college education, you already have a huge leg up. Mine didn't and could hence give me zero help at all when I moved into a world they couldn't prepare me for. The single biggest thing you could do for your kids is to have ambition and a g/d college education yourself.


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(1) This is the best chapter yet. (2) Seeing the word "ideas" in quotation marks in reference to Kendi's "ideas" made me laugh both times I saw it.

The idea that post-slavery black Americans were hugely in favor of school is no surprise. That black kids (who had bad experiences being bussed into white schools) decided that school is "white" is no surprise, I guess? However, I didn't encounter that, exactly, from my black friends in the majority-black school I attended in the late '70s -- and bussing was around then, still, but not at my school (and I don't remember the details?) but perhaps the kids at my school didn't have that association with school being "white" because their school was majority black?

Well...trying to think back... at that particular school at least, the black students weren't singled out to be treated as hopeless cases destined to failure by a few hostile mostly-white teachers in a mostly-white context, right? So the kids didn't seem to associate school with "white"? At least at _that_ school at _that_ time?

BUT... what was it like? Well, my memory is that we were _all_ treated like hopeless cases, en masse. Children of the working poor and poor, with no expectations for success or an interesting future, with the result that the feeling in my school wasn't "doing well in school is a white thing" but rather, "Poor people are dumb/failures/hopeless cases."

In fact, when I got that full scholarship from a fancy prep school, and it was announced at the end of the year, many, many (mostly black) moms seemed so genuinely happy and excited for me --and one of my (black) friends told me, "Until I met you, I didn't think a poor person could be smart." That comment struck me. She was smart. She didn't realize it.

But all those (mostly black) moms who hugged me (even moms I didn't know hugged me) and seemed thrilled for me because I was going to a fancy school, they all seemed to think education was A-OK. I was not the lame white nerdy kid who got the scholarship or whatever. I was the regular poor kid who got the scholarship, and wasn't that exciting? I.e., I was "one of them"--and I'm not sure I would be considered "one of them" in our hyper-racialized society 40 years later.

So...I don't know. There are so many pieces to this elephant, and I've only got the one.

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The sooner this comes out in book form....the greater.

(I am aware that other contractual commitments prevent that from happening now.)

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The top of this chapter is not up to par. Of course it's silly and damaging to punish kids differentially by race, by lightening punishment from a group of kids if they turn out to be overrepresented among the offenders. But why spend a paragraph trying to prove black kids are rougher than similarly situated white kids? The intuition is simply that poor kids are rougher than rich kids, and the cited evidence doesn't suggest anything to the contrary.

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Breathtaking take down of anti-racism that left me hopeful and depressed.

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John, I love your analysis of this topic. Maybe that’s because I am white and appreciate that you explain so many of the senseless (to me) arguments about these matters many white woke/elect friends and co-workers spout constantly. I’ve presented your work to some as counterpoint to the KenDiAngeloian perspective, but the lack of any intellectual curiosity about alternative points of view is breathtaking and frustrating, made especially so by the fact I work in the field of informal science education (think science center or science museum) with people with backgrounds in science. They seem completely disinterested in considering any alternative hypotheses. Keep up the good work and here’s to the hope your message works its way into wider circles of the population b

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I have on more thought that I'd like to add as a continuation of my comments below, particularly in regard to the discussion in this chapter of elite universities and colleges.

I highly recommend Daniel Markovits' book The Meritocracy Trap, in which he argues that the meritocratic ideal that justifies or animates elite universities, and other elite spaces is a net destructive force for those who seem to benefit the most from meritocracy, and for everybody else too. Markovits' analysis of why the meritocratic elite tend to be so woke has crystalized thoughts I've had about this topic that have been swirling around for a while. He is worth quoting at some length on this topic. Here is what he has to say:


" ...today inequality that appears justified (because of meritocracy) degrades both sides of the meritocratic divide. Meritocracy most obviously corrupts elite values by encouraging the view as Dreyden wrote,'that he, who best deserves, alone may reign.' Less obviously, but no less consequentially, meritocracy also makes elites at once defensive and complacent; excessively sensitive to the harms associated with unmeritocratic discrimination, and numb to the harm produced by meritocracy itself.

On the one hand, meritocratic elites make prejudice that has no meritocratic gloss-- based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality-- into a cardinal and unforgivable sin that must be suppressed absolutely and without regard for the cost. Widely embraced norms that govern elite life in the everyday, therefore require a degree of caution and moralism around identity politics that has no analog for the other parts of morality. Elite society forgives (and even ignores) selfishness, intemperance, cruelty, and other long -recognized vices, but bigotry and prejiduce, if exposed, can end a career. Such moralism seems selective, out of sympathy with life's complexities and confusions, and sometimes out of proportion to the harms at stake. Decent people outside the elite recognize that bigotry is wrong, but they tend to regard prejudice as an ordinary vice, like greed or meanness, to be condemned, but also met with an apt indulgence for human frailty. Bigotry does cause immense individual and social harm, and charges that elite institutions- especially universities-succumb to political correctness can be politically motivated and are often made in bad faith. But they capture the important truth that elite denunciations of prejudice can be be excessively hard and, partly for this reason, unduly brittle.

The elite's intense concern for diversity and inclusion also carries an odor of self-dealing. Unlike other vices, prejudice attacks meritocracy's moral foundations, raising the specter that advantage more broadly follows invidious privilege rather than merit. Meritocracy demands extreme vigilance against prejudice in order to shore up the inequalities it seeks to legitimate against their increasing size and instability. The elaborate and fragile identity politics that govern elite life follow inexorably from the elite's meritocratic foundations."

On the other hand, meritocracy inclines elites to chauvinistic contempt or even cruelty regarding inequalities that cannot be cast in terms of identity politics. Political correctness does not denounce calling rural communities "backward," southerners "rednecks," Appalachians, "white trash," and the build of the United States "flyover country."

page 60-61.

There is a lot to unpack in there. My main takeaway is that a critique of antiracist excess is not coherent without a deeper critique of the meritocratic myth that justifies the existence of elite universities (and other elite spaces). We don't need to open up elite spaces artificially to people from marginalized backgrounds. We need to dismantle these elite spaces, or radically transform their elite nature. Markowits lays out a much more thorough and convincing case of why this is so than I can here. Check it out.

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Thanks for this. I live in what was once a more [than it is now] predominantly white suburb outside of Detroit. And when we opened our public schools to students outside of our district (Schools of Choice) in 1990’s, quite a few black students from Detroit enrolled in one of the high schools in our city. Well, I guess some of them were really behind where they should be to pass, so the school principal (who was white), set up a lunchtime and after school program for them as well as for white students who were behind to get the extra help they needed. He made arrangements with teachers (who are union employees, and it wasn’t in their contract) to do this. He was willing to fork over the extra cost. Well, the parents of the black students all complained that it was racist to do that. There were press stories. And eventually the principal backed down. I was floored. I thought, “What? When my kids struggle with a class or a subject, as one-income household at the time, we’ve had to sacrifice to pay tutors. No teachers were staying after school (especially on a regular basis) to help them. And you turned that opportunity down?! Wtf. What about your kids? Aren’t they worth making that extra investment in time and effort - and even though it may be inconvenient to you logistically?” And I was really upset that a principal who cared enough to do something like that had to deal with claims of racism and that mob mentality won.

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People get out of religions they are emotionally tethered to every day. Your assertion that because it is a religion, that it is not practical to attempt to reason rings inaccurate and pessimistic. Maybe it’s not realistic to expect to use reason to talk them down in the moment, but regular exposure to otherwise reasonable people who do not share their zealotry is and must be an important reminder. Once they get to a place where they no longer need the emotional benefits that adhering to the tenets of the religion gives them, it is positively essential that they remember there are many people who also don’t need them. Once they are ready to get out of the pool, they need to know there are plenty of folks willing to help them up. They won’t be persuaded by your reasoned argument, no, but when needed, they will remember that the argument took place. This is important.

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