SL 693

Peter Beinart does a good job explaining antifa. He says that while antifa activists use troubling tactics, they aren’t anywhere as noxious as Neo-nazis.

I’m not cool with the harassment of parents of neo-Nazis who have been doxxed.

Should college students stay away from white supremacist rallies and not counter demonstrate? Does this give the Nazi’s more power? There a rally going on in town tonight. Since neo-Nazis aren’t a huge problem in this area, I’m not sure that we’ll attend. I have a big problem with protests that become Instagram moments.

Interesting article by the ACLU defending the free speech and assembly of horrible groups.


Doubling Down

Yesterday, Trump gave a defensive and defiant press conference, where he doubled down on his previous statements about Charlottesville. He said that not everybody at the rally was a Nazi. There were equally evil people there who attacked the protesters. The protesters had a permit. And he questioned whether or not we were going to start taking down George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues next.

A lot of pundits said that Trump made a major misstep. He should have simply said that Nazi’s were evil and moved on to talk about his infrastructure plans.

I’m not entirely sure that it was a misstep. I think Trump knows his base a lot better than we do. They want to honor Thomas Jefferson. They were unsettled by the Black Lives Matter movement and the attacks on police. They fear the restrictions on freedom of speech.

They are also dealing with major disruptions in their communities. That’s why Trump also talks a lot about the opioid crisis. I saw a whole lotta white junkies in Asheville last week. I saw horrific numbers of twenty years olds passed out on the sidewalk and smoking cigarettes outside methadone clinics. I haven’t seen scenes like that since New York City in the 1980s. The local news featured the mayor of Nashville who talked about losing her son to drugs.

Trump is purposefully bringing it all together. He doesn’t need John McCain or Mitch McConnell. He’s building his own party. And a scary one it is.

Thoughts on Charlottesville

I just returned from a long drive to the South. In twelve days, we were in NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, VA, WV, and PA. Needless to say it was too much driving, and we have vowed that the next vacation will involve staying in one place for the entire time.

We were driving through VA when the problems in Charlottesville broke out. I momentarily considered a detour to Charlottesville to get a story, but I had two very tired kids in the backseat. They just wanted to get home. I feared them more than I feared the skinheads, so we stayed on course back to home.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t really understand the South. The first time that we visited my in-laws in North Carolina, we toured Fort Macon.  When the guide started talking about the War of Northern Aggression, I whispered to Steve, “what is he talking about?” I had never heard of this term for the Civil War.

But what I do understand is compromise, because that has been the way that the North has dealt with the South since the Revolution. For good or for ill, the country has turned a blind eye to evil practices in order to keep the nation together. When compromise hasn’t worked, there’s been conflict, riots, and war, of course, but then we very quickly return to compromise.

The compromise that we’ve had since 1960’s is that as long as African-Americans can vote and are not overtly discriminated against in terms of education and employment, then we will allow Southerners to maintain certain myths about their past – the whole tragic nobility of the South. We would allow them to honor their ancestors. We would allow them to pretend that slavery casts no shadow on today.

Well, when we uproot statues in their parks, when we punch holes in their myths and traditions, when we point out that grand-daddy was kind of an asshole, then that compromise unravels. There’s no question that the Nazi’s that marched through Charlottesville were a mentally unwell minority. However, there are a number of people down there who have been unhappy about the unraveling compromise. They might not wear swastikas, but they voted for Trump.

Honestly, I am not quite sure of what to do about this situation. Clearly, we can no longer have statues of Robert E. Lee in public parks, but how can you tell a group of people that their past and their ancestors are shit, and then expect that they will vote for our candidates and support our platform?

One way to have Southerners walk away from their culture is to heavily invest in modernity. We stopped in Raleigh on our long drive across North Carolina. Steve’s old college roommate lives there with his adorable wife. They are just about the nicest people that I’ve ever met. And like all super happy people, they started up an ice-cream store. Their business is booming like just about the rest of the town. Raleigh is a mix of Northerners who have come down to the new banking centers, university eggheads and students, and employees in all the new science and tech businesses. They have the largest, newest, shiniest high schools that I’ve ever seen.

Maybe by creating a better future in those states — more places like Raleigh — the South will more easily walk away from the past.

SL 692

I am very sad about Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. If those crazy kids can’t make it work in Hollywood, who can?

My twittterfeed has been yellling about that Google guy all day today. Some are saying that this move gave Trump a little more steam. Others are saying ‘who cares.” 

It’s raining at the beach today so we went to the movie theater. Saw Superman 2 for a second time. It’s a seriously excellent movie with a Ramones soundtrack. Peter Parker wears all sorts of geeky t-shirts that we’re buying for Ian. 

We visited Tryon’s Palace at New Bern yesterday, which is interesting to anybody who slogged through the later books in the Outlander books.  Tomorrow, we’ll have lunch with a friend in Raleigh on the way to Asheville. Bluegrass music every evening! 

I’m Here

We’re in NC visiting in-laws and picking up Jonah from an Outward Bound trip. Y’all will have to bicker without me for the week. It’s stormy, so I may do a post or two. (Cue a Donald Trump whine about a working vacation.) 

Admissions Games

So, Donald Trump wants the Justice Department’s civil rights division to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.

There are about a hundred ways to take apart Trump’s assumptions about college admission practices. I have exactly twenty minutes before Ian gets home, needs lunch, and then a drive to the community college for computer class. Let’s see how far I can get…

If you want to talk about one group pushing out another group from one of the finite positions in higher education, then the group to attack isn’t African-Americans. They make up a very small faction of all students at elite colleges in this country.  A 2015 article at the Atlantic points out that at ” all top-tier universities, black undergraduate populations average 6 percent, a statistic that has remained largely flat for 20 years.” Not a big number.

So, if you want to target one group that is taking an increasing number of spots at elite institutions, you really want to look at international students. There are way more of them than there are African American students. Colleges are increasingly seeking them out, because they can pay full freight of tuition. Some rushed numbers that I pulled up from

African-Americans International
Rutgers 8% 7.2
NYU 5.9 15.2
Columbia 6.4 17.9
Princeton 8.6 11.1
Harvard 7.3 11.4
UCLA 3.4 12.7
Univ. of IL 6.4 15.4

Secondly, all the research shows that the biggest problem is that excellent poor/minority students do not apply to elite schools when they have great GPAs/SATS and would be admitted. They are intimidated by the whole process and are fearful of leaving their communities. So, they end up at less selective local schools, where they sometimes end up paying more — a phenomenon known as “under-matching.” And elite colleges want to make it even more difficult for those kids by creating a new application process.

Thirdly, admissions offices have quotas for all groups. It’s way easier to get into college if you’re a dude. It’s easier to get into college if you aren’t from the Northeast. Asian girls from New Jersey have a much tougher time getting into elite schools than white dudes from North Dakota.

So, if Donald Trump really wants a completely unbiased system, then schools wouldn’t take into account gender, state, race/ethnicity, legacy, athletic prowess, and ability to pay full ticket cost for the school. Good luck with that.