Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Real Problem of Roe v. Wade (It's Not What You Think)


Forward: The Texas abortion law has thrust the abortion issue back to the forefront of the culture wars, and, for some, it might seem inappropriate for a white American male in his early sixties to be commenting. If you're one of those people, I ask for your forbearance, because this column is not an attack on the right to choose. Nor is it a defense of it. Rather, it is an exploration of how, as Americans, we got to such a divisive place.


Ever wonder why you never hear about abortion protests - for or against - in other countries? Seriously, think about it. Where are the mass marches in India or Brazil or Morocco? They happen, once in a while, but it's nothing like the constant frenzy that the issue provokes in the U.S.

Why is that?

I thought it would be interesting to research abortion laws around the world. Would I find clues to the silence? What I found was interesting. 

Abortion was legal in exactly zero countries until North Korea legalized it in 1950 (probably to cut the number of mouths to feed). Later in the 50s it was followed by a number of other communist nations such as the Soviet Union, and then in the 60s Cuba. The first Western nations to follow suit were the Netherlands and the U.S. in 1973.

Today, abortion is widely available, even in Catholic countries like Ireland and Italy. In fact, there are only five countries out of 199 that bar abortions in all circumstances: Abkhazia (yeah, I'd never heard of it either), El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Vatican City.

Here's where it gets interesting. Do you know how many countries have full abortion-on-demand, regardless of circumstances?

Four.

That's it.

They are: Canada, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. Virtually every other country allows abortions, but with gestation limits.

Liberal Denmark, that other early-70s abortion pioneer is twelve weeks. France? Fourteen weeks. Sweden? Eighteen weeks. Hey, how about Mongolia? Fourteen weeks.

The world average is about thirteen weeks.

The global consensus seems to be: the later a pregnancy is terminated, the bigger the tragedy. Aborting an eight-month-old fetus is a morally worse thing than aborting a lesser-formed, two-month one. 

Of course, there's no celestial arbiter that can say this is true, at least not one we can speak to. It is just how most countries have decided they feel about the issue, and they crafted their laws through democratic consensus. The message to women: if you're going to do this, our societies will allow it, but it must be early in your term.

These countries represent every conceivable religion and political system, yet they arrived at remarkably similar positions. The majority are democratic, so they got there through democratic consensus.

America did not, and that's the problem. We arrived where we are through judicial fiat, otherwise known as "Roe v. Wade."

That Roe was a horrible decision, Constitutionally speaking, is understood by all serious judicial observers. Justice Blackmum made up a Constitutional right to privacy out of whole cloth - in this case, the 14th Amendment - because he needed some thin reed on which to achieve a policy outcome the Burger Court clearly wanted. In reality, the Constitution is silent on abortion and the right to privacy, which means our fifty states should be able to decide the issue for themselves.

Just because Roe was bad jurisprudence doesn't mean many weren't quite happy with the outcome. The ends justify the means, if you convince yourself the ends are important enough.

But there have been consequences to legalizing abortion via judicial fiat rather than the ballot box. 

Once abortion became the province of the courts, the issue could no longer be addressed through democratic negotiation. It became an all-or-nothing proposition in the courts. Positions on both sides hardened, particularly among the culture warriors and the PACs. You had to be for unlimited abortion-on-demand, or against any abortion, anytime. Even the slightest concession was viewed as the slippery slope, the dam bursting. Nuance and compromise became impossible. Many people became one issue voters.

Now, we live in a highly polarized culture and Roe, more than almost anything, is a root cause. Abortion has been weaponized by both parties. We also have high stakes dramas around every new court pick. It was never like that before Roe.

I believe most Americans have a view on abortion closer to the Swedes and the Mongolians. The problem is, the court took away their power to decide for themselves.

Roe should be overturned not because abortion is evil. It should be overturned because it's bad law. 

But what happens then? To hear the hysterical left talk about it, the world will come to an end, and no woman will ever be able to terminate a pregnancy. 

That won't happen. 

Even before Roe, twenty states permitted abortions (under varying circumstances). That was fifty years ago, in a far more culturally conservative era.

Legislation would be passed very quickly in most states. My guess is that fifteen or twenty would continue with our current policy, and the remaining will have gestation limits. And while it's possible, I doubt any states would opt for a complete ban. What do I base that on? Texas, one of our most conservative states, went with a six-week limit. (This is admittedly very short, but it's what their duly elected representatives wanted. It can be changed if it doesn't prove popular. The will of the people has to matter.)

And what if you're a woman, and your state's laws don't work for you? Well, I'm not suggesting this is convenient, but you can always drive a few hours to the next state. Anything that important to your life should be worth the inconvenience.

Ultimately, things will calm down. My evidence for this? The rest of the world.

The problem is, Democrat operatives, and even a few Republican ones, don't want this. A lot of money is raised on the back of the abortion wars. In the wake of Texas, abortion will likely dominate the 2022 midterms, just as it's quickly dominating the Virginia governors election, coming in a few weeks. This is unfortunate, because there are so many other things we need to be talking about.

You will notice I haven't offered my own opinion on abortion, and that's because it's besides the point. The point is that we've approached this issue in the wrong way. Roe wasn't just a horrible decision, constitutionally, it was a significant progenitor of today's culture wars.

Time for it to go.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Fallacy of Credentials

 For your consideration, I give you Jake Sullivan.


Sullivan, as a reminder, is Joe Biden's National Security Advisor. He is a mere forty-four years old. But what a resume!

  • Sullivan went to Yale, where he was an editor of the Yale Daily News, graduated summa cum laude, was Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Snow Prize as the single best scholar in his class.
  • Upon graduation, he was offered both Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. He went with the Rhodes.
  • From Oxford, it was off to Yale Law School, where he was an editor on the Yale Law Review.
  • From there, Sullivan clerked for Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court.

I'm even leaving out some stuff. Credentially speaking, Jake Sullivan sits at the very pinnacle of the American establishment. Resumes don't get much better.

And you know what? None of that means a damn thing, because Jake Sullivan is an idiot. 

Oh, I don't deny that Sullivan is book smart, and likely has a capacity for hard work. Once, a generation or two ago, you would have said, "Wow, this is a crazy-smart guy." But now all his resume says is, "I have marinated my entire life in the progressive establishment, and am now a card-carrying member of America's liberal elite." 

It hardly merits mentioning that this has left Sullivan without the capacity for common sense. He has presided, in various capacities, over the following foreign policy disasters:

Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Iran, Myanmar, and now, of course, maybe the biggest foreign policy catastrophe in collective memory, Afghanistan.

Jake Sullivan is not alone. I'm picking on him because, well, he's just such low hanging fruit. Our nation's elite institutions are turning out scores of Jake Sullivan's. (England, too - check out the Rhodes winners. 100% social justice warriors.)

But when a tenured Cornell professor calls black holes "racist," when Harvard holds a separate graduation for blacks, when Yale bans calling anyone a "master" of something, seriously, what do you expect? Kids with street smarts or basic common sense?

The institutions that we have traditionally placed on the top of our cultural pedestal - the ones that award all those coveted credentials - are now the most corrupt. They have become radical left-wing echo chambers where ideological adherence is rewarded and dissent swiftly punished. Social justice has replaced the search for truth as the over-arching guiding principle. Debate and free inquiry have all but vanished, because both imply there's more than one acceptable viewpoint. Students rising through this system are never truly taught how to think, merely what to think (to quote my friend, Andrew Gutmann). 

Such inflexible minds are destined to fail when let loose in the messiness of the real world, where solutions require mental agility, reason, and common sense. They require one to think through different options and to consider the perspective of others. It was almost deliciously revealing that the very week Afghanistan fell, our embassy there was flying a gay pride flag (as encouraged by another credentialed idiot, that Princeton grad with a chest full of meaningless ribbons, Mark Milley).

One wonders if Jake Sullivan realizes just how useless all his credentials are. Just kidding, because there's no way he does. That was rhetorical musing on my part. Jake Sullivan will continue to burnish his resume. Our finest universities will heap honorary degrees upon him and ask him to speak at graduations. The media will exalt him. High paying sinecures and book deals await him when he leaves government service. Perhaps he'll even win an Emmy like Andrew Cuomo.

Guys like Jake Sullivan fail in only one direction - up.



Friday, August 27, 2021

Joe Biden Just Made the World a More Dangerous Place


The Great Destroyer

My contributions to Naked Dollar have long been sporadic because I only write something when I think I have something to say that isn't already being said by a thousand other people. This doesn't happen every day. So what could I possibly add to the debacle in Afghanistan?

Since everything is so chaotic, and developments are happening literally by the hour, I don't see enough people considering the medium and long-term ramification, and they are not pretty.


The short version is that Joe Biden has made the world an immeasurably more dangerous place than it was a month ago.


What we can look forward to in the medium term is this: the Taliban will keep some number of Americans as "guests," saying it's for their own "safety." Then, they will create a special new "exit visa" that the American government will have to pay to extract each guest. Ten million a head. Or a hundred million. Perhaps a billion? The Taliban follow the news, and they know full well that Biden is about to spend trillions of dollars of money he doesn't have. What's another hundred billion or so?


He will pay it, of course.


But here's what comes after. 


The Chinese and the Russians will start bidding aggressively for the Taliban's affections. Their largesse will not come with strings attached like gender equity mandates. “Want to make sex slaves out of 12-year-old girls? Have at it, Mustaffa…


The Taliban, not being stupid, will play these two powers off each other to maximize their riches. This is on top of the billions Joe Biden will have already sent over in ransom (perhaps even on palettes).  To the highest bidders, the Taliban will also auction off the most desirable American weapons of war, especially those “smart” systems with our proprietary software management programs. Everything will be reverse engineered down to the last screw and line of code.


Eventually, either China or Russia will become the Taliban's key strategic partner. My money is on China, because they are eyeing Afghanistan's mineral wealth, particularly the lithium deposits and critical rare earth minerals that are important elements in technology products. They will build Afghanistan all sorts of nice things in exchange for lots of strategic resources that a bunch of stone age tribes couldn't care less about, but that we, and the Chinese, care a great deal about. 


But that's not even the bad part. China has demonstrated its clear interest in destabilizing the West by any means possible (same with Russia, should they come out on top). They do not view us as partners in growth. They are communists, so everything is zero sum. The problem is that militant Islam also wants to destabilize the West. Interests are aligned.


So, here's how it plays out. China will quietly encourage 9-11-style attacks on the West, but this time, it won't be box cutters. The Taliban/ISIS/al Qaeda - whomever it is, but let's face it, they're all basically in bed together where the West is concerned - will be able to choose from a robust set of tactical options. Want some bio weapons, perhaps some anthrax? How about some high-tech drones to deliver the anthrax down Broadway? Or maybe use some “cyber weapons” to attack America's infrastructure? 


It's a perfect scenario for China, because Muslim extremists will be more than happy to take credit. China will lurk in the background, claiming ignorance. Everyone will know their involvement, but it won't matter. The Western media will cover for them, just like they've covered for the Wuhan Virology Lab and the WHO. Joe Biden, if he's still president, will firmly do what he's told by all the monied interests like Nike, the NBA, Hollywood, etc., and deny China's culpability. (And let's not forget that $1.5 billion investment in Hunter's "hedge fund"). 


But it's not just China. 


The rest of the world, too, has taken Joe Biden's measure and found him wanting. A weak man, years beyond his even-then-limited mental capacity. Feckless, yet stubborn. Committed, like Obama before him, to an American decline that he not only sees as inevitable, but necessary, desirable even. Thus, he has deliberately created an immense and sudden vacuum in the state of global affairs, and nothing could be more dangerous.


(Worth remembering: in the early sixties, Khrushchev took Kennedy's measure when they met in Vienna, and that gave us the Cuban Missile Crisis.)


Plans are being hatched by bad people everywhere. China will no doubt send "peacekeeping" troops into Taiwan, annexing it as they have Hong Kong. Iran is casting a malicious eye towards Israel. North Korea? Who knows what they might pull in the face of an America withdrawing from the stage. Even smaller players like Cuba and Venezuela must be considering ways to make mischief. 


Not all scenarios will play out, but some will, and the result will be violence and American lives lost, followed by less freedom in the world. Worse, we will not be able to rely on our partners. They are spitting mad over the way we handled Afghanistan and will not readily follow us into the breach next time.


We are entering a very, very dangerous time in human history, one that could have been avoided altogether if not for the ineptitude and moral failings of someone the majority of America willingly voted for. 


Joe Biden, the Great Unifier, has become the Great Destroyer.


Pro Tip: buy stock in defense contractors.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Democrats Have a 2024 Problem


Will Joe Biden run for a second term? There have been mixed signals, to say the least.

But can he?

Any reasonable observer understands that Biden's cognitive abilities are declining rapidly. He is being run by committee, behind the scenes. By 2024, who knows how badly things will have deteriorated? Plus, the "Committee" won't get away with hiding him in his basement a second time.

But don't tell the Committee any of this, because their actions suggest they are going for it. How do we know? Because of the constant stream of negative articles about Vice President Harris, clearly leaked from 1600 to Politico and other Dem-friendly outlets.


It's a fascinating dynamic: a U.S. president, or his staff, throwing his own veep under the bus.

What's going on here?

What follows is speculation, but highly plausible nonetheless.

Think back to the primaries. Biden was circling the drain, running an awful campaign, when James Clyburn came to the rescue in South Carolina. He and other party leaders decided nominating Bernie was suicide, so they suddenly rallied around Biden as the safe, anodyne choice. 

But this support didn't come without a price, and that price was a black running mate. The Congressional Black Caucus wanted a way back to 1600, and Biden seemed unlikely to serve two terms. They would only have to wait four, or, maybe even less. If Biden's mental state declined too much, the 25th Amendment could be brought to bear.

Either way, the path back to power seemed clear. 

The Committee isn't happy with any of this, particularly talk of the 25th Amendment, so they have set out to make Harris unpalatable, and it's been a very effective campaign. Harris's numbers are even lower than Biden's, very unusual for a V.P.

Of course, Harris hasn't helped her own cause. She seems woefully out of her depth, and it's not as if the vice presidency is a particularly hard job. It comes with practically zero actual responsibilities, and yet Harris is widely disliked across the political spectrum, a non-starter to lead a 2024 ticket.

But the Committee is insane if they think they can carry the senescent Biden through another campaign. Should I add he will be 81? Ronald Reagan was 69 when questions were raised by Democrats about whether he was too old to serve.

So, if not Biden, and not Harris, who?

Yes, it's early, but it's a fascinating question. 

Elizabeth Warren? She will be 75, not to mention she's prickly and unlikeable, no matter how many beers she has (see: Hillary Clinton). 



Bernie? Not a chance. He will be 82, and party elders won't feel any differently about him next time.

Bloomberg? He will be 82, and will have no appetite to be embarrassed a second time. It's the links for Mike.


How about Buttigieg? I'll give that a maybe. At least he's not a member of the Democrat gerontocracy. But he seems like a lightweight, and does anyone even know he's a cabinet member? (He is.)

The Obama years decimated Democrat ranks, having lost nearly one thousand federal and state elected positions. Worse, they were left with near zero moderates. Those remaining lean hard left, and there won't be much appetite for that after Biden's unpopular descent into wokeness. 

There are a couple of exceptions. There's Joe Manchin, of course, but Dem primary voters would hate him. Maybe Kyrsten Sinema? But is the country ready for an openly bi-sexual president? You tell me.

In short, this thing is wide open. My bet is that some relatively unknown Dem governor will pull a Jimmy Carter and come out of nowhere, because someone has to be nominated.

Or...

Senior party members like Chuck Schumer, along with Dem money men, climb the mount and and knock on the Obama's doorbell and beg Michelle to run, explaining she has to to save the republic, particularly if Orange Man Bad is in the picture.

Yeah yeah, I know. Political predictions are hazardous for your health, particularly ones three years out, but it's a parlor game, and the Naked Dollar is playing.

Tell me who takes it in the comments.

Monday, July 19, 2021

CRT Virus Spreads South (and How to Fight Back)

 


The Westminster Schools of Atlanta

To date, the Naked Dollar has focused almost exclusively on New York schools, which might leave the impression that CRT/wokeness is a problem rooted there, or maybe in the liberal northeast.

Think again.

The Westminster Schools is the most elite private schools in Atlanta. (Note: Westminster has separate both a boys' and girls' schools, thus the plural "schools.")

The following is a letter written by Jonathan Bean, a Westminster alumnus and here-to-fore prominent supporter. It is addressed to Keith Evans, Westminster's president and board chair. I am reprinting this letter in the hopes that it will show others how to respond to their own schools, and also to demonstrate that others have the courage to speak up.

Relevant to some of Jonathan's points, it's worth noting that Westminster was founded specifically as a Christian School. Also, I have made some minor edits in the name of brevity.

Join Jonathan, and stop writing checks until this madness has been thoroughly expunged.


Dear Keith,

I trust you are well. Recall, we had a call on May 26, a little over six weeks ago. In that call I hope I was clear that I was speaking only for myself and my family’s foundation, not for my wife, her father, his personal foundation, nor for the Woodruff Foundation on whose board he sits.

Since then, and on June 17, I received Westminster’s DEI Annual Report (https://westminster.shorthandstories.com/diversity-equity-inclusion/index.html). I read almost all of it and watched most of the videos. I must tell you the relentless focus on black culture is not representative of our school, nor should it be. There is little real diversity in those videos, and I imagine most viewers found the vignettes unrepresentative of the school and disturbing for their relentless focus on something that has little impact on real education.

I made the following four points with you on our call and feel, based on persuasive evidence presented to me, that these are serious issues which have fundamentally changed the way our school operates, and have all been either initiated or nurtured by you and your administration. These issues are driving a wedge between you and most of the alumni and parents, including myself, which could have been easily avoided. I made it clear to you that should these points not get addressed, I will no longer support the school until such time as they are resolved. The issues are:

  1. Intolerance of conservative/Christian views is now the norm at Westminster.
    1. Teachers and children should not be able to disparage the sitting President of the United States whether Republican, Democrat, or something else.
    2. Artwork critical of police should not be allowed. The police need to be supported in every way.
    3. Political protests on the part of Westminster’s teachers, administrators, and especially its President is unbecoming and should be prohibited. Your participation in the protests last summer was an act of poor judgement which I find utterly mind boggling for a sitting President of a school who purports to represent the entire school.

These efforts to invalidate the legitimacy of our elected officials and to undermine the authority of public servants tears at the heart of our Republic and damages the psyche of young minds in your care. Taking political positions by faculty and staff undermines the legitimacy of the school.

  1. The politicization of every academic discipline at the school has affected almost every grade level at the school.
  1. Telling all middle school white students they are racists is a lie and psychologically damaging. Watch what happened to this young girl when she was told she was a racist and had “white privilege” - https://bit.ly/3Bi8edM.

How many Westminster Schools’ students might feel as she does about this lie?

    1. (Faculty) criticizing the US Constitution should be off limits, especially to lower school students
    2. Staff usage of social media should be kept to a minimum and clear policies should be in place for its use. Violating these standards should be a terminable offense.
  1. Tribalism/divisive training is actively encouraged at Westminster
    1. Affinity groups should be abolished, especially those that actively promote separation by race or (sexual identity) in all its forms. These groups serve no purpose other than to bring discord and accentuate differences between students and should rightly be left at the gate. These affinity groups do not raise kids’ consciousnesses and should not be used to “give them a voice,” as you said.
    2. We should be operating a completely color-blind system at the school.
  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the mantra of Westminster.
  1. When I asked you to tell me the difference between the words “equity” and “equality” you could not. Let me help you with this:

From the Milken Institute of Public Health comes this definition,

“Equality: What's the Difference? Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. ... Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”

To be clear, the “equal outcome” described above is a Marxist concept. Am I to understand that Westminster is now encouraging Marxism and expects Marxist outcomes? Look up the definition of Marxism if you are confused about any of this. Marxism is anti-capitalist, anti-family and has never worked in any setting.

  1. We also discussed the word “inclusion” and I made the point that the school is actually exclusive and to say it is anything but, is a lie. You rightly pointed out that only one in four applicants is accepted at the school, so to continue with this inclusion falsehood amongst the students further confuses them and leads to further false logic and damage. My recommendation would be to come up with some other term if you feel you need the students to feel something. How about the word “special”, or “privileged”, the second word often heard in the context of DEI.
  2. We didn’t touch much on the term “diversity” in our conversation, but I would say the most important thing you can do as an administrator is to promote diversity of thought.  Diverse opinions hashed out in a classroom are probably the best way to teach young minds, while recognizing that you are teaching in a Christian environment. While Exeter, where I also attended, was not a Christian school per se, we had Harkness tables of no more than 10-12 students who would discuss a topic introduced by the teacher, who would then only occasionally help guide the discussion for the class. I remember well one of my religion classes when the teacher came in and said, “God is dead. Discuss.” Based on the previous evening’s reading, this led to a lively discussion amongst the students and will likely never be forgotten by many there.

In short, it is my belief that whatever pedagogical standards you think is DEI, its relevance for Westminster is misguided and untested. It’s a new concept. Why you think the school would follow this new pedagogy at such an early stage in its development is reckless. Stick with what has worked when it comes to teaching.

As you know, Westminster has been an historically politically conservative school and to change to a politically liberal one is likely at your peril. Perhaps what you may have been feeling is pushback against our last U.S, President, but I assure you Buckhead is a historically conservative area of Atlanta and without its residents’ support, you will have a more difficult time managing the school.

More than anything else, you should take a pause from what you are doing. I have read many letters to you and the board from dissatisfied parents and alumni, know of more than a handful who are pulling their children from our school, and think you likely have a near revolt on your hands. Think about this – even in the late 60s and early 70s when the whole world was “on fire,” this did not happen. Do you know why? Inspired leadership from our own Dr. William Pressly. Let that sink in for a moment.

You often like to say, “We are on the right side of history”. I can tell you categorically that you are wrong. You are on the wrong side of history if you continue to take these various neo-Marxist approaches to educating Westminster’s students. There is no example of a successful communist state based on Marxist principles. It has been thoroughly debunked by every respected economist and I believe you need to go back to the drawing board on this.

I direct your attention to a recent article in the New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/28/opinion/racism-antiracism-discrimination.html.  As you can see, even this liberal publication is pushing back against what you and other educators espouse. There have been hundreds of recent examples of articles like this and thousands of examples of severe push back by parents all over the country. I especially recommend you read the following book by Charles Murray, which demonstrates the disconnect between “systemic” racism and the facts - https://www.amazon.com/Facing-Reality-Truths-about-America/dp/1641771976. He describes the blowback that will likely happen if educators like you continue to teach ideas such as Critical Race Theory.

This all being said, I am heartened that you are starting a “planning process” this summer to develop a “sense of where we are.”  I think it important to take a hard look at what you have created, come up with a better solution that meets the needs of an historically conservative school, then implement something that will work for everyone.

Until the school changes back to something that resembles what it once was, it will not have my support.

Best,

 

Jonathan S. Bean



Naked Dollar thoughts: I don't agree with one point, the one about prohibiting teachers from protesting on their own time. Such personal views should, however, be prohibited from the classroom. But also note the head of the school couldn't articulate the difference between equality and equity! Click here for the Naked Dollar primer.






Thursday, June 24, 2021

All the Lovely People



Welcome Instapundit Readers!

A woman's name came up in polite conversation recently. She runs one of the school boards of which I have been critical of late. That board has been doing a horrible job, a complete disservice to the kids at that school.

"She's perfectly lovely," I was told by someone who knew her. "Yes, lovely," someone else agreed.

Here's the thing: I'm sure she is. I know many of these people. They're all lovely. Boards everywhere are populated with delightful, successful people who would be wonderful table partners at a dinner party. Politically, they are largely centrists.

And yet, woke perversities and the insanity of Critical Race Theory are being institutionalized on their watch. 

And it's not just school boards. It's institutions of all kinds - corporations, foundations, NGOs...all of them, really. And, arguably, they are overseeing the dismantling of Western culture, of the Great Experiment. 

This is not an exaggeration.

How can this be?

This is a source of some interest to me, so I decided to talk to a number of people about it. There are several factors at play.

First, about a decade ago, boards made a laudable effort to diversify themselves. In the process, they got what they asked for, which was not merely skin color diversity but opinion diversity. At least, they thought they wanted that. Or perhaps they thought their new members would smile and keep to themselves, just happy to be there.

Some of the new faces were considerably more radicalized than anyone may have realized. It's also possible they became more radicalized, as was the fashion, post Ferguson, and in particular, post George Floyd. Either way, most boards now found themselves with one or two very different voices in their midst, voices pushing for radical change.

Normally, this wouldn't matter. Boards are usually twenty or more people, and an extremist or two would easily be voted down.

But this time was different.

You see, if the extremist voices are "of color," it changes the social dynamic entirely. Remember, we are dealing with Lovely People here. Lovely People are virtuous. Lovely People don't make a fuss. Lovely People embrace diversity, and they want to be sure you know that.

So much easier to go along. 

Plus, these new advocates for social justice were just so damn passionate. They pushed their agendas with vigor.

This has long been a crucial aspect of the American polity. The left cares about what it cares for more strongly than the right. They write letters to the editor, they go to town meetings. They hashtag ad infinitum. If it's Tuesday, it must be a women's march. Or a climate march. Or a food justice march. (Not kidding, it's a thing.)

Conservatives don't do these things. Or rarely, anyway. They get outworked, out hustled, and outshouted.

Many of the radical changes that have happened in our institutions also happened during the Trump administration. This is no coincidence. You see, Lovely People couldn't be seen to be Trump supporters. In places like Manhattan it was social suicide. 

Lovely People didn't approve. 

So, if you stood in the way of these new voices, the others would be on to your scent. They would sniff a Trumpist inside their boardroom walls.

Like I said, suicide.

There's also the matter of board...comity? No board likes dissension, and they especially don't like it when word of dissension leaks out. Group dynamics create groupthink.

But lastly, with private school boards, there has been an entirely unique factor at play. Most school board members have enrolled children. Put yourself in their place. Assuming you even had qualms about having your kids labeled "supremacists" and "oppressors," you were all too aware there could be real consequences if you resisted the New Order.

You see, the administrators and teachers were all enthusiastically on board. Stand in the way of this train and that letter of recommendation to Yale might not have the necessary adjectives.

Don't think they're above it, because they're not.

You might even have to find another school, and that's certainly a hassle, and it might not be a brand, like Dalton or Brearley, and that will be an issue next time you compare familial notes at the club. So where's Taylor now?

So, you see, if you're a Lovely Person, there's just no incentive to raise your hand, no incentive to say, "but wait."

The Lovely People don't get ahead by throwing bombs.

The problem is, as the Naked Dollar has repeatedly pointed out, progressive movements are never sated. The goal posts are always moved. The Lovely People will go along and go along until one day the revolution comes for them.



Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Next Up: The Trinity School


I previously wrote about Trinity College. This is about the Trinity School in Manhattan, another elite private school like Dalton, Brearley, etc. 

A year ago, they decided to get in on the "antiracism" bandwagon, like the others. We now know the fruits of their labors.

If you haven't been following this space for the last few months, antiracism specifically means judging people entirely by their skin color and setting up a system of reverse racism to make up for America's past sins. It is the practical application of Critical Race Theory, and has nothing to do with simply "not being racist." It is, itself, highly racist.

I have been supplied with the documents involved, and Trinity wins the award for the most heavy-handed problem-solving approach. Apparently, systemic racism is a really big problem at Trinity because they set up a task force with - get this - 188 members and 11 working groups. I think fewer people negotiated the Paris Climate Accords.

Needless to say, that many hammers were going to find a lot of nails. They produced a 17-page document, which, if you're a masochist or just really, really bored, you can read in its entirety here.

It's the usual nonsense, but let's highlight a few items:

-Expand the number and type of affinity spaces.

If you're not familiar, an "affinity" space is racially segregated. You know, like the fifties. And by "expanding the number and type," Trinity means dividing us into smaller and smaller subgroups based on our skin color or gender (remember there are pushing 100 of those now). Intersectionality comes into play here, presumably. So if you are both, say, genderqueer and muslim, perhaps you get your own space. (I'm thinking that's a pretty small space, but these days who knows.)

-Collect identity data from from student applicants, allowing applicants to self-identify.

So, if gender isn't totally up to the individual, why not race, a la Rachel Dolezal? Trinity is clearly doing this climb the ladder of intersectionality, but it strikes me as rife for abuse.

-Create opportunities for students to practice the act of respectful disagreement and of nuanced exploration of orthodoxies.

Excellent words on a piece of paper. Except I am just blown away by the lack of understanding for the very things they advocate. Ibram Kendi, the Grand Poobah of the CRT/antiracism movement, has specifically said that if you aren't "antiracist," you are by definition a racist. Translation: if you don't sign up for CRT's full instruction manual, including dividing our kids by race and by "oppressor" and "oppressed," you are a racist.

So, if you're some kid at Trinity who doesn't want to be labelled as an oppressor for things his great-great-great-grandfather may or may not have done, you are a racist. Are you going to raise your hand in class and engage in an act of "respectful disagreement?" 

And as for the "nuance" part, CRT has as much nuance as Joseph Stalin. It is a blunt hammer that allows no deviance from the party line.

-Undertake an earnest, community-wide exploration of the principles of restorative justice to see if its main principles - of meeting and listening circles, of teaching and learning together about ethical behavior, of deliberate embracing of active empathy and the awareness of the power of mutual care - could make improvements to our current disciplinary model.

Presumably well-educated people produced these words. Interestingly, the closer you get to the academic world, and in particular the progressive world, the worse and more opaque the writing gets. Andrew Sullivan wrote an excellent piece about this recently.

I could go on, there's pages and pages, but if you're a Naked Dollar reader, you know the drill. In fairness, the Trinity document is not as militant as, say, the teacher demands at Dalton. Also, Trinity does not appear to be a client of the odious DEI consultants Pollyanna, so perhaps they won't go down as self-destructive a path as the others. But a breathtaking amount of time went into the document's creation, all so they could come up with ideas like "listening circles."

Here are the Perfectly Lovely People on the Trinity Board:

Philip Berney, President Chair, Executive Committee 

Adrienne Barr, Secretary 

Andrea C. Roberts ’73, Treasurer Chair, Finance Committee 

Joseph Frank, Vice President Chair, Audit Committee 

Lisa Kohl, Vice President Chair, Committee on Trustees 

David Perez, Vice President Chair, Development Committee 

Jeffrey Scruggs, Vice President Chair, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee 

Maria Garzon, M.D., Vice President Chair, Education Committee 

Jeff Blau, Vice President Chair, Facilities Committee 

Serena Moon, Vice President Chair, Investment Committee 

Igor Kirman, Esq., Vice President Chair, Law Committee 

James Deutsch ‘96, Vice President Chair, Personnel Policy Committee 

Shiva Farouki, Vice President Chair, Trustee Awards Committee 

John P. Arnhold ’71 (emeritus) 

Joseph Baratta 

Andrew R. Brownstein, Esq. (emeritus) 

Lisa Caputo 

Margaret Hess Chi ‘97 

Rex Chung 

Geoffrey Colvin ’70 (emeritus) 

Mahmood Khimji 

Victor “Tory” K. Kiam, III ’78 (emeritus) 

Jo Ann O. Kruger (ex officio) President, Parents Association 

William P. Lauder ’78 (emeritus) 

Hugh Lawson 

Emily F. Mandelstam 

Matthew McLennan 

Nicole S. George-Middleton '93 

Iva Mills 

Janna Levine Raskopf '03 (ex officio) President, Trinity Alumni & Alumnae Association 

Samuel W. Rosenblatt '78 

John Sexton Benjamin R. Shute, Jr. ’54 (emeritus) 

Alyssa Tablada ’89 

Douglas T. Tansill ’56 (emeritus) 

Camille Hackney Thornton 

Robert Wolk 

Yadwa Yawand-Wossen

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Dalton Just Can't Get Out of Its Own Way



Dalton and Jim Best

I really thought I was done writing about Dalton, but they just can't seem to get out of their own way.

First, they screwed up in-person classes. Then, there was the meltdown over faculty demands and Critical Race Theory ("antiracism"). Then their head of DEI was made a sacrificial lamb. Then Jim Best, their headmaster, announced he was "leaving" at the end of the year.

This whole beat, the Naked Dollar's covering the private school woke wars, started with the story of Dalton's misadventures back in December. I didn't do it because I care, particularly, about Dalton. I didn't go there, and I don't live in Manhattan. But I do care about education, and Dalton was illustrative of a broader, deeply illiberal, trend towards the politicization of the classroom. 

Dalton was not unique, in other words.

Having said that, it does seem like they go out of their way to be capital of Wokeistan. 

A couple of days ago, an anonymous group called Prep School Accountability paid to have mobile billboards park in front of several Manhattan schools, including Dalton (and Brearley, which I have also chronicled). 

One truck said this:


Another said...


For the record, I have no idea who did this. It's interesting, though, because the battle against K-12 indoctrination doesn't seem as lonely as it did a few months ago. People are stepping up. Mostly anonymously, for reasons that are perfectly understandable, but more and more people are willing to come forward and put their names on the line. Soon, we will have what sociologists call a "preference cascade."

In any case, I knew I could count on the Naked Dollar's old friend Jim Best to give us a response so risible that he make his peers look like mere pretenders. Perhaps Jim's newly acquired occupational freedom has lent him the rhetorical license he craved all along. It's a short note, but there's just so much to unpack.

Here's what Jim wrote just yesterday about the trucks, along with my comments (in bold)...


To the Dalton Community:

This action is antithetical to what Dalton stands for and negatively impacts the welfare of our children and our community members.

Jeez, really? How is that? Apparently because

It attempts to create a climate of intimidation and harassment and evokes some of the worst moments in our nation's history.

We literally just marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, where as many as 300 people were killed and 2,000 homes torched. So, moments like that, Jim? Perhaps words like, "Teach our kids how to think, not what to think" evoke My Lai or 9-11 for you? I'm sorry, you are not a serious person.

We took, and will take, necessary steps to ensure the well being of our students, faculty, and staff.

Did any staffers or kids see the signs? Please tell me everyone's alright!

At Dalton, we encourage constructive discourse consistent with our values of creating "a climate of respect in which creativity, curiosity, individual risk-taking, and personal excellence are achieved and can flourish." 

It's true. Dalton loves discourse, just loves it...as long as it's "consistent with their values," which also include telling you you're a racist if you disagree with those values, and if you're white, you'd better "check your privilege," otherwise known as "shut the f*** up."

We continue to listen closely to community members who engage in respectful dialogue and work together to help build an educations environment grounded in empathy and compassion.

This is what all these administrators say. Jane Fried of Brearley, and George Davison of Grace Church said exactly the same thing. And it's such crap. Why do so many "community" members fear going on the record? Because they know there will be repercussions. And as for compassion, does that include telling minority students they are permanently oppressed? That they should live in a state of perpetual grievance? How is that compassionate?

The tactics we saw this morning are neither dignified nor persuasive.

No doubt you said the same about the last year of BLM and Antifa street violence...just kidding. Let's face it Jim, it isn't the method that bothers you, it's the message.

They only redouble our commitment to stand by our mission, our values, and every single member of our community.

Except for those of you who are racists for opposing my agenda, and as soon as I figure out who you are, I will inform Yale.

Jim Best, Head of School

Yom Fox, Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion



Monday, May 31, 2021

Et Tu, Andover?


Welcome Instapundit Readers!

Our nation's most storied and elite schools are increasingly becoming a parody of themselves. What was once a completely proper effort to broaden horizons and become more inclusive has turned into a self-parodying fetish. Our schools are now full fledged participants in the drive to dismantle Western culture. 

Lots of people say to me, surely the pendulum will swing back. People are waking up, right?

Think again.

Sometimes, when pendulums swing too far and they become wrecking balls. There's nothing left to salvage. 

Someone reached out to me about the board chair of one of the schools I've been writing about recently, telling me she's a "perfectly lovely person." I'm sure she is, most of them are, but "perfectly lovely people" are presiding over the collapse of our culture.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.

Andover, possibly the most prominent secondary school in the country, is fully onboard the woke/CRT/anti-racism train. Their board backs the move entirely, as does the administration and presumably the teachers. Many of the kids do, too, but they're kids and they are only behaving the way Andover says they should.

It's child abuse.

Not all the alumni and parents are happy, though. I know this because some have reached out to me.

For starters, the board wrote the following to the Andover community (my comments in bold):

To the Andover Community:

On behalf of the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees, we acknowledge that this is a profoundly painful time in our country, marked by a series of tragic acts of violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people in the United States. For those who are hurting, please accept our heartfelt compassion and support. In the face of widespread anger and chaos, we stand together in solidarity for what is right and just.

Breonna Taylor? The police were being shot at by her drug-dealing boyfriend. Tony McDade? Body cams show he was pointing a gun at the police, and he was a murder suspect. A grand jury fully cleared the officers. Ahmaud Arbery? Racism, although the police had nothing to do with it. George Floyd? Horrible, but very swift justice has been served - and zero evidence was ever presented that this had anything to do with racism. 

The fact is that the data do not support the narrative of the police out hunting unarmed young black people. Most think that thousands are shot every year, when the actual number last year was nineteen. More unarmed whites were shot than that. This is in the context of 10 million arrests.

We reaffirm Andover’s commitment to educate youth from every quarter, and in doing so, preparing students to combat systemic racism in our institutions and our country.

Racism exists in this country, absolutely, although it is far less prevalent than it used to be. But "systemic" racism? Absolutely not. Read this to understand why. We are a better country than that. But Andover is eager to join the parade of self-loathing.

Across generations of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents—of myriad races, cultures, and identities—we have gathered over these recent days to grieve, to express outrage and frustration, and to support one another. We have heard and read painful personal experiences shared in virtual gatherings and social media.

To the Black members of our community and beyond: We see you; we hear you; we are suffering with you. We acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and support the movement.

When you capitalize "Black Lives Matter," you are not making a generic statement supporting blacks. You are citing a specific movement run by a specific organization, one that is avowedly Marxist and wants to tear down the entire fabric and history of our country, right down to the nuclear family. This is not hyperbole, this is from their own statements and actions.

Our 2014 Strategic Plan, Connecting Our Strengths, placed Equity and Inclusion as a central pillar upon which we remain accountable. We must re-examine that pillar, with new context, and ask how Andover can have the greatest impact in the ongoing battle to dismantle systems of racism and oppression.

Andover is the most liberal, diverse place imaginable. It is run by progressives for progressives. If they are racist, it's progressives that are responsible. But consider that whites comprise a mere 29.6% of the students, despite being 76% of the U.S. population. Andover's "2021 State of the Academy" offers such demographic options such as "genderqueer," and 49% of the female students identify as one of the following: bisexual, demisexual, homosexual, pansexual, queer, or questioning. 72% are feminists. For good measure, 2.6% identify as communists. 

The headmaster is a black, married gay man and a school parent. The Dean of Students is a married gay woman with four kids who have attended. If a boy wanted to go to class every day in drag, I am assured there would be no objection. There are plenty of fully-out gay kids at Andover and I'm also assured by students that no one makes anything of it. And yet, Andover still feels the need to imagine itself as being part of the systemically racist/misogynist/homophobic American fabric. 

Andover is proud of its intentional diversity, and while we have made efforts to create an equitable and inclusive community, we know there is more we can and must do. Guided by the Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees and working closely with school leadership, including incoming Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington, Andover will take the following actions:

The concept of "equity," which very specifically means equal results, is completely at odds with the ideas of meritocracy and excellence, which are things I imagine Andover also claims to care about. (To understand fully what equity means, read this.)

  1. 1.  Reaffirm the Board of Trustees’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). This will include re-examining the board’s efforts to enhance its own diversity and make changes where necessary, increasing efforts to embrace equity and inclusion in all board endeavors, requiring anti-racism education for all trustees, and extending the charter of the Committee on Equity and Inclusion.
  2.      Will the white board members resign to protest their own presence? 
  3. 2.  Dedicate a task force to establish Andover’s strategic focus on anti-racism. The task force will review recently collected data and feedback from students and campus adults; critically examine current practices, systems, and structures; and analyze results to determine what actions Andover must take to build upon its broad and deep work in equity and inclusion. The task force’s formal charge and membership will be considered by Dr. Kington after his arrival this summer. We seek a report, with recommendations, in the fall.
  4.      Words matter. "Anti-racism" does not mean "not being racist." Anti-racism is the practical application of Critical Race Theory, which very specifically says that the only solution for "systemic" racism is to institute a wide-ranging system of reverse racism (against whites, if you haven't been following along).
  5.      Assess and deepen the intellectual pursuits of the 2014 Strategic Plan pillar of Equity and Inclusion. Andover will take measure of academic and co-curricular programs, including Empathy, Balance, and Inclusion courses to expand its commitment to anti-racist education. We will build on efforts of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies to embed inquiry of race and ethnicity within the core curriculum.
  6.      This is the part where the entire curriculum gets politicized by DEI consultants like Pollyanna.
  7.      Expand Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) initiatives, including support for affinity groups that underpin identity development and affirm students of color. Continue CAMD’s justice series, which examines anti-black and white supremacist ideologies in the criminal justice system, economic and educational institutions, and voter disenfranchisement.
  8.       So, if your kid is spending half the day studying "white supremacy" and "voter disenfranchisement," what is getting crowded out? Shakespeare? Calculus?
  9.      (The points go on. Trust me, more of the same. I'm truncating this part in the name of brevity.)

We will continue to hear one another and expand upon what we’ve learned from the scholars and educators who have engaged with our campus community. We are especially inspired today by the ideas and work of Patrisse Cullors and Ibram Kendi and the perspective of author Robin DiAngelo.

Cullors is an avowed Marxist who has somehow enriched herself since starting BLM, buying millions in real estate. She is resigning over the controversy. Kendi says that anytime blacks aren't 13% of an outcome, there is by definition systemic racism. No allowance for other factors like culture, personal choices, random chance, or anything else. Your company doesn't have 13% blacks? Racist. Your town comes up a bit short? Racist. He believes the only solution is reverse racism. Martin Luther King be damned. DeAngelo is a big CRT advocate who wrote White Fragility, pioneering the convenient intellectual mousetrap that white people who object to CRT are themselves, ipso facto, racist.

Charting a way forward is the responsibility of every one of us—and needs the strong minds and generous hearts of our campus community and our extended family of alumni and parents. This work is especially crucial for our students, who will apply what they’ve learned on and off campus across a spectrum of urgent societal needs.

Andover has made deep and meaningful progress to date. In these challenging times, Andover must stretch itself in the pursuit of excellence and its mission of achieving knowledge for a greater good.

Again, you cannot pursue excellence and achieve equity at the same time. They are mutually exclusive.

Sincerely,

Amy Falls ’82, P’19, ’21
President-elect, Board of Trustees

Gary Lee ’74
Chair, Trustee Committee on Equity and Inclusion

Jim Ventre ’79
Interim Head of School

Brainwashing Works


The students also seem on board with all this, other than the closeted conservatives (95.2% of whom say they self-censor). Just recently, four members of the girls lacrosse team resigned as a "direct response to the racism, homophobia, and classism upheld by both the lacrosse program and Andover athletics."


They called for students to dress in all black to express their solidarity with all those athletes who have felt "othered."


As day follows night, the Andover administration put out a statement of solidarity.


I don't blame these girls, which is why I'm not naming them. They are perfectly distilled products of their environment, utterly convinced of the presence of racism in the very air we breathe. If they didn't arrive at Andover that way, Andover made sure they got that way.


As a generation of these students graduates from Andover and other institutions, it will be interesting to see how many choose to give back to schools that told them they were hopelessly racist.


Of note: it was only before the last game of the year that these girls decided to make their statement, having otherwise enjoyed a full season. Presumably the racial makeup of the team was the same for the first dozen games.


Alums and parents: STOP FUNDING THIS!


As always, I will finish with the names of the Perfectly Lovely People, otherwise known as the Andover board. These are the people who could stop this blatant divisiveness, but instead choose to promote it.


Amy Falls ’82, P’19, P’21
Charter Trustee
President, Board of Trustees

New York, NY

Chris Auguste ’76, P’09, ’12
Charter Trustee
New York, NY

Joseph Bae ’90, P’21, 23
Charter Trustee
Hong Kong

Gil Caffray ’71, P20
Charter Trustee
Greenwich, CT

Robert J. Campbell ’66
Charter Trustee
Rockport, ME

David Corkins ’84
Charter Trustee
Denver, CO

Patricia Doykos ’82, P15
Alumni Trustee
Titusville, NJ

Louis G. Elson ’80, P12, 15, 17
Charter Trustee
London, England

Dr. Keith Flaherty ’89, P’23
Charter Trustee

Cambridge, MA

Stefan Kaluzny ’84
Charter Trustee
New York, NY

Dr. Raynard Kington P’24
Head of School
Andover, MA

Dan Lasman ’73, P’06
Alumni Trustee
Boston, MA

Chien Lee ’71
Charter Trustee
Hong Kong

Gary Lee ’74
Charter Trustee
Tulsa, OK

Chris Leggett ’78
Alumni Trustee
Duluth, GA

Tristin Batchelder Mannion ’82, P’19
Charter Trustee
Boston, MA

Stephen Matloff ’91
Alumni Trustee
Alumni Council President
Los Angeles, CA

Tammy Snyder Murphy ’83, P’15, 17, 19
Charter Trustee
New Jersey

Tamara Elliott Rogers AA ’70
Charter Trustee
Cambridge, MA

Karen Humphries Sallick ’83, P14, 17
Alumni Trustee
Westport, CT

William Tong ’91, P24
Alumni Trustee
Stamford, CT

Yichen Zhang ’82, P’18, ’20
Charter Trustee
Hong Kong

Eric Zinterhofer ’89, P’18, ’19
Charter Trustee
New York, NY