Whitlock: What most people don't understand about racial humor is that each situation is very unique. There are no hard and fast rules. A joke that may fly in one setting or coming from a specific person might be inappropriate for someone else. Remember when Barkley made his "I hate white people" crack? I used to tell white dudes who pretended to be upset by Barkley's quip, "Marry a black woman, have a kid and I won't get offended when you joke, 'I hate black people.' ''
Thursday, April 30, 2009
TNR: In January, Robinson sent an email to the students in his "Sociology of Globalization" course. In it he accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, drew analogies between the Israeli occupation of the area to the Warsaw Ghetto, and included photographs comparing Israeli actions in the region to the actions the Nazis had taken against the Jews. Some students complained. The Anti-Defamation League has called for an investigation. UCSB's response has been to say that an investigation is already underway. Many faculty have sent letters of protest arguing that Robinson's academic freedom is being abridged. On the contrary, say his critics: Robinson went way beyond his academic responsibilities by sending propagandistic emails to his students on a subject that had nothing to do with his academic interests. For me, this is an open and shut case.
Considering that the conversation about torture has largely been about its effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, these terrorist torture documents should get a second look, as one conservative blogger emailed me this morning. She sent it, I suspect, to say that terrorists do much worse things than waterboard. But my question is a simple one: If the effectiveness of torture should be our only (or primary) guide, why not gouge out eyes, put a blow torch to bare skin, and use meat cleavers, whips and wire cutters, as long as they work? Why should we care where the methods were originated. According to the New York Times, the waterboarding and other techniques we've been using came from Communist regimes who used them during the Korean War against our soldiers. If the only real question is effectiveness, why not put everything on the table?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
From the man who predicted the economic downturn:
Newseek: How about the deficit the banks are building up?
In the short term I am supportive of it, because if we didn't have these fiscal deficits, the recession would become a depression. On the other side, I do agree that this is not a free lunch. We are going to add trillions of dollars to our public debt, which is going to go from 40 to 80 percent of the GDP. There are only a few ways in which you can finance that extra public debt. If you rule out default and a capital levy on wealth, you either have the "inflation tax" or you have to painfully cut spending or raise taxes, and either one is not going to be politically palatable.
Tough to feel sorry for waterboarded 9-11 plotter
By Kevin Ferris
The Philadelphia Inquirer
How appropriate that the phrase ``shock the conscience comes up with regard to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also known as KSM, mastermind of 9-11. The phrase acts as a reality check, forcing one's thoughts back to the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and the mass murder of almost 3,000 people: The innocents who had their throats slit by hijackers. The men and women who burned to death. Those who plunged to their deaths from the World Trade Center to escape the inferno.
That was a shock to my conscience. I compare that with KSM's being subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including reportedly being waterboarded 183 times -- roughly one session for every 16 victims of 9-11. Sorry, but I cannot work my conscience into being shocked for him, even though I suspect such a judgment will result in some form of eternal damnation.
NYT: CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout. The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.
Dionne Jr.: How many ironies can a single presidency engender? Barack Obama is a detached man who has inspired fierce loyalties, and a cool man who has aroused both warm feelings of affection and a fiery opposition.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
McWhorter: The claim that such tests are biased is heard regularly--for example, one quick way to set heads black and white nodding at a forum on education is to toss off that the SAT is "racially biased." However, the notion of bias here is a peculiar kind of sidestep: If black people tend not to do well on a test, then we are to pretend that regardless of any evidence in the test itself, it must be unfair in some way, because otherwise, why wouldn't black people do as well on it as others? Of course, the question we are not supposed to ask is whether the failure rate suggests that black people are less intelligent. However, there is no need to fear here.