Monday, January 24, 2022

IAN ROWE TESTIMONY

I see young people today trapped between two dominant narratives. The first is what I call blame the system, the belief that America is a oppressive nation; that every institution is steeped in racism; that there is a white supremacist lurking on every corner; that capitalism itself is evil; that these systems are so rigged and discriminatory that the individual is powerless, and only massive government intervention is the solution.

The second narrative I call blame the victim, the idea that America is full of opportunity and that if you are not successful, then it must be your fault. You have some pathology that is the cause of your failure. You should have pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Both of these narratives are wrong and rob young people of agency, the sense that they can control their own destiny.


AEI
Ian Rowe
Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
House Testimony, January 20, 2022

To Chairman Himes, Ranking Member Steil and the Distinguished Members of the House Select Committee on the Economy, Good Morning.

My name is Ian Rowe.

I submit my testimony today as a proud product of the New York City public school system kindergarten through 12th grade, and a graduate of Brooklyn Tech High School, Cornell University College of Engineering and Harvard Business School. I am the founder and CEO of Vertex Partnership Academies, a new network of character-based, International Baccalaureate high schools, with the first campus to open in the Bronx in 2022.

For the past 10 years, I was CEO of a non-profit network of public charter elementary and middle schools in the heart of the South Bronx and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We educated more than 2,000 students—primarily low-income, black and Hispanic kids. We had nearly 5,000 families on our waiting list.

Many of our parents understand that racial disparities exist, but they know those disparities do not have to be destiny for their kids. These parents were given the power to choose our schools because they wanted their children to develop the skills and habits to become agents of their own uplift and build a better life, even in the face of structural barriers. In District 8 in the South Bronx, of the nearly 2,000 public school students beginning high school in the South Bronx in 2015, only 2 percent graduated ready for college four years later. That means 98 percent of students either dropped out of high school before completing their senior year or they did earn their high school diploma, but still needed remediation in math and reading—if they did go tocollege.

We cannot ignore that the racial disparities we are seeking to close originated long before they show up for adults as statistical gaps in financial wealth, home ownership or crime. In this district, if only 2% of mostly black and brown kids are graduating from high school capable of doing even basic reading and math, why would we reasonably expect these same kids as adults to be flourishing in higher education and the workplace, starting businesses, getting married, having children within marriage, or any of the other behaviors that typically mark passage into young adulthood and likely entry into the middle class or beyond?

I see young people today trapped between two dominant narratives. The first is what I call blame the system, the belief that America is a oppressive nation; that every institution is steeped in racism; that there is a white supremacist lurking on every corner; that capitalism itself is evil; that these systems are so rigged and discriminatory that the individual is powerless, and only massive government intervention is the solution.

The second narrative I call blame the victim, the idea that America is full of opportunity and that if you are not successful, then it must be your fault. You have some pathology that is the cause of your failure. You should have pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Both of these narratives are wrong and rob young people of agency, the sense that they can control their own destiny. If we want to help young people of all races achieve the American Dream, I propose a new framework FREE based on encouraging young people to embrace four pillars—Family, Religion, Education and Entrepreneurship—A revitalization of the four local, mediating institutions that drive human flourishing.

Family is helping young people understand the importance of forming strong families. Here we should teach decision-making that if you finish your education, get a full-time job of any kind so you learn the dignity and responsibility of work, and then if you have children, marriage first, data shows that 97% of millennials avoid poverty.

R is Religion and the personal faith commitment that can be an anchor in your life.
E is for Education and ensuring that every parent has the right to choose the education that best meets their child’s needs. School choice is fundamental. And the final E is Entrepreneurship, on the ways that young people can access capital, build
wealth.

To see how these FREE pillars of Family, Religion, Education and Entrepreneurship interact, consider that According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the wealth gap between black and white Americans at the median—the middle household in each community—was $164,100. For some, this gap is vibrant proof of a permanent and insurmountable legacy of racial discrimination.

Yet the same 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances shows that when education and family structure are considered, on an absolute basis, the median net worth of two-parent, college-educated black households is nearly $220,000 and about $160,000 more than that of the typical white, single-parent household. The wealth gap is completely reversed.

We have a moral imperative to encourage young people of all races to adopt a new cultural norm around family, religion, education, and entrepreneurship. I look forward to discussing it in more detail.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

SHEEP FACTORIES

The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society…A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community…It cannot insist that all of its members favour a given view of social policy.


UnHerd


How our universities became sheep factories
Our great institutions are now instruments of political indoctrination


by Arif Ahmed
Arif Ahmed is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and a campaigner for free speech.

January 14, 2022

A joke about education in Soviet Russia:
– My wife has been going to cooking school for three years.


– She must really cook well by now!


– No, they’ve only reached the part about the Twentieth Communist Party Congress so far…


Maybe it’s not so much funny as telling; but what it is telling of is the hijacking of a non-political activity—cookery, but it may as well be biology or history or maths—for a political end.


That end was not (or not only) to stuff your mind with state-approved facts (“facts”); it was to fashion a new man. Enthusiastic about “progressive” causes, responsive to peer pressure and ready to join in exerting it, and completely self-righteous, Homo Sovieticus would be the raw material of the Marxist New Jerusalem. As Stalin put it when toasting tame writers: “The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks.”


Communism has passed away. But the production of souls, or rather their engineering, survives in the capitalist Anglosphere. In our Higher Education sector it doesn’t just survive—it thrives, in the form of political indoctrination passed off as “training” or “mission statements,” specifically on the Thirty-nine Articles de nos jours: racism, unconscious bias, transphobia and the rest of it.


St Andrew’s, for instance, insists that students pass a “diversity” module in order to matriculate. Questions include: “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias. Do you agree or disagree?” The only permitted answer is “agree.” But what if you don’t feel, and don’t want to accept, personal guilt for anything? What if you think (like Nietzsche) that guilt itself is counterproductive? As one student aptly commented, “Such issues are never binary and the time would be better spent discussing the issue, rather than taking a test on it.”


My own university, Cambridge, wants academic staff to undergo “race awareness” training. This advises you to “assume racism is everywhere.” Attendees are also reminded that “this is not a space for intellectualising the topic.” You might have thought “intellectualising”—ie thinking about—it is the kind of thing Cambridge academics should do. But don’t feel bad about getting that wrong; or at least, don’t feel bad about feeling bad: we are also told that these sessions aim at “working through” the feelings of shame and guilt that you might have on your journey in “developing an antiracist identity.”


It isn’t just Cambridge and St Andrews. There is anti-racism or “unconscious bias” training being offered to, or more likely thrust upon, staff and/or students at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths, KCL, Liverpool, Oxford Medical School, Sheffield, Solent, Sussex and doubtless hundreds of other universities and departments across the country.


It isn’t just training either. The very purpose of a university is being redefined. You might think they exist to conduct teaching and research. That would be na├»ve. Most universities now routinely call themselves anti-racist institutions
, where this means: actively campaigning for a political end. For instance, Sussex says: “[a]s an institution we must actively play our part in dismantling the systems and structures that lead to racial inequality, disadvantage and under-representation.” Bristol expects all its members to “stand up” to racism “wherever it occurs.”


And on modern definitions, it may occur more often than its perpetrators or victims have ever noticed. For a thoroughly representative example: one Cambridge department tells students that expressions of racism include “beliefs, feelings, attitudes, utterances, assumptions and actions that end up reproducing and re-establishing a system that offers dominant groups opportunities to thrive while contributing towards the marginalisation of minority groups,” Notice that this definition is effectively suppressing beliefs (not just behaviour) on the vague and possibly intangible basis of whether they “reproduce a system.”


Now imagine being a clever, white 18-year old, not at all racist and not at all privileged either, away from home for the first time, in a lecture or class in (say) sociology, or politics, or philosophy, where a lecturer asserts, perhaps quite aggressively, that white people are inherently racist. Your own experience screams that this is wrong. But do you challenge it? Of course not—after all, it may have, and could certainly be presented as having, the effect of “marginalising minority groups”; and your own institution has told you, through formal training and via its website, that this is racism and we must all stand up to it.


So you keep quiet. So does everyone else; and the lie spreads. Repeat for white privilege, or immigration, or religion; perhaps also, given similar training and encouragement, for abortion, or the trans debate, or…Repeat for a thousand students a day, every day, for the whole term.

 
There is in Shia Islam the most useful concept of Ketman. It is the practice of concealing or denying your true beliefs in the face of religious persecution. At best our hypothetical student spends her university career—possibly, the way things are going, the rest of her life—practising a secular form of Ketman. Or worse: habitual self-censorship of her outer voice suffocates the inner one too; she starts to believe what she is parroting; she denounces others as racists, or transphobes or whatever; and then after three or four years, starts working for a publisher, or a media outlet, or a big corporation; and the euthanasia of the West continues.


I should say that anti-racist training or rhetoric does not only appeal to the ideologues who appear to welcome that process. There are other motives, of which at least one is quite understandable. Genuine racism and racial discrimination do exist—there is less now than 30 years ago, but you still notice it. You notice or hear about slurs, pointed comments, racist graffiti or physical violence; you notice being overlooked.


I remember looking for a room to rent when I first started working in London. All my white friends had found one pretty quickly. But for some reason, whenever I showed up to see one it had “just been taken.” I’ll never know how much of this was racism in my own case; but I do hear, and I have no reason to doubt, that similar things happen today.


But bringing in diversity training because racism still exists is like prescribing leeches because people still get headaches. As hundreds of studies attest, it just doesn’t work. It may even exacerbate existing prejudice. 


 A 2016 study of more than 800 US firms finds that:
five years after instituting required training for managers, companies saw no improvement in the proportion of white women, black men, and Hispanics in management, and the share of black women actually decreased by 9%, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4% to 5%. Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.

 
Paying for something with no proven benefits is bad enough. Compulsory training may actively be making things worse.

 
Another motive, equally understandable but less laudable, is corporate self-interest. I remember arguing at length about training with a well-intentioned senior functionary at a Russell Group university who finally “justified” it on the grounds that “At least we’re doing something.” Doing something, at least seeming to do something, is a familiar practice: oil companies that ostentatiously invest in renewable energy, or tobacco companies that publicly support health research. Since summer 2020, what has especially moved the highly-paid bureaucrats running higher education is the need to look as if you care about racism. Hence, perhaps, all the expensive and useless training; hence the solemn statements about George Floyd and police violence; hence the rhetoric of the “anti-racist” (not just not racist, but anti-racist) university.


One obvious problem of corporate whitewashing is the unevenness with which it is applied. Racism is bad, but so is much else. And yet our soi-disant “anti-racist” universities rarely if ever call themselves “anti-genocide” or “anti-corruption” or “anti-censorship” or (for that matter) “anti-corporate-bullshit.” In summer 2020, you could hardly move for universities making fatuous assertions of “solidarity” with victims of racism. But you won’t find similarly prominent (and probably not any) support, from the same sources, for free speech in Hong Kong or for the non-extermination of the Uyghurs. But then upsetting China might affect your bottom line.


This isn’t empty whataboutery. Making corporate statements on racism, and not on these other things, means implicitly ranking anti-racism as the more pressing cause. Confiscating their time and attention for anti-racism training means imposing the same judgment on its staff and students; in effect, doing our thinking for us. Thanks for the offer, but I think we can manage for ourselves.

 
Whatever the source of demand for training, supply has rushed in to meet it. The winners are (a) the university leaders who can loudly proclaim their woke credentials and (b) the diversity-industrial complex whose clients they are. 

The immediate losers are the staff and students who expected, and deserved, to give or get education not indoctrination; but in time the losers will be all of us.


It isn’t too late, though. The obvious solution is the immediate and permanent scrapping of any kind of politically or ideologically oriented training or induction. It has no place in a university.


Then, enforce explicit institutional neutrality. In February 1967, the President of Chicago University appointed law professor Harry Kalven Jr to chair a committee tasked with preparing a “statement on the University’s role in political and social action.” The upshot was the Kalven Report, which stated in the clearest possible terms both the essential function of the University and the essential requirement for political neutrality that followed:


The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society…A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community…It cannot insist that all of its members favour a given view of social policy.


These words should be installed in 10-foot high neon in the office of every Vice-Chancellor in the country. And their universities should commit, publicly and non-negotiably, never to take a corporate stance, in any direction, on any political or social question.


The Higher Education Bill currently going through Parliament imposes a new duty on universities to promote the importance of free speech. Clarifying what this means will be the job of guidance to be issued by the Office for Students. That guidance should recommend both the scrapping of political training and the adoption of institutional neutrality. Doing that and then enforcing it would clearly signal, what I very much hope is true, that the regulator sees the difference between properly run universities and the sheep-factories that they are on the way to becoming.



Tuesday, January 11, 2022

KHOA KIM SANDS

January 10, 2022

Mr. Fitzhugh,
 
I wanted to tell you a bit about my history endeavors at my school apart from The Concord Review. Over the last five years, I've become increasingly alarmed at the state of history education. Students don't understand how history connects to their lives and the importance of studying history. Students are extremely passionate about current events and world affairs but don't understand how history can provide the context to understand these issues. I am concerned about how ubiquitous “social media education” is. Students are so confined to ideological echo chambers, with no historical nuance or context to inform their opinions. Reading your blog, I can tell you share these concerns.
 
Last year (around the same time I was working on Theocracy in Tibet), I began designing a history course to teach, titled Conflict in Context. The course focuses on the history of imperialism, and its effects on the modern world. Each unit covers a different model of “empire”—Europe, the Islamic World, China, and America. Students will learn about Westphalian Pluralism, Islamist universalism, etc, and different cultural systems of legitimacy.
 
I got approval from my school’s faculty to teach the course as an elective this semester: I'll be the first student teacher at my school. I started teaching last week, and the course has been very successful so far. Currently, the students have read Fukuyama’s The End of History?, and are beginning the unit on European Pluralism by examining the failures of Christian hegemony through the Holy Roman Empire.
 
I thought you would appreciate hearing about my course, and I’m happy to continue to update you throughout the semester. The students will be required to write a term paper.
 
Again, thank you for publishing my paper and for the Emerson Prize. This is the first academic accomplishment I can be truly proud of, knowing it was not influenced by grade inflation or other factors. I am truly honored.
 
Khoa Kim Sands
[Oakland School for the Arts
Theocracy in Tibet,
Spring 2022, Emerson V32]

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

WATER FOR CHINA

 AEI Op-Ed 


China is running out of water and that’s scary for Asia


Of all Bejing’s problems—demographic decline, a stifling political climate, the stalling or reversal of economic reforms—dwindling natural resources may be the most urgent.


Hal Brands, December 29, 2021

Nature and geopolitics can interact in nasty ways. The historian Geoffrey Parker has argued that changing weather patterns drove war, revolution and upheaval during a long global crisis in the 17th century. More recently, climate change has opened new trade routes, resources and rivalries in the Arctic. And now China, a great power that often appears bent on reordering the international system, is running out of water in ways that are likely to stoke conflict at home and abroad.

 
Natural resources have always been critical to economic and global power. In the 19th century, a small country—the U.K.—raced ahead of the pack because its abundant coal reserves allowed it to drive the Industrial Revolution. Britain was eventually surpassed by the U.S., which exploited its huge tracts of arable land, massive oil reserves and other resources to become an economic titan.


The same goes for China’s rise. Capitalist reforms, a welcoming global trade system and good demographics all contributed to Beijing’s world-beating economic growth from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. The fact that China was nearly self-sufficient in land, water and many raw materials—and that its cheap labor allowed it to exploit these resources aggressively—also helped it to become the workshop of the world.


Yet China’s natural abundance is a thing of the past. As Michael Beckley and I argue in our forthcoming book, “The Danger Zone,” Beijing has blown through many of its resources. A decade ago, China became the world’s largest importer of agricultural goods. Its arable land has been shrinking due to degradation and overuse. Breakneck development has also made China the world’s largest energy importer: It buys three-quarters of its oil abroad at a time when America has become a net energy exporter. 


China’s water situation is particularly grim. As Gopal Reddy notes, China possesses 20% of the world’s population but only 7% of its fresh water. Entire regions, especially in the north, suffer from water scarcity worse than that found in a parched Middle East.

 
Thousands of rivers have disappeared, while industrialization and pollution have spoiled much of the water that remains. By some estimates, 80% to 90% of China’s groundwater and half of its river water is too dirty to drink; more than half of its groundwater and one-quarter of its river water cannot even be used for industry or farming.

 
This is an expensive problem. China is forced to divert water from comparatively wet regions to the drought-plagued north; experts assess that the country loses well over $100 billion annually as a result of water scarcity. Shortages and unsustainable agriculture are causing the desertification of large chunks of land. Water-related energy shortfalls have become common across the country.


The government has promoted rationing and improvements in water efficiency, but nothing sufficient to arrest the problem. This month, Chinese authorities announced that Guangzhou and Shenzhen—two major cities in the relatively water-rich Pearl River Delta—will face severe drought well into next year.


The economic and political implications are troubling. By making growth cost more, China’s resource problems have joined an array of other challenges—demographic decline, an increasingly stifling political climate, the stalling or reversal of many key economic reforms—to cause a slowdown that was having pronounced effects even before Covid struck. China’s social compact will be tested as dwindling resources intensify distributional fights.


In 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao stated that water scarcity threatened the “very survival of the Chinese nation.” A minister of water resources declared that China must “fight for every drop of water or die.” Hyperbole aside, resource scarcity and political instability often go hand in hand.

 
Heightened foreign tensions may follow. China watchers worry that if the Chinese Communist Party feels insecure domestically, it may lash out against its international rivals. Even short of that, water problems are causing geopolitical strife.


Much of China’s fresh water is concentrated in areas, such as Tibet, that the communist government seized by force after taking power in 1949. For years, China has tried to solve its resource challenges by coercing and impoverishing its neighbors.

 
By building a series of giant dams on the Mekong River, Beijing has triggered recurring droughts and devastating floods in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Laos that depend on that waterway. The diversion of rivers in Xinjiang has had devastating downstream effects in Central Asia.


A growing source of tension in the Himalayas is China’s plan to dam key waters before they reach India, leaving that country (and Bangladesh) the losers. As the Indian strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney puts it, “China’s territorial aggrandizement in the South China Sea and the Himalayas…has been accompanied by stealthier efforts to appropriate water resources in transnational river basins.”


In other words, the thirstier China is, the more geopolitically nasty it could get.

Monday, January 3, 2022

1619 PROJECT

 The malicious, historically illiterate 1619 Project keeps rolling on 

December 21, 2021
George F. Will

WASHINGTON — The New York Times is like God, who, if Genesis reported Creation correctly, beheld His handiwork and decided “it was very good.” The Times is comparably pleased with itself concerning its creation, “The 1619 Project.” This began in August 2019 as a special edition of the paper’s Sunday magazine. Now it has become a book by which the Times continues attempting to “reframe” U.S. history. The Times describes the book as “a groundbreaking work of journalism.” That description damages journalism’s reputation for respecting facts, which the 2019 writing that begot this book did not do. The 1619 Project’s tendentiousness reeks of political purpose.


The Times’s original splashy assertion—slightly fudged after the splash garnered a Pulitzer Prize—was that the American Revolution, the most important event in our history, was shameful because a primary reason it was fought was to preserve slavery. The war was supposedly ignited by a November 1775 British offer of freedom to Blacks who fled slavery and joined British forces. Well.


That offer came after increasingly volcanic American reactions to various British provocations: After the 1765 Stamp Act. After the 1770 Boston Massacre. After the 1773 Boston Tea Party. After the 1774 Coercive Acts (including closure of Boston’s port) and other events of “The Long Year of Revolution” (the subtitle of Mary Beth Norton’s “1774”). And after, in 1775, the April 17 battles of Lexington and Concord, the June 17 battle of Bunker Hill and George Washington on July 3 assuming command of the Continental Army.


Writing history is not like doing physics. But event A cannot have caused event B if B began before A.

 
Addressing the American Council of Trustees and Alumni last month, Gordon S. Wood, today’s foremost scholar of America’s Founding, dissected the 1619 Project’s contentions. When the Revolution erupted, Britain “was not threatening to abolish slavery in its empire,” which included lucrative, slavery-dependent sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. Wood added:


“If the Virginian slaveholders had been frightened of British abolitionism, why only eight years after the war ended would the board of visitors or the trustees of the College of William & Mary, wealthy slaveholders all, award an honorary degree to Granville Sharp, the leading British abolitionist at the time? Had they changed their minds so quickly?…The New York Times has no accurate knowledge of Virginia’s Revolutionary culture and cannot begin to answer these questions.” The Times’s political agenda requires ignoring what Wood knows:


“It was the American colonists who were interested in abolitionism in 1776.…Not only were the northern states the first slaveholding governments in the world to abolish slavery, but the United States became the first nation in the world to begin actively suppressing the despicable international slave trade. The New York Times has the history completely backwards.”

 
Wood’s doctoral dissertation adviser in 1960 to 1964 was Bernard Bailyn, the title of whose best-known book, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, conveys a refutation of the 1619 Project’s premise that the Revolution originated from base economic motives. When Bailyn died a year after the 1619 Project was launched, the Times’s obituary noted that he had challenged the “Progressive Era historians…who saw the founders’ revolutionary rhetoric as a mask for economic interests.” Actually, the rhetoric gave momentum to ideas that were the Revolution.


The 1619 Project, which might already be embedded in school curricula near you, reinforces the racial monomania of those progressives who argue that the nation was founded on, and remains saturated by, “systemic racism.” This racial obsession is instrumental; it serves a radical agenda that sweeps beyond racial matters. It is the agenda of clearing away all impediments, intellectual and institutional, to—in progressivism’s vocabulary—the “transformation” of the nation. The United States will be built back better when it has been instructed to be ashamed of itself and is eager to discard its disreputable heritage.


The 1619 Project aims to erase (in Wood’s words) “the Revolution and the principles that it articulated—liberty, equality and the well-being of ordinary people.” These ideas are, as Wood says, the adhesives that bind our exceptional nation whose people have shared principles, not a shared ancestry.


The Times says “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional” flows from “slavery and the anti-black racism it required.” So, the 1619 Project’s historical illiteracy is not innocent ignorance. Rather, it is maliciousness in the service of progressivism’s agenda, which is to construct a thoroughly different nation on the deconstructed rubble of what progressives hope will be the nation’s thoroughly discredited past.