Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fifty Ways to Be a Racist

Fifty Ways to Be a Racist
Ric Caric (Re-Posted from Red State Impressions blog)

The debate doesn't quite rage over whether Sen. George Allen is a racist? For John Dickerson of Slate, Allen is more of a boob; according to Rich Lowry of National Review Online, Allen just has a mean streak. There's also an undercurrent that Allen isn't all that bright even though Allen graduated near the top of his law school class at UVA.

Generally, the mainstream media isn't sure whether you're a racist or not unless you're a Klan member, or are a white guy using the n-word all the time. That's part of the reason why the media needs to get out of the Beltway more.

Here in Kentucky, there are plenty of signs that someone is a racist--There's always the threatening letter to the black people who just moved into your county, neighborhood, school or dorm threatening to kill, bomb, or burn them out;

Add Confederate flags on your bumper sticker, Confederate flag hats, Confederate flag shirts, and Confederate flags in the back yard. Guys get into Confederate flag paraphernalia as a way to announce that they "don't give a shit about what people think," are proud to be "rednecks," "hillbillies," or "crackers," or think it's a funny way to be an asshole. They do it as a way to stick it to their parents, their teachers, church, and town elite as well as city people and the North. Oh yeah, and black people too;

Thinking that every black male you see in a city is going to rob you or not going to the cities because there are too many blacks; not going to State U because there are too many blacks or because you might be assigned a black roommate;

Dismissing hip hop, rock, jazz, and other musical styles as "n--music," dismissing Beethoven because he was a mulatto;

Loving NASCAR because it's all-white, worshipping the screaming white coach of your State U basketball team and assuming that the players need to be screamed at; disparaging State U's opponents in racial terms; disparaging professional sports in general and the NBA in particular as too black;

Telling blacks to "get over it," that "everybody is oppressed" and that "stereotypes (about blacks) are real;"

Bragging about how Southerner whites know blacks better than anybody else or how well everybody in the South got along before the "outside agitators" or "activist judges" came in or the "turmoil" of the Civil Rights Movement got started.

Claiming that Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Denzel Washington, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and other blacks you like aren't "really" black; really hating Spike Lee and other race conscious blacks because they're "so" black.

Arguing that anybody who complains about racism is a "racist" and that blacks who complain about racism are worst racists than the whites of the segregation era.

Special Contributions from Prof. N'Diaye

You have ever dismissed the wholesale slaughter, torture, and cultural decimation of an entire race of people as "the slavery thing; "

Said that those left to perish after Hurricane Katrina should have just"gotten out" before the storm hit;

Clutch your wallet or purse in a elevator when an african american (male or female)enters

Defend the country's founders and their institutionalization and justification of enslavement as "just products of their time;"

Believe the struggle for civil rights began and ended with Martin LutherKing, Jr.

You think it merely coincidental that blacks (especially black males) are incarcerated at rates nearly nine times higher than that of whites (or worse, that you think all blacks in prison are there because the committed crimes and 'deserve' to be there);

Justify gentrification as community improvement while people who've lived in a neighborhood their entire lives suddenly cannot afford to live there any more.

The Attack on Contraception

The Attack on Contraception
Where the Rubber Meets RoeThe pro-life case for contraception.
By William Saletan
Slate Magazine

The issue that never changes is finally changing.

If you're one of the millions of Americans who don't like abortion but also don't like the idea of banning it, good news is on the way. In the last three weeks, two bills have been filed in the House of Representatives. Without banning a single procedure, they aim to significantly lower the rate of abortions performed in this country. Voluntary reduction, not criminalization or moral silence, is the new approach.

How do you stop abortions without restricting them? One way is to persuade women to complete their pregnancies instead of terminating them. The other is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place. And there's the rub—or, in this case, the rubber. The two House bills used to be one proposal, backed by an alliance of pro-life lawmakers and organizations. The alliance split because one faction wanted to fund contraception and the other didn't.

In short, the good news is that we no longer have to fight about abortion. The bad news is that we're now fighting about contraception. The old question was abortion as birth control. The new question is abortion or birth control. To lower the abortion rate, we need more contraception. And that means confronting politicians who stand in the way.

In the last two years, Hillary Clinton, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and many pro-choice House Democrats have conceded that abortion is tragic and that its frequency must be reduced. Third Way, a progressive think tank, has pushed hard in this direction.

Meanwhile, Democrats for Life of America, which has eight members of Congress on its advisory board and works with 30 more, has devised a plan to cut the abortion rate by 95 percent "by helping and supporting pregnant women." Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, was set to lead the charge.
Then Ryan looked at the data and realized that to get anywhere near their target, he and his pro-life colleagues would have to provide more birth control. That's when the squirming began.
Some of Ryan's allies worried that morning-after pills might prevent embryos from implanting, so he omitted such pills from his bill. They opposed requiring private insurers to offer contraceptive coverage, so he took that out, too. They complained that other pregnancy-prevention bills hadn't emphasized abortion reduction, so he put abortion reduction in the title. They wanted sex education programs to emphasize abstinence; they got it. The only troublesome thing left in the bill was birth control.

It broke the deal. Democrats for Life abandoned Ryan and launched a contraceptive-free alternative. With it went Americans United for Life, the National Association of Evangelicals, and 13 pro-life House Democrats, led by Rep. James Oberstar, the Democratic co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus. Ryan added his name to their bill, but they refused to add their names to his. Focus on the Family, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Rush Limbaugh, and Rep. Chris Smith, the Republican co-chairman of the Pro-life Caucus, excoriated Ryan's bill. The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, based in Ryan's district, sent him a letter asking him to withdraw it.

The objectors make several arguments. They point out that birth-control pills, like morning-after pills, can block implantation of an embryo. But there's no evidence that this has ever happened. The risk is theoretical, and breast-feeding poses the same risk, so you'd have to stamp that out, too. Critics also note that many birth-control methods can fail. That's true, but it's an argument for using two methods, not zero.

Third, they protest that federal family-planning money supports Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions. In fact, however, only 14 percent of this money goes to Planned Parenthood, and fewer than 9 percent of Planned Parenthood clients go there for abortions. So, even if Planned Parenthood diverted family-planning funds to abortion—which would be illegal—we're talking about a tiny fraction of the money.

Above all, the critics insist that contraception will backfire. As the Youngstown Diocese puts it, "Promotion of contraception leads to more extra-marital sexual intercourse, which leads to more unwanted pregnancies, which leads to more abortions."

There's a thread of logic to this argument. It's facile to assert, as some liberals do, that contraceptives don't cause sex any more than umbrellas cause rain. The belief that you're protected does make it easier to say yes. But denying that contraceptives reduce your risk of pregnancy is as crazy as denying that an umbrella reduces your risk of getting wet.
Does the increased risk from more sex outweigh the decreased risk from more protection? Do the math. On average, contraception lowers your odds of pregnancy by a factor of seven. If you're capable of having seven times as much sex, congratulations. The rest of us will get pregnant less often, not more.

And that's what the data show. Ryan's bill targets women with family incomes below 200 percent of the poverty rate, since they have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and more difficulty finding or affording contraception. Among these women, the percentage using contraception declined from 1995 to 2002. As predicted by contraception opponents, the rate of sexual activity also declined, though only slightly. Even better, from a pro-life standpoint, when these women got pregnant unintentionally, the percentage who chose abortion fell.
Less contraception, less sex, more women choosing life. So, the abortion rate among these women went down, right?

Wrong. It went up. The decline in contraception overwhelmed the decline in sexual activity, resulting in a higher rate of unintended pregnancy. And the increase in unintended pregnancy overwhelmed the increase in women choosing life, resulting in more abortions. From a pro-life standpoint, trading contraception for abstinence and a "culture of life" was a net loss.
That's why Ryan insists on birth control. He's tired of pious slogans and symbolic bills crafted to save more congressional seats than babies. He's had enough of the debate between life and choice. He wants a new abortion debate. "You're either for reducing the number, or you're not," he says. He's made his decision. Now make yours.

A version of this article also appears in the Outlook section of the Sunday Washington Post.

The Effect of Sexism

Slate Magazine Positions of Power: How female ambition is shaped.
By J.D. Nordell

Ask a band of 8-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up, and chances are you'll hear the word famous. According to psychiatrist Anna Fels, author of Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives, developmental studies of boys and girls show that as children, both sexes have remarkably similar desires for achievement. Both wish for accomplishment requiring work or skill; both desire recognition and honor. But fast-forward 20 or more years, and the reality looks different than the expectations. According to the October issue of Fortune, which highlights "The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business," women account for 35 percent of MBAs but only 2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. Women now make up 16 percent of congressional seats—and 0 percent of U.S. presidents. So, what happens to the grand ambitions of girlhood? There are three possible answers. The first is that innate differences between the sexes mean that women either don't seek high-risk jobs or don't perform as well at them as men do; many conservatives, for example, have seized on social science studies that suggest women demonstrate an aversion to risk-taking.

The second is that conscious discrimination still exists—that sexism is alive and well in the workplace. In 1998, for example, Mitsubishi paid $34 million to female workers who claimed the company had allowed employees and managers to sexually harass them at its plant in Normal, Ill. The third is that, even though formal barriers to women's workplace advancement have been dismantled, unconscious bias continues to interfere, influencing, for example, awards and honors. Recently, the transsexual neuroscientist Ben Barres, who has worked as both a woman and a man in science, noted that he is treated with more respect and interrupted less frequently now that he is a man. (After one talk, a faculty member was overheard saying, "Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but then his work is much better than his sister's.") And, of course, unconscious bias may be what accounts for the fact that women still do the majority of housework and child-rearing, making it harder for them to complete effectively in the workplace. Whatever the reality of innate gender differences may prove to be—and we still don't understand very much about it—the presence of unconscious bias has been amply demonstrated. One widely cited study showed that when applying for a research grant, women need to be 2.5 times more productive than men to be judged equally competent. The famous "McKay" study asked subjects to rank comparable academic papers by John T. McKay or Joan T. McKay; the "Joan" papers were ranked about one point lower on a five-point scale than the papers by "John." And since the arrival of "blind" orchestra auditions, in which candidates are evaluated from behind a screen, the percentage of women hired by the top five U.S. orchestras has risen from less than 5 percent to 34 percent. What is pernicious about unconscious bias is not only that it creates specific career obstacles—say, being passed over for a promotion or losing out on a fellowship—but that it has subtler and more far-reaching consequences: It erodes the foundation upon which achievement is built—ambition itself. Ambition depends on a host of factors: confidence, actual skill, and the fuel of external recognition. Studies increasingly show that bias corrupts each of these in turn. In doing so, it doesn't just bar a woman from the corner office, it causes her to take herself out of the running. By the time girls become adults, their ambitions have changed—because they have changed. Ambition is a complex internal drive, and it relies heavily on a belief in one's own potential. "In order to have high aspirations, you have to have a sense of your own competence," says Shelley Correll, a sociologist at Cornell who studies the development of aspirations. Correll has found that, in the presence of a stereotype that men are better, women tend to underrate their own performance, while men overrate their own, regardless of demonstrated ability. "We find that if you compare boys and girls, or men and women, with the same grades in math classes, and the exact same scores on standardized math tests, boys think they are better than girls," she notes. To better understand this phenomenon, Correll devised a study in which male and female undergraduates were told they were "pre-testing" a new set of graduate admissions exams. Half the subjects were told that males had more ability on this test; half were told there was no relationship between gender and ability. (The test was devised in such a way that it was impossible to arrive at the correct answers.) All subjects were given the same score. Correll found that men exposed to the belief that males were superior rated their abilities as higher and expressed greater goals for future related activities; women in this group rated their ability as lower and expressed lower goals. Thus, exposure to a generalization about one's group changes the way one interprets one's own ability—and in turn shapes one's goals for the future. These effects, says Correll, "cumulate over women's lives and result in dramatically different outcomes for men and women." (Caric Note: the psychologist Ronald Steele has found the same affect with racial generalizations) Bias is also shown to shape ability itself. Robert Rosenthal, a sociologist at UCLA, randomly assigned children to different classes, and then told half the classrooms' teachers they had gifted classes and the other half that their students were average. At the end of the year, the "gifted" students scored higher on IQ tests. In other words, if others perceive you as talented, you become more talented. If you are perceived as less able, your ability shrinks. Meanwhile, studies of what psychologists call "stereotype threat" demonstrate that awareness of negative stereotypes about one's group diminishes performance. Toni Schmader, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, conducted a study in which undergraduates were asked to memorize words while doing math; one group was told this was a problem-solving exercise, the other, that this was a test comparing men and women. Women's performance suffered only when they believed they were being compared to men—this prompted the stereotype that men are better in math. Another study examined how stereotype threat affected Asian-American women's performance on math tasks. When subjects were asked questions related to Asian identity before taking the test (prompting the stereotype that Asians are good at math), their performance went up. When asked questions related to gender (prompting the stereotype that women are bad at math), their performance went down. Ambition also depends on recognition. While we like to think of ourselves as unaffected by others' assessments, anyone who's experienced the boosting effect of a sincere compliment knows this isn't true. Notes Fels in Necessary Dreams, studies by psychologists such as Jerome Kagan, Carol Dweck, and Howard Gardner have shown that being recognized enhances learning, motivation, productivity, and self-esteem. As Fels notes, "we sustain effort on projects that maximize present or future affirmation." Recognition, then, is its own perpetual-motion device: It increases drive, which increases achievement, which leads to more recognition. But if, as the study cited above shows, a woman must be 2.5 times as productive to be judged equally competent, she receives that much less recognition for equal productivity—leaving her out of the cycle of recognition and reward. Like an immune disorder, bias attacks from the inside, compromising self-perception and actual ability. It also attacks from the outside, isolating the individual from proper rewards. There are, however, a few silver linings. First, according to Fels, given the right encouragement, ambition can blossom at any time. When individuals experience a burst of achievement or recognition later in life, the full force of childhood ambition seems to return. Second, many of these studies suggest that bias' effects on performance and self-perception are, like a stain, fairly responsive to spot treatment. In Schmader's word-memorization study, a third group was told that exposure to stereotypes might lead women to underperform. In this group, the women and men scored equally well, suggesting that awareness of bias may mitigate its effect. Correll recommends that institutions acknowledge that while bias may exist "out there," this particular organization is a safe place, and provide messages about all individuals' potential—"from the top down." Transparency helps, too: Where there are clear methods of evaluation, women do well. The October issue of Fortune looks at three large American companies with many women at the top and finds that each relies on measurable results to determine advancement, including "empirical standards, clear goals, and frequent reviews." Empirical standards, frequent reviews—sound familiar? Schools do the same thing. In counties around the country, women now account for the majority of valedictorians.