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Friday, November 29, 2002
Words of Wisdom from Professor Sacerdote:

[Read the 2001 Aegis if you think I'm making this up.]

Dear Members of the Class of 2001:

Despite your fervent hopes, your commencement day is almost upon us. Your graduation from Dartmouth significant and bittersweet for me since I have an unusually large number of friends and students among you. My graduation from Dartmouth was eleven years before yours. Have I gathered a decades's worth of wisdom that I can impart to you in six paragraph? Probably not, though I have created my Official Guide to Happiness and the abstract is below.

My first thought is that in making life decisions, it is best to be something of a hedonist. Do what interests you and makes you happy. It is difficult to find a job that is fun and pays a decent wage. There is a reason that fun jobs pay little and brutal jobs pay a lot. (Notice that jobs in which you work with business school graduates pay the most.)

With much experimenting and fine tuning, you should be able to find a career or a life that you really enjoy. If not you will have to invent a job for yourself, which is a bit harder. Do not settle for the merely tolerable, but instead make life work for you. For the long run, give some thought to where you want to live, how you want to live, and various trade-offs you are willing to make.

Social scientists often tell us that happiness is relative and that humans can adjust to a wide variety of conditions. While there is truth in that, it is also clear that some things can make us strictly and permanently happier. Economists have shown empirically that people are happier when they are married or have large amounts of money. I recommend both. If money is important to you, go for it directly without guilt or hesitation. Liberal academics occasionally try to convince us that financial success is inherently a bad thing. I am not sure how this myth started, but I have done my best to dispel it.

Other things that are scientifically proven to make Dartmouth graduates happy include skiing, dogs, and childen. You will never know any greater joy than playing with your child in your backyard or taking her to the zoo, the farm, or for a bike ride.

You are blessed with a unique combination of intelligence, opportunities, independence, and a sense of perspective to make this all work. In the meatime, try to love each other and see your classmates' (and your own) strengths more than their and (your) shortcomings. May your journey be as filled with adventure and laughter as mine.

WIth warmest wishes,

Professor Bruce Sacerdote '90

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
It's an old system, sir, but there are those who love it

I would like to draw your attention to an article in today's D by Ryan Carey '96. Overall, Mr. Carey's piece is pretty good. He bemoans the administration's attempt to transform Dartmouth from a small, liberal arts college into a research university. Very few of us can disagree with him; I will NOT be sending my kids here if this place is Dartmouth University in all but name.

His opening paragraph, however, is worth thinking about, simply because it's so out of place in the context of his entire piece:

Alumni, students, faculty and administrators should take a second look at John Strayer's Nov. 6 letter, "Fundamental Questions." In it, Strayer questions the ability of the College to maintain itself as the premier liberal arts institution in the nation while simultaneously attempting to become a better research institution. The College seems to have cooled its attempts to rid the campus of single-sex social institutions, which need to be eliminated from campus as soon as possible. Fraternities have no reason for existence at Dartmouth. They are a relic of 19th century gender anxiety and now reinforce or even strengthen those anxieties. That said, Strayer is correct in stating that the questions surrounding the "Greek crisis" on campus have obscured most other aspects about the growth and health of the College. However, the administration has presented a much greater challenge to traditions with President James Wright's recent words.

Once you get past the first two sentences, the rest of the paragraph begins to read strangely. What does the fraternity system have to do with keeping Dartmouth a college? In any case, the argument that he brings up against the system is poor. 19th-century gender anxiety? Why would an all-male college, as Dartmouth was back then, suffer from "gender anxiety?" What is "gender anxiety" anyway, and how does the system strengthen those anxieties? And how reasonable is to say that "Fraternities have no reason for existence at Dartmouth?" I can think of the following reasons:

1) Tradition. The system is part of Dartmouth's past, and to wipe it out would be to destroy history, etc. By itself, this argument does not go down well with a lot of people (myself included). However,
2) Undergraduates support it. A sizable number of Dartmouth undergraduates have joined the Greek system. Many others who do not join support the system.
3) Alumni support it. They have the money. Fraternities, or so the stereotype goes, produce investment bankers, who tend to be pretty rich. Many alumni have already withdrawn their financial support since the SLI. To completely eliminate the system would require their financial support, which of course, they aren't going to provide.
4) Cost. See point 3. Do we want more budget cuts?
5) Bonding between members.
6) Freedom to choose one's social life and personal relationships.

There are counterarguments, but "gender anxiety" is not one of them.

Thanks so much for the geography lesson

I just noticed that in response to my post below, Christian Hummel said this on dartlog: "Uh, Tim, unless I completely missed your point or implied humor, I wish to point out that Sarajevo is in Bosnia and that Kosovo is... well, in Kosovo." He did miss my dryness and the absurdity I was decrying. So before the globe-trotting Hummel again tells me stuff I already know, let me be explicit and try to clarify:

I have asked John Stevenson to defend his claim that we can just ignore race and culture because they are 'social constructions'. In my last post, I was implying that it was absurd to think that if residents of Sarajevo had decided culture was a 'social construction' (maybe after reading John Stevenson on dartobserver), that would have stopped Serb advances in Bosnia or later Serb atrocities in Kosovo. Residents of Sarajevo and residents of Kosovo were both victims of Serbian nationalism, a 'social construction' that must have felt very real to the victims. The reality of social constructions are not simply internal to any one individual's thoughts. The reality that Serbs construct their culture in a certain way exists outside of any individual Bosnian's or Kosovar's 'construction' or 'deconstruction' of Serbian nationalism. So basically, the particularly evil social construction of Serbian nationalism could not simply be wished away by a resident of Sarejevo thinking 'hey! this isn't useful anymore!" Serbian nationalism would still exist, as we can see by it effects in Kosovo.

Similarly, I am not convinced that John Stevenson can wish away racism and its legacy by claiming that 'race' is a social construction (this is all clearer if you read my unanswered arguments on this in many previous posts). Pointing out something is a social construction may help us to change our thinking, but this is a possible strategy, not one certain to be successful. In the meantime, I worry it is unwise to ignore the real effects that social constructions have in the real world. Idealism is commendable, but falters when its success wrongly depends upon a mistaken assumption that everyone else now shares those ideals. Culture is not permanent, and can be transformed, but it can't always be done easily, by one side and by a 'simple' intellectual idea that we can all be individuals. Unlike John Stevenson, I think we make progress by also taking into account pragmatic considerations, not simply invoking 'postmodernist' type ideas for reactionary conservative purposes.

Sunday, November 17, 2002
constructive criticism?

John Stevenson says: "culture is relatively unimportant and can be trascended by individuals. Culture is social constructed; it can be deconstructed as necessary to further our goals."

How far is John willing to go with this statement? Would he apply this to Bosnia and say we should have a unitary government and not take into account the differing cultures there, because after all they don't matter? Can individuals in those cultures 'transcend' cultures merely because they are 'social constructions'? If Sarejevo residents read dartobserver and read John's brilliant ideas, perhaps there would have been no war in Kosovo. John says he has a philosophy of race, culture, etc, but refuses to say so far how extensive his philosophy is or does not defend the absolutist implications of it. I'm not suggested that an argument for race neutrality cannot be argued on different grounds, but John is living is some fantasy world where through some collective act individuals can wish away social constructions. We may want to transcend social constructions, but we have to take them into account to do so, and being blind to them may not be the best way to do that (and race-blindness is certainly not the best way to do that in all circumstances). Listen, we may hope for world peace and think that the world would be better off with nuclear weapons and war (which some dispute, by the way), but it does not follow that the path to get there is unilateral disarment or pretending that the league of nations will save us. World peace, like social justice, may be possible, but we cannot just wish it there because race, wars, and violence between nations are social constructions. John says culture can be deconstructed as necessary to further our goals. It can also be constructed as necessary to further other goals, some relatively benign, other malign and hideous. When John says "our goals" he forgets that "social" constructions are social.

A reasonable position to take would be to say that in the United States today, in these circumstances, the best strategy to get rid of and transcend culture/race, etc. would be to not pay attention to it. But this at most only applies in certain situations, and it is not a universal statement. Transcending race is in part a strategy, not a purely principled argument. Certaintly, we are not merely 'deconstructing' culture. And others can contest any reasons John might offer why race is irellevant or can be made irrelevent by some of us wishing it away in the United States. One further point: "our goals" should include protecting people from discrimination. To that extent, it is very important to take into account culture (national origin) and race, and keep statistics on race (the government should continue socially constructing it!) so that we can enforce anti-discrimination laws. And we should take into account culture to allow for the existence of indian reservations because the history of trying to treat Native Americans through 'difference-blind' liberalism is atrocious. Why John, are we ready to transcend it now?
Either justify that race should always be deconstructed and that your principled argument is enough to get you to your point OR accept the challenge and show (as you have not so far) what circumstances we should and are able to 'transcend' race by being neutral towards it. The father of deconstruction wouldn't agree with you John, so show why we should take Derridian (or postmodern or whatever) ideas and end up with relatively conservative (or difference-blind liberal) ideas.

Saturday, November 16, 2002
Susan Okin suggests that culture is important as long as it doesn't trump the other values that we have. It merely furthers the point that I have that culture is relatively unimportant and can be trascended by individuals. Culture is social constructed; it can be deconstructed as necessary to further our goals. This ties into my philosophy on race, class, etc. and its relative unimportance. This is why when I suggested that Okin taught me the importance of culture, I was being sarcastic which the ever observant Tim pointed out for us. In the future, I shall try to be less clever. Same for Mike Sandel. However, Mike does suggest that he doesn't really see where communitariansim and liberalism diverge and tries to synthesize the two. Reading Mike's idea of holism vs. atomism reminded me of the importance that I place on individual rights based regimes over communitarian ones; that ties into Suzie Okin: they both taught me that the community and culture collaspe in the face of the individual's ability to choose and construct at will. At for the Bible we all know that it has one author who is God and many writers who are men (since we are living in a PC age I suppose I should say people.)

And here is my only comment on the election in so far as nothing much will change: I want more strict constructionist on federal courts everywhere to protect individuals from the intrusive power of good-intentioned state interventions. From CS Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercise for the good of its victims, may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busy-bodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep. His cupidity may at some point be satiated. But those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Election Commentary from another one of favorite commentators: (An)Drew Sullivan: "Odd, isn't it, that in the era of the allegedly imperial Bush, the police state of John Ashcroft, and the supposedly uniform, war-hungry American populace, next Tuesday's American elections are about as close as they could possibly be. Odd too that the campaign, far from being cowed by lugubrious martial uniformity, has been as nasty, dirty, spirited and unpredictable as any I can remember. America is still a place - and has never been in danger of not being a place - where a lot of internal dissension exists. And war presidents don't always get rapturous support. Even FDR lost ground in wartime."

Mr. Samuels, I exhort you not to fear. I alerted Chien Wen to this fact last week. As they would say on Pulp Fiction, "Relax, we're on the motherfucker." Op/eds are being prepared for immediate dispatch to counter the waves or race-baiting that may have begun.

1. We will diplace the idea that the "black" community unanamously supports such measure as reparations and are against academic freedom.
2. I will demonstrate that in a moral universe race can not be used as a bully stick against the Dartmouh; we are not Jesse Jackson.
3. We also know that "impact of slavery" did not last beyond 1910 at the latest and probably much earlier.

Now John, Gentlemen Don't Read and Tell...

In posting a recommended reading list, John Stevenson says "learning is the highest physical pleasure in which I can indulge; the texts are my lovers." Well, John had better learn more about his lovers before he starts calling them the wrong names while in bed. John projects some weird qualities onto his author-lovers: "Susan Moller Onkin [sic], who taught me the power of the family of the importance of culture." In your intense intellectual love affair, John, which book of Susan Moller Okin taught you the importance of culture? That's odd because Okin's "Is multiculturalism bad for women?" and other essays lead one to the conclusion that culture is not very important at all and we cannot learn much of anything from immigrant cultures. And I find it odd that Michael Sandel taught John the meaning of liberalism and liberty, since he is a staunch communitarian (!) though maybe he learned about liberalism from Sandel's critics. There is more to life and learning than books, but be an attentative lover in all things you do. And be careful about catching some strange intellectual diseases from the continent.

P.S. my favorite version of the Bible actually has a giant GOD listed on the bottom of the cover to indicate a unitary, and not mulitiple authorship, of the Bible.

Friday, November 15, 2002
>Date: 12 Nov 2002 19:34:15 EST
>From: Office of Black Student Advising
>Subject: Emergency meeting summary
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)

Dear Members of the Black Community,

Last Saturday, members of our community came together for an emergency meeting to discuss the content of a study conducted by a Dartmouth economics professor, the "D's" presentation of that study, and a recent blitz sent out by a student for a "gangsta lovin" party. Approximately 30 students, administrators, and faculty were in attendance. At the beginning of the meeting there was a brief discussion for everyone to voice their feelings about these situations. After the discussion ended, we came up with an action plan.

Action plan:

There are two small committees of people who are working on the following initiatives.

1. There is going to be a letter written to faculty and administrators expressing the concerns black students have about the Dartmouth environment. There will be a petition attached to the letter signed by any student who agrees with the letter.

2. The Black Leadership Council will have a meeting with the president of "The Dartmouth" to discuss our concerns with their presentation of information to the larger Dartmouth community.

3. We are planning a panel discussion to examine the issues raised by the Dartmouth Prof. about the impact of slavery. We are hoping to target a large audience and are planning to invite scholars from Dartmouth as well as other institutions to participate on the panel.

We would like to thank those people who were able to participate in this meeting given its short notice and we look forward to working together to put our thoughts into action.

If you have any further questions regarding the meeting or you would like to be involved, please blitz the OBSA account.

LaRell Purdie
Black Student Organization/
Community Coordinator
Office of Black Student Advising

The Washington Post has concluded that the administration suppresses free speech at Dartmouth. The claim, coming from a traditionally liberal newspaper, should give us pause, and indicates the presence of ideological censorship here more serious than repression of the Indian mascot. On Dartlog, Alex Talcott posts a mass blitz circulated November 12 by the Office for Black Student Advising addressing "the concerns black students have about the Dartmouth environment" precipitated by the recent economic study by Professor Bruce Sacerdote. That the administration feels that every interest on campus needs its own dean in order to feel comfortable, a Dean of Pluralism perched atop the entire structure, while our enlightened President James Wright announces simultaneously cuts of five percent to the humanities and the closing of two integral libraries on campus, disturbs me for considerations of academic priority, but I wonder if organizations funded by the College such as racial offices, affinities, et cetera, in creating an insular community benevolently segregated by such ascriptive characteristics as race, nationality, or religion, rather exacerbate than ameliorate the problems that they purpose to solve. The administration has opted for comfort over the free, or liberal rather, exchange of ideas. In a truly liberal academic environment, should a group object to a claim of one of its members, or even feel threatened by it, it will seek to refute it on academic terms, by exposing logical fallacies in its analysis, misinterpretations of its statistics, or even meanspirited misrepresentations of facts in the rare event of their presence. The intellectual framework inculcated however by the leaders of this institution has fostered the growth of a miniature closed society, in which each group not only fears but expects encroachments from the others. Perhaps most ominously of all, the Office for Black Student Advising has resolved that "The Black Leadership Council will have a meeting with the president of The Dartmouth to discuss our concerns with their presentation of information to the larger Dartmouth community." What might this mean? I repeat, "our concerns with their presentation of information to the larger community."

Book Recommendations

The following is a list of books that I have found personally helpful this term alone. (At some later date a more comprehensive list of important books shall be updated to this site.) This is intended as an answer to Chien Wen's (or Wen Kung if he prefers :)) question about good teachers. For me some of the best teachers (excepting for Ron Edsforth, Ben Forrest, and Lucas Swaine) have been the books with whom I interact. Being a celibate (by choice), learning is the highest physical pleasure in which I indulge; the texts are my lovers.

1. The Case for Conservatism: I intended to pick up this book and see an outline of the thought of the American Right. What I received instead is a magnificient work by Prof. John Kekes. "Conservatism is a political morality...One distinctive feature of the conservatism defended here is its commitment to four basic beliefs: skepticism, pluralism, traditionalism, and pessimism."

2. Allan Bloom, both The Closing of the American Mind and Giants and Dwarves, who taught me the value of poltical philosophy

3. Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture, who taught me that you can say something in 800 words

4. Catherine Mackinnon, Only Words, who taught me the power of the law.

5. Phillip Bobbit, The Shield of Achilles who taught me the value of history

6. David Gress From Plato to Nato and Michael J. Sandel's Liberalism and it Critics who taught me the meaning of liberalism and liberty.

7. Nancy Rosenblum, who taught me the meaning of marriage and the importance of pluralism

8.Susan Moller Okin, who taught me the power of the family and the importance of culture

9. John Rawls, Political Liberalism, who taught me the importance of autonomy

10. First and foremost, God, author of the Bible (Revised and Expanded Version to include the Gospels; avaliable in the Hebrew and Greek) who taught the meaning of being human and the true meaning of diversity

Thursday, November 14, 2002
From Columbia Teacher's College:

hi, john, this is a new york times op ed written in 2000 by the president of columbia teachers college. what od you think of it?

--- Start of quoted text:
The Campus Divided, and Divided Again
Nowhere do you hear the word "diversity'' more than on college campuses. Yet
ask for a definition and you will get a reply entombed in ideology and
obfuscating rhetoric. Fearful college presidents hand off diversity-related
issues to student affairs officers. At the same time, the students, the
engine for action on diversity at most colleges, are making finer and finer
distinctions among themselves. It is a generation that defines itself more
by its differences than its similarities.
No type of organization is growing more quickly on campuses today than
advocacy groups focused on particular student populations, according to a
1997 study of chief student affairs officers at a sample of 270
colleges and universities conducted by Jeanette Cureton, an independent
researcher, and me. The larger and more selective the college, the greater
the number of such groups. Each campus activity, said one administrator,
"appeals to smaller pockets of students."
In a 1979 study, when I asked undergraduates to describe themselves, they
focused on the commonalties their generation shared, like as being
materialistic or career oriented. By contrast, current students, when asked
the same question, emphasized the things that made them unique. A Korean
student said he never thought about the fact that he was Asian until he came
to college. In his freshman year, he thought being Asian was the most
important aspect of his being. By his junior year, being Korean became his
primary self-descriptor. On one campus I visited, a business club was
divided into more than a dozen different groups-a women's business club, a
Latino business club, a disabled-student business club, a gay student
business club and so on.
This voluntary sense of segregation on campus, while real, is systematically
overestimated by students, according to our research. We attended campus
parties and asked white students how many black students had attended. They
made comments like, "black students don't attend our events." We asked them
to guess the number who attended anyway. The guess was 10; the reality was
closer to 50.
At an event sponsored by the Asian student association, we asked how many
white students attended. Once again the guess was a handful and the reality
was that about a third of the audience was Caucasian. What could explain the
discrepancy? Either students do not socialize even when in close proximity
or they are so used to segregation they do not even perceive
cross-socializing when it occurs.
A related characteristic is a sense of victimization. Men and women,
majorities and minorities, rich and poor all think that someone else on
campus is getting something they are not, and that they are forced to pay
the cost.
Our surveys showed a majority of four-year colleges (54 percent) reporting a
rise in the feeling of victimization among students during the late 1980s
and early to mid-1990s, students felt more and more victimized, a trend that
has only intensified.
Today diversity is the largest cause of student unrest on campus, accounting
for 39 percent of student protests, according to our study. Discourse is
dominated by two small, but vociferous groups-one yelling that diversity has
eclipsed all other aspects of college life and the other shouting that
colleges remain impervious to diversity. Meanwhile, the rest of the campus
community tries to avoid the issue.
At best, our survey shows a balkanized campus, in which the zone of
tolerance or indifference to offense grows increasingly small. At worse, our
survey shows a more and more Hobbesian world, where each group battles
against other for resources inside and outside the classroom.
In this environment, a climate of political correctness prevails. Diversity
frightens university administrators. For several years in the early 90's, I
directed a training program for senior administrators. Each summer I
presented 100 or so presidents, vice presidents, and deans a case study on
student efforts to get a women's studies program adopted at a small liberal
arts college. I divided the class into three groups - one played the student
leader, another played the faculty opponent, and the final group played the
academic dean on whose desk the problem landed. Year after year those
playing the administrator, regardless of the race, gender, or age, would say
the same thing: "I just want the issue to go away."
Interviews I have had with 14 college presidents in the intervening years
produced much the same response. The reason is not that they are trying to
shirk responsibility. The reason is that college presidents are hired to
solve problems, not to create them. But diversity is a Pandora's box.
Solving one problem inevitably leads to another.
If the Bosnian students want Bosnian food in the cafeteria, this can be
done. If the Croatian students want a wing in a residence hall, theme dorms
are certainly an option. If the Slovenian students want a Slovenian studies
program, a committee can be created to study the subject.
The problem is this. At one campus, there was a Puerto Rican studies
program. The Dominican students wanted a Dominican studies program. The
president proposed a Caribbean studies program. It was flatly rejected by
all quarters.

Nonetheless, colleges and universities are making real progress in
diversifying their curriculums. In another study of 196 colleges, Jeanette
Cureton and I learned that more than a third of all colleges had a diversity
requirement. At least a third offered course work in ethnic and gender
studies. More than half of all institutions introduced diversity into their
departmental offerings. A majority sought to increase the diversity of their
But the sheer quantity of activity hides the character of the changes, which
are by accretion rather than by design. The result is a grab bag of
diversity initiatives in which the whole may be less than the parts.
The issue cannot be handled problem by problem, Band-Aid by Band-Aid. If
colleges don't set specific and reasonable goals, the poisoned atmosphere
will continue to degrade higher education, harming the interest of everyone.
College must confront the diversity issue with candor, and not hide behind
programs that placate groups but divide the campus.

At the risk of starting another bash John session, I will post what I reported to Sara Rimer, author of the article in which I was quoted, via email. She has all the notes regarding our conversations but most of this reflects what I was saying. If you wondering where the quote came from, I encourage all of you to read my op/ed the Local Gods. I have ordered the questions somewhat but the original material is still basically here bereft with the original spelling mistakes.

Conversations with a Young Reporter Or, the Message that Wasn't in the New York Times

p.s. where does Henry Louis gates jr. tell the bag story -- in one of his books? do they literally still use the bag to determine skin color or is more of a psychological test about whether you think black enough? can you explain?
could you relate to what Deanne battle was saying about feeling lonely and excluded?

one more question: can you tell me all the various clubs you belong to?

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. tells the story in "The Future of the Race" (co-authored with Cornel West) on page 18-19. He was drawing a parallel between how middle class blacks were once excluded for not being 'white' enough by whites and are now excluded by their fellow blacks for not being black enough. He is concerned that the more some blacks overcome, the more they feel that they need to show that they haven't forgotten their 'roots', which is a euphemism for the inner city way of life. Its the old dreaded fear of assimilation; will we loose our 'blackness' if we stop identifying predominantly with our skin color? The way you answer that question will overwhelmingly determine whether self-segregation continues.

On loneliness and exclusion
Allan Bloom, in his book "The Closing of the American Mind", makes the case in the section entitled Race that blacks who do not identify mainly with the different black institutions on campus and the party line are neither accepted by blacks or understood by whites. He was writing in the late 80s and though some of that type of thinking still persists today in both communities, it has overwhelmingly shifted away from what he and HLG, Jr. were warning about. Let me give you an example from my own short career here at the College.

There were some blacks in the Af-Am society and minority leaders in other groups that favored struggle over cooperation. In their minds, the simple fact of being in the racial minority meant that everyone who did not accept all their dicta on race and race relation as true, were racist. For example the party line on affirmative action or the creation of an Asian-American studies minor was the both needed to be done with all deliberate speed. Anyone who opposed them were considered to be out of step with reality. Or a black female that i know who honestly hates all white people. (her words, not mine) However, there has been a great push in all communities toward moderation instead of radicalism thereby marginalizing the more unreasonable voices. The irony is that the most unreasonable voices tend to be the minorities who come from the most affluent backgrounds.

Therefore, I have not been lonely or depressed. I have found many friends of many backgrounds, though mainly Jewish and international students, whose interests converge with mine. On the basis of those interests, as per Cornel West's advice on that Saturday afternoon, have I formed my friendships.

Current: World Affairs Council Exec Board (of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding), AGORA co-chair (Nelson Rockefeller Center), 2004 project Coordinator, War and Peace Studies Fellow, Occam's Razor (Philosophy Group), Middle East Forum, DiPac (Dartmouth Israeli Public Affairs Committee), Shamis, Dartmouth Independent Forum, the Daily Dartmouth (Started in the Summer), Daniel Webster Legal Society, PoliTalk, The Dartmouth Observer (a blog)

Former: Dartmouth Libertarians, Dartmouth Greens, College Republicans, Hillel, Dartmouth Middle East Discussion Group, Leadership Development Program, International Students Association, the Dartmouth Free Press (Summer Only), MOSAIC, Student Assembly Diversity Affairs Committee, DAMEA (Dartmouth Alliance for Middle East Awareness), Public Impact Initiative (Summer Only)

Former activities are those groups that I participate in from September 2001 until September 2002. Current activities include those that I did last year and continue today.

--- You wrote:
hi, john, this is great. you know everything!
what's agora?
thanks again. can you write my story for me?
are you and your roommate friends? does he have to walk over all your books?
best, sara
--- end of quote ---
As for writing stories, I wish. ;) My roomate and I get along. I am not here often enough to have formed a bond with him. Due to the large amounts of time that I spend at Rocky, Alpha Theta, homework, classes/ socializing and meetings ( in order of the percentage of my time spent there from largest to smallest), I am not often in the room except to sleep and on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings. Due to the four large bookshelves in the room, my roommate does not have to walk over my books.

A support sytem is part of the College's committment and funding of minority special interest groups. This creates spaces in which anyone who buys the party line of those controlling the spaces feels safe and welcome. It's like having your personal house on the block. Intergration involves forcing people out of these safe spaces into the larger context of democratic culture where they will undergo contiunous redefinition and challege. This would be analogous to interaction between your house and the local neighborhood.

The difference between this version of intergration and multiculturalism is that in multiculturalism many different subgroups exist but they are not necessarily challenged. Differences, instead of similarities are encourage and give precedence. My is a vision of pluralism, diversity based on individuals and not groups and is thus fully consistent with tradition Civil Rights goals. As a result of your visit to Dartmouth, a number of freinds and I have begun to form the Dartmouth Independent Forum: a student organizations devoted to three goals: the propagation of a campus discourse that is skeptical of the dogmatism found in the leftist and rightist camps on campus (vis a vis the war on Iraq, diversity, and other such politicized issues), pro-active in recruiting outside speakers to challenge the student body, and integration/ colsolidation of special interest. We support the kindling in Dartmouth students a spirit of unity and commitment in achieving a truly open and just society, where the individual enjoys the blessings of liberty free of racial prejudice, stigma, caste or discrimination. Thus we push people and institutions to take affirmative steps to achieve an integrated society--inclusive housing option; strong, diverse, non-partisan and interracial cultural educational systems (ie. the cultural-identity groups on campus) and increased access to college affairs.

Conversations with a Young Reporter Or, the Message that Wasn't in the New York Times, part II

I was unfortunately too dismissive of the college in the op/ed. In terms of person to person realtionships, I do not find it important. In times of instituional direction, the foucus was very important in so far as it brings ideas of power and privedlge into the open and out of the realm of taboo. I am not stronly opposed to affinity houses. However, some people do allow their "affinity" to over ride the purpose of education: to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. Everyone needs a group to return to; the group should not be all consuming.

This next statement is, of course, off the record but this was forward to me but the D staff:
"Hi Editor,
I'm a '99 and have read a lot of articles in the D. A lot of articles have been inflammatory and thus nullify any message one could have gained from them. However, John Stevenson's article, "The Local Gods," was fantastic. Having been in Hanover for my 4 years, I can see exactly what he means. I didn't develop my close friendships with minorities until I was placed in the melting pot of the senior society, Phoenix. How sad to not have met those friends until senior year. Anyway, you can tell John Stevenson that I totally loved his article and hope that the freshmen might heed his call.

Ann DeBord Smith '99"

I distinguish then between instituions and the people and suggest that the focus should be on power and whether it matters for instituions and for people the focus should be realtionships. The most deadly thing one can do is conflate the two.
--- She wrote:
p.s. i am going thru my notes and see where you already told me that you
started to notice race in your junior year in high school. what happened?
--- end of quote ---
It was when I became heavily involved in mulitculturalism. Prefaced into the idea of mulitculutralism is the idea of difference. It is then that I bagan to notice that they were differences in skin pigmentation which heavily affect some people's worldview.

I live in Armana, a coed Undergraduate Society. (Non-exclusive and post-Greek) I have a roommate, Richard Burst-Lazarus from New York (white) who is a stanch liberal and atheist (in so far as these are the two qualities he emphasizes the most; I have ascribed no characterisitcs to him here). At Dartmouth, I remebered color after two events: an exchange with a female 03 who chastised me for quoting Locke who was in her words "a dead white European male" and attending a racial profiling panel where the same 03 suggested that 9/11 was an attack on white America and not an attack on her. From that point, I attended and facilated a lot of the race/ethnicity/identity panels and heard statements like "I have never felt like such a minority until I came to white Dartmouth." I had never felt these feelings; it was then that I knew something was diffrent.

My mother taught me a color-blindness that has its root in chrisitan theology, which she also trained me in. One of the most controversial claims of the Bible was the idea that God sent a Jewish Messiah to save Jew and Gentile, male and female alike from destruction. Moreover, since God had saved all human beings (on the condition that they accept it) there was no fundamental diffrence between humans for "all have fallen short of the glory of God." Therefore, as it says in the Book of James. "God is not a repecter of persons." From these she taught me that no matter the color, gender, class or station of people alike, they are all human and deserve respect. (She did however suggest that I engage in some age discrimination: all people who were older than me were to be called sir and ma'am.)

I do not regurly think of myself as African-American primarily. In the back of my mind, the identification is there. However, I think primarily of myself as John Stevenson: , a human , a Christian, an American, and a student of the Enlightenment.

Happy to answer any other questions you may have.

--- You wrote:
but it is important that i underscore that you are proud to be
african american and have african american friends. so can you tell me
anything along those lines -- do you drop in regularly at the african
american affintiy house? is booker t. washington a hero of yours, or
someone else? can you name one or two of your close african american
friends? i just don't want people to get the mistaken idea that you are
putting aside your blackness, which i am sure you are not. what sorts of
posters are in your room? what groups do you belong to? you are a member of
hillel, right? are you a fan of cornel west's?
where can i reach you tomorrow or sunday? this story is so hard!
--- end of quote ---

I do regulrly drop by cutter-shabazz for talks and such. I know most of the Af-Am community on campus with some notable Af-Am freinds: Don Jolly, whom you met, Dason Watson, Twun Djin, Ohene Kwasi Ohene-Adu. It is not as if I advoid my race on campus. In terms of heroes, I respect and admire all the great academics: Booker T, WEB DuBois, James Meredith, Walter E. Williams, Shelby Steele, Glenn Loury, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (I am reading a book by the two now entilted the Future of the Race, in which Henry is grappling with issues of the black middle class; I highly suggest it), Thomas Sowell and the two Supreme Court Justices: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. (I am reading some books now about their judicial philosophy.) I really respect Cornel West's work: I am reading two books by him, the Future of the Race and the American Evasion of Philosophy. He studied under Richard Rorty and dsiplayed a mastery of such intellectuals at the conference as C. Wright Mill's (The Power Elite), Edmund Burke, Thomas Sowell, V.S. Naipual. He is a wonderful fellow.

In terms of posters, I haven't any. My posters are the books I keep in my room to read.

I don't want to convey the notion that in not caring about race, I have somehow lost my "blackness." This is not the case at all; however, due to nature of racialized discourse, "blackness" as a cultural constrctul, as a phychological worldview, carries an ideological price I cannot afford. "Blackness" is not some exclusive, non-white existence. It is something that you buy into and can be as ubiquitous as you want it to be. Before desegregation, there was a practive on some college campuses called a bag party. Henry LG, jr. tells this story: A brown paper bag was stuck on a door and ayone darker than the bag was denied entrasnce to the aprty. It has been replaced in soe corners by an oppostie test, which in mind was not that much of an improvement, those who are not "black enough" are shunned. This is the kind of blackness that i reject. (Luckily it is not that much of a problem here at the College. There are however always the few who go around determining who's black and who's not.)

Groups that I was apart of until of late: MOSAIC (mulit0racial, multi-ethinic group), DAC (Diversity affaris council), campus Greens (radical left-wing advocacy organization), Hilel (Jewish students), International Students Organizaiton: all have been dropped because my new shcedule doesnt allow for them at the moement. Problavly will be peicked up again soon.

Groups that I am still with: Shamis (Arab-Students group), Word Affairs Council, the Dartmouth, AGORA (Rocky), War and Peace Studies Program, the 2004 project (OIDE: Office of Instituional Equity and Diversity), Dartmouth Independent Forum, the Middle East Forum, Occam's Razor (the philosophy group) and other things that I can't remeber now.

Hoep this helps clarify some of my philosophy on life. :) I am available tommorrow. I will check email reguarly to communicate.

This has to stop!

The politically-correct hordes at Dartmouth have caught scent of Prof. Bruce Sacerdote's politically-incorrect study on the effects of slavery. In an op-ed in today's D, Andrew Arthur Schmidt '02 writes that

"The Nov. 6 article "Study: Slavery's effects lasted just 2 generations" explaining Professor Sacerdote's study on the ramifications of that institution could have been called, "Study: Racism caused free blacks to be as oppressed as former slaves in just 2 generations." Sacerdote, by attempting historical analysis, mocks his own profession. He reasons that because after two generations descendents of free blacks and descendents of slaves were at equal economic levels the effects of slavery have disappeared. Historians of postbellum American society would surely agree with Sacerdote's numbers. In fact, anecdotal evidence makes his study useless. Unlike a trained historian though, Sacerdote misinterprets both causes and effects. Free blacks suffered during slavery as racism kept most illiterate, under-employed and often starving.

After the war the situation only worsened as original free blacks faced increased competition for menial jobs from recently freed slaves. Furthermore the main thrust of white racism during the "Redeemer Era" aimed to destroy the hopes of upwardly mobile blacks and to make clear that in the aftermath of Reconstruction there was no room for blacks at the table. Slavery's cultural and economic ramifications clearly reverberate today, in every American community. All Sacerdote's study shows is that emancipation transferred the horrible effects of slavery to the descendents of free blacks as well, with the whole African-American community only regaining a political voice in the Civil Rights movement. Sacerdote's unconscionable conclusion shows either blatant racism or, I would hope, complete ignorance. Thanks to his brilliant science every Klansmen listening to right-wing radio will be once again "redeemed" knowing that impoverished African-Americans have only themselves to blame."

Has Mr. Schmidt read Prof. Sacerdote's study? From what he says, I think not. No where in his study does Prof. Sacerdote say that "because after two generations descendents of free blacks and descendents of slaves were at equal economic levels the effects of slavery have disappeared." On page 25, he says that "This paper has demonstrated that on certain basic outcome measures, namely literacy, schooling, and occupation, the descendants of slaves 'caught up' to the descendants of free blacks within two generations" [italics mine]. When Mr. Schmidt says that "Slavery's cultural and economic ramifications clearly reverberate today, in every American community." he is not arguing a point based on empirical - or even anecdotal - evidence. He is asserting a generalization. Every American community?

Far more egregious, however, is Mr. Schmidt's tone. The title of his piece, "Overstepping One's Bounds," suggests that there exists - or needs to exist - in the academy restrictions on what topics can and cannot be researched. And who gets to determine these restrictions? Why, leftist ideologues like Mr. Schmidt, of course. This is not liberal education or liberalism in any decent sense. In a similar vein, he accuses Prof. Sacerdote of "mocking his profession," calls his conclusion the "unconscionable" [sic] product of either "blatant racism" or "complete ignorance," and tops it all off by invoking the Ku Klux Klan and bashing right-wing radio. I suppose that Prof. Sacerdote's comment in The D that "There's nothing positive you can say about slavery" is just hollow language. The only "complete ignorance" on display here is yours, Mr. Schmidt. You have demonstrated an appalling lack of respect for academic research and worse still, have attempted to place restrictions on the freedoms of speech and thought that are essential to this College. You are welcome to dissent with Prof. Sacerdote's study, but you should probably read it first.

Monday, November 11, 2002
Two small clarifications about the NYT article

1) John did not say that breaking the ice (between people of various races) was the hardest part.

2) My last name is Kung, not Wen Kung!!

A Hearty Congratulations... in order for our own Chien Wen Kung and John Stevenson, quoted in this New York Times article on diversity.

God and Government

"And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don't even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote 'a Biblical worldview' in American politics?" -Bill Moyers

By the way, Vijay says it seems incredible that Lieberman knew nothing about Sununu's views on Israel. From what I have heard, no one knows much about Sununu's views on Israel. So Lieberman didn't talk about it because he did not know. If Vijay wants to prove his theory about the democrats' failed leadership, he will have to look elsewhere (and there are many places to look!)

Cornel West and Jacques Derrida

1) Critics of Cornel West would do well to read the following report on Princeton's website. It proves, I think, that West, when not talking about race, is really an outstanding teacher (albeit with a huge ego). Sophocles, Dante, Kafka, Chekhov, and Beckett, anyone? My favorite quip from the article is "he expects it will be the texts, not his lectures, that will bewitch the students this semester."

2) Critics of Jacques Derrida would do well to read this interview. His most notable pronouncement has surely got to be the following:

What's the most widely held misconception about you and your work?

"That I'm a skeptical nihilist who doesn't believe in anything, who thinks nothing has meaning, and text has no meaning. That's stupid and utterly wrong, and only people who haven't read me say this. It's a misreading of my work that began 35 years ago, and it's difficult to destroy. I never said everything is linguistic and we're enclosed in language. In fact, I say the opposite, and the deconstruction of logocentrism was conceived to dismantle precisely this philosophy for which everything is language. Anyone who reads my work with attention understands that I insist on affirmation and faith, and that I'm full of respect for the texts I read."

The Election: Here we go

I'd like to start off by apologizing for not posting often. This has been an extremely busy term, and it doesn't look likely to slow down for me till Christmas break. However, I feel it's necessary to comment on the recent election for multiple reasons (yes, Andrew's taunting over at was a factor!). Here we go:

Firstly, let's not forget that America is still pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The results of this election do not point to a large rightward shift in American political discourse. There are some very important messages though that the American public sent to our leaders last week. The Republican victory was very well orchestrated by the White House. Not since 1994 have the Republicans had the kind of leadership that they had this year. This was a crucial factor in the Republican victory, because the Democrats have been devoid of leadership since the scoundrel Bill Clinton left D.C. (sorry, I had to say that!). Good leadership provides a well articulated and uniform platform across the party. While Republicans everywhere were discussing the War on Terror, the Bush tax cut and Judicial appointments, Democrats fumbled about, desperately seeking a message that would set them apart from the Republican controlled White House. This was a little difficult since there wasn't complete agreement among Democrats on how to approach these issues. The problem was compounded by the lack of leadership. Clinton and Gore oppose war with Iraq, but Lieberman and Biden don't. Daschle and Gephardt had unclear positions on the war, criticizing the President one week, authorizing his legislation the next. The lack of message and leadership certainly hurt the Democrats.

Of course, criticizing the Democrats for the lack of a message is easy. The Republican platform resonated with Americans, and it seems unlikely that any message would have helped Democrats much. From the beginning of the election cycle early this summer, the Democrats had been hounding the President on the war and on the economy - two issues they felt they could win on. Unfortunately, the Dems underestimated Bush. When told that there was "not enough debate" on war with Iraq, Bush opened up the forum, and everybody from Clinton and Gore to Jimmy Carter and Brent Scowcroft chimed in. Last week, Bush's side of the argument clearly won, both in the U.S. and the U.N. So much for more debate! The economy was a better issue to pick up, but the Democrats again failed to offer an alternative to the Republican platform of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Instead, in a time of national crisis, the Democrats engaged in scare tactics about Social Security. My only response to this strategy is, guys that worked in the 90s, but after 9/11 it's time to get serious. If Manhattan is on the front lines of a new global war, making ads depicting George W. Bush pushing senior citizens off a cliff seems a tad irresponsible.

Lastly (and this goes without saying), local issues defined local races. In New Hampshire, for example, the Shaheen senate race was tied down to the gubernatorial candidacy of Mark Fernald, a Democrat who favors implementing an income tax in New Hampshire. Fernald's campaign stimulated a large get out the vote effort by New Hampshire's conservatives, and he was trounced. Shaheen's campaign, was unable to convice such a large group of people to split their ticket. Also, since this is the *Dartmouth* Observer, it makes sense to mention how this race played out on campus. Kudos to the Young Democrats, and my friend Josh Stern, who worked tirelessly to get Shaheen elected. I disagree with some of their tactics (for example convincing Dartmouth students to change their residency), but compared to the lackluster Republican effort, I was very impressed. They brought all the major candidates running in Hanover to campus (Shaheen spoke here, Sununu didn't). They even brought national leaders like Joe Lieberman (the only Democrat making sense these days) to Dartmouth to campaign for Shaheen (this is not to say that nobody worked hard for the Republican ticket. In fact, another friend of mine, Elliot Olshansky did a good job on the Sununu campaign given the lack of resources provided to him).

On a related note, at that event I asked Lieberman to contrast Sununu's Israel policy with Shaheen's (who wasn't present), his response essentially was that he knew nothing about Sununu's stance on Israel. This seemed incredible, since Israel is clearly an important issue for Lieberman, and was brought up during the Sununu-Smith primary, only a moth before Lieberman came here. I have a feeling that Lieberman was just uninterested in making Israel an issue (his speech focused almost exclusively on the woes of the economy). If that's the case, then my theory that Democratic leadership completely failed this year was confirmed to me in the flesh, weeks before we went to the polls.

So that's my piece on the election. I'm sorry if any or all of this sounds unoriginal or repetitive; with CNN-style insta-analysis, everybody becomes a pundit, and few arguments are entirely new.

Sunday, November 10, 2002
Webb Rants

Frank Webb attempts below to debunk the idea that the Republican takeover of Congress poses a legitimate threat to Roe v. Wade. I'm curious which party would actually benefit politically if Roe was reversed, but let me first criticize Webb's post.

1. It may not be impossible, but it will be very hard for the democratic minority to stop Bush's pro-life nominees. Republicans now control committees. Committees are the easiest places to bottle up a nominee. Once a vote goes the floor, it will a lot harder for Senators to oppose. The slim majority will provide some resistence, but not much. Even Clarence Thomas was confirmed. And all Republicans can be counted on to vote with the president (except maybe Chaffee) and conservative/moderate democrats will likely defer to the president as well. Democrats do not have party unity, as evidenced by defecting to Bush on the tax cut. Democrats can try other strategies, but they are in a much more weakened position. Any judge Bush nominates will be anti-Roe and if Democrats defeat one nomination somehow, the next nomination by Bush will still be anti-Roe.

I don't think anyone disagree that Bush is committed to appointing judges who overturn Roe. He talks about code word like strict contructionism, and it clear he means judges are pro-life (He is personally committed to this (his father's devotion to this was in doubt: he was not a movement conservative and was once pro-choice). And Bush's his constinuencies expect him to appoint pro-life judges. Bush has internalized the lesson that he must keep the support of movement conservatives. And he knows that he cannot make the mistake his father made by appointing Justice Souter, who seemed basically conservative, but ended up siding with the 'liberals' on most matters once on the bench. Bush will be able to, with large probability, predict how a potentional justice will vote on Roe by the type of judicial philosophy the judge espouses and their previous decisions, which will be closely examined (unlike with Souter whose record was ambigious and had few decisions relating to abortion). Bush will try to appoint someone who is certain to be against Roe, even if this judge will not state openly that is his or her position He will not back down on this and I challenge anyone to argue otherwise.

2. Webb is wrong to say it will be hard for a case about abortion to reach the supreme court. The court can take any partial birth abortion case or ANY case which disputes any aspect of abortion (eg. parental consent, etc.) and use that as a forum to reverse Roe v. Wade. There were Supreme Court cases in the early 90s and late 80s that some justices wanted to use to reverse Roe but could not muster the votes. Webb's point that the court COULD decide not to hear the case is silly: if there are enough votes to reverse Roe, there are enough votes to hear the case (by the way, I believe granting cert only takes 4 votes). The Republican take-over increases that danger and Webb's arguments say nothing to dispel this legitimate fear.
3. I'm confused by Webb's argument that the logic of the Third Amendment (not allowing the quartering of troops in a person's home without their consent) will be destroyed if Roe is reversed. If conservatives judges dislike abortion, what they really really hate is the doctrine that the right to privacy 'emanates' from amendments like the third, fourth and ninth. I think the conservative judges are far more interested in destroying the underying doctrines that supported Roe. I fear the practical consequences of reversing Roe (eg. state legislatures passing laws outlawing abortion), but even many liberal pro-choice liberal scholars think the Roe was poorly reasoned and that reversing it would result in more coherent constitutional law. In any case, conservative judges have an articulated philosophy that will lead them to overturn Roe. This doctrine may be wrong, and I personally fear this philosophy as well. But I also know that my fears will mean absolutely nothing to those judges who are appointed and share this philosophy. Webb's point here only legimates fears of a GOP congress confirming judges who are anti-Roe.

To sum up: Bush is committed to appointing judges with a philosophy who almost definitely lead them overturn Roe. Democrats have been bottling up in committee. As evidenced by the Thomas vote, pro-choice Republicans like Arlen Spector will vote with the President. Democrats are unlikely to be able to stop the nomination, even if they wanted to, at least not for the reasons that Webb states.

But there is one way GOP congressional control does not immediately threaten Roe, which Webb does not mention. To overturn Roe, it is not enough that the new nominated justice be anti-Roe. He or she must also replace a justice who upheld Roe. The justice most likely to retire, Rehnquist, is against Roe, so in that case the balance would remain the same. Roe was upheld in its essentionals in the early 90's by a vote of 6-3 (according to the New Yorker, this outcome was initially in doubt) . But Roe is endangered by the continuing presence of these three justices, or their like-minded replacements. The longer Bush and republicans stay in power, the more they can reshape the court and add to the anti-Roe faction, rather than having to reconstitute it, as they would have had to had a pro-Roe justice replaced a anti-Roe justice. And O'Connor also wants to retire, which would shift the court. If after O'conner, if Kennedy or one of the liberal judges retired and were replaced by an anti-Roe judge, that is five votes for reversing Roe. (Stevenson votes with the 'liberals' but was appointed by Ford, and by all accounts is not considering what the politics will be in replacing him.) The future ability to overturn Roe would be thanks to Bush NOW being able to appoint new conservative anti-Roe judges to replace the old ones who need to retire. The issue is numbers. Roe may not be overturned immediately, but don't pretend a GOP President and Congress isn't a legitmate threat.

One final note: If Roe was overturned, who would benefit politically, democrats or republicans? The New Republic has long argued Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, even though the magazine is pro-choice. Others have argued that liberals made a mistake of going through the courts rather than passing more laws on the state level (they did in some instances). I have heard the argument that republicans can promise to the religious right that they are pro-life without threatening pro-choice Republicans who know that Roe prevents them from doing anything about it. So if Republicans could no longer appease their base by promising to ban (virtually) all abortion, yet knowing they cannot do much about it, some voters may go Democratic. On the other hand, Republicans could claim a huge victory and their base would be very grateful. Or maybe this issue of judges already determines votes. Can anyone imagine how local, state, and congressional politics would change if the stated positions of politicians actually affected policy on abortion directly? Interesting thought experiment.

Saturday, November 09, 2002
Legitimate or the Rants of Demagogues

Recently at a Rocky sponsored discussion on Abortion, I tried to debunk the idea that there is a legitimate threat posed to the Roe v. Wade decision by the Republican take-over of Congress. Let me outline my argument here, in brief:

1. The slim majority in the Senate will still prove to have a difficult resistance to overcome, should President Bush even attempt to nominate a pro-Life Supreme Court justice for any of the seats he will have to fill.
2. There are many, many hoops for a given law suit to jump through in order to arrive at the doorsteps of the Supreme Court, at which point the Court can simply decide to not hear the case.
3. Fundamentally, Roe v. Wade's underlying logic was that the legal definition of personal autonomy was moved away from the home (3rd Amendment) to the body. In order to overturn Roe v. Wade, a future court would have to somehow alter its understanding of autonomy such that government would be allowed to write law concerning a person's body. That Orwellian pandora's box is enough to scare left, middle, and right.

Friday, November 08, 2002

I just read CW's post below. I'd like to add, aside from CW's likely sustainable critique that the person who authored the blitz CW quotes (I will not quote it, gentle reader, so SCROLL DOWN) has not even read the article upon which the diatribe is based, that the critique itself is demonstrably flawed. First of all, the remark "The statement in itself is evidence that the effects of slavery are present even today" is a piece of a tautology the blitz's author wishes to perpetrate. Secondly (and I suppose finally, the material I'm using isn't long enough to rack up too many more fatal errors than these), its comparing apples and oranges to state that "slavery doesnt [sic] still effect African-Americans" is akin to the statement "the Holocaust did not affect the Jews". As a Jew today, I don't recognize that because of anti-Semitism perpetrated half a century ago (regardless of its continued perpetration) is systemically detrimental to my well being. If the author of the blitz CW quoted wished to remark that there is systemic racism, currently, and that this effects ALL blacks in America, not just descendants of slaves...well, that would be more of an argument. However, I get the impression that Sacerdote's study (which I too, admittedly, have not read) is on the amount of time it took for blacks that were enslaved and freed to reach economic parity with those who had been free before Emancipation. If this is in fact the case, the study makes no judgment on the conditions of blacks in America today, which, if influenced by racism, are probably dramatically blind to whether or not the blacks in question are African-Americans or other black individuals. It is clearly reactionism on the part of those who have expressed outrage towards Professor Sacerdote to miss this distinction, and it ought not be tolerated. Kudos to CW for bringing it to our attention.


In a recent study, Dartmouth Economics Professor Bruce Sacerdote '90 (Class Salutatorian too!) has found that the economic disparities slavery created between free blacks and those who were slaves largely dissipated within two generations after emancipation. You can read the press release on it here and the article in The D on it here.

This isn't politically correct at all, of course. Witness the following reaction, received via Blitz:

"I am outraged and offended by the article on the front page of today's D.If we don't stand up and speak out against such lunacy, it will continue to be thought of as acceptable behavior. To the professor who came to such conclusions based on a faulty study, you should be ashamed of yourself. This generation of my people stands on the shoulders of all the generations before it. They were heavily effected, not only economically by the event of slavery, but socially as well. To say that the effects of slavery lasted only 2 generations is sheer ignorance. The statement in itself is evidence that the effects of slavery are present even today.The fact remains that if you oppress a group of people for 400 years, you cannot expect the effects to last for only 2 generations.To say that slavery doesnt still effect African-Americans, ... is to say that the is to say that the Holocaust did not affect the Jews, Hiroshima did not effect the Japanese, or that 9/11 did not effect America."

I am outraged and offended that someone who most likely hasn't even read Prof. Sacerdote's paper can, unencumbered by knowledge (to use a Stevenson-ism), write such reactionary drivel. In this person's view, the professor is nothing more than a racist lunatic whose scholarly work is bunk.

Diversity, tolerance, etc.

E. Hogan posted this on Dartlog:
I sent this to some friends, and received this:
Just something to entertain and pass the time until one of us decides there is something worth saying about these elections. Could it be that there isn't?

Oblivious to the Election Results, a few more Professor Reviews from me

It's time to start posting again, fellas. All of you are better at American domestic politics than I am, so please go ahead and post your comments on the recent Elections.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue updating the Dartmouth Observer Guide to Professors and Courses.

Allen Koop (History). Professor Koop is the son of Dartmouth alum Dr. C. Everett Koop '37. He also happens to be an outstanding teacher. I took History 53: Europe in the Twentieth Century from him in freshman winter, and can still recall with great clarity his spellbinding lectures on the two World Wars, Hitler, Stalin, Communism, and Fascism. Out of class, as you would expect, he's approachable, friendly, and encouraging; he also has a quiet and warm sense of humor. He once urged me to going skiing rather than work on a paper for his class! Another eminently sensible thing he does is have a web-based message board that allows for discussion and debate beyond the boundaries of the classroom. In an academic culture in which many professors seek to impose their ideological viewpoints on their students, Professor Koop's disinterestedness was really quite refreshing. Besides History 53, he also teaches a freshman seminar on the Cold War, History 4: Europe since 1715, History 36: Health Care in American Society, and, occasionally, History 96.1: Topics in European History since 1945. This last class will be offered next term (Winter 2003) for the first time in six years.

Monday, November 04, 2002
Cornering the Vibrator Market

Having been inspired by Ryan Samuels's post (see below), I suggest a way to sidestep the utter absurdity of this. Far be it for me to deny women the right to purchase, from college health services, a vibrator for "personal health reasons." However, I think if the trend is to make such toys more accessible in order to help remove the stigma from female masturbation, then I would like to make an even larger contribution than merely assenting to the dispensation of such products. In the true American spirit, I propose that we open our own sex store at Dartmouth. After all, you can't trust Dick's House to diagnose a cold; do you really want to buy something you put against your genitals from them? ¡Viva la vulva!

I think it's great that with all the other things going on in the world today, we still have time to sit down in our institutions of higher learning to help people diddle their time away. Our future leaders will at least be adept in the fine politcal art of masturbation. I guess it's a brilliant ploy to pacify the world in a way the UN could never hope to do, unless Kofi gets really freaky.

Libertas, Aequalitas, Diversitas

I hear that this program satisfies two of the new distributive requirements for graduation. Lest they appear reactionary compared to their colleagues at Cornell, they ought to distribute vibrators at the door, should they wish to render the occasion as masturbatory as its advertisement promises.

Thought Engineering 101

Received via blitz:

The IFC and The Men's Project is proud to present:
Charles Kreiner, Director and Founder of the Institute for Diversity Education in America, will conduct interactive workshops designed to understand and dismantle social oppression to achieve a truly diverse Dartmouth community. The workshops will use the self reflection method to dismantle individual internalized social barriers. Themes and topics for the workshops will include: Learning the fundamental dynamics of social conditioning and oppression, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

*****Understanding the Dynamics of Social Oppression and Its Impact: The Illusion of the Other*****
Workshop #1 Saturday November 9, 2002 12pm-5pm
-At the Hanover Inn, Hayward lounge
-Open to entire Dartmouth Community
-Light lunch will be served

*****Dismantling Social Oppression in Our Selves, Relationships, and Community*****
Workshop #2 Sunday November 10, 2002 10am-4pm
-At the Hanover Inn, Wheelock Room
-Participants from Saturday are encouraged to attend
-Light lunch will be served

Back on the Web!

The Free Press has its new issue posted on the web, with a letter from Vassilia Binensztok (second one down on the page) outlining charges that the editors of The Dartmouth added inaccurate facts to Vassilia's article on the tolerance petition. For me, it fills in some details, especially the events that lead to Vassilia leaving the paper. Vassilia said "Drastic changes had been made, and facts and quotes were added last minute." But the only example she gives is that the editors wrongly gave Amin's Plaisted's title as advisor to Al Nur. I'd be pissed too if editors added stuff they didn't fact-check. But Vassilia speaks of "drastic changes" and seems mad at more than a wrong title. One wrong fact would unfairly make Vassilia appear to be a sloppy reporter, but Vassilia must have left The Dartmouth and complained publicly over more than that. So I understand that Vassilia is pissed that bad things were added to the article, but I'm still wondering what those specifically things were. Vassilia said in her letter:

"In fact, many aspects of the article were indicative of the sloppy work of the editors. The Dartmouth scraped up quotes and facts and added them in last-ditch efforts to sensationalize the story. I was never contacted about these changes."

Now I am really curious. What did The Dartmouth add that made it so sensational? Specifically, I want to know actually happened with the Wright tolerance petition and which parts of the article I can trust. I would think the author would want to correct exactly what they felt was inaccurate about the story so we would know which parts were not the author's. (What does it mean to "scrape up" quotes, as if from the bottom of the sewer? I get this lovely image of administrators giving out fake quotes from a dungeon in Parkhearst!) Did this letter have more or less info than what Vassilia had said in the posted notices around campus? I disposed to thinking there is more; I just want to know what it is! Does anyone know?