And The Great Stupid Figures Out How To Feed Itself: The NCAA’s Brilliant Plan

brilliant

I saw this coming. Didn’t you see this coming? Once colleges were told that they could and should treat college athletes as professional athletes, any effort to ensure that they might leave college able to do anything but run, throw, and dunk was on the way out. And so it is.

Last week, an NCAA task force recommended that incoming freshmen in Division I and II sports should no longer be required to meet minimum scores on standardized tests for initial eligibility.

Do you realize how ignorant you have to be to fail to meet the minimum scores?

The recommendation was made by the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, was formed as part of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Yes, one sure way to advance racial equity is to let student athletes remain as dumb as marmots.

The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next scheduled meetings in February. “This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” task force chairman David Wilson, president at Morgan State, said in a press release. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

Everybody’s doing it! Now there’s a good reason for abandoning higher education for athletes! The ball started rolling in July 2020, when the National Association of Basketball Coaches called for the NCAA to permanently eliminate standardized test scores from eligibility requirements. Naturally, the main concern of basketball coaches is the educational achievements of student players.

“The days of colleges requiring the SAT or ACT are passing rapidly: more than half of all four-year colleges and universities will not require these tests for admissions in 2021, and more are dropping the requirement every week,” the NABC said in a statement at the time. “These tests should no longer be required in the initial-eligibility standards. The tests are again being recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone; moreover, pragmatics also support this change.”

Writes education blogger Joanne Jacobs, “So the plan is to admit unprepared students who will play football or basketball and leave college without a degree.”

Exactly. After all, a thuggish Minnesota cop accidentally killed a lifetime black hood without any racial motive, so this is a perfect response. And I am Marie of Romania.

The disgusted Ms Jacobs appended a relevant literary reference to her report…

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Doug Glanville’s Internal Debate And The Student’s Slavery Petition

40 acres and a mule

I highly recommend this essay by Doug Glanville, an African-American sportscaster and blogger who has frequently distinguished himself with perceptive commentary on matters relating to race and sports. In a long, Mobius strip of a personal reverie—you get the impression that Glanvilles wasn’t certain what he thought until he read what he was writing, he reflected on how he would have, and should have reacted if he was in the broadcast booth when Jim Kaat made his ill-considered “40 acres” comment, which Ethics Alarms discussed here. Glanville weaves his way through several options and impulses:

  • “Faced with this reference during a baseball game, I found myself stuck on pause, wondering how we touched on reparations for slavery during the [American League Division Series] while discussing the value of a Latin player. At least, I hoped, it was done so unknowingly. For almost a week, I have grappled with whether I should say anything at all — whether the lessons from it are worth pursuing on a public scale, or if it’s just better to move on. I answered my internal debate by deciding I should at least try.”
  • “So what if I were covering that game, with Showalter and Kaat, as the field reporter or a second analyst? What would I have done? What would I have said? It is an obligation sharply felt by the only Black voice in any room, let alone during a baseball game, where you are expecting to just talk baseball.”
  • “I could have responded indirectly. I could have hit the talkback button and taken my issue to the producers off-line, in order to go through the proper channels. From experience, I know that calling a game is hard. You have to talk for over three hours, and your brain is crammed with information. Data, analytics, interviews, inside information, you name it. And every so often, it just simply comes out wrong, or you react with your mouth before your mind. You don’t have time to dissect the nuance of what someone has said without the risk of making the same kind of generalizing mistake…”
  • “I could have responded directly. I could have interjected on live television to express my consternation — even knowing how that might be taken…. how do you address it while upset, without coming off a certain way?”
  • “I could have stayed silent. I could have internalized it. There is an etiquette to broadcasting. You have to think long and hard about whether you are going to contradict someone or call them out, on Twitter or live during a game. It doesn’t have to be because of insensitive content — it could be about a mistake on a call or simply getting a player’s name wrong. The default is that you don’t do it. And if you do, you do it with care, smoothly, out of respect for your colleague.”
  • In the end, Glanville settles on the Golden Rule: “We all need to be better and more aware, more educated about history so we don’t make bad analogies. Yet we also have to see how understanding is an evolutionary process and grant people the bandwidth to grow, including ourselves. I certainly would want to be extended the same courtesy.”

That’s good, as far as it goes. In the process of getting there, Glanville still managed to blow Kaat’s comment out of proportion, writing at one point,

“In this instance and in so many others, the intent behind the statement becomes beside the point. Kaat apologized for his “poor choice of words” four innings later, but by then, it felt too late — you don’t have to be malicious to negatively impact someone….The pressure is often on Black people to bury their feelings and carry on…We can brush off slavery or we can recognize the vestiges of it and how it still plays a role in our systems. Just last week, a petition to bring back slavery circulated through a school in Kansas City, so I am not talking about 1865.”

Hold it, Doug. When someone is claiming offense, intent is always relevant. This is the great “gotcha!” game in the age of cancel culture: someone makes an innocent misstep, an a social justice mob sets out to destroy them, or at least force them to pathetically confess their sins and beg for forgiveness. Those who are so easily “negatively impacted” that an obviously botched spontaneous comment referencing “40 acres and a mule” while discussing ‘ the value of a Latin player,” want to be “negatively impacted” or at least to be able to claim to be, because it gives them power. Commentators like Glanville enable such political correctness bullies and agents of the cancel culture.

But I want to look at Glanville’s reference to “a petition to bring back slavery” circulating “through a school in Kansas City.” I had missed that episode, and with good reason: it wasn’t newsworthy, it was exploited by exactly the kind of “gotcha!” purveyors I just described, and Glanville’s facts were wrong. Continue reading

No Professor, You Must NOT Apologize For Showing Students Laurence Olivier Playing “Othello” [Corrected]

Olivier Othello

Oh, great: a fake blackface controversy again.

Composer and musician Bright Sheng, is the Chinese-born Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. When he received a MacArthur “genius” fellowship in 2001, the Foundation described him as “an innovative composer whose skillful orchestrations bridge East and West, lyrical and dissonant styles, and historical and contemporary themes to create compositions that resonate with audiences around the world.”

Sheng screened the 1965 film version of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in his class as part of a lesson about how the tragedy was adapted for the opera. It stars the late Sir Laurence Olivier, widely regarded as the greatest living English actor of his day and a definitive interpreter of Shakespeare, as the tragic hero Othello, a Moor. Some students who saw the film—hell, maybe all of them: they’ve all been indoctrinated into knee-jerk progressive conformity– were upset that Olivier’s face was covered in black make-up, though he was white and the character he was playing is black, so such a disguise would seem to be obligatory. This is the function of what actors call “make-up.”

Students complained to the administration that Olivier’s make-up made them feel “unsafe.” Unsafe from what? From the make-up? From Olivier, who is long-dead? From Iago, the white villain of the play?

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Is The George Floyd Freakout Finally Waning?

Oh, probably not, but there are some hopeful signs.

After the death by ambiguous causes of an African American petty hood resisting arrest at the hands, well, the knee, of a habitually brutal cop who should have been kicked off the force long before, absent any evidence whatsoever that the death was intentional or that it was motivated by race, police officers across the nation have been vilified, fired, prosecuted and generally abused virtually every time an African-American, and sometimes even a white citizen, died or was wounded in a police-involved shooting. This insanity, hysteria, freakout, deliberate exploitation, what ever you choose to call it, resulted in law enforcement around the nation being weakened, black communities being made more vulnerable to crime, a mass exodus of police officers, and an unprecedented spike in murders nation-wide. There were other horrible effects too, like the sudden acceptance of anti-white racism and discrimination as “restorative justice,” and the ascent of Kamala Harris to the office of Vice-President, but this is just an introduction.

Last week, however, two decisions in police-involved deaths showed that sanity might be creeping back.

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Over And Behind The “Insensitive Racial Rhetoric” Line [Updated]

Welcome Mat

Race-baiters, ruthless activists and cancel culture bullies are lurking and waiting to pounce on any public figure whose public statements (or revealed private ones) can sustain accusations of racism. Two recent examples from the world of sports help define when such comments are signature significance for an individual who is racially biased, and when they should be excused with little more than a raised eyebrow.

Over the Line: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sent an email in 2011 came that attacked NFL Player’s Association head DeMaurice Smith, an African-American, by writing to Bruce Allen, who was the GM of the Washington Football Club, then called “The Redskins,” “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Nice. At least Gruden recognized what he would be facing once the Wall Street Journal reported on his leaked email, and shot out an apology, though not a credible one. He said he was “really sorry” and suggested that it was all a big misunderstanding. You see, Gruden refers to liars as “rubber lips.” Sure he does. You hear that phrase all the time in reference to Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, and James Comey. Rubber lips! Makes perfect sense. “I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden protested to the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

I’m not sure what a “racial bone” is, but I assume he means that he isn’t racially biased and has proved it by his conduct. As we have discussed on Ethics Alarms often, racist beliefs and racially biased conduct are distinct in many ways, and one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. One distinction is that racist beliefs are legal, and if an individual is adept at recognizing that bias for what it is and not letting it govern his or her conduct, it isn’t unethical. Maybe Gruden hasn’t engaged in obviously racist or bigoted conduct in his life, but color me skeptical. A man claiming that that he isn’t racially biased who uses an ad hominem insult referring to a black man’s lips has as much credibility as that same man saying that he referred to someone as “Dumboriss” but doesn’t think he’s dumb. Ironically, Gruden’s excuse marks him as dumb and a liar who can’t keep his dishonest excuses straight. “I wasn’t making a racist comment when I said his lips looked like black inflated tires, I just use ‘rubber lips’ to mean liar, but…but.. I don’t believe he’s a liar either!” is the epitome of trying to dig one’s way out of a hole.

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The O.J. Simpson Ethics Train Wreck Rolled Out Of The Station On This Date In 1995

Simpsons verdict

O.J. was guilty: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Evoking the certitude of the beginning lines of “A Christmas Carol” is appropriate, for just as Marley’s true status as “dead as a door-nail” is crucial to what befalls Scrooge, O.J.’s guilt is essential to understanding how this awful, episode in American history damaged the nation and the culture generally, and race relations particularly. Looking back, it is clear that all that has followed oozed from this catalyst: a sociopathic celebrity athlete who could not accept that his wife was moving on from the abusive relationship he inflicted on her, so he brutally slayed her and a male friend he didn’t know. Then, because he was rich, he bought the best legal defense team any murder has ever had, and they brilliant exploited racial distrust in Los Angeles and the U.S. to win an acquittal, with no more concern for the long-term damage they were doing than they had qualms about allowing a double murderer to escape justice.

At the end of an ugly trial filled with incompetence and ethics violations, Simpson was acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson’s lawyers convinced a jury that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” though it had been; the problem was that it had not been proved beyond an emotional doubt, which as the all-star defense team well-knew, can be more important. The scenes of black Americans rejoicing because a black man was getting away with a brutal murder of two whites expressed a level of racial hatred that most white Americans didn’t suspect existed. It also should have been an epic teaching moment about the power of confirmation bias. Blacks really believed, surveys showed, that O.J was innocent. It was an early sighting of the “Facts Don’t Matter” contagion that has fueled the Black Lives Matter, “1619” Project and critical race theory wounds inflicted on U.S. society in recent years.

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Saturday Ethics Romps, 10/2/21: Slap-downs, Stolen Art, Strokes, Silliness, Stupid Pet Owner Tricks, And More! [Corrected]

What do you think, hoax or not? Conservative blogs are all treating the video above as classic woke-boob self-own, but I am dubious. How did the video get posted, unless the fanatic vegetarian has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and what are the odds of that? If the video is real, it once again raises the ethics issue of dietary fanatics imposing their obsessions on helpless pets, or worse, infants.

1. The stroke of ethics! On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, launching an epic government ethics breach by his wife Edith and his doctor. They kept the public and government officials in the dark about the President’s true condition: Edith signed official documents, and the doctor was brought into some deliberations. Wilson slowly recovered to some extent, though how capable he was of discharging the duties of his office for the rest of his term, until March of 1921, is a matter of considerable debate and speculation. Despite this debacle, with the nation being led by an invalid figurehead with his inexperienced wife making key decisions, it took the assassination of Jack Kennedy, not long after the previous President, Eisenhower, suffered serious cardiac events during his Presidency decades later to trigger the passage of the 25th Amendment, which lays out the procedure for relieving a disabled POTUS. [Notice of Correction: the original version of this post had the dates wrong. Thanks to valkygrrl for the note!] The 25th, in turn, then spurred an ethics foul of its own, as “the resistance,” Democrats and their allies in the media tried to warp the clear intent of the amendment to justify removing Donald Trump from office, on the grounds that he was “unfit.”

2. When does pundit hysteria cross the line into irresponsible and incompetent journalism? Whatever the line is, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell charged over it with this unhinged screed. When I read something like this, I always wonder how many readers are persuaded by it, and how many are astute enough to conclude, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” Here is how the article begins: “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin just cooked the planet. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. I mean that literally. Unless Manchin changes his negotiating position dramatically in the near future, he will be remembered as the man who, when the moment of decision came, chose to condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” Even by the low, low standards of climate change apocolyptia, this is inexcusable. No U.S. bill can have substantial impact on the world’s climate by itself, and all but a few of the most extreme and politicized climatologists don’t claim that even the worst case scenarios would “condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” How can anyone trust a writer who spews out stuff like this? How can readers of Rolling Stone take a publication seriously that green-lights it? Is Twitter pulling down the tweets that link to the article? No, of course not. It’s not “misinformation,” because it’s a good lie, aimed at the Greater Good, I guess.

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The ACLU Believes Certain Sports Are Racist Now…

The logic and legal reasoning underlying the American Civil Liberty Union’s current bit of woke grandstanding is profoundly depressing. These people are lawyers. This is the caliber of legal minds we are supposed to trust to protect the Bill of Rights?

Central Michigan University eliminated its men’s track and field team. It shouldn’t matter why, but in its announcement of the move in May of 2020, the school cited budget concerns in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. This seems reasonable; when funds are tight, colleges should be spending money on education rather than sports. The controversy was launched when CMU decided this year to add a men’s golf program.

The decision, the ACLU of Michigan decided, was racist in light of the fate of track and field. In one letter, the organization protested that track and field was crucial to the Black community because it has “offered many a way out of oppressive poverty.”

I’d like to see the data on that.

Then the ACLU wrote the university president on September 16 that golf, in contrast, was a “white sport.” “Country clubs that have been the training grounds for elite golfers have historically been racially exclusive,” the letter states. “Add to that the expense of the sport and the socio-economic circumstances of many African Americans, and the reasons for the whiteness of golf are quite evident.”

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Res Ipsa Loquitur: The 2021 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowships…[CORRECTED]

MacArthur grants

The MacArthur Foundation named the recipients of its 2021 “genius” grants. Above are the 15 honorees NPR chose to represent the group Each will receive $625,000, which they are free to spend however they see fit: Left to right, top row to bottom, are Hanif Abdurraqib, Daniel Alarcón, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jordan Casteel, Don Mee Choi, Nicole Fleetwood, Cristina Ibarra, Ibram X. Kendi, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Monica Muñoz Martinez, Safiya Noble, Alex Rivera, Jacqueline Stewart, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

As you can see, all the Fellows shown are “of color.” Since I can’t count, this originally confused me into thinking these were all of the Fellows, but ten were missing. [Hence the correction.] I checked of the remaining ten, three are white, and the ethnicity of one is uncertain: I can’t find any reference to her parents. There is only one Asian-American in the 25, which is decidedly strange. So the final tally, counting the mystery woman as white, is four out of 25 “geniuses” among the individuals chosen, 16%. The 2020 Census found 61% of Americans were white.

Is it racially insensitive to mention this? The Foundation is confident that its obvious bias won’t be criticized—this kind of disproportionate demographic mix would be considered evidence of discrimination in most contexts—and NPR decided only to highlight the “of color” honorees. What happened to “inclusion and diversity”?

Meanwhile, I am officially humiliated by belonging to such an inferior race.

_________________________

Pointer: Here’s Johnny, who alerted me to the fact that I miscounted.

More Ammunition For My College Reunion Note About Why I Will Not Be Attending Next Year…

Harvard diploma

I have to get writing soon, since the deadline is October 1. And it is clear that I have more material than I can possibly include to demonstrate why a Harvard diploma for this graduate is now an embarrassment and not to be celebrated. Another example was forwarded to me today.

A reliable blogger and respected lawyer with excellent ethics credentials tweeted that he had spoken with a man who had applied for a job at Harvard for which he was not only well-qualified, but one of the few individuals who was qualified. He had heard nothing for three months, and finally inquired, whereupon he was told via letter that he had been rejected because he did not have the requisite qualifications. By chance, the blogger knew the individual who had signed the letter, and called him up. Off the record, the individual informed him that not only qualified, but the only applicant qualified for the opening. However, he was a white, heterosexual male, and thus was rejected by the hiring committee for not meeting their demographic requirements.

[Note: the tweets did not mention the institution by name, and only alluded to the school’s address, leaving open the possibility that M.I.T., which is just down the street in Cambridge, could also be the school at issue. However. M.I.T. is not currently being sued for discriminatory practices, nor has it defended the same. My own inquiries have persuaded me that Harvard is the culprit here, but the lawyer-blogger did not break his “off the record” promise, though he came close.]