How has America got policing so wrong? 25 US police chiefs toured Scotland. What they saw left them visibly changed

This article promises more than it delivers.  The lesson learnt from Scotland seems to be more emphasis on de-escalation techniques. But such techniques are already a big part of police training.  Still, seeing examples of de-escalation working was probably beneficial.

What the article glides over is that America is an armed society whereas Scotland is largely a disarmed society. So the risk of an officer being shot is very different -- leading to much more caution in the USA.  An American cop can often not afford to give a villain a break

It is a late Saturday afternoon in Washington, DC, and Chuck Wexler, one of America’s leading police reform strategists, is at his office desk, a cotton scarf bunched around his neck ready for quick deployment as a face mask, a sign of these strange times.

The streets of America’s major cities have been awash with Black Lives Matter protesters for a fortnight. Incredibly, news has just broken that another unarmed black man has been shot in Atlanta and the city’s police chief will soon be forced to resign.

A former right-hand man to Boston’s police commissioner, Wexler has led the country’s foremost crime strategy think tank, the Police Executive Research Forum, for 26 years. He is one of the architects of the city’s Community Disorders Unit, known nationally for successfully prosecuting and preventing racially motivated crime, and is the man America’s top police chiefs call for advice when facing complex or volatile situations in their jurisdictions.

Wexler says that his experience working with police in England, Scotland and Ireland, where police are not routinely armed, was instrumental in his thinking — and continues to help him push for change in the attitudes of the US police hierarchy.

“It was something of an epiphany for me, around the time that the Ferguson (police shooting in St Louis) incident happened in 2014 … I was at a police recruit graduation ceremony in Scotland and I asked a young constable how he’d handle someone with a knife and not having a gun. There was a knife epidemic in Scotland at the time. He said, ‘No problem … I have my baton, my spray … first, I would step back.’ I thought how is it that when police handle it one way, someone dies, and in another place where they handle it differently they live.

“We knew from our studies that 40 per cent of the fatal officer-involved shootings in the US involved persons with knives, rocks, bricks — not guns. I went back to DC excited, full of ideas of how we could train our officers differently, emulate the UK models and see if we could reduce the 400 or so deaths that The Washington Post had identified could be prevented each year. Perhaps I was being naive, but nobody paid any attention. Then I had another idea: I thought I’ll show them first-hand.”

Wexler ended up inviting 25 of the top police chiefs in the US to come to Scotland with him to try to show them how officers in other countries were doing things differently. He insisted they pay their own way and made clear “there were no hotels or fancy food and they’d sleep in police barracks”. He says he watched attitudes visibly change during the trip, learning also that exposing the leadership group to each other led them see that they were already doing significant work individually in their jurisdictions but simply didn’t know it.

For example, he says, SWAT teams from Houston, Texas, already were working on “slow down” protocols, using time and distance to de-escalate. In New York, $21m had been deployed to retrain officers: “If I told them about Scotland, they were dismissive, but when we could show them other big US forces were responding and changing, they thought: ‘Well, we can learn from them.’ ”

Also accompanying Wexler to Scotland was American philanthropist Howard Buffett, son of respected investor Warren Buffett. Howard Buffett immediately took an interest in police de-escalation practices and, with the support of his foundation, PERF turned its guiding principles into a police training program called ICAT: Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics.

“Chuck Wexler pushes the limits so others can see the benefits of change,” Buffett told Inquirer.

Wexler has since led several major projects including a new strategy to encourage police to deal with the opiate epidemic in the US as a health rather than law enforcement issue.

PERF has campaigned to encourage all US police forces to adopt body cameras and has written new guidelines for police handling of sexual assault allegations along with a slew of recommendations and strategies aimed at fostering police-community trust. Last year, PERF developed a new protocol to help train officers to identify and defuse the toxic epidemic of “suicide by cop” situations in which people, often mentally ill and affected by drugs or alcohol, create violent stand-offs that lead to their death at the hands of the law.

Recent calls to ‘‘de-fund’’ the police, he says, are a reaction to the anger many citizens feel about the use of excessive force. PERF supports and has long advocated efforts aimed at reorganising resources, perhaps creat­ing different networks of first-responder teams to triage emergencies. In some cases, this has meant turning to mental health and drug and alcohol crisis teams first rather than police. But, Wexler says, police reform needs investment to accomplish real change.

In Camden, New Jersey, where 40 per cent of residents fall below the poverty line, officials with the help of PERF and its leadership disbanded its police department and replaced it with one under county control, guided by progressive policing techniques and leadership. This has resulted in a reduction in violent crime, and police were photographed marching alongside protesters in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Wexler says one of his team’s most difficult jobs is the constant review of body cam and citizen phone footage of violent incidents involving police. But the team uses the videos as teaching lessons in its ICAT program.

“The most awful part is to see someone’s home, to see their child there on the second floor, who has not taken their medication and is standing there with a knife and the officer is trained to issue orders and then, if necessary, use deadly force,” he says.

“Once again, I’m reminded of while I was in Scotland, when a constable asked me why a US officer had said that the most important duty he had was to ‘get his officers home safe at night’. She said to me: ‘Why do they say that? We would never say that. For us it is about getting everyone home safe at night. It’s a human right.’ ”

Floyd’s death, says Wexler, is a watershed moment and he wants to ensure that the momentum for change in US policing is not lost in the wake of the chaos and suffering created by the COVID-19 crisis.



Inside medicine’s culture of racism, bullying and harassment

I have no doubt that the instances described below did happen.  What I doubt is that they are common.  The medical profession encounters many of the hard edges of human society so is less idealistic.  As a result they can be cynical and reserved in their approach to others.

I see something of that when I meet a medical practitioner who is new to me.  When they hear that I am a retired university lecturer, their attitude to me visibly warms.  I become one of them rather than someone who has to be approached with caution. And I do generally get on well with doctors.

So I can see that doctors have been hardened by experience and that might make them unsympathetic or abrupt on occasions.  But does that do much harm?  One would think that Asian students might be treated unkindly and I believe that they are on occasions.  But the large numbers of Asian doctors I encounter one way or another tells me that they are pretty good at surviving any such travails.  The large number of female doctors tells a similar story

And the assumption that receivers of donor sperm usually prefer Caucasians as the donors is not ignorant. It is simply wrong.  The fact is that Caucasian types are overwhelmingly preferred by recipients.  England gets a high proportion of its donated sperm from Denmark, where blue eyes and blond hair are common.  The Viking invasion is not over!

So the claim that medicine has a culture of racism, bullying and harassment surely has  something to it but not much

Being told indirectly that, unless you’re a white man, no one is going to want your sperm is not something you forget.

But medical students say racist slurs, social exclusion, gender discrimination and inappropriate jibes from their superiors are a common experience and it highlights the need for urgent changes in the industry.

Sam, a fifth-year medical student who is a person of colour, says bullying is “endemic” in medicine, especially if you are not white.

He has been subject to a number of slurs, including one incident a few weeks ago involving a midwife in the IVF ward of a Sydney hospital.

The student was in the room when a group of nurses were discussing a female patient who had requested an Asian sperm donor. “(The midwife) said, ‘I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to use caucasian sperm’,” Sam explained.

And Sam’s not alone. Many of his peers have also endured deeply unpleasant experiences.

Another fifth-year student, Tim*, said he benefited from being a white man in the medical industry and wanted to do more to help his international colleagues.

“It’s difficult to report because a lot of this stuff toes the line. It’s not like someone has slapped you across the face; it’s usually much less obvious,” Tim said.

One example he gave involved a teacher who was very particular about students arriving to class on time, and wouldn’t let them in if they were late.

“One day I arrived a few minutes late and he said, ‘Don’t worry, come in and sit down.’ But a student from an Indian background arrived straight after me and he wouldn’t let him in,” Tim explained.

“Then I noticed it was a repetitive thing. He’d let the caucasian students in but not the international students. It’s just not good enough.”

From belittling, to sexist comments and favouring male colleagues, sexism in medicine has also been allowed to flourish.

One female medical students told NCA NewsWire she was placed in a male-dominated team that made jokes about women being in surgery.

“They would say, ‘Why are you here? You need a family-friendly career,’” the student said.

“I couldn’t report it because I was the only female student in there and it would have been obvious that it was me.”

A second female student said while her experiences had been good, everyone assumed she was a nurse, not a doctor.

“Most of my teachers always refer to doctors being a ‘he’ and nurses being a ‘she’,” the student explained.

Sam supported those comments saying when he entered a theatre no one asked any questions, but when females do they were queried.

All four students described being ignored or hounded in front of patients or fellow staff.

When Tim spent time as part of a neurosurgery team, he should have done ward rounds and accompanied seniors into surgery. Instead, he was ignored.

“When they found out I was a student and not doctor, they wouldn’t even acknowledge me or say hello. This continued the entire time,” he said.

“For the majority of that term, it wasn’t what they were saying; it was them not saying anything.”

And when they were speaking, they often spent it belittling the Sydney student.

He said things escalated when he noticed a patient wasn’t responding to questions and failed to open her eyes, or move her hands.

“I thought, ‘this could be life-threatening’ so I said to the doctor, ‘Shouldn’t we do something? She doesn’t look good.’ But in front of everyone, they would be really dismissive and start asking things like, ‘What do you think is wrong with her? What should you do?’” he said.

“That patient was quite ill and no one was doing something about it.”

While not all doctors gave students a rough time, many have experienced verbal abuse, social exclusion, racial discrimination, gender stereotyping and general rudeness, usually from surgeons and physicians.

A report, published by BMC Medical Education and driven by fifth year UNSW Medicine student Laura Colenbrander, found in the past year alone Bankstown-Lidcombe, St George, Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead and Tamworth hospitals had all made headlines regarding mistreatment of junior doctors.

The hierarchical structure of medicine fuelled the “endemic culture” of bullying and harassment, often perpetrated by senior staff, Ms Colenbrander’s study found.

All four students said the hierarchy created barriers to reporting mistreatment, as they feared they would be labelled a troublemaker.

Students were also concerned it would affect career progression or that reporting avenues did not guarantee confidentiality or an outcome.

“Senior doctors were overwhelmingly considered unapproachable because they were ‘self-important’, sexist, uninterested, too busy, or participants feared verbal abuse,” the report states.

Australian Medical Students Association president Daniel Zou said the reporting processes for bullying and harassment remained unclear to many medical students.

“There should be confidential, easily accessible, clearly communicated and consistent reporting pathways available for all medical students,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“In many hospitals and medical schools, there are no guaranteed confidential reporting processes or anonymous reporting processes. For those hospitals and medical schools that do, they are oftentimes confusing pathways, inaccessible and ineffectual.”

Tim argued the industry had a responsibility to teach students about what bullying and harassment was.

“There are a lot of things we didn’t realise were serious,” he said. “And a lot of medical students won’t report it because we know nothing will happen. It’s not a big enough issue to bring up with top-level hospital management.”

Of the four study participants in Ms Colenbrander’s research who had reported an incident or knew someone who had, none had experienced desired outcomes.

This included sexist behaviour from surgeons on which the clinical school had insufficient authority to act.

This harassment extends beyond students. In 2015, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) confirmed more than 50 per cent of doctors and trainees (not including medical students) had been bullied or harassed, with verbal harassment among consultants most commonly cited.

Ms Colenbrander said the issue of bullying and harassment “spoke to her” because she knew many students who had experienced this in a hospital setting. “It just seemed widespread,” Ms Colenbrander told NCA NewsWire.

“Personally my experiences have been really positive. I’ve had great teachers and experiences but I’ve also definitely experienced the underbelly of medicine.”

According to a survey released by the Medical Board of Australia, one in three trainee doctors in Australia have experienced or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination in the past 12 months.

However, only a third have done anything about it, with 57 per cent believing they would suffer negative consequences if they reported the inappropriate behaviour.

And mistreatment of medical students will no doubt have long-term consequences on the nation’s future doctors.

“It has an epidemic bullying culture. Medicine isn’t immune from the stuff that happens in other professions. It’s still very rife and still there,” Sam said. “These are the people that look after you, so why can’t they look after their own.”



Confederate Monuments: The Problem With Politically Correct History
Confederate monuments are an expression of Southern pride in what Southerners did to preserve their independence.  They represent a view that the North/South war was an unjust war and that Southern resistance was heroic.

Whether or not you agree with that view it is surely a view that Southerners are entitled to express.  It is an instance of free speech.

There is still a substantial body of Southern commentators who deny that the Confederates were defending slavery.  They saw the war as a war for independence.  In his famous letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln himself admits that independence was the issue and slavery was not.

So the idea that independence was the issue is far from a absurd view.  And, absurd or not, it is entitled to be expressed in various ways.  Tearing down Southern monuments silences that expression

See more on the North/South war here

Malcolm X, as a member of the Nation of Islam, preached anti-Semitism and called the white man “devil.” After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X dismissed the murder as a case of “the chickens coming home to roost.”

In Spike Lee’s biographical drama, “Malcolm X,” a white teenage girl approaches the angry activist and says: “Excuse me, Mr. X. Hi. I’ve read some of your speeches, and I honestly believe that a lot of what you have to say is true. And I’m a good person, in spite of what my ancestors did, and I just — I wanted to ask you, what can a white person like myself who isn’t prejudiced, what can I do to help you … further your cause?” He stares sternly, and replies, “Nothing.” She leaves in tears.

But Malcolm X changed. He visited Mecca, where he saw people of all colors worshipping together. It changed the way he thought. He repudiated his anger toward whites after discovering that people were more similar than they were different. He renounced the racist ideology of the Nation of Islam, and in doing so knowingly signed his own death warrant. He was assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam.

Alabama Gov. George Wallace, in 1963, proclaimed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” at his inauguration, and later stood in a doorway at the University of Alabama to bar blacks from entering. Nine years later, Wallace took a would-be assassin’s bullet, leaving him paralyzed. Older, wiser and chastened by the attempt on his life, Wallace changed. Wallace, one day and without invitation, went to a black church where 300 black clergymen were holding a conference. He asked to speak. Wallace asked for forgiveness. He said to the church leaders, “I never had hate in my heart for any person. But I regret my support of segregation and the pain it caused the black people of our state and nation. … I’ve learned what pain is, and I’m sorry if I’ve caused anybody else pain. Segregation was wrong — and I am sorry.”

The voters in Alabama returned the former governor to office, but this time, he received black support and made several black appointments. The damage Wallace did through his actions and rhetoric was profound, and despite the assassination attempt, he lived long enough to undo some of it.

Even a Confederate general can change.

Confederate Gen. William Mahone, one of General Robert E. Lee’s most able commanders, owned slaves before the Civil War. But after the war, he led an interracial political movement. He organized and became the leader of the Readjuster Party, the most successful interracial political alliance in the post-emancipation South. In 1881, Mahone was elected to the U.S. Senate, at the time split 37-37 between Republicans and Democrats. But Mahone aligned with the Republicans, the party founded two decades earlier by Northerners trying to stop the expansion of slavery.

From 1879 through 1883, Mahone’s Readjuster Party dominated Virginia, with a governor in the statehouse, two Readjusters in the U.S. Senate and Readjusters representing six of the state’s 10 congressional districts. Under Mahone’s leadership, his coalition also controlled the state legislature, the courts and many of the state’s coveted federal offices.

The Readjusters established what became Virginia State University, the first state-supported college to train black teachers. Democrats described the hated Readjusters and Republicans as advocates of “black domination.”

What about Lt. Gen. James Longstreet? One of Lee’s favorite generals, Longstreet not only became a Republican after the war and served in Republican administrations but also fought against the racist White League in New Orleans.

After the Civil War, Longstreet moved to New Orleans, where he urged Southerners to support the Republican Party and endorsed their candidate, Ulysses S. Grant, for president in 1868. He commanded blacks in the New Orleans Metropolitan Police Force against the anti-Reconstruction White League (a paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party) at the Battle of Liberty Place in 1874. He was shot and held captive for several days. He accepted political appointments from Republicans, and even dared criticize Gen. Lee. For this “betrayal,” white Southerners pronounced Longstreet a “scalawag” and “leper of the community.”

Where does this viewing of history through the prism of modern-day feelings end? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once gave advice to a gay young man that today would be heresy. King suggested he battle his feelings, strongly implying that the young man needed therapy and sexual reorientation. Today, that kind of advice gets one branded a Neanderthal. President John F. Kennedy, frustrated with a high-profile Democrat who hadn’t supported his election, threatened to banish him by giving him an obscure ambassadorship to one of the, as Kennedy put it, “boogie republics” in Africa. Tell that to Black Lives Matter.

History is complicated. And history requires perspective and understanding, something sadly lacking in those who seek to erase history by imposing today’s standards of right and wrong.



Explaining the Secularity of Academics: Historical Questions and Psychological Findings

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, below, gathers a lot of evidence for his thesis. His basic point is that smart young men are less religious and are also attracted to the academic life.

So it is not a university background that makes you an unbeliever.  It is being an unbeliever that makes you an academic.

A small problem with that is that belief is widespread and the average IQ of religious and irreligious people is about the same.

I am more inclined to see personality factors as the influences at work.  For instance, academics are more impressed with their own wisdom so are egotistical.  And as egotists they have no need for a God.  Belief in God is humble -- you know how little you know. But many intellectuals think they know it all

I have a larger discussion of why elites tend Left here


Religious beliefs are the products of natural, intuitive human thinking, and are shared by most humans. Academic research, or science, is the product of counter-intuitive, unnatural psychological processes, and the resulting concepts are beyond the reach of most. It is not surprising that religion has been around for possibly more than 100,000 years, while academic research is a recent historical development. Over the past century, individuals who make academic research their life’s work have been themselves the subject of academic studies which looked at their social origins, conscious ideals, beliefs, and psychological traits. The findings regarding religiosity have been striking. Academics, especially eminent ones, turn out to be quite irreligious. This is especially striking for academics in the United States, where a culture which is manifestly the most devout among First World nations has produced a sub-culture, which is a mirror image of itself. How can we explain the secularity of academics? Research indicates that it has to do with a process of selection and self-selection, which starts in childhood and channels individuals who are highly intelligent, critical, independent, and confident towards the academic world. Contrary to what some might think, it is not getting a Ph.D., which contributes to individual secularity; it is young secular individuals who are highly likely to commit themselves to an academic life



Apartheid for the poor

The virus restrictions in the Melbourne towers make little sense.  What is there to stop contact between the residents already IN the towers?  The restrictions presumably in fact make it more likely that people will talk to their neighbours -- thus potentially spreading the virus.  This policy is CREATING infections, not stopping it

As Pauline Hanson has pointed out, many residents of the towers will be people with health problems of various sorts -- including large numbers of the elderly, the prime group that the virus kills. So by making sure such people are locked up WITH the virus, it will make sure that they are infected. The restrictions will actually kill people

The moral dimension of singling out poor people for harsh treatment does not appear to have been considered by the Labor government.  So much for "compassionate" Leftism

Across a verdant footy oval, some residents of Flemington's social housing towers can look out to a gleaming residential tower complex complete with a rooftop 'sky garden' designed by Jamie Durie.

The ALT-Sienna tower complex — designed by the same architecture firm behind Hobart's MONA Museum — is about an eight-minute walk from Flemington's public housing estate, now subject to an unprecedented lockdown to prevent coronavirus spreading among residents.

A similarly severe lockdown has been imposed on public housing towers in North Melbourne, some of which stand across the street from another luxury tower complex named Arden Gardens.

"Arden Gardens is a new landmark development for North Melbourne — an iconic address boasting the location of the inner-city along with the luxury of a park-side location, private landscaped plaza, cinemas, ground floor Woolworths and stunning city views," the complex's website reads.

Those in the nine public housing blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne are entering their fifth day of a total "hard lockdown" which forbids residents from leaving the property at all.

As of Wednesday morning, 75 total cases of coronavirus have been detected across the towers, though Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has previously said the true number of infections may be much higher.

Under the "detention directions" governing the nine towers, the lockdown can last for up to 14 days — ending at 3:30pm on Saturday July 18 — and those who refuse coronavirus tests can be detained for another 10 days.

As he announced the sudden lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews said it would last at least five days.

Their neighbours in private apartment blocks, who have not had any documented coronavirus cases, can still leave the house for the four main reasons allowed under the state's stage three restrictions: shopping for food, exercise, work or education and medical care or caregiving.

Some 3,000 people are spread across nine towers in two separate estates in Flemington and North Melbourne in the city's inner north-west.

Authorities have warned of the "explosive" potential for the virus to spread within the public housing towers.

Airflow, proximity, ventilation and plumbing have all been considered as contributing factors to the way the virus has spread within the walls of the high-rise towers.

Tenants in these apartment blocks often share facilities like lifts, corridors, rubbish facilities and laundry rooms.

Some residents have told the ABC about broken lifts making it "impossible" to safely distance.

It's understood many of the tenants work public-facing essential jobs, making it more likely they will come into contact with the virus.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) told the ABC that the nine-tower lockdown was based on "expert public health advice".

"There are a significant number of vulnerable residents — including the elderly and people with medical conditions that place them at greater risk — while close confines and the shared community spaces within these large apartment blocks means this virus can spread rapidly," the spokesperson said.

Chris McLay, a North Melbourne resident in a private apartment near some of the towers, told the ABC "it was immediately obvious" that the public housing residents were going to face difficulties when the lockdown was announced.

"Living in an apartment building during the pandemic, it's so obvious how easily a building's residents can share the virus with each other," he said.

But he added the lockdown "was a huge burden for the people in the towers to take on".

"I just trust that the people who know best about public health think it's necessary, and hope that they can end it as soon as possible," he said.

Since the estate lockdown began, some residents of these public housing towers have criticised the sudden restrictions, which some said made them feel like criminals and may exacerbate existing tensions between some residents and police.

The nearby Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Service has previously claimed that many of the towers' residents of African descent are subject to over-policing and racial discrimination.

'If you live in public housing, it's easier to shut you up'
public housing towers can be seen from the aerial view
The Victorian Government said residents in these towers had to be locked down because of the number of active coronavirus cases.(ABC News: Simon Winter)

To qualify for public housing, dwellings are usually reserved for those from low socio-economic or migrant backgrounds, as well as those fleeing from domestic violence.



Liberal Logic Eats Itself: Harvard Students Win Push for Single-Sex Campus Organizations

The Fly Club, one of the exclusive final clubs at Harvard University

This goes back to 2017, when the university authorities were suffering heartburn over the university's long tradition of all-male "final clubs", which were claimed to be misogynist

The hypocrisy and sheer anti-male hostility in this is mind boggling. Feminists worldwide campaign for safe spaces for women.  Why must there be no safe spaces for men?  What is a "safe space" for women is apparently a "gender-discriminatory organization" for men.

Why the university has caved and removed its restrictions is a bit obscure.  The rationale seems to be that there are now no longer two sexes and that the male/female division is wrong.  So a ban on one sex is wrong

In a twist of irony that could happen only to the Left, Harvard College has rescinded its sanctions on single-sex campus organizations -- which it implemented to promote inclusivity -- after a recent Supreme Court ruling redefining “sex” to include “gender identity” rendered the sanctions discriminatory.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided that protections against sex discrimination of the 1964 Civil Rights Act also protected LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. The ruling, in which the majority opinion was authored by Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch, stunned conservatives who asserted that equating sex with sexual orientation would jeopardize single-sex environments like women’s sports and shelters.

But while the full fallout remains to be seen, the ruling has had the opposite affect at Harvard, which was forced to reinstate single-sex clubs.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the college announced a set of sanctions in 2016 which applied to members of certain clubs and single-sex Greek organizations. These sanctions prevented students in those groups from holding student-group leadership positions, varsity athletic team captaincies, and college endorsement for certain prestigious fellowships.

“Harvard College is committed to ensuring an inclusive student social life on our campus,” wrote Associate Dean of Student Engagement Alexander R. Miller in a 2018 email. “While we understand the cultural significance of these groups, our policy clearly states that we do not recognize single gender social organizations or fraternities and sororities, and therefore they are not recognized by Harvard College.”

As a result, Greek houses affiliated with national organizations were forced to disaffiliate, turning into new, gender-neutral social clubs instead: Kappa Kappa Gamma became the “Fleur-de-Lis,” Delta Gamma became the “Kali Praxi,” Alpha Epsilon Pi became “The Aleph,” and Kappa Sigma the “K.S. Club,” to name a few. The groups saw recruitment interest drop by half following the sanctions, which received intense scrutiny and pushback from students.

The new rule caused the national organizations of the former sororities and fraternities to bring two lawsuits against Harvard, ironically asserting that the college’s policy of recognizing only co-ed organizations is discriminatory, coercive, and unconstitutional.

“Harvard’s discriminatory policy has done enough harm already,” national Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council leaders wrote in a statement. “It has decimated Harvard women’s groups and created a culture of fear and distrust. Harvard should stop discriminating against its students on the basis of sex, immediately.”

But upon the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County in June, Harvard announced they would drop the sanctions, allowing single-sex clubs on campus once again. According to an email from Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow, the court’s reasoning would impact the college’s policy and result in a legal loss for the college.

“In essence, [United States District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton] accepted the plaintiffs’ legal theory that the policy, although adopted to counteract discrimination based on sex, is itself an instance of discrimination based on sex,” Bacow wrote. “It now seems clear that Judge Gorton would ultimately grant judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor in the pending lawsuit and that Harvard would be legally barred from further enforcing the policy.”

Sororities and fraternities were quick to cheer the news.

“This is a huge victory for those who choose to stand up to power for the simple right to belong to a single-sex leadership organization without worry of being sanctioned for that choice,” said Gail Owen, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma. “In a much broader sense, this means that women can be free to join with other women who share in Kappa’s mission to learn, grow and inspire positive change without the threat of sanctions for choosing to do so.”

Harvard’s chapter of Alpha Phi also celebrated the news.

“We are so happy that Harvard has recognized something that we have long known,” the sorority said in an Instagram post. “Female voices have a right to be heard and deserve a place on our campus, and we cannot express how much today’s decision means to us.”

Whether Harvard students realize it or not, their fight to reinstate the college’s single-sex organizations admits that there are inherent differences between men and women and that clubs have the right to discriminate in who they welcome into their organization. For a notoriously liberal campus, that sounds pretty conservative.



Black Lives Matter protests have sprung up in dozens of countries. Leaders of the movement speak out about the changes that need to happen now

The above heading, from a current article in Newsweak, promises more than it delivers.  Most of the article is a large catalog of people who have suffered at the hands of police.  Because minorities have on average suffered more than whites, it is assumed that the police are wrong in some way -- more racist, in particular.  That minorities might be more prone to criminal behaviour is not considered or that minorities might be more aggressive, unco-operative and hostile to the police is not considered or even mentioned

Such a one-eyed article is unlikely to offer any real information but there are a couple of paragraphs in the article that do set out what changes black leaders want.  I have reproduced them below.

The first quest is almost amusing.  The author wants research directed to understanding why racism persists in Britain and how it needs to be addressed.  I can assure him that there has been a great deal of academic research on that question already. I have quite a few articles in the journals on that topic myself.

And the major finding of that reseach is that racial discrimination emerges very early in life -- even in babies. So whether you think  intolerance of difference is inborn or not the challenges it poses are much the same.  It runs deep in the human psyche and is very widespread even in educated adults.  Most adults in current society learn not to express their adverse judgments openly but actions such as "white flight" reveal that their deep-down attitudes and judgments are little different from what we have seen in most of human history -- which is open derogatory judgements of minorities.

However you look at it, the possibility that more  research will reveal anything liklely to bring about change is vanishingly small.  What existing research tells us is that "racism"  will always be with us.

The second proposal for change below is more reasonable: a reallocation of police tasks. Libertarians have long argued that too much of human behaviour has been criminalized.  They would like to see all drug use made legal everywhere for instance.  A huge amount of police work is devoted to drug crime and often leads to severe abuses.  "No knock raids", for instance are almost entirely devoted to seizing evidence of drug use before that evidence can be destroyed in some way -- by flushing drugs down the toilet, for instance.

Taking drugs out of the purview of the police would free up lots of police  time that could be devoted to a more patient approach to challenges.  Many police-involved deaths are of mentally ill people and a more patient approch to them would often remove the need for a bullet.

What Oke would like Britain to do is use this moment to tackle the issues laid bare by George Floyd’s death and dedicate substantial resources and funding to understanding why racism persists in Britain and how it needs to be addressed. She seems to be, at once, both optimistic and skeptical about the likelihood of success. “We hope this is a movement of genuine social change across our nation,” Oke said. But, “we feel almost nervous to believe in what the longevity could be of the change.”

Black Lives Matter co-founder Cullors is an advocate of defunding, which redirects money typically budgeted for law enforcement to other community-serving initiatives, including education, healthcare, mental health services and social services programs. “This is a watershed moment,” Cullors told Newsweek. “And we need bold and courageous approaches.”

Already, in the U.S. and in Canada, the idea is taking root, with city council members in Minneapolis voting to dismantle the police department implicated in Floyd’s death and replace it with a new community-based public safety system. Meanwhile, officials in Toronto are discussing a motion seeking to slash that city’s police department budget by 10 percent.

“A significant re-allocation of resources away from ineffective or harmful police approaches and toward programs that demonstrably reduce crime could actually improve public safety,” said Paul Hirschfield, an associate sociology and criminal justice professor at Rutgers University. “Much of what the police do—random patrols, patrolling schools, traffic enforcement, and drug enforcement—do far too little for public safety to justify the enormous expense.”



Big Pharma is RICH

Drug companies are a huge hate-object for the Left. Because they appear to be big and rich and successful, that alone  provokes hatred in the enviers of the Left.  Add to that the high prices of some drugs and it is clear to the Left that the drug companies are "ripping off" the rest of us.

But are they?  Conservatives point to the huge costs of drug development and the consequent huge losses when the drug is not a success.  So the profitability of drug companies generally is not at all clear.  Big profits are accompanied by big losses.

Fortunately, we now have some real information on the subject.  An article has recently appeared in JAMA that sets out to answer the question objectively. It is "Profitability of Large Pharmaceutical Companies Compared With Other Large Public Companies" by Ledley et al.  An excerpt:

Question:  How do the profits of large pharmaceutical companies compare with those of other companies from the S&P 500 Index?

Findings:  In this cross-sectional study that compared the profits of 35 large pharmaceutical companies with those of 357 large, nonpharmaceutical companies from 2000 to 2018, the median net income (earnings) expressed as a fraction of revenue was significantly greater for pharmaceutical companies compared with nonpharmaceutical companies (13.8% vs 7.7%).

Meaning:  Large pharmaceutical companies were more profitable than other large companies, although the difference was smaller when controlling for differences in company size, research and development expense, and time trends.

So that's it.  Open and shut.  The left have some justification for their views.  But only superficially. The methodology of the study is very poor.  Why compare 35 companies with 357?  Many of that 357 would have been much smaller than the pharma companies.  So you are not comparing like with like. Large companies would normally have some degree of monopoly in their markets, which makes them more profitable than smaller companies.  A more defensible method would have been to pick 35 companies in each sector with comparable market capitalization and compare them in profitability.

But the problems do not end there. Drugs are a very risky business.  You can spend a billion dollars getting a drug approved only to find that a few deaths have been attributed to the drug.  The deaths will most likely to have been coincidences but publc pressure will cause the drug to be taken off the market -- leaving the company in a ditch.

And there is normally a return to risk.  People normally do risky things only if the reward is great.  So a valid comparison to a drug company would need to be with other risky businesses.  But that was not done in this case.  So it seems likely that the higher profits made by drug companies are simply payment for risk taking.  There is nothing unfair about their profits.  Their profits are what is needed to encourage innovation.  Remove that profit and you will see few if any new drugs.


Boston: Study shows Black renters, voucher holders face egregious housing discrimination

Blacks tend to be poorer and more violent so there will always be a presumption against them.  It is similar in Australia with Aborigines and Maori.  As an Australian landlord in the 80's and '90s, I was aware of the adverse probablities with them but still accepted them where my judgment of them personally suggested that they would be OK.  I judged the individual, not the race.

I eventuallly tired of Maori because of their disruptiveness when drunk but contiued to accept Aborigines until I gave up landlording. So I am one of the "good" landlords who did accept minorities.  But I did so on the basis of a personal interview.  If I had to leave the judgment to an agent, however, I would have put in place a mechanism for rejecting minorities. The risk would have been too great to delegate the decision to an agent.

And that is the reality. You can try to make prospective black tenants more desirable by way of anti-discrimination laws but owners will find ways around such laws.  An undesirable tenant will remain an undesirable tenant and will rarely be accepted.

The pity of course is that some minority tenants will be perfectly OK.  Two of my best tenants were black.  But most blacks will be rejected because of their ethnicity.  So an intelligent solution to that problem is needed.

Making eviction easier would be one such measure.  If you can easily get a bad tenant out, owners and agents would be more likely to take a risk.  Higher rents and deposits for minorities would also work but would send the Left into a frothing rage.  The left go for coercion despite the much greater effectiveness of incentives

Researchers fault real estate professionals who illegally ghost, steer away qualified renters

An undercover investigation released Wednesday found that Black people posing as prospective tenants in Greater Boston were shown fewer apartments than whites and offered fewer incentives to rent, and that real estate agents cut off contact when the renters gave Black-sounding names like Lakisha, Tyrone, or Kareem.

The white “testers” in the study posing as would-be renters, on the other hand, easily secured tours of properties, were wooed with discounts, and got preferred treatment — such as the opportunity to view additional units — when looking at apartments.

In subtle and overt ways, Black renters experienced discrimination by real estate brokers and landlords in 71 percent of the cases tested in the study by Suffolk University Law School, titled “Qualified Renters Need Not Apply: Race and Voucher Discrimination in the Metro Boston Housing Market.”



Symbolic gestures of support aren’t enough

Just another bit of brainless Leftism below.  The author notes the under-representaion of blacks in any occupation requiring brainpower and concludes that the under-representation  is due to bias against blacks.  That blacks might not in general have high levels of brainpower she does not consider.

So how is the bias to be overcome? Employers should "conduct audits", "set timelines" and "incentivize diversity".  Ho hum!  Total vagueness. That affirmative action makes employers already keen to have "diversity" she ignores.

She is right that all the existing attempts to achieve diversity have hardly touched the problem but still thinks she has the answers.  Existing experience would suggest that there are no answers.  Only a tiny number of blacks are able to rise to the top of intellectually demanding occupations.

 But to say that is of course "racism" or even "white supremacy".  A pity that it is also reality.  And because it is reality the situation she aims at will remain a mirage.  Attempts to achieve "diversity" are flailing at an immovable object.  Great efforts will be made but will achieve nothing.  If all that wasted effort were instead used on something achievable we we would all surely be better off.  But it is the nature of Leftists to bang their heads on brick walls

For 8 min. 46 sec., “I can’t breathe,” the plaintive refrain of a prone and pleading George Floyd, commanded the screen of a Viacomcbs video. Amid nationwide protests after Floyd’s death and polls showing widespread support for Black Lives Matter, the video was among hundreds of corporate efforts to co-opt a rallying cry of the movement. Leaders in the arts, finance, publishing, fashion, entertainment and sports proclaimed, “Black lives matter,” participated in #Blackouttuesday and pledged millions of dollars to groups devoted to racial justice.

Largely left unspoken is how many of these institutions routinely exclude or marginalize people of color. Black people, who make up 13% of the U.S. population, represent just 3% of workers at the top 75 tech firms and 1.8% of law partners. Between 1985 and 2014, the proportion of Black men in management at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees crept from 3% to 3.3%.

And while people of color are roughly 40% of the population, they make up around 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs. Rather than diversifying their workforces, boards and leadership teams, many institutions have financed pricey diversity efforts that consistently fail to increase racial representation.

For instance, Facebook, which on June 1 pledged $10 million to organizations that combat racial inequity, has devoted millions to diversity initiatives, to little avail. Its latest diversity report shows that the proportion of Black and Hispanic employees combined went from 8.4% in 2018 to 9% in 2019. Instead of investing in more studies and anti-bias training, the tech industry could enlist the growing number of Black and Latinx graduates with computerscience and engineering degrees, and redirect resources to underserved urban schools.

Institutions should conduct audits of employee demographics along racial and gender lines and across job categories to detect and disrupt patterns of bias that have metastasized in unequal hiring, salaries, promotions and, in the case of cultural organizations, offensive iconography. They should also set timelines and incentivize diversity the same way they do profits and innovation. Research shows that greater racial diversity would improve both.

On June 4, Vogue editor Anna Wintour emailed colleagues, saying the magazine had not “found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators” and “made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant.” Those oversights are all too common in every influential field.

Racial injustice is not an abstraction, and institutions can root it out in their midst. But this requires an honest encounter with our airbrushed history, pervasive racial illiteracy and systemic inequities. It is not enough for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to condemn “systematic oppression of Black people,” or apologize for not listening to players earlier. He must reassess practices that have allowed coaches and executives to remain overwhelmingly white in a league in which players are nearly 70% Black.

The lightning speed with which Confederate statues are toppling and police reforms are being made illustrates that achieving racial justice does not require more time and strategies— only will. The gradualism that has defined racial progress must be superseded by the swift systemic change that a wide swath of America finally agrees is overdue.



The West Australian blasted over racist Indigenous cartoon

The term "Aborigine" is NOT offensive.  It is the normal term for Australian blacks and is Latin for "from the beginning" -- so recognizes their priority.

And "Abo" is simply an abbreviation.  Australians are great abbreviators so "Abo" is a normal abbreviation with no offensive intentions

It is however true that some Leftists have recently pushed the Canadian term "First peoples" as an alternstive term.  Ironic that the term Aborigine says the same thing in Latin

And some Aborigines use their tribal name as an identification (Murri", Boori" etc.)  But such names are too specific to be generally useful.  "Boong" appears to have originally been a tribal name but is now a derogatory name for Aborigines generally

The West Australian newspaper is copping backlash after publishing a cartoon that refers to an Indigenous character using an offensive racial slur and compares them to a dog.

The Modesty Blaise comic, published yesterday, shows  characters discussing an Indigenous tracker who is trying to find them.

One character says they are being chased by “four men, all armed ... and an Aborigine” — a term some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find offensive.

The characters go on to describe the Indigenous character as an “abo tracker”.

“It’s no use hiding, that abo will smell us out quicker than a bloodhound,” a character says in the comic.

The publication is being blasted on social media with many labelling it “disgusting”.

“Just wondering how many people were involved in the chain of decision making, to allow this cartoon to be printed in the @westaustralian newspaper in 2020?” asked radio and television presenter Shelley Ware.

“I’m literally devastated this has been printed and our children have access to this. Honestly wish I was surprised though!!”

Late on Monday evening, The West Australian published an apology to its website stating the cartoon was written in 1981 and was supplied by an outside agency.



When scientific truth is racist

The MOST unwelcome truth that riots REDUCE support for the Donks

A perfectly sholarly article was attacked because its conclusions were inconvenient. Must not criticize rioters.  To do so is "racist"

A man actually lost his job for  pointing out reality

David Shor is a 28-year-old political data analyst and social democrat who worked for President Obama’s reelection campaign. On May 28, Shor tweeted out a short summary of a paper by Princeton professor Omar Wasow. The research compiled by Wasow analyzed public opinion in the 1960s, and found violent and nonviolent protest tactics had contradictory effects. Shor’s synopsis was straightforward:

It is easy to see why a specialist in public opinion whose professional mission is to help elect Democrats while moving the party leftward would take an interest in this research. But in certain quarters of the left — though not among Democratic elected officials — criticizing violent protest tactics is considered improper on the grounds that it distracts from deeper underlying injustice, and shifts the blame from police and other malefactors onto their victims.

One universal fact of political life is that people tend not to enjoy highlighting faults committed by their own side, and often respond to others bringing up behavior they don’t want to defend outright by deflecting blame. Conservatives are united less by a zeal to affirm every one of Donald Trump’s actions than a reluctance to denounce them. Likewise, while few leftists go so far as to explicitly advocate violent or destructive acts, refraining from criticism of violent protests is, among parts of the far left, almost a social norm.

And so, despite its superficially innocuous content, Shor’s tweet generated a sharp response. To take one public example, Ari Trujillo Wesler, the founder of OpenField, a Democratic canvassing app, replied, “This take is tone deaf, removes responsibility for depressed turnout from the 68 Party, and reeks of anti-blackness.” Shor replied politely:

"The mechanism for the paper isn’t turnout, it’s violence driving news coverage that makes people vote for Republicans. The author does a great job explaining his research here:

https://twitter.com/owasow/status/1265709670892580869?s=21 "

Trujillo Wesler repeated the accusation of racism (“YOU need to stop using your anxiety and ‘intellect’ as a vehicle for anti-blackness”), and then tagged Dan Wager, the CEO of Civis Analytics, the firm employing Shor, “Come get your boy.”

At least some employees and clients on Civis Analytics complained that Shor’s tweet threatened their safety. The next day, Shor apologized for tweeting Omar’s paper:

Civis Analytics undertook a review of the episode. A few days later, Shor was fired. Shor told me he has a nondisclosure agreement preventing him from discussing the episode. A spokesperson for Civis Analytics told me over email, “Out of respect for our employees and alumni, Civis does not publicly discuss personnel matters, and we don’t plan to comment further.”

Over the weekend, “Progressphiles,” a progressive data listserv, announced it was kicking Shor out, according to another member of the group. Shor, who did not respond to comment, has been a member of the group but has not posted there in two years. The entire reason for his removal is the controversy over his “racist” tweet:



'It's not fair': Sydney cladding crisis threatens to 'crush families' financially

This is clearly a case of regulatory failure so there would appear to be some liability on the government

People are encouraged to trust the government to protect them rather than use private means such as insurance so when that protection fails to eventuate, some redress against the government seems justified.  In this case government should pick up the tab for its regulatory failure and fund remedial work

The owners of 130 buildings in inner Sydney have been told to replace flammable cladding or reveal more details about the composition of materials used, leaving individual apartment owners facing bills running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The breadth of the cladding crisis in just one part of the city has led to fresh calls for the NSW government to follow Victoria in funding rectification work, partly given the financial pressure owners are already under due to the coronavirus-induced recession.

The City of Sydney, seemingly the worst affected in the state by combustible cladding, has issued fire safety notices for 130 buildings to date, up from 52 in March.

Waterloo resident Adrian Shi was shocked to discover that he would have to pay $25,000 over the next year to remove combustible cladding from his building in the inner-southern suburb.

"If it was just a few thousand dollars it would be acceptable but a $25,000 hit comes at a very bad time. It is not fair for the owner to take full responsibility," he said. "The government should give us some help such as a long-term loan."

The $25,000 special levy he faces is on top of a quarterly strata fee of $1900. The total cost to owners of removing aluminium cladding from his complex has been estimated at $5.6 million but it could end up costing more.

There are various types of cladding on the market, with some being more fire resistant than others.

The solar-energy researcher at the University of NSW said his predicament highlighted the situation facing apartment owners across Sydney due to the combustible cladding crisis. "Considering many people's livelihoods are affected by COVID now, this unexpected financial burden will surely crush a lot of families," he said.

He and his wife bought their three-bedroom off the plan in 2010 and moved in two years later. "Nobody expects that at the time," he said of the cladding material used, which has since been found to have a flammable coating.

His is one of the buildings to have received a fire-safety notice from the City of Sydney, which is investigating and reviewing a total of 299 properties with potential combustible cladding.

Greens MP David Shoebridge, who chaired an inquiry into building standards, said the cost of fixing flammable cladding in NSW would be "well north" of $1 billion, which would be borne by homeowners "let down by decades of deregulation".

"We have individual homeowners spending tens of thousands of dollars undertaking rectification work that might have to be redone if the standards change," he said. "For some owners, it is almost as expensive identifying a credible remedy as it is undertaking the work."

Last year the Victorian government promised $600 million to fix the most dangerous buildings.

Deputy NSW Labor leader Yasmin Catley said the Berejiklian government had a "golden opportunity" to follow Victoria in providing financial assistance, both creating jobs and solving a public safety problem.

City of Sydney councillor Linda Scott also urged the government to fund a rescue package to help fix strata buildings that contain flammable cladding.

"Thousands of residents across the City of Sydney have been left out in the cold, finding themselves liable for millions of dollars for repairs to remove flammable cladding," she said.

The government did not respond to questions about whether it would provide loans or some other form of financial assistance to owners.

However, a spokeswoman for Better Regulation Minster Kevin Anderson said the government had introduced new laws to protect building owners in NSW, which required anyone carrying out building work to avoid construction defects, including flammable cladding.

While the City of Sydney has one of the highest number of buildings identified with flammable cladding, other local government areas such as Bayside in the city's south, Canada Bay in the inner west and Liverpool each have had more than 20 buildings issued fire-safety notices.

In Canada Bay, a total of 77 were identified as a risk and fire-safety orders served on 33 buildings, while North Sydney Council has issued 27.

Bayside Council has issued 21 fire-safety notices after 74 buildings were identified in need of investigation, while in Liverpool 22 have been served.

Willoughby Council, whose area includes the high-rises of Chatswood, has investigated 66 buildings and issued fire-safety notices for 17. In the Hills Shire, 30 building owners will voluntarily replace combustible cladding while one has been served a notice.

In Blacktown, fire-safety notices have been issued for 10 buildings. Parramatta Council has issued six notices for buildings while the owners of a further 16 have been told to test and replace cladding if it is non-compliant.



White supremacist, the new meaningless term of abuse

Below is just one example of a term that is now flung about widely by the Left. Overuse has deprived "racist" of much of its force so now all conservatives from Trump down are alleged to be "white supremacists"

I have myself been called a white supremacist for no obvious reason.  I have always said that I think China will be at least economically supreme by the end of this century so that is a pretty odd idea for a white supremacist

The whole idea is pretty incoherent to start with.   There are a lot of whites in humble occupations.  Are they supreme? To group all whites together under one heading is a great overgeneralization.  It is in fact a Leftist habit to lump lots of people together into such broad categories. They are incapable of dealing with individuals. So "white supremacist" is really a Leftist concept. White supremacists mainly exist in Leftist imaginations. Conservatives are more interested in the individual

There are no doubt some people who believe that whites are superior to all other groups but that too is incoherent.  Superior in what way?  Superior at sprinting?  Hardly.  If you are to use "white supremacist" as a term, you surely have to ask "In what respect"?  The term says nothing unless it is expanded

Emancipation Memorial Paid For by Former Slaves Is...White Supremacy

I mean for those who thought this was just about Confederate statues, I don’t know what to tell you. It was never about that—anyone could see this from miles away. The Left will bait the wider public with a carrot, like slamming Confederates because it’s not like they’re attacking the Founding Fathers, and then take a hard turn to…tearing down statues to the Founding Fathers. Right now, the lefty mob, which has marched unopposed for days, vowed to tear down the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park because it’s racist. It’s a statue of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president, with a freed slave. It was commissioned by former slaves. How is this racist? I’m not kidding. We have one Ph.D. student wrote in The Washington Post that the monument of the president who spearheaded the 13th Amendment, which forever abolished slavery, is white supremacy:

In the District of Columbia, there is no shortage of commemoration for Lincoln. There is perhaps no person (with the exception of George Washington) in the United States who has more memorials, buildings, roads, towns and counties named in his or her honor.

Of the major commemorative markers to Lincoln in D.C., the most troubling is the Emancipation Memorial (also known as the Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln), which sits in Lincoln Park, steps away from the U.S. Capitol. The statue features a standing Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation in his hand over a kneeling newly freed African American man. But this monument has been the subject of some controversy since its unveiling in 1876 because of who originated the idea of the monument, who paid for it and who ultimately designed what it would look like.

The monument was paid for almost exclusively by formerly enslaved people, who from 1865 onward raised more than $16,000 for the building of the statue. According to the story told and retold in newspapers at the time, on the day after Lincoln’s assassination, Charlotte Scott, a formerly enslaved black woman living in Marietta, Ohio, gave her first earnings as a free woman to build a monument to Lincoln. From there, more donations grew and then became a national movement when the Western Sanitary Commission, the wartime relief agency, took control and publicized the idea of for a monument from the freedmen in honor of Lincoln. A New Orleans Tribune article from Aug. 10, 1865, proclaimed: “On the spot where Freedom’s ‘best defender fell,’ let his name and the cause for which he died be most highly honored.”

The men and women who raised the money, however, did not choose the design of the monument.


On the day of the dedication, Frederick Douglass, the African American civil rights advocate, gave a speech where he spoke of his ambivalence of a statue that solely praised Lincoln, and in an offhand remark said that the statue “showed the Negro on his knee when a more manly attitude would have been indicative of freedom.”

The statue fed a narrative that men like Lincoln led emancipation, rather than showing how the struggle for freedom was driven by the millions of African Americans who fought for their liberation from the institution of slavery.


While this doesn’t mean that we need to tear down the Emancipation Memorial, it does require that we recontextualize it to ensure that it gives voice to those who have been left out and acknowledges the very people who paid for it in the beginning.

Okay, well, at least there’s no call for it to be destroyed or so it seems. Former slaves paid for it, Frederick Douglass was there to dedicate it, and somehow, it’s white supremacy because it’s too focused on, I don’t know, the man who was president during our nation’s more dire and destructive crisis. Nuance cannot be afforded. It has to be what the woke crowd deems suitable now and retroactively applied…to late 19th Century America. That’s not how this works, but that’s also the point. It’s erasure. The Left hates this country and its history and in order to destroy the American cultural identity, it needs to be torn down, burned, and rewritten within the of this hyper-left-wing revisionist prism. To destroy one’s enemy, strip them of their cultural identity. That’s the long war the Left is waging. Luckily, authorities put barricades to protect the monument.



Reforms to child protection covering Aboriginal children needed

Below is a reasonable account of a problem but where are the ideas for a solution?  The basic problem is that young Aborigines are often badly neglected by their families.  If the kids survive that, the neglect tends to bring on disrespect of all standards and crime follows from that.

So how are  you going to stop child neglect without rehoming the endangered kids?  Are you going to have a platoon of white people to waggle reproving fingers at neglectful Aboriginal parents?  Or are you going to take their grog off them?  It's all been tried before, I am afraid.

And how are you going to stop extensive lawbreaking?  I don't know how, nor, it would seem, do the do-gooders below.  Much has been tried already so anything coming out of the report below will most likely just be a reinvention of the wheel

If black lives really mattered in Australia, every cog of the child protection system would be reformed to stop Aboriginal children being removed from family, culture and country.

That's the belief of Megan Davis, University of NSW law professor and United Nations expert on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

"All the narratives we tell ourselves about Australian fairness and the rule of law fly out the window in so far as the treatment of the Aboriginal families in the system," said Professor Davis, who is also Balnaves chair in constitutional law and the pro-vice-chancellor Indigenous UNSW.

With 17,979 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth in care across Australia, and nearly 5493 in NSW, next year's Closing the Gap goals are expected to include for the first time a commitment to reduce the number of Aboriginal children entering care by 5 per cent a year. By 2031, it will pledge to cut the number of those in care by 45 per cent.

Professor Davis said a review of Aboriginal children in out-of-home-care (OOHC) in NSW that she chaired had "not validated the popular narrative that children are removed justifiably".

"Out-of-home-care can exacerbate the disadvantage of Aboriginal young people which many would find counter-intuitive because most people assume removing children is in their best interests," Professor Davis said.

She was sure the NSW community was also unaware of the "very direct line from child protection to youth detention and incarceration".

Professor Davis' examination of 1144 Aboriginal children and youth who entered OOHC in 2015/2016 found problems in "every cog of the giant, complex 'system'."

Aboriginal children were eight times more likely to enter care than non-Indigenous children, and they constitute 40 cent of the nearly 14,000 NSW children in care.

Half of the children were deemed to be at risk of significant harm by the time they turned five, and one-in-10 before they were born.

Once in care, very few would return to their families, said the review. Children were often distanced from relatives and taken off country and isolated from culture.

"These are our children, this isn't a marginal issue," said Richard Weston, the chief executive of SNAICC – the peak group representing children and families. "They are the ones who will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will survive."

Some people called these children another Stolen Generation, he said, because of the procession of children who "graduated" from out of home care into the juvenile justice system and then into adult prison.

Professor Davis' report, titled Family is Culture, was given to the NSW Government last November, and Indigenous groups are lobbying for a response before the end of the financial year.

On a post on the UNSW website on Saturday morning, Professor Davis urged the government to respond saying the report "can't be left on a bench to gather dust". She called on the Government to implement "all the recommendations as a matter of priority".

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the recommendations were being considered carefully. It is understood a comprehensive response will be made soon.

Chief executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service in NSW/ACT Karly Warner said the Black Lives Matter protests had shown there was real understanding by the public that systemic racism was wrong and there was an appetite for change.

But there had to be an appetite for change from those in leadership. "There can't be equality until we change the system," she said.

Ms Warner said she heard stories every week about young people "who are arrested and forced into the quick sands of juvenile justice because of the over-scrutiny and policing of residential care homes."



Racial awareness is not racism

I think the story below points to the sloppy way "racism" is used.  If Elba exdperiences racism "every day", it cannot be very oppressive, given his popularity and success as an actor.

What he is clearly talking about is racial awareness.  He perceives, probably correctly, that people whom he meets do not -- at least initially -- see him as just a random person but as a black person.  And given the unhappy history of black/white relationships, that perception will almost inevitably be tinged with caution.

But how he is TREATED because of that is another matter.  These days "affirmative action" thinking may cause him to be treated BETTER than a random person. So using a word for that which also describes the evils of Nazism is very sloppy usage indeed.  Such sloppiness is sadly common  however.  To the Left almost any mention of race makes you a "racist".

Individual cases will differ of course but I suspect than most claims of racist treatment by blacks really refer to incidents where racial awareness has been perceived rather than incidents of racial oppression

Idris Elba has said that asking him about racism is akin to asking 'how long I have been breathing.'

While taking part in The Reckoning: The Arts And Black Lives Matter event, on Friday, the Luther actor, 47, also revealed how his parents instilled in him that in order to make it 'you have to be twice as good as the white man.'

During the live-streamed discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and the arts, Idris explained that his success has not 'negated' his experience of racism.

The actor said: 'Success has not negated racism for me. Asking me about racism is like asking me about how long I have been breathing.'

Idris went on to explain that the first time black people have 'any consciousness' around their skin 'it is usually about racism'.

'That stays with you regardless of whether you become successful or you beat the system,' asserted the star.

Elba said his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic, telling him: 'if you want to make it in this world, you have to be twice as good as the white man'.

He detailed how this became like a 'mantra' to him, and helped to guide his work ethic.

The talented actor also explained that, although he was good at football, he 'still applied in cricket because I was always of that mindset.'

He added: 'Before you know it you realise you are quite multi-faceted,' before expressing how to be successful 'you have to have your fingers in many pies'.

Idris' late father Winston grew up in Sierra Leone, and his mother Eve is from Ghana.

The actor has forged an incredibly successful career, starring in Marvel films, including the Avengers, as well as for the lead role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

He also starred in a Netflix movie about child soldiers, Beasts of No Nation, which was filmed in Ghana.



US police kill up to 6 times more black people than white people

The above headline is perfectly accurate.  But it is still misleading.  OF COURSE the police kill more blacks in Chicago.  There are more blacks there.

It is rare that raw numbers tell us much.  What is needed is context.  In this case we need to look at percentages.  Is the PERCENTAGE of blacks killed different?

More technically, if we control for population size, are blacks killed more often than whites?  The number of whites killed in Chicago is probably low.  But Chicago is primarily a black city.  So the absolute number of whites there is also low

It could well be that cops are more prone to killing people with brown skin than people with white or pink skin -- but we are not actually shown that.  Context is missing

In some parts of the US, police kill black people at a rate six times higher than they kill white people. The differences are most stark in the northern Midwest, especially Chicago, and in north-eastern states like New York.

Protest movements like Black Lives Matter have highlighted the disproportionate killing of black people by US police, and called for major changes in policing practices. However, official data on police killings can be unreliable. The database run by the Bureau of Justice Statistics is known to undercount deaths, partly because police forces don’t have to contribute data. That makes it harder to stop the killings.

Gabriel Schwartz and Jaquelyn Jahn at Harvard University compared police killings in different regions of the US between 2013 and 2017. They used data from Fatal Encounters, an independent organisation that gathers public and media reports of killings, and fact-checks them.

The researchers assigned each death to one of the US’s 382 “metropolitan statistical areas”. These are “cities and the areas surrounding cities”, says Jahn, and reflect where people spend most of their time.

Rates of police killings varied widely. For the overall population, the highest rates of killings were in south-western states like California and New Mexico, where more than 1 in 100,000 people were killed by police every year. In the north-east, rates were often lower than 0.3 people per 100,000.

However, the pattern changed when the team looked for differences linked to ethnicity. In south-western states, police killed black people 1.81-2.88 times more often than they killed white people. In the north Midwest and north-east, the disparity was often more than 2.98. In the Chicago metropolitan area, black people were killed 6.51 times more often than white people.

“They are showing for the first time that there’s a lot of variation by place in racial inequalities in police killings,” says Justin Feldman at New York University. That in turn should help us understand why some places have such large disparities, and how to reduce the deaths, he says.

Schwartz and Jahn’s study is the latest of a raft of studies showing that black people in the US are killed by police more often than white people. Young black men are at highest risk. A 2019 study found that black men aged 25-29 were being killed at rates between 2.8 and 4.1 in 100,000.

Neighbourhoods are also a factor. Death rates are highest in poor neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods with high non-white populations, but black people are at higher risk of being killed in white neighbourhoods.



Australia-UK free trade agreement: Visas on the table under negotiations to begin this month

It was a great blow when Britain entered the Common Market. Australian goods had access to British buyers substantially limited and moving from one of the countries to the other was hampered.  We seem likely to unwind that now that Britain is leaving the EU

There has been a continual stream of British migration to Australia ever since 1788, with the result that British customs have been continually refreshed in Australia.  With over a million British-born people living in Australia, there is virtually nothing about Britain that is unfamilar in Australia.

So for traditional but also continually refreshed reasons, Australia is very much like just another of the British regions that has somehow been moved to the other side of the word.  

The British regions all have their distinctive identity, culture and version of English and that is also true of Australia.  The difference between Australia and the Home Counties is in fact slighter than the difference betreen the Home counties and some thorougly English regions.  An Australian accent is, for instance, better understood in the Home Counties than a Geordie accent is

So there is every reason to open up movement between Britain and Australia

Greater opportunities for business visas and the potential to “streamline and extend” working holiday visas for young people are on the table as part of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Britain and Australia.

Speaking at an Australian British Chamber of Commerce webinar on Monday, Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham said despite high levels of mobility between the UK and Australia there is room for improvement.

“[We] ought to provide for mutual recognition of qualifications and standards to make it easier for skilled professionals to work in each others countries,” he said.

“We of course have a rich history of young people from each country undertaking an almost rite of passage of living, working, travelling around each others countries. “Perhaps we can streamline and extend that,” he said, so the “terms of that are as flexible as they can be.”

While Mr Birmingham said the trade deal is “not an open borders arrangement” there is a need to facilitate movement of people along with the improved investment flows and mutual recognition of qualifications the free trade deal hopes to provide.

He said “never before” has a trade deal been seen from an Australian perspective as one that could be “so easy and yet so fruitful.” “I know we go into this with similar ambitions … this is an agreement we should be able to strike quickly and easily.” “I certainly hope that we can work though faster than any others.”

An FTA between the two nations has been years in the planning and talks will officially kick off online on June 29. The UK is also seeking an FTA with New Zealand while Australia is pursuing one with the European Union (EU).

Britain officially left the EU on 31 January 2020 allowing it the ability to pursue independent trade deals, however it is still negotiating its future relationship with the bloc that will come into effect on 1 January 2021 after a year's transition period.

UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss said Australia is a “key partner and ally” for the UK in is pursuit of becoming a global trading hub.

“When we entered the EU some people felt like we’d slightly lost touch with some of our old friends,” she said, adding that the two countries “speak with a similar voice on the world stage about the importance of free trade.”

The deal is set to benefit food and drink producers in both countries, as well as reducing the regulatory burden of setting up overseas for small businesses.

The UK automotive industry hopes to benefit from selling tariff-free cars to Australia, while Australian agricultural producers are set to benefit from not being locked out of trade barriers erected by the EU.

Digital services are also expected to play a key role in the deal, and the UK is hoping an FTA with New Zealand and Australia will pave the way for it to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – an FTA involving 11 Asia Pacific states.

Ms Truss said there was “quite a lot of booze flowing between the UK and Australia” in terms of Aussie wine and British whisky and gin.

“I see this as being an exemplar deal where two like-minded trading nations can show the world what free trade can look like,” she said. “There is no stronger relationship than with Australia.”

“[Australian Prime Minister] Scott Morrison and [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson see eye-to-eye. We see this an opportunity to make closer friends with one of our best friends in the world.”

As for when international business travel might be back on the agenda, Ms Truss said it was “one of the key elements” the country was looking at as it emerges from lockdown.

Already Spain has announced British travellers will not have to quarantine there, with a number of deals with other European countries such as Portugal and France expected to follow.

Mr Birmingham said while travel restrictions are “tough for a nation like Australia … it’s also a reality that we are stuck with those restrictions for some time to come.”

He said the country is first looking at opening up to New Zealand and then potentially opening “business lanes” in “carefully calibrated ways” that could facilitate investment flows between the two countries.



Coronavirus is weakening, could die out on its own without a vaccine and patients now survive infections that would have killed them at start of the pandemic

I suspect that what the good doctor is noticing is that all the very vulnerable to the virus are now dead.  So he is now seeing what is left, people who were less vulnerable to it in the first place

But it is certainly true that viruses evolve and it certainly true that a form of a virus that does not kill its host will itself survive better.  So a non-lethal form could well become dominant

The coronavirus, once an 'aggressive tiger' of a disease, has weakened and become more like a wild cat, according to a top Italian doctor.

Professor Matteo Bassetti said he is convinced the virus is 'changing in severity' and patients are now surviving infections that would have killed them before.

And if the virus's weakening is true, Covid-19 could even disappear without a for a vaccine by becoming so weak it dies out on its own, he claimed.

He has said multiple times in recent months that patients with Covid-19 seem to be faring much better than they were at the start of the epidemic in Italy.

Professor Bassetti suggests this could be because of a genetic mutation in the virus making it less lethal, because of improved treatments, or because people are not getting infected with such large doses because of social distancing.

But other scientists have hit back at the claims in the past and said there is no scientific evidence that the virus has changed at all.

Professor Bassetti, the chief of infectious diseases at San Martino General Hospital in Genoa, Italy, told The Sunday Telegraph the virus could wither away on its own.

He said: 'It was like an aggressive tiger in March and April but now it's like a wild cat. Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up in bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before.'

Italy was one of the worst hit countries in the world during the pandemic's early stages, and has now recorded more than 238,000 positive cases and 34,000 deaths.

Scientists have said the elderly population there, the virus spreading in rural areas and the suddenness of the outbreak contributed to the country's high death toll.

Professor Bassetti suggests that one of the reasons the virus might be causing less serious illness is a genetic mutation which has made it less damaging to people's lungs.

Or, he said, people may simply be receiving smaller amounts when they get infected, because of social distancing and lockdown rules, making them less sick.

This theory depends on the severity of someone's illness being affected by their 'viral load' - the amount of virus that gets into someone's body when they're first struck by it.

Professor Bassetti said: 'The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity.

Viruses are known to change over time because they are subject to random genetic mutations in the same way that all living things are.

These mutations can have various effects and many will only happen briefly and not become a permanent change as newer generations of viruses replace the mutated ones.

However, some of the mutations might turn out to be advantageous to the virus, and get carried forward into future generations.

For example, if a virus becomes less dangerous to its host - that is, it causes fewer symptoms or less death - it may find that it is able to live longer and reproduce more.

As a result, more of these less dangerous viruses are produced and they may go on to spread more effectively than the more dangerous versions, which could be stamped out by medication because more people realise they are ill, for example.

The mutation may then be taken forward in the stronger generations and become the dominant version of the virus.

In an explanation of an scientific study about HIV, the NHS said in 2014: 'The optimal evolutionary strategy for a virus is to be infectious (so it creates more copies of itself) but non-lethal (so its host population doesn’t die out).

'The "poster boy" for successful long-living viruses is, arguably, the family of viruses that cause the common cold, which has existed for thousands of years.' 

'In March and early April the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult to manage illness and they needed oxygen and ventilation, some developed pneumonia.

'Now, in the past four weeks, the picture has completely changed in terms of of patterns.

'There could be a lower viral load in the respiratory tract, probably due to a genetic mutation in the virus which has not yet been demonstrated scientifically.'

But other scientists did not welcome the idea and said there was no evidence to back up Professor Bassetti's claims.

Dr Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, told MailOnline that the idea the virus has disappeared 'seems dubious'.

The epidemiologist warned Italy - which was the centre of Europe's coronavirus crisis in March - was still recording new Covid-19 cases and deaths, showing the virus was still a danger.

At the start of June, in response to Professor Bassetti's claim, Dr Angela Rasmussen, from Columbia University, tweeted: 'There is no evidence that the virus is losing potency anywhere.'

She added less transmission means fewer hospitalisations and deaths - but warned: 'That doesn't mean less virulence.'

The virulence of a virus is how dangerous the illness is but may not directly relate to how contagious it is.

Dr Oscar MacLean, of the University of Glasgow, added: 'These claims are not supported by anything in the scientific literature, and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.



The Purity Paradox: How Tolerance and Intolerance Increase at the Same Time

The explanation below is interesting but I see it as an instance of "Give them an inch and they will take a mile".  Leftists have got a lot of traction and satisfaction out of arguing for more tolerance of various groups.  They have largely succeeded in getting tolerance for homosexuality, for instance.

But now that good targets for tolerance advocacy have all been used up, they are searching further afield for things to be tolerant of.  They have found arguing for tolerance to be a good racket so are not willing to let it go.

So now even the tiniest infractions are seized on to argue that more tolerance is needed.

So people have indeed become superficially more tolerant but the Left  think the tolerance is still not enough.  It never will be to them

So the cries of intolerance are just Leftist propaganda with very little behind it

How can intolerance be increasing when Western democracies are demonstrably more tolerant of historically marginalised identities than at any point in their history? It is, according to Douglas Murray, “a curiosity of the age” that as racial and sexual tolerance “at the very least appears to be better than it ever was, it is presented as though it has never been worse.” This paradox occurs because, as we address and overcome problems of intolerance and discrimination, we also expand the concept of intolerance to stigmatise new attitudes and behaviours. This makes it appear as if we are either making no progress at all or, worse, that we are becoming more intolerant. The upshot is that social problems appear increasingly irresolvable.

It is, of course, counter-intuitive to think of tolerance and intolerance increasing at the same time. Nevertheless, the idea is supported by a Harvard University study of human judgement, led by Professor Daniel Gilbert. In a series of experiments, Gilbert and his team of researchers showed that “people often respond to the decrease in the prevalence of a stimulus by increasing the concept of it.” He termed this phenomenon “prevalence-induced concept change.” In the first experiment, participants were shown 1,000 dots that varied on a continuum from very purple to very blue and then asked to identify the blue dots. After 200 trials, the number of blue dots was decreased for one group of participants but increased for another. In both cases, participants assessed the number of blue dots to be the same—the group with decreasing blue dots expanded their concept of blue to include dots they had previously excluded. This change was not altered by forewarning participants, by sudden decreases in prevalence, or by reversal in the direction of prevalence.

The same effect was noticed when participants were shown 800 human faces on a continuum of threatening to non-threatening—when the prevalence of threatening faces was reduced in one group, participants expanded their concept of threat to include faces which they had previously defined as non-threatening. In a third study, participants were shown 240 proposals for scientific research that were rated on a continuum from very ethical to very unethical. When the prevalence of proposals defined as unethical were decreased for one group, the group expanded their concept of unethical to include proposals they had previously defined as ethical.

The implications of this research should give us pause for thought across a wide range of social and cultural issues, especially when it comes to assessing the prevalence over time of bias against marginalised groups. There is no doubt that discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender, or sexuality continues, the view that it is increasing is likely to be an effect of prevalence-induced concept change. The concept of what constitutes discrimination has expanded, and as marginalised communities have splintered into mutually antagonistic groups, overall hostility and inter-community tension has been exacerbated.

Tests for the detection of “unconscious bias,” such as the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT), have played a significant role in the emergence of this paradox, and the IAT’s methods have been widely adopted. For example, the UK Government established a programme of diversity training to unearth unconscious biases in participants. So, even as people become more tolerant of racial and gender differences they find themselves condemned for intolerance so deeply buried they were not even aware of it themselves. The theory of intersectionality, meanwhile, now widely embraced in Western universities, has generated an ever-expanding “matrix of oppression.” In search of a solution to the resulting tsunami of newly discovered prejudice, the number of oppressors—from white cis-gendered men to “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists”—proliferates, resulting in a feedback loop of exclusion, distrust, and resentment.

As concepts of discrimination and bias expand, the aggressive policing of behaviours increases in an attempt to rid society of all remaining prejudice. At the University of Sheffield in England, students were paid by the university to monitor the language of their fellow students for evidence of “microaggressions” that may unintentionally cause offence to a racial group. This inevitably leads to the needless demonisation of tolerant, liberal students as intolerant unconscious racists. And as the concept of intolerance increases in this way, tolerant behaviours and attitudes struggle to keep up. Like the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass, we have to run faster just to stand still.

The outcome of all this is rampant no-platforming in universities and colleges, necessitated by the assumption that if people can’t be reformed then they must be silenced instead. The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead described the University of Chicago as “the one place I have been that is most like ancient Athens.” He would doubtless have been disappointed to learn that protests derailed plans to invite Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to participate in a debate on campus. Although the event did not take place, the professor who invited him remarked, “whether you like his views or not, he seems to have understood something about America that I’m curious to learn more about.”

Similar culture wars are escalating around gender. British author J.K. Rowling was showered with spiteful invective simply for being “deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.” The Indian feminist Vaishnavi Sundar had the screening of her film pulled because she objected to pre-op transwomen sharing shelters and bathrooms with female survivors of sexual violence. Her sins were compounded by her belief that biological sex is not a social construct. Compare this kind of behaviour to the philosophy of Ira Glasser, a liberal Jew and former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Glasser recently described the banning of speakers with racist views as “the most politically stupid thing I had ever heard.” As head of the ACLU, he had defended the right of neo-Nazis to march through a largely Jewish neighbourhood of Chicago on the grounds that “what happened in Germany didn’t happen because there was a good First Amendment there. It happened because there wasn’t.”

How can we encourage kind and decent people to become ever-more tolerant when they are vilified no matter what they say or do because the concept of intolerance keeps expanding to swallow their good intentions? Our desire for greater equality and inability to acknowledge progress are spinning us into a purity spiral—as new layers of intolerance are uncovered, coercive corrective measures increase in ferocity. Left unchallenged, this takes us to ever-more dangerous places. As Simon Schama explains in his magnificent study of the French Revolution, “the violence that made the Revolution possible in the first place created the brutal distinctions between Patriots and Enemies, Citizens and Aristocrats, within which there could be no human shades of grey.”

Allergy to ambiguity and nuance and to the complexity of human experience makes impossible demands of the individual. This in turn results in rising levels of frustration and recrimination because somebody has to pay the price for failure. “Il faut du sang pour cimenter la révolution” (“There must be blood to cement the revolution”) cried Mme Roland at the height of the French Revolution only to find herself arrested and guillotined a short time later. When justified campaigns for racial justice and gender rights adopt this same approach, they are fuelling the very forces they claim to oppose.

“My ultimate objection to political correctness,” English writer, actor, and comic Stephen Fry has observed, “is not that it combines so much of what I have spent a lifetime loathing and opposing: preachiness (with great respect), piety, self-righteousness, heresy-hunting, denunciation, shaming, assertion without evidence, accusation, inquisition, censoring… My real objection is that I don’t think political correctness works… (It) is always obsessed with how right it is, without thinking of how effective it might be.”

By relentlessly expanding the concept of intolerance, prevalence-induced concept change ensures none of us can ever be good enough—if we pass one test of tolerance, we are sure to fail the next. Meanwhile those who believe they do not have to change, wait—endlessly and in vain—for the world to change around them. The Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin, understood clearly where this cycle takes us. Benjamin, who committed suicide as he fled Nazi persecution, wrote about the Angel of History whose “face is turned toward the past”:

Where we perceive a chain of events, [the angel] sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Benjamin’s logic is poetic and flawless in its illustration of a history of accumulated horror. As we disappear down the rabbit hole of identitarianism, hostile groups magnify existing divisions and manufacture new ones. But as we bask in the warm feeling of being good and right (and every identity group is always good and right), we should be wary of making ever-more exacting demands for tolerance which, by their very nature, can never be satisfied. The only way to “make whole what has been smashed” is to identify a common humanity that can obviate these divisions.

Prevalence-induced concept change seems to be a hardwired human trait, common to us all. Left unchecked, it will sow irresolvable division. If we are to attain a greater measure of social justice, we would do well to look at ourselves first and rescue our shared humanity from whatever sex, race, or culture we believe we belong to. Seeing the “Other” in myself, seeing in ourselves the things we dislike most in others, is a prerequisite to freeing the individual from the prison of the group. It means sacrificing moral purity in order to be effective in tackling intolerance.