Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ivy League Schools and Progressivism

William Deresiewicz critiques the performance of Ivy League colleges in The New Republic.   Herbert Croly, Walter Weyl, and Walter Lippmann founded The New Republic as a cornerstone of the early twentieth century's Progressive movement, and it has long advocated policies that impose hierarchy, expand government, and gut the economy on behalf of economic elites. The policies include the higher education system. Unsurprisingly, Deresiewicz's critique of the higher education system retains Progressive assumptions and ultimately serves to reinforce them.

Progressive policies have included the monopolization of credit by large, money center banks through their banking cartel, the Federal Reserve Bank; the income tax, which inhibits saving that facilitates capital formation among blue collar and lower-income workers; the inheritance tax, which by depriving later generations of capital forces them to seek corporate jobs that depend on the banking cartel; and a wide range of economic regulations that deter entrepreneurship and self-actualization.  Regulation disadvantages entrepreneurial, smaller firms by raising costs per unit and increasing economies of scale.

In the controlled, hierarchical, high-income inequality, militaristic, and centralized American economy that Progressivism has created, higher education plays an important part.  Deresiewicz makes valid criticisms.  At the same time, his criticisms are couched in his assumption that higher education is an independent variable, capable of manipulation, and that the forces that deter broad education are merely limited to universities.

Deresiewicz, who was on the admissions board at Yale and is a leading academic, notes that Ivy League schools manufacture students who have little intellectual curiosity, lack passion about ideas, avoid risk, and have not been taught to think.  Such students are conformist and concerned with fitting into the highest rungs of American society.  The great advances in America's economy have never come from its elite, though. America's elite has always concentrated on banking, law, and power. The great American inventions such as the assembly line, scientific management,  and AC electricity had little do with such elites.

Colleges cannot teach one how to think. They can demand that one thinks; provide material about what to think; and offer models, heuristics, algorithms, and solutions that illustrate thinking processes.  Thinking, though, is a natural reflex that a person must cultivate on his own.  The best thinkers, such as Einstein, Tesla, and Gauss, and the best leaders, such as Jefferson and Lincoln, received minimal schooling, most of which was unrelated to their intellectual achievements.  Wikipedia quotes Des Cartes, who had attended a Jesuit school through his ninth grade:

I entirely abandoned the study of letters. Resolving to seek no knowledge other than that of which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive some profit from it. 

Deresiewicz is surrounded by the hierachical, suppressive cult of Ivy League universities, and his solution to the poor quality of education is to attend universities lower in the cult's assigned hierarchical ranking. It doesn't occur to him that the lower-ranked schools and professors are also cult members.

The solution is not to partake of lower-ranked participants in the same failed cult but to reinvent it.  There is no need for undergraduates to attend research universities, and there is no reason for science, the main achievement of the Progressive university, to be done in undergraduate institutions. It can be better done in research institutes that serve graduate but not undergraduate students, a claim that Robert Maynard Hutchins cogently made 70 years ago.  Too many students attend college, employers place too much emphasis on college attendance, and Americans take college degrees too seriously.   Americans did not make the latter mistake before The New Republic was founded.

As well,  American society can be transformed so that widespread wealth can be accumulated and so that independent thinkers don't need to depend on the corporate hierarchy for which places like Yale and Princeton as well as Minnesota and LA City College,  prepare their students.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It Is Time to End the Critical Ethnic Studies Con Game

Dear Senator Seward:

I urge New York State to eliminate tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support involvement with the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions movement.  Such support is already illegal under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code, which prohibits the use of tax-exempt money for political and ideological purposes.
Recently, a group called the Critical Ethnic Studies Association has issued a statement supporting the BDS movement.  I urge you to eliminate funding and tax exemption to higher education institutions that support faculty involvement with it. That includes the portion of faculty salaries allocated to writing papers and traveling to conferences.  Such expenses are not entitled to tax exemption or public support, and I resent that my tax dollars are being used for these purposes.
A perusal of the website of the Critical Ethnics Studies Association indicates that all it does is political and ideological.  There is no legitimate academic study called critical ethnic studies. Its website, at, indicates that it “aims to develop an approach to scholarship, institution building, and activism animated by the spirit of decolonial, antiracist, and other liberationist movements that enabled the creation of Ethnic Studies and which continues to inform its political and intellectual projects.”
Universities are supposed to engage in scientific and intellectual, but not political projects.   The Critical Ethnic Studies Association is a political advocacy group, and it openly says so.  Although the higher education institutions involved with the Critical Ethnic Studies Association are by law engaging in tax fraud, a separate bill is necessary because the university sector is rife with such fraud—i.e., political advocacy masquerading as legitimate academic study.  The Department of Finance will need guidance as to how to begin to address it.
Among the New York higher education institutions that may engage in political advocacy by paying faculty to participate in the Critical Ethnic Studies Association are Barnard College, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, and SUNY Fredonia. It is time that this con game is ended.

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thoughts on Israel

War is  a terrible thing, and it is terrible that Israel has been involved in conflict for most of its existence. I do not apologize for Jewish self-defense, and I also note that if the Israelis were not careful, the civilian death count would have been much higher in Gaza.   The problem that makes Israel necessary is that the Jews had nowhere to go, hence Israel can only be discussed in its historical context.  Now that it exists, the many who say that it should not exist is proof enough for me that it needs to exist, for those same people are the ones who murdered the Jews.  Do you think that the always large number of Jew haters love Israel?  Where did the followers of Father Coughlin and Henry Ford go?  Many went to Ron Paul. When people shoot rockets at a country, there are many responses possible, but condemning the response but not the rocket firing is evidence enough that the critics are bigots. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why I am a Zionist

Land area Gaza strip: 139 square miles
Population Gaza Strip: 1.8 million
13,000 people per square Gaza mile
 Land area Singapore: 276 square miles
Population Singapore: 5.3 million
19,202 people per square Singapore mile
Chief occupation of Gazans; Hating Jews, shooting rockets at Jews
Chief occupation of Singaporeans: trade, business
GDP per capita Gaza: $6,100
GDP per capita Yemen: $2,250
GDP per capita Singapore: $51,709

I had sent this email to Gerald Celente, who considers himself a courageous hero because he's jumped on the anti-Zionist bandwagon.
Much of the anti-Israel narrative is based on the lie that the Israeli land was stolen from Palestinians.  This link offers an alternative perspective.  The land was a barren hellhole, but the Jews bought it from large Arab landowners.  The anti-Israel narrative also omits half of Israeli Jews’ being Sephardic or Mizrahi, i.e., they come from other Arab countries.  In Arab countries Jews are routinely brutalized. People like Gerald Celente omit that history.  The only remaining Middle East country with Jews is Iran, with about 15,000.  Wikipedia says this:
Thirteen Jews have been executed in Iran since the Islamic revolution, most of them for alleged connections to Israel. Among them, one of the most prominent Jews of Iran in the 1970s, Habib Elghanian who was the head of the Iranian Jewish community was executed by a firing squad by the Islamic government shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 on the charge having had contact with Israel, among others. In May 1998, Jewish businessman Ruhollah Kadkhodah-Zadeh was hanged in prison without a public charge or legal proceeding, apparently for assisting Jews to emigrate.[68] 
Since 1979 about 70-80,000 Jews have left Iran, presumably mostly for Israel.  In the other Arab countries conditions are worse. In Yemen Jews must pay a jizya, a special tax on non-Muslims. I haven’t heard Celente talking about the Yemini jizya; apparently he approves. Almost all Yemini Jews have left for Israel. Did the Yemini Jews steal the Palestinians' land, or did Yemen still the Jews’ land?  The same can be said about the 75,000 Jews who’ve left Iran.  I haven’t heard Celente or his friends comment on them.
Christians and Jews are not allowed to be citizens of Saudi Arabia.  According to Wikipedia
There is virtually no Jewish activity in Saudi Arabia in the beginning of the 21st century. Jewish (as well as Christian and other non-Muslim) religious services are prohibited from being held on Saudi Arabian soil.[12] When American military personnel were stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, permission for small Christian worship services was eventually granted, but Jewish services were only permitted on US warships. Yet, Celente and his friends do not protest American arm sales to Saudi Arabia (from Wikipedia):
On October 20, 2010, U.S. State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history - an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces.
Jews have also fled Syria.  According to Wikipedia, “Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: those who inhabited Syria from early times and the Sephardim who fled to Syria after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492 AD).  There were large communities in Aleppo, Damascus, and Qamishli for centuries. In the early twentieth century a large percentage of Syrian Jews emigrated to the U.S., Central and South America and Israel. Today only a few Jews still live in Syria. The largest Syrian-Jewish community is located in Israel, and is estimated at 80,000.”  Much of this immigration has to do with ill treatment. Again, I haven’t heard  protests about this from Celente or the anti-Semites-masquerading-as-anti-Zionists about this treatment:
The Syrian government passed a number of restrictive laws against the Jewish minority. In 1948, the government banned the sale of Jewish property. In 1953, all Jewish bank accounts were frozen. Jewish property was confiscated, and Jewish homes which had been taken from their owners were used to house Palestinian refugees.[46]
Again, did Syria steal Zionists’ land, or did Zionists steal Palestinians’ land?  My own ancestors came from various places, including the Middle East and Central Asia but predominantly from Europe.  During the postwar period Poles were literally murdering Jews in the street. Hannah Arendt documents this in Eichmann in Jerusalem.  Perhaps out of concern for Celente’s moral opinions the few Jews remaining in Poland should have remained there and been murdered.  Maybe people with morals like that don’t need to be taken seriously.
I too find the warfare and killing of Palestinian children troubling.  At the same time, if someone shot rockets at my home, I don’t think I’d be charitable.  Like Celente, I’ve lived my whole life in a safe environment.