1997-01-05 - Re: Judge Bork on Ebonics

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From: Rich Graves <rcgraves@disposable.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
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UTC Datetime: 1997-01-05 09:34:53 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 5 Jan 1997 01:34:53 -0800 (PST)

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From: Rich Graves <rcgraves@disposable.com>
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 1997 01:34:53 -0800 (PST)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Judge Bork on Ebonics
In-Reply-To: <v02140b07aef4c3f44fc9@[]>
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Hello, what's this? I thought the Know-Nothing Party disbanded in
the early 1850's.

Steve Schear wrote:
> The following is from pages 300-307 of Robert Bork's brilliant
> book, "Slouching Towards Gomorrah".  This is a book which should
> be read by everyone--and especially by liberals.

I'll pick it out of the library when I'm done with Mein Kampf. I
don't feel inclined to subsidize this ignorant kook with my money.

> The natural centrifugal tendencies of ethnicity were once
> counteracted by a public school system that stressed indoctrinating
> immigrants to be Americans. The schools were agents of cultural
> unification. They taught patriotism and standards derived from
> European cultures.

What do any of those standards have to do with "European cultures"?
Europe, like every other continent (save Antarctica), has a history
of conflict among ideas and groups. Tell me, who embodies "European 
culture" best: Luther, Charlemagne, Pope Gregory XII, Orwell,
Picasso, Nietzsche, Hitler, Churchill, St. Francis of Assisi,
Machiavelli, Marx, Diderot, Luis XIV, Robespierre, Einstein, Paul
de Man? The mark of a bigot is that he reads history selectively to
find "good" values in his own group, and "bad" values in some other
group. In fact "culture" is a fractal landscape. This isn't a
surrender to cultural or moral relativism -- just the opposite. Some
ideas are simply good, some are simply bad, independent of their
origin. This is one of the things that separates rationalists (whom
you may find in any culture) from romantics (whom you may find in
any culture).

> Part of our national lore, and glory, is the fact
> that youngsters speaking not a word of English were placed in
> public schools where only English was used and very shortly were
> proficient in the language.

Immigrants to the US today learn English twice as fast as did
immigrants to the US at the turn of the century. Greater access to
public education, the growth of the mass media, and the end of
child labor (well it's mostly ended) are the most important factors

There is far less regional differentiation in English dialects around
the country today than there was at the turn of the century. Nearly
all well-educated and socially mobile Americans under age 40 speak 
a common "broadcast TV english." Southern and Brooklyn accents are
less pronounced than they were.

> That was crucial to the formation of an
> American identity Now, however, the educational system has
> become the weapon of choice for modern liberals in their project
> of dismantling American culture.

Yup, that's us. It's all a conspiracy to drag America into the

> Our egalitarians view every culture (other than European) as equal. 

Nope. There is no "European culture." Only idiot collectivists of the 
nationalist type group people like this.

> They resent and resist attempts to Americanize immigrants, and the
> crucial battleground is language.

A bald assertion. The straw man grows.

> So many languages are spoken by immigrants that it is impos-
> sible to provide bilingual education for all. That is why bilingual
> education is so often in Spanish, the language most immigrants
> speak. But that fact gives away the real reason for the programs.

Aha! The conspiracy unmasked!

> Vietnamese and Polish children were put into English-speaking
> classes and were competent into English long before the Hispanics
> in bilingual schools.

No evidence for this assertion exists.

> That leaves the partisans of bilingualism only
> the choice of saying that Hispanic children are not as capable as
> others or admitting that they, the educators, are driven by hostility
> to American culture, and the rewards to be had by teachers' unions
> and educational bureaucrats.

No. I choose to call you on the bullshit assertion that Hispanic
children don't learn English. This prejudice is rooted in the small
but visible segment of the Hispanic population that comprises recent
immigrants. It is indubitably true that illegal immigrants doing odd
jobs and domestic work -- the segment of the Hispanic population most
visible to sensitive anglos -- tend not to speak English.
Extrapolations from this population, though, are invalid.

> Often, the bilingualists do not care whether immigrant chil-
> dren learn English. The key to success for the students is "self-
> esteem. . . . Children do badly in school because of their feelings
> of 'shame' at belonging to a minority group rather than the 'domi-
> nant group.' For the children to do better, teachers must "con-
> sciously challenge the power structure both in their classrooms
> and schools and in the society at large." As Richard Bernstein
> writes, "Bilingual education ... is an act of rebellion against white,
> Anglo cultural domination."

Note the only evidence offered by Bork to bolster this straw man
he's building is a similar slew of bald, unsupported assertions by a
friend of his. He might as well be quoting himself.

> And the "animus against assimilation,
> is not an implicit part of the emerging educational philosophy. It is
> explicit, open, out there, a standard belief.

And in support of this rather extremist position, we have:

> 'The psychological cost
> of assimilation has been and continues to be high for many U.S.
> citizens,' declares the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS),
> in Washington, D.C., in its 1992 'Curriculum Guidelines for Mul-
> ticultural Education.' "It too often demands self-denial, self-hatred,
> and rejection of family and ethnic ties." This pathetic whine is
> not insignificant since the NCSS is the country's largest Organiza-
> tion devoted to social studies education.

I see. "Pathetic whine" name-calling in reference to a one-sentence
quote is the best you can do. At least you give a verifiable reference
so that people can see what it really says.

> Public dissatisfaction with the linguistic fracturing of society
> has led to calls for an English-only amendment to the Constitu-
> tion. The frustration is understandable, but there is no need to
> amend the Constitution to achieve an English-speaking nation. All
> that need be done is the abolition of bilingual education and the
> repeal of the Voting Rights Act's requirement of different language
> ballots.

You'd better hurry, too, so that you can disenfranchise people before
they know about it.

> once they begin to see its results. Immigrant parents want their
> children to learn English and become Americans. The opposition
> to that, manifested in bilingual education, comes from American
> elites who form an adversarial culture, alienated from the culture
> of the West and wishing to weaken it.

Who are these "American elites"? Who's in on the conspiracy? What's
in it for them?

> In 1989, the Commissioners Task Force on Minorities in New
> York concluded: "African Americans, Asian Americans, Puerto
> kicans/Latinos, and Native Americans have all been the victims of
> an intellectual and educational oppression that has characterized
> the culture and institutions of the United States and the European
> American world for centuries." All young people were being
> "miseducated" because of a "systematic bias toward European cul-
> ture and its derivatives." Bernstein asks, rhetorically, "Could the
> multicultural animus against 'European culture and its derivatives'
> emerge more clearly than that? Here we have a direct statement
> that the Western culture is harmful to nonwhite children ."

The interesting thing about this attack is that you need to accept
the Task Force's mode of analysis in order to accept Bernstein's
conclusion. What if you don't? What if you say that this "European
culture and its derivatives" thing is bullshit, all we really have is
modern culture, and be done with it? Then Bernstein's statement and
the Task Force's statments are equally nonsensical.

> Despite the evidence and the frankness of its advocates, most
> people, including very astute people, tend to accept the beneficent
> view of multiculturalism put forth by its less candid partisans.

Yes. Only the enlightened Bernstein and Bork can plumb the depths of
the conspiracy. Preach it, brother!

> Thus, one can find diametrically opposed views of the phe-
> nomenon, one put forward, for example, by Richard Bernstein

Rather than "who's wrong, who's right," I'd suggest that there is
more than one phenomenon to be viewed. Bernstein is talking about the
excesses, some real, some imagined, and O'Brien is talking about the
actual goals of the educational mainstream. I'd think that someone
actually in the educational mainstream would be a better guide to its
goals than someone with an ideological need to "expose" the conspiracy
that causes outrages like the ebonics announcement.

> O'Brien, on the other hand, thinks that multiculturalism and
> diversity are "actually both a mask for, and perhaps an unconscious
> mode for achieving, a unity which would be broader-based and to
> that extent stronger. . . . The real agenda is the enlargement of the
> American national elite to include groups of persons who have
> traditionally been excluded from the same, mainly for reasons
> associated with race and gender. What is in view is the enlarge-
> ment and diversification of the composition of the future govern-
> ing class of the United States of America."

Sounds like what I've seen, for the most part. Certainly on the high
end, like Berkeley and Stanford, this is what we're seeing. At the low
end, like those loons in the New York state college, or the Oakland
or rural Tennessee public schools, you'll get a kook or a bigot. Who
the hell wants to be a public schoolteacher these days? If you don't
pay people what they're worth, you're bound to get 1) losers and/or
2) ideologically motivated naive do-gooders. This isn't the fault of
an anti-culture conspiracy; it's simple economics and social 

> I am afraid it is clear that Bernstein has it right and O'Brien
> has it wrong.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but I don't agree.

> Multiculturalism is advertised by its less candid prac-
> titioners as opening students to the perspectives and accomplish-
> ments of groups that have been largely ignored and undervalued
> in conventional curriculums.

"Less candid"? It's always a sign of trouble when you impugn the
motives and honesty of your opponent without providing contrary

> The goal, it is said, is to enrich the
> student's understanding of the world and to teach him respect for
> and tolerance of others who are different. It substitutes an ethic of
> inclusion for the older ethic of exclusion. This is the movement's
> self-portrait, and O'Brien seems to have accepted it at face value.
> If there were truth in that advertising, if that were what the goal
> really is, no one could legitimately object to what is taking place
> in the American educational system.

And so, since it's morally impermissible to say that they really want
an exclusionary system -- he's afraid of being termed a racist -- Bork
needs to create something to which he *can* legitimately object. What's
he gonna create?

> Unfortunately, there appears
> to be very little truth in the pretensions of the multiculturalists.

Ah, just say they "seem" to be lying, and call in a friend.

> Bernstein took a two-year leave of absence from the New York
> Times to gather the facts of the multicultural ideology and its
> opponents. His is not an impressionistic book or one based on an
> ideological predisposition; it is a report of empirical findings.

BWAHAHAHA!!! Anyone familiar with Bernstein knows what a load of crap 
this is. This is simply dishonest.

> He points, for example, to the remarkable change in attitude
> towards Christopher Columbus between 1892 and 1992. Though not a
> single new fact about Columbus's life and exploits had been
> uncovered, the country's mood swung from one of uncritical adu-
> lation to one of loathing and condemnation, at least among the
> members of the "intellectual" class. The change was accomplished
> by the aggressive ideology of multiculturalism.

First, since when has "uncritical adulation" of a complex historical 
figure been objective history? Is this something that Bork and
Bernstein *favor*? Maybe we should have a state religion, too. I bet
that would really get "European culture" going here, like, say, 17th
century England.

For someone supposedly standing up for history, Bork appears to be
rather blase about it. Did nothing happen between 1892 and 1992 than
the actions of partisans of an alleged aggressive ideology of
multiculturalism? Let's see. In 1898 we had the Spanish-American War.
Yellow journalism and jingoism were at their peak. The myth of Columbus 
as American hero then ascendant was not a sign of affinity with
"European culture," but a *rejection* of it. Columbus was stripped of
his European, particularly Spanish, features and represented as an
American adventurer. He was the Santa Claus of the Monroe Doctrine.

Then Buffalo Bill hired Sitting Bull. There was the First World War
and its Lost Generation. Exclusiveness lost its cachet. Hemingway did
not romanticize Columbus. A different kind of exclusiveness grew with
the "America First" isolationist movement, which at times was
blatantly pro-Nazi. Columbus was used and viewed in many different
ways through the years.

Meanwhile, up in the ivory tower, historians worked on the facts. I
defy you to show me one book published by a real historian for a
serious college-level audience that favored "uncritical adulation" of
Columbus. What I believe happened was that the horrors of the two World 
Wars woke people up to the dangers of propaganda myths (on all sides;
the anti-German "Hun" stuff from WWI is really disgusting), and
teachers stopped lying to their pupils. Every real historian always
knew that Columbus was a complex figure.

"Loathing and condemnation" is certainly a tad strong, but Bork and
Bernstein are welcome to their rhetorical excess.

> What it signifies, and what becomes increasingly obvious, is

When someone asserts that something is "obvious" all kinds of warning
bells should go off.

> that multiculturalism is a philosophy of antagonism to America
> and the West.

And you're an ignorant buffoon.

> The hostility of the multiculturalists to this nation
> and its achievements can hardly be overstated.

But we'll do it anyway.

> Lynne Cheney, the
> former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities,
> quotes a professor who is pleased that multiculturalism has the
> "potential for ideologically disuniting the nation" by stressing
> America's faults so that students will not think this country
> deserves their special support.

Well? Does it? What purpose does indoctrinating kids with "uncritical 
adulation" serve? What were the lessons of the First World War? Let
alone the Second.

> That multiculturalism is essentially an attack on America, the
> European-American culture, and the white race, with special

Here the buffoon plays the race card. Who's his audience?

> emphasis on white males, may be seen from the curriculum it
> favors. A curriculum designed to foster understanding of other
> cultures would study those cultures. Multiculturalism does not.
> Courses are not offered on the cultures of China or India or Brazil
> or Nigeria, nor does the curriculum require the study of languages
> without which foreign cultures cannot be fully understood.

This is bunk. The straw man grows.

> Instead the focus is on groups that, allegedly, have been subjected
> to oppression by American and Western civilization--homosexu-
> als, American Indians, blacks, Hispanics, women, and so on. The

"Allegedly"? Indians and blacks might not have had anything bad happen
to them in this country? It's clear that Bork doesn't want people to
know anything about history; just "uncritical adulation" of whoever
he chooses to hold up as a model. Where will Herr Bork take us now?

> message is not that all cultures are to be respected but that Euro-
> pean culture, which created the dominance of white males, is
> uniquely evil.

There is no "European culture," only history. White males created the 
dominance of white males. Some of their *actions* were clearly evil. 
*They* were and are not.

> "First is the elimination from acceptable discourse of any claim
> of superiority or even special status for Europe, or any definition of
> the United States as derived primarily from European civilization.
> "Second is the attack on the very notion of the individual
> and the concomitant paramount status accorded group identifi-
> cation.

This is hilarious. I think Bernstein and Bork are really so blind as
to their own bigotry that they see no conflict between these two
points. If group identification is supposed to be a bad consequence
of multiculturalism, then where do they get off identifying with the
white race and "European culture"? Smash the labels. They're obsolete,
as is "uncritical adulation." That went out with the Divine Right of
Kings. Remember that? That was part of the history of "European
culture." The thousand years of revolution, counterrevolution, science,
progress, retraction, war, disease, and art that followed the Divine
Right of Kings are also part of history.

> "Third is the triumph of the politics of difference over the
> politics of equality, that great and still-visionary goal of the civil
> rights movement. Multiculturalism here is the indictment of one
> group and the exculpation of all the others. . .

Here we elide into paranoid delusions.

> "This obsession with the themes of cultural domination and
> oppression [by whites] justifies one of the most important
> departures from the principal and essential goal of the civil
> rights movement, equality of opportunity. Multiculturalism
> insists on equality of results."

To use a term of probably Indo-European origin, "Bollocks."

> Hence it is that multiculturalists have turned Martin Luther
> King, Jr.'s dream into a nightmare. He asked that his children "not
> be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their
> character," which, as Bernstein says, is the "essential ideal of
> liberalism:' But multiculturalists say, "Judge me by the color of
> my skin for therein lies my identity and my place in the world."

They're projecting again. Sure some nonwhite racists call themselves 
multicultural. Reasonable people see through that. Old bigots who
harken back to a nonexistent "European culture" are just as bad.

> Multiculturalism requires the quotas or affirmative action that
> create group dislike of other groups and self-segregation.

Four unsupported assertions in one sentence. I'm impressed.

> adopted Korean daughter could contribute no non-western per-
> spective to the school she sought to leave because she had been
> brought to this country at the age of five months. No matter; she
> was of the requisite racial group. When the controversy was
> reported in the newspapers, she was allowed to transfer. But the
> episode demonstrates that the multiculturalists are sometimes will-
> ing to force a person into a cultural identity that person does not
> have on the grounds of ancestry alone.

This is not "multiculturalist." This is "racist." See the foreword
to Ronald Takaki's book A Different Mirror for a more accurate view
of how multiculturalists would approach the situation. Drop the 
bullshit strwa man. Similarly, I would also call Bork and Bernstein 
"racist" for trying to foist some silly personal notion of "European 
culture" on me merely because I'm a standard-issue white mongrel. I'm
a modern citizen of the world. I owe no "uncritical adulation" to 

> The quality of education must necessarily decline as students
> turn from substantive subjects to ideologically driven resentments,

Such as "uncritical adulation"?

> in the case of non-whites, or guilt, in the case of whites. Although
> white students are often required to study America's "oppressed"
> subcultures and their allegedly superior qualities, it is regarded as
> racist to require that non-whites study Western culture. That was

No. The contrived notion of "Western culture" is racist, not the notion 
that we should study it. There is world history, which we will study,
and which we know more about than this bigoted buffoon Robert Bork.

> the meaning of the radicals' attack on Stanford's Western Culture
> program in which students were required to sample the writings
> of men who had helped shape Western culture-Shakespeare,
> Dante, Locke, etc. A black student who objected to the program
> said its message was "Nigger, go home." That exclusionary inter-
> pretation is precisely the opposite of the real message of the pro-
> gram, which was "Let us study what we have in common as
> inheritors of a tradition."

Typical BS from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. So now, 
as a result of the "radicals' attack on Stanford's Western Culture 
program," what do Stanford students study? Shakespeare, Dante, Locke, 
etc. Also Equiano and Buddha. We only gain.

What is this "inheritors of a tradition" notion? Who died and left me
Shakespeare, and why?

What do you mean "we," white man?

> The black student's objection follows
> from the perverse teaching of multiculturalism that those who
> have been "traditionally excluded" must now reject inclusion.

There is no such teaching.

> This has the odd effect of damaging all groups. The insistence
> on separate ethnic identities means that persons in each group can
> study their own culture, often in highly flattering and historically
> inaccurate form.

Damn, Bork and Bernstein are projecting *again*. It's not modern
multiculturalist scholarchip that does this, but a bigoted rooting
out of other than "European culture," by which they really mean
whatever parts they find politically convenient at the time. If Locke
is in fashion, "European culture" means Locke. If Hitler is in fashion,
"European culture" means Hitler.

> everywhere. In New York state it is official educational doctrine
> that the United States Constitution was heavily influenced by the
> political arrangements of the Iroquois Confederacy. The official
> promulgation of this idea was not due to any research that dis-
> closed its truth. Nor has any other state adopted this nonsensical
> idea. New York adopted it because the Iroquois mounted an
> intensive lobbying campaign directed at the State Department of
> Education. Far from this being a beneficial borrowing from
> another culture, it was a detrimental forcing of a false notion by
> one culture on another.

BWAHAHAHA!!! I love it when the completely ignorant presume to tell
us about history. Bork even gets current history wrong. The "nonsensical 
idea" that the Iroquois Confederacy influenced the Constitution comes 
from the fucking Federalist Papers and the proceedings of the 
Constitutional Convention. You'll find this "nonsensical idea" in the 
works of such pillars of multiculturalism as James Q. Wilson. As I 
recall, it's even in De Toqueville. I learned about this "nonsensical 
idea" in 5th grade in a conservative private school in conservative San 
Diego, California, more than a decade before this intensive lobbying 

For your information, the Iroquois Confederacy and its political 
constitution were very important in the French and Indian War, in which 
George Washington first distinguished himself. All of the Founders from 
the nortern states would have been familiar with it. Recognition of this 
fact is not an act of politically correct tokenism; it is simply 
objective history. Now, objective history may not have the kindest things 
to say about the autonomy of the Iroquois Confederacy -- they were in 
large part a pawn manipulated in turn by the French, British, and 
Colonials -- but important they were.

Dismissing their importance as a "false notion" without even a nod to
the true history of the period tells far more about Bork's bigotry than
it does about multiculturalism.

> John Leo notes that the decision "shows
> that some school authorities, eager to avoid minority group pres
> sure and rage, are now willing to treat the curriculum as a prize in
> an ethnic spoils system." That it is ideologcally driven by guilt
> and not an attempt to pacify a large bloc of voters is clear from the
> fact that there are only a little more than 38,000 Indians in New
> York state, most of whom probably have no interest in the myth of
> the Iroquois and the Constitution.

It could also be that this "myth" is and has always been known to be 
objective historical truth. Didn't think of that one, did you, Borkie?

> This sort of thing is happening across the country as various

Yeah, yeah. This is getting boring.

> ethnic groups and feminists demand that history be rewritten
> according to their party lines.

When that happens, I flame them. I'll also flame Bork when he tries to
simply *erase* history, seeking instead "uncritical adulation" of
myths he fancies.

> This not only debases history but
> pits the various groups against one another as they struggle for
> space in the textbooks. New York's "interest in history is not as an
> intellectual discipline," Schlesinger writes, "but rather as social and
> psychological therapy whose primary purpose is to raise the self-
> esteem of children from minority groups."

Either this Schlesinger is someone other than the well-known Arthur M. 
Schlesinger, who has written on the importance of the Iroquois 
Confederacy (for example, flip through pages 80-100 of *The Almanac of 
American History*, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed.), or Bork is being 
a little misleading in his quoting here.

> Those who have traditionally been excluded because of race
> or gender are not helped by multiculturalists who teach them that
> European culture and standards are the cause of their difficulties
> and may be jettisoned, that history has no content aside from its
> ideological usefulness, that there are different ways of knowing,
> that linear thinking is a white male stratagem to oppress those
> who are not white or male, that standard English is no better than
> a variety of dialects such as "black English." To the extent the tra-
> ditionally excluded believe any of this, they are additionally handi-
> capped in life, and further excluded. To the extent they are taught
> that self-esteem comes before achievement and leads to achieve-
> ment, they are lied to and held back.

Since this extent is zero, I see no problem.

Thanks for posting this. Beats a poke in the eye.