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Radicalized Antiracism on Campus—as Seen from the Computer Lab

The campus battle over what I’ve previously called the equity agenda has recently shifted almost completely from a focus on gender to a focus on race. This has been accompanied by a series of surreal spectacles at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I teach. In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests, student activists have made new demands upon the school’s administration, while scathingly denouncing anyone they perceive as dissenters.

Just consider our university president, Ana Mari Cauce—a Latina lesbian whose activist brother was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. One would imagine that she’d command a certain level of respect from even the most puritanical social-justice enthusiast. But there is little evidence of that: Student protestors have marked the campus with slogans such as “Anti Black Ana,” denounced her as a “Poo Poo Pee Pee Head,” and a “white woman” (a term of abuse, obviously).

The background to this is a petition containing seven demands put forward by the university’s Black Student Union, including a call to remove a statue of George Washington that’s been on campus since 1909. Protestors have installed “resistance art” at the base of the statue, painted it red, plastered it with posters, and left messages in chalk. At first, university staff attempted to clean the statue and remove the art, but eventually they just allowed it to accumulate. Very little came of the protest other than informing Cauce that they consider her a traitor for refusing to immediately submit to the petition’s demands.

As at many other institutions in the United States, the public focus of administrators has turned to the idea of antiracism. The highest-ranking diversity officers from our three campuses sent a joint email in late May with the title “Antiracism work is all of our work.” The authors explained that “We are united and unequivocal that antiracism must be at the core of all we do if we are to dismantle the destructive and oppressive effects of white privilege and systemic racism, which is the cornerstone of all U.S. social institutions, including our criminal justice system.” It was unclear whether they were merely pandering to the protestors, or whether this message signaled a serious institutional commitment to substantively overhaul existing policies. Either way, it seemed prudent to educate myself on the topic, and to consider whether I should make changes in my own courses at the university’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.

I began by reading Ibram X. Kendi’s 2019 bestseller, How to Be an Antiracist, since this is the book so many people are talking about, and since my university’s antiracist messaging seems consistent with Kendi’s broad denunciations of American society.

Like most Americans—including me—Kendi wants to eliminate racial inequity. He writes that “Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing.” By way of example, the author notes that “71 percent of White families lived in owner-occupied homes in 2014, compared to 45 percent of Latinx families and 41 percent of Black families.” Even conservatives would concede that these figures represent unequal outcomes.

Kendi mentions that he does not like to use phrases like “systemic racism” because he considers them vague. He prefers to zero in on the set of identifiably racist policies that, as he defines them, “produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.” But he then proceeds to define these terms in a way that indicts pretty much the entirety of American society. By Kendi’s analysis, in fact, I am an unrepentant racist who has perpetuated racial inequity in every policy decision I have made in my career. So is everyone I know. I was hoping to find some middle ground where Kendi and I might meet. But I couldn’t.

* * *

Where racial inequities are concerned, there’s plenty of data for Kendi to consider in the field of computing. The Computing Research Association reports that blacks receiving computer-science PhDs, working in technical roles at prominent companies, and teaching computer science at universities represent less than two percent of personnel in these areas. The data show that the pipeline that produces professional computer scientists is producing very few black computer scientists.

I am most familiar with the portion of this pipeline that involves introductory computer-science courses for undergraduates, sometimes described as CS1 and CS2. I have also been heavily involved in the Advanced Placement exam, known as AP/CS A, which is a College Board CS1 course similar to the one I teach at UW. I pulled data from the College Board to produce the following chart, showing the average score obtained on the AP/CS A exam, broken down according to self-reported racial identity. The exam is scored on a five-point scale, which can be thought of as roughly equivalent to the grades of A, B, C, D, and F. (Anything below three is considered a failing grade.)

During the 23-year period covered by the available data, black students have scored, on average, about a point below whites and Asians. Scores have been going up over time for all groups, but the gap has persisted. In 1997, the gap between black students and the white/Asian average was 1.09. It has since grown to 1.26, as of 2019. All of this is publicly available information.

By Kendi’s definition, AP/CS A is a racist test because it produces unequal outcomes. That makes me a racist because I regularly participate in the annual exam reading. In fact, I was the chief reader when the AP/CS A exam was introduced, which means that I decided how it should be graded and how raw scores should be converted into AP scores.

Is it possible that the course is the problem? I have been teaching a similar course for over 30 years, and have heard a litany of complaints, the most of common which can be paraphrased as follows:

  • The focus on computer programming is too narrow, and will fail to motivate women and underrepresented minorities.
  • Having students work individually on programming problems gives the wrong impression of computer science, and fails to expose students to the high degree of collaboration required in the field.
  • Focusing on just programming does not allow students to explore the broad social implications of computing, including how different communities have been impacted by computers.

You might imagine that a different course, one that addressed these concerns, might help overcome the racial performance gap. But why just imagine? A group of computer-science educators has spent years trying to develop exactly such a course. The result is known as AP Computer Science Principles. In this course, programming is just one of several major topics. Other big ideas include creative development, and studying the impact of computing on society. Students work on projects in groups on topics that interest them.

Unfortunately, the results have been underwhelming. The percentage of black students taking the exam went up, but their average relative performance did not. We have just three years of exam data, but in each of those years, blacks scored, on average, a full point below the average for white and Asian students. In 2019, for instance, the scores averaged 2.3 for black students, 3.26 for white students, and 3.47 for Asian students.

The best minds in our field—and the ones eager to remedy the type of inequities that Kendi identifies—have failed to produce a course and exam that can close the performance gap. So what should we do instead? Both AP CS exams test mastery of programming skills and computer-science concepts. Students who fail to master these concepts will have difficulty creating or analyzing computer software. What is the alternative?

In some circles, there is a taboo against describing this kind of data—even though, as noted above, it is public information. But how can you solve a problem like racial inequality without measuring its effects? Kendi himself would seem to agree with this principle, at least in its broad form, or he would not have cited home-ownership data and similar statistics in his book.

But Kendi also writes that, “the idea of an achievement gap means there is a disparity in academic performance between groups of students; implicit in this idea is that academic achievement as measured by statistical instruments like test scores and dropout rates is the only form of academic ‘achievement.’” In other words, perhaps the black students are just as accomplished as their white and Asian counterparts, but the exam is misfiring as a measurement tool. In this case, the only real alternative would be to abandon testing altogether. And I worry that proponents of antiracist policies will soon be urging administrators to take this step.

Kendi might consider the elimination of tests—or, at least, this kind of test—as a win for black students, because they will no longer be collectively disadvantaged by what he sees as a racist exam. But in fact, we would be harming individual students, by denying them the opportunity to demonstrate their level of mastery. That includes the black students who receive high scores on these exams, and who can go on to pursue educational and professional opportunities on that basis.

On the other side of the country, these ideas are playing out in the debate about how Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia should admit students. TJ, as it is affectionately known, has consistently been ranked the top high school in the nation by US News & World Report. It has the most impressive high-school computer-science program that I know of. I have worked with TJ computer-science faculty for over 30 years. Admission to TJ is highly competitive, and is based mostly on the results of an anonymously scored exam. But as a Quillette author recently discussed, the Fairfax County School Board is proposing to replace the exam with a lottery system, and its justification for doing so is very much in line with Kendi’s argument. The perceived problem, as a recent news article reported, is that TJ’s “student population has remained mostly white and Asian.”

The TJ story is playing out in many other places. A technology magnet school in Seattle switched to a lottery system for admissions four years ago. Hundreds of colleges and universities dropped their SAT/ACT admissions requirement because of COVID-19, and are considering making the change permanent in order to address diversity concerns. Magnet schools in New York City are considering dropping their entrance exams. Several departments at my university are considering dropping the GRE as an admission requirement to graduate programs, under the same rationale.

The result will be that the competence-sorting function that once was the domain of admissions officials will now be kicked down the road to professors, who, in turn, will be pressured to maintain a racially balanced grade curve. Inevitably, employment recruiters will have to take on the sorting role, perhaps by administering the same kind of basic tests that schools are now shunning.

* * *

The University of Washington, like most schools, tracks the performance of student groups as part of its effort to enhance diversity and reduce inequality. And so I could produce detailed performance data broken down by race for our CS1 and CS2 courses. But friends have advised me that I would be censured for doing so. It is a sad commentary on the current state of affairs that publishing data is seen as a provocative act, but I agree with their assessment. Nevertheless, there are a few general trends that I can describe without creating a scandal.

When you spend 30 years teaching the same courses, as I have, you learn a bit about predictors of success. Some students seem to have a natural affinity for computer science, which is obviously an advantage. But I find that how hard you try tends to be at least as important. That is why, particularly in our CS1 course, we build in opportunities to raise one’s grade through increased effort.

Because the pandemic forced us to switch to online teaching in the spring quarter, I was able to track how much time my students spent watching each of the lectures. Lecture-watching was highly correlated with course performance, as the table below attests.

Kendi insists that we look at outcomes. But his reliance on racism as the sole explanation for any disparities in those outcomes allows him to short-circuit the need for argument and proof. Most of us would agree that students who work harder generally get higher grades because the extra effort leads them to greater mastery of the material. And if it could be shown that students from some groups were spending more time, on average, than students from other groups, that would provide an alternative explanation for average differences in group performances. But according to Kendi’s logic, this is all just semantics, since we would be required to assume that the differences in lecture-watching rates are, themselves, an artifact of racism.

The UW Daily, a campus newspaper, weighed in on this issue in a column calling for “decolonizing of STEM departments,” which, they argue, “need to be less white and male.” The author called me out by name: “Reges is a perfect example of my concerns that STEM departments fail to properly educate students on diversity and identity when voices like Reges’ are components of them.” I gather that he thinks that, as a white man, I will fail to attract non-white students; and he is concerned that I don’t spend time discussing issues of identity related to computing.

Many of the critics who offer this kind of criticism seem far more interested in broad ideological claims than in the data that might serve to support—or refute—their arguments. The author is correct that we do see differences across racial groups on campus. The overall student population at UW is about four percent black, and black students represented about three percent of the students who enrolled in our CS1 course over the last year. But here’s an important detail: We didn’t turn away any black students. None. We had a policy of open enrollment. It’s one of those few contests in which resources are basically unlimited, and outcomes are determined by individual choices.

Should university officials make choices for our students? Should we force more black students to take the course—even though they don’t want to? Or should we prevent non-blacks from taking the class, in order to ensure a desired arithmetic balance? (One paradox here is that the Black Student Union petition demands, among other things, an enhanced profile for African Studies. If acted upon, this demand would likely serve to disproportionately draw more talented black students away from STEM, and thereby exacerbate the problem we’re supposed to be solving.)

Or perhaps we should follow the suggestion from the above-quoted UW Daily editorial, and modify the course so as to include more issues related to identity, ideally in a way that, over time, would attract a more diverse mix of students. But if so, we would need to address the biggest discrepancy, which happens to involve white students. They made up about 34 percent of the most recent freshmen class, but represented only about 21 percent of the students who enrolled in the CS1 course over the last year. Should we redesign the course to be more attractive to whites? What kind of content would that involve?

Clearly, when you give students the option to choose their area of focus, you’ll see different outcomes for different groups. As I wrote in my Quillette essay on why women tend to code less than men, “one should never attribute to oppression that which is adequately explained by free choice.” The groups that are most overrepresented in my department are Asian students (33 percent) and international students (35 percent), who mostly come from China. It’s not clear how this result can be attributed to white supremacy.

* * *

In university discussions, one increasingly hears the subject of race discussed in revolutionary, and even religious tones—with ideologues demanding that their peers declare themselves to be on the right side of history. I got a firsthand look at this in the spring of 2019, when I found myself surrounded by a mob of students while attending an “affirmative action bake sale” sponsored by the UW College Republicans. The crowd burst into laughter when I said that I don’t see rampant racism on campus.

But the fact is, I don’t. The University of Washington is one of the most progressive institutions on the planet. And while my opinions will be dismissed by some because of my white skin, I have seen almost no real racism in the 16 years during which I’ve served on admissions committees, attended faculty hiring meetings, trained and managed an army of TAs, and served on bodies that assign awards and scholarships. The few overtly racist incidents I have witnessed mostly involved discrimination in favor of women and minority students, even when it violated a Washington State law forbidding such preferential treatment. But none of this evidence is taken as persuasive—or even admissible—by those who see American society hopelessly contaminated by white racist hate.

Kendi weaves his life story into every chapter of his book, and he ends with a discussion of his personal battle with cancer. He draws the analogy that racism is a cancer destroying America. He says that he can’t tell them apart any longer, and he refuses to even try. It’s a perfect metaphor for an author seeking to create a sense of urgency, since cancer is not something that can be ignored. It typically requires drastic intervention. Those who ignore the call are trapped in denial, and will be held responsible for society’s descent into racist apocalypse.

But from what I have seen, racism is more like a chronic illness that never quite goes away, but which one can seek to manage—much like the illness I’ve had for over 30 years. Cancer patients typically are laser focused on their illness, and are willing to undergo extreme treatment, because the alternative is often death. Those who live with chronic illness, on the other hand, learn to focus on other aspects of life whenever possible. Kendi demands an end to racism in America, and he wants it now. He certainly deserves it, but the reality is that we can’t give him that. No country can. And so talking about it in the language of life-or-death apocalypse isn’t realistic or helpful.

Like cancer sufferers, those of us who live with chronic illness are familiar with a sense of being cheated. Kendi and I have that in common, I think. Why is this happening to me? How is that fair? It isn’t fair, but dwelling on that doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to learn how to live the best life available to you within those constraints.

Other black authors, including Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Glenn Loury, Wilfred Reilly, John McWhorter, and Coleman Hughes, present a more traditional and hopeful narrative. They have not given up on Martin Luther King’s pursuit of a colorblind meritocracy, one in which his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. They acknowledge that racism still exists in America, but they believe we have made significant progress, and that it is no longer a dominant factor in determining outcomes.

As I worked on this article I found myself jotting down notes in double-column form, to understand some of the differences between these two grand narratives—Kendi’s and King’s. Someone might be able to find a dialectical synthesis of these two narratives, but it eludes me. As far as I can tell, there is no middle ground to be found. The new antiracists see their mission as an existential struggle that requires revolutionary action and all-or-nothing moral judgments. (“We should eliminate the term ‘not racist’ from the human vocabulary,” Kendi argues. “We are either being racist or antiracist. Is that clear for you? There’s no such thing as ‘not racist.’”) Civil-rights traditionalists, on the other hand, recognize that the fight against racism must be accompanied by strategies aimed at tackling other problems, including crime, failing schools, family issues, and negative community influences.

On my own campus, meanwhile, I’m paying attention to the fate of the George Washington statue because I believe it helps indicate which side is winning. If one believes Kendi’s cancer-themed narrative, then it makes sense to obliterate the statue—much as one would cut out a cancerous tumor. But according to a more traditional view, the University of Washington community can find ways to get along, even under the shadow of a long-dead historical figure.

President Cauce has promised to form a task force to consider the university’s relationship to its namesake. For my own part, however, I’ve set my course. I will continue to use objective measures of student mastery, and will continue to encourage students to make their own choices, even if it leads to unequal outcomes on some diversity dean’s spreadsheet. And I am willing to discuss race with anyone on campus who wants to—though I warn that, as part of such a discussion, I will advance the proposition that maybe, just maybe, not everything around us has to do with the color of our skin.

 

 

Stuart Reges is a teaching professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Find out more about him at stuartreges.com. He can be contacted at sreges@gmail.com.

Featured image: June 6th, 2020 BLM protest in Seattle. 

Comments

  1. @quillette
    For my own part, however, I’ve set my course. I will continue to use objective measures of student mastery, and will continue to encourage students to make their own choices, even if it leads to unequal outcomes on some diversity dean’s spreadsheet.

    Consider voting Republican this year, too.

  2. What this comes down to, I think, is how much can we really expect politics and government to do.

    Politics is about division. Can we improve black performance in tech with division? I doubt it.

    Government is about force. Can we improve black performance in tech with force? I doubt it.

    Yet, of course, all the Good Little Boy and Good Little Girl activists – who are merely practicing what they have been carefully taught, to hate and to fear – fervently believe in politics and government as a saving faith.

    I say that the Activism Culture is play-acting politics and revolution, like the courtiers of the Middle Ages loved the medieval romances of noble knights and their quest for the Holy Grail.

    (Hey, if you are into that, buy tickets to Parsifal. Oh no! But Wagner was a proto-Nazi!)

    One fine day, we will recognize that we can do very little to improve the world with politics and government. But that day is not today.

  3. Great article, thanks for writing it! It covers a lot of the topics we have been discussing in QC for the last few months: Race-based policies, the decay of the education system, honest discourse.
    Having been in electronics and IT my entire career, I can really identify with the concerns Stuart raises here. When speaking about a first-year programming course he says one of the chief complaints he gets is:

    Having students work individually on programming problems gives the wrong impression of computer science, and fails to expose students to the high degree of collaboration required in the field.

    While I agree that working together in groups is a somewhat important skill to develop, it shouldn’t be introduced until 3rd and 4th year.

    Here is how groups college programming and software classes go; assume a group of four:

    • (1) person that is talented, understands the material, pays attention in class, reads up on methods.
    • (1) person that really wants to learn but is struggling to really comprehend some of the more advanced material, shows up to class and tries hard.
    • (2) people that are going to do nothing, learn nothing, not show up or contribute at all.

    This is how every group project I worked on went in college. Sometimes I was person #1 and sometimes I was person #2. But I know at least half of the students in our classes couldn’t pass a test on their own merit. Most colleges are moving to the project-based group-work model for most of their computer science curriculum. This is because it looks really really bad to fail half (at least) of your students, especially when they are black or hispanic. The board of trustees seem to get upset when you fail their paychecks out too…

    Once you can master the basics of programming and computer science through your first two or three years, let people work in groups. You really do need to know about using GitHub and other collaboration tools and also working in frameworks like Agile and SCRUM. But that is some senior year shit, not freshman year shit.

  4. I know it’s simple, but maybe, just maybe, voting the Dems down in a big way would send a clear message to pull back toward the center…

  5. Man, this rings so true for my experience in undergrad computer science. A shocking high % of graduates were technically not proficient with a lot of core programming tasks.

    This is the first I have heard that group work is preferred to keep the pass rates high.

    The optimist in me thinks that learning via classmate is a real thing, and project-based work uses this.

    The cynic in me thinks that some professors were not great teachers and the group work let them avoid accountability for improving their curriculum. The cynic in me also thinks that project-based work dramatically dropped the grading burden for professors.

    It seems like coding bootcamps have a real chance at un-seating computer science undergraduate programs.

  6. The problem for young students is that it is far easier to deal with comforting falsehoods, than it is to absorb unpalatable truths- or formulate a strategy which might help ameliorate attainment gaps earlier in the pipeline. There’s some pretty good evidence that a fundamentally better run K-12 system, which emphasises knowledge over skills, teaches phonics, uses strict low-level discipline and ensures that only those parents who become actively involved in their child’s education gain access to the best schools and peer groups could close achievement gaps by up to half.

    And this is before we look at the mixture of benighted negative social factors which influence poor, high crime neighbourhoods and start educating kids on the impacts their poor choices will have on their future lives and the future prospects of their own children. It doesn’t need to necessarily be condemnatory. Just tell teenagers that if you have a child young without a partner there is an overwhelming chance that they themselves will stay poor for the rest of their lives, and over a 50% chance that their child will stay in the bottom 20% of the income spectrum for the entirety of their life.

    With a school system which is congenitally incapable of absorbing the latest cognitive science about how we learn, unable to provide the types of nurturing for talent which have been proven to work and a political class that is unable to have a conversation with their constituencies about what the citizen needs to do to help, it is little wonder that highly demanding courses are finding that certain socio-economic classes and groups are fatally underprepared for the syllabus in front of them.

    It’s a study in political cynicism when liberal policy makers and institutions cannot acknowledge the culpability they own for their failed policies and a fundamentally flawed progressive education system. Because the Charter system is a political football, the US should look to the small number of publicly funded free schools in the UK, to see the ways in which they are massively changing outcomes for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. Progress can never happen when white liberals are unwilling to accept their share of the blame, or admit that their ‘creative’ approach to education bears no resemblance to what the cognitive science now tells us about how we learn.

    Working memory is puny. It is only capable of doing relatively simple sums. In order to perform any form of even modestly complex cognitive task, we need vast stores of knowledge held in long term memory. You can’t even gain much value from the internet, unless you know precisely how to phrase your question- and this requires a very specific set of knowledge schema committed to memory, to access anything more than the most trivial and surface level information. No wonder many kids experience Maths trauma and cannot do simple sums in their heads like 19 x 18. They haven’t been given the basic building blocks in memory, or tools, to access a 21st century economy.

  7. I have a feeling it is a lot easier to get an ‘A’ in Grievance Studies than it is in Computer Programing.

  8. This is a core part of the problem it shouldn’t be. Bismark said " Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best" in other words compromise. This was the historic understanding. Modern politics paticularily US politics does seem to be about division and compromise is abhorred and derided. The result politics without compromise, with issues seen as absolutes, with no respect and understanding of different views, is as we can see disfunctional.The foundational benefit of democracy that unpopular regimes can be removed without violence seems threatened.

    Having said that the paradox of modern anti-racism being overtly racist, like the paradox of modern gender equality campaigners being overtly sexist is a difficult one to compromise about. Perhaps compromise is possible by observing that the outcome severyone wants are most achievable through meritocracy and equality of opportunity rather than seeking to impose equality of outcome which seems to often produce the opposite to what is desired.

  9. In today’s woke culture it is forbidden to discuss the real reasons for the disparity in black white and Asian performance at the university level. When I was in college 45 years ago, there was no such thing as computer anything. But sociology 101 laid out the breakdown of the family, no male role models and a culture that distains education. Many on the left think that 75% of children born out of wedlock is a good modern and hip thing. But it has been proven for well over 45 years that this is a guaranteed road to failure.

  10. @Trotter27
    This has been posted before but it is worth repeating: “ There is the oft-quoted observation of Brookings Institution scholar Ron Haskins that American adults who follow three rules—finish high school; get a full-time job; and wait until at least age 21 to get married and have children—have a 2% chance of being poor and a 75% chance of being a middle-class wage earner.”

  11. This article should be enough to make people cry on so many levels. Where does one start? Unfortunately, we have been drawn down the rabbit hole of trying to make sense of absolutely lunatic claims.

    Here are some of the bottom line claims of CRT and Kendi’s writings and claims:

    • Anything a person of European descent has every build or touched is racist (and irredemably so). There is no point in arguing otherwise. This is an axiomatic truth. [I grew up to think that this sort of statement was racist. And incidentally, based on this form of class-based guilt, where do the Germans as a nation go from here?]
    • Because of the latter axiom and the identity of its founders, the United States is a systemically racist country [benchmarked against which countries that are doing better?]. Any people of colour that have helped build the country into what it is today was either a victim or has internalised white supremacy.
    • You have a claim to victimhood through possession of immutable characteristics. Conversely, prilivege is also based on immutable characteristics rather than wealth or socioeconomic status
    • All victim groups are necessarily noble, whereas whites are evil
    • If you are white (and particularly if you are also male), you cannot have any opinions about anything to do with racism [despite the fact that whites account for 63% of the US population].
    • You do not need any proof or evidence to back up claims of systemic racism. Unequal outcomes is all that you need to make the proof (which of course means that the NBA is systemically racist against whites. Oh sorry, I almost forgot the rule that blacks don’t have any power and therefore are incapable of being racist)
    • We have apparently moved beyond Martin Luther King jr [he is an old dead guy who doesn’t know what he is talking about]
    • Any attemps to upohold universal standards of what it means to be a good human being (e.g. be kind to your neighbour, be polite, work hard, be competent, show up on time etc), is a manifestation of “whiteness” and ends up holding minorities to standards, traits and characteristics that would not otherwise be applicable to such peoples (were it not for internalised White Supremacy) [is this not the explicit bigotry of low expectations?]
    • Lived experience is the only thing that matters (and you cannot try to extrapolate patterns from such lived experience as this would be a form of classification, science and therefore White Supremacy) [isn’t this chaos if this means 7 billion stories that have no common thread?)
    • The (universal?) Enlightenment Values of Science, reason and humanism are racist. This also means that the societies that we have built are racist.

    So here is the question: where do we go from here? Chaos or a revolution?

    We know from the works of the Heterodox Academy tell us that the Academy has gone far left with 60% of professors describing themselves as Far Left, compared to 10% who identify as Conservatives.

    And this far left bent (Marxist bent?) has allowed Critical Theory of all its variants to flourish. And nobody did anything about it, and we are now surprised by the consequences of this progressive indoctrination of new generations of academics and the students?

    If the Left has been incapable of stopping the barbarians within their pen, then isn’t the only possible solution (absent a dissolution inton chaos and subsequent revolution), a political one? Is voting Republican not the last chance of hope at this very exact point in time?

    If you are an academic who believes (and don’t all their careers rely upon?) Enlightenment Values, then it is not clear that a Biden victory will pave the way for this sort of Critical Theory insanity to become the mainstream discourse?

    You don’t need to believe me. Here is Kamala Harris.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9EG0rcU6WA

    I agree with @MorganFoster: Is voting for Donald Trump, for all his flaws, not the last chance of avoiding a descent into chaos, revolution and then suffer the very dangerous consequences of an eventual backlash that could produce a truly fascist leader [as opposed to the devalued “fascist” epithet that is current being thrown around like confetti on the Left]?

    UPDATE: just finished watching the first of the US presidential debates (about 4 hours after writing the above post). The entire thing was a shambles, but why couldn’t trump bring himself to condemn the Proud Boys? (“Please stand back and stand by…”???). Yes Antifa is a threat, but distancing yourself from a far right and violent group does not take away from the fact that Antifa is a threat. Talk about fumbling the ball and missing an opportunity Trump, and talk about voters being put between a rock and a hard place. 1. In the blue corner: Mr Equity and Critical Race Theory; and 2. In the red corner: Mr I don’t know how to distance myself from the un-respectable right. Thank whatever God I am not an American and don’t have to cast the vote. The is the quintessential example of “lesser of evils” .

  12. Currently making my way through Kendi’'s earlier book, Stamped from the Beginning. According to Kendi, the slave-holders were racists (of course), but so were the abolitionists who wanted to end slavery. People who wanted to keep blacks segregated from mainstream society were racists, but so were those that wanted to assimilate blacks into mainstream society. The people that viewed whites as “superior” were racists, but those who regarded blacks as equal to whites were also racist.

    When it comes to Kendi it doesn’t matter what your position is - you’re a racist.

  13. From article:

    Ana Mari Cauce—a Latina lesbian whose activist brother was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. One would imagine that she’d command a certain level of respect from even the most puritanical social-justice enthusiast. But there is little evidence of that: Student protestors have marked the campus with slogans such as “Anti Black Ana,” denounced her as a “Poo Poo Pee Pee Head,” and a “white woman” (a term of abuse, obviously).

    Looked up Cauce and ran across this:

    Apparently four years ago UW activists started a petition to get Yiannopoulos deplatformed/banned from campus.

    Cauce promptly replies to the petition:

    Thanks for letting me know about this. It’s the first I’ve heard of it. We are verifying whether, in fact, this speaker has been invited. I have also asked the Attorney General’s office to look into what legal options we have if he has been invited by a registered student group to speak on campus. There is no question but that this is an individual whose views are offensive. …

    Unsurprisingly, just another progressive who fed the monster, and now it’s come for her. Will she cave to it now, or will she stand up against it? Place your bets.

  14. I would also struggle if asked to compute the sum of 19 x 18. Is the answer 37 or 342?

    Or spelling, for that matter :slight_smile:

    But does he? Viable alternatives are weak at the moment, but change is afoot.

    Because asking him to do so is like inviting Jews to the Nuremberg trials and then demanding that they denounce any unethical greedy business practices by Jews that might have motivated support for the Holocaust. It’s appalling to ask the question, and improper for them to dignify it with a response. The only proper reaction was Trump’s general thrust: To angrily insist on talking about far larger problem. He did it clumsily, as is his tendency, but only dishonest partisans could miss his intent.

    There are no words appropriate for Chris Wallace’s despicable effort at turning the issue of left-wing violence on its head last night.

    Which is precisely where the group-work theory falls apart: Once you’re outside academia, people get to choose their groups. And who’s going to choose the worthless non-contributors?

    Most senior-level software people are hard-core woke. It makes sense - they’re highly privileged and able to devote their mental energy to the firstest of first-world problems. But that means they also share another common characteristic of the far-left: intense hypocrisy. Specifically, a “socialism for thee, but not for me” mentality. They absolutely demand meritocracy for themselves, including superior pay vs any inferior performers. They’re brutal about who they want on their teams - no laggards! When they talk privately about their own work environments, of course race shouldn’t trump merit - it shouldn’t even move the needle! Guy isn’t good at the job? Who cares what color his skin is - he’s out!

    And five minutes later, they’re ranting and raving about some clickbait one of them found containing a statistical representation of the outcome of their own preferences. Damn racist Republicans!

  15. I teach college level programming and computer science. I’m also retired after a career as a (non-academic) programmer. You test software by writing tests, which are computer programs that exercise software. You test students the same way, by having them write software. If a student cannot write a program that compiles and runs the student cannot program. Period.

    I flunk students who cannot write programs. In fact, that’s the ONLY kind of test that I give. And yes, I flunk a disproportionate number of Black students - but only because they cannot write a program that compiles and runs. Yes, it’s a problem, but can you honestly pass a programming student who can’t program?

    As it turns out, the reason is NOT lack of intelligence, but lack of desire. In my view, the Blacks who fall behind fail because they aren’t hungry. (Not that it matters, but very few women are attracted to programming, however the ones that are have a higher success rate — because they are driven individuals.)

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