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Venus and Serena's father says...(110 posts)

Venus and Serena's father says...eschelon
May 21, 2003 10:27 AM

Williams also said he will never salute the flag because of racism in America.

"It has no meaning for me," he said.


Although I am not nieve into thinking America is truly out of racism or the world for that matter...racism is never going to go away...and then again if by some frickin miracle it does go away...well...then what are we left to hate?...well, don't fret, there are plenty of other things society can nit pick such as gays, homos, lesbos, muslims, can just go on and can bet there will never be a shortage of reasons to hate your fellow man.

Anyway, I find it highly amusing that a man whose very fortune in money and fame for himself and his daughters found in America and the world at large has such a bitter attitude towards a sporting organization that has been the integral reason for his riches...along with living in a country that statistically rewards and facilitates talented persons to attain success in their respective endeavours. This country isn't perfect...nor is the world...but if you are going to "make it", your chances doing it here are a heck of a lot better here than anywhere Africa? I mean if (he said it, not me) America sucks so bad, and he and his daughters aren't doing anything mediawise to promote racial harmony and diversity and just plain good pr in general instead of just winning tournaments and making money, what else is he and his daughters doing? Why complain about it and not do anything about it? He and his daughters have the money and resources to make a positive difference...what's the hold up?
re: Venus and Serena's father says...Spoiler
May 21, 2003 10:48 AM
Why you got to be haterizing? The women's tennis world will never reach racial harmony until we are able to view these two beautiful black women as sex objects just like Anna.
I'm willing to start the ball rolling.
"Them twins gots some big ol' knockers, DAMN!"
Also.. if a person...ClydeTri
May 21, 2003 10:49 AM
If a person sees race in everything they look at, isnt that person a racist by definition? He, their father, is a world class jerk..notice I didnt say a world class black jerk, because, skin color doesnt enter into just being can be a jerk with any skin color.
He is really ill informed,TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 10:59 AM
His ideas about racism are really interesting. His argument that America is racist include:

1) People say that his daughters have made women's tennis boring.

2) People accuse his daughters of doping.

But the obvious response:

1) People said that Pete Sampras' dominence made men's tennis boring. People say that Armstrong's dominence makes the Tour boring. Dominence, which his daughters obviously possess, makes sport boring, regardless of what color the athlete is.

2) People accuse a lot of white athletes of doping. Mark McGuire, Lance Armstrong, etc. have all been accused of being "too strong."

These are just the rantings of a lunatic who doesn't realize how good he's got it - or he wants to stir things up to make more $$.
give me a breakmohair_chair
May 21, 2003 11:03 AM
First, not all of their fame and fortune came from America. They play tournaments and win lots of money and earn appearence fees all over the world. Are they supposed to salute the flag of every country where they make money?

Second, he is entitled to whatever view he wants to have. He isn't required to salute the flag, or even to look at it. Actually, he can set on fire if he wants to! What do I care what the father of a couple of tennis players thinks?

Third, he and his daughters aren't required to do anything about racism. Like many other Americans (maybe most), they have the right to complain about things and still do nothing about it. But here you are wrong. The Williams sisters are making a positive difference. They do free tennis clinics for kids all around the country. I've seen them do other things too, like charity fashion shows and such.

Who are you to judge anyway? What are YOU doing to make a positive difference?
give me a breakeschelon
May 21, 2003 12:43 PM
YOu ask what am I doing to make a difference? You asked for it buddy...and you are gonna get it!!!!!!!!!!

1. I do my best to get along with everyone, regardless of color or creed...if they want to throw down, I'm ready...old ladies and cripples will receive no shelter!

2. I do not participate in the rampant disease in the culture of America and the world at large: apathy of all things...I take a stand in all matters and have participate in productive dialogue with those who share similar proactive beliefs...speaking one's mind to the audience of others is one of the single most effective means to bring about inspiration and change.

3. I don't contribute to society's problems...i.e. crime

4. on and on...
May 21, 2003 1:17 PM
You don't sound all that different from Mr. Williams to me. He certainly isn't apathetic, he doesn't seem to commit crimes, and as far as we know, he is one hell of a nice guy that everyone wants as a friend. So what's the problem?

If he wants to salute every flag he sees and sing "God Bless America" every night at six o'clock, that's fine. If he wants to turn his back on the flag and be angry at the country because he feels racism is still rampant, that's fine too. I just don't see what the big deal is and why anyone gets worked up about it. No one will remember this guy or anything he says one month from now.
May 21, 2003 1:24 PM
I am in full support of hating your country and the politicians that ruin it...but I find it confusing that someone so well off could feel this way...he's not living in some ghetto somewhere...he is a member of the rich 1% of this "fine" nation. I figure with all that money what is there really to be bitter about? I mean, I figure when you have made it to that level of economic status, you are part of the machine whether you like it or not.
I guess some people just have principles. . .czardonic
May 21, 2003 1:31 PM
. . .that are not a function of their personal station in life. He might not be living in a ghetto, but ghettos are still a reality for many people, a disproportionate number of them black. If he feels that such things are evidence of persistant racism, he has every right to say so.
May 21, 2003 1:40 PM
So if he were a poor man, you wouldn't have a problem with what he was saying or doing? That's what I'm hearing.

I think you are making huge assumptions here. His daughters may be quite rich, but he isn't necessarily so. I think he is their coach, but I don't know how much of their winnings and endorsements they give to him. I seriously doubt he is in the top 1%.
You... "take a stand in all matters..."Kristin
May 22, 2003 12:32 PM
You must be quite tired. If you truly do take a stand on ALL matter, then my hat is off to you. Myself, I just pick 2 or 3 that seem most important to me personally, and then pour my energy into those. (That also gets me off the hook from having to drop change into everyone's bucket.)
sports is the least racist group in AmericaDougSloan
May 21, 2003 1:10 PM
I grew in in small town Missouri, and was always involved in sports. My dad was a football coach, athletic director, and played pro football.

From Day 1, I never even thought of the color of people's skin. My dad's players babysat for us, black and white. Myk friends I had growing up were always my team mate friends, black and white. It was never even an issue. I know one thing for certain, the use of the "n" word would have been far worse than the "f" word in our house. Unthinkable. Absolute equality and respect for everyone was taught.

I think this has been true for America at large, too, at least since Jesse Owens' time. In sports, performance is all that counts. Sure, there have been isolated examples of racism in sports, but I'd say it was the first and foremost arena for equality, desegregation, and respect among races.

I don't understand what the father is saying. It just doesn't make sense, at least without any examples. I have never even heard them described as "black athletes" like former times, which isn't racism, either.

Sounds like a bitter man with no reason to be.

Dubious distinction. (nm)czardonic
May 21, 2003 1:32 PM
I don't understand (i.e. "huh?") (nm)DougSloan
May 21, 2003 1:59 PM
"Least racist group in America" means little.czardonic
May 21, 2003 2:38 PM
My father played football in high school and college in Nebraska in the 60's. The team pictures were fairly integrated, probably more so than the community in general. Nontheless, it was "understood" that Blacks were not smart enough to play quarterback (and many other things). It seems like there are tons of black NFL quarterbacks now, but that is only relative to a few years ago, and the number still doesn't reflect the relative percentage of Blacks in the league. That is not a function of too few blacks wanting to play the position.

If Blacks have made progress towards racial equality in sports, I'd say it has little to do with the wane of racism in our society. It is one of a few areas where they have been allowed opportunities to excel. It is also an area where a vastly White ownership has profitted greatly from Blacks. Most importantly, sports are part of the sphere of physical prowess long granted to Blacks and rooted in racist physiological theory.

So the "least racist group in America" is also one that reflects classic stereotypes of Blacks, "tracks" them towards a narrow sphere of acheivement and facilitates their exploitation. Yippee-skip.
man, you must be the most skeptical person on the planetDougSloan
May 21, 2003 2:50 PM
I've never seen anyone who was so pessimistic. I think if I called you a "great guy" you'd complain that it took me long enough.

I stand by my position, that sports is the number one arena for racial equality in America, and has led the charge for 60 years. This has been true at the highschool and college level, too, where accusations of selfish greed by "white owners" can't legitimately be made. (Besides, who cares? Those "white owners" are paying players millions of dollars to play, so what's the gripe?)

Racist physiological theory? Come on, now. Theory doesn't matter squat when you click that stopwatch in the 40 yard dash. The clock is the clock. That's one thing I enjoy about sports, particularly bike racing, is the objectivity.

That last paragraph is total bs. Sports reflects no stereotypes of blacks, and I'd hardly call paying someone millions of dollars for "playing" exploitation.

Hey now. I didn't dispute your contention.czardonic
May 21, 2003 3:23 PM
Doesn't that count for something?

Your position -- "that sports is the number one arena for racial equality in America, and has led the charge for 60 years" -- may well be right on. My point is: so what? That says nothing about the progress of race relations in our society in general.

If anything, that such a narrow and ultimately shallow pursuit leads the charge towards racial equality is a condemnation of the lack of progress in other fields. Blacks may be marginalized in politics, academia and upper management, but they can always make a living chasing a ball around for the entertainment of others! Some progress.

It sounds like you have a real appreciation of sports and see it as a desirable and respectable pursuit. Fine. But what about blacks who can't dazzle you with their 40 yard dash time? Or what about Blacks who just have other aspirations? Are they supposed to console themselves with the fact that had they been born athletically able and inclined they would have had a better shot at acheiving their dreams?

200 years ago you'd be pointing out that Plantations prized Black labor so much that they'd chase down runaways with blood hounds as evidence that Blacks were valued members of society with ample opportunity for employment.

I contend that the relegation of black ambition towards brute force pursuits reflects a stereotype of Black's supposedly inherent physical prowess. You say it is total bs. What then, is your explanation of the fact that the areas where blacks have seen the greatest increase in opportunity have been in sports and the military, fields where their physical labor is put to good use by predominantly white task-masters?
May 21, 2003 3:49 PM
I accept your restated explanation as somewhat valid. Remember that the initial context *was* sports, or at least I thought so.

I'm not relegating blacks to anything. The sports issue was raised by the intial post, and I was pointing out that sports is the least discriminatory of any endeavors in our society, and did not intend to imply, as you seem to infer, that society is totally devoid of prejudice or that sports is the only place for blacks or any other minority. You are making assumptions that did not originate from me. You may know from my previous postings here that I'm for equality in all areas.

Sports may well be a mere rung on the ladder to true equality for all blacks. The football player makes lots of money, then he sends his kids to law school, etc. The black lawyers then inspire other black kids to do well in school and acheive. I think this fairly reflects reality. Entertainment may be somewhat of the same thing. The intial foothold into success may be the "stereotyped" activity, but then that can lead to the following generations' broader successes. Sound plausible?

I don't buy the "white task-masters" label. Sounds like too convenient a slur. You know darn well there is nothing akin to slavery taking place. Oh, by the way, my first boss as a lawyer was black. It was irrelevant, though, and it was not a defining characteristic for the man.

Recall also that blacks in America comprise only about 16% of the population, last I read. So, chances are even in a perfectly racially balanced society more blacks will be supervised by whites than vice versa. There's no getting around that.

Sports a "narrow and ultimately shallow pursuit"? What are you doing here, anyway?

I wasn't trying to asign any broader implication to your point.czardonic
May 21, 2003 4:11 PM
I was simply opining on the relative significance of the sporting world in American society.

That being said, I do think that sports are a deceptively high profile field that leads many to draw conclusions that are actually based on a narrow subset of society. It's tempting to turn on ESPN or even attend a High School sports event and conclude that for all the racism in American society, at least sports is a bastion of equal opportunity. But what percentage of Blacks are professional athletes? How many players on the average High School Football team? However much money or acceptance these rarified athletes may recieve is irrelevant for the purposes of commenting on society.

That may be the reason why however plausible your theory of economic mobility may be, it has hardly had a significant impact on reality. What percentage of Black lawyers are the children of professional athletes?

"Task-master" wasn't intended to be a slur. It was meant to be a generic term for a leadership position, whether that's QB or CO. Nor am I trying to ignore statistical realities. But until those statistics are reflected at all levels of society, they work against your argument, not for it.

I think that sports are great, and that everyone should participate in them at some level. But I also think that at all but the most elite levels, they barely scratch the surface of human potential and ambition. By the same token, I think that everyone should brush their teeth, but doing it doesn't qualify as a "calling".
that's baloney; military services are far less racist than sportStarliner
May 21, 2003 5:02 PM
Ever hear of the phrase, "white men can't jump"? There is an invisible yet strong undercurrent of racism in basketball here in America which presumes white boys aren't as good as black boys. It's become a stigma that American white boys face, and has become a psychological barrier preventing white American athletes to excel in the sport, while feeding whatever prejudice coaches and recruiters might have. It's no surprise to me that in the NBA the most successful white players today are from other countries, countries which don't have significant numbers of black citizens, therefore lacking any such stigmatization of their non-black population. If by now reading this has made you unconfortable, then just realize that what I'm saying is not judgemental, just observational. It's a subject that evidently nobody wants to touch, which is too bad, for it leads to erroneous beliefs about how wonderfully color-blind sports supposedly is, as evidenced by what Doug put forth.

I'd say military service is about the most color-blind (not gender-blind) segment of American society.
That's <i>one</i> way of parsing the NBA's demographic.czardonic
May 21, 2003 5:22 PM
It is certainly an valid observation to note the predominance of Blacks in the NBA, but to attribute that to a "stigmatization" of non-blacks is certainly a judgement. There is nothing stopping a white-boy with hops from making it big in the NBA, other than the multitude of alternative paths to success.

The flipside of the racist notion that "white men can't jump" (presumably, as high as black men can jump) is the racist notion that black men can jump. What about the ones that can't?

If whites should feel aggreived by the racism that keeps them out of the NBA, should blacks be grateful for their preferential treatment? Some might be interested to know that many blacks want to do other things with their lives, and don't feel compensated for the racism in other spheres of society by the "priviledged" place reserved for them in the sports world.
Black Men Can't SwimStarliner
May 22, 2003 10:35 AM
Just trying to rattle the board's sensitivities to help illustrate a point, which is that stigmas do exist in sport; and they do tend to hold back whatever group is stigmatized from prospering within a particular sport.

To acknowledge a stigma as I did wasn't the classic right/wrong, good/bad judgement that I think you're talking about.

I did however briefly theorize that the "white man" stigma has something to do with low numbers of AMERICAN whites in the NBA, and offered as supporting evidence the recent surge of non-American white stars appearing in the league. Maybe they'll inspire young American white players to hang in there before giving up on the game.

Sports is so full of stigmas, and I couldn't let Doug get away with his fantasy of sport being a racially neutral arena. He talked about football and his dad, but even football players operate with stigmas over their heads, such as the old belief that black players aren't intelligent enough to play QB. When you hear some talking head comment about a "black quarterback" you know that old beliefs still remain.

If there is any big-time sport where race is a minimal factor, I would nominate baseball as the one. It's about as multi-racial, multi-cultural of an American sport as you can hope to find.
that's baloney; military services are far less racist than sportDougSloan
May 21, 2003 7:32 PM
but I *can't* jump! nmDougSloan
May 21, 2003 7:33 PM
Ugh! Why can't people just understand already???Kristin
May 22, 2003 12:58 PM
We have the medical knowledge. Its such a no-brainer. I'd actually love to see some hardy studies done on this. There are definate genetic, physiological differences between the races. Those differences make a certain race prone to excel at one activity and struggle at another. And, as with everything, there are exeptions at both extremes.

I've met few women of African decent who could not sing me under the table...and I've had some training at this. Why? I'll suggest that they have a muscular quality that makes them very limber and quick. Their chords are loose and their voices are free. This allows them to do scales that I can only dream of. This makes intonation easier as well. Me, I poured thousands into training and never got my chords limbered up. This isn't a blanket statement. There are exceptions. But I'm pretty confident that if you put it to a scientific study you'd find that black women overall have a stronger, natural vocal ability than white women. Determining that its physiological is a no brainer.

I hear what you're saying about basketball--and I'm sure the stigma that makes it tough for the "exceptions" to get thier foot in--but if you put it to study, you'd likely find that this is something that Africans excel at more than Anglo's. It just is what it is. Can't we embrace and celebrate our physiological differences without turning it into some race war?
I'd be interested to read the "hard" evidence you refer to.czardonic
May 22, 2003 1:29 PM
At best, one could argue a statistical inclination towards certain traits. But "the races" is a completely bogus basis on which to either condemn or celebrate humanity. There are vastly more disparites among races than there are between them. Africans, for example, range in stature from pygmes to 7 foot tall NBA centers. So do Asians (look at Yao Ming) and caucasians (been to the Netherlands?).

Moreover, as well intentioned as you might be in stipulating to the natural vocal superiority of African Americans, you are nonetheless perpetuating a stereotype that is both unintentionally damaging itself and a justification for intentionally damaging stereotypes. What about those who do not display your presupposed standard? Are they flawed in some way? And if we can say that African Americans are just naturally better at singing, how can we deny that they are naturally inferior in other ways?
differences are not necessarily bad, are they? nmDougSloan
May 22, 2003 3:20 PM
Not at all. Not sure what you are getting at. (nm)czardonic
May 22, 2003 3:35 PM
May 22, 2003 3:43 PM
Let's assume that there is some sort of difference between at least large groups of certain races. For example, I heard one explanation for many blacks doing well in sprinting events was that their thigh bones tend to be longer in proportion to their lower leg, giving quicker leverage (I have no idea whether this is true or not, and take no position on it). Assuming that is true, at least for blacks in greater numbers proportionately than in whites, is that necessarily a bad thing to take note of or even discuss? I don't think so. Of course, only individuals matter; you don't win any races based upon group characteristics, only individual.

At some point, like it or not, statistical analysis of groups can reveal differences, and it doesn't necessarily imply any ill motive or prejudice. (I think this is what Kristin was getting at.)

Discuss for what purposes?czardonic
May 22, 2003 4:17 PM
At the root of what you see as an inevitable examination of race is a pernicious desire to read into race either what is not there or what is for all intents and purposes useless. As you said, it is the individual that matters. It is telling that it ever ocurred to someone to study the physiology of black sprinters when, if the conclusions are true, they must be equally apparent in non-black sprinters. If we are trying to study the mechanics of sprinting, we should be studying sprinters, not blacks.

And that is assuming that these statistical differences are significant, which is why I was curious about the sources alluded too. And even if they are significant, how does the fact that the races are largely relegated to distinct environments play into things? In the end, you are faced with the ultimate fact that racial "distinctions" are a product of the past, not a predictor of the future.

While Kristin's motive may not have been ill, I don't think that you can deny the predjudice.
There was absolutely no prejudice in me regarding this.Kristin
May 23, 2003 6:13 AM
We all have prejudices. If you say you don't, you're simply deceiving yourself. But to call me prejudice by what I said above means you're reading something into my post that simply isn't there. Perhaps this is a sensitive topic for you. But you can't look me in the eye and tell me there are no physiological differences between people of differing races. If you feel you can, please do. I need a good laugh today.
In this too, the Left veers toward totalitarianism.OldEdScott
May 23, 2003 6:27 AM
We're supposed to 'celebrate diversity' but we're NOT supposed to say there are differences. The Left can split an atom with its language and never blink.

Take the word 'color' as descriptive of race. In the old days, in the South, polite and even enlightened people used the term 'colored people' in reference to blacks. By and by, in the endless permutation of what is 'acceptable' to call blacks, 'colored people' fell into sore disfavor as a hideously racist term. (It was replaced by 'black,' a previously hated term, then by African American, a liguistic and social abomination, and I guarantee you something else is down the road ...)

ANYWAY, one term the 'diversity left' loves is 'people of color.' They think it's just peachy. But for the LIFE of me I can't see a bit of difference, no matter how you split the atom, between 'people of color' and 'colored people.'

Sigh. Lefties. You gotta love 'em.
May 23, 2003 6:43 AM
I can't keep up with the euphemisms/PC terms, either. We go through life paranoid of saying the wrong thing. Using terms the minorities themselves use doesn't help, either. My extremely polite kindly great aunt from Tennesee born in 1900, who moved to Columbia, Missouri, in the 30's, always used the term "colored folks." It got a little touchy when her very modest neighborhood become largely black in the 70's, and she would sit on the front porch swing and talk very loudly, as elderly people can, about what the "colored folks" across the street did the night before. I'd cringe, yet knowing she had not the slightest prejudiced bone in her body. I know this because she was the neighborhood Mother Theresa, always helping everyone out no matter what they needed. It was funny, though.

I know we've discussed this before, but why is it that minorities, those "different," or disadvantaged (handicapped, immigrants, gay, etc.)are frequently concerned about terminology, yet others aren't (about themselves)?

It's becuase...jesse1
May 23, 2003 8:01 AM
...the NAACP, the ACLU, and plenty of liberal politicians need to justify their existance by bringing up "crusades" to rally support, and they know it's easy to convince others that they're being slandered based upon how they are referred to.
That is a herring of red color.czardonic
May 23, 2003 10:23 AM
I agree that political correctness has gone to far. Any term can take on the hue of an epithet in the mouth of a hateful person.

But many of the "differences" that you claim have become taboo among the totalitarian left have no basis in race at all.
You Red baitin' me, czar? Hell, Ah bin Red-baitedOldEdScott
May 23, 2003 10:31 AM
by better'n you! ;-)
Far be it from me! : Þ (nm)czardonic
May 23, 2003 10:41 AM
Are you a person of no-color Ed?Sintesi
May 24, 2003 1:49 AM
People of no-color. Give "people of color" the flip test and bammo absurdity exposed. That's a Stanley Crouch technique and I believe the reason he his one of the few commentators that continues to use the word "negro" today.
It seems like <i>you</i> are deceiving yourself.czardonic
May 23, 2003 10:15 AM
You flat out admit that we all have prejudices (which is true) and then deny an obvious example of your own prejudice.

There are indeed physiological differences. Skin pigmentation. Name any other trait that is absolutely exclusive to a specific race, if you please.
in all fairnessDougSloan
May 23, 2003 10:23 AM
I don't think the discussion centered on "absolute exclusivity". We are discussing significant differences, not absolutes. Plus, all the differences discussed were in no way disparaging.

Even your absolute example probably doesn't hold up. I know some "white" people who have skin darker than some "black" people.

Well then there you go.czardonic
May 23, 2003 10:29 AM
How can a difference that is not exclusive to race be attributed to race?

I realize that there is no intent to disparage. But result does not always reflect intent.
they are called "traits"DougSloan
May 23, 2003 10:52 AM
Groups sometimes have traits. That makes it more likely to occur in that group compared to other groups. We speak in terms of statistical significance. People rarely speak in terms of absolute exclusivity, because there is always the exception.

Men are taller, heavier, and stronger than women. True? Of course it is true in a statistical sense. Absolutely? Of course not. Same thing. Interestingly, it is women who routinely note this, not men, as support for separate women's sports teams. Is that wrong?

But are they related to skin color?czardonic
May 23, 2003 11:14 AM
At issue is what further conclusions we can draw about people's physiology based on the color of their skin.

You seem to believe that race is a physiological distinction and that skin color is simply the most outward evidence of it. This is not true. It is no more valid a predictor of other "traits" than eye color.

Gender is a completely seperate issue resulting from vastly more profound genetic differences.
just an exampleDougSloan
May 23, 2003 12:51 PM
I was using the gender difference as an undeniable example, a common point of reference upon which we can agree; the point being, it is ok to talk about differences among groups.

I never took a position that there are proven differences between races, similar to the gender differences I mentioned. Recall that I said that "assuming" there are proven significant differences, is it wrong to discuss them. Whether are not there are, in fact, differences, is an empirical and statistical analysis, not philosophical or political.

Any difference is fair game for discussion. (nm)czardonic
May 23, 2003 1:11 PM
that's coolDougSloan
May 23, 2003 1:53 PM
I was under the impression that it was not fair game to discuss potential differences between races, that the mere mention of the possibilty labeled one a racist. If we can't have the intellectual discussion of whether, in fact, differences exist without fear of being called prejudiced or racist, then we don't get anywhere. I think that is precisely the point some of us have been trying to make.

But I maintain that the "differences" either do not exist. . .czardonic
May 23, 2003 2:21 PM
. . .or are unrelated to skin color. As such, a natural consequence of discussing them is the furtherance of a falsehood on which much evil is based.
I don't want to lock horns with you.Kristin
May 23, 2003 11:03 AM
I'm feeling a little threatened because you are accusing me being cruel. Prejudism is rarely anything but mean and cruel--at least by my definition. You said that you believed I was not being ill intiontioned; however, the tone of your posts makes me feel as if that is exactly what you believe. You have misquoted me twice in your assertion that I am prejudiced against others.

Have I been prejudiced? Yes. Amd I still? I'm sure that I am. It is something we all contend with. Was I being prejudiced when I wrote that post? In my heart I know that I was not. I simply observed the fact that some ethnic groups have a higher probablility of possessing certain traits than others. Perhaps I was clumbsy with my words; but I see nothing damaging in the remarks I made. I am not about the business of injuring people. Quite the opposite in fact.

I think perhaps, that you have a valid point on your mind. However, I find it difficult to receive what you say when you are making accusations towards me.
I'm not sure where I misquoted you, but. . .czardonic
May 23, 2003 11:40 AM
. . .the contradictions in your second paragraph are pretty profound.

I think it is cruel to kill ants, but if you stepped on a trail of them I would not condemn you as a cruel person. If I pointed out that you were crushing them and you said that you didn't mean to and were thus excused from watching your step in the future, that would be a different story.

I am not accusing you of being intentionally cruel. I am trying to make you aware of an unintentional cruelty out of hope that you will recognize and avoid it in the future.

As much as it may seem harmless or even complementary to you to attribute certain traits to certain races, you are robbing them of their individuality and diminishing whatever volition may have been responsible for their accomplishments. To say that black women are naturally good singers is to say that their talents are a result of genetics rather than hard work.

Take another oft cited "positive" predjudice about Asians and their natural intelligence or studiousness. That diminishes the hard work and dedication that is actually responsible for the accomplishments of those Asians who are sucessfull at study, and depricates those who are not.

If you want to talk ethnic groups, then that is a whole different ball of wax. Then you are talking volitional associations. To say that African American women tend to be good singers because the culture of that ethnic group cultivates singing ability is one thing. But to draw a correlation between ethnicity and race based on a coincidence (most participants in what we consider to be "African American culture" are black) is another.
I completely disagree with you.Kristin
May 23, 2003 1:53 PM
"As much as it may seem harmless or even complementary to you to attribute certain traits to certain races, you are robbing them of their individuality and diminishing whatever volition may have been responsible for their accomplishments."

First of all just because certain groups of people--a race of people, if you will--tend toward certain physical characteristics, it doesn't not diminish individuality. As a matter of fact, the existence of racial differences on the planet allows for even greater individuality than would be if there were no racial distinctions.

"To say that black women are naturally good singers is to say that their talents are a result of genetics rather than hard work.

This is such a ridiculous argument it almost doesn't merit response. First of all, I did not say that black woman are naturally good singers. (Here is one of those examples where you have misheard and misquoted me.) I said that women of African decent tend towards having a strong natural singing ability. My statment does NOT imply that:

- All black women sing well
- Black women don't need to train vocally
- Black woman are the only naturally talented vocalists on planet earth
- All black women are stronger singers than women of other ancestry
- There are no black women with poor vocal structure
- There are no other women with good vocal structure

Natural singing ability has EVERYTHING to do with physiology. The size and shape of your vocal chords, the shape of your pharynx, the flexibility of muslcles like the Cricothyreoidei's and Aryoenoideus, and the size and shape of the nasal cavities all play an integral role in a persons tonal quality, range and intonation. Further more the size of the lung cavity and flexibility of the diaphram play a role vocal ability too. Some of these things can be altered through training, others can not. In other words, everyone has a limit that is determined by there physiology.

BEING OF A CERTAIN ANCESTRY PRE-DESPOSES (not gaurentees) YOU TO BEING A STRONG SINGER. In other words, you have better odds if you are of certain origins. Nothing more.

think it is cruel to kill ants, but if you stepped on a trail of them I would not condemn you as a cruel person. If I pointed out that you were crushing them and you said that you didn't mean to and were thus excused from watching your step in the future, that would be a different story.

You hit the nail on the head! "You think..." Well you do not determine my morality for me. I will determine those things for myself. In this case, I completely disagree with you on every point and you have not persuaded me to change my mind.
I'm going to hell for sure...DougSloan
May 23, 2003 1:56 PM
...if it's cruel to kill ants. I've probably wiped out millions at my house. Just call me Saddam The Ant Killer.

What is the basis of your assumption?czardonic
May 23, 2003 2:17 PM
Unless your assumption about pre-disposition is based on something besides your necessarily narrow personal experience, I'm really curious about your attatchement to it. (And I'm not picking on you here. In a world of 6 billion people, everyone's personal experience is necessarily narrow.)

What I am trying to tell you is that whatever traits may contribute to singing prowess are not related to race. Contrary to your implication, black women who sing well do not sing well because they are black. Whatever genetic traits may contribute to their abilities are coincidental to skin color, not correlative.

Of course morality can a personal thing. If your morality permits prejudice and stereotyping, then I guess your concience is clean. (Might be picking on you here just a bit here.)
May 23, 2003 2:23 PM
You seem to associate "inaccuracy" with prejudice or racism when it deals with race. Even if someone is incorrect with respect to an issue that deals with race, such as a common trait, that is a far cry from necessarily being prejudiced or racist. Kristin may or may not be incorrect -- that's a biology question, not a political one. You seem to assume that she must be wrong, and appear to further assume that her "wrongness" is associated with prejudice. You *could* be wrong on both counts; we are wasting our time arguing the biology question, though, unless someone has some proof one way or the other.

Your assumption is that there is some biological basis here. . .czardonic
May 23, 2003 2:41 PM
. . .and I would like to know what that basis is.

Her position, right or wrong is prejudice. Malign intent is another issue, and I didn't suggest any on her part.
At the risk of getting nuke-flamed, I think you guys aresn69
May 23, 2003 2:22 PM
locked in a clumsey dance around a sub-set of the issue that seems to be eluding both of you. Namely this: race does not define physical traits insofar as "race" is a blanket descriptive used to lump broader categories into easy-to-categorize pieces. When we say black or white, we make broad generalizations about two enormous groups that, in and of themselves, have tremendous physical diversity within themselves. (...As do any of our other so-called races.)

For example, "white" or "caucasian" generally refers to those of European anscestery. But are they all the same? Hardly. The prototypical set of genetic traits inherent in a Irishman are not going to be found in a Russian, and Italian, etc. Yet all are white. Thus, we can easily (I hope) recognize the subtle limitations and misleading (intentional or not) character traits we assign people solely on the basis of broadly defined races.

Ethiopians don't look a helluva lot like Ghanans. How about Nigerians or Eritreans? Better yet, how about Micronesians? By superficial standards, one could claim that they look black. Are they?

I'll answer that. No, they're not. "Black" and all of the distastefull/reprehensible euphimisms used in the past were manifestations of European slave trade. The Euros and later the Colonists simply labeled anyone brought from Africa in the belly of some horrid slave ship "black," "colored," "Negroid," etc. Yet, it's important to note that the term African American (which I use frequently) is every bit as misleading and as much of a misrepresentation as those other terms.

Likewise, it's a fair deduction that to grant certain physical attributes as a function of ethnic genetics is equally mir-representative. Blacks are not natural athelets any more than "Asians" are all short and slightly built (ever met a North Korean or Mongolian?!). Rather, there might be some ethnic sub-sets from certain regions who share specific traits that are passed along genetically until the bloodlines become so diluted that the traits lose individual distinctiveness.

In "my people," for example, Tay Sachs disease is a prevalent genetic malfunction, although to say it's a Jewish disease is as misleading as saying blacks are naturally gifted athletes. Here's why. Not all Jews share the same genetic distinctiveness because we come from diverse regions of SW Asia and Europe. I'm predominantly Baltic and Austrian--we don't have Tay Sachs. Jews from the Iberian penninsula, however, tend towards the disease. A Jew, it would seem, is not necessary a Jew any more than all blacks are alike or are any of our other convenient labels.

That said, there is a larger moral issue here. One must be profoundly careful when using blanket trait statements applied to race definitions. Perhaps this is why Czar is so sensitive to the issue. Race hatred is often founded in and supported by misleading characterizations of "races." Hitler, Stalin, the White Aryan Nation, Milosevich, even the US in WW2--all used claimed genetic stigmata to define the races they didn't like.

Thus, it's a hard issue to discuss and it's incumbent upon the people discussing it to ensure that they don't somehow, directly/indirectly/intentionally/unintentionally, belittle or demean the people of whom they are talking about.

So, where have I gone with this, yet another of my incoherently nonsensical rants? Simply this. Beware of race labels, for they are labels only in the broadest of senses--arbitrary words that do not necessarily accurately reflect all of the characteristics, differences, diversity issues, cultural standards or behavioral traits of the people so labelled.

FWIW, I'm guilty to. We all are at some point. I think it's a human flaw. I've spent the last decade getting in trouble on government forms for always checking "other" in the race block and writing in "human." I think I'll keep doing that.
sn69 to the rescue. (nm)czardonic
May 23, 2003 2:30 PM
I agreeDougSloan
May 23, 2003 2:56 PM
I agree it's a sensitive issue. All I have been saying is that it does not make someone a racist to merely dicuss the possibility of a difference.

For example, some of us may have read that blacks are more likely to suffer from sickle cell anemia than whites ( reference ). True? All I know is what I've read. However, if it is, then potentially blacks have a valid concern to be tested for it, at least more so that whites. This could be a valid diagnostic issue for doctors, too. Now, am I racist for dicussing this? From what Czar has been stating, or at least implying, I would be.

Here's why you might be.czardonic
May 23, 2003 3:23 PM
African-American is not a race. African is not a race. When you are talking race you are talking aesthetic judgement based on skin pigmentation. If sickle cell anemia is a "racial" issue, it would be a problem for Austrailian Aboriginies too. They are similar in color to Africans, but the similarities pretty much end there and there is no mention of them in your reference.

Your assumption that traits that are tied to genes that are coincidental to skin color could suggest a desire to read into race what is not there. This is dangerous not only because it justifies the exploration (purely for academic purposes, I'm sure) of much more insidious lines of "reasoning". It also substitutes racial conjecture for actual causation (Malaria, in the case of Sickle Cell), or even impedes its discovery.

Thus, however "okay" you may be with the races just being different in certain traits, you are perpetuating a dangerous and specious myth.
don't take it from me, thenDougSloan
May 23, 2003 4:39 PM
Roland B. Scott, 93, a Washington pediatrician who founded Howard University's Center for Sickle Cell Disease and received international acclaim for researching the painful genetic blood disorder that predominantly affects blacks, died Dec. 10 at Washington Adventist Hospital. He had congestive heart failure.

This one is beyond question. That's just one example of references to "blacks" suffering from sickle cell, and that's coming from a black person.

Now, we can quibble about what "race" means, and if "black" means the same as "African descent," but I think we're splitting some mighty fine hairs.

This is not a "dangerous and specious myth". This one is hard core fact, accepted by the medical profession, including the blacks in the medical profession.

My point is this. . .czardonic
May 23, 2003 4:55 PM
. . .that "race" has no basis in anything other than skin color. (Everyone is of African descent, so obviously that is not a valid definition of black.)

Sickle cell anemia is believed to be connected to malaria resistance, and thus effects people who are descended from high malaria zones. It is not a genetic trait that is connected to the gene that determines skin color. If malaria mosquitos preffered cold climates, the trait that protects against malaria but causes sickle cell would likely have flourished someplace other than Africa.

IOW, just because sickle cell predominantly affects blacks does not tie it genetically to blacks. Prison sentences disproportionately affect blacks too.
man you are hard-headedDougSloan
May 23, 2003 7:43 PM
>IOW, just because sickle cell predominantly affects blacks does not tie it genetically to blacks.

Did you read this? -- "genetic blood disorder that predominantly affects blacks"?

Whatever the cause initially, it is a genetic condition. It's a scientific accepted fact, no if's, and's, or but's about it. Grant this one example; it may be the only one in existence, but it is real, and it has nothing to do with racism or prejudice.

Not the only one...Matno
May 24, 2003 7:42 AM
There are plenty of genetic diseases linked directly to race. Cystic Fibrosis, Thalassemia, etc. If you looked, you could probably find hundreds or even thousands of them. If you want to find small populations that have unusual concentrations of genetic disorders, try Ashkenazi Jews and Pima Indians. They've got loads of them.

Once again though, there's a distinction that needs to be made: Blacks do not get sickle cell anemia BECAUSE they are black. They get it because it's a trait that exists predominantly among blacks. The color of their skin does not cause the blood disorder, but their genetics (the real root of differences between races) both causes the blood disorder and determines their skin color. Thus, I think it's accurate to say that there are genetic differences.

Interestingly, many of these differences originated from the "founder effect." With Cystic Fibrosis and whites (who have a high prevalence of it), the CF actually helped people survive cholera epidemics thus leaving a higher concentration of CF genes in the remaining population. Same goes for Sickle Cell trait. Sickled blood cells lessen the effects of malaria (which happens to be a common thing in Africa) thus, more Africans have SC anemia. So obviously, while race was not the cause of such genetic differences, they are now inseparably linked.
<i>That's</i> what I was trying to say.czardonic
May 27, 2003 12:12 PM
    Blacks do not get sickle cell anemia BECAUSE they are black.

Exactly. Just because it is a genetic condition does not mean that it is tied to the same gene as that which determines skin color.

Are there genetic differences between people with different skin colors? Obviously. But there are likely as many differences between two "black" people as between one of those "black" people and a "white" person. Given that, the notion of race is nonesense from a genetic standpoint. It holds that two or three superficial similarities superscede a litany of possible differences.
I have done nothing wrongKristin
May 23, 2003 3:59 PM
What you have said in your post is true. Its an example of selective breeding--to grossly over-simplyfy things. We all understand how this works and it works with people too. No one is selectively breeding on purpose; but most everyone does it. We marry within our culture. I will probably marry a guy of European decent and he will likely have fair skin and be from a quiet family. That's just the culture I'm comfortable with. My kids will have red hair--that's a 90% genetic probablility based on my ancestry. So there is a subset of people with certain traits. Where is the evil in discussing those traits? And where do you draw the line with that logic? Is it wrong then, to wonder what makes one singer better than another? Should we shun any attempt to study the vocal mechanism to understand better what makes one person's voice sound this way, and another's that? And is it wrong to study what physiology makes a good marathoner? Do we run in fear of the fact that someones ambitions might be hurt when we discover some physiological trait that garantee's sucess? And what if, along the way, we discover that a certain subset of people birth a high percentage of babies with that physiology? Have we sinned?

Perhaps the difference is religious. I believe the biblical account of the tower of Babbel--or however it's spelled. And believing, as I do, that all people started from the same 2 ancestors and there were no "races" of people on the earth until God separated the people by language so that they could no longer communicate. Its a simple and innocent conclusion for me to determine that the differences between the various groups--both physical and anthropological--are a result of that event. It is not threatening for me to think about these things because I don't see anyone as good or bad as a result. That was not the reason for the division. And each person is a unique and beautiful creature both unique within their ethnicity and because of it.
I'm not trying to suggest or infer that you did, K.sn69
May 23, 2003 4:08 PM
I think your last sentence said it best. Differences are what make us so interesting, biblical, genetic, cultural, POLITICAL or otherwise.

PS--I dig the chimp.
Sure you would.Matno
May 23, 2003 11:53 AM
Hard evidence hasn't convinced you of anything as far as the discussions on this board go...

Perhaps if we paid more attention to more regional classifications (i.e. not all Caucasians are the same) it would make more sense to compare "races." Does anyone want to argue that they are not "inferior" to a certain Kenyan tribe when it comes to running marathons? I know I am. Genetically inferior. The last time I was in Kenya it was explained to me that the structure of their knees is slightly different somehow. There is nothing inherently degrading about saying that a particular race is somehow superior with regard to one particular characteristic. What IS degrading is to say that a race is inferior in all aspects, which nobody is saying here. (I would also argue that it is incredibly degrading for someone to be offended by what someone else thinks. Complaining about being a "victim" is even worse. Only problem is that people in such situations usually do not realize they are degrading themselves).

While basketball certainly has an aspect of height to it, I think what previous comments were getting at is that Africans, IN GENERAL, have a higher proportion of the kind of muscle fiber that gives them speed and "hops." If that were not true, there would be far fewer blacks in the NBA (based on their percentage of the population).

Of course, based on the average intelligence of NBA players you could also argue that most of them got good at basketball because it was their only way out of the ghetto. Since more blacks than whites live in ghettos in this country, the answer is clear. I don't buy this argument though, because there are plenty of middle class white guys who play ball just as much and want to go pro just as much as those in the ghetto.
Well, with you, the source is always suspect.czardonic
May 23, 2003 12:22 PM
But that is a function of you implausible CV and my natural skepticism. Not necessarily your fault.

The last I heard, Kenyan tribesman did not constitute a race. So however inferior either of us might be when it comes to running marathons has nothing to do with race. Anytime you rob someone of something specific to them or their more immediate ancestry and attribute it to an accident of skin color, you degrade them.

Supposing your theory about muscle fiber among blacks in the NBA is true. How does the peculiar history of American blacks play into it? We are talking about descendents of individuals specifically selected for physical labor. Do these traits play out among more recent African immigrants?

I doubt many middle class white guys grow up viewing professional sports as their sole path to upward mobility. They may want to go pro, but do they feel that they have to?
Well, with you, the source is a suspect.... ;^)Matno
May 24, 2003 7:29 AM
Come on, give me some credit here. Every specific reference I've ever made on this board has come with links to published evidence. The only exception was one time when I referenced something I was too lazy to look up from a 13+ year old newspaper, and I provided ample other evidence (i.e. links to gov't databases) that essentially proved the same point. (Which was related to race-differences, if you'll recall).

As for my CV, if you'd like a copy, feel free to email me ( It's not really that exciting.

With regards to the definition of race, I guess it depends on whom you ask. Some might say that there are only 4 or 5 main "races" on the planet, but I'll bet my friends from Vietnam don't consider themselves the same as my friends from Japan any more than people from different tribes in Africa consider themselves to be the same. Sure, there's a closer connection than say, between a white and a black, but you have to go back a long way. (Go back long enough and we're all related). As for running marathons, let me know the next time a non-Kenyan wins the Boston marathon. This year 8 of the top 10 were Kenyan. There's obviously something genetically different. But you're right in saying that it doesn't apply to all "black" people. I'm just saying that it's ridiculous to lump them all into a category like "more recent African immigrants." If you were to say "more recent Sierra Leone immigrants" then it would be accurate to say that they are taller than average. The same would not apply to other countries.

I'm sure that your point about American slave history playing a role is entirely valid. There are changes within races over time for sure. One of my epidemiology professors in college said that the average height of white American settlers at the time of the Revolutionary War was about the same as it is now. (George Washington was 6'4" and wasn't considered unusually tall). Apparently it wasn't until the huge influx of smaller Europeans in the mid 1800's that the average height dropped. (Abraham Lincoln was also 6'4" but was considered to be very tall). It seems to me that in the past, many countries' populations have gotten shorter after large wars. After all the big boys get shipped off to battle. That's just one possibility that may or may not actually be part of the real explanation for some "races" being taller or shorter.

Bottom line is that regardless of whether race actually CAUSES differences, differences do exist between races. You simply cannot separate cultural, social, and physical characteristics from their influence on the people who possess them. There is nothing inherently bad about being different, nor is there anything inherently good about being different, in and of itself. (Although one can be different in good or bad ways, but that's a different discussion...) I think people should celebrate their cultural history by maintaining a degree of being "different" and I agree with you that using skin color to generalize about negative traits (i.e. "most white people are hicks") is degrading. However, simply recognizing that there are some (minor) obvious differences in no way "robs someone of something specific to them," whatever that means.

(Oh, and skin color is not an "accident." It's the result of combining several specific genetic alleles from each parent...) ;^)
Tangental question, Matno.sn69
May 24, 2003 7:33 AM
Are you a geneticist or molecular biologist by chance? You mentioned "CV" and you write with certain ideosynchratic nuances I recognize. The reason I ask is because my bride is a molecular biologist specifializing in gene sequencing/expression. I've been bouncing some of these issues off of her for purely scientific response.
Tangental answer...Matno
May 24, 2003 7:45 AM
I'm a medical student (just finished my second year), but I am currently reviewing biochemistry and genetics for Step 1 of the boards (in 2 weeks). See my response to Doug above (in this same thread) for a semi-medical explanation of some genetic differences.
As I said, not your fault.czardonic
May 27, 2003 1:34 PM
I am certainly not arguing that there are no differences between the "races". They are right there for the naked eye to behold. My argument is simply that many seem to put the cart before the horse when talking about race from a genetic standpoint. Skin color is given a primacy from which all other "traits" are assumed to descend.

As such, whether race causes differences is very much at issue. Kenyan tribesmen evidently have an inherited talent for distance running. Equally evidently, that has nothing to do with their "race", since there are many people with similar outward appearance that do not share this talent. What I mean by "robbing them of something specific to them", I am reffering to the disregard of a unique characteristic in favor of reductive generalization.

There is nothing wrong with recognizing differences. It is the attribution of these differences to unfounded concepts of "race" that I have a problem with.
How about peoples' concept of "scary"?Matno
May 28, 2003 11:04 AM
Remember when Jesse Jackson told the story about how, when walking alone late at night, he was relieved when he realized that the person walking right behind him was white? Race obviously doesn't make people any more dangerous, but here in America, many people seem to THINK that people of color are more "threatening." Obviously that has a little to do with unfamiliarity and probably more than a little to do with perceptions of who commits crime (perpetuated in part by the actual numbers, but probably blown out of proportion by Hollywood). How does that fit into this discussion?
A perfect exampleczardonic
May 29, 2003 12:33 PM
What is the cause of the actual numbers? Race? Or some other factor that is coincidental to race (in this case socio-economic factors)?

I would say that young, urban males from low-income backgrounds are more likely to mug you, and that blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of this group.

Humans, being a visual species, tend to add weight to what they can see when making judgements. Thus, outward appearance is given more relevance than it deserves. (That's my theory anyway.)
May 29, 2003 6:48 PM
No question, it's socio-economic factors, not race itself (with an emphasis on the "socio" part, in my opinion). I really don't think poverty itself "causes" any of the criminal problems we see, but rather, the same social factors (attitudes, morality, substance abuse, etc) that cause the poverty also lead to increased crime rates. If I were poor (okay, I AM poor, but I don't live like I am...) I wouldn't be any more prone to commit crimes than I am now - purely due to my upbringing, which taught me that it's not worth the risk. For someone whose upbringing taught them that they're going to have to struggle for the rest of their life just to make ends meet at minimum wage, the negative consequences of crime are probably far less daunting. Too bad not everyone realizes what they are capable of! (yet...)
Now that you mention it. . .czardonic
May 30, 2003 11:54 AM
. . .we are taking for granted that the poor are more likely to be criminals. How true is this? Are the poor more likely to commit street and property crimes than the wealthy are white collar crimes, tax evasion, etc.? Are the poor more likely to break the traffic laws?

I'd be interested to know.
I think a better reasoning would be...Matno
May 31, 2003 4:10 AM
that drug users are more likely to be poor, and drug users are more likely to commit crimes. It is actually quite shocking what percent of crimes (not necessarily the white collar kind) are committed by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I'd be willing to guess that it approaches 90% for some violent crimes. That's purely a guess, but it was certainly true of the cases in all of my criminal law text books... Directly or indirectly, I think substance abuse is responsible for the vast majority of misery and unhappiness in our society.
Another misconception?czardonic
Jun 2, 2003 10:32 AM
I have always attended very economically diverse schools, public and private, and I have to say that the children of wealthy parents were every bit as likely to use drugs as the poorer kids. I, being from a low-income single parent family, have never used an illegal drug, yet the most frequent drug user in my neighborhood belonged to the highest income, two parent family. So, again, I wonder what the statistis show.

Is it drug use, or the drug trade that is the root of the problem? I'd say that they poor are more likely to be involved in the distribution, since they have less to lose by taking the risk. Thus, if the violence is connected to the trade, the poor are more likely to be involved.
There was a time not-so-very-long-ago when racesn69
May 21, 2003 6:57 PM
was a required briefing item on an officer's or senior enlistedman's record at any given promotion board. The theory behind it was that percentages had to be maintained that equated to supposed societal racial ratios. FWIW, that was a Reagan-era initiative. Sometime after the Tailhook madness settled down and the senior leadership regained their collective sense of moral courage, that briefing item was abandoned. The rationale was that engineering the selection boards to elect percentages for promotion rather than individuals selected on the merit of their performance was asinine and counter-productive to the team.

That said, the military enjoys a far different cultural paradigm from which it was able to base that decision. Unlike civilian society, where socio-economic inequities often dictate one's ability to alter one's station in life, the military can legislate and offer things absent in the civilian sector. First, we can and do legislate behavior. Racism is illegal. That doesn't mean that it's nonexistant, but if one is successfully prosecuted for violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice--whether or not it's racial--one goes to jail. Big rocks into little rocks...military prisons aren't like civilian ones. Second, DOD assesses and individual's entry level skill sets and establishes remediation programs to ensure everyone has the same opportunity to advance. For example, somebody with an identified math or english deficiency is enrolled in a fundamental skills academic series until the deficiency is corrected.

In essense, we have the ability to artificially level the playing field, perhaps as well as it can be done in an imperfect world. Those steps are deliberately engineered into our system, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also due to blunt practicality. We have to be able to develope our people in order to ensure our capability remains robust and second to none. VERY few other militaries do that (Canada, Australia, Brittain, Germany, Israel and Japan are some others).

As for our largely white "ruling class" in the officer ranks, that's still largely a function of the unfortunate discrepancies in college-bound high school graduates. Nation-wide demographics demonstrate that most college graduates are white, and one must have a college degree for most officer programs. Again, that's a different argument relating to socio-economic limitations and the subtleties of indirect institutional bigotry. Nonetheless, the reality is that the vast majority of the officer corps is solidly WASPish.

With that in mind, however, the overwhelming majority of mustang officers (prior enlisted) are from three particular minority groups--African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Phillipino Americans. They tend to gain senior enlisted ranks at paces that eclipse those of white enlistees, and they also have significantly higher percentages who go on to earn commissions as officers.

Are our minority enlisted somehow better than our white enlisted? No; rather, I think the motivations between the groups differ substantially, with a larger percentage of caucasian enlistees doing a single hitch rather than making a career of the military. Within the officer corps, the service academies still retain a certain unspoken air of elitism, particularly Annapolis, West Point and Groton. Still, the vast majority of DOD's officers come from ROTC programs at state schools across the country or from various OCS/AOCS/OCC type programs. The elitism of the academies can't account for that factor.

Interestingly, at last month's Naval Helicopter Association Symposium, the race question was asked of the flag (admiral) panel on the last day. It's a question that is asked every year and usually amounts to "hey Admiral, how come there aren't many _____ admirals?" This year the question was asked by a friend of mine who is the commander of the squadron I came from and who is tracking towa
May 21, 2003 6:58 PM
This year the question was asked by a friend of mine who is the commander of the squadron I came from and who is tracking towards aircraft carrier command. Incidentally he's also black. His point varied from years past, however. Specifically, he wanted to state that he was concerned that within the African American collegiate community, the concept of a military career is not garnering much support. But, he added, it was his opinion that it wasn't due to perceived inequities for minority officers. Rather, Skipper S. said, it was due to the general corporate opportunities that were available to minority college graduates in the civilian sector. His point was that more has to be done to demonstrate the benefits of this career (holy crap...did I just say that with a strait face?!) versus that of a "suit" in order to ensure that future generations of senior officers have equitable percentages of minorities represented.

Like I said, he's a sharp guy. ...And I'm not a lifer.

OK, returning to the concept that enlisted status somehow equates to demeaning physical work, I think that's an unfair characterization of the incredibly technical work our troops do these days. True, we still have grunts with rifles and bo's'uns tending lines on ships, but the vast preponderance of our enlisted ratings and MOSes are technically oriented, and the schooling required to do them easily equals or bests many collegiate curricula.

Racism exists everywhere, and I'm too full of cynicism to believe that we'll ever rid humanity of it. My skin's better than your's/my god can kick your's a@@/I'm rich, you're not/blah, blah, blah. It is, perhaps, our single-most prevalent malfunction (that and this seemingly hell-bent need to self-destruct). If Mr. Williams feels that there's still a lot of it and that he won't say the pledge or whatever due to it, that's his right. But it's his right as an AMERICAN. Not too many other nations would so easily grant that right. Hopefully he's also working to do his small part to solve the problem. It's a burden we all share and a responsibility that rests with all of us. I don't agree with his methodolgy or his response, but I support his right to it, and I can separate the intent of his message from what I view as a foolish way to express himself.
It's a huge white conspiracy run by...Matno
May 22, 2003 7:17 AM
"The Man"...

Come on, didn't anybody see "Undercover Brother"? I find it highly ironic that blacks can make fun of whites in Hollywood, but the opposite is completely unacceptable. I did think the movie was hilarious though. Stupid, but hilarious.
FWIW, which is not much!Jon Billheimer
May 22, 2003 10:50 AM
1. I think Serena and Venus's dad is a complete jerk.

2. I think he's a racist.

3. I think the girls are okay and are doing the best they can given the father that they're saddled with.

4. I think as long as these kinds of issues are raised, quotas are used, and affirmative action programs are flogged that our society is racist. But the racism cuts all sorts of ways and is not just white racism directed toward those of colour. I think there's a hell of a lot of reverse prejudice thrown around and I think liberals are complicit in aiding and abetting this sort of thing through their mistaken notions about correcting historical imbalances. When people are truly judged on merit and not race, gender, or deemed historical inequalities then we will have reached a truly egalitarian state.
point 4..... hear, hear!! <nm>Starliner
May 22, 2003 10:58 AM
I agree...but true racial equality will never ever happen. nmeschelon
May 22, 2003 11:06 AM
You are putting the cart before the horse.czardonic
May 22, 2003 11:41 AM
You seem to be saying that the answer to racism is to implement what MLK Jr. described in terms of judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. But that is the end, not the means.

Merit certainly should be the ultimate arbiter of opportunity and success. But in order for that to happen, everyone would have to start from the same point, with the same resources and the same support. How many among the wealthy are willing to forgo passing on their wealth to their children such that their children start from square one and sink or swim based on their merits? How many would agree to fund all public schools equally, even if it meant that some funds would have to be diverted to from their children's education to schools in low-income minority neighborhoods. I am betting very few.

The problem is that while you demand that minorites write off historical inequalities as water under the bridge, advantaged groups continue to prize the fruits of those imbalances as evidence of their own "merit". They see no conection between an unequal history and their own station, and imagine that since anything they have acheived is purely the result of their merit, anyone with merit can acheive the same.

As long as the advantaged indulge their own predjudiced conceits, minorites and liberals will have no choice to fight fire with fire.
Honest question fer ya, Czar.sn69
May 22, 2003 12:18 PM
I think I obviously tend to agree with your sentiments about the level playing field issue, yet I think I see a more ominous chilling effect in swinging the pendulum hard-over to the other side as well.

Do you personally have a different suggestion? I realize that we aren't but small pawns in the big chess game of the "rich get richer," but how would you propose to solve the inequities without creating further discord or injustice.

Equal access to the means to achieve merit.czardonic
May 22, 2003 1:11 PM
If we take "equality based on merit" seriously in this country, it is time to start putting our money where our mouth is. At present, we pay lip service to merit, but continue to dole out the means to achieve merit based on wealth.

If we hold that fairness requires the right to do with one's money what one wants, then there is no approach to meritocracy that is not "unfair" to someone. It is by this logic that all attempts to level the playing field have been attacked as "reverse-discrimination", "reverse-racism", etc. But I think that reasonable people first realize that life is not always fair and second are able to judge the relative fairness of one approach to other. It may be unfair to require the wealthy to fund the education of the poor. It is also unfair to ask a one student to forgo an opportunity he has proven himself worthy of so that another who has not proven that worth, if only because he has not had the opportunity to do so, can be compensated for his share of unfairness. I think the former is obviously preferable to the latter.

FWIW, I don't see the pendulum as swinging hard over to the other side. If anything it is still on its sluggish way towards the center.
An Unwieldy, Infinite RegressionJon Billheimer
May 22, 2003 1:19 PM
There are two problems in my opinion with trying to correct or compensate for historical inequities. The first is, where does it stop? Do we try to correct for "injustices" going clear back to our cavemen existence? Obviously not. The fact is social, as well as legal, contracts change over time. It is not practical or sensible, in my opinion, to base redress upon a present social contract which was not extant two hundred years ago. So we're on a slippery slope of liberals' choosing here, but a slippery slope nonetheless. Of course, those groups or individuals who can benefit financially or otherwise from such racial politics will milk the situation for all it's worth. A prime example is the horrendous, tangled, and potentially nationally bankrupting state of affairs here in Canada with respect to native land claims.

Second, redressing past inequalities or injustices through quotas creates further injustices and thus perpetuates the problem, albeit in different guises, that it is supposed to cure. To use a Biblical analogy--which admittedly is probably pretty flawed--when the prostitute was being stoned Jesus intervened, then simply told the woman to sin no more. The point being, the way you correct a behaviour is not through a social engineering or juridical process which metes out compensations of various sorts, but simply by CORRECTING THE BEHAVIOUR.

I said two points, but I lie! The social engineering concept assumes that people are incapable of changing or initiating action on their own, provided that legal and institutional barriers have been removed. Obviously this is not true or humanity would not have changed or evolved at all over the millenia. People do have free will and are capable of initiative. It didn't take an affirmative action program, for instance, to produce a Colin Powell. The cream WILL rise to the top.

So to my liberal colleagues who support affirmative action, I respectfully disagree. Maybe I'm not as liberal as y'all thought??:)-
I take it you are fine with the status quo. . .czardonic
May 22, 2003 1:40 PM
. . .bully for you. But you might consider that what is good for you may not be good for those troublesome natives, and that they are no more obligated to care about the state of your nation than you are about theirs.

It also seems that you beleive that among 40 million African Americans, Colin Powell represents the single molecule of cream rich enough to rise to his level. I guess Rice makes that two molecules.

Your biblical analogy assumes that racism is a thing of the past, and that the behavior has been corrected. I respectfully disagree.
I take it you are fine with the status quo. . .Jon Billheimer
May 22, 2003 2:23 PM
No I don't assume that racism is a thing of the past, but I also don't think that quotas will fix it. I think they simply perpetuate racism and inequality, but for different groups. The way you change a behaviour is by changing a behaviour.

Giving back a continent to aboriginals, now that the evil, invading Europeans have created value through their enterprise is, simply put, stupid. Natives are claiming benefits, damages, and compensation that weren't even dreamed of by their forefathers or by the representatives of the crown.
You'd need some kind of thought police.czardonic
May 22, 2003 2:48 PM
I don't think you are considering the practical aspects of the "changing behavior" approach. It could only be acheived by much more draconian measures than quotas.

Racism has proven to be fairly self-perpetuating. Moreover, I see the newly whipped up racism coming from the same groups that exhibited the original racism. How are "different groups" implicated?

If I steal your car and then spend twice it's value modifying it, does that make it mine? From a practical point of view, it would be stupid to restore it to its original state and leave me with all those now useless parts. But what are you gonna do?
Not a good analogyStarliner
May 22, 2003 4:26 PM
Law provides a statute of limitations as a device to limit redress. Whether I'd be alive or dead when my car would be recovered would certainly be important in any judgement.

Whatever came down generations ago cannot be treated in the same fashion as if it were to happen today. It is simply impossible to correct a past mistake; one can only correct a present mistake.
But I'd still be guilty of theft, and punished accordingly. . .czardonic
May 22, 2003 4:41 PM
. . .no matter how inconvenient it would be for me. And should I die and will the stolen property to my children, I don't think they'd be able to argue that because they didn't commit the crime, they should be able to keep it.
Actually, I thought it was an excellent analogy.purplepaul
May 22, 2003 4:43 PM
But you have a valid point too. The problem is, of course, there was no way at the time for the mistakes to be corrected. Now, it strikes me as completely unnatural for a society to dismantle itself out of some sense of ancient unfairness, which is what the situation sounds like in Canada (of course, being American, I'm completely ignorant of the facts). But the US has native Americans who are given extra-legal benefits that make them, in effect, separate countries within the US. At what point do they assimilate? Never? At what point is the past declared dead?

While I'm sure we can all agree that what was done to the Indians was violent and unfair, that's how countries become established. The countries not having these problems have only escaped because they were formed so long ago that it would be laughable to extend this ultra-fairness to them. But they all started by conquering someone.
Who did the aboriginals conquer?czardonic
May 22, 2003 4:53 PM
In Canada, the United States or Australia? I think you are trying to excuse an obvious injustice based on a false moral equivalence.

FWIW, I too think that it is unworkable and unwise to dismantle modern North American civilization. But, I also think that the litigants could be talked down to a workable alternative compensation.
Who knows?purplepaul
May 22, 2003 5:02 PM
In the US, bones that could prove that there were inhabitants before and unrelated to the Indians are not allowed to be tested because they were found on Indian land. So, it's entirely possible that the Indians were invaders too. Until their protected status is revoked, we won't know.

But the Indians of North America had tribes, not a country. I expect it was the same in Australia. Not that it was kind of anyone to kill them and take their land. But, it was just more of the same.
Apparently nobody, so let't not pretend that we do.czardonic
May 22, 2003 5:41 PM
But if anyone alive can prove that they were dispossed of their land by Native Americans, they are just as entitled to be compensated by the Native Americans as Native Americans are entitled to compensation.

I believe that in Tasmania every last native was murdered by invading Europeans. If that is true, then the current occupants are free and clear.

In the United States however, Native Americans survive, and more importantly, treaties between their tribes and the United States survive. To my mind that puts their "tribes" and the territory they occupied on equal footing with our "country".
No, nobody KNOWS, but it's clear the Indians suspect.purplepaul
May 22, 2003 6:03 PM
Otherwise, they'd let the bones be tested. But to suggest that the decendents of the predecessors of the Indians should be entitled to anything is crazy. If they were here and the Indians conquered them, too bad. That's how it was done at the time.

Yes, tribes and treaties survive. But should they be separate but equal with our country, or just a part of it?
May 22, 2003 6:38 PM
Native Americans tend to be pretty sensitive about peoples graves being dug up. I don't think you can reasonably assert some conspiracy on their part. Even if it could be proven that some unrelated group preceded the Native Americans, it could not be proven that the Native Americans took their property by force.

But we do know that the Native Americans preceded Europeans, and that Europeans took the land that Native Americans were occupying by force. That is a wrong that we can establish for a fact, and therefore one that we cannot ignore.

One country can not sign a treaty with a subset of itself. Thus, they are seperate but equal, unless they want to be a part of it and we want to let them. The treaties also preclude us from shrugging our shoulders at the injustice of history. At the very least, we are bound to the terms of those treaties.
We ought to...Matno
May 23, 2003 4:01 AM
...give them the option of complete assimilation or closed borders between our country and their "country." Since the reservations were established by treaties, there's really no reason why we shouldn't treat them the same way we treat, for example, someone swimming across the Rio Grande. It would make no less sense than them charging us to use their land (which they do). The way I see it, they have become (very) small societies that get most of the benefits they want from our society without having to accept the same burdens we do. It's sheer lunacy. (I say "very small societies" because most of them were smart enough to know not to stay on the reservations. If you've ever been on Indian reservations, you know what I'm talking about).

As for not knowing where they came from, I know plenty of people who would argue to the contrary. One thing is for certain: they did not all come from the same place. (Well, okay, ORIGINALLY they did, but you'd have to go almost all the way back to the beginning for that...)
There's a flaw in that logic Matno.sn69
May 23, 2003 5:37 AM
Specifically, the treaties were abandoned time and time again during this country's period of expansion. Take Oklahoma for example, which was set aside as a specific Indian territory to be divided among the nations who were relocated there. The horrors of the Trail of Tears aside, the Oklahoma territoy was quickly reappropriated by the government at the behest of territorial settlers. That proved to be a cycle that was repeated over and over until many tribal nations were left with little more than arid, uninhabital land. ...So they started fighting back, and I can't say I blame them.

Today I find little or no reason to regard the remaining tribes as hypocrites or anything less than what they really are--a proud group of indigenous peoples with an amazing combination of histories and cultures who were brutally raped and still get less than satisfactory treatment by the institution that did this to them. Do I feel they deserve retributive compensation? No--in my muddled, less-than-average mind at least that's a different issue.

I do, however, feel that they rate a certain degree of assistance where it's appropriate. The Mohawks of Connecticut owning and running Foxwoods don't exactly need much, but the Creek, Souix and other tribes of the West have areas that are beset with untold squalor, high infant mortality, unchecked cycles of poverty and collective sentiments of understandable anger and hopelessness. Surely there is something that the richest, most advanced nation in the world can do for its own indigenous inhabitants.

(FWIW, I also personally justify a siginificant seperation between this issue and that of Puerto Rico. I'm all for granting them statehood or independance. Their choice, and I think the tune of Puerto Rican nationalism would change if they suddenly lost the various benefits they are granted as a territory.)

Back to the indian issueS. Their burdens--at least those of many of the Western tribes--are tremendous. We--the United States--are the ones who started the chain of events that lead to this, and we are also the ones who goaded/coherced/forced them onto reservations with vague, duplicitous "assurances" that they would still retain soveriegnty. What a lie that has been.

Again, I don't advocate giving each and every Indian "X" amount of money. Rather, I think there must be ample actions that can be taken to recognize the nobility of these people and to help them without belittling the importance of their culture, history and significance.

On a final, ironic note, have you ever wondered why the PC Thought Police have never gone after the Army for naming most of their heavy weapons systems after the Indian tribes? Well, the truth as explained to me by an Army historian, is that the Indians are still regarded as the most noble of all of the opposition forces that the US Army ever fought. They are a group that the Army holds in high regards and respects immensely with a sad, respectful sense of rememberance. Good...and I sincerely hope that's a poke in the eye to every Kraut.
With the exception of the Army of Northern Virginia, I assume.OldEdScott
May 23, 2003 6:15 AM
Do we need to start debating the War of Northern Agg's'n?sn69
May 23, 2003 6:18 AM
Naw, that's settled. But I DO thinkOldEdScott
May 23, 2003 6:43 AM
the Army of Northern Virgiania was the best fighting force the U.S. Army ever faced. The Wermacht had nothing on them old boys. Although a case could be made for the NVA. They were as almost as deprived, tough, disciplined and fearless as the ANV, and Giap reminds me of Lee in some regards. Still, I'm a jingoist: I say it's the ANV.
I hate affirmative action. It's paternalistic and imperialist.OldEdScott
May 23, 2003 6:10 AM
If I were black I'd have none of it. Affirmatively act on THIS, whitey!
Lesser evils. The only blacks I hear who want none of it. . .czardonic
May 23, 2003 11:51 AM
. . .are ones who could be argued to have ridden it to positions from which they no longer need it. That's not to say that they don't deserve their accomplishments based on their own personal merit and hard work. But affirmative action is about opportunity, not accomplishment. (Or it should be).
May 23, 2003 12:03 PM
It's definitely NOT about accomplishment. Of course, if the accomplishments were there, the opportunities would present themselves. That may be circular logic, but that's the way the world works...

When I was in law school, I went to a Q&A session with Clarence Thomas (who I think is our most intelligent SC justice by a good margin). One of our professors, a Native American, tried to put him on the spot by demanding to know why no Native American had ever clerked for the Supreme Court. (An incredibly naive question, if you ask me). Without hesitating a second, Justice Thomas replied that all clerks are selected on the basis of three criteria: 1) one year experience as a clerk in a federal appellate court, 2) top 10% of their law school class, and 3) positive interview. He then said, he would LOVE to have the first Native American clerk, but since not a single Native American who had ever applied for a clerkship had met the first 2 criteria, it hadn't happened yet. (This was in 2000). That's the way life is, and I fully agree that "opportunities" should be most readily available to those who have prepared themselves the most. What kid in this country doesn't have access to education and a library? With the current emphasis on "diversity" as a virtue in and of itself (not gov't mandated affirmative action, but self-imposed by all academic institutions of which I am aware), people who argue that any one class is "disadvantaged" more than another are only flaunting their own ignorance.
Maybe <i>your</i> world works on circular logic!czardonic
May 23, 2003 12:25 PM
I don't suppose you have a vested interest in the notion that any accomplishment on your part could not have been subtly aided by the denial of opportunity to others.
Funny logic...Matno
May 23, 2003 1:04 PM
That's an odd thing to hear from a "liberal." Generally, people on your end of the political spectrum tend to almost universally overlook the fact that our actions always have effects on others.

I don't deny that whenever I've taken advantage of an opportunity someone else probably didn't get to. That's the way things work, and I don't have a problem with it. There have been far more opportunities that I haven't been able to take advantage of because someone else was more qualified than I was. (Or because I was just too lazy).
But "qualified" is not as straightforward as you imply.czardonic
May 23, 2003 1:20 PM
Obviously, there are almost always more applicants who meet the objective qualifications than can be accomodated. Thus, people judging the applicants must often resort to subjective qualifications. It is when applicants of a certain race are systemetically passed over for subjective reasons rather than objective reasons that the problem arises.

Then, you have the whole issue of access to objective qualifications.
aha! evidence of insidious discrimination in sports!DougSloan
May 23, 2003 8:46 AM,5936,6481173%255E2771,00.html