- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bogus bias

“Recently the president of Harvard, Lawrence H. Summers, inadvertently provided further evidence of the opposition to free inquiry that currently governs our institutions of higher learning. Invited to speculate off the record on the ‘underrepresentation’ of women in science, Mr. Summers threw out some hypotheses, including one about innate differentials in aptitude between men and women, that may account for the phenomenon. At this point in his remarks, a female MIT professor of science quit the room, declaring to the press that she couldn’t breathe because ‘this kind of bias makes me physically ill.’

” ‘What better proof than she of Summers’s thesis?’ quipped a friend of mine — and, indeed, what better evidence of underprofessionalism than a scientist who becomes nauseated at the mere hint of a theory that differs from hers? … Her claim of ‘bias’ was intended not simply to discredit the male who had asked whether there may be substantive differences between men and women, but to define the permissible terms of discussion.”

Ruth R. Wisse, writing on “Gender Fender-Bender,” last Friday in the Wall Street Journal

‘Normal American’

“When President Bush included Iran in his Axis of Evil group, I don’t believe he was talking about Iran. He was talking about the bunch of mercenaries into whose hands our country has fallen. …

“If I am typecast, I understand that it is society’s demand. If society demands Middle Easterners in films, I don’t mind being a part of that. At the same time, my identity is not solely Iranian.

“We worked hard from scratch to be a normal American family. We have a 16-year-old daughter named Tara Jane, after ‘Gone With the Wind’ and Jane Austen. …

“As an immigrant, I appreciate every inch I have gained.

“When I first became a citizen, I was dying to vote. … I got to the polling place at 6 a.m. to be certain I could exercise my right, because I was deprived of that right for so long.”

Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, interviewed by Bart Mills Jan. 23 in the Boston Herald

‘A new low’

“Even as American Indians were being exterminated or put in reservations, representations of them in the culture became sentimental. As the issue of race and its connection to poverty in America continues to vanish from political discourse, cultural representations of blacks have become reverential, sentimental, and condescending. … And now comes Ken Burns’s four-hour-long documentary about the life of the great black heavyweight boxer, Jack Johnson, a film that brings Caucasian condescension to a new low. …

“Jack Johnson was — outside the ring — a violent and arrogant bully, a misogynist, a wife-beater, a predator of prostitutes and helpless women, all of whom were white. … He spent the huge sums of money he earned on expensive cars, booze, and lavish orgies, and not a penny on any cause other than himself. …

“[Mr. Burns’ PBS documentary] ‘Unforgivable Blackness’ wants to tell us that part of the reason white people despised Johnson was that he was so open about his many relationships with white women. … Johnson preyed on prostitutes, usually three or four at a time, and in full public view, as he led his louche entourage from hotel, to cafe, to expensive home, to hotel.

“It’s doubtful that any boxer, black or white, would have escaped public outrage if he had, like Johnson, done everything he could to outrage the public.”

Lee Siegel, writing on “Low Blow,” Monday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.org

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