Monday, June 7, 2004

Merit and race

“Bill Cosby wasn’t talking about affirmative action when he made his remarks late last month, criticizing the failure of some African-Americans to meet standards of decent behavior. But it should surprise no one that those most unhappy with Cosby’s criticism are the people most enamored of preferences based on race and ethnicity. …

“Once upon a time, the Left opposed racial discrimination. It argued that it was unfair to let racial considerations trump qualifications based on merit. The principle of nondiscrimination carried the day in the 1960s, and it was enshrined into law in various statutes. But these statutes have not resulted in proportional representation for some groups, particularly African-Americans, at the upper reaches of our elites. And so now, ironically, it is the Left that pushes racial preferences and denigrates merit. …

“They love multiculturalism. The relativists favor multiculturalism because they don’t believe that one culture can be superior to another. …

“Whatever Cosby’s views on affirmative action, he believes in merit, and that is enough to make many people uncomfortable.”

Roger Clegg, writing on “Standard Complaint,” Thursday in National Review Online at

‘Pent-up desire’

“Cable TV is finally coming out of the closet. On Feb. 17, 2005, MTV Networks will launch LOGO, a basic cable channel with a round-the-clock roster of gay-friendly programming. … LOGO won’t reveal its full lineup until July, but the channel claims to already have more than 40 original programs in development. Aside from trying to profit from the success of homo-heavy shows like Bravo’s ‘Queer Eye’ and Showtime’s ‘The L Word,’ why launch now? ‘It’s like having a baby — there is never a perfect time,’ says MTV Networks prez Judy McGrath. ‘But the gay and lesbian community has had a pent-up desire for its own home base. Everything has finally come together to give them that.’”

Nicholas Fonseca, writing on “Queer Channel,” Friday in Entertainment Weekly

Losing out

“For 30 years, America has been turning out gifted girls — athletes, student leaders, artists and writers, science whizzes. Cheered on by parents, teachers and coaches, they go to college and universities and do brilliantly. Routinely, they head off from graduate and professional schools to demanding positions in business, philanthropy, medicine, the law. They do everything asked of them and more, but unaccountably, as they draw closer to the vocations for which they’ve long been preparing, a cloud gathers over them. By turns hectoring and anxious, a gloomy chorus announces that success will deplete their romantic prospects and cheat them out of the families they want to have. …

“There is plenty of sociology to explain why women falter in their worldly ambitions, often giving them up altogether. … [I]n human development, ambition requires both the drive for mastery and the support of an audience. It’s nice to think that skill and excellence are their own rewards, but we are social creatures who need to be recognized and praised. …

“It’s not that women lack the desire for mastery. The problem is that over time — as girls shift from being prized daughters to adults — the recognition dries up.”

Christine Stansell, writing on “Blindsided Ambition,” June 1 in Slate at

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