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April 28, 2008

Comments

I do hope the media does not DECIDE this election as it has the past two. We cannot afford another four years. I will be frank. Many Americans want to be spoon fed. They take the soundbites the media specializes in to justify unjustified votes. Obama seen in context and, indeed, his pastor Reverend Wright, seen in context encourage confidence and faith in a better future.

Re: The University of Chicago, Dr. Bruce Lahn, and Galileo

Dr. Lahn is a genetics professor at the University of Chicago who identified two brain genes that evolved differently on different continents; ASPM and microcephalin.

One of these genes mutated in northern regions around the time of the hieroglyphs. The second mutation occurred around the time of the rise of cities. Dr. Lahn patented a genetic test for intelligence whereby employers could measure prospective employees. As his work progressed, the University of Chicago leadership withdrew the patent. Their explanation was that the University of Chicago wanted nothing to do with eugenics. Dr. Lahn began studying other subjects.

The University of Chicago’s motto is “crescat scientia; vita excolatur”, which is translated "Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched." In reality, the University of Chicago leadership is more closely aligned with the Catholic Church of the 1500s.

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/10/10-questions-for-bruce-lahn_10.php

I didn't see the speech, but "right-brained learning style" sounds to me like a neurological, and probably a genetic, proposition. Also like a stupid idea.

I wonder how black parents feel about the notion that their kids, for any reason, are just naturally inept at logical reasoning.

Wright is not showing a lot of brain of any kind just now. I am beginning to think Obama was entirely too kind to him in his speech last month.

trilobite: I took "learning style" to mean not what you're good at learning, but how you tend to learn: what sorts of things, done in a classroom, help you to figure stuff out. As a kid, I was fascinated by taking stuff apart, but very shy. Giving me stuff to take apart and figure out: a good way to teach me. Putting me in a group to learn stuff together: not so good. I'm not sure this has to be neurological at all.

This is even clearer when you consider styles like: putting someone alone with a book. That would have been great for me: I learned to read early, mostly because I realized that if I did, I wouldn't have to wait for someone else to read to me, but could get to all the stories as soon as I wanted to. (In my case, it might have had something to do with aptitude, but I think impatience was much stronger. I wanted to know what happened, and I wanted to know now!!!) Much less good for someone whose parents didn't read to her, and/or who was more patient, and better with deferred gratification, than I was.

By the time I and that hypothetical other kid got to school, we could have developed radically different learning styles, without neurology having much to do with it at all.

Well, it just goes to show you that Men Are From Mars and Malkin is from the van down by the river.

I read the comments at several sites where the poster was entirely appreciative of Wright's point and they displayed either a great number of Republican trolls or a vast group of people unable to grasp Wright's central point, which was "just because black churches are different doesn't mean they're bad and from the perspectives of blacks, or people in different regions of the country, their American peers may sound or act different and that's cool, too."

Political opponents, as we know, will seize upon specific points to challenge where they feel there's hay to be made. And ignorant people will use similar methods to justify their unease or their racism. One commenter said he was creating hatred because he was 'so angry' in his NAACP speech, when in fact, he was lighthearted and tossing off comic lines throughout. Talk about the lens through which people filter!

I suspect Wright feels obliged to defend himself and Black churches generally. And I think he also is trying to show the MSM that he's about as threatening as a teddy bear, so they'll provide a better filter.

But by staying in the public eye this way, he'll force others to speak up. Other ministers. Other politicians. If they only provide crickets, it will reflect badly on the silent and could convince superdelegates that he's toxic enough to destroy Obama's chances.

If party unity's going to happen, some folks are going to to have to risk talking about Wright. Silence could injure more than Obama; it could shred the Democratic party permanently, I suspect.

Goodness gracious, troglodyte. "Right brained" and "left brained" are very old terms about preferences and learning styles. We went over them in sixth grade. No one was stigmatized for being Lower Left rather than Lower Right. And people vary, even among siblings.

If you want to complain that Wright's statements are an overgeneralization about culture, go ahead. (How this would affect the presidential race is beyond me). But the idea that it's a biological theory, or a neurological one, is just plain bizarre.

That said, as noted above, I didn't care for the speech, except for the jokes. I always thought Obama was right to say that the problem with Wright's view of the world was that it was "static"; a speech mostly about how we're figuring out that "different does not mean deficient" seemed to me to illustrate that perfectly. That might have been a startling thought sometime in the 60s and 70s. Not so much now.

Plus, the academic in me thinks: all the research he cited was decades old. I have no problem with people not citing research at all; but if you do cite research, you need to know things like: has it been superceded? Have its results held up? If I had to guess, I'd bet that Wright isn't up enough on that stuff to be doing this.

Elvis: I will assume that "troglodyte" was a typo. If not, read the posting rules. Thanks.

It's pretty normal for people to get stuck with the state of the art as it existed when they were trained and not to keep up with the times. That's why paradigm shifts usually require generational changes, rather than changes of opinions. It's common enough among academics, and presumably even more common among people who aren't paid to continue their research.

Malkin twisting someone's words? You don't say. Did we get to hear about Wright's countertops yet?

I don't think I'm going to fault Wright if he's not up on the latest neuroscience terminology - he is a preacher, not a scientist. He is talking about cultural differences - how minorities often have problems in learning because the whole education framework is geared to the majority culture. Nothing new to readers here, I'm sure, but I'm also sure there are school districts around this country where this is a radical notion.

I'm not in the habit of defending preachers, being an atheist and all, but the concern trolling that Rev. Wright should just go hide doesn't sit well with me. He is his own man, and obviously one of the good guys, an eminent person in his field, who has been mercilessly smeared for weeks in the national media. If he hasn't the right to speak out on his own behalf, I don't know who does. Let him speak and let the chips fall where they may.

Have Hilzoy and Publius been kidnapped and replaced by Kevin Drum? Is whole lefty internet turning into TPM and Political Animal?

"Right-brained" and "left-brained" have NEVER re3ferred to neurology, as far as I recall. It has more to do with preference and aptitude, and even then, was horribly over-generalized (not all language or artistic skills are on one side of the brain, nor are all mechanical skills on the other). Wright is using language that I, at least, understand from its vernacular usage.

If his research is from the 60s, he's got at least a 20 year jump on the Republicans!

It's almost as though they were trying to make him sound strange and scary...

Durrr... no shit.

Seriously, they'll take everything out of context given the opportunity. John Kerry visited France, so he's unpatriot. Al Gore invented the Internet and was the inspiration of Love Boat. Now Reverend Wright has delusions of neurological grandeur. We know this because right-wing smear jokes have said it is so.

:-p Remember when wingnuts used to barricade their doors and done their tin-foil hates to protect themselves from the liberal media? Where did they shop for that shit, anyway?

That said, as noted above, I didn't care for the speech, except for the jokes. I always thought Obama was right to say that the problem with Wright's view of the world was that it was "static"; a speech mostly about how we're figuring out that "different does not mean deficient" seemed to me to illustrate that perfectly. That might have been a startling thought sometime in the 60s and 70s. Not so much now.

Oh? Have you talked to some folks lately? I think that's still a startingly unnerving thought to a lot of folks even now.

It is time for the Republican-controlled Media to give this Wright controversy some fairness and enquire of Hillary Clinton and her surrogates the following:

Is it true that, (1) Hillary surrogate, Congresswoman Shiela Jackson Lee, is also a devotee of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright; that he's been preaching at her home church, where she is actively involved, annually for the past 15 years and has an open invitation to return, and, that she sat in the pews for his visits and did not bat an eye?

Is it true that (2) Hillary surrogate, Rev. Marcia Dyson was not only a longtime member of Trinity United Church of Christ but also still considers Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright her pastor? That Rev. Marcia Dyson's seminary education, in part, was sponsored by Trinity UCC and encouraged by Rev. Wright? And was it not at Trinity were she first met her husband, Rev. Dr. Michael Dyson, who's been very vocal in his defense of Rev. Wright.?

And, lastly of Hillary Clinton, that if Rev. Wright would not have been her Pastor, then why did she and Bill when going through Impeachment, turn to Rev. Wright for Prayer and Support and invite him to the White House? These things should be answered.

I'm with gwangung (not for the first time).

I once had a friend who would explain the world to me, when I went on a rant, by saying tendentiously, "Different is worse, Jane, different is worse."

The idea that different isn't worse may be old news in some circles, but the unexamined gut reaction that different is worse (and therefore a threat, and therefore fair game for bias, violence, etc.) drives a lot of the darkness we see around us.

And I'm not excepting myself from the gut reaction part either. Perfection is hard to come by.

I guess I’m with trilobite. I understand what you’re saying hilzoy, you make perfect sense (as always). And I agree with you that a careful reading/listening makes it clearer that he’s talking about learning/teaching styles. But most people just aren’t that careful…

The first thing I thought of was the spinning dancer you linked some time ago, with the list of right-brain/left-brain attributes.

Which led me to think, gee, aren’t some people going to take that as meaning black kids would have problems with math and science, which is quite literally something white supremacists would promote?

I’m with publius – he needs to get out of the limelight. He just keeps on providing sound bites. You’ve got the right of it here, and Ed and MM are stretching this out of reality. But they were waiting for his appearances. There was glee and anticipation in those circles last week when word got out about this round of public appearances. They just knew that they could look forward to him saying something that would be controversial or at least could be made to look controversial.

They ‘live-blogged’ his appearance at the National Press Club this morning. And he just continues to feed them their lines: I do not in any way disagree with James Cone. Jim is a personal friend of mine. Whites go to church on Sunday, then put on their KKK robes and kill blacks on Monday. Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. I believe our government is capable of doing anything (on AIDS conspiracies). Obama just said what he said to get elected. (I haven’t seen a transcript from this morning yet, I’m not claiming those are all valid quotes at this point. That’s kind of boiled down from the live-blogging)

He’s top of Google News right now – 1,132 articles.

Say goodbye to Indiana…

Last Thursday, after soundbites of Wright's interview with Moyers became available in advance of the actual airing, the TV commentariat latched on to this bit:

"Barack says what he has to say as a politician; I say what I have to say as a pastor."

Pundits left and right agreed: that's Wright throwing Obama under the bus, by calling him a garden-variety pol who says what he HAS to say. Speaking as a lowly civilian, I have to say that what a man "has to say" can be read two different ways: what he is OBLIGED to say, and what he WANTS to say. In a cosmic sense that may be a subtle distinction, but in this particular context the distinction is quite stark. Whichever meaning Wright intended to put INTO his words, the punditocray had no doubt which meaning to take OUT OF them. Such is our national discourse.

But there's a reason why our national discourse is "vapid" and "anodyne" like Wright's NAACP speech. Well, there are many reasons, but here's a fundamental one: no serious commentator seems to find the Wright affair distressing for the same reason I do, namely that Obama even HAS a "pastor". When a nation is bound and determined to have none but god-fearing politicians, it's no wonder that facile interpretations tend to be the norm.

Having just forsworn my credibility on matters theological, I nevertheless "have to say" to Hilzoy that Wright's speech was actually rather incendiary, in this sense: Wright is challenging the Right's proprietary claims on god. His "different is not deficient" theme is a direct THEOLOGICAL challenge to the Dobsons and the Robertsons who have unctuously propounded the view that god is an English-speaking white gentleman who favors free markets and opposes the estate tax. Theological disputes are seldom settled except by waiting for one side or the other to die off, so this thing promises to last a while.

-- TP

Maggie said:

"It's pretty normal for people to get stuck with the state of the art as it existed when they were trained and not to keep up with the times. That's why paradigm shifts usually require generational changes, rather than changes of opinions. It's common enough among academics, and presumably even more common among people who aren't paid to continue their research."

Yes, and the kicker is that the phrase "paradigm shift" has itself been out-shifted.

"Dr. Lahn patented a genetic test for intelligence whereby employers could measure prospective employees."

Another example of geneticists/genomics researchers needing to take a goshdarn cognitive science and social science course once in awhile. As if you could measure intelligence by measuring one gene! Oh, the anti-empirical assumptions some scientists will make if it fits their ideology. Just to be clear:

1) Intelligence isn't one characteristic. We don't even have an adequate definition for intelligence.
2) The human brain is highly plastic and the context of development matters an awful lot to the adult traits.
3) One gene cannot determine a trait as indeterminate as intelligence. One genetic error *may* cause a tragic lack of intelligence. It's a lot easier to knock down a house than to build one.
4) Cognitive science and genomics are both such young fields that we have NO idea about how to draw a causal link between any given gene to a phenotypic trait from conception, through development, to an adult body.

So, maybe that patent was withdrawn because the man might know something about genetics but knows little about the fields he was trying to sell his product in. Or maybe it was withdrawn because the U Chicago is absolutely right in not wanting to engage in speculative employment discrimination and the over-selling of ridiculous 'scientific' claims.

Sorry for going off-topic, but that post pissed me off. Conservative-gene-trolls always get my goat.

Malkin and Special Ed live and breathe manufactured outrage.

let's all hope their teeth can hold up under the stress that accompanies constant, seething, jaw-clenching fury. cracked molars can be quite painful.

A critique of Janice Hale's theory of learning styles (which Wright cited in his speech):
http://www.learningpt.org/gaplibrary/text/scholarargues.php

Excerpt: "According to Frisby, explaining the black-white achievement gap as a result of black cultural learning styles is not merely bad research and policy but constitutes a return to an age where segregation in education was justified on the basis of incommensurate racial "styles.""

However - and this is only marginally related to Hale's theory - language learning has neurocognitive implications. Different brain regions are involved in dyslexia in speakers of different languages.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/04/08/2210934.htm

From what I can gather, the theory that Wright was discussing is problematic, but it's no Leonard Jeffries/Frances Cress Welsing racist melanin theory either.

Controversy aside, Lahn's microcephalin/ASPM hypothesis turned out to be incorrect.
http://foreigndispatches.typepad.com/dispatches/2006/12/the_iq_genes_th.html

hilzoy: "Plus, the academic in me thinks: all the research he cited was decades old."

What research is he citing in his continuing defense of his nitwit views about aids?

From his National Press Club comments today:

"Asked about another sermon in which he suggested the U.S. government created the AIDS virus to kill black people, Wright also did not retreat.

"Based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything," he said.

Yeah, right -- and not only HIV viris-- they're broadcasting subliminal messages over broadband and tv and radio, aimed at disintegrating those right-brain black-Afarican hemispheres.

I can understand Obama supporters bending over backwards to defend Wright - because in doing so, by proxy they're defending Obama - the candidate they've aligned with politically - but when does bending over backwards become an exercise of contortionist accommodation - a veritable bent pretzel of rationalization?

Wright may not be as blatantly a black racist as Louis Farrakhan and others, but he continues to voice the same pernicious jaundiced view of whites he used in his sermons over the two decades Obama silently listened without objection --.

Obama's problem back then was that he lost sight of his white-self. When he was sitting there, listening to the anti-white tonal accusations did he ask himself: humm, wonder how my grandfather and grandmother would feel, hearing this stuff? Well, surrogate generations of white grandfathers and grandmothers and siblings have heard it -- on DVDs and YouTube and their local news channels -- and they don't like what they heard. And the more Wright keeps mouthing off, the less they're going to like it -- as evidenced by today's Associated Press-Ipsos poll which shows Hillary now leading McCain 50 to 41 percent, and Obama only statistically tied with McCain…

Anybody know the meter and tonality of the tune that goes "Bye bye, Barak Obama, bye bye?


"Based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything,"

Does Tuskegee mean **anything** to you? Jeez! [Further comment prohibited under the posting rules]

Hilzoy, thanks re "troglodyte." I'm happy to assume it was a braino. If anyone is interested, I took the handle from an old Akbar & Jeff cartoon.

Elvis, you may have come across the concept in 6th grade, I came across it (sowmehere in high school IIRC) in for-the-layman articles on neurology. The word "brain," surely suggests SOME relationship to neurology, i.e., the study of the brain? If people use the concept carelessly, that does not mean the words lose their natural meaning.

I don't get the impression Rev. Wright was confining his remarks to narrowly-defined subcultures, such as "inner-city poor black kids." "Blacks" includes a very wide range of subcultures. If he makes a statement about the average mental predilections or skills of all blacks (as opposed, presumably, to non-blacks), I can't think what, other than genetics, he could possibly think was the basis for that difference.

Those more familiar with the speech may be able to reassure me on this point.

They just knew that they could look forward to him saying something that would be controversial or at least could be made to look controversial.

Of course because the GOP flying monkey army would go on and on and on about how offending he was no matter if all he did was say the pledge of allegence.

I don't think he has obligation to sit slient, my god the press has spent - what one month, two? - going on and on about Wright, devoted a bunch of questions about him in a prime time debate, and now THEY say that he is aggrandizing himself? Who made the fracking decision that his statements are very important issue facing the country? I don't think it was Wright.

If the voters want to vote McCain because they don't like things that Wright said, it's their own lookout. Frankly I could care less at this point who wins in November.

Nobody’s saying that one gene controls intelligence Loneoak. Lahn identified two before his work was ended by political forces.

Intelligence is inherited. As a society, we need to come to grips with it.

Intelligence is inherited. As a society, we need to come to grips with it.

i propose we breed-out the dummies and the uglies, to form a race of smart, beautiful people.

The best proof that intelligence is inherited lies in the fact that stupidity is :-)

-- TP

Intelligence is inherited.

Um, no.

It's a lot more complicated than that.

As a member of society, it's YOUR duty to come to grips with that, and all the subtleties it involves.

Right now, you're failing.

Stop being stupid.

What part of "You are annihilating this campaign" does Jeremiah Wright not understand? I can't figure out whether he's either:

(1) So self-centered that he doesn't care whether he sabotages the campaign as long as he becomes famous
(2) So stupid as to think that he's going to stick it to people without retaliation at the voting booth.

Wright is making himself available. He's being himself. And the media is gobbling it up and will continue to gobble it up. I fear a gruesome spectacle of Wright continuing on, Obama's numbers sinking, and neither Wright nor the media, both getting what they want of the transaction, desisting.

A hyper-strict Creationist can believe that intelligence is not inherited.

Since I am not a hyper-strict Creationist, I don’t buy it.

Hilzoy, are you espousing dualism? You write: "There is no earthly reason to think... different learning styles... would reflect some sort of neurological difference"

Surely this is confused. Any difference in behaviour or learning reflects some difference in the brain.

The mistake is to think that neurological differences are innate. In fact, our cultural environment affects our thoughts, and thus the organ which underlies our thoughts, namely the brain.

My apologies, trilobite. I really did misread your name... but then chose not to correct it after rereading your post. Thanks for the polite upbraiding, hilzoy.

When I was 5 years old, my brain and those of many of my classmates would have lit up at the mention of the Red Sox. It wasn't genetics, though. It was culture.

Not responding to JJ. Not. Besides Jeff did.

I have to side with Trib here and apologetically, penitentially, speak for the widespread ignorance of which I am a part. Lacking hilzoy’s lucid mastery of taking things apart to see how they work (right-brained, I am, don’tcha know, and often the only one in a crowd clapping on the up-beat) I would have taken Wright’s remarks at the same face value (though not likewise judged them) as Malkin and Ed did.

For me, it would follow from the five tones and clapping stuff, and that would follow from having read Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music which it would not surprise me to learn Wright has read as well. It was pretty high-profile.

Combine that with the effort to define oneself, and Wright’s urgent desire to define a black identity, and a little knowledge going too far, et voilá. A logical construct taken too far, potentially implicating genetics.

I’m happy to see Wright coming out of the shadows. I admire him, and figure the more people see of him, the less they’ll judge him unfairly. The Captain and Malkin seem to be demonstrating my misjudgment.

Finally, this shows the dangers of less than circumspect public speech. Not unlike the more obviously toxic stuff coming from Shockley and James Watson; being seen as an authority can go to a person’s head.
Here’s hoping Wright figures it out.

The word "brain," surely suggests SOME relationship to neurology, i.e., the study of the brain?

Isn't neurology more correctly the sudy of the structures of the brain (specifically the nerves of the brain)? Does a neurologist get into phonics vs whole-word learning? (They might, but that's not my understanding).

If I'm right (which I realize is a big "IF"), then not everything that relates to the brain, and certainly "right-brained" vs "left-brained" wouldn't. (Drawing on the Left Side of Your Brain had nothing to do with neurology, frex.)

Unfortunately, we often get into some mushy-brain territory when we start talking about cognition, neurology, genetics, development, and social contexts. It's worthwhile to pay attention to causality. While we know that any difference in cognition must reflect a difference in the brain (unless you are a dualist), we do not know the cause of that neurological difference. Is that caused by an underlying genotype or is it the result of socially-embedded developmental processes? There are plenty of reasons to think that much of the neurological differences between us are mostly caused by the latter. Despite the facade of hard-nosed empiricism espoused by race-realists and genetic-determinists, they are completely incapable of offering causal mechanisms by which complex neurological patterns develop. From an evolutionary viewpoint, it makes far more sense to see the brain as a plastic learning organ that takes the shape of its environment—a one-size fits all solution to whatever environment it ends up in.

"A hyper-strict Creationist can believe that intelligence is not inherited."

WTF? Does this make sense to anyone? I don't get it.

Hillary now leading McCain 50 to 41 percent, and Obama only statistically tied with McCain

Howard Dean replies to Jay: "That's because Senator McCain's not being challenged by anybody yet."

Richard: "Hilzoy, are you espousing dualism? You write: "There is no earthly reason to think... different learning styles... would reflect some sort of neurological difference""

Nope, I misspoke. I meant something more like: innate neurological difference. Thanks for catching it.

Loneoak, it makes sense to me that Bill would SAY that, but that's probably not what you meant.

A hyper-strict Creationist can believe that God gave each and every one of us identical plastic learning organs inside our heads.

A fuzzy-Creationist or an Evolutionist can believe that humans developed over the eons in response to the environments in which they lived. Evolutionary forces would tailor men to their environments. And since environments differ throughout the world, so would men and their minds.

I do not believe that we all have identical plastic learning organs in our heads. I know too many people to believe that.

Strawman, Brick Oven Bill. Just because intelligence is partly inherited (and it most certainly is) doesn't imply that there are significant (genetic or otherwise) racial differences in intelligence. They are separate issues.

I suspect you think that people who disagree with you believe in the "identical plastic learning organs" theory. But they do not.

Stawman indeed. Is there a bad argumentation gene? But really, it isn't necessary to believe that our plastic brains are identical to believe with to believe that their plasticity is their evolutionarily-relevant trait. As long as genetic differences don't work against plasticity, they wouldn't necessarily be selected against.

And what options are there other than Creationist, IDiot (soft creationist), and evolutionist? Lyskoism? Lamarkianism? Galtonism is probably more like it for Bill.

Exactly right, Hilzoy (and Maggie). Wright has a frame of reference that he filters through, too. Whether or not it has a lasting consequence to Obama is arguable. (And being an atheist, I bore easily too in matters theological).

The more of the debate that occurs this early in the year, the more the public will tire of it and view its resurrection next Fall as a side issue and a politically motivated distraction. Obama need only remind people he attends church to commune with the Lord, not to worship Reverend Wright and since another minister's taken over, it's a moot point if he continues to disagree with certain views of the retired Reverend.

I'd also note that Hillary blasted McCain and the GOP ads attempting to make Wright the new Willie Horton. Good on her. She nuanced a bit, however, by indicating she would have left Wright's church if she'd heard statements that have drawn such fire. So, though Obama claims not to have heard those specific comments previously (therefore, no reason to leave the church) she still takes a swipe at Obama on top of the bigger swipe she took at McCain.

I try to suspend my personal filter as an activist and partisan, and my own preference for the academic and intellectual. By getting feedback from other Dems and Independents - old, young, liberal, conservative, comfortable, poor - I seek how the mythical middle's interpreting these things (a wide angle lens). Hence the name of my blog and my effort to relay a broad cross-section view of how it's playing in Peoria.

Ultimately, I think the GOP will overplay this hand, but I'd maintain that it'd help if more of the ministers, priests and rabbis not tied to BL theology were to defend his church as a legit, unextreme one. Which can be done while also rejecting the extreme anti-semitism that comes from Farrakhan.

A fuzzy-Creationist or an Evolutionist can believe that humans developed over the eons in response to the environments in which they lived.

Cold tends to slow down electrical activity. Thus we see that those descended from Europeans are slower of wit than those from warmer climes. Is that what you mean, Bill?

(Irony)

I'd maintain that it'd help if more of the ministers, priests and rabbis not tied to BL theology were to defend his church as a legit, unextreme one.

The UCC (excuse me, the Executive Council of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ) has done so: http://www.ucc.org/news/executive-council-adopts-resol.html>Resolution supporting Trinity UCC. Good on them.

Reverend Wright has committed the sin of being an uppity, opinionated black man. I guess that's sin enough in America.
What burns me up is that guys like Chris Matthews keep going on as Reverend wright's views should somehow automatically be imputed to Obama. Its almost as if when one black man says something, every other black man in America is assumed to agree with him. Yet another reason for this black man to think, " Gee it must be great being white. People actually judge you-or try to- based on YOUR expressed opinions, not those of your pastor or those of your media proclaimed leader..."
Its almost enough to make you want to do a Michael Jackson....

Actually Jeff, electrical resistance increases with temperature. Current flows faster in cold weather.

Well I’ve been called an idiot, stupid, a Galtonist, slow, a failure, and accused of aspiring to breed super-humans (I think she was really calling me a Nazi). I’ve also been introduced to my duty as a member of society. It worked with Dr. Lahn. Maybe four legs really aren’t all that bad.

Read Federalist 46 and Madison’s explanation of how fascism usually comes from the left; he also talks about how it won’t fly in America. He’s pretty smart:

http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa46.htm

Tangentially, yr fthfl svt-reporter of many things bloggingheads,">http://">bloggingheads, there’s currently a conversation up between Glenn Loury and Robert Reich.
Around 20m, Reich, who was Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, talks about how he felt forced by Clinton’s underhanded tactics to come out for Obama.
And around 30m Loury, a black economist at Brown, offers a measured critique of Obama’s way of speaking about Wright in his speech on race, feeling Obama spoke of Wright with condescension. (I agree, and he seems to me to continue to do so.)
Much recommended; besides, it’s two really bright gracious guys working through economic and electoral issues, and speaking of what it was like inside the Clinton White House (Reich reports that that presidency was a near co-presidency, and Bill talked everything through with Hillary before coming to decisions).

Hey Bill, how’d the tomato planting go?

I won’t sympathize with your dismay. You’ve pretty well earned it. You forgot troll, btw. But aren’t you getting a little off track, or paraphrasing pretty freely, when you talk about what Madison said about fascism?

Oh, and Madison was referring to the French Revolution, wasn’t he? 1793 was a really bad year, and it’s conclusively wrong to associate ‘the Left’ with decapitation at this late date.
Now in my day, ‘Left’ was a word with some teeth; though still, sorry, no decapitation, and the 1968 Chicago riot was a police riot.
The hippies, yippies, what have you, were the ones left bleeding. Not that I want to warm your heart with the thought.

stonetools: BS. What Wright is doing *is* wrong. And it has nothing to do with "uppity". He's saying all kinds of things which he *knows* are going to be harped on in this way by the media. And he *knows* that they run the risk of sabotaging a Presidential campaign.

What reason besides dotage or ego-trip does he have to insinuate that Obama only says what he does because he's a politician?

Intelligence is inherited. As a society, we need to come to grips with it.

Yes, inheritance is a factor in intelligence. It's also a factor in how tall you are, how fast a 1/4 mile you'll be able to run, whether you'll need glasses or not, and whether you'll have red/green color blindness.

Also, what color your skin is.

What the hell do any of these things have to do with each other?

There is no 'black race'. The people who live in sub-Saharan Africa are as different from each other as the people who live in Europe, Asia, or any other place on earth are. They have different skin color, are heavier or lighter boned, are taller or shorter. They speak different languages, eat different food, have entirely different cultures. They're all different.

Black people in America are, generally speaking, about as African as I am Italian, Scot, or Welsh. Which is to say, somewhat. What they have in common is the fact that, due to whatever amount of African blood they do have, it's more likely than not that they'll have to deal with a larger pile of crap in the course of their daily life than pretty much anyone else.

Been that way since, what, the 16th century?

The myth of the 'inferior black' is one of the great zombie memes of this country. It used to be just one of several of its kind. There were the inferior Irish, inferior Chinese, inferior Jew, and the inferior Italian. For a while, all you had to do was eat garlic to make the list.

Lately, the inferior Mexican is back in all its glory.

But the myth of the inferior black is the deepest and longest lived of all of these. It's the only one that received sanction in the Constitution, and the only one we fought a Civil War over.

It's kind of special.

It's a freaking lie. A lie. Black people as a group are not stupider than, or in any other way inferior to, white people. Nobody, of any color skin, any color eye, any curliness of hair, any height, any weight, any shape of head, any closeness together of eye, any hairiness of body, any physical attribute you care to name short of gross neurological defect, is, as a class, any stupider or smarter than anyone else. Nobody.

And the people who suffer from gross neurological or mental defect deserve no ill treatment on that count.

Black people are not stupider than white people. Repeat this to yourself 25 times a day. Bind it to your temples as if it were the very word of life, because oddly enough it just might be.

Black people are not stupider than white people.

God damn, this is one ignorant, mulish, thick-headed country. How did we get so powerful? I wouldn't trust us to lead a troop of girl scouts out of the woods.

Speaking purely personally, if I were Obama, I'd tell the nation to go fnck themselves, take my wife on nice vacation, and get on with my life. I'll bet he could walk away from all of this crap, pick up the phone, and start work next Monday making 7 or 8 figures.

That'd turn my head.

For crying out loud in a bathtub, who needs this shit? Obama was Harvard Law Review president. Who the f*ck needs a guy who thinks it's a god damned big freaking deal that he built a brick oven telling me he's smarter than me, because his skin is white (assuming it is)?

Obviously, Obama's a better man than I am.

Thanks -

"What reason besides dotage or ego-trip does he have to insinuate that Obama only says what he does because he's a politician?"

Um, maybe because Obama is a politician and politicians run away from controversial statements that might cost them votes. Wright accused Israel of state terrorism--Obama used to hang out with pro-Palestinian activists, but in his racism speech he distanced himself from Wright by inserting a line that put the blame for the conflict on Islamic extremism. Somehow I suspect there's a connection between Obama's change in position and the fact that he's running for President--

Link

What Russell said.

You got me on that one Felix Culpa; It wasn’t #46, it was #1. I’m getting complacent about checking sources:

"On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants."

http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa01.htm

It was a crappy day today and the tomatoes (I can’t remember the species, but they’re supposed to be big and red) are still sitting on top of the toaster oven.

I think what we really need to come to grips with is the idea that the America we love has done some seriously nasty sh*t in the last two hundred years. If we could truly absorb that fact, we wouldn't be able to get very worked up about Wright's statements.

I'm with russell. If I were Obama, my next NYT bestseller would be "The Absurdity of Hope - Why Americans Are Not Worth The Freaking Effort".

as soon as you admit that intelligence is partly genetic and that there are within group variances to intelligence it becomes difficult statistically to argue that there are not between group variances unless you propose some sort of amazing equaling force that, for example, causes intelligent (or less intelligent) people to repel each other.

I imagine the other argument, which I can see but can't entirely bring myself to enact, is that if we accept that there are between group differences we open the door to group discrimination by those too lazy to investigate individuals. Or that even if there was a "gross neurological or mental defect" that such people deserve no ill treatment, and that we don't trust ourselves not to ill treat such a group.

It seems founded on a low opinion of ourselves.

There is no earthly reason to think either (a) that kids from different cultures might not have very different learning styles, or (b) that if they did, this would reflect some sort of neurological difference. None at all.

None? There is certainly evidence that culture can drive gene expression - for example, the European adaptation to cow's mil ocurred in just the last 10,000 years, if I recall the Times article - here we go:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Human evolution has been moving at breakneck speed in the past several thousand years, far from plodding along as some scientists had thought, researchers said on Monday.

In fact, people today are genetically more different from people living 5,000 years ago than those humans were different from the Neanderthals who vanished 30,000 years ago, according to anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin.

...Many of the recent genetic changes reflect differences in the human diet brought on by agriculture, as well as resistance to epidemic diseases that became mass killers following the growth of human civilizations, the researchers said.

I suspect that if we looked up research about Asian kids and their complex alphabets, we would see evidence of both a different learning style and fundamental neurological differences. But I can't swear to that.

Anyway, here is a transcript of the Wright speech, which includes this:

They [black kids] have a different way of learning. Those same children who have difficulty reading from an object and who are labeled EMH, DMH and ADD. Those children can say every word from every song on every hip hop radio station half of who's words the average adult here tonight cannot understand. Why? Because they come from a right-brained creative oral culture like the (greos) in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people's history and like the oral tradition which passed down the first five book in our Jewish bible, our Christian Bible, our Hebrew bible long before there was a written Hebrew script or alphabet.

*IF* excellent memory is related to some gene "package" (likely) and *IF* it is hereditable (likely) and *IF* the culture described by Wright valued extreme memory both (a) enough to confer a survival advantage and (b) more than other otherwise comparable cultures, then we would see a culture develop which included an unusually high proportion of people with seemingly freakish memories.

And that would be true even if, at one time, the high-memory culture was genetically indistinguishable from a comparable culture. Separate them, emphasize different qualties, and gene expression will take care of the rest.

In which case, what the culture values will eventually affect the genetic pool within the culture.

And conversely - let's take Wright's (unlikely) notion at face value that African culture is monolithic in teaching with a right-brain style, and Euros are monolithic with a left brain style.

Does it really make sense to think that a culture would arbitrarily persist in a technique even if it was ill-suited to its children? Isn't it more likely that the right-brained technique developed because that worked better for that culture? And mightn't tjhat become reinforcing - kids who just can't learn that way may be at a slight survival disadvantage.

Furthermore Wright's notion seems to be that contemporary African-Americans separated from Africa by generations and oceans still pick up on an Africn teaching style rather than the Euro style put in their face by Sesame Street and most outlets of the dominant white culture. How do they manage that? And more interestingly, why? As Wright notes, the result is kids that don't function well in the white-dominated schools using a white learning style.

If it was just an arbitrary choice, rather than a cultural adjustment to the biological traits of the kids in question, why not make a different choice in order to give kids a better chance in school?

Well. Wright's theory is pretty odd, whatever it is is, considering the mixing of both the African gene pool and African culture with the rest of the world.

But odd or not, I dispute the notion that there exists an uncrossable line separating culture and genetics.

Funny: russell, david kilmer, and I have all had the thought over the last few days if people are going to be so stupid as to be worked up over this junk, then we just don't *deserve* a better government.

I suspect that if we looked up research about Asian kids and their complex alphabets, we would see evidence of both a different learning style and fundamental neurological differences. But I can't swear to that.

Tom Maguire, if this were true, then non-Asian kids growing up in these environments should have some kind of difficulty picking up these languages. As a matter of fact, they do not.

If language aptitude were tied to some specific gene or set of genes, then we'd have a lot more variance in people's ability to speak and read than we really do. We'd have, in fact, distributions similar to what we have with other traits. But -- look -- we do not. We can get literacy rates in a society up to 99%. This means that our language faculty is robust and that it is highly insensitive to small genetic changes (which happen all the time).

As far as matter of principle, I wouldn't assume that because an alphabet took root somewhere and a different writing system developed somewhere else that these means that there is some optimum cognitive fit that explains these things. Lots of things are the way they are not because they way they are is best, but just for historical reasons: just because they've been that way. Why is the QWERTY keyboard laid out the way it is? Why are chalkboards either black or green?

In the case of language, there is a tremendous transactional cost in switching from one system to another. So once you've picked something, best to stick with it. There were many efforts at orthographic reform in English earlier in the last century. I don't think any of them took hold. Why? Ultimately, even if it would lead to an easier language system, it's just not worth the pain of changing everything.

Tom M: fine. My only point, really, was that the idea -- repeated on a lot of right-wing blogs, including yours -- that Wright *had to* be talking about a neurological difference. That's just not true, and the idea that cultural differences *can sometimes* either reflect or cause neurological differences does not make it true.

Can't resist -- from what I understand, the QWERTY keyboard is that way because it was the *worst* layout they could design. They needed to slow the first typists down enough so the machines wouldn't constantly jam.

Funny: russell, david kilmer, and I have all had the thought over the last few days if people are going to be so stupid as to be worked up over this junk, then we just don't *deserve* a better government.

Yep. At some point you just have to realize that it is beyond your control. The election become much more tolerable and funny when you accept this. If Americans want to elect the guy who sings songs about bombing other counties becuase they think Obama's an extremist . . . well all I can say is the beatings will continue until intelligence improves.

Well, the bus just drove by and Obama did the right thing IMO. I know there is strong disagreement on this – but I’ve seen it as necessary for a while and I’m glad Obama denounced him. Now maybe he can move on and repair some of the damage before Indiana.

OCSteve: with you there. I'm writing about this even as we speak, though it would really help if someone, somewhere, would publish a transcript of the Q and A.

Oh, brother. I hope this is the standard we're willing to apply now: Making all candidates for office responsible for answering for the statements of their ministers and pastors. I really do. Because, so armed, I'm confident that we can, if not destroy organized religion completely, at last divorce it completely from secular politics.

Has this *ever* happened to a white candidate for federal office? Ever?

I think I agree with OCSteve and publius--complaining about the media at this point won't change the situation on the ground, you go to war with the media you have and all that. Wright has to know every time he opens his mouth it hurts Obama and he doesn't care, this after Obama lent his own credibility to defending Wright. The only defense of Wright I can think of is that by continuing to be ridiculous in front of the media he's giving Obama the opportunity to turn on him, so that the Wright thing can finally possibly go away.

Hilzoy:

Marc Ambinder has the full thing including the Q&A.

I don't mind what Obama said at all, but IMO there is a racial double standard being applied. I don't think it's politically possible for Obama to say that, but someone should. When the first black candidate with a chance to win the presidency is being held to a ridiculous double standard because of his race--yes, his campaign needs to deal with it, but it might help if his supporters would point out the double standard instead of telling the campaign stuff it already knows.

"OCSteve: with you there. I'm writing about this even as we speak, though it would really help if someone, somewhere, would publish a transcript of the Q and A."

At the Press Club? The one I posted a link to the transcript of, last night? This transcript including the Q&A?

Or some other appearance?

"Wright has to know every time he opens his mouth it hurts Obama and he doesn't care, this after Obama lent his own credibility to defending Wright."

That was some defense--I love the guy, but he's crazy as a loon on some issues and you gotta cut him some slack because of when he grew up.

There might not be a problem for Obama (not that I'm terribly sympathetic to him on this) if people could get it through their heads that Wright and Obama are two different people, and that Wright, like many other people, doesn't accept the notion common among political blogreaders that for the duration of the campaign he is morally obligated to keep his mouth shut about his own opinions on issues. I thought the problem with Nader was that he was running for President and actually taking votes that might have gone to Gore--it now appears the standard is that a friend of the probable Democratic nominee can't disagree with him in public.

Now if we could go back to the notion that people in this country are not obligated to join teams and uncritically support one's team until November, Wright could do his thing and Obama could say, if he chooses, precisely where he thinks Wright is wrong. He could skewer Wright about the scientific evidence on AIDS and rip him apart on his educational theories. And run like hell from the issues where Wright has a point, but which no serious Presidential candidate could possibly agree with him for fear of losing the jingoist vote. Along those lines, he could continue to do what he's been doing, which is proclaim that Wright's wild lefty views about American support for terrorism are anathema to him--he'll make people like me unhappy, but that doesn't matter, cuz he's on a mission to unify the country. And Wright and I will vote for him anyway. Problem solved.

Marc Ambinder has the full thing including the Q&A.

OK, I watched the whole Press Club session, both the speech and the full Q&A.

With one exception, I found nothing extraordinary in Wright's remarks. The one exception was his comment that he could believe that the US government may have had a hand in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I find that a pretty paranoid comment to make, but then again the Tuskegee experiments are not a very big part of my personal experience.

Obama needs to cut him loose. Their goals and priorities are different. What they need to do to achieve their goals are different. Any continued public association with Wright will hurt Obama.

I'm not talking about some weird, calculated political gamesmanship. I think Wright, plain and simple, doesn't speak for Obama, and Obama needs to make that as blindingly clear as he can.

All of that said, I have no problem with Wright's comments, and believe he should take any opportunity he wishes to to be heard. He didn't seek the controversy, it was thrust upon him, and I don't see him as being obliged to step down from defending himself, his work, or his church.

He and Obama will part ways. I'm sure it's not a happy thing for them, personally, but that's life in the big show.

Thanks -

Phil:
Oh, brother. I hope this is the standard we're willing to apply now: Making all candidates for office responsible for answering for the statements of their ministers and pastors. I really do. Because, so armed, I'm confident that we can, if not destroy organized religion completely, at last divorce it completely from secular politics.

Has this *ever* happened to a white candidate for federal office? Ever?

John F. Kennedy, iirc.
He was under general suspicion that he was a Vatican mole and had to state on a regular base that he was not the "Catholic candidate" but the Democratic candidate that just happened to be a Roman Catholic.
That's another reason why Obama is often compared to JFK.

Gary: I was talking abut Obama's recent press conference, in which he responded to Wright's press club appearance.

Oh, my bad hilzoy.
NYT


I’m not going to claim that there is no double standard at play here. And if anyone wants to claim that the actual damage being done was that he was freaking out aging white boomers I’m sure there is some truth there as well.

But the bottom line was that he was hurting the campaign. Both Obama and HRC have cut people loose for one time far less incendiary remarks. Obama spent a fair amount of political capital not to have to do this.

I have no idea what that was yesterday. I agree with Justin in that the kindest reading is that Wright intentionally cranked it up a notch to give Obama cover to cut him loose. Obama now comes out looking about as good as he can. He stood by Wright and defended him time and again, until he just went too far.

OCSteve: I have a different hypothesis, which is pure and total speculation, coming up even as we speak. ;)

I read the press conference and the Q and A some hours ago and saw the Moyers interview and other than the HIV thing, I just don't know what Obama is talking about. Well, I do know what he's talking about--he's doing his necessary Sister Souljah thing, reassuring America that no, he's no radical and he'd never say that America is guilty of terrorism.

Pretty much what I expected from him. What he needed to do as a politician, almost Clintonesque in its way. I didn't believe a word of his claims that he's shocked, shocked, to know how radical his pastor was and it's nothing like the Jeremiah Wright he thought he knew. Oh please. How stupid are we supposed to believe he is? But that's what he's got to do at this point. Maybe it'll work. I can't say I care. Clinton or Obama--either one is the lesser of two evils compared to McCain.

He didn't do too badly. I didn't hear it, but I read the transcript. It seems to me that it wasn't so much about Wright's "wacky" views as it was about a more fundamental and sadder difference.

Wright has to know that Obama as president would be a great thing in terms of a lot of the goals he has. And he has to know that a couple of fsck-you speeches aren't going to take anyone toward those goals.

I was always a little uncomfortable with the "I will fight" rhetoric that Edwards and Clinton use. Fight whom? The forces of evil? Cooperation is our best bet as a species, and common stakes and common interest play a large part in that. If you can get that far, the forces of evil end up looking like a disconsolate and pitifully small group, huddled on the sidelines. I think Obama's "DNA" is correct.

John F. Kennedy, iirc.
He was under general suspicion that he was a Vatican mole and had to state on a regular base that he was not the "Catholic candidate" but the Democratic candidate that just happened to be a Roman Catholic.

Yes, but he didn't actually have to denounce the Pope and the things the Pope said.

phil: "Yes, but he didn't actually have to denounce the Pope and the things the Pope said."

If the Pope had said America was responsible for WWII because our refusal to publicly condemn the Jews for killing Jesus was the reason we ended up going to war with the Nazis, you think Kennedy could have remained silent, or merely chastised his nutty spiritual advisor Pope in Rome, and not chastised him for those remarks?

Well, that's just great, I'm architecting computer programs and implementing them. Does that make me a mulatto learner?

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