November 26, 2005

Everyone is to blame for the French riots ... except the rioters

The New York Times Magazine features an essay by Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard asking if the recent car burnings are the fault of Le Corbusier:

Revolting High Rises:
Were the French riots produced by Modern architecture?

The Swiss architect Le Corbusier, as Francophobes have been more than ready to explain, bears some of the blame for both. His designs inspired many of the suburbs where the riots of October and November began. In fact, he inspired the very practice of housing the urban poor by building up instead of out. Soaring apartments, he thought, would finally give sunlight and fresh air to city laborers, who had been trapped in narrow and fetid back streets since the dawn of urbanization. But high-rise apartments mixed badly with something poor communities generate in profusion: groups of young, armed, desperate males. Anyone who could control the elevator bank (and, when that became too terrifying to use, the graffiti-covered stairwells) could hold hundreds of families ransom.

High rise public housing projects for young poor people were a very bad idea (but not high rise projects for the elderly poor: for 12 years, I lived next door to an 18 story Chicago Housing Authority building where Vietnamese immigrants stashed their parents at the American taxpayer's expense, and I experienced no problems from it whatsoever).

But the relationship between high rise projects and rioting is dubious. The three most murderous riots in the U.S. in the last 75 years were #1 LA (South Central) in 1992, #2 Detroit in 1967, and #3 LA (Watts) in 1965. Yet, Los Angeles, despite its propensity for massive riots, has few tall public housing projects. As I wrote on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the South Central riots at the corner of Florence and Normandie:

Yet, this neighborhood hardly resembles what people familiar with the dismal big city ghettoes in the East and Midwest would expect for the Ground Zero of a riot. The residential streets around the infamous intersection consist largely of respectably maintained single-family homes...

Near Florence and Normandie, you can see long rows of small but attractive Spanish style stucco homes painted vivid colors -- purples, greens, blues -- more redolent of San Francisco than of Los Angeles.

The landscaping of the compact yards (which normally include a one-car garage) isn't as baroquely lush as in the wealthy white districts. Yet, lawns are kept neat, and here and there fuchsia bougainvilleas bloom in tropical profusion. The cars parked in the driveways tend to be sensible compacts. There are some junkers, but virtually none of the flashy wire-wheeled BMW's and Lincoln Navigators favored by drug dealers.

Since 1992, the national presumption about this neighborhood has been that it is the angry heart of the ghetto. In reality, now that the crack wars have died down, it serves its home-owning African-American residents as a surprisingly quiet bedroom community. It offers them an easy commute to downtown jobs.

The Florence-Normandie neighborhood has long been one of the more relatively well-to-do regions in South Central Los Angeles. In the census tract stretching south from Florence, for example, five of every eight residences are owner-occupied. Still, even the poorer of the traditionally black neighborhoods of Los Angeles seldom fit national stereotypes of what ghettoes look like.

A native of Chicago's West Side, who as a child witnessed its 1968 riot from her living room window, exclaimed, "I was really shocked when I first came to L.A. and saw the places where the 1965 Watts riot and the 1992 riot had started. They looked so suburban. I always assumed these were slums full of public housing high-rises like Cabrini Green in Chicago, with lots of broken elevators and dark hallways for you to get mugged in. I always figured the Watts Towers were housing projects like that. They turned out to be works of art." These are lovely decorative structures built by Watts folk artist Simon Rodia out of rubble and junk.

"Mostly I saw street after street of cute little houses with yards," continued the Chicagoan, who wished to remain anonymous. "No wonder you always heard about so many 'drive-by' shootings out there during the crack wars. Just like everything else in L.A., it must have been too far to walk."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Dennis Dale on Hip-Hop and France

Dennis Dale's Untethered blog offers an important analysis of rap music in the context of discussing its influence on the French riots.

Hip hop has its roots in African traditions of rhythmic chanting to extol the virtues of one’s self or clan above ones rivals. While this tradition has meandered along beneath the surface of the remarkable progress of African American music and was kept alive as an oral tradition, it would wait to become rap as part of the revolutionary DJ culture to spring up in the creative void left by disco’s exhaustion. Highly inventive DJs innovating the techniques which infuse popular music today, such as extended breaks, sampling, and scratching, and the nascent MCs who would improvise a rap over these extended breaks, would forge pop music’s most powerful genre since rock and roll.

Having come of age in the post sixties environment, hip hop was politicized early on, with some of its most renowned acts, such as Public Enemy, Nas, and KRS-1 invoking standard political boilerplate and cliche in their lyrics. Yet for all the political freight loaded onto it, rap remains a defiantly narcissistic art form primarily for young men to extol their sexual prowess and physical bravery, not very different from that early tribal chant. Rap is rebellion, no doubt about it. But what it rebels against isn’t a racist culture; what it rebels against is socialization—its stultifying, civilizing nature; what it seeks to replace it with is a clan-based ethos ruled by the physically strongest, cruelest, and most daring.

It is, above all, a deeply atavistic reaction to modern, egalitarian, democratic society. It shares with fascism its disdain for democratic institutions; though unlike fascism, which would institute ethnic nationalism and central authority in place of democratic or republican rule, rap has no analysis beyond a vague disdain for all that is unfamiliar to the narrow credo of the ‘hood; no designs other than the rule of the streets, race against race, clan against clan. As a political movement, and thankfully it isn’t truly that, it would be something worse than fascism; it would have to be classified as reactionary primitivism.

What one isn’t allowed to notice is how strikingly similar hip hop culture is to African tribal culture. The tradition of men procreating with various women who are then left to raise the children; the raising up and adulation of strongmen rulers; the clannishness; the recognition of power as a value in its own right and the disdain of weakness; the emphasis on personal ornamentation; the superstition and prejudice against the unfamiliar; the impatience with logical rigor; these are defining values of both hip hop and African culture. They serve to keep Africans uneducated and impoverished both in the mother continent and in America, and they may be doing the same thing in Europe.

The irony of all this, and it’s a larger discussion for another time, is that the expression of these values through hip hop on the stage that American commerce and democracy create has produced a level of wealth and cultural power for African people everywhere that was previously unimaginable; all while rap’s lyrical content can seem like an endless droning on the subject of America’s inherent evil. Now we have the irony of the system paying young men to denounce the system. Self caricature is the only place to go at this point. [More]

And here's his tribute of sorts to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"French Lessons: The nation neocons most despise has followed their immigration prescriptions" by Steve Sailer

in the December 19, 2005 issue of The American Conservative. Here's an excerpt:

Numerous American pundits have been crowing about how much better America is at handling minorities and immigrants than is France, which got what it had coming to it during the weeks of car-burning riots.

As in France, where the political class seemed more interested in the riots' impact on the 2007 Presidential election than in stopping the destruction, few talking heads here appear inclined to blame the rioting on the rioters. After all, the columnists feel, the North and West Africans setting cars on fire are just a bunch of lowbrow punks, hardly worthy of our disdain, while it's so much more fun to score points off our old ideological rivals.

Of course, when it comes to urban unrest, it's always dangerous to boast, "It can't happen here," since it could happen here at any moment. "Instant karma's gonna get you," as John Lennon warned.

In this case, however, sneering at the French is particularly foolhardy because it already has happened here, repeatedly.

Amusingly, the American commentariat, while full of scorn for French policies, offer diametrically opposed explanations of what they are doing wrong. Liberal gloating has at least been more attached to reality than that of the neoconservatives, since the liberals recognize that the French state shares with their neoconservative antagonists an ideological opposition to affirmative action and identity politics. The French government doesn't even compile statistics by race or ethnicity, for example...

The embarrassing truth is that the country the neocons hate the most, France, is also, paradoxically but perhaps not surprisingly, the one most similar to them in personality and philosophy. The French are quarrelsome, vengeful, ideological, and verbally facile … a nation of Podhoretzes.

The December 19th issue also includes my rather ambitious review of "Rent," which offers a suggestion for why creativity in the arts appears to be in decline.

This issue of The American Conservative also includes articles by Roger D. McGrath on black vs. Hispanic violence in LA, Bill Kauffman on the secession movement in Vermont, W. James Antle III on lessons from the recent GOP electoral losses, Pat Buchanan on "The Death of Economic Patriotism," Taki on lessons for Bush from The Prince, Deep Background on what the big money boys in Syria are doing, John Zmirak on Wal-Mart's war on Christmas, Leon Hadar on Karen Hughes's comedy tour of the Middle East, William Pfaff on Tony Blair's embarrassment, Scott McConnell on The Assassins' Gate by George Packer, Howard Sutherland on Stanley A. Renshon's The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in the Age of Terror by Stanley A. Renshon, and Gary Brecher, the War Nerd, on Victor Davis Hanson's A War Like No Other.

Subscribe here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 25, 2005

Gary Brecher's back and The American Conservative's got him!

In the new December 19th issue of The American Conservative (subscribe here, and don't forget giving subscriptions as Christmas presents), the War Nerd reviews Victor Davis Hanson's new book on the Peloponnesian War, A War Like No Other. (Perhaps the War Nerd had time to write the review while The eXile suspended him without pay after Hanson implied Brecher torched his Fresno-area vineyard.) It's not online, but here's a brief excerpt from the 1800 word essay:

[Hanson] keeps dropping hints that Athens equals America and the Peloponnesian War equals us in Iraq, but here again there are huge logical problems mainstream reviewers don't even notice. For starters, how does this fit into the Hanson project of using ancient Greece to make Iraq look good? If Athens equals America, as Hanson keeps saying, then we've got a problem: Athens lost. So if Hanson's neocon readers buy the parallel, they should be wetting their pants and preparing to convert to Islam.

There's just no way Thucydides' story can be spun as a happy tale. It was bad war for nearly everybody -- except the Persians, who sat on the sidelines giggling and feeding money to keep the carnage going. (Sound familiar. Anyone for Basra?)...

The key fact about the ancient Athenians is that they weren't like us -- at all. I admit, Hanson has a quote from Thucydides himself claiming that "human nature is unchanging across time and space and thus predictable." Well, Thucydides was wrong. We worship those Athenians -- and they deserve it -- but face it, they said and did a lot of stuff that was just plain wrong.

One thing historians have learned in the two-and-half-thousand years since Thucydides wrote is that people change deeply from one time and place to another. That's why no modern military historian with a conscience would peddle the old notion that there's a standard issue "human nature" that applies to Genghis Khan and Woody Allen. And the differences are central to our problems in Iraq. Take the question of killing civilians in towns that resist attack. No ancient army had a problem wiping out the whole male population of sacked cities and divvying up the females for use or sale.

For better or for worse, modern armies just can't do that any ore. We kill lots of civilians, but if possible we do it from 30,000 feet, and we have to make it seem like we didn't mean to do it...

That's why you don't hear too much about urban guerrillas before the 20th century: before then urban guerilla warfare as a strategy was civic suicide...

The grimmest joke in the book is that there really is one parallel that holds up when you compare the Peloponnesian War to America's military history. You bet there is. But here's the kicker: it's the one connection would never, ever allow into print. I'm talking about the creepy way that our Iraq disaster resembles the Athenian invasion of Sicily.

I've never understood the how the neocons can be both so infatuated with Thucydides and so clueless about what his book reports. During the middle of their war with Sparta, the Athenians suddenly decided, out of the blue, to attack Syracuse, a city-state in Sicily unaligned with Sparta. The Spartans sent advice to Syracuse, which narrowly defeated the Athenian expedition. This began the downfall of Athens.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Surprise! The "No Child Left Behind" law is being undermined by paste-eating dumb kids

The NCLB requires 100% of all students in all states to be "proficient" in all subjects by 2014, which seems a tad unrealistic. Fortunately, the law encourages the states to use a simple solution to the otherwise insoluble problem posed by the Ralph Wiggums of America: cheat.

Sam Dillon writes in the NYT:

After Tennessee tested its eighth-grade students in math this year, state officials at a jubilant news conference called the results a "cause for celebration." Eighty-seven percent of students performed at or above the proficiency level.

But when the federal government made public the findings of its own tests last month, the results were startlingly different: only 21 percent of Tennessee's eighth graders were considered proficient in math.

Such discrepancies have intensified the national debate over testing and accountability, with some educators saying that numerous states have created easy exams to avoid the sanctions that President Bush's centerpiece education law, No Child Left Behind, imposes on consistently low-scoring schools...

A comparison of state test results against the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test mandated by the No Child Left Behind law, shows that wide discrepancies between the state and federal findings were commonplace.

The chasm is significant because of the compromises behind the No Child Left Behind law. The law requires states to participate in the National Assessment - known to educators as NAEP (pronounced nape) - the most important federal measure of student proficiency.

But in a bow to states' rights, states are allowed to use their own tests in meeting the law's central mandate - that schools increase the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency each year. The law requires 100 percent of the nation's students to reach proficiency - as each state defines it - by 2014.

States set the stringency of their own tests as well as the number of questions students must answer correctly to be labeled proficient. And because states that fail to raise scores over time face serious sanctions, there is little incentive to make the exams difficult, some educators say.

"Under No Child Left Behind, the states get to set the proficiency bar wherever they like, and unfortunately most are setting it quite low," said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which generally supports the federal law.

But, honestly, is this a bug or a feature in the NCLB? Do you really think nobody in the executive or legislative branch figured out that NCLB was institutionalizing a massive conflict of interest? Our leaders have a lot more animal cunning than that. Requiring states to achieve an impossible level of performance but not providing any means for disinterested outsiders to check on the states' performance was a massive hint that the states were supposed to cheat. After all, having underlings cheat on schools tests, like Rod Paige at the Houston school district, is one way Bush got elected President in 2000.

Personally, I attended Rice U., one of the leading math and science colleges in the U.S., and, boy, did I ever get left behind in math. I never made it to differential equations, not to mention the vast, mysterious realms of math beyond that. Too bad there wasn't a "No Overgrown Child Left Behind" law to give Rice incentive to whip together some cockamamie test that would have certified me as proficient in math.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Charles Krauthammer, chain-yanker

Charles Krauthammer, chain-yanker: Most of our pundits enjoy the moral advantage of not being smart enough to realize when they are misleading the public. They actually believe the talking points they are passing on. The disadvantage of being a smart pundit, like Charles Krauthammer, is that there must be a little voice inside his head that complains, "C'mon, Chuck, you know you're yanking the public's chain on this one." But, Krauthammer soldiers on. Today, he composes a novel argument in favor of the Bush Doctrine:

But Washington has a second distinction, more subtle and even more telling about the nature of America: its many public statues to foreign liberators. I'm not talking about the statues of Churchill and Lafayette, great allies and participants in America's own epic struggles against tyranny. Everybody celebrates friends. I'm talking about the liberators who had nothing to do with us. Walk a couple of blocks from Dupont Circle at the heart of commercial Washington, and you come upon a tiny plaza graced by Gandhi, with walking stick. And perhaps 100 yards from him, within shouting distance, stands Tomas Masaryk, the great Czech patriot and statesman...

Masaryk, in formal dress and aristocratic demeanor, has nothing in common with the robed, slightly bent Gandhi with whom he shares the street, except that they were both great liberators and except that they are honored by Americans precisely for their devotion to freedom.

Farther up the avenue stands Robert Emmet, the Irish revolutionary, while one block to the west of Masaryk looms a massive monument to a Ukrainian poet and patriot, Taras Shevchenko....

Discount if you will (as fashionable anti-Americanism does) the Statue of Liberty as ostentatious self-advertising or perhaps a relic of an earlier, more pure America. But as you walk the streets of Washington, it is harder to discount America's quiet homage to foreign liberators -- statues built decades apart without self-consciousness and without any larger architectural (let alone political) plan. They have but one thing in common: They share America's devotion to liberty. Liberty not just here but everywhere. Indeed, liberty for its own sake.

America has long proclaimed this principle, but in the post-Sept. 11 era, it has pursued it with unusual zeal and determination. Much of the world hears America declare the spread of freedom the centerpiece of its foreign policy and insists nonetheless that America's costly sacrifices in Iraq and even Afghanistan are nothing more than classic imperialism in search of dominion, oil, pipelines or whatever such commodity most devalues America's exertions. The overwhelming majority of Americans refuse to believe that. Whatever their misgivings about the cost and wisdom of these wars, they know how deep and authentic is the American devotion to liberty.

But of course, as Krauthammer knows perfectly well, the men honored in the statues, and others he mentions, such as Garibaldi and Mazzini, were nationalists, typically struggling to resist foreign invaders. And of course, the United States did nothing to help them, other than to furnish them with an example of a nation throwing off foreign rule. Putting up statues of foreign patriots for whom we did nothing militarily is not the embodiment of the George W. Bush Doctrine, but of its diametrical opposite, the John Quincy Adams Doctrine:

"America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

Similarly, Krauthammer must know that he's blowing smoke in this sentence:

Discount if you will (as fashionable anti-Americanism does) the Statue of Liberty as ostentatious self-advertising or perhaps a relic of an earlier, more pure America.

Uh, Chuck, the Statue of Liberty can't be "ostentatious self-advertising" or "a relic of an earlier, more pure America" because, as he knows perfectly well, we didn't build it. It was a gift from (horror of horrors!) the French to thanks us for the example we set for France and the world by our American Revolution -- the Quincy Adams Doctrine transposed to France.

You'll note that French gratitude toward us was highest back after they had intervened militarily at Yorktown to help liberate us. As Ben Franklin observed, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." That's why the French gave us the Statue of Liberty, when, really, we should have given them something for saving us.

Thus, after we'd intervened militarily to save France in WWI ("Lafayette, we are here!" proclaimed General Pershing's aide in Paris on July 4, 1917) and WWII, French feelings of thankfulness toward us shriveled.

Similarly, liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein has not made Iraqis like us, because it just shows them how much more powerful we are than them.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Walk the Line"

I somehow missed the Little Richard biopic on NBC in 2000, but it sure seems like I've seen every other 1950s music icon's life story: Gary Busey as Buddy Holly, Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis, Kurt Russell as Elvis Presley, Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, and now Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. I've liked them all, though they do blend together in my head.

As do Johnny Cash's songs. The movie gives the impression that he perfected The Johnny Cash Song early with "Folsom Prison Blues," with lines ending with descending notes to give an air of manliness:

But I shot a man in Reno,
Just to watch him die

It's a great gimmick, but there are a few too many similar medium-fast songs in this 136 minute film. Still, there are plenty of memorable enough songs.

It's always interesting to see which song is stuck in your head after you see a musical (or, in the case of "Rent," it's revealing that no song stuck in my head). For me, the ultimate Johnny Cash song turns out to be the one written not by Johnny, but by his wife June Carter, "Ring of Fire."

A shortcoming of "Walk the Line" is that Cash worked hard to create this mythic image for himself, the Man in Black, the preacher / convict, but the movie is a straight-forward recounting of biographical events to the point of being a little mundane. Cash had a bigger impact on the American imagination as a whole than he did on director/screenwriter James Mangold's imagination, which remains earthbound. Mangold definitely made a film suited to the domestic-oriented title song "Walk the Line" rather than the alarming grandeur of "Ring of Fire."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 24, 2005

Who? Whom?

As Lenin said, the key questions in public affairs are: Who? Whom? (You can fill in your own transitive verb.)

Back in February, blogger Matt Yglesias made a frank point about how American ideological allegiances are often driven not by ideology, but by kin connections. He explained he is "pretty firmly on the left," even though "there's an awful lot of room in conceptual space to the left of where I am. I haven't made a detailed study of it, but it seems to me that in most other countries I would likely find myself on the moderate right or as a swing voter." Yglesias offered a striking defense of ethnocentrism as the driving force behind party affiliation:

Here in the United States, the right has a tendency (once, but mostly no longer, found on the European right) to serve up a mixture of hostility to intellectuals, Hollywood, journalists, academics, and residents of big cities along with valorization of farmers, soldiers, and small-town life that I, at least, find remarkably uncongenial to the values of American Jewry. I rather doubt, at this point, that there's any actual anti-semitism lurking beneath this murky cauldron of anti-semitic tropes, but still, there they are. Or to put it another way, granting that pretty much nobody on the American right seems to hate Jews as such, pretty much everybody on the American right seems to hate the things that, in practice, American Jews do. ...

Perhaps it's just a coincidence that my family (including its non-Jewish element) lives up so happily to stereotype. We all live in the Washington-Boston corridor. We've all worked in the journalism/academia/entertainment complex except Uncle Andy who does have his PhD. Looking all squinty-eyed at our home region while extolling the virtues of Boise and "character" over actual knowledge is not increasing our comfort level...

But perhaps I'm just paranoid. I've mentioned this before, but there's an astoundingly awesome passage in [Seymour Martin Lipset's] American Exceptionalism (pages 172) about American Jewish paranoia:

San Francisco provides strong evidence of how some Jews can totally ignore reality. Polls taken by Earl Raab among contributors to the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation have found that one third agree that a Jew cannot be elected to Congress from San Francisco. His survey reported such results in 1985 when all three members of Congress from contiguous districts in or adjacent to the city were Jewish, as were the two state senators, the mayor, and a considerable part of the city council.

Funny, that. But I think the point stands. San Francisco is good for the Jews, and the Republican Party is bad for San Francisco. The fact that anti-SF sentiment is more likely motivated by hatred of gays and lesbians than of Jews is of little comfort, since we seem likely to get caught in the crossfire. Other Jewish fun facts from Exceptionalism Chapter 5:

Although never more than 3.7 percent of the population, and now 2.5 or less, they have been given one third of the religious representation. In many public ceremonies there is one priest, one minister, and one rabbi [ED: this was written in 1996, have they now been joined by an Imam?]. Strikingly, non-Jews greatly overestimate the size of the American Jewish population. A 1992 national survey conducted for the Anti-Defamation Leage by Marttila & Kiley found the median estimate of the percentage of Americans who are Jewish is 18. Only a tenth perceive them as less than 5 percent. . . .

An analysis of the four hundred richest Americans, as reported by Forbes magazine, finds that two-fifths of the 160 wealthiest Americans are Jews, as are 23 percent of the total list. Jews are disproportionately present among many sections of elites, largely drawn from the college educated. These include the leading intellectuals (45%), professors at the major universities (30%), high-level civil servants (21%), partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, DC (40%), the reporters, editors, and executives of print and broadcast media (26%), the directors writers and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982 (59%), and the same level of people involved in two or more prime time television series (58%).

One notes that while, generically speaking, the Republican Party is very friendly to rich and successful people, the specific brands of success here correlate extremely closely to American conservatism's most-loathed occupational categories. Lawyers, professors, intellectuals, civil servants, and the dastardly cultural elite.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Autism update

A sociologist writes:

I thought you might be interested in this. I was just looking at the child sample for the 2003 National Health Interview Survey. For N=12,249, there is no relationship between race and autism, nor is there one between either mother's or father's education and the child being autistic. Some folks over at Gene Expression evidently assume an association, but I ain't seeing it. I just wish they had info on type of parental occupation (verbal vs. quantitative).

This country really needs a crash program to understand what causes autism. But, then, can this country actually do anything on a crash schedule anymore? Every year that goes by, my childhood memory of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon way back in 1969, barely a quarter century after we had jet airplanes and only 66 years after Kitty Hawk, seems more and more like a dream. How in the world did the ancestors of the people running America today accomplish that so quickly?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 23, 2005

Prostrate yourselves in awe before the might of!

Yesterday, I pointed out that Peter Frost's important book Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Racial Prejudice was #458,674 on the Amazon sales list. Today, a mere 24 hours after I called attention to this criminally overlooked book, it has become ... #506,697.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Why Iraq Has No Army"

James Fallow's Atlantic report on the failure of our vaunted "training" efforts in Iraq is online. The article focuses more on the poor job we've done in training Iraqis, rather than the notable lack of effort the Iraqis have made to get trained. It took the U.S. only about 15 months after the declaration of war in 1917 to reach the point where we could hold our own against the Germans on the Western Front and only 18 months to where the German General Staff could see Germany was doomed. The Iraqis don't have to fight Germans, they just have to fight Iraqis (and a few outside Arabs), and disorganized, poorly armed ones at that.

My guess would be that while Shi'ite Iraqis are willing to draw pay for training, when it comes to actual fighting, they would, on the whole, prefer we do the fighting and the dying for them. The Shi'ite attitude towards his American "allies" and his Sunni enemies appears to be: "Let's you and him fight."

General Patton said, "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." But the Shi'ites have got Patton beat. By malingering and goldbricking, they are persuading the poor dumb Americans to make the the poor dumb Sunnis die for the good of Mesopotamian Shia'stan.

But Fallow's portrait of the lackadaisical job we've done just getting ready to train Iraqis will make you ashamed to be an American.

One big problem is that training Iraqis is bad for your hopes of getting promoted in the U.S. Army, so nobody good wants to do it. And the language problem remains a gigantic stumbling block 32 months after the invasion. But the lack of effort is most striking.

The fish rots from the head. Fallows writes:

All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a boring issue. Opponents of the war rarely talked about it. Supporters reeled off encouraging but hollow statistics as part of a checklist of successes the press failed to report. President Bush placed no emphasis on it in his speeches. Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq in general and this tedious process in particular, neither of which could match the challenge of transforming America's military establishment...

"There is still no sense of urgency," T. X. Hammes says. In August, he pointed out, the administration announced with pride that it had bought 200 new armored vehicles for use in Iraq. "Two-plus years into the war, and we're proud! Can you imagine if in March of 1944 we had proudly announced two hundred new vehicles?" By 1944 American factories had been retooled to produce 100,000 warplanes. "From the president on down there is no urgency at all."

Since last June, President Bush has often repeated his "As Iraqi forces stand up ..." formula, but he rarely says anything more specific about American exit plans... Vice President Cheney sounds similarly dutiful... Donald Rumsfeld has the same distant tone. Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz have moved on to different things.

I've known a couple of dozen people in the marketing research industry (not the most dynamic of businesses) who could get the job done better than the top two dozen people in the Bush Administration. Bush is what he was with the Texas Rangers, a marketing man focused on polishing the organization's facade, but with no talent for or interest in the boring operational side. He's an empty suit. Cheney was supposed to handle operations, but he's been a bust.

Another problem is that Iraq is a quite different culture than ours. Fallows touches on many of my favorite themes.

The ethnic and tribal fissures in Iraq were another big problem. Half a dozen times in my interviews I heard variants on this Arab saying: "Me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousin against my village; me and my village against a stranger." "The thing that holds a military unit together is trust," T. X. Hammes says. "That's a society not based on trust." A young Marine officer wrote in an e-mail, "Due to the fact that Saddam murdered, tortured, raped, etc. at will, there is a limited pool of 18-35-year-old males for service that are physically or mentally qualified for service. Those that are fit for service, for the most part, have a DEEP hatred for those not of the same ethnic or religious affiliation."

Obviously, America is an insular country with little interest in foreign cultures. But, it's important to realize that while diversity and multiculturalism are advertised as making us more aware of the outside world, they've actually made it harder for us to understand other cultures. Why? We're told to "celebrate diversity" but we all know that means: "Don't think analytically about diversity."

Diversity and multiculturalism inculcate in Americans cautious habits of ignorance, lies, and euphemisms when it comes to thinking about ethnic groups. These days in the land of the free and the home of the brave, your career can be ended by saying the wrong thing about any politically powerful group (and there are so many noe, including Arabs), so things that need to be said go unsaid.

For example, how often has the fact that half of Iraqis are married to their first or second cousins come up in the American media? It has substantial implications for Iraqi culture and politics, but looking at Google, most of the items are references to things written by either me in the American Conservative, Randall Parker (ParaPundit), or John Tierney of the NYT. And we're quoting each other!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 22, 2005

Readers on "Rent"

The 1996 musical about East Greenwich Village bohemians, debuting as a film on Wednesday (here's an excerpt from my review in The American Conservative), was parodied in "Team America, World Police" as "Lease." Trey Parker and Matt Stone created a rousing rock anthem to close "Lease" entitled "Everyone Has AIDS!:"

Everyone has AIDS!
Everyone has AIDS!

And so this is the end of our story
And everyone is dead from AIDS...
Well I'm gonna march on Washington
Lead the fight and charge the brigades
There's a hero inside of all of us
I'll make them see everyone has AIDS...

Everyone has AIDS!
My grandma and my dog Ol' Blue (AIDS AIDS AIDS)
The pope has got it and so do you (AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS)
C'mon everybody we got quilting to do (AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS)
We gotta break down these barricades, everyone has
Repeat 20 times

In the Broadway theatre seats, the well-dressed audience of middle-aged white people (or, to be technical, middle-aged white puppets) cheers along.

That raises the question of who exactly goes to see "Rent." A lot of people evidently do. It's coming up on its 4,000th performance on Broadway, making it the 8th longest running show ever (and still going). In contrast, here are some other shows' original runs: My Fair Lady 2717 performances, The Sound of Music 1443, The Music Man 1375, The King and I 1246, Guys and Dolls 1200, Cabaret 1165, City of Angels (a favorite of mine due to my Raymond Chandler obsession) 879, and Camelot 873.

(Do musicals enjoy longer runs these days because they have less competition? In the 1950s, a truly great new musical debuted about once a year, so did they drive each other off stage?)

But, who are they who are paying up to $100 a ticket to see "Rent?" A reader writes:

"Rent," let us remember, was first a big hit with the mid 90's NYC artsy crowd, pro-gay central, home of the PC politburo; that was the audience. After they raved about it, regular schmucks like yours truly had to get the 60--or better yet, 80-dollar tickets for their hot dates.

Why did it work with that initial crowd? Like "Oceans 11," it's fun to imagine different types working well together. But the theater class, unlike the jocks or nerds, would rather be in a group that sings and dances around then a group that knock-offs banks. We're trying to have a musical here!

But I digress. The initial artsy crowd dug the token white hets because they secretly, actually, dig having at least one straight single man around. Think Renee Zellwegger's speech in that Tom Cruise sports-agent flick, "I still love men." One strong, white, heterosexual, responsible Man around, good. Too many, bad. Too many ruins the vibe.

Moving on, it worked for the hot-chick-isn't-it-cool-living-in-the-city-crowd cause, let's face it, as much as that type of chick likes chatting with the theatre crowd at lunch on occasion, they really want to go to the prom with Joe Quarterback Class President Naval Academy. He's gotta be in the play. Great that he's so open minded these days. Whatever.

Their escorts said they it was ok cause, what the heck, be a little flexible, man, we're trying to keep the ladies happy.

Then the rubes said they liked it because, Jeezus Christmas, it won all those awards, so it must be good.

The late Richard Grenier, long time film reviewer for Commentary, wrote a review of Tony Kushner's AIDS drama Angels in American for National Review in 1993:

Just who are the legions of theatergoers that have made homosexual theater commercially viable? Here we come to a curious recognition. Starting after World War II, Jewish playwrights have succeeded on Broadway in large numbers, and at the same time Jews have come to dominate Broadway audiences. When I returned to America from Europe in 1977, and was required for professional reasons to see almost everything on Broadway, I was intrigued to find theater audiences that seemed overwhelmingly Jewish -- a point perhaps more noticeable to the son of a Jewish mother. So I found it not especially surprising that, in a recent week of diligent theatergoing in New York, at the more commercially successful homosexual works, I got the impression that the audiences were something like 10 per cent homosexuals and 90 per cent heterosexual Jews -- to all appearances well-to-do, liberal, husband-and-wife couples. We had some heterosexual Gentiles in the audiences, no doubt, but they appeared to be a distinct minority. During a preview of Angels in America, when one of the characters uttered an expletive in Yiddish, the house positively roared with laughter. . .

Many liberal Jews... have fully accepted the parallel between discrimination based on race or religion and discrimination based on 'sexual orientation.' This parallel is reflected in the AIDS plays -- indeed, it is more than reflected. To put it plainly, these plays are about Jews and Jewishness almost as much as they are about homosexuality. The plays' authors are almost all Jewish. Angels in America is by Tony Kushner, Jeffrey is by Paul Rudnick, and both music and lyrics to Falsettos are by William Finn. The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me is by the only Gentile, David Drake, but the title's Larry Kramer is Jewish and a real person. He is the author of The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, two angry AIDS- homosexual plays of 1985 and 1992, respectively. (Barbara Streisand is currently planning a movie version of The Normal Heart.) In all these plays a homosexual, usually the Jewish protagonist's Gentile lover, dies of AIDS. This is the fixture of these homosexual works, novels as well as plays... .

The leading Jewish figures are homosexuals and most of the leading homosexuals are Jews. The characters talk endlessly about Jews and homosexuality, homosexuality and Jews. The playwrights themselves find a correlation. Am I not to notice this?. . ."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Perhaps we shouldn't encourage him

The quantity and quality of young Glaivester's blogging has gone up significantly over recent months. Here he's discussing Mark Steyn's column, in which Steyn says (Steyn in italics):

"Exit strategy" is a defeatist's term. The only exit strategy that matters was summed up by George M. Cohan in the song the Doughboys sang as they marched off to the Great War nine decades ago:

"And we won't come back
Till it's over
Over there!"

And that's the timetable, too. If you want it fleshed out a bit, how about this? "The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.''

Translation: Our goal is to finish the job. Or, more pertinent to our discussion, "our goal is to meet our goal."

Has Mark Steyn ever heard the term tautology? ...

Put another way, we don't want Bush to set any actual goals or to propose a schedule for how we will make Iraq independent. We'll just keep doing what we are doing and keep looking forward to someday, you know, completing the job, but without any knowledge now of what "completing the job" means.

On the other hand, this statement of Glaivester's raises concerns about whether or not we should encourage him:

This post on AFFBrainwash by Michael Brendan Dougherty has inspired me to write a little about my thoughts on attractive women (specifically celebrities). First of all, I do not have a girlfriend, or any prospects of getting one soon (considering how often I blog, is anyone surprised?)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Fred Reed on Maureen Dowd

Fred Reed on Maureen Dowd:

I read with ashen resignation that Maureen Dowd, the professional spinster of the New York Times, will soon birth a book, no doubt parthenogenetically, called Are Men Necessary? The problem apparently is that men have not found Maureen necessary. Hell hath…. Clearly there is something wrong with men.

I weary of the self-absorbed clucking of aging poultry.

Why is Maureen hermetically single? For starters, she is not just now your classic hot ticket. She’s not just over the hill, but into the mountains, to Grandmother’s house we go. She probably gets more daily maintenance than a 747, but she still looks as though a vocational school held an injection-molding contest and everyone lost. That leaves her with only her personality as bait. The prognosis is grim. [More, and there's lots more where this came from!]

We've all had a lot of fun at Maureen's expense lately, but nobody's going to top Fred's evisceration of her.

Now, that reminds me of something I wanted to mention about how the book publishing industry works these days. Maureen Dowd can get vast amounts of attention (and some sales, but mostly generating lecture circuit big bucks) for a book that is partly retread newspaper columns. How does she do it? By claiming to be a hot babe (see 53-year-old Maureen's fantasy image of herself on the book's cover above).

In contrast, the world's greatest living writer can't get his two most recent books published in America. But, what I want to talk about is a book that did manage to get published a half year ago, had something new, important, and true to say about the sexes, and nobody noticed. Zip. Nada.

Peter Frost's short book Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Racial Prejudice explained a striking aspect of our celebrity culture, and much else, but it dropped like a pebble into the deepest well in the world. It currently ranks #458,674 in Books on My review in was the only extended analysis it has received since it was published last March, according to Google.

Now, what is the vaunted blogosphere for if it takes its cues about what to talk about from the New York Times and is afraid of any truly new ideas? If Nicholas Wade, the NYT's ace genetics reporter, got hit by a bus tomorrow, the blogosphere would ignore the human sciences.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jack Abramoff's Israeli connections

The "Deep Background" gossip column by former CIA agent Philip Giraldi of Cannistraro Associates is one of the many reasons you should subscribe to The American Conservative. It does not appear online, but I'll reprint an item from the 12/5/05 issue, which came out a week ago (I should have posted it immediately, but instead I waited until the Abramoff-Ney scandal heated up).

One of the more intriguing aspects of the federal investigation into the activities of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is his Israeli connections. His large $2.2 million bail is reported to be due to fears that he would flee to Israel, as some of his business associates have already done, to avoid prosecution. Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew and ardent Zionist, set up a charity called Capital Athletic Foundation, which illegally provided $140,000 worth of weapons and security equipment to hard-line Israeli settlers.

Abramoff also allegedly convinced Congressman Robert Ney, House Administrative Committee chairman, to award a contract worth $3 million to a start-up Israeli telecommunications firm called Foxcom Wireless. The contract was for the installation of antennas in House of Representatives buildings to improve cell-phone reception. Not surprisingly, such equipment can be designed to have what is known as a "back door" to enable a third party, in this case Mossad, to listen in. That an Israeli firm should be given such a contract through a selection process that was described as "deeply flawed and unfair" is explicable, particularly as there were American suppliers of the same equipment, and it suggest that the private conversations of some of our Congressmen might not be so private after all.

In a previous scandal in 2001, FBI investigators strongly suspected that two Israeli companies, AMDOCS and Comverse Infosys, which had been allowed to obtain U.S. government telecommunications contracts, were able to use back-door technology to compromise the security of DEA, Pentagon, and White House phones.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More gun talk

I don't know anything about guns, but for some reason I can listen to guys argue about guns all day. Here are some comments from a fellow who saw combat in Vietnam:

The M-16 is a precision instrument but IT MUST BE KEPT CLEAN. I never saw any jamming in my unit.

The AK-47 is inaccurate and quite unreliable in full automatic mode. Armies that use it, spray bullets at random because there is little point in taking aim.

Its loose construction allows it to tolerate a fair amount of dirt. The AK-47 is a simple stamped metal design that is very cheap to manufacture. No wonder that half the governments in Africa have been deposed by gangs of drugged youths firing bargain-basement AK’s. I’m quite sure that more people have been killed with Comrade Kalashnikov’s rifle than with Professor Oppenheimer’s A-bombs.

The real rap on the M-16 is a lack of hitting power. In battle, if I shoot an enemy, I want him to stay shot.

M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Like the .45 pistol it is a nearly 100 year-old design that has not been bettered. Again, so much for high-tech. GI’s have loved this weapon since 1942. Notice the recurring theme of hitting power. Knock ‘em down and keep ‘em down.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

War Nerd

"Happy Birthday to an Unloved War" (the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War): This isn't one of Gary Brecher's best -- the farther back in time he goes the less distinctive he becomes. He's better off competing against journalists than against historians, because historians have more freedom to tell the truth, because the events they describe are remote enough to be less constrained by the dictates of political correctness.

Brecher's article misses the coolest thing about the Russo-Japanese War, an event that much impressed the 6-year-old Vladimir Nabokov. The Russians had been building the Trans-Siberian Railway both from Europe going east and from Vladivostok on the Pacific going west. When the war broke out, they had finished the whole thing except the extensive zig-zag around Siberia's huge Lake Baikal. To get men and supplies to the front, during the winter, the Russians laid tracks on the ice and drove their trains straight across the lake. (The troops got out of the trains and marched across.) Supposedly the first train fell in, but, being Russians, they took catastrophe in stride and kept at it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


"Rent" -- The 8th longest running musical in Broadway history comes to the silver screen this week. From my review in The American Conservative (subscribe here):

"Rent's" composer Jonathan Larson ... wanted to "revolutionize" the musical by making it relevant to today's young people by featuring the kind of music the kids were listening to on the street in 1996 … well, to be precise, the kind of 1970s electric guitar rock that Larson had listened to as a teenager in his White Plains bedroom...

The two heterosexual white male characters at the center of "Rent" have all these cool minority friends. Indeed, "Rent" functions as a sensitive liberal man's wish-fulfillment fantasy about a new and improved form of diversity. Hanging with diverse pals demonstrates your moral superiority over other Caucasians, but, frustratingly for young white social climbers, actual live minorities are seldom content to play their assigned roles as silent props in your fashionable lifestyle. In particular, real black friends might insist on playing their hideous rap music and real gay friends their sissy disco music. In "Rent," however, the diverse trendsetters all like 1970s white boy guitar rock, thus validating the two straight guys' hipness quotients.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 20, 2005

Euro-Muslims and Cousin Marriage

Among married people in Britain of Pakistani background, 55% are married to a first cousin. An article from the Wellcome Trust on "The impact of genetic risk on UK Pakistani families:"

For anyone, the risk of having a child affected by a genetic condition is comparatively low. According to birth incidence data, the risk of having a child with a congenital or genetic (including recessive) disorder is about 2 per cent. The risk doubles to about 4 per cent for first-cousin couples, mainly because of the increased risk of recessive disorders.

(Recessive disorders are associated with inheriting two copies of an identical mutation; cousins are more likely to inherit an identical mutation because of sharing a pair of grandparents, one of whom might carry a mutation that they could pass on to their children and grandchildren. Background: Recessive diseases)

There is a further approximately 2 per cent risk for first-cousin couples where there is also a history of consanguineous marriage in the family.

In other words, if a typical American marries his first cousin, the odds of their child having a major genetic disease is doubled. But if a typical British Pakistani, whose family tree is already entangled by inbreeding, marries his first cousin, the odds are tripled. Also, although it's not stated here, the odds are that the child will suffer various forms of in-breeding depression that don't rise to the level of a specific disease, but are still mildly deleterious, such as losing a few points of IQ.

Moreover, cousin marriage is to be deplored on multiple grounds. It goes hand in hand with arranged marriages, which we in the West despise. White Europeans are supposed to be beating themselves up with guilt right now over their failure to "integrate" Muslims, but arranged cousin marriages are the surest engine for maintaining Muslim ethnocentrism. And, finally, Muslim cousin marriages are a major engine of immigration fraud. Believing in true love, European countries allow their citizens/subjects to bring in their foreign spouses, but these arranged cousin marriages seldom have anything to do with romance, and often everything to do with getting visas for extended family members.

Obviously, European countries need to stop first cousins from marrying. But, that's not the way you're allowed to think about the problem:

"The problem that faces clinicians is how to deliver genetic services without stigmatizing British Pakistanis on the basis of their marriage pattern."

Stigmatization of cousin marriage is exactly what Britain needs, but it won't happen because it's associated with a politically privileged minority group. As we've seen in the U.S., stigmatization can work when a behavior is seen as either being common among the majority (e.g., drunk driving, smoking) or within a non-privileged minority (e.g., cousin marriage was easily stigmatized because it was associated with white hillbillies, who aren't a political force qua hillbillies). But when a form of bad behavior is linked to a privileged minority, such as gangsta rap or illegitimacy is linked with blacks, it is much harder to stigmatize in a multi-culti society.

The article also hints that British Pakistanis are not razor-sharp thinkers when it comes to modern scientific concepts like genetics:

"The research has found that, for many UK Pakistanis, the very idea of ‘genetic’ disease is unfamiliar, and competes with social, environmental and spiritual understandings of the causes of illness. It has also found that families understand probabilistic risk information not in abstract terms, but according to the social context and circumstances of their lives. Where a recessive disorder is diagnosed, the one in four recurrence risk is interpreted in very different ways by different couples. Their interpretations reflect their prior experiences of fertility and disability, the expectations and experiences of other family members such as siblings and senior kin, their marital and family circumstances, and the social environment of contemporary Britain."

As I've said before, Muslims can't afford to lose a few IQ points to inbreeding depression.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Sir Isaac Newton was one weird dude

Charles Krauthammer claims:

"Newton's religion was traditional. He was a staunch believer in Christianity and a member of the Church of England."

Actually, economist John Maynard Keynes's 1936 purchase of a trove of Newton's private papers at an auction opened the door to Newton's mystical side, which was unorthodox in the extreme. Newton spent an enormous amount of the first half of his life engaged in "Bible Code"-style attempts to discover the secrets of the universe by deciphering the secrets God had embedded in ancient sacred writings.

Keynes wrote that Newton "was the last of the magicians... His deepest instincts were occult, esoteric, semantic... Very early in life Newton abandoned orthodox belief in the Trinity... He was rather a Judaic monotheist of the school of Maimonides."

Perhaps fancifully, I rather suspect that Newton saw Jesus Christ, with whom he shared December 25th as a birthday, less as his Savior than as his rival.

After the publication of his Principia when he was 45, Newton's friends tried to get him out of his solitary life before he went completely around the bend. He had a nervous breakdown a few years later and when he had recovered, he had apparently lost his unique powers of mind, but still had plenty of mental horsepower left to function as a high level civil servant running the mint. He lived on for decades, becoming a tourist attraction for visitors to England like Voltaire as a benign emblem of the Age of Reason. After his death the true nature of his trunk of private papers, with their anti-Christian and anti-Reason heresies, were covered up for 200 years until Keynes wrote his analysis of what he had found for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Newton's birth in 1942.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer