Thursday, February 17, 2005
Look Ma, no Hip Hop....
While listening to Steve Conte bang out a relentlessly catchy interpretation of Kanno Yoko's Call Me Call Me, I decided to add the Condi Rice blogroll to the menu on the left side this morning. This is a young lady in a hurry, and since I know that she is running a covert campaign for President (see previous post, "44", below). What she is not doing is engaging in a campaign right now, since that would defeat the purpose of wrapping up some sort of disengagement agreement in the Middle East that would burnish her credentials. The last thing she wants to do is get out front and then have to go before Foreign Relations (like she did yesterday) and have Lurch start pontificating or Boxer start attacking her again out of left field when she's trying to get something done.
There was a very interesting take from the Left that I ran across this morning in the New Statesman. Unfortunately, it's a paysite like Salon and other cheap pornsites, so I didn't bother putting up a link. For some reason, the article was up in unguarded form before being embargoed behind the Pay-To-Read-Our-Earth-Shattering-Content-Screen. Bottom line, the writer expects her to fail because she believes that Condi has no internal core beliefs other than her own power. One of the vignettes the writer used was the budget war at Stanford. Apparently there was word that a U.S. Department of Labor investigation might have been in the offing. Condi was cutting programs right and left and pissing off the lefty academics. Natch, they went to the Clinton Labor Department. The writer was upset about this. Conservatives, of course, look at this sort of stuff and ask where we can sign up for the Rice campaign. Putting a Chicano Studies professor out on the street is our idea of a good afternoon's work. Jesus God, I hope they didn't force Condi to choose between Womyn's Studies and the Football Team. I mean, this is a woman who chose her football coaches depending on whether or not they realized that Stanford couldn't run the Wishbone or not.
A thing about Rice and tenure; she has been clear on this. She has no illusions about the fact the fact that she was an affirmative action hire. Stanford hired this kid out of U Denver because she was black, female, and brilliant. It helped that she was black and female. However, Rice has been firm about tenure being performance-based, and that's where I agree with her. Naturally, all too many liberals do not. And so, the writer of the NS article (damn all Content protection, anyway. I just wanted an excerpt!) concluded that Rice had fallen away from her people as she gravitate towards the BushHitler.
But of course, that's what one would expect a black liberal writer to say. It does not occur to her that Rice might have convictions that are different from the "black mainstream" and that those convictions might not only be right, but might also be grounded in Rice's own biblical faith and her understanding of the post-9/11 world.
That the left, black and otherwise, might have fallen victim to the doctrine of throwing meat to the crocodile in the hopes of being eaten last hasn't appeared to have entered the heads of liberal writers. Well, almost not. This absolutely, must read, groundbreaking article by Kurt Anderson in New York Magazine asks why the Left can't be happy about the success of ordinary Iraqis at the polls. Anderson, a liberal writer, sets the table here:
...But now our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration’s awful hubris and dissembling and incompetence concerning Iraq, just might—might, possibly—have been correct to invade, to occupy, and to try to enable a democratically elected government in Iraq.
Point one for intellectual honesty! Now he brings it home in the huge money graph of the whole piece, the "What did you know during the Great Terror?" graph:
Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.
And there you have it. The choice Christopher Hitchens made in the hours after 9-11 has taken this long to percolate up to the rest of the Left.
Personal news: Panzer Lehr is rolling along. Into chapter 3, where my principal is doing graduate work at the University of Chicago. I don't see this thing being any shorter than 400 pages long. Meantime, my silent partner, Fugstat, has me green with envy. He just got the Mac G-5, with a nice screen. He doesn't have Microsoft Word for Mac, so I'm sending him my copy. Finally, I got in touch by email with the Webmaster of the Americans for Rice website. Will see if I can touch base with him tomorrow. I get the impression that things might get rolling after CPAC.
Fugstat, who is operating without a home ip address right now, was kind enough to read my piece, barge in and use his Nifty Editor's Password to get Bonnie Greer's New Statesman piece today. A couple of points need be looked at. First, Ms. Greer:
I first heard the name Condoleezza Rice in the green room at BBC2's Newsnight. A young, white, male news intern, a fellow American, introduced himself and as we talked, I discovered that he had attended Stanford University. He then told me that the provost there had been a black woman, and that - he said this in a whisper - "the US Department of Labour had begun an investigation into bias against women and minorities". Condoleezza Rice had cut their funding. She had rolled back the funding for women and ethnic minorities. I found this impossible to fathom: that a black woman, at university at the same time I was, who must have known about the culture wars, the struggle and everything else that had gone into being black and female in the late Sixties and early Seventies, could do that. And while I was later to discover that Dr Rice was a few years younger than I was when she started university, it would have been impossible for her to have missed the sit-ins, the walkouts that took place at that time.
Understand the fallacy that go into a paragraph such as this: "Rice came up black and female like me, so Rice must think like me. She does not, ergo, there is something wrong with Rice". In all too many cases, I have found throughout my adulthood that this is how liberals think! I am not surprised that the Labor Department got a bitchfest from the faculty at Stanford during Condi's tenure. Rice went into a situation in which a private university system was one billion dollars in the red. When she left, the university was a billion and a half in the black. To get from point "A" to point "B" she had to step on everyone's toes, especially the hypersensitive Women's and Chicano studies teachers. People started having to justify their tenure. "Publish or Perish" really started to mean something at Stanford. In other words, it became more like the University of Chicago.
Good on ya', Condi. The professoriat at Stanford forgot that they were not part of the Cal State or University of California system, with all of the tax dollars from Sacramento that went with it. Part of the reason Berkeley became what it did in ideological terms was all that State and Federal money flowing into the Bay Area. No one had to think about tightening their belts and considering what life was like in the real world. Thus, people who should have known better joined the Free Speech Movement and sung the praises of Madame Binh and Kwame Nkrumah. Condi threw cold water on that-especially when it came to tenure. Someone had to be the bitch. Condi depended on Federal dollars and, more importantly, on the endowments for which she had to cast around. I know. The U. of C. calls me every day. Private outfits are like Senators; they are constantly raising money. She must thank the Lord in her nightly prayers that Tiger Woods is a Stanford Man.
(By the way, for a bit of Condi Interruptus, I should say that I'm typing this while listening to Yoko Kanno, Mai Yamane, Steve Conte and the world's greatest rock and roll band, the Seatbelts tonight. This evening's selection is the rather superb Blue CD from Bandai's 1998 release, Cowboy Bebop. Rumor has it that Bandai is releasing Bebop again, something called Cowboy Bebop Remix).
Now here's a good money graph that just makes my day:
Thus, the myth of Condoleezza Rice. Raised in the black middle-class enclave of Titusville, Alabama, which was brimming with achievers, Dr Rice simply applied its ethos. Her supporters point out that she has not got where she is because of race. But Condi's career also owes much to the climate created by the civil rights and women's movements, and the federal government's push towards affirmative action. Her initial fellowship at Stanford, where she became a distinguished member of the faculty in the School of Politics, was paid for with university funds reserved for the minority faculty, while her professorship in the political science department was created for her without the customary national search process. This sort of rise would have been unthinkable for a Mary McLeod Bethune, for example. The pioneering African American educationalist and promoter of human rights was just as close to Franklin D Roosevelt as Rice is to George W Bush. Yet it was Dr Bethune's struggle and example that made it possible for a Condoleezza Rice to be acknowledged, supported, nurtured.
Okay, implicit in this entire paragraph is that Condi Rice does not believe this, that she is some sort of Dagny Taggart figure who forgot that Taggart Transcontinental was not built by her. She knows this! From her town hall meeting she had at State before the European trip:
QUESTION: Good morning, Secretary Rice. My name is Eric Nelson. I work in the Bureau of Administration. Last week when you arrived, in your first speech to us, you talked about the importance of diversity and that the State Department reflect the American population as a whole. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that and tell us what ideas you have for stimulating diversity on all levels of the Department.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. I'm glad you asked the question. The first thing is to be aware of its importance, aware of the need for diversity. So, you know, if you look around and everybody looks like you, then start thinking maybe I should think a little bit differently about this. And so I'd just ask each and every person to think every day about how you can improve diversity.
No, it's not easy because in -- particularly in foreign affairs, it has not been an area in which there has been great diversity and you have to really work at it. But I'm going to tell you about how I got to Stanford University and I think it will tell you something about how I view diversity.
I got to Stanford University -- I was a Fellow in the Center for International Security and Arms Control. I'd come from the University of Denver. And about halfway through my stay at Stanford, they asked if I was interested in maybe coming on to the faculty in a temporary position. And I thought, well, they have a couple Soviet specialists already, what are they doing? I realized many years later, of course, that what they did was they saw a black woman Soviet specialist and they thought maybe this is a chance to increase our diversity.
Now, the fact of the matter is Stanford didn't get most its faculty from the University of Denver. Okay, let's be realistic. What does that say? That says that sometimes, to increase diversity, you have to look outside your normal channels, outside your normal pools. You can't just look at the same places that everybody else came from. And so like Colin Powell, who was very active with historically black colleges and the colleges serving Hispanics and the like, we are going to look outside our normal channels and our normal pools to identify good people who can be brought into our midst who have the basic -- the basics: you know, they're smart, they're devoted, perhaps haven't had the experiences that some have had inside of those pools. And that's how you increase diversity.
It is not -- and I want to say this five times over -- it is not a matter of lowering standards. And it is not a matter of taking people who are unqualified. (Applause.) That is an insult. That's an insult to people of color. That's an insult to women. Of course there are people who are qualified; you just have to find them. And so a lot of diversity is finding people outside your normal channels, and we'll be making a big effort at doing that. (Applause.)
I'm no big fan of diversity for diversity's sake. The entire program always struck me as a huge political con, a racial spoils system designed to dole out the jobs to the "lesser races" while the white liberals keep all the power positions. However, if there is talent to be found in odd places, then I guess that an effort to look outside the normal "pool" can't hurt. And I believe that is what she is saying here. The sad thing is how the Left truly misunderstands this woman:
The eminent professor Stuart Hall is equally intrigued. "How can someone with this past in their bones refashion themselves into the spokesperson and instrument of Bush's domestic attack on the poor - the majority of whom are black - and his international assault on other peoples and civilisations around the world?" he asks. "This suggests she's 'smart' but not, in a deeper sense, a person of tough intelligence or moral conviction."
Okay, this is the part that pisses me off. "Progressives" have coasted on their arrogance for decades now. They were wrong about Stalin's blood purges. They were wrong about postwar Communism. They were wrong about Fidel. They were wrong about the Cold War. They were wrong about the Cambodian Genocide. They were wrong about Reagan and Gorbachev.
And they wrong about Iraq. And Professor Hall is wrong about one other thing: most people in poverty in this country are Caucasian (as in the shoe style-hat tip, George Carlin).
Mr. Hall's remarks remind me that the Left would, if given the choice between dishonor and war, choose dishonor, and get war. Lefties are the most arrogant of creatures. For Professor Hall to say that Dr. Rice has no inner convictions because she disagrees with him politically is the height of speciousness. Understand that this is what the Left has been trafficking in since 9/11, moral cowardice and specious argument. It is people such as George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, with a lot of help from the American and British infantryman, who will save the world from Islamic Fascism. The Left has checked out of the struggle. This article is merely another example of ambivalence.
But why stay pissed at the Left, when you can click on the link and listen to a minute cut of See You Space Cowboy from Kanno's Blue album? See, wasn't that pleasant? Made you forget all about the likes of Stuart Hall and Ward Churchill now, didn't it?
(hat tip to James Wong over at The Yoko Kanno Project for the cut from the "Blue" CD...).