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The Washington Post Hides the Ball

Dan Rooney

The Washington Post had a long article recently headlined in the hard copy, “Why do poor boys become jobless men?” (the headline on the jump-page was “Study: Poverty especially harmful to job prospects of boys”). 

It begins by noting that, while generally and historically men have been more likely to work than women, in some places now there is a “reverse gender gap” and it is men who are less likely to have jobs. And it goes on and on about poverty and race and geography and segregation, dropping a few tantalizing references to “unstable, high-poverty environments” and “family, schools and policy” and a shortage of “male role models” and “child support” — but doesn’t really get to the key point.

The key point is buried, just where you would bury something in a long article if you felt like you sort of had to mention it but didn’t want it to be noticed.  You would mention it just once, and it would be near the end — not at the very end, because then someone who wanted to see what the article’s conclusions were might actually read it. And you would put it in the middle of a paragraph, though that isn’t easy since newspaper paragraphs are so short. And you would not even have it be a sentence on its own, but just part of a sentence. 

That’s where you would reveal that the reverse gender gap “appears only among poor children with unmarried parents . . .”

Loony Rooney Rule To Be Expanded – The National Football League will now require at least one woman to be interviewed for all executive openings — an expansion of the “Rooney Rule,” which requires at least one racial minority to be interviewed when filling any head coaching vacancy.  But the Rooney Rule is illegal, as I explain here, and of course so is expanding it.

And I should also note that the University of Texas has adopted the Rooney Rule for its hiring of administrators.  I’m quoted as criticizing this development here.

Wrongly Getting Numbers Right – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has handed down a good decision, reinstating the racial discrimination claim of a white male who was laid off, he said, because his company wanted to get its numbers right.  For example, the plaintiff asserted that, when asked the reason for his termination, his supervisor explained, “My minority numbers aren’t right. I’m supposed to have 13.9 percent minorities on this job and I’ve only got 8 percent.”  Hmmm, that does sound a little suspicious.  The court of appeals said it was “puzzled” that the district court didn’t think there was any evidence of racial discrimination in light of this and other statements in the record.  Indeed. 

By the way, these quotas – I mean goals – came from the federal government.  And those goals themselves should be challenged, along with the federal government and its regulations, as I discuss here.

Harvard Admissions Update – I noted a couple of weeks ago that there is a move afoot to havefree tuition at Harvard, in conjunction with more transparency in admissions — with an eye, in particular, on stopping racial admissions discrimination.  Read all about the intriguing new campaign in this New York Times article.  And here’s an update:  The petition-drive has been successful, and a slate of candidates who will be backing this initiative has been approved and will be on ballot.

U.Conn U.Can’t Be Serious – The University of Connecticut recently announced that it would be opening a “ScHOLA2RS House,” which is a “living-learning community for African-American male students,” although the school also says that, technically at least, it might be open to some nonblack students.
I was quoted in the Inside Higher Ed article about this bad idea: 

“Forget about this nonsense and just treat students without regard to skin color,” Clegg said. “If there are students of color who are at risk or who could use some access to special programs, that’s fine, but schools shouldn’t be using race as a proxy for who’s at risk and who’s going to have a hard time as a student. There are lots of African-American students who come from advantaged backgrounds. And lots of non-African-American students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Here’s more that I had emailed to the reporter:

A state university that receives federal money is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race by both the Constitution and by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The use of racial classifications is permissible only if it is “narrowly tailored” to a “compelling interest” – that is, the university must have a really, really good reason to use racial classifications, and essentially no other way to achieve that goal except by using racial classifications.  Gender classifications are a little easier to justify, but only a little.

I don’t think that the state’s purported interests here would rise to that level, and in any event I don’t see why it would have to make a program available only to black male students rather than including at-risk students of all colors (and both genders, for that matter).  And the program is not only unfair in its exclusion of non-black-male students, but also unfairly stigmatizes black male students as uniquely problematic.

Felon Voting – Finally, I should note that late last month I had this published in the Montgomery Advertiser, in response to an article about efforts in Alabama to make it easier for more felons to vote:

If you aren't willing to follow the law yourself, then you can't demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in.

We don't let everyone vote because we have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility, trustworthiness and commitment to our laws that [we] expect of people who would participate in the solemn enterprise of self-government. Children, non-citizens, the mentally incapacitated and those who have committed serious crimes against their fellow citizens don't meet those minimum requirements. Once a new leaf has been shown to have been turned over, then the right to vote can be restored – but not before.