One of the giants of contemporary political science, James Q. Wilson, has passed away. His writing displayed insightful commentary on areas of public policy--crime ("broken windows"), poverty, bureaucracy (the classic book), bioethics, marriage, and ethnic politics, plus a book on snorkeling,co-authored with his wife. I happened to use his Bureaucracy book last spring, originally published in 1989. Wilson taught us what questions to raise in examining political institutions. Some of his writings for the Claremont Institute can be found here. An appreciation of his work by Shep Melnick is here.
It is not to damn him with faint praise to say that Wilson was likely the nicest and the wisest President of the American Political Science Association. I can still recall the headshaking and denunciations of his presidential address, on "The Moral Sense."
Addendum: A conversation from 1987 with Wilson, conducted by Steve Hayward mostly.
Not intentionally of course. But by inflating the test scores of its incoming students, Claremont McKenna College provides ammunition for critics of race and ethnic preferences in admissions. How can we trust colleges to provide honest information? Won't they skew data about race to make the case for preferences? John Eastman's brief in an upcoming preferences case lays out this argument well.
In the meantime, a legal blogger has raised the possibility of law school deans serving jail time for falsifying student data and, biggest bonus of all, US News being charged with fraud for knowingly publishing false information.
U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data's accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.
NY Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin exhibits American virtues, not Chinese ones. One could conclude this from simple observation as well from this book on Chinese (PRC) professional baseketball. "Why are there no Jeremy Lins [point guards] coming out of China?" The answer lies in politics--the sports of a free society and those of a totalitarian one.
Speaking of Lincoln, note this 1860 cartoon of the presidential candidates, featuring baseball metaphors. Lincoln installed a baseball diamond on the White House grounds, as Diana Schaub relates in her classic essay on the All-American sport.
Charles Johnson tracks Claremont McKenna's race preferences admissions policies with the scandalous inflation of SAT reporting to US News and the world. Once again we see how a perverse policy of preferences leads to further unethical conduct. The issue for Claremont McKenna is not the superb quality of its teaching and much of the research--it's rather whether its key administrators (its Dean of Admissions resigned) based the College's policies and altered its identity for the sake of a higher standing in US News.
Did the President create a culture of cheap ambition? The Administration could have further played up its Government and Economics programs and been happy with a major national niche. Perhaps the prominence of conservative scholars in those departments made such a strategy distasteful, though.
We honor King when we try to apply his example to our times. William F. Buckley on Martin Luther King:
We read the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we celebrate while tending to ignore the essence of his beliefs, acclaimed by him (as by Abraham Lincoln) as the ground of his idealism. A bizarre paradox in the new secular order is the celebration of Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday acclaimed as the heartbeat of articulated idealism in race relations, conscientiously observed in our schools [think of all the colleges and public schools that ignore national holidays such as Veterans Day--but recognize the King holiday] with, however, scant thought given to Dr. King's own faith. What is largely overlooked, in the matter of Dr. King, is his Christian training and explicitly Christian commitment. Every student is familiar with the incantation, "I have a dream." Not many are familiar with the peroration. The closing words were "... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." [speech honoring the Heritage Foundation, Oct. 20, 1999, p. 472]
The speech, from collected Buckley speeches, is available via google books.
Teaming with secular media, the Obama Administration is clearly hostile toward organized religion, in particular the Catholic Church. Would King have stood for the churches or the Obama program? Would he have joined the March for Life?
Update: The Buckley speech can also be found here, with some added commentary, as Michelle notes in the comments below. Please read Lucas Morel's comment as well--an excerpt from his MLK Day remarks.
As a typical conservative, I'm rather fond of patriotism and generally dissent from the "blame Amerikkka" crowd. And while I subscribe to a strain of American exceptionalism, I find patriotism in those of other nations to be highly commendable. In particular, I think Europeans are often lacking in national pride - leading to the sort of cultural drift currently observed in many northern European countries.
On the other hand, the last time France took a stab at patriotic nationalism, they ended up with the Reign of Terror. So, while I commend the latest attempt by the French to introduce substantive prerequisites to French naturalization, I do so with slight hesitation. According to France 24:
Foreigners seeking French nationality face tougher requirements as of January 1, when new rules drawn up by Interior Minister Claude Guéant come into force.
Candidates will be tested on French culture and history, and will have to prove their French language skills are equivalent to those of a 15-year-old mother tongue speaker. They will also be required to sign a new charter establishing their rights and responsibilities.
"Becoming French is not a mere administrative step. It is a decision that requires a lot of thought", reads the charter, drafted by France's High Council for Integration (HCI).
Residing in Asia, I'm accustomed to rather strict naturalization laws. Viewing nationality as primarily a matter of blood, many Asian countries take a dim view of non-ethnic naturalization (excepting mixed-marriages) and simply forbid dual-citizenship. The thin-skinned may sense a pervasive racism in such sentiments, but there is an undeniable and obvious truth in the assertion that I, for example, am simply not Asian.
America, of course, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum and is rather exceptional with regard to citizenship. We alone in the world are truly a nation of immigrants and boast no purely ethnic component to citizenship. History has rarely witnessed such a national condition, and never upon so broad a scale. We are truly unique.
Immigration has never been my hot-button issue. Illegal immigration is certainly objectionable, but I can't passionately condemn something that I might very well attempt myself (for the safety and prosperity of my family) were I born into radically different circumstances. I see American citizenship as a privilege which should be available to those possessed of a certain American patriotism and willingness to adopt American culture (i.e., our language and basic civil and moral virtues). Immigration and citizenship are practical matters to me, best determined by balancing national interest with the circumstance of the applicant.
Yet America's immigration discussion generally encompasses Mexicans and the occasional Latin American. France is facing culture-altering waves of Muslim immigrants who have no will to adopt Western culture.
Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, described the [naturalization] process as "a solemn occasion between the host nation and the applicant", adding that migrants should be integrated through language and "an adherence to the principals, values and symbols of our democracy". He stressed the importance of the secular state and equality between women and men: rhetoric perceived largely as a snipe at Muslim applicants, who make up the majority of the 100,000 new French citizens admitted each year.
France's interior minister has made it clear that immigrants who refuse to "assimilate" into French society should be denied French citizenship.
Earlier this year, Guéant intervened personally to ensure an Algerian-born man living in France was denied French nationality because of his "degrading attitude" to his French wife.
That followed an earlier push by France's former Immigration Minister Eric Besson to revise existing laws in order to strip polygamists of their acquired citizenship.
France is correct in all of this. While Sarkozy is accused of "pandering to the right," he has a responsibility to uphold the basic laws and ethics of France. There is always a danger of such sentiments degrading into ethnic, religious or other forms of prejudice, but the alternate extreme of cultural abandonment is equally perilous. Nations must stand for something, and France is finally standing for something worthwhile.