Walter E. Williams
An American economist, commentator, and author of Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism
Latest from Walter E. Williams
The U.S. Department of Justice has recently sued the Baltimore County government alleging that its written test for police officer recruits was unfairly biased against black applicants. It turns out that black applicants failed the written test at a rate much greater than white applicants. That results in fewer blacks being trained and hired as police officers. John A. Olszewski Jr., Baltimore County Executive said: “A law enforcement agency should look like the community it serves. As I have said repeatedly since taking office, I am committed to increasing diversity in the county's Police Department.”
Just when we thought colleges could not spout loonier ideas, we have a new one from American University. They hired a professor to teach other professors to grade students based on their "labor" rather than their writing ability. The professor that American University hired to teach that nonsense is Asao B. Inoue, who is a professor at the University of Washington in Tacoma in interdisciplinary arts and sciences. He is also the director of the university's writing center. Inoue believes that a person's writing ability should not be assessed, in order to promote “anti-racist” objectives.
John Paul Wright, professor at University of Cincinnati, and Matthew DeLisi professor at Iowa State University have penned a powerful article titled “What Criminologists Don't Say, and Why,” in City Journal, Summer 2017. There is significant bias among criminologists. The reason for that bias is that political leanings of academic criminologists are liberal. Liberal criminologists outnumber their conservative counterparts by a ratio of 30-to-1.
The New York Times has begun a major initiative, the “1619 Project,” to observe the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe American history so that slavery and the contributions of black Americans explain who we are as a nation. Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine wrote the lead article, “America Wasn't a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One.”
For many parents, August is a month of both pride and tears. Pride because their teenager is taking that big educational step and tears because for many it's the beginning of an empty nest. Yet, there's a going-away-to-college question that far too few parents ask or even contemplate: What will my youngster learn in college? The American Council of Trustees and Alumni provides some answers that turn out to be quite disturbing. ACTA evaluated every four-year public university as well as hundreds of private colleges and universities.
There is discrimination of all sorts, and that includes racial discrimination. Thus, it's somewhat foolhardy to debate the existence of racial discrimination yesteryear or today. From a policy point of view, a far more useful question to ask is: How much of the plight of many blacks can be explained by current racial discrimination? Let's examine some of today's most devastating problems of many black people with an eye toward addressing discrimination of the past and present.
Here's what President Donald Trump tweeted about Baltimore's congressman and his city: “Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is far worse and more dangerous. His district is considered the worst in the USA.”
Years ago, it was hard to be a racist. You had to be fitted for and spend money on a white gown and don a pointy hat. You celebrated racism by getting some burlap, wrapping it around a cross, setting it ablaze and dancing around it carrying torches. Sometimes, as did Lester Maddox, you had to buy axe handles for yourself and your supporters to wield to forcibly turn away black customers from your restaurant. Or, as in the case of Theophilus “Bull” Connor, you had to learn to direct fire hoses and vicious police attack dogs against civil rights demonstrators.
Let's think about priorities. Say that you live in one of the dangerous high crime and poor schooling neighborhoods of cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, or St. Louis. Which is most important to you: doing something about public safety and raising the quality of education or, as most black politicians do, focusing energies upon President Donald Trump and who among the 20 presidential contenders will lead the Democratic Party? The average American has no inkling about the horrible conditions in which many blacks live. Moreover, they wouldn't begin to tolerate living under those conditions themselves.
Here's a suggestion. How about setting up some high school rifle clubs? Students would bring their own rifles to school, store them with the team coach and, after classes, collect them for practice. You say: “Williams, you must be crazy! To prevent gun violence, we must do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of kids.”
The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia's resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.
Western civilization was founded on a set of philosophies that focuses strongly on the sanctity of individuals and their power of logic and reason. This belief led to a desire to trust things that could be proven to be true or legitimate, from government to science. Judeo-Christian morality has formed the basis of most Western notions of ethics and behavioral standards. Thus, the attack on Western civilization must begin with the attack on the church and Christian values, and, just as important, the family unit.
Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice.”
We are living in a time of increasing domestic tension. Some of it stems from the presidency of Donald Trump. Another part of it is various advocacy groups on both sides of the political spectrum demanding one cause or another. But nearly totally ignored is how growing government control over our lives, along with the betrayal of constitutional principles, contributes the most to domestic tension.
When you send your youngster off to college, you might not mind that they will have to walk on eggshells, respect taboos, snitch on fellow students for politically incorrect jokes and learn to use ad hominem arguments as a means to attack ideas they find “disagreeable.” If that's your preference, you can choose from a wide variety of America's top-ranked colleges. If you want to send your youngster to colleges that are seriously committed to civil and diverse debate, pick up a copy of the June 2019 edition of Reason magazine for some guidance.
The favorite leftist tool for the attack on our nation's founding is that slavery was sanctioned. They argue that the founders disregarded the promises of our Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Presidential contenders are in a battle to out give one another. Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes a whopping $50,000 per student college loan forgiveness. Senator Bernie Sanders proposes free health care for all Americans plus illegal aliens. Most Democratic presidential candidates promise free stuff that includes free college, universal income, "Medicare for All" and debt forgiveness.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University Richard Vedder's new book, Restoring the Promise, published by the Independent Institute based in Oakland, California, is about the crisis in higher education. He summarizes the three major problems faced by America's colleges and universities. First, our universities “are vastly too expensive, often costing twice as much per student compared with institutions in other industrialized democracies.”
Last week's column discussed Dr. Thomas Sowell's newest book Discrimination and Disparities, which is an enlarged and revised edition of an earlier version. In this review, I am going to focus on one of his richest chapters titled “Social Visions and Human Consequences.” Sowell challenges the seemingly invincible fallacy “that group outcomes in human endeavors would tend to be equal, or at least comparable or random, if there were no biased interventions, on the one hand, nor genetic deficiencies, on the other.” But disparate impact statistics carries the day among academicians, lawyers and courts as evidence of discrimination.
My longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell has just published a revised and enlarged edition of “Discrimination and Disparities.” It lays waste to myth after myth about the causes of human differences not only in the United States but around the globe. Throughout the book, Sowell shows that socioeconomic outcomes differ vastly among individuals, groups and nations in ways that cannot be easily explained by any one factor, whether it's genetics, sex or race discrimination or a history of gross mistreatment that includes expulsion and genocide.