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How irrational anti-racism, irrational anti-sexism and irrational anti-classism encourage rational racism, rational sexism and rational classism

“Shouting Thomas”, commenting on this Althouse posting, says:

It’s a mistake to vote for any candidate for any office except for a straight white man.

Every other variety is protected from criticism by liberal race, sex and class doctrine. You’re racist, sexist or classist if you dare to criticize them.

So, if you want accountability from public officials, you must vote for straight white men.

For “straight white man” he should, to make his point about classism, have put: “posh straight white man”. Otherwise, good provocative stuff, well worthy of being rescued from a mere comment thread.

I myself am prejudiced against female British Conservative Party parliamentary candidates and members of parliament, if their femaleness is the only thing I know about them. I believe that, ever since Cameron’s “detoxification” efforts, they have been getting an easier ride during the candidate selection process than men.

Similar suspicions are surely widespread in fields beyond politics, wherever positive discrimination is rampant.

32 comments to How irrational anti-racism, irrational anti-sexism and irrational anti-classism encourage rational racism, rational sexism and rational classism

  • …whereas Labour, SNP and Lib Dem candidates (to name but a few) can be rejected out of hand because they’re clearly idiots, having demonstrated it by standing for their party.

    😛

  • Charles Murray, in ‘Losing Ground’, noted an additional point.

    – As you say, if a group is given an easier entrance exam, their average quality will (other things being equal) be lower. (I discussed a similar point about Harvard in my most recent post.)

    – Further to ‘Shouting Thomas’ point, criticism (preferably constructive) is valuable in developing any skill so preventing it harms the non-recipient as well as those they (notionally) serve.

    Murray noted how a black, on receiving a sociology degree, would be whisked into a high-level position in a project that required him for quota, bypassing the low-level post-graduate tasks in which one learns the basics without which the higher-level stuff cannot be understood. Hence: “He never becomes a sociologist. He is forever just a black with a sociology degree.” (quoted from memory).

  • bobby b

    “Similar suspicions are surely widespread in fields beyond politics, wherever positive discrimination is rampant.”

    – – –

    “He is forever just a black with a sociology degree.”

    In law firms in the USA, they seldom became real lawyers. They became marketing tools.

    (The corporate clients would insist that their law firms have a certain proportion of diversity hires so they could check their HR boxes, but they never wanted those hires working on their own cases. This worked to the detriment of those black lawyers who could have made it on their own merits.)

  • neonsnake

    I myself am prejudiced against female British Conservative Party parliamentary candidates and members of parliament, if their femaleness is the only thing I know about them.

    Surely that’s the opposite of “rational sexism”, though?

    That surely means that you’re irrationally prejudiced against women, due to the actions of *other women*, which cannot justifiablly be held against people just because they happen to share a gender?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I believe that, ever since Cameron’s “detoxification” efforts, they have been getting an easier ride during the candidate selection process than men.”

    You think candidates are selected on the basis of merit?

  • bobby b

    “Surely that’s the opposite of “rational sexism”, though?”

    I do note that he said specifically that he feels the way he does “if their femaleness is the only thing I know about them.” Prejudice is of no value once you have individual information, but in the absence of that, it has value, if only statistical.

    If I know that 30% of Group A is unqualified to do the work I want done, but only 10% of Group B is similarly unqualified, and I know nothing about any individual in either group, is it not entirely rational for me to choose a candidate from Group B based on the odds?

    It may be heartless, and it may interfere with efforts to remedy past unbalances, but it IS rational.

    (Sometimes social-shaping laws are enacted specifically because “the rational” leads to undesired outcomes.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Very insightful post, but i have a couple of quibbles.

    Neonsnake claims that the sexism+racism endorsed by Shouting Thomas is irrational.
    On the contrary, it is rational* but it is neither sexism nor racism.
    Shouting Thomas does not claim that female and/or minority candidates are statistically less qualified: he claims that, if elected, they’ll not be held accountable. That is a totally different concept.

    (OTOH surely it is too extreme to exclude ALL candidates other than straight white men!)

    * just as it is, or used to be, rational to buy a German car rather than a British car.

    —-WRT this:

    For “straight white man” he should, to make his point about classism, have put: “posh straight white man”.

    That is presumably meant to be ironic. Still, i’d like to note that it reflects a very British notion of class: class as defined by manners, rather than wealth/income (as vulgar Marxists would have it) or power relationships (as classical republicans, elite theorists, and orthodox Marxists, for all their differences, would have it).

  • Fred Z

    I wouldn’t vote for a woman if she were the last man on earth.

  • Mr Black

    I’d never vote for anyone but a white man on the ample evidence that all other groups will try to reduce my freedom and my use of the commons in favour of their own tribe. That said, most white men in power are treacherous villains who are hardly any better, but what choice do you get if you object to globalist nonsense? You can go out shooting or die in obscurity. Not much to work with.

  • Sadly, Mr Black (November 21, 2019 at 7:33 am), white male intellectuals remain prominent amongst the PC, and whether Joe Biden would reduce the freedom of our friends across the pond any less than his PC-box-ticking rivals seems a matter for legitimate debate. The OP statistical point is valid, but bobby b is right to note that is soon as you have individual knowledge then the lesser tool of statistics can be supplemented or replaced. I’d vote for Candace.

  • I have always been in favour of modest positive discrimination, for a modest time period, as a response to a period of unjustified negative discrimination. This is according to the following argument.

    Consider the issue of recruiting (I’ll use the vocabulary of employment, though often the issues do occur more widely), and particularly the recruiting of spongifiers. Now historically there has been prejudice against pronfilers (so negative discrimination) and few of them were ever recruited to the job of spongifier.

    Eventually it was realised that the prejudice against pronfilers was unjustifed.

    By then, of course, most of the actually recruited spongifiers were non-pronfilers. Also nearly all of the non-pronfilers more suitable to be spongifiers had been recruited and were already spongifiers. However, pronfilers as a group were only rarely employed as spongifiers. Thus a significantly higher proportion of the pool of pronfilers not yet recruited would be suitable (for recruitment), compared to the pool of non-pronfilers not yet recruited.

    This means that a pronfiler would be (on a probabilistic basis) more likely to be suitable for recruitment as a spongifier than would a non-pronfiler. Hence a policy of discrimiation in favour or pronfilers (eg when assessing whom to invite for interview) would make sense (in reduction of recruitment costs). All other things being equal, less pronfilers (than non-pronfilers) would need to be interviewed for each suitable candidate found.

    Of course, as time passes, the probabilistic bias in favour of pronfilers (over non-pronfilers) for spongifier recruitment suitability would even out. Thus the (probabilitic) rational policy of discrimiation in favour or pronfilers would fade away with time.

    Thus there is a time-dependent rational benefit in some positive discrimination, but only for a period.

    Note also, and most importantly, there is no requirement to set a lower standard of spongifier suitability when recruiting based on such positive discrimination. This is provided that the overall rate of suitability for employment as a spongifier is the same between the groups of all pronfilers and of all non-pronfilers. Where that is not the case (ie pronfilers are overall less suitable than non-pronfilers as spongifiers), there is less rational benefit for (each level of and time period of) positive discrimination – down to zero benefit when there is considerable disparity of ability.

    Best regards

  • there is no requirement to set a lower standard of spongifier suitability when recruiting based on such positive discrimination. (Nigel Sedgwick, November 21, 2019 at 10:22 am

    At first glance, this phrasing appears to be contradictory. How can you positively discriminate while applying the same recruitment standards to both the previously-discriminated-against group as to others?

    The argument suggests that

    if the job recruits from a wide age range, not just entry-level candidates, and

    if recruitment prejudice against the category-B people vanishes quickly, not gradually over as many years as that age-range,

    then you would naturally (i.e. without positive discrimination), recruit a higher-than-population percentage of the category-B for a while, as you soaked up the competent-but-previously-excluded category Bs.

    That seems statistically true but is not what we on this blog would call ‘positive discrimination’.

    The argument could however serve as a subtle sucker-punch to those who witter about “disparate impact”. If they buy it, they’ve just agreed that disparate impact statistics do not show discrimination. 🙂

    Which of course, may be what Nigel meant by ‘positive discrimination’: disparate-impact-diagnosed discrimination.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall says:

    I’d vote for Candace.

    Agreed. I actually thought of of mentioning Candace Owens in my comment above, as an example of a non-White woman who we can expect, simply because of her political positions, to be held accountable for her mistakes.

    Of course, once elected, she might change her positions (which has been known to happen with White male candidates). I believe that this problem is overwhelmingly counterbalanced by tactical (i.e. cynical) considerations, such as the need to show that “we” accept women and minorities in “our” ranks (thus encouraging more candidates to come forward) and the likelihood that women and minority candidates will find more of an audience in some subsets of voters (not necessarily women or minority voters).

    I hardly need to point out that said cynical considerations should never, by themselves, be sufficient to determine a choice of candidate.

  • Snorri Godhi (November 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm), the hatred the PC feel for “traitors to their identity group” does indeed provide a degree of criticism for ‘minority’ candidates who are robustly of the ‘wrong’ views. You could argue the PC hate them more than ordinary ‘majority’ right-wingers (just as the ‘cancelled’ are often the insufficiently woke rather than those resolved to sleep forever in the arms of old-fashioned western civ.). But you could also argue they hate talking about such narrative-contradicting people, so provide some criticism-suppression by their memory-holing them whenever possible. To anyone who wanted to do the research, resolving the issue of ‘who is criticised more’ could provide a whole Ph.D. thesis. 🙂 😡

  • neonsnake

    You could argue the PC hate them more than ordinary ‘majority’ right-wingers

    You could indeed 😉

    As a more public example in the UK, I’m of the impression (not sure I can robustly back it up, it’s an impression gathered over a long time) that Priti Patel is amongst those roundly hated for her political views, with a nasty edge of “traitor” to the hatred, in a way that Iain Duncan Smith (not the best example, but the first caricature of white middle-aged male Conservative to spring to mind) might not be.

    It’s an interesting example of “intersectionality”, that lovely buzzword. It exists, certainly. Just not in the way “they” use it.

  • neonsnake

    How can you positively discriminate while applying the same recruitment standards to both the previously-discriminated-against group as to others?

    You could do it at “looking through the stack of CVs” stage, and look to interview a disproportionate amount (or, a strictly-matching-the-demographic percentage) of category-B’s.

    Once you’re actually interviewing, you strictly interview for competence, regardless of “category”, to ensure that you employ people who can do the job.

    In theory, you’ll eventually end up with a split of employees that better matches demographics, at which point you end the policy.

    (Still gves me the slight heebie-jeebies, mind)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “the hatred the PC feel for “traitors to their identity group” does indeed provide a degree of criticism for ‘minority’ candidates who are robustly of the ‘wrong’ views.”

    As always, you have one group of authoritarians who use a different group of victims as cover.

    The immunity to criticism is applied only to people of the ‘right’ views. But they can’t be seen to be destroying people purely on their political views, so they find some other reason. And since the set of possible victim groups covers just about everyone, they can always find some victim to justify their attack. They don’t really care if you’re racist, or sexist, or religionist – if you’re on their side, you can get a pass for any of that. But if you’re on the wrong side, they’ll hunt out something they can hang you with.

    The problem, of course, is that some people can’t distinguish the authoritarians doing the attacking from the victim groups being used to justify it, and start hating on the victim groups. Thus justifying more attacks on themselves. It’s a vicious circle.

  • Niall Kilmartin writes:

    That seems statistically true but is not what we on this blog would call ‘positive discrimination’.

    Methinks he assumes too much. I have been ‘on this blog’ (as part of the commentariat) since at least 13th November 2005; and my recollection is that Niall has joined us more recently (delightful though that is to me – really really!! – and as Samizdatista too).

    Further, I regret that I have not expressed my argument well enough for Niall to follow. Neonsnake seems to have it (November 21, 2019 at 3:43 pm).

    Even further, if Niall is confused by my use of “positive discrimination” as being based on ‘selection for interview’, I am totally floundering with his “disparate-impact-diagnosed discrimination”.

    Best regards

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall:

    the hatred the PC feel for “traitors to their identity group” does indeed provide a degree of criticism for ‘minority’ candidates who are robustly of the ‘wrong’ views.

    There might well be an element of hatred, but let me be cynical again: the PC brigade recognizes women and/or minority candidates with the “”wrong”” views for the danger that they are to the PC narrative. THAT is the basic reason why they oppose said candidates. (No implication here that it is their conscious intention: I could not care less about conscious intentions.)

    I seem to remember that, after Clarence Thomas got to the Supreme Court, the PC brigade (or the Democrats, which is almost the same thing) decided that Black judges with conservative views should never be allowed again to have enough qualifications to get onto the Supreme Court.

    Nullius:

    The problem, of course, is that some people can’t distinguish the authoritarians doing the attacking from the victim groups being used to justify it, and start hating on the victim groups. Thus justifying more attacks on themselves. It’s a vicious circle.

    There is an element of that, for sure (especially if we are talking about verbal attacks online). But it seems to be a negligible factor, at least in the US: almost all the “”outrages”” that the PC brigade publish to legitimize themselves, are fake.
    In fact, you should assume that they are fake until proven true beyond reasonable doubt.

  • bobby b

    “Where that is not the case (ie pronfilers are overall less suitable than non-pronfilers as spongifiers), there is less rational benefit for (each level of and time period of) positive discrimination – down to zero benefit when there is considerable disparity of ability.”

    Your exception subsumes your example, in most real-world instances.

    People make rational choices based on what is before them. If you are presented with candidates who, for reasons unrelated to your involvement in the situation, are less qualified to be your choice than others, rationality says you don’t pick them.

    If, say, your society does a poor job of offering decent education and socialization to some group, then, when members of that group appear at your door, there IS a considerable disparity of ability. At that point, your rational choice is to choose others from the groups who were offered a good education and socialization.

    It might seem to be more helpful to society’s goals at large to choose underqualified candidates for your job opening, but it is decidedly less helpful to your own efforts, and to theirs. If you do choose those who are underqualified due to society’s poor treatment of them in the past, that one act of egalitarianism cannot wipe away the fact that such a person is then going to be expected to perform as if they had been treated fairly in the past, and if they lack a proper education, you sentence them to failure.

    But you get to feel virtuous while they sink.

    (I’ve learned to hate AA, and what it does to its “beneficiaries.” You cannot pick some point far downstream of the cause of problems and there pretend the problems don’t exist. You end up destroying those you’re trying to help.)

    The rational choice is to deal with the root of the problem, such that no group gets a poorer education or socialization than any other group. Once that is addressed, rationality will always work.

    (WTF are pronfilers and spongifiers?)

  • Snorri Godhi

    A mild rebuke to Nigel Sedgwick @10:22 am today: there is an unspoken assumption in what you write, the assumption being that there is a monopoly employer.

    If we remove this assumption, i.e. if we assume that there are 2 or more employers competing to hire the best people for the job, then it becomes likely that, pretty soon, at least one of them will figure out that more money can be made without discrimination. Other employers will have to follow suit, or go bankrupt.

    That is assuming that the discrimination is irrational, of course: if the discrimination happens to be rational, then the employer working on the principle that it is irrational, will go bankrupt first. It’s Darwinism in action.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby,

    I am interested to know, if you don’t mind explaining a bit (and you very well may find the whole subject too painful to go into), what your problems are with AA. I have a couple of ideas about why it might work, when it works. A long time ago I read an article (in one of the supermarket mags) to the effect that AA’s rate for long-term success is really quite low (either 30% or 10%, IIRC), but that even that is better than nothing.

    I always had problems with discussions of alcohol (no matter the theory, nor the regnant Authority in the discussion) that said that the first thing you must do is fully grasp, understand, and accept that you have no control over your alcoholism. This makes no sense to me as written, because if you really have no control, you might as well haul out the bottle and be done with it.

    Being a bit older and maybe, maybe just a hair wiser, I don’t think that’s what the injunction’s supposed to mean. I think what they’re trying to get at is that for the alcoholic, the only effective control point is at the start of a binge, where you decide to go ahead and have just one little drinkie. So there’s that. But the other way of putting it is snappier, even if it’s also illogical as a deterrent.

    Anyway, I could say more, but I’m more interested in whatever light your experience sheds on this problem. Especially focussing on AA.

    Thanks. :>)

  • bobby b

    Julie, I’m using AA here to refer to Affirmative Action. Sorry for the confusion.

    I love Alcoholics Anonymous. As you say, its low rate of success beats everything else by a mile.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh. D-UH!!! *smacks self upside chops*

    Well, I’m surely with you vis-á-vis AfAc. 😆

  • bobby b

    But, on that OT topic, the best explanation I ever saw of how Alcoholics Anonymous works was contained throughout the convoluted but brilliant Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. (When I’m not extolling Neal Stephenson, I’m worshiping DFW.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh, bobby, gosh darn it, you mean now there’s somebody else I’ve gotta check out? I don’t think of I’ve ever heard of this Mr. Wallace. :>(

    Still, if he makes you happy…. :>)

  • The problem, of course, is that some people can’t distinguish the authoritarians doing the attacking from the victim groups being used to justify it, and start hating on the victim groups. Thus justifying more attacks on themselves. It’s a vicious circle. (Nullius in Verba, November 21, 2019 at 7:06 pm)

    True and the PC like it when their proteges and poster children are attacked, but Snorri Godhi (November 21, 2019 at 9:21 pm) is spot on in noting the PC demand for hate crimes to expose so far exceeds the western supply that they must manufacture many.

    I never thought it served a purpose to rebuke Greta Thunberg personally – to paraphrase J.K.Rowling, many people are jerks when they are 16, even those without a history of asbergers, suicidal thoughts and etc. The people to target are the grown-ups who use her.

  • bobby b

    “I never thought it served a purpose to rebuke Greta Thunberg personally – to paraphrase J.K.Rowling, many people are jerks when they are 16, even those without a history of asbergers, suicidal thoughts and etc.”

    I can’t even think of her as a jerk. She’s a dependent kid who’s been raised – conditioned – to do exactly what she’s doing, and she’s rewarded with love and attention when she does it. With her particular blend of psych-idiosyncrocies, she probably couldn’t NOT do what she’s doing.

  • neonsnake

    to choose underqualified candidates for your job opening

    I think Mr. Sedgewick is talking about examples where the candidates from both groups A and B are actually equally qualified and capable, but “everyone knows that Bs can’t do that job!”

    So lets say that for many years, conventional wisdom incorrectly held that Bs can’t do job X, so those roles are held 100% by group A. Conventional wisdom has recently been overturned, but that’s not currently helpful for the qualified and capable Bs, who have been (unjustly) kept out of job X.

    Now, job X has a turnover of 10% per year, and now that conventional wisdom has been overturned, everyone suddenly forgets their old prejudices and interviews 50/50 split of A & B (assuming for now that A & B are split evenly in the wider population). There’s some assumptions being made that everyone will suddenly let go of their old prejudices in light of this new information (!) and also, that group B, having been denied the chance to get Job X for all of their life, will suddenly start applying in appropriate, demographically correct numbers (also !).

    Even so – arguably, by the end of year one, 5% will consist of group B. It will take ten years to get to a demographically representative employee base.

    So, what if for every 10 jobs, you interview 20 people – 16 from historically discriminated-against group B, and 4 from group A. But you interview fairly and only for merit. Still making some assumptions, let’s say that this means that you choose 8 from group B, and 2 from group A. That way, you get to 50/50 in 6 years. At this point, you scrap the rule that says you skew your interview candidate pool, and you revert to interviewing a 50/50 split, since (another assumption) you should be getting a demographically representative set of CVs – a state of play that would take 10 years to achieve under a system where such positive discrimination is not carried out.

    I think that’s the argument being presented – Mr Sedgewick can presumably clarify or correct.

    I’m still struggling over whether I think it’s a good idea or not, but then I’ve personally never been on the sharp end of that kind of discrimination, being a white male of average build and stunning good looks; I remain open to persuasion while noting that it seems harsh on the 6 members of group A whose CVs are being tossed in the bin in favour of 6 from group B, especially the 3 who would have been offered the job.

  • bobby b

    “I think Mr. Sedgewick is talking about examples where the candidates from both groups A and B are actually equally qualified and capable, but “everyone knows that Bs can’t do that job!””

    I agree. He clearly was. But I was speaking about the more common situation in which most of the B’s aren’t as qualified, because our historical treatment of B’s has left them without sufficient socialization or education to compete if they are merely thrown into the mix as an ineffectual means to “even things out.”

    All of which relates back to rationality. It’s rational to avoid hiring B’s if they come to you in an unprepared state compared to A’s. It’s not rational to avoid hiring B’s simply because you don’t like B’s.

    Society’s rational path doesn’t involve arbitrarily throwing B’s into water over their heads, but curing the underlying faults that leave B’s unable to swim.

    ETA: your suggested path means that you’re going to be discarding some candidates that are more qualified than some that you hire. Good for society overall, maybe, but if I work for a private entity, or for me, that’s not a rational decision. Plus, I’ve seen that path followed heavily in the legal world and it leaves all hired B’s with a cloud over them.

  • neonsnake

    Ah, wait!

    Also nearly all of the non-pronfilers more suitable to be spongifiers had been recruited and were already spongifiers.

    I missed that bit in my thought experiment.

    If the pool of suitable candidates of group A for Job X is low, because the suitable candidates are already employed in Job X due to over-representation (because we’ve been recruiting exclusively from Group A, thereby exhausting the pool of suitable candidates faster than if we’d been recruiting evenly from Groups A and B), then I think that overcomes my objection on behalf of the 6 group As, since they are less likely to be suitable.

    So then, I guess, the policy of skewing is intended to overcome deep inbuilt prejudice that stops people doing the rational thing and interviewing more Group Bs?

    It might also indicate that hiring managers for Job X would naturally receive proportionally more CVs/candidates from group B, since the number of suitable CVs/candidates from group A would drop over time? In which case, if inbuilt prejudices are preventing you from hiring/interviewing from group B, then you really are b*ggered. And an idiot – and I don’t necessarily think that people can be relied on to not be idiots when it comes to really deeply held prejudices.

    Although my instinctual reaction is largely “against”, I must confess that I’m starting to see the benefit, if all my assumptions hold true.

    That aside, also agree with this:

    but curing the underlying faults that leave B’s unable to swim.

  • Paul Marks

    It is odd, to put the matter mildly, how Frankfurt School of Marxism doctrines have become mainstream – even enshrined in law.

    If I had clever ideas about what to do about this, I would now reveal them. But I do not.

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