Ronald Ferguson's remarks at my festschrift
I don’t think Fergusons critique is actually a critique at all. Ferguson discusses cherry picking of facts, how Glenn doesn’t truly offer a counter-narrative and his “supposedly” difference in perspective from 2007 to 2022 - which is not a difference in kind but in type. Saying there are systemic issues affecting the black community is not stating that systemic racism is the boogeyman of all progress for black America.
When Glenn discusses issues he is speaking by way of comparison regarding how race is used ubiquitously as justification for some social ill. The bottom line narrative of Glenn’s podcast and writings have been to reiterate the points made by Sowell and others namely; 1) prerequisites are different than probabilities 2) dissolving the composition fallacy that characterization of one is not a characterization of all 3) victimization does not lead to growth 4) and finally CULTURE MATTERS!
How Ferguson chooses not to see that is quite astonishing.
If we had a free market in secondary education I am certain that vocational schools that included internships and apprenticeships in existing fields and whose graduates all got skilled jobs would become very popular. The stranglehold of the college graduates teacher unions would be broken if parents only had choices. How hard would that choice be? Let’s see, a vocational school that prepares my child for a successful and good paying career vs a high school that may or may not prepare them for a liberal arts college that will indoctrinate them in “woke” and won’t prepare them for anything other than grad school?
I don't expect Prof. Loury to be the change agent for the future, that is a job for everyone to muster.
Prof. Loury's being-ness in this forum strikes a deep note, like standing on a secure base. Whether it's generational understanding or midwestern roots in common, here is a perspective familiar from long ago and increasingly rare to find. TGS hits an internal home run regularly.
Of course I can find fault or see stuck patterns, we all have issues and I tend to over analyze, but having a window into a world that is deeply familiar provides relief and refuge. Thanks.
It’s important to disagree and criticize and be criticized, so solid points for that! But man: Some of the criticism was just absurd. Cherry-picking? So hold on: You’re saying that BLM and the woke antiracism crowd DON’T cherry-pick??? That’s precisely ALL they do. Cherry-pick, pull things out of context, use broad language like ‘structural racism,’ lie about and obfuscate data, etc. Go put the details into the Washington Post police database: You’ll see immediately that police brutality against black Americans in contemporary times is a myth. (In the past, very real.) We know this. Every honest person knows this. This is the fundamental problem with antiracism and Wokeism: They refuse to be questioned or criticized. As John McWhorter said in Woke Racism: We’re dealing with The New Religion. They’ve even got original sin. They lie and gaslight like the worst far-right republicans.
‘Sincere American Writing’
Glenn, thank you for this forum and community.
Your posts and discussions are very stimulating. They really help to open my eyes about different viewpoints and perceptions. It helps to form and adjust my own worldview.
It's greatly appreciated!
a beautiful but sober encomium. I think Glenn certainly acknowledges many leftist arguments like 'structural' or 'systemic' impediments to progress, if not racism, but believes it's a matter of emphasis. That, the arguments for victimhood are so disproportionate and commonplace, there is almost nothing to add. And that too few are standing up for agency and responsibility or concepts often identified as 'right' or 'conservative' but must be contained within a formula for black equity and success. how could it possibly be otherwise when it's a part of the success story for every ethnic group? And so, when 95% of arguments are focused on victimhood, even if there is obvious truth in that, what else is he going to add to that argument? Of course, rhetorically, it's always a good idea to acknowledge the value of a sliver of opposing arguments and focus instead on emphasis. (Unless they contain 0% truth value). And by and large, I think that's principally what Glenn is trying to do.
Thank you Glenn, Ronald, and folks like Jordon.
What was that rule number again about taking responsibility?
Love you guys. Please keep on sharing...I'm such a spong for your thoughts.
In his book Woke Racism, John McWhorter advocated for an increased focus on vocational training for Black Americans. Charles Murray made the same argument in Real Education but for all Americans irrespective of race. By his estimation, only about 10-20 percent of students really benefit from a 4-year college degree, but I believe these days over 50% of high school cohorts end up attending a traditional 4-year undergraduate program.
In my opinion we're seduced by what I've referred to as the cult of prestige or what has also been described as Yale or jail. It's why we're so fixated on racial disparities at the 8 elite high schools in New York City, when as Glenn's recent guest Wai Wah Chin has pointed out only about 5% of the 100,000 or so high school students in recent cohorts end up attending one of those 8 schools.
We're also seduced by the tendency to conflate correlation with causation. Glenn made this point recently when his guest Ian Rowe argued that people who end up getting married have better life outcomes on average than those who don’t. Glenn's frequent guest Clifton Roscoe also emphasizes statistics showing that those who end up graduating from a 4-year college on average tend to be better off than those who don’t. I believe it’s very possible that there’s a self-selection effect at play and that individuals with certain positive attributes are more likely to end up getting married or attending college. I vaguely recall seeing some statistics showing that once you control for SAT scores much of the disparity in life outcomes between individuals who attend elite colleges versus those who attend lesser colleges goes away.
Contrary to many, I’ve actually been somewhat skeptical of elite immigration from South Asia and East Asia over the past 2-3 decades. America has a population of 330 million. Letting in self-selected people from China and India, with a combined population of almost 2800 million, has in my opinion produced significant distortions in our group comparisons and further fueled our obsession with prestige. I recall former NYC Educational Chancellor Richard Carranza proclaiming in response to over 70% of the incoming student body at Stuyvesant a few years back being Asian that admissions to elite high schools in NYC weren’t the province of any single ethnic group.
I’m sympathetic to arguments about how to reduce existing disparities but I worry that we’re focused on the wrong things. As a society we’re too fixated on whether or not there’s enough diversity in physics or among the student body at elite high schools and universities. We’re even too fixated on the notion that everyone needs to attend a 4-year college program. In my opinion we should shed our obsession with prestige and focus instead on effecting foundational changes that uplift much broader portions of society.
The WSJ just ran an article on how employers are starting to rethink the need for college degrees in the current labor market. The article talked about how companies like Google, Delta Airlines and IBM have started to eliminate 4 year degrees as a requirement for certain jobs. It was heartening to read and gives me hope that we can move in a saner direction as a society.
I second joe.nalven2's comment. I hope that the discussion with Prof. Ferguson continues. It's worth exploring the differences of opinion. Nice post.
I'm impressed that Prof. Ferguson is willing to assign Prof. Loury's work to his students. More typically, progressives rely on lying about easily verifiable facts, and silencing or demonizing anyone who questions their fairy-tale fantasy narratives.
Prof. Loury's work is so appealing because of its fundamental values of honor and honesty, as Prof. Ferguson pointed out. In contrast, the Kendi-ist narrative is fundamentally based on lies, and its proponents deserve nothing but contempt and ridicule.
By the way, regarding those awful policies to which Prof. Ferguson alludes -- they are largely explainable in terms the intense desire of the largely multiracial non-underclass to avoid becoming crime victims at the hands of the largely monoracial underclass.
In passing, Ferguson writes, "They say Glenn cherry-picks his facts—which he does . . . " When I read about cherry-picked facts or what-abouts (and whataboutism), I wonder if these oddities are understood as simply a tit-for-tat, an argumentative tactic to score a point; or, in a very different sense when those oddities stand in a critical paradigmatic juncture and call for an assessment in a systematic analysis. In the latter sense, which is what I think Loury does more often than not, those cherry-picked facts are the stubborn and nettlesome places that require major intellectual surgery. I hope Ferguson and Loury pick up one of those cherry-picked facts and continue the journey.
I commend Loury for sharing this speech and opening up the dialogue with some of Ferguson’s critiques. Here, however, I want to remark on the following quoted comment from one of Ferguson’s students: “I later learned why he [the student’s friend] and so many others joined a gang—to feel a sense of community, make income to support his low-income family, and to feel protected from the threats we faced in our community.”
I’ve taught in urban public schools for over 15 years. I grew up in the city where crime was prevalent in some neighborhoods and where segregated poverty made a home in many others. I grew up in a single-parent household where canned chicken from the government food pantries steamed hot on our dinner plates. My brothers were not in gangs. In fact, they were beat up by black kids from other neighborhoods. This was the 60s and racial animosity still lingered, although in our household this was not the case and in fact, forbade.
So, given this backdrop of life experiences, I read the first student’s remarks and wondered why he doesn’t flip the mirror to see that the threats they faced were, in fact, themselves? I don’t think that gangs of white kids were entering their neighborhoods to wreak havoc on them: They had to protect themselves from self-generated threats from within their own community. Yes, I’ve seen it: students bullied into gangs, students being enticed with street cred from gangs, and more. Why did the kids turn to gangs for a sense of community? The real community isn’t doing any better than that? Why is the kid needing to support his low-income family? Where is the accountability from the mother and the father of these kids?
Yes, growing up in a poor, stark neighborhood can suck the life out of you. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is more talent, creativity, love, and humanity in poor neighborhoods than there is criminal negligence. I could continue writing with hopes that I might offer some prescription that cures all that ails too many neighborhoods. Rather, I want to pose a few questions about gang activity in urban areas.
I recall my city in the 70s. The main gang was the Mafia. And, the Mafia also controlled the drugs and prostitution in the poorer black neighborhoods. Then there was a shift. I’m not certain when it started, but I noticed in the 90s the crack cocaine drug trades, the increase in availability of guns in the city. Who was orchestrating that? Who is orchestrating the drug trade now? Which big dealers would be hurt the most by the legalization of drugs? I don’t have the answers to these questions. I pose them only to suggest that the ills the student described are brought on by complex structures not revealed under a blanket assessment of institutional, societal, or structural racism. Mr. Loury writes much more eloquently and studied about these issues than I can hope to. I write only from my gut feelings and a sincere wish that others don’t suffer defeat but in fact, “Rise above.”
Glenn Loury is not just an intellectual giant, but more importantly, he is a person who can actually listen to the view of lesser mortals, ponder on it, and then proceed to change his mind, all the while never losing his dignity or innate civility. There is almost no one of his caliber in America who can do that today. He possesses that very rare combination of intellect, humility, and honesty, that sets him miles above mere intellectuals.
"Despite his anger at the circumstance, Glenn accepts no responsibility to help answer such questions in strategically practical ways."
Why should he? Answering a question in a "strategically practical way" is not answering a question; it's lying. Or, if you prefer, spinning. The world has far too many people answering questions in strategically practical ways.
Glenn Loury definitely has impact on MY life.
Keeps me, or rather helps ME to hold myself accountable.
His bare presence in this world makes ME ashamed of making an excuse.
Makes ME see when I'm about to make an excuse.
I guess that's a "thank you"