My take on the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction question is now posted. It includes an assessment of our policy toward Iran, an urgent discussion the administration seems to be shelving for another day. On that subject, Reuel Marc Gerecht’s cover-story in the current Weekly Standard is a must-read. My own (not completely settled) view is that an Osirak-like military attack on the mullah’s Manhattan Project may be the least worst option we now have.
BELL CURVE LIBERALS: My old friend, Jeff Rosen, had a typically fresh and smart piece in yesterday’s NYT Magazine (still able to avoid the worst of Howell Raines’ meddling). Jeff is viscerally against affirmative action, but he has come to endorse it. Why? Because if it’s abolished, universities will only opt for more egalitarian methods to achieve racial diversity and could trash academic standards even more thoroughly than the current system. It’s an argument of elegant surrender. The assumption of his case – indeed of the entire debate – is that minorities will simply as a matter of fact always score lower in test scores. That’s a given for the foreseeable future, if not for ever. Mickey Kaus once described those liberals who simply assume the permanent neediness of minorities as “Bell Curve Liberals,” people who would never admit it but have internalized the notion that minorities are simply dumber than the majority. They either believing that such inferiority is in part genetic and in part environmental or entirely environmental. But the upshot is always the same: these people are helpless; and all we can do is rig the system to disguise it as much as possible and minimize social resentment and division. The only way we can have racial integration in universities is therefore by destroying academic standards. I’m sorry, but I can’t go there. If the alternative to quotas is the evisceration of standards, then we truly have lost our faith in the power of meritocracy and the equality of the races. Jeff’s argument, while compelling, is a counsel of despair. We should resist it. Keep the standards. Drop the quotas.