Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Heather Mac Donald's "Common Sense" - Sheriff Joe Arpaio Just Can't Stop Profiling Latinos

Conservative urban affairs expert Heather Mac Donald
Clearly not everyone is going to draw the same conclusions from statistics and data presented in a report and that's fair; after all this is America and the 1st Amendment applies to all.

In my previous blog comments on the disparities in how discipline is meted out to students in American schools, I referenced some alarming statistics from the Department of Education showing some gaping differences in which students were more likely to receive harsher punishments from teachers and administrators.

It seemed to me reflective of the same kinds of disparities seen in sentencing and incarceration in this country and might offer insight into perception issues that impact the "school-to-prison" pipeline problem where some US states spend more on prisoners than they do on students.  

Evidently conservative author, essayist and political commentator Heather Mac Donald (pictured above) looked at the same data from the DOE and came to a much different conclusion.

As reported by Media Matters on Monday, in a piece in the National Review Online, Mac Donald dismissed the DOE study, instead positing that a combination of single parent homes, broken family structure and non-specific genetic behavioral differences specifically inherent in black children were the more likely cause for the disparities in discipline.

Mac Donald's conclusion? "Given the black-white crime disparities it is equally common sense that black students are more likely to be disruptive in class as well."

Exactly who's "common sense" she is referring to probably isn't hard to figure out, and as Media Matters reported, her totally unsupported conclusions go against the findings of more balanced experts and research on the subject of discrimination impacting discipline standards in schools.

Such flagrantly opinionated conclusions are hallmarks of Mac Donald's numerous columns which have appeared in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today and of course the always-balanced NY Post. 

Mac Donald has carved out quite a career as a Buchanan-esque sociologist railing against victim-hood, entitlements, welfare, crime...you get the picture.

The kind of thinker today's right-wing conservatives salivate over, she wields her academia-cred as a product of Andover, Yale, Cambridge and Stanford to offer views on race, urban affairs and crime cut straight from the Dinesh D'Souza school of thought. She wrote a book in 2003 with the intriguing title, "Are Cops Racist?" She was born in 1956 so one assumes she did grow up in the same America of Bull Connor and former LAPD chief Gates; perhaps she was just permanently scarred by the race riots of the 60's.

Given her contempt for non-whites she chooses to reside in New York (she recently defended the NYPD's Stop & Frisk policy) which makes her even more of an enigma to me.
Perhaps she harbors political ambitions? This concerns me. She's obviously more intelligent than Sarah Palin, and more nuanced than Michelle Bachmann but is only slightly less-detached from mainstream American reality than Michelle Malkin so it's hard to know what she would be like as a candidate; or God forbid, Chancellor of New York City's schools.

Speaking of "Are Cops Racist?" did you hear about Maricopa County (Arizona) sheriff Joe Arpaio?

He was hauled back into Federal court on Monday with a top deputy for ignoring a court order to stop intentionally using the resources and man-power of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to target, profile, harass and arrest Latinos and function as an anti-immigration vendetta force.

He just can't stop! Sheriff Joe is the 81-year-old six-term sheriff famous for housing prisoners in open-air tents under the baking Arizona sun and forcing them to wear pink prison garb.

According to Fernanda Santos of the NY Times, Arpaio and his chief deputy Jerry Sheridan not only refused judge G. Murray Snow's order to stop targeting Latinos at their places of work and pulling them over; the two men were caught on video openly mocking the Federal court order issued last year and were laid out (and sternly warned) in court today by the judge.

I've got nothing against Heather Mac Donald or Sheriff Joe, they just confuse me. Despite their respective experience they seem hopelessly locked into a narrow, one-dimensional view of America where I view diversity as a strong point of society and a linchpin that defines America.

I suppose some people just can't get past their own common sense.

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