May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Feb 23, 2012/ 30 Shevat, 5772
Jeremy Lin: Achievement trumps identity politics
Victor Davis Hanson
Jeremy Lin is the New York Knicks basketball sensation whose so far brief but amazing performance on the court has set the world on fire in a mere month.
Most NBA superstars are not 23-year-old Harvard-graduates. And they are rarely devout Christian, second-generation Taiwanese-Americans. The fact that Lin is an anomaly has guaranteed both sensationalism and controversy, at least some of it politically incorrect. Take professional boxer Floyd Mayweather's recent remark that "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise."
Despite his crassness, Mayweather may be on to something, but not in the simplistic fashion he thinks. In Lin's storybook saga, it is hard to sort out all the racial-stereotyping and affirmative-action undertones, but I think it goes something like this: Lin was probably not given earlier opportunities commensurate with his proven talents, given that both Harvard graduates and Asians (perceived in the NBA as a twofer disadvantage) are probably unfairly stereotyped by basketball players, coaches and general managers as less physical and more nerdy -- and therefore not as athletic as either black or white players.
Yet, once the Knicks gave Lin even a small chance to display his innate talent, the profiling vanished. His undeniable merits as a shooting, passing and driving point guard have earned him almost all of the recognition that he has garnered. Remember, the NBA is a for-profit league that prides itself on adjudicating players solely on talent -- questions of diversity or proportionate racial representation usually be damned. After all, the Knicks began winning with Lin playing more, and should they start losing with him in the lineup, his current celebrity status will gradually wilt away.
But that's not quite the end of the irony. Mayweather claims that Lin is still getting excessive attention based on his race, as if racism were at work in winning him inordinate praise for the same sort of skills that the African-American majority in the NBA displays each day.
Again, Mayweather is both right and wrong. True, it is Lin's unusual background that makes him a minority within his field and thus warrants unusual recognition beyond his resonance in the Asian community. But that fact is not due to Lin being Asian per se. Were Lin a native Amazonian or from the North Pole, his unusual profile might likewise be a force multiplier to what he could earn from his undeniable skill and his contribution to his team's sudden success. The career of Tiger Woods is similar in that both his talent and his unusual background ensured the sort of recognition that other gifted golfers could only dream of.
In that regard, I am sure in the last 50 years that there have been all sorts of Harvard Law Review editors who had far more articles published during their tenure than did Barack Obama. Yet few were well known outside of Harvard and had secured book deals before graduating -- given that it was apparently deemed far more unusual for an African-American with a Kenyan-sounding name to serve as editor. (And one might argue further that Lin's actual performance, at least so far, better warrants his extraordinary publicity than did Obama's so-so record as a Harvard Law Review editor.)
In other words, what is not the norm always garners undue attention, sometimes warranted by actual performance, sometimes not. This is a fact that transcends race.
There are a few final politically correct paradoxes on display here. We are conditioned to think that diversity and race-based proportionality are mandatory goals in American government, the public workplace and the highly prized professions. If so, why not in the most high-profile and most highly compensated jobs in our society, such as those in professional basketball and football, where African-Americans are represented at rates seven to eight times greater than their percentage of the general population?
Mayweather has no problem with the fact that African-Americans are vastly over-represented (if such an objectionable term means in comparison to relative percentages of the general population) in high-profile, merit-based sports -- especially boxing, basketball and football. Indeed, he seems to wrongly denigrate Lin as a sort of affirmative-action player whose identity trumps his talent in earning him a stature otherwise impossible without race-based considerations. But that is precisely the line of argument, fairly or not, that others have made against affirmative action in general. In other words, how can one be for racial diversity considerations in the police or fire department, but not in the NBA or NFL?
Yet, in a mixed-up America, we still like to think that achievement eventually trumps identity politics. Whether it's Tiger Woods, Barack Obama or Jeremy Lin, their accolades will depend mostly on how well they perform.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2012, TMS
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K