Halloween

Today is Halloween. The name “Halloween” is actually derived from “All Hallow’s Eve“, that is the day before “All Hallow’s Day” or All Saint’s Day. All Saint’s Day was and is a Christian, primarily Roman Catholic, holy day which celebrates all the saints in Heaven and includes prayers for those in Purgatory.

Halloween, however, is not a Christian holiday. It seems to have come from the Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a summer’s end or harvest festival. The Celts celebrated Samhain with bonfires to ward off evil spirits and sacrificed animals and sometimes humans to their gods. This pagan heritage has made Halloween controversial among Christians at times. The Protestant Reformers in England did not like the holiday and tried to suppress it because of its pagan and Roman Catholic origins. The Scots were more lenient and Halloween is celebrated there more than in England. The Irish, of course, still celebrated it as they remained Catholic and true to their Celtic Heritage. Halloween was not much celebrated in America until large numbers of Scots and Irish immigrated here during the nineteenth century.

As for the customs which have grown up around Halloween, it would seem that carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is an American innovation. The Scots and Irish used turnips. Pumpkins, which are native to North American, turned out to be larger and easier to carve. Trick or treating seems to be derived from the Scottish custom of guising. Guising is the custom in which children would go from door to door in costume begging for treats and performing a trick or song in return. This custom was first noted in America in the early twentieth century. Trick or treating became the custom by the 1930s. Haunted houses have also become popular since the 1970s.

So, Happy Halloween, or Samhain.

 

Soft Bigotry

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has recommended that college athletes should no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores to be eligible to compete in Division I or Division II sports. Since I don’t follow professional or college sports, I only learned about this latest development from this article at townhall.com.

The NCAA Standardized Test Task Force recommended that high school students preparing to compete in Division I or Division II sports should not have to submit SAT or ACT scores.

 

“This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” said Morgan State President David Wilson, who led a group of representatives in both divisions in carrying out a nearly six month project on the matter. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

The announcement from Friday comes as part of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to “advance racial justice and equity,” which includes reviewing eligibility requirements, reviewing the league’s Academic Progress Rate and its impact on historically black colleges and universities, and implementing “unconscious bias training” for all national office staff.

I wonder if it has occurred to the NCAA administration that by dropping standardized tests to advance “racial justice and equity” they concede that some races are intellectually or academically inferior to others. If they feel that they have to abandon academic standards because some groups; probably African Americans and perhaps Latinos, do not score as highly as other groups on standardized tests, they must be inherently inferior and cannot by nature compete on a level playing field, therefore, the standards must be rigged in their favor or done away with entirely to preserve the myth that everyone is equal. This reasoning strikes me as racist through and through.


I am sure the people responsible for this policy would deny it is racist at all. They would no doubt assert that a level playing field is impossible given the history of oppression and racism some groups have faced. It is only fair that groups that have faced discrimination in the past should receive extra assistance now. Very well, but if discrimination based on race is wrong, as I believe it is, then it is wrong to discriminate against or for anyone by race. Two wrongs do not make a right. In any case, the claim that systemic racism causes Blacks to score poorly on standardized tests fails to explain why other people who have been the victims of discrimination, Jews and East Asians, tend to score very well on such tests; scoring better than the Whites or gentiles who have been oppressing them.


If a racial group, such as African Americans does poorly academically, it must be either because the members of that group really are inferior, on average, or because some external factor, economic or cultural which inhibits their potential. Either way, we do no favors by pretending the problem isn’t there or attributing it to some mythical systemic racism that somehow only manifests itself in hate crime hoaxes.


I cannot emphasize enough that if a particular group, I’ll call it Group X to avoid real-world implications, really is inferior intellectually to Group Y on average, that cannot be considered justification for discriminating against individuals of Group X. We are talking about averages. There will be many intelligent members of Group X and many unintelligent members of Group Y and a considerable degree of overlap. You will not find zero members of Group X among the top tier academically, just relatively fewer than members of Group Y. You will see relatively fewer Group X doctors, lawyers, scientists, and engineers, not none at all. There is no reason to exclude members of Group X from pursuing such occupations. But, there is also no reason to inflate the numbers of Group X by lowering or eliminating standards to pursue equity. That helps no one, least of all the members of Group X who have actually earned their place but now find themselves tainted by association with those who have not.


If, on the other hand, there is some external factor inhibiting Group X from doing as well academically as Group Y, we are also not helping the members of Group X by lowering or eliminating standards. Instead of trying to discover what might be holding Group X back, we are whitewashing the problem in the name of equity. Even worse, the people who push lowering standards in the name of racial equity make the problem worse by attacking those who are actually trying to solve the problem as racists.


Getting back to the real world; my opinion is that no race or population is inherently inferior intellectually or academically. If African-Americans do not do so well on standardized tests, it is because external factors prevent them from realizing their full potential. What these external factors might be, I cannot be sure. I am no expert. I would hazard a guess that the breakup of the Black family and a persistent attitude that academic achievement is somehow not authentically Black or getting good grades is acting White. It is not a coincidence that the East Asians and Jews I referred to as doing well come from cultures that prize strong families and academic achievement.


The NCAA’s recommendation to no longer require standardized tests for athletes to promote racial equity is a step backward in racial progress. It rests on the unspoken assumption that Blacks cannot compete on a level playing field because they are inferior and so must receive extra help from well-meaning Whites. It is the soft bigotry of low expectations or, perhaps the hard bigotry of no expectations at all. It ought to be stopped.

Keith Olbermann Thinks You’re Chicken

I was going to title this “Keith Olbermann is an Idiot”; but we already knew that. His latest idiocy is this video in which he attempts to persuade people to get the Chinese coronavirus vaccine by calling them chicken if they don’t.

Insulting people and calling them names isn’t an effective method of getting them to do something. Keith might have tried attempting to understand why some people might be reluctant to be vaccinated against COVID and presenting a clear, logical case why they ought to. If they still prefer not to be vaccinated, he might have tried respecting their decision. Instead, Keith reverts to the mentality of the grade school playground. He sounds, for all the world, like little boys, who attempt to prove their courage by daring each other to do foolish and dangerous things. I’m surprised he didn’t start mocking the vaccine-hesitant by clucking like a chicken or double-dog-daring people to get the shot.

What Keith doesn’t consider is that there is nothing wrong or shameful about being afraid, if there is cause to be afraid. There is cause to be afraid of the long-term effects of a vaccine rushed into production. The medical establishment assures us that the vaccines are safe, but the medical establishment has not inspired much trust in recent years. I can imagine seeing the advertisements twenty years from now, “If you have received the COVID vaccine and have developed a permanent crotch-itch, call our law office, you may be entitled to compensation. The vaccines are probably safe and effective, but who knows? I should point out that the most vaccine-hesitant are not White Trump supporters, as Keith Olbermann believes, but African-Americans. If you don’t know why Blacks might be more than a little distrustful of the medical establishment, look up the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Keith also doesn’t seem to understand that the decision to refuse to get the shot might be entirely rational, based on careful consideration of the costs and benefits of the shot. When Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine, no one had to be pressured into getting the vaccine. This is because everyone understood that polio is a horrific disease. Polio kills people. Polio causes paralysis. You don’t need to see many people trapped in an iron lung to be convinced that being vaccinated against polio is a good idea. COVID-19 is not horrific. Yes, people die from COVID, but for most people, the coronavirus is not much worse than the common flu. I am not saying that there are no risks associated with COVID and even the young and healthy can die, but this is a disease with a better than 99% survival rate. We are not talking about the Black Death or smallpox. It may be reasonable to decide that the unknown risks of the vaccine are greater than the risks of actual disease, particularly since the natural immunity gained after recovering from the disease is more effective than the immunity from the vaccine.

Keith casually brushes aside the concerns many of us have over vaccine mandates or passports, but this is a valid issue. Even those who have gotten the shot and believe that it would be advisable for everyone to be vaccinated have legitimate concerns about compelling people to be vaccinated. The whole business of showing a vaccine passport to enter a restaurant seems creepy and totalitarian, the sort of thing one might have seen in East Germany rather than a free republic. In the end, the citizens of a free country have the absolute right to decide what does and does not go into their bodies. Maybe it is foolish not to be vaccinated, but freedom must include the freedom to be foolish, or it is not freedom. In a free country, the decision to be vaccinated would be a personal decision that is no one else’s business. Certainly, the idea of mandating or compelling people to receive the vaccine would be unthinkable.

Keith and the left don’t want to live in a free country, however. They want to live in a country in which they are the elite who decide what’s best for us and we are the serfs who must submit. This is why they are so adamant about the vaccine mandate. It is a way to show the rest of us who is boss and to drive another wedge between us. The left is already trying to divide us by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and anything else they can think of. Now they want to divide us between vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The fact is that it is Keith Olbermann and the leftist elites who are afraid. They are afraid that Americans of every color and creed will stand up and demand to be free. They are afraid that we will start to refuse to comply with their mandates. They are afraid we will start to ask questions about their handling of the coronavirus, of the border, of the Afghanistan withdrawal, of the economy and so much else. They are afraid we will resist their attempts at social media censorship and the false narratives they are pushing on us. They are afraid we will wrest control of the government and the institutions which they have seized and ruined from them and restore them to we the people. They are afraid of us.

I think it is past time we give them something to be afraid of.

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