Tuesday, October 23, 2018

An Epidemic of Knifings in Once-Great Britain

Here’s some news from Once-Great Britain: the nation is suffering an epidemic of knifings. Thank God they don’t have guns. Or, should we say that if they had guns they would have less knifings. Or else, if they showed strength toward those most likely to commit such attacks-- presumably, the migrant population-- they would have less crime.

The story comes to us from the Guardian:

The number of stabbing victims with life-threatening injuries treated by specialist trauma doctors has increased by 34% in two years, according to NHS figures obtained by the Guardian.

Doctors are also reporting an increase in the severity of attacks, with victims increasingly arriving in hospital with multiple puncture wounds.

“Previously we used to see one or two wounds per victim. Now we are frequently seeing multiple wounds, five or sometimes 10 stab injuries on a single patient”, said Dr Ross Davenport, a consultant trauma and vascular surgeon at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Worse yet, children are also being targeted:

At King’s College hospital in London, the number of adults treated for knife wounds rose from 249 in 2015-16 to 406 last year. The capital’s three other major trauma centres also saw big increases over the same two-year period.

Other cities have also seen the same trend. At Southampton general hospital, cases have almost doubled in the past two years, with the number of adults rising from 68 to 134 and under-18s from seven up to 13.

Hospitals have also treated more child stabbing victims. At the South Tees trust, they rose from 10 in 2015-16 to 26 last year; and from three to 12 at Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital.

Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors, said: “The rise in knife crime in England is a source of serious concern both for the society we live in and for those of us who have to help care for the injured and their relatives where life, often young life is being so tragically lost.

The numbers keep increasing:

The revelations follow official crime figures that showed a big rise in violent crime in England and Wales over the past year, including the largest number of knife offences on record – 39,332 in the year to June, up 12% in a year.

Trauma surgeons recently warned that some hospitals were running low on blood supplies because of the “epidemic” of people being stabbed and that “spikes” of violence often coincided with the end of the school day.

Ch Supt Ade Adelekan, the head of the Metropolitan police’s violent crime taskforce, said earlier this month: “People involved in violence are getting younger while the level and ferocity of attacks is getting worse, and I do not know why that is.”

For American activists the only real problem is figuring out how to blame it all on the NRA or on Donald Trump.

Reversing Gender Reassignment Surgery

With apologies to Shakespeare, if this be madness, is there any method to it? I am referring to the current debate over transgenderism. Now that the Trump administration is examining whether or not to limit the number of genders to two, decided at birth by biology, you should gird your loins for the coming anguished emotional hurricane.


After all, we have known, for decades now, that nearly three quarters of the children who believe themselves to be transgendered change their minds once they reach adolescence. The solution, proposed by activists-- give them puberty blocking hormones when they are children.


The second problem concerns the high level of suicide among those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery. The number is approximately 25%. The solution, now being offered by some clinics-- is gender reassignment reversal surgery.


The story appeared in the London Telegraph. It was republished in the Canadian paper, The National Post. (via American Digest)


The surgeon leading the world in both gender reassignment and gender assignment surgery is Prof. Miroslav Djordjevic, from Belgrade, Serbia. You will be discouraged to note that Prof. Djordjevic also plies his trade in New York at Mount Sinai Hospital-- which is a leading medical institution.


The problem is men who have been turned into a facsimile of biological women… who now what their external male genitalia reattached. In truth, I am not familiar with the way that this surgery is performed, and I am not that interested in the details. The story does spare us the details. One can only make sense out of this by imagining that some part of the male organ remains attached to the body. One also imagines that testicles cannot be reattached.


Anyway, here’s the story of an increasing number of transgendered males who transitioned into femalehood and who later changed their minds.


Five years ago, Professor Miroslav Djordjevic, the world-leading genital reconstructive surgeon, received a patient at his Belgrade clinic. It was a transgender patient who had surgery at a different clinic to remove male genitalia – and had since changed their mind.


Why did they do so? Professionals have know this for decades: these patients suffer from high levels of suicidal depression:


Those wishing the reversal, Djordjevic says, have spoken to him about crippling levels of depression following their transition and in some cases even contemplated suicide. “It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” says the 52-year-old. And yet, in the main part, they are not being heard.


You might imagine that a surgeon would reconsider performing gender reassignment surgery. One does not know if this is the case. Doesn’t the Hippocratic oath begin with: First, do no harm.


So much for that.


Of course, the transgender lobby refuses to allow anyone to speak about these issues, no less research them:


Last week, it was alleged that Bath Spa University has turned down an application for research on gender reassignment reversal because it was a subject deemed “potentially politically incorrect”.


Given the media acceptance and even glorification of transgenderism, our culture is producing more and more transgender individuals. It is true in America and it is true in England. (Bath Spa University is in Great Britain.)


The story continues:


James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with transgender people, suggested the research after a conversation with Djordjevic in 2014 at a London restaurant where the Serbian told him about the number of reversals he was seeing, and the lack of academic rigour on the subject.


According to Caspian, the university initially approved his proposal to research “detransitioning”. He then amassed some preliminary findings that suggested a growing number of young people – particularly young women – were transitioning their gender and then regretting it.


But after submitting the more detailed proposal to Bath Spa, he discovered he had been referred to the university ethics committee, which rejected it over fears of criticism that might be directed towards the university. Not least on social media from the powerful transgender lobby.


It is a case of pure bullying, one that many people are paying a very high price for. Most importantly, as noted, the cultural climate has put us in the business of producing transgenderism:


To date, all of his reversals have been transgender women aged over 30 wanting to restore their male genitalia. Over the last two decades, the average age of his patients has more than halved, from 45 to 21. While the World Professional Association for Transgender Health guidelines currently state nobody under the age of 18 should undergo surgery, Prof Djordjevic fears this age limit could soon be reduced to include minors. Were that to happen, he says, he would refuse to abide by the rules. “I’m afraid what will happen five to 10 years later with this person,” he says. “It is more than about surgery; it’s an issue of human rights. I could not accept them as a patient as I’d be afraid what would happen to their mind.”


Referrals to adult and child gender identity clinics in the UK have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. In April, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the only clinic for adolescents in England, reported 2,016 referrals to its gender identity development service, a 42 per cent rise compared to the previous year, which in itself marked a 104 per cent increase on the year before that.


As I say, now that the Trump administration has declared its intention to challenge the transgenderist orthodoxy, you can expect an outcry. Apparently, Donald Trump is the only politician who refused to be bullied.

Steve Wilson Got Fired

Two days ago I posted two items under the heading: Annals of Civility. Among them was the scene that transpired in Portland, OR when an Antifa fascist decided to harass a woman who was wearing an NYPD baseball cap. When said women told said fascist that her husband had died in the terror attack on 9/11 he started ranting about the NYPD.

Steve Milne has a transcript of the encounter:

The protester begins the verbal spat by saying to the woman, “Why are you trying to block me, I’m f***ing trying to walk here.”

After he called her a “f***ing snarky, little f***ing idiot,” he said. “I’m not like … your cop boyfriend who is going to f***ing knock you out.”

The woman pointed to her NYPD hat and told the man, “My husband died on 9/11,” to which he replied, “Good, good. NYPD was a bunch of sodomizers, f***ing sodomizing immigrants with their bully sticks.”

“Your husband … should rot in the grave.”

At that point, the woman’s son, a man considerably larger than said fascist, confronted him. Being a coward, the fascist ran for his life.

That’s not the end of the story. Astute observers went to work identifying the young fascist. His name is Steve Wilson, but he also goes by the name SalvadOrwell Wilson. He works at a company called: Self Enhancement Inc. which is a do-goody group helping disadvantaged youth.

Or, I should say, he used to work at Self Enhancement Inc. As soon as Wilson’s employer discovered what he had done, it fired him. Milne reports:

Self Enhancement Inc then tweeted out that “Steve Wilson is no longer an employee of SEI. His behavior does not represent the values of our organization or the high expectations that we have for our employees.”

Sad to say, this is probably the only language that some of these maniacs really understand.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Price of Everything; The Value of Nothing

The movie has been screened, but not released. It is called: The Price of Everything. It casts a cold eye on the world of contemporary fine art, that would be, the world of painting and sculpture. Evidently, there’s art in writing and in music… but true glamour seems to reside in the world of fine art, what with its mega-priced work bought by hyperrich collectors.

To be more explicit than need be, there is no monetary barrier to owning a copy of a Dickens novel or a Shakespeare play. If you want to hear Glenn Gould playing Bach you do not need to spend a fortune on it. And, the recording you hear will be precisely the same as that of the tycoon who lives in the next county. And yet, if you want to have a Jeff Koons sculpture in your garden, you will need to lay down millions… for something is of highly dubious artistic value.

It is worth mentioning, but much great art can be yours to see at a museum or a gallery. You cannot buy it; you cannot live with it; you cannot even rent it; but you can look at it and experience whatever you experience.

As Jerry Saltz reminds us-- did you really need a reminder?-- the movie title is a short form of Oscar Wilde’s famous dictum: namely that cynics know “the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Saltz will, at one point in his essay, remind us that the creator of The Price of Everything is nothing if not a cynic.

In the art world too much money is chasing too few goods. And many of the goods are not very good. This produces price inflation, among other deviant behaviors. Better yet, for some, buying art signals status. But for others it is a gamble, like buying a boatload of different penny stocks, putting them away, and hoping that a few of them will have appreciated astronomically over time.

Because, it appears, most of us are not very good as evaluating an artwork in present time. We know that Giotto and Ver Meer were great; they have withstood the ravages of time. And yet, as Tom Wolfe reminded us, when the assembled eminences of the Paris art world convened a century ago to vote for which of their contemporary artists would most likely be revered a century later, they chose: William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

True enough, some people, that would be people who live, eat, sleep and breathe art have a better eye than those who do not. They have better taste. They probably make better investments. And yet, in the short term, they might be right or wrong. And for reasons that need not have anything to do with discerning taste.

But, what about aesthetic value. What about the aesthetic emotion you feel when you gaze on a Velasquez? Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing must mean: not being able to appreciate the aesthetic value of a work of art.

How do you develop your eye for fine art? Simply put, by exposure, by the exposure you can only gain by living with it. This means, to put a finer point on it, that wealthy people, especially aristocratic families that have collected great art for centuries, have a decided advantage. Their children might not be aware of it, but if they grow up surrounded by Rembrants and Cezannes, they will have a better eye than will those who have taken an art history course and have gone to a few gallery openings. Thus, a form of snobbery built into the art world. Those who have a better eye are more likely to have grown up surrounded by great art. Arrivistes and the nouveau riche do not have the same level of taste.

Again, the same does not apply to music and literature. If your middle class parents were always playing Bach on the stereo you will have a better developed taste in music. If you spent your childhood afternoons reading Jane Austin of Henry James your literary sensibility will be better developed than will that of someone who read comic books and package labels.

Thus, new collectors who were not brought up surrounded by great art are more likely to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They see art as a commodity, to be traded in the marketplace.

Surely, the artists know their audience. They no longer seem to aim at sophisticated collectors but at collectors who do not know any more than what their advisors have told them. Except that advisors have an interest in recommending the purchase of works that they believe will appreciate, and will do so before the next millennium.

In many cases, artists seem to be mocking collectors, selling them arrayed junk and claiming that it has great artistic value. Recall Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. In other cases, knowing that collectors do not really have trained eyes, artists dub themselves to be intellectuals and pretend that their work embodies a great idea. They can then sit back and watch neophyte collectors pretend to believe that they understand the great idea. Anyone who does not like the work is attacked for belonging to a species of inferior minds who lack intellectual acumen. Thus, poseur collectors do well to claim that they really get it and that they are willing to spend gobs of money to show how deeply they feel it. Eventually, you see bands of poseurs throwing enormous amounts of money at mediocre works, thus increasing the value of their holdings and making them feel like they are great thinkers. Yikes.

One does well to remember that artists are not intellectuals. Any more than hedge fund billionaires or tech oligarchs.

In the meantime, Jerry Saltz describes the scene in the movie:

The Price of Everything is a portrait of this damaged system — a place where big-ticket art made by only a handful of people — maybe 75 mostly male artists — appears in high-end galleries, auction houses, and art fairs before being sold off at astronomically inflated prices. Art and money have always slept together; they’re just doing it more profligately now than ever. The patter of the high-enders in Price is so imperious and spiteful that it’s no wonder the public — and many art-world insiders — have grown cynical about it all. I left the premiere feeling sick to my stomach and ashamed.

The price of admission is so high that very few can really play in the game. Most of those who do seem to have little idea of what they are buying. They know that they are now playing with the big boys… and apparently that suffices. Or better, it will suffice until the bottom drops out of some artists’ markets:

Throughout Price’s 98 minutes, alpha dogs talk money, plot prices, and act snarky about those not as upper echelon as they are. An insane earmark of this film is that all the potentates in it think their behavior is better than that of all the other potentates. Collectors with cookie-cutter collections grouse that no one else is a connoisseur anymore.

Saltz sees it as  a danse macabre:

It’s a modern danse macabre where the superrich buy their art in public — a performance of power, clout, social status, sublimated sexuality, and price manipulation. The auctioneer is the pole-dancer/dominatrix of the proceedings, cooing and moving in mannered ways, pointing to bidders, calling some by their first names, being cheeky, coaxing, cudgeling, always closing, reciting ever-climbing prices. He intones, “That’s $600,000 in bid to my left; there’s $700,000 in the back of the room.” Soon, “I have $1 million on my right.” The magic number; a murmur goes over the crowd as he looks up at a skybox or a chandelier and crows, “I have 1,200,000.” He gives “fair warning,” hesitates, counts to three, cracks the hammer down and shouts, “Sold!” The crowd erupts in applause; your skin crawls. Mine did, at least.

Some of the work being traded has artistic value. Most of it does not. Do the collectors know? The movie shows that an atmosphere that is more like a gambling casino than a museum:

The thing is, much of the work on these trading floors is great. Most of it, however, is either middling, iffy, or bad. One collector says, “We’re lemmings”; another that she “always wants more;” another that her friends now own the same sculpture she proudly displays in her home. Then she tells us her friends’ versions are “different colors.” The craziest thing about Price is that while all the artists in it acknowledge the stresses and powerful presence of the market, those in the market, on the other hand, seem not to even notice artists anymore.

As for the artists, precious few make any money at all. The same applies to dealers. Since he was interviewed for the film, Saltz recalls some of his comments, even those that were cut from the final version:

I kept saying I hate all this stuff, too, but that galleries are still where new art comes from and that I love going to them. Most dealers have no money. Only about 1 percent of 1 percent of all artists make any money. I told him he’s really asking about a teeny sliver of the art world. I talked about artists living on the edge and said that a lot of good art is still getting made and shown. At one point I got carried away and I think I said we’d all stand over the imaginary caskets of all the speculators until we were sure they were dead, then dance on their graves. Thankfully, this was cut.

In the end, he really liked the movie:

Welcome to the art world of 2018. A place of cravenness and tropospheric wealth, yet a world that still provides comfort, safe spaces for people to do their work, take chances, assert themselves, step outside themselves, act, and maybe do “something meaningful.” A place where Koons can make you crazy and still make good work; where Cappellazzo can act batty but shine with intelligence; where former art-star octogenarian Larry Poons — cast as the film’s Tiny Tim battling against the evil Scrooge art world — might be on famous-male-artist automatic-pilot, not really pushing his work enough, but is obviously still following a deep calling.

The movie is amazingly well made. A masterpiece of its genre, a blinkered picture of a very big, very knotty ball of art world wax. Oh, and it also never mentions that its title is taken from Oscar Wilde, talking about cynics who know “the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Annals of Incivility

On the incivility front, the enraged rage. There are no limits. No bounds. No rules and no constraints.  Unfortunately, it isn’t even funny anymore. It’s a direct threat to democratic institutions.

Kevin Williamson reports on what he calls “The Witches of Bushwick,” a group of witches, duh!, that has joined together to cast spells and to utter mindless incantations for the sole purpose of causing Bret Kavanaugh to suffer. Tell us about the party of love and empathy.

Williamson remarks:

Occasionally, our friends on the left do us the favor of making plain that which conservative critics have inferred about their ranks: that they are intellectually unserious, that they are damaged, that they are high on rage, that they have made a religion of politics.

The witches of Bushwick are not resolved that Justice Kavanaugh has erroneous views about constitutional interpretation — they are resolved that he must suffer.

Williamson is too kind when he says that these witches are not emotionally healthy. It’s not about mental health. They are suffering from a serious character flaw, one that ought to get them expelled from polite society.

Emotionally healthy adults do not wish to inflict suffering on people over political disagreements. Emotionally healthy adults are not so bewitched by partisanship that they engage in what the nice bookstore ladies in Brooklyn are engaged in here, which is the 21st-century progressive version of a cross-burning — a lot of mystical mumbo-jumbo piled on top of a sentiment that could easily be communicated in three little words: “I Hate You.”

If you have not had your quota of hate today, examine the confrontation that took place in Portland, Oregon. A crazed left-wing protester began to rail at a woman who was-- gird your loins-- wearing an NYPD cap. From the Daily Caller.

When the women replied that her husband had died on 9/11, it did not provoke the rage-filled radical to feel shame. He had long since taken leave of his moral sense. He upped the ante:

Video of a left-wing protester telling an alleged 9/11 widow that her late husband should “rot in the grave” has gone viral.

The harassment of the woman took place in Portland, Ore. during clashes between Antifa and pro-Trump factions.

The protester screamed at the woman in the video and looked to be ready for a physical confrontation. After the woman said “My husband died in 9/11,” the protester yelled “Good for him! Good. Good. NYPD were a bunch of sodomized — fucking sodomizing immigrants with their bully sticks. Your husband should probably fucking rot in the grave.”

The woman walked on.

You would not shed too many tears if said Antifa radical had been subjected to the same punishment.

Anyway, the woman in question had been accompanied by her son. Said son was bigger and stronger than the Brown Shirted radical and confronted him:

However, the leftist protester was not so empowered when a large man approached him and asked, “Did you call my mom out?”

The protester said “What?” and then took off running.

“Why are you running?” the man yelled.

There was a standoff between the leftist and far-right protesters, but when a large group of Trump-supporting activists looked to confront him, the man who insulted the widow suddenly lost his nerve.

The moral of the story: the armies of deranged fascists will only return to civility when they are confronted by a larger counterforce. It is regrettable. But, bullies only respond to other bullies. Allowing them to rant on, shamelessly, will inevitably lead to a reaction. They are not going to feel quite so empowered when it happens.

The Cost of #MeToo Activism


It’s called winning the battle and losing the war. The graphs offered by The Economist tell the story of the wages of activism. Of course, to be fair, I tried to warn everyone. To little avail. Women who rant and rave about sexual harassment, who flood the media with stories about sexual harassment and who demand the most severe punishments for perpetrators have not exactly succeeded in advancing their cause. They have discredited their cause.

For one, it’s not just men who get hurt by these accusations. Their wives and daughters get hurt too. I understand that the activists do not care about destroying men’s lives. But, it is more difficult to understand why they care so little for the lives of wives and daughters. Unfortunately, their rage to destroy is so overpowering that they simply do not care. Sad story.

The graphs picture the cost of activism. And the cost of unhinged rage. The #MeToo movement has within the space of a year, discredited itself. After all, emotional extremes do not persuade. They deter. Someone who is emotionally overwrought is drawing attention to her emotions, not to the situation at hand.

The Economist reports:

ONE year ago Alyssa Milano, an American actress, posted on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Within 24 hours she had received more than 500,000 responses using the hashtag “#MeToo”. Ms Milano’s tweet came days after the New York Times and New Yorker had published detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer. Mr Weinstein was the first in a long line of prominent entertainers and executives to be toppled by such investigations, which dominated the headlines throughout late 2017 (see chart below).

Even as these stories broke, it was #MeToo that resonated most on social media, as millions of women shared their experiences of abuse, intimidation and discrimination. In the past 12 months, the hashtag has been tweeted 18m times according to Keyhole, a social-media analytics company. The phrase has come to encapsulate the idea of sexual misconduct and assault. In recent months American journalists have used the hashtag in their articles more frequently than they have mentioned “sexual harassment”, according to Meltwater, a media analytics company.  

The results, as you see in the graphs above, suggest that people are turning off to #MeToo. They might have tired of the constant rage. They might have decided to measure the social consequences of trying to control sexual behavior by criminalizing deviant behaviors. They might have decided that it is not a very good idea to tear the country apart… no matter how just the cause. Or it might have decided that giving power to the people who are consumed with blind rage is a bad idea.

The Economist concludes:

Yet surveys suggest that this year-long storm of allegations, confessions and firings has actually made Americans more sceptical about sexual harassment.

If you need to select a pilot for your airplane, who would you choose, the seasoned male pilot who had touched a woman inappropriately or the inexperienced female pilot who had denounced him in public, who had ruined his life and had destroyed the lives of his wife and children?

Does Botox Make Women Less Orgasmic?

We already know, because we keep up on the research, that Botox injections inhibit a woman’s ability to express feeling. You see, subtle movements in facial muscles express emotion. If her muscles have been numbed by Botox, that ability will diminish. Worse yet, facial numbness will make it more difficult for a woman to read anyone else’s emotions.

When you talk to someone face to face, you tend to mimic his or her facial expressions. When you do so you feel a reasonable facsimile of what he is feeling. If your face is numb, this mode of communication will be shut off. And you can complain about how your friend is failing to express his or her feelings.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Anyway, researchers have now found that women who Botox their faces are also less likely to have orgasms. As best as I can tell, this applies mostly to couples who are having sex face-to-face, and thus are communicating through facial expressions as well as through genital activities.

Anyway, it’s a story that you can only read in the Daily Mail, so here it is:

Researchers have found that those who have Botox treatment to smooth out facial wrinkles are less likely to achieve orgasms.

Injections of the toxic substance paralyse nerves, making it difficult to produce the full range of facial expressions.

Psychologists at Cardiff University have discovered that, as a result, women find it harder to communicate to lovers that they are enjoying sex.

Face to face seems to have something to do with having sex with someone you know. But it also suggests that couples communicate their commitments through facial expressions, and that, for women, this enhances sexual arousal.

This, the researchers say, affects performance between the sheets and blunts the woman’s feeling of physical enjoyment.

Dr Michael Lewis, who led the research, explained that just as people find it difficult to feel ecstatically happy without actually smiling, so people struggle to reach orgasm without having full control of the muscles in their face.

He said: ‘Facial expressions associated with orgasm utilise the same muscles targeted in typical botulinum toxin cosmetic treatments.

The predicted consequence of having treatment is that women may feel an orgasm to a lesser extent and may find it harder to reach climax.

‘Analysis from our study suggests that’s what is happening.’

Think about it: it’s difficult to feel ecstatically happy without smiling. If Botox or some other cosmetic enhancement has numbed your facial muscles to the point where you cannot crack a smile, you will feel less happy:

He added: ‘The results suggest that the facial expressions do not occur simply to communicate pleasure.

'They are an integral part of the feeling of pleasure and are important in the process of achieving orgasm. This demonstrates an important role for facial feedback within sexual intercourse and it is potentially a significant negative impact from BTX treatment.’

I know you find it hard to believe, but Botox, undertaken voluntarily by millions of women, represses female sexuality.

You've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Bret Stephens Opposes Affirmative Action

The debate over affirmative action in university admissions ought by now to have been settled. Two decades ago Shelby Steele explained that when minority students are given preferential treatment-- aka privilege-- they, and anyone who resembles them, are treated as inferior, as tokens, as not belonging where they are.

More recently, Stuart Taylor and Richard Sander wrote a book about mismatch, about the fact that admitting underperforming students into schools where they cannot compete against the overachievers does them no favor. It diminishes their ability to receive a good education and consigns them to the bottom of the class… even though in another school they might have been nearer to the top.

Affirmative action hurts those it is trying to help. Another great social experiment gone awry.

This morning Bret Stephens opines about the current court case over affirmative action in Harvard University admissions. As you know, the school is being sued by Asian students who have been rejected in favor of minority candidates who have far lower test scores and who are far less able to compete with their classmates. Stephens does not mention the work of Steele, Taylor and Sander. I noted it to provide some context.

Given that Stephens is writing for the New York Times, his views will certainly have a significant influence:

The very people who ordinarily championed affirmative action as a cornerstone of a decent society — for giving a needed leg up to the systemically disadvantaged — had no trouble understanding the other dimension of the policy — an unfair preference for the unqualified. They knew that “affirmative action,” whatever its benefits as a form of social engineering, was a synonym for mediocrity.

A synonym for mediocrity-- he means that the students who have been admitted under affirmative action quotas are not only comparatively mediocre, but that everyone else knows that they are. If their appearance does not give it away, classroom discussion will.

Grades, you probably know, have been inflated to the point where, outside of STEM subjects, they are nearly meaningless. You probably also know that when Lawrence Summers became president of Harvard and questioned the grade inflation in African-American studies, he was immediately denounced. By now, given the fact that underperforming students are more likely to take courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences, these will likely be dumbed down. lest affirmative action participants fail ... thus depriving the best students of the best possible education.

Stephens notes that those who profit from affirmative action do not really profit:

They also knew the insult’s insidious psychological power to wound. To be told that you are an affirmative action hire shakes the ground under your feet.

Of course, where the number of admissions slots is fixed, if you include more underqualified members of a minority community you are going to exclude more overqualified members of another community.

All this confirms what most thoughtful people should know already about affirmative action: that what is supposed to be a powerful method for inclusion is an equally powerful method of exclusion. If you’re going to say yes to Jack, you’ll have to say no to Jill. The world of college admissions is a fixed pie.

While half the country is currently railing about something called “white privilege,” the truth of the matter is that the candidates who have been unfairly excluded from Harvard are invariably Asian:

What distinguishes the Harvard suit from past legal challenges to affirmative action is that it shows that the people the policy harms aren’t privileged and unsympathetic white kids. The injured are other minorities.

Nor is this a matter of second-tier white students duking it out for the last available slots against standout minorities. The Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard are outstanding candidates being penalized by hoary stereotypes about having ferocious work ethics but not much else. Internal Harvard documents refer to them as “busy and bright” and “standard strong” — reminiscent of the way a previous generation of Jewish students were dismissed as “average geniuses” who were not “clubbable.”

As it happens, those who suffer from affirmative programs are those the programs were designed to help:

Still, I can’t help but think that critics of the plaintiffs are right in at least one respect: Those “busy and bright” kids who aren’t going to Harvard will be fine. Most will still get into great schools and have good careers. They might rage against an institution that turned them away unfairly. Yet deep down they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing their own worth.

Will that be equally true of those who, thanks to affirmative action, did get in? I wonder. Perhaps the deepest damage affirmative action does is to those it embraces, not those it rejects. It isn’t a pleasant thing to live with the sense that your achievements aren’t quite real— and that everyone secretly knows it. It’s corrosive to live in the clutch of someone else’s lie.

But, doesn’t the same reasoning apply to all diversity programs?