Tribe cannot ignore hateful messages

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October 9, 2017

9:34 PM

Flyers displaying some commonly held political beliefs propagated by the Trump administration were posted in Morton Hall Monday, strategically next to flyers from departments with an opposing viewpoint. One may argue that under the First Amendment, opposing viewpoints are important and the backbone of an effective democratic society. For the most part, I would agree with these people. However, those principles do not apply in this case, as these posters were spreading dangerous misinformation.

One flyer indicated that affirmative action was “government-mandated racism.” Most people with this view believe that color-blind policies are more effective and that white students are disadvantaged by these policies. These people are wrong. Glenn Loury and Roland G. Fryer, two economists whose research partly specializes in labor market discrimination, wrote a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2005 debunking the myths of affirmative action, including those that overstated its benefits. Two of the myths they addressed were the ideas that white students are disproportionately hurt by affirmative action, and that color-blind policies were more effective. They disproved both using basic economic theory and empirical evidence.

Another flyer protested the idea of a gender wage gap, arguing that it does not exist because of the caveats with the “77 cents on the dollar” statistics. It is quite ironic that the posters used data to back up their claim in this poster while ignoring it in the last one. Nonetheless, even though the statistics are correct, the interpretation of them is so misleading and egregious that they might as well be seen as lies. Although it is true that 77 cents on the dollar statistic doesn’t necessarily mean there is gender discrimination in the labor market, it also does not mean that there isn’t. The economic literature is mixed on how large it is, but no matter what is controlled for, there is almost certainly an “unexplained” gap in wages between men and women, for which it is perfectly reasonable to hypothesize discrimination. Additionally, the idea that men simply select higher wage industries, and that that fact alone debunks the wage gap, is hilariously misinformed. It ignores unobservable factors, most notably societal discrimination against women, that may have led to them choosing certain industries over others. Data that is not put into its proper context is meaningless and nothing more than propaganda.

But perhaps the most dangerous and infuriating flyer was the one calling on citizens to report crimes by immigrants to the ICE. There is no need for any statistics or research in opposing this flyer. It is morally reprehensible to post such a thing, knowing that there are undocumented students at this school, and students with undocumented family members that are directly threatened by such a flyer. Alarmism surrounding undocumented immigrants is based on racist caricatures of Hispanic people as criminals, propagated to justify the building of “the wall.”

Transparent dialogue and discussion surrounding the issues are important. However, anyone who had the idea to post these flyers is clearly not interested in discussion of any sort. There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and spreading information that is either dangerous or flat out wrong. The people who posted these flyers do not deserve any kind of platform, and it is our duty as human beings to detest them.

Email Akbar Naqvi at [email protected]

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  • Akbar Naqvi

  • David Delk

    “But perhaps the most dangerous and infuriating flyer was the one calling on citizens to report crimes by immigrants to the ICE.” What you have written is that it is dangerous for Americans to report crimes to authorities. I can agree that ordinary citizens should not be harassing or intimidating people who are in this country illegally; however, that is not the line your piece drew. Your line in the sand was that it is morally reprehensible to report crimes. Your other two topics suggest that opposing viewpoints on an issue should be shouted or torn down, and we need to detest people who approach an issue from one different than ours. The information you cite in your piece is not dangerous; federal court decisions express similar viewpoints. Whether the fliers are “flat out wrong”, I don’t know because you chose not to link them. What we are left with from your piece is that we are to detest and blot out opposing views, especially those on the right. Your vision of America is every bit as scary as the one you seek to destroy.

    • Akbar Naqvi

      All the evidence I linked is freely available online. You can read it yourself, instead of just dismissing the argument because you won’t google something.

      Additionally, given that the same group posted a “Are you in America illegally? We’ll help you deport with dignity!”, it’s very obvious to anyone that they are not concerned for safety and are rather enforcing their xenophobia.

      This isn’t about right or left, this is about targeted misinformation that leads to mayhem, something that freedom of speech has never and never will protect.

      • David Delk

        You did not link the actual fliers; I am more than familiar with the information cited by you and the fliers regarding the topics. Again, they ask the question, “Are you in America illegally?” Whether you or I agree with the sentiment; how can you ignore the right of any group to seek the enforcement of actual laws. If someone is in this country illegally, I would first prefer to see a common sense immigration policy to address the illegal status of these people. However, if someone is truly here illegally, it is certainly trite by you to dismiss the issue as xenophobia.

  • Bob

    A few weeks ago the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finally conceded that the pay disparity between women and men isn’t caused primarily by discrimination, but rather by the personal and professional choices that women make. Is this proof enough for you?

    http://www.aauw.org/article/faq-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

    • Akbar Naqvi

      Literally nothing in this contradicts what I said.

      The pay gap itself doesn’t indicate discrimination, I noted that. There are many complex factors that go into estimating the effects, but most papers in the economic literature that I have read on the issue DO find an “unexplainable” gap. I simply said it is completely valid to hypothesize this gap as discrmination.

      Additionally, you clearly did not read the whole piece. Again, the selection effect does NOT disprove the gap. Societal factors and discrimination women face before going into the workforce matters.

  • Carl Eric Scott

    William and Mary faculty and administrators, this is your student. He implicitly, yet most imprecisely, calls for the censorship, apparently by students, of legal speech and press. I would not be surprised if he were among the mob that intimidated a speaker from the ACLU. So far, I have seen no news that would indicate you might punish members of that mob for their act of intimidation and their denial of the ACLU’s first amendment rights.

    Adult liberals, moderates, and conservatives differ about how to apply the guarantees of freedom of press and freedom of speech. But Akbar Naqvi shows no awareness of the multiple issues they debate about. Does he mention a single Supreme Court case? Does he cite a single political thinker who has debated the issue? Does he quote any language from existing William and Mary policies? From existing Virginia law? He does none of these things.

    He shows no awareness of the distinction between what is morally desirable, and what is legally permitted.

    He is a walking advertisement for the idea (likely incorrect) that a William and Mary degree cannot be trusted to indicate that the holder is educated at a higher level, or merely is dedicated to the maintenance of democratic liberty.

    He is of course free to try to get the Flat Hat to publish his opinions, and the Flat Hat is free to publish these as representative W&M student opinion. But until you take on the leadership you should about the mob-action against the ACLU, know that it is opinions of his sort that will be held up as typical of today’s William and Mary.