Thursday, December 4, 2008

Understanding: Islamicism; Militant Feminism

Once again we have witnessed an Islamic terrorist attack incited and justified through appeals to Islam by its perpetrators. On one level it is understandable why so many in the West are unwilling or unable to connect the militant ideology of political Islam to the thousands of Islamic terror attacks that have been committed worldwide since 9/11. We extol the virtues of tolerance and pluralism and believe others in the world do so as well, so it is easy to dismiss such attacks as the work of a few “extremists,” rather than the product of adherence to an ideology.

The fatal flaw in this thinking is this: How can we successfully win a war on Islamic terrorism if we don’t correctly define the threat doctrine that motivates its adherents?

It is argued that most of the world’s Muslims are not terrorists. While true, this fact is irrelevant. Most of the world’s Muslims have never read the Qur’an or the Hadith in a language they can understand. They have not read the hundreds of passages that call for jihad against infidels, nor do they renounce such passages. They do not organize en masse to denounce the terrorist acts perpetrated by other Muslims in the name of Islam, nor do they denounce the frequent exhortations to world subjugation found in the holy books of Islam.

Yes, there are Muslims who have denounced the Mumbai attacks. But examine their denunciations closely and you will be hard-pressed to find renunciations of the supremacist doctrine of political Islam -- the foundation for jihad -- which emanates from its holy books. This is the justification commonly cited by terrorists for their actions. We in the West must come to grips with the uncomfortable fact that terrorism is a symptom of this militant, supremacist ideology.

Terrorism is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

And it is but one of many means used by those who are devoted to the supremacist ideology of political Islam. [all emphases added]

by Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO

The national election has finally passed, thankfully without any mandate for 50-50 gender representation of the kind favored by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Susan Pinker, author of "The Sexual Paradox", [wrote] on the ability to make choices as “one of the benefits of living in a postfeminist Western democracy.” Does this mean that facts and common sense have finally prevailed against militant feminism, and that we can all celebrate the victory and get on with our lives? If a recent math controversy is any indication, the answer is no.

Last summer, a study of more than seven million students from grades 2-11, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and published in the journal Science, said that boys and girls perform equally well in math. At least, that is how the story was brokered to the public.

In her story on the study, Wendy Hansen of the Los Angeles Times could not resist taking a swing at Larry Summers, who as president of Harvard reportedly said that boys are more likely than girls to be math geniuses. Mr. Summers didn’t exactly say that, though it is true. As Susan Pinker has pointed out, there are more male geniuses, and also more male idiots. Male dominance of the idiot ranks, which can be easily verified in politics, does not appear to bother feminists in the slightest.

On the other coast, Tamar Lewin of the New York Times had Larry Summers questioning women’s intrinsic ability. He didn’t actually question it, however, but only suggested it was something to consider for further study. As for Tamar Lewin’s portrayal of the new study, she had boys and girls in a dead heat in the math competition. As the headline put it, “No Gap for Girls.” The results of the study are a bit more nuanced than that, as Heather MacDonald pointed out so clearly in City Journal.

Boys’ and girls’ average scores are similar, she noted, but boys outnumber girls among students in both the highest and the lowest score ranges. That also squares with Susan Pinker’s observation on genius, but not with Tamar Lewin’s contention that in every category girls did as well as boys. They didn’t.

“This statement is simply wrong,” Heather MacDonald wrote, pointing out that among white 11th-graders, there were twice as many boys as girls above the 99th percentile. Furthermore, among mathematically gifted adolescents, between five and 10 times as many boys as girls have been found to receive near-perfect scores on the math SATs. So why the misleading report?

Since boys and girls perform the same in math, the reasoning goes, any gender imbalance in a math, science, or engineering department, any “underrepresentation,” in other words, can only be due to bias and discrimination. That’s where they are going with the skewed reports. Every workplace, according to the dogma, should break down 50-50 between men and women. If not, it’s all due to stereotypes and prejudice, to be remedied, of course, by government action. We have already noted that the Title IX troops are leading a surge aimed at math and engineering departments.

The study published in Science has some valuable lessons, but not the ones touted by Tamar Lewin. “Far from raising the presumption of gender bias among schools and colleges,” says Heather MacDonald, “the Science study strengthens a competing hypothesis: that the main drivers of success in scientific fields are aptitude and knowledge, in conjunction with personal choices about career and family that feminists refuse to acknowledge.”

With careful scholars such as Louann Brizendine, Susan Pinker, and Christina Hoff Sommers, there is now much more that feminists can refuse to acknowledge. Excuse me if I call this feminaticism: the persistent refusal to acknowledge any science or reality that raises doubts about feminist dogma, and the pursuit of misguided public policies based on those dogmas, even when discredited.

As Heather MacDonald also pointed out, the Wall Street Journal got the story right on the math study, that average scores are similar but that boys predominate at the margins. The author was Keith J. Winstein, so maybe men are also better at journalism about math. Feminaticism, however, seems to have eager advocates in the prestige press, as well as the academy and the legislature. That means, alas, that we can’t relax or take anything for granted, even in a post-feminist Western democracy where women enjoy boundless choices.

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