Further Developments on the Issue of Social Justice in Baltimore
Today’s contribution consists three parts.
First, a correspondence between me and Mr. Ted Quant, who is Director of the Twomey Center Loyola University. Here is its mission: "The Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice seeks to shape social justice consciousness through education, and to take action on critical social problems confronting society. The Twomey Center acts as a catalyst for research and action on critical issues of workers’ rights, racism, poverty and justice. Our mission is achieved through action, reflection and dialogue generating community partnerships."
The second part of this op-ed consists of a correspondence I had with Fr. Kevin Wildes, S.J., president of the Loyola University New Orleans. Note the very, very, very, different reaction to my Baltimore speech in this case.
The third part is a correspondence between me and, not to put too fine a point on it, a kangaroo court at Loyola University New Orleans.
Ia. Quant to Block
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Thu 11/27/2008 9:09 PM To: email@example.com Subject: Ted Quant’s letter to the editor
Dear Dr. Block.
Here is a copy of a letter I am sending to the Times-Picayune in response to James Gill article. I don’t know if they will print it or not but I wanted you to know my opinion from me directly.
Ted Quant Twomey Center Loyola University 861-5831
Letter to the editor:
James Gill sees opposition to Dr. Walter Block’s biased assertions as contrary to academic freedom. I disagree. Dr. Block is free to present his views and his peers and others are free to challenge and condemn them.
Block asserts that Blacks and women are less productive than white men because women have only “average” intelligence needed for motherhood but not for “leading corporations;” he cites discredited research that asserts Blacks have lower IQ’s than whites.
Apparently the havoc wrought by 500 years of pseudoscientific “proofs” of white supremacy, is not sufficiently instructive. Millions of native peoples were slaughtered, Africans enslaved, while theologians debated whether they had souls or were even human. The racial theories of American eugenics led to forced sterilizations and Nazi racial policies that categorized certain peoples as “life unworthy of life.” With great Aryan efficiency, millions were murdered.
There have always been academicians ready to provide “scientific” proof of white supremacy and a justification for racial and gender discrimination. Will the next step be libertarians demanding the repeal of civil right laws to allow discrimination against those Block deems unproductive? This is the logic and legacy of such ideologically driven analysis and bankrupt research.
Ted Quant Director, Twomey Center Loyola University cc. Dr. Block
Ib. Block to Quant
— — – Original Message Follows — — – From: “Walter Block” <firstname.lastname@example.org To: <email@example.com Subject: RE: Ted Quant’s letter to the editor Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2008 23:06:46 -0600
Dear Prof. Quant: I just reread Gill’s piece. I searched, in vain, for a statement of his according to which “James Gill sees opposition to Dr. Walter Block’s biased assertions as contrary to academic freedom.” Please give me the exact place in Gill’s piece where he says this. If you would, give it to me in quote marks, as a direct quote from his op-ed. Yours truly, Walter E. Block, Ph.D. Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Prof. of Economics College of Business Loyola University New Orleans 6363 St. Charles Ave., Box 15 New Orleans, LA 70118 tel: (504)864-7934 fax: (504)864-7970 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ic. Quant to Block
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Sat 11/29/2008 1:24 PM To: Walter Block Subject: RE: Ted Quant’s letter to the editor
Dear Prof. Block,
Thank you for the promotion to professor but since I have not earned it, mister is a respectable enough title for me.
I have reread Mr. Gill’s editorial. In fact he did not say that he "sees opposition to Dr. Walter Block’s biased assertions as contrary to academic freedom." I inferred that from my reading of the editorial and take responsibility for any misrepresentation of his meaning.
However, what did he say that led me to infer that he was critical of opposition to your views and saw that as contrary to the spirit of academic freedom? I inferred it from this sentence: "Ideas contrary to fashionable preconceptions are always likely to throw academia into a fit and this time it is a New Orleans professor who has the bien pensant crowd howling for blood." And I inferred it from this sentence: "The notion that campuses should be receptive to all ideas, even ones that threaten sacred cows, is somewhat out of fashion, Block was lucky he… wasn’t shouted down."
Mr. Gill uses loaded words and phrases like, "contrary," "preconceptions," "fit," "howling," "blood," "out of fashion," and the one I loved the most, "the bien pensant crowd," to describe those who may disagree with your views. I had to look up "bien pensant." Mr. Gill is a master of word economy in this skillful put down. God he is good! Got to give him props for this. Here are the meanings I found for "bien pensant:" self-righteous, moralistic, sanctimonious, preachy, holier than thou, unctuously hypocritical, mealy-mouthed.
Obviously, I cannot provide you with an exact quote from Gill’s editorial that says specifically what I conclude from it, but I contend that an accomplished writer like Gill has very competently conveyed his views through his use of loaded terms to describe those who disagree with you.
Honestly I can’t read Mr. Gill’s mind, and if I mis-read his meaning, that’s on me. But, frankly my issue is with you, not Mr. Gill.
When I heard about what you said, I googled your name to learn more about your side of the story. I read your comments and your challenge to anyone to debate you, and your calling people cowards for not confronting you directly. I wondered why no one has done this. Where are Dr. Block’s academic peers — economist, historians, and sociologist? Why the silence? And in particular why is there not a peep from Loyola New Orleans? Frankly, I felt the silence deafening and embarrassing. I even read where you said no one at Loyola had raised any objections. And then I read Mr. Gill’s editorial. Credentials or not, I felt I had to say something.
You call people cowards for not debating you. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. Maybe they know something I don’t know that makes silence make sense. I believe you debated Bill Quigley some years ago. I didn’t attend that debate but Bill told me that you are a formidable and smart debater.
That aside, in my opinion, you display a kind of cowardice I remember seeing as a child. We called it "throwing a rock and hiding your hand." An example of this is when you cite racist studies like The Bell Curve as possible explanations for your productivity studies, and then say something like, (I don’t have the exact quote) "…but I am an economist, that’s not my expertise." You insulate yourself from someone else’s racist study so you don’t have to defend it, but never fail to trot it out when you want to make a point.
As I ponder why others haven’t spoken out I wonder if it is not because they are smart enough to know that you are baiting them because controversy is your forte’ and builds your reputation within your ideological circles, sort of like John McCain picking Sarah Palin. The more inflammatory her rhetoric, the more support she got from the so-called base. Harry Lee often did the same thing; every time elections came around he would do some outrageously racist thing to get out the racist vote. Do you have a book coming out? Did I fall into the trap?
I am not an economist and have not studied productivity statistics or IQ variances, but this I know: Intelligence is not the monopoly of any race or gender. There are smart and dumb people of every race and as well moral and immoral, just and unjust, hardworking and lazy. In fact race is a pretty bogus concept altogether, but that’s another story.
When I was a child growing up in Washington DC in the 1950’s, everyday I heard the racist harangue of southern politicians against integration with the inferior "Negra." They also would present their evidence of black inferiority. I remember Medgar Evers’ murder, and the Jet magazine with the picture of Emmett Till on its cover, and Little Rock. To these things, my mother would say things like, "Prejudice is stupid. There is no race better than any other. We should all be treated equal. Those people are ignorant."
Soon I came to conclude that all white men with southern accents were ignorant racists like all those I saw on TV. I had developed my own racist stereotype. But after eight weeks of basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1966, I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Some white southern men were exactly as stupid and racist as I expected them to be, and others were decent human beings who became my good friends.
Studies that claim to show that one race or gender is genetically superior to another in productivity or intelligence are bogus. Since you don’t claim to know why there are differences in your study, you cite old racist and sexist claims and then say "but that’s not my expertise."
I have some experience with the question of productivity. It is not scientific. I guess it is anecdotal evidence. It is my life’s experience.
I have worked as a longshoremen, laborer in a sugar refinery, and several other industrial jobs and have been a consultant and management trainer to many corporations. When I started working as a laborer in a sugar refinery shipping department, it took 5 men to load a truck and 8 to load a box car, and it took about 4 hours to load a truck and a day for a box car. The company installed a palletizing machine and a shrink warp machine. They eliminated the laborers who loaded and unloaded pallets, put a few of us on folk lifts, and then one or two men could load a truck in less than an hour and a box car in half a day. That is what I call an increase in productivity. Now there were white workers, black workers and later women who loaded these trucks. I don’t see how our race or gender in any way impacted the speed with which we loaded those trucks.
What I know is that when you multiply 70 or 80 workers per shift times 3 shifts, and count how many eventually lost their jobs, it was significant. Then when you multiply the jobs lost on the river where those trucks and trains used to be unloaded and reloaded and unloaded and reloaded to get the sugar from the refinery to consumers all over world, thousands of jobs were loss.
Those workers were productive workers whose abilities and willingness to work did not change. The environment changed. They had not changed but they were no longer productive. They had the same genes, the same intelligence, and the same desire to be productive and to work. They were black and white, men and women. Their IQ’s or women’s dual roles in home and workplace had nothing to do with this.
If these displaced workers continued to seek work as laborers or forklift drivers, there would be too many of them for such employment. What this might have to do with race and gender productivity is that a higher percentage of these workers were black.
Since coming to Loyola I have been invited by many major corporations, and government agencies to do management training and diversity training, usually after they have been sued for millions of dollars because of outright provable discrimination or harassment cases. In some places I had the chance to work with an agency or company for several years and had the opportunity to see dynamics firsthand. I saw good managers take the lead and really transform the work environment and in doing so had their "metrics" go up. Metrics, or productivity measures, increased as the discriminatory and oppressive behaviors were stopped.
I saw firsthand what women had to put up with, especially in non-traditional jobs ("men’s jobs"). Their productivity was purposely sabotaged and they were put down constantly.
Women have had to withstand such mistreatment in the workplace, but many are fighting back. In one case involving harassment of women, the company plant manager took action. One of the women became a leader in the fight for equity and just treatment demonstrated courage, management and leadership skills, sensitivity and awareness of the forms of oppression operating in the plant, all of which made the business less productive and the plant a more dangerous place to work. The plant manager promoted her to a position in the Human Resources Department and the bigots ended up being evaluated by her. God is good!
In a similar story where two managers of equal status had to work together on safety and other issues, the racist white manager consistently sabotaged the black manager. For example, he told the 40-50 men who reported directly to him that they did not have to follow the black manager’s directions. This company had kept blacks out of management and leadership positions for years. Once the sabotage became clear to higher management, the racist manager was reassigned; his new job consisted of sitting in a room watching the red and green lights of an automated process and throwing a switch now and then when the light turned green.
The black manager replaced him as head of the crew. The metric (productivity) improved under the black manager.
The lower productivity of blacks and women dealing with racist and sexist environments impacted the productivity and safety of the entire company. The solutions to the productivity problems had nothing to do with IQ’s or women’s dual roles as workers and mothers. The problems were problems of management, leadership, systems, environment, and values.
I’m rambling now and need to spend some time with the family so I will stop.
Let me close with this thought, I will trust my experience over your statistics.
Ted Quant Howling bien pensant
Id. Block to Quant
From: Walter Block Sent: Sat 11/29/2008 2:15 PM To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Ted Quant’s letter to the editor
Dear Mr. Quant:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these matters with me.
I have several responses.
One, I think it is unfair to blame Gill for something he did NOT say. You ADMIT he did not actually SAY what you accuse him of. Shall you be revising your letter to the editor of the Times Pic to reflect this? Or, has it already been published? This is a very important point. If academic discourse is to properly occur, people must only be held accountable for what they actually said, NOT for things they did NOT say.
Two, can you please give me your source for your claim that I called people “cowards” for refusing to debate me. That is, did I use that specific word? Or, as in the case of Gill, is this something you think I said, but that I did not really say?
Three, what is YOUR explanation for the fact that blacks earn less than whites, females earn less than males? Is it that employers are mostly whites and males, and they discriminate against blacks and females? If so, how do you account for the fact that the female-male wage gap virtually disappears when only never-marrieds are compared? If so, how do you account for the fact that if blacks were really underpaid compared to whites of equal productivity, a non-discriminating employer could earn more profits by hiring one of the former than one of the latter; thus, the non-discriminating employers would be able to drive out of business, and into bankruptcy (assuming no government bailouts) employers who discriminated on racial grounds.
If you want to enter into a dialogue with me on these issues, please stick to the point. Do not accuse me of having anything to do with “Millions of native peoples were slaughtered, Africans enslaved, while theologians debated whether they had souls or were even human. The racial theories of American eugenics led to forced sterilizations and Nazi racial policies that categorized certain peoples as u2018life unworthy of life.’ With great Aryan efficiency, millions were murdered.” That is, let us keep our eye on the ball. I am an economist. A social scientist. I am trying to explain a certain set of economic facts: the wage gap between men and women, whites and blacks. These other issues, have nothing to do with explanations for these wage gaps.
Walter E. Block, Ph.D. Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Prof. of Economics College of Business Loyola University New Orleans 6363 St. Charles Ave., Box 15 New Orleans, LA 70118 tel: (504)864-7934 fax: (504)864-7970 firstname.lastname@example.org
Afterward. Mr. Quant’s letter to the editor of the Times Picayune was indeed published, despite the misgivings I had about it, and shared with him. It may be found here.
I chose not to respond to his statements about productivity, his experiences in the labor market, his views on discrimination, etc. My thought was that before civil discourse could occur, certain minimum requirements must first be met. They were not, in this case.
II. Here is my correspondence with Fr. Kevin Wildes, S.J., president of Loyola University New Orleans. I am GREATLY indebted to him for his support.
IIa Wildes to Block
From: Kevin Wildes Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 6:06 PM To: ‘email@example.com’ Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: FW: Loyola Response
I sent this letter to the TP. Wanted you to see it in case it gets published
All the best! Kw,sj
From: Kevin Wildes Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 1:22 PM To: ‘email@example.com’ Cc: Kevin Wildes Subject: Loyola Response
Re. "A tough sell in the market-place of ideas," Other Opinions, Nov. 26.
I want to be very clear that while Professor Walter Block, the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics, is a member of Loyola University New Orleans’ Economics Department, he is not the Chair of the Department nor does he speak for the university. However, like any American, under the First Amendment of the Constitution, Professor Block is entitled to freedom of speech and expression.
Universities, like Loyola, are places of argument and disagreement. They are laboratories of free expression and academic inquiry. This is how we advance knowledge and learning. There are many members of the University community who disagree with Professor Block. In fact, Loyola will host a colloquium on the views expressed by Professor Block in the near future.
Loyola enjoys a robust history of serving students from all economic and ethnic backgrounds and educating them to lead extraordinary lives. All are welcome here and all thrive here. One professor’s views do not a university make.
Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. 1 December 2008 President
IIb. Block to Wildes
— — -Original Message — — – From: Walter Block <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Kevin Wildes Sent: Tue Dec 02 18:23:42 2008 Subject: RE: Loyola Response
I am very grateful to you, personally, and, indeed, to the entire professoriat at Loyno. We all (with the exception of two professors, see this: ) share a vision of the university as a place where ideas may be explored in a polite scholarly manner; where no member of the community is forced to hold his tongue, or his pen. There is such a difference between you and Fr. Linnane, S.J., on this issue, that you and he seem not only not to be in the same Jesuit order, nor even to share the same Catholic religion: you two don’t appear to come from the same planet. How delighted I am that I work for you, not him.
Walter E. Block, Ph.D. Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Prof. of Economics College of Business Loyola University New Orleans 6363 St. Charles Ave., Box 15 New Orleans, LA 70118 tel: (504)864-7934 fax: (504)864-7970 email@example.com
IIc. Wildes to Block
Thanks! kw, sj President’s Office Loyola University 6363 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70118
P: 504-865-3847 F: 504-865-3851 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email message, including attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential information. If you would like to share the information in the message please contact the author. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and delete the message.
Sent from my Blackberry Handheld.
Afterword: the two professors at Loyola University who do not support academic freedom are Marcus Smith and Julian Wasserman, who called for the silencing of me and Bill Barnett, when we wrote a letter in the campus newspaper, the Maroon, calling for the arming of co-eds in response to a spate of violence against women on campus. See on this here and here.
IIIa. Committee to Block
From: email@example.com Subject: Affirmative Action Diversity Tast Force Statemtne
Info: In reference to the Times Picayune article, “A Tough Sell in the Market Place of Ideas,” by James Gill dated November 26, 2008.
As Loyola University’s Diversity Committee, we are dedicated to promoting an appreciation for the valuable contributions of all, instilling in every one of our students a desire to pursue excellence and to be women and men in solidarity with others. We also hold to the Jesuit ideal of rigorous intellectual examination in the pursuit of truth and therefore, defend the right of academic freedom. However, it is our responsibility to respond critically to statements made by members of Loyola University that run counter to our commitment to inclusion and that marginalize women and African Americans, a majority of our community.
Professor Walter Block’s reductionist statements about the productivity of African Americans and women in the marketplace ignore critical factors and structural patterns of inequality. His flawed remarks are dangerous, fueling those with prejudices to confirm their biased views. We must recognize the reality of racism and sexism in our society, whose impact has had long-lasting consequences in the lives of African Americans and women.
The Diversity Committee encourages all members of the University to use this event as a catalyst to engage in meaningful dialogue that addresses these issues in a way that moves us closer to our Jesuit ideals.
Affirmative Action/Diversity Task Ted Quant Lydia Voigt Wing Fok Lisa Martin Al Alcazar James Hobbs Kurt Bindewald Artemis Preeshl Karen Reichard Anthony Decuir
IIIb. Block replies to committee
From: Walter Block To: AACTF Re: statement cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
1. You accuse me of violating “our commitment to inclusion (of) women and African Americans, a majority of our community.” Is this charge based on anything I have written, published, spoken, or, it is based on what others have attributed to me? If the former, please provide me with EVIDENCE that substantiates this charge? If the latter, as I strongly suspect, given the first line of your "statement," please tell me, specifically, what Gill says that lead you to this conclusion
2. What is a "reductionist statement"? Can you please cite one or several of this sort that I have made? That is, offer the exact words I have written, published or spoken, that are offensive in this regard.
3. Which "critical factors and structural patterns of inequality" did I ignore? Please be specific. Did I ignore them in my many publications on this subject? Or, did Gill ignore them in his short op ed?
4. Which of my "remarks" are "flawed"? Are these "remarks" made by me or Gill? Please specify.
5. You speak of "meaningful dialogue." Would this by any chance include me? If so, I would be delighted. I have offered to debate these issues, for several years now, in public forums such as the one in which you delivered your "statement," but, so far at least, there have been no takers. Do you have anyone in mind?
6. You mention "diversity." Is this concern of yours limited to gender, race, sexual preference, disability, ethnicity, etc., or, does it also include ideology? Can we expect affirmative action from your committee for those who espouse laissez faire capitalism, economic freedom, private property rights?
7. I take it that this "statement" has been approved of by your committee. Was this done by a majority vote, or, was it unanimously approved of by all whose names appear below? If the former, what was the vote? Was it 8 to 2? 9 to 1? 7 to 3? 6 to 4? Can you please tell me which of you voted for and against this "statement"?
8. It is customary, when making charges against scholars in an academic community, to offer chapter and verse. Yet, I search, in vain, for any quote marks in your "statement" that you attribute to me. Please, in your response to me, would you be good enough to make good this oversight of yours?
9. These are very serious charges you level against me. Do you agree that in making them, you have a moral obligation to furnish me with the information I am seeking, above? Do you agree that it is irresponsible to make charges without offering specifics? That it is irresponsible to make charges against me based on what others (e.g., Gill) have written about me, and not based on my own words?
Afterward on III. Who are these people? Who is this jury of my peers? All are employed by Loyola University New Orleans
Ted Quant; we have already met him; see above Lydia Voigt; Professor of sociology, former Provost of the University Wing Fok; Professor of management; we shall soon meet him in greater detail Lisa Martin; Instructor, School of Mass Communication: Racial/Ethnic Issues Al Alcazar; Assistant Professor Department of Education and Counseling; described as "social justice champion" James Hobbs; Associate Professor, Reference Librarian Kurt Bindewald; Director of University Ministry Artemis Preeshl; Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre Arts & Dance Karen Reichard; Director, Loyola University of New Orleans’ Women’s Resource Center Anthony Decuir; Professor of music therapy and interim dean of the College of Music and Fine Arts
One last point. Their letter to me was published on a web that goes to every single member of the faculty and staff, and to all students. I have sent my reply to them (above) to the same source two days ago, and so far it has not appeared there.
Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable and the newly released Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective.