December 26, 2012

Emily Yoffe asserts that I attacked her "as a tool of the racial and ethnic preference lobby."

She stands by her ethical advice to someone, but quite aside from my problem with that ethical advice, I'd like to say that it's unethical to portray what I said so inaccurately.

Here's the post I wrote, which isn't a general attack on her support for affirmative action. I was calling attention to the problem of incomplete honesty from those who seek to benefit from affirmative action and the way the school applying its policy has shared interests that cause it not to want to know about a false or misleading statement. This is the very issue that had been in the news with respect to Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. The schools want to be able to say that they have a good proportion of minority students, so they may not mind if an applicant claims, based on family lore, to be a member of a minority group.

Yoffe professed not to notice any harm to anyone in this interaction between a school and an applicant. That was, at best, willfully blind. As an ethicist, she ought to want to address the larger problem. And now, after linking to me as she did, she has an ethical obligation toward me that needs some attention.

35 comments:

DADvocate said...

Yoffe first supported lying and then writes a post named "Let Old Complaints Be Forgot," but hold tight her old complaints, as well as the misleading light in which she portrayed it.

Moose said...

That's good because I don't see what this has to do with you...

chickelit said...

Dear Ethicist:

The family name Wright entered my mother’s family history in the 19th century. The geography is “Wright” too —- right between Richland Center and Spring Green. There are even Wright tombstones mixed with my mother’s family’s. I haven’t checked the genealogy because I “like” the idea of being related to the famous architect. Is it ethically right to stay in the dark?

rhhardin said...

Potshots from the moral high ground is the way to go.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's good because I don't see what this has to do with you."

I finished the post, which might make this apparent.

Find the language that I use in my post title in her article and you'll see it links to my post. Her support for the statement that she was attacked as a tool, etc., goes to me. I'm upset about that.

Erika said...

Here's the problem I see. Emily Yoffe is not as bright as Althouse--she is not an 'ethicist;' she writes an entertainment column for a middlebrow online magazine--and so may have no idea that she misrepresented your argument at the time and still may not understand how or why. Don't hold your breath that she is going to reach your standard of comprehension of the offense and apology for it.

The Farmer said...

Are you going to demand an apology?

Erika said...

rhhardin: Yoffe's predecessor in the Dear Prudence spot, the far superior Margo Howard, supplied me with one of my favorite all-time quotes: "The high road is a wonderful vantage point from which to look down on people."

SteveR said...

All well that ends well, I guess.

Jason said...

Could she have intended to refer to the comment thread rather than your OP?

Ann Althouse said...

"Are you going to demand an apology?"

I demanded attention to 2 ethical problems. I'm genuinely interested in seeing how she would wrestle with all of that -- seriously and honestly.

The issue of apologies here bores me. I don't care. An apology would be inadequate or beside the point.

wyo sis said...

Ethically, she's in the wrong, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for her to admit it.
The result for the student seems to satisfy her.
My view is that everyone is the poorer from the experience. The world has another example of how the system is rigged.

Ann Althouse said...

"My view is that everyone is the poorer from the experience. The world has another example of how the system is rigged."

It's okay. This post is my own remedy. That's what's nice about having a blog.

For self-defense.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Is Yoffe saying you attacked her or is she saying that she was attacked, and providing a link to your blog article and its comments as one set of examples?

ricpic said...

Ethicist with an ax to grind,
Train coming down the track,
Ethicist can't get off her back --
Downfall a one track mind.

Lydia said...

The heck with Yoffe.

I figure you must be doing something right overall, Althouse, because your blog is blocked in Iran.

Slate on the other hand, is not.

edutcher said...

By her standard, my mother laughing and saying we were descended from Edmund Burke because we had the same last name means we can claim we're descendants.

AJ Lynch said...

Ethicist? Aren't we all ethicists or does one need a weather vane to make it official?

YoungHegelian said...

Yoffe professed not to notice any harm to anyone in this interaction between a school and an applicant.

Isn't this going to have to be the position of someone who supports affirmative action in college admissions in general?

While there might be good reasons for the practice, it takes much willful blindness to see it as without moral consequences. To wit:

1. Most obviously, the student who doesn't get admitted in the place of the AA admission loses out, and he is a nameless & voiceless victim, since rarely knows the reason for the school's refusal.

2. The AA student is often thrown into an academic environment over his head. Who tracks what becomes of these students? Do the results really justify the practice?

3. Admission offices have to bury the practices of AA admissions in various euphemisms & dodges to avoid scandal or legal action. Admission offices have de facto quotas, but to admit that honestly would have severe repercussions. There are moral consequences to living a lie like that.

Quayle said...

What the hell is an ethicist in a society that makes it up as it goes along?

One might as well be called a wind-predictor.

sydney said...

I can't see how that old post calls portrays her as a "tool of the racial and ethnic preference lobby." I don't believe any of the commenters even said such thing. The discussion seems centered on Elizabeth Warren, not on Emily Yoffe. She must be stung a little by the truth of the post. What she told the student to do was, in fact, unethical.

Craig Howard said...

As we are [belatedly, alas] learning, the left's insistence on affirmative action is nothing more than another ploy to redistribute income to, well, anyone they deem worthy."

Race is an excuse; it's just one of many reasons that can be used to justify a hand-out. That we pick on one of those reasons in particular is incomprehensible to those for whom the only justification is "I think he deserves it."

Just because.

Alex said...

She's just another rabid leftist tool, not worth time wasted.

miss j said...

Twice, you likened the actions stemming from her advice to sexual stimulation. Given your rather vulgar and crude argument, I think it's appropriate to summarize your characterization of the author of that advice as a "tool."

The case is quite different from Elizabeth Warren's and therefore your argument is flawed. You said that "he [sic] had recently learned that he had no Hispanic ancestors."

A Hispanic identity is based upon ethnicity and heritage and explicitly has no requirement regarding race. By contrast, claims regarding a Native American must satisfy two separate requirements: family origins from the original peoples of the Americas and tribal affiliation/community attachment.

Unlike the woman in question, Ms. Warren had not spent her entire life believing that she had a Native American identity. She has no way to demonstrate her ancestors were descended from the original peoples of the Americas because they did not (not even 1/32nd of them).

Furthermore, there is no proof that she claimed that status until she was well into her 30s. At no point did she maintain any affiliation or attachment towards Cherokee communities. Notably, she never reached out to those communities once she reached a seat of power and influence.

Your mocking of Ms Yoffe demonstrated both poor ethics and poor legal reasoning. I would rethink who owes whom an apology.

Michael K said...

She may not realize that affirmative action is the cause of the unrest in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It has led in one case to civil war. It isn't there yet here but I don't know how I would bet.

I'm sure she has no idea of the problems it has caused.

Craig said...

Maybe there should be another category creating a distinction between assimilated and unassimilated people with Native American ancestry. Disposing of the evidence was often the key to assimilation. When I started university the only people who cared wanted to know if I supported the Shah or the Ayatollah.

Kirk Parker said...

Well, now that Yoffe has responded in the way, shouldn't we rethink the question? Maybe she is a tool after all...

Kirk Parker said...

Quayle,

"One might as well be called a wind-predictor"

Well, except that there is such a thing, and this one at least at least seems fairly accurate, too, at least in the short run.

TexasJew said...

Being a surgeon or a podiatrist is a profession
I have no idea what the hell an "ethicist" is.

Big Mike said...

I knew a Jewish family who claimed their kids were Hispanic, because the husband was a Sephardi Jew, meaning that their ancestors were originally spanish before being expelled from Spain over 500 years ago.

You'd think that an administrator would look at a pale-skinned blonde person and say to themselves "this person is not Hispanic" or, in the case of Senator Warren, "this person is not Native-American." But you were completely correct Professor, it's in one side's interest to lie and not at all in the other side's interest to check at all.

Years ago Linda Chavez pointed out the fallacy of preferences -- her children, with "Chavez" for a surname,are entitled to preferences even though their parents are well off, the kids have had all sorts of advantages in their upbringing, and the children have never known a day of discrimination in their lives. That makes sense to someone, but not to anyone with a conscience.

Kirk Parker said...

TexasJew,

"I have no idea what the hell an 'ethicist' is."

Neither does Ms. Yoffe.

betamax3000 said...

""I have no idea what the hell an 'ethicist' is."

It's a movie from the 70's with Linda Blair, pea soup and a minute or two of Tubular Bells.

Ignore the lisp.

chrisnavin.com said...

It's a hothouse over there at Slate since Lithwick took over. Some progressive, nattering middle-brow and well educated mommy feminist types.

Thought leaders for the daytime crowd, no doubt.

William said...

Haven't the Armenians suffered enough? Just because they were persecuted by the Turks and not the whoever doesn't mean they don't deserve preferential treatment. I don't think it's fair to discriminate among oppressors. As an oppressor class, the Turks were fairly awful and it's only fair to make some amends to their victims. Otherwise you're just compounding the crime of the Turks.

Crunchy Frog said...

All well that ends well, I guess.

All things end badly; otherwise, they wouldn't end.