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December 10, 2006


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In one post you cite to "the secret detention of several thousand American citizens without even releasing their names," but later you say that "many of the detainees were in fact US citizens. We don't know exactly how many were citizens."

To regain your credibility, I would recommend the following steps:

First, admit you were wrong in saying that thousands of American citizens were secretly detained without their names being released. You just look stupid by insisting on this outlandish assertion. (And I have checked your links and none of them support this statement.)

Second, if you want to say that thousands of people (regardless of citizenship) have been detained (which is at least an arguable position), you should at least admit that there names have been released. We know who was held at Guantanamo Bay, and can easily look up their names on the internet.

Third, give up equating the danger of terrorists with things like cars, guns, and electricity. I've never heard a gun chant "death to America," my car has no plans to stage by decapitation and broadcast it on the internet.

Also, for the record, I believe the Bush administration has done affirmative harm to itself and its policies by being overly-secretive.


Cynic, I don't care why private employers hire or don't hire anyone, whether their heuristic perceptions of class, "fit," or anything else. Incidentally, we're getting rather far afield with your indictment of America.

I thought I made a rather uncontroversial point: universities, like Chicago, let in blacks and other minorities with lower grades, worse test scores, and fewer extracurricular achievments all in the name of diversity. Now we may have an interesting discussion of whether this policy is good, right, and reasonable. But what is undeniable is that this is kept somewhat secret in the interest of furthering the perception that blacks and whites are equally qualified under a regime of affirmative action. The U of C pre-law advisor used to actually publish grids that showed the black and white admission rates to different law schools. Needless to say, the differences between the races were staggering.

There was in fact a NYU Law Review article not too long ago about how minority enrollment at top law schools would plummet if the preferences were done away with.

Now this affirmative action business might all be a good policy. But would it be so bad if students at a particular school all knew that the black average was, say, 158 on the LSAT versus a white average of 170? If we don't believe in secrecy, it surely would be. But then we might have to a bit of a reality check on the extreme degree of preference typically awarded in the name of affirmative action--1 or more standard deviations--and what that means for black and other minorities who have an elite degree.


"Third, give up equating the danger of terrorists with things like cars, guns, and electricity. I've never heard a gun chant "death to America," my car has no plans to stage by decapitation and broadcast it on the internet."

BAC, Eras was clearly referring to the danger of EVERYDAY PEOPLE using these devices. To pretend that he was anthropomorphizing them adds little to the debate. The fact of the matter is that our ordinary fellow citizens pose more of an actual threat to our lives every day than a random Muslim extremist in the Middle East. I'm far more likely to be killed by a drunk driver on the freeway than by a terrorist. Hell, I'm probably more likely to be killed by Mel Gibson or Nicole Ritchie than by a terrorist.

The idea of being killed by a terrorist might be scarier to me, but it's an irrational fear, unless I'm similarly crippled by the notion that my Christmas travel plans will result in my untimely death. If I fly to London, I'm far more likely to die during my taxi ride to the airport, during which I do not wear a seatbelt, than I am sitting in a car on the Tube. And yet on my most recent trip to London, no one expressed worry that I would die in a car accident. Instead, loved ones were horrified that I planned to use London's convenient subway system to get around.

These reactions are irrational. I am confronted every day by angry, intoxicated, careless, dangerous people simply getting to and from work; I have far more to fear from them than from a terrorist who does not even know my name, let alone where and when and how to kill me. A terrorist strike is at least as random as a deadly act of carelessness, yet it requires far more effort on the part of the killer.

Eras' point is well taken: if we are concerned about preventing overall death, it makes far more rational sense to focus on reducing the number of lives claimed by things that we can predict and control. Dollar for dollar, we are more likely to save more lives by having police officers arrest drunk drivers, than by having the government detain and interrogate people who have "weird" Middle Eastern names.


Jesus Christ, Roach. Do you not understand that my point was PRECISELY targeted at questioning the truth of yours? How does my disagreeing with something YOU raised translate into my "far afield ... indictment of America"??????

"I thought I made a rather uncontroversial point: universities, like Chicago, let in blacks and other minorities with lower grades, worse test scores, and fewer extracurricular achievments all in the name of diversity."

Like hell it's uncontroversial. Let's see your evidence.


Also, Roach, have you or have you not read Bollinger?


Mr. BAC, the truth is more complicated than you represent it to be. At the time of the detentions, the names were kept secret. In many cases, family members who knew that somebody had disappeared were not able to obtain confirmation that they were in government custody. Many of the people picked up were released within a week or two. Some were not released for months. Names dribbled out over the course of time. Perhaps this was all due to confusion on the part of the government rather than a deliberate policy of secrecy. In any event, there were many many names that were not available for a significant period of time. Please don't call me a liar when you fail to appreciate the complexities of the situation.

You ask me not to equate the danger of terrorists with the danger of cars and guns. I don't; I think cars and guns are more dangerous than terrorists. Why? BECAUSE THEY KILL MORE PEOPLE! Doesn't that come pretty close to the definition of "dangerous"?

Lakawanna Blues


(1) It's hard to have a debate about anything with people so allergic to the facts. You asked Roach if he read Bollinger (by which I presume you mean Grutter v. Bollinger). In that case, the record showed that the University of Michigan regularly admitted blacks with LSAT scores in the 140s and had never admitted a white student with an LSAT score anywhere close to that range. That's because it is undeniable that affirmative action requires the admission of vastly underqualified blacks and Hispanics. The evidence for this is overwhelming, and again telling Roach "let's see your evidence" is just the sort of over-skepticism that makes me wonder how liberals interact with reality. Do you also believe that blacks commit the same number of crimes per capita as whites? Liberals are the philosophical heirs of Ptolemic astronomy.

(2) Given that people who interact with reality and accept what it tells them know that blacks commit more crime, have a lower median IQ, and are likely to have overinflated credentials because of affirmative action, why is it at all surprising that employers use "ethnic sounding names" as a screen to keep out groups that are, in general, worse potential employees. It is illegal or amoral or both, but it is not racism, unless you think that racism is the belief that there are group differences between the races -- in which case the NBA is about the most racist organization on earth.



I take it from your last post that you have nothing other than rhetoric that might prove that "thousands of American citizens" have been secretly imprisoned.

Also, terrorists are more dangerous than cars because the terrorists' killings are purposive and designed to destroy or subvert our society. Car accidents are essentially random, and certainly not purposive.

Suppose that all the cars got together and said, "We're sick of just randomly killing people, instead, let's focus our killings in the way that we think will best bring about the downfall of America."

If that were to happen, I think we would declare war on cars.

(And sorry cynic, but "anthropomorphizing" cars is necessary to the debate to show how the purposive killing of the terrorists, although it results in many fewer deaths, is much more dangerous than the random killing by cars or electricity.)


lol, lackawanna. Did you major in hyperbole? Or did you not get a spot in college because (clearly) you must have been booted out by a less-qualified black student?

"That's because it is undeniable that affirmative action requires the admission of vastly underqualified blacks and Hispanics."

Good Lord. And I'M the one who's allergic to facts? Bollinger explicitly ruled that Michigan's "points" system of affirmative action was unlawful. In other words, what Michigan was doing was NOT okay, and it is NOT what we mean when we talk about affirmative action.

Further, pointing to anecdotal evidence of a few underqualified minorities getting in, does not evidence of systematic underqualification make.

And, yes, it IS racist to make assumptions about a race of people without the institution of control factors. You make no pretense of attempting to account for culture and oppression in your silly little list of things that make black people worse people, overall.

"Given that people who interact with reality and accept what it tells them know that blacks commit more crime, have a lower median IQ, and are likely to have overinflated credentials because of affirmative action"

I mean, you seriously don't consider yourself a racist? Damn. I hate to think what the ACTUAL racists must say, in your world.

As someone who regularly interacts with reality (at least, my employer sure must think I do, because if I don't, I owe someone gobs and gobs of overinflated lawyer salary), I've observed no appreciable difference between black people and white people in the areas you cite. I do not count media exposure here, because I think even racists can acknowledge that media reporting is exaggerated, at best.

Tell me, lackawanna, how many people do you know who have committed crimes, and are they equally charged for these crimes by the authorities? I, for one, can say that I know PLENTY of white people who commit crimes regularly and never go to prison for it (I'm thinking low-level drugs here). Percentage-wise, the frequency at which they commit crimes is probably about equal to the frequency (and severity) at which the minorities I know commit crimes. Yet, strangely enough, I have not met a single white person who's been incarcerated (that I know of), although I have met a couple of minorities who have been in jail (for crimes that have also been committed by white people I know, even though those people have NOT been imprisoned for it). Funny that.

How many IQs have you tested? And how many minorities do you work with whose work product systematically disappoints you to a statistically significantly greater percentage than their comparably-qualified white peers?


"And sorry cynic, but "anthropomorphizing" cars is necessary to the debate to show how the purposive killing of the terrorists, although it results in many fewer deaths, is much more dangerous than the random killing by cars or electricity."

BAC, why? Sincerely, I don't understand this point. If the effect is no worse, why does the intent matter? I can sit here despising the French and try to hijack a plane to fly into the Eiffel Tower, but if I am simply unable to cause much damage to them, why does it matter that I hate them?

Unless... you aren't saying you support hate crime legislation, are you?

Lackawanna Blues


Have you ever read a single DOJ National Criminal Victimization Report or Uniform Crime Reports from the FBI? Funnily enough, statistics and reality imitate tv. Blacks are between 5-10 times more likely to commit every single index violent crime than whites. Why don't you surf on over to the Department of Justice website and read these reports?



Just try it. Read some primary data sources. It might hurt a little bit or even give you a headache. But it's better than living in a fantasy world.


"I would bet Frank Zappa's kids would have a hard time finding a gig too. People with class don't name their kids Moon Unit, Tupac, or anything else weird."

Roach, all I can say is that I am embarassed to the core of my soul that someone made the mistake of allowing you into the Univeristy of Chicago community, and that we share an educational institution in common.

You wouldn't know the first thing about having any class, you low-budget two bit bigot.

Lackawanna Blues

What precisely about Roach is "low-budget"?

And isn't "two-bit" also hyphenated?

I for one would not interview someone called Moon Unit.

Roach is a Chicago grad? Well, at least that says something nice about the institution -- that there were at some point people there doing some serious thinking. Calling people names is no excuse for taking on their ideas.

But of course, you can't. Anymore than Cynic can make any sense in tilting at windmills when it comes to the facts about group disparities in America.


lackawanna, talk about bizarre. I looked at the websites you linked to and didn't find a single statistic about the likelihood of a given race to COMMIT a crime. These are victim statistics (and given the reported rate of 1 per 1000 for rapes/sexual assault, statistics that are the result of some SERIOUS underreporting). In what bizarre world do victim statistics tell us anything about the race of the alleged perpetrator?


Mr. BAC, you are not discussing this issue in good faith; you are quibbling over debating points. Let me first point out that the core topic here is government secrecy and that the original essay concerned government secrecy in many different situations, one of which was the detention of people after 9/11. The original statement was "It refused to disclose the names of those it detained after September 11." Later on, I made a point beginning with, "When the government detains thousands of people, many of whom are American citizens,..." Later on, I wrote, "You approve the secret detention of several thousand American citizens without even releasing their names." Mr. Hamilton pounced on that statement, and if it pleases you, I shall be happy to replace the phrase "several thousand American citizens" with "several thousand people, some of whom were American citizens." If that is your only quibble, then we can lay this silly dispute to rest and resume considering the core issue, the government's secrecy. There is no question that the government detained thousands of people, nor is there any question that some of them were citizens. I have offered a great many links detailing these detentions. Here are some additional quotes and sources:

"Despite the report's confirmation of widespread abuses, the government still refuses to release the names of the immigrants who had been detained and insists that it has the right to summarily close deportation hearings to members of the press and public."

"By late November 2001, more than 1,200 people had been detained and held incommunicado."

After scouring a lot of other sources, I now suspect that the figure of 1,200 detentions applies to those who were held for a substantial period of time. The confusion here arises from three separate efforts: the sudden requirement that immigrants register with the INS under a 1940 law, which affected about 80,000 people; interviews with Muslim men in the aftermath of 9/11, for which the numbers are indeterminate but probably between 5,000 and 10,000; and actual long-term detentions, which appear to number about 1,200. I suspect that much of the confusion in numbers arises from people mixing these three different activities in various portions.

What's really ironic about all this is that both you and Mr. Hamilton seem to feel that the distinction between citizens and non-citizens is important and that the secret detention of non-citizens without due process is perfectly acceptable -- but this raises a larger issue that is not germane to the issue of secrecy.



I'll try this one last time. As near as I can tell, about 40,000 people die each year in automobile accidents.

Suppose now that in one year the terrorists kill 1/10th that ammount, or 4,000. But the deaths occur when all of the Representatives, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and their staff are killed by a dirty bomb dropped on Capitol Hill. This scenario will have a negative effect on our society that is orders of magnitude greater than the 40,000 random automobile deaths.



Before you condemn the Bush administration for being too secretive, you should get your facts straight about what it did and did not do.

Lackawanna Blues


You need criminology and crime statistics 101. The UCR is based on arrest reports. The NCVS is a victimization survey. Together they provide the very best evidence of the characteristics of criminals and victims in the United States. Look at Tables 40 and 42 of the NCVS, which show the index crimes by perceived race of the offender. In the NCVS, blacks commit 40% of the robberies. You think this is some sort of conspiracy?

Frederick Hamilton

The main topic of the Stone/Marshall post was got't secrecy and the only examples used applied to 9/11, the War on Terror and the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars, ergo, the main focus of the response to the post will be 9/11, War on Terror, Iraq/Afghan Wars.

There really is no reason to debate the issue of secrecy in dealing with the terrorist, jihadists, 9/11, Iraq War, Afghan War et al because all of you deny the fact of war, deny the seriousness of the jihadists world threat, blame Bush for the terrorists behavior and basically have your heads buried deep in the sand. So whats the point of even discussing the issues with you as they are simply the same as auto deaths, fire deaths, drunkeness, etc?

It probably sadly will take another 9/11 to even get you to acknowledge the threats. Thats OK. There probably will be another attack on us in America and you and LAK and the rest can pooh pooh that also.

Secrecy is needed. Any reasoned rational American citizen knows that. This is simply Bush bashing. But the nice thing is the people have spoken and we will have the Dems in charge and being the civil rights protectors they are, all the horrible secrecy of Bush will melt under the oversight of the House and Senate Dems.

Again, this post of Stone/Marshall is just a political screed and a moot one at that, and all the responses of Eras, LAK, etc are just denial of the threat. For you denial mavens your positions wouldn't last a nanosecond in the vast majority of American's view of the issues of Iraq, jihadists, terrorists, Israel, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan et al. So be it.


Chicago clearly would be a better place if everyone were tolerant and "open-minded" about people named Moon Unit and Chlamydia Champagne and also to the point that they universally supported racist affirmative action programs aimed to undermine American whites. Then we could be like Brown.

I mean, let's face it, even if someone has some raw smarts, if he or she is raised in the projects by an unemployed single mother who wants to name her Anfernee or LaQueefa or whatever, that person will likely fail to fit in to a company in other ways, not least by having a rather Darwinian view of existence, few manners, little regard for others, a poor sense of the "inside voice," poor work habits, an exagerrated sense of entitlement, etc. And yes, I've seen this with my own eyes, including with low class whites.

One peculiar thing about the high place of diversity in our society is that we're all supposed to pretend these differences between groups don't exist, particularly if they make minorities look bad. But if that's so, if there are no such broadly recognizable differences, then the whole justification for diversity goes out the window.

There's a world of difference between two black candidates for a job, one of whom is name Latrina and the other of whom is named Mary. We know the latter comes from a respectable home, and that does matter if you want someone to fit into most companies.



Everything you write says more about you than it does about those you write of.


John, thank you so much for praising my iconoclasm and willingness to stand against the tide.

Or did I misunderstand you?

Incidentally, what does it say about my interlocutors, these self-styled courageous individualists and partisans for progress, who prefer to smash the already destroyed idols of another age?


From Roach's blog:

"Just read my posts and you'll see some consistent themes . . . respect for the dignity of the individual"

No, Chris Roach, you respect the dignity only of those individuals who think, talk, and act like Chris Roach. At least you have the nuts to use your real name, I'll give you that. Though you do shame your family's name.

From Chris Roach's blog:

"So Chris, how many Black people do you come into contact with on an average day?"

"If you must know, I’d say between 4-10 depending what I’m doing, where I’m playing poker, etc. But I don’t think those interactions necessarily have much bearing on my knowledge or evaluation of the true-blue ghettofied denizns of New Orleans, whom I have had the misfortune to interact with on 3 trips to New Orleans, and they made the South Side hood rats of Chicago look tame in comparison."

Lackawanna Blues

I'm not sure what you are trying to point out about Roach, here, John. The individual deserves respect, I agree, but the criminal underclass deserves less and makes themselves less deserving through their victimization of the rest of society.

I'm with Roach 110%.


As someone who has both a funny name and has attended Brown as an undergraduate I would like to state that I respectfully disagree with Roach. The reasoning that Roach is employing is inconsistent. He states that when evaluating a potential student, non-academic factors, such as race, should not be taken into account, but when evaluating potential employees non-academic factors, such as the uniqueness of a name, should be taken into account. Roach writes, “[a person named] Anfernee or LaQueefa or whatever . . . will likely fail to fit in to a company in other ways, not least by having a rather Darwinian view of existence, few manners, little regard for others.” It seems to me that he is changing standards of evaluation for the sole purpose of preventing minorities from being selected. His argument would be consistent had he said that employers should disregard all non-academic factors (such as race and name) and make decisions based solely on merit.

If I were an admissions officer or an employer I think that it would make sense to look at factors other than pure academic achievement when evaluating potential students or employees. I would not do this to try and fix a historical injustice, or to increase diversity, but rather because it would be the best way to recruit the strongest candidates. For example, there may be cases where I would prefer a student with a lower test score from a disadvantaged background to a student with a higher test score from a privileged background. I would want the student who I thought had the most potential to succeed. The person who had to overcome obstacles may be someone who has the greater potential for improvement than someone who had every opportunity but still did not achieve a perfect score. Part of recruiting talent is recognizing that quantifiable measures only provide a basic guide.

Having said that, I am a strong supporter of standardized testing.

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