Light Blogging

I haven’t had much time to blog for the past couple of days. Real LifeTM has intervened. Fall semester has ended and I have travelled home to New Jersey. Now, I have to run to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Terrorism and Repression

The Head Heeb replies to my post about the purpose of terrorism:

For the most part – as Zack agrees in the comments – this logic doesn’t work. In places like Peru and Colombia, for instance, terrorists were indeed successful in provoking repression. The only problem is that most of the people the terrorists thought of as “theirs” ended up enthusiastically supporting the repressive measures as the lesser evil.

When terrorism is mixed with nationalism, though, the tactic of provoking repression sometimes does work, at least in the short term. And, because it works in the short term, some terrorist organizations keep on using it long after it has exhausted its usefulness. Nowhere is this more tragically obvious than in Palestine.

I agree.

Affirmative Action

This post by Matthew Yglesias mirrors my views about affirmative action.

A Brief History of the Future

Jim Henley has a very interesting post describing future trends tied in with Science Fiction.

Racial Discrimination: #5

Kieran Healy links to a study focussing on the effects of a criminal record on job prospects.

Pager found a similar race effect to the study Kreuger writes about, but because she also looked at incarceration it brings it into sharper focus. She found that blacks “are less than half as likely to receive consideration by employers relative to their white counterparts, and black non-offenders fall behind even whites with prior felony convictions.” In other words, even though race and prior incarceration both negatively affect one’s employment opportunities, controlling for education and skills you’re better off being a white male with a felony conviction than a black male with no criminal record.

Security: Pros and Cons: Part Deux

While we are on the subject of security policies, I should mention the FBI interviews of people from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. I was also one of the people interviewed by US government agencies early this year. My interview was harmless. The time and date of the interview was set at my convenience. The interview lasted about half an hour. There were two agents who were very polite. They didn’t ask to see any documents. They were interested in what sort of work/research I was doing in the US and whether I had any contact with anyone who could be interested in advanced technology for the wrong purpose. Looking back at my interview, I see no harm being done. But there were people who were afraid, some because they didn’t like being singled out, others because an encounter with the police in their home countries is not a pleasant thing. There were also cases of people who had broken the law in some way (e.g. working without INS authorization to make ends meet while they were in school.) In the end, the story in Pakistan was not of polite FBI officers interviewing law-abiding people. It was of Pakistanis and Muslims being targetted and harassed. The news reports told of people being detained and deported. The media, as Aziz emphasizes, focuses only on the scandalous and sensational. What we forget is that it’s not just the US media; newspapers (which are usually more independent than TV and radio in most of the Middle East) in other countries do the same. It’s just that what they sensationalize is our follies and our policies.

Hindu Extremists Gain

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won by a landslide in elections in the province of Gujarat.

In an election that was widely viewed as a referendum on India’s secular character, Hindu nationalists won a landslide re-election victory today in the western state of Gujarat, which was convulsed by Hindu-Muslim riots early this year.

The vote seemed to affirm the success of the campaign strategy of the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party, which had focused on uniting Hindus against a threat of Islamic terrorism and implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, against the state’s Muslims.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which also leads the national coalition government, won 126 seats in the 182-seat state assembly. The Congress Party, the main opposition, won 51 seats.

The party’s greatest gains came in areas where rioting took place last spring, and where tensions were high. The riots —- prompted by 59 Hindu pilgrims’ being burned to death in February in a train compartment that had been surrounded by a Muslim mob —- left 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslim.

The Bharatiya Janata Party won 52 of 65 seats in riot-affected areas. In central Gujarat, where the rioting was concentrated, it won 45 seats, 30 more than it had in 1998. Even candidates whom witnesses had described as leading or inciting rioting mobs won handily.

I guess extremism helps in the short term.