The Scrapbook believes that -everybody’s little girl should have an opportunity to play soccer and strongly favors women’s athletics, in all its myriad forms, in America’s colleges and universities. As supporters of Title IX like to point out, fewer than 30,000 women participated in college sports when Title IX was enacted nearly 40 years ago, and that number has since increased sixfold. The Scrapbook thinks this is great—but that is not what Title IX is really about. And a news story and editorial in last week’s New York Times illustrate a problem that seems to be a political third rail.
Here’s the money quote from the Times editorial: “As women have become a majority on many campuses, some schools are trying to evade Title IX and undermine the goal of gender equality [Scrapbook’s emphasis] by cooking the books when they report statistics to Washington.” The example is given of the University of South Florida, which established a 100-man football team in 1997 and, in the words of the Times, “in an effort to comply with Title IX,” increased “the number of women on its cross country running team . . . from 21 to 75. . . . In 2009, when the school reported 71 members, records showed that only 28 women had ever competed.” Such practices, concludes the Times, “are cynical and might be illegal. Congress clearly needs to tighten the reporting standards, so that schools are required [to] tell the whole truth about their athletic teams and their efforts to ensure gender equality.”
Once again, The Scrapbook emphasizes that the operative word here is “equality,” not “opportunity.” For there is no evidence, offered in the Times or elsewhere, that any woman anywhere in American higher education is being denied the right to participate in sports because of sex discrimination. What Title IX and Congress and the New York Times are demanding is not equality of opportunity but equality of numbers—an artificial numerical parity between men and women. This is required by the federal government even though men participate in college sports at significantly higher rates than women, and even as women now outnumber men on American campuses.
And the consequence, of course, is sex discrimination—against men. Because schools have to report statistics that reflect “equality,” hundreds of colleges have abolished various men’s sports—wrestling, diving, crew, swimming, and innumerable others—in order to reduce the number of male athletes to “equality” with their female classmates. At some institutions, for example, there may be women’s diving teams but not men’s diving teams—thanks to Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination.
If this strikes readers as bordering on lunacy, fear not: It is as crazy as it sounds and has resulted in taxpayer-subsidized federal lawsuits against such consciously progressive institutions as Brown University, where they have desperately sought to comply with Title IX’s bizarre requirements. And to avoid public excoriation by the likes of the New York Times when they seek (as the University of South Florida seems to have done in good faith) to expand athletic opportunities for all students.
The problem, of course, is twofold: Women resolutely refuse to be as interested in sports as men—despite every effort, including legal coercion, to alter human nature—and even the mildest criticism of Title IX results in loud accusations that the critic would gleefully deny little girls the chance to play soccer or tee ball. Well, enough of that. The Scrapbook believes that every woman should be able to play whatever sport she wants to play—and that Title IX, in its present incarnation, is precisely the sort of federally mandated craziness that undermines public confidence in government.
Charlie Sheen doesn’t often prompt The Scrapbook to quote Latin aphorisms, but his recent appearance in Washington, D.C.—a stop on his nationwide Violent Torpedo of Truth tour—reminded us of the ancient question, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Who will guard the guardians)? Charlie, you see, was late arriving at Dulles airport in Virginia for his show at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, and so Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department provided him and his entourage with a multivehicle/flashing-lights/80-mile-an-hour escort for the 26-mile journey into town.
The cost to the taxpayers of the District of Columbia was comparatively modest—Sheen’s promoter reportedly paid $445.68 for the escort—but we’re intrigued by the principle of the thing. In the past, The Scrapbook has complained about the bumptious practices of the Secret Service and Metropolitan Police and U.S. Park Service when ferrying President Obama, Vice President Biden, and other bigwigs around town: large sections of the city closed to traffic, screaming sirens, cops bullying people going about their business, a general tone of arrogant indifference to the lives of citizens. But in such cases, at least, there is an underlying justification for ensuring the safety, in a dangerous world, of our senior government officials.
Charlie Sheen, in The Scrapbook’s considered opinion, is not included in that category. Yes, our hearts go out to fans who bought tickets for the Violent Torpedo of Truth tour and might have been obliged to wait an extra 15 or 20 minutes—perhaps a half-hour!—for the main attraction to arrive. But is that a matter of official concern requiring police resources in the onetime Murder Capital of the World? The question answers itself.
And the madness is spreading. Around the same time Charlie Sheen was getting the presidential treatment, District police shoved all and sundry aside to escort the New York Rangers to and from a playoff game at Washington’s Verizon Center. In New York City, the NYPD recently furnished a similar service for rapper/producer Sean (P. Diddy) Combs on the journey from a Manhattan concert venue to a New Jersey club appearance.
The Scrapbook wasn’t born yesterday, of course, and understands that some people, especially celebrities, are more equal than others. But in a world of tight budgets, violent crime, and a war on terrorism, it must be more than a little discouraging to be caught in traffic for an hour, or forced off the sidewalk, while Charlie Sheen and his police escort zoom by.
Birth of a Conspiracy
The Scrapbook has never been especially agitated by the circumstances of Barack Obama’s birth, and so shrugged its shoulders when the White House released the president’s “long form” birth certificate last week. We weren’t interested when the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign first raised the “birther” issue back in 2008, and we’ve paid no attention since to the various articles, websites, books, and symposia that have suggested—in the absence of an original “long form” certificate—that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, or was illegitimate, or born with two heads, or whatever.
Now, of course, the long-awaited birth certificate confirms what The Scrapbook has always assumed: that Barack Hussein Obama was born on American soil, to his parents of record, and on the universally accepted birth date of August 4, 1961. Hawaii, we should note, was already a state by the time Obama arrived, and his mother (Ann Dunham Obama) was a native-born American citizen. So Barack Obama is fully, and constitutionally, qualified to be president of the United States. Case closed.
Well, not quite. As students of the Kennedy assassination, moon landing, and 9/11 attacks are well aware, the existence of incontrovertible evidence is no barrier to a good conspiracy theory. The Scrapbook has no doubt that Obama’s birth certificate will be rejected as a hoax in certain quarters, and is equally confident that birthers are already closely studying the two Xs handwritten above the squares marked “Twin” and “Triplet,” or pondering the inarguable fact (stated clearly on the birth certificate!) that Obama’s father was an alien. No, not that kind of alien—those diaphanous creatures in Close Encounters of the Third Kind—but do birthers acknowledge that there is any other kind?
The irony of this nonevent is that the long-awaited release of President Obama’s birth certificate, far from settling the issue in these quarters, has awakened troubling doubts in The Scrapbook’s mind. We refer to one feature which, so far as we are aware, nobody else has noticed: Namely, that the newborn is identified as “Barack Hussein Obama II.”
As everybody knows, in identifying descendants, children named for fathers are “Junior”—“Frank Sinatra Jr.,” “John F. Kennedy Jr.,” “John Gotti Jr.”—while “II” is reserved for children named for uncles, or grandfathers, or any relation other than parents. So the clear implication of the birth certificate is that President Obama was not necessarily named for his father Barack Obama (1936-1982) but for some cousin or uncle we know nothing about, whose location is unknown—and whose possible influence on American foreign and domestic policy cannot be casually dismissed.
If Donald Trump does nothing else for the next few months, he would do all Americans an enormous favor if, deploying the worldwide resources of the Trump Organization, he located and identified this anonymous “Barack Hussein Obama I” who secretly controls the United States government and (some have said) The Scrapbook.
Sentences We Didn’t Finish
"The ground floor bathroom [of designer Reed Krakoff’s town house] is covered entirely in golden snakeskin and contains a spheroid toilet more stunning than anything the vast majority of the public . . . ” (New Yorker, April 25).
A Spectacular Tenth Anniversary Issue
The Scrapbook is pleased to doff its homburg to the estimable Claremont Review of Books. The Tenth Anniversary issue just landed on our cluttered desk—with a bit of a thud, actually, since it’s a hefty double issue, running 118 pages. But a very high quality thud—it’s an astonishingly compelling assortment.
The Scrapbook, out of TWS solidarity, first perused William Kristol’s (rave) review of James Ceaser’s Designing a Polity. (As always, it’s well worth reading the boss, we hasten to add.) Then we moved on to meaty essays by Harvey Mansfield (on Tocqueville’s views of religion and liberty), Diana Schaub (on Facebook), Paul Cantor (on Chinua Achebe), Wilfred McClay (on American exceptionalism)—and there’s a lot more, and a lot more very, very good stuff.
With the Claremont Review (ten years old), the New Atlantis (eight years old), and now National Affairs and the Jewish Review of Books (each barely toddlers at less than two), we seem to be witnessing a revival of impressive intellectual quarterlies. We welcome these partners in crime to the conversation and the good fight, and urge our readers to take a look at all of them.
House GOP Hurts Obama’s Popularity
On a recent airing of “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on MSNBC, the host asked Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post to make sense of Congress’s and the president’s low poll numbers. Explained Fineman,
I think it’s also true that people are a little disappointed in the president because he hasn’t been able to change the way Washington works at all. Indeed, Congress is even more poorly regarded. Everybody wanted a bigger deal than was done the last budget go around. And so, in an odd way, the fact the Republicans and Congress are so poorly regarded, that the whole system is so poorly regarded, drags everybody down, including the president.
As blogger Noel Sheppard aptly commented, “Can you imagine a liberal media member like Howard Fineman . . . giving any of the blame [for President George W. Bush’s sagging numbers] to former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), or the Democrat party? Neither can I.”