Fast Dispatch: Racist Coin Tosses and Math? Another memo… And another.

For today’s Fast Dispatch…

Coin Toss Olympics

The Winter Olympics are in the news still, especially over the spin on North Korea and on the doping ban on Russian athletes (instead, what you are seeing is “Olympic Athletes from Russia” or OARS, who have been through a non-Russian doping detection process.  Seriously.)  But the interesting news is that now even coin tosses are racist.

The American Flag is carried by the athlete receiving the most votes from the eight sports federations.  In the event of a tie, a coin toss decides.

Speed skater Shani Davis has declared that this is racist… because he lost.  “@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer.”  Which he tagged, (no, we are not making this up) “#BlackHistoryMonth2018” (Shani also boycotted the opening ceremony.  Staying classy to the end.  He did “protect” (hide) his Twitter account following this.)

This started a backlash that the “racist” tag is overused.  A “racist  but really isn’t” phrase.

On the other side, further-left views suggest that all ten black U.S. athletes at the Winter Games should protest due to racism.

Can Merit or Data be Racist?

Another Olympic kerfuffle started when the Washington Post published an Op-Ed focusing on the diversity of the U.S. Winter Olympics team including the following quotes (emphasis added):

The U.S. Olympic Committee says it’s taking its most diverse team ever to a Winter Games, an impressive and deserved boast that requires a caveat of sorts. …

“We’re not quite where we want to be,” said Jason Thompson, the USOC’s director of diversity and inclusion. “. . . I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American.”

They even did the math: the column counted black (10) and gay (2) athletes.

Competing in the Olympics is largely performance-based.  There is some privilege component, in that having the option of dedicating to training rather than to earning a living is privileged, but a luge time or figure skating score is not race-dependent.  Nor is being an NBA player, which is also racially-skewed.  (Fewer than 10% of NBA players are white, while the U.S. is still 69% white.)

The furor started when Fox News executive editor John Moody commented on this Op-Ed with a now-removed post changing the Olympic slogan from:
        Faster, Higher, Stronger
to
        Darker, Gayer, Different
which is funny in an edgy and insensitive way.  Which had us wondering… if coin tosses and best scores are racist, what other forms of racism are we overlooking?

Math!  Professor Rochelle Gutierrez claims that math is racist.  Or that the presented history and aptitudes skew white, which would be a more reasonable argument, if history supported it and if she had said it.

Race-Free Data!  Professor Cathy O’Neil argues, in “Weapons of Math Destruction,” that even pure data models can be racist, even if they don’t have any racial data, because the data clumps results together.  (For example, zip codes correlate heavily with race.)  In other words, if the results have a racially-disproportionate impact, then the data extrapolated race and using it is racist.

Another Memo… and Another

As we forecast, the Democrat memo needs redacting.  Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are, of course, screaming censorship and inequity.  But remember, their memo is more than twice as long… just to “clarify”.  And they were against the first memo’s release, claiming it would be a security leak… and they have been proven wrong (or liars) on that.

The Republicans are claiming that the Democrats intentionally put classified data in the memo, forcing the Republicans to send it back, as a political stunt.

Meanwhile, both sides (even Politico and National Review) are suggesting the original memo, collaborated by the Grassley Graham memo, provides plenty of reason for a full-blown investigation into the FISA process and the FBI.  Which it sort-of does, but it didn’t provide any data we didn’t already know… as you can see in our analysis here.

In case you’re a bit lost:

  • The Grassley Graham memo was an eight-page letter from Grassley and Gramam to the DOJ in January, redacted (censored) and declassified (released) last week.
    It’s not a very interesting read because about 2/3 of it is blacked out.
  • The Nunes Memo is the “Republican” memo, the four-page memo that had to go through the approval process.
  • The Democrat’s rebuttal memo, AKA “February 5th Memorandum”, is 10 pages, 2.5 times longer than the memo it is responding to.  Despite the GOP being willing to release it, President Trump says it needs redacting.  Considering it is so long, and how heavily redacted the (shorter) Grassley Graham memo is, this is believable.

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