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Weapons of mass manipulation

Weapons of mass manipulation
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2018

Confirmation bias damages reputations. It ruins credibility. It destroys lives.

When researchers ignore contradictory data that undermines their assumptions, junk science prevails. When police conduct investigations with predetermined outcomes, wrongful convictions abound. And when reporters cherry-pick facts and distort images to serve political agendas, media outlets become dangerous weapons of mass manipulation.

Take Talia Lavin, a young journalist who has enjoyed a meteoric rise. Her pedigree appears impeccable on its face: She graduated with a degree in comparative literature from Harvard University six years ago. After graduation, she won a Fulbright Scholar fellowship to study in Ukraine. She “worked in all realms” of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news agency and wire service, copy-edited for the feminist Lilith Magazine, and contributed stories and translations for the Huffington Post.

Lavin has held the coveted position of “fact-checker” for the revered New Yorker for the past three years. The publication brags that its “fact-checking department is known for its high standards.” It demands the ability “to quickly analyze a manuscript for factual errors, logical flaws, and significant omissions.” The editorial department requires “a strong understanding of ethical reporting standards and practices” and prefers “proficiency or fluency in a second language.”

Impressively, Lavin speaks four languages (Russian, Hebrew, Ukrainian and English). Her abdication of ethical reporting standards, however, raises fundamental questions not only about her competence, but also about her integrity — not to mention the New Yorker’s journalistic judgment.

With a single tweet, the New Yorker’s professional fact-checker smeared Justin Gaertner, a combat-wounded war veteran and computer forensic analyst for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Lavin, the professional fact-checker, rushed to judgment. She abused her platform. Amid the national media hysteria over President Donald Trump’s border enforcement policies, Lavin derided a photo of Gaertner shared by ICE, which had spotlighted his work rescuing abused children. Scrutinizing his tattoos, she claimed an image on his left elbow was an Iron Cross — a symbol of valor commonly and erroneously linked to Nazis.

The meme spread like social media tuberculosis: Look! The jackboots at ICE who hate children and families employ a real-life white supremacist.

Only it wasn’t an Iron Cross. It was a Maltese Cross, the symbol of double amputee Gaertner’s platoon in Afghanistan, Titan 2. He lost both legs during an IED-clearing mission and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Valor and the Purple Heart before joining ICE to combat online child exploitation.

When actual military veterans, whom Lavin failed to consult before defaming Gaertner so glibly, pointed out that the image looked more like a Maltese Cross, Lavin deleted her original tweet “so as not to spread misinformation.”

Too damned late. The harm to Gaertner’s name and honor is irreparable and cannot be unseen, unread or unpublished.

The New Yorker issued an obligatory apology and acknowledged that “a staff member erroneously made a derogatory assumption about ICE agent Justin Gaertner’s tattoo.” But what consequences will there be for her journalistic malpractice? Who is supervising her work at the famed publication? What other lapses might she be responsible for during her present and past stints as a checker of facts and arbiter of truth?

The magazine editors claim “we in no way share the viewpoint expressed in this tweet,” yet the abject ignorance of, and knee-jerk bigotry against, law enforcement, immigration enforcement and the military underlying Lavin’s slime run rampant in New York media circles. And they all know it.

Lavin has not commented on the matter and instead turned her Twitter account private. But we can infer her attitude about her present troubles from a defiant piece she published just last week in The Forward magazine, where she pens a regular column. Titled “No, We Don’t Have To Be Friends with Trump Supporters,” the piece, laden with Nazi allusions, decries asylum reform, strengthened borders and ICE agents enforcing the law.

Rejecting calls for decency in public debate over these contentious matters, she spat:

“(T)ough nuts, sugar. When they go low, stomp them on the head.”

She further raged:

“It is high time, when you find yourself next at a dinner party with someone who has gone Trump, to smash your glass to shards and leave. It is time to push yourself away from the table. It is time to cease to behave with subservient politesse towards those who embrace barbarity with unfettered glee.”

Better “gone Trump” than gone mad. In her unfettered haste to condemn those with whom she disagrees, the New Yorker’s professional fact-checker failed to check her own toxic biases. Lavin’s act was no innocent gaffe. Like the journalists-turned-propagandists who have falsely spread Obama-era photos of immigrant detention centers to attack the Trump White House, Lavin engaged in mass manipulation under the guise of resistance journalism.

Truth is collateral damage.

NYC’s war on academic excellence

NYC’s war on academic excellence
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2018

“I also have a dream.”

This rallying cry, handwritten on a simple white placard held up by an Asian-American mom at a protest this week against liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to radically transform New York City’s public schools, says it all. A new civil rights struggle in education has exploded — yet the national media and the usual celebrity voices for equality and justice are nowhere to be found.

While student “Dreamers” here illegally from south of the border garner bleeding-heart front-page stories and nightly news dispatches, the high-achieving sons and daughters of legal immigrants from Asia are getting shafted by far-left Democrats.

And it’s all in the perverted name of “diversity.”

De Blasio is hell-bent on destroying equal opportunity and merit-based admissions because the results are not equally distributed according to his social-engineering agenda. The Big Apple’s famed specialized schools, such as the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, require an academic entrance exam. It’s a highly competitive process in which tens of thousands of students vie for a total of about 5,000 slots.

So what’s the problem? According to the bean-counting extremists, too many Asian-Americans have aced the test and are “overrepresented.” It’s not enough for the social justice crowd to settle for a 20 percent minority set-aside. They want to scrap the test altogether. A bill to eliminate the exams passed the state assembly education committee last week. Though it may die this year, the toxic principles underlying the legislation have infected the left for decades.

Dullard de Blasio falsely argues that white privilege and class privilege are to blame for the lack of black and Latino student representation at the elite schools. The two groups account for 67 percent of public school students but only made up 10 percent of elite school admissions offers last year. By contrast, Asian-Americans, who make up 16 percent of public school students, received 52 percent of offers in the past year.

So are Asian-Americans classified as “white” now? And how does de Blasio get away with the lie that these best and brightest Asian-American students are economically privileged?

Fact: The city’s own poverty assessment shows that Asians are the poorest demographic group, with 24.1 percent living at or below poverty — vs. 19.5 percent citywide. The New York Post reports that overall, 45 percent of students at the “elite eight” schools qualify for free lunch.

As I’ve observed for years, liberal race-fixers believe that “too many” Asian-American students winning school admissions on their own merits is a bad, bad thing. In our case, overcoming the supposed encumbrances of ethnicity and skin color is viewed not as a proud accomplishment but as a political liability.

This is classic crab-in-the-bucket syndrome. If you put a single crab in an uncovered bucket, it will find a way to climb up and out on its own. But if you put a dozen crabs in a bucket, eleven will fight with all their might to pull down the independent striver who attempts to escape. And so it is with the identity politics mob and the equality of outcome cult. They can’t stand high achievers and freethinkers who escape their iron grip.

A sad irony of the battle over racial preferences in education is that many of the very leaders who have lobbied hardest to re-jigger the numbers on college campuses to fit a politically correct, proportional ideal are supposedly “progressive” Asian-Americans.

I personally endured attacks from many of them who labeled me and other conservative minority leaders “sellouts” for opposing government-imposed diversity policies that sabotaged color-blindness and punished academic excellence.

Now, those same quota champions are seeing those same policies blow up in their faces in New York City’s high schools. “Diversity” at all costs means taking the hardest-working, top-scoring students who earned their seats on the bus — and tossing them under the wheels.

Tell me again who the real sellouts are?

Posted in: Education