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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Battle Affirmative Action - First Rebuttal - Challenger

I am certain that the opening arguments have highlighted what is a major philosophical gulf between myself and the Iron Blogger Green. Much of that gulf lies in the use of definitions, in an understanding of race, and the ideals of "equality" and "opportunity."

I do hope that judges and readers followed all the links offered by the Iron Blogger. Many of them are thought-provoking, even disturbing. Unfortunately, many of them do not deal directly with the topic of affirmative action. IBG uses her examples to show that racism is institutionalized in American society, and hopes that by showing so, she can make the argument that affirmative action is simply a "more fair" form of racism, since it's racism for those who do not have the advantages of the more dominant, "bad" form of racism.

Further, she claims that "while some might argue that the world has changed, since the inception of affirmative action, to allow for more inclusion and opportunity, regardless of race, reality doesn't bear that out. In fact, the amount of information that points to a continued bias against people of color from all income levels and in all areas of society is alarming, disturbing, and downright disgusting."

Hmm. I wonder if you could tell that to Bill Cosby, Dave Chappelle, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, P. Diddy, Russell Simmons, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and a whole host of black professionals who hold high profile places in the American society. The fact is, the world HAS CHANGED, dramatically, since the time of affirmative action. The insinuation that racism is as widespread today as it was in 1964 is both tragically misinformed and maddeningly simplistic. Reality does bear that out. Turn on your television, Ms. Blood.

Since we are going to spend so much time on the concept of racism, here's an accepted definition:
n 1: the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races 2: discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race [syn: racialism, racial discrimination]

This varies, somewhat, from what IBG would have you read as racism. In fact, IBG would have you accept that everything that occurs in your life today is tinged with racism. It's called "White Privilege."

To make this assertion, she points to racists (I mean, race scholars) who attack the concept of "white privilege." White privilege, we are told, is something that just comes with white skin, and yet it is something that whites use and abuse every day. It is so pervasive and powerful that it is invisible. In fact, most whites would deny that it exists. Perversely, such denials merely serve as proof that white privilege is all-pervasive.

This is what I have termed a "strange loop," following the definition of Robert Anton Wilson. By defining everything a white person receives as part of "white privilege," there is no escape, even for my poor friend Robert, who tried to commit suicide while living on the streets of Fort Worth. And were a poor white person to deny that they were the beneficiary of such "privilege," they would be patted on the head with the smug arrogance only available to liberal academics and conservative old wealthy folk, and told "of course, you don't 'think' you have such privilege because your white schools and upbringing cleverly disguise such privilege."

And so we are left with a hopeless situation. There is no escape from racism. It is the air we breathe. It is the thing that keeps some people going. Every question, every look, every step is either a trip through racism or an opportunity to engage in the unconscious racism of "white privilege."

Fortunately, we have been given a pardon.

But such liberal self-flagellation does nothing for blacks:

In today's climate, too many teachers think they are doing black students a favor by feeding them grievances from the past and telling them how they are oppressed in the present -- and how their future is blocked by white racism. These are the kinds of friends who do more damage than enemies.

Why endure all the hard work, self-discipline and self-denial that a first-rate education requires if The Man is going to stop you from getting anywhere anyway? People who have been pushing this line for years are now suddenly surprised and dismayed to discover that many black students across the country regard academic striving as "acting white."

Attempts to move beyond color definitions are mere window dressing.

IBG pleads that we must end "white privilege" in order to foster true justice. Unfortunately for us who happen to have pale melatonin, we cannot escape the color of our skin. So we must, apparently, trade the racism of viewing other races (approved races, mind you) as inferior, to view the white race as culpable and therefore worthy to be knocked down a notch or two. Racism in service of a "higher ideal" still fits the definition of racism.

Which brings me back to the concept of the pie.

Toward the end of her opening argument, IBG mentions that she holds what Thomas Sowell calls an "unconstrained vision" of humanity: "Gentle readers, as the tagline on my blog states, I believe most emphatically in the inherent goodness of all beings. Which of course means that I believe that people are inherently good." She then goes on to propose what all good people of unconstrained vision propose: using political means to change the process to achieve more equal results. But such inequalities can be the result of misperceptions.

I, on the other hand, have a more "constrained" vision of humanity. I do not believe that people are "inherently good." I believe it is possible for people to act in their enlightened self interest. But none of the examples of racism IBG linked in her opening argument surprise me. I suggest that measures could be adopted to deal with many of those issues that do not require affirmative action.

In keeping with my constrained vision of humanity, I do not expect equal outcomes from equal opportunity. There are inequalities in any system of society. But the American system - because of the ideal of an equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, has been provided incredible benefits for those at the lowest end of the economic ladder. In fact, I would challenge IBG to find a society as diverse and as large as ours that has as high a standard of living - even at the lowest economic levels.

Finally, IBG pleads that we should use affirmative action to counteract the biases that are arrayed against people of color. Here, again, is the ultimate doublespeak of affirmative action racism: using racism to combat racism.

As author Thomas Sowell noted, this is much akin to the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the wizard, after admitting he cannot give Dorothy and her friends what they have come for, gives them substitutes for all those things. Such is what IBG and the racists on the left want to give us. They cannot give American true racial equality, because they cannot see it existing - ever. So they can give us "good" racism and "good" sexism.

Rather, why not side with Frederick Douglass (via Justice Thomas via Walter Williams):
In last week's U.S. Supreme Court's affirmative action decision, Justice Clarence Thomas' dissent included a quotation from an 1865 speech by abolitionist Frederick Douglass: "What I ask for the Negro," Douglass said, "is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. . . . All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! . . . Your interference is doing him positive injury."

affirmative action is just one way to attempt to bring equality and opportunity to people of all races. Notice the part of the equation she leaves off - that the "equality" and "opportunity" she seeks to bring must be gained at the expense of others.

In order to bring equality to a black, we must necessarily leave off some equality for a woman. And from there, we must destroy the equality of the Asian, or the Indian. And the white man, well, he deserves whatever he gets.

And, as Walter Williams noted, ironically, we end up doing a disservice to blacks:
The bottom line is given the day-to-day destruction of education for black students at the primary and secondary levels of schooling, most will never be able to compete academically. The fact that the affirmative action crowd demands discriminatory admission practices for post-graduate education such as in law and medical schools confirms something else. Black performance on admittance exams, such as the LSAT, MCAT and GRE, is stark testament that four years of undergraduate education cannot erase the damage of twelve years of fraudulent primary and secondary education.

Indeed, some people apparently are more equal than others.

As I said earlier, IBG points out some cogent examples of racism (and some that don't pass the smell test), but she assigns healing power to a remedy that consists of more of the same. Ultimately, racism doesn't ameliorate racism. If we want to talk about fixing the inequalities in lending or health care or primary education, then let's discuss those at the level of the problem: in lending, health care, or primary education. Affirmative action does not address those issues. Indeed, 40 years of affirmative action and other liberal social policies doesn't seem to have alleviated the suffering of disadvantaged minorities.

Others have argued that affirmative action actually hinders those it seeks to benefit:
My opposition to affirmative action has to do with my concern for black uplift. Affirmative action has created what I call a "culture of preference." It's not just a benign social policy having to do with college admissions. It is a vast and all-defining culture that continues to lock me in, as a black person, to a victim-focused identity. Affirmative action makes me passive. It makes me into someone who cannot move forward unless white people are benevolent and help me move forward. It perpetuates dependency. I think affirmative action is the greatest negative force—the greatest force in opposition to black uplift—in society today.

Will blacks disappear from higher education? That is not a decision for white Americans to make. That is a decision for black Americans to make. If blacks focus on education, I have absolutely every confidence that they can compete with everybody.

But in any case, when you take that decision away from me as a black person, you make me a secondary citizen. You oppress me in the name of helping me. You perpetuate my dependency. You demoralize me. As long as that continues to happen, you will see the same gaps in scores, with blacks at the bottom. You will see blacks having the highest dropout rates, the lowest grade point averages, and on and on and on. Affirmative action guarantees black inferiority. - Sydney Steele

I have to assert again that discrimination that "levels the playing field" is doing no such thing, because it is actually disadvantaging others based on the surface characteristics of race and sex. Individuals. Not races. Individuals. Affirmative action apologists like IBG then disguise their own racism by the assuagement of "white privilege." "You can give up this little trinket, you see, because you are the heir to a whole host of privileges you haven't even realized." Cold comfort for a person taught that it is the character of the individual and not the color of the skin that should make the difference.

It is perhaps the final irony that I actually find myself more of an optimist about this process than the IBG, who claims to have a belief in the "goodness of all living things."

(almost forgot)
Respectfully submitted,

Bryan S.

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