Just what is "fair"?
My post about the institutional racism displayed by a Seattle school district has been revisited recently by a commenter who wants to tell me about an "egalitarian progressive" utopia he hopes for. I told him that definition is the same as that of "communism", and we all know how that turned out--unless you're an ardent leftie, in which case you claim that true communism has never really been tried so we don't really know if it would bring about the worker's paradise or not. This commenter seems only to want to talk about color, race, prejudice, and racism. In it he describes what he doesn't see as "fair".
Let's talk about fair.
Here's a story about fairness that I probably got from an economics book:
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack makes $10,000 a year and pays 10%, or $1,000 a year, for the use of the well. Jill makes $100,000 a year (note the political correctness of having the woman make more than the man) and pays 5%, or $5,000 a year, for the use of the well. Is this fair? And if it's not fair, in whose favor is the benefit? Is there any charge that everyone would conclude is indisputedly fair?
Today I read over at Discriminations (see blogroll at left) a post John wrote about fairness as it applies to civil rights. Needless to say, I agree with John 100% in this case.
I have complained here a number of times (most recently earlier today) about “the transformation of ‘civil rights’ from its traditional concern with individual rights to the newer belief in group rights....” It should come as no surprise that at the core of the debate over the proper meaning of “civil rights” is a disagreement over what fairness requires.
At the heart of the traditional notion of civil rights is the belief that fairness requires judging all individuals by the same standards, without regard to race, creed, or color. The newer, “diversity”-based notion of civil rights, by contrast, requires “taking race into account” to ensure that all groups receive rewards in direct proportion to their numbers.
There's a related term in education circles--"equity", ensuring equal outcomes across the races.
This is one of the differences that I keep pointing out between the views of the American Left and American Right today--they see people only as members of groups, whereas we see people as individuals. Sometimes I'm (wrongly) accused of racism because I refuse to take people's race into account in my teaching, as if your skin color determines how you learn. There's a great quote from the movie Stand And Deliver, which I'll paraphrase here: "There are two types of racism, Mr. Escalante. Singling people out because of their race, and not singling people out because of their race." Promoting Thurgood Marshall's and Dr. King's dreams of a truly colorblind society--not one that ignores race, but one that doesn't allow race to separate people before the law--would alleviate both kinds of racism.