Friday, June 01, 2007

Affirmative Action Taken To A Logical Conclusion

John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left) gives some facts and then states:

If this keeps up more colleges will have to create “Men’s Studies” departments, revive “dean of men” positions where they’ve been folded into “dean of students” offices, institute “outreach,” perhaps even institute preference policies, and in general do whatever else is necessary to make their campuses more “welcoming” and “inclusive” for the dwindling “critical mass” of white men.

And in a tour de force, he hits the another one out of the park with these comments from the post immediately prior:

Read and listen carefully, and you’ll notice something I’ve been noticing with increasing frequency: those of us who oppose racial preferences do so on the basis of a principle we articulate — that the state should treat individuals without regard to their race, religion, or ethnicity — that is easy to understand and provides both a crystal clear rule for policy makers to follow and an easily usable, effective standard against which to judge the policies they make. This principle also makes it clear that those exceedingly rare circumstances where taking race into account is justified by a “bona fide occupational qualification” — such as placing a black undercover police officer inside a black gang — are, quite literally, exceptions that prove the rule.

By contrast, advocates of racial preference don’t speak of principles (except to dismiss them as not binding); they speak in platitudes about the virtues of “diversity,” virtues that, although usually exaggerated, for the most part no one denies. Not only do they almost never mention the operational specifics of the programs they defend; they avoid them like the plague, and try to keep anyone else from learning the details as well.

Since preferentialists speak in platitudes and not principles, their defense of racial preferences provides no guides to policy makers or guidelines by which to judge the policies they defend, other than the numbers of favored minorities they produce. How “critical” is having a “critical mass,” and how “massive” must it be? By what principle (can’t escape them), if any, should its size reflect the “mass” it attempts to represent, and where must that “mass” be — local, national, anywhere in the world? When, where, and why do differences, say, among Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans disappear into their presumably shared Asian-ness? Are Cherokees fungible, for representational purposes, with Cheyenne? If some discrimination is acceptable to produce the desired result, why not more discrimination to produce an even better result? Is there a limit, and if so where does it come from?

You have to wonder about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of some ideas if they can be dissembled so easily by simple common sense.


John S. said...

Hi all,

Your pseudo-liberal elite babbler is back after attending to elitist things—as if you even remember me. I want to start by stating I am not advocating affirmative action. Nevertheless, I want to dive into some possible assumptions about common sense concerning this issue. The argument that preference given to race, gender, sexuality, or religion is inherently discriminatory is logical, and certainly a “color-blind” way to talk about this sensitive issue. Yet, this meritocratic view has an assumption behind it, which could well be correct: that racism, or any other bigoted “ism,” is the pathetic result of a few biased and mentally deficient individuals. It implicitly contests any notion that racism is institutionalized or a part of larger structural forces such as the political system itself, socio-cultural norms, or even spatial geography. In this context, individuals are not to blame, but systems and structures. Yet, in a meritocracy, special privilege is discriminatory because all have equal opportunity and access to opportunity under the law—individuals have autonomy despite any ominous structure—contradictory fears of a liberal leviathan notwithstanding. Some observations, which again I earnestly confess to not yet taking a stance (no matter how disingenuous you may think I am being). Can there be a case made that after 200 plus years of slavery, plus 100 years of Jim Crow, 300 years of a male dominated gender system (Jane Crow), among other things (and other groups), that bigotry in some forms has been institutionalized? In addition, is it completely intellectually bankrupt to suggest that white males benefited from 300 plus years of affirmative action themselves from the 17th century to the mid-20th? The results of such perhaps validating the need for special privileges to be given to others to make up for the racism, and other isms, which, though implicit, are powerfully real? That is, while a modern-day white male may not have been guilty for any racism/isms or responsible for the institutionalization of such, does he still not benefit in some way—a white, male privilege? Also, is affirmative action possibly more about class anxiety than anything else? In short, what makes affirmative action inherently discriminatory? For me, which makes this probably completely wrong, to assume affirmative action is discriminatory is to assume that discrimination is not imbedded in larger social, cultural, and political processes that favor white males (which it may not). Consequently, special privilege would not be a privilege whatsoever but an acknowledgement of that supposed truth. Still, I am not so quick to dismiss the intellectual merits of affirmative action despite the silly reductionist scenarios posted by John at Discriminations, which prompted this posting. I also wonder in type, while being silly, the post shows implicit fears, as if Men’s Studies, the opposite of what we would think special privilege is for, is a logical, and negative, outcome of affirmative action and inclusiveness and betrays liberals’ intent. Not sure how exactly?

Darren said...

Welcome back, John S.

I would refer you to Discriminations, the blog from which I drew the essence of this post. John R. at Discriminations addresses the points you bring up far better than I.

But I cannot let "institutionalized racism" pass without comment. Show me how any institution is racist, especially education, what with all the hand-wringing liberals around. Show me the individuals who perpetuate this so-called institutionalized racism--because racism cannot be perpetuated without individuals.

I'll point to some--those who support so-called affirmative action are *individuals* engaged in perpetuating institutionalized racism. I encourage you to identify others.

But do so after you've spent some time over at Discriminations.