Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Negative Action

God, can't she just say she had great grades and fucked up the SAT? Hell, I had a great SAT (1400 back in the 1600 days), and mediocre GPA with no activities. I could bitch and moan about grades and activities being culturally biased, or I could just say "I didn't try that hard."

And I'm not attacking Sotomayor here. I'm not proclaiming her to be an affirmative action appointment (like Pat Buchanan has). She seems like a decent judge with experience, credibility, et cetera. I have no problem with her being on the Supreme Court.

No, my problem is with affirmative action itself, perhaps the most vile government policy in modern times. Little to me is more abhorrent as selecting someone for a job, or for a school based on their race.

Affirmative action is not racism. But it is discrimination. Look it up. Discrimination = "treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit." And discrimination is wrong, right?

That's the argument for affirmative action, correct? Discrimination in the past was wrong, so we'll fix it with discrimination in the present. Let's call it counter-discrimination, which is what it is. And it's not "reverse racism," that term sucks. A FoxNewsism if there ever was one.

I think "counter-discrimination" is a fair term. And it isn't discrimination AGAINST whites, it's discrimination FOR non-whites. But imagine how hard it would be to get something called "counter-discrimination" into law?

Why does affirmative action exist? Because racial discrimination has been part of American law, policy, and life for centuries. Not just slavery, but Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on. This longstanding institutional racism has put minorities in poor position to compete in this country. And I'm not arguing against this FACT at all.

But that's history, folks. Someone once asked me why I'm so interested in history. After all, everything in history books has already happened. Who cares? But history is WHY and HOW the present is the way it is, for better or worse.

But undoing centuries of discrimination is like trying to put a broken egg back together again. You might glue it, use some duct tape, and maybe paint over the cracks. But it's still broken. I advise that you get on with your life, use the broken egg to make some French Toast, and have a nice day.

Undoing centuries of discrimination via counter-discrimination is like breaking the egg, then breaking all the other foods in the kitchen so EVERYTHING is broken, therefore making the egg the same as everything else.

Affirmative action's supporters' first line of defense is very telling. This is actually a well-written and well thought out defense of affirmative action right here. I'll quote from it:

The claim is that these programs distort what is now a level playing field and bestow preferential treatment on undeserving minorities because of the color of their skin. While this view seems very logical on the surface, I contend that it lacks any historical support and is aimed more at preserving existing white privilege than establishing equality of opportunity for all.

So basically, those who argue against affirmative action are doing so because they want to preserve their "existing white privilege." So since I'm white, and upper-middle class, I can't argue against affirmative action as a policy, I can only defend my precious "white male hegemony." With such a fallacious and dismissive first defense, how could such a policy be amoral?

Just imagine this. I get married, have two kids (boy and girl), get divorced, get married to another woman, have two more kids (boy and girl). Both my wives die of swine flu, so all four kids come to live with me. But let's say my first wife was white and my second wife was black. Now I have four children, with the same father, same economic status, and even sharing some similar Irish and German roots. Yet with affirmative action, the children from my second wife are able to get into better schools than the children from my first wife. They're able to get better jobs, get promoted faster, et cetera.

Does this seem American to you? Does it even seem fair?

I'll not lie, the playing field IS NOT fair and even. I got a $130,000 education from Ithaca College, paid for by my parents' hard work. I got a free car, free health insurance, and I'm debt free, all thanks to my parents. That's not fair. I know people who had to pay for their own college. I know people who couldn't afford to pay and had to transfer or leave school altogether. That's not fair. I knew people who had to bust their ass working two jobs while they were at school. Meanwhile, I got free time to study and play Madden. Not fair.

Life's not fucking fair. Sorry folks, but that's the truth. And it isn't the government's job to make it fair. It's the government's job to remove barriers to fairness and potential upward mobility, like segregation and voting restrictions. But leveling hills and mountains on that playing field is both impossible, and unethical.

There is a natural force that allows, and even drives playing fields to be even. It's called competition. When and where there is discrimination, there will be weakness. If only whites or blacks are allowed to work for a company, that company will be weaker, especially if a competitor is hiring people based on QUALITY and not ETHNICITY.

Look at baseball in 1947. Before then, there were barriers to black players. Baseball desegregated itself, thanks to Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, and the desire to win. That same desire to win turned owners who once barred black players into owners who craved them.

But what happened to teams that failed to select players based on quality? The Red Sox were the last team to integrate. They passed up on Jackie Robinson in 1945. Which is, in a way, understandable, because being the first integrated team would have been difficult. But in 1949, there were multiple black players in MLB, and the Red Sox passed up a chance to acquire Willie Mays for a song. Willie fucking Mays.

Imagine an outfield with Willie Mays and Ted Williams. Nearly 1200 homeruns hit between those two.

The Red Sox didn't integrate until 1959, 5 years after Brown v. Board, and two years after Jackie Robinson's Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Hell it was a year after Willie O'Ree took the ice for the Bruins as the first black NHL player.

And while other teams benefited from wider pools of talent to draw from (the Indians won the World Series in 1948 with an integrated team, the Dodgers won 6 pennants with Jackie Robinson), the Red Sox limited their own success by limiting their hiring.

But sticking with baseball, could you imagine a rule that required all teams to have at least one black player? How about in football, imagine a rule that required at least 1 QB to be black, at least 1 WR to be white, at least 1 O-lineman to be black, at least 1 CB to be white, and at least 1 coach/coordinator to be black?

Sports are the ultimate meritocracy. Race doesn't matter. If you're good, you can get away with murder.

But if there are no quotas, and no affirmative action in sports, why is there affirmative action in fire departments and police forces? In law schools and teaching schools? In the military?

Here's an interesting hypothetical metaphor from the same site I sited above:

Suppose that [there] is a track officials judging two athletes running a hundred yard dash. Before the official shoots off the starting pistol, one runner kicks the other in the shin, stomps on his toes, and then runs ahead fifty yards. Now because our official is observant, he sees this dirty play and immediately halts the race. So, he walks over to the runner, who is fifty yards ahead and tells him that what he did was unfair and wrong and he is forbidden from doing it again. Then he goes back to check on the runner at the starting line. The runner is a little bruised up. The official tells him "Don't worry I saw everything that happened. I told the other runner that what he did was wrong and that he shouldn't have done it. As I speak the rules are being changed to outlaw such actions from ever happening again." Then the official strolls back to his position and fires the starting pistol to begin the race, where the runners left off...

The race has already been tainted. It is our duty to somehow reconstruct the situation so that fairness can again pervade the event. At the very least we must allow the injured runner time to heal and then advance him fifty yards to be even with his competition. We must actively deconstruct the advantages. If we do not, we violate our own rules of fairness, preserving the advantages of one runner over the other.

Just to expand on this metaphor, suppose the cheating runner has kids, and the cheated runner has kids. Is it right to actively punish the children of the cheater and give a head-start to the children of the cheated?

Or is it right to punish the ENTIRE ETHNICITY of the cheating runner for what he did?

And how can one reconstruct the 100 yard dash IMMEDIATELY, which is what affirmative action is supposed to do: quickly remedy the problems created by historical racial discrimination. The cheated runner needs TIME to heal. In fact, the worse the injury, the more TIME it will take to heal. So the worse the historical discrimination, the more TIME it will take to be remedied.

If the cheated runner has a broken foot, it's impossible to give him a proper head start, or give the cheating runner a proper punishment that will result in a fair race. What's done is done.

Remember my analogy about putting a broken egg back together? And do you recall the story of Humpty Dumpty? All the King's horses, all the King's men not being able to put him back together? It's a common liberal trait to believe that government intervention can solve everything, even the unsolvable.

Affirmative action is an overly optimistic liberal notion that the past can be undone. That millions of injustices committed by long-dead people against other long-dead people can be rectified by government policy.

It'd be nice if that were possible. But it's not.

And then there's the victims of affirmative action. Liberals are ever so quick to point out the beneficiaries. Judge Sotomayor even claimed to be one. But for every person helped by affirmative action, doesn't there have to be someone hurt? If Sotomayor got into Yale because of her ethnicity, doesn't that mean someone was rejected based on theirs? Is THAT fair? Is it American?

It's a form of racial socialism.

Until 1954, when the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. Board, Blacks were legally pushed to the margin of society where many were left to dwell in poverty and powerlessness. The Brown decision removed the legal impediments that had so long kept Blacks in the impoverished peripheral. Despite this long awaited victory for Black Americans, the historic decision failed to provide adequate means for the deconstruction of white dominance and privilege. It merely allowed Blacks to enter the arena of competition. This recognized and established the status quo (white wealth and Black indigence, white employment and Black unemployment, white opportunity and Black disenfranchisement) as an acceptable and neutral baseline. Without the deconstruction of white power and privilege how can we legitimately claim that the playing field is level? Does it not seem more logical, and indeed fairer and more just, to actively deconstruct white privilege, rather than let it exist through hegemony?

"Actively deconstruct white privilege?" That's a lofty and frightening goal. To belittle my personal accomplishments based on my whiteness and my privilege offends me. Certainly both helped, but I graduated from college, not my race. I got a 1400 on my SAT, not my economic status.

Is there anyone or any group in the universe wise enough to determine which of my accomplishments are due to my "white privilege" and which are due to just myself?

How do we separate those whites who "deserve" to be rich and powerful, from those who simply inherited theirs from centuries of discrimination and hatred? Again, more lofty liberal uberoptimism. Such a task is impossible. Moreover, it's not even worth attempting to carry out. Failure in this task is inevitable due to its impossibility. And any failure simply results in more harm and misleveling of that proverbial playing field.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Two discriminations don't lead to equality.

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