Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Problem of Affirmative Action

Barack Obama once admitted that he had benefited from affirmative action programs.

If you, however, dare to say that he benefited from affirmative action programs, you are going to be accused of being a racist.

The election campaign is gearing up, and one of its least savory sides is the implication that if you do not believe that Obama is a great president and a towering intellect, even to the point of being too smart for the job, then you must be a racist.

How can you prove to the world that you are not a racist? You can vote for Obama.

It’s a form of psychological manipulation. It worked before, so why wouldn‘t its practitioners try it again?

But that is not the salient point about affirmative action programs. For that we turn to Mickey Kaus, who probably leans more left than right, and who certainly does not come to us from the political fringes. Link here.

Posting about the controversy, Kaus wrote: “The biggest problem with race preferences is that they taint the achievements, not just of those who benefit from them, but of everyone in the beneficiary group–even those who would have gotten into the college or gotten the job, etc., without the preference.  That is an unfairness Obama may acutely feel.  Race preferences are a big reason blacks feel they have to be twice as good as everyone else to measure up in society’s eyes–which is a powerful argument for ending the preferences.”

In all fairness, I believe that this argument was first proposed by Shelby Steele in his book: The Content of Our Character.


Malcolm said...

Did you ever read Shelby Steele's essay?

"The age of white guilt: and the disappearance of the black individual"

Excellent essay in my opinion.

Dennis said...

The real problem with the "Race" card is that it has been maxed out. Is there anyone who does not see it as a STFU ploy?
There is only a small slice of history where one can use these sorts of pejoratives before they lose credibility. It has been played so much and so indiscriminately in the past that it has become the modern version of crying Wolf.
I have meet and worked with a number of people who were the beneficiary of Affirmative Action programs and most who have any scruples at all know that it hurts them.
The sad part here is that the vast majority have/had the capability to succeed on their own, but suffered the bigotry of soft expectations.
Their real need was to be ensure access and to be treated exactly the same. One of the first thing thrown at Clarence Thomas was that he benefited from Affirmative Action programs.
If one does not face challenges then one does not learn to handle them. Obama suffers mightily from this lack of facing real challenges. It shows in everything he does.
One of the reasons I went to college was that an NCO friend of mine (Black) was showing me his work at a local college. He was so proud of the grades he was getting.
Suffice it to say that I found out very quickly that I would not be able to do the kind of work and get the kind of grades he was getting.
It also works in the gender arena. A woman I know was taking a woman's studies class and had to write a paper that took a look at the future of feminism. Extrapolation was not one of her strengths so I wrote it and she made a few changes. Needless to say I essentially got an A. I can guarantee that if I had written the same paper as a white male I would not have done anywhere as well.
This kind of bigotry only serves to cheat the beneficiaries of them.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Malcolm, for the link to the Shelby Steele essay. I was trying to find something by him that I could link and did not have the time. The essay you link is excellent; I hope everyone takes the time to read it.

And thanks to Dennis for offering some evidence of the phenomenon along with a very cogent analysis.

I do think that it's time that the nation took a look at the downside of affirmative action. Not just the fact that it necessarily discriminates against those who do very well, but because it taints the accomplishments of those it is trying to help.

Dennis said...

In almost everyone of us is the desire to prove to ourselves that we can succeed on our own merit. Life's challenges are there to help us take the measure of who we are and to demonstrate that we have within us the wherewithal to do great things. Challenges are goo and the harder the better.
Anything that takes away from that weakens us as human beings. Once we demonstrate that this race or that sex needs the aid of Affirmative Action we are in essence telling them they have not the capacity to reach their potential using their own abilities.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Isn't that the most amazing irony of the whole business? A policy that was designed to overcome discrimination, thus, that assumed that some people were not being judged on their merits, turns into a policy that reinforces the idea that some people do not have enough merit to compete on their own.

Beware of government policies that involve social engineering.