Weisman posted some thoughts about affirmative action at The
Art of Peace. He begins:
do they always blame America first?
recent celebrations of Martin Luther King's triumphs brought to mind a related
subject: Affirmative action.
is an interesting association. Dr. King was a proponent of racial equality and
didn't support racialist government programs.
America dealt with racial strife a few decades ago, they did something that to
my knowledge no other nation has ever done in similar circumstances. They recognized
that many Americans were disenfranchised, a few to the point where they did not
always consider America's gain to be their gain. They made laws against racial
discrimination, but they knew those laws would be impossible to enforce. Who can
really prove one man refused to hire another for a certain reason?
course, America has been dealing with racial strife for centuries...not just "a
few decades ago". Perhaps David means "dealt with" in the sense
of fixed...but that can't be right, because he seems to argue that affirmative
action is still needed. He claims that laws against racial discrimination were
known to be impossible to enforce despite the fact that they have frequently been
enforced. (His specific reference was to disenfranchisement...African Americans
have been voting for a long time.)
partially compensate for the impossibility of enforcing the law, affirmative action
I recall, affirmative action was created to compensate for historical injustices
and to correct imbalances caused by racial discrimination. That is...it was believed
that civil rights law didn't do enough.
there are some who say that this policy, practiced as far as I know by nobody
but Americans, (certainly not the French!) was wrong. They say that African Americans
who achieve are stigmatized because people believe they only did so through affirmative
action. Many people who believe this would hate them for other reasons even if
there were no affirmative action. The program is not perfect, but when we look
at how other nations around the world have dealt with minorities disenfranchised
to the point of violence, it brings renewed appreciation of the American way.
are some who say"...almost anything.
says that "many people" who believe that African Americans are stigmatized
by affirmative action "would hate them for other reasons". I don't know.
Many people who are concerned about the stigma of affirmative action don't hate
African Americans at all...some are even African Americans themselves. It looks
like David is trying to stigmatize as racist "many people" who
disagree with him about a particular policy. I don't think that is what he intends...but
it is requires effort to avoid the inference.
writes that the "program is not perfect" but neither specifies the imperfections
nor suggests any corrections. Since a multi-decade program to eliminate racial
inequality has not been effective, I would think he'd have some suggestions...but
that is where his post ends.
be fair, the point of David's post was to highlight America's willingness to correct
itself and he was discussing affirmative action as an example.
left this comment:
each ethnic group's experience in America has been unique, most have found ways
to integrate into the larger society. A few have not. None of the groups who have
found success here benefited from affirmative action programs.
has been the model for overcoming disadvantages? And why shouldn't African Americans
have the opportunity to use the same model that has been so useful to others?
Well, most groups emigrated here voluntarily, so there wasn't quite the same
disruption of culture and family as when slaves were kidnapped and brought to
America. Usually they formed their own communities, again minimizing the cultural
and educational disruption. Most of those who came here were, well, those who
felt ready and willing to emigrate, and were ready to rebuild.
course all this was several hundred years ago - but if you look at the length
of time it took to surpass the achievements of the Roman empire after it collapsed,
you will see how hard it can be to put humpty dumpty back on the wall.
groups of immigrants were disliked by people here already - yet none of them had
any legal experience like the Jim Crow laws in the past few decades. If you surf
the website of the League of the South and other organizations, you will find
many that explicitly consider African Americans inferior, and if you research
further you will find that many major politicians are connected to some of these
groups - either because they agree or because they believe it is in their interest.
of the most successful groups are those where well educated people with financial
backing from family or others are a substantial portion of the new immigrants,
though perhaps not all.
I responded to his reply:
you point out some of the salient differences between the experience of African
Americans and other immigrant groups. But your reply doesn't answer the question
about which methods of social integration have been effective...nor do you explain
why the special attributes of African Americans' historical experience indicate
that the path to success would be different for that group. Certainly other groups
(like indentured servants, transported criminals and Chinese "coolies") did not
come here freely and many groups were not welcomed...yet their descendants have
managed to find a place in American society.
I repeat the questions that you avoided. What has been the model for overcoming
disadvantages? And why shouldn't African Americans have the opportunity to use
the same model that has been so useful to others?
his reply, David writes that "Most of those who came here were, well, those
who felt ready and willing to emigrate, and were ready to rebuild." I'm not
sure this is factually correct. The millions of Irish who came here were fleeing
famine, others were refugees from oppression and genocide in their countries of
origin...I don't think they were quite as "ready and willing" as David
claims they were.
talks about the fall of the Roman Empire but doesn't demonstrate any relationship
between that event and slavery. The parallel escapes me completely.
also says that the world is full of bigots...and it may be true, but that is human
nature and affirmative action can't be expected to change human nature. Any policy
that is designed to ameliorate racial inequality will have to succeed despite
the end, David observes that successful integration is a consequence of good education,
strong families and supportive communities (if that is what he means by "others").
There are a few other
critical traits...but that is for another discussion.
argument is simple. If this is the path to social well-being in America, shouldn't
we be finding ways to encourage African Americans to take it? If this is what
works, how do we help African Americans by sending them in another direction?
responds to this note here.