Wednesday, February 07, 2007

You won't read this in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Affirmative Action is the name given to the social program of preferential treatment for Americans of African-Slave descent.

In the minds of those who created and enacted it, it was a method for both restitution and accelerated rehabilitation for the entire "Black" community. In theory and in practice it was a good idea. I say "was" because it is no longer so. It is, today, a terrible weight around the collective neck of the entire United States of America. The problem is with a phenomenon known as "The Law of Unintended Consequences".

After decades of being helped and praised and promoted ahead of everyone else, the "Black Community" AND the political class in Washington came to expect that they would not be criticized, that they had only to shout "Racism!" and stick their hand out and they'd get whatever they wanted.

The improvement in the political and economic situation of the descendants of African slaves in the United States since the second world war is nothing short of miraculous.

But human nature is unchanged. No intellectually honest person would dispute that, at its root, “Affirmative Action” is reverse discrimination. And when a group gets power over another group, it will do most anything to maintain that power. The rationale in 1964 was, "We are going to use discrimination for you rather than against you. We’re going to set you up with superior rights in order that the ‘playing field’ will be level." That still teaches discrimination. Just as the time-honored “peculiar institution” of the ante-bellum South taught people that slavery was part of the natural order of things, so today do we have a sizeable group of people who believe that the wrongs of slavery can never be erased and thus the peculiar institution of never criticizing the black community can never be ended. With economic freedom and opportunity better than anywhere else on this planet, sizeable portions of the black community are stuck in a holding pattern of relative poverty. When someone like myself starts to ask questions about why this is so, he is shouted down and told that he does not have the right to talk about it. This a right only the “black community” possesses. They have been given that superior right and they are using it just as Bull Connor used the superior rights of the white community fifty years ago. White people who dare to question the orthodoxy are labeled racist – the 21st century equivalent of being “uppity”.

The rapidity of achievement of descendants of African slaves in America has vindicated the use of “Affirmative Action”, but, I believe that the point of diminishing returns was reached twenty years ago.

African Americans use the word “nigger” with abandon. But let a white person use it and that person will be viewed as little better than a pedophile. “Racism” is the most dreaded term in America today – but whites aren’t allowed to define it. They can only beg forgiveness when they are accused of it. Think about that: while it may be materially different than having to step off the sidewalk when a white person passes, the mindset behind it is exactly the same. Are we trying to overcome racism or just give everybody a shot at it? That’s a fair question.

The damage done is not inconsequential. O.J. Simpson was let off by a predominantly black jury NOT because he was innocent, but because the members of that jury felt that his acquittal would somehow make up for past injustices. The three members of the Duke Lacrosse team who were wrongfully charged with rape were tried and convicted in the press and in academia because it was seen as poetic justice, making up for past misdeeds by whites. In both cases (and many others) Justice was never the issue, revenge was. Ironically, the very people willing to prejudge these kids would tell you unhesitatingly that revenge is not the way to redress wrongs.

One of the gravest dangers is in the idea that some are not entitled to question the actions of others. What we see today in the “Speech Codes” on many college campuses is the codified superiority of certain classes. Woe betide the student or faculty member who makes another feel “uncomfortable” or in any way demeaned. This is quite simply the cancellation of the First Amendment and the establishment of an untouchable political class. Worst of all, unlike the suppression of civil rights in the U.S. after the Civil War, this is happening with the enthusiastic support of the vast majority of Americans. Recent polls have indicated that many (most?) black people believe that whites are racist. What is the difference between that belief and the belief that blacks are lazy? Both prejudices spring from irrational beliefs. And both spring from an unchallenged orthodoxy.

And lest we think that it does no harm to those who benefit from this new superiority, consider this: The black communities in many American inner cities have suffered a complete cultural and moral collapse. The result is a river of blood that sweeps away thousands of young black men every year. Yet we dare not question the true origins of the problem. The “black community” can’t because that would be to admit that there exists a problem not caused by white racism, but in fact caused by the unchallengeable nature of the current dogma. Ask yourself what happens to white commentators who ask out loud if "gansta rap" and hip-hop "culture" are dangerous? Are they not dismissed as racists? The white community dare not say anything for fear of being labeled racist. The end result is that band-aid approaches are tried. Foremost among these is “Gun Control”. The right to keep and bear arms is rightly considered my many to be the bedrock upon which our liberties rest. Nevertheless, in the name of political correctness - born of “Affirmative Action” - we are going to smilingly surrender our own liberties and not even gain the goal we profess to seek.

The pendulum has gone from one extreme to the other – and now it is time for it to find the middle.
It is time to admit that discrimination based on race is wrong, period. Even when it is reverse discrimination designed to help those previously injured by its mirror image. It is time to say to descendants of African slaves, "you are our equals. What racism remains can never be used to oppress you again and will be overcome through the education of our future generations. Now it is time for you to step up and embrace the responsibilities that go along with your hard won rights." To not do so will only engender a new form of racism born of the perceived unwillingness to carry your share of the load.

Some who read this will call me a racist and write me (and my ideas) off out of hand. Some who read this will enthusiastically agree with me out of their own racist attitudes. The people I want to reach are the ones who will ask themselves, "Is he right?" and then go on asking questions.


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