Skip to comments.An Insult to Africans (Affirmative Action assumes black people are mentally inferior and incapable)
Posted on 05/17/2002 8:58:49 AM PDT by dead
Affirmative action is increasingly being rejected by blacks in the US.
It would appear that intellectual and political provocation is the trademark of Stanford University's Hoover Institute.
In a development that holds many lessons for South Africa, folks at the institute recently released a collection of essays, Beyond the Color Line: New Perspectives on Race in America. The collection provides an uncompromising intellectual critique of affirmative action, questioning the assumptions, rationale and outcome of such programmes.
Understandably, this has provoked a howl of protest from the "grievance elite" - a group that wants to keep the idea of victimisation alive. It is seen as an attack if not a reversal of the gains of the civil rights movement.
Realities and recent developments in the United States, however, make this critique imperative. While all manner of civil rights and anti-discrimination laws are in place, the promise of racial equality that appeared assured 35 years ago continues to elude most African-Americans. Understandably, many black scholars have joined the chorus condemning the ineffectiveness and irrelevance of affirmative action programmes.
Secondly, voters in the US, including 30% of blacks in California, seem to be taking a fresh look at race. In what is considered a trendsetting move, the Regents of the University of California took a decision in 1995 to eliminate considerations of race, gender, colour, ethnicity and national origin in the admissions, contracting and employment activities of the university.
This was closely followed by the passage in 1996 of the California Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209). This provided that "the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group, on the basis of race, sex, colour, ethnicity or national origin, in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting".
Buoyed by this turnaround, in 1998 the electorate of the State of Washington approved "Initiative 200", a replica of California's Proposition 209. Vociferous objections by virtually every newspaper in the State of Washington and by some of the largest employers, such as Boeing, Microsoft and the US Bank, did not help.
In a hard-hitting essay, The Double Bind of Race and Guilt, Shelby Steele, an African-American scholar, argues that the affirmative action policies and programmes have been shaped more by the stigmatisation of whites than by any consideration of the actual needs of blacks.
For Steele, the problem was the failure of the US to adhere to its sacred principles - including advancement by merit, a single standard of excellence and individual rather than group rights.
Prior to the enactment of civil rights, no amount of merit enabled blacks to advance. As a result of this historical injustice these principles were demonised and projected as instruments of white supremacy aimed at excluding blacks.
Principles of self-reliance, hard work, moral responsibility and sacrifice were thus replaced with deference. Deference demands less of blacks and exempts them from expectations, principles and standards of excellence demanded from others.
In other words, blacks are spared the rigours of development. To demand them is to "blame the victims" and cruelly deny the helplessness imposed on them by a heritage of oppression, the argument goes.
Thus white remorse must be seen to supersede commitment to principles. Compassion and empathy must be seen to displace principle in public policy around race. With principled opposition to racial preferences demonised, mediocrity wins for blacks what excellence wins for others.
Some scholars also argue that since US society is conceived and nurtured as a society of individuals, affirmative action programmes are in direct conflict with the spirit of individualism that characterises the nation. Affirmative action herds people into groups or political enclaves.
For these scholars the deterioration of individualism and the rise of political group thinking is manifest in black and white reactions to the infamous OJ Simpson verdict. That blacks hailed it as a victory while whites saw it as a travesty of justice illustrated the profound differences in perceptions of the US criminal justice system.
The programmes are also seen as contradicting the premise and promise of the 1960s civil rights movement that advocated equal treatment under the law for all. Instead, the term "civil rights" has become synonymous with the rights of black people. Experience suggests that the unintended outcome of this has been the marginalisation of targeted beneficiaries.
First, since the policies require a victim-versus-oppressor paradigm, they tend to crush the competitive instinct required for survival in a highly competitive society. Not surprisingly, many young blacks are found wanting in an area that matters most - the modern global economy. The lack of competitive desire and self-confidence hampers their ability to compete academically.
The second effect is that, owing to the perceptions that positions are unearned, black people and other "minorities" are rarely considered for higher management jobs. This derives from the view that such individuals have limited capacity and would not succeed without someone else's generosity.
The above realities invite several questions. What happened to the promises that affirmative action would benefit the historically disadvantaged? What lessons do they hold for South Africa?
Even before tackling this question it is important to appreciate that the immediate value of employment equity and affirmative action policies lies in their political symbolism. It is argued that sacrificing the principle of merit and fairness serves to assure the historically marginalised of the bona fides of the formerly privileged class.
The reality is, however, that these policies have little to do with fundamental and far-reaching socio-economic and structural redress.
Also, since they benefit mainly wealthy or middle-class blacks, they are inadequate to address the legacy of poverty. Affirmative action remains irrelevant to the majority of the poor, unskilled, homeless or the unemployed. The problem with affirmative action lies in the diagnosis of the problem.
Guiding the apartheid policies was the principle of black exclusion, not black incompetence. Understandably, many black scholars and professionals who made it despite institutional obstacles recoil at the suggestion that they are affirmative action appointees.
Surely the past can be overcome by ensuring that there are equal opportunities for all? This requires dismantling structures and processes that sustained the social, economic and political privilege and of exclusion. Heavy investment in black education should be a priority.
Affirmative action has, however, proved to be a useful instrument for the ruling elite to appoint incompetent and inexperienced, if not uneducated, blacks in the public and private sector with dire consequences for the economy.
How long are we going to maintain policies that assume that black people are mentally inferior and incapable of competing on their own merit?
Most people cleary see that traditional affirmative action is doomed. Court cases are slowly finding it illegal. Liberals and victim grievence groups have seen this and are now preaching "diversisty". The mindless mantra of "level playing field" has given way to the equally mindless mantra of "our strength is in our diversity".
If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know.
I was involved in the early debates over affirmative action and its shape at the University of California.
I was part of a faction that proposed an affirmative action program that would concentrate on identification of talented students through testing and interviews, and extensive remediation efforts at the junior college level to bring otherwise unprepared disadvantaged students up to the standards required for regular admission to the University. Those admitted on this approach would have been expected to take a traditional academic major, not something in ethnic studies or the like.
Our idea was that once the student was at the University, he or she would be treated exactly as any other student without preference, although with perhaps access to supportive services to help with adjustment to university life.
This approach would have ensured that there would be no question as to the qualification of the student to be at Cal or any question that the student had done the same work for a degree. Unfortunately, we lost.
It became a skin-color-based entitlement, that ignored scholastic merit.
The same sort of racial spoils system that was dismantled in South Africa is still being pushed in this country by our faux-compassionate liberals.
Black people should be spending their time in trying to solve why they reside on the bottom of all of the world's populations both intellectualy and economically.
Affirmative Action is a welfare program for middle- to upper middle-class American blacks. Aside from it also being truly an insult to our intelligence, everything else said about it is pure conjecture. Poor blacks are used as the poster children for it, but it doesn't benefit them in the least.
End it, NOW.
most of the black and hispanic students and some of the white students are behind acedmically.
the top ten students were acknowledged last night. 6 asians, 1 black, 1 white, 2 exchange students from macedonia.
many scholarships were handed out that only blacks can receive.
most of my students believe that they are owed something by whites and that it is just fine they get more consideration just for their skin color.
that is how it is around here. i don't see this affirmative action bs going away, i see it growing here.
Works for me...
I know this one dingbat girl who I can turn into a furious, spittle-spewing madwomen in less than five minutes of debate.
I spin every one of her canned liberal talking points into a scathing indictment of her personal moral shortcomings.
It's great fun!
Excuse me?? Is this to say that prior to the mid-1960s there were no black business owners, entertainers,teachers, doctors,lawyers,accountants, military NCO and officers, auto machanics, hair dressers, librarians, school principals, botanists, plumbers, chemists, etc. etc. etc....?
Well, I guess it goes to prove you do learn something new everyday. (sarcasm)
If AA programs were/are based on real discrimination toward qualified people I have less of a problem with them than what some of them have become. Oh well, why should I worry much- Blacks aren't the main beneficiaries of AA anyway.
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