June 24, 2003

Equality of Opportunity

Andrew Sullivan doesn't see what is so wrong with an elite university with no black people in it:

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: ...But why is a racially un-diverse but intellectually multi-faceted campus such a bad thing? Why is a world without... [affirmative action] so "intolerable"?

I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is.

America is a country built on noble ideas, one of the chief of which is equality of opportunity. But the ancestors of today's African-Americans were, for centuries, Slaves in the Land of America. The ancestors of and many of today's African Americans were, for more than a century, then subjected to an only somewhat less viscious campaign of terror and discrimination in support of America's brutal racial caste system. And discrimination against African-Americans continues today in housing, in employment, in large durable purchases, and in other areas--albeit at a much, much less virulent level.

This historical experience has marked today's generations of African-Americans: they were and their parents were much much poorer than other Americans, their and their parents' opportunities were much more restricted, they and their parents lived in a world in which it was much more the case that the world was likely to be nasty and unfair than did the white majority. We don't fully understand exactly how this historical experience has marked today's generations of African-Americans. But we know that it has.

And we know that as long as these marks continue to last the American promise of equality of opportunity is a lie.

What is so wrong with an no-black campus is that it shows that we have not yet done nearly enough to erase the marks left by slavery and Jim Crow, and that we need to do more. What that "more" should be is a matter for debate. But to say that there is nothing very wrong with a no-black campus is to say that there is nothing wrong with failing to work hard to turn the noble founding ideas of America from lies and myths into realities. And to fail to work hard to turn the promise of America into reality is a very unAmerican thing to do.

"But," somebody like Sullivan might respond. "Lots of people's ancestors lived under brutal and barbaric conditions. Did the Black Bourgeoisie of Atlanta immediately before World War I really have things worse than the Jewish peasants of Kishinev? Why is this horrible past history of any relevance and of more than antiquarian historical interest to us in America today?"

The answer is that the pogroms of Kishinev were the deeds of the Czar and the Cossacks, while the enslavements and the lynchings were the deeds of Americans--and, indeed, the deeds of America. To the extent that one pledges allegiance to America, and accepts all the benefits and opportunities that America offers those who pledge it allegiance, one also accepts the moral obligation to bear one's share of collective responsibility for the crimes and evils committed by America in the past.

As historian Charlie Maier puts it in his book The Unmasterable Past (about German responsibility for the genocides of World War II):

...collective responsibility... is one of the most problematic concepts for ethics or history.... In what sense does collective responsibility exist?... I would suggest... that insofar as a collection of people wishes to claim existence as a society or a nation, it must thereby accept existence as a community through time, hence must acknowledge that acts committed by earlier agents still bind or burden the contemporary community.... [W]hatever reparation is still possible must be attemped.... Nor does this responsibility have a time limit. Responsibility for a burdened past can justifiably become less preoccupying as other experiences are added to the national legacy. The remoter descendants of those originally victimized have a more diluted claim to compensation. But like that half-life of radioactive material, there is no point at which responsibility simply goes away...

To accept one's fair share of the collective responsibility for the evils of slavery and Jim Crow, and to do one's part not to deny or to explain away to erase the marks it has left on our country's African-American community, are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man [in a proper modern and gender-indeterminate way, of course]* needs to stand up and bear.

*Andrew Northrup-suggested edit.

Posted by DeLong at June 24, 2003 09:53 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Thank you!

Posted by: jd on June 24, 2003 11:11 AM

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This is hearsay, but I was told of an email received by someone from Sullivan to the effect of:

I don't care if any drugs are able to be distributed to Africa. I'm not a socialist.

...so this is no surprise.

Posted by: goethean on June 24, 2003 11:18 AM

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And what will black Americans be doing, meanwhile, to shoulder their own share of the "collective responsibility"? They presumably want to be considered men too.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on June 24, 2003 11:30 AM

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" I would suggest... that insofar as a collection of people wishes to claim existence as a society or a nation, it must thereby accept existence as a community through time, hence must acknowledge that acts committed by earlier agents still bind or burden the contemporary community.... [W]hatever reparation is still possible must be attemped.... Nor does this responsibility have a time limit. Responsibility for a burdened past can justifiably become less preoccupying as other experiences are added to the national legacy."

Thank you, Brad. You know I really want to be a MAN too!

I'm verey concerned that my comunity - European Americans - has done uncountable damage to the whole rest of the world through our colonial past. And since I identify with my French, German, English, Irish, Scottish ancestors and my wife's Russian, Polish, Portuguese and Italian ancestors I think that before we educate our children that we are duty bound to educate the offsspring of our former colonial subjects and victims as well as provide for their clean water, wholesome food, healthcare and entertainment.

I really don't think you can claim to be a REAL MAN while most of the rest of the world is suffering because of our greedy ancestors. American blacks are only a few tens of millions. Why do they deserve more restitution than the many billions who've suffered far worse, such as those Africans fortunate enough not to have been made American slaves.

Why don't you support dividing the total world's financial production by the number of humans on the planet and taking away the amount that people have above that average from those who have it and distributing it to those who have less than the average.

THEN WE'LL ALL BE REAL MEN, won't we?

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 24, 2003 11:34 AM

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>>This is hearsay, but I was told of an email received by someone from Sullivan to the effect of: "I don't care if any drugs are able to be distributed to Africa. I'm not a socialist."<<

I strongly believe that's fake: to nurse the sick is one of the principal Works of Mercy, and Andrew Sullivan is very, very Catholic (in his one strange cafeteria way).

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 24, 2003 11:38 AM

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Thanks for the inclusion of the article by Charlie Maier. The idea of a "half life" of societal responsiblity for wrong deeds perpetrated on a class is interesting. I am a self defined "bleeding heart liberal" and proud of it. However, I do worry about the generation of a long term victum class with claim to special treatment. We tend to have quite a few of these now: the rich needing lower taxes, large corps needing special access to the power of government and farmers needing periodic bailouts. Make your own list. Sunseting some of the special considerations would make me happier but I don't see how our system could make them work. Maybe only constant and vigiorius debate on the issues is the ans.
Maybe Andrew throws a fish in our face to help generate that debate. I hope his comments are not his real beliefs.

Posted by: Dilbert Dogbert on June 24, 2003 11:40 AM

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Adrian wrote:

>>we are duty bound to educate the offsspring of our former colonial subjects and victims as well as provide for their clean water, wholesome food, healthcare and entertainment.<<

Well, yes. :-) America has a heavy, special responsibility for the successful economic and social development of the Philippines, the Pacific islands, much of Central America, Vietnam, et cetera.

But I would think repairing the effects of slavery and Jim Crow counts as an even higher and more urgent duty...

Brad

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 24, 2003 11:41 AM

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Very well put Brad. That is why even as a conservative/libertarian I support Affirmative Action.

One thing that has started to bother me about Affirmative Action though is that the argument for it has largely strayed from the argument you make to the vaguer promotion of diversity. And where diversity programs start and end and who gets covered or not is a slippery slope that concerns me as the ethnic groups and combinations in America explode.

Posted by: Joe Blog on June 24, 2003 11:51 AM

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All white campuses fall way short of giving the students a well rounded education. If college were only book learning, students could open a few books and be done with it. A major part of the college experience is introducing students to diversity. So many students are raised in all white enclaves and have little contact with people of color or from other countries religiouns, etc.

The biggest push for diversity in colleges comes from the potential employees. The business community is solidly behind affirmative action in colleges. Why? Because business is increaseingly global and needs employees that can relate to people that are different from themselves. If students do not learn about people different from themselves in colleges, they will have to learn on the job. Some very expensive mistakes can be made on the job.

A few years back, AT&T hired a public relations firm to promote their system and diversity. They were paid over $1 million and created a poster that insulted Africans and African Americans. AT&T got a black eye, spent millions for services that were counter to their goals. Needless to say the PR firm that created the poster was fired and lost business because of thier huge mistake.

Companies know that hiring people that lack sensitivity to issues of race and religion and culture can cost them big bucks. Since creating a K-12 system that provides equivalent resources to all school systems is politically impossible, we are going to require affirmative action long into the future.

Posted by: bakho on June 24, 2003 11:58 AM

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I would change the word "man" in the last sentence to "citizen" so that you don't exclude the "better" half (like my wife).

Otherwise a very good post. Many right-wing bloggers accuse liberals of desiring equality of outcome. This post, i believe, clarifies that many on the left desire a true, fair equality of opportunity.

So long as our affirmative actions programs are run by people, there will be mistakes. but the very fact that so many people argue that affirmative action programs enhance racism is, to me, proof enough that racism is alive and well, and the programs are still needed. (Jesse Helms, anyone?)

FDl

Posted by: FDL on June 24, 2003 12:06 PM

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"One thing that has started to bother me about Affirmative Action though is that the argument for it has largely strayed from the argument you make to the vaguer promotion of diversity. And where diversity programs start and end and who gets covered or not is a slippery slope that concerns me as the ethnic groups and combinations in America explode.

Posted by Joe Blog"

Joe, but diversity of what? What if you get a bunch of people who look very different but think the same? You've increased one dimension of diversity while reducing another arguably more important dimension of diversity.

I agree that diversity is very important just as portfolio diversification is important in financial affairs just as genetic diversity is important to the strength and survival of a species in biology.

I'm talking about Diversity with a capital "D" that rhymes with free and applies to many different dimensions and variables.

I challenge you to show me how mandating diversity in one variable of a system doesn't actually reduce overall diversity of that system.

It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that the real route to overall diversity is through freedom and liberty even if choices are made by individuals that you might not approve of. The system will be healthier, that is to say more resistant to the many dangers that face that system.

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 24, 2003 12:08 PM

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Joe Blog:
You are correct that the argument has strayed but that is because Justice Powell specifically outlawed any other arguments in the Bakke decision. Proponents of AA must fit into the box he constructed. Yesterdays opinions just shrink the size of the box and in my opinion leave the discussion to: You can do it, but you must do it in a way in which there is no accountability, no scorecard, no record of why you did it. So much for the new accountability in government (again).

Posted by: JCW on June 24, 2003 12:09 PM

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Corporations (or really big corporate CEOs) say various things for various reasons most of which should be taken with a grain of salt. If AT&T wants to hire people so that they have an exact ethnic representation of America in their work force, I guess that's up to them. Can't work much worse than their other recent business strategies. But I take their opinion on college admission policies no more seriously than their opinion on option expensing on financial statements.

Posted by: Joe Blog on June 24, 2003 12:11 PM

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Do you think Hispanics are as deserving of AA as blacks?

Posted by: tc on June 24, 2003 12:19 PM

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I find Brad's post entirely too glib. Why do Americans of 2003 have a responsibility for slavery that ended in 1865 or even for state-supported racial discrimination that ended in 1964? Is there such a thing as collective responsibility?

In any case, isn't one of the anti-affirmative-action arguments that the best way to end the stigma of slavery is to treat African-Americans exactly the same as everyone else?

This isn't a comment about affirmative action but intellectual support for the program can't rest on the historical experience of slavery. If affirmative action is to be based on historical harm and not some future goal, then the harm needs to be much more immediate.

Posted by: JT on June 24, 2003 12:25 PM

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Adrian:
I think you missed my point. I do not like the diversity rationale much at all.

JCW:
You seem to know the history much better than me. I didn't know that was the roots of the diversity argument. I belong to a more recent immigrant group that qualifies for some preference programs. I know people who are budding political activists who promote a "we deserve our share" mentality. I think we deserve an opportunity, not some fixed or semi fixed share. And I don't think an opportunity has to mean your school receives every last dollar of funding that Beverly Hills 90210 does.

Posted by: Joe Blog on June 24, 2003 12:26 PM

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Where do I collect the present value of my ancestors' work on the Pyramids? I'm certain today's Egyptians want to be real men.

On a parallel track, do, say, the Boat People who came here after the fall of Saigon get a pass on this? If no, why not? If yes, is it a race or a timing thing?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 24, 2003 12:30 PM

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Every spring we read:

In every generation one must look upon himself as if he personally has come out of Egypt...

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 24, 2003 12:32 PM

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"Do you think Hispanics are as deserving of AA as blacks?

Posted by tc'

GOOD QUESTION TC. Why aren't Brazilians protected? how about Southern Italians who earn much less than Northern Italians? What about Walloons (French speaking Belgians) who earn much less than Flemings (Dutch speaking Belgians).

You know I consider myself a citizen of the world, not just America. Who the hell are you to pick who should be protected and who shouldn't. As a member of an opressed class - Acadian French Canadians - who earn much less than Anglophone Canadians or Quebec French Canadians I want my piece! You guys have to expand your Americo-centric world view and pay attention to a whole planet-full of victims.

All your highly evolved concerns for your lessers is pure BS if you don't comfort all our brothers and sisters who don't live in the USA.

Opressed peoples of the world arise, you have nothing to lose but your hunger and you have American tax revenues to gain!

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 24, 2003 12:34 PM

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"I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is."

Are you sure about that, Brad? We're talking about Andrew Sullivan — you've got so many other examples to work with ...

Posted by: Greg Greene on June 24, 2003 12:36 PM

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I've never seen diversity as a major good, only perhaps a minor good, and therefore I, too, am unhappy with this restatement (or justification) of affirimative action on that basis. In some sense, I agree with Sullivan if he's trying to criticize the idea that something like racial diversity should be so highly valued over other forms of diversity.

Brad, however, is not justifying AA on the basis of diversity, but rather on correcting a social injustice. Sullivan and DeLong are arguing about different things. I agree with both, though with many caveats.

My tiny, elite 30K-a-year-tuition liberal arts college eschews any sort of formal AA and supposedly evaluates all applicants strictly on merit (widely defined and evaluated very subjectively--so, who knows?). And though, overall, I think I preferred (and prefer) it that way, the result is an almost lilly-white student body. My freshman class of 128 students had one black person (a woman) and a very small number of other minorities. *That* I didn't like, and I always felt that the College could correct that problem by very aggressively recruiting from minority communities. In a discussion with a fellow alum, however, I got this response: "But those people don't want to go to school at SJC." I'll only mention in passing that this infuriated as badly as anything anyone has said to me in the last six years; but what was interesting is that this gentleman is nominally quite liberal, the child of, believe it or not, a civil rights attorney. On the other hand, he grew up in New Orleans. Anyway, I suppose that's a digression.

If it sounds like I'm contradicting myself, I should say that my principle reason for wanting greater minority representation in the student body is not that the diversity of the student body is enormously valuable. (It's valuable, but it wasn't my main concern.) Rather, my concern was the other way around: that it would be good for society and the underprivileged minorities to be more greatly represented in the student body.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 24, 2003 12:41 PM

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"I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is."

Are you sure about that, Brad? We're talking about Andrew Sullivan — you have so many other examples to work with ...

Posted by: Greg Greene on June 24, 2003 12:43 PM

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Sorry for the multiples -- sloooooow server.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 24, 2003 12:46 PM

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"I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is."

Are you sure about that, Brad? We're talking about Andrew Sullivan — you have so many other examples to work with ...

Posted by: Greg Greene on June 24, 2003 12:51 PM

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The righting-of-past-wrongs defense works for Americans of African descent, but what about Latinos (Hispanics?) who similarly underperform in school? America has no collective responsibility to them -- or, at least, not in the direct manner of restitution for slavery and Jim Crow laws. But it is just as important to include them on college campuses in the interests of diversity, if diversity is what we are after. And if we are interested in present equality of opportunity, then historical treatment has very little bearing on the debate. By even including restitution in the rationale for affirmative action (as, I believe, the Supreme Court does not), it seems that one forces oneself to agree that blacks should be favored over Latinos of similar income and status. Which you may or may not agree with. Just something to consider -- I'm very conflicted about this issue.

Posted by: Anno-nymous on June 24, 2003 01:00 PM

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I have a good friend who is *literally* an African-American...he's an immigrant from the Ivory Coast.

Does he pay into/surrender a slot to an American black descended from slaves? Or does he get a "free lunch" because of his skin?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 24, 2003 01:08 PM

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Where do I collect the present value of my ancestors' work on the Pyramids? I'm certain today's Egyptians want to be real men.

do you think the effects of Jewish slavery on Egypt on your life today is comparable to the effects of American slavery, Jim Crow and continuing discrimination on African-Americans?

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Posted by: stolenelectioncoin.com on June 24, 2003 01:16 PM

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So, let me get this straight, elmination of Affirmative Action+no blacks in universities? Ok. I assume no Hispanics as well. Well. Glad to know you think that highly of my kind Brad.

Also, I'm surprised at the amount of proponents of AA that completely avoid the injustices among minorities, such as underrepresented Philipinos for example, created by AA policies. No equality of oppornunity for them then.

Posted by: Javier on June 24, 2003 01:18 PM

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"I have a good friend who is *literally* an African-American...he's an immigrant from the Ivory Coast.

Does he pay into/surrender a slot to an American black descended from slaves? Or does he get a "free lunch" because of his skin?

Posted by Bucky Dent'

GOOD Question Bucky. But I think you have it backwards. It is clearly the Blacks left behind in Africa who are really the agrieved ones.

By any meaningful measure they are much worse off than the descendants of their enslaved cousins. If we are to take a truly global point-of-view then it is both us white and black Americans who should give our places to those poor suffering souls in Africa.

WE ARE ALL JUST HUMANS. We must be fair to everyone, not just Americans.

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 24, 2003 01:20 PM

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>do you think the effects of Jewish slavery on Egypt on your life today is comparable to the effects of American slavery, Jim Crow and continuing discrimination on African-Americans?

Absolutely. Dead folks enslaved my dead ancsestors. Jews were kept out of the elite schools concurrent with the exclusion of blacks.
There are co-ops and schools in NYC TODAY that
don't let Jews in.

Why are my claims less valid than anyone else's?

Does there need to be a direct link between the people living here and now who, through no fault of their own, would be asked to make sacrifices for strangers they've never met, let alone injured?

This kind of absurd exploitation, usually proposed by folks who would themselves sacrifice nothing [like tenured govt school professors], drive folks into the arms of the Pat Buchanans of the world.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 24, 2003 01:23 PM

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Most colleges try to attract students from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. Bucky's friend would possibly receive special consideration as a foreign student. Elite colleges especially like to brag in their brochures about having students from X numbers of foreign countries. After all it is one of the qualities that makes them elite.

BTW- Doesn't everyone know that the dirty little secret of admission to elite schools is to excel in an important minor sport such as lacrosse? An excellent lacrosse player with C's in high school can find a slot easier than some straight A students.

Another question. What will UM do about the UPies? Will they still give this all white group 20 bonus points? Everyone knows that UM does this to maintain political support in the legislature. If UPies were shut out of UM, UM state funding might be less or get transferred to NMU or horror of horrors, MSU. Then again, I don't guess the Supreme Court said anything against bonus points for special groups of white students. It only applies to blacks.

Posted by: bakho on June 24, 2003 01:27 PM

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I was going to point out that both american business and the american military came out in favor of affirmative action when these cases were going to court, because they (unlike the 'race-blind' conservatives) would rather have qualified employees that reflect their target markets rather than the rate of contraceptive failure in Darien, but then I read the rest of the comments.

Boy, you have some creepy people reading this.

Posted by: julia on June 24, 2003 01:33 PM

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My view of the best form of "affirmative action" for undergraduate schools is to give extra points to kids with decent grades and SAT's who came from "bad schools", whether that is defined by low average college attendance, or no AP offered, or low average SAT, or bad general test scores, or whatever seems best. Mark down kids who went to good schools, if they didn't take advantage - points off if your school offered AP Calculus, buy you stopped at trig, and so forth.

Minority kids - as opposed to their parents - are far more failed by their educational opportunities than they are by decade or century old discrimination or oppression. If it were otherwise, Asian immigrants - who come from cultures where virtually everyone was oppressed until very recently - would be failing as well.

"Collective responsibility" - the sins of the father visited upon the son. White Americans of today are not responsible for slavery - most of us don't even benefit from it. Eighteen year old whites aren't responsible for what happened in 1950 - they were born in Reagan's second term. To the extent that THEY benefitted from discrimination, in most cases it is far removed and long ago. Twenty five years is long enough - we don't need twenty five more.

Posted by: rvman on June 24, 2003 01:59 PM

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I find this debate interesting, for a number of reasons:

(i) As someone who is sympathetic to the right on a lot of things, I nevertheless find myself repelled by the vehemence with which so many conservatives protest affirmative action. Of all the evils in the world, why does this one upset them so much?

As much as conservatives like to claim "racial equality" as their motivation, I frankly don't believe them. Throughout the last 39 years, ever since the Goldwater candidacy, conservatives have NEVER shown themselves to have been on the cutting edge of eliminating inequality for ANY group other than for white males; women's rights, desegregation, an end to profiling, gay rights - you name it, and conservatives have always found ways to rationalize their opposition. So why is it that on this one issue, they suddenly discover principles they have failed to display in any other arena of political life? Could it have something to do with the fact that - horrors - the beneficiaries aren't white?

Regardless of the purity of their motives (or lack thereof), conservatives must accept the fact that African Americans have a right to be suspicious of their intentions. Who in his right mind would trust a group with such a selective sense of outrage?

(ii) There is in fact a legitimate case to be made that affirmative action casts doubt on the legitimacy of minorities' achievements, but it isn't really as strong as conservatives like to make out.

Certainly, I have seen for myself just how much it twists perceptions - as an undergraduate at a certain American university, I was often challenged by white and Asian students asking "Did you get in on Affirmative Action", and this despite the fact that (1) as a foreign student I wasn't eligible for AA, and (2) I had higher SAT scores, and was taking tougher classes (graduate math classes as a freshman) than nearly all of them - and they knew it too! If people could challenge my abilities despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, how must it have been for other, less spectacular, minority students?

But then the question arises - how would African Americans be viewed WITHOUT affirmative action? Would African-American doctors, lawyers and accountents be accorded a greater level of prestige, as having "earned" their qualifications? Or would it not be more likely that the same people would now say "Dr. Brown went to an all-black or no-name school, so he can't be any good?" I think the reality is that prejudiced people are likely to think badly of blacks' qualifications, whether or not Affirmative Action exists.

(iii) There can be no justification, in my view, to extending Affirmative Action programs to immigrants of any color, even black ones. Whatever they might have suffered in their home countries, the fact is that they have CHOSEN to come to America, and as such America owes them no special debt whatsoever. For African Americans (as opposed to "real" Africans) nothing of the sort is true.

One strange thing that I noticed was that many of the beneficiaries of Affirmative Action in America's best universities were in reality African immigrants. This is a natural corollary of the fact that they tend to predominate in that small pool of black applicants with very high test scores and GPAs - if you have a black student with an SAT score above 1450 (post-recentering), it's almost a certainty said student will be an African immigrant. In so far as African immigrants do not necessarily consider themselves part of the traditional African-American community, I see no benefit in treating them as if they were, other than as an easy way to meet some unofficial quota.

Similarly, I see no reason to extend special consideration to hispanic immigrants; if they think America no better than their home countries, why move to begin with?

(iv) There is also an issue as to how long into the future AA programs can be justified. An open-ended, never-ending mandate hardly seems acceptable, even to one who isn't unfavorably disposed to such programs. But this is at heart a political issue, which leads me to:

(v) At bottom, Affirmative Action is a matter of political realities. How much inequality between groups can America tolerate, before the social compact breaks down? An idealized notion of a purely race-blind nation is fine on paper, but given that America wasn't race-blind for most of its' history, to simply say "It's time to move on" is ridiculous, if one wants to preserve the peace. Empty phrases do nothing to soothe the anger and frustration of a sizable, aggrieved minority. It is for the same reason that the "progressive" income tax system stays in place; society can tolerate only so much income inequality, ethical considerations be damned.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 24, 2003 02:24 PM

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"America is a country built on noble ideas, one of the chief of which is equality of opportunity."

Not true. America is built on the ideal all persons*** have the same rights. (***Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, very regrettably used the word "men." He excluded women, and did not count male slaves as men. So he didn't state the ideal, but he did declare a point on the road to the ideal.)

So if you're thinking that the Declaration of Independence was the source of the ideal of "equality of opportunity," I don't see any evidence to support that thought.

"Affirmative Action" is actually a complete perversion of, "all persons are created equal." It attempts to designate certain people as *favored* by the government. That is NOT the "ideal" that all people have the same rights. It's the exact opposite.

"The Quest for Cosmic Justice," by Thomas Sowell, is a good book that deals with this issue. It shows the inherent injustice of the government trying to address past wrongs, by itself committing new wrongs.

One classic example I remember from the book: I think it was from a California city orchestra. Historically, the orchestra had applicants play behind a curtain (so that the judges could only judge the music).

Enter "liberal" thought: now the applicants for the orchestra were to play where the judges could see them. Pathetic. And NOT an American ideal.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 24, 2003 02:30 PM

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Isn't the real scandal the spectacularly bad performance of many, even most inner city high schools, which fail to prepare their students for college, and occasionally graduate students who can't read? Shouldn't outrage be focused on those local school boards which fail their students so spectacularly?

Posted by: PJ on June 24, 2003 02:32 PM

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I think you have the story turned around. It wasn't Blacks, but women. Female players started appearing in orchestras in much larger numbers only *after* orchestras began giving "blind" auditions.

See Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse, "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of 'Blind' Auditions on Female Musicians," NBER Working Paper 5903 and American Economic Review.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 24, 2003 02:37 PM

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"i) As someone who is sympathetic to the right on a lot of things, I nevertheless find myself repelled by the vehemence with which so many conservatives protest affirmative action. Of all the evils in the world, why does this one upset them so much?"

Well...I'm a Libertarian, not a conservative, but affirmative action offends me, because it operates on the logic of "two wrongs make a right."

The government has historically discriminated *against* black people (of course, this ignores all the OTHER people who have historically been discriminated against!)...so now the government will discriminate FOR them.

Wrong. The government should not discriminate for OR against ANYONE, based on "race." (Which becomes more and more of a joke, as "races" inter-marry.)

"All people are created equal." Period. ALL people are endowed with the same rights, which the government has been instituted to defend... EQUALLY.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 24, 2003 02:49 PM

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Perhaps the strongest reason that I can think of to support affirmative action, in addition to the moral argument that Brad presented, is because of what's known, in cognitive science, as cognitive schemata.

That is, there's a proven relationship between the society one lives in and how one thinks. If, for instance, a child growing up in a poor environment has limited options, most likely the child is going to develop cognitive schemata; the inabilility to perceive beyond those limited choices.

This concept, I think, can be extended to diversity. If you've never worked or lived with or alongside minorities, you're likely going to accept the limited ranges that you've seen or experienced them. If, however, you have worked or lived with them, you're likely to accept that there are broader possibilities or perhaps even reject stereotypes.

Posted by: Adam Morgan on June 24, 2003 02:53 PM

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I hate doing this, because it's not very cool to point out people's spelling mistakes, but this one is a button of mine.

...then subjected to an only somewhat less *viscious* campaign of terror...

Posted by: Unseelie on June 24, 2003 02:55 PM

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I don't buy the diversity argument. The objective of education is knowledge. For one reason or another, there are few black graduate students in, say, mathematics. Does a racially diverse graduate student body, by virtue of being racially diverse, help find new ways of solving stochastic differential equations? If you can show me that, I would be curious to hear it.

I don't buy the idea of the US being uniquely morally obliged to remedy past wrongs, either. The slaves were often hunted down and enslaved by other Africans or Arabs; transported by the British, French, and Portugese, and eventually exploited by the French and British in America before America started as a country. Lots of people profitted before the Americans as such got to profit from slavery. If guilt travels through time like this, then should they insist on having quotas for African Americans at the Sorbonne, University of Lisbon, Oxford, and other places? If not, why not?

Posted by: maciej on June 24, 2003 02:55 PM

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Perhaps the strongest reason that I can think of to support affirmative action, in addition to the moral argument that Brad presented, is because of what's known, in cognitive science, as cognitive schemata.

That is, there's a proven relationship between the society one lives in and how one thinks. If, for instance, a child growing up in a poor environment has limited options, most likely the child is going to develop cognitive schemata; the inabilility to perceive beyond those limited choices.

This concept, I think, can be extended to diversity. If you've never worked or lived with or alongside minorities, you're likely going to accept the limited ranges that you've seen or experienced them. If, however, you have worked or lived with them, you're likely to accept that there are broader possibilities or perhaps even reject stereotypes.

Posted by: Adam Morgan on June 24, 2003 02:57 PM

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I don't buy the diversity argument. The objective of education is knowledge. For one reason or another, there are few black graduate students in, say, mathematics. Does a racially diverse graduate student body, by virtue of being racially diverse, help find new ways of solving stochastic differential equations? If you can show me that, I would be curious to hear it.

I don't buy the idea of the US being uniquely morally obliged to remedy past wrongs, either. The slaves were often hunted down and enslaved by other Africans or Arabs; transported by the British, French, and Portugese, and eventually exploited by the French and British in America before America started as a country. Lots of people profitted before the Americans as such got to profit from slavery. If guilt travels through time like this, then should they insist on having quotas for African Americans at the Sorbonne, University of Lisbon, Oxford, and other places? If not, why not?

Posted by: maciej on June 24, 2003 03:00 PM

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"Regardless of the purity of their motives (or lack thereof), conservatives must accept the fact that African Americans have a right to be suspicious of their intentions."

This completely ignores the fact that some of the most outspoken and visible opponents of Affirmative Action have been BLACK conservatives*: Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams.

A great piece on "Affirmative Action Grading."

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/williams052803.asp

Give it a try, Dr. DeLong! ;-)

P.S. *Sowell has self-identified as a "libertarian" rather than a "conservative." I haven't seen Williams' self-identification, but I'd suspect it might be the same. I've never seen a self-identification for Connerly, but every referral anyone else has ever made is "conservative."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 24, 2003 03:00 PM

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"I think you have the story turned around. It wasn't Blacks, but women. Female players started appearing in orchestras in much larger numbers only *after* orchestras began giving "blind" auditions."

No, I don't have the story turned around, as far as I remember.

The situation was that the orchestra was ALREADY giving auditions behind curtains. The members of the City Council (as I recall) wanted (and succeeded, as I recall) to force the orchestra to TAKE AWAY the curtain.

I don't have "The Quest for Cosmic Justice" with me. But I'd be surprised if I'm misremembering it...because that was Sowell's whole point: the curtain is GOOD. And it was being taken away, to promote "Cosmic Justice." ("Cosmic Justice" = Where "liberals" decide who gets to be in the orchestra...not by how they play, but by how they look.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 24, 2003 03:18 PM

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"All people are created equal." Period. ALL people are endowed with the same rights, which the government has been instituted to defend... EQUALLY."

When I am faced with a choice between dealing with empirical reality and sticking to philosophical principles, I cannot help but come to terms with the facts as they are. That is why, despite my own libertarian tendencies, I could never see myself joining the Libertarian Party. I don't do ideological purity, or buy into the notion of society as a tabula rasa.

No philosophical notion is going to convince African-Americans to adopt a policy they see as harmful to them, particularly when it is championed most loudly by those who stand to benefit from it the most, and who have done so little to advance the African-American cause in the past.

There are of course a few African-Americans who are speaking out against affirmative action, and I'm not going to besmirch their reputations by accusing them of base motivations, but what does their existence really prove, except that African-Americans aren't entirely monolithic in their political views? They are a tiny minority, and given a large enough group, you're always going to find a few voices to speak against some policy or other, however much it benefits the group as a whole.

One thing that ought to be given more prominence in this debate is the contrast between conservatives' support for racial profiling, and their opposition to affirmative action. How can one reconcile support for racially selective policies in the former case with race-blindness in the latter? If you say the end justifies the means where profiling is concerned, you leave the door open to affirmative action, but if you say racial distinctions are ALWAYS wrong, shouldn't you oppose profiling as well, however useful it may be?

I won't claim that everyone on the right supports these two positions, but it seems to be true of the great majority. What is more, it seems to confirm my suspicions as to the less than noble motivations of many opponeents of affirmative action.

Looking around on forums like Free Republic also bolsters this suspicion - the sheer level of racially motivated bile against minorities who are supposedly oppressing white males makes one nauseous, so intense is the self-pity and prejudice. You may say that Freepers don't represent the mainstream of conservative thought, but the truth is that they are a lot more representative of the GOP's grassroots than the well-coiffed individuals who appear on Fox News or write for the National Review. They represent the id of the GOP.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 24, 2003 03:26 PM

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This has been a very interesting read.

I am wondering if the initial post by Andrew Sulivan was really saying the following.
If diversity of ideas is the ultimate aim of the universities, why does race matter?
Perhaps a better question is, "why don't universities specifically select equal merit students based on actual and known differences of ideas?"

One of the many complaints by the right is that diversity really means racial diversity and not diversity of ideas. Unfortunately, the manner in which university administrations implement diversity selection bears this out. The original Supreme Court Blakke decision declared that actual quotas are unconstitutional. It seems that schools have been working at a way around this legal barrier. Ever notice how the percentage of a specific minority students never seems to greatly fluctuate at top universities? The recent Court decision said that race may be a factor but not a mechanical factor. Again the ruling makes it illegal to create a racial quota. In this case through the use of a mechanical advantage.

Brad DeLong raises a powerful point about the accountability of the United States for its passed wrongs. Slavery being one of the darkest stains on this country. While future good deads can never provide for the cleansing of sins, they do point to a correction of conscence. In this respect, the United States sacrificed 558,052 lives in the Civil War. This is not a token sacrifice.

Government affirmative action, in the area of education, does not help. Oh, it helps the people who get a foot in the door, but it leaves even more people out in the cold. It does not do enough. For every student who benefits, there are 10, 20, 100 who do not. Students of all races. University affirmative action is being used as a weak method to overlook real problems in the US educational system.

All high school graduates should be ready for college.
All high schools should provide at least the necessary schooling so that C graduates are college ready.
Every high school graduate should have an opportunity to attend University.
University should be affordable to even the poorest of Americans.

University affirmative action is a bribe to allow Liberals to feel good about ignoring the greater educational problems and to distract Conservatives from the real educational issues.

Posted by: james on June 24, 2003 04:12 PM

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"America is a country built on noble ideas..."

No it isn't, it is built on Platonic lies which are believed by all - there is now no group of undeceived guides (unless that too is a lie to which I have succumbed myself?). They don't even serve any useful outside purpose, only perpetuating their own support structure. The modern term is "memes".

Look at it all in a detached way, including looking at the idea that you are all corporately subscribers to a form of inherited moral debt you never incurred merely by virtue of acceding in propagating the lie. It will soon be clear that these "noble" things are merely the fine sounding phrases of some mock-Helvetius, adapted to your circumstances by your founding fathers and binding you now, not noble at all.

It makes much more sense to start with a Burkean insight than a Helvetian one.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on June 24, 2003 04:35 PM

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I wrote, "All people are created equal." Period. ALL people are endowed with the same rights, which the government has been instituted to defend... EQUALLY."

You responded: "When I am faced with a choice between dealing with empirical reality and sticking to philosophical principles, I cannot help but come to terms with the facts as they are."

I don't understand...are you saying you don't care about what's right or wrong, just about what is? If so, there isn't much to talk about. Many state-supported universities think they should discriminate for some people (and therefore against others) based on skin color. That's what is. Period.

"No philosophical notion is going to convince African-Americans to adopt a policy they see as harmful to them, particularly when it is championed most loudly by those who stand to benefit from it the most,..."

Actually, Ward Connerly is probably the one person in the United States who is most intimately identified with the fight against Affirmative Action:

http://www.publicaffairsweb.com/ccri/connerly.htm

But you're right that a majority of blacks tend to support Affirmative Action because they think it will benefit them.

Just like a majority of seniors probably support a prescription drug benefit under Medicare, because it will benefit them.

And a majority of farmers probably support farm subsidies, because they think farm subsidies will benefit them.

So...is the solution for the government to continue to discriminate in favor of blacks, and to institute the Prescription Drug Benefit, and to continue the farm subsidies?

"One thing that ought to be given more prominence in this debate is the contrast between conservatives' support for racial profiling, and their opposition to affirmative action."

I don't think so.

You might not think this is directly related, but an Iranian guy on another website acknowledged that he thought that the union of religion and government in his country was a problem. But he also wanted to talk about the (alleged) union of religion and government in the U.S. Well, I don't think the discussion of the (alleged) union of religion and government in the U.S. is going to address the acknowledged problem of union of religion and government in Iran. I think it would be better to figure out how to solve *that* problem, before discussing the other (alleged) problem.

The question being discussed here is Affirmative Action. Brad DeLong supports it, to address previous wrongs. The Supreme Court supports it, apparently because they like universities to "look like America." (I haven't bothered to read their latest babblings.)

I think Affirmative Action is wrong...because I think it goes directly against a key ideal of the U.S.: that all people are treated equally by the law (the government).

I'd rather discuss that issue, than get into racial profiling.

"Looking around on forums like Free Republic also bolsters this suspicion - the sheer level of racially motivated bile against minorities who are supposedly oppressing white males makes one nauseous, so intense is the self-pity and prejudice."

I agree. Nothing worse than whinin' white boys.

Oops. Past dinnertime. G'night!

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 24, 2003 04:44 PM

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So, to be American is to accept a controversial and, in my view, bizarre notion of collective responsibility.

But at least you're not challening anyone's patriotism--just his conception of himself as citizen!

Of course, I must take that with a grain of salt. Brad's conception of the citizen is male, after all, so perhaps he's wrong about other things.

Posted by: Thomas on June 24, 2003 05:03 PM

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OMG, Sullivan really said that?

He ought to try living where I live: the rural South. Racism is right up there with Family Values and Jesus, usually in the same sentence. When I worked for the local convenience store chain, Kwik King a few years ago, they allowed the distribution of a KKK related newsletter in one of it's Ocala, Florida stores called The Hipopotamus. It was there every Thursday. It might still be there today.

Collective guilt/responsibility is a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. Real, hurtful racism that is going on *today* is reason enough to continue affirmative action.

Posted by: vachon on June 24, 2003 06:56 PM

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"I find myself repelled by the vehemence with which so many conservatives protest affirmative action. Of all the evils in the world, why does this one upset them so much?"

Because it's institutionalized racism, which puts its supporters on the same moral plane as supporters of South African apartheid, who also had high ideals.

Posted by: Tar on June 24, 2003 07:45 PM

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Ideally governments are supposed to treat everyone equally, but that is a fantasy world. The fact is, race-based measures and segregation was official government policy in numerous countries and the harm they inflicted on people was very real and some of it persists to this day.

Here in Canada, we are still grappling with the consequences of the sorry history of the First Nations. Past government policy did severely impact their lives - to point of almost destroying their society. Today, the socio-economic status of many (not all) Aboriginal Canadians is barely above that of people in LDCs. While the current government policy towards Aboriginal persons is fraught with numerous maddening complications, it is seeking to address difficult circumstances by tilting the playing field. I, for one, support the concept for two reasons:

1) Moral. How is it a government can institute a racist policy, rescind it and then dust of its hands claiming all persons are equal before the law? How does one undo literally hundreds of years of systematic damage? Environmental impacts are enormous, and the statistics are telling. For First Nations in Canada education levels are terrible, crime rates are through the roof and the incidence of serious illness far, far exceed that of the general population. I’ve been to some of the communities where they live, and all I can say is “no wonder”. (And Javier, I’m afraid your indignation is somewhat misplaced. I’ll risk putting words in to Prof de Long’s mouth, but I think you missed his point. On average, the environment in which African-Americans and Latinos live and raise their families negatively impacts their long-term prospects to compete for placement in universities. Elimination of AA only worsens the odds. It’s not nature, it’s nurture.)

2) Pragmatic/Non-altruistic. Pissed off and disenfranchised people have a tendency of venting, sometimes violently. Justifiable or not, it’s a fact of life. Ultimately, governments recognize that social peace must be bought, and sometimes that means favouring a group that is seriously aggrieved and is credible threat for mucking things up. Other groups have been seriously mistreated in the past, but for some reason they thrive today (e.g. Chinese-Canadians). Simply put, the consequences of not addressing the grievances of Aboriginal Canadians vastly outweigh those of not fully compensating Chinese Canadians. I assume the same goes for African Americans and those poor Irish Americans Sullivan keeps harping on about. Yes, it treats the two groups differently – but sometimes these are the inconsistencies government policies have to reconcile in the real world.

BTW, Adrian, regarding the Acadians - you should check out some of the lit. re: Robichaud (in particular) and Hatfield's battles to protect their language and provide comparable public services in NB. Perhaps you are already familiar with it. But it was ugly - and heavy government involvement was a must. They instituted an aggressive policy of hiring francophones in the NB bureaucracy and founded L'Université de Moncton. All in all - I would argue they were justifiable measures, and in the long run, beneficial to the province as a whole. Left to their own devices, things would have been tougher for Acadians.

(Quick note: I, for once, I agree with Abiola (!). Beneath the rhetoric of “equal treatment” I hear from some right-wingers, both in Canada and the US, there’s something that’s palpably insincere. “Equal” often goes hand-in-hand with bashing minority groups.)

Posted by: Stephane on June 24, 2003 08:47 PM

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Good to see that the sins of the fathers are still visited on the generations after, just like the Bible commands.

Posted by: Ian Welsh on June 24, 2003 09:57 PM

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"I say both are B.S. I'm not responsible for where I was born, or what the people did where I was born, BEFORE I was born. To think otherwise is irrational, IMNSHO."

I think you missed Brad's point. The political community to which you belong _is_ responsible for its past actions. We, as members of that political community, participants in its social contract, and recepients of benefits therefrom, do have responsibilities vis-a-vis its past acts. Of course, since this is a collective, political responsibility the locus for action should also be with the government.

When there are specific and identifiable harms done to particular peoples because of their status as such, then it seems to me proper to argue that there is a moral obligation to compensate, one that necessitates, by its nature, a limited abandonment of the principle of procedural blindness.

I don't understand why conservatives have such a problem with this. Wasn't it Burke who argued that, to the extent the idea of a social contract made sense, the social contract of a political community did not simply implicate the living but also prior generations; that the very existence of a political community implied some connection between the past and the present that superceded the mortality of generations? Are not conservatives often the first to remind us that people have died making our freedoms and prosperity possible, and that we have obligations (however nebulous) to them? That same principle should hold for those who have been ethnically cleansed, enslaved, or subject to an apartheidt system in the process of forming our nation.

It is, of course, no surprise what libertarians object. Uncovering the role of the past in structuring the present, particularly with respect to the distribution of property, has always raised thorny issues for libertarians. After all, the present distribution of property pretty much everywhere, let alone in the US, is closely tied to theft and more general forms of coercion. Indeed, libertarian responses frequently fall into one of two camps:

(1) this may be so, but the costs of forcibly reallocating property to take this account are too high in terms of the rights of present individuals, not to mention the practical economic and social consequences or the infinite regression into our species history of violence and robbery

(2) some variation on the old racist canard that, for example, native americans didn't hold title to their land because they did not make effective use of it (cf. John Locke).

Now, the reasoning behind (1) is persuasive. But the logical conclusion is not that we pretend that every man is an ahistorical island, but that we seek for pragmatic ways of making good on our moral obligations when specific and identifiable harms have been done against particular groups by our government.

Affirmative action raises larger, but also core, issues for libertarianism. Libertarians are very, very ready to talk about structural effects in two contexts: the self-regulating market and government interventions in that utopian concept. They are much less willing (and yes, I am generalizing in unfair ways) to contemplate other structural effects, such as those related to durable equalities. Given the huge influence of structural position on opportunity, this isn't entirely surprising. Two examples: (1) historical discrimination in the housing market and mortgage lending means african americans are less likely to start with the housing equity many whites do, which in turn makes it harder to do things like secure future loans or to move into good school districts -- which themselves tend to correlate with high property values because of inherently inequitable way we fund primary and secondary education in most of this country; (2) past and present racism shapes social networks for blacks in ways that tend to segregate them from employment opportunities. A wealth of work, building on the Mark Granovetter essay Brad mentioned here a bit ago, suggests that social and economic networks strongly influence career success independent of merit and qualification.

Again, the question of whether affirmative action is the proper policy in these instances I leave open. The idea that no such obligations exist, however, is total hogwash. As is the idea that they can be dodged by invoking a mindless cosmopolitanism in a world of republican political allegience.

Posted by: dhn on June 25, 2003 01:51 AM

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Very interesting points made.

Firstly, the person who wondered, if he'd been born in Germany in 1950, whether he'd be held responsible for the Nazis, is right on the money. Germany was paying reparations to the Jews and Israel for decades.

Secondly, affirmative action is not a special privilege for a favoured race. It's reparations for a publicly disadvantaged group. The solution to the problem is to stop them from being disadvantaged. So far as I can see, black American society is drastically under-educated, crime-ridden, underpaid, underemployed and overincarcerated. Clearly something's wrong there. Sort out those problems and, in twenty or thirty years, affirmative action should become unnecessary.

Thirdly, affirmative action is very liable to be abused. We in South Africa have a version of affirmative action called "black economic empowerment", in terms of which buddies of the government get to act as front-people and gofers for white business deals and corporate mergers. It's a huge scam, for the most part, justified because black people are benefiting (a few hundred black people at most, but as Thabo Mbeki would say, black is black). This is all bad. But on the other hand, there's been a truly massive expansion of blacks holding responsible positions in government, civil service and armed forces, which has probably transformed society quite radically (if not always for the better, since not everybody is perfectly qualified, but in the long run it should all be an improvement).

And conservative whites here whine about it too. But they're more obviously racist than the ones in the US.

Posted by: MFB on June 25, 2003 05:20 AM

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Abiola Lapite writes:

"There can be no justification, in my view, to extending Affirmative Action programs to immigrants of any color, even black ones."

I agree that that the case for extending affirmative action to immigrants on remedial grounds is all but nonexistent. (There is an argument that there are some diversity-related benefits to affirmative action -- i.e., it's good for white students to interact with black students of whatever ancestry -- but that doesn't carry a lot of weight.)

The true rationale for applying affirmative action to immigrants, children of immigrants, biracial children, etc. is that you simply couldn't operate an affirmative action program on the model of the Daughters of the American Revolution, requiring genealogies and proofs of service and what not. Operating a program in that fashion would not only be an administrative nightmare but it would aggravate by orders of magnitude the divisive effects of affirmative action that critics of such programs point to with some justification. Accordingly, if we are going to have to have affirmative action programs, we just have to accept the fact that among the beneficiaries will be the occasional child of Jamaican parents and the like.

The world we live in is at best one in which rough justice applies. Affirmative action is an effort toward that end. We shouldn't expect it to be perfect, because nothing else is.

Posted by: alkali on June 25, 2003 05:22 AM

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dhn: >...mindless cosmopolitanism...

The OED includes this definition of cosmopolitanism:
In 1948, ‘cosmopolitanism’ was named the chief heresy of the communist world with the Jews its chief prophets.

Since I assume that is NOT what you meant, what on earth DID you mean?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 25, 2003 05:37 AM

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UM gives extra points to applicants (99% white) who reside in the UP. Why do people complain about blacks getting points but don't complain about UPers getting points? I believe it is due to racism. The people who are opposed to affirmative action (like Chief Justice Rehnquist who got his start in Arizona politics by challenging legitimate black voters) are acting on deep seated racism that is ingrained in the American psyche. America is a deeply racist country. If you cannot admit that, then you fail to acknowledge the problem that needs to be corrected.

A question that is lost in this discussion is "who is the best qualified?" There are many different ways that college applicants can be judged. There is one criteria for basketball scholarships and another for art students and another for students in the sciences. Someone wrote that Universities only address diversity in terms of color. This is blatantly false. Universities look for diversity in many ways, but affirmative action for blacks and minorities is the one that gets all the attention. Why does AA for blacks draw the most attention? Racism.

Also overlooked is the effect of the social multiplier on student performance. Very poor schools do not have the same environment as very good schools. Since segregation is widespread in K-12 education there is a built in bias against individuals from the poor schools that partly has its basis in color. There is a barrier to the locations that have the better school systems. As long as that barrier exists there will be a need for AA if we want a society that does offers equal opportunity.

Finally, one of the effects of Affirmative Action has been a diminished effect of the old boy network. It used to be not so long ago that many positions went unadvertised, filled at the whim of the manager and often went to nephew Bob or cousin Jane or someone who may have had little or no qualifications but mega connections. Affirmative Action has leveled the playing field by forcing the employers to widely advertise positions. This benefits everyone, including white males that don't have an inside connection. The benefits of more open job advertisement under AA to white women and other previously excluded groups such as Asians and Jews has been enormous.


Posted by: bakho on June 25, 2003 06:46 AM

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Bakho,

You are wrong. I was not born in this country, so I should be presumed innocent of the "deep seated racism that is ingrained in the American psyche". Yet I am against affirmative action. And unless you imagine some deep-seated conspiracy, I don't see the right animated by racism. Your mention of the UP points can serve a test. I was not aware of that, but if it's true, I think it's just as scandalous as traditionally understood AA. And I will bet you 99 out of 100 conservatives would agree with me.

Posted by: maciej on June 25, 2003 07:20 AM

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Very interesting discussion.

Bakho: maybe it makes things simpler for you to accuse opponents of affirmative action of simple racism but a more thoughtful response requires you to actually understand principled opposition to the policy. I'm not sure how I feel about AA but I do know that it is a complex issue and both sides have valid points.

Posted by: JT on June 25, 2003 07:34 AM

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DeLong counters the upshot of Sullivan's view rather nicely. But he overlooks a singular point which should be obvious in light of other goings on in Michigan this past week. African Americans themselves through ways and means that are not racial, will collectively and individually fight back against whatever ails them. They will do it whether or not it is principled, constitional, logical or reasonable. That is because they are human beings, and human beings can be counted on to survive. America comes to its senses in principled ways on occasion, but this is not the prime mover. The prime mover is somebody screaming ouch and shoving back when somebody else steps on their toe.

Affirmative Action is a political concession of the first order. It keeps the peace. Its moderation and legal framework are critical but its existence is an absolute necessity. When diversity training is no longer necessary, ie whites grow up understanding their neighbors as well as themselves; when inclusion is no longer necessary, ie non-whites needn't leave their places of origin to fulfill their potential, then Affirmative Action will no longer be necessary. Who's doing that work?

Posted by: Cobb on June 25, 2003 07:52 AM

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> non-whites needn't leave their places of origin to fulfill their potential

America is famously one of the most mobile societies in the world. Why is re-locating to find work a race thing?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 25, 2003 07:58 AM

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If two college applicants are equal except for their race, should a black applicant get preference over the white applicant? I'd say yes. I believe that a white applicant has access to more opportunities for college than a black applicant, and is more likely to find a spot at a different college.

That's entirely a feeling I have, but let me point to a similar situation where there's empirical data: two people are applying for a job with equal qualifications. Should the black person get preference? Yes, because the white person is more likely to get opportunities at other businesses, since someone with a white-sounding name is more likely to get called in for an interview. Read the story here:

http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/859373.asp?cp1=1

Note to MB: Saying "Period" after your statements doesn't make them more persuasive.

Posted by: Lisa Clarkson on June 25, 2003 08:00 AM

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Bakho - just as an aside, most job vacancies are still not advertised, and are still filled through networking, as anyone who has tried to get a job by merely responding to newspaper and internet ads can probably attest. It is an unfortunate fact of life that people would rather hire the most familiar rather than the most qualified.

I am not very troubled by AA for upper peninsula because it isn't local to me. I would prefer that they just give extra points for individual circumstances - poverty, bad schools, broken home, whatever, on the theory that it takes more native ability to achieve a certain level of achievement despite these handicaps than it does to achieve that same level without them. I don't count race amongst these factors because TODAY racism isn't a major cause of handicap for kids, except in how it is reflected in socioeconomic status, school quality, etc., that I already prefer to use. Of course, I am a meritocrat on school admissions - I could care less about diversity, but it would be hard.

Getting A's and good SAT's from a poverty -stricken broken home in a bad area is an accomplishment, no matter what race the unfortunate kid is. I happen to think that the best way to remediate the bad schools is a widespread, competitive schooling marketplace, probably facilitated by vouchers, but in the meantime circumstance-based, rather than race-based, AA is called for.

As to the constitutionality of AA by race - the 14th amendment has been interpreted as establishing racial preferences in one direction as illegal. If it has, then it has established racial preferences in all directions as illegal - that is the meaning of "equal protection of the laws." To say it bans racial preference for whites, but not racial preference for blacks, is a violation of that language on its face. Either both are legal, or both are not, because both whites and blacks are entitled to "equal protection of the laws".

Posted by: rvman on June 25, 2003 08:20 AM

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DeLong, you're such an asshole. You can't even disagree with an opponent without mischaracterizing and degrading them. I like how you imply that Andrew Sullivan can't really understand America because he's a white British immigrant. It never occurs to you that his interpretation might be different (and I would say better) than yours. You pompous fuck.

Can't you at least comprehend the idea that affirmative action in that it explicitly treats students differently is unfair for that reason? That institutions of learning should be judged on academic achievement, period? That the best way to ensure fairness is to treat people equally?

Today's college applicants suffer under neither slavery nor Jim Crow. If blacks underachieve, it is (mainly) their own fault. (the result of an unacademic culture, permissive parenting, etc.) Many blacks do achieve--they study hard, get good grades, attain high test scores

Why are you pimping for people who don't deserve it on merit?

If they existence of racism is your answer, that's bogus. Surely Chinese and Indians are victims of the same (I would argue worse) racism that blacks are. Yet they're over-represented in the most academically challenging universities and disciplines. Why?

Delong, you're a vile human being. You don't argue fairly with respect for your opponents. If being an asshole were a sport, you and Krugman would have a tough fight for the gold medal.

Posted by: Disgusted on June 25, 2003 08:35 AM

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LC writes, "If two college applicants are equal except for their race, should a black applicant get preference over the white applicant? I'd say yes. I believe that a white applicant has access to more opportunities for college than a black applicant, and is more likely to find a spot at a different college."

"That's entirely a feeling I have, but let me point to a similar situation where there's empirical data: two people are applying for a job with equal qualifications. Should the black person get preference? Yes, because the white person is more likely to get opportunities at other businesses, since someone with a white-sounding name is more likely to get called in for an interview."

LC closes with: "Note to MB: Saying "Period" after your statements doesn't make them more persuasive."

Response to LC:

Try taking a U.S. Civics course, and learn the difference between private entities discriminating, and a public (government funded) institution discriminating.

One is regrettable, but commonplace, on a whole host of features. The other is a fundamental violation of an ideal on which these United States were founded. After you take the U.S. Civics course, I hope you'll know which is which.

(Period. ;-))

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 25, 2003 09:20 AM

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Buckley,

At least in the context of ethical obligations, cosmopolitans argue that such obligations do not stop at political borders. Our primary moral identity is as human beings, not as members of particular political communities. The reductio ad adsurdum argument (that justifying aa as compensation or restitution for past & present harms done to a group logically requires the US to engage in massive wealth redistribution internationally) made by some of the anti-aa posters here depends on radical cosmopolitanism.

But there's a contradiction here. If they really believed the underlying assumptions that facilitate their reductio ad adsurdum claim, they wouldn't agrue that there was anything wrong with our tax dollars being spent willy-nilly around the world. In other words, they actually hold some sort of republican notion of political rights and responsibilities: their own objections prove why we don't normally have the same level of specific moral responsibilities to those outside our political community as we do to those within it.

Posted by: dhn on June 25, 2003 09:56 AM

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"Fight private racism with government-sponsored racism? Sorry, that's against the law."

Given that many of the still-present consequences of racism are the direct result of past governmental policies, this isn't simply a matter of fighting private racism.

Moreover, how the hell else is the government supposed to fight racism than by adopting policies reflect that categories through which individuals are discriminated against? If we assume peristent low-level racism, the effect of race-neutral policies will be to reinforce existing inequities.

Moreover, I think you need to pay more attention in civics class. Policies that rely on racial categories are not, per se, 'illegal' but are subject to the highest level of scrutiny.

Posted by: dhn on June 25, 2003 10:02 AM

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Mark,

I think it's like the tax code: Once you introduce one loophole, others rush in uncontrollably. Say, you want to give points to income-disadvantaged candidates. Should someone whose family lives in Buffalo, NY on 40K be given preference to someone whose family lives in NY, NY on 50K? Doesn't make sense. You have to adjust for the cost of living. But where does Long Island fall in this scheme? And how long have they lived where they do? And so on. Would you have faith that the resulting system, riddled with exceptions and special situations, will be equitable and not subject to gaming?

Posted by: maciej on June 25, 2003 10:03 AM

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"I don't count race amongst these factors because TODAY racism isn't a major cause of handicap for kids..."

This statement is ignorant and uninformed. Many white folk delude themselves into believing that racism no longer exists. This is definately NOT true. Why don't you open your eyes and look around you. Racism in America is too easy to find and see if you only look. Race is a MAJOR factor in all kinds of ways in America.

Brown vs Board of Education ended legalized segregation in education but segregation was reinstituted by white flight and is institutionalized by local control and financing of public schools, zoning ordinances, red-lining and gated communities. Separate and unequal is the rule in public school systems. White conservatives want to strengthen school segregation by instituting vouchers for the middle and upper class students and continuing to underfund public schools. You don't want to spend your money fixing inner city schools and educating black children. You want to spend it on your own children's education in gated community suburbia.

Some public suburban schools rival their private counterparts while some poor urban and rural schools are clearly substandard and avoided by people with means. Few parents would sacrifice their child/s education to prove a point. Even an avid supporter of public schools and blacks as Bill Clinton chose not to send his daughter to public school in Washington DC.

Affirmative action is a necessary evil because we do not have the will as a society and individuals to confront racism and the legacy it has left. Racisms in America is obvious if you choose not to ignore it. Of course, TV makes it convenient to ignore. Maybe it is a great place to start. Just check the TV guide and count how well minorities are represented in our public culture. Are interracial marriages depicted as mainstream or taboo? Racism in America is so ingrained and institutionalized and accepted as "normal" that some people overlook the racism that is staring them in the face.

I don't think the failure to recognize racism is a problem unique to Andrew Sullivan or foreigners that move to America or even among minorities such as gays that are victims of social discrimination but do not face the economic discrimination that American blacks do. Racism in American explodes the myths of self made man, everyone is equal, etc. That is why many choose to ignore racism or cannot bring themselves to see it. Their mythology would be shattered.

Posted by: bakho on June 25, 2003 10:13 AM

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"I think it's like the tax code: Once you introduce one loophole, others rush in uncontrollably."

There may be *practical* problems with awarding points based on whether people are in poor school districts, or minority school districts, or whatever. But there isn't any moral or legal problem with doing those things. (This is especially true if the UM announces the policies that it WILL use, 12 years before it actually uses them.)

There is a fundamental moral (against an ideal of the United States) and legal (violation of the 14th amendment) problem with a *state supported* university awarding points based on skin color. Or sex. Or eye color. Or location of birth. Or any other factor determined by birth.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 25, 2003 10:15 AM

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bakho: "Affirmative action is a necessary evil because we do not have the will as a society and individuals to confront racism and the legacy it has left."

I'm wondering if we are living in the same country. I regularly hear appeals against all sorts of racism and discrimination from the President down to the street corner. You'd be better off arguing that mild, persistent racism is a difficult thing to get rid of. True enough.

Posted by: JT on June 25, 2003 10:19 AM

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rvman --

I know a white person who received the benefit of AA under a circumstance based admission. The college apparently made the proper decision because so-so grades achieved in spite of a very difficult home-life made for a solid student at a prestigious college. But it doesn't surprise me that to save time and effort, admissions committees (as well as posters to this discussion) are willing to apply the generalization that certain races are more disadvantaged than others. Possibly after considering wealth, parents' occupations, school system attended, family integrity, height, weight, name, and eye color, it is indeed true that skin color places one at a disadvantage despite their ability. I think it is worth the extra (small) effort to come up with a formula that has the same effect of helping certain races because the race as a whole is disadvantaged but at the same time doesn't give points to help out the children of wealthy CEOs, professionals, and entertainers at the expense of disadvantaged applicants who don't happen to belong to such a race.

Lisa Clarkson-- both my grandfathers changed their first names and in one case their last name because they were eager to fit in. I don't think they found it silly, insulting, or unfair because they understood some names sounded weird to some people. Just the other day I found out someone I know made a slight change to their 3 letter name for use in this country and I agreed their original name did not sound pleasant to me. Also, I have been to a place where my one syllable first name seemed very strange and hard to pronounce because the arrangement of letters is just not encountered there.

(the name below is not my name thanks to my grandfather, and I am quite glad it is not although it is part of my heritage)

Posted by: schmulback on June 25, 2003 10:26 AM

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Brad:
Not gonna quibble with your view of why AA is necessary, but I would point out that the rationale you cite was not accepted by the Supreme Court in Grutter. Your rationale was accepted by the Court in Bakke, i.e., AA is an acceptable means to address past wrongs. In Grutter, O'Connor specifically rejected that rationale and instead that diversity for the good of the institution was acceptable. In other words, AA can serve the interests of some underrepresented minorities, but the real good of AA is found in how non-minorities in elite institutions will have at least some appreciation for the minority viewpoint as they go forth and run American in the future.

Posted by: bandoleer on June 25, 2003 10:42 AM

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"There is a fundamental moral (against an ideal of the United States) and legal (violation of the 14th amendment) problem with a *state supported* university awarding points based on skin color. Or sex. Or eye color. Or location of birth. Or any other factor determined by birth."

Yeah, like being born to someone who went to the school? I haven't seen a conservative or libertarian opposed to legacy preferences yet.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 25, 2003 11:15 AM

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I find it interesting how nobody would ever think of objecting to some forms of "collective responsibility"--for example, the responsibility of a naturalized or native-born citizen to pay taxes to service the national debt that existed when he or she pledged allegiance or was born, or the responsibility of a corporate shareholder to see his or her share of the corporation's assets used to service debts the corporation had incurred before he or she acquired the stock.

Yet somehow some people find the idea that assuming American citizenship and pledging allegiance to the United States carries with it not just an enormous number of opportunities and advantages but also some non-financial moral burdens as well a rather strange one...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 25, 2003 11:43 AM

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>taxes to service the national debt...

So you favor small government with no inter-generational burden transfer? Me too.

>responsibility of a corporate shareholder to see his or her share of the corporation's assets used to service debts...

This is a responsibility one voluntarily assumes.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 25, 2003 11:56 AM

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Bakho: You left out the end of the sentence " except in how it is reflected in socioeconomic status, school quality, etc" I don't doubt that there is some residual racism out there. I happen to believe that, for example, high unemployment rates among black teens is more explained by the lack of businesses in the inner city than by lack of willingness to hire them - teens often must work close to home/school. There may be some subconscious racism in the quality of schools thing - better, higher seniority teachers choosing white schools expecting an easier and more rewarding experience, for example. God knows racism is practically a reasonable explanation for the drug incarceration rates, but those kids aren't applying to colleges anyway. Racism may even mean their parents have less desirable jobs - which is reflected in the socioeconomic variable.

I am claiming that, all things equal, a more individualized treatment of these variables is a) going to select a better quality student body, b) be fairer, and c) be more constitutional than AA based crudely on race. We also become a better society when we stop harping on race.

Of course our society has some racism - is interracial marriage taboo? Yes - though my experience (from a magnet high school in a black school in the late 80's) is that interracial dating is more taboo among blacks - especially black females - than whites. Do blacks, esp. black males, get treated differently due to race -yes. Should the government treat blacks differently to "compensate"? No. Is AA better than socioeconomic scoring to compensate for past injustice? I don't think so. Does it make sense to give a leg up to the children of black professionals, rather than to the children of poor rural whites? Not to my mind.

Posted by: rvman on June 25, 2003 12:00 PM

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"I find it interesting how nobody would ever think of objecting to some forms of "collective responsibility"--for example, the responsibility of a naturalized or native-born citizen to pay taxes to service the national debt that existed when he or she pledged allegiance or was born"

What a very strange thing to argue, because race based AA divides up immigrants in exactly this manner. I'd agree that a considerable debt was owed by the slave owners to the slaves, and the advantage of one group over the other tends to persist. So now what we do is assign new immigrants from Africa to the creditor group and new European immigrants to the debtor group. That's not very collective.

A better conclusion to draw from your collective responsibility analogy is that because all sorts of old and new injustices which are difficult to measure tend to propagate from generation to generation, an increased government effort ought to be made to prepare children for participation in society when their parents cannot properly do so.

Posted by: schmulback on June 25, 2003 12:50 PM

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"I happen to believe that, for example, high unemployment rates among black teens is more explained by the lack of businesses in the inner city than by lack of willingness to hire them.."

Fair enough, but why are there a dearth of businesses and employment opportunities to begin with? This is part of the legacy of racism, of blacks not having past opportunity to obtain loans for business ventures, of blacks losing their home equity during white flight and blacks being excluded from jobs and opportunities in the past. It is not only a legacy of the past, but it is ongoing. And why is it that blacks are concentrated in these areas with high unemployment? Are there explanations that don't ultimately involve racism?

You also seem to believe that middle and upper class blacks have the same opportunities available to middle and upper class whites. You believe that these blacks are unaffected by racism. You are wrong. How integrated are our integrated communities? Do blacks as minorities in white schools experience the school in the same way that white students do? Don't make that assumption because it is not true.

You see things the way they are and blame the individual. As a white person in a white dominated society, you do not experience racism. Because you do not experience racism, you ignore it or deny that it even exists. Your denial does not make it go away.

Posted by: bakho on June 25, 2003 01:23 PM

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Who says that future generations are going to pay off the debt out of some feeling of responsibility? If they choose to service that debt, it will be to preserve the credit rating of the United States and avoid a financial crisis, not out of a feeling of "collective responsibility". If they choose to repudiate that debt, the financial consequences to them - and the world - will be dire. Keep in mind that many of the wealthy and powerful own the T-bills that would be repudiated. Mental exercise - what is the incentive for a country with an otherwise permanently balanced budget to not repudiate its own existing debt, except for the ownership of said debt by its citizens? See several South American countries for politicians who would repudiate, if they had America's economic and military strength.

Posted by: rvman on June 25, 2003 01:27 PM

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>...why are there a dearth of businesses and employment opportunities to begin with?

Ask the Korean merchants targeted during the Rodney King riots.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 25, 2003 01:29 PM

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A

Posted by: Will Allen on June 25, 2003 02:10 PM

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Brad DeLong writes, "Yet somehow some people find the idea that assuming American citizenship and pledging allegiance to the United States carries with it not just an enormous number of opportunities and advantages but also some non-financial moral burdens as well a rather strange one..."

Because the particular "moral burden" you're writing about is bizarre, Dr. DeLong! :-)

It's pretty obvious you didn't just "step off the boat" (no offense intended to anyone). Are you going to tell my Indian (from India) friends, that when they become U.S. citizens, they become morally burdened with U.S. slavery? That's completely absurd! (But perhaps these 30-somethings then get to "trade in" their "moral burden" for the Indian caste system?? ;-))

The sons are NEVER responsible for the sins their fathers committed before the sons were even born!

Every U.S. citizen has a moral obligation to pay taxes that are levied *in accordance with U.S. law*...and so long as such taxes don't themselves support immoral practices (such as denying sick people the use of medical marijuana).

And every U.S. citizen has a moral obligation, while they are alive, to attempt to force their government to follow both The Law, and what's morally right. That's why I'm a Libertarian. That's why I absolutely demand that the federal government stop persecuting people for medical marijuana...or any other kind of marijuana or drug. That's why I will continue to write and speak against Bill Clinton's destruction of the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant (and for the U.S. government to provide reparations for the destruction). That's why I've already called for Congress to impeach and remove G.W. Bush from office, for waging war against Iraq without a Congressional declaration (and for 1000 other ways he's violated the Constitution).

In fact, that's why I oppose Affirmative Action, as practice by the University of Michigan.

But citizens do NOT have "moral burden" for things the U.S. government did before they were even born! It's simply not rational to think they do. How can one possibly be "morally burdened" by something that one could not possibly have acted upon?

You are essentially arguing from the same logic as religious folk who argue that people will go to H@ll, if people don't accept Jesus as the Son of G@d. (Possibly not good to swerve into religion. ;-))

I've asked some of these people, "Suppose someone is born, lives, and dies in the deepest Amazon, and they've never even heard of Jesus. In other words, these people have no way of ever even knowing Jesus existed. Are they still going to H@ll?"

And their answer usually is (long pause for thought) "Y---ess!"

My response is that, if G@d punishes people for something that they could not possibly have acted upon, She's a real b....! And I'll definitely have to lecture Her about that, on the odd chance I see Her. ;-)

I absolutely refuse to assume "moral burden" for anything that I couldn't possibly have acted upon...such as actions that occurred before I was born.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 25, 2003 02:24 PM

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AA has never been a topic that has particularly interested me; I think good arguments can be made on both sides (although Prof. Delong's all too common mindless denigration of those he disagrees with is somewhat pathetic), and, more importantly, of all the things the state does to wrongfully harm individuals, giving an edge to those usually well-off minorities who most successfully game the system is certainly no more offensive than having wealthy people game the system in order to grab other's property, through various subsidies and transfers. Furthermore, attempts by private entities to expand their minority membership, by whatever means they prefer, bothers me not in the least.

What is particularly historically and globally ignorant, however, is the portrayal of the United States in the year 2003 as some sort of uniquely racist society. The claim is absurd. Every society is racist, or more precisely, every society contains a great deal of xenophobic hatred within it, among it's various racial, religous, tribal, etc. groups. Spend a little time in Africa, India, or the Middle East. Go and try to find a Jewish community in Poland. Get some Koreans and Japanese in a room and observe the the outpouring of peace, happiness,and understanding. It is likely that different groups of people tend to distrust, fear , and hate each other for a reason that goes back at least several thousand years; Thag the cave-man was served well by such emotions, since an outsider very likely represented a threat to the scarce resources that were essential to survival. We've gotten a lot wealthier in the interim, but still hold on to those attributes that were once essential. If you want to make a case for affirmative action, fine, although don't pretend for an instant that such action won't be subject to all the usual unintended ill-effects that most massive, coercive, social engineering projects entail. Who knows? Maybe the ill effects of latent racism outweighs the unintended ill effects. Please don't maintain, however, that this society is more egregiously racist, or suffers from more pronounced xenophobia than is the norm. It just ain't so.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 25, 2003 02:41 PM

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Since affirmative action turns out to be reparations by another name, let us all admire Prof. DeLong's manly willingness to.... stand by and applaud while his share of the "collective responsibility" is paid for him by marginal white applicants to the University of Michigan.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on June 25, 2003 02:48 PM

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"Go and try to find a Jewish community in Poland."

Why go so far from the Jewish ancestral homeland? As I understand it, there are less than 200 Jews in Iraq, and less than 100 in Iran. And if there is a Jewish person in Saudi Arabia, I doubt he or she mentions that fact much.

:-/

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 25, 2003 02:51 PM

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By the way, the aboriginal people who inhabited this continent before the Europeans and the Africans were treated at least as badly, if not worse, than the Africans, but since there aren't nearly as many of their decendents around to cast votes, cosmic justice for them will have to wait longer. Then again, the aboriginal tribes were pretty nasty to one another as well. Go spend some time on some some of the pueblos in the southwest; the Apaches might be more poorly thought of than the Conquistador Spaniards. I can't remember which tribe drove the Lakota by force from more easterly land (present-day Michigan and Wisconsin?) before the Europeans showed up; does Prof. Delong think that that the descendents of that tribe now hold a collective moral responsibility to the present-day Lakota, for driving them from what is now a far more valuable casino market? Perhaps they should be informed.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 25, 2003 03:06 PM

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"Mark, I just wanted to bring up a good example of Continental Europeans' brotherly love."

Yeah, we're all monsters on this bus. Perhaps surprisingly, though, I really think we'll muddle through.

In fact, my prediction is that there will be FEWER people killed--in absolute numbers, not just percentagewise--by war in the 21st century, than in the 20th.

(But I do think one or more poor cities are going to be nuclear toast again this century.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 25, 2003 03:38 PM

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I think it is far too difficult to predict the events of the next 100 days, let alone the next 100 years.

Posted by: Will Allison on June 25, 2003 03:44 PM

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Social promotion in K-12 is *bad* for the purported beneficiaries of it because it enables the education system to blind its eyes to the fact that it is not teaching the children it is passing along -- and to avoid recognizing and dealing with the reasons why the children are not learning. It is a convenience for those in the system, at the cost of the children.

Race-based college admissions for students who wouldn't otherwise qualify academically for a college is simply social promotion carried to the 13th grade. The benefit isn't to the students, it is to the educators who are relieved from asking the awkward questions: "Why aren't these high schools *yet* turning out qualified students after *all these decades*? What is being done wrong by whom, *specifically*?" -- questions essential to solving the real problem -- while posing as if they care about it, while sweeping it away as if it doesn't exist. (How important is getting an education the lets you meet college admission standards anyway, really?)

Of course, the answer that it is "society's fault" and a "collective responsibility" is very convenient -- by giving responsibility to everybody it does so to nobody in particular in any way that may be rude, awkward, or accurate.

As to "collective responsibility", I don't see much sign of it here. Paul is quite right, it seems to mean: I have a high moral principle to defend, you take on the cost of my doing so.

Recently the (excellent) historian James M. McPherson said that academics like him had benefited unfairly from the white "old boys network" in gaining their positions, and affirmative action thus is needed to remedy this wrong. Thomas Sowell responded: Well, if you think *you* benefited unfairly then *you* should be tithing over the royalties from _Battle Cry for Freedom_ plus maybe a percentage of your income to a fund to aid minority scholars. But your proposal is rather that you keep all your unfair gains while making young, on-the-cusp scholars who never benefited as you did pay the cost of making you feel better about yourself. *Other* people are to make the sacrifice for his principles.

This sort of perverse moral posturing seems to be endemic among well-off liberals, especially ones with tenured jobs. It brings to mind how the Harvard faculty and administration first denied students the opportunity to interview with military recruiters on campus, then when the gov't said this would cost them some gov't funding, howled in protest over how they were being "bullied" (the word in a NY Times op-ed) into ceding on their most important principles -- which they did cede on quite promptly. Harvard does have a $19 billion endowment, of course, and so could have made up that lost funding in a blink. But for all the outrage they expressed about the importance of the principles that were being trampled, they in fact demonstrated that their principles at issue were more important only than their students' welfare and convenience, not their own. I don't see a whole lot of difference here.

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 25, 2003 04:05 PM

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The diversity argument is nonsense. If diversity were truly such a laudable goal then its advocates would be demanding more orthodox Jews, more fundamentalist Christians, more followers of Wicca, etc. to be part of our elite universities. Is not their “diversity” the type which enhances education? The concept is a red-herring made up (and supported by a very weak but widely-quoted study) to divert the issue from what it truly is: For many reasons, very few members of select minority groups are prepared for and get accepted to top universities.

On a side note, using race as a proxy for diversity is racist almost by definition. Saying one is defined (e.g., past experiences, thoughts, politics, etc.) by one’s race is ludicrous.

Suppose we accept that diversity (however narrowly proponents of AA define it) does enrich one’s educational experience. Tell this to those students who, other than being the wrong race, were qualified to gain acceptance to said university but were denied. They’ll be “benefiting” from this diversity at a sub-elite school. Hey! Maybe they’ll be getting a better education since sub-elite schools undoubtedly are more diverse than elite universities. When they look for a job or apply to graduate school they can say: “Yeah, I may have gone to Cal State Los Angeles instead of UC Berkeley but the diversity there makes me a better candidate. No, Dr. DeLong doesn’t teach there but that doesn’t matter. The student body is extremely diverse and that’s more important!” My point is that with a finite number of slots available, real people are systematically hurt by race-based admissions policies.

Another issue is this argument of legacy preference -- another red-herring. We all learned way back in kindergarten that two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s like saying: “Yeah, I stole a CD from the store but thousands of people download music off of the Internet everyday and they aren’t prosecuted so it’s OK.” It’s a very weak argument. Furthermore, and more importantly, alumni preference isn’t forbidden by the 14th amendment. But according to a majority of the Supreme Court, it’s OK to violate the Constitution for 25 more years if there’s a good enough reason.

Posted by: Passepartout on June 25, 2003 04:08 PM

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I think it only fair that Prof. Delong provide rent-free room and board to a Berkely student of African descent. It will do wonders for relieving me of my percentage of collective guilt. If Prof. Delong would also be so kind to inform me as to whether his boarder eats mostly hamburger or New York strips, I will know how much of my responsibility has been allieviated.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 25, 2003 04:20 PM

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There are few businesses in black neighborhoods for several reasons. One is racism. Another is that businesses don't locate in places where there is no one with money to sell to. A third is a lack of small businesses. I drive around the neighborhood I live in, which is predominately Hispanic, and most of them are owned by Hispanics. I drive around my old high school, which is in a black neighborhood, and what businesses there are are chains. Why? Is it really true that Hispanics can get bank loans, but blacks can't? Or is it that Hispanics, as immigrants, are more motivated to put forth the effort to start a small business than native born blacks? (I don't have an urban one nearby, but my expectation is that poor white non-immigrant neighborhoods would have a similar problem. See Appalachia, for example.) This is an immigrant vs. native thing, not necessarily the influence of racism. (Look around a black neighborhood, what small businesses there are are often run by immigrants, who hire their own families/friends. Nepotism isn't racism, at least not the kind we are talking about.)

I could be snarky and say that there are a lot of small businesses that teens work in in poor neighborhoods, they are just all illegal, but I won't because I happen to believe they shouldn't be.

Things can change more than they have. But they have changed a lot. Anyone who claims that they haven't is profaning the memory of those who really suffered, when racism was institutional, widespread, and potentially lethal.

Posted by: rvman on June 25, 2003 04:46 PM

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If you're going to keep talking about this in terms of african americans from a lineage of slavery, should this have to be proved? Or is it every single black american citizen? If you're saying we should collectively pay for the sins of the past, right the wrongs etc today, do the African tribal chiefs who willingly sold their brothers and sisters/fellow Africans also assume some burden to right these wrongs? Will you be able to find their ancestors to do so?
When you stop making the standard for entry or acceptance into a job or school one of personal efforts achieved, and begin giving a special nod to someone less achieved but of a certain skin color, you begin agreeing that self-motivation and self-determination aren't so valuable. And you ignore human nature, which, in general, tends not to value that which it is given for free.

Turn a blind eye all you like, but one of the smartest things I've ever heard a local leader in the black community say was,"We can no longer rely on standing in line accepting special invitations based on our skin color for the bad or for the good. It undermines our own worth and leaves our accomplishments as less valuable, because we were allowed an extra 50' in front of the start line. It causes the spectators to doubt our wins and confirms our inferiority in losses. We must build from within, we must rely on ourselves to the best of our ability. We cannot take these educations we are granted over a more qualified candidate of a different color or cultural history, and then abandon our neighbors and kin in poverty as we as individuals prosper or we will forever be dependent on and obliged to those whom we have always suspected as being in control of our destiny."

Posted by: Mark on June 25, 2003 09:54 PM

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Frankly I think your US positive discrimination university access thing is off-track.

Afro-American 16 year-olds are as likely to do well at 21 as equally-academically-performing white American 16 year-olds.

The scandal is that poor Afro-Americans are likely to receive a worse pre-school, primary school and high school education than white American kids from wealthy suburbs. This is where equality of opportunity is denied.

And education is a fundamental human right (I know there are posters going to bite at that one, I feel it only fair to warn them that it's not as easy a claim to take on as they might think and that they should consider their reply carefully).

So if the US is giving its citizens equal rights then some kids rights are "more equal than others".


Sean

Posted by: sean on June 26, 2003 06:00 AM

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>education is a fundamental human right (I know there are posters going to bite at that one...

Don't forget health care, food and housing, all of which must be fulfilled before education becomes relevant.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 26, 2003 06:22 AM

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Jim (and some others),

It is interesting how fast an argument about equality of opportunity -- levelling the playing field on college admissions -- is 'refuted' by arguing that those who feel 'guilty' should engage in voluntary income redistribution. Even if one argues that AA is effectively redistributive, these 'put your money where your mouth is' arguments are specious. (1) many of us do 'put our monety where are mouth is' through our charitable donations and volunteer work & (2) the whole point of government remedies (or government progressive income policies, for that matter) is that they overcome collective action problems *and* are appropriate in a context in which it is the political community, rather than individuals, that bears direct moral responsibility (see above).

Your Harvard example is interesting. I should note, however, that if you wanted to interview all you had to do was walk or take the T to MIT, which wasn't all that inconvenient. And, yeah, Harvard's money-grubbing as all heck. My wife and I weren't a few yeas out when we received fund raising letters in which the first box to check was for a donation of $25,000 :-p.

Posted by: dhn on June 26, 2003 06:43 AM

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Fundamental human rights are things like life and liberty. Education is decidedly second tier. That said, literacy and numeracy - primary education - provide significant positive externalities, and thus should be subsidized. And, given what we are spending on education in this country, we should be getting better results than we are.

I happen to believe using the market wisely would give us better results. Food stamps - which is the nutrition equivalent of school vouchers - works far better than government cheese or the old Indian agency programs at delivering food. Rent vouchers seems to be working better than government housing. Similarly, school vouchers should work better than government schooling.

Bringing race back into the thread - vouchers are well supported among rank and file black parents. The biggest source of opposition is among government employee unions who fear losing their power, (and the perks of working for government), and middle class whites who think THEIR schools - public or private - are perfectly fine, and in the case of private schools, fear losing their autonomy because of vouchers.

It is unfortunate that the two parties are organized so on "big vs. small government" lines, because the constituency that has the most to gain from vouchers are poor folks who tend to be Democrats, whose politicians are heavily influenced by the unions and socialism, and thus opposed.

Those parents with the most to lose are parents with kids already in private school, or rich parents with kids in good public schools, because vouchers make it easier to "means-test" this particular entitlement, and give government a pretext to regulate their schools more. These people vote Republicans, whose politicians are allied with libertarians, and are beholden to corporate interests, and thus support privatization of service provision. If/when vouchers are passed, it will be a coalition of libertarian, religious, and minority interests that pushes it through. (Sounds like the old "progressive" alliance, if you add "civil" in front of the name of the first group.)

Posted by: rvman on June 26, 2003 07:03 AM

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>...many of us do 'put our monety where are mouth is'... Harvard's money-grubbing as all heck. My wife and I weren't a few yeas out...the political community, rather than individuals, that bears direct moral responsibility...

Your voluntary actions are laudable.

Will you pledge to never have your children apply to Harvard, so as to avoid "legacy" issues? Certainly it would be unfair for your family to enjoy two or more successive generations of Harvard scholarship, when the vast vast majority of Americans in our "political community" have none.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 26, 2003 07:07 AM

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Unless one wishes to implicitly endorse slavery, one cannot claim to have a right to those things that are provided by others' labor and ingenuity. If Sean has the "right" to education, he has the "right" to force others to labor for him, whether those others wish to or not. Forcing people to perform labor against their will is a fair description of a slave. Of course, this is not the same as saying that the state is illegitimate in forcibly collecting taxes to provide for education. I don't have a "right" to the protection provided by the 1st Marine Division, but the state is legitimate in taxing people to pay for it.

dhn, I only suggested that Prof Delong put up a student of African descent to relieve my guilt because he suggested it would be unmanly for a Michigander descended from Vietnamese boat people to be opposed to relieving Delong's guilt by giving up their chance to get into the school of their choice. I just kinda like the relieve-the-guilt-by-proxy option. Then again, maybe the prospective student of Vietnamese descent had a father killed fighting along side, and defending, American soldiers, some of whom were spared being killed in combat, and subsequently returned to their families. How do we account for that debt? Maybe we can hire unemployed Arthur Anderson accountants and start a National Guilt Ledger, where everybody traces every rotten thing that ever happened to everybody's ancestors, and an attempt is made to settle up, with use of proxies, of course.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 26, 2003 07:22 AM

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There is an equal opportunity requirement in the German civil service with respect to employment of women and men. The private sector discriminates against women on the grounds of pregnancy risk, so that the equal opportunity rule means that there is a much larger pool of highly-qualified women seeking employment in the public sector. In effect, it is the men who are protected against competition from women. Moral: Equal opportunity does not preclude subsequent discrimination in the job market - e.g., by making athletic achievement a negative selection criterion. Considering this, it seems hypocritical that some criticize equal opportunity rules as unfair when they are only a small step towards solving the problems of racial and gender discrimination.

Posted by: Joerg Wenck on June 26, 2003 07:41 AM

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Nice cheap shot.Anybody that would like to find out what Andrew Sullivan really said, go to his web site.At least he strives for the truth.

Posted by: Jim Mason on June 26, 2003 08:14 AM

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As if Sullivan never cheapshots anyone.

MB, you missed the point of the example, I brought it up to talk about the availability of alternate opportunities for those who come out on the losing side of an AA-related decision (or the lack of AA).

But maybe you're right... I'm sure just before skipping over a resume with a black-sounding name, an HR rep thinks, "Wait, do I work for a public or private entity?"

Posted by: Lisa Clarkson on June 26, 2003 10:40 AM

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>I'm sure just before skipping over a resume with a black-sounding name, an HR rep thinks, "Wait, do I work for a public or private entity...

Do you doubt that HR people in the public sector have a different decision matrix than those in the private sector?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 26, 2003 11:07 AM

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"It is interesting how fast an argument about equality of opportunity -- levelling the playing field on college admissions -- is 'refuted' by arguing that those who feel 'guilty' should engage in voluntary income redistribution."

You miss the points entirely.

First, these university administrators and faculty are helping *themselves* by creating a high-sounding rationale that lets them *avoid* acting to "level the playing field" on college admissions, while posturing as if they are.

Here's a simple example that I've mentioned before: In NYC and other large cities the school system unions give their members seniority transfers to schools of their choice -- which means the experienced, senior, highest-paid staff go the wealthy neighborhoods with attractive schools and easy-to-teach students, while the beginner, uncertified, lowest-paid staff get assigned to the poorest neighborhoods with the most challenging students. Schools in the best neighborhoods get literally *double* the money per student compared to the poorest neighborhoods. Do you think *that* has an effect on academic results?

How about leveling *that* playing field, eh? Yet have you ever heard any university admissions official who is so concerned about "a level playing field" lash into the teachers unions for that??

Of course not, because: (1) in general, it would be very illiberal and unpopular to take a Republican-sounding stance on campus, and (2) the universities are tied-at-the-hip to the urban school systems and teachers unions -- their Ed Schools have monopoly power on teacher certification, which power they get through the political influence of the teachers unions. So do you really expect a University head to say:

"Our Ed School cartel is *bad* because it eliminates many highly qualified potential teachers from the profession, driving up cost and reducing quality, while our partners the teachers unions push the least qualified teachers to the poorest neighborhood schools. And this is a significant factor in why children in these neighborhoods score below others on our college admissions test.

"Thus, our 'affirmative action' proposal is to start "leveling the playing field" by telling the teachers unions to start sending their senior teachers to poor neighborhood schools on an equitable basis, and to break up our Ed School certification cartel -- which somehow all good private schools are able to operate without."

No, no, no ... they don't care so much about ACTUALLY leveling the playing field to discomfort *themselves* to do it. It's much, much easier for them to pretend to level the playing field by keeping it just askew as it is while discriminating against Asians to cover up the result.

Second, we aren't talking about anything "voluntary" here. Race preferences in university admissions aren't voluntary with the students. So if McPherson is serious his tithe shouldn't be voluntary with him either.

So how about introducing this resolution to a first-tier University's Faculty Senate...

[] Whereas racism was much worse decades ago than today, so self-evidently the big beneficiaries of it on campus are the 40- and 50-year-old tenured white "McPhersons" on faculty today who profited from the white old-boy network; and

[] Whereas the cost of remedying racism should be born most by those who have benefited from it the most, and the obvious remedy for the ill of the white old-boy network in our still racist society is to dismantle it ..

[] Resolved, that a percentage of all tenured white faculty members shall lose their jobs to be replaced by members of other races who are qualified, though objectively less qualified, for said jobs. And as this is a matter of "collective responsibility", all white tenured faculty members shall be exposed to such job loss by lottery -- confident, of course, that those who lose their jobs will do well for themselves in the end by obtaining good jobs at second-tier schools.

(Or heck, if that's too strong for you, just make the Resolution that all tenured white faculty members will pay a *mandatory* 10% tithe to support young scholars of other races.)

What do you imagine the vote count would be? Personally, I suspect the voting faculty would very quickly identify the limits of "collective responsibility".

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 26, 2003 11:30 AM

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A interesting article by Michael Kinsley pointing out the illogical reasoning behind O'Connor's "split decision".
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28898-2003Jun24.html

Posted by: Passepartout on June 26, 2003 11:36 AM

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>the voting faculty ...

That reminds me...with all the bile spilt about "legacy" preferences, don't most schools have faculty/staff child admission preferences?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 26, 2003 11:46 AM

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Bucky -- our kids can apply anywhere they damn please, if they want to go to college. I'd prefer that Harvard didn't give them preferential treatment, of course. However, it is not as if they won't already gain an advantage over a lot of other applicants, given we live in a suburban community with strong schools, etc. etc. Moreover, the idea that this is all at someone else's expense is weird. Every school I have applied to, and every job I have applied for, has been governed by the same equality-of-opportunity rules I am advocating continue.

Jim, this whole attempt to cast AA as an attempt to assuage one's guilt still seems to me to be odd.

First, it isn't about GUILT. Equality-of-opportunity policies are about compensating for advantages that some people enjoy by virtue of their social position, advantages that are not relevant to their academic or professional performance in the slot under comparison. AA is justified because past policies, and rather extreme ones at that, directly by or sanctioned by the government, have created systematic disadvantages for members of certain groups.

Second, your arguments about how various educational policies, and here I would stress differential funding, and environmental problems associated with poverty are among the root causes of problems with equality of opportunity as an aim of governmental policy. However, a lot of where you there involves a leap of logic.

(a) who CARES, for the purposes of this argument, whether academics who support AA haven't lashed out at the NY teachers' union? If those practices and conditions persist in creating, for example, serious structual advantages for white applicants then AA in college admissions.

(b) Surely universities exercise more direct control over their admissions practices than over these broader factors you cite? Thus, how can you hold them accountable in areas over which they have, at best, very indirect influence?

(c) The policy of the teacher's union you refer to at best exacerbates the underlying problems of resources and instructional environment, it is a consequence, not a cause, of scuh inequalities.

(d) I challenge you to find ANY causal connection between AA and a purported failure by college and university professors to act on broader issues. You can rant about "educational cartels" all you want, but these are simply assertions about the motivations of various individuals.

(e) The major educational schools are mostly independent fiefdoms, with separate admissions processes and tenuring processes (until, at best, rather late in the game). So even if your arguments could be supported with evidence, they would not apply to most broader academic programs.

I'm not sure what your point of the "faculty senate" example is supposed to be, other than an ad homenin attack on those academics who support AA. What about non-academics? What about those who feel that no employer should have the right to demand "tithes" of its employees? Why would you be so quick to discount the basic objection to your "strip tenure" argument, that stripping tenure is a bad thing for academic freedom? Moreover, isn't the whole point of these systems not to "mandate results" or to "institute quotas"? At least paint a scenario which is logically equivalent!

Anyway, this is all very odd, since I'm not a huge fan of AA. Yet, it strikes me that many of the people who advance the "AA is simply a balm for larger problems" arguments in these debates have no actual interest in bearing the costs of solving the underlying problems themselves. Easier to scream at teachers' unions, isn't it, than to say "I'd vote for a 10% increase in my marginal rate to support poor schools, etc. etc." If the choice was between serious support for enterprise zones, eliminating property tax systems for education, providing subsidized loans for housing for those who have been historically discriminated against, or AA, I'd rather ditch AA and implement the other stuff. What about you?

Posted by: dhn on June 26, 2003 02:58 PM

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dhn said: it is not as if they [my children] won't already gain an advantage over a lot of other applicants...the idea that this is all at someone else's expense is weird.

Eariler, dhn said: "When there are specific and identifiable harms done to particular peoples because of their status as such, then it seems to me proper to argue that there is a moral obligation to compensate...."

As one individual's/group's "compensation" is by defininition another individual's/group's expense, who better to make that payment than someone who both supports such an effort AND someone who has personally profited from the existing regime?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 26, 2003 03:38 PM

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dhn, I quote Prof. Delong:

"To accept one's fair share of the collective responsibility for the evils of slavery and Jim Crow, and to do one's part not to deny or to explain away to erase the marks it has left on our country's African-American community, are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man needs to stand up and bear."

It was Delong who introduced the concept of collective responsibility (guilt), and many of us were merely remarking on the goodness of non-black Michigan undergrad candidates, as evidenced by their taking on Delong's share of the responsibility. Some anonymous 18 year old gives up his shot at Michigan, by virtue of some other anonymous 18 year old getting 20 extra points and getting in, and by this titantic intellectual and moral feat, Delong keeps his manhood. Truly awe-inspiring. Of course, if some 18 year old, like the hypothetical decendent of Vietnamese refugees I posited, doesn't agree with the Sage of Berkeley, well, gosh darn it, he just isn't a man. Really, Delong should switch from economics to philosophy.

Look, I don't have that much concern about state sponsored AA, and zero concern about private entities attempts to hire minorities by whatever means they see fit. I have little doubt that state sponsored AA will largely devolve, if it already hasn't, into a game by which middle and upper class citizens of African descent, gain advantage, while the lower class citizens of African descent, with real hardships to overcome, will be ignored. This is largely an exercise in feel-goodism for some, and advantage seeking by the already-ahead by others, but on the grand scale of things bollixed by the state, it is small potatoes, so I don't spend much energy worrying about it.

The reality is, however, if the descendents of slaves comprised 2% of the population, widely dispersed over 50 states, the professional political class wouldn't expend any energy in pursuit of these policies, moral imperatives be damned, because there wouldn't be any political advantage in doing so. Do ya' think corn farmers would get so much attention if they were evenly spread over 50 states, instead of being concentrated in a few, particularly one with an early Presidential caucus? How much energy is devoted to the fact that American Indians are still getting screwed by the magnificently corrupt Bureau of Indian Affairs? Nobody gives a damn because there ain't enough of 'em to affect an election in a meaningful way. All this moral grandstanding takes place because some citizens of African descent are numerous enough, reliable enough, and sufficiently concentrated, just like corn growers, to be a very valuable faction to the Democrats. If the GOP could figure out a way to avoid driving an important faction for them crazy (racists and non-men, I'm sure Delong would say), they'd sign on to affirmative action in a moment. This is all about electioneering, and little else, and certainly not a meaningful attempt to improve the lives of the citizens of African descent who are having the worst of it, because, once again, those people don't vote reliably enough.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 26, 2003 05:27 PM

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>>Eariler, dhn said: "When there are specific and identifiable harms done to particular peoples because of their status as such, then it seems to me proper to argue that there is a moral obligation to compensate...."

>As one individual's/group's "compensation" is by defininition another individual's/group's expense, who better to make that payment than someone who both supports such an effort AND someone who has personally profited from the existing regime?

You misunderstand me (which isn't absurd, since my wording wasn't exactly clear). What I meant by "the idea that this is all at someone else's expense is weird" is explained in sentences that follow. I have been through a series of admissions and job hunts in which I have competed against those who benefit from AA. In that sense, to the extent that I'm comfortable with AA, I'm not wishing anyone sacrafice upon someone else that I haven't been at risk of; same with my children.

I will remind people that it isn't as if selective colleges and universities are flooded with far more qualified people than they can handle. The idea that someone has an entitlement to go to U of M, Harvard, or wherever because of their grades and SATs/ACTs is flat-out wrong. Actually, the way college has turned into an entitlement is a real problem... a lot of people wind up in college who do not gain very much from it, but that's another story.

Will: you've got me on some of De Long's rhetoric. It does imply a level of individual responsibility that I, clearly, am less ready to countenance. On the other hand, he's clearly talking about collective responsibilities; with this, it should be clear, I do sympathize. I also sympathize with his rhetoric given the number of anti-AAers who insist that we live in a land where race no longer counts and there is clear equality of opportunity for everyone.

Posted by: dhn on June 26, 2003 05:57 PM

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~~
Easier to scream at teachers' unions, isn't it, than to say "I'd vote for a 10% increase in my marginal rate to support poor schools, etc. etc."
~~

Albert Shanker, famous head of the American Federation of Teachers once said, "While it's hard to believe money should have no effect on educational results, it's easy to believe that the way we spend money has no effect on educational results."

Here in NYC we now spend $11,000 per student. This amount has increased by more than $4,000 per student, 40%, over the last six years. Measured educational results such as graduation rates are *down* over that period.

So you are quite right, it *is* easier to scream at the interest groups that run these schools than to say, "I will vote for a 10% increase in my marginal tax rate, which is already over 50%, to give these guys even *more* money to waste at the cost of our children." Much easier indeed.

It becomes easier yet when these very same people all the same time posture about how "equal opportunity" is so very, very, important to them -- except when they underfund minority neighborhood schools by 50% to take their own contract perquisites. And then, when somebody notices, they get self-righteous about it. ;-)


Posted by: Jim Glass on June 26, 2003 08:11 PM

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>>To accept one's fair share of the collective responsibility for the evils of slavery and Jim Crow, and to do one's part not to deny or to explain away to erase the marks it has left on our country's African-American community, are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man needs to stand up and bear. Ethos of Legal Systems permanently inscribed in their forebrains--are missing the allusion.

Montesquieu writes that fear (i.e., the desire to act to avoid the wrath of the ruler) is the ruling principle of a despotism, honor (i.e., the desire to act to enhance one's reputation for bravery and nobility and so win the praise and favor of the king) is the ruling principle of a monarchy, and virtue is the ruling principle of a republic.

"Virtue" comes from the Latin "virtus," and the Latin "virtus" means "those qualities that make one a man." In Montesquieu's view, just as despotisms collapse when subjects lose their fear and monarchies crumble when nobles lose their honor, so the republic can stand only as long as its citizens act like men. What does that mean? It means that they are willing to take up the burden of acting not for one's own private advancement but for the common collective good.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 26, 2003 10:28 PM

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Now you juss don't worry 'bout nuttin der boy.. us guilty white liberals am gonna take good cares ah you.. juss vote democratic and you ain't gonna have nuttin to concern yo-self ovah. wees gonna make is alll bettah.

Posted by: Homer on June 26, 2003 10:33 PM

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DeLong's arrogance can be encapsulated by the following:

Polls consistently show that sizeable majorities of Americans are opposed to AA, so these majorities are also apparently "totally clueless about what America is". Unlike these millions of people, though, DeLong's got it all figured out.

I also find it funny when liberals forget about the thought police and speak freely. DeLong's surely aware that AS is an immigrant. My guess is that DeLong would be the first person to repudiate any conservative who wrote that a Pakistani immigrant with fundamentalist, anti-pluralist Muslim views was "totally clueless about America is".

In any event, the sun will come up tomorrow and George W. Bush will be re-elected next year.

Posted by: James on June 26, 2003 10:36 PM

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Yes, there is some collective responsibility (a Fascist concept), and that lies with the entity that gave political cover to the slavery system, and then later - to Jim Crow.

That would be the Democratic party of America.

Brad, you're projecting...I see a patronizing racism in your words.

Posted by: Erik Rousseau on June 26, 2003 10:47 PM

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"Virtue" comes from the Latin "virtus," and the Latin "virtus" means "those qualities that make one a man." In Montesquieu's view, just as despotisms collapse when subjects lose their fear and monarchies crumble when nobles lose their honor, so the republic can stand only as long as its citizens act like men. What does that mean? It means that they are willing to take up the burden of acting not for one's own private advancement but for the common collective good.

This is probably the stupidest things I have ever read. And I read Alterman! "Virtue is what I say it is." By All-Knowing Professor's definition, the Soviets had the most virtuous society around. And look all those virtuous Cubans, striving for the common good in the workers' paradise! My my.. if we could all be as virtuous as Professors says we should be, this world would be a lot better place. Don't worry about you or your family now, you should be sacrificing for some anonymous middle class black somewhere whose parents immigrated from Nigeria. Or for some kid whose parents came from Nicaragua. They were in slavery in the 1800s too right? Well, they're dark skinned, so they count too! You're white, and you don't deserve to be concerned about yourself. Your ancestors probably owned slaves, you evil selfish bastard!!

Posted by: Homer on June 26, 2003 11:40 PM

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The assumption that "no blacks" would be admitted to so-called elite universities, absent affirmative action, is ridiculous and racist.

Posted by: Hawaiian Mixture on June 26, 2003 11:51 PM

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Let's say you're white and you want to do something nice for blacks. What's the best policy? Is affirmative action good for blacks? Forget right and wrong for a minute. What if it's just ineffective? What if it lowers expectations? What if encourages a sense of victimhood and greivance? What if it causes bright high school students to coast, knowing that they with 1300 on the SAT they can get into a great school with a 2.0 GPA, but once they get to school, are unprepared to major in anything other than Afro-American studies?

Do we think blacks can only excellent in sports and entertainment? Do we think that blacks are incapable of just getting better grades?

I think it's a mistake to assume affirmative action is good for blacks. I think its main benefit is to make white people feel good.

Posted by: william hayward on June 27, 2003 12:39 AM

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God save us from the white man's guilt. As Maureen Dowd inadvertantly illustrated in her disgusting, condescending, screed against Clarence Thomas, affirmative action taints the achievment of African-Americans.

Mr. Delong does not get it.

Posted by: brian mcreynolds on June 27, 2003 03:20 AM

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This whole thing is a put on, isn't it?

Posted by: Dan Kohler on June 27, 2003 04:08 AM

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Don't like the nation's past history of discrimination? Stop discriminating. That's the line I took in the 1950s, when I began supporting the civil rights struggle. It's the line I take now. What you do to absolve yourself of your phoney sense of collective guilt is your business. Leave me out of it. What so fascinating, though, is how you reveal without apparently noticing, that the affirmative action debate has really become all about YOU. Your responsibility, your guilt, your overcompensation. "Minorities" don't count, except to the degree the offer you a chance for cathartic expiation. You, in fac, are the discriminator. And as in the 1950s, I see you as the enemy to be defeated.

Posted by: Jonathan Burack on June 27, 2003 04:24 AM

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Please.

Compare American's descended from black slaves with the current residents of the countries where their ancestors were sold into slavery.

No reparations are due, they are much better off in America than if they had stayed in Africa.

Ever heard of indemnity?

Posted by: Michael Strickland on June 27, 2003 04:24 AM

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Don't like the nation's past history of discrimination? Stop discriminating. That's the line I took in the 1950s, when I began supporting the civil rights struggle. It's the line I take now. What you do to absolve yourself of your phoney sense of collective guilt is your business. Leave me out of it. What so fascinating, though, is how you reveal without apparently noticing, that the affirmative action debate has really become all about YOU. Your responsibility, your guilt, your overcompensation. "Minorities" don't count, except to the degree the offer you a chance for cathartic expiation. You, in fac, are the discriminator. And as in the 1950s, I see you as the enemy to be defeated.

Posted by: Jonathan Burack on June 27, 2003 04:25 AM

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Don't like the nation's past history of discrimination? Stop discriminating. That's the line I took in the 1950s, when I began supporting the civil rights struggle. It's the line I take now. What you do to absolve yourself of your phoney sense of collective guilt is your business. Leave me out of it. What so fascinating, though, is how you reveal without apparently noticing, that the affirmative action debate has really become all about YOU. Your responsibility, your guilt, your overcompensation. "Minorities" don't count, except to the degree the offer you a chance for cathartic expiation. You, in fac, are the discriminator. And as in the 1950s, I see you as the enemy to be defeated.

Posted by: Jonathan Burack on June 27, 2003 04:25 AM

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Thanks for continuing the display of typical liberal racism!

Posted by: Jason Black on June 27, 2003 05:08 AM

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I am first generation American, with my Mother the first of her family to come to America from England, and my father only once removed from Polish immigrants.

Sorry Buckos, but I take exactly zero responsibility for past or present slavery and discrimintation. My direct ancestors were not even here during the time of slavery and barely here during the civil rights movement (which my father supported).

Just like what was taught in a sociology class I took in college, I don't believe anybody who isn't a activist for minorities is a racist, and I don't believe even a majority of people in this country should be held accountable for wrongdoings over a century ago.

Posted by: Derek on June 27, 2003 05:12 AM

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I've read many of these comments with great interest. What so many people miss, however, is that there is no "diversity" on campuses. The black students still hang out with other black students. Asians and whites, ditto. "Multiculturalism" and "diversity" are failed social experiments that guilty liberals need to assuage their conscious. Nobody has been able to explain how diversity is so necessary. Historically black colleges don't seem to have this problem. Why is that? Maybe because there isn't a problem? If liberals were truly trying to make colleges more diverse, perhaps they should concentrate their efforts on the real problem: crappy inner city k-12. Until this real problem is fixed, minorities who recieve special treatment in order to get into colleges will always have a stigma attached to them. Even if you are a black man who got there because you aced the SAT and got excellent grades you will be unfairly seen as "oh, he wouldn't be here except for affirmative action".

Posted by: Jeff Johnson on June 27, 2003 05:28 AM

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dhn: I have competed against those who benefit from AA. In that sense, to the extent that I'm comfortable with AA, I'm not wishing anyone sacrafice upon someone else that I haven't been at risk of; same with my children.

You missed my point. It is not the RISK of losing to a less qualified AA selection that constitutes a sacrifice. It is the REALITY of such a loss.

That you personally escaped the consequences of a policy you endorse doesn't make it less noxious to the poor fellow relegated to a 2nd tier outcome because of his skin color.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 05:35 AM

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Affirmative Action is a serious mistake. It stigmatizes African Americans as unable to succeed on their own merits, and makes every black person in a boardroom, college faculty, or research lab bear the cloud of suspicion that he or she is an underperformer who only holds his or her job due to racial preferences.

It's also unfair to underqualified African Americans who are unable to perform adequately at the elite colleges and universities and who fail and drop out at very high rates. These students would have done much better at less elite schools where they would be able to succeed. There are no priviliges to be obtained from going a semester or two to an Ivy League and flunking out.

Affirmative Action is ultimately a racist institution, as is brands blacks, hispanics, and American Indians as unable to achieve on their own merits as individuals. We need to encourage academic excellence from underrepresented groups, not encourage mediocrity by lowering standards by people with skin of a particular pigmentation.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer on June 27, 2003 06:07 AM

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We had better get to work on Morehouse, Spelman, Southern and all the other traditionally black colleges so they are "diverse".

The majority of people in America do not want all white colleges. The argument isn't should there be black people at colleges, but should there be black people in that school that don't academically belong there. What about the countries/kingdoms full of blacks and non-whites that sold the slaves (and still hold slaves).

The funniest thing is that the people who tend to cry rascism and decry tokenism are the ones who don't accept conservative black public figures for their qualifications (i.e Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, J. C. Watts, Ward Connerly, etc.). These are the same people who pander to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and every other jackass who is only looking out for themselves while claiming to work for the people.

Posted by: C.Rutt on June 27, 2003 06:26 AM

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"There are no priviliges[sic] to be obtained from going a semester or two to an Ivy League and flunking out."

No, there aren't - other than getting to meet and befriend many of the future leaders and shapers of opinion around the world, there are absolutely none whatsoever ... :-P

More seriously, hardly anyone ever flunks out of an Ivy, and doing so on academic grounds is particularly rare.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 07:25 AM

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I haven't read all the comments here, so it's possible many others have already fleshed out the intellectual vacuousness of this article. I'm posting only to point out that under DeLong's own logic, black Americans share in the collective responsibility for slavery and Jim Crow.

Most brainless piece of writing I've read in a long time. Stick to economics.

Posted by: Steve on June 27, 2003 07:33 AM

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>hardly anyone ever flunks out of an Ivy, and doing so on academic grounds is particularly rare.

I saw 3 guys in my dorm flunk out of the Ivy I attended in the early 70s.

Back to the topic, even if an underperforming AA undergrad is allowed to graduate with the AA equivalent of "gentleman's Cs", the end result will be to confirm the assumption of his/her peers and employers that all "achievements" were unearned race-based grants.

I see no way this is anything but destructive for everyone, and all the institutions, involved.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 07:35 AM

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Prof. Delong wants to buy his virtue wholesale, at nearly zero cost, which means the 18 year Michigan undegrad candidate without African lineage has to pay bust-out retail for his virtue, which Delong considers to be "fair", because, gosh darn it, the collective demands it. Spoken like a true apparatchik. The collective good is to be purchased by the proles for the benefit of the vanguard, and damnit, if the proles object, they just don't understand their role, and just aren't men.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 27, 2003 07:49 AM

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"I saw 3 guys in my dorm flunk out of the Ivy I attended in the early 70s."

That wasn't my own experience, in the 1990s. Perhaps times have changed. Certainly, the graduation statistics for all of the Ivies reflect my own position.

"Back to the topic, even if an underperforming AA undergrad is allowed to graduate with the AA equivalent of "gentleman's Cs", the end result will be to confirm the assumption of his/her peers and employers that all "achievements" were unearned race-based grants."

But my point wasn't about the perceptions of recruiters. It was that going to one gives one an opportunity to meet many of the people who will matter in the future. Friendships across racial lines were hardly uncommon at the school I went to, and it wasn't one with an unusually "liberal" reputation. One's GPA makes no difference in this regard.

One must also consider that the further away one gets from graduation, the less relevant one's transcript tends to be to one's opportunities. Just look at Bush and Gore, neither of whom were stellar students in their undergraduate years. Or what about Dick Cheney, who flunked out of Yale? Does anyone think that a drinking buddy of one of these guys is going to have his transcript reviewed if he goes looking for a favor?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 07:50 AM

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>It was that going to one gives one an opportunity to meet many of the people who will matter in the future.

Do kids of the the socially prominent acually "hang with the homies"? That sure as hell wasn't the scene I experienced. Heck, they wouldn't even acknowledge hard-working white proles like me. The elites clustered amongst themselves, as did afro-centrics in their themed dorm, etc.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 08:01 AM

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Jim, Will, whatever your feelings toward AA your arguments that DeLong should individually pay the costs are not a valid. I'll use Jim's post as an example:

"Recently the (excellent) historian James M. McPherson said that academics like him had benefited unfairly from the white "old boys network" in gaining their positions, and affirmative action thus is needed to remedy this wrong. Thomas Sowell responded: Well, if you think *you* benefited unfairly then *you* should be tithing over the royalties from _Battle Cry for Freedom_ plus maybe a percentage of your income to a fund to aid minority scholars. But your proposal is rather that you keep all your unfair gains while making young, on-the-cusp scholars who never benefited as you did pay the cost of making you feel better about yourself. *Other* people are to make the sacrifice for his principles."

On the face of it sounds like a valid critique. However, tenured college professors are only one of many places where past wrongs continue to have their presence felt. Your example taxes only university professors (or in Will's case specifically Brad). In order for your critique to be meaningful, DeLong and supporters of AA would have to be trying to identify every individual incidence and cost and rectify them one for one. Of course they aren't.

With the costs associated in doing one for one, I note no compelling reasons why the debts shouldn't be viewed as collective. In the same way as inheritance taxes AA simply taxes collective transfers. Identifying college professors as beneficiaries does not serve as a valid reason to limit taxation to them. What about judges? What about politicians? What about businessmen? Are we to assume that monies made during slavery created no interest? I don't think that anybody is planning to make that argument.

Posted by: Stan on June 27, 2003 08:09 AM

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"Do kids of the the socially prominent acually "hang with the homies"? That sure as hell wasn't the scene I experienced. Heck, they wouldn't even acknowledge hard-working white proles like me. The elites clustered amongst themselves, as did afro-centrics in their themed dorm, etc."

Believe it or not, a lot of them actually do. You're always going to have your privileged snobs, and yes, the Ujamaa/Black-Consciousness types did exist (not that the rest of us took them seriously), but friendship across race and class lines were commonplace in my time. I made friends with people from every social stratum, and across every religious, geographic and cultural boundary, and I wasn't at all special in this regard.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 08:12 AM

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>I made friends with people from every social stratum, and across every religious, geographic and cultural boundary, and I wasn't at all special in this regard.

Same here. Just no one I was close to ever became "important". :)

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 08:16 AM

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Sheesh, what a load. Affirmative action is only about keeping African-Americans on the Democrat plantation, since we all know those Evil White Male Republican Racists can't wait to revive all those Jim Crow laws Strom Thurmond ran on...

Posted by: Tim on June 27, 2003 09:07 AM

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So, what to do about a guy like me.

My great-great grandfather and his ancestors owned a plantation and about a dozen slaves in the southern part of Alabama. He fought for the CSA.

My great great grandfather on my father's side emigrated from Germany, moved to a farm in Minnesota, and fought for the Union.

My great grandmother on my father's side was a black Caribbean immigrant.

Myself, I'm 1/4 black.

So. Do I pay reparations from the about 1/4 southern white side to my 1/4 black side, while my German, Unionist side sits on the sideline? Or does 3/4 of me pay off the 1/4? Do we just all give up and elevate Indians?

Affirmative action is a ridiculous holdover from the days when America was segregated. It should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Potentially it could benefit a "colored" guy like me. Or one of my colleagues who is half-Hispanic, but his dad is a VP at Citibank, and my colleague has never had to pay for anything in his life. He gets a break, but a Jewish friend of mine who grew up with the Jamaicans in Roxbury gets discriminated against.

Rather odd.

David

Posted by: David on June 27, 2003 09:21 AM

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Nonsense. I bear no personal responsibility for slavery, and will accept none. If DeLong feels he is responsible, I wish him the best in his personal efforts to assuage those feelings. Leave me and my family out of it.

Posted by: Bob on June 27, 2003 09:43 AM

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To incessantly drone on about the ill-effects of centuries of slavery and segregation is to ignore an essential part of the reality. Namely that this period was preceded by untold centuries of primitive tribalism, cannibalism, female genital mutilation and various and sundry other aspects which made Africa a highly uncivilized land mass.

While slavery is and was a blight on humanity, in the absence of modern social science there was a rational basis in the past for perceiving Africans as being inferior to the decendants of western civilization. And a "real man" grasps that this is baked into the mix of factors when juding our ancestors perception of blacks.

The great triumph of the modern era is how truly repellent the above observations are to all but the most vile and hateful of racists. So while affirmative action may serve as a means for white liberals to alleviate their guilt with regard to our past, they in reality harken back to the perception of Africans in an earlier age. And thus, they serve to reinforce the image of blacks as inferior even if the burden for responsibility is shifted from a primitive civilization to the indignities suffered at the hands of white Europeans.

When I read about the black experience I get angry at the thought of these many bright men and women being deprived of the opportunity to contribute their all to American life and to thus reap the benefits for themselves and their families.If I am to believe all that I read and see in documentaries, these are people who wanted nothing less than to be accepted as full Americans. It is tragic, and our shame that they could not.

Few are the Americans who don't understand this today. But it is hard not to notice the primary obstacles to black prosperity today ... The breakdown of the family. Illegitamacy. An aversion to behaving "white" vis a vis a value placed on education. A high rate of violent crime. A pervasive culture of victimology ...and not observe that they are fairly modern developments in the black community.

It reminds me that liberals are exceedingly good at shining the light on injustice. And grossly inept at solving problems. Its hard not to notice the latent racism that underlies their paternalism. And the horrid effects this has had on the black community and race relations overall.

Posted by: Jeff Hinton on June 27, 2003 09:51 AM

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Well, at least Brad is more candid than most on his side of the debate in admitting that his theory of justice is based on collective guilt; the entire race or community held responsible for and punished for its historic crimes.

Now, since Slobo's on trial in the Hague for that kind of attitude, I suppose we should be greatful that Brad doesn't want to take things that far.

But next time liberals wonder why people with Libertarian inclinations aren't inclined to support them, they should remember this divergence in theories of justice.

Posted by: J. R. on June 27, 2003 10:20 AM

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I'm sure someone has mentioned this but I'm not going to read 180 comments to find out:

Brad, if American women are not included in this "collective responsibility," or if to you "man" includes "woman," then you are doing exactly what you accuse Andrew of doing: not caring about diversity and being a bigot.

Did you mean to say "acting like a mature responsible adult" or did you really mean to say "acting like a man"? The two are not synonymous.

And I'm not surprised that Andrew didn't point out that gaffe, either.

Posted by: Yehudit on June 27, 2003 10:26 AM

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Stan, I just want Delong to stop proclaiming his virtue on other people's dime, and stop questioning the manhood of those who would rather Delong acquire his virtue through his own efforts, instead of freeloading off of 18 year olds.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 27, 2003 10:27 AM

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I linked to this through Sullivan's site and am pleased that you are allowing my brother conservatives to participate. I wanted to point out something that seems obvious to me: A discussion like this is what true diversity is all about. Do you need to know my race to decide whether this is true? My college experience is that conservatives were not allowed to express themselves this way without getting their assess handed to them with harassment and sub-par grades from liberal professors. That's why I transferred to a Catholic college where I learned that the Latin virtus/virtutis actually means "manliness" -- as in masculinity -- not 'those who respond to secular guilt-trips'.

Posted by: Eric on June 27, 2003 10:34 AM

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As long as we're tallying up "collective guilt" - a meaningless concept meant to bootstrap on any policy liberals want - we should pay attention to the various collective debts ancestors of certain African tribes owe ancestors of certain other African tribes for centuries of slavery and for selling their ancestors to Europeans and into slavery.

Moreover, as someone of Irish and Polish descent, I demand that Germans, Russians, and British pay me compensation for the devastation wreaked upon my ancestors over centuries.

Posted by: DC on June 27, 2003 10:39 AM

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Oh Brad: you macho sh*thead...

"Anyone who's a man...", eh?

My "collective guilt" was erased by the three ancestors whose names grace the Pennsylvania memorial at Gettysburg. There are at least twenty more that we know of who wore the Union blue, three of whom never made it home, and several more who came home amputees.

You're welcome, though, to try reaching for my wallet to fatten up the "White Guilt Relief Fund" some more, just don't be surprised if you find your arm broken off at the elbow.

--a.t.

Posted by: andrew on June 27, 2003 10:49 AM

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I wonder if Prof. DeLong will be resigning his position soon to make way for someone whose ancestors were victimized? Does he lack the manliness?

Or is it his point that his “guilt” can be wiped away by some college-bound 18 year old’s sacrifice?

Could he possibly be more cowardly or foolish?

Posted by: Stan on June 27, 2003 11:00 AM

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I'm an Irish-American.

Where do I sign up for the potato famine relief fund?

Are the Irish and Chinese who were exploited owed back pay for building the Transcontinental railroad?

Catholics sure had it easy here. Same with jews.

It all seems to go back to those evil W.A.S.P.s.

Why don't we just kill all Americans of English ancestry?


That way you, Brad, can shut up about your guilt and the rest of us can stop pretending that diversity is anything but a contrivance of the misery-industrial complex.

Posted by: scott on June 27, 2003 11:06 AM

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Stipulate that European-Americans historically gained at the expense of African-Americans.

Why should Chinese-Americans, Fillipino-Americans, Korean-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, etc etc be penalized (or rather, not rewarded) in the college admissions race because they are not the heirs of either slaves or slave-owners?

Suppose California's universities became, ethnically, Asian-only. Would that be "diverse" or not? Surely the experience of the fourth-generation U.S.-born grandchild of Japanese-internees is different from that of a new
immigrant, or the child of Vietnamese refugees. There WOULD be diversity of viewpoints, even if all the faces looked -- to a white male of a certain age -- all alike.

How can one target aid to groups of the formerly-victimized without being unfair to the new generations of Americans?

Posted by: Melcher@aol.com on June 27, 2003 11:16 AM

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Just to back up, um, about fifty comments up the thread to the exchange between Brad DeLong and Mark Bahner on orchestral auditions. Brad is correct in that blind auditions have been good for female musicians. Look at the new players in any major orchestra. If you hire players strictly on how they can play, oddly enough about half of the best turn out to be women. Funny, isn't it?

But . . . I don't know what California orchestra Mark was talking about, but I do know that the City of Detroit tried, some years back, to abolish blind auditions in the Detroit Symphony because there were not enough African-American players in the orchestra. The idea was that the jury ought to be able to see the players rather than just hear them, so that they could . . . oh, say, make the correct decision?

Posted by: Michelle Dulak on June 27, 2003 11:19 AM

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"... every American who wants to be considered a man ..."? Now answer Sullivan's question. Who's the bigot here?
Another politician prancing on individual rights for personal gain. Given the high minded words, how do you justify giving points to Michael Jordan's kids, and not the kids of some poor immigrant? That point is always made and always bushed aside, answer it now.
Affirmative action should be based on need, not race. Until it is, it will be a play thing for irresponsible politicians - a redundant phrase if ever there was one.

Posted by: xit1254 on June 27, 2003 11:21 AM

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"we should pay attention to the various collective debts ancestors of certain African tribes owe ancestors of certain other African tribes for centuries of slavery and for selling their ancestors to Europeans and into slavery."

Are these African "tribes" (my, you do love that word, don't you?) resident in America? If not, why drag them into the discussion?

You are raising a total irrelevance, a red herring; your argument makes as much sense as dragging Japanese atrocities into a defense against German war-crimes compensation. You'd better raise your game if you want to be taken seriously.

"I'm an Irish-American. Where do I sign up for the potato famine relief fund?"

Sigh. More of the same-old same-old. Two things for you to consider:

(1) The Irish famine had nothing to do with America. Your argument would be more substantive if it were addressed to the British.

(2) Your ancestors CHOSE to come to America, didn't they? Sure, they might have starved if they'd remained in Ireland, but nobody forced them to choose America, and not Argentina or some other place, as their destinations.

"Catholics sure had it easy here. Same with jews.[sic]"

Are you seriously trying to compare the experience of either of these groups with that of African-American slavery?

"That way you, Brad, can shut up about your guilt and the rest of us can stop pretending that diversity is anything but a contrivance of the misery-industrial complex."

Ill-mannered idiots like you do more harm to your cause than anything Brad has ever said.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 11:40 AM

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Will, I'm disputing the logic of your charge that he or any AA supporter is freeloading on 18 year olds. In order to argue that Brad is freeloading, you have to believe that there was no profit or interest made off of slavery at the general benefit of one portion of the population at the general expense of another portion of the population. If there was a general profit from a crime, then a general tax can rationally (and Consitutionally) be applied to compensate for it.

Just like the inheritance tax, AA is a tax paid at transfer. AA is supposed to allow minority 18 year olds to profit from their paternity, at the expense of resources that other 18 year olds would not have had at their disposal (wealth, connections, whatever) were it not for the earlier crimes. AA seems reasonably well placed for the transfers it is trying to tax.

Bytheway, I have very little patience for those saying that they don't want to pay any restitution because they don't feel guilty. The U.S. stands convicted of slavery and racism. You are guilty whether you feel it or not. We're not letting criminals go because they feel good about their crimes.

While I have a strong distaste for the "logic" of these particular arguments, my gut feeling toward AA is that there are much better ways of addressing the problem.

Please note that another Stan has commented on this thread. While I won't claim complete control of my faculties, my afflictions are generally more memory related.

Posted by: Stan on June 27, 2003 11:59 AM

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>...the expense of resources that other 18 year olds would not have had at their disposal (wealth, connections, whatever) were it not for the earlier crimes.

This perfectly parallels the old Soviet system of punishing the descendents of the kulaks and the bourgeosie.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 12:16 PM

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Why is everyone hung up over the admissions criteria of a few elite universities? Only a tiny fraction of the U.S. population gets into those institutions. Probably an even smaller fraction of the millions of descendants of African slaves aspires to attend the Harvards and Yales of this country. If you are really bent on righting past wrongs for a whole set of underprivileged people, you should be fighting for something that will benefit the whole set, or at least be accesible to all members of that group. How about offering free tuition at public universities and community colleges for all descendants of African slaves? You could have vouchers for those who get into more expensive and exclusive colleges. Naturally, you will have an explosion of people claiming slave ancestry. But you could establish a fixed sunset date. Worried about buppie progeny getting a free ride? Make it a means-tested benefit.

Posted by: Pete Bate on June 27, 2003 12:34 PM

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Stan (2): You talk about slavery and about "minority" 18-year-olds. I should be interested in hearing why some "minorities" (the majority of whom are not the descendents of slaves) should receive these benefits while others should not. I'd say that historic injustices to immigrant Chinese equal those to immigrant Latinos.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak on June 27, 2003 12:36 PM

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But Andrew did not advocate that there be "an no-black campus,"as you say. He asked a question: "But why is a racially un-diverse but intellectually multi-faceted campus such a bad thing?" That a university may have a number of African-Americans as students and still be "racially un-diverse" is a point you fail to address. That a university may have few, if any, African-Americans and still be "intellectually multi-faceted" is something else you fail to address. Instead, you interpret his question as suggesting that it's okay to have "an no-black campus." In other words, in 2003, you believe that, without affirmative action programs, no blacks will be found on any number of college campuses. Having been an educator of high school students for twenty years, I have no doubt that many, if not most, of my African-American students would find your suggestion thoroughly insulting. It does not take white people who favor affirmative action to make men and women of my students, thank you.

Posted by: Daniel Maher on June 27, 2003 12:37 PM

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"I'm an Irish-American. Where do I sign up for the potato famine relief fund?"
Sigh. More of the same-old same-old. Two things for you to consider:
(1) The Irish famine had nothing to do with America. Your argument would be more substantive if it were addressed to the British.
(2) Your ancestors CHOSE to come to America, didn't they? Sure, they might have starved if they'd remained in Ireland, but nobody forced them to choose America, and not Argentina or some other place, as their destinations.

Abiola, you are a dim bulb. The point is that plenty of groups have suffered at the hands of others both in America and elsewhere. The idea that every achiever that happens upon our shores owes a debt due to black slavery and segregation is moronic.

And as to coming here by choice, there was always Liberia. The "choice " was made. And I have little doubt that millions of Afican-Americans are better off under Bush than Charles Taylor. Even if their rhetoric would suggest otherwise.

"Catholics sure had it easy here. Same with jews.[sic]"
Are you seriously trying to compare the experience of either of these groups with that of African-American slavery?

Don't be foolish. The point is that other groups of Americans suffered indignities on the way to relative prosperity. And to then lump them into some gratuitously amorphous oppressor class is ridiculous. Their arrival was post-emancipation. They are groups who settled in the south in very small numbers. And generally were doing no better than northern blacks until the great southern migration began.

Its one thing to make a case that a high achiever in a poor school district should be given special consideration. But the idea that children of the black middle class merit anything on the grounds of diversity is insidious.


"That way you, Brad, can shut up about your guilt and the rest of us can stop pretending that diversity is anything but a contrivance of the misery-industrial complex."
Ill-mannered idiots like you do more harm to your cause than anything Brad has ever said.

Ill-mannered?

This is a guy talking about what he thinks a "real man" should think. Its funny, because when I think off liberal men, I think of effete, slightly effeminate types. Artistes. Academics. And the like.


Like most normal people, I always associated "real men" with being firemen. Cops. Soldiers. Athletes. You know, the kind of people who disproportionately are or become republicans.

I'm glad that Brad has disabused me of that notion.

Posted by: Scott on June 27, 2003 12:37 PM

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But Andrew did not advocate that there be "an no-black campus,"as you say. He asked a question: "But why is a racially un-diverse but intellectually multi-faceted campus such a bad thing?" That a university may have a number of African-Americans as students and still be "racially un-diverse" is a point you fail to address. That a university may have few, if any, African-Americans and still be "intellectually multi-faceted" is something else you fail to address. Instead, you interpret his question as suggesting that it's okay to have "an no-black campus." In other words, in 2003, you believe that, without affirmative action programs, no blacks will be found on any number of college campuses. Having been an educator of high school students for twenty years, I have no doubt that many, if not most, of my African-American students would find your suggestion thoroughly insulting. It does not take white people who favor affirmative action to make men and women of my students, thank you.

Posted by: Daniel Maher on June 27, 2003 12:43 PM

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"Abiola, you are a dim bulb."

Which goes to prove my point; you ARE an ill-mannered idiot.

" The idea that every achiever that happens upon our shores owes a debt due to black slavery and segregation is moronic."

Of course! After all, every immigrant creates America anew from scratch, benefiting in no way from the legacy left behind by past generations of Americans, right?

"Don't be foolish. The point is that other groups of Americans suffered indignities on the way to relative prosperity. And to then lump them into some gratuitously amorphous oppressor class is ridiculous."

Rubbish! Who has ever "lumped" anyone together into an "oppressor class"? The fact remains, all of these immigrants HAVE benefited from the labors of previous generations of Americans, millions of whom were slaves who were raped, beaten and mutilated, all in the process of accumulating that material wealth that made America such a beacon of prosperity to indigent Irishmen like your ancestors.

"But the idea that children of the black middle class merit anything on the grounds of diversity is insidious."

If this were all you were saying, I would be in agreement with you, but to resort to hyperbolic claims, self-pitying rhetoric and demands that others "shut up" makes you come off like a pompous jackass.

Even if you think Brad was rude to Andrew Sullivan, do you think that justifies your indulging in overblown and vituperative remarks? We might as well be in the 5th grade shouting "he hit me first!" if you think that kind of thing acceptable.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 12:49 PM

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I have to go explain to my little daughters how they are "collectively guilty". "Sorry, honey. I know you haven't hurt anybody and I know you are a good girl, but you are white. That makes you bad, sweetheart."

Boy, do I feel "manly" now.

Posted by: Pete Harrigan on June 27, 2003 12:58 PM

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The poverty level in the black community is, to a great degree, due directly to slavery. And that poverty, in turn, is certainly an important contributor to today's low levels of black education, home ownership, income, etc. However, poverty is definitely not the MOST important factor. Proponents of AA, in general, tend to minimize the negative role played by very prominent facets of black culture.

A great many immigrants come to America from all over the world. Families from China, India, the Middle East, Russia, Nigeria, etc. come to this country to work menial jobs, to earn meager salaries and to live in decrepit homes. They generally cannot speak English. Often they have first hand experience of poverty, crime and suffering the likes of which are not seen by Americans of any race. And they're often the butt of jokes and abusive insults.

Yet these families toil on. They enjoy the benefits of welfare less than us natives. They establish businesses. Their children hit the books hard, go to school and really KICK ASS. They succeed.

And I'm not talking about white people here (although a great many of them have done wonders for this country). I'm talking about foreign folks who are yellow, brown and black - foreign folks who are as racially or ethnically distinct as any black or hispanic in America.

And they succeed. They invest effort and sweat to earn the benefits America can provide. And at the end of the day, they can look people straight in the face and say: "I earned my ticket to success. And despite the hurdles, I gladly payed FULL price."

It's all about culture. And that's something blacks and hispanics, not white people, have to work on.

I'm what's called a "Latino", and I live in latino neighborhood that suffers from many of the same ills that comparable black communities suffer from. Not a very bad one, but not the best either. And I see a lot of shit every day that I don't like. Shit that I think keeps us from getting ahead. Shit I think is OUR fault and that WE should fix. Yet there's always somebody who lives in some fancy, far-away neighborhood who doesn't know dick about hispanic or black culture who says: "It's not your fault. It's whitey's fault. Whitey made you do it". And that somebody says it so often that blacks and hispanics now spend their days bitching about how they _had_ to clock drugs on the corner, or how they just _had_ to bitch-slap some bitch because she was getting loud, or they just _had_ to smoke that blunt because life's too damn hard.

Well, to that somebody let me just say:

You are NOT HELPING. Not even a little bit. Maybe it makes you sleep better at night. Maybe you think it'll get you into heaven. Maybe it just makes you feel magnanimous to help us poor bastards who are like children that don't know any better. I don't know. But you're sure as fuck not helping us.


Posted by: Anonymous on June 27, 2003 01:00 PM

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As a naturalized American citizen who was born in Korea and moved to the States at the age of 3, I'm confused what exactly I must do to be "considered a man." Slavery was an unspeakable evil, but, gosh, its hard for me to feel in anyway guilty or responsible for it. My Korean parents, I presume, do not have any American slave owners in their family tree. And yet, Affirmative Action proponents would have Asian minorities bear their "fair share of the collective responsibility". Oh to be Latin, African, or Native American!!
I know this might be too much to ask, but how bout a little clarity and nuance in the Affirmative Action debate?

Posted by: dane on June 27, 2003 01:31 PM

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Stan, you can dispute anything you wish, but if a Michigan undergrad candidate of non-African descent is told that he cannot enter the University of Michigan so as to allow someone else, and, by Delong's fevered imaginations, this purchases some virtue for Delong, then Delong is freeloading off the sacrifice made by the 18 year old. As much as Delong wishes otherwise,there is nothing virtuous about forcing other people to make a sacrifice.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 27, 2003 01:59 PM

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Ah so Bucky: AA = Communism.

I'll tell you a little secret Bucky. Its also like in the very current U.S. legal system where citizens pay restitution to those they have wronged. Gasp! We do something like that? Oh my! Oh no!

Of course that isn't the political parallel you want to draw. Its a lot easier to ignore incovenient truths if somebody is unAmerican and generally a bad person.

If you try real hard, you can say something even less meaningful. Well, you may find it easy.

Posted by: Stan on June 27, 2003 01:59 PM

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It would be easier to take these complaints against AA seriously if America was colour blind. Also removing goverment as a tool to help people makes the need for AA even greater as the minority applicant must make the most of his individual effort to succeed, in a society that discriminates against him.

So lets see. Slavery happenned right. But we are not responsible as citizens because hey that was a long time ago. And yeah the freed slaves never got that 40 acres and a mule and most states passed laws making it illegal for blacks to use common services, instead they had their own water fountains and schools and pools. Maybe it was inferior but so what, I never got the best things when I was a kid. And sure there were lynchings to keep blacks in line and the state and local government tolerated it but hey life is tough. And then Civil Rights made everything better. Well a lot of white folk did move away from black folk and then the city or the county or the state cut spending on services in the "black part of town" like sewage and electricity and schools and librairies and public transit. But hey cutbacks happen. And the economy got bad and when it was time to fire people well the black people went first cause hey you got to take care of your own. And the city let landlords off their property taxes on buildings in the black part of town if the buildings were burnt down by accident. And then we came up with this nifty war on drugs to make sure people who are poor enough to turn to the underground economy go to jail for the rest of their natural lives leaving the mother and kids out there to fend for themselves. Well if you break the law you pay the price.
And what are all these black people complaining about they have the same chance I do to get ahead in this country...


I am starting to wonder if all right wing commentators are sadists.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on June 27, 2003 02:05 PM

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Abiola, I should not have called you a dim bulb. I appologize. Though you were entirely missing my point.


"Of course! After all, every immigrant creates America anew from scratch, benefiting in no way from the legacy left behind by past generations of Americans, right?"

If you are arguing that slavery was a huge factor in American material prosperity and progress then it is a dubious claim. It certainly enriched some plantation owners. But the lack of capital in the south was part of what fostered such animus toward the north. And one need not look much past the concept of "white trash" or "rednecks" and a relative lack of great universities in the south to know that the southern economy was as dysfunctional as it was evil.

"Rubbish! Who has ever "lumped" anyone together into an "oppressor class"?"


You can't actually be serious. What do you think multiculturalism is about? Where does the expression "people of color" come from? Or, "white privilege?" Implicit in all dialog about race on the left is the idea of blacks, latinos and Asians being somehow oppressed. But how do you tell a Russian immigrant that his academic achievements have less value than a second-generation Mexican immigrant's because white protestants held slaves and imposed Jim Crow in the south?

Its all predicated on creating an ever larger grievance group.


"The fact remains, all of these immigrants HAVE benefited from the labors of previous generations of Americans, millions of whom were slaves who were raped, beaten and mutilated, all in the process of accumulating that material wealth that made America such a beacon of prosperity to indigent Irishmen like your ancestors."

Right. And subsequent generations of Americans, be they Mexicans, Koreans, Iraqis or Africans should go through the same meat grinder as we did. They should not be "given" positions in universities they didn't earn, and they should be expected to assimilate and suffer through jobs that they may perceive as beneath them so as to provide their children with a better life. They should not be told at every turn that America is a white racist culture where they are victims right out of the gates.

Most immigrants actually grasp this bargain better than liberals do. As evidenced by the amazing success of Asian immigrants among others.

"But the idea that children of the black middle class merit anything on the grounds of diversity is insidious."
If this were all you were saying, I would be in agreement with you, but to resort to hyperbolic claims, self-pitying rhetoric and demands that others "shut up" makes you come off like a pompous jackass.


Oh please. The affirmative action concept has moved way beyond the concept of giving African Americans a chance. Leaving out the other minority groups for a second, Are you really going to argue that AA helps blacks go to college? Nonsense. What it does is put the kids who could get into Michigan on their own into Harvard. And so on. So if the majority of the group is edged up one level over their competence (as indicated by measures of achievement) then their very real accomplishments are cheapened.

If a black kid grows up in a poor environment and succeeds against all odds, then that entails an accomplishment worthy of EXTRA special consideration. Hell, if I had the money I'd pay a kid like that's tuition to Harvard myself. But it is NOT an achievement simply because of the color of the kid's skin. Any more than it would be for a similarly academically accomplished black kid in the suburbs.


"Even if you think Brad was rude to Andrew Sullivan, do you think that justifies your indulging in overblown and vituperative remarks? We might as well be in the 5th grade shouting "he hit me first!" if you think that kind of thing acceptable."

You're right. Maybe I don't post on these things often enough to consider that real people are on the other end. Brad being a habitue of this process, on the other hand, has no excuse for dissing Sullivan as he did. Especially considering the fact that if a conservative had similarly questioned the manliness of a gay man, all holy hell would break loose.

Posted by: scott on June 27, 2003 02:31 PM

____

Scott,

I don't know what your own nationality is (though your spelling "color" as "colour" suggests that it's somewhere at a safe remove from the US), but you are simplifying the AA problem dangerously. If it were merely blacks who gained and whites who paid, a lot of people who now oppose AA might favor it. But as it is, the child of recent Costa Rican immigrants will get preference at any elite university over the child of recent Cambodian immigrants. Explain to me how this is either fair or wise.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak on June 27, 2003 02:31 PM

____

> Its also like in the very current U.S. legal system where citizens pay restitution to those they have wronged.

Do you really mean to say that the Soviet slaughter of those whose families owned property under the czar was "like ... the current US legal system"?

Limiting the futures of those whose ANCESTORS are deemed to have been in the wrong is straight from the Lenin/Stalin playbook. If you want to cast your lot with those guys, fine. Just don't be surprised by the vehemence of the opposition.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 27, 2003 02:49 PM

____

"So, let me get this straight, elmination of Affirmative Action+no blacks in universities? Ok. I assume no Hispanics as well. Well. Glad to know you think that highly of my kind Brad."

I agree completely. It's nice to know that liberals think of minorities in such low regard that they apparently can't make it without help.
I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty racist to me.

As for the libertarians who favor affirmative action, you're quite frankly the first I've ever seen. Libertarians disagree on many things (which is one reason why the party is so great) but affirmative actions just seems like a clear cut issue to me if you're of libertarian principles. But to each his own I guess.

Anonymous, good luck. I truly believe that if you work hard, you will make a better life for yourself and your family, even without this "whity's" help.

After all, the Constitution grants life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more and nothing less.

Posted by: Philly G on June 27, 2003 03:11 PM

____

Abiola, I should not have called you a dim bulb. I appologize. Though you were entirely missing my point.


"Of course! After all, every immigrant creates America anew from scratch, benefiting in no way from the legacy left behind by past generations of Americans, right?"

If you are arguing that slavery was a large factor in American material prosperity and progress then it is a dubious claim. It certainly enriched some plantation owners. But the lack of capital in the south was part of what fostered such animus toward the north. And one need not look much past the concept of "white trash" or "rednecks" and a relative lack of great universities in the south to know that the southern agrarian economy was as dysfunctional as it was evil. And while they may not loom large as a sympathetic caste (certainly not compared to the plight of slaves or emancipated blacks in the next century), most southern whites also paid a high price for the south's economic system.

"Rubbish! Who has ever "lumped" anyone together into an "oppressor class"?"


You can't actually be serious. What do you think multiculturalism is about? Where does the expression "people of color" come from? Or, "white privilege?" Implicit in all dialog about race on the left is the idea of blacks, latinos and Asians being somehow oppressed. But how do you tell a Russian immigrant that his academic achievements have less value than a second-generation Mexican immigrant's because white protestants held slaves and imposed Jim Crow in the south?

Its all predicated on creating an ever larger grievance group.


"The fact remains, all of these immigrants HAVE benefited from the labors of previous generations of Americans, millions of whom were slaves who were raped, beaten and mutilated, all in the process of accumulating that material wealth that made America such a beacon of prosperity to indigent Irishmen like your ancestors."

Right. And subsequent generations of Americans, be they Mexicans, Koreans, Iraqi's or Africans should go through the same meat grinder as we did. They should not be "given" positions in universities they didn't earn, and they should be expected to assimilate and suffer through jobs that they may perceive as beneath them so as to provide their children with a better life. They should not be told at every turn that America is a white racist culture where they are victims right out of the gates.

Most immigrants actually grasp this bargain better than liberals do. As evidenced by the amazing success of Asian immigrants among others.

"But the idea that children of the black middle class merit anything on the grounds of diversity is insidious."
If this were all you were saying, I would be in agreement with you, but to resort to hyperbolic claims, self-pitying rhetoric and demands that others "shut up" makes you come off like a pompous jackass.


Oh please. The affirmative action concept has moved way beyond the concept of giving African Americans a chance. Leaving out the other minority groups for a second, Are you really going to argue that AA helps blacks go to college? Nonsense. What it does is put the kids who could get into Michigan on their own into Harvard. And so on. So if the majority of the group is edged up one level over their competence (as indicated by measures of achievement) then their very real accomplishments are cheapened.

If a black kid grows up in a poor environment and succeeds against all odds, then that entails an accomplishment worthy of EXTRA special consideration. Hell, if I had the money I'd pay a kid like that's tuition to Harvard myself. But it is NOT an achievement simply because of the color of the kid's skin. Any more than it would be for a similarly academically accomplished black kid in the suburbs.


"Even if you think Brad was rude to Andrew Sullivan, do you think that justifies your indulging in overblown and vituperative remarks? We might as well be in the 5th grade shouting "he hit me first!" if you think that kind of thing acceptable."

You're right. Maybe I don't post on these things often enough to consider that real people are on the other end. Brad being a habitue of this process, on the other hand, has no excuse for dissing Sullivan as he did. Especially considering the fact that if a conservative had similarly questioned the manliness of a gay man, all holy hell would break loose.

Posted by: scott on June 27, 2003 03:16 PM

____

Sorry, but using your concept of group identity and guilt absolves me of any collective guilt. Few groups have been more oppressed in history than mine, the Jews. No single group has done more to advance civil rights for blacks than mine. But in return, we get almost nothing but the vilest anti-Semitic treatment from the hypocritical garbage who masquerade as black civil rights leaders. The fact that Nazi vermin like Al Sharpton and Farrakhan still command respect amongst blacks and the self hating white liberal sycophants absolves me of any special responsibility to enhance the self esteem of lazy, second rate minds. Part of the reason for the pathetic black scholastic record is the fault of the stupid, pc white trash who screwed up our schools with all the silly 60's tripe and the other part is the dishonest, anti-intellectual, paranoid racist mentality of the so called black leadership who views every setback or malfeasance of the black community as evidence of pervasive racism based on their keen sense of smell or hearing that us ice folks lack.

Posted by: Jake on June 27, 2003 08:29 PM

____

Bucky still contends that even though I was, and my progeny will be, put at a disadvantage in competing with minorities targeted by AA that I am still asking others to assuage my "guilt" at their own expense. What makes you think that I haven't "lost" a postgraduate job or student slot to a minority candidate? Even if that were not the case, competing in a pool in which gender, race, or economic status is taken into account in assessing the candidate works against those who cannot claim disadvantaged status. Supporting AA, for many, means accepting that risk.


Jim, your argument would be much more persuasive _if you could show a causal connection between the particular policy you talk about and the failures of the NYC schools_. Indeed, I'm impressed by those good teachers who stay in NYC rather than migrate to Westchester, Rockland, or Long Island.

BTW, I lived in NYC for most of the 1990s. Given the state of the school system, I'm not surprised that an increase of 4,000 per student failed to reverse or prevent declining standards -- when one considers the state of NYC school infrastructure, the larger socioeconomic problems found in many areas of the city, the mess that was (is) the school board, etc. I still stand by my lengthy argument as to why, whatever problems might be exacerbated by the teachers' unions, trying to blame them for the enormous underlying problems of the NYC school system is an ideologically driven red herring.

Posted by: dhn on June 28, 2003 08:36 AM

____

I'd say this just brings out in the open what many people suspect to be true: black people need extra help and Asians don't. So, when you pick your doctor or lawyer or hire someone, you'll go with the person who didn't need any court-ordered help. It's a sad state of things when Spike Lee's are seen to extra help and the child of a Viet Namese boat person doesn't.

Posted by: Rachel Cohen on June 28, 2003 08:53 AM

____

Blacks, and other peoples subjects to prejudices in the USA, need AA to get in, not to get through. Once they end their process they are as performant as anyone, except in the eyes of racists. Asians benefit from a favorable prejudice in respect of academic success. Which does not mean they will not find other prejudices in their lifes.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on June 28, 2003 10:44 AM

____

>What makes you think that I haven't "lost" a postgraduate job or student slot to a minority candidate?

The fact that you haven't bragged about that having taken place. You'd have used it as a talking point, and a fine one it would have been.

You are asking someone else to take the fall for a crime they did not commit. There is no rationale under the sun that makes such a stance moral.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 28, 2003 03:21 PM

____

I haven't read the entire thread, but the last one I read was on how, if we detest affirmative-action, how can we support racial profiling?

I think that you don't understand the realities of life, if you have to ask that question. AA and racial profiling are two very different things:

Affirmative action is discriminating in favor of one sub-group of Americans, simply because of the color of their skin, and some collective guilt over slavery, which ended in 1865, and segregation, which ended in the 1960s and 70s.

College should be a meritocracy. People should get in on their grades and talent, not on their skin color, which is only an adaptation to the sun. But because of affirmative action, people who should get in, don't, because some kid who is less qualified, but is a minority, took their place. Not fair, but until someone notices that, we're stuck with it. When they finally stop using a glorified quota system, they might notice that our public schools have gone to pot, and did so around the 60s and 70s.

Racial profiling, on the other hand, is quite fair, because it simply uses statistics to find someone who is more likely of having committed a crime. It isn't just race - it also takes into account age, gender, backround (like job), and all that stuff. Most policemen are not prejudiced, they're simply doing their job: protecting us from criminals.

I support profiling, because it protects us from criminals.

I am against affirmative action, since it is, at it's core, a glorified, racist quota system.

Posted by: Elena on June 29, 2003 07:43 AM

____

"Corporations (or really big corporate CEOs) say various things for various reasons most of which should be taken with a grain of salt. If AT&T wants to hire people so that they have an exact ethnic representation of America in their work force, I guess that's up to them. Can't work much worse than their other recent business strategies. But I take their opinion on college admission policies no more seriously than their opinion on option expensing on financial statements."

This is oh so correct.

The HR depts of large companies are going the extra mile for 'diversity'. It is a cover for hiring more minorities and women but doesnt even scratch the surface of true diversity.
My company:
I've seen first hand hiring slots that were 'only for women'; funding a minority-only internship program, then also having large %age of 'diversity' folks in standard new-hire programs, with a sad difference in the capabilities of the non-'diverse' members.

I am afraid that AA confirms, deepens and extends racial feelings rather than erases them. That is certainly the case on campus today. Working with fully-qualified folks of many nationalities, backgrounds, ethnicities etc. makes it plain to me there is practically zero validity to calling 'diversity' the difference between white and black Americans. It also convinces me that only fair way to judge is on the content of individual's merit - any other way is prejudice of some form. To think that "good prejudice" can erase "bad prejudice" is truly Orwellian.

Since this is supposed to be about economics, I would make one point: Those companies that stick to strict merit in hiring will have a competitive advantage over the companies with the over-emphasis on AA and 'diversity programs' in their HR depts. Companies that play 'numbers' games on race composition are hurting their bottom lines with inferior hiring selections.

The companies in the latter category have already gotten politicized HR depts and/or are scared by potential Jesse Jackson-like shakedowns, and so are willing promoters of enforcing *more of the same* on their competitors! Hence the amicus curae briefs by these fortune 500 companies in support of something that damages their overall employee effectiveness and morale.

The fact that AT&T has been pursuing politically correct ad campaigns while underperforming as a corporation should NOT be a surprise.


Posted by: Pat on June 29, 2003 11:11 AM

____

"Corporations (or really big corporate CEOs) say various things for various reasons most of which should be taken with a grain of salt. If AT&T wants to hire people so that they have an exact ethnic representation of America in their work force, I guess that's up to them. Can't work much worse than their other recent business strategies. But I take their opinion on college admission policies no more seriously than their opinion on option expensing on financial statements."

This is oh so correct.

The HR depts of large companies are going the extra mile for 'diversity'. It is a cover for hiring more minorities and women but doesnt even scratch the surface of true diversity.
My company:
I've seen first hand hiring slots that were 'only for women'; funding a minority-only internship program, then also having large %age of 'diversity' folks in standard new-hire programs, with a sad difference in the capabilities of the non-'diverse' members.

I am afraid that AA confirms, deepens and extends racial feelings rather than erases them. That is certainly the case on campus today. Working with fully-qualified folks of many nationalities, backgrounds, ethnicities etc. makes it plain to me there is practically zero validity to calling 'diversity' the difference between white and black Americans. It also convinces me that only fair way to judge is on the content of individual's merit - any other way is prejudice of some form. To think that "good prejudice" can erase "bad prejudice" is truly Orwellian.

Since this is supposed to be about economics, I would make one point: Those companies that stick to strict merit in hiring will have a competitive advantage over the companies with the over-emphasis on AA and 'diversity programs' in their HR depts. Companies that play 'numbers' games on race composition are hurting their bottom lines with inferior hiring selections.

The companies in the latter category have already gotten politicized HR depts and/or are scared by potential Jesse Jackson-like shakedowns, and so are willing promoters of enforcing *more of the same* on their competitors! Hence the amicus curae briefs by these fortune 500 companies in support of something that damages their overall employee effectiveness and morale.

The fact that AT&T has been pursuing politically correct ad campaigns while underperforming as a corporation should NOT be a surprise.


Posted by: Pat on June 29, 2003 11:11 AM

____

"Corporations (or really big corporate CEOs) say various things for various reasons most of which should be taken with a grain of salt. If AT&T wants to hire people so that they have an exact ethnic representation of America in their work force, I guess that's up to them. Can't work much worse than their other recent business strategies. But I take their opinion on college admission policies no more seriously than their opinion on option expensing on financial statements."

This is oh so correct.

The HR depts of large companies are going the extra mile for 'diversity'. It is a cover for hiring more minorities and women but doesnt even scratch the surface of true diversity.
My company:
I've seen first hand hiring slots that were 'only for women'; funding a minority-only internship program, then also having large %age of 'diversity' folks in standard new-hire programs, with a sad difference in the capabilities of the non-'diverse' members.

I am afraid that AA confirms, deepens and extends racial feelings rather than erases them. That is certainly the case on campus today. Working with fully-qualified folks of many nationalities, backgrounds, ethnicities etc. makes it plain to me there is practically zero validity to calling 'diversity' the difference between white and black Americans. It also convinces me that only fair way to judge is on the content of individual's merit - any other way is prejudice of some form. To think that "good prejudice" can erase "bad prejudice" is truly Orwellian.

Since this is supposed to be about economics, I would make one point: Those companies that stick to strict merit in hiring will have a competitive advantage over the companies with the over-emphasis on AA and 'diversity programs' in their HR depts. Companies that play 'numbers' games on race composition are hurting their bottom lines with inferior hiring selections.

The companies in the latter category have already gotten politicized HR depts and/or are scared by potential Jesse Jackson-like shakedowns, and so are willing promoters of enforcing *more of the same* on their competitors! Hence the amicus curae briefs by these fortune 500 companies in support of something that damages their overall employee effectiveness and morale.

The fact that AT&T has been pursuing politically correct ad campaigns while underperforming as a corporation should NOT be a surprise.


Posted by: Pat on June 29, 2003 11:16 AM

____

>Companies that play 'numbers' games on race composition are hurting their bottom lines with inferior hiring selections.

In a vacuum, yes, but not in the real world. Creating quota slots, diseconomic and unjust as they are, is cheaper than the litigation and press smears that would come from an "undiverse" but merit-based, workforce.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 29, 2003 12:23 PM

____

Regarding the following comment: "Bush provoked 9-11.
Republicans better than Democrats on National Security?

That myth exploded with the first plane that hit the first World Trade Tower on Sept. 11.

I need you and 5 of your friends to read and sign this important petition.

Tell the Republican Congress that you don't support the mean spirited radical Republican agenda."
A self-defeating statement: Tell the "Republican Congress" about their "mean spirited" and "radical" agenda. Americans elected those legislators. Did you see the midterm election results? Unprecedented gains for Republicans in the House and Senate. Looks like most of America is "mean-spirited" and "radical" along with their representatives.

Posted by: Seth on June 29, 2003 11:31 PM

____

Regarding the following comment: "Bush provoked 9-11.
Republicans better than Democrats on National Security?

That myth exploded with the first plane that hit the first World Trade Tower on Sept. 11.

I need you and 5 of your friends to read and sign this important petition.

Tell the Republican Congress that you don't support the mean spirited radical Republican agenda."
A self-defeating statement: Tell the "Republican Congress" about their "mean spirited" and "radical" agenda. Americans elected those legislators. Did you see the midterm election results? Unprecedented gains for Republicans in the House and Senate. Looks like most of America is "mean-spirited" and "radical" along with their representatives.

Posted by: Seth on June 29, 2003 11:34 PM

____

Brad DeLong writes, "It means that they are willing to take up the burden of acting not for one's own private advancement but for the common collective good."

So as a private citizen, contribute to the United Negro College Fund. Or tutor black students. Or whatever other action you deem virtuous.

But do NOT advocate that governments in the U.S.--federal and state--violate the 14th amendment. It is never advances "the common collective good" when governments violate The Law. In fact, it doesn't advance "the common collective good" when private citizens support governments violating The Law.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 30, 2003 09:13 AM

____

Bucky, you did prove that you could say something less meaningful. It is you who wants to say that citizens paying restitution to those they have wronged is the equavilent of "the Soviet slaughter of those whose families owned property under the czar." I pointed out that U.S. courts have people make restitution all the time. Imagine that! Restitution is a legitimate U.S. phenomenon!

In your pat little version of world history and politics paraded here confiscation of property is always the ultimate outcome of any attempt at making restitution. In that way, the Soviet example has to be more pertinent than the many U.S. versions of restitution. What with only a few decades of implementation, I guess we just haven't seen the full negative effects of AA here in the States? We all know the U.S. has a strong propensity for mimicking the Soviets!

The fact that neither court ordered restitution nor AA has resulted in wholesale slaughter in the U.S. makes your Soviet example meaningless. But you knew it was nonsense from the start. You want to paint the concept of state ordered restitution as something those "Commies" do to delegitimize it. Heaven forbid that you have to address AA on its own merits.

Posted by: Stan on June 30, 2003 11:38 AM

____

Bucky, you did prove that you could say something less meaningful. It is you who wants to say that citizens paying restitution to those they have wronged is the equavilent of "the Soviet slaughter of those whose families owned property under the czar." I pointed out that U.S. courts have people make restitution all the time. Imagine that! Restitution is a legitimate U.S. phenomenon!

In your pat little version of world history and politics confiscation of property is always the ultimate outcome of any attempt at making restitution. In that way, the Soviet example has to be more pertinent than the many U.S. versions of restitution. What with only a few decades of implementation, I guess we just haven't seen the full negative effects of AA here in the States? We all know the U.S. has a strong propensity for mimicking the Soviets!

The fact that neither court ordered restitution nor AA has resulted in wholesale slaughter in the U.S. makes your Soviet example meaningless. But you knew it was nonsense from the start. You want to paint the concept of state ordered restitution as something those "Commies" do to delegitimize it. Heaven forbid that you have to address AA on its own merits.

Posted by: Stan on June 30, 2003 12:05 PM

____

>citizens paying restitution to those they have wronged

Not even the most fevered proponents of AA assert that those bypassed because of their race in the year 2003 "wronged" those who are now favored.

>We all know the U.S. has a strong propensity for mimicking the Soviets!

Certainly Ashcroft's most vocal critics make that case.

> Heaven forbid that you have to address AA on its own merits.

One cannot address something that is meritless on its merits. Punishing innocents because of their race is simply wrong.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on June 30, 2003 12:27 PM

____

Bucky, I finally saw your response: "One cannot address something that is meritless on its merits. Punishing innocents because of their race is simply wrong."

In order to arrive at the conclusion that innocents are being punished, you have to assume that the marginal kids being denied due to AA would not have been denied due to better qualified minority students absent our history. Essentially, you are saying AA benefants would not have gotten better grades without the historical legacies of Jim Crow and slavery.

Sure! You're right! Your ahistoric argument does hold more merit! There is no merit whatsoever in assuming better performance and connections by minority students without our history! Also, the costs of addressing any historic claims of wrong are always too high and too remote, and addressing them will always lead to Communism and violence!

You are impressive in your own special way.

Posted by: Stan on July 15, 2003 10:24 AM

____

>In order to arrive at the conclusion that innocents are being punished, you have to assume that the marginal kids being denied due to AA would not have been denied due to better qualified minority students absent our history.

The white kids passed over in 2003 solely for their skin color had no hand in the "history" you cite. They neither perpetrated crimes nore benefited from them.

Punishing children today because of hypothetical historicals is exactly the kind of abstract persecution manufactured by famous 20th century totalitarians.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on July 16, 2003 07:20 AM

__