June 27, 2003

Andrew Sullivan Is Wrong Again!!

Andrew Sullivan calls me a "...classic example of the arrogant liberal. He supports affirmative action and believes that individuals in 2003 bear a direct responsibility for those people who enacted slavery and made life a living hell for many black Americans in decades and centuries past." But he's wrong. On this issue the arguments that convince me are not liberal but conservative ones--Burkean ones, to be exact.

A liberal sees society as a result of a social contract implicitly made between all of us alive today: we agree to live by rules and laws that we then have a chance to rethink, remake, and reform. It's important that this social contract be fair to us. From this perspective, the questions "Why should recent Korean immigrants bear any responsibility for repairing the damage left by the marks of slavery and Jim Crow?" and "Why should African-Americans find their own capabilities and potential accomplishments still limited by the marks of slavery and Jim Crow?" are both very good ones. (Somehow Andrew Sullivan only asks the first, and never thinks to ask the second. But thinking about why would take us far afield.)

I begin from a different point, from the observations that we Americans alive today are all the recipients of an extraordinary and unmerited gift, an inheritance of institutions, principles, and organizations that is without peer anywhere on the world today and that is of inestimable value. We aren't independent liberal individuals making a social contract in the rational light of Enlightenment Reason. Instead, we are heirs who have received an enormous inheritance from our predecessors. As Burke wrote, we "claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity--as an estate specially belonging to the people." It's not a contract, or if it is a contract it is not one just between those alive today. Again, as Burke puts it, if you are to think of a social contract you have to recognize that it is not "a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties.... It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

But estates that are inherited come not only with assets, they also come encumbered with debts. If we are to be Americans--if we are to take up the wonderul unmerited gift, accept the marvelous entailed inheritance that is offered to us--we must take up not just the benefits and advantages, but also the debts that America owes from its past actions as well. To do otherwise--to ignore the debts while grabbing the goodies with both hands--is to show that we are not the true heirs of Benjamin Franklin and company. And chief among the debts that America owes from its past actions is the obligation to erase the marks left by slavery and Jim Crow.

Now Andrew Sullivan wants Americans to welsh on the debts and responsibilities that are attached to our marvelous, unmerited inheritance of institutions, principles, and organizations. He wants us to grab the good parts of the inheritance with both hands, and to say that the bad parts are none of our concern--that the slaveholders are dead, the lynchers are dead, and those who fought hard to protect lynchers from the law are dead (although not all of them, and Strom Thurmond only very recently).

Edmund Burke would disagree. He would say, "Are you crazy? There's a history here!" He would reach back to Montesquieu, and say that if the ruling principle of despotism is fear (it collapses if the subjects no longer fear the despot), and if the ruling principle of monarchy is honor (it collapse if the nobles no longer seek to outdo each other in deeds to win honor, nobility, and the favor of the king), so the ruling principle of a republic must be virtue. What is virtue? Well, linguistically, virtue comes from the Latin "virtus": "vir" = man, "tus" = -liness: "virtue" = "manliness" [in a proper modern and gender-indeterminate way, of course]*. Practically, a republic requires virtuous citizens: citizens who will take up their responsibilities and shoulder their share of the obligations neecessary for the common good. People who won't shirk their responsibilities. "If you wish to be part of this great more than two-century partnership that is America," Burke would say, "you need to recognize that your inheritance is an entailed inheritance. First, it comes with an obligation not to waste it--an obligation to in your turn pass down to those not yet born a better nation than the one you live in. Second, it comes with debts attached: past deeds of America that were cruel and criminal, the memory of which is still shameful. Just because the particular members of the great partnership who incurred the debts (the three-fifths clause, the legality of the slave trade, the Missouri Compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act, et cetera) are dead doesn't mean that that the debts aren't still owed by the great partnership."

So Andrew Sullivan is wrong again. On many issues I am an arrogant liberal. But not this one. On this issue, I'm an arrogant conservative.

*Andrew Northrup-suggested ediut.

Posted by DeLong at June 27, 2003 11:40 AM | TrackBack

Comments

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/opinion/22PATT.html

Affirmative Action: The Sequel
By ORLANDO PATTERSON - Harvard University

No issue better reveals the American tension between principle and pragmatism than the debate over affirmative action. This week the Supreme Court is expected to enter the debate with a widely anticipated ruling on the University of Michigan's admissions policies, which favor black and other minority applicants. More important than the decision the court reaches will be the reasoning it uses.

As pragmatic public policy, it is easy to show that the benefits of affirmative action far outweigh its social or individual costs. It ensures the integration of our best universities and thereby promotes (if indirectly) a heterogeneous professional elite. In conjunction with antidiscrimination laws, it has directly fostered the growth of an African-American and Latino middle class....

Posted by: anne on June 27, 2003 12:01 PM

> How could the Court have been more
> divisive and demeaning towards Black
> Americans?

Oh, I don't know. How about declaring their worth to be equivalent to three fifths of a person?

Posted by: Kieran Healy on June 27, 2003 12:09 PM

Kieran, I'm sure you know the history behind the three fifths compromise. It would have been better for the slaves if they had been declared less than three fifths of a person, not more, because the determination was solely to give southern slave owners more voting power. The greater the value, the stronger the political power of the slave owners; the lesser the value, the weaker the political power of the slave owners.

Posted by: Micha Ghertner on June 27, 2003 12:26 PM

You know, Sullivan suggested that you were guilty of homophobia for saying that with respect to racism acknowledgement and restitution "are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man needs to stand up and bear." I suspect that you missed the accusation or you wouldn't have gone out of your way to emphasize the the etymological connections between virtue and manliness. The implication that justice and virtue are the same thing as manliness is really a remnant of the bad old days, something calling for acknowledgement and restitution.

Posted by: Mike on June 27, 2003 12:32 PM

I have to say that I'm with Brad on this one. The notion that we can just say "Too bad about the past, but can't we all just move on?" is simply untenable, and an intellectually dishonest one for self-avowed Burkeans to be pushing.

Not all wrongs can be righted, but that doesn't mean that there's no obligation to try, and some wrongs are simply much greater than others.

When one is talking about a people who have contributed so much to the making of America, and have received so little recompense for their labors over such a long period, it is the height of callousness to suddenly start harping on about "equality". Where were all the advocates of "equality" when African-Americans were deprived of its' fruits?

Some of us are well aware that "National Review", the leading conservative periodical, which devotes so much time and energy to marshalling the good name of Martin Luther King in defence of "color blindness" and "equality", was defending the very opposite of equality not so long ago. It was a certain William F. Buckley who wrote, in August 1957, an article entitled "Why The South Must Prevail". Following is a choice quote from said article:

“National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct… It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”

One can argue about the mechanics of Affirmative Action, and there is indeed much to argue with in giving the children of well-to-do African Americans an advantage of children of poor whites and immigrants, but to simply pretend that there is no legacy of past injustices to be remedied is hogwash.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 12:33 PM

Oh please Professor Delong.

The problem with affirmative action as practiced in college and university admissions is not that it represents an attempt by society, as a whole, to repay the very real moral debts incurred by generations of oppression of minorities. If it were such, affirmative action might well be a morally defensible practice (though perhaps still not a constitutionally defensible one, though 5 justices think it is). Goodness knows slavery stands as the Original Sin staining the American soul. We are all sullied by it. We all need to be made clean.

Rather, affirmative action as practiced in college and university admissions involves making a tiny handful of people, namely white and Asian American applicants whose credentials place them at the margin of acceptance, repay the entire debt.

Take the University of Michigan Law School. The School wants to maintain African American enrollment at about 10%. But if race were not considered in admissions, the percentage of accepted applicants who were African American would be less than 10%. For discussion sake, say its 5% (I think the Bok et. al. book from a few years ago argued that eliminating affirmative action would cut the minority enrollment at top schools in half). So there's a group of 5% of the slots at the School that would have gone to white and Asian American applicants if race were not considered, and those applicants are now rejected. And make no mistake, those applicants suffer rather significant economic consequences. There are firms that recruit only at the top tier schools, and those firms tend to be the most prestigious, offering the highest post law school salaries and the best opportunities for long term career advancement.

So who is "paying the debt" here? Its not the top white and Asian American applicants. They get in no matter what. Indeed, I suspect that the embrace of affirmative action by many white elites (including, dare I say, tenured professors of economics at leading research universities) is not entirely unrelated to the fact that they expect their own children to be in the top of the applicant pool for any school they might want to someday attend. And its not the vast majority of white and Asian American people who pay the debt either. People who either have no interest in going to the University of Michigan Law School, or people who might like to go but who don't have credentials even close to those required for admission, don't suffer a bit at the hands of the School's policies.

Rather, its just that tiny little sliver of the population, that group of white and Asian American applicants who are bright but not brilliant, that we ask to bear the entire burden. And who is in this group? Well, probably a few are white and Asian American sons and daughters of wealth who wasted away the advantages they've been given. Sure. But the majority of this little group that we ask to pay the debt are white and Asian American sons and daughters of insurance salesmen and electricians and middle managers and high school basketball coaches. The kind of kids who score in the 85th percentile on the LSAT, but who might have scored higher if their parents had been willing to shell out $1000 for a prep course. The kind of kids who have 3.6 GPAs, but who might have had 3.9 GPAs if they didn't have to work part-time for fifteen hours a week in college to help pay their tuition, or who might have had 3.9 GPAs if they had gone to an academically demanding private high school and thus been able to hit the ground running their freshmen year, instead of working through the painful adjustment to college level work.

So tell me, Professor Delong, when have you, in your entire life, paid one penny toward the "debt" we call affirmative action? Were you denied a slot in a top college that went to a minority with lesser credentials? Were you denied a spot in a top grad school that went to a minority with lesser credentials? Were you ever passed over for a job that later went to a minority with lesser credentials? Didn't think so.

And can you honestly say, in your heart of hearts, that you think there is any significant chance that any of your children, who are growing up in an academic household with two exceptionally bright and educated parents who give them books and take them to scout camp, will ever pay one penny toward the debt? Do you think your children will ever be marginal applicants? Do you think their college grades will suffer from arriving on campus unprepared to do college level work? Do you think their applications to graduate or professional school will suffer from a paucity of interesting life experiences?

I mean, I'm white as white can be, and I've never been asked to pay one penny toward the debt. I've gotten in to every school I've ever applied to. But I'm not sure that I would have if my parents hadn't stressed the value of education and hard work. I've got a great job, but I'm not so sure I would have if my upbringing hadn't occasionally exposed me to enough of the world to seek out challenging opportunities.

What burns me so much about this particular family of arguments in favor of affirmative action is the assumption that every single white kid in the country had the same advantges growing up that I did, that Professor Delong's kids do now. And that no minority kids have those same advantages - that the demographic profile of those minority applicants to UM Law who get in under affirmative action (who wouldn;t without it) is the eact same as that of minorities as a whole.

We could address the fact that only 5% of minority applicants are qualified to get into the University of Michigan Law School on the merits by pouring our hearts and dollars into improving the k-12 schools that serve minority populations (As a conservative, I'll make you a deal: I'll trade widespread voucher programs and teacher merit pay for an end to local, property-tax based financing of schools and a general increase in the dolalrs going to education.). THAT would be a shared sacrifice. It would represent payment by all of society for the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. But please, oh please, Professor Delong, don't pretend that affirmative action is a shared sacrifice. You don't suffer any negative consequences for affirmative action, and neither do I. Its just a few white and Asian American kids whose credentials put them somewhere on the border between exceptional and simply good. But hey, what do they matter? Their parents probably aren't even on faculty.

Posted by: sd on June 27, 2003 12:46 PM

"As a conservative, I'll make you a deal: I'll trade widespread voucher programs and teacher merit pay for an end to local, property-tax based financing of schools and a general increase in the dolalrs going to education."

THIS is, to my mind, the sort of argument that has a chance of passing political and ethical muster, particularly if the voucher program were phased in BEFORE affirmative-action were phased out.

If conservatives were serious about seeing AA done away with, they'd also be willing to make one more sacrifice that would ensure this notion's political viability: vouchers would be phased out for the wealthiest parents. This is necessary to demonstrate that it isn't just another dastardly conservative scheme to benefit the prosperous segments of their constituency at the cost of society as a whole.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 01:04 PM

SD wrote: "So tell me, Professor Delong, when have you, in your entire life, paid one penny toward the 'debt' we call affirmative action? Were you denied a slot in a top college that went to a minority with lesser credentials? Were you denied a spot in a top grad school that went to a minority with lesser credentials? Were you ever passed over for a job that later went to a minority with lesser credentials? Didn't think so."

Why in the world are you making this assumption? There are, no doubt, undergrad and grad school applications, post-doc position applications, etc. that DeLong made of which you are not aware. Certainly there's no reason at all for you to assume that DeLong hasn't ever been passed over for promotion in some form or another.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 27, 2003 01:14 PM

A couple of years ago, Charles Krauthammer wrote an interesting column suggesting reparations (for blacks) as an alternative to affirmative action. I'm reminded of this because Brad's argument for collective American responsibility for the sins of the past is logically an argument for reparations, the burden of paying which would at least fall on all taxpayers. On the other hand, the burden of affirmative action is borne much more selectively. For all the sound and fury on the subject, A.A. really only affects a minority of people, and most of its advocates have not been adversely affected themselves but seem to be calling for sacrifices on the part of other people. (For the record it hasn't affected me either, so I have no axe to grind here).

Posted by: Phil P on June 27, 2003 01:29 PM

Keith,

Perhaps you're right. But I find it highly doubtful that an economist of Mr. Delong's caliber would have ever been among those white applicants/students passed over in favor of a less qualified minority applicant/student. White and Asian American kids with stellar credentials still get into whatever schools they want. Its their less qualified fellows who lose slots to even less qualified minorities under affirmative action.

Or, to put it another way, consider this thought experiment (For Mr. Delong): Would you support affirmative action for undergrads at Berkeley if, for the next five or ten years, it was implemented by denying slots not to the 5% of white and Asian American students with the lowest qualifications among the pool of white and Asian American applicants with the credentials to get in to Berkeley in the absence of affirmative action, but to the top 5% of white and Asian American applicants (Or, in a less radical version, a random 5% of white and Asian American applicants). In other words, if to make room for a minority applicant with a 1200 SAT we denied a spot not to a white/Asian applicant with a 1400 SAT, but denied a spot to a White/Asian applicant with a 1600 SAT. And if your answer is "No," tell me precisely how the kid with the 1600 SAT is any less burdened by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow than the kid with the 1400.

Posted by: sd on June 27, 2003 01:30 PM

Pretty words but they boil down to 'the sins of the father are passed on to the son.' Of all conservative thought what a shame Bradford had to adopt this rotten idea.

Posted by: Alex Tabarrok on June 27, 2003 01:38 PM

A couple of years ago Charles Krauthammer wrote an interesting column advocating reparations (!) for blacks as an alternative to affirmative action. I’m reminded of this because Brad’s argument for collective responsibility for the sins of the past is really an argument for reparations in some form. Financial reparations at least has the virtue of imposing the burden on all taxpayers. The problem with A.A. (one of them at least) is that the costs are borne very selectively. For all the sound and fury on the subject, the burdens and benefits are only experienced by a few. Most advocates of A.A. have not been adversely affected by it, and therefore are calling for a sacrifice to be borne by other people. (For the record, I have not been affected either, so I have no axe to grind here).

Posted by: Phil P on June 27, 2003 01:43 PM

Pretty words but they boil down to 'the sins of the father are passed on to the son.' Of all conservative thought what a shame Bradford had to adopt this rotten idea.

Posted by: Alex Tabarrok on June 27, 2003 01:44 PM

Brad, can you make an argument that affirmative action partly addresses the market failure of taste discrimination (the theory of which Becker developed), much of which is not affected by current laws against discrimination?

Posted by: Bobby on June 27, 2003 01:48 PM

A couple of years ago Charles Krauthammer wrote an interesting column advocating reparations (!) for blacks as an alternative to affirmative action. I’m reminded of this because Brad’s argument for collective responsibility for the sins of the past is really an argument for reparations in some form. Financial reparations at least has the virtue of imposing the burden on all taxpayers. The problem with A.A. (one of them at least) is that the costs are borne very selectively. For all the sound and fury on the subject, the burdens and benefits are only experienced by a few. Most advocates of A.A. have not been adversely affected by it, and therefore are calling for a sacrifice to be borne by other people. (For the record, I have not been affected either, so I have no axe to grind here).

Posted by: Phil P on June 27, 2003 01:51 PM

Well, whatever Prof. DeLong wants to call himself, he's made an argument that has several holes in it wide enough to drive the tractor-trailer rig that just left my loading dock, through. For instance:

" we Americans alive today are all the recipients of an extraordinary and unmerited gift, an inheritance of institutions, principles, and organizations that is without peer anywhere on the world today and that is of inestimable value. We aren't independent liberal individuals making a social contract in the rational light of Enlightenment Reason. Instead, we are heirs who have received an enormous inheritance from our predecessors"

Correct, and that includes black Americans along with the rest of us. Meaning it's everyones' responsibility to make the best life for themselves they can.

Unless, Prof. DeLong would like to make the case for black Americans having a special obligation to recompense, say Union soldiers' descendants for their sacrifices in freeing them from slavery. Or, maybe the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 27, 2003 01:58 PM

The arrogance charge still sticks. Brad's Burkean arguments open the door for some kind of restitution. But to move from that abstract idea to support of affirmative action as it is actually practiced, and claim that anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand America, takes a whacking big chunk of arrogance. Neither, I guess, do the US citizens and California residents who passed Prop. 206. What an unmanly lot, sez you.

Posted by: gerry garvey on June 27, 2003 02:08 PM

Or how about this: limit AA to the descendants of slaves _only_, and abolish it for Latinos, immigrants, gays/lesbians, etc.

Posted by: tc on June 27, 2003 02:10 PM

>>You know, Sullivan suggested that you were guilty of homophobia for saying that with respect to racism acknowledgement and restitution "are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man needs to stand up and bear."<<

??? I'm puzzled. The ancient Greeks certainly saw no connection between homosexual behavior on the one hand and welshing on one's obligations to the polis on the other...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on June 27, 2003 02:15 PM

>>> Now Andrew Sullivan wants Americans to welsh
>>> on the debts


Careful....Sully accused you of homophobia the first time around, do you want to be accused of being anti-Welsh now?

Posted by: P O'Neill on June 27, 2003 02:19 PM

"Or, maybe the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa."

Why-oh-why do people keep trotting out this hoary old chestnut over and over again? Are the African-American descendants of slaves supposed to be grateful for the fact that their ancestors were treated like mules, then forced to reside at the bottom of the ladder for the next hundred years, only to be told now that they ought to be happy with their lot, gosh darn it?

That this patronizing, insulting sort of crap is coming from supposedly intelligent people staggers the mind.

"Or how about this: limit AA to the descendants of slaves _only_, and abolish it for Latinos, immigrants, gays/lesbians, etc."

I've argued the same thing myself, but so many conservatives seem to want to play the victim game that they can't bring themselves to make such a nuanced proposal, for fear that it might mean implicitly endorsing the notion that there is something to pay restitution for.

Here's a question for all of you going on and on about "sins of the fathers" and so forth: do you think it is fair that German immigrants, and the children and grandchildren of German and Japanese soldiers, should have been forced to shoulder the tax burden of paying restitution to the victims of war crimes? Or do you endorse the notion that the whole Swiss and German reparations thing is just one gigantic "Holocaust Industry"? If you think reparations to Jews and to Eastern European victims of Nazi crimes are fair, why do you object to doing anything for African-Americans?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 02:24 PM

Well then, lets get to the real question: do you support AA for hispanics or any other group? And if so, why? How about for black immigrants? Upper-class blacks whose families have been wealthy for four or more generations?

Posted by: jimbo on June 27, 2003 02:27 PM

I find sd's argument that a small minority of "bright but not brilliant" white students and students of Asian descent bear all the burden of affirmative action absurd.

Due to a limited budget, the number of admissions to every university program has to be limited. There is no way around that. Without affirmative action, perhaps a small additional number of poor white people would get into a program, but there are still many people left out, because the cut has to be made somewhere.

Now let's imagine the following situation: A college could get additional funding, specifically allocated to help disadvantaged minorities, and use this money to hire additional faculty to open more spaces in its program, which are only made available to minority students. This would not take any spots away from other students. Would it therefore be acceptable to critics of affirmative action who argue that it disadvantages poor whites?

I don't know, but I would suspect probably not (apart from the fact that other people would cry "quota" - which this would be). After all, if the money was allocated to the general program funds, poor white people who are currently left out could now get in. And so on, for each additional dollar we spend...

In my view, this makes sd's argument absurd. To accept this would mean that it is impossible to adopt any policy that does not help everybody in the same way, even though one has to acknowledge that not everybody is in need of help to the same degree.

In a sense, this is a classical Catch-22: Enlightended conservatives admit that racial disparity exists, but claim that it is impossible for the state to remedy this, since for the state to acknowledge racial disparities and reflect this in policy would be racist. This is mindnumbing.

I do agree that it would be best if a good school education would make it unnecessary to have affirmative action at the college level. However, Fixing K-12 does nothing to help people who have suffered through the current education system, and does nothing to alleviate current injustices. I do not think there is currently any alternative to affirmative action.

Posted by: Raven on June 27, 2003 02:45 PM

To my mind, the benefit of continuing AA is at this point diminished enough that I would not mourn were it ended today. In fact, from a very personal and selfish perspective, it would mean I wouldn't have to listen to all the white people whining about it anymore.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 27, 2003 02:47 PM

There's one difference between AA and the reparations such as the ones paid by the WW2 Axis nations: once the reparations are paid, that's the end of it, while AA will be required as long as there is an ethnic difference in academic achievement (and no one can say when this will end).

Posted by: tc on June 27, 2003 02:52 PM

Are you seriously puzzled? You accused people who share Sullivan's opposition to affirmative action of being unmanly. Since, among us, homosexuality is often associated with femininity, he thought that you may have been trying to score rhetorical points off of his sex life.

I doubt that that's what you had in mind. Still, treating 'manliness' as a synonym for justice and virtue seems to me to be an easily avoidable form of sexism. Would a woman be unmanly if she refused to recognize and pay her debts? Would that be a bad thing?

Posted by: Mike on June 27, 2003 02:52 PM

"Well then, lets get to the real question: do you support AA for hispanics or any other group? And if so, why? How about for black immigrants? Upper-class blacks whose families have been wealthy for four or more generations?"

Making this into a problem holds affirmative action to a standard that's not applied to any other social policy (apart from welfare programs, by some people). Are there instances where people benefit from a policy who perhaps should not? Sure. Is this sufficient to invalidate the policy? Not by a long shot.

If this is the standard to be applied, then all tax deductions would have to be abolished which could possibly misused as loopholes contrary to the stated intent of the specific measure.

In my opinion, it does not make sense to apply this standard, neither for affirmative action, nor for any other policy.

Posted by: Raven on June 27, 2003 03:02 PM

"while AA will be required as long as there is an ethnic difference in academic achievement"

But who says that it has to be that way? I don't see any conservatives arguing for a definite sunset date, say, 25 years from now, like Justice O'Connor has done. All I see is so much howling about how muddle-headed she is, how patronizing, blah blah blah, all from the usual suspects on the right.

I don't think that many people would contest the notion that an open-ended AA program is unacceptaboe. The missing thing on the right is suggestions as to how to move to that date when it isn't necessary, other than the tired call to just abolish AA and be done with it.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 03:03 PM

"Or how about this: limit AA to the descendants of slaves _only_, and abolish it for Latinos, immigrants, gays/lesbians, etc."

No because
1. It is still going on. Blacks and other groups (Hispanics, gays ...) have been mistreated for decades and it is STILL happening. Yes, even in the year 2003

2. Even Asian immigrants to the US discriminate against Blacks. And where did they learn this from?
The white Americans, Germans and French. They learned this before they even got to the US. I have lived in Asian communities where I was the only Black person in the area. I talked to many people to try to find out where they got this attitude from. I talked to several Vietnamese people who came to the US at the end of the Vietnam Conflict. These are people who supported the US in the war. A significant number of the troops that DIED helping them were Black. They said they emulated the attitudes of the white Americans.

3. Why don't we need to do AA for religion or being Sicilian, etc, etc..

Because a cop can't tell what your religion or country is from a block away. But most don't have any trouble telling you have DARK SKIN (Black, Hispanic and some times even Asian). Some racial minorities pass for white but most CAN'T even if they wanted too. With little effort most whites can pass as what ever they want or NEED to (Jews > Christian, Italian > American, etc)
I hear some people think that being Black is so easy know. Haven't hear of too many white people that wanted to trade places (except to be one of the few Black sports or music stars). How many little white girls play with black dolls vs how many Black girls play with blonde Barbies? I have spent alot of time in areas of South America. Even there I was suprised by the how many little girls I would see on the bus or subway with Barbies (blond of course)


4. White ancestors stole alot of economic wealth from minorities. Because of inheritances and the low number of mixed marriages, whites today still have most of the benefits. Every white person today is still ahead because of what was stolen from Blacks and other minorities. Even if the white person came to the US today they still have advantages from the past history and the todays discrimination.

Posted by: G on June 27, 2003 03:20 PM

Heres a solution, abolish status based education. Get rid of 'tracks' that create the expectation and reality among kids that they can complete 16-18 years worth of college and burst into the workplace making 100k a year without ever having worked a day in there life. Abolish the law schools and go back to an apprentice system for lawyers with certain quotas for poor folk and minority's. Either that or make the standard for admission into law schools be how much law, philosophy, theory you actually know. Lists of key books would be circulated and admission would be wide open and be based on interviews and essays and selection would be made by faculty not admissions committee's. The pool of candidates would come from all ages. Also this list of books would be an incentive for poor families to put important works in the hands of there kids who if they come up through the public system have never even heard of these books until there sophmore or junior year in college. It would also be an incentive for self study among adults. The whole system is bullshit and based on the status rewards of education instead of the actual content of education.

Posted by: tp on June 27, 2003 03:21 PM

"The whole system is bullshit and based on the status rewards of education instead of the actual content of education."

I agree that for most people higher education is no more than a credentialing process: "I went to [insert prestigious school here], ergo I must be good!"

The hunt for prestige is precisely why people get so animated about AA. Most colleges in America aren't even selective, after all.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 27, 2003 03:27 PM

Why is the cost of the Civil War discounted so much? This cost of 558,000+ US lives surely counts as something. These poeple also paid the price for slavery in the United States. This does not include the $31,898,003,528 (yr 2000 dollars), or the cost of reconstruction. Where is the affirmative action for the large number of Irish Immigrants who fought the war? They did not benefit from slavery, yet paid with their lives.

Posted by: james on June 27, 2003 03:55 PM

"Pretty words but they boil down to 'the sins of the father are passed on to the son.' Of all conservative thought what a shame Bradford had to adopt this rotten idea."

Exactly.

The prof. is right that his argument is deeply illiberal. If it's Burkean is debatable, but whatever. What it certainly is however, is nationalist. If we accept his argument, why not hate someone for being a croat, why not demand territory your ancestors had, why not demand loyalty to the race?

This kind of thinking is not compatible with liberalism, with justice, or with democracy.

Posted by: David Weman (Europundit) on June 27, 2003 04:13 PM

I don't mean that Brad is imoral or anything.

I'm ambivalent towards AA but I don't think it's morally indefensible. Just not on those grounds.

I I don't think African American nationalism is like a threat.

But that kind of thinking is dangerous, poisonous.

Posted by: David Weman (Europundit) on June 27, 2003 04:26 PM

In fairness to the Prof, one could accept the ultranationalism underlying his argument for AA and still steer clear of David Weman's parade of horribles on pragmatic grounds. But the charge of nationalism sticks just the same. And it's a *selective* nationalism at that: it's only white Americans (or nonblack Americans anyway) who are welded into such an indissoluble mass that there's no point in even asking who actually owes and who's actually paying. Those who are *owed*, on the other hand, are a race apart; there's America, and then there are blacks. Not that I believe for a moment that Prof. DeLong really regards blacks as not part of America; he's merely treating his methodological collectivism (to borrow a phrase from Schopenhauer) like a hired cab which can be dismissed once it's taken him where he wants to go.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on June 27, 2003 04:42 PM

" 'Or, maybe the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa.'

" Why-oh-why do people keep trotting out this hoary old chestnut over and over again? Are the African-American descendants of slaves supposed to be grateful for the fact that their ancestors were treated like mules, then forced to reside at the bottom of the ladder for the next hundred years, only to be told now that they ought to be happy with their lot, gosh darn it?

" That this patronizing, insulting sort of crap is coming from supposedly intelligent people staggers the mind."

You've got it exactly, Abiola. It is, "patronizing, insulting sort of crap". And it is the exact same train of logic the Prof. was using. It denies the (to use the Prof's terminology) manhood of blacks. It's a counter example.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 27, 2003 05:37 PM

"Correct, and that includes black Americans along with the rest of us. Meaning it's everyones' responsibility to make the best life for themselves they can.

Unless, Prof. DeLong would like to make the case for black Americans having a special obligation to recompense, say Union soldiers' descendants for their sacrifices in freeing them from slavery."

This is the kind of b.s. I'd expect to hear from someone like Dinesh D'Souza. To me it is beyond the pail to suggest that blacks are under any obligation to thank anyone for giving back to them the fundamental rights that were entitled to by virtue of being human beings but were cruelly denied for centuries. *They are under no obligation to to thank anyone for what is rightfully theirs*, and remember that this statement is still true when you apply DeLong's standard that we have inherited the benefits as well as the debts of our country's past. Blacks owe no debt to anyone for getting what is rightfully theirs. I think that Patrick's comment should be noted and condemned.

"Or, maybe the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa."

Wrong. Crimes against humanity are an exception. No thanks or debt is owed for a case such as this because slavetrading is a crime against humanity, and the inadvertant effects of crimes against humanity, even favorable effects, deserve no compensation.

Also remember that Blacks contributed as much as anyone else to building this country into what it is today and did so with far more suffering, hardship and disadvantage than any other group. I think that blacks have "paid" a million times over, as slaves, in the form of regular involuntary dissolution of their families, beatings, being compelled to work, murder, and then much of this continued after the Civil War. Blacks have put just as much as anyone else into this country, but have received comparatively far less in terms of reward. We owe them big time for this atrocity.

Posted by: Bobby on June 27, 2003 05:52 PM

"Making this into a problem holds affirmative action to a standard that's not applied to any other social policy (apart from welfare programs, by some people). "

But in this case the entire justification for the original policy was to make up for the unique past circumstances of the decendents of slaves. But as it has become institutionalized, it has come to apply to any group that, for whatever reason, does not acheive on par with whites. What justification is there for AA for hispanics? What "unique circumstances" do they face that every other immigrant group has not faced?

Posted by: jimbo on June 27, 2003 06:00 PM

"In fairness to the Prof, one could accept the ultranationalism underlying his argument for AA and still steer clear of David Weman's parade of horribles on pragmatic grounds. But the charge of nationalism sticks just the same. And it's a *selective* nationalism at that: it's only white Americans (or nonblack Americans anyway) who are welded into such an indissoluble mass that there's no point in even asking who actually owes and who's actually paying. Those who are *owed*, on the other hand, are a race apart; there's America, and then there are blacks. Not that I believe for a moment that Prof. DeLong really regards blacks as not part of America; he's merely treating his methodological collectivism (to borrow a phrase from Schopenhauer) like a hired cab which can be dismissed once it's taken him where he wants to go."

I agree with all of that. I don't think this arguent, or generally the reparations debate, is all that dangerous. But the underlying logic is, in priciple. And indeed the hired cab metaphor very probably describes the Prof's stance.

Posted by: David Weman (Europundit) on June 27, 2003 06:24 PM

Prof DeLong writes: Again, as Burke puts it, if you are to think of a social contract you have to recognize that it is not "a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties.... It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

Are we not all equal partners? (I think not.)

Is there no expiry to the Partnership? (Yes, at each individuals demise.)

Is the partnership transferable from those living, dead, unborn? (No, it is an individual privilege during life and it is distributed amongst all classes for all citizens).

Are the classes to be limited to Black-Americans, Asians, Hispanics? No. It includes every element of recognized discrimination (People surnamed Goldberg, Gupta, Brzezinski, Brcic, Wong, Horsechief, Watkins, LaVesque, Rodriguez ...

I guess it involves just about everybody. Yes, Everybody gets a 5% break?
Everybody!

This is silly crappola, lets just equally apply a standard for all citizens.

Good idea.

Posted by: Don Majors on June 27, 2003 07:10 PM

Prof DeLong writes: Again, as Burke puts it, if you are to think of a social contract you have to recognize that it is not "a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties.... It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

Are we not all equal partners? (I think not.)

Is there no expiry to the Partnership? (Yes, at each individuals demise.)

Is the partnership transferable from those living, dead, unborn? (No, it is an individual privilege during life and it is distributed amongst all classes for all citizens).

Are the classes to be limited to Black-Americans, Asians, Hispanics? No. It includes every element of recognized discrimination (People surnamed Goldberg, Gupta, Brzezinski, Brcic, Wong, Horsechief, Watkins, LaVesque, Rodriguez ...

I guess it involves just about everybody. Yes, Everybody gets a 5% break?
Everybody!

This is silly crappola, lets just equally apply a standard for all citizens.

Good idea.

Posted by: Don Majors on June 27, 2003 07:11 PM

"Or, maybe the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa."

I really doubt that Africa would be as bad today if the West hadn't stolen lots of its citizens.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 27, 2003 07:45 PM

Brad,

What a great rebuttal!

My suggestion to replace "manliness" would actually be a close cognate: human-ity.

While you might consider yourself a conservative (in its finest sense) in this regard, I think you are actually humane (also in its finest sense).

Posted by: Patrick Taylor on June 27, 2003 08:17 PM


>>Instead, we are heirs who have received an enormous inheritance from our predecessors"

Correct, and that includes black Americans along with the rest of us.>Or how about this: limit AA to the descendants of slaves _only_, and abolish it for Latinos, immigrants, gays/lesbians, etc.<<

do gays receive AA?

Posted by: drapetomaniac on June 27, 2003 08:35 PM

Patrick R. Sullivan,

Wow ... I've read some nasty shit in my day, but I never thought anyone would suggest that African-Americans should thank "the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa."

Sigh ... I have to go take a shower. Patrick R. Sullivan, you make me feel dirty.

Posted by: Patrick Taylor on June 27, 2003 08:52 PM

Hmm... how 'bout, instead of focusing on empowering blacks/latinos/American Indians, we focus on wittling away the power of whites/asian-Americans? Maybe imposing special taxes on us?

You may not view racist exploitation as a zero-sum transfer from the exploited group to the exploiting group, but in terms of attempts to rebalance racial "power hierarchies," I don't think it matters much whether you create status disadvantages for the currently-privileged groups or status advantages for the currently-exploited groups, since status actually IS zero-sum.

Since we're having a budget shortfall anyway, how 'bout this: members of relatively privileged groups (whites, so to speak) would have an additional tax on income, paid half by employers and have by employees (maybe 4% on both sides?). Since employers would then have incentives to avoid hiring those of high relative privilege, they would be less sought and their status would automatically decline, which would, since status happens to be a zero-sum commodity, raise the status of others.

Probably not very politically viable, but then again I'm a guy posting on the comments section of a blog, not a politician :^).

Posted by: Julian Elson on June 27, 2003 09:28 PM

Prof. Delong's eloquent tracts brings back memories of my days in law school studying "Cynical Manipulation of Juries and Public Opinion, 101".

The first rule in the course was: "When the facts are on your side calmly repeat them and repeat them. OTOH, when you have no facts, then make emotional appeals to justice, righteousness, our communal obligations, our ideals, the Founding Fathers, Edmund Burke if you have to..."

So, facts. I doubt that many people would object to using AA to erase the legacy of Jim Crow *if* there was any clear evidence that AA in fact was in any way effective at erasing the legacy of Jim Crow. And *if* AA was visibly effective at erasing the legacy of Jim Crow, there would be no need to go all the way back to Edmund Burke to justify it to Andrew Sullivan. One could say: "Look at these benefits, Andrew, are you blind?"

But here we are merely invoking Edmund Burke and our hundreds of years of heritage and corresponding obligations instead. Just like they said in class. So the elephant in the living room is the question ... does AA help erase the legacy of Jim Crow at all, or does it *hurt* the process?

Well, we know that AA hurts in some ways...

[] Sowell in his book on education documented how blacks admitted to MIT and Berkeley over the heads of their SAT scores failed to graduate at far higher rates than other students -- just as one would expect if the normal admission requirements to these schools mean anything. Yet those students would have done fine in second-tier schools that their scores would have been above average for. So they were *hurt*. And of course the other applicants rejected by MIT and Berkeley to make room for them were hurt too. Lose-lose.

[] Recipients of AA are stigmatized by the idea that they couldn't have made it on their own without it. (When Thomas made this point in his dissent in the Supreme Court case, Mo Dowd wrote that he was an ingrate "driven mad by the fact that he wouldn't have gotten into Yale but for his race". Go, Mo! AA makes even the NY Times racist.)

[] Racial resentments are fostered by the fact that even if only a few Asians and others are bounced from a school's admitted list to make way for AA students, *all* who were think that they *might* have been and resent it.

[] The social promotion element of AA gives educators an easy way to avoid confronting the problems of their system that fails to produce fully qualified students -- so they can duck confronting the issues of Ed school teacher certifying cartel that they profit from, the 50% underfunding by union contract of poor neighborhood schools, etc. etc. (If Republicans ran such a cartel, ooh, the screaming there'd be!)

[] Plus, of course, the unpleasant fact that we are discriminating against identified groups on the basis of race.

OK ... yet in spite of all these known and visible harms, AA is *obviously* a good thing that serves to erase the legacy of Jim Crow. So its benefits clearly must be greater than these harms, and visible, and quantifiable.

And they are.....?

I mean, *besides* letting a bunch of university higher-ups feel good about themselves and they way they are exercising their "collective responsibility", while imposing the full cost of it on persons other than themselves (how "collective"!) .

What are the visible, quantifiable benefits of AA that unquestionably outweigh the above costs, that we can point out as *facts* to Andrew Sullivan to make him feel like a dufus?


Posted by: Jim Glass on June 28, 2003 12:01 AM

Wow ... I've read some nasty shit in my day, but I never thought anyone would suggest that African-Americans should thank "the descendants of slave traders for making it possible for black Americans today to have enormously higher incomes than black Africans whose ancestors remained in Africa. I have to go take a shower ... you make me feel dirty.
~~

Muhammad Ali upon returning to America after the Foreman fight in Zaire...

Q: "Champ, what did you think of Africa?"

Ali: "Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat."

If you ever see the Champ and ask him for his autograph, be sure to tell him he's so vile he makes you feel dirty.

I bet he's still got something of a punch. ;-)


Posted by: Jim Glass on June 28, 2003 12:10 AM

"If you ever see the Champ and ask him for his autograph, be sure to tell him he's so vile he makes you feel dirty."

What an insulting excuse for an argument!

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 28, 2003 03:56 AM

Whatever you think of the argument... what I want to know is whether it was simply an accident that Professor De Long hit upon using Burke to argue that conservatives were being inconsistent in their criticisms of affirmative action, or whether his academic policies of attribution don't extend to commentary threads on his blog?

As I wrote in the commentary section to de Long's call for us to men:

"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."

:p.

Posted by: dhn on June 28, 2003 08:14 AM

>>"If you ever see the Champ and ask him for his autograph, be sure to tell him he's so vile he makes you feel dirty."

>What an insulting excuse for an argument!

Of course, the real problem with this argument is that you cannot entirely disentangle Africa's current plight from many of the same forces that led to the slave population in the US. A world in which slaves had never been mass imported from Africa to the Americas would look almost nothing like the present one.

Posted by: dhn on June 28, 2003 08:41 AM

Maybe the education route has not been that successful, or is going a bit too slow, and other ideas should be considered, and yes maybe reparations, perhaps in the form of a free house? might be one to be considered. Think about it, I believe that's what Svetlana Stalin said when she first toured the country is "what Americans want is a house." I think that's one of the areas that blacks have been discriminated a lot is in access to mortgage financing for housing, and by denying them access to good neighborhoods, the accompanying access to good schools, leading to an inferior education, and access to the better life that goes with it. The GI Bill did a lot for housing in this country after world war 2, and maybe another program for blacks like this would be helpful, if people would not go for an outright gift.

Posted by: northernLights on June 28, 2003 08:45 AM

I hope the santimonious people here realize that they are calling our host names. My counterexample tracks his logic, I'm just pointing out where its racism really leads. It isn't pretty, that's for sure, but history didn't start in 1789.

Btw, my ancestors were slaves in their own country. They had a lower life expectancy in 1850 than plantation slaves in America. They had less economic security than plantation slaves. They suffered much indignity both in coming to America, and when they arrived. They were targets of nativist demagogues after they arrived, their churches were burned in Philadelphia and New York, their priests were beaten and even killed by mobs. They were slurred as "Micks", they could only get the most dangerous and demeaning jobs (there's a museum in Ireland devoted to shovels).

Yet, the fact is that I am better off for their sacrifices. As are blacks today who are descended from plantation slaves. Remember, economics is a science.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 28, 2003 09:23 AM

Mr. Glass is correct in that AA is largely an exercise in feel-goodism for the University establishment, wherein in they get to attain virtue (according to Delong) by imposing a cost on on some 18 year olds without African lineage. Who knew virtue could be so painless! There is also an element of advantage-seeking by the already better-off, in that AA greatly awards those citizens of African lineage who are already able to do quite well, while largely ignoring those citizens of African lineage who have most suffered from the remnants of slavery and Jim Crow. Now, advantage seeking by the already better-off is a common feature of our society, and there is no reason that middle and upper class citizens of African descent should be thought less of for doing so than any other comfortable faction in this society that does the same. It would be nice, however, if a high school senior, and his parents of Hmong origin, who would like to gain access to Michigan, didn't have to listen to gaseous, vapid, bloviations regarding manhood and virtue simply because they would prefer that the son of Richard Parsons (just a hypothetical example) not be given a 20 point head start for admission, since Hmong students, believe it or not, were considered "overrepresented" by Michigan.

I use the example of the Hmongs because few groups have been treated worse by the government of the United States in recent history. Recruited by the CIA to fight as proxies against the communist Vietnamese, and then largely left to be slaughtered when things didn't work out, a lucky few were able to make it to these shores. Emphasis on few, becasue their numerical insignificance means there isn't any advantage to be had for championing their cause, so, what the hell, let's let'em purchase some of Delong's virtue! One might ask whether it is "fair" to question the "manhood" of a very poor person who had several numbers of his family slaughtered within the past 35 years due to the actions of the United States, because they would rather not have a middle class competitor for a scarce University slot be given 20 extra points on an admissions scale, because the competitor's ancestors were also treated horribly by the United States, but, as is usually the case, what is "fair" depends on what one is seeking. The middle class competitor simply wants in, academics want to feel good about themselves, so guess what, high school senior of Hmong descent? Them's the breaks. Your contribution is needed, there aren't enough of you to make it worthwhile to solicit your support, so you best get busy with the important task of helping Prof. Delong be virtuous.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 28, 2003 09:48 AM

"Yet, the fact is that I am better off for their sacrifices. As are blacks today who are descended from plantation slaves."

Nevertheless, the fact remains that your ancestors, once they arrived in America, suffered nothing like the discrimination that African-Americans were experiencing until a mere few decades ago.

Those "Micks" and "Paddies" of yesterday were able to become "white", so much so that one could have an president with Irish roots like Reagan, whose ethnic background nobody thought worthy of mention. Today we can have bigots of Irish descent like Pat Buchanan arguing in defense of "Western Civilization", oblivious of the fact that until very recently few Anglo-Saxons on either side of the Atlantic would have included Irishmen in their definitions of what Western Civilization is: that is how complete Irish assimilation into the mainstream has been, and it has been different from the African-American experience because of one factor alone - skin-color.

Irish assimilation didn't simply occur by dint of sheer hard work. It took a lot of graft; a lot of patronage and machine-politics in New York and Boston, which relied on the exercise of voting privileges denied to southern blacks until the 1960s; the exploitation of job opportunities intentionally closed to African-Americans, sometimes via Irish and Italian intimidation; and the provision of aid schemes like the GI Bill and postwar mortgage lending, schemes from which African-Americans were again excluded from participating in. To ignore this reality, and talk as if Irish-American success were a mere matter of "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps", is simply an act of historical amnesia.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 28, 2003 10:39 AM

In fact, Abiola, the economic history of the Irish in America tracks very closely the experiences of black descendants of slaves. Thomas Sowell points out that they were both a largely rural people who migrated (blacks after they were freed in 1865)to the big cities of the North looking for any work they could find.

An entire political party, "The Know Nothings", arose to oppress Irish immigrants. The public school system would never have gotten off the ground except for the anti-Irish bigotry that existed from about 1820 (the Irish had to start their own schools). The Irish were segregated in foul ghettoes, entire industries were off limits.

Even the role of the Catholic church in assisting the assimilation of the Irish is matched by the role of the black churches in the civil rights movement.

So this from you:

"Nevertheless, the fact remains that your ancestors, once they arrived in America, suffered nothing like the discrimination that African-Americans were experiencing until a mere few decades ago.".

Is just factually wrong. As is your claim that all blacks are subject to the same discrimination as the descendants of American slaves. Carribbean blacks have an entirely different economic history within the United States.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 28, 2003 01:06 PM

" consider this thought experiment (For Mr. Delong): Would you support affirmative action for undergrads at Berkeley if, for the next five or ten years, it was implemented by denying slots not to the 5% of white and Asian American students with the lowest qualifications among the pool of white and Asian American applicants with the credentials to get in to Berkeley in the absence of affirmative action, but to the top 5% of white and Asian American applicants (Or, in a less radical version, a random 5% of white and Asian American applicants). In other words, if to make room for a minority applicant with a 1200 SAT we denied a spot not to a white/Asian applicant with a 1400 SAT, but denied a spot to a White/Asian applicant with a 1600 SAT. And if your answer is "No," tell me precisely how the kid with the 1600 SAT is any less burdened by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow than the kid with the 1400."

I'm not surprised that sd's comment above has received little attention. Wouldn't those of you who are always whining about tax cuts for the rich be logically attracted to a system where the most privileged pay the price of helping the less so? Surely, a 1600 SAT and a 4.0 GPA are evidence of a privileged background.

Or, how about his suggestion of a lottery? That would be easy to implement. Just decide what qualifications are needed to do the work at the U of Michigan law school, say what, a 3.0 GPA and a 1200 SAT. Then put all the names of those who make the cut into a hat and draw out as many names as there are places in the entering class. Plus enough to have an "alternates list", since not everyone lucky enough to be offered a spot will accept. That would be fair, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 28, 2003 01:14 PM

Pitter Patty

What a perfectly mean-spirited and ignorant person you are.

Posted by: tony on June 28, 2003 02:39 PM

"The Irish were segregated in foul ghettoes, entire industries were off limits."

Yet, what I said is still true. The Irish controlled powerful political machines in Boston, Chicago, New York and a few other cities, and utilized the government patronage they provided to the fullest. The Irish experienced nothing like the kind of disenfranchisement that was typical for southern blacks, and most African-Americans today are descended from those very southern blacks.

Blacks did not have the access to political patronage that the Irish did in the latter half of the 19th century. Black migration to Northern cities was not a large-scale phenomenon until this century, by which time the Irish were well on their way to assimilation - Joe "Bootlegger" Kennedy was already the ambassador to St. James Court in the 1930s.

"As is your claim that all blacks are subject to the same discrimination as the descendants of American slaves. Carribbean blacks have an entirely different economic history within the United States."

Where have I ever claimed any such thing? Are you actually reading what I'm writing, or just what you think I OUGHT to be writing? In fact, I've repeatedly stated something closer to the opposite of what you claim I said - that immigrants of any color should NOT be beneficiaries of AA.

It seems that you are so eager to paint a picture of Irish triumph over oppression that you are willing to disregard even the most basic facts, from the fact that the Irish brazenly utilized political patronage to climb the socio-economic ladder (and organized crime too, for that matter - so much for black criminality), to the actual claims I've made. Quoting Sowell proves absolutely NOTHING to me, as I'd expect him to mouth the sort of comforting nostrums "oppressed" white males just love to hear.

The Irish experience in America has been a whole lot gentler than what African-Americans have had to face, and much of the success of the Irish has been DIRECTLY at the expense of those very African-Americans you feel are being so "unfairly" advantaged. Ach, my heart bleeds! Poor oppressed white males! Cry me a river ...

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 28, 2003 02:48 PM

"If you ever see the Champ and ask him for his autograph, be sure to tell him he's so vile he makes you feel dirty."

What an insulting excuse for an argument!

~~~~
Why? Don't you think it's a very bad thing for him to exult at how he's benefitted from his granddaddy's oppression?

After the words you related to Mr. Sullivan re that very subject?

(BTW, "I have to go take a shower ... you make me feel dirty", is pretty much an insulting excuse for an argument too -- so it seems that sort of argument doesn't really bother you.)

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 28, 2003 07:55 PM

The argument that African-Americans ought to be grateful that their ancestors were so badly mistreated IS a disgusting one. Should Israelis be glad that Hitler came to power? After all, no Hitler, no Israel!

I'd like to ask all the white people on this thread who think AA is so "unfair" one question: if blacks really have it as "easy" as some of you like to make out, why don't you take advantage of AA by ticking the "African-American" box yourselves? After all, thanks to the one-drop-rule, who's to tell whether you're lying or not? Or why not change your name to "Tyrone" or "Shaniqua"? And what better way could there be to subvert AA as a policy?

Somehow I doubt many of you will be rushing either to try this yourselves or to suggest it to your friends and relatives; why is that, seeing as racism is all "a thing of the past" and all?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 29, 2003 06:13 AM

For centuries, serfs accepted their lot of being bound to the land. Then Enlightenment Reason came along, and those multigenerational serfdom contracts were just torn up. Those ingrate serfs. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again.

Posted by: Ken Silber on June 29, 2003 09:07 AM

Poor Widdle Patty Sully -

Only the beset descendants of Widdle Patty Sully's need apply for affirmative action. Say what?

Posted by: arthur on June 29, 2003 09:09 AM

Amazing how looney the radical right is, even on ethnicity. Why am I not surprised. Loons is loons.

Posted by: arthur on June 29, 2003 09:16 AM

" The argument that African-Americans ought to be grateful...."

That is not an argument made by me (and I've already re-explained twice before that it was a COUNTEREXAMPLE). It's one you made up out of whole cloth. I merely pointed out that if have that Zrimsekian taxi take Prof. DeLong a little farther down the road he wouldn't like the neighborhood.

What you are doing is projecting your own, less than admirable attitudes to others, Abiola. This has degenerated into a Jack Nicholson moment; some here can't handle the truth.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 29, 2003 09:44 AM

i want to apologize to Abiola for attributing something to him that was actually written by another poster, which was what I was referring to with:

"As is your claim that all blacks are subject to the same discrimination as the descendants of American slaves. Carribbean blacks have an entirely different economic history within the United States."

Which is also poorly phrased by me, it should have been something to the effect that different groups of blacks (e.g. Carribbeans) have produced very different results in the face of the same racial discrimination from the larger society. Meaning that racial discrimination does not explain the unequal outcomes very well.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 29, 2003 10:14 AM

Patty Sully - Singing the song of the radical right. Tra la.

Posted by: arthur on June 29, 2003 10:15 AM

" The Irish experience in America has been a whole lot gentler than what African-Americans have had to face..."

Thomas Sowell, in "Race and Economics":

" In the antebellum South, the Irish were often used in work considered too hazardous for Negro slaves. When [Frederick Law] Olmstead asked about the peculiar division of labor between Negro slaves and Irish workers on a riverboat in Alabama, he was told: 'the niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard, or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything.' Econonomics had triumphed over racial ideology."

Later:

" The Irish were prominent among immigrant groups exhibiting the usual symptoms of social pathology among people at the bottom. They had very high rates of death from tuberculosis--higher than among Irishmen in Ireland--as well as high rates of insanity, a disproportionate number of widows and orphans and inmates of poor-houses, as well as very large overrepresentation among those arrested and imprisoned."

I wonder if this sounds familiar too:

"...a more genial stereotype of the 'stage Irishman' emerged. The stage Irishman featured singing and dancing, dialect, woman-chasing, drinking, and brushes with the law. Numerous popular stage productions exploited these characteristics for great commercial success over a period of at least half a century....These stereotypes became distasteful to second and third-generation Irish-Americans as they began to rise, and the newspaper attacks and threats of boycott helped eventually to drive the stage Irishman to extinction....

" The Irish became the most vocal of all immigrant groups about their public image and their group 'identity'....The Irish identity projected by Irish-Americans often had little or no connection with the culture of Irishmen in Ireland....

"...The Irish dominated sports and entertainment toward the end of the nineteenth century, but only a small part of the Irish-American population was involved."

And, I'm really curious to find out if Abiola thinks the Irish were handed their later political gains by an Affirmative Action program?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 29, 2003 11:15 AM

Irish rights. Irish rights. Irish rights. Remember how the Irish were segregated in the armed forces in WWII. Remember how the Irish were kept out of Major League Baseball till Jackie Irish Robinson broke the Irish barrier. Remember the federal troops needed to integrate the Irish in southern universities. Irish rights, Irish rights.

Posted by: jd on June 29, 2003 11:24 AM

No wonder Patrick Sullivan is so bitter, growing up Irish in all the harshness of a Jim Crow legacy. Remember how long it took to portray the Irish decently in film. Irish rights, yea....

Posted by: jd on June 29, 2003 11:33 AM

"Sowell in his book on education documented how blacks admitted to MIT and Berkeley over the heads of their SAT scores failed to graduate at far higher rates than other students -- just as one would expect if the normal admission requirements to these schools mean anything."

I remember seeing somewhere that groups of black students tend to graduate at a lower rate than a group of white students with similar grades and background, which would explain this.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 29, 2003 02:16 PM

Some matters of which I know something:-

- The Irish who did not go to America looked down on those who did as economic refugees (my lot emigrated to France immediately after the First World War, which probably makes them politicals). The US Irish are not a fair sample to begin with, let alone after adjusting over there - why, internal evidence in these posts suggests that by now some of them don't even know what a spade is, confusing it with a shovel.

- Abiola Lapite is being identified as merely "black". While this is certainly what the US system throws at him, it isn't where he is coming from. He is actually an upper class Yoruba (the full and very long version of his name almost certainly includes "oba" or "ade"). His formative experiences didn't push him under, although he has every right to react as he does to what he sees and gets now.

- In London in the 1930s there was much more parity between blacks and Irish, both being discriminated against; my mother reported boarding house signs saying "no blacks or Irish".

- Contra G, Asians do NOT get anti-African prejudice from whites after immigrating. You can find it reported in India in Kipling, and it's a standard part of the Arab world (which makes certain US behaviour in Iraq counter-productive). Try a dictionary search on the word "hubshi" sometime.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on June 29, 2003 04:45 PM

" No wonder Patrick Sullivan is so bitter...."

Okay, jd since this thread is about being a "man", how about backing up you statement by pointing to anything I've said that is bitter.

" - Abiola Lapite is being identified as merely "black". While this is certainly what the US system throws at him, it isn't where he is coming from. He is actually an upper class Yoruba (the full and very long version of his name almost certainly includes "oba" or "ade"). His formative experiences didn't push him under, although he has every right to react as he does to what he sees and gets now."

Just what exactly is the above supposed to be directed to?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 29, 2003 08:44 PM

"Just what exactly is the above supposed to be directed to?"

Providing background to anyone who didn't have it, for what it's worth. AL is no oppressed from birth figure, just someone coming into a culture equipped with nurtured skills that let him face it.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on June 29, 2003 10:11 PM

>>Q: "Champ, what did you think of Africa?"

Ali: "Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat."

If you ever see the Champ and ask him for his autograph, be sure to tell him he's so vile he makes you feel dirty.<<

If you ever meet the Champ, Jim, tell him that you're citing him as a source to support an argument that black people should feel grateful to white slave traders. Why not call him "Cassius" while you're at it?

Posted by: dsquared on June 29, 2003 11:30 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but the Irish in the Northeast USA (where I lived for a decade) are not exactly upper class, and that is an euphemism.

I remember once I was trying to make conversation and I asked a yankee girl from Mass. if she were Irish and she was really insulted.

Posted by: econBras on June 30, 2003 07:07 AM

I'll bet anyone who likes as much as they like that the USA has its first President of Irish ancestry before its first black President :)

Posted by: dsquared on June 30, 2003 08:38 AM

Pat Sullivan might want to check out "How the Irish became White" by Noel Ignatieff. He discusses the very issue of how the Irish got into the golden circle.

Posted by: Tom on June 30, 2003 10:46 AM

Patrick

Bitter really does not fit, and was a careless term on my part. In fact, you make your arguments with evident pleasure. So, I must fight back with pleasure.

Posted by: jd on June 30, 2003 12:00 PM

Not only are gays excluded from affirmative action, but the largest employer that filed an amicus brief in the Michigan case in favor of affirmative action also has a policy of excluding and expelling homosexuals from its ranks.

Opponents of affirmative action should be more careful than to line up the "usual suspects" to throw into any argument they happen to be engaging in at the current time because you can make serious errors.

Posted by: Brittain33 on June 30, 2003 12:32 PM

dsquared:

"I'll bet anyone who likes as much as they like that the USA has its first President of Irish ancestry before its first black President :)"

And I'll bet you anything you like that there is a black US President before there's a black British Prime Minister.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak on June 30, 2003 02:15 PM

" If you ever meet the Champ, Jim, tell him that you're citing him as a source to support an argument that black people should feel grateful to white slave traders. Why not call him "Cassius" while you're at it?"

Posted by dsquared

dsquared had to have read at least two and possibly three statements that that is not the argument. Can't handle the simple facts?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 30, 2003 03:39 PM

" Pat Sullivan might want to check out "How the Irish became White" by Noel Ignatieff. He discusses the very issue of how the Irish got into the golden circle."

"golden circle"? Whatever are you talking about, the Irish, as a group, have never been much above average in income among ethnic groups. Later arriving immigrants such as Jews and Italians rapidly passed them in the 19th century, and Chinese and Japanese likewise.

Perhaps YOU ought to read Sowell's "Ethnic America", for an actual scholar's look at the history.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 30, 2003 04:13 PM

Michelle,

blacks are perhaps a 20% of USA citizens, I doubt strongly that they amount more than a 2% of the UK population.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on July 1, 2003 02:06 PM
Post a comment