Monday, 6 July 2009

Sowell on AA

From Richard Thompson Ford in Slate we read the usual guff about affirmative action (anti-White discrimination) being a part of the same fight for ‘equality’ as the Civil Rights struggle (against racial discrimination):

The plaintiffs in Ricci were undoubtedly sympathetic: hardworking public servants—17 of them white, one Hispanic—who expected that the exam they studied for and did well on would determine their eligibility for moving up the ranks. But their legal argument is the latest in a long-standing campaign to turn civil rights laws against themselves. There's a striking progression in the attacks on civil rights. In the early 1970s, affirmative action was widely considered to be a logical extension of civil rights principles: Even President Nixon—a man not known for his enlightened racial attitudes—supported it. But by the end of the decade, affirmative action was under attack as reverse discrimination.


From Thomas Sowell’s ‘Affirmative Action Around the World,’ a passage that puts Ford's dissembling in its proper perspective:

When a serious political backlash against affirmative action began in the United States, many in the media were quick to characterize it dismissively as due to ‘‘angry white males,’’ resentful of the losses of various benefits to blacks and other minorities—in other words, just an emotional reaction by people irked at losing a few of their many advantages. But this resentment was by no means proportional to intergroup transfers of benefits or it would have been far greater against Asian Americans, who displaced more whites in prestigious universities and in many high-level professions, especially in science and technology. At many of the leading universities in the United States, whites ‘‘lost’’ more places to Asian Americans than to blacks, and yet there was seldom any backlash against Asian Americans. The outstanding academic and other achievements of Asian Americans were widely recognized and widely respected. It was not the intergroup transfer of benefits that was resented, but the basis for those transfers.

Among Americans especially, the idea that some are to be treated as ‘‘more equal than others’’ is galling. It was this feeling in the general population which leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960s were able to mobilize behind their efforts to destroy the Jim Crow laws of the South, so that a majority of the members in both houses of Congress from both political parties voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was this same American resentment of special privilege which responded so strongly to the historic words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, that his dream was of a country where people would be judged ‘‘not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’’

It was after the civil rights movement itself began to move away from this concept of equal treatment of all individuals and toward the concept of equalized outcomes for groups, that a backlash against affirmative action set in and grew over the years.

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