And wow, are there more than enough of you. The mail was still coming in as this response was being posted.
To reiterate: Wessay #1322 said the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action amounts to a license to hate because it codifies an exclusionary approach to state run colleges and universities and helps unlicensed haters justify and legitimize their feelings. Affirmative action was and is a good idea poorly executed. Minority kids deserve better than they get.
Further, and perhaps insufficiently emphasized: civil rights are about removing barricades and stumbling blocks that should never have been in place and not about advancing one group over another.
Which brings us to the first of the major categories into which received criticism falls.
What the court did was remove the states from the reach of the federal civil rights laws, or remove the Justice Department from enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws at state owned schools.
So this all becomes a states’ rights issue. If Michigan can change the meaning of discrimination, that means certain citizens in Michigan lack a protection that, say, residents of Minnesota or Utah have.
This brings us to the idea that the constitution doesn’t permit the advancement of one subset of the population over another. It may not. But it doesn’t say so explicitly. So constitutional constructionists, the fundamentalists of Constitution-as-holy-writ have no case.
Civil rights laws were passed to compensate for past unfavorable treatment. How far or how long that should continue is not a state matter.
The second category is color. Some critics consider this a black/white issue. Civil rights laws protect all kinds of. The total US population is a little over 316 million according to the Census Bureau’s 2012 figures, the latest available.
The breakdown in round percentages:
White alone: 78%, Black or African American alone 13%, American Indian or Alaska native 1%, Asian alone 5%, Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander alone two tenths of one percent. The bureau chart includes a footnote that Hispanics can be of any race and are therefore included in the “alone” designation for whichever race applies.
Third category, “Color blindness.” The United States is not a confederation of autonomous regions, it is a country. It is not the Balkans. Or the Irelands. Or India and Pakistan. It’s not even the Hatfields and the McCoys. But we do have differences, and some of them are based on race or ethnicity. While in an ideal world, we would either ignore them or learn from them we’re not living in an ideal world and disparities have to be dealt with.
Fourth category: the Peter Principle. Laurence Peter wrote that we are promoted (in work including education) to the level of our incompetence and remain there doing damage.
This is the basis of the complaint that incompetent members of minority groups are gumming up the works. The answer: stop majority idiots working at their level of incompetence from hiring minority idiots who ultimately will do the same; then insist on normally capable majorities who hire normally capable minorities.
So, what’s the solution, if there is one? No clue. But it’s not anything that can be implemented tomorrow or next week. Or anything widely recognized at least for now.
But if we are an actual country and not a set of floating administrative areas, it’s time to rethink the role of the states on this and many other issues.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and any additional death threats to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2014