Saturday, July 24, 2010
Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
Jim Webb, a Democrat senator from Virginia, points out something that seems unknown to most of his party: That not all whites are the same
The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.
Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.
I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.
In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.
Lyndon Johnson's initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate "the badges of slavery." Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.
The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all "people of color"—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.
Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.
Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.
The clearest example of today's misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.
The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that "fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery."
The Civil War devastated the South, in human and economic terms. And from post-Civil War Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II, the region was a ravaged place, affecting black and white alike.
In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created a national commission to study what he termed "the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section." At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South's 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.
Generations of such deficiencies do not disappear overnight, and they affect the momentum of a culture. In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks' average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.
Policy makers ignored such disparities within America's white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts.
Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.
Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.
Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.
Obama and his minions have been doing their best to lose white America. They may succeed
First was the startling accusation by Attorney General Eric Holder, days after Barack Obama was inaugurated in a gusher of good feeling, that we are all "a nation of cowards" when it comes to facing issues of race. A real icebreaker for a national conversation.
Second was the instantaneous verdict of the president, when asked about the arrest of Harvard's Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge cop Sgt. James Crowley. With no knowledge of what happened, Obama blurted out that the cops had "acted stupidly." It took a White House beer summit to detoxify that one.
A third was the revelation that Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the "wise Latina" herself, had gone to extremes to see that the case of Frank Ricci and the New Haven, Conn., firefighters never got to the Supreme Court. Ricci and co-defendants had been denied promotions they had won in competitive exams solely because they were white and no black firemen had done as well.
The fourth was the Justice Department's dropping of charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, whose intimidation of voters in Philadelphia had been captured on tape. When a department official resigned in protest and went to the Civil Rights Commission to accuse officials at Justice of ordering staff attorneys not to pursue such cases, that explosive charge, too, was ignored by Justice.
Came then the NAACP smear that the tea party was harboring racists, which Joe Biden explicitly rejected on national television on Sunday, before the Monday firestorm over Sherrod.
Now, whatever one's views on each of these episodes in which race played a role, white Americans are being forced to address them. And, surely, the White House understands this is bad news for Obama and the Democratic Party.
For though the black community remains solidly behind Obama and the white majority is shrinking toward minority status by 2042 or 2050, depending on which Census survey one uses, whites in America still outnumber blacks five to one. And if forced constantly to come down on one side or the other of a racial divide, most folks will wind up with their own.
In past elections, Democrats have raised race -- allegations that black churches were being torched in the South, that George W. Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill meant he was coldly indifferent to the dragging death of a handicapped black man -- to solidify and energize the minority vote. And, today, that vote remains solid behind Obama,
Where the erosion is taking place is in white America, among working- and middle-class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries but took a chance with Obama in the fall. Now, every time some new incident erupts, these folks are being tarred.
Opposition to affirmative action is racist. Supporting the tea party gives aid and comfort to racists. Opposing health care puts you in league with folks who used racial slurs on Rep. John Lewis. To raise the issue of the New Black Panther Party is to play the race card.
One understand the bitterness of tea party folks who carry signs that read: "What difference does it make what this placard says. You'll call it racist anyway."
The Washington Post Finds Waste -- in Government!
Congratulations are due to the Washington Post. "Top Secret America," its in-depth, multi-part, two-year investigation into the vast network of government security agencies and private contractors is an eye-opener -- obvious Pulitzer bait.
Reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin have revealed a "hidden world, growing beyond control." Within this "alternate geography" of the United States, they found some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies at work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. Over 850,000 Americans have top-secret security clearances. They spend "a gusher of money" that has flowed since 9/11.
And -- this will blow your socks off -- the Post found that there is tremendous waste, duplication, and lack of accountability. Really? In a government program? "Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks."
Not only that, but they aren't careful about the way they spend taxpayer dollars. "With so much money to spend, managers do not always worry about whether they are spending it effectively. ' Someone says, let's do another study, and because no one shares information, everyone does their own study,' said Elena Mastors ... 'Everybody's just on a spending spree. We don't need all these people doing all this stuff.'"
The growth of counterterrorism spending since 9/11 has been sharp and dramatic. "With the quick infusion of money," write Priest and Arkin, "military and intelligence agencies multiplied. Twenty-four organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008 and 2009." These analysts and agents produce an estimated 50,000 reports per year -- most of which are never read.
So yes, bravo to the Post. Truly. But why do they tend to notice government waste only when it applies to national security? The Post and other liberal organs have been quick to record how much the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (particularly Iraq) have cost taxpayers. But they seem much less curious about waste, duplication, and even fraud in other areas of government spending.
Ben Stein answers his critics: "I am guessing that the point that Mr. Crowe and his pals on the left were trying to make is that because I pointed out a truth about the unemployed I know is that I am hard hearted. This is painfully the opposite of the truth. I am 65 now, as Mr. Crowe thoughtfully pointed out (in the context of suggesting that I am either insane or demented, a very sophisticated way to begin an essay). The main reason I am not as well situated for retirement as I should be is that I support so many unemployed people — some of them writers. It is the bane of my wife’s existence that money she thinks should go to our savings goes out to help unemployed friends. My critics on the left are pretty free with words of sympathy. How many of them pay for the mortgage payments of their unemployed friends, as I do, would be an interesting thing to know.”
Suppose there were food insurance: "Suppose there were food insurance. Rather than everyone paying for food with their own money, people would pay a certain fee to their insurance company every month, and in return the insurance company would pay for all of its clients’ groceries. Sound like a good idea? Perhaps, but what do you suppose would happen if we had this kind of food insurance?”
AIDS experts: End war on drugs: "Some of the world’s top AIDS experts issued a radical manifesto this week at the 18th International AIDS Conference: They declared the war on drugs a 50-year-old failure and called for it to be abandoned.”
Memo portrays UN chief wanting control, secrecy: "A portrait of Ban Ki-moon as a secrecy-obsessed U.N. chief seeking to wrest control of internal investigations emerges from a blistering 50-page confidential memo by his former oversight chief. The unusual memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, describes Ban as more concerned with preventing news leaks than with releasing possible criminal evidence to prosecutors.”
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 8:07 PM